Friday, January 29, 2010

Hearing the Same Old Questions

Health Hazard are one of my favorite punk bands from the now-overlooked decade of the 1990s. Since I’ve written about what the ‘90s meant to punk rock music before, I’m not going to get into it again here. But these British crusty punks were a significant part of what was going on back then, if you followed this end of the punk scene. Health Hazard formed in 1992, hailing from the violent working-class city of Bradford in Northern England. Guitarist Alec and drummer Sned were also in One by One, and I believe they were also active in the 1 in 12 Club, which was sort of like England’s version of venues like Gilman Street and ABC No Rio here in the US. Sned also ran Flat Earth Records, which released a lot of great bands from the mid ‘80s up until a few years ago. Some of those bands included Los Crudos, DDI, Doom, Dropdead, Electro Hippies, Pink Turds in Space, Sawn Off, and Urko.

I was seventeen when I first heard the Health Hazard ten-inch, thanks to a cassette dub that also had Oi Polloi’s classic Resist the Atomic Menace EP, the Disaffect/Sedition split, and that Deprived seven-inch that had the cover of “Blackout” by SOA on it. Good tape, huh? That tape was one of many that played a vital role in my transition from dipshit suburban punk obsessed with purely ‘80s hardcore to dipshit suburban punk obsessed with bands closer to my own generation. I liked my punk rock to be loud and fast, and Health Hazard were right up my alley. Blistering crusty hardcore fronted by one pissed-off female who eventually shredded her vocal chords to where she had to leave the band. Upon her departure, Health Hazard morphed into Suffer.

Unfortunately, this record is hard to come by since the original plates were destroyed in a fire. It was remastered and re-released as an LP with the other two seven-inches included as a discography. Prank Records also did a Health Hazard/Suffer split discography CD about ten years ago, but I’m not sure that it’s in print anymore.

Out of the three records they released, this ten-inch remains my favorite Health Hazard record to this day. In particular, the song “What You Going to Do?” still packs a punch with its lyrics about living a different life than one that caves in to social pressure to “grow up,” find a career, and raise a family. As a seventeen-year-old going nowhere fast, that just didn’t sound like the life for me. I’m turning 32 in a few months and that’s still not how I want to live. Sometimes I wonder how things would have turned out if I had gone in that direction. After all, I’ve been unemployed for an entire calendar year and I receive $140 a month in food stamps. I never went to college, nor do I have a high school diploma. By the standards of most people my age, I’m a fucking loser. But unlike them, I’m not stressed out about things like credit card debt. Or house and car payments. I have been exploring career options, but rest assured that it’s nothing that resembles the typical 9-5 routine or becoming a corporate cocksucker. No way. There are other things to do in life besides climbing that ladder and keeping up with the Joneses.

Keep up here.

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