The Punk Vault

Selections from The Punk Vault [Reagan Youth]

Reagan Youth – Youth Anthems for a New Order 12″ EP (1984 Freeway Enterprises)

Along with a ton of other bands, my first exposure to Reagan Youth was on the mighty P.E.A.C.E. compilation. I bought that comp because it had a bunch of bands I had only heard the names of at the time and not heard the music of. Reagan Youth was one of the many standouts on there that found its way onto countless mix tapes I’d make for myself back in high school. It wasn’t long after that I’d find and buy the only record they would release during their brief time as a band. I also had the luck of seeing them play in 1987 at the “new” Igloo in Chicago. At this point singer Dave Insurgent looked like a rastafarian and not a punk, but they still put on a hell of a show.

Dave Insurgent (real name: David Rubinstein) was born in 1964. He formed Reagan Youth with guitarist Paul Bakija when both were in high school. While they were still in high school, the band played the punk clubs of Manhattan. In fact, David’s science teacher became a roadie for the band (That high school teacher was so into the punk scene that he shaved his head and as a result almost go fired by the school administration).

The band toured across the country a couple times in their career and put out this lone 12″ EP. It was self-released but they had something to do with R Radical Records at some point as R Radical was selling it at a time when they were only selling their own releases. I don’t know if they helped released it or were just helping their friends distribute a record. The record did not come in a standard LP type jacket, it was housed in a big folded poster sleeve that was full of all kinds of information plus the lyrics.

Weathered and worn in the late 1980s from touring and drug abuse, the band packed it in when Reagan left office in the late 1980s. It made sense seeing as naming your band after a president gives you a pretty short shelf life. I guess when I saw them it was their final tour.

After the bands demise, New Red Archives reissued this record with a few bonus tracks. However, they made the mistake that some other labels have made in the past, they wouldn’t leave well enough alone! Instead of giving the people the original recording with the bonus tracks, they remixed the thing, and watered it down to the point of embarrassment. If you play the original side by side with the reissue (which is the only version you can purchase these days) your response will like be “what the fuck were they thinking?!” While it is nice that the music is still available in some format, they should have not messed with perfection. They later released a second collection of unreleased songs that the band recorded after they had broken up, but wrote and played while they were an active band. It wasn’t as good but still is worth having. Both are collected now on a single CD.

What happened to Dave Insurgent after Reagan Youth called it quits is a tragic tale. By this time Dave had developed a serious heroin addiction. He was also dealing drugs, although he was not very shrewd at it. Dave had the bad habit of consuming the drugs he was supposed to be selling.

In a drug deal gone bad, another drug dealer violently beat up Dave with a baseball bat. He was hospitalized for weeks. When he got out, he returned to his parents’ home. There, he continued to use drugs as his parents tried to help him recover. Eventually Dave left his parents’ home and moved back to the lower East Side. By now, between the violent assault and his continued drug use, he was no longer an energetic anarchist. He had become a bit disheveled, and many of his friends from the punk scene no longer associated with him.

Dave began dating Tiffany B., a prostitute who worked on Houston Street. Dave had told his parents that she was a dancer. Tiffany supported the couple and their drug habit by turning tricks. Dave would often hang out on the street with Tiffany, waiting while she serviced a customer, and then going with her to score drugs.

Around this time, Dave’s mother died in a freak car accident. One night shortly after, Dave and Tiffany were waiting on Houston Street when a familiar customer pulled up in a pick-up truck. Tiffany got in, telling Dave that she would return in twenty minutes. She never came back. Dave called the police with a description of the truck and went to all the hospital emergency rooms in the city searching for Tiffany. A few days later, on Long Island, the police pulled over a truck and found Tiffany’s body in the bank. They arrested the driver, Joel Rifkin, Long Island’s most famous serial killer, who was later linked to killing numerous prostitutes.

Depressed and alone, after the unexpected losses of his girlfriend and his mother, Dave headed into a downward spiral. One month later, he committed suicide.

As to the rest of the band, I have no idea what they are up to now.

As always, if you have any additional information or were a member of Reagan Youth, please get in touch.

Click here to hear “Degenerated” from the record (right click and “save target as…”)






16 comments

  • Man… This 12″ is a classic. I don’t remember the reissue beign drastically different, but I’ll have to check. Their volume 2 LP on NRA was terrible.

    If any of your readers are interested I have a couple from the 12″ here

  • I bought that P.E.A.C.E. compilation back in college about 20 years ago. Haven’t thought about it in years. I need to dig that up.

    Your site is terrific, btw. Very nice.

  • Man, I love this record but I have to disagree about the remix. I find it much better sounding than the original. I had the remix first though and didn’t buy the original until later and was disappointed when I heard it. So maybe it’s just a matter of what you are used to……

    Mike are you getting my emails re:Incas Records? I sent you another one today.

  • Joe:
    I got yr email this morning and you’ll get a response from me shortly. I guess if you heard the original vinyl first yr opinion might be different. The vinyl version was more raw and had more power, the CD to me sounds way too watered down.

    Dumbek: That is one of the greatest comps ever and NRA reissued it on cd awhile back which they did a steller job on, it sounds amazing.

  • The PEACE comp is indeed amazing. The thing that kills me is that NRA appended some of their current stable of artists onto the end of the second disc, which just doesn’t seem right. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but why mess with a good thing?

  • I too thought that was pretty low of them to tack on some extra shit in an effort to pimp their bands, but it didn’t bother me that much because they did it at the end, and didn’t mess with the original order of the songs. That would have been unforgivable had they mixed their bands inside the original comp.

  • I’ve read this story about Insurgent on the Internet (regarding his girlfriend and the serial killer), almost word for word but I’ve never been able to confirm it. Has it been documented anywhere? It just sounds “too good to be true” – and that’s one of the attributes of an urban myth.

  • Parts of the story i lifted from the bio that NRA actually had up on their site. The story is true, I remember when it happened and reading about it in MRR. Unfortunately it is a true and tragic tale.

  • along with black flags “nervous breakdown” 7″ one of the best hardcore-punk records ever for me! i just love it

  • Dave “Insurgent” Rubenstein was my college roomate at NYU in 1982-83. I had no idea what happened to him until I read on the Wen that he died. He was a funny, great guy and it would be great to get in touch with his family or friends. Do you have any idea how I could do that?
    Thanks,
    Wayne

  • Wayne, I don’t know of any contact info for anyone from the band, but you might want to try New Red Archives, as I imagine they’d have some contact info for the surviving band members if they are paying them any royalties. That would be the best place to start.

  • I hope band members and/or families are getting some royalty checks from the use of “Degenerated” in the movie Airheads.
    That always crossed my mind.
    Great site. Thanks!

  • Great band!

    However, I would most certainly have to disagree with Eric and MXV on Reagan Youth during Volume II (when I think they went under the name House of God for a little while, and then changed their name back to Reagan Youth). I suppose I could understand why it would disappoint a lot of people, but I think that their experimental metal/acid/stoner rock was fabulous, even better and more focused than their earlier work. Even though it didn’t always gather as much momentum or angry, raw power like their older stuff did, that album was probably one of the most epic and powerful pieces of work I’ve ever heard. Paul Bakija is the best in there. He’s perhaps my favorite guitarist ever.

    As for the other band members: If you do a search on private eye, for an amount of money you can track down Paul Bakija and find out his personal information (ie phone number), but for a price of somewhere in between (I think) 20 and 50 dollars. It’d be great to find out, as I think an interview would be awesome.

    Anyway, great band!

  • Uh, Dave’s father and I get royalty checks from 20th century fox as long as it’s aired on t.v or cable.
    As for Volume ii, it’s not terrible, maybe your taste in music is terrible but not that record. C’mon “Jesus was a Communist”, “What will the neighbors think?” are two of the best songs the band ever wrote/recorded, and though it would have behooved us to have gone and done a better job, we couldn’t have because of what happened to Dave.
    What is terrible is that Dave Insurgent was brutally beaten during the recording process and he was in a coma for over a week. Obviously everything relating to recording Volume Two stopped at that moment so what you have is Dave laying down vocal tracks, once, because he never have a chance to go back and re-sing his weak vocals. And none of the guitar was edited out in the production/mixing process because Dave was in a hospital (hey, he was the leader of the band and it was his job but who could think of doing that when your life is forever changed for the worst?). But Volume Two sucks?! Please, fix your in ears or get some taste or something.

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