CIV Defy Alterna-Rock Convention and Live to Talk About It

The New York rockers perform their harcore punk in suits and maintain a positive outlook on life

November 16, 1995

When the New York hardcore band Gorilla Biscuits broke up in 1992 after releasing one album, lead singer Civ thought he had blown it. "I was like 'Shit, what am I going to do?'" he says. He decided to take a couple years off and opened a tattoo parlor on Long Island. "It was pretty scary at first. But it worked out pretty well." The 26-year-old singer says his entrepreneurial success is the basis for his can-do philosophy. It's a philosophy that permeates the music of the band CIV and its first album, Set Your Goals. CIV is the band he formed last year with guitarist Charlie, drummer Sammy and bassist Arthur (the quartet insists on first names only).

"It really pisses me off when I see people crying about shit," says Civ. "You can change what happens to you."

This uplifting I'm-fucking-OK-you're-fucking-OK ethic has made CIV stand out from the pack of punk bands signed in Green Day's wake. The first single from the record, "Can't Wait One Minute More," has been getting regular airplay on MTV, thanks to its idiosyncratic merger of hardcore and a catchy Adam Ant backbeat.

Sammy, 22, started playing drums in hardcore bands when he was 12. "We'd have to sneak him into shows in a drum case," says Civ. The guitarists present the opposite ends of the band's Jekyll-and-Hyde personality: The bassist Arthur, 27, is "an extreme person," according to Civ, and Charlie, 25, is "very positive. If a person came up and stabbed him, he'd say the guy didn't mean it."

Like any entrepreneur, Civ also believes in dressing for success. "Gold-lamé suits, powder-blue leisure suits and pinky rings are really cool and attractive," he says. He admits, though, that the band's fashion sense can be disconcerting at first. At one show, he says, the hardcore audience didn't know what to expect when the band walked out in suits. "They thought we were going to suck, and we just totally played hardcore, and after one second, everyone was like 'Awesome.'"

This story is from the November 16th, 1995 issue of Rolling Stone.

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