Drugs, Money, Sex… Music: The DMS Crew
Words by Horace Byrd III
Lord Ezec, A.K.A. Danny Diablo, of the DMS Crew wants you to know that he’s too legit to quit the pit. Music is his blood. He’s paid his dues on these wicked streets, and if you don’t believe, he and hiz boyz may have to smack the taste out yo’ mouth.
It all started in the late 1980s. They were originally from Queens. A nice guy named Jere—a mild-mannered skinhead/computer geek who wrote graffiti, skated, and went to hardcore shows on the Lower East Side–would come up with the name: Doc Martens Skins (Dr. Martens being the steel-reinforced shoe of choice on the punk scene; Docs are like the shell-toe Adidas of rock n’ roll). The crew would hang out in a school yard and drink 40s and things. The crew would grow real quick. When crews grow quick and strong, other crews take notice. Shit usually happens when other crews take notice.
The Doc Martens Skins would soon be a force to reckon with within the New York hardcore scene. Since hardcore is linked to so many little crazy worlds, the DMS people would eventually collide with the madness that churns within the graffiti scene (word to MQ). Still, the clique continued to grow. More and more tattoos came into the mix. Then came the bands. Playing music was a healthy, positive way to channel their aggression in-between brawls. Did I mention that they brawled a lot?
DMS bands like Madball and Skarhead would eventually tour the world. And all around the world the locals would come to shows, their heads already pulsating with the spoils of DMS folklore. Even if the stories were too bananas to be true, the kids, they wanted to believe. The thing that you walk away with after a long conversation with high-profile Drug Money Syndicate homie Lord Ezec is, like, you kinda believe what he’s telling you. There’s an intensity that beams off the teardrop tat that hugs his upper cheek. He’s got hard horror stories for days, but what he’s most interested in now is making bomb music. He’s focused, his crew is focused. It’s all about making music and money, not maiming folks. Here come the drama lords…
Mass Appeal: What year did you get down with DMS?
EZEC: I need to think about it man…maybe 1987?
What do you remember about DMS back then?
Just the hardcore shows and the neighborhood shit. Jackson Heights shit. Beef. Most everybody hung out at [Intermediate School] 145’s yard. Me and Hoya [from Madball] and MQ became real good friends. We started going to the city, going to hardcore shows, and from there to clubs. The crew just became bigger and bigger. There was no one leader or anything like that, it was just crew. Me, Hoya, MQ, Nark…we started doing all this stuff, nah’mean?
Doin’ stuff like…what?
Chillin’. Doin’ music. This is in like ’94. Madball jumped off before my first band, Crown of Thornz, did.
So what was the first official DMS band?
I would say Dmize was. They started playing in ’90.
Tell me about Jere, the dude who started the crew.
He was from Ireland. He had a lot of heart. He was an artistic kid. He was the best writer back then out of our crew, which doesn’t say much. But he was good, he had a lot of artistic talent. He’s very educated. He was a cool kid; still is a cool kid. He looked more like a librarian than anything else.
So this librarian started a crew that went on to gain this notorious reputation…
Don’t judge a book by its cover…
But then Jere would eventually sort of disappear, right? Do you think it was partially because the crew sort of took a different turn?
Probably. He was more cool with the older [DMS] guys. But he’s still a brother of mine. I guess he grew up.
Okay, getting back to the music. First there was Dmize, and then what was the next band that came out of the crew?
Madball. I met [Freddie] Madball when he was like 16 years old; he was playin’ basketball at Thompkins Square Park. We started hanging out. His older brother is Roger Miret from Agnostic Front. I was actually supposed to play bass for [Madball]. So then we all started to hang out on the Lower East Side—in the bars. We were young, but the people knew us.
Okay, so Madball starts taking off. They tour Europe. Your band, Crown of Thornz, sorta came up right after them, right?
Yeah. We had an EP drop in ’95 called Train Yard Blues [Equal Vision]; we dropped an album, Mentally Vexed [Another Planet/Profile], in 1996. We started touring. By ’98 we’d been all over the world, but we wound up breaking up that year. And it wasn’t like we were a DMS band or anything. Crown of Thornz was pretty much a rock n’ roll band. Skarhead, my band after Crown of Thornz, was a DMS band. Shit, our first EP’s titled Drugs, Money, Sex [Another Planet/Profile]. Skarhead was ignorant thugcore. Straight up. We were the first of the “thugcore” bands. So many of these kids try to do that shit now.
CROWN OF THORNZ “JUGGERNAUT”
I’m not gonna say names, man, hurt peoples feelings like that.
C’mon, man. If you pioneered it, why not?
“Nah, we just did the right thing. We were the first ones to talk about what we talk about. Instead of talkin’ about the typical hardcore, ‘You stabbed me in the back/I thought you were my friend’ shit, we talked about life.” – Lord Ezec
Yeah, well, the lyrics you guys were kicking certainly were different from the sort of, like, rich, white kid from Connecticut sort of worldview that was popular in the late ‘80s. Then again, a lot of people say that, because of the influence of DMS and Skarhead, a lot of those suburban kids stopped coming to shows because they were afraid of the violence that DMS is often associated with.
That’s why it’s called hardcore and not fuckin’ softcore. I mean, when we were going to hardcore shows when we were kids, we used to be scared of fuckin’ freaks like [Murphy’s Law’s] Jimmy Gestapo, or Harley, or John Bloodclot from the Cro Mags. It was like, “Oh shit, those guys are crazy.” If someone got beat up, it was for a reason, and you knew not to stand over there, and that’s it. These kids come to shows now, they’re like, fuckin’ P.C. They should be wearin’ dresses. Hardcore was all about the mission: you come off the train, go into the city, see fuckin’ crazy people hanging out and anything can happen to you. Now it’s like…it’s fuckin’ horrible.