Friday, December 4, 2015
Kriegs Legion- War Bastard LP review
This is real old school shit, crossover the way it was made before hardcore influenced it in the 90s. Utilizing the two guitar sound in an almost Iron Maiden-esque way (that is, with the use of simultaneous harmonies and an individual sound for each guitar), it is the plentiful riffs that seem to drive these songs forward. The drums are metronomic, damn near flawless; bass is bumpin’, following the high end of the riffs with a mirrored, low-sounding rhythm; the vocals are gruff, mid-pitch yells with all the youthful angst and nervousness boiled out in favor of a righteous urgency (given the lyrics, it makes more sense to be this way). Lyrics cover a wide range of topics, most of ‘em related to the shrinking level of freedom the powers that be allow the common man, the proletariat of today. Propaganda, bribe, coercion, or a violent end is what seems to be the accepted norm for combating oppositional individuality in this day and age, and Krieg’s Legion is unafraid to say it.
The layout of the insert for the record is smooth yet simple, the recording quality is clean but not spotless (as all metal and punk should be), and there’s some room left to headbang. A fine piece of Motor City metal and/or punk.
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Iron Youth- 7” review
What if the singer from GLUE was really bent out of shape and the band was on Youth Attack? Tortured, agitated, sludgy, driving, dirty hardcore that sounds like a bad day in the making. Repeated words, repeated thoughts, angry sighs, Xanax bars chased by bottom shelf whiskey at 2 in the afternoon, My War’s shorter-songed cousin, trying to forget who you are or that you’re even alive… that, is this record.
Monday, November 30, 2015
Tear Off//Clean Up/Don’t Get Bored split tape review
Tear Off//Clean Up’s melodic punk has a non-straight edge 7 Seconds vibe to it- very sing-songy, but with some energy behind the instruments. These guys should be the band that gets the beer drinkin’ beardos energized to see bands at Riot Fest, in a good way. Melodic and energetic in a way that says “You can mosh but you don’t have to”. I see fist pumps being more favorable here.
Don’t Get Bored is the kind of band that would fit perfectly in 1980s Midwest nowhere/anywhere. Snotty, contemptible, and juvenile, yet full of energy and honest, ya gotta love it. Sonically, it could fit in next to something like Pure Disgust, but the band taken as a whole definitely is a thing in itself.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
No/Breaks- No/Breaks demo review
This is hill-bombing, Natty Ice-guzzling, Kools-smoking, J-rolling hardcore punk straight out of the 1980s, in spirit if not in reality. This is the kind of demo tape you buy at the age of 17 and just listen to over and over and over again. What this lacks in tunefulness and snappy catchiness, it more than makes up for in simplicity and pure energy. Much like Pokemon or the first two Terminator movies, the replay value on this is about as high as one can get. That is, unless you’re Snoop Dogg or Sublime, and then you’re probably not all that into hardcore punk. High or not, this is the music of the bored, anxious, misanthropic Midwesterners with attitude problems and crappy jobs they don’t like. Just how we like it.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Coke Bust- Confined LP review
What else have you come to expect out of Coke Bust other than the most stellar hardcore punk this side of the Atlantic? They are known for their steady, excellent output of multiple short, fast songs- here’s nine more to add to that. Sociopolitical/cultural/personal lyrics over top of some rapid drumbeats and fucking crushing riffs (Neutralized will make you mosh no matter who or where you are) delivered with spot on production and precise playing from four highly dedicated individuals in the hardcore punk scene (they don’t just play D.C.- they play all over; in fact, as of June 2015, they’re going to Japan, and have been all over the continental U.S., Europe, South America, and probably Canada and Mexico to boot). This band is what all bands should aspire to be in terms of dedication and influences, one of which is a personal twist that makes your band your band. I expected nothing less and received nothing less.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Last Words- Last Words LP review
The title track is enough to warrant a positive review of this record, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg (or, idioms-wise, saving the best for last, since it’s the last song on the record). Vicious, shrill vocals will tear you the fuck up here- you wanna talk about hard… THIS is hard. Heavy as ever, fast as all fuck, and covers all the bases a hardcore punk record needs to. What more can I say beyond this and that you have to get this record? This is one of my most recent favorite LPs to jam- get it? Got it? Good.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Corrupt Leaders- self titled 7” review
Heavy grindy hardcore a la Dead In The Dirt, Napalm Death, and a little Carcass here and there. Usual fare for lyrics- anti-authoritarian, pro-individuality stuff; nothing new, nothing bad. This errs more on the side of heavy, though, and rightfully so- not enough grindcore is able to do that; it’s all fast-fast-fast and although that formula can work in hardcore punk, it gets boring really fast in anything else. Not too shabby.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Asylum- self titled 7” review
Primitive D-beat with some heavily reverbed vocals and cryptic lyrics. Has a heavy grindcore/classic anarcho punk layout on the inside of the record. Definitely a headbanger from front to back; feels like a couple of long songs, being kind of hard to tell them apart with no distinct riffs or choruses. Still, a nice slab of wax from some East coast cats. ABC D-beat.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Corrupt Leaders- Grindmother 5” review
This is definitely pure grindcore. I don’t know if it’s your grandmother’s grindcore, but it sure is loud, abrasive, fast, heavy, and appropriately annoying. A definite departure from their DOOM/Extreme Noise Terror vibe they gave off on their self-titled 7”. It’s short enough that it’s no harm done if you’re not into it, cuz the worst thing that happens is two minutes gone. Best thing that happens is you get 120 seconds of headbanging in. I’ll bet on the latter being more likely.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Criaturas- Espirita de Libertad LP review
A mix of crossover, D-beat, and straight hardcore punk with a shrill voice behind the mic and a unique mix of reverb. The production is clean but not slick, the songs are great, you can even bang your head… this is hardcore punk exactly as it should be. That is, evolved from punk rock, but not trudging too deeply into the thick monotony of NYHC-styled hardcore. Excellent.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Don’t Get Bored- self titled review
This is the godchild of John Brannon and Todd Swalla; pure, unadulterated, no additives, one hundred percent 80s Midwest snot. The only difference between the two eras is the higher production quality. The Necros vibe is almost unreal; I love it. Deep Wound and Jerry’s Kids also have a little influence here- maybe they have an uncle from Massachusetts. Just imagine if it were the 80s again, because this band perfectly embodies that vibe- the juvenile, nascent, short-sighted, live-for-today zeitgeist.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Eyesore- demo tape review
What if Murphy’s Law and Infest met, had angry flippant sex, and birthed a child on a shitty motel room floor on 8 Mile and Woodward next door to a guy getting pissed on and a guy who just got kicked out of his house in a messy separation? That’s Eyesore. Sonically, like Extortion, lyrically a lot less serious, this band knows what the old adage “less is more” means. Sixteen songs, eight minutes; this is for those who lack the attention span needed for good music. I love that.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
This is high quality, fast paced garage-y punk rock with a big pop element to it- imagine the Ramones with a female singer (not that different a sound, honestly) and slightly less intense instrument volume. This is catchy, melodic, well-written, well-recorded, jangly music with a “soft side of punk” vibe. This could almost be pop punk if not for the fact that this is no doubt a record written from a chronological vision before pop and punk were ever fused together. For anyone who understands where punk came from originally, sound-wise, or wants to. Excellent.
Green Beret- The Cult of State 7” review
Boston hardcore plus old-school D-beat equals one of my favorite current bands. With a slightly different approach than their 12” but with the same hard-as-nails anti-war vibe, they plow through six ragers in as many minutes, commanding attention with a droning, bleating voice that sounds like the voice on an air raid siren. The drums are no doubt in the front seat driving the song, but everything flows together so well that it’s difficult to say which is more important, in terms of instruments. This is everything a hardcore punk 7” should be.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Violent Reaction- Marching On LP review
This is what I’ve been waiting for! The steady improvements that Violent Reaction have been since their flexi (when I started listening, anyways) have culminated into this monster of an LP, one of the best I’ve heard as of late. The blue-collar straight edge skinhead/Oi! influenced hardcore punk they play hits harder than any mid-tempo band who focuses exclusively on breakdowns and sloganeering lyrics ever could. The vocals are booming, the guitars are tuned and distorted just the way they should be (normal EADGBE and high-EQ distortion, I think), giving off a bit of an 86 Mentality vibe but better, the bass is bouncing like their Doc Marten soles, and the drums hit on all cylinders, large and small. The lyrics are no doubt primitive at times, but still provoke enough though to be worthwhile and still fitting of what is no doubt a genre best left to the realms of simplicity. From the brutal intro of M1 Stomp to the almost Blitz-ish Marching On, this is THE LP to get if you like hardcore punk, no matter who you are, or what subgenre therein you like. This is the New Wave of British Hardcore, and VxR are the ones marching on into battle, waving its flag.
Friday, November 6, 2015
Harm’s Way- Rust LP review
Imagine a cinematic sequence of a movie version of Streets of Rage: Four guys surround you; one has a machete, one has a pipe, a third has a knife, and one more is unarmed. The guy with the pipe swings at you, but you dodge it and hook him, knocking his featherweight ass out; he drops it and you pick it up. You swing it up at the guy with the machete, who is coming at you, blade raised in the air. You knock him back, stunning him briefly as he drops his weapon and the knife wielder lunges at you, the blade drawn and pointed right at your midsection. You lean far backward, your assailant just missing his strike as you drop the pipe in your left hand. With that same hand, you force your fingers into his throat and rip out his Adam’s apple, pitching up his knife as the two remaining assailants close in once again. You swing the knife in the direction of the unarmed assassin, causing him to take a step back, while the Jason Voorhees wannabe gears up to slice you. As he brings his blade down, you do a 180° spin with your right arm at shoulder level, with your own blade traveling in the direction of this armed assailant, who just misses you as the blade passes only three inches away from your back. The knife swiftly enters into his neck; he almost instantly drops his weapon, clutching at his neck as you let go of your stolen knife. Seeing that your one remaining adversary is right behind you and moving in, you let out a spinkick and do an about-face to confront your final enemy. You pick up the machete from the ground and glare at your only remaining adversary, staring almost all the way through him as the urge to scream in anger rips through your body. Your final assailant turns around and runs away in fear as your mouth open to bellow out all the rage that’s festered inside you all these years; finally, you unleash it…
You realize you’re the singer of Harm’s Way, an extremely heavy metallic hardcore band from Chicago, Illinois, and your assailants were members of Weekend Nachos, the last surviving member (the one who turned tail and ran, the turncoat bastard) being Snyder. You realize that you have to finish vocals for your new record, and you get back to the studio to lay down the last few tracks. Heavily influenced sound-wise by death and industrial metal, you lay down a similar albeit different style of vocal more akin to a hoarse version of Mike IX Williams from Eyehategod. The records comes off as sounding as heavy, pissed, and full as ever, though the lyrics indicate you are a man of few words. Just as it should be. Truly a progression just as much as it no doubt a Harm’s Way album.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Tear Off/Clean Up- demo tape review
This is blue collar melodic hardcore punk with a heavy sing-a-long vibe a la 7 Seconds, Frank White, early Descendents, and the like. It’s well put together, but doesn’t perfectly match up with the rhythms of the song, which is part of what gives it the soul that it has. It’s clear, but not clean- hell, you could give this to a crusty in between their shitty Contravene discography CD, Disclose bootleg tape that they paid $100 for and it still sounds like shit, and a still unwrapped LP of Mischief Brew’s latest record, and it would fit in just fine. These are some cool catchy guitar driven punk rock songs. Buy a pint of R&R and a pack of Native Spirits for the complete TO/CU experience.
Monday, November 2, 2015
Prohibition- Demo 2015 review
This is a decent demo- what one might expect is certainly delivered. There a tinge of New Breed era NYHC, Keep Deep In Shit, the Reaper Records sound, and modern youth crew. Take the cheesiness of Bold, the sounds of Disengage, and the singer of Plagued With Rage (or any skramz singer, take your pick), and you have Prohibition. Beefy power chords, a steady stream of bass lines, pounding drums, and a set of vocals that are akin to Freddy Cricien fronting Agnostic Front in the late 80s- it sounds like your little brother who watches your band got up on stage and started singing. Not bad, but it could be better. As for the lyrics, let’s just say this IS a demo, and it’s all up from here. Think early-era Madball, and how basic and simple those lyrics are- this is pretty much on that level. Instrumentally on point, at least tone-wise (songs are okay- neither great nor terrible), weird but decent vocals, and lyrics that make you glad you aren’t fourteen anymore.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Shitstorm- Paranoid Existence CD review
Fast, heavy, short, and brutal- what else could you want out of a grind band? I am generally not a big fan of grindcore, but this has a very Lack Of Interest/Neanderthal/west coast powerviolence feel to it, and I like that a lot. The downtuned guitars coupled with the blastbeats and misanthropic lyrics/vocals will tear you up- twenty-seven songs in sixteen minutes. This should remind you of what the Circle Jerks were if they tuned down and (somehow) sped up. Miami is known to have hurricanes from time to time, but this is a Shitstorm, and it leaves a trail of destruction just the same.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Detain- State of Emergency 7” review
Simple knuckle-dragging hardcore with riffs for days; take Madball, mix it up with modern hardcore/metalcore, and you’ve got Detain. Mid-tempo heavy beat, gruff vocals, simple lyrics, well-recorded; everything about this EP screams simple- music for lifting weights, drinking heavily, fighting (although it isn’t as good as Neanderthal’s Fighting Music), fucking (if you can find a mutant willing to do so), or taking out your anger on a bad day. Make no mistake, Detain is among the best at what they do- if you want to sweat in any way, Detain is for you. Just bear in mind that it resonates much more with the id rather than the ego or superego. It’s nothing new, just something good.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Detest- Demo 2015 review
This is pure death metal hardcore- equal parts Bolt Thrower and Disembodied, downtuned all the way through. Vocals bark and grunt along with the crushing mid-tempo riffs and the crashing drums. This goes back and forth between being a hardcore band with death metal riffs and a death metal band with hardcore breakdowns- ultimately, it doesn’t matter much, because it’s good either way. Headbang or spinkick, this is for you.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Violent Reaction- City Streets LP review
Harder than NAILS and more straight edge than Project X, Violent Reaction’s debut LP is a hard-hitting hardcore punk record that also happens to be catchy at points, much like the early 80s. Burly, beefy, and deep-throated vocals are coupled with powerful guitars, bouncing bass lines, and dead-on drumming to make this one-man project a reality of a band- it’s hard to believe that one guy could be so fucking on point with all the instruments, not to mentions the vocals, the lyrics, and the genuineness of character, he (Tom Pimlott) is. There’s no other way to describe this than pissed-off hardcore punk- put it in any subgenre you like (and I tried to, too), it’s the shit. Where you’re punching a hole in the wall at a show or at home, or better yet, shouting the words to these catchy tunes at a show, at home, or in your car (my personal favorite) you will be moving. Packaging and design work is superb- Painkiller is on top with good records right now, and this is one of their best. The best of the best of the best, sir, uh… with honors.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Demolition- World Gone Mad 7” review
It’s cliché to say the demo is better than the EP/LP, but here it rings true. The raw production compared to the slick one on this is the difference. This IS a very clean sounding hardcore record; the songs all have distinct instrument sounds, as opposed to a wall-of-sound where everything is more or less lumped together. The songs are there- I can hear the energy in the performance, but it feels like something got misplaced in the shuffle between performance and this recording. It’s clean-cut mid-to-fast tempo modern hardcore, with a very cool layout and great artwork, leave your doubts behind there. I have a feeling that some of the imperfections the demo had were boiled out on this recording, and although I believe it is those same imperfections that make hardcore and punk what it is, the record itself is still not bad. This being said, it is these imperfect people who decided to go their own way, not take society’s shit, and make the music that only weirdoes and freaks enjoy. I can’t knock that.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Discourse- Curse of Consciousness 7” review
This is pure 90s hardcore with heavy, crunchy riffs, a bass mixed in well, crisp/clear drums, and a hoarse voice wreathing out some harsh lyrics that keep you thinking. Groovy and moshable as it is, it is a thinking man’s hardcore 7”. The theory of the curse of consciousness is fascinating- once you are inundated with the awareness of what our world is, it’s impossible to forget it. It is a gift to be given this knowledge, because nothing is more important than the truth, but too, the truth will weigh on you. All the comforts of ignorance cannot unseat you from the throne of the truth, and this band is able to condense that feeling and transform it into an auditory format. Excellent.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Forced Order- Eternal War 7” review
It’s like youth crew breakdowns with metal riffs, periodically picking up the pace, but mostly remaining at mid-tempo or the slower end of a fast tempo. It’s a metal band with a bunch of breakdowns and a hardcore singer. The short lead breaks are indicative that these guys like early 90s death metal a lot, and it does add an element not usually seen in hardcore (at least the hardcore I’m listening to- word is death metal-core is the hot thing on the block right now). This is the kind of hardcore you circle pit and headbang to- 90s death metal riffs, a hardcore singer, plentiful breakdowns, and a lot of the fat of those death metal songs trimmed out, and for the better. Cyrus poses the question “Can you dig it?” to which I can easily answer “Yes”.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Imagine if Dropdead (who has members in this band) were weirder, heavier, and not as political; the influence is not pronounced, but it is there. The vocals are a little more spastic and grindy, higher-pitched, guitars are fast as fuck, regular tuning (as far as I can tell), and drums are gnarly. Peculiar, albeit intriguing; for any fan of extreme music, really.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Out of Hand- Visions of Death EP review
These guys have two parts of a traditional hardcore song down- the riff, and the breakdown. The problem is that that’s all their songs are, a killer riff played over a minute long breakdown (90 seconds, whatever). Imagine a rubric for some kind of school project- there are five areas judged on this rubric, and this band completes three of them, passing with flying colors (the vocals are pretty good, lyrics are alright). But the other two are just… absent. It’s like they aren’t there. I’m all for asymmetrical song structure, but I can’t help but feel like there’s a verse or chorus missing here. It reminds me of forgetting to videotape something but remembering midway through the show and having to catch up on what you missed, or maybe a mixtape that gets cut off mid-song because the tape ends. Three out of five elements are there and good, but it’s incomplete, and I can’t shake that feeling. Keep writing those heavy metal riffs, though.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Payload of Atomic Warhead Nightmares- Summer 2014 tape review
Sounds like a d-beat raw punk band with a bit of an evolution in proficiency (in song-writing, sound quality, tone, almost everything). Aside from the bass being almost inaudible, everything is a step up from the last tape. Two old songs, three new ones, and a new singer make for an evolved group, though they have many more steps to climb as well. The sound is improved, but the band would greatly benefit with a more controlled guitar sound, turning up the volume on the bass, and an increase in the sound of the cymbals. That would do the band justice, no doubt. The lyrics are some of the usual anti-war/anti-system stuff you’ve come to expect of bands employing exclusively black and white imagery. Still relevant to our world situation, however. The name of the band is a friggin’ mouthful, but they still have the potential to go places. Who’s got the 10 ½?
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Another one of the many bands consisting of a similar group of around 7-10 people (who have had or do have members of Scum, Payload of Atomic Warhead Nightmares, Marrow, Cloud Rat, Live to Kill, and Ishtar), this has a different element to it not present in the other ones. Extremely raw and underproduced, there’s no question these guys are DIY. This is fast and loud, but Madison’s lyrical input is a welcome difference here- it makes a band that would otherwise not stand out be worth a look. A bit more production value would do them good- the songs are good enough for an EP, but it sounds like it was recorded live rather than in studio or tracked separately. A demo is a demonstration- now that you’ve done that, engage and act.
Friday, October 9, 2015
Ill Blood- Prisoner of Life EP review
Mid-tempo hardcore definitely taking a few cues from 90s bands (both hardcore and non-hardcore bands), especially given the sort of groovy riffs the guitar player rings out. Mix in a few mosh riffs, a few breakdowns, and some simplistic though decipherable lyrics, you’ve got this group, Toledo’s Ill Blood. The vocals for this kind of music are usually more guttural and low, and here, they are more often than not shrill and high; it’s not different in terms of quality. The guitar work here is very good; it’s distinct and clicks in your brain right away. I wish there were more memorable riffs on here, but that’s not to say they’re bad. In fact, the guitar is the best thing about this band. The bass is cleverly disguised between the guitar and drum sounds, though it rings out independently a couple of times. The drums are clear and well-played, you’ve gotta love the smoothness here. For fans of mid-2000s era Bridge Nine bands, no doubt. I’m not feeling it as much as I anticipate others might be, but this is worth a jam. Now, let’s hope for a split 7” and see what they can do when backed with a completely different band’s sound. I feel like this is a lot like the movie Shaft- definitely an acquired taste, kind of cheesy and campy, but you can dig it.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Ratstab- Noise War tape review
D-beat raw punk with a bit of a snotty Germs-ish singer. Everything sounds so blown out, even the bass (which is the best sounding instrument in this band), and it makes this difficult to listen to- nothing is distinct or even sounds like it was tracked separately. If it was, they did a hell of a job blending it together to create a wall-of-sound aura with a screaming idiot (as all punk singers are) over top it all. It is indeed noisy- it’s very stripped down and simple, not great not bad. It’s your friend’s band who is not your ideal opening group at a show, but they’re always available, reliable, polite, and supportive. Maybe that’s what a scene is supposed to consist of, even if the bands aren’t great. This is still better than a band who virulently rips off ONLY Hatebreed and Madball and hollers at the crowd “Why don’t you fucking pussies mosh!?”
Monday, October 5, 2015
Spiked Collar- demo tape review
This is raw and brutal but still has an independently tracked sound to it, which makes all the difference. It sounds like a couple of current Texas hardcore punk bands, but a Detroit band instead. This is what hardcore punk is supposed to sound like. James’ vocals are rough yet decipherable, distant yet energetic, forceful yet not forced, snarly and mean but not in a bulldog-ish way. Nick and Denis’ guitars are perfectly balanced between the raw and real and the well-produced and clean, where it’s neither painful to listen to nor too slick and overdone. MANPUPPY’s bass follows with the guitar here- well blended, raw but not too much so. Jake’s drums are tight but not so tight that it’s perfect; it is nigh-perfect in its imperfection. With some badass hand-drawn artwork and a fresh perspective by the band members, these cuts make up my new favorite Detroit hardcore/punk band. I cannot fucking wait to see more shows, cuz this demo is gonna last me a while.
James (the singer) told me about this band back in June of last year (2014) at the Trash Talk/Rzl Dzl show (a wild event in and of itself), and since he has always been on point in writing music, I was downright thrilled to hear it. After a few months passed, I wondered what came of it, if it was just a pipe dream, dead in the water, or if it was progressing. Then, in November, word was released, and my dream came true. The waiting here was so very worth it. Their first set at the Hard Stripes/Pure Disgust show at Refuge was so good, I almost yelled at them to play it again. Hell, it was five minutes long anyways. Cannot get enough of this.
James (the singer) told me about this band back in June of last year (2014) at the Trash Talk/Rzl Dzl show (a wild event in and of itself), and since he has always been on point in writing music, I was downright thrilled to hear it. After a few months passed, I wondered what came of it, if it was just a pipe dream, dead in the water, or if it was progressing. Then, in November, word was released, and my dream came true. The waiting here was so very worth it. Their first set at the Hard Stripes/Pure Disgust show at Refuge was so good, I almost yelled at them to play it again. Hell, it was five minutes long anyways. Cannot get enough of this.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
This manages to be heavy, fast, artsy, and thought-provoking, all in one. And all this, coming from a grindcore band. That’s right, the genre known for non-sequitors, an uncanny emphasis on drugs and political incorrectness, tunelessness, and generally being uncompromisingly stupid, managed to churn out something THIS good. Heavy riffs, blastbeats, social critiques, oh my!
The guttural and shrieking vocals going back and forth is one trait of grindcore that the band kept, but the rest almost seems like it’s too good to be called grindcore. Some songs clock in well under a minute, while others are almost three minutes, and the nigh-sludgy riffs are what keep one’s interest peaked. Downright crushing!
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Crisis Unit- The Tape review
This sounds like what California’s Media Blitz was trying to do, but better. Crossover-ish hardcore with an emphasis on tight drums and only slightly deeper than average vocals. Not exceptional, but good. Worth seeing where a four song 7” would go.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Correction- Weaken the Stronghold EP review
The power of the riff and the drum beat are strong with these ones- the title and band name track and unquestionable signs of this. The one epic track is the last one, and the most memorable, and the first five are burly bruiser boy straight edge hardcore punk out of France. The singer has an extraordinarily deep growling grunt to his vocals, the guitars are beefy but still chop pretty fast, and the drums are much the same, strong in both fast and slow parts. This is good shit right here.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Collapse- Apocalyptic Key EP review
What an EP! A jarring mixture of genres with unique and fascinating words shouted over top of it, Collapse’s second effort is no doubt both an expansion and an improvement from their previous EP. The music hits hard, a perfect anthem to capture the anger underlined in the lyrics written by the band. These words are not only well-written, they are a breath of fresh air (even if you disagree with what they have to say, you will wind up agreeing with this). Songs about suicide, friendship, the government, and drugs are all interesting at times, but they can also get blasé rather rapidly. This is something different, and it’s sure as hell worth your time. They call it hardcoredoompunx, and although this isn’t very snappy or catchy, it’s accurate. Read the words, jam the songs, and experience something new.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Bad People- Pearls Before Swine EP review
Garage-y punk with a sneery tune and an unending drive of tuneless fidgety weirdness. It’s organized, but only enough to stitch together the essential parts of a song and even then, it’s stretching it. However spacey the idea of the song is, the energy to drive that forward is there- in the modern day, it seems like an art project, but in days past, this would have fit right next to Lydia Lunch, the Dead Boys, Cinecyde, or most of the bands on the New York Thrash compilation LP. Very weird, very good.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Back to Back- Of Flesh and Bone EP review
Every modern Texas punk band seem to have the same recording guy, it’s odd; still, the songs are absolutely there. Low-fi hardcore punk with some spacey garage elements here and there, hard to go wrong. Amongst the Texas bands getting attention, this one seems to be getting overlooked, although this is just as hard-hitting as Glue’s second 7” or Blotter’s demo. I wasn’t big on the last song with the everlasting outro, but beyond that, it’s tough hardcore punk modernized and filtered through an analog sound. Like a pair of small pants on an oversized scene kid of yesteryear, it’s tight.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Another Mistake- Life’s Noose EP review
This is classic youth crew with a slightly more menacing undertone and faster beat. It’s a good ole’ Midwest Blood style hardcore EP; short, staunch, and danceable. A new-fashioned take on old-fashioned music.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Raw Justice- Artificial Peace 7” review
The band’s first EP set the stage for some good old brutal straight edge hardcore punk- I didn’t think that they could improve on it, yet they did. I didn’t think that one guy belting out some angry shouts backed with thundering drum rhythms could make me want to get violent and mosh, but it did. To top it all off, this record is named after (inadvertently or not) a lesser-known 80s hardcore band from Washington, D.C. The only thing that might have made this record better is if Raw Justice had covered one of their songs. Barring that, this can’t get any better. The guitars are goddamned brutal, the bass chugs along with all the force of a fucking train, the drums are crushing whether they’re fast or slow, and even though the vocalist sounds like Peewee Herman singing Infest songs, I fucking love it. This is one of the best EPs I’ve heard all year. Jaw shattered.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Old Wounds- Death Projection 7” review
The opening riff on the first song is enough to get this EP a review- it’s one of the hardest and most brutal riffs I’ve heard this side of the 80s. ‘Dead Beat Blues’ hits hard all the way through, ending with the prophetic line “Life is pain, death is release”. ‘Ritual’ is a unique song that blends just about every kind of extreme music into one (save for harsh noise). ‘Bloodpact’ is much the same, and is notable for the fact that the vocals are abrasive yet distinct, clear enough to discern the lyrics the singer is uttering. The last song ‘Epilogue of a Possession’ is the epitome of a long 90s hardcore song- melodic and cacophonous at different times, and reaches epic proportions at times as well. The lyrics of the band are largely on another level- I do not understand some of them. They’re a mix of storytelling and a rhythmic blend of philosophical musings from a strange, interesting fellow with a lot of heart and even more charisma. This band is one I admit that I do not fully grasp, but it’s pretty fucking good, much more intelligent than most 90s-influenced hardcore and metalcore jocked today. Through the sheer application of hard work, this band DESERVES your attention. Donkey kick your neighbor and dwell on the deeper elements of your life.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Special Duties- ’77 in ’82 LP review
Underrated, supercharged Oi! with a faster beat and a bleaker outlook- this is the epitome of what UK 82 was, and although these guys weren’t as well-known as the likes of their contemporaries like the Exploited, One Way System, Abrasive Wheels, and any band on a punk’s denim/leather jacket circa 2006 (that they probably didn’t listen to), these guys were just as good, if not better. The rhythm is much heavier than the melody here- it’s downright thudding, stifling even, and not in a bad way. The simplicity and brutality of these songs is what sets them apart from their predecessors. Neither an evolution nor devolution, it was a progression that left a permanent imprint on the world. This is what the “hardcore” movement in the UK was, the one that sprouted up alongside Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Negative Approach, etc. Since the cultures were different, they progressed and manifested differently as well. The songs and demeanor were different, but there still existed a camaraderie of sorts. Those who make the effort to research history will be the ones who unearth lost treasures. This is no doubt one of those.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
Angel Du$t- A.D. LP review
I tried liking pop punk once- the Descendents’ ‘Milo Goes To College’ is an awesome record. Some of their later material isn’t bad. Hell, even some of the best punk music has its roots in catchy bubblegum pop, some of these songs are even love songs. The potential does exist for catchy punk/hardcore music that isn’t necessarily rough-and-tough all the time (though that is the best kind). This record, and this band, is not that. The singer’s voice is vexing- it’s melodic, sure, but it sounds strained, unnatural, forced, like something that doesn’t fit. The music is far from catchy or enchanting- think Cro-Mags’ ‘Revenge’ B-sides or the Buzzcocks on a fucking shitty and awful day where they play their instruments too hard and too fast just so that they can get the set over with and leave. Even if this music is innovative and unique, it is truly god-awful. Buy this for someone that you’re fake friends with as a gift so they know how you really feel about them, that you paid good money and wasted valuable time in order to subject them to this swill. That would be one cold dish of revenge.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Methmouth- Waste of Life EP review
Powerviolence/fastcore at its finest and downtuned-est, it’s maybe the length of the single side of a 7” at 33.3 RPM, but enough anger for both sides of it. Think Downsided with less political commentary, tuned down a step or so. Not complicated, but still pretty good if nothing else for a slipping in someone’s hipster party playlist just to piss everyone off, because that’s funny.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Mid-tempo hardcore a la Bridge Nine circa 2006 with basement quality production (this is a good thing- hardcore is not meant to sound overly slick). What if the U.S. Bombs were a hardcore band? What if the Faction or JFA grew up in the Midwest in the 2000s rather than the west coast in the 80s? It’s a very fun band, the kind that would play a house destruction party in exchange for a 30 pack and a couple blunts- very punk rock attitude for a hardcore band. It’s a hardcore band for everyone- crowd-killers, two-steppers, circle pitters, push pitters, posi-jumpers, all are welcome in Spitback’s music and at their shows, and none are out of place. The music isn’t amazing, but it’s what you’d expect a hardcore demo to be. These cats have the energy and the mentality; I think the songs are forthcoming. Not a bad demo tape.
Monday, September 7, 2015
Humanerror/Snakes split tape review
Two bands with their respective brand of heavy, dark hardcore manage to complement one another here, almost a necessity for a split.
Humanerror is a chug-friendly band that also uses powerviolence-y drum beats while sludging away on the guitar and bass, not terribly far off from Eyehategod. The two tracks they offer are no doubt the better two here, though it’s admittedly difficult to best the band from Texas who has been around for six years. Still, the two tracks Snakes have are no slouches- they’re dirty and grindy but still possess some clarity. The Nails-worship HM2 sound is absolutely present, but it doesn’t sound like leftovers, it is a sound unto itself that mixes hardcore and metal in the dirtiest of ways, the way it was meant to be, the way Cleveland bands from the late 80s and New York bands from the early 90s intended it to be. Homage-paying and still an independent force. A good blend.
Saturday, September 5, 2015
Kontrasekt- self-titled 7” review
Primitive, raw, noisy, fast d-beat that is equal arts Disclose and Discharge. Not a fantastic EP, but if you like simple, this is indeed simple. Norden’s Hammer is probably the best track, though all these songs sort of blend together, and it’s over before you know it. It will either leave you relieved (that it’s over with so quickly) or leave you wanting more (because it’s over with so quickly).
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Spine/Repos split 7” review
The same sides of a different coin, these tracks, this split, fucking rip.
On Spine’s side, there is more of a sociopathic late-80s NYHC feel to it (not New Breed Comp. style, though- more like the bands on The Way It Is). The lyrical content is on point; one song is about a dystopian future complete with cannibalism, another about the problem of sexual assault at shows, one about the future already being written for you, and the fourth is about problems with dentists. The final song is a cover of the Repos’ Kids Don’t Care (off their first 12”); these tracks are a simultaneous continuation and evolution of the songs laid down on their first EP.
On the Repos’ side, it’s clear the band has changed since their first incarnation (they broke up in 2008, members went on to form the Ropes a couple years later, and due to threats of litigation by a more commercially successful band also named the Ropes, that band folded, and thus the Repos were reborn). The jagged, disjointed, angry, and puzzled sound still remains, however, and the charm of the first band also still exists. Blurry in its blending/mixing of the instruments, the sound is one ugly mix of killer hardcore punk with rough enunciations of something resembling words.
The packaging is excellent, everything a split should be. Same goes for the sounds- this record has reinvigorated my belief in the power of the split(s).
The packaging is excellent, everything a split should be. Same goes for the sounds- this record has reinvigorated my belief in the power of the split(s).
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Skaven- Discography review
Crusty west coast sludge dirtier than almost anything of its time, Skaven’s small but sinister discography is a precursor to the American crust bands of the modern era. Raspy, somewhat discernible vocals, clear but still animalistic in energy, were not a common vocal type, but went on to be used fairly frequently. The guitars, though dirty and tuned down to emphasize heaviness, still possess enough drive to be “punk”, although this would not succinctly describe Skaven’s sound to any but the most unfamiliar of individuals. The bass is blended into the overall guitar sound well, but there does remain some distinction between them, the former having a very punchy sound. The drums, though the driving force of the overall sound, are not set in their speed, speeding up and slowing down all over the songs. The overall mix is excellent; everything is distinct, clear, well-blended, and alters as is appropriate for the atmosphere of the sound. This is also a mix of the dirty punk and metal primitivism and the unending artsy and melodic complicated-ness, as hardly any bands had done before this. The lyrics are much the same- at times primitive, other times artsy, and often mixed together. Too bad this band only lasted for a couple of years- these songs rip and could have evolved only further. If nothing else, this reminds me slightly of the evolution of His Hero Is Gone into Tragedy.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Left of the Dial- Idly By 12” review
Admittedly, this is not my kind of music; usually, pop punk and melodic hardcore don’t much appeal to me. However, given this prologue and word of warning, I shall proceed.
The songs are punny and alliterative, complete with nasally and higher-pitched croons and clean, clear, crisp sounds behind it. The guitar work is pretty standard, not tremendous nor terrible, the bass blends in to the guitar quite well, and the drums are audible, not drowned out by any of the other audio tracks. The songs didn’t really elicit any large emotional response from me, but I didn’t feel like tearing my ears off while listening to this. For a genre of music I don’t like, that tells me that this is a good record. For the pop punkers and the hardcore kids who aren’t afraid to cry.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Show review: The Repos/Auslander/Known Abuser/Cleveland noise act, at the Bunker, September 5th, 2014
Now, this was a weird show, and it would eventually be in a good way. I spent 3 hours driving around at my job, and another 3 driving to Grand Rapids from Detroit- the long drive was enough, not to mention the freak storm that knocked out a bunch of power all over the state later on, that I drove right fucking through. Eventually, I made it to Grand Rapids for a record store trip (got a nice haul), a stop at a local pizza place (surprisingly good), and a show.
The show starts around 10:30, which is way later than usual for a Grand Rapids show (usually, these are dead on time, short sets, everyone's up and out of there in time to get 8 hours of sleep and go to work in the morning). The first band (not sure if it was Broth or if it was a band who replaced them) was some noise project that seemed like it was straight out of a college art class- take elements that don't usually mix together, and mix them together, and call it art. The problem with this, is that it sucked, even from a "broaden your horizons" perspective. Some noise isn't too bad, some of it is even good- but this, this seemed so contrived and by-the-book for a musical endeavor that I couldn't take it seriously, but they did leave me a nice opportunity to nod off and get some rest.
The second band went on maybe 10 minutes after the first one, so I thought it might be flowing really well, as per usual for a G.R. show. Known Abuser went on, and they did a fucking HAUNTING cover of "How Much Art Can You Take" (by SSD) that rivaled the original. The originals were not far removed from the style of the Repos, to the point of where I thought I was watching the Repos and was waiting for them to do some songs that I knew, which never happened outside of the first song. So, with this in mind, I was kinda bummed, and wandered around looking for people I knew, only to find that there weren't much of any friendly faces at that point.
I retired back to the couch for the third band, Auslander, who played this really rhythmic "out with the boys" kind of Oi! Not bad for what it was, but given that I was very tired and the music was kind of dry and mundane (like most Oi!, mind you), I quit paying much in the way of attention. I'd like to see these guys in Detroit, I feel as though they'd have quite a bit more ability to interest the crowds here.
After an hour and a half of waiting for the Repos to go on, I was about to leave, since I had to work in the morning and had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of me. I noticed that a drummer was setting up equipment, but it seemed like everyone had filed out like the show was over, so I went upstairs to piss to see if that was indeed the case. It kind of looked like it, but I held out hope for a few more minutes until I could buy some much-needed Repos merch. I did this, and I noticed more people filing back down and more band members setting up. FUCKING FINALLY! The Repos were going on!
They were of course the last band of the night, and there was no explanation given as to why they went on late. They went on, and blasted away their demented 80s-style fast/faster/fastest hardcore punk, the way I've always envisioned it. Though I didn't know a few of the songs they did, I did know a few of them, "Valium Coccoon", "Pig Acts", and I think they also did "Kids Don't Care". It was brief, but energetic, volatile, yet friendly and welcoming, the way a hardcore/punk set should be.
Also, after the set was over, I ran into the folks in Snakes and Detain (some of the nicest folks I know, and some of the only Grand Rapids people I'm fond of), and had a merry time with them until I had to depart for Detroit. It was worth the long drives and sleep deprivation the next day.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
The Beautiful Ones- Jaded Love LP review
This is one of the strangest mixes of music I have ever heard. If nothing else, this is, without a doubt, unique.
If there were three bands one could associate with this group, they would most likely be Type O Negative, Biohazard, and Twitching Tongues. This mixes the mid-90s New York hardcore/metalcore sound with the heavy, crunching riffs and steady rhythms and the tuneful, love-boasting deep voice reminiscent of an anxious, throaty, teenage Morrissey. This has got some groovy beats, and has the benefit of actually fitting as a full LP and not just a large collection of songs on a slab of twelve inches of wax. The breakdowns on this record are some danceable/2-step-able ones for sure, even if the ambient rhythms mixed in between them make one go, “What the hell?” some of the time. Last song has the hardest line I’ve heard in a while “At least we all die alone”- a nice conclusion to a record about love. I admit that this isn’t really my kind of thing, but this is definitely worth a listen- it is not time wasted.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Welcome to 2013 compilation LP review
The packaging and the zine that comes with this record are excellent, as per normal with Not Normal. Detailed, artistic, captivating, everything a compilation should be.
The two tracks Basque Country band Hondartzako Hondakinak offer are pure chaos, unfocused hardcore punk with a lacking sense of rhythm- I’m not complaining. Cülo is as they always are- pure nihilistic snot without a bass or regard for common existence of man; it is mutant, through and through. Adjustment to Society is one of my favorite PNW hardcore punk bands with some of the hardest-hitting, brutally honest lyrics I’ve read to date. They’re no longer a band now, but I can’t say enough good things about them anyways. I am at a loss for words on what to say about Big Crux’s track. Ooze had me confused at first as well, but eventually I did realize that it’s a shell of weirdness with a thrashy punk center filling. Haute Couture’s track is a straight-up Bad Brains-worship intro conjoined with some gnarly d-beat, quite good. Inservibles has two tracks of noisy raw punk, adequate at what it is but just a little too unpolished for my taste. Tenement… I really tried to get into this band, but honestly, I hate this track, through and through. I’m sure it’s decent indie rock music, but I really fucking hate indie rock music.
Side two brought Negative Degree first- nervous fits of rage-filled 80s hardcore punk, 100% piss and vinegar. Brown Sugar’s track is another minute-long blast of funky weirdness, but it has a drive to it. Porkeria is a band that sound as though Los Crudos listened to a lot of classic 80s hardcore (even though they probably already did). The Spanish-speaking nations seem to make some badass hardcore; not sure if there’s a correlation between the two, but it doesn’t matter, because no matter who made it, these tracks rip. NASA Space Universe- a strange mix of noise punk and the drearier side of Chaos UK songs; I wasn’t into it. Good Throb- whoa, what a band. They are as if X-Ray Spex were angrier and funnier, and given how insightful Poly Styrene was (RIP), this is saying something. Catchy, biting, driving- everything punk should ever be in two tracks. Bored Straight has ripped for a while, but these two songs are a step above, yet still fit with the rough and weird mix of punk tracks on this compilation. They are a modern Midwestern version of The Neos. Broken Prayer is a halfway decent Chicago group, playing some post punk/industrial punk- unique, though this track is not a particularly standout one for this band. Closing out this undoubtedly weird record is Thee Nodes, who blast some heavily-drenched-in-reverb noise punk, probably best experienced under the influence of hallucinogens. Spacey as fuck, no doubt.
I can highly recommend half the bands on this, the rest are honestly too weird for me. If you like super weird, you might dig it, but I thrive on rhythm and a mild resemblance of normality, so do with that what you will.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Rebel Spies- Before I Die I Shall Destroy… 7” review
Energetic punk rock with a huge dose of sing-a-long melody a la 7 Seconds, early Gorilla Biscuits, any number of Chicago bands, and a very late-era of Minor Threat or Dag Nasty- it mixes Chicago and D.C. sounds with Detroit. They even sneak in a SICK breakdown in the middle of “What Have I Done”, showing that they are capable of true grit, but prefer the calming, euphonic energy of melody rather than the cacophonous, repetitious sound of rhythm. It’s quite catchy and fun, but it took me a few listens before I realized this. I appreciate the different approach the Rebel Spies take, good shit.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Dead Church/Faction Disaster- split 7” review
On the Dead Church side, it’s grindcore with all the cacophony and on-point drumming, powerviolence with all the invective lyrics and killer riffs; these tracks are some real headbangers, with a gnarly guitar sound, although I do feel the drums get a little drowned out. I appreciate the seriousness with which these guys takes themselves, and this is a good set of songs to get violent to.
On the Faction Disaster side, although I like the drumming and the funny as fuck sound clip, I do not like this style of grindcore- I can’t understand any of the words and the guitar is more feedback than riffage or rhythm. I’ll admit that music like this is great for getting people to leave the room and stay away from you, but I doubt I’d get into it otherwise.
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Weak Link- LP Promo tape review
This tape kicks off with one hell of an intro, and the song moves into a Canadian version of “Jealous Again”, albeit modern and with a little more experimentation included. Though the music is no doubt classic-sounding 80s hardcore, the vocals follow their own beat, as do the lyrics- not quite like anything I’ve read before, though not so different to seem foreign. The final song does stand out quite a bit, however- it’s a rhythmic, almost psychedelic instrumental outro that I hope is something the band never plays live- jam music is one step above folk punk and one step below country. This promo tape isn’t half bad.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Concrete Asylum- Concrete Asylum 7” review
Late-80s UKHC meets noisy Jap-core, be that Gauze or Disclose or anyone else. The guitar and drums are so loud they almost drown out the bass entirely and the vocals sound like a guy screaming as loud as he can from about 200 feet away- faint, but audible. This EP walks the line between noise punk and demo-quality thrash punk that falls just short of powerviolence. I fucking love the cover art and the layout of this record- it’s detailed, yet punk as fuck, not an easy effort to attain. However, I might need a couple tall boys of Steel Reserve to be able to fully rage to this band. Not bad, but not my kind of noise- still, room exists to evolve.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The Plain Dealers- Terminal Darkness b/w Die With Me 45 review
I wasn’t a fan of this 45 at first, but I did come around to it eventually; the A-side is a decent first effort, although it takes a minute to kick into gear. The narrative is interesting, though the B-side is a better musical expression of this. The bleak, dark tone of the lyrics is contrasted by the simplistic driving chords of the guitar and the bouncing bass lines that ring of a punk rock sound from happier times- still, it manages to work. “Die With Me” is a bit more fitting in terms of blending the sounds and the words- both are equally bleak, and more driving than the A-side. For an initial effort, thumbs up.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
XNoMoreX- demo tape review
This Midwest XVXers play classic hardcore punk with a mix of youth crew and political 90s hardcore sensibilities never straying far from their steadfast beliefs in a better way of living, that being a sober, poison-free one. Though the lyrics are pointed and invective and that sort of thing can be very valuable, the serious use of the term “bloodmouth” is rather cringe-inducing, similar to the way a band would ask you to “check them out on Myspace” or do a Minor Threat cover. Despite that, it still provokes some thought and manages to bring the mosh. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it spins it just fine.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Freedom- Pay The Price 7” review
I’ll just get this out of the way right now, even though the band members might not be so keen on this description- this is Face Reality, part II. Not the same band, but merely a continuation of the direction they were headed in when they had their untimely end. That being said, it IS an evolution as much as it is a continuation. This mixes the likes of classic hardcore punk a la Negative Approach, Straight Ahead, Blitz, etc. with mid-late 80s-style NYHC, and the only thing that can never be faked in a band, urban fucking grit. “Blank Stare” also lifts a line from the Sly Stallone movie Cobra, a nice touch. “I Refuse” has a vibe of man-versus-society, or rather, a narrative, something lacking in a lot of modern hardcore- too often, it is rife with songs about other individuals (not that they’re lacking here), a man-versus-man narrative that need not be as pervasive as it is.
This EP has everything you could want in a hardcore record- it’s fucking pissed, you can sing along, you can mosh, you can toe-tap, you can bang your head; if you like hardcore punk, you’ll like this. The vocals could be a smidge louder, but apart from that, this is a classic hardcore EP for the modern age. They have evolved greatly, and I’m proud to have been even a small part of it.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Congenital Death- From My Hands 7” review
Short, sharp, and sinister, this EP is a crafty blend of powerviolence and hardcore carried forth by a shrill voice and a fast, off-kilter drum beat. The lyrics, while nonspecific and indirect, still hit pretty hard, just as much as the intense music pouring from both sides of the stereo. I have been listening to this semi-regularly since it came out, with no sign of stopping. It hits that careful blend of unique and familiar that many punk and hardcore bands strive to hit but do not. Some of Philly’s finest here, folks. This would be an ideal opener for This Is Hardcore, because Congenital Death does for speed and energy what hardcore bands do in slow and heavy.
Monday, July 6, 2015
Crazy But Not Insane zine Issue #2 review
I must say, I really do hate Chicago. I think it goes deeper than a sports rivalry, because I don’t hate Colorado, Wisconsin, or Cleveland at all. But Chicago, much as I like some of the bands from there, I simply cannot bring myself to not despise it. However, much as I do hold a negative vibe towards this city and the mentality it has, I found this ‘zine from that area to be quite the good read.
The interview with Tom of Violent Reaction is quite humbling; engaging and relatable, the way I like my journalism. The show reviews are different; the fact that Gag did THREE shows in Chicago and not a damn one in Michigan is befuddling, but I suppose good friends are where you find them. These are some radically different crowds of people, a different brand of weirdoes than I’m used to or will ever be used to, I feel; still, the faithful few cannot be disregarded, for they are a crazy bunch. Fewer iPhones in 2014 should be a goal for us all- technology has not been a kind invention to grease the social pipelines that have become all but clogged with awkwardness and self-preclusion.
The Toronto scene report is quite accurate and informative; the bands mentioned are all pretty good, even though Column of Heaven has sadly fallen out of favor with me now. Short, detailed, and to the point, all I can ask for out of a scene report. The playlist, like any other (including ones I pick out myself) is a mix of good and bad- I genuinely do not like Tom Petty, the Grease soundtrack, Blood For Blood, or the Pixies.
The photos are excellent, though I think they may benefit from an increased level of contrast (i.e. less black background, it makes the photos difficult to see). Good work for a dying art, I had a good read with this.
The one-page zine for Issue 1¼ was a great, if not a bit sad, read. It was only sad because I don’t really have the social energy to do this shit with others. Still, this zine makes an excellent point, in that road trips are one of the most fun parts of hardcore. Do it up, as you kids like to say. As for the Not Dead Yet issue, I like it, but it brings me to wonder the most strange of questions: Why is everyone so obsessed with people who wear fedoras? I don’t give a shit, but is there some reason this shit matters? Wear a mariachi hat, a Gilligan’s Island hat, a trucker hat, who gives a shit? It’s only for covering up your inevitably god-awful haircuts anyways. N.D.Y. is a fantastic festival, hopefully I am able to find my way there some day.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Spider Sisters zine Issue #1 review
Now this was a fine read, or view, as the case may be. The pictures, while not professional grade, are candid shots of bands and people at shows on the east coast, being much more “in the moment” and from a showgoer’s perspective rather than a photographer’s or stage hand’s perspective. The bands covered are also quite good- Knife Creep, Stoic Violence, among others in the DIY circuit right now. The layout background has a psychosexual subtext that, while strange, is fitting for a zine such as this. It’s short and simple, but make no mistake, it’s a good read, though I would also like to read some short snippets of what was notable at these shows, if anything. Our naked moshers, shit-talking, chain-swinging, and chandelier-grabbing need documentation, too.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
With a careful mix of Jabbers-era G.G. Allin, the Dead Boys, and the Sex Pistols, the Plain Dealers play some of the catchiest music I’ve heard to date, and still manage to sound original without it seeming contrived. This record had me singing along to the words in no time, and relating to them shortly thereafter. The mix on this record is just fantastic- everything is audible, none of it overbearing; I don’t think there is one error in the audio mix here. The nascent voice is a piercing sneer that rings in one’s ear for hours- classic. The guitars, bass, and drums mesh together to create an impeccable rhythm that drives the vocals along as the singer croons about scum-city living- much as Detroit is known for that sort of thing, Cleveland is also an arbiter of dirty, depraved life, and I could not be more glad that it is, because it is cities like that which inspire people to create music like this. One of the best classic-sounding punk records I’ve ever heard, and that includes the classics.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Interview with Tim “Shagrat” Jenkins
CB: When did you start going to see shows? What kind of stuff was going on in the 90s?
TJ: I think I first starting to punk shows around ’94, and those were shows at St. Andrew’s Hall, major label stuff like Pennywise and Bad Religion, you know, stuff like that. I started going to DIY shows around late ’95, ’96, Trumbullplex was doing shows around that time. I met some people like Jeff Nonsense, who wound up singing in Feast or Famine; I started going to shows with him, and he was a few years older than me, 2-3 years older than me, knew about some house shows, did a distro, and I started finding out about a lot of stuff pretty quickly through him. That’s about it, you know. Other shows spaces back then, like that is the Token Lounge now, was Pharoah’s, they did a lot of shows back then, the record store called the Beat Hotel that was in Berkley did shows, and carried a lot of punk rock records.
CB: Where was that at?
TJ: It was in Berkley, it was on 14 Mile Road between, somewhere between Rochester and Woodward on 14 Mile. Do you know the band Social Scare?
CB: I’m aware of them, yes.
TJ: There was a guy, Shawn who was in that band. They were very popular in the mid-90s. All sorts of punks, like, kids who were into hardcore, and kids who were into, just punk rock, he worked there, so he got a lot of records in; a lot of kids got a lot of shit from that store, and it was like, the main focus was ska music, which was weird, but ska was really popular at the time. I was never to into it myself, but it was cool because it crossed over; they’d get Oi! records, hardcore records, UK 82 records.
CB: So he was kind of the guy who brought everyone in one place?
TJ: Yeah, basically. Noir Leather, too. They used to sell punk shirts, and used to have punks that used to work here.
CB: I know Jason from Social Outcast and Justin from Civil Disobedience did, I’m pretty sure you know Spinny…
TJ: Yeah. Benji Moss too. He’s a really famous tattoo artist in Seattle now. He used to be a crusty who was down with all those guys who worked there too. That was the place, man, for young punks. You could go check out the scene in Royal Oak on a Friday or Saturday night, there’d be a ton of punks out on Main Street. Those are some of the first people and places I started learning about punk from.
CB: Was there any one particular show that jumped out at you, one that just made you go, “I wanna be in a band. I want to not just be a showgoer, I wanna be a contributor”?
TJ: Pretty much everything I’ve ever been to. I remember seeing Dystopia in or around 97- it was at the Trumbull, and it was packed, shoulder to shoulder, on a hot summer night. It was one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen. People were just going crazy, there were people in front, they knew the samples to the songs, there were people in tears, releasing this crazy energy. That show really stands out in my mind as being one of best, most special shows I’ve ever seen. I don’t think they play live anymore.
CB: Dino plays in a band called Ghoul.
TJ: I like Ghoul, actually. But Dystopia, I think they pretty much gave up playing live. But that show was actually very cool, that’s one that really stands out in my mind, I guess.
CB: What is your connection to the Trumbullplex? Did you find out about it just by going to shows, or did you find out about it in a different way?
TJ: I think the first time I was there was actually for some sort of ARA (Anti-Racist Action) meeting, I don’t really know why or how I ended up there, but I met a few people there, like Aaron/ Redbeard, then Jesse Waters, I met there, we started hanging out. I don’t really have any connection to anything. In fact, I kinda thought it was a mismanaged place, with way too many egos, too many fools running it.
CB: I will note that they have had some decent shows there, and that seems to be like, their one saving grace, and I haven’t seen them putting on many shows there, at least punk-wise.
TJ: Without a doubt. With everything I just said, one of the reasons why I feel that way is because it’s kind of a special place, and it’s got a lot of history, and some of the best shows I’ve ever seen have been there. Some of the best shows I’ve ever played have been there. They never really cared for hardcore punk. While I think they’ve always tried to be diplomatic enough, to always try it, I think that ultimately, it goes with the pace of who lives there and who’s booking. I don’t think anyone there is really into like crazy shit happening. So they don’t like… certain bands have a reputation. From what I understand from some people, Shitfucker’s banned from there, Anguish is banned from there, I don’t know…
CB: Shitfucker’s banned from there- really?
TJ: It’s all politics, that’s what I think is so silly about it- it’s such a hierarchy, when you claim to be an anarchist collective, and you have one of the most dramatic hierarchies that I’ve ever seen. No one else goes around formally banning people.
CB: Right- and that very much runs counter to their culture of inclusivity that comes with anarchy.
TJ: It’s a thin line, though, isn’t it? It’s very easy to circle around from the far left to the far right, where all of a sudden, you’re reactionary and you’re banning people, and you’re witch-hunting people, and you’re closing off your mind to understanding other peoples’ art. That’s all it is. They’re quite terrified of art, to be honest with you, and quite terrified of things that are not in a PC-friendly zone, and sometimes…
CB: A lot of my friends have just refused to go to shows there, and say, “They’ll kick me out,” or “I just can’t take that PC stupidity anymore”.
TJ: Yeah. I mean, it’s hard for me, because… I’m not trying to fuck up anybody’s shit, but every once in a while, at punk shows, they’re chaotic. People are drinking, they’re doing drugs, and they’re releasing this extreme energy that people have pent up inside themselves. People go to work at their shitty jobs every day, and sometimes they may go weeks or months and then they can get to a show, get wasted, and just unload all that energy. And it’s not necessarily malicious. Sometimes in the cathartic release of that, things get a little wild- bottles get broken, shit gets smashed. But I think if you’re involved with punk or any form of music, you have to be open to that, especially in this community. You have to realize that it’s gonna be a dangerous place to be sometimes.
CB: Artists have always been a little different, and you have to be accepting of that difference if you want to be inclusive; or, you can not be inclusive, and you can have your little clique, like everybody else.
TJ: I mean, that’s what sad, is that the opportunity’s there, for them to be a legendary spot, one that really deals with issues, like Gilman Street, that has a strong collective of people who are not about the personal cliques or the personal biases, they’re about the collective and the good of the scene, and they run it well, they have their shit locked down tight, and it’s a legendary club where all sorts of bands, like heinous death metal bands to bands like Green Day have played there, and that’s what the Trumbull could have been and still could be, if you had the right people running it.
CB: How did you get the name “Shagrat”?
TJ: Pretty simple answer- when I was younger, I was a really big fan of Tolkien and Lord of the Rings. In the Lord of the Rings, one of the most notable orc names is (since orcs aren’t really named) Gorbag and the other is Shagrat. I was really influenced by that when I was younger, and I started writing some graffiti, and started doing artwork, and started writing some articles in my friend’s zines at the time, and I just kind of wanted a pseudonym, and that’s where it came from.
CB: That’s similar to how I came across mine, but mine’s a lot less interesting. When did you form Feast or Famine, and what was the scene like then?
TJ: Feast or Famine was formed in the summer of 2000. The scene was really shitty- the year 2000 was one of the worst times I’ve ever seen in punk or hardcore. There weren’t a lot of punk bands, and anyone who was playing hardcore punk or was playing older style music- it was just nonexistent. No one was really playing any kind of raw punk or D-beat. Some bands really got into this sort of pseudo-folky style with bands like Anti-Product- there wasn’t any spiky hair and studded leather…
CB: So basically, just about the really wild guitars and fast drums, stuff like that?
TJ: Everyone was way politicized, way self-absorbed; the scene was getting to the point of where it was so pretentious, and it was just like, bordering on arrogant. It was ridiculous, like emo kids going to shows and crying during bands, and everyone was making their own mini-personal zines, and it was all just fuckin’ self-indulgent emotional bullshit. And we just started to be like a fuckin’ fist to the face to all that, and we just started a band, like myself, I was just with people who were all into that kinda music- myself, Jeff, my friend Zan at the time (Zan Rehash), and then Jean-Paul. Just friends who were… none of us except Jean-Paul knew how to play that well and I knew a little bit; I’d played bass before, but never really guitar that much.
CB: But sometimes, you learn by trying and failing.
TJ: Yeah. That’s what we did- just went for it, cause no one else was doing it, pretty much. And for better or worse- some it I like now, some of it makes me kinda cringe, but I think all in all, we kinda did what we set out to do, and that was get people into some different shit.
CB: You guys as (I won’t say JUST you guys), but you were definitely a part of the group of people who started getting things moving again.
TJ: Yeah, I mean now, there’s a lot of different scenes, there’s a lot of people who are into… how I can put this- darker sides of punk, there’s a kind of established scene of bands that wasn’t there before. I think Feast of Famine probably had some influence on that a little bit, but…
CB: Like I said, you were part of a larger movement to get things running, so… you were basically the band who was there when everyone else wasn’t.
TJ: In Detroit, I mean nationally, around that time, there were a few others bands, like in Portland, there was Atrocious Madness, bands like that were starting to show the change in the scene, where people were starting to wear black clothes again, started to wear studded leather and have charged hair again- that was just fucking nonexistent before then. And Feast or Famine was I guess the harbinger of that in Detroit. We didn’t really sound like that band- they were way less noisy then we were. But that was what we were trying to do- trying to bring out shows where kids were charging their hair again, and wearing fuckin’ leather jackets, bullets belts, and were die-hard kids into punk.
CB: Where did you guys play some of your first shows?
TJ: There was a place called the Hell House- it was Jean-Paul’s house, in his basement. It was where a few of our first shows were- it was pretty cool, actually. We played at this place called Mr. Mugg’s in Ypsilanti. There was shit- I mean, I’m trying to think back on places we played, and it was just fuckin’ shitty coffee houses and shitty venues, which mostly got destroyed. We were pretty much banned from everywhere because people would just come and tear everything apart, we were banned from the Magic Stick, cause we played there near Christmas. We played downstairs in the bar area on a Monday night at midnight, and they used to have shows… when we started playing, the place just exploded; there were pint glasses being thrown everywhere, there was just three solid inches of beer liquid on the floor, tables were getting smashed, P.A.’s were getting knocked over, they had a Christmas tree up at the time, and like, the Christmas tree totally got smashed, and there were punks just flying into it, and people fighting, and I think Jeff smashed someone’s face in with the butt end of a mic stand…
CB: That sounds pretty awesome, actually.
TJ: Yeah, we were banned from there, we were banned from Mr. Mugg’s, cause it was just a coffee house, and everyone would come in and start drinking, and we were banned from the Trumbull because Jean-Paul and I played in a noise project called A.I.D.S. and people were all offended.
CB: He still does that now.
TJ: He still does sometimes, but people with the PC attitude at the time were all like, “That’s very offensive, so we’ll ban Feast or Famine by proxy.” So, I don’t think we ever played at the Trumbull because of that. We used to play at Alvin’s a lot with Pub Life- that was later in our career, around 2003, right before we broke up, and those shows were when punks started coming out again, you had Pub Life, who kind of had the same message that we did. They brought out a lot of kids as well. And you had the Ratfinks, who would show up to shows and these 11-year old kids with huge mohawks and shit and little kids were standing on the sides of the P.A. and shit and they had this weird little thug crew of spiky haired punk group of kids who followed them. And they (The Ratfinks) were young themselves, they were probably still teenagers.
CB: Alright- I think they’re all roughly the same age, like late 20s, maybe early 30s, depending on who it is.
TJ: Ironically enough, Slasher Dave, who I do Acid Witch with, was the original guitar player for the Ratfinks.
CB: Huh- that I did not know.
TJ: I don’t think a lot of people know that, actually.
CB: Nothing wrong with that; Ratfinks are a good bad, and I like Acid Witch.
Did you guys ever tour (when you were in Feast or Famine)?
Did you guys ever tour (when you were in Feast or Famine)?
TJ: Yeah, we did a couple small tours; the biggest was when we went out to the west coast, we only did about 7 or 8 gigs on this tour. We went down through Ohio and Illinois, across through Idaho into Washington, Portland, we played Seattle… those are furthest away dates we ever did. We tried to go down into California, but it just never worked out. So yeah, it was cool, because that was kind of the height of the scene at that time in Portland and Seattle- people were really into the whole kind of raw punk/ hardcore thing going on.
CB: I think Tragedy is from Portland.
TJ: Yeah, yup. So, it was cool, the shows out there were pretty cool. We played in Minneapolis, that show was awesome. A lot of fuckin’ punks were there- at the time, a lot of crusties… Felix Havoc showed up, and he was like, “Oh, I heard you guys like to collect records.” So, he brought some of shit from his personal collection that we might be interested in, and he somehow had heard that Jean-Paul liked to collect Star Wars toys, so he brought some Star Wars toys to the show, and tried to sell ‘em and for us to check out.
CB: Did he (Jean-Paul) wind up buying them?
TJ: I don’t remember. Probably not, I think we were pretty fuckin’ poor at that time.
CB: Most bands usually are. What kind of bands did you bring in to Michigan? I’ve seen some of the flyers on the inside of the split LP you guys have with Social Outcast, but not everyone has seen that.
TJ: Yeah… trying to think of a few big ones… Through myself or through people that I was pretty close with, mainly being like Jeff or Zan or people in that band, we brought in bands like What Happens Next, Dropdead, Phobia, Protestegnation (sp?) from Portland, Caustic Christ…
CB: DS-13, too.
TJ: Yeah, DS-13 played, but that was not something that any of us booked.
CB: Oh, it just happened to be there?
TJ: Yeah, it was a show that we played with them. Maybe Jeff booked that, I’m not sure. Man, there’s so many more, I’m just drawing a blank… Provoked from Minneapolis, Riistetyt from Finland, shit. Yeah, that’s the question that I’d have to kind of go through and like-
CB: Dig through some more flyers?
TJ: Yeah. Look through some old stuff… But yeah, that’s a few there, a few kind of bands that were pretty well-known at the time, that were kind of influential to bring through.
CB: Just part of the scene that was going on, and you tried to bring some of it in?
TJ: Yeah, we ended up playing through Jason, he would book and Paul Sinn, from Pub Life, would book a lot of these UK 82 and pogo punk bands… Oxymoron, Anti-Nowhere League, and stuff like that.
CB: How did the old school network of bands function? Because it’s hard to look back and look at pre-internet and e-mail from someone coming from my perspective, since I’ve been using the internet since I was like 15 or something, so I honestly don’t know how shows used to be booked like that.
TJ: Well… a lot of it was done through the mail or phone calls. You’d get contacts from people, through records, a lot of it was like, “Okay, well, I wanna go to this city,” so you’d look around at the records from that city, maybe write to someone, or call someone if you can get a number, and say, “Hey, can you do a show?” That was pretty much that, or just get contacts from people who traveled around, and that was all you could do. Go through the people that did shit- through labels, the distros, and the bands, and contact them and see if they were down to help you out. That was that. E-mail was around, I know some people were using it, some people were using websites, I’m sure, but I didn’t know anything about it at the time. I think Jeff may have been a little bit more down with all that, doing e-mail stuff in the beginning, he was a little more computer-savvy. You just had to meet people. Back then, you’d meet punks, like, if you were driving your car and saw somebody that looked like a punk, you’d slam on your brakes and be all, “Hey, hey, come here.” And then, more or less, you pretty much had a friend for life. A lot of people I met in the Detroit area when I was in the 90s… if they were into weirdo music or hardcore punk, people just bonded, and they were friends.
CB: Right, because it was that much more rare.
TJ: Yeah, it was such an obscure thing.
CB: Alright. If I can ask, when and why did Feast or Famine break up? Because Jason (Outcast) did tell me that there was a little bit of ambiguity there with Jeff.
TJ: Well, yeah. I’m sure you’re referring to some of Jeff’s politics…
CB: It was something like that, yeah.
TJ: To be honest about it, Jeff and Zan were assaulted in Pontiac in a racist attack by some people and were told, “White people, get the fuck out of our neighborhood.” They were beaten really bad- left in the hospital, broken jaw…
CB: Oh, so some really nasty stuff?
TJ: Yeah, and Zan was beaten really bad, some guys beat her up and were telling them, “You white people don’t belong here.” And I think after that, she moved, she moved out of Michigan to Seattle, and Jeff stayed and I think there was some confusion and some anger within him, and he started getting more into some skinhead type stuff. He used to be really crusty, like long dreadlocks, covered in patches and bullet belts and started getting more into what you would say is right wing, skinhead, militant type viewpoint. I wouldn’t say he was ever a Nazi or ever affiliated with anything like that, but to go from being like this filthy crusty to this Fred Perry wearing, stay-pressed… it was a shock to people, and they were like, “Oh, he’s a Nazi, he’s a Nazi!” But I think his tastes were just changing, and he was changing as a person. The real reason why the BAND broke up was because I think him and Jean-Paul just didn’t get along anymore. Jeff was straight edge since the day I’d known him. He was one of the few people I’ve ever met who throughout all the drinking and drugs of the punk scene, he never wavered, he was never tempted, never said, “Oh, I’m gonna try it.” (I’ve) never seen him smoke a cigarette, never seen him drink a beer at a show, and Jean-Paul obviously was the complete exact opposite, so those two sides… I always told myself and whoever else was in the band, be it Zan or be it Jaysklar, our last bass player, we were like the in-betweeners.
CB: Just basically the mediators?
TJ: Yeah, the mediators. Those two guys, they were THE Feast or Famine of the band, so eventually tensions rose between them, and I believe it was Jean-Paul quit the band, told us he wasn’t gonna play in the band anymore, and then that’s how the band broke up.
CB: What kind of stuff did you form after that?
TJ: After that, the first thing I started doing was a band called Warwolf, which played maybe six or seven shows, we opened up once for Michale Graves, that replacement singer for the Misfits, and we ate all his pizza and drank all his beer and him and his band tried to challenge us to a backyard wrestling match, death-match thing.
CB: And then you just went home?
TJ: Yeah, and pretty much everyone just laughed at him. So, Warwolf played a few legendary shows, it was more weird crusty speed metal type stuff- we wanted to sound like Repulsion, or maybe Slayer, but we couldn’t play our instruments like that, so it sounded a little more like Repulsion or the first Mayhem demo, pretty rough. After Warwolf, I joined Pirate Law- I’d played with Aaron and Jesse in a band called the Nihilists when we were teenagers, and a band called Lindane, which actually had Tony Bevaque from the Bill Bondsmen in it, which is pretty funny to think back on now- indeed he was the singer in a grindcore band at a point.
CB: That’s definitely a bit of information I didn’t know and I think I’ll go hassle him about that the next time I see him.
TJ: Yeah, I think he tries to disassociate himself from the Lindane legacy, but, you know, we did a demo- it’s not too bad. But anyways, so I started playing with Pirate Law, which was the band those guys were doing (Jesse and Aaron); we were in Lindane, and then the Nihilists, and then I was in Pirate Law for quite a while.
CB: Whatever happened with that? I know you guys played a few shows for a little while, but I never saw anything really released from the band.
TJ: The band was kind of known for its live performances, let’s say that as a point. Definitely a crowd favorite; the live band did some pretty crazy live shows- lots of puking onstage, and pirate-y drunken antics. The band, because of that, never really did too much- we recorded one demo tape, that was all we ever really recorded, and then band eventually (fell apart); some shit happened, and I ended up moving out to Lansing, I left the band, and I think they continued on for a little while longer with Mark from Anguish playing bass, and then they broke up.
CB: How long were you out in Lansing for?
TJ: I was out in Lansing for almost exactly a year. Yeah, I went out there- I was kind of burned out on Detroit after some stuff happened, we were getting kind of just burned out of the whole just… chaos every day thing, you know, drinking every day, mad partying…
CB: Just after a while, it becomes like, “I’m either gonna keep being the party guy, or I gotta get myself together.”
TJ: Yeah, everyone was starting to get really reckless, and pretty crazy, and things were escalating to a point where I think everybody knew that something bad was gonna happen, too many places trashed, literally parties trashing houses to the bone, where you eventually got to a point where you just had to leave. After things got to a point in the summer of 2007, after several of our houses burned down, I should say, like Manarchy House burned down, Pumpkin House burned down, and a few other pretty wild incidents throughout. My friend Barton was looking for some roommates at her house, the VMC, in Lansing. I don’t know if you ever got a chance to go out there before.
CB: Were those house issues, were those related to the Klinger Street incident?
TJ: Yeah, a lot of the shit was getting pretty crazy over there, so after that, after Manarchy burned down, I was pretty much homeless, so I was like, “Fuck it, my friend needs a roommate,” and went out there, lived out there for a year to get back on my feet a little bit.
You kinda reap what you sew, and karma’s a bitch, I guess, but myself and a lot of people around that time were living on a razor’s edge, and I guess when you do that, sometimes, eventually, you’re gonna get cut, and I’m not surprised it happened.
You kinda reap what you sew, and karma’s a bitch, I guess, but myself and a lot of people around that time were living on a razor’s edge, and I guess when you do that, sometimes, eventually, you’re gonna get cut, and I’m not surprised it happened.
CB: When did you actually meet the guys in Shitfucker? Because I know you weren’t the first guy in that band.
TJ: I met Dick, Bruce, and Tony, the original members of Shitfucker, when they were pretty young, about 15. I was a bit older, well into my 20s at that point. They were in a band called Hue that used to play out at Flipside in Clawson. At the time, they were just some young kids getting into punk, but unlike most kids their age. They were the kids who wanted to seek out some interesting shit, and they’d ride their bikes out from Berkley or Oak Park or wherever they lived, and ride down to the ghetto on Klinger Street and party all weekend.
CB: So, just lots of weird shit?
TJ: Yeah, it wasn’t uncommon for a naked 15-year old Dik-Beat to be running around outside in public in the neighborhood, it was a pretty common occurrence over there.
CB: I’ve never talked to him much, but he has always seemed like a dude that’s a little out there. For better or for worse, he seems like just a bit of a weird dude.
TJ: I don’t know, for whatever reason, those kids were young, but they could hang, and were genuinely interested in learning about punk and they picked it up pretty fast, and they could hang with a bunch of fuckin’ drunkards. He’s… he’s Dik-Beat, what can I say? He’s a real character.
CB: When was it that you actually decided to join that band?
TJ: I always liked them from the first time I saw them. I was really into what they were doing- they were taking this kind of Feast or Famine raw punk influence, but then taking all of the crust influence out of it, and almost just doing the straight Discharge D-beat, Shitlickers type stuff, and I was always really into that, so I was like, “Fuck man, these guys.” I never really heard a band in Detroit do that before, so I was really interested from day one, and then eventually, after just hanging out all the time- I don’t know who brought it up, but the idea of me playing second guitar for them, adding an even noisier sound, to be more Japanese, like Gloom… We talked about it, and I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it,” so for a time, we were a four-piece, with Bruce playing guitar, myself playing guitar, Tony on drums, and Dick playing bass and doing vocals. Then, Tony left, because Tony was in Anguish, and kind of left. I think he wanted to progress a little more musically, because we were like really raw noise punk at that point, and Anguish was starting to get a lot more technical, so he kinda left, and Bruce went to playing the drums, and then we were a three piece for a while. Bruce quit the band, for various reasons, and we got Charlie, and that’s where we’re at now.
CB: How did Charlie come across to meet the band? Was he one of those guys who was just kinda there, and you wound up needing a drummer, and he just said, “I’ll do it”?
TJ: I’ve known Charlie for years. He was in a band called Random Axe of Terror, that were pretty cool with Feast or Famine, another band that was like… they were the Lansing Feast or Famine, they were doing this cool noise raw punk thing out there at the time. Charlie used to be in that band, so we played all the time, then he and Dick were roommates for a while, and when Bruce quit the band, him and Dick were still roommates, so it was kind of just a natural choice to be like, “Hey, you wanna play drums?”
CB: Since you’ve been in the band, what has Shitfucker physically released? I know you’ve got a few 7” records and one split LP, but I don’t know too much about them- I’ve never been able to actually find a physical copy of (them). I’ve looked around, I just really never had that much luck.
TJ: Yeah, the distribution and presses have always been relatively small. We have three demo tapes: Total Fucking Noise, Human Disorder, and then a rehearsal tape, which has various names.
CB: That’s the one thing I’ve heard, because Brian gave me some of the tracks from it.
TJ: It was a rehearsal tape, but I consider it a demo, because a lot of people ended up getting it. And then we put out (the) I.N.R.I.-F.O.A.D. 7”, which was limited to like 300 copies that we put out ourselves, and then we did the Sexual Maniac record 7”, which was 500, that was with Black Shit Noise from Texas.
CB: Yeah, Charlie was just telling me about that the other Saturday- he was saying the guy’s kinda flaky.
TJ: Yeah, and that guy, he can be kind of hard to get a hold of, as with all underground releases. That’s just kind of the way things are, you know- Shitfucker’s not a band for everybody. People with particular tastes are going to be into it, I should say. And then we put out the 12” four-way compilation, “Filthiest of Apocalyptic Detroit”.
CB: That was with Perversion, Anguish, and your other band, Reaper.
TJ: Yeah, that release is still pretty available- you should be able to find that, in distros and stuff.
CB: Tell me a little more about Reaper. I know you guys were playing out for a little bit, and then just kinda stopped for the two years, and you guys just started playing out again.
TJ: Yeah. Reaper came out of the ashes of a band called Hellstallion, which was Charlie and Jack from Random Axe of Terror, and then they had a different singer- she couldn’t cut it, I guess- they did some shows where she ended up walking offstage for whatever reason. She didn’t feel she could cut it, so they were looking for another singer, and I was friends with those guys, and I’ve always been into thrash metal, early death metal, so I was looking for the chance to play in a band like that. So that’s how that got started, and we just wanted to be more like… no one was playing metal, so we wanted to a pretty straight metal band. Everyone came out of punk bands, so it had inherent punk influences, but we wanted to do something different, and then thrash metal got really big soon after, and there were a lot of new old-school sounding thrash metal bands around, but most of ‘em fuckin’ suck.
CB: A lot of them do. I’ve found a few rare gems in that big, big bunch, but yeah, to a large extent, when to try to revive something, sometimes it’s just not nearly as good.
TJ: Yeah, a lot of it is too overproduced- that’s the biggest problem with music today- a lot of it is just fuckin’ overproduced. When you think about a lot of old school bands, you listen to like Minor Threat, Discharge, GBH, whoever you name… None of these bands sound the same, all of these bands have different recording sounds, and even in the metal, from like Venom to Slayer to Metallica to Megadeth, all of the records sounds different. But now, with ProTools and all this crap, bands just sound the same. You listen to fifteen of these new thrash albums, and they all have the exact same production, and you can’t tell ‘em apart. And that’s where the boredom sets in- if you have fifteen bands playing nuanced music with different sounding recordings and different levels of professionalism of recordings, I think I would be way more into a lot of new music. But because of that fact, I’m just not- I’m not into new metal, I’m not into new punk, I’m not into new fuckin’ whatever, thrash metal, new crust, it’s… a lot of it is just too overproduced and homogenized sounding for myself.
I mean, that’s my personal tastes, to each their own. I’ve always liked raw, shitty sounding recordings. I like fucking filthy sounding shit.
CB: Why do you think Shitfucker’s gotten so much national attention? For whatever reason, you guys seem to be pretty big around the rest of the Midwest, and you’ve definitely got your fans here too. You guys have a lot of attention that a lot of other bands have not gotten.
TJ: Yeah, I think it’s because we’re different, there’s not really a lot of bands that sound like Shitfucker. It’s something where people that are going to seek out weird and lost forms of music, if they really wanna dig deep down into that scum, Shitfucker’s waiting there at the bottom. It’s weird- it sounds weird, and it recalls things that I think are vaguely familiar to people; obviously, G.I.S.M., Hero, Japanese bands like that. But we don’t really sound like any of those bands; we really have our own thing going. Plus, I think the image is fuckin’ weirdo to people, people don’t know what to think of it. If you wear cool studs and spikes, there’s always going to be a built-in thing for that where die-hards- people are just gonna be attracted to that. I find it somewhat interesting that you asked me this question, because I don’t really see Shitfucker as being a band that’s popular nationally.
CB: Well, not so much popular as in MORE popular than some bands from around here. For example, Hellmouth gets some attention, but I know why. It has (at least partly) to do with Jay being in Suicide Machines. And (as for) you guys, I don’t know.
TJ: And I guess that’s what I mean. Hellmouth is an example of a band that I would consider gets a lot of national attention. There’s a big gap between the amount of press that a Hellmouth than a Shitfucker gets. Like I said, Shitfucker’s kind of a unique band- there’s not many people doing it, and I think the real thing that really sticks with people is that it’s from the heart. People know it’s fucking real, there’s no contrived shit, no images or graphics we use are stolen from someone else’s ideas, or just, “Hey, let’s use more skulls or bombs or bullets,” and all this crap. I think we’re trying to forge a real new direction, combining new influences, plus we’re just all a bunch of weirdoes who get around, meet people- we seem to stick out. When we play at fests, you can definitely tell that people are either really into it or they just fuckin’ leave the room. It’s the worst shit they’ve ever seen.
CB: Well, some people get it, and those that don’t get it, don’t matter.
TJ: Fuck yeah, dude. I think that’s what punk’s all about- the iconoclasts. Be a fuckin’ rule breaker. When things become too status quo, move on to something else. I think with Shitfucker, that’s why we changed a bit from being a pure D-beat band into being more of a band that has more metal influences, and just different influences in general, because I think we just got tired, and felt limited, there’s so many bands playing that style. You gotta be creative, and you just gotta branch out on your own.
CB: Regarding your art in Shitfucker, what do you think the future holds? Do you have any future plans regarding releasing stuff, or doing some more art for bands, or what?
TJ: Those are kind of two separate questions that I have to handle separately. As far as Shitfucker goes, we’re working on a full-length, and I’d say it’s probably about 90% written, we probably wanna do one more song for it, so hopefully we’re gonna record that over the summer (editor’s note: he’s referring to what is now the Sucks Cock In Hell LP on Hell’s Headbanger’s Records). When my artwork is involved with bands, like Shitfucker, Acid Witch, or Reaper…
CB: Or Choose Your Poison.
TJ: Well, Choose Your Poison wasn’t my band. I wasn’t in that band.
CB: Oh, I was referring to your art that you did for them.
TJ: Oh, right. Like, when I do art for other bands, like for example Choose Your Poison, most of that’s just guys I knew from playing shows with them, so they contacted me, and just did a commission. I like doing that stuff, I’m open to working with different bands and stuff, I’m into it. Essentially, that’s what I want to keep it as. Some punk artists you see stuff by, like I’ll see (this kind of work) all the time, and eventually, the same imagery starts to repeat itself. It’s the same skulls, skeletons with Viking helmets that are brightly colored with colored pencil.
CB: And it’s not like a unique sort of mascot like Vic Rattlehead from Megadeth or something.
TJ: It’s the same imagery, and it gets boring. Any imagery in punk gets boring, be it black and white photos of dead bodies, or skulls with bombs or wings or whatever. I feel as an art form, punk is in a really stagnant point right now, there’s not a lot of people who are pushing it forward as an art form, I think it is an art form- even the reaction of hardcore in the 80s, going back to our Bags conversation, with the art punk of the 70s, hardcore was always evolving, and something needs to evolve now. There aren’t not too many bands that are evolving- most of the bands are devolving, trying to play…
CB: They’re trying to play stuff that was created in the 80s?
TJ: To a tee. They would say, “Oh, we like Discharge. We’re gonna wear their clothes, we’re gonna do the record logo, we’re gonna have their same kind of images, we’re gonna do a similar design, we’re gonna fuckin’ sound like ‘em… you know, insert that with any band.
CB: And then, after a while, you just go, “I’ve got that record already.”
TJ: And I will say with Discharge, they are probably my all-time favorite band. I do like Dis- bands, and I’m not trying to say that I think that shit’s necessarily a waste of time or stupid, I’m just trying to use it as a metaphor for other things. Now, you see all these thrash bands that do the same thing as, say, Exodus, just like the Dis- bands do the same thing as Discharge, they just wanna be like someone else.
CB: Indeed. While Discharge is a good band, there are a thousand different bands that are playing that stuff that are absolutely terrible.
TJ: Yeah. I mean, there are some bands who do it well, and then there are other bands where it’s pretty boring, and you can tell, it’s just straight-up regurgitated. I wanna see people have some new ideas, and some new creative ideas in punk, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what I’m all about at this point, just trying to do something kinda different, still being true to your influences, and being true to the predecessors. But, taking all that, and building something new. Trying to build on a foundation, but go to a new place with it.
CB: Basically, to go back to the original foundation, and instead of walking their same path, walking a completely separate one?
TJ: Yeah, like I was saying about art punk and hardcore, those guys were all into that shit, and then they took those influences and they ran in a completely different direction with it. All those guys listened to the Bags, and they listened to the X-Ray Spex, and they listened to Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and stuff, and the Ramones, you name it, but then they made hardcore. It’s completely different, but without that influence of those bands, it wouldn’t exist. And that’s what I’d like to think Shitfucker is. You know, without G.I.S.M., we probably wouldn’t exist; without Venom, we probably wouldn’t exist. But we don’t, I don’t wanna just ape Venom or G.I.S.M., I don’t just wanna rehash what they’ve done, I wanna do our own new thing.
CB: How did you come across meeting Jason “Outcast” McGregor?
TJ: Through Feast or Famine. You know, he started doing Pub Life- Jason was out of the scene for a while. I got into punk, started going to DIY shows, crust shows around like late ’95, early ’96, and Social Outcast I think broke up in ’94, and Civil Disobedience had moved to Minneapolis around that time, so I just missed that scene. Jason was out of it for probably the late ‘90s, and then he started to see Feast or Famine stuff, and he was like, “Whoa, this stuff is coming back.” Because it was dead- when those bands, like Civil D and Social Outcast left, it was dead for those maybe five or six years, seven years until the early 2000s, and then we met through that. I think the first time we ever met each other was maybe at Flipside Records.
CB: It tends to be a common meeting place. I go there like every Tuesday or so.
TJ: Yeah, I think he had met Jeff. I remember Jeff met him, and he was like, “Holy shit, you’ll never believe who I met today.” And I was like, “Who?” And he was like, “Jason, who used to be in Social Outcast,” cause, we were fans of that band, we were fans of Civil D and Social Outcast, but it was like a completely different scene to us, we didn’t know anyone from that time. It was pretty exciting for us to meet someone from that time, meet someone from those bands.
CB: I’ve noticed you guys have a lot of similar traits. He does a lot of art too, he’s sort of the head of a band, you’ve (both) got the glasses thing, there’s a number of similar traits that you share.
TJ: Yeah, I mean it’s kind of ironic. Before I ever met him in person, when I was a 15-year old crusty who was into Social Outcast, I used to do all sorts of punk drawings, and I used to always look at his drawings of skeletons with spiky hair and shit, and try to kinda steal a little thing or two from his style. Yeah, it was cool when I met him- I definitely got along with him from the start, we kind of had some interests in common. It was like meeting another punk or another artist.
CB: Right on. Just out of curiosity, who did you record with when your recorded your tracks for your 7” records and the split LP?
TJ: All the Shitfucker stuff we’ve ever recorded except for the tracks on the split LP, we’ve done ourselves, on 4-tracks or 8-tracks; we’ll record ourselves on analog, 8-track or 4-track cassette players. And then the stuff for the comp was recorded by our friend Chris Slavin, and then our friend Dave Cohl. They just like did it pretty much out of their house, they had a little bit more recording equipment than we had. Everything we’ve ever recorded, we’ve always pretty much done ourselves or with friends.
CB: How do you feel the four-way comp turned out?
TJ: I mean, I think it turned out great. But, then again, I did pretty much most of the design and layout for it, or art and layout. So, I guess, if I thought it sucked, I’d have no one to blame but myself. All in all, I think it turned out pretty good- I mean, there were a few things that bothered me. I know like very small things- like, on the Reaper track, we busted a snare drum head on the bottom right before we recorded and didn’t have time to go get a new one, so it’s a little high-pitched, but fuck it.
CB: That’s what punk’s about, saying, “This isn’t perfect.”
TJ: And it was recorded in the middle of August on the 8th floor of a fuckin’ warehouse/ slaughterhouse, meat-packing place in Eastern market where the elevators didn’t work, so we had to literally lug equipment up 8 flights of stairs in like 95 degree heat. Of like warehouse stairs, which means a flight of stairs is actually four, or like, “One, two,” so we were doing almost like 16 flights of stairs. And that was pretty… we were like, “Let’s just record this shit.” So everyone busted it out, it actually turned out really good for the amount of time that was spent on it in the recording process.
CB: That’s very good. Is the thing (the vinyl record) actually a benefit for Jesse Waters?
TJ: Yeah. Alejandra put it out, and it was her first release. She was coordinating some benefits for Jesse and stuff. I didn’t handle any of the distribution or any of that stuff, that’s all her and her label. She kinda did it as a favor I think to him and to us, you know- she did pay for the record and she paid for all the bands’ recording costs, too, so that was kind of our trade-off, we gave our time as bands and our music, contributed artwork, contributed our thing. So as far as the money she’s raising and all that stuff, I’m really not the guy to ask about it.
CB: Is there anything else you wanna mention, like any name-drops, some input, opinions, words of wisdom?
TJ: Words of wisdom, I’d say… Keep blinders on, don’t worry about what other people are telling you to do, don’t worry about what fuckin’ people say on the internet, don’t worry about people who talk shit to you and say that what you do sucks or whatever. Keep those blinders on, run your own race, and be true to yourself, and I think people will have more success as a band or as a person, whatever you do. I think too many bands worry too much about what other people have to think about them, and when that happens, they just end up putting out the same old shit, and eventually, you get forgotten. It’s the bands that everybody fuckin’ slags off and everyone is afraid of- when they come out, those are the bands that people remember.
CB: One thing that you can always say is even if someone’s talking shit about you, your name is still in their mouth, so… free promotion.
TJ: Well, that’s the thing that I always get a kick out [of] it. I think it’s fuckin’ hilarious that people talk shit on the internet, or whatever, on Shitfucker videos. Like, whatever people say… I’ve always gotten a kick out of that- but I’ve also… I dunno, not much offends me, either. You’ve gotta take yourself with a grain of salt. Get over it and take some risks.
CB: Also, how did you feel that show last Saturday went (editor’s note: this show was Shitfucker, Krang, Scum, and Final Assault)?
TJ: Pretty good, I think it’s cool. Detroit needs a house space, a DIY space like that. I gotta hand it to those dudes, they have the right punk mentality. They’re responsible enough to kind of control the chaos, but they’re reasonable and punk enough to realize that there’s going to be chaos, and they’re flexible enough to not shit a brick if some bottles get broken or some shit happens. As far as I know- I think they’ve always been really cool. It’s been pretty cool to open their house to that- literally in their living room, not even their fuckin’ basement. I thought it went pretty well- hopefully, fingers crossed, knock on wood, the space continues for a while with good results.
CB: And it was too bad about the whole Deviated Instinct thing, too- I was kind of looking forward to that.
TJ: Yeah, so was I- I mean, I was really looking forward to it- I’ve always been a big Deviated Instinct fan, and I was looking forward to seeing them. Obviously, I’ve never seen them, so I was just excited to see a fuckin’ band play live that I actually wanted to see for once. Seems like shows, at least shows I’m interested in, have been pretty few and far between in Detroit lately.
CB: Sometimes that’s what happens. The more bands you see, you just go, “Eh, I’ve seen this band enough times, I’m not really interested- I want to find something else.” Especially seeing a band you could consider maybe not heroes, but like, something higher than contemporaries.
TJ: With that stuff, you’ve gotta be down to earth. I don’t think bands should look at themselves as heroes, and in the same way, I don’t think bands should look at bands as heroes- I’ve always tried to be a pretty down-to-earth person, and if people are into cool stuff, that’s the main interest, the main frame for me is like, don’t get too full of yourself, because you’re gonna, in a lot of ways, I think, discredit yourself, because how many bands have you stopped listening to because you met somebody in some band that you thought was really right on and then you met ‘em and they’re just a fuckin’ asshole, and then you start to realize, “You know what? This person’s an asshole.” And then you look closer at the band, and you’re like, “This band’s kinda fuckin’ fake. None of this shit’s… it’s all a fuckin’ act.” And then you know what you do? You sell your CD or you throw it away or whatever. I hate fuckin’ rock stars and I hate people who act like that. I’m still playing the same shitty DIY shows that I’ve… I’ve played some fuckin’ big shows too- I played Maryland Death Fest, and stuff, but I was humbled by that. I went there as a fan, and it was fuckin’ awesome, but I don’t think I’m some rock star. I just think I’m a dude who just got lucky and was able to do something like that.
CB: Right. Was that last year or the year before?
TJ: It was last year, with Acid Witch.
CB: How did that wind up going?
TJ: It was pretty awesome, man. It was like nothing I’ve ever really experienced before. We had a really good time slot, we played Saturday night at like 11:30, and it was pretty much like, “Holy shit.” When we got on that fest, we thought, “Oh, they’ll probably put us on some time during the day,” and then we got that spot, so it was gonna be packed. And, yeah- played in front of probably like 5000 people, and it was- the energy was great. I’ve never felt energy like that where you’re just like… it’s almost like a transcendental experience, like being, feeling something like that, and playing that in front of that many people, it almost sends you into a weird kind of astro trip, almost, I would say- kind of an out-of-body experience, at least for me. It was like a fuckin’ trip, it was like an out-of-body experience.
CB: Well, not every band gets to play Maryland Death Fest.
TJ: Just the vibe too- for us, I think it was really cool because no one had ever seen us before, because we’re not a band that plays live very much. And especially no one from anywhere else- we’ve played maybe four or five shows in Detroit, never out of state, so that was really cool. Actually, we did play in Chicago once, but that was after Maryland Death Fest. So, yeah, there was definitely excitement in the air, I think. It’s pretty cool.