A few minutes with Tony G of AK 47
Look around the back of the room at most local punk / underground shows and you’ll likely see Tony Goluza hanging about. A fixture in the local scene since forever, I remember seeing Tony for the first time at the Tavern with the ferocious AK 47. I shot some art for a couple of AK releases and have a lot of their shows in my archives. One of my favourite pics of Tony runs with this piece. Though I could fill an entire issue talking with Tony , I asked if he would just talk just a wee bit about the early scene…his musical history and who he’s listening to these days.
Chat and photograph: John Carlow/Finding Charlotte Photography
Published in Absolute Underground DEC 22
AU: When did you start being interested in the local punk scene?
Tony G: I first got interested in the local punk scene after seeing some bands on the local cable station, channel 10. It might have been a show hosted by Victoria legend Howie Siegel. Infamous Scientists, Twisted Minds, etc. I was fascinated by the idea that local people and bands could actually do this sort of thing without corporate media help. Also meeting downtown punks with their "I don't give a fuck" attitude was a liberating thing. Most people get involved in the punk scene very young, but I was already 19 or 20 at the time. I'm a late bloomer.
A wallflower if you will.
AU: What were some of the best early shows you saw?
Tony G : Some of my favourite early shows were at The Rat's Nest, and I will forever be indebted to Gary Brainless for opening up his home to new bands, and giving touring bands a reason to come to the island. Seeing The Resistance was always awesome, as well as DRI in Gary's basement(!). Remember DOA in 1984 doing a benefit for the urban guerrilla group The Squamish 5, Black Flag in 1985, also I recall some house shows with NoMeansNo and The Infamous Scientists might have done some too.My memory's a little hazy . Seeing The Dayglos was always chaotic back then. I was in awe of their energy. Their early shows were legendary. It's incredible that they are still going and putting out great albums today.
AU: How many bands have you been in?
Tony G: I'm not sure how many bands I've been in. Section 46, Lootbag, Nothing To Lose, Never Too Late, Hudson Mack, Soulcharge , Infect , the reggae project with Scott Henderson called People's War (we’re not done yet!), and currently AK-47. I'm the only original member from 1997.
AU: How did you learn to play?
Tony G: I first started playing guitar when I was 11 years old. My mom made me take lessons, and I fucking hated it ! Then when I was around 16 , I thought I'd try it again. I was in love with The Rolling Stones at the time. I was into Keith Richards' casual style of playing. He had a very distinct sound. I bought an electric guitar and a practice amp , and just started teaching myself by listening to records for hours and trying my best to play the songs I was listening to. I'm still trying. Ah, fuck it. I'll get Kent to do the fancy parts.
AU: Who inspired your first band?
Tony G : My favourite band of all time is The Clash . I think Joe Strummer inspired me to attempt to make the lyrics meaningful. The Ramones taught me you don't have to be a virtuoso to be a musician. Just love what you do and let it show. I have always been inspired by the vibrant and varied local scene and continue to be. The Dayglos, NoMeansNo , Red Tide , The Neos . I could keep on listing names, but you get the idea.
AU: How did AK 47 come about ?
Tony G: I started AK-47 after I broke up Never Too Late. I wanted to go back to harder faster music. It feels more natural to me, although I do enjoy melody as well. I asked Luke from Goat Boy and Nothing To Lose to drum, Rob Nesbitt to play second guitar, and Dave Morin from Hudson Mack to play bass. That was the original lineup.
AU: Still on AK 47, should you have a roadie just for setting up/ tearing down Jamies kit?
Tony G: I think Jamie having his own roadie is a great idea! The size of his megakit was apparent at the last show we played at The Carlton Club. It was pretty crowded up there. Next time I'd like to set up on the floor. Jamie can stay up on the stage, rock and roll style.
AU: Most interesting people you have met over the years.
Tony G: Scott Henderson is definitely one of the most interesting people I've ever met. His knowledge of every genre of music, and his involvement in both playing and recording bands has made Victoria one of the most amazing and well documented punk/alternative scenes in the entire country. I also have to give Paulina credit for making the documentary "Somewhere To Go”, which is tremendous.
AU: Thoughts on Logans closing
Tony G: Logan's closing is a loss we'll possibly never get over. The Phoenix is doing an admirable job of filling the gap, but some of the most memorable shows I've played have been The Jay Brown Memorials put on by Hoon, to whom I'm forever grateful. He is completely underappreciated for all of his efforts. I still get goosebumps thinking about some of those gigs. It was a community that has endured much loss, but kept on bouncing back and getting better. You could go to any show at Logan's and feel at home. The staff totally got it and were also 100% a part of that community vibe. I also need to thank Esther for the DOA show she got us to play there. That was incredible. I am thankful for all her hard work and for continuing to make marvelous shows happen.
AU: What local bands do you listen to?
Tony G: Geez.....okay, here's the (partial) list of local bands I'm into , in no particular order:
The Dayglos , NoMeansNo, Shovlhed, Shutdown, Disciples Of Abelard , Pressure Cooker, Goat Boy, Clusterfux, Giblet , Contessa, Red Tide, Infamous Scientists ,The Mags,Lesbian Fist Magnet, Skidmarxists , Class Of 1984, The Resistance , The Gnar Gnars , Total Shit, Fully Crazed , AWT, Knife Manual , Laffing Stock, Shiner, The Bedspins , Moral Decay, Mission Of Christ ,Poor Choices , No Heart......can I stop now ? There too many more to mention. Can I also say Awkward AC and Car 87 , even though they're not technically "local"? Nanaimo and Vancouver are close enough.
AU: Newer bands you’re interested in?
Tony G: Newer bands? Again, local shit. It doesn't end. Knife Manual, IQ 78 , Chain , Skull , Bug, Fully Crazed ( get their record !) , Hung Up,Thrashlord , Zero Coping Skills, Shallow End (even though they've been around a while now). I know there are more, but I'm old, so I hope no one gets offended. Sorry.
AU: Thoughts on the city and its support of music
Tony G: Do you mean the city government supporting local music, or the people? City governments can fuck off. They like to "help" when they think it will pay off in terms of votes. As far as the people go, I've mentioned earlier about how supportive people in the community are. Often you'll hear people talk about how "the scene is dead”, but it's got it's ebbs and flows like anything, and I think with new bands, excellent promoters, and house shows and some bars picking up the slack, things are looking positive right now.
AU: Memorable gigs?
Tony G: There have been too many memorable gigs to go into right here. Some that come to mind are an AK show in a garage in a duplex in Fernwood with Margaret Thrasher ages ago. It was at Harry Hugh Mungo's house, and his mom baked cookies. It was so cramped in that space, but so fun and sweaty. There was a house show at a place on upper Cook St. that Lootbag played. It seemed like the entire house was singing along to our songs. Getting to play with ALL at the old OAP hall was memorable; and playing with Bad Religion opened my eyes to rockstar attitudes that had poisoned the scene. Back then, NOFX were down to earth and decent people. Who knows how they'd be now? They were fun to play with at UVic with Shutdown. I was in Section 46 at the time. And can’t forget every Jay Brown Memorial Show. Thanks again Hoon!
AU: Funniest / weirdest thing to happen at a show?
Tony G: I can't really say what the funniest or weirdest thing to happen at a show was. Isn't weird and funny shit always happening? Remember me and Joe Stromkins heckling Green Day at the Kabuki Cab warehouse was fun. Recall yelling at Bad Religion for complaining about everything....waaaah.....There was the New Year's Eve Head St. riot after a house show in a place Jay Brown was living in. The early incarnation of Section 46 were renting a garage on Gladstone St. We decided to have a party, and hundreds of people showed up. That also turned into a riot. Bottles thrown at the police, youth getting billy clubbed, me getting arrested and charged with public mischief. Oh, the hilarity.
AU: Are labels / genre important? Theres a lot attached to the word punk.
Tony G: Labels and genre are important, as are principles. There is a lot attached to the word "punk”, and Warp Tour nonsense and big-name sponsors have nothing to do with it. It's up to everyone to interpret for themselves. This is a circular argument that's gone on for too long. Like what you like, it's up to you.
AU: Lyrics. How important? and how important to include them in releases?
Tony G : Lyrics are extremely important, at least to me. I always love having a lyric sheet included in any release, even if they are ridiculous. You can always find something to interest you, whether it is what's being said, the style of rhyming, the lack of rhymes, offensive yet clever wordplay, etc. It's good to know what's being said.
AU: You have children. Has your background/life in music affected their musical leanings?
Tony G: I have two children. A 15-year-old daughter and a 12 year old son.
Neither of them share the passion that I have for punk and hardcore music, although we listen to everything around the house. We've got reggae, hip hop, Croatian and Bosnian folk music, stuff from Turkey, and the list goes on and on. My daughter tends to lean towards the more interesting indie type of music, bands you won't hear on the radio. Some of it is sort of math rock, and really good. She plays some guitar and bass. My son is into the more underground electronic styles, also artists you won't hear on the radio. I am happy with the fact that they are not following trends and are making up their own minds about what they like and don't like. That's far more important than automatically liking what I do. Independent thought is a useful thing to have.
AU: Last Thoughts ?
Tony G : John , I want to thank you for making this happen. I thought I'd never end up in this publication, but here we are. Thank you for all your hard work and excellent photography. I look forward to seeing you again.
I'd also like to thank Esther, Scott Fraser, Paulina, Hoon, Hung, The Phoenix, Ty Stranglehold, Scott Henderson, and everyone involved in this dysfunctional family.
AU: Thanks for doing this, Tony. See you soon at the back of the room.
You can check out Tonys blog at http://ak47hardcore.blogspot.com/
and AK 47 on Bandcamp at https://ak-473.bandcamp.com/album/undefeated