Friday, August 6, 2010

Society Reeks of Assholes, Assholes Reek of Society

It was a cold night in December of 1994 and I was on Christmas break from school. Since I was able to stay up a bit later than usual, I took the opportunity to check out MRR’s weekly radio show on KALX for the first time. I even slipped a blank cassette into the tape deck and hit “RECORD” because I knew I was going to hear a bunch of bands that I had never heard before and wanted to remember who they were. Of course, this proved to be correct. The DJ, a guy named Ken (aka Ken Sanderson of Prank Records), played a host of brutal hardcore bands that were new to my ears. I was stoked because I was clueless about new hardcore bands outside of locals Oppressed Logic, who I had yet to see live.

Somewhere in the middle of the show, Ken put on a new song by MDC called “Bombs Not Food.” Although this song didn’t really hold a candle to anything on the first MDC album, I was pleased to see that Dave Dictor and company were still at it. I made a plan to try and track this song down in the hopes of hearing more of what MDC were up to in 1994. Fortunately, Ken was kind enough to mention that “Bombs Not Food” was a song from MDC’s new split seven-inch with a band called Capitalist Casualties. A week or so later, I went to Amoeba Records in Berkeley and picked up the MDC/Capitalist Casualties split, along with Filth’s Live the Chaos EP and a few other seven-inches that every sixteen-year-old punk kid should have in their budding record collection. When I got home, I immediately rushed to my stereo and put on the new MDC record. “Bombs Not Food” was okay and “Nazis Shouldn’t Drive” informed me that Skrewdriver frontman Ian Stuart had died in a car wreck not too long ago. Cool, MDC is still at it…now it’s time to flip the record over and see what this band Capitalist Casualties is all about.

When the needle hit the grooves, a violent barrage of jackhammer-tempoed thrash exploded out of the speakers that blew me right out of my chair. Holy shit, what the hell am I listening to here? Faster was better and Capitalist Casualties blasted through their songs at a velocity that surpassed MDC, 7 Seconds, DRI, and every other hardcore punk band that I thought capable of breaking the speed barrier. MDC, the reason I bought the record in the first place, were all but forgotten. In my mind, they phoned it in by only putting two songs on their side. Fuck that, Capitalist Casualties were out to make an impression by giving us five songs to destroy our living rooms to in a solo mosh frenzy. I instantly had a new favorite band that I was going to rave about to anyone and everyone I knew that was interested. The best part? They were LOCALS! From right here in the Bay Area! That meant that I probably wouldn’t have to wait very long to see them live and figure out how they managed to play that fast. I had to listen to this again…and again…and again. I was in a state of euphoria. Aside from Oppressed Logic, the only local bands I knew of who flew the hardcore flag were AFI and Screw 32. As much as I liked those bands at the time, it was still hard to believe that they were the bands who were carrying on hardcore punk in the spirit of Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and MDC. Capitalist Casualties were HARDCORE, the very definition of the musical term.

Eight months later (and fifteen years ago this week), I went to Gilman Street and finally saw Capitalist Casualties for the very first time. Maybe it was just youthful enthusiasm in which everything is awesome, but their set that night was everything I wanted it to be and then some. Loud, fast, and angry, making me want to explode through the club’s walls and destroy every cop, teacher, and schoolyard bully that got in my way. It was a great show and one of the many shows I saw that summer that made it quite difficult to comprehend going back to a normal life afterwards.

This is one of quite a few Capitalist Casualties demos, recorded in June of 1988. It’s also one of a number of demos recorded on an off night at Gilman by Marshall Stax. 26 songs in all, a lot of which are rougher versions of songs that were later re-recorded for vinyl. Check out the early version of “The Roast,” in which they try to do a rap verse and more or less fail at it. It’s pretty funny, but I’m certainly glad they dumped that idea when that song was included on one of the Cry Now, Cry Later comps. Of course, there are also a number of tunes that most of you have probably never heard before. In the interest of doing the right thing, it should also be mentioned that I lifted this demo from the great Old, Fast, and Loud blog. Give that blog a look for many more old hardcore bands. Take the family to the nuclear national park here.

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