Category Archives: Hardcore

More Warped Memories…

So tomorrow the all day punk rock summer camp, also know as the Van’s Warped Tour, returns to Cleveland.  Once again I, along with a few of my friends, will make way through the endless crowds of kids to check out some amazing punk rock bands including Bad Religion, NOFX, Flogging Molly, and Gallows.

Armed with my trusty camera (the pics in this post are from the 2007 & 2008 Warped Tour FYI) I plan on doing my best to take some killer photos to share with all my readers.  I always have fun mingling with the fans and the bands and already know tomorrow will be an amazing day.  I may even sneak in a couple of photo sessions or interviews too.

I can not even tell you the number of Warped Tours I have been to but I know I have attended over half of them that rolled through Cleveland since 1996.  There were good times and bad times as well as times I do not even remember.

I’ve seen the festival blossom into what it is now and have watched grow as it moved from venue to venue in Cleveland.  I even remember the one time it was held at the Agora!  I think that was in 1997 and I do not remember any of it except for it being very cramped.

Having already recapped the 1996 Warped Tour in a previous blog, I though I would continue the fun stories although I am not sure my other Warped memories can top that dog choke chain story…

Here are a few select years I remember:

I remember this Warped Tour being at the Nautica Stage / parking lot in the West Side of the flats in Cleveland.  Utilizing the parking lot the festival did not seem too cramped but I know that a whole ton of kids snuck in without paying as the fences were unguarded and short.

There were a few bands I can recall without looking them up on the internet that played including Bad Religion, NOFX, Rancid, Deftones, Kid Rock, MXPX, Unwritten Law, and the The Aquabats.

It was a good time although I was not feeling very well.  I was having stomach issues and just did not want to be bothered by anyone.  During Rancid a girl was punching people and kicking the guys in their lower abdominal area.  I yelled at her for her to stop kicking people in the junk after she got me once.  She went for round two to my crotch with her Doc Martin and I grabbed her foot and…well that’s all I have to say about that.  Everyone in the pit cheered.

My long time friend Gary was with us and I remember him flicking off the Goodtime III as it sailed past us.  The horror on the people’s faces was priceless.

Kid Rock…wow.  Kid Rock was one of the closing bands for the day and I kid you not (no pun intended) there were less than twenty people checking him out.  No one seemed to like him.  In fact, after a couple of songs my friends and I took off as did most of the crowd.  (Not even a year later Kid Rock would be opening up for Metallica)

Ha, this was the year my pal Anthony and I collectively spent over $211 on beer.  Yes, $211 of our hard earned money was spent on overpriced draft beer.  I had brought a lot of cash with me planning on getting some merch from a lot of the bands I was a fan of and instead thought it would be a good idea to spend it on rounds of beer.

I think the Casualties played as well as NOFX, Bad Religion, Lars Frederickson & The Bastards, Anti-FlagYellowcard…umm…that’s all I got.  I was pretty hammered at this Warped Tour.  Ok, pretty was an understatement.

About 10 beers into the day my friends and I found an area to the left of the main stage that we pretty much staked ground at when there were bands we did not care to see.

“Eiffel Tower” was born that day too.  No, I am not talking about the Paris landmark, I am speaking of a cheers that takes 3 or more folk to engage in.  Anthony and I would hold our beers up high in the air to a random beer drinking attendee and scream “Eiffel Tower!!!!” expecting them to hold their beer up too.  At first people looked puzzled at the gesture but soon the beer drinking folk loved it and honestly I think we started something awesome that day…in fact I know we did.

In case you need more proof how much of an a-hole I can be, Yellowcard had just finished up their set and the younger crowd was leaving the main stage area because I think Bad Religion was playing and they needed to get to some other pop-punk stage.  Drunk and annoyed we started yelling at the kinds “get you of here you jerks” as well as called them “phonies”.  The looks of their faces was priceless.

I was that guy, that drunk guy, that annoyed everyone.  Hey, I was having fun so I guess that is all that mattered.  Thankfully we sobered up before the show’s end and then killed even more time afterwards ensuring no dangerous/stupid decisions were made.

This was the first year that I got a VIP pass to the Warped Tour thanks to my lady and to the Transplants‘ guitar tech Jay Bastard.  This year I actually went to Cleveland and then the very next day to Cincinnati.

Avenged Sevenfold, Senses Fail, Transplants, No Use For A Name, My Chemical Romance, Dropkick Murphys, and others were on this bill.

In Cleveland I was tame but Cincinnati was a different story.  I was reunited with Anthony and even though the two of us planned on only spending little money on beer we still got hammered.  “Eiffel Tower” was introduced to Cincinnati that day.

Later during the festival Anthony and I were beyond wasted looking for our girlfriends who were actually on a tour bus with Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Jay Bastard enjoying the AC.  Anthony and I were hanging on a fence trying to watch the Dropkick Murphys having no idea where to find the girls while sweating our asses off.  Eventually the girls found us drunk morons and walked us back to the car.

I swore to never again get hammered at the Warped Tour.  That sun was lethal and drinking did not help it one bit.  In fact I think it made us drunker…haha.

This was one of those years I will never forget in my life.  Not because of the festival but because of mother nature’s fury.

This was actually the first festival I would not only attend but also review for the blogging site  I was pretty psyched to have the opportunity to review the festival yet a little nervous becuase it was the first time I had ever really reviewed a festival.  I was so clueless what to do or where to go but I soon figured it out.  See below for a link of my review.

I drank one beer this time.  My friends…did not.  “Eiffel Tower” returned to Cleveland.  I kept a good eye on my friends this time to make sure they stayed out of trouble.  I should have kept my eye on the sky.

Around the 3 o’clock hour the blue skies turned dark and a freak thunderstorm rolled in to the Cleveland area.  I remember calling my lady asking her if she was getting hit by the storm.  She was at a dog park by our house and she stated it was still blue skies and had no idea what i was talking about.

This devil of a storm for some reason decided to slowly pass downtown Cleveland causing just horrible conditions, especially for folk like myself who were stuck outside with only tents to protect.  The storm pounded the area with heavy rains and winds so strong I swore we were in a tornado.  Everyone made the best of it because honestly, what the hell were we to do?  Luckily I was under the main tent surrounded by a ton of other folk.  Some kids were not so lucky hiding under bridges and wherever else they could find cover.

After the storm I walked around the grounds and it looked like armageddon.  Almost all of the merch tents were either packed up or blown over and destroyed.  The power was out in most of the city and there were hints of the Warped Tour not going on.  Even though the rumors were brewing, not many fans left and stuck it out waiting for an official announcement.

Kevin Lyman, the founder of the Warped Tour, made way to a stage where Coheed & Cambria were to play stating that the storm was one of the worst he has ever seen.  He also added that the show would go on and that they had two generators to power the two main stages.  He also offered all the storm survivors an added bonus and told everyone that their ticket stubs were good for admission to any Warped Tour for the duration of the summer.  I did not take advantage of that offer but some of my friends did.

As the sun set Bad Religion took the stage with a single hanging light bulb hovering over the stage.    It was a bittersweet ending to one heck of a day.

Click here for the review I did for the 2007 Warped Tour on

Pretty tame year actually.  Since earlier in the year I put drinking on a hiatus I just flooded myself with water and enjoyed such acts as Against Me!, Story Of The Year, Gallows, Gym Class Heroes, MC Chris, 3OH!3, Beat Union, The Briggs, Pennywise, and Bouncing Souls.

Click here for the review I did for the 2008 Warped Tour on

The day starts tomorrow at 11am.  I am sure I will have some stories to share.

Until then, have a good one.

Bleeding Through – Declaration – CD Review

Photo by Cindy Frey
Photo by Cindy Frey

Straightedge metalcore sensations Bleeding Through continue their mission to rock your face off and implode ear drums while doing so with their latest release Declaration. Combining heavy metal, death metal, punk rock, and even a little black metal, Bleeding Through has their own unique style that is just brutal, and that is an understatement. Having been around since 1999 the band was labeled one of SPIN’s 2003 “Artists To Watch” as well as have been featured in a Revolver “Future of Metal” article. This is the band’s third release once again on metal label Trustkill Records.

Formed by members of other heavy acts such as Eighteen Visions and Throwdown, the band caught my ears when I heard This Is Love, This Is Murderous, the band’s first release with Trustkill Records. I will never forget that day as my ears were introduced to just pure fury. I had just finished up a day at the record store and I was cleaning up getting ready to go. My friend asked if I wanted to hear something heavy and of course I told him to go for it. The moment he hit play on the CD player I was hooked.

This Is Love, This Is Murderous was in heavy rotation on my playlist for years. I was highly disappointed with their next release on Trustkill called The Truth as perhaps I was expecting more from such a strong intro to the band in This Is Love This Is Murderous. I can not say I was that pumped to hear Declaration as I was afraid that their sound may still not compare to taste I enjoyed but that all changed once I finally checked out the CD.

The opening of the CD “Finis Fatalis Spei” was a black metal, evil circus sounding, melodic introduction that set me back for a second until a quote from the movie 300 ended the intro with “Tonight we dine in hell!” From there the CD was an all out mugging on your ears with “Declaration (You Can’t Destroy What You Can Not Replace)”. Death metal, heavy metal, black metal, and even speed metal combine for a powerful first song on this album with Pantera guitar hammering moments thanks to help from As I Lay Dying’s Tim Lambesis.

“Orange Country Blonde and Blue” followed continuing a insane death punch to my ears. Again I can not help me being reminded of Phil Anslemo and crew in this track as well as 90’s metal bands with the chorus. “Germany” really reminded me of Bleeding Through’s earlier years with just non-stop drumming and almost so much guitar that I felt as if the song flew by way too fast.

“There Was A Flood” slowed things down a notch at the beginning with a track that really set well with me. Musically the song was something along the lines of a slower Cradle Of Filth song but I assure you as soon as the song started it seemed to put me in place. Lyrically the song spoke about checking on a mistake from the past and reiterating the high hate for that mistake. For the first time on the CD lead vocalist Brandon Schieppati sings for a moment on the track but is fast to get back to Mastodon-like vocal shredding.

“Reborn From Isolation” has it’s head banging moments until the song actually started making me want to swing my arms carelessly about and attack the air with my fists. It’s songs like these that make me happy I no longer stand in the pit at live shows because I am pretty sure others feel the same way about this track.  “Death Anxiety” had that same fight everyone and everything around you feel.  If you were a fan of This Is Love, This Is Murderous, you agree that this song sounds like it was left off that album.

“The Loving Memory Of England” took a break from the others and had kind of a Pantera “Planet Caravan” moment. The song not only gave me a chance to let your heartbeat settle but it also proved the band has a softer side. “Beneath The Grey” soon dismissed any chance that the CD was going to end mellow with a full blown hard beginning that made me take a second listen when I discovered that the song that had a guitar solo from No Use For A Name’s Dave Nassie.

Closing the CD was “Sister Charlatan” one of my choice cuts on the CD. With a well orchestrated introduction the song still kept with the heavy and has a It Dies Today similarity with a nice mixture of death screaming and harmonious singing. Add intense guitar solos, double bass drumming from hell, and even some beautiful piano playing over a thunderstorm, the song made me feel like I was a schizophrenic with the change ups.

Declaration is everything I was looking for in a Bleeding Though CD including the loud screaming, forceful drumming, and vicious guitar playing combined with enough force and hate to push you down to the ground. Don’t look for this band to clot or heal up anytime soon as there is just too much flowing out right now. If you like your metal loud, heavy, and most of all fast Declaration needs to be in your collection.

Here is the video for “Death Anxiety”:

Did you know that Bleeding Through was featured on Inside Edition report years ago?  It’s true.  The band was on tour and was involved in an accident while traveling.  The band was on their way to a show in Colorado when the bad’s van hit ice and crashed into an already disabled vehicle.  The whole accident was captured on a police cruiser dash-cam as police were on location tending to the previous accident.  Luckily no one was hurt.

Interview: Todd Kowalski of Propaghandi

Nothing's slowing these guys down...

Hardcore punk rockers Propaghandi may be getting up there in age but have no intentions of slowing down. On the verge of releasing an all new album entitled Supporting Caste, the band continues to spread their thoughts through song on real causes that actually mean something. Focusing on real current events, the band are more activists over performers. Having been around for over twenty years it is nice to see this band continue on with what they love to do.

Recently I had the chance to chat it up with the bassist of Propaghandi Todd Kowalski. He was more than happy to answer some questions for me.

You guys have been around since 1986 right?  How challenging has it been to be a punk band for over 20 years?

I joined a mere 12 years ago but I’d say despite wanting to bite each others eyes out a few times we’ve been ticking along pretty good. I think the fact that we all like the songs we’re trying to make is a big factor in it all working. if we didn’t like what we were hearing it would turn us into pustulous blobs with fangs.

How long did it take for Propagandhi to start touring outside of Canada and around the world?

I think the first Propagandhi tour to the U.S. was around 92. They went down to the west Coast.
I remember it clearly but wasn’t in the band yet. Our friends Regal and Keith were the roadies, those guys had the van. I thought that was so cool that they all went on tour. I never knew anyone who traveled with their band before.

Who are some of your favorite bands you toured with in the past?

My favorite was Los Crudos who I played four or 5 shows with in about 95 they blew my mind!! This wasn’t with Propagandhi though it was with another band [I was in] called I Spy. It’s all the same to me. We’re all friends playing music.

When you were just starting to play punk rock music, who were your musical influences?  Has that changed today?

Today my biggest musical influence, Sacrifice, just sent me two new songs off their upcoming record. They haven’t recorded for about 18 years. These songs blew my head right off my shoulders. They are the best band of all time! Besides them I was in [to and] am still 100% into SNFU, RAZOR, Nomeansno, Voivod and DEATH. That hasn’t changed at all. I like new bands too but these bands have been on rotation for 20 years non stop!!

When did you start becoming move aware of your surrounding and stepped up to spread to the close minded?

I started to slowly become aware of things over a long period of time. I was very, very much a part of the small city mentality growing up.  I had to see people get hurt and upset by certain things first hand before I started to wise up. I think the punk bands that I started to listen to when I was in junior high slowly helped me make sense of what I was trying to figure out. It’s been a slow ongoing process .

Your high level approach at everything that goes wrong on this world opened up my eyes when I was younger through your music and from just reading about what causes you were involved in.  Was there anyone who helped turn you into an activist of sorts?

As far as bands, I’d say MDC, C.O.C were the biggest influences for a while and later I was really influenced by Born Against, Maliftingbanner, Los Crudos and bands like that. As far as people I think it was a lot of people including my Mom who would always go out of her way for people. I always appreciated that.

I understand many of the band follow a vegan lifestyle.  How tough is it for you when touring the world to keep to it?

It’ s generally really, really easy. There is a million [of] choices of things to eat besides meat and dairy and crap like that. It’s well worth the small effort. We end up eating way better than if we were stopping and eating burgers and fries everyday. The hardest place for us was Japan just because we couldn’t decipher the ingredients to things we were looking at. That’s our own problem, though. The food was available.

Were any obstacles ever thrown in the band’s path that make you ever want to give up?

The main obstacles are the frustration at momentary or lengthy lack of ability to achieve our personal visions [with] a lot of this being due to a bit of a lack of natural talent. We work hard to get where we’re trying to go.

Propaghandi has a new album coming out this month called Supporting Caste can you tell me about it?

Yeah, We’re really excited about it. There’s 14 new songs of different types. I think it’s our best effort yet. We worked hard to improve our skills and write the best songs we could. I think it turned out pretty good. If it’s no good it’s certainly not because of a lack of effort!

Recently on your website a couple of MP3’s from the new album were offered for legal download in exchange for donations for as little as $1.00 that will go towards worthy causes.  Your request for donations was quite bold almost commanding fans to do something good in return for a sample of for what is to come.  How was the response to this?

That’s turned out really well so far. We’ve raised a lot of money for those organizations and they seem to appreciate it. We’re hoping people check out what they’re doing and learn something about it. That’s the real point of it (laughs), yeah it’s bold, and we like insulting our listeners but everybody knows it’s a joke. Those who don’t get mad and amuse those who do. We all win!

You are slated to play the Harvest Of Hope festival in Florida this March.  How does that make you feel being a part of this important benefit show?

Yeah, that’s a good benefit. We’re happy to be a part of it. The vibe and spirit of this festival is so much better than the corporate, crap, [and] useless festivals like the Warped Tour that have been thrown at people. We usually haven’t played festivals but if it’s a good one, we’ll be there!

Are there any acts appearing on the Harvest Of Hope festival you are excited to see or have previously toured with?

We’ve played two shows with Strike Anywhere before. I’m excited to see Bad Brains!! Most of the other bands I haven’t heard before so it should be good!

Propagandhi was one of the earlier bands to start with Fat Wreck Chords.  I know that Supporting Caste will be released on the indie label G7 Welcoming Committee Records (that was actually started by Chris Hannah and Jord Samolesky of Prop.).  How does it feel to have been a part of the Fat Wreck Chord family and then move on?

I think we did all we could with Fat. It’s time to start a fresh slate and prepare to go full tilt with people who are on the same page as us. We’re very happy about it.

In April of 2008 it was announced that G7 would cease to release new material and October of 2008 it was reiterated.  While still providing downloads it looked as if the label was finished, what was this all about?  What happened to change the mind of G7 to release Supporting Caste?

Derek from G7 moved to Halifax and left Chris stewing in his own juices in the G7 office. I guess they figured enough is enough. But we [all] wanted to put out the Propagandhi record, so we did it on G7.

Will this mark the last release for Propagandhi?

Hell no, we’re just getting started!

You have rocked out in the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s.  Was there a certain decade you favored over the others while performing as a band?

I think the 80’s were the best. Pop music sucked and always will suck but before the 80’s there was no speed metal, death metal, hardcore, barely any punk that interest me, no thrash metal, doom metal, power metal etc. (laughs) That all truly came to be in the 80’s. For my tastes and love of speed it blew my little mind to pieces.

The late 80’s cheese metal and pop and the 90’s sucked total crap except for a handful of bands. Born Against etc… and DEATH were great of course!! I hated Nu Metal, Grunge, Pop punk and all that. What a sickened musical state. Recently there is a lot of bands that I think are great. The new Sacrifice record, Krisiun, Cynic, Immolation, Necrophagist…man, they all rule!!

So what’s next for Propagandhi?

Next on the itinerary is more touring then we’ll work on new songs every chance we get!!! Watch out!!

Supporting Caste will be released on March 10th on G7 Welcoming Committee Records. Make sure you pick up your copy and support this long running punk rock act!

Look for Propagandhi to make a return to the road in support of their recent release.  The band just finished playing a slot at the annual Harvest Of Hope Festival that just ended and will continue the US before heading overseas.

The Harvest Of Hope festival, if you have not heard, is a three-day outdoor music festival in St. Augustine, FL that is held to benefit Harvest of Hope: . The nonprofit organization was founded in Gainesville, FL a little over a decade ago to provide social services to migrant farm workers and their families in the U.S. Since then, HOH has raised and spent over $700,000 to pay for gas, tires, car repairs, rent, utilities, medical services, food, clothing, funeral expenses and educational scholarships in low income migrant worker communities. For more information about the festival itself or on how you can help please visit

Propaghandi On Tour:
03/08/09 – Atlanta, GA, USA
03/10/09 – Virginia Beach, VA, USA
03/11/09 – Baltimore, MD, USA
03/12/09 – New York, NY, USA
03/13/09 – Brooklyn, NY, USA
03/14/09 – Philadelphia, PA, USA
03/15/09 – Cambridge, MA, USA
03/20/09 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
03/21/09 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
04/17/09 – Sheffield, UK
04/18/09 – Bristol, UK
04/19/09 – London, UJ
04/20/09 – Brighton, UK
04/21/09 – Norwich, UK
04/23/09 – Cologne, Germany
04/24/09 – Munich, Germany
04/25/09 – Solothurn, Switzerlan
04/26/09 – Bologna, Italy
04/28/09 – Rome, Italy
04/29/09 – Venice, Italy
05/01/09 – Prague, Czech Republic

For more info on the band feel free to check out:


Angry Bunny Mask Wearing Guys
Angry Bunny Mask Wearing Guys

Hardcore act LeATHERMOUTH, a side project including My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero, released XO recently on Epitaph Records

Before you even start thinking bad things let me say that LeATHERMOUTH is not My Chemical Romance nor is their sound remotely close.  Don’t judge this band until you pop the CD in and hear it for yourself as it has nothing to do with happy times or even emo pop punk.  XO is brutal and has the anger of Gallows combined with the outspoken reflection on the world like the Dead Kennedys, a nice combination I might add.  Add some fuming hate that has been building up for years and you have yourself one pissed off release.

Having not researched the band prior to my first listen, the only thing I knew about LeATHERMOUTH was that they, according to the CD booklet, were “bass, drums, two electric guitars, and vocals.”  After some research I learned that they are a hardcore band formed almost out of pure bottled up anger by the guitarist of the chart topping wonders My Chemical Romance. 

The band was actually formed by friends of Frank Iero who finally joined them after the band stated that their initial lead singer failed to write lyrics for the songs they created.  Hearing this disappointing news, Frank Iero took the reigns as the lead singer of the band and wrote all the lyrics for the songs. 

I still was not convinced of the idea of an almost pop punk band member being in a hardcore side project and almost passed on listening to the CD until I read what Frank Iero told

“There’s too much bad hair and white belts. Sometimes it nice to turn your brain off and just listen to someone sing about girls. I’m not knocking it. I do think there is a time and a place. But LeATHERMOUTH isn’t like that… it’s about hate. Hate that boils up inside and eats away at you, if you don’t vomit it up you know it will eventually destroy you.”

After reading that I quickly grabbed my copy of XO and threw it in my CD player and the result was enough anger to make any smiling face turn to a stern frown.  Fans of My Chemical Romance, you should stop reading now; LeATHERMOUTH has nothing to do with that happy high school punk rock music you cherish.

The opening song “5th Period Massacre” set the mood by talking about the overflowing sad amounts of suppressed anger from bullied youth only to explode into a shooting at an education institution.  The music was heavy, the lyrics were graphic, and the anger was all so tempting. 

Following the impressive opening track was “Catch Me If You Can” a hardcore melee full of breaking the law and causing chaos and rebellion.  The song was actually created from letters written by serial killer Jack The Ripper making for an even more interesting track.

The mortal “Murder Was The Case That They Gave Me” was far from Snoop Dogg and more so The Bronx with pure hate energy throughout. “Sunsets Are For Muggings” not only humored me by the title but seemed to reach back to the 80s hardcore punk sound.  “My Love Note Has Gone Flat” seemed to just strangle any decent thought in my head.  “Bodysnatchers 4 Ever” was chaotic, ruthless, and very suggestive of old school horror flicks again with the energy simular to the Bronx.

For Frank Iero’s first attempt at being a lyricist and lead singer I think he nailed it.  His raspy scratchy voice lies perfect with the hardcore feel the rest of the band provided.  Their music will make you angry and that seems to be LeATHERMOUTH’s soul intention and with that, they have provided a serious impression on me with XO

Angry, loud, and hardcore is all you need to know about this CD.  If you like horror movies, being angry at the world, and fast furious hardcore music with exceptional force this CD is for you.  If you like songs about girls in high school and mild mischief don’t even bother.

-Download This!LeATHERMOUTH – “Bodysnatchers 4 Ever”

-Check out the video for “Bodysnatchers 4 Ever”:
(The following is NSFW (cussing) so view at your own discression)