BOLD Singer Matt Warnke & Guitarist John Zuluaga on the Making of the Speak Out Album

Photo: Nicole Digolgi

The fine folks at Revelation Records just dropped a 35th Anniversary reissue of one of their early classics, BOLD's Speak Out.

A seminal release in the straight edge hardcore canon, the 1988 album has been given the remaster treatment, along with a 40-page LP booklet designed by the John Scharbach (GIVE, Shining Life Press) with tons of ephemera and information to dig into, and it's all packaged in an embossed gatefold jacket. There are several color variants out there, plus a limited edition cassette version of the album.

To celebrate Speak Out's anniversary, I spoke with BOLD vocalist Matt Warnke and guitarist John “Zulu” Zuluaga about the album's genesis story, its new packaging, and how they feel about the material all these years later.

If someone would have told you that you would be talking about a 35th Anniversary edition of Speak Out back when it originally came out, what would you have thought?

Matt Warnke (vocals): Well, I would say Speak Out has had many lives. It was originally intended to be released by Wishingwell Records, which, for the few people in the know don't know was the label based out of Orange County, California which released the Unity You Are One EP along with such classics as Uniform Choice Screaming for Change, and BL'AST! The Power of Expression

The thing of it is that it was taking forever and there wasn't a great deal of communication from them, which led to us having a roving eye as far as labels.

Does the album’s longevity and influence blow your mind? What’s your relationship with its legacy?

John "Zulu" Zuluaga (guitar): I am very surprised with Speak Out’s legacy. At the time, I was definitely not thinking about the albums longevity.  We were all just so wrapped up in the moment and what was happening in the scene that I don’t think anybody was focused on what the future would bring.

I remember being surprised when about 10 years after the release we had a bump in sales and someone was telling me that there was this resurgence of straight edge in Ohio, I think it was. A few years later, it started to spread to other countries. So it was interesting to me that straight edge and straight edge albums kept getting popular in different parts of the world and different times.

During that era, many, if not most, hardcore bands from the New York region were recording with Don Fury, but Speak Out was produced by Dan Nichols. Tell me about the choice there, and how it was working with him on the album’s sessions at Electric Reels Studio.

Matt: I think it was a combination of logistics along with sonics. As great as a pedigree as Don Fury had, starting with United Blood and Victim In Pain, Underdog recorded their EP at Electric Reels and then Youth of Today followed suit and recorded Break Down the Walls there. So the fact that Drew had recorded with YOT, he proposed and suggested we record what became our full-length there.

Zulu: Youth of Today recorded Break Down the Walls at Electric Reels Studio so that was how we knew about the studio. For me, it just made sense to record our album where Youth of Today did. They were our “big brother band” and so we took a lot of direction from them early on. I also remember talking about how Electric Reels had just added a recording room and it was twice the size as it was before. They had also purchased a new mixing board and those things added to our choosing them.  

Dan Nicholas himself was incredible to work with. We were just a bunch of young hardcore kids and he was very patient with us. He listened to us and helped us to get the sounds we were looking for. I probably learned the most about recording and recording techniques from Dan and his engineer, whose name I forget.

READ MORE: The Anti-Krishna Flyers Incident of 1990

There’s a funny story included in this reissue where Jordan Cooper of Revelation Records is trying to persuade the band to sign with his label even though you had already agreed to release Speak Out through Wishingwell Records. What happened there and what was the convincing factor?

Zulu: Yeah, I remember Matt giving me what looked like a term paper from Jordan. I wish I still had it! I think the title was straight forward “Why BOLD Should be on Revelation Records." It was basically Jordan just stating the reasons he thought we should release Speak Out on Revelation instead of Wishingwell.  

He was right of course and we all agreed to change to Rev. It was an uncomfortable conversation I had to have with Pat Longrie (Wishingwell Records) but he was understanding about the change. I believe Matt spoke to Pat Dubar (Wishingwell) about the change.

We had already sent them the reels so Jordan had to do the work to get them back. It was originally going to be titled Reach Out.

Another aspect of Speak Out that has always stood out from the rest of the hardcore records of its era was the design/layout. How involved was the band with its creation, and what did you think of it once you saw the finished product? There’s an almost jazz-like feel to it, kind of like a Blue Note release.

Matt: The visual side of Speak Out has always been a sub-plot, undercurrent, and rightfully so. Dave Bett has spoken about his inspirations and how it impacted the layout.

If memory serves me, when I was asked to weigh in on the layout/look of 'Speak Out,' I referenced Run-D.M.C. 'Raising Hell' and Stetsasonic 'On Fire' as far as having photos with tints over them and the block-y logos. I would also say we took from the first Van Halen record as far as the quadrant aspect of it.

Zulu: I love the layout and the gatefold of that album. I remember we took a long time and had many different ideas going back and forth between the band at the time. We weren’t coming to any decisions and then at practice Drew suggested the layout for the front cover.  

I believe he got the idea from a KISS album cover. I can’t remember why we went with the gatefold but I am glad we did. Gatefolds are part of the beauty of vinyl records. I always love looking at the art and reading the lyrics when it comes to vinyl records vs digital releases. 

I also wanted to get your thoughts on the reissue’s booklet/photos/art that John put together. It’s clear that was a labor of love for him being such a big BOLD and Rev head.

Matt: Everyone involved did a great job and John Scharbach specifically but not exclusively.

Zulu: I am extremely happy with how the reissue’s booklet turned out. John Scharbach did an exemplary job putting it together. I remember talking with John and then going into my attic and digging out an old plastic bin I had not looked at in years.

I just sent him stuff that I couldn’t believe I still had. I especially like the front cover of the booklet. That was an excellent idea to change up the photos like he did.

What’s your favorite track on Speak Out and why?

Matt: I would say I love the fact that every song can now be heard in the proper light due to the magic and alchemy of re-mastering. To answer your question, I am more inclined towards the deep cuts like "Now or Never," "Change Within," "Accept the Blame," "Still Strong," and "Search."

Zulu: My favorite track is probably "Now or Never." I always thought that song was often overlooked. I think it has one of the better mixes on the album.


Speak Out is available via Revelation Records.


Tagged: bold, crippled youth