Here is the one of the most important hc/punk bands and records from the late 90´s & early 2000´s – DEAD NATION – DEAD END! Before you continue with readin this, you have to be aware of one crucial thing. If it weren´t for Dead Nation, there wouldn´t be Tear It Up. Dead Nation is as much important as Tear It Up in „bringing back“ fast and pissed off hc/punk inspired by some of the best hc/punk bands from the 80´s (Black Flag, Jerry´s Kids, early D. R. I., just to name a few). I´m not sure why more people don´t recognize the importance of Dead Nation, even some of the ones who claim that Tear It Up was one of the best bands in hc/punk history. So, if you are one of these people, read again what I have said earlier and kick yourself in the ass for not having a clue about this amazing band.
From l to r: Mattt Suxx, Matt times, Frankie Bones & Dead Dave
The Dead End line up
The Dead End line up
As was the case with Tear It Up, which I have discovered few years later than they began, it is a similar case with Dead Nation. Well, I did knew about the band already in early 2000.´s and I have been reading about Dead Nation in zines, but I haven´t heard anything from them until 2004. (and they were broke up already in 2000.) when Vasko from Fx Px Ox gave me their Dead End LP recorded on tape (I still have that tape of course). I remember being so happy because I have finally heard this amazing band and I was also very glad that the sound of Dad Nation wasn´t too far away from the Tear It Up sound (after all, it was the same vocalist and the same drummer, at least on this record). And the sound was very pissed off and angry hc/punk. Mostly fast, sometimes slower with a heavy Black Flag influence and sometimes even catchy in that classic early 80´s hc/punk vein. Even though Dead End was not the first Dead Nation record, it was their most important record and the first that I have heard of, so that is why I´m starting with Dead End. Also, Dead End is the only Dead Nation full length record, because they weren´t around for more than two years. I will definitelly write about other Dead Nation records in my future posts as I have did with Tear It Up records.
Let´s start with a bit of history of Dead Nation before I continue on about Dead End record. Dead Nation was formed in early 1998. in Morris Plains, New Jersey by Matt Molnar aka Matt Suxx on guitar, Randy Torseillo aka Randy Nation on drums, Frank Cappucio aka Frank E. Bones on bass and Dave Ackerman aka Dead Dave on vocals. Matt and Frank already played together in a band called Uprise in mid 90´s which was a classic youth crew hardcore sounding band. With Dead Nation, these four young punks wanted to play hc/punk inspired by early 80´s raw and angry sound and at the time there weren´t that many bands in that style, not only in New Jersey, but int he whole USA. The Nation recorded few demos real soon and started playing shows in NJ and NYC area (in NYC, mostly in legendary ABC No Rio). Soon after the demos, they recorded in a studio all the songs from demos and those songs ended up on their first two 7 inches: Face The Nation and The Cenk, both from 1998. The Nation guys also started a record label called Slaugherhouse Records which released those two 7 inches and few more local NJ hc/punk bands. In their first year of existence, The Nation already played bunch of shows, had two 7 inches out and slowly began to build this new „scene“ in New Jersey area with their friends bands like: Fast Times (a sister/brother band of Dead Nation), The Degenerics, Full Speed Ahead, Fanshen and more. Even though those early Nation records were more of a sloppier early 80´s hc/punk side, only a few could predict the importance of the band at the time, but it was obvious that the Nation gave a great bit of a fresh new energy to sort of a dull hc/punk scene. In December of 1998. Randy quited The Nation and Matt Wechter aka Matt Times replaced Randy on drums. Matt was playing drums in Fast Times at the time and both bands played lots of shows together and even toured together and Matt already knew all the Nation songs and he was much better and tighter drummer then Randy so Dead Nation continued sounding much faster, angrier and more furious.
So, we are coming to 1999. when Dead End was recorded with recording strechted into four months (May, June, July and August 1999.), probably because at the time Matt Times was on European tour with Fast times and Up Front (he also played in Up Front on that tour). They also played a show in Kutina, Croatia on that tour on which I wan´t present, but that is another sad story that I will tell you some other time. Anyway, Dead End was recorded in Clear Cut Studios in Saddlebrook, New Jersey (where also Tear It Up later continued to record their records) and was produced by Max Casselnova (also, the guy who produced Tear It Up records). The Nation recorded 20 songs for Dead End record and all the songs ended up on the record. I don´t think that there are any outtakes or songs that were intended for compilations from that session. The line up on that recorded Dead End was:
Dead Dave – Vocals
Matt Suxx – Guitar
Frankie Bones – Bass
Production is fucking great. I don´t know what this guy Casselnova was into at the time, but he knows his fucking job when it comes to producing a hardcore punk record. Everything on the record is just perfect soundwise. The cover of the record looks also amazing. Front cover is a photo of some suburban Dead End street and it just fits perfect with this record and it is also a good example how to make a simple but good and effective album cover. On the back is the band, each member shot individually from some shows with Dead End sign and song titles below. Inside you get a cool poster with band photos from the shows on one side and lyrics and cred list on the other side. Dead End was released late 1999. or early 2000., I´m not really sure. At this point, Frank left the band and Doug Ensel aka Doug Life replaced Frank on bass. Anyway, Dead End was Slaughterhouse sixth and last release and Deadalive fifth release. Deadalive at the time was also a newer DIY hc/punk label that was run by Jon Collins, who was a friend and a fan of the band. Later Deadalive released bunch of other great US hc/punk bands. The record came out on vinyl and CD and it´s sold out long time ago. I still don´ t have this record, so can some good soul please sell me the damn thing for some fair price!?!
OK, let´s talk about the record! As I have said before, there are 20 songs on Dead End record that are no longer than 20 minutes, now, that is what I call a perfect recipe for a great hardcore punk record. That kind of reminds me of some great hc/punk records of the 80´s when bands would put out bunch of songs on the albums and most of the songs were very good if not great and those albums usually wouldn´t be longer than 20-25 minutes. That is what Dad Nation brought back with this album. The songs here are not just tuneless thrash, every song differ from the other and you can feel that this record has sort of a concept from the beginning until the end of the record. And the conept of the record is definitelly a frustration with everything around us and releasing this frustration through playing furious and passionate hc/punk. Most of the songs on the record were written by Matt Molnar expect few songs that were writen together by Matt Molnar and Frank. Molnar definitelly had a big influence on Tear It Up sound, but that is another topic. The record starts of with fast drumming that burst out into fast and furious song called We´re Dead. This is one of my favorite Dead Nation songs actually and the song has such a perfect start of a record. The song is about 90´s young zombied generation stucked to their TV sets. Oh yeah, all the songs blend one into another on the record so there is no rest until it is over. So, after We´re Dead is over, already Panic Attack starts before you know what is going on, another fast and furious 30 seconds song with personal lyrics about fighting with your own anxiety attacks. Welcome To My World is just a bit slower and more Black Flagish showing a bit more darker side of the Nation with another personal and fucked up lyrics. „You can say it´s from depression, you can say it´s from a girl. But nothing means anything to me – I hate my world!“. Fuck, how many times I felt exactly like that. Shattered 1 is another cool song influenced by Black Flag, I mean, just look at the title of the song. The lyrics are again pretty dark, sounding like something Rollins would write in Get In The Van. Skate Or Die! is a real skate anthem, very catchy and 80´s sounding, can´t have enough of this song, no matter how many times I have heard it. Originally, this song was on their early demos and also on The Cenk 7 ˝ EP, but I think that this version is far superior to all earlier versions. America Online is a great fast and short tune similiar to We´re dead with lots of group singalong back ups. This song was written in 1999. when Internet just started to spread more worldwide so it is interesting to see a critical point of view about that topic from the lyrics of said song. These critics still holds up to this very day. Here´s a Quarter… is a song about being emotionaly numb to homeless people while Hole In The Wall is another furious tune with personal and self loathing lyrcis. War In The Streets is about violent world of drug related gangs while Civil War is about being a child of divorced parents who hate each other.
From l to r: Doug Life, Matt Times, Matt Suxx & Dead Dave
Matt & Dave
B side of the record starts with a very cool and fast but catchy song (again with lost of group singalong back ups) called Techology Crisis with self explenationary lyrics: „Technology - it´s killing you, it´s killing me!“. Treat Me Like An Animal is another fast and short tune with lyrics sounding very Rollins like. Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me. Creep is a bit more melodic, early 80´s sounding and it is about hypocrisy of christianity, a theme very well known to all of us. Shattered 2 is a part two of Shattered 1 and I love the part when Dave yells: „Shattered world, shattered hopes, shattered dreams, shattered reality… Shattered world!“. Kill Me starts of with a long wall of guitar noise and then it busrt out into very agrresive and fast song with very suicidal lyrics. The Problem continue with the similiar theme in lyrics, but musically it is slower and more fucked up sounding, you guessed it right, very Black Flag-ish. This song was sang by Frank and he did a great job, fucking love this song! The Solution also has a suicidal theme but it´s fast and short. Originally, this song was first on early DN demos, of course, this version sounding much better and tighter. No Voice, No Choice was also originally on early demos and then on Face The Nation 7 ˝ EP. Beginning To Break is a great stop and go fast and short song with lyrics, guess about what, haha! And the last song Dead End is perfect for the end, it is about questioning this very punk „scene“ and its purpose and meaning. „Have we come full circle?“
And there you have it, one of the best hc/punk records and still many people don´t even have a clue about this awesome and important record. In download link with the music, you also get photos of the band and a whole cover of the record, so enjoy! I will write more about Dead Nation in some future posts, so stay tuned and remember that there is only one nation and that´s Dead Nation!
PS – Lots of cool information about Dead Nation, you can also find out in interview that I did with Dave Ackerman few years ago: Dave Ackerman Interview
Get it here: Dead Nation - Dead End
From l to r: Matt Times, Matt Suxx, Doug Life & Dead Dave