Surf Song

Richmond’s CLOAK/DAGGER return to burn through two more of their signature anthems to alienation on this 7 inch. The Swiz and Jehu references still ring true, but the Daggers have solidified their own sound and forged on. “Surf Song” resonates with anyone estranged by the detachment of the modern technological era (and maybe some geographically challenged would be surfers). On the flip, “Concentration Camps” gives us the tender side of CLOAK/DAGGER with brooding on the frustration of an infatuation-based attention deficit disorder. “Real life is not much fun” according to CLOAK/DAGGER, but with a single like this added to the mix, we beg to differ.

Layout by Rich Perusi
Mixed by Paul Michel

1. Surf Song
2. Concentration Camps

Lost Art

Is it punk? Hardcore? Garage? Make up your own mind about Cloak/Dagger’s latest full-length, Lost Art.

Colin Barth’s winding guitars juggle melody, punch and vitriol on par with the Avengers, John Reis, Mission of Burma and Greg Ginn. Play it loud on tracks such as “Deathbed Rebels” that push the punk envelope a bit further with frenzied, circle-pit fodder reminiscent of the Circle Jerks and Big Boys.
Underneath, snaking rolls of bass drive the proceedings with the flawless percussive thrust of the Ramones, Hot Snakes and bygone Boston hardcore heroes F.U.s, Jerry’s Kids. Over this Jason Mazzola distinguishes the band with a full, arching tenor that’s more bellow than scream. Mazzola’s delivery and lyrics shine especially on numbers like “Lower Eastada” and “Dead Idols,” where the band’s punk ‘n roll swagger takes over (think more Johnny Thunders, less Ray Cappo). After listening to Lost Art, you won’t be worried about categorizing the band, only when they go back on tour.

Recorded by Chris Owens at Headbanging Kill Your Mama Music Studio

All songs by Cloak/Dagger (C) 2009 Dixie Punks Publishing ASCAP

Thanks very much to Grave Mistake Records, Rich Perusi, Adam Juresko, Aaron Barth, Eric GW, Garth Petrie, Brian McTernan, Jade Tree, Government Warning, Paint It Black, every friend and every band we have played with, Richmond, DC and you.

(c) & (p) Jade Tree 2009 / JT1128

1. Billions Millions
2. Dead Idols
3. Don’t Need A
4. Broken Wrists
5. Deathbed Rebels
6. Eyes On The Wall
7. Same Old Story
8. Dead Town Beat
9. Lower Eastada
10. In My Orbit
11. Fast Food Dream
12. Lost Art
13. Tragic Sleep

Pinata Breaks Demo Takes

Piñata Breaks, Demo Takes is a digital only release that features the band’s most recent and a collection of demo tracks, including one previously unreleased song. These nine songs will trigger memories of favorites such as Black Flag, Circle Jerks and even Hot Snakes, but they offer an entirely new experience with raw energy that can only be rivaled by the band’s live show.

This digital release is available from , , , and a host of other .

Pinata 7″
Originally released on .
Recorded at Minimum Wage by Lance Koehler
Layout by Rich Perusi
Thanks to every band and every friend. The city of Richmond and you.

Demo Takes
All songs recorded by Peter Appleby at Steel Reserve. Logo by Rich Perusi.
Thanks to all our friends.

1.Daggers Daggers
4.Sewing Circles (Demo)
5.Set the Alarm (Demo)
6.Last Call (Demo)
7.Violent Times (Demo)
8.New Years Resolution (Demo)
9.White Fence (Previously Unreleased Demo)

We Are

On their debut full length release for Jade Tree, CLOAK/DAGGER keep it fast and simple. Produced and recorded at Headbanging Kill Your Mama Music Studios by Chris Owens (Lords), We Are is a bombastic, rough around the edges approach to minimalist hardcore. Combining the jagged aggression of bands like Swiz and Black Flag with the spastic urgency of Drive Like Jehu, We Are CLOAK/DAGGER embraces a lyrically raw directness that transcends the false conceptions and misgivings of modern punk, offering up honest commentary on the balance between life both with and without excess. In the end, We Are CLOAK/DAGGER embraces the long lost art of disposability, steering away from the culture of celebratory fake aggression, into a new era of raw, incendiary punk music.

Recorded May 2007 at Headbangingkillyourmamamusic with Chris Owens
Special thanks to the city of Richmond, all our friends and you.
All songs by Cloak/Dagger. Layout by Rich Perusi. Photos by Andy Norton.
(c) & (p) Jade Tree 2007 / JT1125

1. Bended Knee
2. Sunburnt Mess
3. Runways
4. Kamikazes
5. New Years Resolution
6. Walk the Block
7. J.C. Pays the Bills
8. Hollywood Hills
9. Generato
10. Red Hair
11. Set the Alarm
12. Last Call
13. Quit Life

Lifetime holds Court in New Brunswick

The Court Tavern
New Brunswick, N.J.
May 6

Up until a surprise round of gigs last summer, Lifetime was little more than a distant memory. An endearingly quirky Jersey hardcore pop group that fled the scene in 1997 before getting the chance to cash in on the sound they aided in taking to mainstream radio, MTV and most recently, Myspace.

Few could’ve predicted that in the years following Lifetime’s separation, younger practitioners like Saves the Day, New Found Glory, My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy all would achieve various levels of success and stardom (and if nothing else, major label contracts) by mimicking the relentless tempos, unintelligible lovesick babble and razor sharp melodic chops that Lifetime didn’t necessarily invent but certainly did better than most in the ’90s.

It seemed as if Lifetime would forever be the anonymous favorite band of your younger sibling’s favorite ubiquitous emo starlets, selling modest amounts of its independently-released back catalog whenever Pete Wentz hyped ‘em in Spin articles or generously-sized "remember when" round table interviews showed up in the pages of Alternative Press.

And, no, that fate isn’t such a bad one. But of course, that’s not the end of the story.

After a much blogged and bandied about honest to goodness reformation, Lifetime gave more grist for the gossip mill last month by inking a deal with DecayDance (boutique label of F.O.B’s Wentz) before any new songs hit the streets and only after a handful of shows were played. Newly back, the band’s intentions and cred immediately received the grilling treatment.

Last weekend, the invigorated Lifetime geared up for the massive Bamboozle festival at the mansion-on-the-hill Meadowlands by watering its old roots in the cramped, dank basement of the Court Tavern, home to many legendary Jersey punk and hardcore shows over the years. No less than a decade ago, Lifetime held court as the Rutger’s basement band of choice (after all, "Theme Song for a New Brunswick Basement Show" wasn’t written for nothin’), growing wheels and touring the country multiple times, but always staying the town’s house organ and the trusted reference guide to younger N.B. groups such as Thursday and Midtown.

The Saturday, all ages matinee, as informal and relaxed as it was, served the purpose of offering a toast to the old boys before they headed off to compete in the young man’s arena. Collectively, Lifetime hadn’t been around those parts since they played their final two shows in ’97 at the now non-existent Melody Bar up the street, and both the sixteen-year-old die hard freaking out at the front of the line outside and the older, tattooed dude at the bar with the perspiring PBR can were ready for action.

Savoring the moment, the band took to the floor (the venue had no elevated stage) without any rush at roughly 6 p.m. and kept the two hundred or so sardines enthralled as they ripped with deft precision through "Hello Bastards" and "Jersey’s Best Dancers," the two albums that made them a VFW and college hall staple. Ari Katz’s young, loud and bratty voice continued to belie his age, and even though wife and baby (she had on pink air traffic controller headphones) watched from the wings, his despondent and decidedly undergraduate lines like "next time that star shoots across the sky/I’m gonna grab it and smash it/under my feet/who the f&*k wants to be happy" didn’t come off forced or trite. Herculean guitarist/psychologist Dan Yemin and Peter Martin’s razor sharp melodies sliced through each two minute cut, chiding Scott Golley’s lockstep, militaristic drumming.

The sound remained faithfully thick and slick, proving that Lifetime’s brand of pop punk sounds best during an afternoon show in a club with low ceilings and enthusiastic audience participation. The thinned out Katz is still a hangdog everyman, spouting out meter-defying, self-deprecating witticisms with ease. During the gig, he slowly paced back and forth with the slouching gait of an affable bartender who calmly refills drinks despite the crush at the bar. The crowd, a good mix of young and old, friends and family, hardcore and not so hardcore, repaid the band with smiles, fingerpoints, stupid banter and massive sing alongs.

With some pounds lost and gained, hairlines moved and gray hairs grown, Lifetime could have a tough road if they’re shooting for the bedroom walls, ringtones and Myspace backgrounds of teens unfamiliar or unconcerned with them or hardcore past. However, Pete Wentz moves weight right now, and his endorsement could do wonders for Lifetime’s future.

Even though Katz once sang "I can truly say/I don’t give a f&*k about your money" during a passable cover of Embrace’s (D.C.) tune "Money," I hope some of that much deserved coin comes the band’s way during this lifetime.

Lifetime [I]Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey[/I] Review

Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey
[Jade Tree; 2006]
Rating: 7.4

Lifetime bookmarked my formative New Brunswick, N.J. years: I arrived in 1992, around the time the band released its full-length debut, and left for the West Coast in 1997, within weeks of its breakup. Even during that vibrant peroid, it was an underdog city; since then, the best local clubs have been bulldozed and the indie record store that signed my checks went kaput. Still, New Brunswick possesses a rock aura largely because of Lifetime (and, okay, the Bouncing Souls) and the subsequent success of Thursday, a band who likely wouldn’t have existed without their elders.

Unlike many other hardcore favorites, Lifetime progressed substantially over the course of their career– their last two albums, Hello Bastards (1995) and Jersey’s Best Dancers (1997)– are their best work and classics in the genre. Why bother with the history? Because those two records are the reason Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey exists. Angular, honed, stuffed with feedback, lyrically taut, they deliver resonant pop-hardcore shards that transcend the "emo" tag by a mile. There are those complexly scissor-fight guitar parts, fault-line structures, and muscular drums, but the centerpieces are Katz’s poetic pen and exploded monotone, the latter which comes off agitated, bored, and heartsick all in the same line.

Katz slurs his best lyrics, chopping sentences into weird line breaks. The effect is weirdly hypnotic. It doesn’t get more heartbreakingly introspective (and introspectively triumphant) than "Hey Catrine" or more carefully observed than memorizing the map a girl’s squints in "Turnpike Gates". Plus, even just looking at Hello Bastards’ appropriation of the Housemartins London O Hull 4′s cover art, it was clear they were lighting out into more interesting territory than your average post-Minor Threat youth crew.

The older, baggy-pants material isn’t as strong, but it possesses a raw, charismatic appeal and melodic sense lacking in most East Coast straightedge rock. Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey, makes this early, pre-Jade Tree work available en masse: The self-titled "New Age" 7", the "Tinnitus" 7" EP, three versions of the Background LP– straight up, remixed, and as a live set– compilation tracks, and a pair of covers (Billy Bragg’s "New England" and Embrace’s "Money").

Background is historically important, but it’s awkward as a three-peat. I appreciate "You" and "Thanks" (sounding very Hüsker Dü in its remixed form), but three times? That said, the most interesting take is the 2005 overhaul: It’s sharper, brighter, the guitars more pronounced, the drums super-sized. It’s so superior to the original that it seems odd they bothered including the old version on the unnecessary second disc. It’s nice for purists to have both that and the live archival stuff, but otherwise the second slab feels like a justification for the 52-page perfect-bound booklet, which comes amply packed with liner notes, lyrics, and photographs. Those visual accouterments are great, but why not pack disc two with additional rarities or practice tapes?

Whatever my gripes, disc one’s tight. It’s great to listen again to "Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey", originally released as the superior B-side to the "Boy’s No Good" 7". Same goes for 1994′s "Ferret", which takes a minute or so kick into a quicker gear; when it does, it shifts to a blissfully emotive harmony. "Isae Aldy Beausoleil" and the rest of the stuff from the Seven Inches compilation is here, as well, but the real collector gems, are previously unreleased remixes of Jersey’s Best Dancers material: A mellow, differently enunciated "Young, Loud, and Scotty" and a fuzzed-out "Bringin’ It Backwards", featuring a less explosive mosh coda than the album version. The rawer "Theme Song For a New Brunswick Basement Show"’s appealing in its apropos basement-karaoke quality.

But why Lifetime? Why now? As most folks know, they recently signed to Decaydance, a subsidiary of Fueled By Ramen run by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz. Cynics and angsty teens are shaking their heads, but Lifetime were climaxing when they split and remain friends (or, at least friendly), so why not? In their first incarnation, New Brunswick’s finest delivered their sounds in a tiny van, crashing on friend’s popcorn strewn floors. Their music’s always reflected that road-wizened, pre-Warped Tour sensibility– the production never slick, but always tight. That in mind, guessing which direction the band takes with the new record will be fascinating. Wisely, they’re sticking with Steve Evetts, who recorded their last two records. Smart, because their legacy could largely depend on it (no pressure, dudes). But whatever, even if they weren’t returning to hopefully breath some life into a fairly stale genre, Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey successfully provides a snapshot of an important moment in hardcore and post-hardcore before it become a million-dollar industry. Here’s hoping they get some of that cake, too.

Girls Can Tell: Angsty emo documents prove the ladies are still a major threat

Middle school dance, last chance for a kiss, DJ doing his part: "These songs have mad dance parts, so don’t let ‘em go to waste." For a minute, watching Kid Dynamite guitarist Dan Yemin give the pep talk midway through the band’s Four Years in One Gulp postmortem DVD, it seemed he’d been to the same parties as I, but then came the clarification, courtesy of vocalist Jason Shevchuk: "Yeah, they’re angry dance parts, so look out."
Kid Dynamite predecessors Lifetime shared two members with their later incarnation—Dan Yemin and drummer Dave Wagenshutz—and their retrospective odds-’n'-ends Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is angry too, though probably only danceable from the fetal position. "You" makes their emo-boy bind clear: "You took the best of her/When you had sex with her/You took the best of me/I trusted and you fucked me."

When it hurts too bad, cut it off: Kid Dynamite perfected Lifetime’s unrequited love-as-violence-as–emotional hardcore template—Rites of Spring’s tragic rasp plus a Dag Nasty chorus, issued over Junkyard crossover-metal chugs—and made it a paradoxical farewell to the females who’d birthed the genre’s core subject matter, just by existing.

Though Four Years does detail four years, there aren’t four females in its entire 90 minutes.

Swamps of Jersey features Lifetime’s own young mistake: yoking the pain of rejection to early-’90s one-word song titles ("Alive," "Up") and solid-state guitar tone. The mash-up didn’t work, for their sex life or otherwise, though the songs were better for trying; later, and included here, they’d cover post–Minor Threat therapy (Embrace’s "Money") and Billy Bragg come-ons ("New England") and realize, as on "Young, Loud, and Scotty," that girls were just inevitable: "I can’t think of anything I’d rather do/Than have my heart broken by you." No wonder they reunited last month.

Lifetime play the Bamboozle at Meadowlands Sports Complex May 7.

Lifetime [I]Somewhere in the Swamps of New Jersey[/I] Review

Beautifully encapsulates the melodicore heroes’ beginnings.

Though no longtime fan should be surprised, it’s amazing how Lifetime’s reputation and influence have endured through the past decade. Sure, there were plenty of knock offs immediately following the band’s ascension in the mid-?°»90s – namely Boxer and the first Saves The Day album – but did anyone think that the band’s manic pacing and chorus-less songs were gonna be relevant in 2006? I certainly thought the likes of Shades Apart and Texas Is The Reason were gonna be revered before Lifetime. But here we are, nine years after the band called it quits (after guitarist Peter Martin quit), and their hold on the punk / hardcore community is stronger than ever. Not that I have a problem with it: I’ve loved the band since ’95, when a college friend played me Hello Bastards. I remember being thoroughly impressed by their ability to not rely on repetition to sink hooks into you, as well as their intense energy that almost borderlined on ramshackle. Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey, however, does not include Hello Bastards or its flawless follow-up Jersey’s Best Dancers (released after the band broke up): instead, it compiles all of the band’s material prior to the two said records, including two 7”s, one full-length, demos, covers, and a live set from ’93. So if you already own Hello Bastards and Jersey’s Best Dancers, this thing is all you need to complete your Lifetime discography. It’s as thorough as it gets. Sure, the more-than-dated sound that the band employed in their early years is pretty embarrassing – vocalist Ari Katz’ unsteady vocals and lifeless melodies (problems he would overcome by the Tinnitus EP), one-dimensional chugga riffs, overly “flower power” lyrics, etc. – but it serves as historical evidence of Lifetime’s evolution.

The full-length, Background, gets a complete remix here that greatly reduces the reverb and muddiness of the original, finally letting the nature of the organic instruments shine through. The original mix and the live set recorded around this era – included on disc two – sound pretty useless in comparison. “Myself,” “Ghost,” and the title track are all still highlights: maybe the band will throw some of these in, now that live shows are happening again?

For my money, Tinnitus and the b-side that this collection takes its name from (previously only available on an out-of-print 7”) are where the real goods are. They showcase Lifetime at their final destination: powerful, energetic, inventively melodic, compositionally left-of-center, and utterly infectious. Just try and deny ?°»em.

The 52-page, perfect-bound booklet is gorgeous, though I wish it contained somewhat of a family tree of the band. How else are people going to reap geeky knowledge that Chris Daly – who would go on to be in Texas Is The Reason (with liner notes author Norm Brannon) and then Jets To Brazil – was Lifetime’s first drummer? Or what happened to his mysterious successor, David R., before Dave Wagenschutz took over the sticks? And, of course, whatever happened to bassist Linda, who apparently never recorded with the band (despite having her picture on the back of the original Background album, as well as in the insert of this collection)? A doofus like myself can only ponder?°¦

As Lifetime get ready to record a reunion album and try their hand at a second life, Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is a perfect way to wrap up loose ends and look ahead. Everyone now knows where they came from and old-timers like myself can smile at the memories of first hearing the band, so let’s quit it with the nostalgia and get pumped for what’s to come. I doubt we’ll be disappointed.

Lifetime [I]Somewhere in the Swamps of New Jersey[/I] Review

Lifetime has supplied me with a soundtrack to my life through the late high school years to early college years. The first time I heard these guys from Jersey I was floored by their ability to write such heavy, yet catchy guitar lines with in-your-face vocals. The lyrics talked and roared to me like no other words in music did before. Lifetime helped me discover what the phrase "memories and melodies" was all about, and for that I am forever grateful. It seems so cliché however, for another music journalist or another band member to explain how much and how deep Lifetime impacted them in a positive fashion. Truth being told though, there is a reason for that, because I would bet most of the time, what is being said is the absolute truth.

Thanks to another gem from Jade Tree, Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is a collection of rare demos, compilation tracks, cover songs, remixes, unreleased and live tracks. The songs span and document how the band’s sound evolved from the beginning to the end. One of the neat aspects of this double-disc is to hear how far ahead of their point in time Lifetime truly was. So many of the bands you hear today have been influenced in some way by the wound up, melodic hardcore music that defined a generation of kids that spent their Friday nights crammed into a dingy basement somewhere in New Jersey, rocking the night away.

What may be neatest aspect of this release is the 52-page booklet that accompanies Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey. It is packed with photos, lyrics and other words that do a wonderful job of spanning and documenting the history of the band. If they made a class in high school for young punkers titled Lifetime 101, this double-disc and booklet would serve as the textbook. The first disc features everything from B-sides, 7" tracks, and unreleased mixes. Most of these tracks are as raw as you will get, and really capture that unrefined and unprocessed essence of the band. The second disc goes a little overboard in that all the tracks from the Background album are included and then re-hashed with a poor live recording. I can honestly do with the live songs, but having them back-to-back with the original tracks is a little overboard in my opinion.

With it looking more and more like Lifetime will be heading back to the music world (yes the rumors are true), courtesy of a label from a pop-punk king, no one really knows what their new material will sound like or how it will be accepted. I’m really glad that Jade Tree put this collection together. It reminds me of who Lifetime truly are. I can’t get mad at whatever or wherever the future of the band is headed, but I do know one thing, their past made them, and I’m glad I got to experience that back in the day, and now once again on Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey.

Lifetime [I]Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey[/I] Review

Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is a two-disc set of everything Lifetime released besides Hello Bastards and Jerseys Best Dancers. It’s awesome to have the song "Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey" on a CD. The re-mastered versions of the Seveninchesare a great listen, especially for newer fans that wanted to hear exactly when Lifetime perfected the precise mixture of melody and mosh that bands like Fall Out Boy, Saves the Day, and New Found Glory have been stealing riffs from ever since. However, I think including both versions of Background was a bit of overkill; the re-mastered versions don’t add much to quality of the original recordings. It’s nice to see a band’s humble beginnings but no one really needs to ever endure three versions of "You." Although from a completist standpoint Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is an excellent discography for a band that meant so much to a lot of us.

I warn you now; it’s going to get a little emo here on out, so if you want to stop reading before it gets too overdramatic I don’t blame you.

The booklet of Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is 52 pages of old photos, lyrics, and historical recount done by Norman Brannon of Anti Matter Fanzine where he talks about their early beginnings and their first West Coast tour in a windowless van with Resurrection. I had to choke back the tears on the bus ride home as I read the part where Norm went to one of the Lifetime reunion shows this past Summer. He had a talk with Ari about music and Norm mentioned he was in a band but didn’t know if he wanted to continue on with music and Ari replied, "You will, you just can’t stop. It’s what we do." That just hammered home how much this band means to me. Lifetime was never about having an agenda or changing the world. They were just guys that played hardcore because they had too. It was in their blood and deep within their hearts. It summed up everything that I have ever thought about hardcore or punk rock or even music in general. People played music for their love for it and people listened to it because it made their lives more bearable because someone out there got "it," whatever "it" was. For some people it was about anger, or having a crush on some, or dealing with assholes. Lifetime knew exactly what "it" was for me and wrote the songs for me to sing along to.

Lifetime is the band that changed everything for me. They made me realize that hardcore could have a heart and be catchy so that your girlfriend wouldn’t hate you for listening to it. And yet it was still awesome. Every time I listen to Lifetime I recall a certain happy memory that any number of their songs invoke. Lifetime is my favorite band of all time and always will be. Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey could be no better gift to Lifetime fans out there. Thank you, Jade Tree and Lifetime, for releasing this.

9.5 / 10

A Lifetime of Rock

New Jersey’s Lifetime busted up the norms of New Jersey’s punk scene with white-knuckled fury. Their progeny offer tributes.

If you’ve ever heard one of your favorite pop-punk bands talk about their influences, you probably noticed the name Lifetime. When the hardcore scene was at its peak, Lifetime strayed from the formula and broke the mold with raucous punk anthems and playful lyrics like "I’m gonna poke you in the eye."

On the eve of the release of their collectors set, Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey, and just past their reunion at South by Southwest, asked some of the bands most inspired by Lifetime to tell us why the band was important to the development of their sound, and punk-infused rock in general.

Geoff Rickly, Thursday:
"To us, Lifetime was the band that started the whole tradition of New Brunswick bands. They weren’t just a band; they stared a community and created a scene. If it weren’t for bands like Lifetime, we probably wouldn’t even be a band. Besides that they were one of the greatest hardcore bands of all time."

Greg Attonito, Bouncing Souls:
"Lifetime influenced me not in a way you would expect. They took the Bouncing Souls out on its first U.S. tour which of set the course for my entire life. We camped out together in state parks across the country, we cooked food on the Coleman stove together. These are moments that seem small in a way, but really are very big, and all along their music was soaking in. At first, I didn’t like them. Ari had such a strange style, but there was a feeling there that was unmistakably individual when you put all the pieces together it had a character like no other. It grew on me and and I grew to love the music and the guys in it. To all the guys in Lifetime: Thanks for being a great part of my life."

Chris Conley, Saves the Day:
"Lifetime wrote songs about inner turmoil while other bands were screaming about who had the best straight edge tattoo."

Adam Lazarra, Taking Back Sunday:
"Lifetime influences everything I do. The first time I heard that band was the first time I understood the true power of music."

Rob Hitt, Midtown:
"As much as I took all the Lifetime songs to heart and loved the music (and they’re even still one of my top ten favorite bands, ever) I think the impact Lifetime had was much greater than the specific songs themselves. At the time Hello Bastards came out, the New Jersey scene was entrenched with hardcore bands and new bands had very little opportunity to expand beyond that ‘scene’ musically without getting ridiculed or looked down upon.

"Lifetime was the first band that was able to break out of the typical hardcore mold and add the elements of pop and pop-punk while still holding the integrity that the hardcore scene (of then) held onto so dearly.

"Now for me, personally, this opened up the doors for me to say, ‘I want to write music combining elements of my favorite hardcore and pop-punk bands.’ I loved the Gorilla Biscuits, Burn, and Minor Threat but also loved the pop punk bands like Jawbreaker, Screeching Weasel, and the Descendents. I was 16 or 17 then and the feeling it gave me was that it’s okay to embrace the idea that it’s okay for music to change, and okay to pull influences from wherever the hell you damn like and not just obey the forefathers of hardcore or metal.

"I read Lifetime interviews where they talk about bands that are big now that say they took influence from Lifetime but don’t sound anything like them. I’ll agree: These bands don’t play fast, punk rock hardcore, but what Lifetime ultimately did was change the thought paradigm of what hardcore music was, or, so I should say, what hardcore has to be giving the rest of us the excitement to start something new and different from the status quo of the time."

Buddy Nielsen, Senses Fail:
"I used to cut class in seventh grade and smoke cigs in the graveyard while listening to Hello Bastards. To me, Lifetime is the most influential band to ever come out of New Jersey."

Chris McLane, Stretch Arm Strong:
"Lifetime is one of those bands that set the mark that scores and scores of bands tried to follow and hopefully come close to. They set in motion an attitude and style of music that is mimicked so relentlessly today. They knew then that the tough guy attitude and knuckle dragging mentality could not last forever. They wrote and still write songs that move and inspire.

"We have been around long enough to not only be inspired by these guys, but we actually got to play with them many years ago in a club in our home town of Columbia, South Carolina. Watching them play was like watching aggression, passion, and emotion all at once. I can’t wait to see what else these guys have in store for us."

Lifetime [I]Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey [/I] Review

3 out of 5 stars

In the world of punk rock, 14 years is, no pun intended, a lifetime. 1992’s so far removed from the happenings of 2006, it’s hard even to remember the impact that Lifetime had when its first album, Background came out. Although the notion of melody in hard-edged punk music was nothing new, Lifetime injected a melodic sense into East Coast hardcore/punk in a way that turned heads, made fans and set the stage for bands such as Good Riddance, Strike Anywhere and dozens of other acts.

Now, Lifetime didn’t invent the melodic-punk thing at all, but it sure put the two ends together, using a dose of street-rat sincerity and progressive positivism to launch a brief career that’d earn the outfit a place in the underground’s heart almost as revered as that of Jawbreaker or Minor Threat. On Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey, Jade Tree rounds up the act’s 1992 debut, Broken, a horde of live cuts, a few B-sides, and alternate mixes and a few 7-inch singles. It’s a reminder of why Lifetime – and to a lesser extent, the bands that followed in its wake – made such an impact on the punk underground.

Broken wasn’t the band’s best effort (for that, turn to Jade Tree’s 1995 pressing of Hello Bastards), but it still stands up remarkably well. Lifetime was still finding its feet when it headed into the studio for this album; consequently, many of the songs lack some of the sophistication of later tunes. That doesn’t diminish their impact. Tracks like “Myself,” “You” and “Background,” with their simultaneously sticky-sweet and hard-and-jagged guitars and anthemic vocals, helped kick-start an East Coast punk scene that recognized that a dose of pop melodies didn’t necessarily preclude keeping your heart and motivations in the right spot.

The odds’n’sods section of the album, which collects tracks that surfaced on the Lifetime and Tinnitus 7-inches cuts up another dose of Lifetime, and collects the material that surfaced on two previous editions of The Seven Inches, effectively bringing all of Lifetime’s catalog under the Jade Tree roof.

Jade Tree gets a little carried away in its fanaticism for all things Lifetime, however, including alternate mixes, which, really aren’t considerably different enough for anyone but the biggest fan-boy to notice, for virtually all of the tracks on Background, as well as nearly half the cuts on the band’s swan song, 1997’s Jersey’s Best Dancers (1997, Jade Tree). Coupled with an early live set that covers the same ground – for the third time on this two-disc set – as Background, it’s hard not to feel as if a large part of Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is stuffed full of padding and/or collectors-only material.

A too-inclusive track list or not – a standard reissue of the original running length of Background would be nice, too – Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey nonetheless takes early Lifetime songs out of the hands of eBay price-gougers and back into realms of affordability. With a band like Lifetime, who can complain about that?

Interview with Dan Yemin

Dan Yemin / LIFETIME
Interview by Jordan A. Baker

If it still seems a little strange to be reading a new feature about LIFETIME, well, I would agree with you. Before Pastepunk even launched in 1998, LIFETIME was already broken up and a memory. Although immensely popular in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast region where the band originated, its national legacy was still a few years away from being cemented. Thanks to the stunning ascent of KID DYNAMITE, which featured LIFETIME staple, Dan Yemin, the band’s history never strayed too far from public consciousness. In 2005 the organizers of Hellfest did the unthinkable – they figured out a way to make the members of LIFETIME an offer they couldn’t refuse. As we all know, Hellfest 2005 collapsed in shocking disarray days before it was supposed to start and LIFETIME in turn played a host of weekend shows to extremely excited kids in Philadelphia. With those shows going exceedingly well, a spark was lit and LIFETIME decided to continue building off such momentum by playing a series of shows on the West Coast in January, and will play the SXSW music conference in March. This interview is one-half of a piece with Dr. Dan Yemin, conducted by Pastepunk contributor Matt St. John and News Editor Justin August at one of the LIFETIME shows in January (in San Francisco to be exact). You can read the other half here (not yet posted – coming soon!!).

Pastepunk/ A lot of people talk about how Lifetime brought a lot of positive vibes to a scene that wasn’t so positive at the time…

Dan: In the early 90’s?°¦

Pastepunk/ Yeah, and I was wondering what you thought you guys did that was so different from what was going on at the time?

Dan: Did you ever hear what was going on in 1990 on the East Coast? Oh good lord it was awful; a lot of goatees and baseball bats. I mean, there were literal hard guys making music, and then a lot of poser hard guys making music, and it was right when that label In Effect was kind of at its height. They were sending all of their hardcore bands to this one studio, Normandy Sound in Providence that made everything sound like metal. So you had JUDGE, who did a great 7 inch, and then put out an album that sounded like?°¦metal. It was really slick and kind of annoying. RAW DEAL, great hardcore band with a great demo recording an LP that sounded like an Iron Maiden record or a Slayer record. Then there was a lot of just like?°¦thuggish posturing. I mean, I am into MINOR THREAT and 7 SECONDS. I’m into BLACK FLAG and that kind of negativity too, but not like?°¦ I mean, I know there are people in the East Coast that had tough lives, but a lot of it just didn’t feel right to me.

Pastepunk/ There is a real difference from being negative and being an asshole?°¦

Dan: Yeah, and that is the other thing. There are different kinds of menace, you know? Menace that comes from true desperation?°¦I’m into it. Menace that comes from being a fucking hoodlum cause your dad beat you and you got a chip on your shoulder, then I’ve got no interest in it. I mean, I don’t come from that kind of background, and that it is a privilege?°¦I know that. But it didn’t make any sense to us at the time. It didn’t feel good. So we kind of put on affectations in the opposite direction, and like we’ll put flowers on everything, and if people are going to call us pussies, then that is awesome. We just weren’t behind that stuff. By the way, and just to put out there: I really like JUDGE and KILLING TIME. I just didn’t like the aesthetic: the “metalifying” of hardcore. I mean, we saw it happening right before our eyes. I don’t know if you guys are in your twenties, but you kind of take it for granted that metal is like 80 percent of hardcore, but that was like a new phenomenon at the time. We were like, “come on. Give me a break. This won’t last.” Oops. (laughs)

Pastepunk/ What was it like for you guys getting a lot of shit from that scene? Was there a group of kids that were always down with Lifetime, or were you guys always fighting?°¦

Dan: Oh we never fought. I mean, we fought to keep the pit safe, that kind of stuff. That was more like breaking up fights. We fought to keep it fun. I remember the first time we came out to California, no one had even heard us. Our 7 inch hadn’t even come up yet. People were stage diving off of the speakers, huge circle pits. We were like, “that would be great if this is what happened at home. Everyone just smiling, jumping on each other, and running around in circles. Not like karate kicking?°¦” I mean, it was just when the karate style of dancing had been invented, and we were like, “This is fucking bullshit.”

Pastepunk/ Where did the kung-fu dancing come from?

Dan: I’ve heard that Chaka, from BURN ashamedly takes credit for it; just being young, and not really caring who he ran into. But there were a lot of scary dudes in New York at that time. A lot of really scary dudes. I was scared a lot of the times.

Pastepunk/ I lived by Atlantic City for a little bit, and I went to some hardcore shows, and it still has some pretty scary dudes?°¦

Dan: Yeah, they only come out for certain kinds of shows, so generally if you don’t go to stupid shows, then you aren’t going to run into them. Those people don’t come to see PAINT IT BLACK because in the words of some dude that I just happened to walk into a conversation?°¦ There had been some big brawl at the church, and people were talking about it. Oddly enough, it was at a 7 SECONDS show, and there was some stupid beef about how someone talked about someone’s girl friend, and then someone beat someone up. Then someone called the cops, and charged them with assault. I dunno, some stupid shit; kindergarten shit. So, 7 SECONDS and KILL YOUR IDOLS were deciding if they should just go home or play, and I was like “You know it’s weird that these people don’t come when we play,” and then some kid with a sideways baseball hat was just like, “oh, that’s cause y’all are commies.” Then I was like, “really? Huh. That’s hilarious.” I mean, God bless! If that is why people like that stay away, then I’m a commie; I am a communist homosexual, and you can stay home. You and your ice pick can stay home.

Pastepunk/ We were reading the Alternative Press article that was written about 6 months before Hell Fest?°¦

Dan: Yeah, they actually did a great job with that. I was pretty impressed. Really flattered.

Pastepunk/ In it you say that Lifetime isn’t going to reunite unless it is for a really good cause. Is money for these shows going to like Shirts for a Cure, or any other charities, or did you like change your mind?

Dan: That was the reason we reunited in August. It was all about charity. The story behind that was the whole Hell Fest thing, which always seemed like a pretty ill-advised endeavor to me. Again, it was a lot of stupid stuff; I mean it’s called Hell Fest. There are a lot of stupid metal-core bands. I mean, there is good metal-core, but most of it is stupid. The stuff that is good is really good, but most of it is retarded. And the mascara shit is above and beyond retarded. Anyway, Hell Fest had been offering Lifetime fairly large sums of money for a few years trying to get us to play. We always said no, like “that’s just not a good reason.” But they got me in my fucking weak spot this year, they said “we will donate, in addition to paying you, we will donate $25,000 to charity.” That is a lot of money.

Pastepunk/ Was that just to Shirts for a Cure?

Dan: No, actually Shirts for a Cure was not our charity. We picked different charities. I mean I love Mark, but it felt like; if you have an opportunity to do something like that, you should spread it around. We had already done a lot for Shirts for a Cure. We had already kind of kicked off the whole ?°»bands helping out Shirts for a Cure’ thing, and I’m so proud of that. I love Mark, but he is doing fine. There are other people who need our help more. We did give him a shirt design which is apparently selling quite well. But we picked different charities. We couldn’t decide on just one, so we picked four. I mean we are all very different people; all left wing politically, but some of us wanted to do more radical stuff, and others wanted to have more mainstream interests. We ended up donating the money to four charities, and I was psyched about it. We ended up raising a lot of money. One is something called The Out Fund, which is sort of a broad based grant initiative that provides grant money to different endeavors that are promoting gay rights interests. There is another one; an old hardcore kid from our days in New Brunswick named Rich Cunningham started a labor organization called New Labor. There is a large migrant worker population in the New Brunswick area that are not citizens, and it is organizing them into a bargaining force that can’t be taken advantage of. You know, negotiate more effectively for equal pay and fair treatment for migrant laborers in New Brunswick. Then there is the Nature Conservancy, and a Grey Hound adoption organization. Then after that it was like, ?°»man, that was fun. You wanna do that some more? Do you wanna like play again?’ Thank you Hellfest for shitting the bed. Thank you for being retarded and irresponsible, and getting the plug pulled because we would never be playing together again otherwise. We would have had this kind of absurd, alienating experience playing in front of 9,000 people, in front of a barricade and a security force. Then we would have been like, ?°»Wow. That was cool, but really weird.’ Then we would have gone home. But this was like this thing where we played some real intimate shows. Like big shows, but intimate shows. People were like falling on our heads, and we were close to each other, and it was great. We were like, ?°»That was great.’ Then we were calling each other the next day, and we were like, ?°»What are we gonna do?’ I was really nervous because I’m divorced, and I’m in a relationship now that is really awesome. PAINT IT BLACK is my first priority musically. I’m in another band too that has an album coming out this month.

Pastepunk/ ARMALITE? So good?°¦

Dan: You heard that? Thanks man. So it’s like, what am I gonna do? I can’t say no to this. I love this music and these guys, but at the same time I don’t want to be divorced again, and I don’t want PAINT IT BLACK to take the back seat to anything. I don’t want to be the guy that is always disappointing everybody. But then I thought about it, and thought two of the band members have kids, and everyone is married and has like mortgages and shit; what’s wrong with just asking for what you want? So I said, ?°»I really want to do Lifetime again, but my relationship comes first, and Paint it Black comes second, and that has got to be the deal. I don’t want to do anything unless we can all do it.’ That was the deal, and everyone was cool with that, so?°¦

Pastepunk/ What do you think of all the really bad bands that say, ?°»My biggest influence is Lifetime,’ but they don’t sound anything like you guys?

I think a lot of people were influenced by what Ari was doing lyrically, and that’s cool. I mean, we talked about this in an interview last night, when people say they are really influenced by Lifetime, were not quite sure what they were listening too. Lifetime was a fast as shit punk band. If I had to describe what we were doing it would be what happened if Billie Joe from GREEN DAY was singing for the GORILLA BISCUITS. Or what would happen if somebody in a hardcore band just listened to Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, and Bruce Springsteen as their vocal and lyrical influence. That’s what Lifetime was doing and I don’t know what “emo” is. “Emo” was RITES OF SPRING and EMBRACE, and everything after that is?°¦ I don’t know what it is. But it’s not eyeliner and it isn’t faux-melodrama, and it’s not like, ?°»I want to be buried in your back yard.’ But to be fair, if people found things in what we were doing influential that we don’t understand, you can’t not be flattered. Take what you want and then go with it, and make music that you love, inspire people, inspire yourselves. It’s like nobody has to pass my test about whether or not their influences are really, truly derivative of Lifetime. Our intentions were not anywhere in the arena of most of the bands that say they were influenced by Lifetime, but that’s ok. I don’t begrudge them, and what I do think is that I am really happy that people are saying, ?°»Hey, we are really influenced by this band that we grew up loving.’ How can you not be flattered by that? You would have to be a mean, bitter, son-of-a-bitch to not like that. I mean thank you guys, thank you to all of you for being really flattering and kind. Just cause it’s not music I would make doesn’t mean they aren’t influenced by Lifetime.


Hardcore and Punk Bands Rock for Charity at Annual Concert


Hellfest 2K5

When: Today through Sunday, starting at 11 a.m. each day

Where: Sovereign Bank Arena, 81 Hamilton Ave. at Route 129, Trenton

Cost: $45 per day

Info: For directions, visit or call (888) 722-8499 (SBA-TIXX)

How much does it cost to reunite one groundbreaking but bitterly divided band for one night only?

More than $50,000.

That’s how much money the promoters of HellFest, New Jersey’s annual three-day hardcore and punk music festival, are paying the members of Lifetime, a New Brunswick band, to play a 45-minute set Saturday night.

"It’s the biggest paid band in HellFest history," says HellFest co-producer Shawn Vanderpoel, 29, of Mount Holly.

And it’s all for a charitable cause. According to Vanderpoel and Lifetime guitarist Dan Yemin, the band members have pledged to donate the bulk of their money to a variety of activist groups. These include the OUT Fund, a grantwriting foundation for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups; New Labor, which monitors the treatment of low-wage immigrant workers in New Brunswick; The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental group; and Linda Ann’s Greyhound Rescue Inc. of Allentown, Pa., an animal welfare group.

Reuniting for charity seems to be the theme of this year’s HellFest. Of the 187 bands scheduled to play over the weekend, about a dozen are reunions (including, curiously, the rap group Public Enemy) and several of these bands are playing for charitable causes. But few are as eagerly anticipated as Lifetime.

That may be because Lifetime has a nearly tragic story, at least by rock standards. Most bands hit their peak, break up and are quickly replaced by another. The opposite happened to Lifetime. It formed in 1990 in New Brunswick to play a relatively young rock genre called emo, or emotional, hardcore music. Because it was at odds with the "tough guy" music popular at the time, Lifetime was heckled or disregarded by the local scene.

The band toured relentlessly and recorded three albums over the next seven years. But it could never break out of its niche. Much of this was due to internal strife, which ate away at the band throughout its existence.

But much more seems due to the fact that Lifetime was a proverbial band before its time. In 1997, it released its most critically acclaimed album, "Jersey’s Best Dancers," and called it quits, pledging never to play again.

Word spread about Lifetime. Its music, especially on its final album, was so catchy it seemed viral. It was a rhythmically complex and highly melodic strain of emo. Tinges of this can be heard in many of today’s bigger bands. When emo started to hit the commercial charts in 2004, bands like Taking Back Sunday, which now headline arena tours, cited Lifetime as their primary influence. "I think maybe by persevering that we were able to open the door for something," says Yemin, 37, a Westfield native who now lives outside Philadelphia.

Every year since 2001, the HellFest producers approached the members of Lifetime to play a reunion show. Every year, they offered a bigger sack of money. "It was almost like a joke. It was like, ‘Oh, send an offer to Lifetime," Vanderpoel says.

That is because that every year, Lifetime said no. The wounds had never healed.

Yemin seemed especially averse to the suggestion. "Artists, they are born and they die for a reason," he says.

Reunions seem to ignore that for the sake of self-serving nostalgia. "One of the primary reasons" for a reunion, Yemin says, "is, ‘Hey dude, none of these kids saw us back in the day. Wouldn’t it be awesome … ?’"

He echoed this sentiment earlier this year when he pledged in the magazine Alternative Press that he would never reunite Lifetime without "a really good reason."

A few months later, the HellFest folks scrounged one up. "I would have to be extremely selfish and stubborn to say no," Yemin says. "Especially in punk rock, where there is a lot of lip service to ‘making a change.’

"For this time, I will happily eat my words," he says.

Expecting biggest Hellfest yet

The ninth annual Hellfest is proving a force to be reckoned with. This independently produced three-day festival is expected to have its biggest year yet. More than 180 hardcore, punk and heavy metal bands are slated to play across five stages and before more than 7,000 concertgoers per day.

Highlights include sets by Chimaera, Converge and The Misfits (today); The Bouncing Souls (Saturday); and Killswitch Engage (Sunday). Several bands are having reunion concerts as well, including the hardcore rap group Public Enemy.

In addition to music, Hellfest features a 10,000-square-foot skate and BMX bike park, designed by Tim Glomb of MTV’s "Viva La Bam." Makers of the energy drink Red Bull will also bring their 13-foot tall, 60-foot wide vertical ramp. These areas will be open for amateur riders, except during professional demos. More than a dozen pro riders like Colin McKay and Jason Ellis have been flown in to show off their moves.

Concertgoers can top off the weekend with a tattoo. For the second year, Hellfest has set up booths for regional tattoo artists. Enter if ye dare.

Lifetime [I]Jersey’s Best Dancers[/I] Review

After the release of this album in 1997, Lifetime broke up. Fans were saddened, but the band left them with this great piece of music. What can I say? From start to finish, Jersey’s Best Dancers is a punk masterpiece, and a brilliant way for Lifetime to say goodbye to the music world.

Lifetime was always known for the high amount of lyrical emotion, amazing riffs, vocals, and most of all, a great live show. All that energy is displayed on this disc, in just about twenty five minutes. There are so many amazing things to describe this band, but it’s just hard to put it.

After listening to Jersey’s Best Dancers, you will definitely have lyrics and memorable parts stuck in your mind for days. If you pick this up, I have a feeling it won’t be leaving your player for a while.

I have many regrets, not seeing Lifetime live is one of them. If you had the chance, consider yourself lucky. I can only imagine the high energy packed into a Lifetime show. It had to have been amazing.

Every band progreses. With their debut release, The Background, potential was shown, but the whole package wasn’t there yet. After finding a permanent line up, Hello Bastards was released. It blew the scene away. With Jersey’s Best Dancers, Lifetime displays itself at its very best.

Ari Katz is one of the most under-rated punk vocalists of all time. The depth in his voice is amazing. The guitar work on this album by Dan Yemin and Pete Martin is great, as is the bass work by Dave Palaitis. Scott Golley is kicking on the drums.

The songs are short, but it doesn’t even matter. Each is amazing in its own way. Songs like Turpike Gates, Theme Song For A New Brunswick Basement Show, and How We Are, are just a few of my favorites. Ari took simple situations like loneliness, and basement shows and created incredible lyrics. Again, I just can’t describe the amount of emotion that this band displayed.

New Jersey has brought out some of the most memorable punk bands. Lifetime is somewhere at the top of that list. The scene there is just amazing.

Lifetime had such a strong impact on the scene. They influenced so many listeners, and musicians over the years. This will continue as more and more kids pick up a Lifetime release and give it a chance.

Should you buy this? If you’d like to think you have good taste in the scene, absolutely. It should be a staple in your collection. Jersey’s Best Dancers is a classic, but sadfully, it will never get the recognition it deserves.

Could we be saved by intentions and hopes
because I’m not alright
the night seems to swallow me whole and spits out second guessing

Lifetime [I]Hello Bastards[/I] Review

Talk about ahead of your time. Lifetime released this powerful little gem before Saves the Day had their driver’s licence. What do ya know, Lifetime breaks up, move on to other things, and some little snots proceed to swipe their sound and hit it big. Enough of that, now to the album.

Plain and simple, punk doesn’t get much better. Every song has at least one amazing moment, and for most of them, the amazing moment lasts all 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Headbashing speeds that often slow down to poppier rock songs, then as quickly as they changed first, it’s back to the ranting and rockin’. It’s all here. Tempo changes to keep you in tune at all times, heartfelt lyrics, a unique, powerful voice, and some very catchy hooks. "Anchor","It’s not Funny Anymore", "Irony is for Suckers", "Ostricized",well, I’m not gonna name them all, but you get the idea.This band, along with Jawbreaker, has helped change the face of punk rock. It breaks my hardcore heart to know that neither are around anymore. Before you camp out in line for Saves the Day’s new album, buy "Hello Bastards".

Lifetime [I]Boys No Good 7"[/I] Review

For those of you who are addicted to buying seven inch records, you cant go wrong with this one. It was released a few months before Lifetime put out their second album, Jersey’s Best Dancers. The a-side ,Boys no Good, comes from JBD, and is a rockin’ sing along. It’s a shining example of what Jersey’s Best Dancers sounds like. The B-side, Somewhere in the Swamps of New Jersey, is not available anywhere but on this release,(to my knowledge anyway) and is reason enough to buy this 7”. So melodic, so loud, and so punk. If you want to hear what you’ve been missing, this single is a perfect place to start. Once you hear Lifetime’s unique sound, you’re sure to get hooked like I did.