“He would mess with me on stage pretty routinely, and then crack a smile and wink at me. Then he would usually come over in the middle of a song and plant a sloppy kiss on my neck.”
There are few roles with as many ups and downs as being in a band with Dave Franklin, the enigmatic frontman who passed away in January at the age of 47.
Vision guitarist Pete Tabbot rode the twisted roller coaster for 30 years with the recently departed Dave Vision, aka Da Vision, aka Da-vish, the quintessential lightning rod of the New Jersey hardcore punk scene. Dave was brutal in the most loving way, and Tabbot took the brunt of it.
Dave Vision will get a proper sendoff on April 2, when the hardcore scene gathers to say goodbye in the best way they know how—with a raucous festival featuring his best friends at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall.
Following Franklin’s passing, there was the expected outpouring of love and remembrance. And each sentiment echoed the fact that Franklin was larger than life.
“Dave had a million stories, each featuring characters more impossible than the next,” says longtime friend, original drummer, and ’80s professional skater, Derek Rinaldi. “To see and meet most of these people at the service was overwhelming. It was kind of like that last scene in Tim Burton’s Big Fish, in that it’s so odd how all of these roads lead to this one place at this one time.” Anyone who was even a casual friend had epic tall tales.
“Dave was still in high school. I had just started college. He was loose, impulsive and hysterically funny. I was more neurotic, controlled and cerebral. But we both loved the same music,” says Tabbot. “During our very first conversation, Dave mentioned that he had a van. I was playing in another band at the time and we had a show in Albany. With no hesitation, Dave insisted that I use his van. I was grateful and traded him my Grand Prix for the weekend. Dave’s van got us to the show, opening for Scream, featuring Dave Grohl on drums. My Grand Prix, however, broke down on Dave as he was pulling up to a tollbooth. We’d barely become friends and he was willing to help me, no questions asked. Talk to friends and acquaintances of Dave, and you’ll hear similar stories, with people saying, ‘Dave helped me in ways no one else could.’”
Vision’s first show with their core members, Franklin, drummer Matt Riga and Tabbot, was an opening slot for The Exploited at City Gardens in 1987. They released In the Blink of an Eye in 1989, an album influenced by the NYHC scene with radical tempo changes and Bad Religion-esque harmonizing that few East Coast bands had.
They followed up seminal 7-inch comps with the more complex and darker Just Short of Living, in 1992. Following a hiatus caused by contract issues and the fall of Criminal Records, Corrupted Image re-released Vision’s old Undiscovered in 1996 and then One in the Same, endearing them with a new generation of hardcore kids and bringing old friends out to shows. The anthemic The Kids Still Have a Lot to Say, in ’98, further cemented their status with European and U.S. tours. This brought Vision to the attention of Epitaph Records, who released Watching the World Burn in 2000. Their final output was Detonate on Chunksaaah in 2003.
On the stage, Franklin had full control of the room. He was the guy who could bring the skinheads, the punk weirdos, the skaters, and the nail bangers together in a pile on the stage.
“We literally would stuff people in the basement of his mother’s house, set up seven bands and a quarter pipe for kids to skate. I still don’t know how it all happened. Our old friend recently pointed out that we’d have 200 hardcore punk kids tearing up the basement all afternoon and evening, and there would be another group of kids upstairs partying, dressed in Benneton,” laughs Tabbot. “I think that’s kind of emblematic of Dave’s natural ability to attract all sorts of people and to maintain varied and interesting friendships.”
Franklin was simply, a badass. He snowboarded through the coldest of Northeast winters and was part of the NYHC inner circle.
“20 or so years ago, we played a show in Newark with a band we all admired, absolute heroes of Dave’s. He was invited on stage to sing a song. Dave had shoulder length hair at the time, and an angry baldy in the audience took offense and let Dave know in an aggressive way. Dave confronted the individual outside and wound up on the wrong end of a broken bottle. A melee ensued involving all of us, and I made my way inside a few minutes later to see how he was. He’s sitting on a bar stool with blood-soaked clothing and a wound deep into his shoulder, looks at me and says, deadpan, ‘Well, Pete, there goes my modeling career.’”
When not recording or touring, Dave was a carpenter. He was constantly renovating a kitchen, replacing a roof for some friend in the punk scene, or building stuff with former Vision member Tim Glomb and the Jackass crew.
His voice was deep and he was louder than any human should be, his Irish face turning red when he got excited, an energy that couldn’t be thwarted—borderline obnoxious if he hadn’t been so charming.
Franklin was best known for a demeanor that diffused tensions. From the most aggressive boot boys to the nerdiest kid, he simply made everyone feel like they belonged. He was also the guy with a fondness for abused animals and a loving family life behind it all.
The Festival, “Doing It For Dave,” presented by City Gardens, will feature a collection of bands that played with, were influenced by, or were part of the larger Vision brother and sisterhood inside Asbury Park Convention Hall, with doors opening at 11:30. It features a legendary lineup of Point Blank, Damage Done, Floorpunch, Search, Ensign, Release/Resurrection, Supertouch, Bold, Dave Smalley & Don’t Sleep, Shades Apart, Ex Number Five, Murphy’s Law, Maximum Penalty, Sheer Terror, Leeway, and interestingly, a New Jersey punk supergroup featuring members of the Bouncing Souls and Lifetime.
By evening, hardcore heavies like Burn, Breakdown and Killing Time will take the stage, finishing up with headliners H20 (who did a short tour with Franklin and Vision last November) and what is sure to be an emotional set with Vision playing their time-honored classics with various friends handling vocal duties.
World/Inferno Friendship Society and the Hub City Stompers will play the after-party. The show will benefit the Riot Fest Foundation and the North Shore Animal League. Tabbot noted that it wouldn’t be happening without the donation of time and gear from Jason Dermer of Asbury Audio and Jen Molnar handling travel and lodging for the bands.
While the whole day will likely be moving, to give closure to his family and armies of friends, when the members of Vision past and present play those songs very obviously for the last time, it will be one of the most emotional moments in New Jersey punk rock history. Expect the voices of those who saw Vision over the decades, young and old, to be singing along to Dave’s words, reaching for the mic, arm in arm, brought together to pay respects to the man who brought us all together in the first place.
“I think that the differences in personality he and I had were more than tempered by the fact that Dave generally loved the music I wrote or the lyrics I contributed. I think at the end of the day, despite busting my balls almost any chance he got, Dave respected and appreciated how we worked together to create and play music. Right before we went on stage for what would be our last show together in Philadelphia last November, Dave pulled me aside and was describing something I had played the night before in NYC, something he hadn’t heard before and loved,” muses Tabbot. “I think he messed with me because it made him laugh, but I think it was also strangely an emblem of affection and respect—because being a punching bag also kind of means you have to be a confidante, a partner in crime. He, Matt Riga and I go back 30 years in the band, and I’m pretty sure Dave never forgot everyone’s contributions. He depended on us and loved us too.”
Doing It For Dave – A Tribute To Dave Franklin Vision NJHC takes place April 2 at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, NJ. For tickets and show details, visit ticketmaster.com.