Chris Leach stepping in for guest vocals with Pressure Release, Photo: Joe Snow
It's been awhile since we've had any Pressure Release content, so we got an old Pressure Release crew member named Chris Leach to drop by. Both he and his brother Jeff were practically the 5th and 6th members of the band, and witnessed almost all of the band's short history. As Chris said to me, "These are just one old fart's recollections of his glory days in the hardcore scene." Even if so, I thought they were pretty cool. -Gordo DCXX
I knew Doug and Tom before they were in the band from skateboarding. We used to skate and listen to music. I was in 11th grade and they were in 10th grade. We were all into the great skate and hardcore bands at the time. Punk and skateboarding went hand in hand in those days. We were really into Fear, Agent Orange, JFA, etc. I was into punk before I was into hardcore and I think those guys were as well.
Around 1987-1988 the"Second" wave of hardcore hit the Connecticut/NYC area. It seemed like overnight bands like Youth of Today, Crippled Youth, (BOLD), Up Front, Wide Awake, Aware, etc. just blew up. Also, a ton of killer bands formed around NYC. Breakdown, which formed around then were a huge influence on a lot of bands at the time. Anyway, it seemed like Tom always had a new demo of every great band coming out at the time. We traded music and skated. Doug was also in my high school math class. My brother Jeff was the same age as them, he hung out with them as well. He later went on to form a band with Tom. The band was called Funhouse but they were not a hardcore band. My bro played drums for them.
I really don't remember the first show of theirs I saw. I think it may have been in Rye, New York with Breakdown. It was at a rec center and it was really small. They went on to play tons of shows I saw at the Anthrax.
Any of the shows at the Anthrax were always good. They played a lot of shows with all the big HC/Youth Crew bands at the time: YOT, Bold, Wide Awake. I do remember a fun show at the Anthrax when they played with this rad band called Inside Out (not the California band). They had two singers and were real heavy with a kind of rap style. Anyway, I was on the shoulders of this huge skinhead dude friend of mine. I was squirting this Uzi water gun around the pit. When I got off the dudes shoulders somebody tackled me from behind. We scuffled for a bit and then the guy took off. He later came up to me and said he was sorry. I said, "no worries" to the dude. The dude turned out to be Roger, the new singer for Up Front. We were totally cool after that. I always loved the dudes from Up Front. Hope you fellas are well!
Tom and Doug with Pressure Release, Photo: Joe Snow
I always liked the X Marks the Spot seven incher the best. Good stuff from all the bands on that. I have two copies of that record. I saved all of my music from that era. Funny story about my records: I moved to California about two years ago. I was having a party and this dude who came over was looking at my records. He said he used to be into the same style of hardcore back in the day. He asked me, "Did you ever hear of a band called Grudge?" I said, "Yeah, they were a joke band that ripped off Judge from NYC." He said, "Dude, that was me, I was the singer!" We laughed our asses off. I said to him that I was a fan of the "OC GarbEDGE" and his 7 inch was on "Piss yellow vinyl."
What was so funny is that back then a lot of people took the whole straight edge thing very seriously. If you were in a band that joked about it a lot of dudes took it personally. There was a band at the time called Crucial Youth. They were like the Ultimate straight edge band, but it was all a big joke. They were funny as hell, but a lot of dudes could not roll with that kind of humor.
To be honest, I did not like the seven inch. They were starting to experiment with a different sound. At the time, I was really set in my ways of what I thought hardcore "should" sound like. I was very closed minded and did not like it at all. Looking back, I give them respect for trying to do something out of the norm because hardcore and punk music is about ideas as much as it is about musical notes and chords.
Pressure Release practices were FUN with a capital F. They used to practice at Doug's parents house in the basement. He lived in this huge house. He had a rad quarterpipe in his driveway and we would skate and chill. He also had a pool that you could go swimming in. As for the practices, Tom ran the show. He had the most musical skills of the whole band. They had this dude Sam playing guitar with them for a bit. He was a cool dude from NYC but he was not playing that well and they threw him out. I actually tried to start a band with him but it never developed.
Tye was a killer drummer and was into a lot of different types of music. Alex was like the artist of the band. He was into a lot of different types of philosophies and movements at the time and that creativity crept into his music. He was the first dude I met in the HC scene that was a vegetarian. They practiced pretty much every week. Doug would lose his voice a lot and they told him not to yell at full strength all the time. One other thing that I remember was that there were girls hanging out all the time. I used to hang with my first gal at those Pressure Release gatherings, so I guess I should give them props for that!
I really don't know why they broke up. None of the bands at the time seemed to stay together for that long. They just went in different directions I guess. Tom and my brother formed Funhouse after Pressure Release broke up. Alex played in Burn for a while. I went to college in 1989 and did not see or hang with any of those guys for a long time after that. I was really hurt when Doug passed away. He was turning into a killer snowboarder and we all could not believe it when he passed. I went to his wake and it was just unreal to be there.
Rest In Peace, Doug.
Doug with Pressure Release, Photo: Joe Snow