InterviewsMarch 4, 20248,657 views

Rebuilding a Scene: 3 Generations of Albany Hardcore Talk the Region's Rebirth

"Obviously no one can foresee the pandemic, but I think it was the clear tipping point for sure." - Charles Cure (Spiritkiller, Hush, Endicott)

Albany


By Colin

New York’s Capital Region has always played second fiddle to its downstate big brother—the namesake city for the entire state—and in the underground music world, sometimes third or fourth to Syracuse and Buffalo. But when it comes to heavy music in 2024, Albany’s future looks as bright as any.

 

The thriving scene of the 90s was known for exporting bands like One King Down, Skinless and Stigmata to wider audiences all-the-while continuing to foster more regional favorites like Section 8, Withstand and Dying Breed; groups that could draw a crowd at a local show larger than most national headliners could. Albany was also a destination for touring bands, especially the more forward thinking and eccentric of them who found an accepting and engaged audience to play to. 

 

The turn of the century remained strong, but as the beloved venues of the past began to close up and disappear, Albany seemed to sink further and further from its glory days. “Dead,” is the term Capital Region hardcore veterans Charles Cure and Adam Merendino use to describe the years leading up to the pandemic, citing a lack of bands and shows as well as the sense of community that can hold a sub-culture together. And the sudden halt that came with the COVID-19 pandemic did no favors for those who were active—though in an odd way, its longer-term impact seems to be shaping a newer, younger generation that is making positive contributions to the music scene. 

 

Currently, the 518 region plays host to a number of bands spanning sound, style and age. Whether you’re into the 90’s groove of Spritkiller, the moshy hardcore of Cold Kiss, or the riffy metalcore of Bad Impressions—or any of the unique sounds that plenty of the other local bands are playing—it’s clear that Albany is bubbling back up. Shows featuring all-locals are hitting capacity, and with a handful of venues ranging from the large room headliner destination of Empire Live to the gritty, intimate small club vibe of No Fun, out-of-town bands are once again excited to come through. New York’s Capital District is a scene on the rise.

 

From the tight quarters of one of the practice rooms in North Albany Studios (home to as many local bands as its confines can hold), Cure (Spiritkiller, Hush, Crisis Actor), Merendino (Cold Kiss; promoting shows as ALBHC) and Charlie McClosky (Bad Impressions, Cinnamon) sat to talk with us—and one another—about what’s going on in Albany and why the city’s heavy music scene is one to pay attention to once again. The unique conversation brought together three generations of musicians ranging from ages 45 to 19, showing the true collaborative and communal nature of the area’s music underground.

 

(Adam Merendino, Charlie McClosky, Charles Cure)


Tell us who you are and a bit about the bands you play in.

 

Charles Cure: I'm Charles Cure; I'm in Spiritkiller, Hush, and I'm still in Crisis Actor even though I think it's probably done. Spiritkiller has only been a band for a little over a year and it came together because the dudes who are in it with me were all in this band called Scavengers together for a little while. Two of them at least I've known for over 20 years, and the drummer from Spiritkiller was in another band with me called Jaws in the mid-2000s. Those dudes were getting together to try to start just a regular hardcore band and they had a couple songs written and sent them over to me. I thought, “I probably don't have time to do this, but it sounds pretty dope,” and I sat down to write a song and wrote it in like fifteen minutes, so I was like, "Maybe I can do it." Basically, we've just been going forward with it ever since then at an alarming rate.

 

Adam Merendino: I'm Adam Merendino; I currently just play in a band called Cold Kiss. It's been a band since January of '22; within the first week of January was when we had our first practice. It started basically around my friend Ben [Shaw], who's from Syracuse. Basically around the time the pandemic ended, Terror had a show at Empire Live [in Albany] with Dying Fetus and he was standing outside. I was like, "What are you doing here?" because it was a weird show to travel to Albany for from Syracuse, which is what I thought he did, but he said he lived in Albany for the past three or four years. We just started practicing. We were like, "Let's just start a band where we write 'Shades of Grey' by Biohazard like 20 times." That and T.U.I.[Trapped Under Ice] was kind of our goal. We wanted to keep that energy alive of heavier music, but not as much as like beatdown type stuff. It felt like things were getting heavier and heavier and we wanted to kind of reel it in and keep it in the vein of stuff we like, like Bitter End and T.U.I. So me and him started the band, and I was in the last iteration of this band called Born Low with Kyle [Chard] who sings in Cold Kiss, and we wrote three songs and I asked Kyle if he'd be interested in coming over to my house where we were practicing at the time and if he was into singing, because I thought his voice would fit really well, and he was down. 

 

Charlie McClosky: I'm Charlie McClosky; I'm in Bad Impressions and Cinnamon. Bad Impressions came first; we started practicing about this time last year. I started going to shows a lot more than I was before and I was like, "I have no clue why I'm not doing this," so I linked up with some friends who I go to school with at SUNY Schenectady. We wanted to do something that was definitely a hardcore band at its core, but really feed into our outside influences and come up with something really unique and authentic to ourselves—especially in terms of instrumentation, I guess. What happens usually is, I'll write the songs on guitar, I'll present the ideas and Steve, our drummer, and Moses [Torres, bass] will put a spin on it and it no longer becomes one of my songs. It's uniquely ours at that point. About June last year I joined Cinnamon on guitar and that one's a blast too. We just finished our recording at Dead Air, which we're really stoked on.

 

 

What's interesting here is that with you three we have three different generations given that the turnover in hardcore is typically just about four or five years. Can you tell about each of your experiences in discovering this local scene?

 

Cure: Charlie, how old is your dad?

 

McClosky: He's like 43.

 

Cure: I could be Charlie's dad [laughs]. So, I went to my first show in 1995 and it was the release show for the We The People compilation, and it was just fucking insane. I didn't know what to expect. I had been listening to the Siena College radio station WVCR and Ralph Renna had a show on there and this woman, I think her name was Michelle had a show on there. It basically made it so that nine-to-midnight had a metal/hardcore block and I would listen to it on my radio in my fucking little dirt town in Greene County and just be like, "I can't believe this shit." It sounded so sick to me; no one in my school listened to music like that and it was the first way I got exposed to local bands. So that was how I heard Dying Breed and Section 8 and Stigmata. That was probably like '93/'94 I was listening to it, getting into it. They had lots of announcements and information for local shows on there but I was too young to go, and then when I finally went I didn't know what to expect. I had been to a concert or two before, but they were concerts. Like, I saw Bush or something like that. I just didn't know really what to expect and I had never seen moshing, never seen anything like that. There were just these Troy dudes murdering each other in the pit and it was just packed full of gorillas. There just seemed to be no rules whatsoever and I was like, "This is so much harder in person and so much crazier than I expected it to be."

 

After that I was just trying to go to any show I could get to but I lived like 40 minutes away, so I used to have to bum a ride from anybody I knew. There were these kids who lived a town over from me and they would go. They were punk kids but they would be down to go to hardcore shows, and me and my best friend would ride in the bed of this dude's truck to go to shows. My experience with that early on was I thought the local bands were the sickest shit ever, like One King Down, Section 8, Stigmata; I really liked War-Time Manner, I really liked Withstand a lot and Cutthroat. I just went to as many shows as I could. I really thought that the local bands were incredibly special and I think I didn't realize that there were bands that were like that on a higher level. Like, this is all underground music so everyone is not famous and makes everybody equal, and that's obviously not true, but it took me a minute to understand. So because of it, the local bands were just famous for me and I really looked up to them and thought it was incredible that people from Albany were doing this shit that I liked and I didn't know anybody else liked.

 

It felt like a cool place for me to go where I got taken out of my normal life which was boring, rural, small town, small minds, jock kids and stupid shit going on. I just felt like when I was at a show I was where I was supposed to be. That was my early experience. Then a few years later, around the time that I was 20 I started an Albany band that became Endicott and I became a person who had like a place in Albany hardcore after that as an artist and not just a person watching the shows. It was sick; I loved it. I thought it was amazing that local people came out for just their friends. 

 

McClosky: Just after the pandemic, I was still in high school, so me and my friend group who were all into music just started going to shows. My friends were doing it a lot and I kind of picked up on it and started tagging along. It was pretty cool to see that a significant amount of time later [compared to Cure] it's still the same thing of being like, "Oh shit, there's a scene going on and I could be doing that." I always played music; I always played guitar. But it was eye opening for me to be like, "Me and my friends could do this and be involved in it." Not just go to shows, but play shows. I didn't realize yet that in my area there could be really active listening enjoyment, moshing; all that to one of my bands. I really didn't know that to play music I didn't have to be some bar band where people are just half listening just to have a couple drinks like, "Oh that's cool, there's a band tonight." Like, people going to see Cold Kiss, going to see Halo Bite, going to see all these local bands and finding a sense of community in that. That became an obsession for me, really. I was going to every show and making plans to start Bad Impressions. Having a goal to not only participate in the shows and be in the crowd, but to give back to it by starting a band and hoping to continue that excitement in the Albany/Troy/518 scene. 

 

Merendino: I just turned 35. When someone asks me what my first show was I always tell them it was Saliva at Northern Lights [in Clifton Park, NY]. I went to that and I was in like 6th or 7th grade, and somehow I heard New Found Glory and it was the New Found Glory/Good Charlotte era and I was like, "Oh, this is guitar music, this is pretty cool." Same with Slipknot, Linkin Park and all the alternative and nu metal. I was taking guitar lessons and before them I would go into FYE and I would go into the metal section and just read CD titles and be like, "What sounds sick?" I read Alive or Just Breathing by Killswitch Engage and I was like, "This sounds fucking crazy," and I just listened to it and I heard the first track, "Numbered Days," and the first riff is just like [hums the opening riff] and I was like, 'This is the heaviest thing I've ever heard." Then—it was called Much Music then, but it became Fuse, and they had this metal show called Uranium, and I'm pretty sure I saw the video for "I Will Be Heard" by Hatebreed and it was all just the same to me. Like I thought Killswitch Engage and Hatebreed and Slipknot were all like the same band.

 

I was just taking in what I heard and was taking guitar lessons at the time, and then I think my first show was The First Annual Aggressive Music Festival at the Glens Falls Civic Center [in 2004]. Day one was Slipknot, Slayer, Soulfly and someone else. But in the basement Full Blown Chaos played and I can distinctly remember Ray [Mazzola, vocals] because I had never seen anyone wearing the Civil-War-mosh-cap. That was his thing in the era. I can distinctly remember them playing "Bloodflow," and I was like, "This is the heaviest song I have ever heard." Looking back, I didn't give a fuck then, but the second day was Terror, Agnostic Front, Sick of It All, As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, God Forbid, Shadows Fall. Then I remember seeing Full Blown Chaos again, and I'll call that my "first show." It was at Saratoga Winners [in Cohoes, NY] with Shadows Fall. Then I was just going to shows all the time.

 

Cure: I think [Charlie] said a good thing that really resonated with me. When I first found hardcore, it also became an obsession. I thought about it all the time; I listened to it constantly; I thought about starting bands; tried to scheme about how to do one. I remember going to see Fury of Five play at the QE2 and watching them and just thinking the whole time, "I gotta do that shit."

 

McClosky: There was another that thing [Charles] said of seeing the people in the scene as famous to you in a way. I was definitely in awe that it was like, "That's someone in my community doing cool shit." It was definitely really exciting like, "I could know that person."

 

Cure: That's the thing that's kind of mind blowing about it when you first get into it. I remember seeing the singer of Fury of Five out in front of the QE2 [in Albany] just hanging out and talking to people. He's such a distinctive looking person, I was like, "Who the fuck is that?" Then like 20 minutes later the dude's just up there murdering and I was like, 'Fuck, I was just standing next to this dude," and that kind of blew my mind, that you could just go up and talk to these people afterwards. The only other heavy bands I liked outside of hardcore were metal bands that were like legitimately famous. Like, I liked Pantera and Metallica and shit like that, and you're not getting close to them at a show ever.

 

 

All of you mentioned that your active bands started within the past year or two, and it seems that Albany in general has been on the upswing in those past two years. Has there been sort of a post-pandemic resurgence?

 

Merendino: In 2012-2014 there was a band in Albany called Born Low and they were like THE hardcore band. Derrick [Van Wie] from One King Down, Sam [Emory] was in this band called Gaining Ground, Joe [Cammarere] was in a million bands like Burning Bridges, Evixxion; all these bands that were pretty prominent in the late 90s into the early 2000s. They were on Reaper Records which was the label that put out T.U.I., so everyone was like, 'Born Low is on Reaper Records, that's awesome." Hardcore was kind of cool, shows were doing really well. Bogies [in Albany] was a thing in the 90s; it closed and then reopened and now Bogies was a 250-350 cap room. Shows in that era were sick, and then Bogies closed in 2015 and that was a slow downhill of what Albany was. Even then Albany was always kind of a pimple on the state of New York's ass, but it decreased and then pretty much flatlined right before the pandemic.

 

Cure: Yeah, it was dead.

 

Merendino. Dead. There was no bands. It was right before Drug Church became the band they are now. Like, they did their record release at the Fuze Box [in Albany] and it didn't sell out. I was in this band called Hour of Lead. Pre-Sunbloc and Prize there was this band called Spellrunner and then that era of bands died with the pandemic. The last show was at the Fuze Box in March; it was Terror and Mindforce and then like a week later was when everything got shut down. [Then the] pandemic ends and there's just like a popup of house shows happening that never happened before. 

 

Cure: In the earlier aughts, that was when I was active in Endicott and Albany shows were great all the way until the mid-2000s, for sure. There were enough bands to keep the scene thriving and to keep people interested and shit. There were some house shows and there were three or four clubs, like Valentines [in Albany] was still in play. After Valentines closed and then [Bogies] closed and Fuze Box was really hit-or-miss for shows. [Fuze Box] was weird; it was set up like a dance club up until like three years ago or so. It was like an awkward setup and they didn't really want to do heavy shows.

 

I agree with Adam; I was booking shows in Albany and Kingston starting in 2013/2014 all the way until 2018 or something. By the time I got to the end of doing shows, there was like no place to play other than The Low Beat, which was Howard [Glassman]'s club after Valentines that lasted from like 2015 until the pandemic, and it was like right next to Pauly's Hotel which also had shows and every single one of them was terrible. I don't know what it was; it was like a forcefield that kept people away from it. Every show I went to had like 15 people who actually gave a shit about being there. It was just weird and dumb.

 

By the time you got to the point where the pandemic was happening, no one was going to shows. During that whole period I was in that band Hush that I'm still in that was like a doom metal band, and we would play Albany once a year. We'd have a good show but we were just like, "It's not really worth it, nothing is going on here." So we would play in [New York City] and we'd play other places. By the time 2020 hit I was pretty much like, "I don't think Albany is coming back," and obviously no one can foresee the pandemic, but I think it was the clear tipping point for sure. I think Charlie probably has a better perspective on what happened around that time.

 

McClosky: Yeah, that's when I popped into things, and my whole friend group.

 

Cure: Do you think there was an element of, "pandemic is happening, we're all bored, so we're just looking at shit that might be cool," and see hardcore that way?

 

McClosky: I think just by happenstance. I was like the last of my friend group to really get into it. They were listening to a lot of old school punk and stuff, and then a lot of hardcore and anything hardcore-adjacent they were starting to get into around the pandemic. I went headfirst into playing guitar and that's when I really got my chops fine-tuned. With that I got really excited by what my friends were listening to; all the punk and hardcore they were into. It definitely wasn't from going to shows then because there wasn't shows going on. But after that there would be shows at a skate shop like Town and Country in Scotia or we'd be driving to Albany for house shows. I think we were getting into a lot of that type of music and then from one thing or another found the local scene. It was absolutely a factor that we wanted to do something after we couldn't do something for a while.

 

 

You mentioned the house shows and there are definitely a lot of DIY/house shows in this area. Of course the closures of the clubs that hosted the previous generation play a factor in things moving, but did the pandemic sort of drive things down into that underground world?

 

Merendino: It did, but at the same time there was never a time that there was not a venue. Bogies closed, Fuze Box remained open all the time. This whole conversation we haven't mentioned American Legions or VFWs and those have always been a thing. Especially in the 2000s. 

 

Cure: Even slightly before your time, Adam, when I was in Endicott and booking shows with the dude Aaron [Peck] who was in Lariat, he and I did shows at the Watervliet AOH Hall, Watervliet VFW, the Valatie American Legion, which was insane. There were cool VFW/Legion shows for sure throughout the 2000s and then, I don't know, at a certain point it just seemed like that was over in the Capital District. I haven't been to a VFW show in Albany or around Albany in at least 10 years.

 

I will say that I think the Albany scene has always best operated when you have exactly the situation you have right now, which is where there's two venues that are like THE venues. Right now No Fun [in Troy] and Fuze Box are filling that space. At various times it's been like the QE2 and Bogies, or Bogies and Valentines. You need more than one space that people know is a spot for hardcore or heavy music. And then you can have the second tier, more DIY venues or non-traditional venues, and they begin to feed bands up to those two optimal sub-culture venues, and then they push stuff into the Empire Live/Empire Underground level.

 

I think that's the way the scene works best. You have lots of people starting bands and you can have kids who are like Charlie's age or younger play DIY shows and then learn how to get good there and then step up into playing slightly bigger shows until they're ready to play in front of 500 people. That really works as a system that kind of feeds the scene and renews itself that way. You have this whole eco-system of those type of venues. You need the bottom tier, the mid tier and then that high tier. For a long time that mid-tier was just gone from Albany. So you were either playing in front of 15-80 people or you were playing in front of 500 people and that was it.

 

Merendino: Or you're playing in front of 15 people where there should be 500 people. 

 

 

Well, Adam, you are booking shows now and bringing some interesting stuff into the area. Talk about how that started.

 

Merendino: Cold Kiss got asked to play the Terror, Pain of Truth, Sanguisugabogg show at Empire Underground but it was in July of '22 and we had like four songs and Kyle didn't have lyrics for all of them yet, and we were just like, "we're not ready; we're not going to play this show." So after that happened, we wanted to do a cool first show and couldn't figure it out, and then I went to this Wrasp show at No Fun and I'm like, "This place is pretty sick." So I hit up August [Rosa, owner of No Fun] and was like, "The day after Thanksgiving is available, right?" I hit up Prize because I've been in bands with the drummer of Prize, Ben [Fredette], and my band before Cold Kiss, the guitar player of Prize, Pat [Dwyer] played drums. Everyone in Sunbloc I had known for a long time. And then I had most recently met Halo Bite and I was like, "Let's do these four bands on Black Friday." Make it cheap, $10 tickets. There were like 118 pre-sale and I was like, "What the fuck?" I thought it might have been because it was the first Cold Kiss show, which was true, a lot of family and stuff came to the show, but then the show sold out. There were 200 people; they turned 30 or 40 people away. I think [Charles was] the first person to say to me, "You should make Black Friday like Syracuse New Years Day." That was on Black Friday; December happens, I'm sure a million cooler shows got announced in every surrounding scene that made me more upset than I already was because I want there to be cool shows in Albany. 

 

Cure: We should point out that during this whole period bands are actively skipping Albany.

 

Merendino: January 1st I go to Syracuse for New Years Day and it was like Another Victim, The Promise, Death Threat, Deal With God. I'm just like, "Syracuse is so sick." They have an Instagram called Syracuse Hardcore and the next day I text this dude Vinnie [Jaeger] who sings in Wrong Move, he plays guitar in Grand Street, and I'm just like, "I'm going to start an Albany Hardcore instagram and I'm just going to post every flyer for every promoter." If we got 250 people wanting to go to [the Black Friday show] then there should be 250 people at every show. I don't think I booked another show until April which was Colony, Seed of Pain, Burning Lord, Godskin Peeler and Halo Bite at No Fun and that show went well.

 

Cure: No Fun is obviously a killer venue and I was very excited when [Adam] did the first Black Friday show. That, to me at least, felt like the real tipping point in recent times for here. Not just the hardcore scene as a whole everywhere, but Albany area specifically. I went to that Black Friday show. I was there talking to Byron [Wheeler], who plays bass in Spiritkiller before the band started and I was just like, "This is fucking wild. This feels like old Albany shows again."  I talked to [Adam] a bit after that about thinking Albany can be a thing again. 

 

 

Ok, so now there are plenty of good bands, there's a lot of diverse sounding bands, there's venues and there's shows happening again. How do you maintain the momentum?

 

Cure: I mean, you're walking on a tightrope all the time, really, because that's how hardcore is, right? 

 

Merendino: It's cool until it's not.

 

Cure: Hardcore is like an un-killable cockroach, but everyone has their fill of hardcore after four or five years, so people move in, they move out. They move out towards the end of their twenties, sometimes they come back in their thirties. But if you want a continuous presence of this kind of music, and more importantly I think, a continuous presence of the sub-culture community itself that's built around the punk and hardcore ethos to the extent that that still exists in the zeitgeist anymore, you have to do actually literally what we're doing right now, which is have a person who's 19 talk to somebody who's 45. For me to not approach you [Charlie] like I'm your literal dad and you don't know anything, and for you to not approach me like I'm some old asshole that's too uptight about everything.

 

McClosky: That's something that I've specifically—I'm not just saying it because of this situation, but this situation is happening because of this. I have multiple times talked to my dad about what's going on with the band stuff; he's not into hardcore at all, but he was there [January] 14th [at a well-attended all-local hardcore show at the Fuze Box featuring Bad Impressions, Spiritkiller, Cold Kiss and Halo Bite]. He likes to hear about it, and I talk to my partner about this stuff all the time. Like, "I was just talking with Adam," or "I was talking to Chuck about this or that."

 

One of us reached out to each other through our band accounts. Bad Impressions did not do anything of any importance until October, so we were like nothing. I just had the account and was waiting for my band to be ready, and [Charles] listened to a rough demo of one of the songs that is on our demo—[laughs] a rough demo of what became part of our demo. I was like, that's so sick that someone that's established in the scene is just supportive of it. It makes sense to me, wouldn't you want to be excited about people who are just getting out of high school or still in high school getting excited about hardcore and going to shows and starting bands?

 

It's the same thing with [Adam] and the Stutter kids, having all these young heads at shows. I just really have appreciated having people in the scene who have been around a long time compared to me and I'm not getting this, "I'm way above you; what you're doing is fucking stupid." I'm getting a supportive thing. It's exciting. That's a really important dynamic, and it definitely says something. I think that is something that will be very good for this scene, for there to be such positive support between generations in Albany.

 

Cure: Also, all that stuff is an interaction. I mean, if you [Charlie] and I were to hang out and talk about music and what bands are dope in Albany and what's going on, I guarantee that you would know a lot of stuff that I don't know is going on, and I know a lot of the stuff that you don't know even ever existed. It's like any other culture or community, and especially in subcultures, you pass on the knowledge of what happened and who was in involved in what more through an oral tradition than you do through media and shit like that. One of the things that I love about hardcore on a personal level is when you get in a room like this and just start telling stories about wild shit you saw at shows, shit that happened, stupid shit, whatever. Because that's how people learn about it. There's stuff that goes on in hardcore that's sketchy enough to never get talked about on the regular internet and there's a lot of you-had-to-be-there to even know that some of this stuff happened and no one talks about it. By talking about the stuff that's important to you, that's how the ethic of punk and hardcore gets passed from one person to another.

 

I think more than what your band sounds like, more than anything, the most important thing that fits you into the hardcore scene is the way you perceive the world, the way you interact with it, what you think is important and what you value. Even though from individual to individual at a show, you might meet people and they're way different from one another, they all have some form of that same ethic bubbling underneath the surface in their lives. That's why it's important to not gatekeep a dude like Charlie from joining the hardcore scene because I don't like his guitar tone or something stupid and arbitrary.

 

I think that stuff is really important. I think as a young person hardcore made me see the world differently; it put me in some situations that were wild and even at times uncomfortable for me that gave me real world experience and be the more successful person I've become. I can't tell you how useful it has been to me to have the experience of promoting shows and being in a band when it comes to running a business. Anything my employees throw at me is not even close to the worst day on tour when your band is melting down and shit. You need that kind of resilience to survive in the world. 

 

These conversations, doing these things together—three people of three different generations of hardcore—this doesn't happen as often as it should. My perspective on it often is I don't want to be the old guy bugging these kids who are on their own trajectory doing their own thing. But like, Charlie, when you reached out to me and we had cool conversations online and then I met you at a show, and we didn't talk a lot about anything, but we're on the same level and you can feel it. I love that. 

 

Merendino: Mr Positive, Chuck. I am the least gatekeeping person to exist, but—I'm not going to name names, but there are some people involved in Albany hardcore right now that are not involved for the right reasons. It's not my job to stop them from going to shows; it's not my job to out them for maybe showing me some red flags. Everyone in here knows someone who has stopped going to shows. I am not that person. I've never stopped; I don't think I can. I wish that I could because it's a fucking nightmare to be planning your life around hardcore and having a family, but I can't stop doing it. Fostering new people to come to shows is important, but you don't have to gatekeep them, you don't have to haze them, but maybe you don't put a lot of effort into those individuals that you don't see maybe have the ethics for it.

 

Booking agents don't have a place if you're not touring full-time, and even then, Sunami are arguably one of the biggest bands in hardcore at the time, they headline like every fest—they don't have a booking agent; they don't have a manager; they do it themselves. So when I hear about bands having agents, having management in the early stages of their time as a band it's a red flag for me. I just choose to maybe not foster those relationships as much. I'm not going to tell them to fuck themselves, I'm not going to tell them they don't belong, but there's a reason why I'm texting Charlie and I'm not texting someone else.

 

I'm 35 with an 18 month old and a wife and a full time job and a band and a stupid instagram that I wish I never made—that was a joke, I'm happy I made it, but it's work that I never thought I'd have to be doing. It's hard for me to foster the relationships with people I've been friends with for 15 years because I'm so busy, so when I see new people coming to shows or people that I haven't known and they show me some sign of maybe the ethic that Chuck was talking about not being there, I don't think that those should be fostered. I think being a little negative might make a positive in the future. That person that might be in that band that is in that band for the wrong reasons is getting looked up to by someone and maybe that person is going to have a bad interaction with the person in that band because they think they're above them or whatever. That can hurt things in the long run. I'm sorry that that's negative, but it's a hard truth.

 

Cure: I think in the current iteration of the Albany hardcore scene and hardcore at large post-pandemic, it's way bigger than it's ever been. The Black Friday No Fun show is bigger than 90 percent of the sold out shows at QE2 I went to as a kid, which were crazy but not more than 150 people. Now hardcore, generally speaking, is kind of cool at the moment. I mean you got hardcore bands doing Taco Bell commercials.

 

Merendino: Converse shoes.

 

Cure: Yeah, I'm not floating an opinion on that, I'm just saying that it's high in the mainstream mindset compared to where it usually sits, and when that happens it always draws out some scummy people that think they can make a quick buck off of it, and it always draws out some people that are there just to look cool for something that's cool for the moment. That really doesn't serve the wider purposes of creating community and reifying the subculture in the way that I was just saying I would like to see it. So what typically happens is that for a few years it builds and builds and builds and gets to where it pokes through the mainstream and then you start seeing some gatekeeping because there's people who, like Adam said are involved for the wrong reason and are maybe there to exploit a vibe rather than participate in it.

 

So right about now in that trajectory is where you see some people starting to get pushed out a little bit or some controversy starting and I think that's necessary to some degree so everybody knows why we're here and why we're doing the thing that we're doing. But it's also not necessary to make it more of a thing than it has to be. So yeah, I want to see everybody there for the right reasons, and even if there are people who are tourists a little bit, that doesn't bother me. If you're there for an experience, whatever. But I do get my hackles up when it looks like people are grifting and making money off people who are just trying to do something cool. I mean I do think we've kind of come to a place where that shit needs to be gatekept a bit. But generally speaking I would like to see more people and not less people, even if that means there's some shitty actors in there once in a while. 

 

 

Like you said, hardcore goes through peaks and valleys, and one thing I think happened was when it hit a peak in the early 2000s, the music industry at large came in and brought a business side that wasn't previously there—big labels and money and booking agents and package tours—and smaller markets that were popular for bands to play in the 90s like Albany came out on the losing end of it. In the 90s more regional bands like Starkweather or Candiria came up here regularly to play one-offs, but you don't see a newer generation doing that.

 

Merendino: Boston to New York is five hours, and then New York to Philly is like three. Those are all reasonable drives, so why would you want to play a B-market at best, which is Albany, when you could just play three A-markets and make city money, unless you really cared. Those bands like Stakweather and Candiria, they fostered their relationships with Albany, so it was like a place that they wanted to play versus a place they should play.

 

Cure: Also, they were not bands that had a wide appeal. They could come to Albany because Albany liked every weirdo thing that came through.

 

Merendino: Because Albany is just weird. Like if you listen to Straight Jacket, it's not hardcore, it's not metal; it's fucking weird. Section 8 is fucking weird. 

 

Cure: All the old Albany bands are kind of weirdo bands that don't really sit exactly in the hardcore space and don't really sit exactly in the metal space. I think the whole point of some of this shit, especially the stuff that Adam is doing is to make Albany not a place that bands want to skip anymore. I know what it's like when it's not like that, and it's awesome. If everybody is able to talk to one another, everybody is kind of on the same page and everybody is looking to lift the place up and lift up the community, then it gets lifted up. But people gotta reach out and people gotta talk to each other. That wasn't happening before and now it is. Even though the progress is incremental, it's still there. You see it now; bands are interested in playing Albany again. The videos that come out from that show we all played at Fuze Box in January; that was fucking wild. People see that stuff and they're like, "Oh, I can play a show in Albany again if it pops off like that." But those don't exist for 10 years before that. It takes a long time to change people's minds.

 

Merendino: I don't think I have it online, but there's a crazy video of Turnstile playing the Fuze Box. There's some pretty cool videos of Incendiary playing Bogies, that was like 2014. But then after that there's no video of a crazy show in Albany. 

 

Cure: Now that I see it coming full circle little bit, it's cool because it's like what Charlie was saying earlier with Bad Impressions—you guys are taking songs that you write that are hardcore and then you are turning them to incorporate these other influences musically, and that's the formula for weirdo hardcore. I think as a scene, Albany should lean into that instead of shy away from it and try to make generic hardcore that could exist anywhere else. 

 

McClosky: I pretty early on lost the fear—seeing other bands in the scene and being like, "I can be myself." Which clearly was the move because I don't want it to be a scene of the same band 20 times. I think we definitely have that weirdo hardcore thing going on now. If you look at the show on the 14th, every band sounded different, and that was sick. And it was packed. That's badass.

 

Cure: People went crazy for every band, too. I would go to shows like that [in the 90s]. You would see a band like Disciples of Berkowitz play with End of Line or something, and it's like, those bands don't go together but it didn't matter because everybody was all there for it. That's the thing, once you get people involved and caring about what's happening locally, then you can have these bills where it's four completely different bands and everybody is into every band. I want to see that. I think right now, I don't know what your sense of it is, Charlie, but the younger bands in Albany don't seem to have one uniform sound at all. I mean, Halo Bite is way different from you guys; even your two bands are pretty different from one another. I appreciate that too and want it to stay that way.

 

 

Since you’ve mentioned a bunch of the newer bands, let’s close out on this: what are some currently active Albany bands not represented by you three that people should check out?

 

McClosky: A band definitely to keep an eye out for as they don't really have any real music out other than a voice memo demo on Bandcamp—if you see Stutter on a flyer, go. The friends I got into hardcore with—that's them. I have never left one of their few shows that I've gotten to see them at not sorer than I've ever been at a show from just going absolutely insane to them. Also, Prize is definitely doing something super interesting and have been since they started right before the pandemic. They're one of those bands that I was listening to really getting into everything and realizing that there's a scene going on and I was like, "There's some serious instrumentation going on here."

 

Cure: Even though Charlie is here, I gotta say everybody has to check out Bad Impressions. They ripped at that show and the demo is sick and I'm stoked on it. You know what band I kind of think is great is that Dog Pisser band. I think they're weird and cool and I think people should check them out. I also will second Stutter because I think, as long as they stay a band and everything, with a better recording they're going to be a hype band at some point. Prize, great band. I definitely think people should check them out, but I also think people are aware of them at this point. 

 

Merendino: I think Prize is the best band in Albany. There's also a band whose one guitar player, Paul, who writes everything, he lives in Schenectady, but everyone else lives all over the northeast, but they're called Cross of Disbelief. They're fucking sick. It's real good. Sunbloc isn't really a hardcore band but I really fuck with Sunbloc. Matt, the singer of Sunbloc, behind the scenes does a whole lot for hardcore that no one knows. He does a lot of the layouts for Closed Casket. He did the Prize layout. He does everything. Every crazy Closed Casket release, he's done the layout. Whenever I need a flyer made, he makes it in like a second.

 

Cure: People should go listen to Flowers For Burial because their record rips.

 

Merendino: There's also an Albany comp coming out. It's just called Albany Style; it's going to be a throwback to the Albany Style comp that came out [in 1988]. I think we're going to have the old cover reworked by an illustrator. That comp is Spiritkiller, Cold Kiss, Bad Impressions, Prize, Cinnamon, Wet Specimens, Grand Street, Wrong Move.

 

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15 comments

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anonymous 77 days ago

Chucky Endicott talks a lot of shit for not being around Albany for 15 years! Go f*ck yourself Chuck we don't need you!

anonymous 77 days ago

lol who are these bands?

anonymous 76 days ago

in summary: shit bands have shit opinions and can't talk about "their scene" and its home base without talking more shit.

anonymous 76 days ago

HUH

anonymous 76 days ago

Yeah I ain't reading all of that

anonymous 76 days ago

This Adam dude has a serious Savior complex. Sounds like a total turd. Got into hardcore through pop punk? Albany needs to gate keep better.

anonymous 76 days ago

Halo Bite played that matinee show, not Sunbloc

toxicnacho 75 days ago

Wow. Something coherent and decent. Too bad lurkshitty won't replace everyone else with you and you alone.

anonymous 70 days ago

This Adam dude has a serious Savior complex. Sounds like a total turd. Got into hardcore through pop punk? Albany needs to gate keep better. I agree Came across as very self important and arrogant. What are these "Right reasons" hes talking about?

anonymous 69 days ago

Good stuff, Colin. The Albany/Troy scene was amazing to be a part of in the 90s/00s, and a lot of great memories came flooding back reading this. No other place I have lived has come close to matching that scene during that time.

anonymous 60 days ago

Inbreds only

Bortslob 59 days ago

The only thing shittier than NY is this article

anonymous 26 days ago

Should've stuck with Endicott. Not "Words In Ink Don't Lie" Endicott, but "Taking Back The Hour" Endicott. Only decent band he's had since then is JAWS and hardly anyone knew about them.

anonymous 26 days ago

This article is more banal and bland than Albany's hardcore scene has become. Its been 25 f*cking years. Get f*cking over it.

anonymous 14 days ago

What a circle jerk.