Last year this was a whole production, where I had a bunch of friends chime in with their top releases of 2014. It was pretty cool to see everyone’s lists and there were definitely a few that I hadn’t heard yet that those lists got me into. This year, things are a bit busy, so all you get are mine. But what a year for demos! There were some killer demos this year… Here we go; my favorite releases of 2015.
10. Vengeance, Fools Follow Rules – If you don’t know the deal, these are basically old Floorpunch songs that finally got recorded, but with Jay Pepito from Reign Supreme on vocals. Musically this is awesome. Has all the right things in the HC recipe, but includes some interesting different tempo’d breakdowns that spice it up a bit. On some of the songs, the vocals are a bit more on the metal-core tip than I’d like, but some of the other songs are just the perfect amount of scream vs. yell/growl. But that’s a nitpicky complaint. This LP is dope. Check it out.
9. Terror, the 25th Hour – this LP came out during a very crowded month, which also saw some other releases on this list. “Keepers of the Faith” was my favorite Terror record, but I wasn’t really feeling “Live by the Code” as much. It was good… just not as epic. 25th Hour is another step in the right direction, in my opinion. Again, still not quite up to KOTF levels of brilliance, but still really good. Scott’s voice sounds really cool on this record. Not sure what it is.. it just sounds a bit different, but in a good way. Maybe more crisp. To me, that’s what makes this record really stand out the most. Makes it sound really pissed.
8. Violent Reaction, Marching On – this style of boot-inspired HC is really making a comeback, it seems (particularly in the UK). I can dig that. But a lot of times these bands kinda start to sound the same. Violent Reaction’s previous recordings were cool enough, but didn’t really stand out from the others to me. This LP changes everything. Maybe it’s the better recording, maybe the songs are just a bit more interesting… whatever it is, this rips.
7. Forced Order, Vanished Crusade – This LP is CRUSHING. It’s really good. Weirdly, I’ve talked to a couple of Forced Order fans who weren’t really feeling this at first. I told them to give it another listen and both came back later and agreed that they were dead wrong. This record rips. It’s more of the exact same formula. Short raging songs, heavy as hell and brutal Clevo worship HC.
6. Rocky Votolato & Chuck Ragan, Kindred Spirits (split EP) – three songs each from my two favorite solo artists. LOVE IT. Only complaint is after seeing the Rocky & Chuck Cardinal Sessions videos, I really wish these two did a few songs together on this. I think I listen to the Chuck songs more than the Rocky ones, but this is a solid split from start to finish.
5. World Be Free, demo – around this time last year, Vogul texted me talking about how he was excited for me to hear his new GB/Dag Nasty-style band. At the time, I imagined it was probably him and a bunch of younger L.A. area dudes. Fast forward to a few months back, I went to see Terror and Scott pulled me into a room and forced some earbuds on me, so I could hear the new tunes they demoed. It was definitely not what I was expecting, but it was awesome. I asked him who else was playing in the band and he gave me the run down. For months, I pestered him, asking him to mail me the MP3s, but being the technologically challenged pit-creature he is, I never got em. In fact… I still don’t have this demo. I don’t have a working tape deck and still no MP3s… I’ve listened to the two songs streaming online a bunch and I love it. Can’t wait to actually own some tunes. Hope they make it up to Seattle sometime.
4. Free, demo – another bunch of dudes getting back together to make fantastic music again. Four (I believe) dudes from Have Heart playing a similar, but a bit harder edged brand of hardcore to their previous efforts. There are parts on this demo where you can hear some of those Have Heart slow build ups… but the music on this sounds more raw, with lots of feedback, less prevalent leads and a less clean recording. But it really works. This demo just came out in December, so I need to give it a few more listens to really get a feel for it. But it’s awesome.
3. True Identity, demo – this demo was very anticipated for me. Two of my best friends making new music together and doing it with three other guys I really like. Even if this was horrible, I was going to love it. But obviously with this group of dudes, there was no way this was going to be anything but solid gold. This demo is anthem music, packed with enough good straightedge and hardcore slogans to fill up an entire department store of hardcore shirt designs. “Dedicated to the Dedicated.” The simplicity of the truths in these lyrics are brilliant. Can’t wait to hear more.
2. Foundation, Turncoat – To be completely honest, I’ve always been a casual Foundation fan. Good band, nice dudes, awesome live… but never listened to them that much. I probably listened to the last LP once on Bandcamp. But they were always a band that when I’d see them live, I would wish that I was more familiar with their music, because they were always so impressive live. Well, I finally took the plunge and bought this EP when they posted it… and I absolutely love it. Like everyone else in the world, “Devotion III” is the standout track for me. The half-sung “every rope has it’s…. end!” (pit) gets me every time. Every track on this is a banger though. Great final EP from a band that I wish I could see play a few more times. RIP.
1. G.L.O.S.S., demo – Around the start of this year I started hearing some rumblings about a band from Olympia called G.L.O.S.S, which had members of Vexx. I missed a show that both bands played at Black Lodge, but enough people whose opinions I respected were talking about this band, so when the demo dropped I was eager to check it out. It was definitely not what I expected, it was way better. Five tracks of such unbridled rage.. the kind of rage that most hardcore bands can only aspire to capture in their sound. This band is pissed and the fury absolutely drips off every syllable screamed on this demo. On first listen, it instantly reminded me of “Roll with Punches” era Carry on, or American Nightmare’s first 7”. The sound isn’t necessarily the same, but that feeling.. it was the same. I instantly knew there was something special about this band. Musically, it actually reminds me a lot of No Reply (the singer of Suicide File’s earlier band).
Honorable mention: last year I put the Putrid Brew LP on my list (at #1 actually!) because I wasn’t sure it would ever actually see an official release. Now it’s out and it would definitely make it in this top 10 if I didn’t use it last year. I still listen to it a lot. It’s fantastic. Check it out if you haven’t already. For fans of Buried Alive and Ringworm.
I always love reading “favorite records of the year” lists, so I’ve asked a few friends to share theirs. I’m posting mine first and I’ll add a new person’s list every day for the next week or two. I’m trying to add links to streaming tunes of all the bands/releases mentioned so you can check them out easily if you’ve slept on any of these.
Feel free to add your own faves of 2014 to the comments section!
Boston Strangler -Fire LP
Red Scare – Demo 2014
The Drip – A Presentation of Gruesome Poetics 12″EP
Baptists – Bloodmines LP
Iron Reagan – Tyranny of Will LP
Paranoid – Crypts of Rays Demo 2014
M.S.E.Y.A.(Massive Straight Edge Youth Attack) – You Break Edge, I Break Legs Demo 2014
Excel – Split Image double 12″ reissue
Ossacrux – NOLA 7″
Hard Time – Demo 2014
Chris Wynne – In Effect Hardcore
Editor’s Note: In Effect has been one of my favorite zines for close to 20 years and the current web-based version is as awesome as the paper version was way back then. Every year, Chris does a super-comprehensive year end recap, which is always a blast to read. The list below is just one small portion of the entire recap. I HIGHLY encourage everyone to click on over to In Effect’s site to read the rest of this incredible post.
1: MADBALL “HARDCORE LIVES” (The Black ‘N Blue Label) – To me, the cream of the crop of 2014 hardcore as Madball spoke to me lyrically, musically and visually with an all around AMAZING effort here. This comes from a guy who always liked Madball but they never had that one album that shook the foundations for me… until now. They start it off with an old style instrumental intro that has you stomping your feet before the title track kicks in with a head nodding type of beat that has some of the slickest and well thought out lyrics I have seen in a while. The intensity of the first 5 tracks on this album is hard to match and carries “Hardcore Lives” to the top of the heap for 2014. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Intro/Hardcore Lives”, “Doc Martin Stomp”, “DNA”
2: SICK OF IT ALL “THE LAST ACT OF DEFIANCE” (Century Media Records) – Still spreading that hardcore reality all these years later is the mighty Sick Of It All showing that they got no quit in their bones 28 years after their formation as a band. “The Last Act Of Defiance” is the type of album that I knew on the very first listen that I was going to love the shit out of and play into the ground (and that I did). Musically there were no real surprises as SOIA pretty much sticks to the blueprint (If it ain’t broke…) that got them here but it’s lyrically where I was impressed with an overall eye opening political take on what’s going on here in the United States of America (and the world) in 2014. Music and message delivered loud and clear. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Road Less Traveled”, “Facing The Abyss”, “Losing War”
3: 7 SECONDS “LEAVE A LIGHT ON” (Rise Records) – Their first new album in 9 years comes out 34 years after they formed as a band. Somehow, someway 7 Seconds keep that youthful flame burning with 14 tracks that rivals some of their best work. If you were never a fan this will not flip you but for those of us who are… wow! STAND OUT TRACKS: “Slogan On A Shirt”, “Leave A Light On”, Heads Are Bound To Roll”
4: BANE “DON’T WAIT UP” (Equal Vision Records) – Leading up to the release of “Don’t Wait Up” Bane announced this would be their last recorded album and if this is true they got as close to a perfect sendoff as you can get with this 10 song banger. From the mixed tempo starter “Non Negotiable” to the classic finale in “Final Backward Glance” Bane holds nothing back with deep tracks that challenge the boundaries of what hardcore is all about. A final record does not necessarily mean that they are gone as Bane played a bunch of shows in 2014 and already have multiple dates set for early 2015. STANDOUT TRACKS: “All The Way Through”, “Hard To Find”, “Final Backward Glance”
5: COMEBACK KID “DIE KNOWING” (Victory Records) – Heavy, melodic and super catchy are all perfect ways to describe CBK’s “Die Knowing”. This album came out earlier in the year back in March and hijacked my iPod right from the get go with probably a months worth of it being on constant “repeat”. Even after that initial bump wore off I still came back to this album over and over and even dug into their back catalog a bunch as I admittedly had slept on this band in the past. WTF was I smoking? CBK is awesome and “Die Knowing” is just one in a line of solid hardcore releases from Winnipeg’s finest. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Should Know Better”, “Wasted Arrows”, “Somewhere In This Miserable”
6: SHEER TERROR “STANDING UP FOR FALLING DOWN” (Reaper Records) – The first new Sheer Terror full length in well over a decade and half showed that the Rev and crew are still a potent force to be reckoned with dropping 11 tracks that showcased the band’s strong music writing diversity. Straight up thrashers like the opener “Heartburn In G” and “Ain’t Alright” are mixed in with more melodic numbers like “Boots, Braces & Alimony”, “Did You Just Meet Me” and slower more brooding tracks like “Coffee, 5 Sugars” which features a catchy horn part that really gets stuck in your head. Like it or not they are here to stay. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Boots, Braces & Alimony”, “Did You Just Meet Me?”, “Heartburn In G”
7: RANCID “HONOR IS ALL WE KNOW” (Epitaph Records) – 2014 marched along with more of the names we have come to know and love taking charge in regards to new albums. Rancid is just another case of the old guard showing that they still got what it takes to win over people from all age brackets and whatever your punk rock lineage is. To me at least, you are cheating yourself out of good music if you just listen to one little niche of hardcore/punk or metal. “Honor Is All We Know” is a great mixed bag of sounds that is obviously rooted in a more traditional punk rock style but some nice tempo changes and cool ska type numbers break things up and separate Rancid from the rest of the pack. A great album that is easily played from start to finish over and over. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Back Where I Belong”, “Raise Your Fist”, “Diabolical”
8: ANGEL DU$T “A.D.” (Reaper Records / React! Records) – A breath of fresh air out of the Baltimore area with members of Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile teaming up to produce some catchy Ramones infused hardcore? If it’s hard to nail down and slap a label on it you know you got something different. 12 songs in 15 minutes makes you want more and although short, Angel Du$t makes a nice statement with “A.D.” showing that hardcore can be melodic and catchy while maintaining a “hard” edge. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Let It Rot”, “Big One”, “Set Me Up”
9: MODERN PAIN “SELF DECONSTRUCTION” (Six Feet Under Records) – The Dallas Kings of amazing EP’s follow up their 2011 “Cast Aside, Left Behind” EP and their 2012 “Reality Of The Pain” EP with their 2014 offering “Self Deconstruction”. Modern Pain again shows their uniqueness with a dirty and raw sound that mixes in elements of punk, metal, grind and hardcore that translates into a one of a kind band doing things their way. A perfect band for those who cry that hardcore has run out of new ideas. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Mind Grinder”, “Self Deconstruction”
10: CAUGHT IN A TRAP “GOODNIGHT NEW YORK” (Dead City Records) – Straight up NYC hardcore out of the Q Borough is Caught In A Trap who follow up their 2007 effort “Rats Get Fat” with a far superior product to its predecessor. In that 7 year gap between albums CIAT actually recorded another album that they felt had no “soul” according to their singer in an interview run on this site earlier this year. They put that album on the shelf and never used it. What we get in “Goodnight New York” is 12 tracks of the type of hardcore you would have been accustomed to seeing/hearing at a CBGB’s Sunday Matinee a long, long time ago. Blue collar through and through with heads up lyrics backed by a pounding beat that screams NYHC. STANDOUT TRACKS: “S.T.F.U.”, “The Daily Grind”, “Envy, Power, Greed”
10A: ALL FOR NOTHING “WHAT LIES WITHIN US” (GSR Records) – 10A? WTF? I thought this was a top 10? Yeah but I declare a tie between Caught In A Trap and “What Lies Within Us” from All For Nothing. Go start your own website if you don’t like it. The 2 year void between 2012’s “To Live And Die For” and this is behind us as Cindy and crew return with another kick in the nutz delivering a nice blend of old school and new school style hardcore DUTCH style!. Cindy’s vocals (and lyrics) again are strong with AFN backing her up with some well written tunes that have crunch, melody, moshability, and an overall infectiousness. Get infected with some AFN. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Five Leaf Clover”, “Burn The Lies”, “Luctor Et Emergo”
I narrowed it down to a dozen. I had to cut a few off.
Backtrack – “Lost In Life” – Started 2014 off with a bang last January!
Mizery – “Survive The Vibe” – Hard new groovy shit. Really excited to see what these guys do with the band.
Afghan Wigs – “Do to the Beast” – Greg Dulli is probably one of my favourite musicians and how consistently he puts out great rock records is impressive. The new Afghan Wigs is no exception.
Partynextdoor – “Two” – Toronto – Catchy as hell.
Angel Du$t – AD – Super fun punk rock songs. Album sounds great.
Banks – “Goddess” – Was waiting for this full length for a while. With all the songs from her previous EP and some new ones. I do think the EP songs are still the best though.
Bane – “Don’t Wait Up” – They know how to capture the feeling in such a unique way. This album was presented perfectly right down to the title and the artwork.. What a send-off for one of the best HC bands of the last decade.
Jeremih – No More EP – “Fuck you all the time Remix” is the sexiest song of the year hands down.
GS9 – Shmoney Shmurda – I really like the rest of this crew not just Bobby. Listened to this a lot this summer.
Travis Scott – Days Before Rodeo – Insane production R&B…
Expire – Pretty Low – I love how thick this record sounds. To me they are such a solid dialed in 4 piece where every member can really have their moments. Especially rhythm section wise.
Ryan Adams – S/T – Chilled out with this
There are usually way too many releases for me to select a top 10 every year, so I just make a giant list and post it. There is way too much music to keep up with, but I do my best every year. Hopefully you find something you wouldn’t have heard otherwise and you dig it. These are some records I found myself listening to every day since they came out or frequently enough to remember them.
For the stinky kids:
New Gods – What Did I Say?
Band full of great dudes playing great tunes. A favorite local. Check them out on tour in the new year. Won’t disappoint.
Angel Dust – A.D.
This album makes me want to run around in a circle and hump the air.
The Flex – Wild Stabs in the Dark
I was fortunate enough to see this band this year and they ripped. Greasy.
Hounds of Hate – Hate Springs Eternal
I was late on this band. I need to see this shit live.
Only Crime – Pursuance
The super group not enough people fuck with. Favorite singer of my favorite band playing aggressive/melodic music with some hardcore heavyweights.
For the pitters:
Forced Order – Eternal War
Best new band. Great group of dudes. Can’t wait for the LP.
Sick of it All – Last Act of Defiance
Favorite HC band of all time. Favorite album since Death to Tyrants.
Mizery – Survive the Vibe
Groove. If Wreck refuses to bless us with more music, I will settle for this. Big time.
Punch – They Don’t Have to Believe
Bummer I won’t get the chance to see these songs live. Very fast, and very pissed.
Cold World – How the God’s Chill
I love rap and I love hardcore. Kool G Rap is on this album for fucks sake.
For the sissies:
Real Estate – Atlas
I pissed off every one I worked with by playing this every morning since this dropped.
Nothing – Guilty of Everything
Been waiting for this one since the A389 release. Did not disappoint.
Jaws – Be Slowly
Know nothing about this band. Stumbled on them and feel real good about that.
Whirr – Sway
Honestly didn’t care about this band until this record. This is what they sound like live, which I like.
Dissolve – Self Titled
Haven’t spent enough time with this one, but can already tell it will be one of my favorites. Shout out to Ole and Painter Man Records.
For the half way rockers:
Banner Pilot – Souvenir
This band has been the best substitute for Dillinger Four since they came out.
Fucked Up – Glass Boys
A Fucked Up record would normally be in the stinky kids section, but they are just getting more wild every release. I hope they continue to get weirder.
Cloud Nothings – Here and No Where Else
New band to me. A very upbeat, driving record. Fun.
Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street
Short and sweet. Looking forward to a new LP.
The Moms – Buy American
A slower Jersey sound. Fun band.
For the bangers:
Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch
This shit bangs. Hard.
Baptists – Bloodmines
Favorite group of Canadians. Dave Grohl approved.
YAITW – When Life Comes to Death
This band rips.
Triptykon – Melana Chasmata
At the Gates – At War With Reality
Out of all the metal bands not putting out shit, then hitting everyone in the face with a banger… This is my favorite since Carcass last year.
For the heads:
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata
Best hip-hop collaboration this year (or ever?)
Cormega – Mega Philosophy
Nice to hear an old favorite over some classic Large Professor production.
Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron
Out of all the new guys, this is a favorite. Starts off hard, ends classic.
Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons
Forever one of the best. A lot of Kool G Rap and AZ features always welcome. Nice production.
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
A very fresh sound to come from the south. Nice.
Wayne Ballard – Toxicbreed website
The Coltranes “The Cat Of Nine Tails”: The Punk EP every band wishes they were able to bring to the table. Band has consistently upped their game each release and their new EP is nothing short of amazing.
Yautja “Songs Of Descent”: Absolutely crushing LP from three piece outfit Yautja. May be my favorite full length of 2014 due to sheer replay value alone. Crushingly heavy blend of Sludge and Grindcore.
Pallbearer “Foundations Of Burden”: 2014 has been Pallbearer’s year, with getting endless love being the band to hold the torch of modern day Doom Metal it’s easy to think they’re just another band to fall into the “overhyped” category, but that isn’t the case at all. Perfect full length front to back, perfect for those of you looking for a great modern day Traditional Doom band.
Full Of Hell “Full Of Hell/Merzbow”: Full Of Hell has been one of my favorite bands for a few years now, so to see they were doing a collaboration LP with Japanese Noise king Merzbow I was more than ecstatic. Easily the best Full Of Hell full length to date, perfect production and an incredible use of Merzbow’s noise work.
Coffinworm- “IV.I.VIII”: One of the biggest surprised of 2014 for me, as I have never heard of Coffinworm prior to this full length. Indianapolis Sludge/Doom outfit threw everything on the table with this full length and fully blew my mind with it. Amazing way to be introduced to the band, fell in love with the full length right when Track 1 hit my speakers.
La Misma – S/T 7” (NY) : This bad boy was released in January so it’s a perfect candidate for first on my list of records that dropped in 2014. Infectious and exceeding of their contemporaries from the area. On constant rotation.
Coneheads – Total Conetrol Demo Tape (IN) : The Cassette demo that blew everyone’s minds. My introduction to this was three rough mixed tracks Mark sent me in the mail. Always pushing it; pure gold.
Vacant State – Chains 7” (BC) : One of my favorite bands from the Northwest and they always deliver. Five more stompers from the best in BC. This band does something to me man.
Technicolor Teeth – Can You Keep Me Out of Hell CS (WI) : I fell in love with the Sage 7” when it came out last year in 2013. Technicolor teeth did this cassette for a tour in 2014 which includes the 7” and other amazing tracks. The Midwest is blessed.
Ooze – 7” (IN) : I saw Ooze for the first time in 2012 before they had anything released and they solidified their title in my mind as “best band in America”. So excited they recorded an EP, the world has been waiting. They blow my mind live every time.
Big Zit – Electric Zit vol. 1 7” (IN): I have no words for how great this band is. If you ever have the chance to catch them live don’t sleep on it.
Glue – 7” (TX) : My Texas boys. I don’t have enough good to say about them but like every choice on my top 2014 list they are not to be missed live.
Supercrush – Lifted b/w Melt With You 7” Single (BC) : I’m letting this one get on here because it was technically released on Bedside in 2013 but the Grave Mistake press was 2014. I’ve probably listened to these two songs in 2014 more than anything else. Can’t get enough.
Institute – CS 12” Repress (TX) : Here’s another one that gets in on a technicality because the cassette came out in 2013 but the LP of the same tracks came out this year. I listened to this tape so much when Mose gave me a copy in Texas. Not to be missed.
Tercer Mundo – Ser Nosotros Mismos LP (Mexico City) : I was so inspired by this band’s 7” release in 2012 that I flew them out to the US to play the NW and tour down the West Coast with us. One of the most inspiring hardcore punk bands in recent years for me. The LP of this year, aptly titled, takes a slightly different direction and delivers. So much love for this band.
I know I shouldn’t choose my own bands but I gotta shout out to the BRICKLAYER demo tape (new Grimace) and the BAD BLOOD demo tape (long distance band I started with friends from Chicago) that came out this year. Download them both and all the releases I listed at sudsdenim.blogspot.com! Honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut because they were released in 2013: Violent Reaction “City Streets” LP (UK) and Belgrado “Siglo XXI” Lp (Barcelona), both are so incredibly infectious you’ll find yourself humming them when you’re zoning out. Had to throw those in there because of how much I jammed them. XXX
HIV – Summer Forever LP (WA) : This is a very special release because these tracks were recorded in 2007 and were never released until I put them out this year. Record release show coming soon but LPs are in hand. Dedicated to the memory and love shared between everyone and Samuel Satori Silverstein. He passed away May 4th of this year and will be dearly missed. This is by far one of the most inspirational hardcore releases I have ever heard in my entire life. The energy and passion behind this band will never be matched. Love forever.
Trap Them – Blissfucker Pure anger, all power!!!
Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend 4 songs/62 minutes of beautiful heaviness.
Thou – Heathen Thick transcending brutally
At the Gates – At War with Reality Melodic death mastery.
Crowbar – Symmetry in Black Depressive riffs and rage.
Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch It’s fucking Ringworm!!!
Godflesh – A World Lit Only by Fire Fighting spirit and punishment.
Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden Warning worship.
Solstair – Otta Icelandic shoegaze
Bl’ast! – Expression of Power & Brotherhood – Till Death These are together because they’re reissued/re-mastered/repackaged and real important to my life!!!
Cold World “How The Gods Chill”
Maybe I’m biased, but I think Cold World are an important and interesting band. “Ice Grillz” was one of the best 7″s of the last decade, and since that initial push they have seemed to fluctuate between being an active and inactive band. While I like “Dedicated Bebs”, I think they still had some work to do to create the definitive Cold World LP, and HTGC does just that. These songs are better, harder, more diverse, and also sonically a kick in the ass.
Fury “Kingdom Come”
Fury to me seems like the perfect storm. They are band of kids who are willing to throw all ambitions to the wind and tour and write constantly, but they do so with such finesse and power that they cannot be ignored. Their debut 7″ may draw comparisons to other things, but it stands on its own merit as a strong, well-written EP that is full of great moments.
Merchandise “After The End”
This was probably my most anticipated release of the year. When Merchandise dropped “Little Killer” I was floored and wanted to instantly hear more. The album leaked pretty early, but the rip had one song cut in half or something so I waited until the album officially came out some two months later to truly digest their work. Merchandise’s departure into pop territory is a success in my eyes.
Praise “Lights Went Out”
I don’t know if any record is more urgent or honest this year than Praise’s debut LP. This record shows a band at their finest moment of songwriting yet. The lead in “Give Me The Pain” is just sick. That coupled with earnest lyrics makes this record work flawlessly capturing a “classic” style that is rarely seen these days with solid, modern production. Very excited to see what these guys cook up next.
Step Forward “Step Forward”
Step Forward’s sophomore 7″ is a record that has been at the top of my “anticipated records” list for the last 4 years or something. A record that almost was canned a couple times turns out to be some of the best hardcore in a while, but that isn’t a shock coming from this cast of characters. When I first spun the record and read the lyrics I felt somehow empowered and relieved. Here is an adult, a friend of mine, a man of many talents, who shares a passion for straight edge and hardcore well into his adult life and who is unashamedly sincere about it, regardless of the implications or trends. That, to me, is what a best of list should be made of.
- Army of the Pharaohs – In Death Reborn
- Slapshot – s/t
- Bane – Don’t Wait Up
- Behemoth – the Satanist
- Code Orange – I am King
- Madball – Hardcore Lives
- Rude Awakening – Collateral Damage
- Army of the Pharoahs – Heavy Lies the Crown
- Homewrecker – circle of death
- Sheer Terror – Standing up for Falling Down
Cody Hoffman – NWHC Most Valuable Pitter
(in no particular order)
Counter – Shallow Words Crashing Down On Deaf Ears
This just released this month and it is so sick. I was all about this as soon as the first song started.
Reminds me of Culture and stuff like that.
Cold Truth – No Rules
This is my one of my favorite locals. They are great dudes that play some really cool music. I thought the demo was good, then they put out No Rules and blew it out of the water.
Skinfather – None Will Mourn
There’s nothing I can say about this album other than in my eyes, it’s perfect. Anything else would be an understatement.
Mizery – Survive the Vibe
I have been insanely hyped on this band since they released the two song promo.
I could not wait for STV to drop, When it did it was on constant rotation. I really hope these guys make it up to WA soon or I’m going to have to go down there.
Criminal Instinct – Fever
So I never really got into this band until this came out, just because I had never heard them.
The first time I heard Cowards Run I was hooked and this record has been heavily played.
I really hope they’re on Rainfest this year.
Drown – Dispossession
I can’t wait to see these guys three days in a row next month. This record is fucking awesome, check it out and hit the pit for 3 days straight if you’re in the NW.
Earth – Primitive and Deadly
This is some of the heaviest riffs and most beautiful music of 2014. Probably some of the best Album Artwork as well. I put it on as I lay in bed and attempt to sleep, often.
Big Takeover – Big Demo
A demo I feel should have been talked about way more. But I’m sure will get hyped eventually. Hope I hear more from them soon.
Shrapnel – Demo ’14 and Frenzied State
Both are so sick. Definitely my favorite band from the UK. Both releases have a cool mix of Mags inspired parts and some of that new punk vibes to them. It’s just really worth checking out both. Hope they make it to the states.
- Hollow Earth – “Silent Graves” LP – Panic Records Apocalyptic, heavy, intelligent, crushing. This is beyond hardcore.
- Run With The Hunted – “The Sieve and the Sand” LP – Panic Records Powerfully vulnerable, fast and insightful. I love this band and am sad they are breaking up.
- Ghostchant – various songs Zoli their singer basically built hardcore in Hungary over the last couple dacades. This is his latest band in a legacy of many great projects.
- Kovaa Rasvaa – En Ole Edes Olemassa 12” – Emancy Punx Records RAGING, and I mean raging hardcore/punk from Finland on one of the coolest labels in the world, Emancy Punx.
- Cymeon X – Animal Friendly 12” – Refuse Records How many bands are still vegan/vegatarian and straightedge after just a few years let alone TWENTY like Cymeon X?!? Another great label too.
Cloud Nothings- Here and Nowhere Else
I thought the last LP they put out had some great songs on it but this record blows that one out of the water. I don’t know how you would categorize them but there are parts that remind me of the Replacements and Husker Du. The recording is perfect and compliments the songs and I love the way the drums sound. Choice cuts are No Thoughts and I’m not part of me.
Pianos Become The Teeth- Keep You
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2014. I think Kyle is one of the best lyricists around and the lyrics on lack long after were amazing. There were a few parts on LLA and then the split they put out in 2012 where Kyle was starting to actually sing and I thought it sounded great. I was really hoping he would do more of it on Keep You, and he did. The song writing is next level, production on the record is perfect and Kyle’s lyrics are just as great, if not better, than the lyrics on lack long after. Choice cuts are Lesions, The Queen and Say Nothing.
Fury- Demo/Kingdom Come
Ok so I combined these two because it’s a demo and 7″. I was excited about this band before I even heard the demo because I knew the dudes who were in the band were into cool shit. Plus taking the name from two of my favorite bands didn’t hurt. The demo has a little melody and has parts that remind me up Bold, Battery and OC hardcore. Kingdom Come feels like it’s going even more in the OC hardcore direction a la uniform choice (listen to end is nigh). Had the pleasure of seeing them twice this year and are great live too. Choice cuts are Play (BAB), Royalty, and Reality Check.
Ryan Adams- 1984
10 songs. Each a minute long. Great melodies over simple but catchy riffs that sound like husker du and the replacements.
Ryan Adams- S/T
I actually put off listening to this because 1984 was so good. I’ll admit I haven’t had much interest in Ryan Adams since Love Is Hell, but 2014 was his year for sure. This record just feels natural and organic. All the interviews he has done where he talks about recording and writing this record make complete sense while you’re listening to it. Choice cuts are Kim, I just Might and tired of giving up.
True Love- New Young Gods
Another great Detroit band that reminds me of the early 2000s. Heavily influenced by AN and Count Me Out Permanent era. Excellent aesthetic as well. Choice cuts are non places and those days.
Pocketknife- Calluses b/w Freak
Sick single in the vein of late 80s early 90s Seattle bands. The vocals remind me a lot of Mudhoney, as well as some of the riffs with a little Seaweed thrown in the mix.
Step Forward- S/T
What else can I say about this band? Straight edge hardcore played at its finest.
The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart- Days Of Abandon
This record is so fucking catchy. Heavy New Order/Morrissey vibe with male and female vocals. Great production on the record too. Choice cuts are Kelly, Eurydice and Masokissed.
Freedom- Pay The Price
I didn’t really know what to expect from this 7″ judging by the cover of the record I thought it was going to be more in the vein of 86 Mentality or something like that but I was definitely wrong. If anything it reminds of Brotherhood. Fast, pissed and heavy in all the right places. Choice cuts are Voiceless and Life in a noose.
Give- Electric Flower Circus
This was another record I was really anticipating, actually for a couple years now. It was cool to finally hear Sonic Bloom recorded after hearing them play it for so many years. Great aesthetic. Cool riffs that remind me of Fugazi, Swiz and The Cult. Choice cuts are Sonic Bloom, Fuck Me Blind and Waiting For It.
Scott Vogel – Terror
- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
- Bishops Green – Pressure
- Your Old Droog – S/T
- Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch
- Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
- Code Orange Kids – I am King
- Bane – Don’t Wait Up
- Run the Jewels – 2
- Sheer Terror – Standing Up For the Falling Down
- Descendants and Nas – Documentaries
PRAISE – Lights Went Out
BANE – Don’t Wait Up
RED SCARE – 2014 TAPE
7 SECONDS – Leave A Light On
THE CREW – DEMO 2014
CRUEL HAND – The Negatives
Criminal Instinct – Fever
Die Birth – DEMO 2014
GROWING STRONGER – DEMO 2014
FORCED ORDER – Eternal War
Let me preface my list by saying that either I’m a dumbass and missed out on a lot of great releases, or a lot of records this year have just sucked. If it’s the first one, I look forward to seeing everyone’s lists and educating myself. I’ll probably blame it on the fact that I’ve lived in four different states in 2014 and I’m borderline homeless right now. Either way, my list only goes to five.
- Criminal Instinct – Fever Straight up the evilest release I’ve heard from a hardcore band in a long time. I was living with these guys in Atlanta while they were writing the record and it was cool watching it come together. The lyrics are angry but clever, written by a true maniac.
- Freedom – Pay the Price Eight songs in about 9 minutes. Pay the price is fast and manic. Sounds like what getting your ass beat feels like. Freedom is one of the coolest bands to see live.
- Hank Wood and the Hammerheads – Stay Home The only reason this isn’t number one is because I’m a poser and I don’t own a physical copy of the record. Songs are cool and sound like no other punk band ever. There’s like 12 members so you know that they’re not fucking around.
- Basement – Further Sky Only 3 tracks, but I’ll take what I can get. I met this band the first day of a tour we did with them a few years ago. They beat everyone’s ass in the pit every night. Complete gentleman otherwise.
- Mac Demarco – Salad Days I for real have no clue what this shit is about, but it’s rocking. You definitely can’t spin-kick to it, that’s for sure. For fans of jus’ chillin’ and the same riff being remixed on about 8 of the 11 tracks. The artwork is sick, my man just took a selfie and hand wrote his name on it in pink.
Chris Williams’ top 10 – Seekers Of The Core
- Putrid Brew – Return to the Valley LP This record isn’t actually out yet. But I don’t care. It’s so good, I need to put it in this list. This is Dustin from Ill Intent’s other band. When I first saw them, I was expecting to like it, just because I love Dustin, but no.. this band absolutely rules. Musically, it’s somewhere between Buried Alive and Ringworm. “World of Fear” is the track for me. It’s a heavy song about school shootings and other madness in this world. The music fits the lyrical vibe perfectly. I hope this comes out soon (Mindmelt records) because this LP is going to blow some minds.
- Noi!se – The Scars We Hide LP One of my favorite street punk records in years and it comes out of Tacoma! These dudes write some catchy punk hooks. The vocals remind me a bit of Youth Brigade (west coast) and the guitar player who sings occasionally has a more raspy voice, a la Matt from Rancid, which mixes perfectly with the more smooth lead vocals. This record is neck & neck with Putrid Brew for record of the year… and since the Brew’s isn’t actually out yet… I guess that makes this one record of the year, for me.
- Praise – Lights Went Out LP Love this record! These Dag Nasty riffs are incredible. The drum work is awesome. The lyrics rule and the vocals drip with sincerity. The layout is sharp. Everything about this record is perfection. The only gripe I have with it is that in the re-recorded version of “Afraid to Ask” the awesome guitar lead is buried a bit in the mix.
- Expire – Pretty Low LP This band has really found their groove. The title track is my fave here. The guitar break/drum break with the vocals before the end breakdown gets me pumped every time. “I’m at a crossroad where you choose. You either fight or you lose..”
- Cruel Hand – The Negatives LP This record is not what I was expecting it to be. Thought it was going to be more of a Suffer Survive vibe.. and that’s in there.. but this is different. It’s not just a rehash of the No Warning major label effort. This is more rock & roll than nu metal. My favorite tracks are the more rock ones “Pissing – Spitting” and “The Negatives.” But the harder ones rule as well.
- Angel Du$t – A.D. Love this band. They still remind me of early Seaweed (Despised era), though this record less so. I love seeing them live because kids freak out, but it’s not hard pit-warfare… it’s just kids losing their minds and freaking out. I dig that.
- Forced Order – Eternal War Clevo style HC done really well. Heavy and hard. Reminds me of a modern Confront, with some Integrity riffs sprinkled in for good measure. Awesome live too. Favorite track is probably “Cut Deep.” When the vocals cut in on that track they are dripping with emotion. Almost sounds like he’s spitting. Love it.
- Stand United – EP An actual straight edge band from Tokyo! Awesome. This reminds me a lot of the 90s European band Eyeball. “TALKING STRAAAAAAAAIGHT!!!” Fast, youth crew inspired HC, but played hard and pissed, like the original youth crewers meant it to be. Lyrics are in Japanese, so I wish I knew what they were singing about, but I think it’s awesome that they sing in their native tongue, rather than English like so many other non-English bands. One of the best bands in hardcore at this moment, played by some of the coolest kids from Japan.
- Fury – demo This demo is sweet. My only issue with it is the vocals are mixed a bit low and sound kind of tinny. Maybe that was done on purpose to make it sound more vintage.. and it does (which is kinda cool). But I just wish they were up front more. What I’ve heard of the 7” the vocals are up front more and I dig that. I still need to get that 7”… If I wasn’t slacking, that would probably be on my top 10 too. I love that these dudes are doing this style of HC. It’s really cool to hear a fast HC band that is more like Uniform Choice than Youth Crew. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that stuff too. But this demo is just a refreshing change.
- Beyond Repair – demo I never really listened to Code Red, so not sure how much this differs from these dudes’ previous efforts, but I’m really digging this demo. This won’t mean a lot to many people outside of the NW, but it reminds me of Left With Nothing at times. Maybe comparable to All Out War at times… First track, “At Both Ends” is my favorite. Love the chorus, “You burn the candle at both ends, you played with fire and you got burned, I’ll never fall for your lies again.” Their singer lives in Seattle now, so not sure if these dudes are doing this band anymore, but I hope they are.
Thanks for reading! Check in tomorrow, because I’m going to update this thread with another “best of 2014” list. And again, feel free to post your own in the comments, if you’d like to join in the fun.
I’ve been hounding Chris from Bridge 9 records for a while about doing a guest blog post, but apparently he’s a busy guy (shocking, given the amount of stuff he has going on 24/7). But here it is and the timing could not be any better; 10 years to the exact date! This definitely brings back some memories, and there’s a tiny bit of crossover from my “Van Wars Down Under” blog post I published a about a year ago, so check that one out after reading Chris’ if you haven’t already. Thanks Wrenn!
I joined up with Champion on their first tour to Australia in December of 2004, which was exactly 10 years ago today. The tour was with Miles Away and Against, lasted three weeks, and was one of my favorites – I was close with the guys in Champion, we had just released their “Promises Kept” album a couple of months earlier. I haven’t done much journaling in my life, but when I went on that tour I knew I wanted to document it. Every night I detailed what had happened that day. I can’t say I ‘m much of a writer but this was my firsthand account of the tour, which is only now finally being released a decade later. It doesn’t seem like this much time has passed. I hope everyone that I met on that tour is still doing well and doesn’t mind hearing about it from my perspective all of these years later!
– Chris Wrenn
December 2nd, 2014
Thursday, December 2nd, 2004
My last connecting flight was in Brisbane to Perth, which got in at 8am. Customs was a bit tricky because I was entering on a tourist visa and I had to explain what I was doing with 300 “promotional” CD’s. They ended up changing my visa to a business one but I had to sweat it out a bit. Telling the customs guy that I had only $300 cash on me, was staying for 3 weeks, and didn’t know who and when I was meeting up with the person I was staying with didn’t exactly grease the wheels in customs. I came to learn that my next flight was ELEVEN hours away. I had to kill the entire day at the airport and was bummed. I called Ryan from Common Bond Records (he booked the tour) to let him know what was up, and he called Chris from Against, who came out and picked me up and took me into town. Instead of sitting in the airport all day, we went out to the mall, got lunch, checked out a record store and then the tattoo studio (Allstar Tattoo) that he owns, and went out to the movies and saw National Treasure. I got back to the airport in time to make my connecting flight around 7pm, flew into Perth around 11pm, and met up with Ryan and some of the guys from Miles Away, who we were going to stay with. 40 hours after leaving and I was finally here on the West Coast of Australia. We rolled back to their place, dropped my stuff off, and went back at 1am to pick up Champion, who were flying in from Europe.
Friday, December 3rd, 2004
Slept in for the first time in ages. Hung out most of the day with a few of the guys from Miles Away, who we’re staying with. The show tonight is a few blocks away from the Indian Ocean, so we walked down to the beach and hung out for a bit. The show was good – it was my first time seeing Miles Away and they were good – it was an 18+ crowd but there were a ton of people there. Perth doesn’t have a good hardcore music record store so kids were psyched that I had brought a B9 distro, ended up selling over 40 CD’s. After the show, we all went to some shot party, where we left to go get falafel, head back to Cam’s house and crash for the night.
Saturday, December 4th, 2004
Saturday’s show was at a skatepark, and was all-ages. The place was really cool and the weather was beautiful. Aram and I walked over to get some food soon after getting to the venue and I was almost hit by a car as I crossed the road. I keep looking the wrong way when crossing the streets (Australia has British style driving) and if I DON’T get hit by a car on this trip it will be because of dumb luck. The show was the biggest show in Perth, as it was the only all-ages one, and a ton of kids turned out. Tons of stage diving.
Sunday, December 5th, 2004
Final show in Perth – it was small and 18+. Aram and I broke out for a while and walked down towards Fremantle Beach. Fremantle is a large port so there were tons of huge tankers out on ocean. The show was fun despite the low turnout – during Champion’s set, I was asked to do guest vocals for their cover of SSD’s “Glue”. Couldn’t of been an easier song to sing (only 5 words, duh) but it was my first time ever singing anything on stage, so it was a trip.
Monday, December 6th
Day Off – PERTH
We had the day off today and our flights back to Brisbane weren’t until 11pm, so we decided to head back down to Fremantle Beach. It was probably one of the most amazing beaches that I’ve ever been on, which isn’t much considering I’ve grown up in New England. Big waves, bright blue water, clean beaches, and a strong sun made up the key ingredients. I came unprepared so I had to dish out tourist prices on flipflops and a beach towel. A few hours in the heat, and surprisingly no sunburn (50 SPF helped).
Tuesday, December 7th, 2004
Day Off – BRISBANE
After traveling all night and into the morning, we got into Brisbane around 10am. We met up with Greg Against and got some breakfast, and then went back to his apartment, where we ended up crashing and sleeping for the rest of the day. That night, we all ended up going out for dinner at Sizzler and got $18 all you can eat salad bar. I went to sleep full but woke up the next morning feeling like I hadn’t eaten in days. Soon after going to sleep, I was awoken by the commotion caused by the rain. The beautiful weather couldn’t hold out and a total downpour began, one that would end up lasting several days. We were staying in a basement apartment, and the water began flooding outside the door, and pouring into the apartment. We had to build a wall out of towels to keep the water from getting in.
Wednesday, December 8th, 2004
Greg’s girlfriend, Rachi, is a tattoo artist at All Star Tattoo, the shop owned by Chris from Against. We rolled over there early in the morning, so that Brandon and Aram could get tattooed. I didn’t want to get stuck at their house all day so I went along for the ride. The day was spent between the shop, the mall, and a trip down to a river a few blocks away, where I came face to face with a 3 foot lizard. Brandon ended up getting a kangaroo with boxing gloves, saying “G’ Day Mate.” Aram picked two caskets, one with a lock, the other with a key, for the tops of his feet with the words “Hard Times.” I thought he was crazy for tattooing his feet when he knew that he was going to be playing shows for the next two weeks.
Before the show we went back to Greg’s house to pack up the gear for the night. While I was waiting, I heard what sounded like cats fighting. I walked outside, and saw the bats that come to feed on their neighbor’s mango tree. Bats in New England are no larger than 6 inches wide, wings stretched. These looked like dogs with wings that were no smaller than 3 feet wide. Unbelievable.
This was the first of two Brisbane shows, this one being 18+. I missed the first band, Knife Fight Opus, but got back in for the 2nd band, Just Say Go. During their set I noticed that Chad and the rest of New Found Glory were there. Before the 3rd band went on, I walked over and said what’s up, cause we had been introduced at a Terror / Madball show in San Diego last year. We ended up shooting the shit for the rest of the show. Turned out NFG had just gotten into Australia that morning, heard about the show, and wanted to check out Champion, which was cool of them.
Thursday, December 9th, 2004
Today’s show was in Byron Bay, about 90 minutes south of Brisbane. We got up, watched the Lost Boys, and loaded up in two mini vans to head out for the show. On the way we stopped at some surf spot that is supposed to be one of the best in Australia… Byron Bay is a touristy community with tons of surfers and hippies – we rolled into town around 5pm and parked at the youth center that the show was happening at. We walked into town all got food – I opted for my 4th falafel kebab this week. Aram and I walked up to the beach to watch people surf. We then walked back to the center to prepare for the show. The first band was called New Kid, and the singer was wearing an Outbreak shirt. Real young band, and REAL sloppy. The 2nd band was too singy and screamy and after suffering through a few of their songs I opted to break out and walk back towards the center of town and check out the beach again. Way better listening to the waves than that band (sorry Ryan!). Hung out for a bit and then headed back in time to watch Against, who were good and got a great reaction, tons of singalongs. Champion played and kids went off. It was a REAL young crowd, but kids knew the words and danced a ton.
After the show, we headed back into the center of town, to get something to eat before heading back to Brisbane. We ducked into another Kebab shop that was across the street from a nightclub. It was about 11pm and there were tons of people hanging out on the sidewalks – all sorts of girls, some kids from the show, and these two really drunk guys, one wearing a shirt that said “World’s Greatest Street Fighter”. He was more drunk than his friend, and he was asking people to fight him, because he “was the best.” We stuck around because we figured something might happen. After a minute of no one instigating, we started to get in the van, and noticed that the guys had started talking to some kids from the show. We got in the van and pulled over on the side of the street next to the crowd, just in case the guys started anything with the kids. I rolled down my window, and watched the exchange. One of the girls with the kids from the show pointed at us and told the guys that we wanted to talk to them. The “Street Fighter” stumbled over to our window, and started asking if there were any girls inside the van. Once he realized that there was only guys, he started saying “you guys are fucked, you’re not going to get any girls, you’re all guys,” and out of nowhere, Jim grabbed the guy’s baseball hat off his head through the window, and Ryan hit the gas. The guy tried to get his hat back and held on to the van for a second, let go, and proceeded to run after us. We slowed down a few times, and then sped off, leading him in a chase for a couple of blocks, before we turned the corner and disappeared with his hat.
Friday, December 10th, 2004
This was hyped up to be one of the best shows, and it ended up being pretty good after all. Lots of horrible haircuts and eyeliner on guys. A band called The War opened up, it was their first show and they are a militant straight edge band. Lots of songs about killing emo kids, loving the edge, yadda yadda. I’m not sure if they take themselves seriously, and if it’s all fun and games, cool, but they actually believe what they’re preaching, they’re not going to last too long. The kids who preach sxe the loudest are always the ones to fall the hardest – it’s like an unwritten law. It was funny to see kids with eyeliner looking around nervously though. A band called Live Today played and kids went off. They played hardcore that was more in the ballpark to Champion, with tons of stage dives. The singer had a ton of energy. I missed the 3rd band, xWish For Wingsx, but saw Daylight Curse, which was very Trustkill-esque and little girls were sweating the singer the entire set. Against owned, since it was their hometown and Champion closed it out. Tons of stage dives. During “The Decline” Jim gave up the mic to the singer of Live Today, who is a big Champion fan and was psyched.
Saturday, December 11th, 2004
Newcastle was a ghost town when we rolled in… The drive took all day to get there, including a stop at a beach & a $200 speeding ticket. A band called Taking Sides played, who were pretty decent, but it’s evident that they draw heavy influence from American Nightmare. Since so few bands get to come to Australia, the ones that do seem to have a lot of influence on the local kids… Hopefully the next time Champion comes through there will be some more melodic, straight up hardcore bands. There is way too much metal in this scene. Ryan’s band, Perish The Thought played, which was cool to see him up on stage… They covered Gorilla Biscuits.
Sunday, December 12th, 2004
We didn’t wake up until after 2pm, since getting to bed so late. The area that we’re in is full of little stores and great restaurants – we got to meet up with Graham at Resist Records and check out his store, which is great. Jim and I went to an Asian restaurant called the Green Gourmet, which served good vegan food but didn’t have menus – the wait staff brought out trays of appetizers and we just picked what we wanted to eat. At 6 I met up with Graham as well as Dave from Stomp Distribution and some of their friends, went out for a Thai dinner and headed out to the show. The first band was called Strength Within, and were pretty good. They covered Ten Yard Fight’s “Hardcore Pride.” Against played 2nd and got kids moving around more. The third band is one that I wanted to check out, Last Nerve, because they had released a split 7” with Internal Affairs and were one of the few Australian bands that I knew about before this tour. They had a lot of energy and did a Bad Brains cover so they’re OK in my book. Champion closed it out and played a great set. The turnout was about 100 or so kids – which I guess was pretty good for a Sunday night in Sydney. After the show we went to an all-night Pancake restaurant just across from the Opera House in downtown Sydney with like 30 kids from the show, which included an Aram look-a-like photo contest and a mini food fight that some girl from Melbourne started. We left the restaurant and headed back to the hostile – on the way Chris was shouting out the window, and a few of us began screaming as loud as we could at people walking down the street.
Monday, December 13th, 2004
Day off… Slept till about 11, got up, and went and ate a tofu burger at Burgerlicious, the third time going there. Greg, Ryan, some other core dudes from Sydney and the rest of us drove towards the Opera House area of the harbor, to do touristy site seeing stuff. We first went to the Aquarium, to see the shark exhibit. Spent about 90 minutes walking around, taking pictures of sharks, crocodiles and penguins. Walked around the harbor taking pictures, until it began to rain. We headed back out towards the Newtown area of Sydney and during the drive it was raining REALLY hard. The streets started flooding and it was a mess. As we’re driving, Ryan all of a sudden says “There it is, this is the one” and cut across a lane of traffic towards the curb, where he cut through a HUGE puddle and sent a literal tidal wave over 8 or so people. It happened too fast to fully take in, it was just a blur of people who didn’t know what hit them and had no chance of taking cover. We all had a good laugh (note: we were total assholes) and Ryan reasoned that the work day was over so they were headed home anyway.
After getting back to the hostel, we regrouped and went across the street for dinner at an Indian restaurant. After dinner, Aram, Pete from Last Nerve and I hung out and shot the shit over ice cream. When we got back to the hostel, Jim and Brandon walked back up to the room, Brandon dripping with egg after an apparent hate crime. Apparently they were hanging out on the main road and someone tossed an egg at them from a moving car and said they were “gay.” Brandon didn’t even care because he figured it was karma after our screaming and splashing incidents.
After Ryan, Greg and then Pete left, we were still a bit stir crazy and wanted to go out and take in more of the city. We decided to take a train back towards the Opera House, but for whatever reason the trains went out of service for repairs 30 minutes before we got to the station. So, we hopped on a bus, headed towards the downtown area, and then walked about 20 blocks to the harbor. It was a clear night and the area down there is beautiful, so we wandered around, commenting that here we were in such a beautiful area, with couples wandering around, and we were each with a bunch of dudes. We headed back over to the Pancake house, and then hung out there for about an hour or so. By this time it was almost 2am, so we started walking back towards Newtown. We must have walked about 30 or so blocks, until we realized that we had no idea where we were going… After chasing some animal that looked like a lemur around a park, we hailed a cab and took it back to the hostile.
Back at the room, I made a phone call and afterwards could hear a bunch of people talking down in the pool area. One sounded American so I walked down to say hello. Turned out it was two people from England, one from Germany, and another from Canada, who had sounded American. I ended up talking to them for a while, and I happened to comment on how nice everyone that we have met in Australia has been. I told them about how the bus driver let us ride for free, and the cab driver didn’t want to make change for us so he took a smaller fare because we only had a $5 and a $20 bill. They agreed that everyone had been super nice to them too, but that there had been a few jerks. Apparently they had been walking down the road today during the fierce thunderstorm, and during the middle of all of the rain, some guys had shot across traffic to a big puddle on their side of the road, sending a tidal wave over them!
Tuesday, December 14th, 2004
2nd Day off in Sydney. We got up and were ready to meet Ryan at noon but he didn’t show till 4, I guess in the past day or so Posi Chris and Greg had been goofing off and dented the side of one of the mini vans, so Ryan spent the day trying to get the dent out at a body shop. We spent most of the day hanging out in the Newtown shopping area.
Wednesday, December 15th, 2004
Canberra is the capital of Australia, and is about 3 hours away from Sydney. It’s the smallest scene on the tour – we were told that in January TERROR only did about 62 kids, so we didn’t expect much. Driving into the city, we saw a homeless man washing windows, and tossed him some coin to clean off all the crap that we had sustained from Greg on the road. The venue was called the Green Room, and 3 bands played… Against took the night off and would be meeting us back in Melbourne. The show had a small turnout… but by the time Champion went on, there was 52 kids paid at the door, which was great considering the small size of the scene. I walked around the neighborhood before Champion’s set, just trying to get some time to myself and enjoy the fact that it was warm and I was in Australia. During the show, someone got a few loafs of white bread, and had layered the slices all over the front of one of the mini vans. After everyone was loading out, a bread fight spontaneously broke out.
Thursday, December 16th, 2004
The drive from Canberra to Melbourne was about 5 hours, and there wasn’t much to it. We got into town, and went directly to PBS, a local radio show. Champion was supposed to play live but ended up just picking the play list and doing an interview on the air. I met up with Dave from Stomp Distribution, and he took me across town to their offices, where I could meet up with the label manager, Ben. We hung out, I went into detail about the raw deal that Lumberjack had put us through, and left with everyone having a better understanding about each other. Apparently B9 is only the 2nd hardcore label to really come over here and meet up with people, so it was a great deal to meet up with everyone at Stomp. Dave dropped me off at the station to meet up with the guys, and we headed over to the hostile, to drop off our stuff. We left to go get pizza, and meet up with Against and the Miles Away guys, who were finally meeting up for the final leg of the tour. The food was ok but it was good company – and afterwards we headed over to the venue. It was called Goo, and we had been warned about it from kids leading up to the show. It’s a weird set up – over a thousand kids turn up for their “hardcore/metal” dance night, which is held downstairs, and the bands play upstairs, with their backs to a big glass window, which overlooks the dance floor. There is no stage, and a rail separates the band from the kids, but Champion made the most of it and from what I heard afterwards, had one of the best reactions of a band at that venue. Aram played his guitar while “crowd surfing”, Jim took the wireless mic outside of the upstairs room, onto the catwalk over the oblivious dance crowd, and back. After the show, we were looking for something to do, at first consisted of driving around yelling at people.
Friday, December 17th, 2004
The day started around 8am, and we faced an 8 hour drive from Melbourne to Adelaide. It’s a long drive with pretty much NOTHING to look at. We had to wait at first because Chris (Against) couldn’t be found, until finally they left a message on his cell saying “get the first flight to Adelaide” and we were off. I was already exhausted from not sleeping much the night before, so as soon as I got in the van, I was leaning over trying to fall asleep. It didn’t take long and as we drove off, I was out. About 2 hours later, I cracked my eyes open, and saw that we were in a city. I knew there was absolutely nothing in between Melbourne and Adelaide, so I came to find out that we had been driving in circles and basically still hadn’t left. I still slept a good chunk of the way to Adelaide, but it was a long drive and there wasn’t much to see. I counted about 5 dead Kangaroos, and had not seen one live since the Perth conserve. When we FINALLY made it to Adelaide it was 8 in the evening, 11 hours from when we left. There were a TON of kids waiting for the doors to open so the show looked really promising. Brandon and I broke out to get something to eat, and had to settle on some shot noodles dish. Getting back to the venue, we came to find out that it wasn’t ALL AGES like it had been advertised, so a lot of kids were turned away. That SUCKED. I also saw Chris (Against), turns out he had flown in from Melbourne and had planned on it, the girl he told to tell Greg never passed the message. There was still a good amount of kids at the show (including the ones the guys were able to sneak in) but it could have been way better. The show was awesome, I did the SSD cover, stagedove, and after the show got to talk shop with some vinyl collectors.
Fortunately the hostile was only a few blocks away from the venue, so we headed back there and dropped off our bags. A few guys went to sleep and I got up to go find a phone to call the states. As I walked out into the lobby, the guy behind the counter saw my “Believe In Boston” t-shirt and he said “You’re not a Red Sox fan are you”… Surprised that someone knew about baseball in a land full of cricket bullshit, I ended up chatting it up with him about the 04 season, as it turned out he was a born and raised Yankees fan, named after Mickey Mantle. I hopped online to check out airfares for the flight back to Melbourne, because if Chris was smart enough not to make that drive, I was down to join him. His flight was only $100 US so for cutting out 9 hours of driving, I felt it was well worth it. I bought the ticket and went to sleep.
Saturday, December 18th, 2004
I woke up with the Champion guys and headed over to the van with them, but as they left for the airport, Chris and I headed out for breakfast. We ate lunch under a tree in a park and talked about his shop, All Star Tattoo. We headed out to the airport and got on our flight, which lasted only 50 minutes. Better than an 8 hour drive! We went to the hostile, showered, and then headed out to the shopping district. We went to a record store called Missing Link, which was cool because it is one of the bigger record stores that carry hardcore music in Australia, and they had a ton of our CD’s. We got something to eat, headed back to the hostile, and slept for an hour or two, until the guys finally got back. The show was at a club called Arthouse, only blocks away from the hostile, and it has been considered one of the most consistent venues in Australian Hardcore. Every band comes through there, and the show looked promising. A band called Hit List played and stood out – Madball-esque hardcore done well. Miles Away and Against did their thing, and Champions set was one of their best of the tour. When it came for the SSD cover, Jim brought me up on stage, and had everyone sing “Happy Birthday” to me, cause it was my 29th. We went right into “Glue”, and I flipped off the stage into the crowd while the kids in the crowd finished the chorus.
Back at the hostile, no one but Jim seemed interested in going out, so we headed over to a bar that we were told had a large black flag poster (like 10 feet wide) on the wall. We sat around for a while, but it was depressing – people who purposely tried to look ugly, horrible music, we didn’t last long before bailing and heading back to the hostile.
Sunday, December 19th, 2004
Today was the last show – and it was an all ages matinee about 30 minutes outside of Melbourne. Van wars have escalated – and soon after arriving at the show, it became known that the Against van had their window smeared with shit. Apparently Greg walked over to the van, and with his bare hands, scraped it up and proceeded to smear it all over the Champion van, tagging it with the word AGAINST. I didn’t see this but was told that when called out on handling the shit, Greg said “Who cares, it’s just shit, it will wash off” or something to that effect.
A bunch of bands played – starting out with a young band called My Struggle – the kids are like 14 years old and have songs about cartoons and stuff. Miles Away and Against both played great sets, and it was sad to see their last sets… The band of the hour was Mindsnare. In every city, kids asked us if we had heard Mindsnare – they have been around for over 11 years and have the respect of pretty much all of Australian Hardcore. They played a good set – and the singer was wearing an old Slapshot t-shirt. They played good, fast hardcore, that seemed less metallic live than on the CD I had heard. Champion closed it out – and their set was great. This was Melbourne’s only all-ages show, so a ton of younger kids turned out. Their set was great but because there was no stage, diving was limited. Halfway during their set I pulled two chairs into the pit, so kids could run and jump off of them into singalong pile ups.
Around 7pm we headed for what proved to be the biggest “Show After The Show” I have ever seen. There was an open call to anyone who wanted to hang out for dinner afterwards, and about 70 or so kids joined in. We hit up an Italian restaurant and what proved to usually be a nightmare ended up being pretty organized dinner, with everyone being served in an orderly manner. Greg got everyone to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. We ate, then proceeded to take crew photos outside of the restaurant. We were against another building so I climbed up onto the window sill above everyone’s heads. As photos were being taken, I jumped off onto everybody but didn’t fully commit and ended up mostly landing on one of the younger kids from My Struggle. He was a bit shaken but took it pretty well. Sorry dude!
We went back to shower at the hostile, with plans to meet up at the Melbourne Crown Casino. We got there around midnight, and played a roulette for a while. I started out by losing $50 on red AGAIN but made it back and then some over the next hour. There were about 20 people from the show left around 1:30 so we all headed over to a strip club a few blocks away. We took over an entire pole dancing table area and threw $20s around to get lap dances for each other. We broke out around 4am, and headed back to the hostile. Jim and I didn’t want to sleep, so after a few phone calls home we headed out to talk around Melbourne in the early morning, watching the sun come up.
Monday, December 20th, 2004
Since I didn’t sleep at all Sunday night, I ended up walking over to Starbucks with Jim to download my email. I went back to the hostile and then walked back over to Starbucks with Aram. I was so shot from staying up all night that I was going to need at least two mochas. We got a late start to the airport, made a few wrong turns, and ended up getting to the terminal an hour before our flights. The Champion guys had one flight to Sydney and LAX, and I had another. As the guys divvied up their bags to be checked, Branden realized that he had one too many, so I ended up taking his cymbals. We checked into our respective flights, said our goodbyes to Greg, Tyrone and Ryan, and headed out. First flight was into Sydney, then an hour layover turned into 3, then a 14 hour flight across to LAX. Somewhere in customs I realized that the worst smell ever was coming from the cymbal case. I guess Greg had the last laugh this time around, because I opened up the case to find a dead fish wrapped in plastic in the case. I quickly dropped it behind some luggage left for flight transfers, and started to head over to my new terminal. On the way out, I heard a baggage handler say “Does anybody smell that? My God what is that smell???” I laughed and headed out.
I was slated for a 7 hour layover, which was shortened to about 5 because of the delayed flight out of Sydney. I figured it was no big deal as I could just go online on my laptop. The 5 hours stretched into almost 9 hours as the flights to Boston were delayed TWICE. I was going out of my mind pacing around, checking email, getting something to drink, and then doing it all over again. My final flight into Boston got in at 3am, and when I got off the plane the cold air knocked me over. 3 weeks of the Australian Summer had worn down my tolerance for cold. My first thought was why the hell do people even live like this? With places like Australia, why does anyone live in New England?
So, you want to go on tour, but you don’t play an instrument and no one will let you sing in their band. You have a few options; throw down a small chunk of change on a cheap bass and start teaching yourself, or talk your way into roadie-ing for your friends band and do such an awesome job that they beg you to come back out with them again.
If you can get in a van, option two is actually a lot easier than it sounds. Most dudes who roadie for typical hardcore bands think that means they are the traveling mosh crew, who occasionally helps sell merch. If you can show your worth, not only will that band want you to come out with them again, but other bands will take note and try to take you out with them. I’ve seen a few HC kids kill it as roadies for part time touring HC bands and work their way up to touring with bigger HC bands that tour more often and I have friends who have even eventually ended up with full time, paying jobs touring year-round with bands like Rancid, Pennywise, Bad Religion and the Go-Go’s.
Load in/Load out: The second you get to a venue, find the promoter, or someone from the club and ask them where you should stage the gear. Then, when the band is ready, make sure you are helping them bring gear in. Nothing will make a band question faster why they even brought you along, than them loading in gear while you are out getting a burger or chatting up girls. Make sure you’re ready and helping when it’s time to load out as well.
Sell merch: for most entry-level roadies, selling merch will be priority #1. That means setting up the merch table. That means being there when kids want to buy stuff. That means keeping the merch area from being a complete mess. It’s always best to be slower with buyers and keeping stuff organized than trying to sell fast and letting the area become a disaster where you can’t find a specific shirt size in a specific design. Two quick tips for merch-slangers:
- #1 – When kids give you more than the exact amount, it’s a good idea to leave their cash on the table in front of you until you hand them their change. That way there’s no confusion over how much money they gave you.
- #2 – it’s okay to put out a tip jar at the merch table. You probably won’t get much in the way of tips when touring with younger bands, but anything can help when you’re out on the road starving. If the band you are touring with asks you to cut them in on your tip jar, that’s BS. Call them on it.
Most importantly, if you are trusted to keep the band’s money on you, keep a death grip on it at all times! Don’t let it out of your sight. I’d bet the most common places bands lose their money box/pouch is leaving it at a restaurant table or in a restroom. Losing the band money is the number one thing that can ruin a roadie’s reputation.
Mosh Crew: I know I joked earlier about worthless roadies being basically a “traveling mosh crew,” but in all honesty, it’s great to have someone you can count on to be the pit-starter each night. This is especially true for younger bands… the types of bands you will likely tour with as an entry-level roadie. So when the band that brought you out on tour starts playing, MOST bands will be stoked if you put a little sign on the merch table during their set that says “In the pit! Back soon!” If there’s a band on the show that you really like and you really want to stage dive for, don’t just abandon the merch table. Let the band you’re touring with know. Most bands will be totally cool with you pitting for a band you love, as long as they know you’re not just ditching the table.
Driving: I loved driving. I drove as much as I could. But even the biggest driver needs a break. Always be willing and ready to take over at the wheel. If you’re sitting shotgun, stay awake to support the driver. If you can parallel park a van with a trailer, that’s a huge score.
Intermediate Roadie skills
Change strings: One of the easiest things a roadie can do to set themselves apart is offer to change guitar strings. Most bands change their strings somewhere between every 2-5 shows. I personally kind of like changing my strings… it’s almost therapeutic… but I know most people hate doing this every few shows. You don’t know how to change strings? Doesn’t matter! Ask the band if you can help and ask them to show you how they like their strings set up. Everyone has different little ways of stringing and stretching anyways, so ask them to show you how they like it done and then be available to change them up when it’s time.
Drum/guitar tech: If you’re not stuck behind a merch table, help the band set up their gear. That means loading stuff up to the stage and help them set it up. Ask them first though, some people may like the routine of setting everything up themselves. Start with the drummer, he has way more odds and ends to set up than anyone else. During their set, watch out for technical difficulties. With kids running across the stage to dive and climbing all over the singer, gear gets displaced. Stuff gets unplugged. Some things to watch out for:
- Kick drum sliding out (away from the drummer): find something heavy to put in front of it. Or just sit in front of the drum set and hold the bass in.
- Lost drum stick: most drummers will have spare sticks nearby, but every now and then they forget to stock backups or they will lose a few in one song. If you see the drummer playing along with one stick in hand, with a lost look on their face, be a hero and grab the thrown stick and give it back to them.
- Cymbals tipping over (either falling completely or bending at the joints and tipping into the drum set): the drummer can’t play drums and fix this at the same time. Jump up to re-stand a fallen cymbal stand, or tighten up the joint that is bending out of position.
- Guitar or bass cables coming unplugged: Plug em back in! This is especially common for guitar players that have tuners on the ground. Sometimes a pedal merely got stepped on by an oblivious stage diver.
- Broken strings: If they have a backup guitar, help them swap the guitar out. If they need to change the string, help them grab the strings and tuner. Or just be there to hold their guitar up while they rummage through their gear bag to find strings.
- Something breaks (could be a guitar, an amp head, a drum head, a bass drum kick pedal): try to track down someone from another band playing and see if they are willing to let them borrow gear to finish the set)
Tour manager: Once you’ve built up some trust with the band and show your worth in other areas, they may ask you to act as the tour manager. This is something you can proactively seek out; tell them you’d like to do it. Once you’ve earned their trust, many bands will be happy to let you deal with some of the trickier tasks. Being a tour manager can mean many different things to many different bands, but I think the main thing it boils down to is settling out payment with the promoter at the end of the night. Hardcore isn’t about money, but stagedives and sing-alongs don’t fill the gas tank, so most bands are more than happy to let someone else deal with getting paid.
Sound technician: If you have sound board skills, this is a huge asset for bigger bands. Try to get some work in with mid-level bands and you can work your way up pretty fast.
Be fun: everyone wants to have fun on tour. If you have a personality and/or like to get into shenanigans, bands will like to have you around on a personal level. Be smart about this though, don’t cause any more shenanigans than the band is willing to get into. Don’t be the guy that causes the band to be the topic of a drama-filled B9 board thread.
Know when the band needs space: Sometimes things can get intense on the road. There are times when a band needs to have a “band meeting.” Know when they need their space and when to make yourself (temporarily) scarce. But don’t go too far that they have to come find you when it’s time to leave.
Be able to give it and take it: Again, touring with 5-7 dudes in one van for a month can be pretty intense. Most bands like to joke with eachother and give eachother grief to keep things light. If someone jokingly calls you out for something, it’s okay to dish it back, but don’t get too sensitive. If you really have an issue with something someone says, talk to them later in person about it. Otherwise, roll with the punches!
Van spot and food protocol: Some band members have their favorite spots in the van. Most will alternate the really prime van sleeping spots. You should expect to be rotated into those (depending often on driving shifts), but make sure you aren’t hogging the prime spots. The same principle applies to sleeping spots at night and also to drinks and food at shows. When there’s snacks and/or food backstage, go ahead and grab some, but don’t eat more than your share.
Most bands have established unwritten rules, so find out what those are and don’t break them!
But the first step is to tell all your friends in bands that you are interested in hitting the road with them. Let them know you’d be stoked to come along and help out. You likely won’t be invited if they don’t know you’re interested.
The above is by no means a complete guide. If anyone else has any tips they’d like to add, holler out in the comments.
In 2001, before the age of cell phones and gmail groups, Champion made all our band decisions on a private message board that only we had access to. Some of the posts were serious, some were inside jokes and most were a mixture of both. When we finished recording our second 7”, we took to this forum to brainstorm names for the new record.
Count Me Out had recently released the phenomenal “110” LP and someone suggested—jokingly, of course—that we call it “111,” as in, one more than “110.” From there someone joked about calling it 116, for the number of games the Mariners had recently won, tying the all-time record for most wins in a single season.
Backing up this story a bit, the Mariners went into the 2001 season as a unanimous underdog in the AL West. They had some success in the mid to late 90s, but in recent years, they had lost Junior, lost the Big Unit and had just completed the triple threat, with A-Rod skipping town. This team had some nice pieces, but they didn’t have enough firepower at the plate to compete with the A’s and they certainly didn’t have the aces you need in your pitching rotation.
The 2001 season was a magical ride for Seattle sports fans. The feeling in the air was VERY similar to this Super Bowl season for the Seahawks, with the obvious exception that the Hawks finished the job and won the title. But that feeling was the same through the Mariners’ magical 2001 season.
Everywhere you went, the Mariners were the kings of Seattle. I rode the bus home from work and strangers would ask other strangers with headphones if they were listening to the game and what the score was. Mariners shirts were on every back and M’s hats were on every head. It was a thrilling time for the city. Not only was this the best baseball team Seattle had ever seen, but according to win-total, this was (at least tied for) the best regular season baseball team in MLB history. The fact that they were underdogs heading into the season only helped this all seem so much more exciting.
At this same time, the underdog Seattle hardcore scene was churning out wins at a similar pace. Champion was starting to tour more consistently and putting out its first release on Bridge 9, a label that was releasing the best records in hardcore at that time. Stay Gold was talking with the almighty Indecision records. Himsa had a fresh lineup with John Pettibone from Seattle’s legendary Undertow now singing and was blowing up with their refined sound. Left With Nothing was at their apex, Contingent shows were tons of fun, Countless Sins put out an awesome demo and there were lots of cool young bands popping up. Excursion Records was experiencing a bit of a rebirth with a few new bands and its Power of Ten comp 7”s, which highlighted some of those newer bands.
We also had one of the coolest venues ever, in the Paradox (the one of the Ave). There were some incredible shows at this spot. But to give you an idea of the kind of excitement of this time period, Champion’s Count Our Numbers record release show at the Paradox drew 300 people. THREE HUNDRED… for an all locals lineup of Champion, Himsa, Stay Gold, Youth at Risk (a really good skate punk band with members that ultimately went on to Aiden, Murdock and Rat Path) and One False Move (young high school kids playing fast old school HC). It was insane… I remember distinctly, during Himsa, standing on the side of the stage and looking out on this crowd with such a sense of pride and enthusiasm that this many kids came to see five SEATTLE bands.
So with that context in mind, you can probably see how the “116” joke could have picked up legs and that the idea that the Mariners 2001 season could be metaphor for the exciting things happening in the Seattle hardcore scene at the time. We ended up calling our 7” “Count Our Numbers,” but the name “116” was used for the song on that record that was about Seattle and included guest vocals from Chad Repp from Stay Gold:
“And the rain keeps coming. I haven’t see the sun in days. I remember the kids that were there for me when I needed them the most. Because of them I’ll never leave this place. My heart dropped anchor, this is where I’ll stay. This is the one place I’ll never be alone, and the only place I can call my home. Coming from where my love gets its start. These grey clouds more than tattooed on my heart. From 15 kids screaming out loud that we want more. We won’t back down. We want more. I look at you and see how we fill these rooms. Can’t you see that it’s ours? Count the numbers, count the hearts. Can’t you see that it’s ours?”
Maybe a year before that 300-kid locals-only show, we were lucky to get 15 kids out. And since that time, there have been plenty of 15 kid shows. 116 is a song written about a time and a place, but the spirit of 116 is not just about a time and a place. It’s about the heart of this place. There was a lot to be excited about in 2001, but there’s just as much to be excited about right now. NWHC is doing some amazing things. At the top of the list, Rain Fest is one of the best three fests in this country. That means on a yearly basis, kids from all over the world WANT to be in Seattle in May. What?!
There are some great established bands in the NW, like Power, Wreck and Ill Intent and there are awesome young bands like Safe and Sound and Singled out who are starting to do big things. Outlook recently broke up, leaving a whole in Olympia’s heart, but Hysterics and Gag and Blank Boys are carrying that torch and running twice as fast. There are sweet venues from Everett to Centralia, and more and more Portland and Vancouver are doing things with Seattle. It’s not just about Seattle anymore, it’s about NWHC.
Hardcore scenes are a fragile thing. There are so many things that can ruin a blossoming scene: violence, vandalism, trash talk, dishonesty… it takes so much work and so much time to build up a scene, but any of these selfish things can destroy everything in the blink of an eye. Like Jim and Chad wrote in 2001, this scene is ours. With that ownership comes the responsibility to make it what we want it to be. It doesn’t matter if there are 15 kids screaming in a room, or 300.