1985 was a transitional period for the Washington DC music scene. Founding members of the hardcore movement pulled away from it’s original trajectory in search of a new musical direction. Rites of Spring, Embrace, and Gray Matter are all well-known and well-documented examples of this time and shift that came to be known as Revolution Summer.
But theirs were not the only voices.
In the early months of ’85, 17-year-old guitarist Lawrence McDonald set out to form a new band. His ex-bandmates from his previous hardcore band Capital Punishment were doing the same–Mike Fellows with Rites of Spring and Colin Sears with Dag Nasty. Lawrence found vocalist Alec MacKaye (Faith), drummer Pete Wilborn (The 400), and bassist Bleu Kopperl and Bells of was born. Inspired by the budding movement of the time, the band moved quickly. By summer they began their first recording at Inner Ear Studio with Don Zientara, and on August 11, 1985, Bells Of played their first show at Bethesda Community Center. Unfortunately, Alec departed soon after, leaving the recording without vocals and the band without a vocalist.
Not wanting to lose momentum and having written all the lyrics anyway, Lawrence returned to Inner Ear to sing his songs for the first time. He pulled fellow skater and nubile guitarist Jason Farrell (later of Swiz) into the band to help in a live setting while Lawrence transitioned to lead vocals and guitar. On October 25, 1985, Bells of played their second show, with Rites of Spring and Embrace. It was Lawrence’s 18th birthday, and the real birthday for Bells Of–a musical entity that has continued uninterrupted to this day.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, this first Bells of recording was never released. After mixing the songs, Don Zientara set the tape box on a shelf at Inner Ear where it was forgotten as Lawrence set about writing more. By the following spring, Lawrence had shed all the songs, shed the members, and started over anew–a cycle he would repeat multiple times over the years. A few of the songs made their way across the country on cassette dubs passed between DC purists and pockets of fans with little or no backstory to the songs’ origin. Rich Jacobs was one of those fans. He enlisted the help of Jason Farrell (Swiz, Fury, Bluetip, Retisonic, Red Hare) to track down Lawrence and the lost collection of songs to give them the release they both felt it deserved. The tape box was still sitting on Don’s shelf 30 years later.
Here is Jason Farrell’s recollection of Bethesda/DC skating and the genesis of Bells Of (pulled from the Bells Of 00/85 accompanying booklet).
BETHESDA SKATE CREW | PHOTO: JOHN GARRISH
Me and my friends started skating in the summer of ‘83. BMX culture wasn’t doing it for us anymore— we wanted something a little more unique (and cheaper) to do. A weekend of lawn mowing could buy you a lightly used Kryptonics, Variflex, or Powell from any number of Bethesda’s older brothers who were caught up in (and bailed out of) the first wave of skating (77-81 or so). I was able to pick up a board off a neighborhood kid looking for a little gas money to feed his Camaro. In hindsight, the “F&R Team” graphics were prophetic, but they meant nothing to me at the time… I just knew it was a huge boat of a board that was way more legit than the skinny warptail knock-off I’d owned up until that point.
We built a short-lived kinky quarter pipe, and were surprised how quickly word spread to these older dudes (Annandale Ramp locals) with bad mouths, cars, and a style of music we had never heard: Hardcore. Skating and Hardcore were inextricably linked at the time so we dropped everything else to absorb all we could: DK, Black Flag, Circle jerks, Agent Orange, GBH. We quickly discovered that nearby DC had its own crop of bands, most notably the recently-deceased Minor Threat and Faith. We dived into the thriving scene, going to every show we could, which usually involved Government Issue and/or Marginal Man with Void, Dove, Malefice, or Nike Chix peppered in. These big/fun/hectic, and sometimes violent shows brought us in contact with more skaters from the surrounding areas.
By early 1984 we had built a halfpipe in a pocket of woods off Connecticut ave and Jones bridge in Bethesda. Word spread fast through the small loose network of skaters in the DC area, transmitted out from the Bethesda Surf Shop. Suddenly we’re seeing people from our favorite bands showing up at our shitty ramp: Ian MacKaye and Brian Baker (Minor Threat), OP Moore (Negative Approach), Eric Lagdameo (Double-O) and Bert Queiroz (Youth Brigade, Double-O, etc, etc, etc,). When surf shop employee Tom Clinton (Youth Brigade, Double-O) showed up one day, he had his neighbor Lawrence McDonald and little brother Mark McDonald in tow. Lawrence “the rat” had been a young ripper in the early days DC skating, and rode for the Bethesda Surf Shop’s “F&R Team”.
The Bethesda Surf Shop—also known as the Sunshine House or Finnegan & Roberts (F&R) was historically significant for the DC skate/hardcore scene. Half of this distinction was by default (it was the only shop for many, many miles) and the other half due to Blair Rhodes, the incredibly supportive shop manager. Henry Garfield (pre-Rollins), Ian MacKaye, his brother Alec, and others had all rode for the F&R team a few years prior, and would still pop into the shop for Vans now and then. The shop sat on Cordell Ave. in the heart of our hometown—at the top of my street to boot—so the shop was a daily pit stop for us in 83/84. Eventually Blair christened our crew of 13- to 15-year-old skaters the next incarnation of the F&R team.
Lawrence on skating in 1980: “I remember sitting on the porch of the shop watching Ian do six or seven 360’s in a row—he was more freestyle. Henry was really good back then, he was more of a transition skater. My first recollections of transition were Tom Clinton’s quarter pipe, Crofton and Alexandria parks. Arlington ramp as well—typically taking the metro bus meeting John Falls (Skewbald) midway. Wednesday nights we would meet at Bethesda Surf shop. PC (Paul Zurkowski, Air Force Lt. Col. and Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor recipient) would drive his VW bus with everyone in it out to Crofton. F&R team night. Jon Hargadon, John Sablaski, Tom Clinton, Mike Maxwell, Tim Cunningham…just a conglomeration of skaters from the area—not necessarily riding for the surf shop per se, everyone mostly looking for a ride out there. Kenny (Marginal Man) was out there the day I broke my arm in the capsule.”
EXCERPT FROM BANNED IN DC
Lawrence had also been active in the earlier days of the DC hardcore scene. At age 13 he started a hardcore band called Capital Punishment with Colin Sears and Mike Fellows (later in Dag Nasty and Rites of Spring respectively). Being obsessed with skating and hardcore, I’d badger Lawrence for his first-hand knowledge on the recently-passed heydays of both. He’d patiently answer the endless barrage of questions on all the broken-up bands and bulldozed parks I’d just missed. Lawrence and Mark were quickly absorbed into our core crew of skaters.
Right around this time, Lawrence started Bells Of with his close friend Bleu Kopperl on bass, singer Alec MacKaye (Faith), and drummer Ken “Bidge” Kavanaugh.
By spring of ’85 our ramp was gone, so we frequented the next-closest one: Rayburn, built by recent BMX-to-skate converts Terrence Stuckey, Jeff Tremaine, and Adam Spiegel (Spike Jonze). We started skipping the big hardcore shows downtown, opting for smaller shows by Rites of Spring and Embrace at local community centers. At the same time, we were skating more and more ramps in our area and beyond: Wiggy’s, Phil Banfield’s, Ethiopia Ramp, Goshen, Hell Ramp, Ocean City. As our skating community was expanding, culminating with Cedar Crest (1986-1991), the dominating influence of DC hardcore softened considerably within our ranks.
ALEC MACKAYE, BELLS OF.., 08.11.85, BETHESDA COMMUNITY CENTER | PHOTO: BERT QUEIROZ
LAWRENCE MCDONALD, BELLS OF.., 08.11.85, BETHESDA COMMUNITY CENTER | PHOTO: BERT QUEIROZ
Pete Wilborn joined Bells Of in the late spring, replacing Bidge. By summer, Bells of went to Inner Ear Studio with Don Zeintara to track instruments for the recording that was meant to be their first album. They played their first show on August 11th, 1985 at the Bethesda Community Center with Mission Impossible (featuring a young Dave Grohl). It was inspirational to see Lawrence, one of our friends whom we skated with daily, get up and do something—create something. After the show, Pete left for college and Alec left for a long motorcycle trip up to Newfoundland with Dante (Gray Matter).
When Alec returned, Lawrence booked a second show for October with Rites of Spring and Embrace at the Chevy Chase Community Center. Practice was difficult with Pete away at college. Lawrence knew I was friends with a drummer named Tom Doerr. In the weeks leading up to the show, Lawrence asked me to see if Tom could sit in so that Lawrence, Alec, and bassist Bleu Kopperl could practice. In exchange for my matchmaking, Lawrence would let me sit in, too, as second guitar. I was just learning to play, and would have jumped at the chance to play with anyone, let alone Lawrence and the singer of my favorite band.
The practice was a bit of a train wreck. Neither Bleu nor I were up to snuff, and Tom didn’t know any of the songs. Lawrence was patient, working his way around the room of kinder-players desperately in need of help. Between warbled songs, Tom and I goofed around like the kids we were while Lawrence and Alec made futile attempts to fine tune the mess. At one point, a frustrated Alec had to whistle loudly to shut us up, like one might to naughty puppies. I found out later that Alec’s involvement was always tenuous… perhaps this was the final straw.
A week or so later, as we rode in the car on our way to the ramp, Lawrence played me one of the songs from the recording Bells Of had been working on. “Down” sounded amazing to me. After commenting on how much I liked Alec’s vocals, Lawrence told me that wasn’t Alec…. it was him. He then told me Alec had quit, Lawrence had to sing now, and I had to be second guitar. He took me out to Angela instruments— I knew nothing about guitars, so I picked out a pretty single-coil Epiphone that I could afford. Looking for reassurance, I asked shop owner Steve Angela if it was a good guitar—he said “Sure…if you’re a girl!” I bought it (it was very pretty).
10.25.85, CHEVY CHASE COMMUNITY CENTER, TOP: BLEU KOPPERL, BOTTOM: JASON FARRELL | PHOTO: MARK MCDONALD
The show was rough, but I still admire Lawrence for committing 100%, singing and playing his songs for the first time (despite much reliable back-up from me). That kind of commitment drove and continues to drive Lawrence and Bells Of.
Lawrence went back to Inner Ear to finish up the recording and brought me along. Watching him overdub a guitar lead for “Down” and spin some green plastic tube over his head for “Like in Movies” are random but indelible memories for me. The rest of it is fuzzy—He and Don likely ran a quick mix that day or soon after, and I believe that is the version presented here. In the span of weeks I had found myself in a band, playing a show, and in the studio—all for the first time. I had no control or say over any of this… I always felt I was just filling Lawrence’s temporary need brought about by a certain set of inconvenient circumstances. I had nothing to do with these songs beyond being asked to play them live and getting the privilege of watching a bit of their creation. But I love them. And I always felt others would, too… even without them being infused with the memory of so many firsts as they are with me.
BELLS OF… SKATING
Though you might not recognize it in the songs or lyrics, Bells Of was a skate band through and through. As the band continued to change, Lawrence repeatedly pulled from our core skate crew to repopulate his band—me, his brother Mark, John Garrish, Tom Allnut, and Fernando Carr were all part of that original 1983/84 Bethesda skate crew. None of us had any prior band experience, or much skill really—but Lawrence’s need to practice, write, and create was urgent and eclipsing. He would play with anyone who was immediately around, regardless of their skill level, and teach them what they needed to know so he could work out another song. Though we didn’t play in Bells Of at the same time, each of us could say that our first show, our first recording, our first attempt at songwriting were all a collateral result of Lawrence’s need to move Bells of forward. Though partially rooted in self-interest, his patient teaching set many of us on our individual paths to the bands that followed (Swiz, Monorchid, Ignition, Bluetip, the Warmers, etc..).
Over the years our skating got more intense, and Lawrence’s guitar playing exploded. There were better skaters, and maybe a few better guitarist, but Lawrence reached a level of ability in both disciplines that no one in DC and few elsewhere could touch. His rapidly-maturing, self-taught theories of music veered his songs and lyrics further away from traditional DC confines. While other bands rose and fell in popularity, rushing to release every musical thought that crossed their minds, Lawrence showed some crazy patience and resolve—waiting five years till his songs and his ability matched his constantly-evolving vision. By the time Bells Of finally released its stunning debut 11:11 in 1990, there was no trace of geographical influence, and little similarlity to this first recording… which is undoubtedly how Lawrence wanted it.
As of this writing, Bells Of have released five albums through Teen-Beat records, making them the sole entity from Revolution Summer that has continued unabated—a weird distinction considering the sonic and conceptual twists and turns Bells Of have made away from that time and that sound 30 years ago. But Bells Of has always been nothing if not the autobiography of Lawrence—changing as he changed—so it is appropriate that the current sound bears little resemblance to the original sound. Maybe he was a bit embarrased by the simplicity of this first chapter, or maybe random circumstances and constantly-evolving members caused him to shelve this first recording… but I’ve always been in awe of the optimism and exuberance of these songs, recorded when Lawrence was just 17.
Bells of “00/85”
Long-lost tape from Washington D.C.’s Revolution Summer, seven songs on 12″ clear vinyl out now on Move Sounds.
Available through Teen Beat, Dischord Direct, and Revelation.
Digital distribution through Teen Beat.
We spent 1984 skating every ramp we could and going to every show we could. These two interests (hardcore/skating) were completely intertwined; a mishmash of Government Issue, bus transfers, Marginal Man, stinky pads, snickers, ditches, stealing wood, Annandale, cassette tapes, super big gulps, and/or Void at the Wilson Center. At the shows we started to recognize familiar faces from ramps, school and the neighborhood, and made new friends from all over the DC area. I feel like being skaters gave us a bit of a late pass, like “oh, how cute! here come those skaters again” as we’d stage dive in train fashion. Our high school had a healthy goofy punk scene (Colin and Roger from BMO and later Dag Nasty, Mike Fellows from GI and Rites of Spring, Natalie and Kate who would go on to form Fire Party, Joel Gwadz, Rob Hardesty, Maureen Gorman, Jen Mercurio, Katey Chase). Many of these older punks took a big-brother/sister interest and helped refine our musical tastes.
The girls were especially good scene ambassadors; I can’t stress this enough… they were very enthusiastic in our musical indoctrination. Hardcore tends to drown out interest in any other sound, but they tried to instill in us an appreciation for other/older bands (Joy Division, Birthday Party, Generation X) that inspired the newer bands we liked… and they were sweet to boot. A very friendly, positive experience overall. Our local skate shop (Bethesda Surf Shop / Sunshine House) was incredibly supportive as well, and adopted us as their team like they did Ian and Henry years before.
Ramps were rare, so word of ours spread quickly, pulling local skaters out of the woodwork. Some we recognized from the records we were listening to: Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat), Tom Clinton (Youth Brigade, Double O), Eric Lagdameo (Red C, Double O). Brian Baker showed up one day with OP Moore from Negative Approach. That was pretty mind blowing for us, even more so when OP did a miller flip on our shitty little ramp. Crossing paths with these people (in and out of shows) further wore down the star effect, and made the prospect of playing music seem more possible, logical, obvious.
JASON, SPRING 1985 AND WITH A METHOD AIR IN 1988
One day Tom Clinton brought a kid named Lawrence McDonald and his little brother Mark to our ramp. They soon became a daily fixture and very much a part of our tight-knit group. Lawrence had played in a band years before (Capitol Punishment with Colin Sears and Mike Fellows), and was starting a new band called Bells Of with himself on guitar, Alec MacKaye (Faith) on vox, Bleu Kopperl on bass, and Peter Wilborne (the 400) on drums. Having started in summer DC 1985 they were heavily inspired and influenced by Rites of Spring. Their first show was ok, in hindsight maybe Alec wasn’t 100% sure of his involvement in the band. At the end of the summer they jumped into Inner Ear and recorded rough tracks for 7 songs before Pete left for college. With their 2nd show approaching and no drummer to practice with, Lawrence asked me (a nubile guitarist with marginal ability) to get my friend Tom Doerr to fill in on drums so the band could stay tight. In exchange, I could attend their practices and maybe get better at guitar.
That first practice was a trainwreck, with Tom and I goofing around like the 15 year old kids that we were. At one point Alec had to whistle like you would at a bad dog just to shut us up. Having come from the Faith, Bells Of probably seemed pretty juvenile… Alec quit a week or so later. Rather than cancel the second show and scrap the recording, Lawrence took over vox and asked me to join as second guitar. The first show I ever played was October 25 1985, opening for Embrace and Rites of Spring. I’m told this show went much worse than their first. I wouldn’t contest that.
We got our show legs under us eventually. Lawrence finished the 7 song tape, but was already moving beyond its relatively simple approach. He just put it down and never did anything with it… I never really understood why; the songs were great, and in hindsight it is a pretty amazing collection of lost songs from Revolution Summer…very much of the era but still very unique. I love that tape. A few of the songs found their way onto cassettes that have been floating around for years, passed between a small group of admirers. One of those admirers, Artist Rich Jacobs, is now making the entire session available as a 12″ on his label The Move Sounds.
Bleu quit Bells Of so I moved over to bass while Lawrence’s little brother Mark took over on drums. I learned all that I could about songwriting from Lawrence, but eventually faded on the project, quitting in 1986. Though you wouldn’t guess it from the sound, Bells Of was a skate band through and through, with many of its future members swapping in from our original tight core of skaters. Bells Of continues to this day, still centered around Lawrence and a rotating cast of players.
JASON WITH SWIZ ON THE SWASIDE TOUR, 1988
Around that time we were skating regularly at a huge new metal vert ramp called Cedar Crest. I picked up a sponsorship from Powell Peralta in 1987 or so… It was just the B-team (or “flow” team), meaning most of what I got was seconds and/or boneite, but fuck I couldn’t believe it. When all you had to do was pick up the phone and call some dude in Santa Barbara to have a box of decks/wheels/jackets delivered to my door, you didn’t notice the little number “2” branded in everything.
As much as I loved skating, I still wanted to play guitar in a band—something that bridged my twin loves of Metallica and the Faith. In early 1987, Shawn Brown and a guy I vaguely knew (Ramsey Metcalf; a Mod who had recently transferred into my school) walked into my job at the photomat. I had already known Shawn for a couple years; we had skated together a few times and went to all the same shows. I had watched him sing in Dag Nasty (and later watched him stand front-and-center, dead-still, enraged as Dave Smalley sang his words). They were there to ask me to join their new band; something Bad Brains-esque. Sounded perfect to me, so fuck yes. Days later I dragged a borrowed amp into Ramesy’s living room where the rest of the band was setting up for the first time: Nathan Larson (NFC) on bass and Alex Daniels (Carpe Diem) on drums. We kinda knew each other from shows our previous bands played together, but within minutes of playing, we quickly recognized that this new band was something we definitely wanted to pursue. A few weeks later we called it Swiz.
Though my interest in skating didn’t die that day (I still skate), it did get pushed over to shotgun status.
JASON CATCHES SOME AIR WHILE ON THE SWASIDE TOUR, 1988
Finally getting around to posting part II here with Jason Farrell (Swiz, Bluetip, Sweetbelly Freakdown, Retisonic, Red Hare, etc.) and it’s a good one. Much more to come from Jason, but in the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and pick up the Red Hare – “Nites Of Midnite” album, out now on Dischord. Total cool, total power. –Tim DCXX
What was going on in your area as a kid and how did the impact you finding your way into punk music? Can you recall your first encounter with punk and what that was like at the time? Early records, first shows, etc?
In 9th grade this skater from California moved to my school. We had an art class together and both wore Vans so we struck up a quick friendship. His name was Richard. I invited him to the (also-horrible) halfpipe we had just finished in my friend Marcus’ back yard. As if to christen our shitty little ramp, he spray painted a bunch more band names we didn’t know. But rather than leaving, he stuck around and joined our modest B-town skate crew, schooling us on skate rock and punk in general: Black Flag, JFA, Adolescents, Agent Orange, DK’s, Circle Jerks. He gave us cassette tapes and even sniffed out a killer record store (Yesterday & Today). On one Y&T outing, crew member Dave Stern happened across Out Of Step and bought it on a whim. Later, he called me up, floored; not just by the music, but by the seemingly unending stream of profanity… “This HAS to be illegal” he said. Poring over the cover art, he realized the band was from our area, and that’s when we realized our town had quite the booming music scene.
JASON GOES BACKSIDE, 1983
When Marcus’ grades slipped, his dad got out the splitting axe and threatened to reduce our ramp to splinters. It had to go: immediately. We cut it in half and walked it across 4 lanes of traffic, deep into a wooded lot nearby. This desperate, random choice turned out to be an amazing spot where we could pretty much do whatever we wanted…burn shit, build tree forts, camp out, smoke, have bottle wars, and skate everyday. Armed with a boombox, a ziploc freezer bag full of D-cell batteries, and a Minor Threat cassette on terminal repeat, our musical taste got honed and refined down from “Hardcore” to pretty much just harDCore.
In the spring of ’84 our Cali-friend Richard found out Black Flag was playing downtown. He was really relishing his H.C. curator status, and thought it would be the ideal first show for us. I imagine ours wasn’t the only mom-driven station wagon to pull up in front of Pierce hall and dump eight obviously green 13-to-15-year-olds out on the sidewalk, but I still felt over-dressed. Inside we started to blend a bit into the crowd, taking it all in while huffing the heady mix of rit dye, cloves, and B.O. Scanning the crowd, we recognized Ian Mackaye from his album mugshot and were genuinely surprised to see him right there amongst everyone. Whatever star separation thing that may have lingered from rock/Rush/Eddie Money started to die in that instant. Black Flag was my favorite band at the time… I had never heard of the other bands they were touring with (Meat Puppets and Nig-Heist). Local champs Government Issue opened, and the middle of this old church space immediately erupted into a fucking frenzy. Richard quickly coached us on pit etiquette and the finer points of skanking before sending us in like a rookie JV-squad.
That night it seems like we did everything en-masse; a blob of skaters entering the pit for the first time, a blob of skaters smoking cloves on the steps between bands, a blob of skaters going to the bathroom, a blob of skaters buying snickers and Cokes at the nearby 7-11. About the only time we weren’t a blob was when stagediving (…for that we were a synchronized line). I didn’t know this then, but me and my friends were among the deluge of suburban kids flooding the already swollen DC scene. To us it was chaotic and amazing; we felt like we found a special place where we truly belonged. To many of the older scene vets it was a disaster; they felt like the special place they had built was being overrun by unruly children, quickly becoming a place they no longer belonged.
I may not be remembering this correctly, (so forgive me if this never actually happened…) but I recall seeing some kid kinda spazzing around on stage, hopping in place as he tried to figure out the softest place to land his stage dive. Ian MacKaye noticed him too, and began waving to him welcomingly, as if to say “jump here, it’s perfect! we’ll catch you!” Relieved his mind had been made up for him, this kid curled his lip in his best skank-face expression and dived with confidence. That expression instantly changed to pain and confusion as he hit the floor uninterrupted. Ian had put his hands down and stepped aside, then stepped back in with a wagging finger, I guess to tell him stagediving was dumb. I made sure not to jump near him that night. I know shit was kinda bad in comparison to 1982 or whatever, but not nearly as bad as it would get when the whole skinhead thing reared up a couple years later… in hindsight it was still a pretty fucking amazing time to be in/near DC.
I Haven’t put anything up on YouTube in ages, but I just uploaded Judge playing “Where It Went” from Sunday night’s BNB Bowl set, 5/19/2013. I filmed it on my iPhone, standing behind Sammy, so it’s a slightly different angle than most of the videos I’ve seen going around.
Here’s another video I just uploaded to YouTube, it’s Red Hare from last night’s set, 5/22/2013, at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly. The video is dark, but considering this was only their second show, I figured it was worth posting. Great all around set, look forward to seeing these guys again soon. –Tim DCXX
Jason Farrell, a guy that needs little introduction. Everything he does, he does well… really well. Whether he’s writing, recording and playing music, riding a skateboard, designing a record, directing videos, creating art, or whatever, the list just goes on. Bottom line, the guy is a true talent and we’re more than stoked to have him on board for an interview.
Simultaneously, as this interview is dropping, Jason’s latest band, Red Hare are smack dab in the middle of a tour and their album, “Nites Of Midnite” was released today. We’ve been trying to keep the readers here up to date with everything Red Hare related, so it should be no surprise that we highly recommend you snatching up a copy of “Nites Of Midnite” and check Red Hare out if they’re rolling through your town. Stay tuned for more to come. –Tim DCXX
JASON FARRELL, 1991
Can you give everyone a discography/timeline of sorts of all the music you’ve done over the years.
Bells Of: 1985-present http://bellsof.com/
Guitar / Bass from 1985-86
7-song lost album (soon to be released)
4 song demo 1986
Swiz: 1987-1990 www.jadetree.com/bands/artist/swiz
“Down” (4-song 7″ self-released on Hellfire records, 11.87)
S/T (8-song 12″ on Sammich Records, mid/late 1988)
“Hell Yes I Cheated” (12 song 12″ recorded summer ’89, released on Sammich records, late 1989/90-ish)
“With Dave” (4 song 7″ recorded summer 1990, released on Jade tree in ’92)
“Rejects” (2 song 7″ recorded during “Down” sessions 1987, released by THD records in ’92)
“No Punches Pulled” (complete discography CD released in 1992 on Jade Tree)
“With Ramsey” (6 song demo, recorded spring 1987, released as digital download thru jadetree.com)
“No Punches…” remastered (3xLP box set plus unreleased bonus 7″, to be released in 2013)
Black Top (DC): 1991-1994
some demos recorded
short-lived side project with Sergio Vega: bass / Alan Cage: drums / Chaka Malik: vox, 4 song demo recorded
Bluetip: 1995-2001 www.dischord.com/band/bluetip
Guitar and Vocals
“Ohio” (2 song 7″ Hellfire/Dischord split 1995)
“Dischord no. 101” (13 song album, Dischord, 1996)
“Join Us” (2 song 7″, Dischord, 1998)
“Touring Japan” (2 songs on 4-band split, Time Bomb recordings, 1998)
split 7″ with NRA (1 song, Bcore records 1998)
“Hot Fast Union (5-song ep Slowdime/Dischord split 2000)
“Polymer” (10 song album, Dischord, 2000)
“P.M.A. (Post Mortem Anthem)” (10 song collection, 2001)
Sweetbelly Freakdown (Swiz reunited): 1997-? www.jadetree.com/bands/artist/sweetbelly_freakdown
S/T album and 7″ (8 songs on Jadetree, 1998)
“Touring Japan” (2 songs on 4-band split, Time Bomb recordings, 1998)
3 songs (title / format / label / release date TBD)
Retisonic: 2002- www.retisonic.com/
“Lean Beat” (6 song ep, Modern City (france) / Silverthree (us) / Inherited Alliance (japan))
“Return To Me” (11 song album, Silverthree, spring 2004)
“Judas Discharge” (2 song 7″ of covers, Semilla del Diablo)
“Cooling Card” (song on Jawbox tribute comp “Until the Shaking Stops”, two Sheds Music, January 2005)
“Levittown” (6 song cdep on Ascetic Records, May 2006)
“Robots Fucking” (12 song cd/lp on Arctic Rodeo, February 2012)
Back to the beginning, where did you grow up and what was the music you first fell in love with? What bands (even before punk) really spoke to you and moved you? Anybody you still love all these years later?
I was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland (suburb just outside the city). Like everyone else in my elementary school my first love was KISS. I am still amazed by the dumb brilliance of the band (concept and music). Ace Frehley always struck me as the coolest, and was one of two main inspirations for me to pick up a guitar. When I was 9 my dad took me, my best friend, and my sister to my first concert: KISS at the Capital Center. By then I was already fading on the band, slowly replacing them with standard FM rock that became my BMX-and-stolen-cigarettes soundtrack (Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Ozzy). But it felt pretty epic, and was yet another sign of the serious level of support I could expect from my dad (who was my second main inspiration for picking up a guitar: his).
JASON WITH A FOOT PLANT, 1984
Spent the summer after 8th grade in OP shorts and surf apparel learning how to skateboard. We built a truly horrible quarter pipe behind an abandoned car dealership and decorated it with hand-painted skate logos. We felt like our new found love of a dead sport was unique; an isolated incident. But word of our our little ramp spread, and soon some rather gnarly people started showing up.
They skated well, but were obnoxious, aggressive, fearless. Somehow mocking and supportive simultaneously: “don’t be a pussy, drop in… you can do it!… or I’ll punch you in the fuckin’ face.” As if to piss on our shitty little ramp, they spray painted band names we’d never heard of over our Variflex and Bones renderings and left. (These intimidating Potomac skate punks turned out to be the not-so-scary Wiggy Austin, Kenny Griffin, Keith Davidson, and soon-to-be GI drummer Pete Moffett). In a pattern that would sadly repeat itself far too often, the ramp was torn down by the property owners…
Red Hare is a new group that reunites Shawn Brown, Jason Farrell, and Dave Eight, all former members of the Washington, D.C.-based hardcore band Swiz (1987-1991). Joined by drummer Joe Gorelick (Bluetip, Retisonic), the band has completed its debut album, Nites of Midnite, which will be out May 21 on CD/LP+MP3 as a split release between Dischord and the band’s recently resurrected imprint, Hellfire Records. The music — eight songs that are over and done with in just over twenty-minutes — expands and updates the sound that Farrell, Brown, and Eight began exploring together more than twenty years ago. Preview their song “Horace” here.