Originally pressed in 1996 PROFANE EXISTENCE is bringing this quintessential anarcho punk masterpiece back in circulation.
In 1996 AUS-ROTTEN released their first LP “The System Works For Them” on an unsuspecting punk scene. It spread like wildfire in a pre internet era within a genre that mostly depended on tape trading. (at least is was pre internet for us penniless punks) “The System Works For Them” was the perfect mix of anger and intelligence that the scene needed at the time (and still does today). It was like a wake up call that opened the eyes and ears to many punks the world over. The messages where crystal clear and most us were hooked as soon as the beginning shouts of “Boycott” bellowed over the speakers. I don’t believe any of us ever expected their message to resonate so well within the scene, but even more surprising is how the songs are just as relevant today as on they the day they were written. Which is why PROFANE EXISTENCE has decided to repress this record. We feel that that messages that AUS-ROTTEN brought to the table are to powerful to ignore. We feel that this LP is important and therefore should be highly available and priced affordably.
PROFANE EXISTENCE has worked out every last detail of this release with the members of AUS-ROTTEN whom have been involved from step one. All tracks have been re-masted by Jay Matherson at the Jamroom studios. To be 100% honest we didn’t want to do a complete re-master of what we already considered a good recording. However when we opened the tracks on protools we noticed a few balance issues that required fixing. These fixes resulted in a tremendous upgrade to the overall quality of the tracks. We painstakingly scanned, puzzled, and photoshopped the original artwork to make sure that it was as close to authentic as it could possible be. We then went for broke by pressing in three different vinyl color combinations! Overall to say that we are pumped to release this would be an understatement, we are absolutely ecstatic to bring you this LP on PROFANE EXISTENCE!
To top this all off we worked with AUS-ROTTEN vocalist Dave Trenga on redrawing the classic “What Good Is Money, When There Is No One Left To Buy” design for a T-Shirt to concede with the albums release. This is a fresh take on an old image to create a new and original design.
Vinyl options are…
1. Standard black vinyl
2. “The Battlefield is Still Red” Bloodsplatter vinyl.
3. See through “Smoke”. – Available at SKULLFEST only
Silence are a highly active post-punk/peace-punk band from Pittsburgh, PA. “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” strives (and succeeds) to achieve the perfect balance between peace and post punk. By taking influences from The Mob, Bauhaus, Zounds, Killing Joke, Amebix, Crass, Conflict, Internal Autonomy and Joy Division SILENCE have created what can only be described a brilliant debut LP. At one moment this record is dark, heavy, and atmospheric and then the next moment it makes you want to dance and sing along. Lyrically SILENCE are much closer to the anarcho side of the previously listed influences. Lyrics focus on a variety of topics but often have a strong focus on the way punk and activist communities deal with political struggle in our current political climate.
“The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” comes with a 16 page magazine size zine containing lyrics, personal writings and song explanations. Designed, printed and assembled by the band themselves in true D.I.Y. fashion.
Silence will be having a record release show in their hometown of Pittsburgh PA at the Rock Room Friday April 22nd with SHADOW AGE and SKELETON HANDS. Then later this month SILENCE will embark on a full United States tour to support “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing”. Here is a list of dates. Be show to check in with the bands “bandcamp” or “Facebook” page for show updates.
When all that remains is a world in flames. Is that when they’ll say the wars are finally won? That wars are finally done?
They’re beating on the drums again, they’re fueling up the planes. The congressmen fall into line and sing the old refrain. In the name of peace they’ll burn the land and drop a thousand bombs.
Meanwhile we’ll just stay at home and go back to our sitcoms. It’s the same old song, we’ve heard it before. They’re beating the drums and they’re calling for war. What it’s supposed to accomplish, no one is sure But the victims are always the hungry and the poor.
Once the drums of war begin it’s hard to make them stop. The noise silences the dissidents once the bombs begin to drop. All those who call for peace will be mocked and pushed aside. In 10 years they’ll admit we were right after many thousands more have died.
Finally after many delays from the pressing plant the WARWOUND Demo’s LP “A Huge Black Cloud” is out and copies are moving fast!
Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from 3 sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND, they are a UK band formed in 82. WARWOUND recorded 3 demos in 83 before disbanding and members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form SACRILEGE. These demos never received an official release… until now! Highly influenced by DISCHARGE, WARWOUND is one of the first bands ever to take D-Beat Punk to a raw and intense level. Recently reformed in 2015, original guitarist Damian is now joined by Ian Glasper on bass and Rat Varuker on vocals. After a few gigs in the UK word is spreading fast of the relentless onslaught of a live show these veterans put on. WARWOUND have also recently hit the studio to record for the first time in over 30 years. Needless to say WARWOUND is back with a vengeance!
Yes! Finally, after what turned out to be a gigantic task of moving the PROFANE EXISTENCE distro from Minneapolis to Denver, transferring tons of data, and rebuilding the web store, we are finally set to open back up. To access the new store follow one of the many links from profaneexistence.com or access it directly at http://profaneexistence.storenvy.com
The first official PROFANE EXISTENCE title of 2015 is out and ready for order! We are proud to bring you the RIFLE DIET – “NO SOLACE”LP
Rifle Diet’s No Solace is a 12in 45 that combines the Classic Minneapolis crust sound with Swedish hardcore, D-beat and Epic crust (think somewhere between Servitude and Wolfbirgade, with hints of Tragedy and Fall of Efrafa). The beautiful cover art by Hannah Benoche sets a bleak mood for the dark music within, plus a cover of His Hero is a Gone – Chain of Command (ex-members of InDefence and Garmonbozia) This LP is a joint release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and BLOOD OF THE YOUNG RECORDS
To honor both the opening of the new store and our first release of 2015, we are giving a free copy of the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp to everyone that spends more then $50 from Monday January 12th to Monday January 19th!!! This deal is for one week only. DO NOT MISS OUT!
*Note*Rifle Diet are playing a record release show 1/17/15 at the Dogplex in Minneapolis with Kontrasekt, Aziza, and Fucking. To coincide with that show all orders that contain the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp will be shipped out on Monday January 12th.
The next release in the works is the new full length lp from APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – “We Don’t Need Them”.
We Don’t Need Them is the second full-length record from West Virginia punx Appalachian Terror Unit. ATU have become known throughout the years as being one of the most politically charged bands in the current punk scene. This new record is an all out attack on today’s society that takes ATU to a new level of intensity both lyrically and musically. The combination of the beautiful and thought provoking gatefold cover art designed by Stivart along with the brilliant recording and mastering job by Jay Matheson at the Jam Room take this record even further. Song subjects include the horrors of war, police brutality, destruction of the environment, rape culture, consumerism and much more. Expect a very heavy and much angrier approach from a band that has been around the block and matured their sound. Seven raging new tunes including the epic fourteen and a half minute track “We Don’t Need Them”, a song that will one day be ranked among similar greats as the SUBHUMANS “From the Cradle to the Grave” and AUS ROTTEN “And Now Back to Our Programming”.
APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – We Don’t Need Them will be pressed in the United States on PROFANE EXISTENCE & in Europe on SKULD /RUIN NATION
WARWOUND – “A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983“
Another record we are very excited about is the upcoming WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983. Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from three sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND they are a UK band formed in 82, and released 2 demos in 83. Members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form the almighty SACRILEGE. Warwound are one of the first bands to take the politics and d-beat influence from DISCHARGE and combine it with the blown out sound of CHAOS UK to achieve total destructive raw d-beat ear bleeding chaos!
WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983 will be a split release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and ORGANIZE AND ARISE.
It will be available in the spring of 2015.
Other records and projects we have in the works for 2015 …
VASTATION (pdx formally night nurse) vs WAR//PLAGUE Split EP
KRANG are a new band birthed from Chicago’s DIY punk underbelly. They play a brutally powerful brand of thrashy riff-laden crustcore and have an intense live presence. They have recently recorded for a few vinyl projects, including PE’s own 7″ singles series. Check ’em out!
Interviewed by Brian Poulin (NEGLIGENCE). All photos by Adam DeGross.
PE Who’s in the band and what does each of you do?
AUSTIN: guitars / backing vocals / song writing (synth & keyboard on 12″)
ADAM: bass / backing vocals / song writing
BRENDAN: lead vocals / lyrical content
DEVAN: drums & percussion / backing vocals
PE: What’s a brief history of the band and how did you guys form?
Austin: We started circa 2009. We had an additional guitarist: Louis C. He went on to start a blackened crust band called Welkin Dusk, based in Chicago that he plays drums & lead vocals for. We used to have an additional lead singer as well: Hannah B. Hannah was a part of our first two releases: the out of print “Onward Desolation” demo tape, and also the out of print “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″. Hannah is now the front-woman in a band called Despise, based out of Minneapolis. Our original drummer, Brett, is on the two recordings I mentioned before, as well as our “Sounds of Death” 12″. Brett now drums for a Chicago / northwest Indiana band called Asphixiate. Devan is now our permanent drummer and he will have his first appearance on the “Broken Waves” 7″, released by Profane Existence, which is coming out in June. Devan will also be on our next 12″: “Bad Moon”, which we are writing right now. I, as well as Krang, are totally stoked on Devan and really happy to have them. Devan is active outside of percussion as well with assisting in writing, assistance in lyrical content & structure, and the internet stuff. This line up has been solidified for over a year and is totally fucking Krang! It just works perfectly.
PE: You guys are based out of Chicago. What are your favorite parts of the scene there? What are your least favorite things about Chicago’s scene?
Devan: Chicago’s an interesting place. I feel like the pros and cons are often directly related to one-another. For example, the mere size of the city. There are so many people – new to here, young, old, whatever – that there is basically always something going on and a handful of solid DIY spaces at all times, regardless of whether people leave or places get busted or whatever. The downside is that the physical structure of the city makes it difficult and/or terribly time-consuming to navigate. Especially if you don’t have a car. And even if you do, parking sucks. Anyway, as a result of the city being as segregated as it is, people are often inclined to just stick to what’s going on in their neighborhood and it results in a lack of exposure or attention paid to some really cool things. It’s unfortunate. But then there are some events like the annual Black and Brown Punk Show (shout-out to Monika!) or other fest-type shows where the attendance is crazy and bullshit is minimal. It’s rad.
Austin: I used to live in CHI. I reside in northwest Indiana (NWI). It’s really close. You can compare it to how close Jersey is to NYC. The rest of the band does live in CHI. My favorite things about Chicago is the “don’t take shit” attitude that at least me and the scene we’re involved with has. We’ll kick you out if your a piece of shit human or kick your ass if we have to. I also like The Void Haus in NWI for gigs. My personal least favorite things are cliques, hype, division, etc… the things that you see in every rather large city, I suppose.
Adam: I love Chicago’s unspoken rule of everyone being down to get down when shit hits the fan and nobody lets bogus comments or derogatory gestures fly. My complaint for the longest time was how there is the same hierarchy that we all hate in daily life at a lot of the gigs. It seems like those “in crowd” wanks have come and gone though, or maybe I just don’t surround myself with such fools anymore. My main complaint, and I know I am sounding super negative, but for such a large city there is a lack of bands playing what I am into personally. There are a lot of great bands doing great things…but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am into them musically. Haha! I have a particular taste and its not being fulfilled. I usually go to shows to hang out and have a good time and just show support but its rare that I actually shit over a band that I see locally. I do really, really get down to Population though. White boy can’t dance but when I see this band I start doing shit I didn’t know I was capable of.
Brendan: Chicago is simultaneously the best & worst place to live; which I’d imagine is a critique most other big-city dwellers share. There is no shortage of great folks, bands, eats, cool nerd-haunts (comic & record collectors rejoice!), and beautiful neighborhoods/communities in which to live. The same is true for all of the awful yuppies, gold cost bourgeois, & assholes who get your friends hooked on hard drugs. A lot of the time I wish that I lived in a vast expanse of lush nature with no human presence save myself. When I’m not wishing for seclusion, I’m loving how hard of a time I have sorting out which of the 5 awesome punk shows I get to go see any given night. Chicago has everything I love & hate at once; most of the time its worth it.
PE: Musically what are you guys going for?
Devan: I’d say sincerity, first and foremost. In sound, words, and delivery. And the connections we can and have made with people based on that. My musician’s answer would be just to write the best songs we can and perform them at the highest level at all times.
Austin: I just want to stick out and be a little different sounding. I still want to have that essential formula for great punk. I personally believe we found the introduction to our sound with the “Sounds of Death” 12″. We have two formulas: triumphant, galloping crust metal and simplified, pissed off, to-the-point stuff.
Brendan: Initially we formed with the idea of writing over the top odes to crust circa late 80’s/early 90’s; stuff you could flail your overgrown dreadlocks around to. We all fell into a groove with each other over time, where we don’t really need to define what we’re gonna write before we do. We approach releases with general outlines (theme,length, format etc.), but when writing songs I’d say we aim for mean, earnest & impactful.
Adam: I think naturally all being into different types of musical backgrounds, our finished product ends up being a thing of its own, but we all have similar enough interests to where we end up with the result that we initially were trying to go for. I personally am really into trying to sound like the bands I am into. It doesn’t end up exactly that way which is good but I love when bands obsess over old school sounds/bands/records and try to make their contemporary music sound as authentic as possible whether it be tone or style or whatever. At the end of the day we are trying to sound pissed, like we worship the 80s and have our music sound anarchy as fuck!
PE: What bands inspire you the most?
Austin: I listen to EVERYTHING. I don’t know where to begin but musically, keeping personal interest aside, I think we’re inspired by 80’s UK crust and a lot of Japanese stuff as far as writing collectively. This is something me and you will have to nerd out on when we’re in Boston next. Haha!
Adam: For Krang, bands that influence the writing process for me are Masskontroll, Deathraid, Sacrilege, Hellshock, Deviated Instinct, Sodom, Axegrinder and Amebix as well as Instinct of Survival. Personally I am all over the water but my all time 2 favorite punk bands have always and will always be Discharge and the Dead Boys.
Devan: I could go on a long rant about every band I’ve ever loved and how they’ve all stuck with and influence me to this day and blah blah blah, but I’ll spare you the cost of ink and just say Sacrilege, Crude, Amebix and Discharge. That said, we are quite the eclectic bunch.
Brendan: Musically, anything running the gamut from Paintbox to Elliot Smith. I enjoy a lot of soaring Japanese hardcore with that Burning Spirits feel, 90’s screamo, early black metal & hip hop. Any band that has a way with words gets me going, but mostly I enjoy music that you can’t help but feel.
PE: What are most of your songs about? What inspires the lyrics?
Brendan: Lemme preface by saying that Discharge is rad & “The More I See…” could be the soundtrack to my daily tedium… but i think punk rock has much more potential than to rehash our dogmatic & oftentimes simplistic politics. Having been a few places where the punk scene eats itself inside out with depression, addiction, & apathy towards the struggles of those around us, I think its real important to allow ourselves to be more open in the way we express all of the things exploding in our minds. I am not blowing my own horn, or any horn for that matter, but I really enjoy taking the personal route when it comes to writing & am constantly attempting to better address the common threads that run through all of our lives. Our first wave of songs covered some of our political leanings in regards to vivisection, arms manufacturing, rape culture & the willful destruction of our Earth. The “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″ reflects on the weight of stagnation on the “politically motivated”. “Sounds of Death” is the result of an obsession with death and a years worth of hurt; friends making irreversible decisions in regards to their lives & some of us falling into those spirals ourselves. There is absolution in acceptance though & I think a glint of hope in such dark subject matter. Our upcoming 7″ deals with cycles of change in our lives, moments of mania & madness; a counterpoint to our last 7″. The songs we are writing & playing now are an extension of that, focusing on moments of change in our lives, wanderlust & really just form one big, loud, pissed love letter to the DIY community, punk rock & time spent on the road. Inspiration comes from any human I’ve met that has dared to be open, honest & shameless about it.
Devan: Passion in all its forms and extremities is what inspires us. Totally.
PE: You guys have done a few extensive tours. What’s your favorite city you guys haveplayed in? What’s your least favorite?
Austin: I love Boston. Detroit, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis) are up there too. I don’t really have a least favorite. We have had some bad experiences, though. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and not mention them. Hopefully things will be better when we return.
Devan: New Orleans is my favorite city ever, and our most recent gig in Boston totally ruled. I’d have to say, though, that many of my favorite shows have been in non-major cities. Birmingham AL was awesome, Asheville NC, Cincinatti OH, Grand Rapids MI…basically anywhere with a really tight-knit but wide-ranging DIY scene in terms of age, music, spaces, projects, etc. It’s always super encouraging to see.
Brendan: I’ll echo the others in saying that NOLA, Asheville, Cincy, Birmingham, Boston & Baltimore all kick ass. I’m usually super appreciative of all the towns we’ve been lucky enough to play in, though of course we’ve played in towns that seemed to embrace the anti-PC attitude/sense of humor that I am so fucking sick of. Some cities are really 50/50 because you’ll either play an amazing show with bad-ass folks & have the time of your life, or you might end up wanting to eviscerate some fuckhead who only listens to GG Allin & doesn’t get why a confederate flag hanging at a show space might ruffle some feathers.
Austin: We as a band aren’t about making sure we are politically correct all the time, but we definitely are hellbent on showing one another respect and are willing to give respect back to those who are legit. No single city is bad. Like I said before, sometimes there are some bad experiences. Fuckheads are everywhere.
Adam: Yes, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Boston, but most of all NOLA and Minneapolis. New Orleans and Minneapolis…no other city can live up to the debauchery that is expected to happen when we arrive in these two places. We need a week of recovery after being in either place for just a day. Also I love playing Madison a lot. Fuck, I love touring. So many amazing friends are being missed right now as we speak.
PE: What are some of your favorite bands you guys have played with?
Lord Krang: Scum from Detroit, Appalachian Terror Unit, Antisect, In Defense, Nu-kle-ar Blast Suntan, Kontrasekt, Cognitive Dissonance, The Skuds, Coelacanth, WrathCobra, Wartorn, Negligence, In Ruins, and definitely D-Clone; but honestly, it’s great to play with anyone and everyone who aren’t assholes and give a shit about “punk rock”.
PE: What are some of your favorite local bands from Chicago?
Lord Krang: Asphyxiate, Decay After Death (Decay A.D.), Cemetery (RIP), Culo, Die Time, Slag, Escalofrio, Sex Bunker (RIP), Birth Deformities, Gas Rag, Welkin Dusk, Daylight Robbery, Dirty Surgeon Insurgency, The Breathing Light, La Armada, Black September, Kontaminat, Ooze, Tensions, The Busy Sugnals, Population, More that we’re forgetting to mention….
PE: What does the future hold for Krang?
Devan: As Austin mentioned earlier, we have our “Broken Waves” 7″ being released in June, at which point we’ll be doing a small tour with Coelacanth. Also, as previously stated, we are well along in the writing process for our next full-length LP. Look for us around the Mid-west this summer and keep up-to-date and get in touch via the following:
crustardpunx[AT]gmail.com – krangcrustards.bandcamp.com – krangcrustards.blogspot.com
Austin: More touring, more albums, more blood spit nights, more everything! We’ll do a more extensive tour when the new LP comes out.
Brendan: “Bad Moon” 12″ – Skull Fest – Split(s?) – Self-Destruction With A Gusto
Lord Krang: Record labels that are interested in helping us with our next 12″ (which is more than half way written) get in touch with us!!! It will be even more galloping, pist, and triumphant than our still available “Sounds of Death” 12″!
I was planning a “clear my head” American trip for the spring. I was going through some shit, and realized that I needed to get on the road, see some friends, and hopefully rock out a couple times – just get away for a bit. Well, I was minding my own business, wasting time on the internet one evening a few months ago, and I received an email from Bitty of DRESDEN. “We’re going on tour in May. Want to come along and watch the distro/merch? Haul a bit of gear?” I thought about it for a couple seconds, and replied in the affirmative. The tour would take place in late May, and would focus on the Midwest and the East Coast.
Originally, I was only supposed to do the first week, as they were going to be meeting up with DEVIATED INSTINCT in New York, and share the van for the rest of the tour. There probably wasn’t going to be any room in the van for me, which was fine. I had plans to go down South anyway. Well, it turned out that there was room for me for the whole tour after all, and my plans down south sort of fell through. Funny how things work out, isn’t it? Anyway, I ended up doing the whole tour, lending my salesman and gear-haulin’ expertise to a bunch of sweethearts for two weeks. Killer.
This here’s a tale of love, death, deception, theft, rock, roll, Rick-rollin’, cheese curds, and general bad-assiness.
May 18, 2012 – Appleton, WI
I’ve been in Minneapolis for the last week. Surprise, surprise. Well, there was a bit of a surprise yesterday, when I found out that a five hour drive translates into a nine hour bus ride. What the shit?! I had to be awake at 6 this morning in order to get on the bus for 8. And to make things even more awesome, the driver called in sick. The bus didn’t show up to the depot until 10… great. Is this some sort of harbinger of doom? Or merely an annoyance?
Well, I somehow arrived on time, despite the driver bullshit. I was met at the bus station by a skinny fellow in a WIPERS shirt. This was Hart, DRESDEN and WARTORN’s drummer. We met up with Bitty (I’ve been internet pen-pals with him for a while, but had never actually met the guy until today) and Ela, and drove to tonight’s venue. Tonight was a WARTORN gig, which would serve as a practice for their slot opening for TRAGEDY tomorrow in Chicago. The venue we were at tonight was the basement of an abandoned candy store, and it was fucking sweet. (Oh, pun!) We hung around and slowly loaded in for a while. Bitty seemed impressed that I was helping out. “You’re already the best roadie ever,” he said, “You’re actually doing shit!” Hey, that’s just how I roll.
We set up the merch and distro upstairs, which is where I stayed. I wasn’t too bummed about that though – Ela offered to kick around and watch the distro for a while, but I was still pretty tired and overwhelmed. My shyness was starting to kick in, and I didn’t want to throw myself into the pit with a bunch of strangers quite yet. I met a bunch of characters, including the notorious Danny Dew (local legend, the straight-edge Mountain Dew addict). I’ve never spent much time at small town punk shows, but I have to say I’m stoked on them! The kids who come out get super into it, and there’s little to no pretention. Just mad heads all around. It’s not necessarily the most “PC” environment all the time, but it seems like most people get along (and it’s certainly not the most homogenous scene I’ve ever seen either, by the way).
Near the end of WARTORN’s set, the cops showed up, thus fulfilling Hart’s prophecy. I’m told that the Appleton police force is notoriously over-equipped, power-mad (more than other police departments? Hmmm…), bored, and they really hate all-ages shows. They parked outside forever, and harassed the owner of the venue. Since this sort of thing is always a possibility, everyone was corralled inside, and no alcohol was allowed near the venue. As such, the only thing the cops were able to get anyone on was a pathetic parking violation, so they gave a ticket to the promoter and shut the show down. “Noise,” they said. Hilarious, because you couldn’t hear jack shit outside the venue. Fuck, whatever.
Tomorrow is Chicago with TRAGEDY. It’s a pretty short drive, but here’s the catch – this weekend is the NATO conference, and the anti-NATO protests. As we all know, these events are perfect times for police forces of all levels to show off their new toys and employ all sorts of horrific tactics against protesters. It seemed like a really good idea to head out tonight and sleep somewhere in Chicago. If they’re going to turn the city into a fucking prison camp, then it seems like a good idea to get in and at least try to play a show. So after picking up the rest of DRESDEN and friends, filling up on badass/bad-terrible American junk food (we Canadians only get like half of this shit up north) and gassing up (no pun), we began the drive down.
Moustachioed superhero roadie Greg grilled me on life in Canada (“is everything like the fuckin’ Trailer Park Boys?” “Do you have electricity?”), and told me some facts about Wisconsin (“fuckin’ cheese curds, dude”). For about 85% of the drive, Hart kept us awake and in stitches by screaming randomly for hours on end. Apparently he normally goes for fifteen or twenty minutes before passing out, but not this time. At least there was no danger of Bitty falling asleep at the wheel. Those two play off each other like seasoned actors. I think a lot of people would be freaked out, but I was totally into it. (Bitty would later tell me how impressed he was with how I wasn’t fazed by it.)
We arrived in Chicago around 4am, and crashed at a cool two-room punk house. Ten of us, plus the people who live here… plus the random punks crashing here. Found a spot in the living room next to the weight bench. Fuck it, goodnight!
May 19 – Chicago (Two shows: WARTORN at Reggie’s Bar w/TRAGEDY in the afternoon, DRESDEN in the basement of the punk house at night)
I woke up after a long, comfortable sleep of… two hours? Damn. I was surrounded by various members of the Disconsin crew, and a bunch of unidentified folks, all passed out and snoring. I grabbed the weight bench and pulled myself up, peered into the next room. Someone waved at me… but who? Where the hell are my glasses? I waved back, and lay back down for another twenty minutes or so. Ahh, to hell with this – I went and sat outside, where I was joined by the nicest cat ever, and eventually a small crew of kids from Detroit. The girl who lives in the house came out and joined us (sorry! I totally forgot your name!) after a while, and told us that she’s pretty worried about the house show tonight. In the lead-up to the anti-NATO showdown this weekend, two other punk houses in the same area had been raided by the cops, leading to their evictions. The pigs aren’t fucking around this weekend – I even heard rumors of fighter jets flying over the city for the last week. With that in mind, my new Detroit friends and I decided to walk to a local coffee shop for java and breakfast. I noticed that we were being tailed by a few cop cars, both marked and unmarked. We weren’t stopped, though.
After the walk and breakfast, we got back to the house and hung out for a bit while everyone else woke up. We slowly headed out to go load in to the club. Given the whole NATO thing, it seemed like a good idea to head down early, just in case the downtown core was a nightmare. Reggie’s Bar is really close to where all the action is supposed to happen, so I half expected multiple check points and clouds of tear gas to cover the area. Of course, the area was more like a ghost town on lockdown. We made it in record time, so we parked behind the venue and waited…
Eventually we got in and set up, ate, and then the show began.
The first band that played were fucking killer. Sadly enough, I forgot their name. They’re a local Chicano hardcore band featuring members who had done time in SIN ORDEN. If you’ve ever heard SIN ORDEN before, then you know what to expect – fast, super political Hispanic hardcore. They fucking rocked the house, although it seemed weird seeing them on a large stage in a huge club. They seemed like they would be more at home in a sweaty basement. No matter, they ruled. Total ‘90s Chicago hardcore sound. Fuck yeah. Next up was another local Hispanic hardcore band called LA ARMADA. Again, they were super political and heavy. A little bit less thrashy, with cool song structures. They used samples of speeches and other political sound bites during their set, which actually added to the experience. I ended up getting their LP, because they blew me away so much. LA ARMADA – check ‘em out. Third up to bat was BLACK SEPTEMBER, the Chicago death metal band. I’ve always been a bit of a fan, but had never seen them before. I dig them – they’re definitely a metal band, but firmly rooted in punk and hardcore. And unlike the vast majority of death metal bands, they’re not a total fucking dude-fest. I probably should have picked up a record, but… well, there’s always internet commerce now, I suppose. Anyway, their set was flawless – I prefer them live to their recorded works. WARTORN was up next, and put on a hell of a set. While they played, I stayed behind the table and sold the shit out of the distro. So many classic 90s crust albums and 7”s flew off the shelves – damn, I wish I would have looked through them a bit more! D’oh! I didn’t get to take any photos of WARTORN during their set, so hopefully I can get some next time. The only sort of downside to the WARTORN set was when Bitty was talking about NATO on stage – he stumbled over a few words and ended up trailing off without a set end point. I didn’t really notice, but he was pretty bummed about it. The crowd also didn’t seem to notice or mind, which is really the most important thing – these things happen. Okay, so now the moment we were all waiting for – TRAGEDY.
Well, what can one say about them, really? Obviously everybody there loved it – they put on one of the most powerful sets of any band I have ever seen. The set was simply amazing. Flawless. They did material from every album (even the unjustly underrated “Nerve Damage” album). Usually I prefer even my favorite bands to play shorter sets, but with TRAGEDY I wanted more, more, MORE! This was my first time ever seeing them, and they more than lived up to my expectations! I wish I could write more about them, but the words just won’t do them any justice. All I can say is that TRAGEDY is one of the best bands I have ever seen.
After the gig, a few of us popped to the bar next door and indulged in VIP-discount double gin-n-tonics. Hart told us that while the bands were playing – probably during LA ARMADA – the Chicago riot squad and SWAT teams went through the alley behind the club. Apparently they blocked off each end of the alley, went through every single dumpster and checked under every vehicle with their weapons drawn, etc. it turns out that the gig was only five blocks from where the “NATO Olympics” (as Bones called it) was happening. I had no idea, because again, there was no smoke or tear gas clouds coming from the site. I guess that’s all supposed to go down tomorrow.
After a couple more drinks, we drove back to the house we crashed at. The second show of the day is going down in the basement of the house. Second show of the day, and the first DRESDEN gig of the tour. The basement was super cramped, and there was no room for the distro/merch table, so I didn’t end up venturing in. I felt kind of claustrophobic, and besides – I wanted to chat with my new Detroit pals. I ended up drinking a lot of cheap beer and hanging with the DRESDEN/WARTORN crew, plus I got to play with the adorable house cat again, so I was pretty stoked.
After the partying sort of waned, we began the drive back to Appleton. Hart was in fine form again, but this time he burned out after 20 minutes. Despite the Chicago pre-NATO clampdown, we got the fuck out of dodge with no problems. The highways were completely abandoned, which I’ve never seen before. Somewhere around the state line is where I passed out…
May 20 – DRESDEN tour launch with TRAGEDY, Appleton Wisconsin
I woke up around 11am in the van in front of the Appleton punk house where we picked everyone up a couple nights ago. DRESDEN had to practice and write their set at some point today before the show tonight. Before that could happen though, Bitty had to pick up a new footswitch for Ela to use, because hers somehow got fucked up. We drove to the coffee shop first, because Bitty felt like he was losing his voice, and chamomile tea seems to really help with that. I just needed caffeine. Hot drinks taken care of, we headed to the Guitar Center in Osh Kosh. On the way, we discussed pro-wrestling (in case you didn’t know, Bitty used to be a wrestler by the name of Straight Edge Eric Hammers – he will rise again!), politics, and the internet. It’s good to hang out with someone who has their own set of ideals, and doesn’t toe the “political punk party line”. I don’t necessarily agree with every single thing Bitty had to say, but I gained a lot of respect for the guy through talking with him. If only more people could talk over minute differences of opinion instead of completely shutting each other out over something small and insignificant (in the scheme of things). Yeah, I’m guilty of that too, but it’s something I’m working on.
Anyway! We got to the Guitar Center and went to the footswitch/pedal area. There were some pedals and things in a big glass display case, which Bitty was leaning on for a few seconds before he almost leapt back. I looked at him cockeyed, and he told me “I have this overwhelming urge to smash the fuck out of that case. With my Tourette’s, I have to get as far away from it as possible, because when someone tells me not to do something, my mind wants to do it even more.” Shit, I can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like to live with…
We went back to the house so the band could practice. Bitty’s worst fears were realized – he did indeed lose his voice at the house show last night. While the band was setting up for practice, I went around the corner for some veggie burgers. When I came back, they were practicing in the basement, and… wow. I have never heard Bitty’s voice sound so strained and…well, frankly – terrible. It was reduced from its usual shredding sound to a kind of muffled mumble. This doesn’t bode well…
We loaded up and went over to another local punk house for a pre-gig barbecue. Although there were only a couple of us vegan folk on board, they were still nice enough to cook a bunch of vegan-friendly shit along with all the other grub. All the bands and assorted stage-hands (i.e. – merch/roadie folk such as myself) hung out, had a few beers and joked around together. And then, of course time to head across the river to the house where the show was at. (Aside – how is it that Appleton, a small semi-conservative town in Wisconsin has more functioning punk houses than my hometown of over a million people? I’m fairly jealous here)
In a twist of fate, the house had many feline roommates, and the basement reeked of cat litter. I have no issue with that, but it turns out that Bitty is extremely allergic to cats. Add that to his voice issues tonight, this might be a gong show. We thought about setting the merch/distro tables up outside, but there was talk about a severe rainstorm – needless to say, we ditched that idea. The basement is extremely tiny, but we somehow fit both our distro and TRAGEDY’s merch table into a corner near the stairs. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I went and grabbed a sixer of some cheap corporate beer and settled in for the night behind (well, beside) the table. I don’t remember all the bands that played before DRESDEN – pretty sure CHOOSE YOUR POISON opened, and I do remember them killing it. I got to talking to TRAGEDY’s merch guy Berke about touring, our homelands, and mutual friends. As the night wore on, I discovered that the more beers I drink, the better I am at hustling merch onto unsuspecting punks. For example, “If you’re buying that LOST WORLD record, then you really oughta get the ENDROPHOBIA one as well. It’s easily the best 8 bucks you’ll spend tonight!” or, “that limited edition DRESDEN LP is fucking amazing – worth every penny and more!” or even, “you mean you don’t already own the Shit Split? That’s fucking horrifying – you call yourself punk? Get that shit, dude – it’s the best 10 dollars you’ll ever spend!” Both Ela and Berke were cracking up the whole time.
My worst fears about DRESDEN were realized when they started playing – Bitty’s voice was super fucked. They only played the four unrecorded tracks from the upcoming HELLBASTARD split, and I felt super bad for them. I had hyped the band to the TRAGEDY dudes, and it definitely didn’t turn out as we were hoping. Unfortunately, shit happens. The band rode it out the best they could, bunch of troupers they are. Despite the setback in their set, we sold a shitload of DRESDEN and WARTORN merch, so it could have been a lot worse.
Right – I saw TRAGEDY last night in a huge club in Chicago. How would this packed, sweaty basement compare? What a stupid question. They played an entirely different set this time around, the first four songs were from “Vengeance”, and every time they started a song from the new record, the power went out. Needless to say, this was a much more powerful set. Congratulations TRAGEDY, your set in Appleton Wisconsin is one of the best shows I have ever been to! Basement shows are amazing – basement shows featuring one of the world’s best DIY punk bands are ten times better – if you’ve never seen TRAGEDY in a basement… hurry up, you fool!
As it turned out, there was a second DRESDEN show almost immediately after this one at a bar in downtown Appleton. We showed up just as a ridiculous rainstorm started. Bitty’s voice was not doing much better, so the band stuck to a five-song set. Despite that, the band played really well. I got a couple more pints in, and snapped some really good photos. It was a free show in a sports bar, so I’m not sure how many patrons were truly stoked on the punk rock, but fuck it – it was a good time! Also: free popcorn and cheap drinks! The TRAGEDY lads popped by for a quick beer and to support DRESDEN, which was pretty sweet of them. I wish I could remember who else played… I do remember that there was a grind band, and that they bored me to tears. Sorry.
We left town immediately after the bar show, and weren’t on the interstate for more than ten minutes when we struck a deer. Oh, fuck. We were going about 70-75 mph, and for a split second I saw the glow of his eyes and his shadow. Next second, I heard a loud *THUMP* and we swerved a bit. I was really freaked out and upset, but I was able to hold it together. I shed a tear or two for the poor creature, and reminded myself that thankfully he more than likely died instantly without suffering too much. Somehow, that wasn’t much of a comfort.
The front end of the van was damaged pretty badly – the grill was pushed in, and we lost one of the lights. Bumper damage, too. In order to do a proper insurance claim, we had to call the highway patrol to look us over and verify stuff. So we waited. And waited. Eventually a cop came and took everybody’s ID while verifying the damage (making sure we’re not some runaway Jeffrey Dahmer devotees, I guess). He came back to the van and asked “Hey, which of you is Gregory?” Greg raised his hand. “Dude – is that mustache real?!” the cop asked, and the van filled with laughter. I can verify that Greg’s mustache is both real AND absolutely ridiculous. Nice one, Greg!
West Virginia tomorrow, driving through the night. Punk.
To be continued…