Thursday, October 16, 2008

RELEASE - NEW JERS.E.Y


Release in DC, Photo: Tim Owen

Late 1988, New Jersey seemed to be a hotbed for great up and coming straight edge hardcore. You had the Turning Point demo, the ENUF demo and the Release demo all being released around the same time. All three of these demos had their own style and packed their own punch and all three bands were really starting to make a strong name for themselves. Although New Jersey didn't have the reputation of the scenes in New York City or Connecticut, Turning Point, ENUF, Release and bands like Vision and Hogan's Heroes were definitely doing their part to put New Jersey on the map.


Around the same time that I received a copy of the ENUF demo, I also received a copy of the Release demo. Tony and I were just starting Common Sense fanzine and records and demos were flowing in for review. Just as Common Sense was a brand new fanzine, Release was a brand new band. Some how or another Tony and I hit it off with Release bassist Greg Shafer. In those early Release days, Greg was our go to Release member. I believe it was Greg that hooked Tony and I up with the demos. I remember hearing the Release demo for the first time while I was over at Tony's house. At the time they reminded me of a straight edge version of Breakdown. Mosh part after mosh part and in your face style straight edge lyrics. The combination worked perfectly for me and right off the bat I was sold. The demos first song, "Hand In Hand" starts off with, "I don't do drugs, I never will, live my life for me and not for you, won't let life pass me by, why do you need such an artificial high?"... as simple as that is, in 1988 it's exactly what I wanted to hear.

Eventually, down the line, Tony and I met more of the Release guys, caught a couple of their shows and snagged vocal man Rob Fish for a quick interview that in 1990 would appear in Common Sense issue two. I thought it would be a cool idea to drop in some of the highlights from that interview, mix it up with a few cool Release photos and hopefully kick off what will be the start of much more Release content to come. Set you fuckin' straight! -Tim DCXX

PS: As a side note, although these days Rob doesn't exactly look back fondly on his days with Release, I will say that to me personally, the guy was nothing less than an inspiration. His relentless, unapologetic, unwavering attitude in the down years of the early 90s, when it came to straight edge, was second to none. When everyone else had dropped off, dropped out and moved on, Rob was there and just as in your face about straight edge as he was when it was all the rage. There's no question that some of what he was saying and doing was a direct influence on what I was doing with Mouthpiece.


Release at The Anthrax, Photo: Joe Snow

Ok, Let's start with a history of Release...

Well, Release started with members including me (Rob), Chris Cap, Greg Shafer and Joe Coia. After being together for about two months, we started playing out and got ourselves a second guitarist (Chris Zusi). We released a demo in the winter of 1988, started playing out a lot in February of 1989. We then got a 7" offer from Axtion Packed, recorded for it and that record was released in July of 1989. We did a short two week tour all over, came back, practiced a lot, recorded a new 7 song tape, 5 songs went to a new 7" on Inner Journey, 2 songs went to a split 7" we did with Courage. Greg got kicked out and we brought this kid named Tony in on bass. After awhile Tony got moved up to guitar and Greg came back on bass. Now that Courage has broken up, Chris has left and we've added Dale on guitar. We're now working on some new songs, trying to get tight and I'm starting to book shows now. Hopefully we'll do a full length record.

How would the new stuff differ from the stuff on the 7" or demo?

Well its way different. We have a very, very metalish sound now, but it's the right amount of metal. A lot of our newer songs are off timing, very different. Vocals have matured, especially the lyrics, We have this new song called "Unscene", which is about all the rumors in the scene and everybody talking, especially with Chain Of Strength, people saying they do this and do that, but it's their word against theirs. It's just music and it's gotten so out of hand, everybody's out to put each other down. We have a song called "Shadows Of The Past", which is about old friendships that you want to get away from and realize that it's over.

Release is pretty much known as a straight edge band. Do you see yourselves as just being straight edge people in a band, or is it a full on thing?

It matters what everybody in the bands interpretation is and how they feel about it. Release started as a straight edge band and it's going to end a straight edge band. We don't preach it or anything, but on some occasions we speak about it because it's something we feel strongly about. That's one of the reasons we're doing "Bring It Back", the Release / Courage split 7". When straight edge was trendy, everyone got into it and now that it's not so trendy, everyone has left it. What we're saying is bring back the ideas, the philosophy. We don't want to be known as JUST a straight edge band, but we are and always will be.


Zusi in this classic Release "The Pain Inside" 7" photo

How did you become friends with Turning Point?

We played a show in Pennsylvania and Judge didn't show up until late. Turning Point was there and they asked us to play. We exchanged numbers and started playing shows together.

I hear you got some flack when you played in NYC?

Yeah, the Combat Stance guys, they're a bunch of dorks. They were giving us shit inside, pushing at us and pushing at us, like they wanted to fight us and Courage. It got to a point where we were all sick of them, Roger (Courage vocalist) and I came up and said, "You gotta fuckin' problem?" They said, "No, we were just joking around". Then they apologized. Then they went on to talk shit about us in their zine. It really doesn't matter, it doesn't bother me. They're just a bunch of idiots. I remember three or four years ago when they wanted to be Ray Cappo, running around with their Nikes, their Champions and now they're putting it down. I get along with the guy from In Memory Of Zine, I think he's a really cool guy. I thought the Combat Stance guys were cool, I met them at a show, it wasn't a Release show. Now they think they have to put up this big image.

Do you ever see the straight edge scene coming back?

It's dead, I can't think of anymore straight edge bands left. Turning Point, Up Front, Insted of course. I don't think Judge consider themselves a straight edge band anymore now that Lars is in the band. I know Gorilla Biscuits don't consider themselves a straight edge band anymore. Everyone is gone. I think it's really cool that kids aren't into straight edge anymore because now you know who the fakes were. I've been through all this shit, before it was trendy, while it was trendy and I'm still straight edge and my beliefs haven't changed. I haven't lightened up, if anything it has made me stronger.


Chris Cap, Greg Shafer, Chris Zusi, Joe Coia and Rob Fish in Rob's driveway getting ready to leave for their '89 tour

10 comments:

Mike Barone said...

I was just talking to Greg Shafer tonight at Whole Foods in Philly about Release. One of the first things that came to mind was Double Cross. What are the chances that 3 hours later this gets posted? Crazy.

Z said...

Cool piece Tim, thanks. Man, that was a long time ago.

Here's a Release story for you; I sold a whole box of demos at CB's one Sunday. The next day my buddy (who I had given one to) tells me that it was blank. Turns out that something was wrong with my stereo and the whole batch was blank and didn't dub. Whoops.

adam said...

nice vision hip pack chris!

ERIC SXE said...

Release. Always liked that band. Of course when I ordered the 7" from Axtion Packed I never got it, just like many others! I ended up having someone tape it for me.

I was always pretty stoked on Rob Fish, his bands were always interesting and good. Release and Ressurection especially.

Good job Tim. I find myself checking this blog daily! You guys are doing a great thing here!

JBanks said...

I met Rob Fish at the San Francisco Airport in Spring 1991. He was out for a long weekend and staying with Sabatini. The Chorus album had just come out and I was on top of the world. "Who is this dude?," I said to Korri.

We get in the car and Fish puts a tape in and tells Korri "This is new stuff." It was a Resurrection demo. I listened. And after pissing my pants, I simply said to myself, deflated, "Well, I can never top this."

We recently had dessert and a catch-up session at The Peppermill Lounge in Las Vegas and he is as solid a guy as ever.

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas said...

I hear you got some flack when you played in NYC?

Yeah, the Combat Stance guys, they're a bunch of dorks. They were giving us shit inside, pushing at us and pushing at us, like they wanted to fight us and Courage. It got to a point where we were all sick of them, Roger (Courage vocalist) and I came up and said, "You gotta fuckin' problem?" They said, "No, we were just joking around". Then they apologized. Then they went on to talk shit about us in their zine. It really doesn't matter, it doesn't bother me. They're just a bunch of idiots. I remember three or four years ago when they wanted to be Ray Cappo, running around with their Nikes, their Champions and now they're putting it down. I get along with the guy from In Memory Of Zine, I think he's a really cool guy. I thought the Combat Stance guys were cool, I met them at a show, it wasn't a Release show. Now they think they have to put up this big image.

I think quite a few corrections are in order. I never once cared for Youth of Today. Not once did I own any of their records. Not once did I own a pair of Nikes or a Champion sweatshirt in my life. Nor did Phil Linden for that matter. If you're mistaking anyone who wrote for Combat Stance for those attributes it was scene climber Jon Hiltz that changed his favorite bands and image once a year. He was with Combat Stance for one issue and left to write one issue of miserable failure Loaded Questions. We accomplished more in four issues than any other fanzine of that era or any other era for that matter.

Secondly, I still possess all four issues and we never wrote about Release in any of them. You might have wished we did so that you'd actually have had some press. To be honest this is the first time I've even heard of your bands existence. And had we wanted to kick your ass believe me, we would have. We didn't talk shit, we backed it up.

Anonymous said...

Thomas, Didn't this interview happened 18 years ago and your'e taking issue with it now? I doubt the band needed you for publicity. They toured around America, obviously people still talk about this band, buy their records and trade their shirts everywhere and next to no one knows about your shitty zine.

Weren't you the idiots who followed Slapshot around the Anthrax like they were Gods in gas station attendant uniforms? If so they made some great jokes at your expense.

Anonymous said...

thomas you're gay
jbanks sir chorus the MOTHERFUCKING CHORUS fuck i still listen to that LP what some 15+ years later.brutal.seriously can't be topped you can fuck my sistder if you want.as for Release .. summed up in one phrase "SHOW ME WHATCHA FUCKIN GOT!!"

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