24-7 Spyz

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24-7 Spyz
Origin South Bronx, New York, USA
Genres Alternative metal, hard rock, hardcore punk, funk metal, experimental rock, rap rock
Years active 1986–1998
2003–present (on hiatus)
Labels In-Effect
East West Records America
Enemy
What Are Records?
The Gumbo Recording Company
Associated acts Black Angus
A.N.M.
Blkvampires
Members Jimi Hazel
Rick Skatore
Sekou Lumumba
Ronny Drayton
Past members P. Fluid
Anthony Johnson
Tony Lewis
Matt Martin
Kindu Phibes
Tobias Ralph
Mackie Jayson
Jeff Brodnax
Joel Maitoza

24-7 Spyz (pronounced "twenty-four-seven spies") are a band from the South Bronx, New York, formed in 1986, originally consisting of Jimi Hazel (real name, Wayne K. Richardson) (guitar), Rick Skatore (real name, Kenneth D. Lucas) (bass), Kindu Phibes (drums), and P. Fluid (real name, Peter Forrest) (vocals). The band is best known for mixing soul, funk, reggae, and R&B with heavy metal and hardcore punk. The fact that they are African Americans playing variations of heavy metal led critics to compare them to bands such as Living Colour and Bad Brains. Though they were pioneers in the fusion of these particular music styles, influencing many bands, they have never achieved substantial commercial success. After several lineup changes, the band broke up in 1998, but reformed in 2003 before releasing their first new album of original material in over a decade in 2006. As of November 2012, the band has been performing with the lineup of Jimi Hazel, Rick Skatore, drummer Sekou Lumumba and guitarist Ronny Drayton.

Early days[edit]

Upon their formation in 1986, the band immediately earned a dedicated following in New York due to the eclectic mix of their music. The band would switch gears from Motown and soul sounds with lush vocal harmonies to violent heavy metal and hardcore punk with ease, sometimes several times within the course of one song.

In-Effect Records[edit]

In 1988, In-Effect Records, a subsidiary of Relativity, signed the band, which, by now, included new drummer Anthony Johnson, and released their debut album, the genre-hopping Harder Than You, produced by Bob Musso and Jimi Hazel, in December 1988. The first single was a cover of the Kool & The Gang song "Jungle Boogie." Critics and fans took notice of the band's left-wing political stance[citation needed] and the unique and original sound of their tight-knit, high-energy music. The album sold just under 300,000 units due[1] to non-stop touring worldwide and became an underground hit. It remains a pioneering classic in the rock/funk/hip hop genre made popular in later years by such bands as 311, Limp Bizkit, and Kid Rock. The video for "Jungle Boogie" was the first video on MTV to air on the specialty shows 120 Minutes, Yo! MTV Raps, Hard 60, and Headbanger's Ball.

The band's second album, 1990's Gumbo Millennium, produced by Jimi Hazel and Tom Soares, was once again released through In-Effect Records. The album was much softer than the previous effort, focusing mostly on clean guitar and lush R&B harmonies and grooves although it still contained elements of thrash metal and punk. The first single, "Don't Break My Heart!," while commercially viable, failed to receive radio airplay. Regardless, the album sold over 300,000 units once again due to massive amounts of touring and proved to be an underground success. It soon brought the attention of several major labels. The band were soon opening for Jane's Addiction on the Ritual De Lo Habitual tour. The tour brought the band to a new audience but their growing success could not halt the sudden departure of Anthony Johnson and P. Fluid. Fluid made the announcement of his departure during the band's live performance on the final date of the Jane's Addiction tour. Allegedly, he had not made it known to his bandmates beforehand. Johnson followed suit and, as a result of the departures, the band dropped out of a planned co-headlining tour with Suicidal Tendencies. Fluid soon made it known that he intended to start a new band named The P. Fluid Foundation.

24-7 Spyz personnel
(1986–1987)
  • P. Fluid - vocals
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Kindu Phibes - drums
(1988–1990)
  • P. Fluid - vocals
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Anthony Johnson - drums
(1990–1991)
  • Jeff Brodnax - vocals
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Mackie Jayson - drums
(1991–1994)
  • Jeff Brodnax - vocals
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Joel Maitoza - drums
(1995)
  • Forrest (aka P. Fluid) - vocals
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Anthony Johnson - drums
(1996)
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Joel Maitoza - drums
(1997)
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Matt Martin - drums
(1998)
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Tony Lewis - drums
(1998–2003)

BAND SPLIT

(2003–2004)
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Tony Lewis - drums
(2005–2011)
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Tobias Ralph - drums
(2011–2012)
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Joel Maitoza - drums
(2012–present)
  • Jimi Hazel - guitar, vocals
  • Rick Skatore - bass, vocals
  • Sekou Lumumba - drums
  • Ronny Drayton - guitar, vocals

East West Records America[edit]

Despite the loss of two of the band's four members, Rick Skatore and Jimi Hazel decided to continue on. Jeff Brodnax was brought in as the new vocalist along with Cro-Mags and Bad Brains drummer, Mackie Jayson. Jayson rehearsed with the band for a short time but soon left the band and was replaced by Joel Maitoza. The new lineup received rave reviews and the band was soon signed to East West Records America, a division of Atlantic Records headed by label president, Sylvia Rhone. The company tested the marketability of the new band by releasing a five-song EP titled This is...24-7 Spyz!, produced by Jimi Hazel and Bruce Calder in 1991.

In 1992, the band received their largest commercial exposure to date by appearing in a Budweiser television commercial that aired for the first five months of the year. Soon after, the hour-long Strength In Numbers album, produced by Terry Date and Jimi Hazel, was released and proved to be the band's most critically acclaimed release to date. The album saw the band depart from its New York hardcore roots to concentrate more on heavy metal and soul. Unfortunately, by that time, popular music had begun shifting away from musical dexterity and in favor of the simplicity of grunge. The album's single, "Break The Chains," received minor radio airplay and MTV exposure but Sylvia Rhone pulled the label's support before dropping the band altogether in the midst of what many feel was their creative peak. To the band's dismay, the label only pressed 18,000 pieces and allotted 2,000 for press purposes, thus making the disc widely unavailable almost immediately.[2]

Disgusted by their dealings with East West and Sylvia Rhone, the band members began working on other musical projects. Hazel and Skatore looked to form a new band, Black Angus, with Follow for Now drummer Bernard "Enrique" Coley. The Black Angus sessions were eventually recorded with drummer and longtime friend Carlton Smith of the Royal Crescent Mob. Maitoza formed Shockhead with vocalist Joseph McCraw and Nixons bassist Ricky Wolking, recording one disc, titled Television, which was produced by Jimi Hazel. Brodnax concentrated on his band, Egypt.

The Enemy Label[edit]

When Hazel and Skatore discovered how popular the original lineup remained in Europe, they reunited with Anthony Johnson and P. Fluid, now performing as Forrest (his real last name) to release Temporarily Disconnected, produced by Jimi Hazel. The album was released exclusively in Europe by Enemy Records, and was followed by a quick tour of the continent before Johnson and Fluid left the band once more.

Alternate versions of the next studio album were released in 1996. In March, 6, produced by Jimi Hazel, was released exclusively in Europe through the Enemy label. The album contained covers of The Association's "Along Comes Mary" and Love's "7 and 7 Is." The album was titled 6 due to it being the sixth release by the band. In September 1996, What Are Records released Heavy Metal Soul by the Pound, the American version of 6. The track listing would remain almost identical to 6 with the exception of the removal of "Along Comes Mary" and "7 and 7 Is" and the additions of "Earth And Sky" and "Save The World" as replacements.

Both versions of the album saw the band returning as a trio with Jimi Hazel on guitar and lead vocals, Rick Skatore on bass and Joel Maitoza returning to the drums for the first time in four years. Two tracks recorded before Maitoza's return featured guest drummer Carlton Smith of Royal Crescent Mob. Additional vocals were contributed by Doug Pinnick of King's X for the songs "Love And Peace" and "Yeah X 3".

The next release was the If I Could EP, available exclusively through their fan club and featuring remixes and live performances of several songs. In 1998, a disagreement between Hazel and Skatore led to the dissolution of 24-7 Spyz.

Solo albums and reformations[edit]

In 2000, Hazel co-wrote several songs for a band named Crime, who were using the material to shop for labels. Skatore re-emerged in 2001, playing bass in a band named Block 16 alongside Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery. The band's first release, Too Brutal For Radio also featured appearances by Andrew Freeman, Ray Freeman Jr, Mosh Ben-Ari, Ronen Barak and Spread Eagle vocalist, Ray West. After the release of the album, Skatore suffered from a collapsed lung. Despite their prior disagreements, Hazel came to the aid of his friend by performing together as 24-7 Spyz for a benefit concert at New York City's CBGB's. Proceeds from the show went towards Skatore's medical bills.

Jimi Hazel with 24-7 Spyz in 2012

In 2002, Hazel released his first solo CD, 21stCenturySouthBronxRockStar on his own label, The Gumbo Recording Company. It was followed by the formation of Maitoza's new band, Crown 10, in May 2003. 2003 also saw Hazel and Skatore reunite for a second CBGB's performance with Tony Lewis on drums. Later that year, Hazel and Skatore would announce the official re-formation of 24-7 Spyz. In 2005, the band released a limited edition DVD titled HMS4L: The Many Lives of Walter Rattamus through their website. The DVD tells the history of the band through the various incarnations and also includes commentary from Jimi Hazel and Rick Skatore.

Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal with Jimi Hazel at a show in Brooklyn

In 2006, the band released Face the Day, with new drummer Tobias Ralph, through The Gumbo Recording Company label. The disc was produced by Jimi Hazel and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and was the first 24-7-Spyz studio album in a decade. Shortly thereafter, the band released a live performance from 1998 as a digital download and CD titled Can You Hear the Sound?.

In 2009, Hazel and Skatore began focusing their attention on a new side project called A.N.M. (Anti Nigger Machine). Other members of the band include Doug Pinnick (vocals), Greg Fulton (guitar & vocals), Spacey T (guitar & vocals) & Philip "Fish" Fisher (drums & percussion). Later that year, they released a four-song demo via their MySpace page. In 2010, the band began soliciting donations to fund the recording of their first album.

On August 6, 2011, 24-7 Spyz performed at the Highline Ballroom in New York City. The show saw former members Jeff Brodnax and Joel Maitoza return for a reunion of the Strength in Numbers era lineup.[3] In November 2011, the band announced that the lineup would continue the reunion with Strength In Numbers Twentieth Anniversary Tour starting with a string of European dates beginning in late February and continuing through March, 2012. In September 2012, it was announced that the band had officially parted ways with Brodnax and Maitoza. It was also stated that Maitoza, Ralph and Lewis would all take part in recording drum tracks for a planned upcoming album. In November 2012, the band announced that Sekou Lumumba of Bedouin Soundclash had officially joined the band on drums. Guitarist Ronny Drayton would join the band soon after. On April 27, 2014, an image posted by the band on their official Facebook page stated that the band was on hiatus.

Activity of former members[edit]

Anthony Johnson reppeared as the drummer for the band Middle Man before moving on to perform a lead role in the Off Broadway production of Stomp. He was also featured in the HBO film Stomp Out Loud. While performing in Stomp, Johnson was recruited to play drums for Japanese pop star, Bonnie Pink. Johnson relocated to Japan where he lived and toured with the band for a time. He was named as the drummer for Ben Folds during a tour supporting Folds' solo album, Rockin' the Suburbs.[4] In 2005, he made an appearance on the self-titled, five song release by Lost Tricks, a band fronted by actor Trevor Oswalt. He has also performed with artists such as Eagle-Eye Cherry, Dionne Farris and Vanessa Daou. Johnson lives in New York City where he continues to participate in music, as a member of The Morning After Girls, and theatre.[5]

P. Fluid and the P. Fluid Foundation played clubs in and around New York City but never released an album. Shortly after leaving 24-7 Spyz for the second time, P. Fluid, now using the name Forrest Thinner, formed Blkvampires. The band released a five song EP titled The Collector's Item through the Catch A Fire website. These five songs had previously been recorded by 24-7 Spyz and released on Temporarily Disconnected. In 2005, the New York City based band released their debut, self titled album compiling seven previously unreleased tracks as well as the five songs previously included on the The Collector's Item EP. In 2010, the band released a followup ten-song EP/DVD titled Blkcula. A five-song release, titled The Devil's Music, followed in 2012. Also in 2012, Thinner was the creative director and publisher of a book titled The HarlequinX. The book, based on a short film and characters created by Thinner, was written by CJ Cassidy and edited by Hector Valle. Thinner can also be seen in the film Riot on the Dance Floor, an upcoming documentary about City Gardens, a legendary nightclub formerly located in Trenton, New Jersey.

Joel Maitoza has continued playing drums & other percussion with bands such as Crown 10, Shockhead, Don Lithgow, Seventrain and Kerry Conally and remains heavily involved in session work and producing. From 2000-2006, Joel managed the thrash-groove metal act Brick Bath on the Pavement/Crash Music label. In 2007, Joel began working with French guitarist, Christophe Godin. Maitoza reunited with 24-7 Spyz in 2011 for a reunion of the Strength in Numbers lineup and continued to tour with the band through 2012 for the band's European tour dates. In September 2012, it was announced that Maitoza had parted with the band for a third time but would be one of several former 24-7 Spyz drummers to contribute drum tracks to the band's planned 2013 album.

Jeff Brodnax went on to join the band Egypt, whom he had known before his days in 24-7 Spyz. During his time with the band, they released two albums, Drowning in the Promised Land and Soul Hammer. The singer later released a solo album titled Acoustic EP in 2002. It was followed in 2009 by an album titled Forcing Me To Bend which he continues to support through touring. Like Maitoza, Brodnax reunited with 24-7 Spyz in 2011 and continued to tour with the band through 2012 for the band's European tour dates. In September 2012, it was announced that Brodnax had parted with the band for a second time.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

EPs[edit]

DVDs[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Adventures in Black-Rock with Jimi Hazel of 24-7 Spyz: part 4". sharemyguitar.com. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  2. ^ "Adventures in Black-Rock with Jimi Hazel of 24-7 Spyz: part 5". sharemyguitar.com. Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  3. ^ "24-7 Spyz Announce Reunion Show In New York!". Afro-Punk. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  4. ^ "Ben Folds Now One". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  5. ^ "Anthony Johnson Biography". taisuke.com. Retrieved 2009-12-29. 

External links[edit]