Bracing, politically-charged punk rock has been beating itself over the head with its own rhetoric for years now. For every Fugazi or Nation of Ulysses, there are 150 lesser-known, marginally talented groups re-treading the same ground. While they’ve got an impressive punk pedigree (members have done time in Kid Dynamite, Lifetime and Good Riddance and lead singer Dan Yemin is an honest-to-god Psy D.), Paint It Black don’t deviate much from the two-minute, vitriol-spewing formula upon which Minor Threat built an entire movement. Setting out like it has more than a little something to prove, CVA blows in like a typhoon, delivering seventeen mini-sermons in less than thirty minutes. Though their basic propaganda is timely and well-versed, it’s their more tongue-in-cheek stabs that really shine; "Bravo, Another Beautiful ‘Fuck You’ Song" and "This Song is Short Because it’s not Political" are biting without being sanctimonious, shot through with a hellacious zeal and mock hilarity that’s noticeably absent from the remainder of the set.
When I first received this CD for review I was honestly expecting to give it a pretty dismal review. Contrary to (what seemed like) most of the people in Philadelphia, I really wasn’t all that impressed with Paint It Black’s demo…it didn’t blow me away like I was expecting it to. After the first listen, it seemed their latest full length CVA was going to meet the same fate. Determined to give a fair review, however, I made myself listen to this record over and over again (clocking in at under 20 minutes, this task was not all that difficult). With each subsequent listen, I found myself enjoying this record more and more, finding new things here and there to appreciate.
If you don’t know, PIB plays fast, angry hardcore that isn’t necessarily anything special, but I honestly don’t think that’s what they’re going for. They hit you in the face, say what they want to say and aren’t going to apologize if you don’t like it. I have to respect that, because they manage to sound different than most of the bands I’ve been hearing lately.
The bottom line for me is the simple fact that not only does Paint It Black not blow me away IMMEDIATELY, but it’s also not at all what you’d expect coming out of the members of this band. This unexpected sound is shocking at first, but once you simply take it for what it is, you can grow to seriously enjoy the record a lot. You just don’t expect such a fast and angry sound to come out of ex-members of Kid Dynamite, Lifetime and The Curse. A few things though: I still don’t like the demo songs. Granted, they sound a lot better re-recorded, but I still think the newer songs are better and I believe that as they write more, Paint It Black will continue to improve. Also, Dave Wagenshutz is still my favorite drummer in hardcore and punk rock by FAR.
Formed by ex and current members of such bands as Lifetime, Kid Dynamite and Good Riddance, Paint It Black is a four piece hardcore band that really blew me away from the start. These hardcore punk band has been able to release an amazing record of 17 songs in less that 19 minutes, which means … fucking fast and furious! And if fact Paint It Black is the fastest band I heard in such a long time. With fast blasting tunes as "Anesthesia", "Void" and tracks like "Less Deicide, More Minor Threat", "Bravo, Another Beautiful "Fuck You" Song" or the sarcastic "Atticus Finch", Paint It Black delivers unabashed, uncompromising hardcore, negating the preconceived boundaries between the personal, political, melodic and aggressive, accentuating a much-appreciated axiom: maximum intensity. The record is one of the finest that Jade Tree ever released, not to mention, one of the finest hardcore punk album of this year.
Another band that features ex/current members of Kid Dynamite, Lifetime, and Good Riddance. Honestly I wanted to check out None More Black before this one, but I’ll have to live with this JUGGERNAUT OF HARDCORE. I don’t think Jade Tree knows what they’re getting themselves into with this band. Its hard, TOUGH, pissed at the world, start a circle pit in your living room, do front flips on your bed music! WOW. This band doesn’t pull any punches either. Think Negative Approach and Slapshot mixed with Kid Dynamite without the pop. Songs range from 25 seconds to about two minutes. Loaded with hardcore goodness I already see this one being a favorite.
For a while I decided I was gonna stop listening to hardcore in generalâ€¦ then I bought the American Nightmare "Background Music" LP and got slapped in the faceâ€¦ this is another slap in the face. Real Hardcore is still out thereâ€¦ mixed in with all the Poison the Well knockoffs there’s still a threat and this record shows it beautifully.
A lot of frustration is depicted in the lyrics about people that grow up and abandon hardcore musicâ€¦ I can relate, because I feel like the jaded kid they’re screaming about in every other song… see I told you it was a slap in the face! Cannibal is a fierce straight edge anthem. The Fine Art of Falling Apart deals with staying true to the music that you grew up listening toâ€¦ it is dedicated to Ari and other members of the above mentioned bands. The insert is bizarre. The Extreme Close Ups of the pretty mugs of the boys in the band is totally out of placeâ€¦ along with the lame cover art and “CVA” title, which has no explanation. Great record though. Check it out. Less Deicide, more Minor Threat indeed.
Sometimes I get the feeling that certain releases are almost too good to be true. Like this one for instance. I think one day I’m gonna wake up, open to the cd case to "CVA" and see a gelatinous pile of goo, obvious not fit for use in my stereo. "That’s it Jordan – it was all a lie, you will listen to the hardcore no more." Of course, I wouldn’t hesitate a moment and would procure another copy of this disc as soon as possible. Unlike the pretty-good, but ultimately not-as-satisfying KID DYNAMITE offshoot NONE MORE BLACK, PAINT IT BLACK rage and destroy with a tenacity and spitfire instinct that is truly awe-inspiring. This band chews through 17 songs in a shade under 19 minutes, and it’s virtually breathtaking. The music on here is tied so taut that any extra second would seem unnecessary. Many of the song structures here feel practically lifted from KID DYNAMITE in terms of familarity, but the harsh, muscular vocals of Dr. Yemin give PAINT IT BLACK its true identity. For the last few years, I really haven’t heard a vocalist manage to sound so bitter in delivery, but Yemin captures his anger in a way that few could channel.
One of the special perks of this disc is how the sound is totally old-school hardcore, like early Revelation Records material, but with modern production (re: this disc sounds like a monster!). No, this isn’t to say that PAINT IT BLACK sounds like JUDGE, but it’s clearly a small trip back about 15 years. The other thing that sets PAINT IT BLACK into elite territory is the passionate, fiery, personal lyrics. Whether it’s confronting anti-semitism on "The Insider," or revisiting the spirit and legacy of LIFETIME on "The Fine Art of Falling Apart," Yemin’s lyrical conviction is always spot on and gutsy. These are lyrics that are able to be embraced and shouted along to, not like any of the sappy school-yard shit that’s devoid of any lasting relevancies.
It’s mind-boggling how many stunning hardcore releases Jade Tree has put out in their tenure, and "CVA" ranks up their with the best them. Fight mediocrity in hardcore – listen to PAINT IT BLACK.
Clocking in at just 18 minutes 39 seconds, this 17-track disc is a welcome throwback to the positive force of East Coast hardcore that was plentiful and abundant in the early to mid-1980s but seemed to disappear in a haze of emo rock, pop-core and mall-ternative punk. Former Kid Dynamite and Lifetime guitarist Dan Yemin and Good Riddance drummer Dave Wagenschutz lead this quartet on a record that recalls the glory days of Youth of Today, Bold and Gorilla Biscuits and of course their predecessors like JFA and Minor Threat. (One of the tracks is a lament of disposable thrash called "Less Deicide, More Minor Threat.”) Politically charged, invigorating and to the point… just like punk was supposed to be.
"If I knew then what I know now, I’d do it all again."
Unsolved Mysteries called. They are curious as to why two ex-Kid Dynamite bands both included the word black in the names of their respective new bands. Maybe it was coincidence; maybe it was discussed over a tasty vegan lunch. Perhaps the world may never know.
Paint It Black is the Dan Yemin-powered punk rock dynamo that has risen from the ashes of the much-loved Philadelphian heroes once known as Kid Dynamite as well as the ultra-copied emo-punk originators called Lifetime. Also included in the band’s lineup is David Wagenschutz, the drummer of choice for both of those bands as well as the current version of Good Riddance. The other black band’s debut, None More Black’s aptly titled File Under Black, pales in comparison to this outfit throughout. Where that disc was bland, this one shreds.
CVA is a record for punk rock fans, a full length that thrashes by and apologizes for absolutely nothing. The whole thing, 17 tracks in all, flies by in an 18-minute blast and then leaves you hitting the play button again for more. Paint It Black sounds like Kid Dynamite minus a lot of the pop and sing alongs, bare bones hardcore meshed with punk that is as hard hitting as it is intelligent. Yemin’s rapid-fire vocals spit and growl in your face, simple and smart, yet with quite a bit of meaning. The whole album is reminiscent of punk hardcore’s roots and bands that have long since passed. While it’s hard to pick favorite tracks on a disc like this, "Atticus Finch" stands out with it’s almost-awkward tempo and metallic guitars that give way to a chaotic tempo-change, only to slow back down again.
There’s not much else to say about this album, except that it’s easily one of the best punk rock records thus fur this year. If you still dig the Descendents’ earlier material, you’ll eat this one up. Yemin and company have found a great formula that relies on pure force as much as anything else to get their point across. It’s something that punk rock is desperately missing these days, an identity other than Hot Topic-induced imagery.
Jade Tree still amazes me. They have this ear for amazing punk rock and continue to put out relevant records in a time when most everyone (Fat Wreck excluded) seems to have forgotten what substance is. Paint It Black is just another band in a long line of great stuff from the label; hold your breath for the Strike Anywhere full length due out later this year.
Most cities have a cyclical history to their punk scenes, and Philadelphia is no exception. The duo of Dan Yemin and Dave Wagenschutz (GOOD RIDDANCE) has helped lead the charge of more than one wave, first in the mid-’90s in the legendary LIFETIME and then again with KID DYNAMITE. Now, reunited in PAINT IT BLACK, the duo is poised to kick off yet another chapter of passionate and threatening music. PAINT IT BLACK marks Yemin’s vocal debut and introduces Dave Hause (THE CURSE) on guitar and Aandy Nelson (AFFIRMATIVE ACTION JACKSON) on bass. In less than a year of solid playing, the band has already garnered a strong local following while building anticipation for its first full-length, CVA. Continuing a natural although not too common progression, PAINT IT BLACK delivers unabashed, uncompromising hardcore, negating the preconceived boundaries between the personal, political, melodic and aggressive, accentuating a much-appreciated axiom: maximum intensity. CVA is highly recommended for fans of BLACK FLAG, SEVEN SECONDS and FAITH.
Rising from the ashes of the late Kid Dynamite, Paint It Black began not only with enormous expectations on their shoulders, but clearly a lot of conserved rage. Everyone pretty much agrees that Kid Dynamite couldn’t have ended at a more inopportune time, but even three years after the fact, this Philly outfit, led by Dr. Dan Yemin contains all the same great elements we loved about all their various previous incarnations complete with raging lyrics. Paint It Black’s new record "CVA" on Jade Tree Records is a constant reminder that while maybe Lifetime and Kid Dynamite are long gone, there are still plenty of ways to get your fix.
For those not familiar with the band, could you please give us your name, and where Paint It Black hails from?
Dave (Guitar): I’m Dave Hause and I hail from Philly. Roxborough, to be exact.
David (Drums): David Wagenschutz. I’m from Philly via Detroit.
Dan (Vocals): I’m Dan Yemin. I play the sore throat and write the songs. We’re from Philly.
Andy (Bass): I’m Andy Nelson and I live in Philly, but since some locals get touchy about true residence, I’m from Ardmore, the western suburb known as the "East Coast’s Answer To South Central" which has spawned such world renown punks as R5 Productions’ Sean Agnew, KILL THE MAN WHO QUESTIONS + Rockpile Magazine’s Mike McKee, and Mitchell from LUNGFISH.
What inspired Paint It Black to get things started?
Dan: You know how when you’re making a mix tape, and you end up with 30 or 40 seconds to spare at the end of each side, and you’re really bummed about having dead space at the tail end of your carefully crafted mix? We felt that there was a real need that wasn’t being filled, to have a band whose songs are the right length to fill up that little space. You can thank us later.
I noticed Dr. Dan has switched from tearing it up on guitar, to tearing it up on vocals. Why the switch?
Dan: That way if anyone quits, I can just replace them and no one will notice. Since I write the songs, and I sing them, this will be the first band I’ve been in that can’t be destroyed by quitters…and the only thing I’m tearing up at this point is cartilage.
We know Dave is currently playing for Good Riddance, are any other members of Paint It Black engaging in other projects at the moment?
Dave: My main current project is babysitting everyone’s favorite band from Boston, THE EXPLOSION.
Dan: Dave Hause, our guitarist, was in THE CURSE, and is working on another band that hopes to someday tour with GOOD CHARLOTTE and/or NEW FOUND GLORY. Andy is in AFFIRMATIVE ACTION JACKSON, who single-handedly rule the East Coast thrash scene. People on the East Coast are afraid to play that kind of music anymore because the competition is so fierce. I also play bass in a band with Atom from ATOM & HIS PACKAGE, Mike from KILL THE MAN WHO QUESTIONS, and Jeff from AFFIRMATIVE ACTION JACKSON, TOKYO, KNIVES OUT. I know that sounds like a joke, but it’s not.
Andy: I’m also doing a project band tentatively called STAB with my pals Brandon from I HATE YOU./AMERICAN NIGHTMARE/KNIVES OUT and Dave from THE BOILS. Also worth a mention is that David is working on a crossover thrash metal band with Colin from GO! FOR THE THROAT which should pretty much kill everything.
Can you tell us a little about your new record "CVA" coming out this summer?
Andy: Just like "…And Justice For All", it features no bass whatsoever.
David: It features 1.67 curse words per minute and comes out July 29th, 2003.
Dave: It’s great, and the more copies you buy, the less drywall I have to put up.
Dan: There were endless frustrations and delays due to members’ other bands’ tour schedules and our drummer’s back injury, and then mixing concerns and and an asbestos emergency at the mastering studio. It’s really short, and really fast, and really loud. Even more so than you might expect…The next record’s already written, so keep your eyes open.
What studio did you record at?
Dave: Atomic! in Brooklyn, where my bud Bob Strakele works. He smokes some really good pot and does sound for N.E.R.D.
Andy: Yes, we definitely share(d) guitar techs with the NEPTUNES. Pharrell is working on some tracks for our next LP as we speak.
Do you plan on doing any touring in support of the new cd?
David: Not me!
Andy: I’ll go wherever, as long as we don’t play any Clear Channel or 21+ shows. Actually, that’s a lie. I would play a 21+ show promoted by Clear Channel if we got to play with THE CARDIGANS.
Dan: Yes, but not as much as we’d like, again due to jobs and conflicts with members’ other bands, and the fact that Andy is agoraphobic and doesn’t like to leave the house, and Dave and Dave are too smart to be tricked into getting into a van with me.
Dave: If we get good guarantee money and can tour in a bus, I will go.
Where is your favorite venue to play?
David: Anywhere close to home.
Dan: I like the Unitarian Church in Philly and Stalag 13 (R.I.P.).
Andy: Yes, the F-U Church is tops.
Dave: In Moscow, there is this rad squat called "Fuck John Wayne". They serve you stale bread and you play punk songs and then you sleep in beds with lice. It’s really cool. We played there with CATHARSIS once and it was fun, but their guitar player was a dick.
Paint It Black’s sound is very aggressive, have your crowd responses been good so far? and do you think people have been disapointed that its not more melodic?
Andy: I still the think best response so far was when George from AUTUMN moshed at our first show in clothes that probably cost more than most people’s first car.
David: When you play for more than a year on a 4 song demo, your live set can only go so far.
Dan: Crowd responses have been generally rad and have ranged from insane to enthusiastic to having a room full of people stare at us in disbelief. I don’t know if people have been disappointed or not but I can only assume that they have. People were upset that Kid Dynamite wasn’t Lifetime, and I’m sure they’ll be upset that Paint It Black isn’t Kid Dynamite. And so it goes…
Dave: Yes, people are disappointed. Hopefully after we have their 10 bucks, though.
What kind of a standpoint does Paint It Black take lyrically, and who writes the lyrics?
Andy: I would like to think we take a very literate standpoint. By that I mean all the lyrics are spelled correctly and most of it is grammatically correct. And all the subtle references to Jean-Paul Sartre and other existentialist literature shows we’re no dummies.
Dave: Primarily a Hebrew standpoint. Dan writes all the lyrics, so it’s naturally Hassidic.
Dan: The lyrics generally address political concerns from a personal perspective. I guess you could say that the common theme is power in its various manifestations (monetary, military, psychological, construction and control of knowledge and discourse) and how it is used/abused in the service of social control, and in relationships between individuals as well. They’re also about survival and transcendence.
How many of you are Phillies fans? If the answer is zero I’m going to be very disapointed, being the avid Philly fan I am…
Dan: Baseball is stupid. It’s only slightly more exciting than golf.
Andy: Don’t listen to Dan, he only likes un-American sports like body building. I like the Phillies and until he died, I lived down the street from Richie Ashburn. Wait, I think I just dropped something.
Dave: I like the Phillies.
David: Go Tigers!
How often do you guys get to play shows, and what can kids expect from a Paint It Black live show?
David: Ten minutes of severely out of tune guitars and missed drum fills.
Andy: Stefan sticking his hand in my mouth while I’m trying to sing.
Dave: We play too often for me to get to practice, and not often enough for Dan’s liking. Expect a baby elephant on guitar wearing Charles Bronson’s wig when I am not playing.
Dan: We prefer the "shock and awe" approach to live performance. Cinder-block-to-the-face style, without having to be intimidated by violent assholes in the audience. Depending on our mood, a little preaching, a little humor, and don’t blink or you’ll miss it.
What is your opinion on the current indie scene? I have also noticed a lot of newer bands in the scene are taking a less active approach to helping kids take care of each other at shows. I’m talking about the age old " Hey, if somebody falls in the pit, pick them up" speech. Since music is such a powerful medium, and kids are so impressionable, do you feel a band should feel obligated to make some sort of effort to educate kids on that subject?
Dan: I can’t really speak for what I think other people’s responsibility might be, but I personally feel at least partially responsible for creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and respect. I guess it a shared responsibility between band and audience.
Andy: I always thought one of the coolest things about punk shows when I was growing up was the fact that you could jump off a 10+ foot high stage and a room full of complete strangers would catch you and make sure you didn’t fall or hurt yourself. Call it a cheesy metaphor, but the idea of everyone being there to help each other out is really important to me – and it’s really aggravating to know that there are kids in Philly who would sooner let a stage diver fall than help them out. Craziness is one thing, I fully endorse that, but being an asshole is another. As far as macho idiots in the pit go, I don’t think there’s much that needs to be said other than the fact that they fucking suck and if I ever see any of that kind of shit going on during one of our sets, I’m putting down my bass and personally escorting the guilty parties out of the show.
Do you ever notice situations where people take this whole idea of a "scene" for granted?
Dan: I think that, at least in Philly, there are people who take for granted the fact that we have all ages shows in a good venue with good sound every few days. Sometimes people would rather complain than be grateful and participate.
Andy: There are absolutely kids in Philly who take shit for granted. Kids here have the luxury of having a dozen amazing DIY punk / hc / indie / whatever shows here a week, so people who would otherwise be interested a DIY (Do It Yourself) scene become comfortable with a DIFM (Do It For Me) scene. Which is not to place any kind of blame on people like Sean Agnew & R5 Productions (since he’s pretty much single-handedly done more for independent music in this city than anyone else has for any other city), but merely from an observational standpoint, it creates the kind of atmosphere in which laziness gets the best of people who don’t necessarily NEED to find out how it’s really not so hard to do your own shows / fanzine / band / label or whatever. It’s a double edged sword, I guess.
What helped you guys as younger lads get into the whole punk rock thing?
Andy: The JUSTIFIED ACTION demo.
Dan: MINOR THREAT, 7 SECONDS and SSD, dude. But also MaximumRockNRoll.
I will quote a band I know in this question. "When we played Philly, that was the most unsafe I have ever felt in my life." Being from Pennsylvania myself, I feel Philly gets a bad rap sometimes. Now is the chance to set the record straight, what are your thoughts on Philly as a city, and as a place to play?
David: I love this city. Not too big, not too small…
Dan: Philadelphia is a great scene and is no more threatening than any other city. If you go to see a band that draws meatheads, no matter what city you are in, it will be a scary time. Whoever said that hasn’t spent much time here. Although we did have a brief period of time during which there was a pack of feral wolves that started fights at GET UP KIDS shows. They’ve since been disposed of.
Dave: Philly is a shit town, and the only reason I stay here is because I love my family and couldn’t be without them. The west coast is clearly better. San Francisco, Seattle…Come on. Philly is unsafe, unclean and the people drive like retarded members of the Third Reich.
Does Dan have a hard time balancing the band and his full time job as a psychologist?
David: Does our starting band practice at 9pm answer that question?
Dave: Yes he does, but not because of the psychologist thing. It’s because he’s busy drinking.
Dan: Yes. I’m still waiting for my stupid punk bands to net enough cash so that I can quit the respectable life for good.
Why did you feel Jade Tree would be the best label to release your cd on?
David: Easy. These guys are cool and let us do what we want.
Andy: Uh, duh. It’s Jade Tree!
Dave: I didn’t. I wanted to be on Interscope.
Dan: They took us to a brothel in an attempt to woo us away from Warner Brothers. Dudes know the way to a man’s heart. Seriously though, they are old friends, they know how we operate, and we know how they operate. You need to trust the people who handle your creative output.
Name off your top 5 80s hair metal/butt rock cds of all time. Please do not say Firehouse.
Andy: "Butt Rock"? You mean like SIR MIX A LOT?
Dan: FIREHOUSE, BULLET BOYS, FIREHOUSE, WHITE LION, POISON (because they share one word with POISON IDEA), and oh yeah…FIREHOUSE.
Dave: FIREHOUSE. Hahaha. No, I’d say "Rock For Light", "Damaged", "Out Of Step", "London Calling" and "Start Today".
That about wraps it up, do you have anything else you would like to add?
Dave: Brendan Hill is a swell dude, and Dave Adoff needs a job.
This is the sort of feeling you can’t fake â€¦ although thousands of punk bands try every day to no avail.
Made up of singer/guitarist Dan Yemen (Kid Dynamite and Lifetime) and Good Riddance drummer David Wagenschutz, Paint It Black tears the bottom out of the hopelessly overflowing sack of second-rate punk bands. Compromise isn’t an issue as the act finds a raw, no-fucking-around attitude that sits somewhere between the nihilistic ire of The Circle Jerks and Propagandhi’s pissed-off prostylizing. CVA is that no-nonsense punk record that comes along only once every few months: gritty, pointed and an exhilarating ride from end to end.
Of course, that means that it’s going to be a bit much for kids raised on Blink, The Offspring and latter-day Bad Religion. Yemen’s first-person rants aren’t just vicious and angry – they give flesh-and-blood agony to the issues that punks usually deal with on soapboxes and cold rhetoric. From “Void,” which decries the cycle of consumerism and commercialized self-help, to the mind-numbing effects of lowbrow television (“Anesthesia”), Yemen doesn’t mince words, rely on frilly phrases or ideas plagiarized from Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore – he speaks our language. In “Womb Envy” he spits out couplets like bullets that should be able to slay everyone who stands in his righteous way: “We can’t create so we denigrate/ We don’t know how to love so we settle for hate.” It’s obvious, punks, that some of you are part of the problem instead of being the self-righteous solution.
His band cranks out jagged-edged punk that’s heavy on the fisticuff-inspired riffs and rhythms. Following loosely in the vein of Propagandhi, CVA is set to rattle chains with fast-paced tempos, furious power-chord guitar work and a raw edge that makes the overproduced So-Cal punks seem so silly in comparison.
Forget punk’s quarter-life crisis. Forget all the shopping-mall hogwash. Don’t even worry about the trendiness that’s turned much of punk rock into a goofball festival of in-crowds and by-the-numbers poseurs. Paint It Black shows that after 27 years, punk rock can still pack a wallop to lay you on your ass.
Paint It Black recently formed from the ashes of hardcore giants, Kid Dynamite and Lifetime, have at last released their first album. To say anything less than perfection was expected from their debut album is a massive understatement. So, do they deliver with CVA?
Dan Yemin, former guitarist for Kid Dynamite and Lifetime, does the main vocals in Paint It Black; and boy, are they powerful. The fiercely political lyrics are yelled with an intensity that rivals that of the mighty Bane. Drummer David Wagenschutz, of Good Riddance, provides the, at times, ridiculously fast beats.
The first track, "Cannibal," kicks this one off with a nice big scream from Yemin – our introduction to Paint It Black. It simply blows you away. Some nicely sung backing vocals complete this killer opening song. "Atticus Finch," is a standout with its somewhat slow tempo and vicious lyrics condemning those around that are so quick to point fingers without reason. Another lyrical highlight of this release is "Less Deicide, More Minor Threat…" focusing on the fact that our society seems to concentrate so much on personal tragedy and purveys a culture of fear. Most of the songs on CVA are personal commentaries on society and politics in general. If only all lyricists were so socially conscious.
Listening to this release evokes thoughts of older-sounding hardcore punk bands. This is a purebred late 80s, early 90s sound, and it absolutely rips. There are 17 tracks on this disc and they blow by in an all-too-short 19 minutes. There is no pause throughout the album, which will leave you completely breathless after the first listen.
So, yes they do deliver, and not enough good things can really be said about CVA; this is powerful, moving, intense hardcore. But it does have an undeniable punk edge, so don’t look here for the latest metal-core offering from Victory. This is a punk album through and through and it most definitely deserves your attention.
Well, there’s no question about it; Jade Tree won the battle for Kid Dynamite’s legacy. In the battle of the Blacks between Fat Wreck Chords’ own Kid Dynamite offshoot None More Black and Jade Tree’s own Paint It Black, Paint It Black wins by knockout in the third round.
The new kings of Philadelphia shred through seventeen tracks in not much more than the same number of minutes. With only half the songs pass the one minute mark, and none exceed two, "CVA" is short, fast, and loud enough to challenge even the legendary Kid Dynamite album. A hint of melody as if by accident permeates this otherwise uncorrupted fit of old school hardcore frenzy.
This genre of music is pretty straightforward, but Paint It Black is anything but. Without breaking or altering the rules at all, they soar over the benchmark and the superabundance of bands sitting on it. The sweat, spit, and blood pouring out of "CVA" is bound to be the envy of hardcore bands everywhere for years to come.
It’s been ages since I’ve been to a show populated predominantly by Richmond, VA’s straight edge scenesters and I can’t say that I’m all that upset at that fact. While these kids’ taste in hardcore intersects with my own in more than enough instances for me to stick my nose in the door at a show now and again I can’t say I’m happy when I know this crowd will be showing up. By and large the straight edge scene in Richmond seems to be more violent, more elitist and more pig-headed than just about any other I’ve encountered. When I walked in Alley Katz’ door and saw a sea of Saucony sneakers and closely cropped hairdos I was very much afraid that a select few of these people would ruin seeing two great bands, but I’d already paid my money so there was nothing to do but try my best to have a good time.
The Faux were the first band of the night, and I was curious to hear them if only to see what kinds of acts the Explosion’s new Tarantulas record label was going to be in the habit of signing up. While the Faux had some things going for them I have to admit that I’m pretty torn about what to think of them. On one hand it’s great to see a really confrontational frontman (the Faux singer’s androgynous persona, neo-James Brown contortionism and strange charisma all reminded me a great deal of Ian Svenious from Nation of Ulysses and the Make-Up) and the reggae-influenced bass lines had me tapping my toes, but on the other hand the lack of any memorable pop hooks and a tendency to get mired in self-absorbed experimentation (see the sequencer-driven intro) keep me from falling head over heels from these guys.
Second on the bill were Richmond, VA straight edgers Down to Nothing, and I was mildly curious to hear them after hearing a ton of hype about them on the internet. Unfortunately, though, DTN are one of the many recent bands who take most of their influences from the NYHC end of the â€˜core spectrum, and while I’m not about to throw out my Cro-Mags records this sound just really isn’t my thing. The macho antics on the dance floor didn’t do anything to endear me to this band either. All in all DTN are extremely good at what they do, but I wasn’t really in the mood to hear what they do given the fact that I’d come for the Explosion and Paint It Black’s more melodic, sing-along punk.
I remember very vividly walking into Alley Katz around a year ago for a Strike Anywhere/Count Me Out show and seeing Dan Yemin standing shirtless on the stage looking like he was going to bite into the mic like a piece of raw meat. From that second I knew that Paint It Black were something special (as if Yemin’s track record weren’t enough to tell me that), and since I got their new LP CVA I’ve been absolutely teeming with anticipation of seeing this band. I was more than a little nervous that I’d have to endure sweaty hardcore boys jumping all over me in an effort to sing along, but between some sort of beef between DTN and PIB’s guitar player and Dan Yemin’s opening speech (“dancing is great, kickboxing is not”) Paint It Black managed to nip that in the bud. Despite the fact that people were a little afraid to move after the intense beginning to the set, Paint It Black were absolutely raging. As they went through nearly all the songs on CVA I watched the veins on Yemin’s chest and neck slowly bulge from his skin until they looked like they were going to leap right off him and attack the audience. The man is as intense a performer as I’ve ever seen and I can’t help but wonder why the hell he hasn’t fronted a band before. In short, see this before they’re another group you wish you’d come out for.
So, finally the Explosion were up. Truth be told, although I’ve always liked the Explosion I may not have made the trip all the way to Richmond if Paint It Black hadn’t been playing. However, it seems that when one’s expectations are fairly low is the best time to be wowed by a band, and the Explosion nearly ran me over this evening with what is perhaps the best set I’ve ever seen them play. I’d always caught them as opening acts before (with not-quite-right tourmates such as Rocket from the Crypt and the Queers), and while the Explosion always did a great job of winning people over they were an altogether different experience on “their” show. It was clear that most of the crowd had come to see them, and a significant part of the crowd was up front singing along. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that the band’s new EP, Sick of Modern Art, is probably the best record that they’ve ever released, and though the record is still fairly new those songs went over spectacularly. Million Dollar Matt was in great form as always, rattling off quips about how much the band loves drinking (see the aforementioned confrontation with DTN) and how awesome Richmond is with all the off-the-cuff wit of Paddy from Dillinger Four.
So there you have it, a great show enhanced immeasurably by the fact that I didn’t have people beating the shit out of me while I watched the two bands I came to see. If this thing hits your town it gets my highest recommendation.
Late June rarely yields a temperate climate in the basement of the First Unitarian Church, and the heavy air was getting to Paint It Black guitarist Dave Hause.
“Itâ€™s a lot like a sauna in here,” he remarked to the crowd. “Itâ€™s like the Summer Sauna-tarium.”
His quip, a reference to this summer’s bloated monsters-of-rawk tour, was met with groans. In a semi-mocking tone, Hause taunted, “We don’t like Metallica, man. We don’t know what you’re talking about.” Vocalist Dan Yemin, catching his breath after the last screamer, interjected, “Come on, everybody likes Metallica.”
Not quite the type of between-song exchange you’d expect from Paint It Black if you spent some time before the show thumbing through the lyrics to CVA, the band’s Jade Tree Records debut due out Tuesday. Loaded rants decry the state of public schools in America (“Short Changed”) and reject gender roles and stereotypes (“Womb Envy,” which Yemin calls his “feminist song from a male perspective”). Fortunately, these hard-line political punks know how to laugh.
It’s less sweltering outside the Church, but the band still opts to conduct the interview in bassist Andy Nelson’s air-conditioned minivan. Worried about catching cold, drummer Dave Wagenschutz respectfully bows out of the discussion for now.
“He’s anti-air conditioning,” Yemin chuckles. “It’s a capitalist tool.” Of the entire group, Yemin arguably has the most to gain from Paint It Black’s relaxed demeanor. For the 35-year-old alum of area emo/hardcore outfits Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, it serves as a tension tamer.
He is playfully referred to within the scene as “Dr. Dan,” but the handle is for real. Yemin completed his doctorate in psychology at Widener University in 1998 while Kid Dynamite was getting off the ground. When they split in 2000, he focused on his career counseling children and adolescents. Work progressed to overwork and by April 2001 he was clocking 60 hours a week.
That’s when he had a stroke.
Or, as his hospital discharge papers described it that spring, a “cerebrovascular accident” — hence CVA.
“The time in intensive care rearranged my perspective of what’s important in my life,” Yemin says. “I hadn’t done music in a year and a half. I wanted my friends back.”
He called up Wagenschutz, who drummed in Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, and Hause, former guitarist for The Curse and a tour buddy of the Kid D crew. By November, they recruited bassist Andy Nelson to solidify the lineup.
Yemin still maintains his psychology career, working in private practice in Ardmore and Paoli, but complements it with punk rock. “He’s living his life in perfect balance,” says Hause.
One of the most obvious ways the band keeps things simple is song length. In classic hardcore style a la early Bad Religion and Minor Threat, CVA dishes out 17 songs in 18 minutes and 41 seconds.
“You mean these are different songs?” jokes Nelson, adding, “Short and fast is the way to do it when you’re talking about punk.” The album is expeditious, but far from sloppy. The band takes songcraft quite seriously and sees a challenge in squeezing the complete verse-chorus-bridge format tightly into a minute or less. “Being concise is hard,” says Hause. “A lot of bands don’t know how to shape their songs. They’re flabby.”
Shedding the flab allows Paint It Black to get serious (and given the volume and velocity of the vocals, the lyric sheet is a big help). Topics fly across the board, but cycle back to institutional misuse and abuse of power; in “Cannibal,” Yemin howls, “I hate the way you live, taking more than you give/ We’re gonna pay the price for your appetites.”
The band is quick to pin the lyrical outlook solely on Yemin. It’s not that they completely disagree with what he talks about, but some cuts caused internal contention.
Take “The Insider.” Yemin describes the alienation of being a Jewish man — a minority who can pass for a member of the majority — and the disturbing white-male racist, sexist and homophobic banter it makes him privy to. A worthy sentiment, but not everybody in Paint It Black was crazy about the line, “I may be white but I’m a fucking kike.”
Wagenschutz pops in to check on the discussion just in time to remark, “Dan and I didn’t get together and write the lyrics to that song, that’s for sure. We agree on a lot of social topics, but how we approach them and choose to fight the good fight is extremely different.”
All concur that disagreements are bound to arise, however, and the group unanimously backs what Yemin has to say regardless of misgivings. “He’s pumped about it,” says Hause. “He’s sincere about it and that is more important to me than nitpicking over what we think or don’t think.” Asked if the topical choice generates flak from his audiences, Yemin says, “Unfortunately, no. Sometimes I’d like to get more crap for the lyrics.” Hause offers a devious smirk and says, “They just provoke the guys in the band.”
Paint It Black plays Tue., July 29, 7:30 p.m., $8, all ages, with The Explosion, Cave In and The Faux, First Unitarian Church, 22nd and Chestnut sts., 800-594-TIXX.
The whole late ’80s hardcore resurgence trend is, well, pretty trendy
and downright annoying. Most of the bands rehashing this sound make
me want to ask, "What year is it anyway, you idea-less dimwits?" That
said, Paint it Black’s debut CVA is a fucking pleasure. Sure, their
sound is immersed in the past, bringing to mind bands like Minor
Threat and Negative Approach (complete with those killer sandpaper
vocals), but there’s something extra here that most of the bands
doing ’88 hardcore are missing. The new project for ex-Kid
Dynamite/Lifetime guitarist Dan Yemin (now screaming at the
microphone) and current Good Riddance drummer David Wagenschulz,
Paint it Black rip through 17 hook-filled songs in 19 minutes.
There’s absolutely no relent as Yemin spouts off about all the things
that piss him off. It’s a scream therapy session full of great
hardcore songs and it validates ’88 hardcore as a genre that’s still
got some juice left in it. In 2003? Who would have thunk it?