The New Breed Documentary chronicles a tape compilation released in 1989. This compilation featured some of the leading lights in the late 1980’s New York Hardcore scene such as Absolution, Life’s Blood, Raw Deal/Killing Time, Outburst and others. The documentary is centered around band members, fanzine editors, record label heads & fans that made up this vibrant scene. The people interviewed are a microcosm of NYC itself, reflecting turbulent times in the city’s history with all the accompanying urban themes such as Graffiti, Mass Transit and Outer Borough life.
Myself and BURN singer Chaka Malik self-released this tape back then and we had no idea it would still be as relevant 27 years after the fact. Hardcore has undergone several cycles of generational changes since then, but to this day there are kids who weren’t even born when the comp came out that are forming bands and covering songs off it. This is incredibly gratifying for us, proof positive that this music has staying power. I don’t believe there has ever been a full-length feature focused on a such a humble and by now anachronistic format as a cassette, but as the documentary makes quite clear, it’s a lot more than just that. By listening to the people being interviewed, we get a glimpse into growing up in NYC during the 70’s and early 80’s, with the different paths that led them to NYHC, be it Heavy Metal/Hip Hop/New Wave. Whether people grew up in the Five Boroughs, Long Island, Yonkers/Westchester, New Jersey, under wildly different set of circumstances, they all had the common denominator of traveling by any means necessary to that mecca of underground music: the Sunday CBGB’s Hardcore Matinees. It is here that we met the people on the tape and formed long-standing friendships with them. This documentary is our way of paying tribute to those times that shaped us in infinite ways. The benefit of hindsight allows us to see the different waves of NYHC and how the genre developed. The New Breed Compilation is an important part of that evolution, and by extension it’s a vital component of this music that refuses to go away. As Absolution once sang: these “Means of Expression” are not dead and gone, but will continue to resonate as long as anyone that’s interested in music that’s real and played from the heart.
The documentary is narrated by NYHC book author Tony Rettman, directed by John Woods and edited by Orlando Arce. I am producing, along with a long list of friends providing website/graphics/merchandising support – thank you one and all. We are planning moderated Q&A discussions following each screening.
If you are into scheduling a screening in your neck of the woods, please contact me at the official site for the documentary:
The debut screening is on March 30th in Brooklyn.
Cinedelphia Film Festival in Philadelphia April 10th.
Freddy Alva’s writing has appeared in Noisey/Vice, Cvlt Nation, No Echo & various print publications. He still keeps in touch with at least one member (or more) from every band that played on the New Breed Compilation.