The original badboy burner, wildstyle king. Just when it seems he's broken the final limit with regard to writing, he goes off through another frontier we never thought existed. He has recently written, while living in Los Angeles, a screenplay for a film on hardcore writers and he is professionally and internationally known for his pieces. Yet he still chooses to live on his homeground territory in East Harlem, New York and his first passion is still piecing. 'I prefer rough realoty to glamour and vanity!' Something about a leopard  never changing its spots...

Vulcan started writing in 1972, mainly on the 6 train which took him to school each day. Although unsure about why he started, one of the reasons was becasue it was something he could control and no one else could - not police, parents or school. 'I liked the whole idea. Just writing. I liked writing.'

First tags included Vulcan, Stix 2, Trail 1, Hat 1 but Vilcan was the name he got up most with.

'I had to write in the day, riding to school and back. I couldn't go out at night.'

By 1980 he became fascinated by the new pieces on the trains and the challenge of developing a technique nobody knew about.

'I saw wild burners that I couldn't read. I was pulled by the desire to have this secret language that nobody else could understand. i wanted to learn how to paint like that. This stuff was more complex than the stuff that I'd learnt in the ealry 70s.'

He doesn't describe himself as a bomber but as a piecer, a painter.

'My speciality is the wild burner - the wilder, the better. I try to do stuff that I've never seen before. Pieces which have inspoired me were done bu Phase 2, Jean 13, Kase 2, Dez. These are the people who were the brave ones, doing styles and going places where nobody else had been before. They rarely got the respect they deserved.'

'I always wanted to be different, didn't feel I had to fokllow the written code. I fell in love with the concept of burners. I don't want to paint happy pictures - my joy comes from portraying fierce, real, wild deep emotions, the I'll-fuck-you-u ghetto-style down-and-dirty. Thjat's burning for me. That's real.  People talk and talk about 'art'. You don't have to be able to understand it to have it move you. And, to be honest, I don't care if I'm not understood. I do it anyway. I do it cos it's how I am, not because it's down or to be acceptable. I do it for those I respect - other writers and for myself. it's done for the hardest of the hardcore, not for fame or money. Strictly for the hardcore. If you don't like my style, you don't like my style, but I'm here and doing it anyway.

'Yes, my style alienates a lot of people - the people who don't feel, don't care, can't or won't understand or see. My first piece in 1973 now seems like a joke. I gradually developed my style. Now I just do pieces and burners when I have a specific idea in my mind, something I can be prud of, not just writing for the nostalgia. Three months ago, I did a whole car on the 5 train but it was buffed the next day. But painting trains doesn't make you real. it's what, where and how you write.

'I think writing has changed a lot.  I remember seeing the first piece on a train in the 70s. Nowadays, it would look like the sloppiest, easiest thing to do but back then I did not have a clue how somebody could pull that off. A lot of writers today do not give props to the original pioneers. But they should remember that if nobody did it before you, if someone hadn't broken the ground, it wouldn't exist. There would be no way to know how to do it. You're trying to figure out how to technically do something that has never been done before. This is the evolution of an art form.'

There are many vicious rumours and myths generated about aerosol culture which Vulcan is eager to put to rights:

'Graffiti is always being defined and stereotyped. I don't call myself an aerosol artist or a graffiti artist. I'm a writer and do pieces and burners. Fokr me, graffiti is vandalism. Tagging and disrespect, going over, destruction. If it takes 8-15 hours to do a piece, you can't seriously describe that as defacing a building. Writing is about reclaiming territory, of breaking free from a prison-like society.  Too many people let somebody else control what they should have control of - the expression of themselves.  I respect writers who respect themselves. I respect dignity. So many young writers now have no respect for anything. They'll write over a piece in a second - show no respect, thought or understanding. That just makes you more of a toy. You should have some type of comprehensive thought or philosophy beyond what you're doing, whatever aspect of writing you're doing. You can be a bomber or just do plain pieces or burners. But you must show some level of respect for what you do and a game plan.  My game plan is just to burn. Fly shit. Every time I paint.  And the paint I use at the moment is any I can get my hands on! I  prefer Buntlak (someone out there send me some cos we can't get it here!) but usually Krylon. If you make a mistake, you can go over it. You can alsways fix it, unless it's your style that's the mistake! My outlook on writing is going to be different from a five year writer from Europe. I've seen so many pieces. What may be new to them, is old to me. The piece which inspired tem - I saw that piece which inpsired that piece ten years ago!

'The most dangerous change has been the change in attitude of writers. It's become selfish and ignorant and, if the culture dies, it will come from within not without. There used to be a lot more unity: writers against injustice, the system, the authorities, the police. But now it's writers against writers, us against us. In New York, writing has gone backwards. The young kids just want to street bomb and write over anything.  If they can't respect people from within their own group, how can they expect people from outside that group to respect them?'


So Vulcan's still burning. And one last word to hose involved in the writers' competition in London:

'I'd just like to say I didn't think that competition was set up correctly: me being the only judge there. I don't think that was right. I asked for at least two more judges but the promoters wouldn't pay the travelling costs for more than one. All I could do was say my opinion on what I saw. There should have been other qualified writers there to balance out my opinion. but I also think European writers should be grateful to get a chance to paint in an environment like that. All the time I've been in New York, we've never had anything like that. You shouldn't enter a competition unless you are prepared to lose.'