Kid Dynamite [I]Kid Dynamite[/I] Review

Could Dan Yemin, of Lifetime fame, pull off another masterpiece? He pulled off two with Lifetime. With Kid Dynamite’s first album, he pulled off another.

Formed in 1998, Kid Dynamite consisted of Jason Shevchuk (vocals), Steve Ferrell (bass), Dave Wagenschutz (drums), and of course Yemin, displaying his excellent skills on guitar.

Jade Tree signed the band, and in 1998, the self titled was released. This work displayed Kid Dynamite as one of the leading hardcore acts in the scene. That title was well deserved, as Kid could do something that so many bands couldn’t. What is that? Display nearly the same level of intensity on the stage as you do on the record.

The lyrics on this album are so angrily intense, but they are so amazing. You will not get the true meanings of this band unless you sit down and follow along with the booklet. I could imagine that Jason’s voice must have been killing him after a while. Screaming hurts. Remember that kids.

Dan Yemin. What can I say? Yemin is one of the best hardcore guitarists I’ve ever heard in my life. The guy can play. I’ll look forward to his future projects. Ferrell’s bass work is very good also, as is Wagenschutz’s drum work.

Kid Dynamite’s lyrical topics are much varied. Ranging from the usual girls suck to the just all out rage anger, tales of lonely hardcore tales. Among other things, media deception is the setting for News At 11, one of my favorite tracks of album. Shevchuk just breaks in, the screaming begins, "This just in…another victim died tonight What’s the score? What’s the story?" It’s gripping.

Each song, may it be a lyric, guitar riff, or what not, each song has a moment, small or large, something that just takes you back and shocks you to pieces each listen. Some of my other favorites on the album are Bookworm, The Ronald Miller Story, and Pacifier. Of course, that’s just my opinion, and way aside from the main point this review is trying to prove.

Kid Dynamite’s first album was, and always will be a masterpiece. It will influence hardcore bands down the line. Hell, it probably already has. If you loved Lifetime, you’ll love this. Or, if you’re just looking for a good hardcore listen, pick this up. You’ll thank me.

The End of the Beginning

With moist eyes, Kid Dynamite’s Dan Yemin and Matt Ryan ’00 talk about Yemin’s future. With a doctorate in Psychology and experience in other bands such as Lifetime, the prospect looks positive for Yemin.

“It’s true. We broke up.” Talking with Kid Dynamite guitarist Dan Yemin was bittersweet for me. Being a longtime fan of his old band Lifetime and having recently gotten into Kid Dynamite, I was obviously excited about a chance to chat with him. On the other hand, knowing that Kid Dynamite, like Lifetime, is now also a thing of the past made it a little saddening. Thankfully, Yemin lifted my spirits. The future looks bright for him. And despite all the moping about the demise of hardcore punk, he is still refreshingly excited about it all.

After just two years and two albums, the group’s singer, Jason Shevchuk, decided to drop out of the band. Shevchuk was an integral songwriter in the band, making it virtually impossible to keep Kid Dynamite going without him. The band’s songs stand out today as being particularly fresh and, at the same time, familiar. They managed to write the type of songs hardcore punk seems to need most right now. Their songs can inspire jaded old-timers and remind youngsters of punk’s roots. Yemin explained the writing process in some depth.

“I usually never come in with parts. I come in with the whole song. I teach it to the rest of the band and hammer out the arrangement. While we’re doing that, [Shevchuk’s] in a room with his fingers in his ears coming up with vocal parts. While we’re playing the song over and over again, he is (in his head), coming up with phrasing and melodies. He’ll either merge that with stuff he’s written already or write lyrics specifically for what we came up with. The whole process goes quickly once a song gets to the band, but the process of me getting it ready for the band does not go so quickly. There’s a little more pressure than there was in [my previous band] Lifetime. We give songwriting credit to the whole band, because everyone helps with arrangements, but I come up with the parts and transitions. Lifetime was more of a triumvirate thing. I’d bring stuff in, but by the time Ari and Dave got done with it, it was 100% better.”

When asked if there was any guiding idea or style Kid Dynamite hoped to achieve, Yemin responded, “I never sat down [before Kid Dynamite] and said ‘I’m going to write different types of songs;’ I write what I write. But, your aesthetic vision for the band guides the process of what you filter out and don’t include. I decided Kid Dynamite would have more of a range. It has the melodic stuff, but also wanted some things really abrasive. Regardless of what I did, people were going to compare it with Lifetime. But when you’re mourning the end of something, you want some sort of aesthetic break. Also, I think wanted to pay a little more tribute to the music that brought me up. Although I doubt I’ll ever be a part of a songwriting team as amazing as Lifetime, I did get a little uncomfortable being in a punk/hardcore band with all the songs about relationships and girls. It made [me feel] uncomfortable. You know, so much hardcore stuff has become vacuous. Content-free. Ari’s lyrics were not content free, but I wanted something that was a little more issue-oriented and angry.”

The age of the band members probably accounts for some of the reason why Kid Dynamite blends the old and new so well. Their appeal also spans many different ages. “There was a big generation gap in the band. It was weird to know someone was raised on what you consider new. For example, the historical meaning of Minor Threat and the Clash is a lot different for me and Jay [he’s 23]. I have no pretensions of doing something original. I think it sounded fresh. I wanted it to be really immersed in the roots of punk and hardcore, without sounding retro. Pay tribute and, in doing so, breathe a breath of fresh air into it. The response to the music, for 12 year olds to 32 year olds, was great.”

The excitement shines through not only on record, but also at shows. “We had such a great time, especially in the early days when the band was fresh. On the weekends we’d play with bands like Kill Your Idols and Gray Area on the east coast. Before we were touring, we were still committed to jobs. It was like being a child again because I’d spend the whole week looking forward to the weekend and playing. It was a really exciting time. Having this new band and a lot of older bands interested, in us was great.”

As for the future, Yemin is planning to complete some non-music projects. First up, taking the licensing examine for professional psychology. “I have my doctorate in Psychology. The last hurdle before practicing. I want to work for myself, so I don’t have to work for an idiot. also have [a] little more control over how my time has been spent.”

This shouldn’t sidetrack his music plans, though. Yemin already has a new project in the works. “I’m also getting another band together. I think it will be more open-ended. More like the two songs on the new album that have other people singing on them; extending that concept for a whole album. The reason that came out on the last album is because there were people whose voices I wanted to showcase but hadn’t always had to opportunity to. I always thought something that was amazing about hip-hop records is that they get all their friends jumping in. It creates a really amazing family-like vibe. That’s something hardcore always purports, but it doesn’t always come across. Not the generic 50-guy backup vocal bull[bunion]. That’s played out. But when people first started doing that, it created a community vibe. I want everybody in hardcore whose voice I like to be on the record. I have some songs that I’d like to give people, and others I’d like to have more people together for, playing off of each other. Like that song ‘Three’s a crowd’ on the new record. We played that song live last week [and] it was the most amazing thing ever. It was our last show; there was Kill Your Idols, Grey Area, and Fast Times. All my favorite East Coast bands. Ally and Andy came up on stage to sing with us and it just came off so perfectly.”

“It’s like Wu Tang. When their first record came out, and you heard everybody bouncing off each other, it was like ‘holy [bunion]’ ” I’m sure kids will be saying “holy [bunion]!” as well when they hear future bands Yemin plays in. For the time being, I suggest checking out Kid Dynamite. If you’ve never listened to much hardcore punk before, it’s a great place to start. For those that think nothing good has come out since ’88, wake up! Kid Dynamite proves that these days hardcore can still be moving and fun.

Dan Yemin Talks about Kid Dynamite Reunion Shows

I don’t know too many kids that are into Hardcore that wouldn’t list off KID DYNAMITE as one of their favorites. They were an amazingly powerful and passionate band that came to an end way before their time. This past weekend (April 11th, 12th, & 13th), a little over three years after their last show, KD showed that their passion was equaled by their compassion, as a call from a friend with an amazing cause was the initiation for a weekend of mayhem. Unless you were one of the lucky couple of thousand that were actually able to secure a ticket to the show, this piece is probably as close as you are going to get to the historic event. This is part I of an interview I did with someone whom I have long respected and felt fortunate enough to be able to call a friend, Dr. Dan Yemin, on the who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, and why’s of the KID DYNAMITE reunion shows. (Please also see the interview with Mark Savio-Beemer [Syrentha Savio Endowment] in this same issue.)

You’re going to have to excuse me for sounding bitter during this interview, but I wasn’t able to make it out to Philly this weekend, and I wasn’t able to get my tickets in the first ten minutes before they sold out!
(laughs) Dude, you’ve been with us since day one. You could have sat on stage with me!
So, let’s have it- how were they?
Sorry, but they were amazing. Those shows were just so insane.
Alright, just to keep from having to ask you questions twice, let’s do this bad boy chronologically. How did KID DYNAMITE reunion shows come about, and how was it being… ya know… I mean, I know the end of KID DYNAMITE was sort of eerily like the end of LIFETIME, (Dan’s previous band) what with a break up two days before the release of the record that would have broken the thing wide open for you. I know there were some raw nerves.
Yeah, there were a lot of bad feelings. Not enough bad feelings to make it ugly, but there was a lot of regret floating around. I’m not one to hold on to grudges. It takes too much energy, so I forgive really easily. It takes like a month of not seeing somebody who I’m mad at to forgive them and get over it. It’s more of the regret of having a couple of bands that I was that emotionally involved with kind of cut off in their prime. That aspect persisted; I just didn’t blame anyone for it.
So how did the shows come about?
It was real simple. Mark Beemer is a good friend. About a year and a half ago he lost his wife to cancer, and it was horrible. It still is horrible. It’s tragic. As weird as it is to say, it’s just awesome what he’s doing with his grief. He has the Syrentha Savio Endowment (SSE), which before this weekend had already raised over $50,000 just doing walk-a-thons, and charity dinners and such. The whole point of the endowment is to sort of honor his wife’s legacy by providing funding for chemotherapy to women who can’t afford it, and raising consciousness about the importance of early detection for breast cancer. I know how committed he’s been to this. I get the email updates every week about the endowment and it’s awesome what he puts into it and does with it. When he asked me if KD would consider doing a show to benefit the endowment, I didn’t even hesitate. All I said was that I didn’t want to coordinate it. I told him to talk to everybody in the band, and if everybody was on board, we’d do whatever it took to make it happen.
Did you think Jason would be into it?
I was pretty sure everybody would be into it. I just didn’t want to take responsibility for finding out. That would have seemed weird.
How in contact had you been with Jason over the years?
I was in contact with Jason sporadically. If I saw him, I always had a hug for him. I knew he had been working really hard on getting his new band together for a while, and I knew that he had been frustrated with that, and…
But doesn’t that frustrate you. I mean, KD ended because he needed to focus more time on film school, and he felt he couldn’t dedicate enough time to a band, so that’s the end of my favorite band. Now he has time to do another band? Is that frustrating?
Yeah, but, you know… Half of me was kind of like- “what the fuck?,” but the other half of me was… I don’t know. I had no illusions that he wouldn’t miss music again in a matter of months. He did what he felt he had to do, and that’s that. I’ve been sporadically angry about it, but, it was what it was, and you can’t change the past.
So how were practices?
We practiced like twice a week for a little over a month, and…
Was that first one pretty rusty?
(laughs) Very rusty! We didn’t remember the songs anymore. I wrote the fucking songs, and I couldn’t remember how to play them! Yeah, like two-thirds of them I had to re-learn.
So were you guys there with both KD albums and a boom box in the practice space trying to re-learn your old songs?
That’s exactly how it was (laughs). We all decided that we would each write down ten songs that we definitely wanted to play, and knowing that there would be a lot of overlap, we figured that we would probably end up with about 25 songs that we all agreed on. That’s exactly how it turned out, so that’s what we re-learned. Some we totally remembered, some we were totally lost, and a lot were in-between those two. But, by the second practice we had them all. That first one was a doozy though.
So by the time you guys took the stage, was it in true KD style?
It felt pretty natural, yeah. We were really nervous. You haven’t played together in like three years, and then all of a sudden you’re playing to over 700 kids a night for three nights, that’s a lot of pressure.
And I’m sure a lot of kids there never got to see you, and of course KD has been built up to this Godly status, deservedly of course, but now you have to go show these kids something on that level.
Yeah, no pressure! (laughs) Yeah, there’s this whole new generation, and we didn’t want to suck. Mainly we didn’t want it to be a cheap shot. We didn’t want it to be like one of those benefit shows for some convicted felon where some old band gets back together and just shows up and slaughters four songs that they hadn’t practiced, and then gets off stage. We wanted to tear the roof off and be as good as we ever were. Maybe we weren’t as good as we ever were, but we certainly worked hard on it. It was cool, my good friend Andy, he plays bass in PAINT IT BLACK (Dan’s current rock outfit), he said “why don’t you, as your last practice, have a house show at my house, and we’ll just invite 50 of our closest friends.”
Wait, are you telling me there was a fourth KD show that weekend, and one was a house party with 50 people?
Yeah, it was amazing.
Well, I’m now 33% percent more bummed than I already was about not being there this weekend.
(laughs) It was just like a dress rehearsal. We got to play in front of our friends who had already seen us, and it totally took the edge off.
So, all the shows sold out pretty damn fast, huh?
Yeah. It was crazy. We didn’t know. We started out planning one show. It surprised us when that sold out so quickly, so we were like- “hey, let’s try to do a second show, and maybe raise some more money for the endowment.” That show sold out even faster. Then we were like- “damn. Should we try a third show, or is that kind of arrogant?” Ultimately it came down to the facts that it will be fun, and it will raise more money for the endowment.
So you guys ended up making well over $20,000 this weekend for the endowment.
Yeah, definitely over $20,000. And that’s after paying for security, and the sound system, and everything. It was also keeping the door price low. Good bands too. STRIKE ANYWHERE came and played the first two nights, The CURSE played their final shows there, and then GRAY AREA got back together to do the third night, and TRIAL BY FIRE opened it up.
I couldn’t imagine seeing you guys and STRIKE ANYWHERE on the same show.
Yeah, that never got to happen in real life, so it was great to have it happen this weekend. They are a favorite of ours. You might know this, but most people don’t know that Thomas (singer of STRIKE ANYWHERE) was the first guy that tried out on vocals for KD.
That was from you being an INQUISITION (Thomas’s prior band) fan, right?
Yeah, I was a huge INQUISITION fan. We just weren’t sure what we were doing with KD at that point, and Thomas would have had to move three or four states over to be with us, and we didn’t want to ask anyone to do that, not knowing where KD was going to go. It just seemed too scary. What a great voice he has though.
It’s funny, ‘cause if he had joined KD, we would probably still be going right now, but… It would have been a different band though.
Yeah, you would have been in a political band for sure.
Yep, for sure.
So, how did it all end after the last show? Is there more KD stuff coming up in the future?
No, never. That was it. It was amazing though. It was a total celebration of life, and what the band was. I don’t think there was a bad vibe all weekend. I was really proud- I had a friend who really isn’t from the punk rock scene, but they came down and watched the shows. They made the observation that all these kids were crammed in there, kids are going nuts and bouncing off the walls, literally, and nobody gets hurt, and if somebody goes down, people pick them back up. That doesn’t happen too much anymore. That was one of the things we always tried to do with KD. We always tried to be the band that would create an atmosphere of respect, even though there’s like total aggressive chaos going on, and it played out like that this weekend. It was beautiful. It was just a big party. There were kids from England and Japan that came over for the shows. It was crazy. And the band all went out to dinner after the shows on Sat & Sun, and it was just, really, really nice. I don’t know. I don’t want to sound like “Mr.-Posi boy” or anything, but it was just a privilege to be a part of this weekend. It was all-good, no bad, and like a big love-fest if you will. It was an honor for sure.

Read part II of the Dan Yemin interview in the August issue of AMP, as he talks about life post KD, the stroke that altered his life, and the new band that came out of it, PAINT IT BLACK (out on Jade Tree Records in July).


“Stealing Time,†a coffee table book of photographs, covers 13 years of DC Hardcore photographer Mark Beemer’s musical experience. With an eclectic mix of 62 bands and artists including Fugazi, Kid Dynamite, The Donnas, Ice Cube and the Get Up Kids, Beemer captures the power and beauty in each of his subjects.
All proceeds from the book go to the Syrentha Savio Endowment Fund, which
helps to pay for chemotherapy and medication for low income cancer patients. With fewer and fewer people able to afford health insurance, treatment can be an impossible expense for a growing majority of people.
“I recently had a chance to talk with Mark about his book, the recent Kid Dynamite reunion show, and the future.

I started the Syrentha Savio Endowment (SSE) in February of 2002, in memory of my wife who had lost her battle with breast cancer in January. I wanted to somehow capture Syrentha’s compassionate spirit and caring nature. In life, Syrentha was always giving, and rarely taking – and I wanted that to persevere, even in her death. After some soul searching, I sat down with the people at the Lombardi Cancer Center, where Syrentha was treated, and talked to them about how best to honor her life and continue to give. And thus, the Syrentha Savio Endowment was born.

About a year ago Dan and Dave Wagenschutz (drummer for Kid Dynamite and Paint it Black) were in DC recording the Paint it Black (PIB) demo at my friend Brian McTernan’s studio Salad Days and I had sort of an epiphany – a live show to benefit the endowment. I asked the guys from PIB if they would be interested in playing a benefit show for the endowment and they both said yes. Later that year, Dan and I were working with Jade Tree Records at Krazy Fest in Louisville, KY. During some down time over the long, hot weekend, I asked Dan what he would say if I asked him to play a benefit show with a re-united Kid Dynamite. Without batting an eye, he said yes. Within a week, I had contacted each of the other members of Kid Dynamite, and by the end of August, the plan for the show was in motion – Kid Dynamite would reunite for a show to benefit SSE. Some time passed, and in mid-January, The Curse played in DC. I talked to Dave Hause and Brendan Hill (both of The Curse) about possibly opening for KD and they jumped at the opportunity, but timing was an issue; The Curse was about to call it quits. I knew I had to act quickly, so I looked at a calendar, called the four KD’ers, called Sean Agnew from R5 Productions and with in 24 hours we had the dates set; Kid Dynamite would play at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia for two shows on April 11th and 12th with The Curse and another, yet to be determined, band. Strike Anywhere jumped onboard within a week, and we had our line-up. Tickets went on sale, and after the two shows sold out in eight hours without any promotion, the decision was made to add a third show. Dave called Grey Area, I called Trial By Fire, and soon they were added to the billing. The next thing I knew, what started as a harmless question during down time at a festival in Kentucky had turned into one of the bigger hardcore events in recent memory.

Oh yes, I was there. As Darren from Jade Tree Records said on Monday after the shows, “There are not words to describe just how amazing these shows were as they were beyond words.†All I can add is that I have never been to an event that better represented the principle of what punk and hardcore is all about – for the kids, by the kids for an amazing cause. As for pictures, I shot 14 rolls; I guess you could say I got some good images.

Well, no. If you flip through the book you will notice there are images from all over. Since finishing high school, I have moved around a bit, living in DC, Vermont, Wisconsin, New York City, New Hampshire, and Minnesota; shooting photographs all the while. In addition, I have toured with some of the bands, giving me the opportunity to shoot them in numerous locales. So, the photographs in the book are pretty representative of the moves I have made.

I have always been a very visual person. Even before I was interested in photography I would study photographs in books for hours, trying to figure out where the photographer was and what had happened moments before and moments after taking the shot. When I went to college I was kind of lost: no real direction. On a whim, I asked for a camera for Christmas and to my surprise I got one – a Nikon 4004s, a basic manual camera with some of Nikon’s first attempts at auto focus and exposure. While at school in Madison, WI, I stumbled upon the student run newspaper and started shooting for them. The Daily Cardinal soon became my second home. I slowly worked my way up the photography ranks, getting better shoots and more sporting events. Most of my first subjects were assigned to me – Big Ten basketball, volleyball and football; too many county councilman meetings; and anti-war demonstrations (which were in abundance as the Desert Storm conflict was raging at the time). Whether shooting for The Cardinal or for myself, I managed to photograph just about everything and anything available to me. While working at The Daily Cardinal, two seminal events occurred that would change my life: I met my wife Syrentha (my first and best subject) and I started shooting bands.

That my early work is an eclectic mix of bands would be an understatement. You have to understand, though, that in the beginning, I shot whatever I was offered. Going to school in Madison does not lend itself to having the opportunity to see, let alone shoot, lots of hardcore shows. So, whenever I was offered a photo pass to shoot, say, an Ice Cube or Anthrax show, I would take it; no matter the band. Once I moved to NYC, I was able to focus more on hardcore music and making a name for myself.

Right before I took the photograph of Ice Cube, I stepped on his bodyguard’s foot. He was not too pleased and looked like he was going to pounce. Fortunately for me, Cube was just about to hit the stage so the bodyguard had to go shield Cube as he ran from his dressing room to the stage.

For now, I plan to concentrate on the endowment and raising money for breast cancer treatment. I would like to see SSE continue to grow, increasing our capacity to assist those in need, both in and outside of the Lombardi Center. My goal in establishing SSE was to create a mechanism that would allow Syrentha’s humanity to continue to touch people, even in her death. I would like to work towards a time when the reach of SSE is nationwide and women and their families across the country can benefit from what we have to offer. As of now, I do not have any plans to publish another book in the near future. But who knows?

Our next big push will be for the National Race for the Cure in Washington, DC on June 7th of this year. It’s a great way to get our name out and for people to take notice. It is also a lot of fun. Last year we had over 140 team members and we would like to break 200 this year. We also plan to walk in many other RFTC’s around the country, including NYC and San Francisco. In addition, we are planning an event in Orange County with Thrice to correspond with the RFTC there.

To learn more about our organization or to join us for any of the RFTC’s and to see how you can get involved in future events please visit

KID DYNAMITE [I]Cheap Shots, Youth Anthems[/I] Review

When two ex-Lifetime members found vocalist Jason Shevchuck (who had done time in groove-metallers Bound), it was like the missing piece of the Kid Dynamite puzzle. Quickly, the band became not only Philadelphia hometown heroes but the talk of the melodic hardcore world. When Shevchuck announced he was leaving the band to pursue film school after a few lightning-fast years, it came as a shock to many (most notably the other members of the band). Now with guitarist Dan Yemin doing Paint It Black and Shevchuck’s own Black band (what’s with that?), None More Black, releasing their long-awaited debut, the time could not have been better for a Kid Dynamite retrospect CD (and bonus sneak peek at an upcoming DVD history). Running through some classic tracks, cover songs, unreleased demos and live radio show songs, Cheap Shots, Youth Anthems has more Kid Dynamite than you can shake two drumsticks at. The classics and covers are amazing, shred-happy melodic hardcore of the highest variety, and the demos and live songs from the radio, well, you know… fans will be happy. The bonus DVD included in this package is a bit disappointing in that it’s just a tease for a longer DVD on the horizon, but overall this package is a must-have for anyone who ever cared about Kid Dynamite, or is the least bit curious about the ongoing swirl of hype surrounding them.