As most DCXX readers know, Seattle’s Brotherhood made a unique impact on the Hardcore scene of the late 80’s in their brief existence. Sonically, they crossed the sound of earlier Hardcore bands like The Abused and DYS with the early catalog of Revelation Records to create something that was both crushing and potent in its simplicity. And although they had the whole classic late 80’s Straight Edge look down pat, they were championed by the likes of Maximum Rock N Roll back when the magazine would ridicule any band in high tops and camo shorts. Even almost twenty five years since the bands’ end, Brotherhoods’ music comes off with a righteous fury that cannot be denied.
This week, former Brotherhood guitarist Greg Anderson announced he will re- releasing the entire Brotherhood discography on his own infamous imprint, Southern Lord. Those who know Anderson as a member of the experimental drone duo Sunn O))) or from his time in doom metal unit Goatsnake raised an eyebrow at this action. All I did was raise a smile and immediately jump on the horn to Greg to talk about these formative years of his life playing in Brotherhood.
As expected from two dudes with an equal love for Chain of Strength, Nurse with Wound and Black Sabbath, we had a nice, long chat. The chat was so long in fact that we will be running it in parts over the next few weeks.
This first installment covers the end of Greg’s previous bands, False Liberty and Inner Strength, the origins of the first line-up of Brotherhood and the perfect storm from Eastern Washington known as Ron Guardipee and Nate Mendel.
And of course check out the link at the end of the interview to pre-order Brotherhood vinyl, shirts, sweatshirts and all the various bundle deals Southern Lord is running for the release.
GET INVOLVED!!! – Tony
False Liberty was my first band. I was the singer for that band. The drummer for False Liberty was Vic Hart and he was also in Brotherhood later on. False Liberty didn’t last too long unfortunately. It was my first band and I was really into it. I was sixteen and playing shows and loving it, but it ended prematurely. There was a weird falling out with the guitar player in his personal life and I was crushed it ended.
From there, I picked up the pieces and started a band called Inner Strength. It was with three totally unrelated dudes. It was the weirdest group of dudes ever put together! It was probably pieced together from want ads in the local paper. The guys I got were totally stoner dudes and we only lasted about eight months due to everyone being so different in that band. I really wanted to play positive Hardcore but the drummer was into REM and the guitarist was really into Yngwie Malmsteen and the bass player was really into Foghat. A strange mix of people!
When Inner Strength broke up, Vic Hart and I reconnected and I told him I wanted to play guitar in my next band. I told him I wanted the band to be in the style of a Straight Edge Hardcore band. Vic was the type of guy who was Straight Edge but he was more into the New York Dolls or the Stooges. But he really wanted to play and he was really good at playing super-fast. He just wanted to play. He didn’t care about the ideology of the group. So that was the start of Brotherhood.
Personally, there was a few things that pushed me in the Straight Edge direction. Firstly I had a girlfriend who was really into drugs at the time. Second, my mom was battling alcoholism. So I was like ‘Drugs and booze are evil!’ Also, I was inspired by the second wave of Straight Edge, especially Youth of Today. It resonated with me at that time in my life since I had a lot of anger towards drugs.
Another big catalyst for the start of Brotherhood was that 1987 was kind of a shitty year for Hardcore. Bands were either going full Metal or trying to be Rock ‘N’ Roll stars or trying to be a pop star. 7 Seconds wanted to be U2. DYS wanted to be Aerosmith. The crossover thing was awesome, but it kind of watered down real Hardcore. The only bands playing real Hardcore at the time was Youth of Today, Straight Ahead and Crippled Youth; I totally glommed onto that. And it wasn’t just the music or the message behind it. They were keeping true Hardcore alive and I thought that was cool.
Brotherhood had two line-ups. It was always me and Vic. We had a guy named Ken on bass. I think I saw him in a 7 Seconds shirt at a show and started talking to him. The singer was John White. He moved here from Florida and he had a fanzine called Open Your Eyes.
The first time I saw Open Your Eyes, it was a local Seattle record store that was really important called Fallout. It was a Straight Edge ‘zine with a Seattle address and it blew my mind. I made contact with him immediately and we hit it off. So, John White became the first vocalist. We did one recording with him that’s not very good. I thought it was undeveloped since I had just picked up a guitar.
At some point, John White and I had a falling out that is totally hilarious looking back on it. There was going to be a Youth of Today show at Gilman Street. John said that him and his girlfriend Kelli were going to drive to Berkeley for the show and asked if I wanted to go. I was like ‘Yes!’
A couple days before the show he called me and said ‘I’m not going to Gilman, it’s not happening’ but it turned out he went down anyway without me and I was pissed! I was like ‘That’s it! You’re not singing for Brotherhood!’
Shortly after that happened, Ken quit. He was working at a shoe store and was really moving up the ladder to manager, so he had no time for the band. So, the band fell apart for a second but all of a sudden, this perfect storm came in from Eastern Washington…
There was a friend of mine who lived in East Washington named Nate Mendel who played bass in a band called Didily Squat. False Liberty played a lot of shows with them and we were bros. He ended up moving to the big city of Seattle and I told him my band needed a bass player. He was like ‘That’s cool, but I’m not a Straight Edge guy’. But he was such a rad dude and such a good player I didn’t care. So, he joined the band.
Then, from Spokane there was friend of mine named Ron Guardipee. He was a raging partier, but for whatever reason, he had a change in his life and became really, really militant Straight Edge! It went from me driving that dude around passed out in the back of my car to him X’ing up and wearing sweatshirts. He seemed gung ho on Straight Edge, so I asked him to sing. Just then it was just hitting 1988, which was one of the best years for Hardcore! We all got real swept up in that vibe and the correspondence going on around the scene and it was awesome.