Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Viking Fuck

Viking Fuck is a synthpunk trio formed out of Iowa City. Made up of Matt Fenner, playing the keys, Walker Neudorff, hitting those drums, and Mickey Shaw, writhing around on the ground and screaming, the group takes influence from bands such as the Cramps, Suicide, the Stooges, and probably the most apparent and most important influence, the synthpunk pioneers known as the Screamers. Throw in a trip to a broken down, fucked up circus, and you've got Viking Fuck.

Viking Fuck was formed out of necessity. Because of the breakup of their previous band Bear Weather (with member Schuyler Peterson moving to Indiana, forcing the band to breakup), the boys were left high and dry when Shawn Reed of Wet Hair asked them to play a show. Rather than turn down the offer, they decided to form a new band. After meeting up at Mickey's house, their intention was to form a noise act, but after collectively deciding "fuck that noise", they picked up all the non-noisey instruments they could find at Mickey's house and started writing catchy, yet nasty, punk tunes.

With songs written, Viking Fuck was ready to go. Their first appearance would be on October 6th, 2008 at the Mill, a show benefiting Iowa City Free Radio, 87.9 (check it out). Soon after this, they started playing house shows at their home base then known as E-Space, now affectionately known as the Old Old Viking Fuck House (or the First Viking Fuck House), playing with bands such as Daughters of the Sun ("that show sucked" -Walker) and Caw! Caw!.

After getting themselves acclimated to the new tunes, Viking Fuck decided to put them to tape. The tracks that were to become the "Virgins" cassette were recorded at the Old Old Viking Fuck House by Mickey himself onto 4 track. It was self released in November of 2008 and first available at the Woods show at the Picador, even though Viking Fuck didn't actually play that show. The tape was eventually re-released on Solid Melts out of Kansas.

1. Right On, Handsome Young Men
2. Cold Sweatzzz
3. Iron Thorn
4. Keep On, Young Women
5. Lift It
6. So Bleed
7. 96 Tears
8. Pressher

Click to download.

Through much of 2009, Viking Fuck played locally, heading out for short weekend jaunts here and there around the Midwest. In August of 2009, Viking Fuck went on a week long Midwest tour with their pals in the Tanks. A tour lasting a week in January of 2010 saw the boys trekking solo across the harsh winter landscape of the Midwest.

By this time, Viking Fuck had almost perfected their live show, firstly involving the removal of all forms of shirt by all band members, and, secondly, fervidly going crazy to the haunting keyboard riffs that are pounded out. Luckily for us on March 7th of 2010, Ian Harris recorded a live Viking Fuck set for Nite Trotter, a "free format multimedia online music magazine":

Click here to stream.

Enough new material had been written by now that they were able to record a new tape. By this time Mickey and Matt had moved into a house together, originally called the lipliplipliplipliplip Palace, later changed to the New Viking Fuck House, now lovingly called the Old Viking Fuck House, and this is where most of the meat of what was to be called the "Sugar Crush" tape was recorded (with vocals being records at Mickey's mom's house AND his dad's house). It was released on Joe Heuermann's label Moist Tapes and was first available at the OUT//RIDER show during Summer 2010 at the White Lightning Warehouse... even though Viking Fuck never actually played that show.

1. Don't Die
2. Charred Garden
3. Wet Screamz
4. No Head
5. Blonde Spot
6. Skin,Skin,Skin,Skin,Skin
7. Get Up (I Feel Like A) Machine
8. Salty Crush
9. Heat Penis
10. Head Bag
11. Distance Burner
12. Dead Groove

Click to download.

One of Viking Fuck's collective favorite shows they have played was the show played with their homeboys Daughters of the Sun down in Kansas City at the Pistol, a warehouse art space that has since closed down. Or the time they, apparently, played with Slick Rick. My personal favorite show was the show that Mickey's father decided to attend at the Picador. Watching his son wriggle around on the beer-soaked-and-broken-glass-covered ground, he had a look on his face of "where did I go wrong?". Priceless.

Viking Fuck has future plans to release a split 7" with their Midwest brethren known as the Yuppies out of Omaha. When that will happen, who knows? Other than that, they'll probably play some shows, not as much as we'd like them to play, but which are definitely fun and worth checking out.

"Get head 'til I'm dead."
"Sups 2 yups."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Animal Mothers

Animal Mothers is a stoner rock/metal trio from Des Moines and its surrounding areas. Currently compromised of Zach Walther on guitar and vocals, Clint Saunders on bass, and Shane McChurch on the drums, the band takes influence from bands such as Metallica, the Beatles, the Dead, Black Flag AND Sabbath and imbues this sound with their own sense of style and humor.

Once upon a time, that time being August 21st, 2009, in a tent at Zach's stepsister's birthday party, former guitar player Alan Larison asked if he wanted to start a stoner metal band, and of course the answer was yes. Because they didn't know anyone else that would drum for a band like this, they recruited Dan Folkers, who had played drums in the death/thrash metal band Borderline Insanity with Alan, to play drums. With Infest as an early influence on their music, this trio (Zach on vocals, Alan on guitar, and Dan on drums) began writing a stoner violence fusion style and would play their first show at the Haunted Basement on September 4th, 2009 with 515 hardcore brethren Lost Hope.

Something was lacking on the low-end of things, and sooner than later the band added long time friend Clint Saunders on bass. Clint's first show with Animal Mothers was at the Haunted Basement with Nebraskan stoner punk contemporaries Hercules and Thunderbolts, also from Nebraska but not stoney in the least bit. Animal Mothers played their set in the back alley, as smoking in an alley is as American as apple pie. Let it be known that one whole ounce of grass was smoked that night.

Now with a full band put together and songs written, Animal Mothers was ready to record a demo. Tracked at the infamous Cuckoo's Nest in the Winter of 2009 by none other than John Bramlett himself, the self titled demo would come to be a good representation of the sound the band had early in its existence. Burnt to CD-Rs placed in very DIY packaging, the demo was first available in February, 2010.

1. Tigermama
2. Space
3. Couch Surfin / Shroom of Doom
4. Solar Priestess
5. To Live is to High

Click to download.

In Decemeber of 2009, after the recording on the demo was done, Zach began playing second guitar in the band and Alan took over on vocal duties while still remaining on the guitar as well. Soon they would lose their Infest influence and harder punk influence in general, and go for a more straight stoner sound. This new sound was intended to first be experienced on December 19th, 2009 at the Haunted Basement with Lord Green and Nightingales, but after Alan consumed 3 Mad Dogs (flavor unknown) in 30 minutes and passed out by the toilet, this was not to happen.

A more memorable show for Animal Mothers would be the time they played "some dumb fest" in Earlham at the end of May, 2010. Zach, Clint, and a car full of girls drove to the small town all while on mushrooms. Dan drove separately and spent 3 hours trying to find the space that the fest was being thrown at, all the while Zach and Clint were terrified by country roads that looked like they were straight out of the movie Twister. Dan couldn't deal with situations like these for much longer, and this night caused him to leave the band.

Animal Mothers was drummerless for a mere four hours when they called up Shane McChurch, who had played with Zach in the stoner violence band Orville Sash, and asked him to drum for the band. He obliged. Not two weeks after the first practice with Shane in June did the band step into Jupiter Lava Studios, Shane's own recording studio, to record tracks for a split tape with Denver's Black Acid Devil. After tracking his vocals, Alan left the band, so in late July Zach re-recorded vocals which are used on the final recordings. On August 9th, this tape was released on Brendan Records at a show at the Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines with Black Acid Devil, Skin of Earth, and a Creepy Kids reunion.

Black Acid Devil side
1. Death By Cop
2. Boredom Kills
3. Doom Scrolls

Animal Mothers side
1. Demon Hand
2. Water Lizard
3. Solar Priestess

Click to download.

Animal Mothers' future plans are as follows: New demo. Touring. Recording forever and ever. Since Shane is in college in Iowa City and Zach moved to Boone, Animal Mothers shows could be sparse, so make sure to catch them whenever you can.

Check out their website here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Tanks

The Tanks are masters of disguise, pro-level Magic the Gathering players, as well as a bass and drums trio from Iowa City. Although their exact style is hard to pinpoint, influences can be seen in bands like Shallac, Karp, Lightning Bolt, the Vidablue, and most importantly the Jesus Lizard as well as the band Smoke and Smoke. Mix in some black metal riffing and hardcore punk blasting and you're getting close to what the Tanks sound like.

The Tanks formed out of the band International Waters from Dubuque. Bassist Adam Luksetich and drummer Kevin Ayers moved to Iowa City while guitarist Jon Rolling stayed in Dubuque. Practice was getting increasingly more difficult to have as Jon didn't want to make the drive to Iowa City each time to practice, so he left the band. Adam and Kevin continued writing new music as just a bass and drums duo, but Kevin Koppes, who seemed to always be lurking around, (usually at the Magic (the Gathering) shop that Adam and Kevin Ayers would hang out at) eventually joined the band on mouth. Thus, the Tanks' first incarnation was formed. After seeing Smoke and Smoke open up for Les Savy Fav in Chicago, Adam and Kevin Koppes decided that's the direction they wanted to take their newly formed band in. Also, to make things less confusing, Kevin Ayers changed him name to Steve Bennett (yes, this is a Simpsons reference) because there can never, ever be two Kevins in one band.

In the Fall of 2004, the Tanks began practicing in a barn just outside of the city that had previously been used as a meth lab, a good influence on the development of their distorted, teetering-on-the-edge-of-fuzzed-out bass riffage and seemingly non compos spoken word vocal stylings. Soon enough, Kevin would be dressed up as a professor and the Tanks would be playing two weekend dates with Brian Tones of Cedar Rapids at the Busted Lift in Dubuque and then at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City the day after. One of their first memorable shows was at the Whoa Boat in Iowa City with Vine and the Archer and Off With Their Heads from Minneapolis. During the Tanks' set, Kevin was electrocuted twice by exposed wires in the ceiling, so all-in-all it was a very good show.

This was a time when the Tanks started to develop their live show, and as many people know, their live show is a reason to see the band. It's really an odd juxtaposition, seeing a Kevin, a guy with a football player's build, a guy that can put you in the Gable Grip and never let go, dressed up as a nun and parading around in front of a bass player who is shredding and headbanging and a drummer that is doing insane one-footed blast beats. Since the beginning of time, Kevin has been donning a costume for every Tanks show, wearing numerous different outfits over the years. It sounds lame, and it kind of is, but the Tanks know that as well and they embrace it.

After getting themselves familiar with their new sound, the Tanks, in February and March of 2005, went to record their demo. It was recorded in two days at the Chicken Coop in Iowa City by Bronson. Shawn Reed, then of Raccoo-oo-oon, did the art and screen-printed the design on to the CD itself. The demo was astutely titled "Pull the Trigger, Bear" as it was released in a trigger case and the art was bears. It was released at a show at the Record Collecter in Iowa City where red kool-aid was available.

1. From The High Wall
2. This House is a Firetrap
3. Tight Pants Picks a Fight
4. 3D Glasses
5. Your House in Tupelo

Click here to download.

The Tanks stuck to playing around Iowa until August when they embarked on the two week long midwest "Hot and Sticky" tour in their van, the Dakkon Black Blade. By the end of this tour, Dakkon was in shambles and "Bon Jovy" was spraypainted on his side. On the way to a show in Cedar Rapids, Dakkon broke down. AAA was called to tow the band to the venue, then, after their set, they towed them home to Iowa City. Dakkon was no more, and by this time time, Andy Visser of Road to Ruin was bugging the Tanks to get a full length out on his newly founded label Floodwater Records.

In the Fall and Winter of 2005, the Tanks traveled to Des Moines to record their first full length with Mr. Scott O'Gara at Smoking Guns Studio. The day before what was to be titled "Summon Creature" was supposed to be sent out to be pressed to CD, the Tanks enlisted the help of a small, nameless child with a very active imagination to do the artwork for the album. The album was released on Floodwater Records and on June 15th, 2006, a record release show was again held at the Record collector. Green kool-aid was served.

1. Blood In My Eyes
2. Seven Minutes in Heaven, Pt. 1
3. Jesusphish
4. Where We Call Home
5. Bennettown Massacre
6. Seven Minutes in Heaven, Pt. 2
7. Seven Minutes in Heaven, Pt. 3
8. Jim Lahey is a Drunk Bastard
9. How I'll Quit Gambling
10. Fuegotrampa

Click to download.

In January of 2007, the Tanks embarked on a two week long tour that would turn out to be Steve's last with the band. The Nordic Frost tour, appropriately titled because winter is cold, hit major midwest cities, and the band spent time in Columbia, OH recording the song "Pick A Fold" with Cooper from the kraut rock band Cave. This recording was not to be released on a split 7" with the band Warhammer by Samuel Locke Ward. I don't know if you caught that, but this 7" never came out, so don't look for it.

In the summer of 2007, drummer Ed Bornstein, currently of Be Kind to Yr Neighbor, would come to be the fill in drummer for the Tanks. For the month of July, the Tanks played shows all around the north east coast as well as playing shows in Canada. After a few months of being home, Luke Tweedy, who runs Flat Black Studios, approached the band about recording a full length. The Tanks were skeptical; they didn't have enough new material to fill up enough time for a full length, and these recordings would cost money. On top of that, they really didn't have a solid drummer. Instead of recording, the Tanks decided to tour a bit more.

In March of 2008, the Tanks had a three week long west coast tour booked and ready to go when disaster struck and Kevin suddenly had some other things on his plate he needed to take care of. Instead of canceling the tour, however, Adam and Ed formed a brand new two piece band called Foul Tip that would play all the dates booked in place of the Tanks. Brand new songs were written withing a week or two of leaving for tour. These songs were recorded at Flat Black with Luke Tweedy and released on a split tape with Pancho, also known as Iowa City's very own Grant Jackson.

Pancho side
1. Tap Your City
2. Milk & Mother Thistle

Foul Tip side
1. Gotta Shit
2. Spring Break Delay
3. Bro Zone
4. Fallen Heroes

Click to download

After arriving back in town from the Foul Tip tour, the Tanks wrote a few new songs and began recording for their full length at Flat Black after Luke Tweedy really pushed it on them. For the recording session, Steve came back to record drums for the band. Recording continued throughout the Spring, and the album would come to be called "Keep Breaking Down". Ryan Garbes of Wet Hair (and of an earlier writeup I did on Hugs) designed the cover art and the album was put out on 500 LPs and 1000 CDs by the Iowa City label Scenester Credentials. The record was released on October 29th, 2008 at the Picador with Wet Hair, Trash Dog, Datagun, and Stubb.

1. Command Divide
2. Action Daily
3. I Sense Injuries
4. Kingdom of Spite
5. Never Ghost Me
6. Pick A Fold
7. Just Mannequins
8. Kirby Loves Dudes

Click to download.

So, their second full length had been released but the Tanks were still drummerless. Soon enough however, the remaining Tanks caught word from Luke Tweedy of a kind of drummer-for-hire that was currently living in Wichita, KS. They approached Joe Ross, whom they had known since experiencing their first punk house ever in Sioux City way back on their first tour, about playing as a fill in drummer. Joe was then drumming for Weather is Happening, a band that was on its way out. Joe agreed to fill in for the "No Sex, No Drugs, No Problems" November east coast tour, and ever since then, everything clicked. After the tour, Joe officially joined the band and was now the Tanks' new drummer.

With Joe in tow, the Tanks went on a slew of tours. April of 2009 saw them hitting the west coast again for a few weeks, touring on Keep Breaking Down. In August of 2009, they did a week long midwest tour with Iowa City friends Viking Fuck. November of 2009 saw them heading back to the east coast on the "Hella Orbs" tour. Before hitting the road however, the Tanks recorded the "Miracle Baby" demo, songs that had been written since Joe joined that showed the new style that he brought to the band. This demo was recorded at Flat Black by Luke Tweedy.

1. Carpet Dope
2. I Can't Believe I Broke Edge Again
3. Dandruff Genius
4. Triple Deathless
5. Black Vise

Click to download.

Adam didn't exactly feel that the Miracle Baby demo sounded the best it could sound, so before hitting the west coast again for a tour in April of 2010, the Tanks hit Flat Black to record the "Skipping Pills" demo. Again recorded by Luke Tweedy, this demo was released April 22nd at the Blue Moose at a show with the Monotonix. Artwork was obviously done by a pervert as it is blatant pornography.

1. Slung
2. Dandruff Genius
3. 24 Hr Revenge Fantasy
4. I Can't Believe I Broke Edge Again
5. Untitled Man Vs. Nature Project

Click to download.

Some of the more memorable shows for the band have been mostly Iowa City shows. A towny bar called Kandyland once hosted a show the Tanks played that resulted in all of the Iowa City punks invading the bar and making the atmosphere seriously grimy. Another memorable show was the 2010 Mission Creek show the Tanks played with Grant Hart of Husker Du at Fake Gabe's. The show ended with smoke bombs filling the room and black lights being shattered. Success.

Future plans for the Tanks include tapping manna. More touring is also in the cards, obviously. As of now, a majority of their next full length has been recorded and is ready for release as soon as vocals (and tough guy guest vocals) have been recorded. Expect heavy.

If you want to head bang, whether it's fast or slow tunes, punk or metal or whatever, check these fools out. All's fair in love and the Tanks.

Check out the Tanks website here.
Purchase "Keep Breaking Down" from Scenester Credentials here.



Even though they still play shows every once in awhile, The Tanks have seemed to slow down, what with Joe Ross playing in two other bands, Slut River and Supersonic Piss, and Adam Luksetich playing in Big Box and touring Canadian super indie folk act Little Scream. That didn't stop them from recording their new LP called "Epic Loads" at Flat Black Studio with Luke Tweedy over the course of 2011. And guess what? Brendan Wells and I got guest spots doing vocals on this record too! Self released by the band in February of 2012.

1. 24-Hour Revenge Fantasy
2. Dandruff Genius
3. Triple Deathless
4. I Can't Believe I Broke Edge Again
5. Black Vise
6. Stop Taking Pictures
7. Seductive In Camo
8. Slung
9. Thanks But No Thanks
10. Natural Man Vs. Unnatural Boy
11. The Quiet Song

Click to download.

It's finally out and Epic Loads is definitely a sick album. It took forever, demo after demo and tour after tour, but it's finally out. What a good record. Crushing fuzz, one footed blasters, and just an all around awesome catchiness makes Epic Loads totally worth the wait. Even after hearing these songs a million times live, they're totally fresh on wax. If you'd like to get a copy for yourself, get at Adam, adamluksetich AT gmail DOT com.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Hugs was a chaotic hardcore four piece from Cedar Falls. After the breakup of the short lived Cedar Falls hardcore outfit Sender Receiver, members Shawn Reed, Benjy Klostermann, and Andy Spore formed Hugs in late 2002, with Shawn on guitar, Andy on guitar, and Benjy on bass. They needed a drummer and had their friend Ryan Garbes, who had spent time playing in the Cedar Falls and Waverly band The Skabortionists, round out the lineup on drums.

Hugs was most influenced by the late 80s and 90s Dischord sound, specifically post hardcore bands like Fugazi and the Nation of Ulysses, as well as bands like Cap'n Jazz from Chicago. Hardcore bands such as Universal Order of Armageddon, Moss Icon, and the Amherst, Massachusetts screamo act Orchid (among other Ebullition bands) were also huge influences. Later in the band's life, influence could be found in bands such as the Velvet Underground and MC5. When listening to Hugs' music, you can also hear a definite metal influence as well.

One major, non-musical influence that Hugs took to heart, however, was the 90s DIY ethic. This ideology helped the band carve a more distinct niche for themselves in the hardcore world. Lyrics were just as important of an element for them as their musical stylings with commentary on the education system, the environment, and prevailing attitudes on the opposite sex, but still reading like poetry. Every record was released with an analysis/explanation of the lyrics. With all of these influences combined, sound and action wise, Hugs was a more grounded and focused band when compared to contemporaries playing the same chaotic sound from other parts of the state. To put it in other terms, Hugs didn't quite have the fashion sense that Des Moines screamo bands did, nor did they want to.

Shortly after forming, Hugs traveled to Muscatine to record an EP with Landon Strause in mid 2003. This recording session would become a 6 song 12" put out by the band themselves. The 12" was one sided and clear, with art by Shawn screened onto the b-side. Soon after this was released, the band hit the road for a two week long midwestern tour.

1. Hell is For Children
2. Transposition of the Greater Vessels
3. Won't Lovers Revolt Now
4. Death of a Postmodernist
5. The Logic in Sand
6. Bringing Home the Blood

Click to download.

For the rest of year, Hugs stuck to playing shows around the midwest, with most of them happening in Iowa. Some of the more standout shows around this time included Hugs playing with the Locust at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City, and playing with Milemarker at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls. One of the more influential shows for the band was the show they played with Wives (later becoming No Age) and Hale Zukas. Wives' art conscious mentality and sound would influence the way Shawn, Andy, and Ryan would create music in future projects.

The band embarked on a nine day winter tour in late December 2003 with highlights at The Ghetto Diaper in Lansing, MI and new found friends in Indianapolis, Louisville, and Somerset (KY). Benjy says, "Derek Black (Mara'akate, Phoenix Bodies) is such a standup dude. He would stay up until 5am to let us into his parent's house while we drove in from wherever, set up shows, feed us. He did so much for us, that and Horsethrower."

The winter tour had a bit of a rocky start in Detroit. The house show was mildly attended, but what really freaked them out was the gun-toting promoter. He was reported as saying "Sometimes I go out back and just shoot my gun off a few times so other people in the neighborhood know I have a gun too." Despite the scary Detroit locals, Hugs was able to start building a solid fanbase outside of Iowa. The mini-tour also sparked the strongest friendship of Hugs' career with ex-Saetia hardcore band The Fiction of New York City.

In early 2004, Hugs journeyed to Chicago and stepped into Mike Lust's (Lustre King, Tight Phantomz) studio (who also had recorded Ten Grand) to record their full length. Rough tracking was done in the course of a single weekend and the mixing was finished in another whirlwind session the following weekend. The session produced 13 tracks known as The Tarpit that definitely exhibited a more refined sound than the self titled 12". The Tarpit was initially slated for release on CD/LP by Indiana based label Happy Couples Never Last, but those plans had to be scrapped. A supposed important-emails-in-the-spam-folder problem by HCNL caused Hugs to resort to their own resources to ensure that the new record was ready for The Fiction/Hugs 2004 Summer Tour. Friend of the band (and Benjy's roommate) Cameron Myers stepped up to the plate and released the album on his newly founded label Records of the Damned. Waking Records also completed the CD version with different art near the end of the 2004 summer tour.

1. Some Great American West
2. Who's On First, Who's On Second
3. Part 1: Te Young Corporate
4. Jesus Nike Brad Pitt Hard On
5. Glacier
6. Run
7. Lost in the Wilderness
8. Mike Witry was a Good Kid
9. The Deep World
10. Run!
11. Shiv for the Immortals
12. Part 2: Overthrow of the Boy's Club
13. Untitled and Self-Improvement

Click to download.

By this time, Hugs was gaining more attention and Slave Union Records repressed the self-titled 12" just in time for Hugs' late July/early August 2004 east coast tour with The Fiction. A few days into tour, Hugs played Dudefest 2004. Several other dates on the tour also included shows with Welcome the Plague Year and Cowboys Became Folk Heroes, as well as select dates with Meneguar, Transistor/Transistor and Books Lie. This tour would prove to be completely disastrous for Hugs, however. While driving from Summerville, SC to Raleigh, NC, Hugs' van got a flat tire. They stopped and got an after hours tire/wheel replacement by "some sketchy local yokel" and everything seemed normal. While they were driving to their show that night the entire newly replaced wheel completely snapped off at the bolts at 70 MPH on I-95, which sent sparks flying everywhere. After getting towed the remaining 45 miles to Raleigh, the entire rear axle had to be replaced, an expensive endeavor.

Thankful to be alive and lucky enough to make friends with a guy named Chris in Raleigh, Hugs went on to play itheir strongest and most cathartic show ever on July 30th, 2004 at the Posidome in Raleigh. Despite the glimmer of hope, this was in no way the end of Hugs' adversity as they would later go on to get lost in the Appalachians while attempting to take a shortcut en route to Blacksburg, VA, and at one point the entire sliding door of the van fell off, among other problems. After playing a show in New York, Hugs decided to cut the tour short at 3 weeks and drive back to Cedar Falls. Four dudes in a minivan for 20 days with all their equipment - that's a hard sell.

At this point in time, the member's interest in Hugs was waning. The hardships of the last tour coupled with shifting musical interests would mark an end for the band. Four unrecorded tracks were planned to be pressed as a hearthshaped split 10" with Sweetheart of Ohio by Perpetual Motion Machine (and was planned to be released on Valentine's day of 2005), but these plans never came to fruition, and Hugs had no interest in continuing as a band. Their show in New York would turn out to be their curtain call, and Hugs would never play another Iowa show again.

Shawn, Andy, and Ryan moved to Iowa City and started up the experimental psychedelic band Raccoo-oo-oon, and Benjy moved to Des Moines, playing in the short-lived thrash metal outfit Bartyr in Blood, as well as Tyborn Jig and Monstro. As of this entry, Shawn and Ryan are playing in the Iowa City band Wet Hair, Benjy is continuing on in Tyborn Jig, and Andy is living in California.

Thanks to Shawn for giving me all the information he could remember, and thanks to Benjy for all he remembered, his anecdotes, and for ironing out the details.

Check out Hugs' old website as it existed years ago: HUGS KILL

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Through Hard Times

Through Hard Times was a youth crew band from Iowa City. Taking influence from early hardcore bands like Minor Threat and late 80s style youth crew bands such as 7 Seconds and Youth of Today, Through Hard Times formed in the fall of 2005. Singer Aaron Bos-Wahl got the word out around the local scene that he was looking for members to start an old style hardcore band. Soon after Chad Ferguson joined on guitar, Dan Sewinksi jumped in on bass, and Jordan Josephsen filled the lineup on the drums.

In the one and a half years of its existence, Through Hard Times played a large amount of memorable shows all across Iowa and did a tour around the midwest with Des Moines street punk band Suburban Scum. The first show ever at Clover Tattoo in Cedar Rapids saw them playing with In Defence, which jump started In Defence's close relationship with Iowa, as it was their first time playing in the state. On St. Patrick's Day in Des Moines, Through Hard Times played with NYHC band Murphy's Law at Hairy Mary's, even though Murhpy's Law didn't show up to the show until well passed midnight.

In the winter of 2005, soon after they formed, Through Hard Times got to work on recording a demo. Setting up all their equipment in Chad and Aaron's basement, a demo was recorded using a single room mic. This demo included a cover of Uniform Choice's "Screaming for Change".

1. Privileged
2. Through Hard Times
3. Moving On
4. Brighter Days
5. Make It Count
6. Screaming For Change
7. Stand Up

Click to download.

A few months after this basement demo was recorded, Through Hard Times headed to Cedar Falls to record with Chris Brown of the Beat Strings in his recording studio. These recordings, which are much better sounding re-recordigns of the demo, came to be known as the Moving On EP. The track "Through Hard Times" was featured on the second of the Under the Mic compilations, a compilation series showcasing the best music from Iowa.

1. Brighter Days
2. Moving On
3. Privileged
4. Make It Count
5. Through Hard Times
6. Stand Up

Click to download.

Although the original line up remained consistent through both the recording of the demo and the Moving On EP, Through Hard Times went through many different bass players. Spenser Ford filled in numerous times for Iowa City shows, and Bryce Secor from Cedar Falls filled in once.

After playing shows all over Iowa, including numerous incredible shows at the Hall Mall in Iowa City, things would start to slow down for Through Hard Times. Aaron moved to Central America to study abroad for a semester, and with the question of who would be a permanent bass player when he returned, the future of the band was uncertain. Aaron moving to St Louis on his return to the United States and Jordan moving to Des Moines cemented the end of the band. April 13th, 2007 would end up being Through Hard Times' last show. It was played at the Yacht Club in Iowa City with Lipstick Homicide and the Creepy Kids (which ended being their second to last show).

Jordan was the only member still involved in music after Through Hard Times. He went on to play drums in the Des Moines bands Circlepit Assholes and Knuckled Down, and bass in Die Mutts. A reunion show is being planned for this summer in Iowa City. More news on that will be posted when it becomes more official. We can all hope Iowa City will be more ready this time around.

Thanks to Jordan for all the information.
Thanks to Chad for the EP scans.