Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hands Tied - 1996 / 2010

Tim with Hands Tied in Connecticut, 2002, Photo: Traci McMahon

Tim and I have been hesitant from day one about using Double Cross to serve as a vehicle to promote any of our own music-related projects. That said, DCXX is a blog about hardcore, Hands Tied is now back on the scene as a current hardcore band, and I'd also like to think that the readers of this site are fans or potential fans of the band. So, DCXX seems like the place for HT. Plus, I feel like I can still talk about Hands Tied from a fan perspective, because long before I was in the band, I was a fan.

Allow me to give a little background...

In the mid-1990s when Mouthpiece was going full throttle, I was a big fan, had all their records, and thought they were THE band playing straight edge hardcore at the time. But I was also too young to make it to any of their shows with the exception of one (Spanky's in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, 1995). By the time I was able to convince my parents to let me leave town with older friends for shows, Mouthpiece had called it a day and I realized I had just missed out on really being a part of a great band's existence.

Almost immediately however, I learned that Tim and Sean from Mouthpiece were doing a new full-on straight edge hardcore band along with Mouthpiece roadie Ed McKirdy and NJ skater Pat Guidotti. I knew right then and there that I already dug this band and would be at as many of their shows as possible. Alongside Floorpunch and a new crop of bands popping up playing traditional styled hardcore, Hands Tied had a strong buzz going and were at the forefront of the whole "hardcore revival" people were talking about.

Ed McKirdy on the Les Paul, Photo: Traci McMahon

I would end up seeing Hands Tied eight times between 1996 and the beginning of 1998, with almost every line-up version during their short lifespan, and they never disappointed. Although they only had an EP out on Equal Vision and weren't a full-blown touring act, I viewed them as an established, legit band that had no weaknesses.

Keep in mind, at that time, fast styled hardcore bands were popping up quickly, and many couldn't pull it off. The enthusiasm of some bands may have been there, but the songwriting, performance, delivery, and execution were way off. Hands Tied knew how to do it right. This wasn't intricate prog-rock, but it was well-written, high energy, 1988 styled hardcore that sounded like a perfect blend of east coast and west coast straight edge pioneers.

Hands Tied played the tri-state area and momentum was building with a re-vamped line-up, but after returning from a European tour in '97/'98, the band fell apart. This was a real bummer to me, because the songs they had been writing with Dan Hornecker on guitar and Geoff 'TDT' Sayreville on drums were fucking great - harder and with an early NYHC intensity, but still undoubtedly in-your-face, aggressive SEHC. They never recorded them, and to me, the band never even had a proper send off. While many people loved Mouthpiece and viewed that as Tim's prominent band, I felt as though Hands Tied were equally as great, if not better. Plus, they were only around for a year and a half, and were just getting into high gear when they called it quits.

Gordo brings the percussion, Photo: Brian Froustet

Over the last ten years, Hands Tied played a few reunion shows with different line-ups, and I was glad to see that the songs held up, and people still were totally into them.

In the meantime, Tim, Ed, and I had also grown to be very close friends, and I was starting to fiddle around with a drumset. After a few years of playing, I was able to carry a beat, and we started goofing around and jamming together. Hands Tied was never even on the radar, but we were having a blast playing hardcore riffs and cover songs, and it gave us a reason to hang out, eat a lot of food, talk incessantly about hardcore, and basically act like idiots...which seems to have become more difficult to accomplish for all of us as we've gotten a little older (even though I'm still the baby).

Anyways, we wrote two songs, titled "These Hands" and "Empty Words," and decided to record them. We all thought the stuff was really good...we just didn't know what to call this band project, and weren't sure what it was shaping into. In the back of my mind, it sounded a lot like what Hands Tied had been writing towards the end of the band...and the spirit felt like Hands Tied. Keep in mind, we would also jam out some Hands Tied songs when we would practice, and they felt totally natural and sounded great. Just then, Tim said, "you know...this sure feels like Hands Tied to me..."

We decided to then record three Hands Tied songs that were written in 1996/1997 but never recorded by the band: "What's Right," "Shifting Days," and "Gagged And Bound." Nobody had to talk me into this, because I thought these songs really shredded and deserved a proper recording. The recordings came out awesome.

Mike Clarke getting in some practice time, Photo: Chris Bavaria

We sorted out some logistics, got Mike Clarke from Mindset in on second guitar alongside of Ed, and Tim "THE KREEP" Kriependorf from Triple Threat in on bass, and decided that doing Hands Tied as a current, active, relevant band was pretty much a no brainer. It wasn't some forced "rebirth" or "reunion" or anything silly - it just felt right.

While we clearly aren't reinventing any musical wheel here, we are doing something that feels timeless, as well as natural and overdue for us. For me personally, it's a little surreal to now be playing drums in a band I used to go bonkers to when I was 14 years old, and I'm psyched. It's a cool coming of age for me.

With a new EP right around the corner, some summer shows booked on the east coast, and a discography due right after that, things are already moving, and it's pretty exciting.

Whether you are talking 1982, 1988, 1997, 2010, or any other time...I think this band is what Straight Edge Hardcore is all about. -Gordo DCXX

HANDS TIED on Facebook

The Kreep drops the bass, Photo: Nicole Kibert


Andrew said...

One of my favorite bands of all time! I am so stoked for the new recordings and shows!


MartinE said...

Oh yeah!!! Bring it on!

Angryaholic said...

That Hands Tied ep was just fucking awesome when it came out! I was a huge fan of Mouthpiece and I was definitely skeptical of what Hands Tied would sound like...I remember dropping the needle on that piece of wax and just being totally blown away! Gotta say I'm super pumped about the reunion!

Anonymous said...

i was never a real big mouthpiece fan but really dug that hands tied ep and saw them in nyc once and they killed. it sounds like you guys are doing the band again for all the right reasons and i wish you good luck.

NJxSE said...


Bob Shedd said...

good to hear. nj straight edge is the only real straight edge.

Anonymous said...

what are the old songs that were rerecorded? i remember thinking that gagged and bound song was really cool

Anonymous said...

Question: i am a bit puzzled that the *new* Hands Tied 7" on Livewire is tituled as an E.P. and only contains 2 songs! i thought E.P, meant «Extended Play»? 2 songs is more like a single at least by record collector standards. Looking forward to this release though :)

Anonymous said...

COME PLAY THE WEST COAST! North West to be precise. ;)

Gordo DCXX said...

Funny you mention the "EP" versus "single" distinction. While technically I guess this could be considered a "single", I think we viewed this as an EP based on the fact that there isn't a distinct A side "single", we aren't seeking air play or anything goofy, and the packaging is more involved than that of a traditional "single."

Plus, I think in our little punk/HC world, calling a 2 song seven inch an "EP" as opposed to a "single" feels a bit more natural.

Plus, these 2 songs are actually on the longer side (one includes an intro), around the 2 1/2 minute mark each, and probably longer than most 4 song HC "EPs." It's not like there's 40 seconds of music on side A and 40 seconds of music on side B.

I can assure you the packaging is SICK and it's a quality record - even if it's only 2 songs.

-Gordo DCXX

Greg said...

Will the EP be available digitally as well?

Earth BC said...

Please, write more about Hands Tied, less about Misfits and such commercial stuff!