I was first introduced to FINAL CONFLICT by a Thrasher Magazineinterview in the late 80's. I cut out the article and hung it on my wall. Soon after I was in New York visiting my Grandma and on a record shopping trip scored the 'Ashes to Ashes' LP. I was blown away by the ferocity of FINAL CONFLICT and they immediately became one of my favorite punk rock bands. They had the right blend of hardcore punk, borrowing a little from DISCHARGE and adding just hint of metal to their mix. The 'American Scream' 7" was an instant classic in the early 90's and lived on many a homemade cassettec omp next to AUS-ROTTEN, DESTROY! and NAUSEA.
With my introduction to the band in the late 80's Jeff Harp (the heart and soul of FC) soon became a pen pal and we traded a few letters. He sent me many cool fliers for some amazing shows. I lived in a tiny town in the mountains of Colorado and he resided in the metropolis of LA. Last year when CLUSTERFUX was on tour I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff at our show in Long Beach. Besides being the main man behind anarcho-punk legends FINAL CONFLICT, Jeff is also an accomplished tattoo artist and my plan is to get some ink done by him when I am out there this fall. Over the last several weeks Jeff and I have been trading messages online as he has been gracious enough to give me a peak into his world and the world of FINAL CONFLICT....
Thrashhead: FINAL CONFLICT formed in 83. How old were you when you put the band together? How did it come together?
Jeff Harp: I was 21. Me and Johnny Daniels (vocals) started without a bass player or a drummer. I met Dale Dang at Cathe de Grand in Hollywood and he started playing drums and we found Rob Justice "...the only choice I had was to write the best songs I was able to write..."-Jeff Harp(bass) through an add in the Recycler. Before FC I was in a band called IRON CURTAIN with the guys who went on to start BODY COUNT (thepunk band, not the rap metal band – ed). 2 years ago I started a sideproject called WETBRAIN with Mike from SCARRED FOR LIFE on bass and vocals, my oldest son Ryan on drums, and me on guitar. It lasted almost a year, and we never played anywhere due to FC being on the road.
Thrashhead: FC had a heavier sound than most of the SoCal bands at the time. Where did that come from?
Jeff Harp: CRUCIFIX was my main influence. I'm not a very educated musician so the only choice I had was to write the best songs I was able to write and enjoy playing, and if people liked them, that was cool too.
Thrashhead: How much touring did FC do back in the day?
Jeff Harp: There were lots of trips to San Francisco. We toured with Bulimia Banquet to Canada and back. We did the East Coast with AUS-ROTTEN, DISTRAUGHT and DISASSOCIATE. We even got to Europe with the GENERATORS, then CLUSTER BOMB UNIT.
Thrashhead: You have always seemed to be a big fan of the early SoCal punk scene. What was the first show you saw?
Jeff Harp: The GERMS at the Fleetwood. The GERMS were my favorite band, so seeing them meant a lot, plus they were accessible unlike rock stars,and they were just punk as could be. I was lucky enough to see them a few times,and I also met all of them except Lorna. I also saw the DARBY CRASH BAND.
Thrashhead: What has been the most memorable show you'veseen?
Jeff Harp: DISCHARGE at the 930 club in the summer of 1982. I was visiting the East Coast at the time. The DISCHARGE gig was a matinee show, most of the D.C .punks didn't like the English anarchist style bands,maybe a hundred punks showed. Up 'till that time BLACK FLAG was the most powerful band I had seen live. DISCHARGE were just a wall of fucking power!
Thrashhead: Describe what it was like growing up in the L.A. punk scene?
Jeff Harp: Hmmmm, a lot of violence. Saw a lot of cool people come and go...a lot of idiots as well. I got to see a lot of cool shit because I got into the punk scene early.
Thrashhead: I've heard stories of, and to some extent have even witnessed, the LA punk gangs. FC even captured the gang problem onthe track 'Territorial Rights'. What kind of impact did that have on the scene in the 80's? What kind of impact did it have on you?
Jeff Harp: I saw a 14 year old kid get murdered by punk gang members. Shit like that turned me off of the punk scene quite a bit at the time, it wasn't even safe to go to shows. I knew who did it. It was at a show, they basically beat the kid to death. I don't remember what show. I have no idea what started it, basically gangbangers being bullies...whatever the cause the kid didn't deserve to die. It hurt the scene dearly.
Thrashhead: Even today some punks belong to the neighborhood gangs. Is that true? How does it affect the scene?
Jeff Harp: I've always felt gang bangers should do their gangbanging elsewhere but unfortunately it still haunts the scene...not as bad as it used to be though.
Thrashhead: My first introduction to FC was the Thrasher interview. I cut it out and hung it on my wall. I still have it in a box of old fliers and stuff. What year was that? What can you tell me about that experience? How did it help the band?
Jeff Harp: 1987-1988, I cant remember exactly. As far the bands popularity it didn't help much. The guy that interviewed us also reviewed our first album in CREAM magazine which was kind of a trip. The Thrasher interview was way after we met Pushead
Thrashhead: 'Ashes to Ashes' was released on his label, Pusmort. How did your relationship come to be?
Jeff Harp: A friend of ours sent our demo tape to Maximum Rock NRoll: attn Pushead. After that he wanted to put our first album out for us. He became a very good friend of ours and did a lot for us. He later released 27"s during the 90's with his artwork at my request. He prints everything up to be super-collectable.
Thrashhead: Is that Katon on the back of 'Ashes toAshes'? Were you pretty tight with HIRAX at one point?
Jeff Harp: I don't think that is Katon on the back of 'Ashes toAshes' but we were pretty close with HIRAX.
Thrashhead: How many kids do you have? You have been with your wife for a long time. How long have you been married? Are all your kids punks?
Jeff Harp: I have two sons, Ryan 23, Aaron 18. I've been married since 84, we've been together since 82, and been best friends since 79. My older son swears by the d-beat, and plays a mean d-beat as well. My youngest was born into punk and knows more about punk than a lot of older punks, but he claims himself a metalhead, especially thrashmetal. I love metal, so its cool with me. I think he's a punk with hair to his ass.
Thrashhead: You're an accomplished artist. Any formal training or just a natural gift?
Jeff Harp: No formal art training. I was one of the kids in school that could draw good. And painting leather jackets got me into painting with acrylics.
Thrashhead: You've done art for FC, Phobia, Corrupted Ideals...Anyone else?
Jeff Harp: I've done art for CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER, SCARRED FOR LIFE, GLYCENE MAX, CORRUPTION, BOOT BOYS, BODY COUNT and many others I just cant remember off hand.
Thrashhead: How did you get into tattooing? How longhave you been tattooing?
Jeff Harp: Mike Brown helped me get started here at Good Time Charlies Tattooland around 1985. So I guess I have been tattooing for 26 years!
Thrashhead: What does the future look like for FINALCONFLICT?
Jeff Harp: We're recording a new LP in July then hopefully a west coast tour shortly there after. Shane McLachlan (PHOBIA) – vocals,Calum Mackenzie (Oi Polloi, A.P.P.L.E.) - bass...Eric Fauver – drums and me on guitar. We hope to make Denver part of our west coast tour!
all images courtesy of Jeff Harp ©copyright Jeff Harp