Getting by with Harley Flanagan of the Cro-Mags

Posted on: September 8th, 2020 at 5:01 am by

Photo: Harley Flanagan

In our new series “Getting By,” Lower East Side residents and business owners share, in their own words, how they’re navigating the new normal of pandemic times. In this installment, Harley Flanagan, founder of hardcore punk band Cro-Mags, gives us two cents.

Less than 48 hours before our show with Body Count at Webster Hall, the governor and mayor mandated no public gatherings. That’s how the pandemic started for me. We quickly pivoted and performed a live online concert. As it turns out, we were the first band to do a quarantine show. We set up all our gear and our backdrop and played a concert just as if we were playing to an audience; and what would’ve been a show for maybe 1,500 people wound up being seen by more than 200,000 worldwide that night – so we took a bad situation and turned it into a great one.

This is something I have done my whole life coming from a poor family on the Lower East Side. It’s also in the spirit of punk rock and hard-core– it was total DIY. But we did it very professionally. We had Steve Zing, the bassist for Danzig, mix the show, recorded in a professional studio along with a professional film crew. We managed to pull all that together in just 24 hours.

Then came the lockdown. We were supposed to go on a world tour this summer, but the festivals all over the place got canceled. We instead spent the next few months actually writing music, then tracking. So rather than being on tour I wound up writing two albums worth of material. I didn’t waste any time.

It has been a difficult time for everybody, and I count my blessings. Although I’ve been out of work and my job has been closed down, my wife has been able to work from home. I have used the time as productively as possible. Fortunately we get along really well, so being stuck together was a pleasure. After nearly six months of quarantine together, we are now on vacation.

View this post on Instagram

;) @realcromags #cromags #cromags2020

A post shared by Harley Flanagan (@harleyfflanagan) on

To be honest, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life: the quarantine and then all the protests and the whole political climate … all the craziness that’s going on. I’ve lived in New York pretty much my entire life and I’ve never seen it this way before.

My building alone had at least nine cases of coronavirus. My neighbors on both sides and above me had it. My next-door neighbor died from it. I saw them wheel him out on a stretcher. I saw the fear in his eyes. And I will never forget it. This was a man that I knew; someone that’s been in my apartment. I was in his apartment. He walked my dogs when I was away. I know his kids. It has been intense. We all saw the trucks in front of the funeral parlors and hospitals because they couldn’t store all the bodies. We all know people who died from it. Some of my family members had it, too, but recovered in the hospital. This has been an intense time in so many ways in New York.

Photo: Harley Flanagan

Hopefully, we learn how to deal with these types of situations in the future if and when they do happen. I guarantee this won’t be the last pandemic. I’m sure terrorists will use these types of biological threats moving forward, seeing the effectiveness in creating sheer panic and economic mayhem. And with all the issues going on with police, hopefully we, as a society, will learn something. These are crazy times, there’s no question. And on top of it there’s a crazy man in office.

But chaos and world drama is great for creativity and music. So I’m using all of this constructively and productively.

Have a great day, everybody! Stay safe.

Recent Stories

Jing Fong Workers Protest Dining Room Closure and Rumored Shutdown

Despite the brisk weather, several dozen union members and Jing Fong employees rallied Tuesday morning in front of the East West Bank on Centre Street to save save the iconic dim sum restaurant. Advocates called on the Chu family, which owns the Elizabeth Street property (and the aforementioned bank), to stop killing Chinatown and to keep […]

Forever Stalled Delancey Street Condo Tower is Finally Rising

Stop the press – there is actual real world progress to report on a long-stalled development at the east end of Delancey Street. The 12-story “boutique condo” at the corner of Delancey and Pitt Streets has seen some serious progress in recent months, after spending most of its life cycle as a stalled steel skeleton. […]

Asian Man Pummeled Outside East Broadway Station in Latest Biased Attack

An Asian man was assaulted in an unprovoked attack outside the East Broadway subway station Tuesday night, adding to a recent spate of biased assaults against Asians across the city. Cops said the 56-year-old victim was entering the F train station – the Rutgers Street entrance by Woo’s Wonton King – at about 8:50pm when […]

NY PopsUp with Performances at Essex Crossing

A small crowd gathers outside the entrance to the International Center of Photography on Essex Street. Rain be damned. Music blares onto the street. Inside the sparse Essex Crossing storefront, behind plate-glass windows, a group of dancers prance around to the rhythm. The weekend spectacle was part of NY PopsUp, the months-long festival billed by […]

Lady Gaga’s Former Lower East Side Apartment is Back on the Market

The Lower East Side apartment formerly inhabited by Lady Gaga before she was famous is again available for rent. The one-bedroom abode at 176 Stanton Street (#4A) is currently listed for $2,000 per month via StreetEasy, and has been on the market for about thirty-five days. And the broker babble was recycled from past listings. […]