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!
For those of you who don’t know DEADLY REIGN, Its time to get with the program! DEADLY REIGN is a 3 piece D-BEAT killing machine with a legendary line up comprised of members from GLYICNE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, SCARRED FOR LIFE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, KEGCHARGE, CENTURY OF WAR AND TILL DEATH. These guys have been at it for a long time and don’t fuck around when it comes to bringing you punk rock authentic and true to its sound and with their new single released on PE entitled SLAVE! These guys don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. So let’s get to the brass tacks and see what these guys have been up to. (INTERVIEW BY DUTCH WELCH FROM KRIGBLAST)
PE: So what are your names, what do you play, and how did you guys come together?
(RAYGUNN) I MOVED TO AUSTIN AND RAN INTO GUERINOT AT HIS DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. UNKNOWN TO ME, MY WIFE WAS AND STILL IS GOOD FRIENDS WITH HIS WIFE AT THE TIME AND HE AND I KNEW EACH OTHER FROM THE PAST WHEN OUR PREVIOUS BANDS HAD PLAYED TOGETHER. WE GOT TO TALKING AND DECIDED THAT WE SHOULD START A BAND. I SAID, WE JUST NEED A BASS PLAYER/SINGER, AND HE SAID HE HAD ONE. HE CALLED HIS FRIEND GUSHAMMER AND HE WAS INTO IT. THEY HAD BEEN WANTING TO START SOMETHING TOGETHER FOR A WHILE. AND EVENTUALLY WE GOT THE BALL ROLLING (OR SHOULD I SAY, THE BEERS FLOWING?).
PE: You guys have all been in some pretty kick ass bands in the past. who played in what?
RAYGUNN – GLYCINE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, KONTRAKLASE, AND SCARRED FOR LIFE.
GUERINOT – WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, AND KEGCHARGE.
GUSHAMMER – CENTURY OF WAR, AND TILL DEATH.
PE: Who came up with the name Deadly Reign?
(RAYGUNN) I USED TO HANG OUT WITH A KICK ASS BAND IN THE EARLY 80’s CALLED BODY COUNT. THEY WERE AN EARLY D-BEAT STYLE OF BAND (BEFORE THE TERM D-BEAT WAS AROUND) AND THEY HAD A SONG CALLED DEADLY REIGN. SO I TOOK IT FROM THAT. (AND YES, I AM AWARE THAT THERE WAS A BAND CALLED DEADLY REIGN FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BACK IN THE EARLY 80’s, BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE I GOT THE NAME FROM).
PE: The music of DR is furious, in your face politically and socially. Whats the motivation behind your song writing?
(RAYGUNN) MUSICALLY, WE JUST TRY TO WRITE MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. THE KIND OF STUFF WE WOULD LISTEN TO AT HOME. NOT SO MUCH TRYING TO BE ORIGINAL OR GROUND BREAKING. MORE OF JUST PLAYING THE HARD AGGRESIVE TYPE OF MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. WE GET IT ALL TOGETHER AND THEN GUSHAMMER WRITES SOME LYRICS.
(GUERINOT) I’VE ALWAYS SAID I CAN’T AND WON’T BE IN A BAND THAT I COULDN’T ALSO LISTEN TO. WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT OF PLAYING SHIT THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? WE AREN’T DOING THIS TO PLEASE OTHERS, JUST OURSELVES.
(GUS) SOME LYRICS HIT RIGHT TO THE POINT, RELIGION. IT’S FUCKING 2013 AND HERE WE ARE STILL DEALING WITH RELIGIOUS NONSENSE! PEOPLE THE WORLD OVER ARE BEING PERSECUTED, MISLEAD, AND OUT RIGHT SLAUGHTERED OVER RELIGION. RATHER IT’S CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, JEWS, OR WHATEVER FICTITIOUS BULLSHIT SECT THEY ARE IN. RELIGION IN ANY FORM IS UNCALLED FOR AND DANGEROUS! AND THIS COUNTRY USES IT TO PULL OFF SOME SERIOUSLY HEINOUS ACTS OF PURE AND UTTER VIOLENCE AND WAR. WE TOUCH ON THIS OF COURSE ON THIS RECORD, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IT’S DIRECTED TOWARD THE WORKING CLASS FOLKS AND THEIR DAILY STRUGGLE JUST TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THE OLDER WE GET, THE SAME STRUGGLE REMAINS, EXCEPT NOW WE MUST NOT ONLY FIGHT TO FEED OURSELVES BUT FIRST FEED OUR CHILDREN AND LOVED ONES AND THEN WITH WHAT IS LEFT OVER, TAKE CARE OF OURSLEVES. SO WE CAN SLAVE ANOTHER DAY FOR A LESS THAN ACCEPTABLE WAGE. OVER THE YEARS I HAVE WATCHED OUR (PUNK) COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS WORK IN HORRIBLE CONDITIONS FOR SHIT WAGES WITH NO BENEFITS AND NO HOPE OF MOVING UPWARD IN THESE POSITIONS. AT THE END OF THE DAY THEY HAVE A SMALL CHECK THAT IS OVER TAXED AND A SORE ACHING BODY, THAT CONTINUES TO GET WORSE. “TELL ME IS THIS THE LIFE I’M FORCED TO LIVE TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY?”…THE ANSWER IS NO! BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT. WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO POINT OUT THESE CONCERNS OVER AND OVER UNTIL THE POWERS THAT BE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LISTEN.
PE: You guys did a split with HELLKRUSHER not to long ago entitled Continuous Warfare. How did this collaboration come about?
(RAYGUNN) I HAVE KNOWN SCOTTY (HELLKRUSHER) SINCE THE MID 80’s WHEN HE WAS IN HELLBASTARD, AND I WAS IN GLYCINE MAX. WE USED TO BE PEN PALS, AND WOULD SEND EACH OTHER TAPES OF OUR BANDS, AND OUR FRIENDS BANDS. WE EVENTUALLY LOST TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER AND THEN YEARS LATER FOUND EACHOTHER VIA THE INTERNET. I SENT HIM SOME DEADLY REIGN AND HE LIKED IT. AND WE DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING TOGETHER.
PE: You guys all have family’s now and continue to tour, play shows, practice, record and work. How has DIY punk changed in your lives and how do you make it work?
(GUERINOT) WELL, I HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS BUT HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER IS KEY. HAVING KIDS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE SO IN MY OPINION, THEY COME FIRST. WORKING AROUND THEM AND WORK IS USALLY PRETTY EASY. LATELY IT HAS BEEN A BIT MORE DIFFICULT BUT TRYING TO WORK OUT THE KINKS IN A SITUATION AND PUT PIECES BACK TOGETHER IS PART OF THE PROCESS.
PE: The new single from Profane Existence entitled SLAVE, what can we expect and do you have any future releases coming out?
(RAYGUNN) IT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN OUR LAST TWO RECORDS, BUT STILL THE DEADLY REIGN STYLE. NEXT WE WILL BE WRITING FOR A SPLIT 12″ WITH OUR FRIENDS KONTRASEKT.
PE: Closing comments, any last words?
THANKS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS THE WORLD OVER. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. ALSO, THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW. AND BE SURE TO PICK UP THE NEW DEADLY REIGN ‘SLAVE’ EP ON PROFANE EXISTENCE! AS WELL AS OUR LP AND THE SPLIT WITH HELLKRUSHER. ALSO, WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO EUROPE SOMEDAY, IF ANYONE OVER THERE WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUR BROKE ASSES OUT. HAHA! CHEERS – DEADLY REIGN
WARTORN are a whirlwind of thrash punk goodness hailing from Wisconsin. Since 2004, they’ve been hitting the touring and record release circuit with no looking back. Here’s a quick interview I did to let people know about their two latest releases, Domestic Terrorist 7″ (Profane Existence) & Iconic Nightmare 12″ (Southern Lord). – Andy Leffer
(This interview also appears in CVLT NATION)
PE: You know the drill, just give us the basics on who’s who and what’s changed in the past, in regards to any line up changes, etc. Also, give us some insight on where WARTORN is going. We want to know tours, records, riots, protests, arrests….the whole back story on WARTORN’s origins.
Bitty: (Vocals) The band started in 2004, with Ryan, Hart (on drums) and myself as a three-piece. Within half a year I got a call with an offer for our first tour, which was with Municipal Waste. We did a mini tour with them and ever since then we have been able to go on tours with amazing bands each year such as Los Dolares, ATU, CYP, Krang, In Defence, Pyroklast, Hellshock, and up next Raw Power . We have been to 13 countries and have done lots of releases on many different labels.
Ryan: guitar / low vocals / whiskey enthusiast. Well we started as a 3-piece and over a span of over 8 years, have ended up with 6 members. With 3 of us being guitar players we are able to diversify our songs in ways that we could only do in a studio setting. This obviously makes a difference live as well.
Ela: I’ve been the bass player for over the last 6 years. Recently, we came out with an LP/CD on Southern Lord Records called “Iconic Nightmare” and a 7-inch, “Domestic Terrorist”, released on Profane Existence (which is part of their limited edition singles series).
Toban: (Guitar) I think I might have the most arrests out of anyone in the band. Not like its anything to brag about. I did narrowly avoid another arrest a few weeks ago.
Derek: Guitar as well. I’ve been in the band for a few months and have been on two tours so far.
PE: The music is dynamic, to say the least. You’re not getting any half-assed riffs or mindlessly thrown together lyrics or production with your music. Elaborate on the process and what is the driving force for doing such a band. Punk is a political movement, it’s always been a political movement. Are you a part of this fray as a whole, or is this more of a personal, therapeutic outlet?
Ryan: I definitely believe in the power of the riff. Heavy and raging. Punk is a political movement, but I also see it as a community (full of musicians, artists, writers, photographers, open thinkers etc). A lot of us live/ have lived in punk houses and have been booking DIY shows for years. It’s something we do to contribute to it as a whole.
Toban: Ryan is the riff-master general of the band. He does a great job of coming up with some of the most incredible riffs of anyone I’ve been in a band with. Adding Bitty’s smartly composed lyrics and Hart’s hard hitting/tight drum style makes a great concoction.
Bitty: As far as what I write lyrically, I mainly write about personal experiences or historical events. I don’t tell people what they need to think, that is for them to figure out on their own. Also, I could not label myself as more than a realist and a situationalist.
Ela: Well in my opinion, I would say that we are a part of this as a whole, but it also is a personal outlet for me. We have all contributed to the movement in one way or another, but I think of punk as more than just a political movement. For me it is also about a unified community… where people come together, whether it is for political reasons, to share a passion for music, a hobby, art, etc. … and we definitely have that in Appleton, which is awesome.
Hart: I honestly wouldn’t say punk’s always been a political movement at all. The fact that DK, Meatmen, and the Germs, for example, all existed during one heyday suggests more of a harsh musical and broad social changeover than anything to me. For me personally, punk rock, metal and hardcore have always been a therapeutic and vindicating way of life that has consistently solved a lot of my life’s most harrowing, fucked-up times. It had a total bottleneck effect on how I raised myself mentally and emotionally. It was a really great thing to find out about when I was trying to figure out how to express myself when everything just infuriated or bored the shit out of me. Later, after I was free as an adult, I quickly found out it came replete with its own sense of community, and a totally viscous following I was never aware existed at all. This band is fucking great, cause we never throw a blind rhetorical blanket over our lyrical ideals, or even necessarily our instrumentation for that matter. We have a rough format that we’ve stuck to, but we all come from slightly different scenes and upbringings, and I’ve always thought it showed at least a little in our styles. I honestly don’t think the excitement of being in this band has worn off for any of us. Sure, growing pains have slowed our progress a couple of times, but whenever the next lightbulb goes on over our heads, it’s all go no slow!
Derek: For me, this is definitely a personal outlet. That’s what music has always been for me. Being the young’n metalhead in the group, I’ve kind of just been exposed to the world of punk houses and DIY shows recently. From what I’ve gathered so far I can at least say that the sense of community is beautiful.
PE: Your latest singles release on Profane Existence “Domestic Terrorist”. There’s no beating around the bush on this subject matter. Once again, can you elaborate on this specific release and the intention behind the subject?
Bitty: There have been a few times where I had local law enforcement “protect and serve” the shit out of me. As a kid in the 80’s from a small hometown, I’ve had guns in my face from the cops, hammers pulled back and screaming in my face. I have also had an off-duty cop put a gun in my face and ask me if I thought it was funny while he was wasted. You know of all the times I was ever robbed or assaulted, at least I knew if I fought back I stood a chance; I even survived an attempted homicide! But, it’s not so easy when you have to fight back against law enforcement. They just beat your ass and lock you up, even if they are totally in the wrong. I’ve witnessed so much personal corruption; to me it seems to be an extension of an abuse of absolute power. Now that, to me, strikes terror in any citizen.
PE: Bitty, you’re straight edge…maybe not self-proclaimed, but you don’t consume drugs or alcohol. Considering the genre of punk and it’s history of abuse with these elements, has this hindered your views on the movement?
Hart: Total interjection here! Dude, Bitty’s optimism actually astounds me. He’s seen more friends either die or completely lose their vitality as humans due to drug and alcohol use than I’d like to ponder. He’s remained pretty fucking pragmatic in his attitude toward his friends’ choices in that sense. I myself get pretty fed-up at times about my own friend’s use of drugs, especially certain ones. I’ve had plenty problems controlling my drinking in the past. I do believe I have a fairly good idea these days of when to dry out, but it can pull me into a real bad place. I start questioning what even matters anymore, and I start fighting everything that means the most to me. However, that’s where that community comes in again! I’m learning to seek out the right punks or no one at all when the time feels right, and I’ve been keeping up on it for a while now.
Bitty: Not at all. You don’t need to be like me in order for me to like you. The real moment that reinforced my decision was when I came home to a friend that lived with me and I found him in a pool of his own blood. He had tried to cut his hand off with a butcher knife while he was completely wasted and ended up with more stiches then an average shark attack. It really put a bad taste in my mouth about how substances can amplify bad decision-making skills. Although I am aware that most just use it to have a good time, truth be told, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t my thing. But as long as you’re not hurting me or others in any way shape or form it’s your deal not mine. This is just a suggestion, have fun and do what you need to do to deal with things or get by, but try not to destroy yourself in the process. You might end up missing out on some good things in life.
PE: WARTORN is a great band, so with that….does WARTORN have anything they’d like to say to the world, it’s listeners or the masses in general?
Toban: In the words of country music legend Kris Kristofferson “Don’t let the bastards get you down”. Ryan: Thanks for the interview.
Ela: Thanks for all the support. We can’t wait to hit the road and tear it up again in a couple months!
Derek: May the force be with you. But seriously, I can’t wait to hit the road and I hope to see everyone reading this there.
Hart: As always, start 4 bands tomorrow and eat your fiber!
Bitty: Thanks for the interview Andy and everyone that helped us out and we’ll see you on the road. If you’d like to help us out with booking or have any questions, feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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…