Agression was an American rock band from Silver Strand Beach, Oxnard, California. Agression was one of the founding bands of the Nardcore (Oxnard, California hardcore) scene and an early proponent of the skate punk genre. The band fused skate culture with the punk scene- featuring a song about skateboarding (Intense Energy) and a Glen E. Friedman photo of Arthur Lake skating a pool on their first and most popular album, "Don't Be Mistaken".
The band was known for its fast-paced, aggressive songs such as "Slammin' at the Club", "Money Machine", "Intense Energy", "Never Alone", "Go to War", and "Locals Only".
- Lead vocals - Jess Leedy
- Drums,vocals - Mark Aber/Rooney
- Guitar - Rob Thacker
- Bass - Big Bob Clark
- Bass - Danny Dorman
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Early 1980s - 2000
Agression was part of the first wave of skatepunk bands to emerge from southern California in the early '80s. These groups were on the front lines of a new union between the skateboard and punk rock cultures, which were put on a path to convergence by the establishment hassling each group. The resulting music was a confluence of punk's anger and simplicity, the furious speed of hardcore, and defiantly smart-assed machismo. Emerging out of Oxnard, CA (which was such a hotbed of punk and skate bands that their sound became known as "Nardcore"), Agression consisted of the two founding members, vocalist Mark Hickey, and guitarist Henry Knowles, along with bassist Bob Clark, and drummer Mark Aber.
Before their days as punk icons, in 1979 singer Mark Hickey, guitarist Henry Knowles, and bassist Bob Clark skated for Sims. (Source, Thrasher Magazine, July 2005) In this article Clark claims to be a co-founding member of Agression, whether he was or not is a minor and arguably irrelevant issue. Although Clark was verifiably close friends with Hickey and Knowles at the time, Hickey contradicts this claim in an interview with The Hooligan magazine. (Source: The Hooligan, issue Summer 1996) Regardless, Clark was the original and most senior bassist according to the timeline of lineups and albums released with his participation. Big Bob, Mark and Henry were roommates. The unit was one of the first groups to be involved with the Better Youth Organization (BYO) – the collective started by Shawn and Mark Stern of Youth Brigade—and contributed three songs, "Intense Energy", "Dear John Letter" and "Rat Race" to Someone Got Their Head Kicked In, the label's classic 1982 compilation.
Don't Be Mistaken, their debut full length, was released on BYO in 1983, chock-full of rapid-fire skatepunk rhythms. Contributions to various Mystic Records compilations followed, with Agression's sound wavering between skatepunk and more generic heavy metal; a self-titled LP on that label appeared in 1985, as did the "official" bootleg of an Agression show at the New York club CBGB.
Agression was able to get as far as CBGB with the aid of their manager, Scott Hatch, who also managed the more established hardcore outfit Fear. As Hickey said at the time, it was difficult not to appreciate the coolness of "Agression" and "Fear" listed on one bill. Aber left the group in 1985 for a spot with Angry Samoans.
Agression went through many iterations of band members, with vocalist Mark Hickey being the only original member remaining throughout the band's career.
Pushing on, Agression relocated from Oxnard, California to a more central location in Denver, Colorado as its home base in the late 80's. Henry Knowles (guitar) left the band after a few years in Colorado, returning to California. A short while after this, bassist Bob Clark also left the band. For a short time, Agression went on hiatus as new members were sought out.
The remaining members in Colorado were Mark Hickey, and Mike Minnick, A.K.A. "Fluffy Machete" (Drums). Minnick was well known in the So-Cal punk scene as the former drummer of two seminal Nardcore bands, Ill Repute and Habeas Corpus.
To fill the large vacuum left by the loss of Henry Knowles, in 1992, Hickey permanently added his friend and locally well known guitar virtuoso Kent Taylor, and went through several fill-in bassists including "Jelly Roll" (Real name unknown), and Conrad Sear, before finally settling on bassist Adam Pittman A.K.A. "Commander Adama" as a permanent addition to the band. Sear was temporarily retained for a short period as a rhythm guitarist, and left the band soon thereafter.
With the new Colorado lineup, Agression began touring again, and recorded two albums, "Nowhere to Run" and "Live at the Lair", a live album recorded in the infamous Denver punk club, the "Lion's Lair".
Mark Hickey's version of Agression fizzled out and disbanded after he finally pulled the plug in June 1998.
Trivia: The distinctive "bar-s" logo the band used since 1981, designed by artist Jamie Hernandez (illustrator of the comic Love and Rockets) resembling a black bar with a single lightning-bolt style S, or more accurately, the Sig, or Sowilo Germanic rune meaning "sun", or "victory" offset to the left of the bar, was misunderstood by many of the younger members of the punk scene. The logo was mistaken for a Nazi "SS" symbol, and rumors circulated that the band were racists, Nazis or white supremacists. This was compounded by Hickey's self-identification as a "traditional skinhead".
Although the traditional skinhead culture was multi-racial and had its roots in Jamaican ska & reggae, the shaved head, Doc Martens and braces worn by traditional skinheads were difficult to distinguish by outsiders as a similar look had been adopted by the newer Nazi Skinheads that had made violent news and much trouble in the punk scene during the '80s and '90s.
Despite the fact that Agression's lyrics were non-political, (and even positive at times), had at one time had an African-American drummer, (John Mitchell, who recorded at least one full-length and an EP with the band in the mid-eighties) and co-founding original member Henry Knowles was of Japanese descent, the rumors persisted.
In early 2000, the band reformed in San Jose, California, with Henry Knowles (guitar), Rob Thacker (bass), Ryan Fassler (drums), and Drew (vocals). This line-up continued through many shows with bands like Dead Kennedys, DI, Jim Jones Brigade, and Pitch Black. This incarnation of the band continued until the summer of 2001. In late 2001 Henry Knowles contacted original drummer Mark Aber/Rooney about playing together again with Big Bob on bass but unfortunately Henry became ill.
The new millennium brought about the unfortunate deaths of two of its original, and founding members: Mark Hickey in 2000, due to acute liver failure, and Henry Knowles lost to leukemia in 2002.
In mid-2002, a "Henry Knowles Memorial Show" took place at Skatelab, in Simi Valley, California, featuring the "Nardcore All-Stars" (who did an all-Agression song set list), Rejected Society, The Missing 23rd, Dr. Know and Ill Repute, among others.
To this day, many bands are still highly influenced by the sound of Agression. The high-energy, surf guitar influenced sound and the distinctive voice of vocalist Mark Hickey set them apart from the rest of their contemporaries with their unique sound and attitude.
Dr. Strange records has released a tribute to Agression titled Taking Out A Little Agression featuring many of their contemporaries along with modern bands covering Agression songs.
In October 2006, several former members of Agression played the Spike Fest in Long Beach. This lineup consisted of Big Bob Clark, Mark Aber, Rob Thacker (who played with Henry's lineup), Dave Haro, and JellyRoll for a few songs. This continued in November for two shows in Northern California.
From June 14–17, 2007, the same lineup minus JellyRoll performed in Northern California in a four-day tour to celebrate the release of the Agression tribute compilation. This release is out on Dr. Strange Records on CD and vinyl, and was expected to be available in stores worldwide on July 24, 2007. This compilation is dedicated to all those who have ever played in Agression along the years. Track # 28 is a song called "What Did I Do", which was written and recorded by Henry Knowles a couple years before he died.
Most Recently Aggression played at Punk Rock Picnic 2011 on Saturday, April 9, 2011 with the latest line-up: Mark Aber/Rooney (drums and vocals),Bob Clark (bass,merch), Rob Thacker (guitar,vocals), Jess Leedy (lead vocals) and Danny Dorman from Circle One (bass). They have continued to play shows to this day and are set to record a new album for DC-Jam Records.
- Better Youth Organization Presents - Someone Got Their Head Kicked In, Compilation LP (BYO, 1982)
- Don't Be Mistaken, LP (BYO 1983)
- Copulation - The Sound of Hollywood, Compilation LP (Mystic, 1984)
- Nardcore, Compilation LP (Mystic, 1984)
- Agression Bootleg LP, LP (Mystic/Bootleg 1985)
- Agression, LP (Mystic 1985)
- Live Underground Railroad, 7" (Mystic 1986)
- Best of Agression, CD (Mystic 1995)
- Nowhere to Run, CD(High Five Records 1995)
- Live at the Lair, CD (High Five Records 1996)
- Full Circle, CD (Cleopatra Records 2003)
- Locals Only: Live, CD (Mystic 2005)
- Grind Kings CD (Lucky 13)
- "Agression – Discover music, videos, concerts, stats, & pictures at". Last.fm. 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
- All Music Guide, Loftus
- KPFR radio interview, July, 1995, Hickey, Pittman, Minnick, Taylor and Sear
- Hooligan Magazine, 1996 article: "Interview with Mark Hickey"
- PEAK radio interview 1995 by DJ Sam Stock with Hickey, Minnick
- Totalpunk web radio Negative Man information page