Tuesday, April 14, 2009
A compilation, released in '94, containing 2 LP's: Nine Patriotic Hymns For Children (1991, above) and Battle Hymns For The Race War (1992, below).
A couple days ago, I wrote a post about Alice Donut's Untidy Suicides album, how it had a huge impact on my life in my high school years and was totally brilliant and blah blah blah. Well, the same concept applies to Born Against's Patriotic Battle Hymns, except multiplied roughly 10 times. Born Against opened my eyes to a whole new realm of radness, and changed the way I saw not only hardcore and punk but MUSIC in general. I had never, EVER heard a band as abrasive or pissed off at that point in my life, and they opened the door to a million other bands that I worship to this very day. Why was the singer so angry? Didn't his mother hug him enough as a child? Perhaps his father hugged him too much? I had no way of knowing, but either way, it flat-out RULED.
Patriotic Battle Hymns hit me like the proverbial "ton of bricks" (wouldn't a ton of feathers have the same impact?), to the point that I remember EXACTLY when and where I first heard it. It seems as if it was only yesterday (cue harp music and ripply camera effect)...
It was the spring of 1995, the second half of my sophomore year at Eureka High. Me and a couple bros had cut class one day, heading out to H.A. Nethery's grandma's house in Elk River to play some music. H.A.'s grandma didn't live there, she just owned the place and let her grandson's scumbag buddies hang out there. Due to its relative isolation and emptiness it was the perfect place to hang out, drink beers, and play really loud punk rock. I was especially stoked to jam there on this particular day, due to the musicians who accompanied me.
Adam Rosatelli was without a doubt the best fucking drummer at Eureka High. He was a year ahead of me in school, which added several Cool Points, but he was also a really nice dude and totally knew how to party. I'm secure enough in my sexuality to admit that I had a pretty hefty hetero man-crush on him at the time. The third Bro in our trip that day was Roshawn Beere, who was TWO years ahead of me in school and played bass in Sake (that's "sake" like the Japanese alcoholic beverage, I just can't figure out how to put an accent mark over the 'e') with his sister Aolani. Sake was without a doubt the awesomest hardcore band in Humboldt County at the time. Roshawn knew karate and wore Army surplus clothing. His last name was actually "Beere". He was basically my hero at the time.
Anyhow, we were heading out to Elk River in Roshawn's boat of a car, some big brown 70's gas guzzler that can be seen in the independent films My Name Called Ro (which he also starred in) and Drunk Like Me. As we cruised through the Cutten area, Roshawn popped a tape into the cassette player that pretty much blew my mind. You guessed it. It was Patriotic Battle Hymns.
It was like nothing I'd ever heard before. It was fast and choppy at times, like most other hardcore bands I'd heard previously, but there was something distinctly different about it. It was weird. It was brutal. It was Born Against.
I made a trip out to People's Records in Arcata the very next day to purchase my own copy. I had looked to Roshawn (and Aolani) for pointers on cool bands before (I purchased cassettes from Fugazi, Neurosis, and The Jesus Lizard before, based solely on the fact that I had seen their names in in the Beere family's record collection), but Born Against was the crown jewel. FUCK.
Nothing ever became of our little jam session that day (although I extracted my revenge a couple years later by stealing Sake's guitarist and forming a way better band with him), but one thing always stayed with me. That first taste of what punk rock should be, that dissonant little gem called Patriotic Battle Hymns.