Joseph A. Gervasi interviews Neil Robinson of the bands Nausea, Slaughter, Warning, Final Warning, and Jesus Crust. Neil co-founded Squat or Rot and ran the Tribal War label and distro. He was also active in ABC NO RIO. Neil is now one of the founding members of the Farmageddon Growers’ Collective in Oregon/Washington. Neil and I spoke in his hand-made and electricity-less shack on the Farmageddon property just outside Portland, Oregon after a tour of the (very impressive) veganic farm. This is a long interview, every minute of which is well worth listening to. Neil recounts his life from growing up in and around London in a working class (and later middle class) family. Neil was taken by punk from its frenzied emergence from the muck of feel-good ’70s music. Soon Neil was immersed in the thriving anarcho-punk scene in London. (When he mentions some of the amazing bands he saw at that time, you will weep in jealousy.) We discuss Neil’s move to New York City and his immediate love affair with the Lower East Side and its thriving scene. Neil is frank about his involvement in the drug scene. Our talk ranges through squatting; the formation of the seminal crustcore band Nausea; starting Squat or Rot; dealing with skinheads in the ’80s NYHC scene; why he left Nausea; his other bands; and the long-running label/distro, Tribal War. We dig into Neil’s eventual disillusionment with NYC (part of it involves a pit bull biting off a girl’s nose) and moving to Portland, Oregon. In Oregon he was involved with some social/political/environmental activist organizations (one of which distributed communiques for E.L.F., the Earth Liberation Front, a domestic environmental terrorist organization). Neil’s involvement put him and his fellow activists under some serious scrutiny. We discuss the creation of and ideas behind the Farmageddon Growers’ Collective, which takes a radical approach to organic, ethical farming. This is an interview filled with colorful stories, a lot of history of the NYC hardcore punk and squatting worlds, and Neil’s thoughtfulness and good humor.
Please note: As with a few other interviews I’ve conducted for this project (e.g. Martin Sprouse and Mark Anderson), Neil is not a Philadelphia person (though he played here with some of his bands and knows many fine Philly folks). I elected to interview Neil because all of his projects have had lasting influence on punks around the world (including me and many people I know). My own curiosity to meet the man himself coupled with the opportunity to do so when I was in Portland, Oregon to visit my friends Kathie and Jason led to this interview. I’m delighted to have Neil Robinson add his voice to this project.