Harley Flanagan, who founded the legendary hardcore band the CRO-MAGS at the age of 14, has told Ireland's Overdrive that he still feels very let down by the New York hardcore scene about the way he was treated after his 2012 arrest on charges of attacking several members of a previous CRO-MAGS lineup.
"All of my so-called 'friends' turned their backs on me when that shit went down," he said. "If anything, I've finally come to terms with the whole outcome of that incident.
"To be honest, I feel totally let down and disgusted [by] what New York hardcore turned into," he continued. "I'm completely let down and disgusted with my old friends. I think they're a bunch of sell-out, clout-chasing fucks, who would rather 'run with the pack' than be loyal to… [Pause] I was the first person some of these motherfuckers even met because I was around before all of them.
"I'm really disappointed with all of them but at the same time, it's very liberating, because people spend their whole lives thinking that their social group is their reality. They spend their whole lives trying to fit into specific groups and scenes and really at the end of the day, most of its just total bullshit. So I've got to really thank all of those motherfuckers for turning their backs on me because if anything, they made me grow up. And at the end of the day, I really have people who matter in my life and when all of that shit went down in Webster Hall… When all of the fake friends were stripped away, you can see straight away who has got your back and that's when you're really at your strongest. When you're surrounded by a very strong support system of friends… the people who really give a fuck, who really love you and care about you — that's the real life lesson. That's what got me through that period in my life."
Flanagan went on to say that the fallout from the incident was even worse than most people were aware.
"You have to know also during that time the mother of my kids left me," he said. "She was fucking someone else, and it just felt like my whole life was falling to pieces. I was at a place where I finally felt like my life was good, and then it just shit the bed worse than when I was even homeless on the streets, because I didn't have children to worry about. To be honest, the only thing that kept me going was to not let my kids down. I didn't want them to see me fail and have to live with everything that people were saying about me and for them [his kids] thinking it was true. I just kept it together as best I could and started to rebuild my life one day at a time, never losing focus. There were days where I just didn't know how I could take any more, but I just knew that I was never going to give up. Never. I was determined to never beat myself up with booze and drugs ever again out of depression. I'm not going to go on a killing spree because then there's no turning back and I'm not going to top myself because nothing would get fixed.
"If you had of told me that it was going to take eight years for me to get back on my feet again, I would have said, 'There's no fucking way I can do that,'" he added. "That's a pretty long fucking time, but I'll tell you this: when you get through that hell, I'm in the best place I've ever been in my entire life. I don't think there's anything that can break me going forward. Death is the only thing that's going to stop me and I intend to meet that gracefully. If you are lucky enough to be at peace with yourself when it's your time to go, then death is a lot more peaceful. It's just a transition to another place. If you're still unsettled, those are the people that have a difficult transition.
"It was at this point that a very small group of friends, the Renzo Gracie Academy and my wife (who wasn't my wife then) Laura came into my life. She believed in me when nobody else did and when I was starting to doubt myself, they all pulled me back."
Read the entire interview at Overdrive.
CRO-MAGS will release a new album, "In The Beginning", on June 19 via Arising Empire and Mission Two Entertainment.
CRO-MAGS' "Don't Give In" EP was released in August 2019 via Victory Records. A second three-song EP, "From The Grave", arrived in December.
CRO-MAGS feature Flanagan pulling double duty with bass and lead vocals, guitarists Gabby Abularach, Rocky George (SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, FISHBONE), and drummer Garry "G-Man" Sullivan.
Last year, Flanagan reached a settlement with singer John Joseph and drummer Mackie Jayson regarding ownership of the CRO-MAGS name. Flanagan is now performing under the name CRO-MAGS while Joseph and Jayson are performing as CRO-MAGS "JM".