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April 9, 2003

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DYN-O-MITE: KID DYNAMITE REUNITES

The weekend of April 11, 12 and 13 won’t just be any weekend in Philadelphia – it might just be the greatest weekend ever, and for more people than you might think. Not only will the reunion of Kid Dynamite be a wonderful occasion for tons of kids in the area, but this particular event will be a hundred times more wonderful for Mark Beemer, a renowned photographer from the Washington D.C. area. That’s right, we said Kid Dynamite reunion, but we’ll get to that later.

What’s more important than any performance, by any artist, is where the money made by these three, one weekend only reunion shows will go, and that’s to the Syrentha J. Savio Endowment (SSE). Beemer set up the SSE in memory of his late wife Syrentha, who lost her life to cancer in January 2002. As we all know, cancer is a horrible disease without a cure, but treatment is available through chemotherapy. Unfortunately, chemotherapy is extremely expensive, and is for some unaffordable all together. That’s where the SSE comes in. The SSE helps provide chemotherapy and medications for those individuals who cannot afford them otherwise.

What better way to raise money for such a great cause than to put on a great show? That’s how the reunion of some of the most revered and now infamous bands to come out of Philadelphia (if we do say so ourselves) came to be. When Beemer asked the members of Kid Dynamite to get back together to play a benefit show for the SSE, there was no way they could say no. Thus we come to this weekend, a series of three shows with very special guests The Curse (playing their final shows), Strike Anywhere, Trial by Fire (a special reunion) and Grey Area (another special reunion), that will do nothing but help people both emotionally and financially. Kids will be happy to see some of their favorite bands one last time, and those who are not as fortunate as some us will be happy to be able to receive aid. We can all be assured that Syrentha herself will be smiling as she watches the fun and her legacy contribute to the help of others.

Although these shows sold out the day tickets went on sale, there are other ways in which you can contribute to the SSE. Beemer has released an excellent coffee table book chronicling his 13 years photographing the punk rock community called Stealing Time: 13 Years of Punk Images that is available for $20 from www.beemerkid.com. 100% of your purchase will go to the SSE. Fully tax-deductible donations can also be made by sending funds to the following address: The Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3970 Reservoir Rd., NW Research Building, Suite E 501, Washington, DC 20007.

For more information on the SSE check out www.syrentha.org and to see some samples of Beemer’s photography and to order a copy of Stealing Time (do it!) log on to www.beemerkid.com. Information on Kid Dynamite can also be found at www.jadetree.com.

Kid Dynamite vocalist Jason Shevchuk and guitarist Dr. Dan Yemin were kind enough to take a few minutes to talk with us about these reunion shows, the Endowment and their respective new projects. Here are their comments.

PULSE WEEKLY: After looking at Jade Tree’s web site, I have come to the conclusion that Mark Beemer’s photography is awesome. I’m definitely going to pick up a copy of his book at the show and I understand that to get tickets for the Sunday show, you also had to buy a copy of Stealing Time.

JASON SHEVCHUK : Yeah. Actually, what they did was they split it up. You could buy 300 [tickets] at Spaceboy in Philly and you could buy 300 from Jade Tree online and the ones that you bought off Jade Tree you had to buy the book, too. He sold a lot of books, it was great, and they are still for sale too, which is cool. It’s a great, great book. But basically he’s been trying to arrange this for a while and we were finally able to open up our schedules and said, “Ok, let’s just set a date and we’ll do it.†So we’ve been talking about this for months and months and months, I would say pretty close to a year we’ve been talking about it and finally, I think it wasn’t until late summer or fall that we actually nailed down a date for when we were gonna do it.

PW: So it was pretty much a no-brainer to say that Kid Dynamite would get back together for a weekend for this particular cause?

JS: Oh yeah. It’s not like we hate each other; we still talk to each other. It’s just, you know, easy. It’s an easy thing to do, why not? Help him out.

PW: How do you feel about the first two shows selling out so quickly?

JS: I’m amazed. I think just a lot of people are just gonna have a good time. I’m also amazed that the third show sold out so quickly.

PW: Was a third show on Sunday something that was planned in advance because there were expectations of Friday and Saturday selling out so quickly?

JS: Well, Sean Agnew, who is booking the show and promoting the show, he pretty much put a third day aside because he thought it was gonna sell out quickly, but no one knew it was gonna be that quick, it was kind of just like, “Well, you know, if there’s a demand for a third show we’ll do it,†and we were like well if there’s going to be a third show, there’s only going to be 50 kids there. A lot of kids bought tickets for both days and that’s what I think made them sell out so quick – because kids bought multiple tickets. I wouldn’t be surprised if 20% of the kids are gonna be there all weekend. The main concern was that since they sold out so quickly, did anyone even know where the money was going? The whole thing’s point was to raise money and at the same time raise awareness. I’m sure we’ll make them aware at the show.

PW: On Friday and Saturday, The Curse and Strike Anywhere will open and on Sunday Trial by Fire and Grey Area will open. Is there a show that you are looking forward to more?

JS: The first one because, you know, it’s the first one. We’ve been practicing and the adrenaline is just going to be there and it’s gonna be out of control.

PW: Is there anyone that you wish was on the bill?

JS: No. Not really. It’s pretty much set by Mark [Beemer]. Mark put on bands that were close to him and that he wanted to see play. Grey Area was kind of our request. Grey Area played our last show and we always joked about it like, “We’ll play together when you guys play together again.†It’s not all the original members, which isn’t the greatest thing, but it’ll still be fun.

PW: With None More Black, will you continue to contribute to the Endowment?

JS: I hope so. If Mark ever needs us, we’ll totally do it.

PW: Do you have any idea how you would contribute?

JS: I don’t know, we have to have a talk about it with Mark. We were talking about doing a live recording of Kid Dynamite, like recording the show live and the proceeds would go to Mark. There are so many ways you could do it. If Mark wants to do a record or something later on, we would totally be into doing it but for right now we have a contract with Fat [Wreck Chords]. Fat actually had an idea of doing a Kid Dynamite live thing but it’s just too close to the time that we’re doing it and we wouldn’t be able to pull the project together so we just said we’ll just do the shows. He [Mark] is gonna have t-shirts for each show, posters, books so he’s gonna make out. I’m totally interested in helping Mark with the endowment, I think it’s a great thing.

PW: You said that in practice all the chemistry and adrenaline is there. How excited are you to actually be performing as Kid Dynamite again?

JS: Very excited. I think we all are.

PW: Do you think that performing will rekindle any interest in bringing Kid Dynamite back, or will you just concentrate on your respective bands?

JS: This is it; this is what we’re doing. Three shows and that’s it. It’s just fun and good times. We’re having fun together, and there is no point in trying to commercialize on it.

PW: Concerning None More Black, what do you think about the tags that have been added, like ex-Kid Dynamite, to your band? Do you think it helps or would you rather have None More Black’s music speak for itself?

JS: I think it [None More Black] speaks for itself, I mean, you’re gonna get that no matter what you do. If I was ex-President of the United States people would say it’s the band with the dude who used to be President, everybody’s gonna get it and once the record comes out a couple months from now it’s not going to be a big deal. That’s the way I’m looking at it. I tried to fight it when we started, I was like, “I want to base our success on what we are,†but it’s not possible because people talk, you can’t stop every flier from going out and saying ex-Kid Dynamite.

PW: None More Black is awesome by the way.

JS: Oh, thank you.

PW: I listened to Dinners for Suckers over and over the other day and I came across a couple other songs.

JS: Hey man, how’d you get those?

PW: I downloaded them.

JS: From where?

PW: You know ... the internet.

JS: Aw man, I thought we were being good. Oh well. It’s cool. Those songs are going on the record anyway but there are different versions. But that’s cool, I’m glad.

PW: Why did you choose to go with Fat Wreck Chords?

JS: Jade Tree didn’t express any interest. They may have, but at the same time I wanted to do something different, you know? To perpetuate the whole ex-Kid Dynamite thing I figured not putting it out on Jade Tree would be a positive thing. Nothing against those guys, they’re great dudes, they’re a great label, I just wanted to do something different. We had a choice between four other labels and Fat was just really, really fast and really persistent and they got the ball rolling quicker than anybody else did. Everyone there is fantastic.

PW: So when can we expect to see None More Black on the road? Any idea who you’ll be playing with?

JS: Our first tour starts June 3rd, the day the record comes out and it’s with Death by Stereo; we’re doing an East Coast tour with them. Then we come back and we’re taking a little breather because Paul is in a band called Kill Your Idols and they’re going to Europe for eight days, so we do that, then we come back and we’re trying to put together some tours for the end of the summer and through the fall.

PW: Ok Jason, that’s it. Thanks a lot.

JS: Cool, thank you.

PULSE WEEKLY: How close are you and Mark Beemer? What kind of relationship do you have?

DR. DAN YEMIN: Well, we’re not old, old friends, we’re basically friends through the whole Jade Tree connection. He grew up with the Jade Tree guys and I’ve been working with them in one form or another since like 1994 and those guys have become some of my closest friends too, so it’s kind of an extended music family, I guess you could say.

PW: Is that mostly the reason why you stayed with Jade Tree for Paint it Black?

DDY: Yeah. I look at it as one ongoing relationship regardless of what band I’m in. You know, there’s something to be said for consistency and I know how they operate inside and out. They also hired our drummer, who’s also the drummer for Kid Dynamite [Dave Wagenschutz], as their office manager. Yea, it’s kind of just all in the family, plus if things go wrong I can drive down there in half an hour and get my hands around the appropriate throat.

PW: How special was it for you for Mark to ask Kid Dynamite to get back together for these benefit shows?

DDY: It’s very special. I think all of us would agree that it’s the only reason on earth that we would get back together and do Kid Dynamite again, not because I don’t love those guys but because the whole idea of a reunion, usually under every other circumstance is pretty self indulgent. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to use something I’ve done artistically to really have sort of a real concrete benefit that I can see. I mean, I like to imagine it will have an emotional effect on a lot of people, I know it has on me, and that’s the feedback I’ve always gotten. It’s nice to be able to really see it, you know what I mean?

PW: What if he would have asked for Lifetime to play?

DDY: I don’t think that would happen. The other guitarist lives in California, plus I don’t think any of the Lifetime guys really know Mark.

PW: What are you going to do during the show to make sure kids are aware of the cause, like those that just bought tickets without realizing the cause or taking the time to look into it?

DDY: Well, that was actually a big concern, especially for Mark, you know, this is really, really personal and important for him and the Endowment, so this is extremely special for him. We were really concerned that that would be the issue, that people would be like, “Oh yeah, Kid Dynamite!†and not even think about the Endowment, so we’re gonna have information and a table and we’re going to say something before we play each night. We also have shirts made up that have the band’s logo on one side and the Endowment’s logo on the other; it’s sort of going to be in the air. The way we structured all the press releases, we always put the Endowment as the primary thing.

The other cool thing is the Philadelphia PBS station is also doing a feature on it, they are focusing on the whole aspect, they’re focusing less on the band and more on the whole aspect of the punk rock community and people basically putting themselves out for each other and supporting each other. They’re interviewing Mark, they’re interviewing me and they’re interviewing Sean Agnew from R5 Productions and then they’re gonna tape the show.

PW: That’s awesome!

DDY: Yeah, I’m very excited about that.

PW: When I was talking to Jason, he said he’s most excited for the first show because it will just be out of control. Is there a certain show you are looking forward to the most, perhaps Sunday with Grey Area?

DDY: It’s hard to say, I mean, this is going to be a typical Yemin answer, I’m gonna walk the fence, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to pick. There’s something good and amazing about each one. I mean, the first one is just going to be ridiculous, it’s going to be the first time we’ve played together live in front of people in three years and it’s just going to be nuts. I think everybody’s gonna be excited, our friends are gonna be excited, we’re playing with The Curse, the guitarist in The Curse is also the guitarist in Paint it Black and we’re very close. Strike Anywhere are close friends of ours, it’s gonna be a love fest, it’s going to be very special for Mark.

The second show is gonna be probably our best show in terms of playing well. Friday I basically have to work up until 7pm and then go to the show, so Saturday I’ll be rested and we’ll probably be tighter as a band. Then Sunday is going to be special because Grey Area is getting back together just to see the show, and Trial by Fire is getting back together just to play the show too.

PW: What has practicing as Kid Dynamite been like?

DDY: Fun. We were worried about where to do it and Jason just said, “Let’s do it in my living room.†He lives right on South Street; he actually lives right above Dave, the drummer, so we won’t get noise complaints from them. We basically just moved all his furniture out of the living room and had all our stuff set up in there, it’s been really fun.

PW: How else will Paint it Black continue to help out Mark and the Endowment, if at all?

DDY: Well, hopefully, just to keep it visible. Also, he put out a book that benefits the Endowment that has pictures of Paint it Black and Kid Dynamite in it and we’ll continue to promote that through the band. One of the other ways he raises the money is that he puts together a Walk-a-thon team, like Race for the Cure and Walk for the Cure and all those things, even though it’s usually down in D.C. where he lives, I try to participate whenever I can. Also, I may give a percentage of Paint it Black profits to the Endowment. I decided with Paint it Black that one of the ways that I could sort of keep my influences pure instead of worrying about selling records was to donate my quarter of the royalties to various causes, that’s what I’m doing for Paint it Black. Part of that will go to the Endowment, the rest of it’s gonna go to Philadelphia area DIY endeavors like the Wooden Shoe, you know, a lot of small set-ups that just make money from benefits and fund raisers and things like that, which I consider vital to the underground artistic community.

PW: What do you think about the ex-Lifetime/Kid Dynamite tag that seems to be attached to Paint it Black?

DDY: It’s fine, I mean, I don’t want to ride on it but it’s the reality. I guess I’m ambivalent, we had some disagreements about that in Kid Dynamite back in the beginning. On one hand people would say it’s a cheap shot to benefit from the notoriety of your old bands, just start from scratch, but on the other hand, and I guess there’s something to be said for that, I think people should have to work hard and not just coast. But what I hope is that Kid Dynamite would have been popular based on what we did even if we hadn’t been “ex-Lifetime.†Maybe that made more people notice in the first place, but if we had sucked, nobody would have cared. Hopefully that will be the same with Paint it Black, I mean Paint it Black’s gonna turn off a lot of Lifetime and Kid Dynamite fans because it’s not melodic at all and people that want the melody aren’t gonna go for it. I always wanted to know what the ex-members of my favorite bands were doing so I think as long as you don’t milk it; it’s not a problem.

PW: Was it a difficult transition from guitar to vocals?

DDY: Doing vocals is way more challenging, oh man, I sound illiterate. Doing vocals is a lot more challenging. I find it to be, first of all, a lot more physically challenging. I feel like I’m about to go to the hospital when we’re done, which is great because it kind of adds to that whole feeling; I prefer to feel exhausted and depleted when we’re done. The whole purpose behind playing short sets, which has always been a priority with Kid Dynamite too, is the fact that I feel that if you can play longer than 20 minutes then you weren’t playing hard enough. I think you should be absolutely spent when you’re done and I’m definitely spent, I feel like I’m gonna puke up my diaphragm when we’re done, it’s really hard.

PW: How is your psychology practice going?

DDY: Oh it’s good; it’s very good, thank you.

PW: Do you have a lot of patients who are fans of your music and come to you because of that or do you gain a lot of fans after the fact that they discover your music?

DDY: I’ve had people come to me because they knew, they were from a punk rock background. You know what, I don’t think anyone’s ever come to me because they were a fan and I would actually try to not have that happen, I would feel out exactly what the motivations were. If it was just like a fan thing I don’t think it would be very helpful because there’s kind of almost a pre-existing relationship, although not a face to face one, and I think that could potentially impede the process of therapy. But if someone came to me because they are from a punk rock background and they know who I am and they figure they’d have an easier time relating to me than some old dude, then that’s fine, and that’s happened quite a few times.

PW: Thanks a lot, Dan.

DDY: Hey man, no problem. Will you be at the show?

PW: Damn straight.

PUBLICATION
Pulse Weekly

AUTHOR
Steve Swift

DIRECT LINK TO ARTICLE
http://www.pulseweekly.com