Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Interview by James Damion

Though not a household name, Darin Galgano’s mark on the independent music scene should not and cannot be ignored. Best known as the current drummer with the long-running post-metal band The Nolan Gate and influential ‘90s indie rock band Dahlia Seed, Darin’s ability to navigate and dominate varied styles and tempos is notable.

Darin started his run as a drummer in his teens with the less documented New York Hardcore band At All Cost. Thankfully, with the help of Chris Weinblad at Trip Machine Laboratories, the band’s ’88 and ’91 demos have been released on limited-edition vinyl. As someone who’s called Darin a friend for more ten years and recalls popping that ’88 demo into my friend's tape deck, admiring that shadowy skater on the tape's inset and reviewing it for my fanzine, hearing these demos again brought me back to a time when Hardcore music and the ideals that often came in the package seemed so vital. Below is what Darin had to share in regards to the band, the LP and more. - JD

At All Cost - Photo by Beth Anderson

Q: How long did you pursue having the demos reissued and why?

Darin; It was a few years in the making. That’s for sure. (Laughs) it’s something Chris from Trip Machine Labs, myself and my brother Dave (Owner of Kearney’s “Vinyl Addiction Records” and “Rocket Science” record label.) talked about doing quite a few times. Just this idea that it’d be a great thing to do once the timing was right and how it would be a labor of love kind of thing. So glad it finally happened!

Q: After thirty years, what are you hoping to come out of this?

Darin; I feel having our demos finally come out on vinyl that we’ve come full circle, closed the loop so to speak as a band, the final chapter, and it’s a really nice feeling. It kind of solidifies ourselves in the genre and that time period in NYHC. Also, it’s nice for people who’ve never heard us before to give them a chance to finally check these demos out and hopefully like what they hear. (Laughs.)

Q: What kind of numbers are we looking at for pressings? What about color?

Darin; There’s 300 copies pressed, 50 Black vinyl, 97 Red vinyl (stamped and hand numbered dust sleeve) and 152 Purple/Grey Trash vinyl and last I heard they’re almost sold out!

Q: Was there a specific member of the band who led the charge in having the demos pressed on wax. Or was it a team effort from the start?

Darin; To be honest, once it was decided that we were finally going to release the demos, aside from me providing photo albums, flyers and our old recording reels we took a very hands-off approach and just let Chris do his thing. He has many years of experience releasing vinyl and has always been a big fan of our band so we knew he’d do a great job and he really did. He designed everything from the album cover to the inner sleeve. I think it came out great. We’re extremely happy with it!

Q: What initially brought you and Chris (Trip Machine Labs) together?

Darin; Chris is a long-time friend. He was a part of the local hardcore scene when we were young and was always a fan of the band. He was always at our shows, showing support for us, so it all just seems kind of natural that we'd end up finally putting out our demos on his label.

Q: Was there an immediate interest in doing something together?

We’d talked about doing this for years so to finally see it come to fruition is pretty awesome, definitely.

Q: Looking back. What was it that drew you to Hardcore music? What made you want to start a band?

The energy and aggression, definitely. Being young, it gave me something to channel all of that into, at a time when I wasn’t too experienced in dealing with those kinds of emotions. It was an outlet for sure. Growing up in the 80’s underground metal scene. I’ve always loved fast, thrashy music so getting into hardcore was just a natural progression for me I guess you can say. Music’s always been in my blood from a very young age. I was that child banging on pots and pans in the kitchen. (Laughs.) My father bought me a drum set when I was twelve years old. After that starting a band was inevitable, especially with all of my friends being involved in music too.

Q: While the name “At All Cost” brings to mind the posi-core movement of the time. The bands’ music reflected the other side of the coin with nods to acts such as Killing Time, Absolution and, perhaps even heavier acts of the time. How did you see yourselves as a band and where you fit within that somewhat tribal community?

We absolutely loved those bands, and you can definitely hear the influences. Our ‘88 demo personally reminds me of early Token Entry which we loved. The album “From Beneath the Streets”, especially. On our ’90 demo you can definitely hear more of a Killing Time influence, heavier guitars and breakdowns for sure. I think because we weren’t from NYC, we maybe didn’t get as much exposure as other bands who were. But looking back, I think we released two solid demos that definitely stand up there with the rest of the other great, more known hardcore bands from that time period.

Q: During At All Cost's time together. You played with some notable bands of the time. Fully knowing that was a lifetime ago. Are there any moments that particularly stand out? For a hardcore band we definitely played a lot of great metal shows! In my mind it makes perfect sense though since a few of us in the band were metalheads first and foremost. We played with bands such as Morbid Angel, Candlemass, Cro-mags, Destruction. I remember at the Cro-mags/Destruction show I was talking with Harley Flanagan whose hand was bandaged up and he was telling me that he got in a street fight and some dude sliced his hand with a knife. However, that the other dude looked a lot worse. (Laughs.) I remember talking with Mike and Schmier from Destruction and giving them our demo tape, which I’m sure they still have of course. (Jokingly Laughs.) Another cool thing was I gave Parris Mitchell Mayhew (Guitarist, The Cro-mags.) a At All Cost shirt and he immediately put it on and wore it on stage for the show. That was awesome. Such a simple gesture, but one I’d never forget. In any photos published from that show you’ll see him wearing it.

Q: You brought up Token Entry and Killing Time as influences in both the bands origin and later stages. Interesting, considering both featured Anthony Comunale on vocals at one time or another. What was it about each band that motivated you?

Yeah, we just loved those bands. Token Entry’s “From Beneath the Streets” LP was just such a great album at that time. It sounded like New York City to me. It just had that vibe. A gritty feel to it. Yet the songs we’re catchy at the same time too. It definitely motivated us to capture that same energy, but in our own way. I think our song “Decisions” might be a good reflection of Token Entry influence. Same with Killing Time. We loved that band since the first demo when they were known as “Raw Deal”. You can really hear the Killing Time influence on our 90 demo, the breakdowns and heaviness. We played quite a few shows with them back then and I gotta say, Anthony Comunale was one of the nicest people. Always super cool to us and our band. They would always talk to us. We’d be playing and he’d be on the side of the stage watching, showing support for us. Such a simple gesture but it really meant a lot. Especially as a young kid.

Q: From watching your drumming at different stages and with varied styles of approach. I’d consider you to be one of the most impressive time keepers out there. How, if at all, did playing drums in At All Cost prepare you for your time in Dahlia Seed and the Nolan Gate?

Playing drums in At All Cost allowed me to nurture and define my playing style. Playing fast, playing heavy beats, all of which can be heard in Dahlia Seed. Although with maybe a little more diversity and subtlety in my playing style. Then of course playing drums in the Nolan Gate was just a heavier version of everything. But your playing style should always improve and evolve over time and playing in all three of these bands definitely helped define my playing style to this day. Oh, and Bill Ward from Black Sabbath of course, my biggest influence. (Laughs.)

At All Cost - Photo by Bess Calimbas

Q: You mention Black Sabbath's Bill Ward as an important influence on the way you wanted and were eventually able to play. Were there other drummers whose technique or style influenced you?

Bill Ward was by far the biggest influence on me. But I also pulled inspiration from prog-rock drummer Bill Bruford of Yes/King Crimson fame. I was def inspired by Bruford’s playing/timing and especially his drum fills. The song “Court of the Crimson King” just blew me away when I was young. That whole album’s pretty awesome musically.

Q: Tell me, if you can, about your visit to and performance on WNYU’s Crucial Chaos. I ask because for many, including myself. Crucial Chaos was where you heard about all the new bands, heard essential music and learned about upcoming shows.

That show was insane! So much fun. It was our first time ever playing live on the radio, which the idea in itself was crazy. I don’t know about the other band members, (Laughing.) but I was nervous as all hell. We also had about twenty of our friends crammed into this little recording room. Just hanging out, drinking beers, going crazy yelling, screaming, and slam dancing. Kevin Cea and the entire RCS crew was there, plus other friends. It was just a wild night. If you listen to the recording, you can hear it. At the time it was just something fun we did one random night, but I’ve had quite a few people over the years tell me that the Crucial Chaos show was the first time they’d ever heard our band. Looking back now, that’s really cool, actually. I’m just glad we didn’t realize at the time how important that show would become years later. I would’ve been even more nervous. (Laughs.)

Q: Getting back to the record. Does seeing your accomplishments as a band documented on vinyl bring a sense of closure. What would you consider the highlight of this all?

It definitely brings closure, and the highlight? I mean it’s an honor, really. That people are still interested in our music from over thirty + years ago and find it still relevant. Pretty much, music we created as kids. I was only fifteen years old on our first demo. Which, looking back now, is kind of crazy to me. (Laughter.) But yeah, it’s an absolute honor and the fact that these moments in time from our youth have been documented on vinyl is just amazing and a very humbling experience. Thanks again to Chris Weinblad from Trip Machine Labs for making this happen!

At All Cost's Nothing Comes Easy is available from Trip Machine Laboratories.

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