DROPDEAD • Demos 1991 LP

DROPDEAD • Demos 1991 LP

Armagedon Label

August 2020

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For me Dropdead might be one of the most important 1990s HC bands. I first saw them shortly after the demos were released in 1992 with Taste of Fear and Disrupt at a Unitarian Church in Albany, NY. Bob scared all of us by strutting around, and getting in peoples faces looking like an insane drill instructor or something. They helped to change and shape me forever. Their politics, and love for all things living really hit home with me. On top of that the fast gritty raw noise that they made was always keen to my ears. A perfect match.

If you aren’t familiar with Dropdead they are from Providence, Rhode Island, and have been around for 30 years, or something ridiculous. These demos started it all… “At the Cost of an Animal” is a brutal classic anthem that thousands of punks world wide know and sing along to religiously. It’s sort of their “Breaking the Law”… they play it at every show no mater what.  

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At any rate this LP is a remastered version of the bands two 1991 demos.  Seventeen songs on side 1, and another 8 songs on side 2 (including a cool Infest cover). I’m glad to see this finally come out, I’m really not sure how it hasn’t been booted already after all these years. It’s always been evident to me that the band was really influenced musically by Swedish and Japanese HC …No Security is who first comes to mind when I listen to Dropdead, but there are many other bands that influenced these guys.  (NW)

Hit me up on Instagram if you want to send me your release for review at: nate_gloom

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

 

MALE PATTERNS

I first learned of Male Patterns a few years ago when I was assigned their split EP with Scuzz at Razorcake. Had no idea what to expect, and then when I listened to their side of the split I had no idea why they weren’t getting a lot of coverage or rabid fan declaration on the social media platforms. A year or so later I listened to their LP and was even more blown away. They’re definitely worthy of your fandom when it comes to music of the short, fast and loud variety. They crank out abrasive blasts of hardcore punk with a certain heaviness that gives them a sonic edge over many.

They have a split with Executors that has just come out on Shock to the System that you need to check out.

Below is a short interview with Brendan conducted by Matt Average

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MALE PATTERNS  photo by Grey Valentine

Who’s who? What other bands were you in in prior to Male Patterns? 

I’m Brendan. I yell into the microphone and I was in Neutron Rats. Mike “Moaky” Moak plays guitar and is still playing in Postage and After the Fall. Dan plays drums and was in Boston’s No Sir I Won’t and Libyans while KC who plays Bass used to play in Cancer from Albany.

Who’s idea was it to start the band? 

Moaky got together with Dan and started playing around. They recruited Jamie, our original bass player, who later moved to Detroit and now plays in Immaculate Conception. Moaky asked if I wanted to sing and I went to his basement and they played the songs that they had written already and I thought they were great. I knew Moaky and Jamie before from shows in the Albany scene and we had worked together at a screen printing company. I had never met Dan before because he had been living in Boston, but he was in a slew of great bands and he and I connected quickly.

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MALE PATTERNS  photo by Grey Valentine

What is the name referencing? Anything in particular?

When I asked if they had a name yet, Moak said, “Male Patterns, ‘cause we’re old dudes.” We were all in our late 20’s when the band started in December 2013 and he thought it was funny. I took the name more about being a certain age in punk and the routines of human beings but I think I’m probably stretching it with all of that. No one was thinking too hard about the name. Unfortunately, when we first started, a couple of people here and there have been offended by the name and misinterpreted it as some kind of macho chauvinist thing and we couldn’t be further away from that. We didn’t get that at all. 

Musically, when I listen to you guys I hear bands like Econochrist, and some of the heavier Boston bands of the past. Am I out of my mind thinking this?

Not at all. I’ve never heard us compared to Econochrist but I’ll take that. We definitely take a lot from old school hardcore punk. Negative Approach, some Poison Idea, SSD, but also from bands like Cut the Shit, Born Against, The Zucchini Brothers, and The Chemical Brothers. Especially the last two. 

Yeah, I can hear The Zucchini Brothers in your sound. What albums of theirs do you recommend for the uninitiated? 

Great question. All of them. 

Is there an “Albany sound”? 

I think when people think about Albany they think about its past punk and hardcore scene with bands like Monster X and Devoid of Faith. Nowadays Albany has a very diverse scene of music that’s all over the spectrum. Albany has bands that play hardcore punk, rock n roll, power pop and post punk dark wave type stuff. Today’s Albany sound is a great mix bag.  

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MALE PATTERNS photo by Sarah Winner

What is “Help Ourselves” about?  

Alcohol and drugs are big in the music scene and they’re prevalent in punk too. By no means are we saying that you can’t have some fun but it’s also a serious issue that often gets overlooked because no one wants to stop the party. I’ve been to too many wakes and funerals for friends and I know I’m not alone. Punk is liberating and awesome but it can also be really self destructive. We can’t change anything unless we change ourselves first and too often we’re our own enemies. I go into that more on the new record in the song “Self Abuse”. It’s a song that I think unfortunately too many people will be able to relate to. 

Despite everything being shut down for the moment, are you still working on new songs? If so, how? 

Our guitarist has written some new riffs, he records them with his phone and sends them to us. We’re hoping at some point we can get in the same room again and play em out and put them together. Since we have no idea when we’ll be able to play shows again because of Covid, we’re mainly just trying to do what we can to get the word out on the new record. We’re just trying to do what we can with what we can control. It’s a weird time.

Can you tell us about the new record? When will it be out? Who released it? How much have you progressed sonically since the LP? 

The new record came out August 1st. It’s a split that was put out by Shock to the System Records with our friends Executors from Beachwood, New Jersey. We have three tracks on it, and they have two.  I’d say our new songs are a continuation of the LP. Lyrically we continue to cover more social issues than big politics or things like that. Similar style and straight forward structure. I think my vocals might be a little bit rougher on this recording because I have no idea how to control how I sound.  I’ll go ahead and say that if you liked the LP you’ll love this split. If you hated the LP you’ll love this split even more.

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What’s your favorite movie, and why? 

School of Rock with Jack Black. I can watch that movie anytime. The music in it, the message, it’s good for everyone. 

If they made of Male Patterns movie, what type of movie would it be, and what would it be about? 

The Male Patterns movie would be terrible. No one is reading this right now thinking that our origins would make a good movie. There’s nothing special about how we got together, just how we do the things we do now. No one is a complete mess or falling apart either so that’s not movie material. You know what I mean? I mean, our drummer is his town’s historian. Male Patterns would go great in a movie where we played ourselves in it. Like playing a show then showing up later. Like Cannibal Corpse in Ace Ventura or Billy Idol in The Wedding Singer. We’d be playing somewhere the main character would go and then we’d help the main character get their love or save them from the bad guy somehow. Maybe after the show they go to some diner where we’re eating and right as the bad guy is about to clobber or draw his gun on the main character, our drummer Dan hits him with his snare drum. Why did he bring his snare drum into the diner? That’s for the people at Hollywood to decide but after he’d be like “Check please!” or maybe he’d say “This guy’s paying!” and then the main character could get on and win the day or whatever. It could be an action movie or romantic comedy or drama. We could do whatever. 

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MALE PATTERNS  photo by Sarah Winner

What are you doing to stay sane in this moment of time? 

My wife and I just built a pirate bar in our garage that we’re really proud of, so we’ve been spending a lot of nights in there. It’s a tribute to the golden age of piracy.

First thing you plan to do when we’re able to get back out in the world again? 

Set up a release show for this record. Invite people over to my pirate bar for drinks and play more shows. That’s three things. Haha!

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Listen to Male Patterns here.

To get their new EP, as well as LP, and more music from Albany (and elsewhere) go here.

CAPITLE • Why 1981 – 1986 cassette

CAPITLE • Why 1981-1986 cassette

Cacophone Records

2019

Capitile

This band might not mean to much to anyone from outside of the Albany NY area… but there is so much I can to say about Albany’s first real hardcore band. These dudes formed out of the ashes of The VERGE (the guitarist and drummer). The VERGE were great, but more dark punk rather than a hardcore band. In 1982 the VERGE got back together and that left CAPITILE trying out other players to keep the momentum going.  Both versions of the band are great. 

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The first I knew of these guys was from the graffiti I saw on the corner of Lark Street and Central Ave in Albany. This must have been around 1983. I’d go to Fantaco Comics and Worlds Records with my parents every Saturday, and would see that graffiti on every trip.  Right there, in huge fucking letters on a wall was written CAPITILE. It was scrawled all over Albany in the early 1980s right up until around 1992 when it was finally cleaned up.  Back then, I had no idea what it meant or who the band was (it was 1983 I was still just a young metal kid). I just thought it was a political statement in regards to Albany being you know… the capital (misspelled). It was in either 1984 or ’85 when these guys played Lark fest. Some work friends (Todd Smith) and myself went to see what Larkfest was all about. We saw a few other really crummy bands playing outside on Lark Street. When Capitle played I had no idea what I was seeing, and didn’t fully grasp what they were doing. I, to this day, still can’t recall much because I was drunk and stoned. What I can tell you is that it was outside, and the sound really sucked. They played on the back of a truck bed, or something.  Larkfest later turned into an annual community festival that still happens to this day.  

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Fast forward to maybe 1990 after I’d moved back to Albany from SF, and somehow found the now legendary Erl Records. Immediately, Dave (the owner) and I realized we went to the same high school together and even rode the same bus.  I was the guy sitting in the back of the bus shooting spitballs in Daves afro. At any rate, hanging out at Erl records I became friends with Phil Samuels who was the bassist of Capitile.  We’d hang out at the shop while these guys drank, smoked and talked good music.  Phil told me many stories of those early days of punk in Albany. Unfortunately, Phil (the Surgeon General) passed away a few years ago from lung cancer. He was a super sweet guy and is missed by many of us.

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For those of you that have never heard CAPITILE, I just have to say that I have always heard elements of BLACK FLAG, SUICIDAL, MINOR THREAT, and yup, I even hear some AGNOSTIC FRONT in there. Some of the songs are super short bursts, and that was pretty unheard of in Albany back in those days.  

This tape compiles everything these guys ever did between 1981 to 1986.  Twenty five songs from two demo tapes and some compilations. It’s of my opinion that this tape is all you need to hear by this band. Any reunions or re-recorded songs for records are useless to this old dude. Buy this shit! (NW)

Hit me up on Instagram if you want to send me your release for review at: nate_gloom

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Justin Dratson: JD Wilson  Nate : NW   Matt Average: MA

THE PSYCHOS • One Voice LP

THE PSYCHOS • One Voice LP

Radio Raheem

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This band was legendary to most of us who missed them in the early days.  I recall my buddy Telf had a cassette of the demo with zero info… no song titles, nothing… just the cassette tape. He’d play it for us all (a small group of hardcore buddies in upstate NY), but he would never allow any of us to copy it. He held it closely like it was the only copy.  That just sort of added to the legacy and mystery of this early New York Hardcore band.  All I really knew about them was that both Billy Milano and Roger from AF played in the band at different times.  That along with holding onto and trying on the classic T-shirt my buddy Jim MacNaughton’s wife owns were what I knew.  

Cooch and company over at Radio Raheem did a great job cleaning this shit up… I can only imagine what they had to work with as far as tapes, graphics etc. go. 

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In my opinion, this is an absolute must for anyone who deep dives into New York Hardcore.  Musically, this is very sloppy but also super catchy with a ton of heart and sometimes out of tune classic NYC hardcore.  It has everything a fiend might be scouring for… Good mosh parts, Don Fury recordings, a couple tracks with Tommy Rat on vox,, and some very cool images many of us have never seen of the band before now.   The booklet that comes with this vinyl is pretty incredibly put together. It looks cherry.  

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The one take I took out of this record was that It seems that the only two constants in this band over the years were the drummer and guitar player.  Singers and bassists seemed to be a rotating cast of characters.  

Don’t sleep on this.  (NW)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

THE FIGGS • Ginger LP

THE FIGGS • Ginger LP

Two interviews and one LP review! It’s a fan pack of Figg-ary-ness!

I need to let you in on a couple things before we get into the meat of this review:

1. I grab all of what The Figgs release on vinyl, all of it and without question or listening to any tracks first.

2. The interviews are from memory and are more like me saying stuff to members of the band and their reaction.

3. I’m pretty certain that every encounter I’ve had with this band I’ve embarrassed myself.

Interview 1:

In 2012, a pal and I traveled from Michigan to Albany, NY to see the first of two shows that commemorate the The Figgs’ 25 years of being a band, I think. The show at Valentines is over, has been for over an hour. My pal and I are tipsy. Pete Hayes was the last man out and had a car the size of a potato and fully loaded with all of his drums, including the passenger seat.

Me: Pete that was great, really, really great. We came all the way from Michigan for it.

Hayes: Oh, cool. Thanks for making the trip.

Me: No prob. Can you give us a ride to our hotel? It’s a two-mile walk.

Hayes: I would but I truly have no room.

Me: I bet I could squeeze inside your bass drum

(Silent stares)

Hayes: I’mmm gonna to get going.

Me: Cool cool cool cool. See you guys tomorrow. 

The Review:

The Ginger LP is the Figgs first long player. This was originally a cassette only release from 1992. However, thanks to Matto and Peterwalkee Records, it is finally seeing vinyl. I think it is a bold move to start off any LP with an instrumental, especially from a band that, at the time, no one had really heard of. But dang duder, in 1992 these The Figgs guys were onto something. When track 2 kicks in, “Kristy’s Boots” I’m transported back to how I felt the first time I heard The Jam. I have to wonder though, is Kristy a real person and was she really that hard to get along with? And the lyric “and you blow your mind” repeated several times, I wonder if it’s a drug reference or about a woman who’s had too much of the everyday and junk and opted out.  The following “Sleaze” is another nonstop sing along banger. The 4th, “Floored” is where it goes from great Power pop- rock record to “Jesus, what the fuck! I didn’t see that coming.” They toss in an (mostly) acoustic number that is packed full of sorrow and sweetness. And to kill side A ,“Milk Dud” comes in swinging. And it’s just shy of a hardcore tune with a mosh-break-down and everything.

Side B punches in with “Happy” (also released as a 7″ single in ‘92) followed by “Wasted Pretty”, which later appeared on the 1994 LP Low-Fi at Society High. Songs 4 and 5 on this are terrific but, for me, it is the third song on Side B, “Can’t be Cloned” that grabs me and throws me around the room. “Can’t Be Cloned” has all the right rock tricks: lyrical self-pity,  a back up vocal in the verse sang in a different melody, a little choppy break between verses, a self-aware and self loathing/retired to fate memorable sing along chorus,  and a bridge that doesn’t go too far off the pace or feeling of the song. To me, this entire pile is worth it for this song.

In the end, these are great songs with the right amount of imperfection to make this perfect. It’s ambitious and humble. The songs still resonate with early 20s angst and confusions while having a tone of wisdom, sarcasm, and tunefulness that still captivates me. To take a quote out of context form my pal Charles (Gern Blandsten Records, Follow Jean Through the Sea), “There is no bad Figgs record. They range from “That’s the best thing I ever heard” to “Jesus Christ, that’s good.”  This record is solidly in between those statements.”

Interview 2:

November 1997, I only have $20. Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror is working the door at Brownies, NYC.

Me: Hey man, I have a question for you.

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: Yeah?

Me: All I have is this $20 for tonight and I wanted to get a couple beers but beers are too expensive for me here. Do you have any ideas on where I could go around here before the Figgs start?

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: (hands me back my change, now down to $15) Ya see that yuppie bar with all the lawyers across the street?

Me: (I look and know exactly where he’s talking about) Yes. Can I afford drinks there?

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: Ha. No. But if you tell the bartender I sent you and give him some cash, you’ll be ok.

Me: Cool. Thanks.

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: (as I’m walking back out the door) I hope you don’t have any allergies.

I walk into the bar and it is totally young NYC beautiful business types in suits and skirts. I clearly don’t fit in. I sit in a dark corner of the bar.

The bartender: Paul Bearer (from Sheer Terror) send you over?

Me: Yes. Here’s all the money that I have.

Bartender: Cool. Sit tight. Do you have any allergies?

Me: No. Well, pollen.

The Bartender begins to grab half drunk drinks and nearly full drunk drinks and pours them into a glass. He walks over to a freshly made martini, pulls it off the bar and asks the young buck in the suit if he’d like another one. The young buck ordered another one. My drinks were the leftover waste of a room full of fancy NYC up-and-comers. Some of the drinks had rosemary sprigs, or orange twists, or muddled mint. One had a couple of those things and an olive with a bite out of it. To me it was like a magical fish bowl, both the drinks and the room of people. It was frigid outside but I was warming up nicely. And just as the thought of how beautiful and wonderful New York is, I remembered The Figgs were about to start.

Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror: There he is. I was about to send someone to go look for ya. They’re about ta start.

The Figgs played super long that night, just killed it with all the hits. After everything was over I was compelled to go talk to them.  Mike and Pete D were the closest to me.

Me: You guys are really great.

Pete D, Mike: Thanks.

Me: Ever thought about covering “In the City” by The Jam front to back?

Pete D: Ummm, no.

Mike: Ahhh yeah, no.

And then I think I went to Burritoville and got a Fogged Out in Oregon to chomp on the L back to Brooklyn.

I belong to top-secret-cyber-basement-room on a popular media platform for the The Figgs fans. Several years ago I found an old tape someone gave me of old the The Figgs songs and I posed the question to the group – (do you think) If I pitched in for them to do a 7″ of  four short fast-ish power pop songs that they would do it? … I was hit back with talk of it being unfair to ask a band to compromise their art and that I should stop living in the past. I get it, however they did write the lyric “an antisocial lesbian said you were dumb.”  Listening to Ginger and reliving these interviews, I can’t imagine that me asking them could turn out any worse than my previous encounters and could either be a redemption or follow my pattern, win-win.  (JD)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA