Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rain On The Parade - 1995-2000

For me, hardcore was consistently great from it's inception (roughly 1980) up until about 1993. It never seemed to lose steam during those years, and was constantly reinventing itself (the 3 key years for me were 1982, 1987 and 1990). After the initial classic bands of the early to mid '80s ended, the hardcore scene on the East Coast blew up in the late '80s. Between 1986 and 1989 the New York hardcore scene was probably the biggest scene there was. Certainly in the US. Unfortunately it seemed to die off just as fast as it flourished, and was pretty much over (aside from a few die-hards who stuck it out) by the close of the '80s. But... before you could say "what happened", along came the New Breed. The early '90s brought in the ABC No Rio scene, with a handful of great bands who made hardcore music sound vital again. During that same time came the "poweviolence" bands that started on the West Coast with a few key crucial bands influenced by Infest, but the sound was quickly adapted all over the States, as well as internationally. Most notably Germany and Japan. Then there was the emo/indie explosion of the early '90s as well. Bands influenced by Rites of Spring, Husker Du and The Hated, as well as Slint (think Moss Icon and Native Nod),  seemed to be coming out of the woodwork. It was an exciting time for underground music. A very varied and experimental time, filled with more great bands than i had time to keep track of. Then of course, sometime in the mid '90s, it all seemed to come to an end, just as NYHC came to an end some years before. Only this time, there was nothing hiding around the corner ready to take it's place. In my opinion, the late '90s was the single worst time for hardcore and punk. There were still a few good bands hanging on, releasing some decent music, but for the most part all the creativity and that overall sense that "something special is happening here" was lost. For a while there seemed to be a revival of the "youthcrew" sound. Instead of heading in yet another new direction, hardcore bands reverted to a more generic and basic approach to their music. Gone were the thought provoking lyrics of bands like Born Against, Burn and Rorschach, the minimal nihilistic lyrics of bands like MITB and Crossed Out, the 'heart on your sleeve' lyrics of bands like Heroin, Jawbreaker and Moss Icon. Instead, bands opted for songs about who has the biggest crew. drugs are bad, and getting stabbed in the back by your friends. There were literally hundreds of songs based on these themes, as if there was simply nothing else anyone wanted to express. It was a sad time, but like all genres, there were some diamonds in the rough. I really liked the music of Floorpunch for instance, aside from the lyrics. 97A were great. His Hero Is Gone, Devoid Of Faith... I'm sure there were tons of kids who were into all the youthcrew and metalcore that took over. Personally i just couldn't take a band called Sportwear or whatever seriously. So i just played my old records, went to the occasional show (mostly reunions, or great bands that hadn't yet thrown in the towel), and bid my time. At some point hardcore did become interesting again. I'm not sure when it happened exactly, but now especially, there are shitloads of kickass bands playing in a wide variety of sounds.

So, with that little rant out of the way (which is sure to piss certain people off), sometime during the hardcore drought of 1997-2000, i discovered a bunch of bands that became a saving grace. Two bands in particular that seemed to come out of nowhere and rise way above everything else in the scene were Life's Halt and Rain On The Parade. Two amazing bands who couldn't have sounded more different, yet both seemed to come at the perfect time, and injected a shot of much needed adrenaline into a stale scene. I'd say Life's Halt's "We Sold Our Souls For Hardcore" and ROTP's "Full Speed Ahead" were two of (if not the) best hardcore records in the US during the late '90s. A few other great hardcore bands/records sprung up during the late '90s as well, and lots of fastcore/powerviolence bands were still going strong right up until the end of the '90s and beyond. Just take a look at the track list for the Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! - A Music War comp 7" on Slap A Ham which came out in '98. And as much as a i love most of that stuff, if the music didn't have blast-beats, or on the flipside, was slowed down to a snail's crawl, it seemed to take a backseat. I guess that's why Life's Halt and Rain On The Parade had such an impact. They played hardcore. No outside influences, no "crew" lyrics, and certainly not part of any subgenre. Just hardcore.

I put together a Life's Halt discography a while back and figured it was about time to do the same for Rain On The Parade. I've assembled a discography which i'm pretty sure is complete. 58 songs compiled from 9 different releases, spanning 1995-2000. As usual, all tracks have been adjusted to the same volume, and any recordings taken from vinyl or cassette have been cleaned and the sound quality improved to the best of my abilities. Enjoy!

Rain On The Parade: 1995-2000

Rain On The Parade was based in Philadelphia and formed by vocalist Ronny "Sarge" Little in the summer of 1994. According to vocalist Ronnie "Sarge" Little, the original name for the band was Glue, which was changed in the summer on '95 to Rain On The Parade after a Half Off song from the album "The Truth" from 1987. The band quickly released their first demo in 1995. Usually referred to as the Summer Tour '95 Demo, it contained 6 songs, 3 of them exclusive to the tape. The sound quality on the '95 demo isn't as good as the rest of the discography, but still sounds pretty damn good, and is easily the hardest to find of all the ROTP material.

The "Body Bag" 7" was recorded at Signal Sound in April of '96 and released on Contention Records. It was reissued on It's Alive Records later that same year on red clear vinyl and modifies artwork. The CD version was released on Contention/Soulforce Records (also in '96) and contained 4 tracks from the "Contention Records Demo", which are my favorite tracks on the CD. The CD also has a different track order than the 7" version. The demo tracks are listed as "untitled" on online sourced such as Discogs, but the correct track titles are listed on the CD i have, which i guess could be a later pressing which was updated. I have no idea if those 4 tracks (They Live, Everybody But #1, Do Or Die and Bang!) make up the entire demo. If that's not the case, and anyone has the entire demo, please post in the comments section. The song "Resolution" also appeared on the "Extent Silver Five Inch Collection Vol. 2" compilation CD on Extent Fanzine. Year unknown. Body Bag is a great record, and a hell of a debut. I get the feeling after reading the lyrics to the title track that Sarge and company weren't a a big fan of crossover. Easy to see from listening to their songs, they liked their hardcore "pure". Fave song on the EP (CD version) is They Live. One of my favorite hardcore songs of the late '90s.

Body Bag lineup:
Ronny "Sarge" Little - vocals
Justin Phillips - guitar
Dave Sadawski (DII) - guitar
Don Devore - bass
Bill Perri - drums

After the release of the Body Bag 7":
Matt Smith replaces Don Devore on bass
Chris Ross replaces Bill Perri on drums

With this revised lineup the band released their second 7", the incredible "Full Speed Ahead". Recorded at Signal Sound Studios in early Spring of 1997 and released the same year on My War Records. Bill Perri played drums on "Do Or Die" and "Things Are Bad Enough" (i'm guessing these tracks were already recorded with the former drummer, but who knows?). The band pressed a limited "DC Sleeve" (Bad Brains Roir Tape parody cover) for their show at the Safari Club in Washington, DC on 08/03/97 where they played with Battery and Ten Yard Fight. Only 44 made. Green wax. Even more rare was the super limited "Rain X Crew" sleeve. 15 made. Clear vinyl. "Full Speed Ahead" is my favorite ROTP release. The production is much more raw than the "Body Bag" 7", and the sound is just fuller overall. Plus it helps that this was the first ROTP record i ever heard and it was a breath of fresh air to hear a no-frills hardcore band lost in a sea of subgenres. I played the shit out of this record when i first got it, and putting this collection together, it was great to revisit it. Fave song - the 18 second "Guest List". "Stamp my hand! Stamp my hand!". Also love the updated version of the classic "Do Or Die".

The "Fired Up" 7" has a bit of a story behind it. Apparently things weren't going so great for ROTP for a while there and Ronny and Matt wanted to do a side band a bit more raw sounding. They also tried to keep it a secret from the rest of the band, which didn't work out so well, leading to some animosity between members (most notably Justin and Ronny). For Fired Up, Matt played guitar as opposed to bass and they practiced with Brian Fayhe from Purpose on drums, eventually recorded a demo in 1998. They actually played one show under the name Fired Up. They recruited their friend Steve Sherk to play bass and were booked as a "surprise special guest" at a Floorpunch/Vision show in DC. Brian soon quit Fired Up. Through some friends, it was suggested that a drummer named Tom Patterson fill in. But before Tom could join Fired Up, Justin and Ronny patched things up and reformed ROTP, taking on Tom Patterson as their new drummer (Tom would play with the band until they split up in 2000). The Fired Up demo wound up being distributed under the name Rain On The Parade even though only half the band actually played on it. Youngblood eventually released the "Fired Up" 7" in December of 2000, complete with 3-panel foldout cover with lyrics and pictures. The record release for Fired Up was ROTP's last show. It took place on December 8, 2000 at Wayne Firehouse in Wayne, NJ with Mouthpiece, Time Flies, Striking Distance and Down in Flames.

"The Time Is Now" compilation 7" was released on Tension Records in 1997 and came with Tension Building #4 fanzine. The ROTP track on the comp, "Down In Flames" was later re-recorded for the band's full length in 2000. The other bands on the comp were Floorpunch, Hands Tied, Ten Yard Fight and Rancor.

The "Growing Stronger" (A Positive Hardcore Compilation) 7" was released om Teamwork/In My Blood Records in 1997. The cover folded out into an 11"x17' lyric sheet. Rain On The Parade's contribution was a killer exclusive track called "Class of '89". One of my faves. The other bands were Ensign, Pushed Too Far, Atari, Floorpunch and 97A.

The "It's A Verb" comp 2xCD was released in March of 1999 on Revelation Records. Fastbreak, Voice of Reason, ROTP, Time Will Tell, Up Front and Follow Through, all recorded live on 05/03/98 at the Tune Inn in New Haven CT, 23 tracks total. Rain On The Parade tear through 5 tracks, picking up the pace considerably compared to the studio versions. Excellent sound quality.

"When It Rains It Pours" was the band's only full length as well as their swan song, It was recorded at Signal Sound Studios in Quakertown, PA during July and August of 1999, and released on CD by Siren Electric in 2000. About Face Records/Zine released the very limited "Winter Tour Edition" the same year, Revised cover artwork. 300 pressed. Some with Dischord parody cover.

"When It Rains It Pours" lineup:
Ronny Little - vocals
Dave Sadowski - guitar
Justin Phillips - guitar
Matt Smith - bass
Tom Patterson - drums

tracks 4-5: guitar - Jamie Heine
tracks 13-14: drums - Bill Peri

"Clean The Air" was released on the "Punk Uprisings Vol. 2" comp LP on Go-Kart Records in 1997.
"Piper's Pit" and "Forgiven" were released on "The Rebirth of Hardcore" LP on Ray Cappo's label, Supersoul Recordings in 1999. That comp also featured tracks by Better Than A Thousand, Ten Yard Fight, Battery, Fastbreak... you know, the usual.

"When It Rains..." is a great album. Although it seems more like an anthology than a proper full length.  It's basically a collection of songs that were on the band's EPs, comp tracks, and new songs all thrown together. The sound seems to vary as well, but i think that only adds to it's charm. The 2 opening tracks (both new songs) are mid paced rippers. "Hand Over Your X's" which compares violent SxEx kids to Hitler Youth, and "The First Step" which is a sing-along classic. From there it's just track after track of memorable hardcore punk songs. Along with the opener, my fave has to be "Scorched Earth Tactics", a song about destroying venues. "It's a Veteran's Hall. Not a fucking ghetto wall! Your tags have closed the doors. Won't be no shows here anymore." Awesome.

Six Easter Eggs in this post. Worth the hunt.