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Cro-Mags in 2022
Cro-Mags in 2022
Background information
Also known as
  • Mode of Ignorance
  • Disco Smoothy[a]
OriginNew York City, U.S.
DiscographyCro-Mags discography
Years active
  • 1981[b]–2002
  • 2008–present
Past members

Cro-Mags are an American hardcore punk band from New York City. The band, which has a strong cult following, has released six studio albums, with the first two considered the most influential. With a Hare Krishna background,[3] they were among the first bands to fuse hardcore punk with thrash metal.

In April 2019, founding member Harley Flanagan reached a settlement with former singer John Joseph and former drummer Mackie Jayson in which Flanagan would retain exclusive rights to the Cro-Mags name while Joseph and Jayson would move forward under the name, Cro-Mags "JM".[4][5]


Early years (1980–1985)[edit]

How the Cro-Mags formed is disputed by the band's founding members. In Tony Rettman's 2014 book NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980-1990, guitarist Parris Mayhew states that the band formed after he had put up a number of posters around New York in search of band members, to which Flanagan responded.[6] In the same book, other people involved in the New York hardcore scene suggest that the band formed under the name Mode of Ignorance, with an original lineup consisting of Dave Hahn on drums, Mayhew and Dave Stein on guitar, John Joseph on lead vocals and Flanagan on bass. During its early existence, the band went through frequent lineup changes. Mayhew explains that this was because "Harley would see some kid with a shaved head and think 'This kid is hard... let's bring him into the band.' Then I would end up tolerating some horrible, talentless person for however long it took Harley to realise that the guy had no talent". Joseph left the band soon after to live in Puerto Rico and then Hawaii,[7] and was replaced by Eric Casanova. One Cro-Mags lineup from this time consisted of Flanagan on drums, Mayhew on guitar, Todd Youth on bass and Casanova on vocals. By the time the band played their first live performance, Youth had been replaced by Roger Miret, however soon after Casanova was kicked out of the band due to the birth of his son interfering with scheduling.[8] By this time, Joseph had returned to New York and so rejoined as the band's vocalist.[7] Youth briefly re-joined the band after Miret's departure, at the same time Robb "Nunzio" Ortiz joined as an additional guitarist. A few months later, the band changed their name to the Cro-Mags.[6]

However, Flanagan claims in his 2016 autobiography Hard-Core: Life of My Own that he and Mayhew met in 1980 after being introduced by Paul Dordal, they began writing music together soon after and formed the band with vocalist Eric Casanova, who only performed with the band twice.[9] Following this, they would go on hiatus as Flanagan went to California then Canada, during which time he wrote and recorded demos for the songs "Everybody's Gonna Die", "Don't Tread On Me", "By Myself" and "Do Unto Others". After returning to New York in 1983, he regrouped the band and he, Mayhew and Casanova began writing again, using his demo tracks as a basis.[10]

Flanagan also claimed in a 2018 interview with that he formed the Cro-Mags in 1980 with guitarist Dave Stein, drummer Dave Hahn and vocalist John Berry and that the band's first performance was at the Peppermint Lounge opening for the Stimulators the same year. He thought the band was not ready to debut using their real name, so instead performed as Disco Smoothy. After this performance, the group disbanded and in 1982–1983, Flanagan recorded four tracks in Songshop Studios in New York City with Denise Mercedes of the Stimulators, the tracks set to be released by Rat Cage Records but issues regarding management prevented the project to come to fruition. He then recruited Eric Casanova on vocals, before meeting Parris Mayhew in 1983, who then joined as guitarist, along with drummer Mackie Jayson.[1] This final story by Flanagan is supported by John Joseph in his 2007 autobiography The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon, however Joseph instead states the band formed in 1981 and that he was the band's vocalist prior to Berry but left prior to the Peppermint Lounge performance because he thought the name they were performing under was not serious enough.[2]

Rising popularity, lineup changes and breakup (1986–2002)[edit]

The band's debut album The Age of Quarrel was released in 1986, which was mostly written by Parris Mayhew and Flanagan,[11][12] some songs being based on a four track demo that Flanagan had recorded solo in 1982 while on the West Coast.[7] Joseph parted ways with the band again after The Age of Quarrel, leaving Flanagan to sing on the following the Cro-Mags release, Best Wishes (1989), which had a more heavy metal-influenced sound. The next record Alpha Omega saw the return of Joseph singing along with Flanagan. According to cofounder Parris Mayhew, he wrote most of the album with guitarist Rob Buckley. However, neither Mayhew or Buckley played on the actual recording, and the writing has been disputed by Flanagan and others[citation needed]. The Cro-Mags disbanded but later recorded the album with the return of Doug Holland and a new rhythm guitarist, Gabby Abularach.[13]

The album, Near Death Experience was released in 1993, after which the group disbanded for several years. They began touring again in the late 1990s with Flanagan on vocals and bass and Mayhew returning to the fold. Eventually, the band released Revenge in 2000. For many fans, this album signified a return to the Cro-Mags' early hardcore roots. Many songs were comparable to those on The Age of Quarrel, although some featured a more melodic/punk rock style. The release of Revenge and its subsequent tour resulted in yet another break up, which caused lasting resentment between Mayhew and Flanagan. In 2001 Flanagan asked Joseph to join him once again, but the short-lived reunion ended in 2002.

Reunion and legal battle over name ownership (2008–2019)[edit]

Harley Flanagan performing in 2019

In 2008, John Joseph and Jayson began playing shows under the Cro-Mags name with other established hardcore musicians such as Craig Setari from Sick of It All on bass and A.J. Novello from Leeway on guitar. In an October 2010 interview, Joseph revealed that they were planning to release a new album in 2011. This album never happened, as Joseph did not have the legal right to release music using the trademarked name Cro-Mags.

In 2018, Flanagan filed a federal trademark infringement against John Joseph and Mackie Jayson In Federal Court, in the Southern District of New York. In April 2019, Flanagan announced a settlement wherein he would own exclusive rights to the name Cro-Mags; simultaneously, Joseph announced his recognition of the settlement, and that he and his band would perform as the Cro-Mags JM, having been granted a limited license to use the name in this manner, beginning in August 2019.[14][15] Later infringement by Joseph in 2022 resulted in a permanent injunction granted by the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York. The rights to the Cro-Mags name now belong exclusively to Flanagan.

Cro-Mags today (2019–present)[edit]

On June 28, 2019, the Cro-Mags released their first new music in nineteen years, while heading into a 5-show run with the Misfits[16] sharing three new songs "Don't Give In", "Drag You Under", and "No One's Victim",[17] and toured in North America and Europe. The line-up consisted of Flanagan on bass and vocals, Abulurach on guitar, Rocky George on lead guitar and long time drummer Garry "G-Man" Sullivan on drums.

At the end of 2019, they released "From the Grave" featuring former Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell on lead and slide guitar.[18] A three-song 7-inch EP of the same name was released on December 6, 2019, in various colors and have the tracks "PTSD" and "Between Wars" included. The band was set to perform with Body Count in New York City on March 15 at Webster Hall. The show was postponed due to the COVID-19 virus. The band decided to live stream a free performance from SIR studios,[19] one of the first bands to do so during the pandemic.[20] On March 31, 2020, the band offered a free download of the track, "The Final Test" and announced the June 19 release date of their first studio album in twenty years, In the Beginning.[21][22]

In July 2022, Flanagan announced that the Cro-Mags have been working on new material for their next album.[23]



  • Harley Flanagan – bass (1981[b]–1982, 1984–1996, 1999–2002, 2019–present), vocals (1982, 1987–1991, 1999–2002, 2019–present), drums (1982–1984), guitars (1982)
  • Garry "G-Man" Sullivan – drums (1999–2001, 2002–2003, 2019–present)
  • Hector Guzman – lead guitar (2022–present)
  • Dom DiBenedetto – rhythm guitar (2022–present)


  • Dave Hahn – drums (1981[b])
  • Dave Stein – lead guitar (1981[b])
  • John Joseph – vocals (1981,[c] 1984-1987, 1991-1999, 2002-2003, 2008-2019)
  • John Berry – vocals (1981[d])
  • Parris Mayhew – rhythm guitar (1983[e]–1991, 1999–2001); lead guitar (1982–1984)
  • Eric Casanova – vocals (1983[f]–1984)
  • Todd Youth – bass (1982–1983, 1984)
  • Roger Miret – bass (1983–1984)
  • Robb "Nunzio" Ortiz – lead guitar (1984)
  • Mackie Jayson – drums (1983–1986, 1996–1999, 2008–2019)
  • Doug Holland – lead guitar (1985–1989, 1991–1999, 2001); rhythm guitar (1995–1999, 2001)
  • Pete Hines – drums (1986–1989)
  • Dave di Censo – drums (1989–1995)
  • Rob Buckley – lead guitar (1989–1991, 1993–1995, 2001); rhythm guitar (1993–1995, 2001)
  • Gabby Abularach – rhythm guitar (1991–1995, 2019–2020)
  • A.J. Novello – guitars (1993-1994, 2001-2002, 2008–2019)
  • Rocky George – lead guitar (1999–2001, 2002–2003, 2019–2022); rhythm guitar (2002–2003)
  • Craig Setari – bass (2008–2019)
  • Joe Affe – rhythm guitar (2020–2022; touring 2019)

At various times during the 1990s and 2000s, Flanagan and Joseph simultaneously led separate versions of the Cro-Mags with completely different lineups. The groups billed themselves as Cro-Mag Jam, Street Justice, Age of Quarrel, FVK (Fearless Vampire Killers) or Cholo-Mags.[citation needed]



See also[edit]



  1. ^ Flanagan states in a 2018 interview with that the name was Disco Smoothy,[1] however John Joseph states in his 2007 autobiography that the name was the Disco Smoothies.[2]
  2. ^ a b c d Flanagan states in a 2018 interview with that the band was formed in 1980,[1] however John Joseph states in his 2007 autobiography that the band was formed in 1981.[2]
  3. ^ Joseph states in his 2007 autobiography that he was the band's founding vocalist in 1981 prior to John Berry.[2] This is disputed by Flanagan, who claims Berry was the band's founding vocalist in 1980.[1]
  4. ^ Flanagan states in a 2018 interview with that Berry was the band's founding vocalist in 1980,[1] however John Joseph states in his 2007 autobiography that Berry was the band's second vocalist in 1981.[2] Berry being a part of the band was disputed by Parris Mayhew in NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980-1990.[7]
  5. ^ Flanagan states in his 2016 autobiography that Mayhem was a founding member of the band in 1980.[9] However, he states in a 2018 interview with that Mayhew didn't join until 1983.[1]
  6. ^ Flanagan states in his 2016 autobiography that Casanova joined 1980.[9] However, he states in a 2018 interview with that he joined in 1983.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Harley Flanagan To Release 'Cro-Mag Demos' And 'Hard Core Dr. Know' EP". May 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Joseph, John (July 2008). The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon. Punkhouse Pub Co. p. 266. Late in the summer of '81 I started hanging out with Harley again. He spent a lot of time at 171A because he was good friends with the Bad Brains, since he shared the stage with them playing in the Stimulators. I remember Harley and Darryl would wrestle around in the studio for hours like big brothers. Darryl was an amazing bass player and Harley learned to attack his instrument the same way - with a vengeance. Right around that time is when Harley put together the first Cro-Mags line-up at 171 with him on bass, the late Dave Hahn (Bad Brains manager and former production coordinator) on drums, Dave Stein (who played in a band Even Worse) on guitar, and me on vocals. We started writing songs and we used some of Harley's solo stuff, but the project was doomed to fail since a few months later Dave H. announced he was going into drug rehab and Dave S. said he was off to college. Harley wanted to play this show at the Peppermint Lounge as a goof under the name "The Disco Smoothies," but I was way too serious about my shit and turned down his offer. Harley doesn't like to mention the actual facts because he loves to claim that I wasn't the first singer. Instead, he got this dude John Berry (who was in the Beastie Boys when they were a NYC hardcore band and prior to the addition of Adam Horovitz to the line up) to sing and they did their Disco Smoothies show. It seemed the REAL Cro-Mag line-up would be put on the back burner for a while.
  3. ^ "Hare Krishnacore - An introduction to the most improbable punk subculture ever". The Vinyl Factory. June 26, 2015. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  4. ^ Grow, Kory (April 23, 2019). "Cro-Mags Lawsuit: Harley Flanagan Wins Band Name". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  5. ^ Russell, Josh (May 30, 2018). "New York Punk Rockers Take Dispute to Court". Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Rettman, Tony (2015). NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980-1990. Brooklyn, NY. p. 213. ISBN 9781935950127.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ a b c d Rettman, Tony (2015). NYHC : New York Hardcore 1980-1990. Brooklyn, NY. p. 211. ISBN 9781935950127.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  8. ^ Rettman, Tony (2015). NYHC : New York Hardcore 1980-1990. Brooklyn, NY. p. 212. ISBN 9781935950127.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  9. ^ a b c Flanagan, Harley; Blush, Steven (October 20, 2016). Hard-Core: Life of My Own. Feral House. p. 131. ISBN 978-1627310338. I met Parris Mitchell Mayhew around that time, through my crazy-ass Skinhead friend Paul Dordal, back in like 1980. Paul introduced him to me as "Kevin," and that's how we all knew him when we started playing together...
    As it turned out, Parris used to go to Max's and he was a huge Stimulators fan, as well as of the Bad Brains, Motörhead, Sex Pistols, and other stuff I was into. I think he was pretty excited about playing with me, 'cause he'd seen the Stimulators many times. We became friends and started talking about jamming, and planning to do a band together...
    Eric Casanova joined the band. We did our first two shows with him. Eric was only like 15 when he got his girlfriend pregnant and left to try and do the right thing. That's when John Joseph joined. Those early days were the best, that's all I can say-crazy but fun.
  10. ^ Flanagan, Harley; Blush, Steven (October 20, 2016). Hard-Core: Life of My Own. Feral House. p. 132. ISBN 978-1627310338. When we finally started playing and writing together, there was instant chemistry. But we were having no luck finding other players. And before anything really happened with the band, I wound up heading out to Cali and then to Canada. When I came back to New York after all that madness, I really wanted to get a band going...
    It was around that time I did solo recordings of "Don't Tread On Me," "Wake Up," "Dead End Kids," and "Why Don't You," which Denise helped produce...
    Parris and me finally picked up where we had left off. So there we were, it was 1983. I was in full-on Skinhead mode. But this time I was serious about starting the Cro-Mags. When we started jamming, I'd already written "Do Unto Others," "Don't Tread On Me," "Everybody's Gonna Die," and "By Myself," as well as the songs that wound up on my solo recordings like "Why Don't U" "Wake Up" and "Dead End Kids." That became the template for the sound and the direction we were heading. Parris had a lot of riffs for the songs. Eric Casanova co-wrote a lot of the words that ended up on The Age of Quarrel.
  11. ^ "Cro-Mags – The Age Of Quarrel on Discogs". Discogs. November 27, 1986. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  12. ^ "This Is Hardcore Podcast Episode 30 - Parris Mayhew.. The Age of Chaos Magic". YouTube. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  13. ^ "The Official Cro-Mags Website". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  14. ^ "Harley Flanagan and John Joseph settle Cro-Mags lawsuit". April 22, 2019. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  15. ^ Kory Grow (April 23, 2019). "Cro-Mags Lawsuit: Harley Flanagan Wins Band Name". Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Original Misfits add shows with The Distillers, The Damned & Cro-Mags". May 14, 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  17. ^ "Hear Hardcore Heroes Cro-Mags Return With First New Songs in 20 Years". June 28, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  18. ^ "Listen To New CRO-MAGS Single 'From The Grave' Feat. MOTÖRHEAD Guitarist PHIL CAMPBELL". October 11, 2019. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  19. ^ "Cro-Mags Corona Virus Quarantine Show - Live Stream Sunday night". Facebook. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  20. ^ "musicians-reach-out-amid-coronavirus.cnn". March 23, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  21. ^ "CRO-MAGS To Release 'In The Beginning' Album In June; New Song Available For Free Download". March 31, 2020. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  22. ^ "CRO-MAGS – New Album In The Beginning Streaming In Full". June 19, 2020. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  23. ^ "Cro-Mags - Tracking New Tunes". Metal Storm. July 27, 2022. Retrieved July 22, 2022.

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