"I moved to NYC in December of 1987, so I would say I was a member of Warzone for about 4-5 months before we recorded Open Your Eyes," Eric "E.K." Komst tells me over the phone. The former drummer for the influential NYHC band is sharing his memories with me about his stint in Warzone to celebrate the forthcoming reissue of Open Your Eyes, the group's sophomore album.
"We did pre-production at Don Fury's studio and a lot of the songs were already written, but I did help with the arrangements and loved it. It's one of the best records I ever tracked. It's weird that it's already been 30 years," laughs the drummer.
But before we get back into all-things Warzone, I ask E.K. what brought him to NYC from Boston in the first place. "I was 15 or 16-years-old and playing in both The F.U.'s and Wrecking Crew at the same time. [Merauder guitarist Javier] "SOB" [Carpio] was hanging out in Boston and we were just kicking it on some skinhead shit. One day he says, 'you know Warzone needs a drummer cause that Luke guy is leaving.' So, I got Raybeez' phone number from SOB and then called him and said, 'Listen, I'm thinking of moving to New York, what do you think?' No one would lend me the money to get down to NYC, so I sold a pair of my Doc [Marten] boots for $30 [laughs].
"Anyway, I learned the Don't Forget The Struggle Don't Forget The Streets record, got some of my skinhead homegirls from Boston, packed up my drums, got down to NYC, but we got lost and I missed the audition [laughs]. They told me I could stay with their roadie who lived in Brooklyn on Meeker and Grand. I ended up doing that and auditioned a week later where I beat out a bunch of other dudes. It seemed like it was meant to be."
For the Open Your Eyes recording, Warzone brought in Bad Brains guitarist Dr. Know to oversee the sessions. "Man, Dr. Know was an amazing presence. He had a lot of neat recording ideas, especially drumming wise. He was a producer that was very hands on approach. It was so cool to be just a teenaged kid and having him in the studio with all of the love that was going around. We recently started talking again, on Instagram anyway, but I have nothing bad to say about him. What an amazing guy."
The cover photo for Open Your Eyes finds the members of Warzone standing in a police lineup and as a teenager in the late '80s, I remember staring at the image thinking to myself, "I bet these dudes are used to that." In other words, the shit looked hard! But what's the story behind the photo? "We did that at a loft in Soho of a girl that Raybeez was dating at the time. We came up with the idea and then put electrical tape onto the wall and shot it.
"It was funny because everyone in the band wanted to be in skinhead shirts and boots and braces and Fred Perry and shit, but even though I was still a skinhead mentally, emotionally, and spiritually at that point, I wanted to start growing my hair back and all that. You can look at the cover and see me with no shirt on, some fucked up Champion cut-off shorts, Canal Street karate shoes with the orange bottoms [laughs]. But yeah, I missed that energy we had back then, it was so amazing."
I press E.K. for his choice cuts on Open Your Eyes. "As far as my favorite song on Open Your Eyes, I have to go with 'Striving Higher for a Better Life' because it applies to my life today as much as it did back then. I'll also say 'Fight the Oppressor' just cause it sounds like a rock song and is really really good. Oh, and I can't forget 'Always – A Friend for Life,' obviously."
After Warzone, E.K. joined Sick of It All, playing on the band's We Stand Alone EP in 1991 and perhaps even more famously, in the NYHC icons' appearance on the Live In N.Y.C. VHS alongside Agnostic Front and Gorilla Biscuits.
"Now, in hindsight, I realize I was involved in something very very special. Sick of It All and all of the other big things were cool. I actually did a one-off show with Destiny's Child in the '90s, and some other major label shit. But nothing compares to Warzone and the life we had back then. I mean, everything pales in comparison to that experience."
The vinyl and CD reissue of Warzone's Open Your Eyes album will be out on Nov. 9 via Revelation Records and can be pre-ordered now.
Tagged: sick of it all, warzone