Thursday, February 12, 2009

Records We Love


This time around I dissect BOLD's swansong release... -Gordo DCXX


I know I know...we love BOLD too much, talk about them too much, worship them too much, and DCXX doesn't need any more of it. Well I'm gonna disagree with you. While we definitely love BOLD and have made our opinions on them clear, there really hasn't been any excessive coverage of them here, believe it or not. Ok, there have been some minor Drew snippets and photos, but nothing too crazy. So if you dig BOLD and wanna read about them, hang with me here. If you are of the crowd that despises this band, thinks they wrote terrible hardcore songs, were a boy band, or whatever the common slam is, then by all means, please skip this post. Ultimately what this piece will boil down to is me doing excessive worshipping of the last BOLD ep and talking about it in disgusting detail and you agreeing, or you thinking that I must be masturbating while I write this and and that I'm a total moron with terrible taste in hardcore and way too much time on my hands.


BOLD Revelation promo photo

The BOLD backstory is pretty straightforward leading up to the writing and recording of this ep, but I'll include it here for totality purposes. Four super young kids from Katonah, NY start thrashing in their basement, become heavily influenced by early U.S. hardcore, play under the name Crippled Youth, become the little bros of YOT, enter puberty, become Connecticut and NYC scene upcoming staples alongside Underdog, Straight Ahead, and GB, change name to BOLD, release matured LP on Revelation, and start to plot their next move. That next move would basically develop with the addition of Beyond's Tom Capone being asked to join the band on guitar after their summer 1988 west coast tour. A Long Island shredder whose brilliance in Beyond and beyond has been well documented, it's no shocker that BOLD's sound would develop dramatically with him in the band. The story goes that Tom started practicing and playing with the band, the writing core being him, Drew, and Matt. Instantly, old songs were made heavier and bigger, with Jackson whammy bends, tasteful soloing, and all sorts of feedback and high notes sprinkled about, breathing new life into the band. But what about new songs?

Prior to the recording of the last BOLD ep, one track was penned and played live, titled "Start Again." Diehards will recognize that this ended up actually being the music for the song "Looking Back" but with different lyrics (interesting for us to again note the odd similarity between the music of this jam and Alone In A Crowd's "Who You Know"). Other than that, it doesn't seem to appear that any songs were played live before BOLD went to record that final ep in the spring of '89.

Which brings us to the actual ep. The story again goes that time was booked at Baby Monster in NYC for February '89 despite the fact that Tim Brooks and John Zulu wouldn't be able to record due to plans to go on spring break for their senior year of high school. Some minor tensions developed, and BOLD kept the date despite the absence of Brooks and Zulu. Capone has recalled practicing the songs in Katonah leading up to that recording...unfortunately no rehearsal tapes have ever surfaced of the ep tunes in raw format, something I would love to hear. Whatever they did or didn't do, the actual ep recording makes it apparent that these guys (or kids, actually), went into the studio very much with their A game.


Matt with BOLD at the Safari Club, Washington DC, 1989, Photo: Thunderlizard


Running Like Thieves could be considered the ep "single" and crowd favorite. Five seconds into this song, it is made abundantly clear that this is not the same band that wrote the song "United We Stand." Capone's chorus-soaked power chords ring out underneath his Maiden-esque soloing right off the bat, Drew's snare assault marching everything forward. And let me get this out of the way right now: Drew absolutely kills on this whole record - tons of sick fills, tasteful yet skilled double bass usage, and all sorts of style. Please email me if you find any faults in his drumming here, I really would like to know what I'm missing. To me it is some of the best hardcore drumming ever, and the improvement he made between Speak Out and this is nothing less than dramatic (it also doesn't hurt that this time around he got a great drum recording).

Back to the song...as it kicks into the verse, it's not anything super bizarre, but the hints of double bass kicking, guitar harmonics and leads, and Matt's much matured and somewhat pissed yet "singy" voice again confirm that this isn't paint by numbers hardcore. Throughout this song and the entire record, there are definitely touches of harDCore, Verbal Assault, Cro-Mags, Metallica, Maiden, and of course just the straight forward BOLD hardcore sound (which is basically just a slowed down reincarnation of early DYS and early NYHC).

Matt belts out Drew-penned lyrics about a relationship with Richie Birkenhead's sister Alison, and his vocals seem to build stronger up to the break/mosh, with TC3's crunching and Drew's tribal pounding providing the perfect segway to perhaps the stand out lyric of the entire record, "We never know who to blame...why wouldn't things stay the same?" That line has always just seemed heavy and real as hell to me. You just get the feeling these are guys headed in different directions after this and being kinda bummed about it, growing up and having to actually grow up...I don't know, that's just what I hear.


BOLD alternate photo from final 7" photo shoot, Photo courtesy of: Matt Warnke

That's a hell of an opener to follow, but You're The Friend I Don't Need comes in and crushes. The longest song on the record (of four songs all ranging from three to four minutes), it opens with the hardest part on the record...a legitimate mosh part, and I don't care what anyone says, shit is hard (which is interesting considering that on the original ep it is unmixed). The only time this song can sound better is when it is played directly out of Accept The Blame, as done live. What you have here is a great intro part that either makes you want to mosh, stage dive, or just bang your head, then kind of a slower funky-ish part ("Try to pretend, that you don't see"...), and then boom, a great verse/chorus combo that has Drew speeding all over the place and you singing along. They easily could have extended that, then maybe came back to the intro and closed it out in a basic textbook style...but no.

What do they do? They let the song ring out, go completely silent, and all of a sudden you are hearing Capone on his clean channel with an almost bluesy type thing that could have been lifted from the first Danzig record. Drew keeps a Bonham-esque beat that you know is gonna start building. And then boom...the whole song explodes out of the weird type of trippy mellow blues bridge and into Capone laying down the best whammy bend to ever exist, and then just destroying it at 100 mph. Easily my favorite part of the whole record, it's the perfect hybrid of rock, metal, and hardcore ever done by straight edge dudes. I won't even comment on the rest of the song other than to say it's awesome until the end. And oh...the lyrics. Yeah, Matt wrote them about Drew. Weird right?

Side B opens up with what many consider the weaker track of the four - Hateful (not by The Clash). I think Hateful is a great song, it feels a little softer and more daring than Side A without being as explosive. Don't get me wrong, this song is a strong A- on a record of As, but to me it doesn't pack the punch the others do. Earlier I wrote that no songs on this record were played live prior to its recording, but now I am starting to remember an early incarnation of Hateful being played at some point. If not then, then soon after it was recorded. The big standout in Hateful is just the full out jamming that seems to occur when the song opens up...it feels like Capone goes back and forth with Drew for a little before he just solos the shit out of it...like you know when you see a guitarist standing on a drum riser having that weird sexual look on his face as he locks eyes with his drummer and they just enter that zone? That seems to be what is going on here (Neil Young did this a lot when he played some of his more aggressive tunes if you need a reference).


Tom Capone with BOLD at the Safari Club, Washington DC, 1989, Photo: Thunderlizard


One thing I gotta say is that even though Capone opens it up on this record, I think he actually shows really tasteful restraint. I'm sure these dudes had to have thought at times, "yo let's just go bonkers on this record, you know we're capable." Considering some of the wild stuff Capone pulled out live, too, he really kept things under wraps on this whole record. Might I add that he and Matt shared the bass duties and the bass lines are great on this? But yeah, Hateful, great song, maybe the weaker one here, but that still means it's better than 98.4% of all other hardcore songs ever.

Today We Live closes things out, and I guess you could say this is BOLD at their creative peak musically, vocally, and lyrically. Pretty much the darkest song on the record, the whole feel of this tune is just brooding, uncertain, and eerie ("We don't know what it means...to die!"), while still retaining that uplifting BOLD feel ("I just gotta live..."). Even going back to Speak Out, Matt seemed to have a theme of searching, growing, changing, and questioning that ran through a lot of his lyrics. With that as a unifying lyrical theme of sorts, Today We Live seems to be the perfectly written final chapter on the topic and also the most introspective one (along with the song Looking Back which would appear on the later 1993 release, which I'll get to in a second). Look...I'm not trying to make it sound like the dude was writing the new testament here, but I think these are great lyrics, especially considering typical straight edge lyrics of the time and the fact that he was barely 18 when this was written. Aside from maybe the Pressure Release ep, I can't think of many contemporaries who pulled this off. RESPECT (in Ali G voice).

Vocally, I think this is also his shining moment. I've never really found out exactly what he was going for, but in the acoustic part towards the end of Today We Live, the Jim Morrison/Danzig comparisons have always been pretty evident. The final outro of the song, with Drew countering Tom's solos and squeals with the appropriate double bass, is a nice nod to anything on Ride The Lightening and yet seems to perfectly characterize that later BOLD sound. Throw in the final quip of the strange backwards soundclip of Capone saying, "What are you guys, a bunch of saps," and somehow everything comes together.


Another alternate shot from final 7" photo shoot, Photo courtesy of: Matt Warnke

I think the actual record layout and design has been documented enough, but I still think the off center "drug splatter" logo, just standing on its own without any longer being surrounded by live action shots or strong slogans is just absolutely brilliant. It's like these guys were saying, "we're BOLD...and umm, yeah, that's enough." And the back cover...classic. While it's never been exactly revealed what they were going for with this, to me it doesn't matter...it's incredible. No instruments, no action, staged white backdrop, no indication of straight edge or hardcore, flat, bored looks on their faces and basically just being cool...genius! I just showed this to my fiance as I was writing this, and I said, "What do you see when you look at that?" Her, not being into hardcore, said, "They look like New Kids On The Block." I can't be the only one who thinks that's awesome.

The whole thing just adds up perfectly. To me, it is the record of the era that bridges the gap between 1988 SEHC and everything that came afterwards that was connected but yet so much different and sometimes so fucking weird. If you play Break Down The Walls for a normal dude who is into music but isn't familiar with hardcore, and then play them the first Into Another record, they won't think they come from even the same galaxy. But I bet that if you played them the BOLD ep next, they could start to connect the dots and see the transition between 1987-era Drew who was wearing army pants, Jordans, and a reverse weave Champion, and the 1991-era Drew who was wearing pirates blouses, 17th century jewelery, and a cape. It's all there.


Drew with the Josh Says Mosh shirt at the Safari Club, Washington DC, Photo: Thunderlizard

These days there are young straight edge kids all over who are dangerously good at their instruments really trying to push hardcore, but from the entire late 80s SE scene, this record to me always stands out as being the first to do that type of pushing. And look, I'm not trying to make it sound like this record was totally next level or that this was the first time a hardcore band progressed, but I am saying that for the Revelation scene, and the band's own course, it's a pretty big step up creatively, and to me best exemplifies hardcore that goes a little out of the box and succeeds.

Technically, the 1993 "Looking Back" release is even better than this ep, since it nicely remixes some things (notably "You're The Friend" which was unmixed on the ep), and adds three other stand outs - the re-done and more dynamic "Always Try", "Speak Out" (an older yet unreleased tune done properly here, maybe the most underrated BOLD song), and "Looking Back," which has probably the best break down in any BOLD song ever. But since that record is a posthumous re-issue of this ep with some bonus stuff, I never have viewed it as a real release from during the band's existence. Still, because of the extra killer tunes, it trumps the ep.

So that's that. Back in 1989 I'm sure this four song slab of vinyl certainly caused a ton of head scratching, but looking at all the influences today, it seems to have made perfect sense. And I still put it damn near the top of my list of favorite records ever.



Matt conquers the Safari Club crowd, Photo: Thuunderlizard

32 comments:

Justin McMahon said...

I always liked this EP better than the LP, especially since the reissue was released, but still think that the Beyond LP was way more advanced and ahead of its time. I'd love to see some coverage of that short lived band on here.

Anonymous said...

Great entry. The Looking Back LP is my favorite BOLD release.

Anonymous said...

now that right there was some well written stuff. gordo needs to write more, much more, that was highly entertaining, extremely informative, and pretty damn funny too. i think that could have been about milli vanilli and i would have found it interesting...didnt hurt that it was about one of my favorites. great entry for a great week at double cross.

Anonymous said...

THIS WAS LIKE A PROFESSIONALLY WRITTEN PIECE...

BUT DIDN'T THE BEYOND DEMO COME OUT BEFORE THIS RECORD AND KIND OF BEAT BOLD TO THIS PROGRESSIVE SOUND? I WOULD AGREE THE BOLD SEVEN INCH SURE DID SOUND DIFFERENT, BUT THE BEYOND DEMO AND EVEN THE DC STUFF FROM YEARS PRIOR SEEMED TO ALREADY START MOVING IN THIS DIRECTION.

I THINK IF ANYONE EVER WRITES A BOOK ON BOLD, HERE'S YOUR AUTHOR...THE DETAILS HERE ARE UHH...A LITTLE FRIGHTENING

Ben Edge said...

Random thoughts:

- I had been playing the guitar since '87, but this 7" got me INTO playing the guitar.

- I don't think Capone had a Jackson. It was either BC Rich or Charvel (which was the poor man's Jackson, literally made by the same company at that point). But I may be wrong. More photos of the headstock, please!

- When BOLD first got back together, they sucked, but by the time they hit California, they were KILLING it, doing all the solos from this record perfectly.

- The songs were remixed on the Looking Back ep, but I think they were mixed worse than on the 7". Regardless, I still think they should mix that record correctly, which will probably never happen, because the discography already came out.

- Rob Moran from Unbroken told me that he remembers buying this 7" in '89 at Vinyl Solution in Huntington Beach, somehow hearing it after he bought it, and then throwing the record out of his car on the 405 freeway. My response: "Do you remember exactly where on the freeway you threw it?" This was a decade after the fact.

- There are two kinds of hardcore kids: the ones who understand this record, and the ones who don't. Unfortunately, the latter outnumbers the former.

- The song "Killing A Sound" by Carry On contains a Todd Jones guitar solo that is based on the guitar solo in the song "Always Try" (the final version). There is also a song on the Sportswear LP with a solo based on the same thing, but then again, that entire band was based on Bold - which is a good thing.

- The song "Looking Back" DOES sound just like that Alone In A Crowd song "Who You Know". Who was ripping whom off? I'm assuming Bold was ripping AIAC, because AIAC recorded that shit in '88 and everyone in that scene had a tape of it.

- My friend knows a guy who went to Fordham University with Matt, and talked about how Matt had a St. Pauli Girl poster in his dorm room. Whenever I defend the greatness of Bold to my friend, he will always end up making a joke relating to St. Pauli Girl.

- There is a riff in the song "Hateful" which I strongly believe is a rip off of the riff in "Ghost" by Swiz, which I know for a fact is a rip off of the song "Toys In the Attic" by Aerosmith.

Moritz said...

Because of beeing born when BOLD played I was feeling quite lucky when they played some reunion shows in germany, I was totally psyched, but the show sucked big time (not because of BOLD - crowd, band that played before and venue).

Anonymous said...

hmmmmmmmm I seem to recall that when this ep dropped EVERYBODY was calling them "bold kids on the block" and not being that into it.

and yes, the beyond demo cmae out years before this.

xchrisriotx

AVERSIONLINE said...

"Looking Back" is my favorite Bold release and is without a doubt one of the greatest hardcore releases of all time. It was one of the first things I bought when I was really getting much more heavily into hardcore and since I was coming from metal it had a massive, massive impact on me, and I still worship all of those songs to this day. Absolutely classic...

Anonymous said...

I fall somewhere between loving and hating this record. I can listen to it and enjoy it but my biggest gripe is the recording not the actual music. I have never heard the later Looking Back record but I suppose it may sound better to me.
Didn't both DYS and SSD go through this same type of experimentation before finally giving up the ghost? Just for the record I like those records.....well not "Break It Up" but the others are cool.

True Till Death said...

Why don't you write an article about Matt smoking crack at CBGB's during the Bold reunion, Why don't you write about Tom and Matt's Heroin issues that were going on during the same time. "Nailed To The X"!, but we're still doing hardcore drugs on our reunion tour! Those piles of shit are the worst edge breakers in history. It sucks that Double Cross gives these scum any press at all They are the perfect example of everything that a true straight edger despises!

Anonymous said...

Bold = Most boring youth crew band, ever.

-cja said...

@Ben Edge.... Capone is playing a BC Rich in the picture above.

Anonymous said...

I was at the 1989 show at the safari club, washington dc. Nice pics, you should do whole thing on the safari club yrs, in DC. good times.

Bold did play "Hateful",at that show in DC. I had it on video tape

But, BEYOND was a lot better.

smoking crack?? what! hahaha

Anonymous said...

Hateful pretty much sums up my feelings about Bold. Not even a B or C level hardcore band

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no way that Matt was smoking crack at CB's. If that is true I will eat my shoes. Tom on the nod? Maybe...but Matt doing the rock...sorry that is too unbelievable. Dude might drink but other than that..hard to believe.

MOE said...

Is there anywhere to see more of those Bold at Safari Club photos (or any other S. Club pics)? Loved that place

Anonymous said...

I was hanging out with Matt at the CB's show and I certainly didn't see him somkin' rock. As others have said, I SMELL BULLSHIT!

As for the ninnies that love to talk smack on Bold, let's get a listen of your bands. I'm sayin' anything you've done doesn't hold any one from Bolds jock strap.

chad said...

i remember being really into this record when it came out.. despite the "new kids" pic on the back cover. haha. it never really bothered me i guess but in retrospect those dudes do look slightly silly.. but whatever. i was never into Bold much, aside from "wise up" on TWII comp. i thought the Speak Out lp was a total snooze although it did have a cool layout & pics.

i definitely prefer the mix of the 7" version of this to the tracks on "looking back".. yet another Rev remix job that annoys.. i wonder if there are existing somewhere in a vault the unmixed versions of the other Looking Back tracks with a similar sound to the 7"...? anyone know?

JD said...

Was into this record more then the LP when this came out.
Also, nothing wrong with Stussy shirts and Jordans.


Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

crippled youth > bold

Jake Jacobs said...

I never was that into BOLD but I do think it's really cool that Gordo was able to write such a good and long entry about a 7" and what it means to him. There are literally hundreds of 7"s that have a special place in my heart but I honestly don't think I could put it into words like Gordo did.

Well done, sir. Glad you're back as well.

'Bridge Crew said...

I really enjoyed this post. I have to admit it took me some time to get into this release, but I seem to appreciate it a lot more now that when I discovered it in the late 1990s. Bold was the first straight edge band I got into and I would love to read more about them. At the time of listening to stuff like NOFX and Pennywise, the cover of 'Speak Out' really blew my mind as to how much music can move you with raw passion.

How about an interview with Matt? :D

hottdogg9000 said...

Excellent record! Love the songs, the graphics and the image!!! I have 3 different versions of this records. Stussy and Jordans indeed! Mad stylish then and in 2009!

bourboli said...

great article. spot on. love this record, love bold. you're the friend I don't need is one of my favorite tracks by any band.

Anonymous said...

I listened to some One Sided War recently and felt like what I heard is what Bold should have sounded like if they continued instead of the Ep. I wasn't too weird-ed out by the EP or the pics back then. I had a general feeling that a change was a comin' to the music I loved. The first Shelter album sent me into a minor depression, although I liked it.

SFader said...

Seriously Great writing Gordo. I'll have to admit when the 12" came out we listened to it all the time, then eventually got sick of it. I won't even listen to it today. BUT, the Looking Back CD I still listen to today. The intro to Hateful is awesome and Today We Live gives me chills whenever I listen to it. The music is amazing and the recording is probably their best ever. It's such a different song, I don't know if it's my age or just the time period it came out, it's just great every time.
There's a lot of crying about the band's drug use, (from hanging out with IA i've heard some truths) but who flippin' cares at this point. Band reunions seldom have the band still believing in the lyrics, it's about the show and having fun.
On a funny note, Blackspot was on Tour in '93 and we played with Into Another 4 or 5 times. Drew always had his wizard outfits on. He was THE ONLY GUY in swarms of HC kids that had 3 OR MORE hot chicks following him around the entire show. How many hot chicks did YOU GUYS get to tool at a time after a show?

T-EDGE said...

Perfect review, I wouldn't change anything. I was holding my head the hold time I was reading it, thinking about how much that 7" is something impossible to beat in terms of hardcore. Many times I've played "You're the friend I don't need" to everyone I know stating that the solo was the best guitar solo ever made (I don't care if it's not Batio stuff, TC3 definately played more interesting solos and leads. Extra points for the FloydRose dives.).

T-EDGE said...

"the WHOLE time"

Karen said...

Awesome review.

I totally agree, the Bold 7" is one of the most important hardcore records of all time.

so FUCKING good.

I still listen to it all the time.

david said...

DXC guys, any chance of an interview with Matt? i would love to read one that focuses on the "reunion years". would be interesting to hear his thoughts on the reaction they got, any recording they did, real questions about fronting a sxe band while not being sxe anymore (i know you guys avoid these types of questions but it seems too relevant not to in this case), what led to the break up,etc. seems so weird to me to see promo stuff (flyers,posters)with x's all over them to promote their gigs in the US and Europe with only 2 sxe dudes in the band. I'm sure some will say "dude who cares" but it seems relevant to me, especially considering how big of BOLD fans you both are.

chad said...

i just remembered this... i thought for sure someone would have mentioned the description for this ep in an early 90s Revelation catalog: "Here's where the nails started to come loose." hahaha!

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