Friday, October 8, 2010

AIDS, Toxic Shock, PMS & More

We were going to post another metal record to keep with the spirit of the Halloween season…but last weekend, we learned of the unfortunate passing of Mark Sheehan, vocalist for suburban Boston hardcore band Out Cold. Mark was forty-one years old. We didn’t know Mark personally, but Out Cold has always rated highly in our household. The metal records can wait until next week.

Sometime, people are going to wake up and accept that hardcore punk completely lost steam in the mid ‘80s. By the decade’s end, it was definitely a sad shell of its former self. Punk needed to reinvent itself to survive and stay relevant, so the ‘90s was more about injecting new ideas into the music than it was about sticking to the established formula. This isn’t to say that there were absolutely no bands playing straight-up hardcore punk during the ‘90s. It’s just that it was difficult to find new bands that actually did it right—with no metal influence, blast beats, mosh breakdowns, or a vocalist with a throat full of broken glass. There was usually something unlikable about bands that did manage to fit the bill. Maybe their members (or their crowd) were macho assholes. Perhaps they were fond of using racial, sexist, or homophobic slurs to assert themselves as “politically incorrect.” Usually, their take on hardcore was just plain boring.

Out Cold was one of the only bands that played true old-school hardcore punk with conviction during the ‘90s. I’d like to say that they rose from the ashes like the Phoenix, but that would entail people in their hometown scene paying attention to them in the first place. If anything, they were practically the Boston hardcore scene’s best-kept secret. It always struck me as funny that Out Cold wasn’t held in higher regard in their local scene. I was never really able to get an answer from any of my Boston friends as to why that was, but Out Cold interviews suggested that the members were maybe too antisocial to be immediately considered for shows that would have established them as one of the area’s best bands. That’s one of numerous things that sucks about playing in a band. You just want to be able to play some good shows and enjoy yourself, but all the hobnobbing you have to do to get there can really take the fun right out of it.

In the fall of 2002, I was overjoyed when Born/Dead guitarist Will Kinser emailed me asking me to reserve a date at Gilman Street for Out Cold, who were finally touring the West Coast. On November 8th, the final bill was Capitalist Casualties (their last show with Max Ward on drums, I believe), the Futures from Japan, Out Cold, Born/Dead, and a band from Portland called the Stivs. Although I don’t recall the show drawing a particularly large crowd, it was definitely one of the better hardcore shows at Gilman that year. Every band kicked ass that night. We had something to be thankful for as Out Cold blasted through a near-perfect set, reminding us of why hardcore punk is the best music in the world. Unfortunately, “bandana thrash” was still in amongst most of the younger kids at the show, who opted to hit the distro tables while waiting for the 625 Thrashcore-approved Japanese band to hit the stage. Fuck those kids. It’s their loss. We ignored them…and then made fun of them afterwards when they realized that they didn’t like the Futures as much as Max Ward did. If you were really down, you probably also saw Out Cold play in the basement/practice pad at Born/Dead’s house in West Oakland a couple days before the Gilman show.

Permanent Twilight World
is my personal favorite Out Cold album, thanks to songs like “Pull the Trigger,” “Watch You Die a Sick Death,” “Faster to Nowhere,” and “Days are Numbered.” But I was beaten to the punch last weekend by Nate Wilson’s True Punk & Metal blog, so go there and get it. Instead, we’re gonna go a little further back in Out Cold’s history and check out their demo from 1992, originally posted by Al Quint of Suburban Voice zine to the HRPS board (aka “the scenester board”). This is actually Out Cold’s original lineup with Kevin Mertens on vocals and Mark Sheehan playing bass. Those of you who are used to Out Cold’s typically all-out hardcore assault may be taken aback by this demo somewhat. While there are plenty of expressions of hardcore rage, the band alternates between that and some killer raunchy rock ‘n’ roll that betrays their love of the Ramones and the New York Dolls. It’s in those moments when Out Cold often reminds me of a less Southern-fried version of Antiseen. The Iggy Pop squeals might take some getting used to, but this really is a great demo that ought to be reissued on vinyl sometime.

I realize that an Out Cold recording featuring Mark’s vocals would be a more appropriate tribute, but I figured posting something that most people probably haven’t heard would be the next best idea. Hopefully that works for you. Curl up and die


Al said...

... I'm still trying to process Mark's passing. You're correct--they didn't get their due around here until MAYBE the last few years they were playing out. But I was a fan from the time I got that demo (glad you posted it). Never saw them play a half-assed or sub-par set. All business. You saw them, you know what I mean.


The Evil Eye said...

I became an Out Cold fan from reading your interview with them, to be real honest. Thanks for posting the demo too...I'm pretty sure it was you who put it on the board originally, right?

My thoughts go out to Mark's family and friends. R.I.P.

steve said...

i saw them play at kxlu in los angeles. i think it was in 2003. a girl came just to see them play, so they did like a mini show to 4 people in the studio was cool, like they were playing a show instead of just being on the radio. i remember they definitely did not speak of boston highly. i was wearing a boston celtics shirt and that bummed them out. definitely did not get the respect they deserved. RIP Mark.