Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Clenched Fist (NYC) - 1987 Demos and live

Clenched Fist were a great, but short-lived hardcore band with members in NYC and North Jersey. Kind of a NY hardcore supergroup with members that were in (and would go on to be in) Mental Abuse, Breakdown, Born Against, Life's Blood, Citizens Arrest, Jersey Fresh and Outgroup. This is a collection of the band's 1987 demo, and 6 songs recorded live at CBGB. Great sound quality. Thanks to Chris Fist for the info, and for letting me put this collection on my blog. Enjoy!

Clenched Fist: 1987

Demo lineup:

Perry Pelonero - vocals
Chris Fist - guitar
Neil Burke - bass
Dave Jones - drums

The band formed in '86, and before Perry joined, the infamous Sid Sludge of Mental Abuse was on vocals. Apparently there are rehearsal recordings that exist with Sid on the mic. Maybe one day they'll surface. After Dave Jones left the band, Daryl Kahan and Todd Waladkewics both filled in on drums for a while.

I discovered Clenched Fist back in '87 on Pat Duncan's radio show on WFMU. The songs "Eagle Eyes" and "At the Beach" were on Pat's playlist most Thursdays (which i taped every week religiously). It was only a couple years ago that i was able to get a copy of the entire demo, and the live set. This stuff sounds just as good as it did over 20 years ago.

The demo was recorded in New Jersey in '87. The song "Inner Strength" would later be the template for the song "Eulogy" by Born Against, which was released on a 2-song 7" (the other song being a cover of X's "Riding With Mary") on Vermiform Records in 1990. It came with issue #37 of Sam McPheeter's zine "Dear Jesus". The last track on the Clenched Fist demo, "Get Away" was originally an Outgroup (pre-Mental Abuse) song. Mental Abuse would also play this song live on occasion, and it's probably been covered by bands countless times. It's a NJHC classic.

The live set was recorded at CBGB on July 5th, 1987, with Tommy Prong working the board. Also on the bill was Dag Nasty and Suburban Uprise. The first track, titled "Mud Party", was the music to another old Outgroup song called "I Hate Japs", with the lyrics altered to be less offensive. The original Outgroup version was barely 30 seconds long. The rest of the set is basically all the songs from the demo.

CF also played shows with Youth of Today, Sheer Terror, Dag Nasty, Token Entry, and many other great NYHC bands.

Perry Pelonero was in Krieg Kopf (for about 2 weeks). Dave Jones was in Mental Abuse, Outgroup, and most notably played drums on Agnostic Front's classic "Victim in Pain" album. Chris Fist was in Breakdown, Mental Abuse and Life's Blood. Neil Burke was in Life's Blood and Born Against. Daryl Kahan was in Citizens Arrest, Born Against, True Colors and many death metal, black metal and powerviolence bands. Todd played in Jersey Fresh. Sid Sludge played in Mental Abuse and Outgroup (and i'm still not sure if he actually passed away).

Members of Clenched Fist have recently reformed, and Chris Fist is in the process of writing material for a new ep. It's going to kick ass so keep your eyes peeled.

You can check out the Clenched Fist Myspace page here.


  1. very cool man. nice write up vin.

  2. Thanks for putting this up! I wish they would get back together already.

  3. I remember Chris Fist demanding (& getting) royalties for writing the template for BA's eulogy. There's a tape recording of him calling Sam & Adam about it, funny shit.
    Great collection! looking forward to the new ep.

  4. 24 yrs later, Chris and I are starting up Clenched Fist again with Todd / Jersey Fresh soon. We plan on recording a new ep, shows etc..

    Fred, do you have a copy of that tape?

    Not only did Adam and Neil steal Chris's riffs but also the original Clenched Fist logo and the actual demo layout / cover which they modified and used for Lifesblood.
    Chris handled business as usual.

    Keep your eyes out for a new Clenched Fist ep!

  5. The one and only time I ever got to see LifesBlood was at the Anthrax in CT - I remember Chris on bass, he looked amazingly out of place - It was a building full of nothing but suburbanite kids, this dirty-looking band from NY rocking the shit out of everyone, and their bassist was a seemingly towering black guy who was wearing a matching track suit - He looked like he was on his way to try out for the Huskies or something. They rocked. THX for posting Clenched Fist!

  6. I usually don't do this, but I got rid of the negative comments. If you don't like a band why post a comment at all? Just move on.


  8. haters eh? damn.. fuck yoos all then.. thanks for this review.. its great and much appreciated


  9. It was just one hater who kept posting and got annoying, so i deleted his shit. No biggie.

    I hear there's a newjack band out now with the name Clenched Fist. You'd think a band would take 5 minutes to check and make sure they have an original name.

  10. Neil was also in Menace Dement, Sinking Body, and Men's Recovery Project. He also played harmonica on the first Young Pioneers 7".
    Royalties??? What a joke!


  11. Not for nothing, I've been trying to stay out of all this kiddie shit, but the truth is Neil and those guys outright, stole a song I wrote and put there lyric on it, while I was in the Marine Corps. I can only imagine what would follow if I did the same to a Rolling Stones or Agnostic Front classic. All the members of my band feel blessed to have been part of the New York and New Jersey Hardcore scene and would like to thank all who where there with us standing side by.

    United we....
    Chris Fist

  12. It will be nice to check out what these guys can do in this times, Music and hardcore have evolved a lot in the past 23 years, and I believe that after a long time pared from the stage they could come up with great stuff.

  13. If you are in NJ and looking for a bassist plz hit me up and mention Clenched Fist and Mental Abuse. I'm a bassist (in Parsippany) looking for work used to know the original members of Mental Abuse from when I was in high school. There are 2 surviving members that I know of Dave Jones and Andy Kelb (who unfortunately is now paralyzed and lives out west somewhere). Tried to play bass for Dave Jones but it didnt work out (he lives too far away from me) but he still plays as Mental Abuse often in Montclair at the Meat Locker club. My last conversation with Dave Jones he told me he is pretty sure that Sid Sludge has passed away and even he was not 100% sure.

  14. By the way I have the recording Clench Fist rehearsals with Sid Sludge and the whole Mental Abuse Outgroup CBGB's on mp3 I just got them like a week ago from some person who was sharing them online. Where was the Outgroup part of that recorded? Was it at Showplace in Dover?

  15. Paulie!!! Can you PLEASE get me those mp3s!!? I would appreciate it more than you'll ever know.