Crumbsuckers

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Crumbsuckers
BEASTONMYBACK preview.jpg
Cover of Beast On My Back
Background information
Origin Long Island, New York, United STates
Genres Thrash metal, Crossover thrash
Years active 1982 (1982)-1990 (1990)
Associated acts Pro-Pain

Crumbsuckers was a 1980s crossover/thrash[1] band that formed in 1982 on Long Island, New York, by bass player Gary Meskil in their home town of Baldwin.[2][3]

History[edit]

In June 1983, the band recorded a demo unofficially called "The Crumbsucker Cave" at Nino Studio in Baldwin with five songs, including a cover of Chubby Checker's "The Twist". It was with this demo that they landed their first CBGBs showcase, and subsequent Hardcore Matinees.

At that time, the line up was Dave Brady (vocals), Dave Wynn (guitar), Gary Meskil (bass)[4] and Kevin 'Toast' Carroll (drums). From the time of their first matinee performance, they prided themselves on all original music, with the occasional homage to such classics as Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" and the theme from "Inspector Gadget".

In early 1985, looking for a sharper edge, they added fellow Baldwin resident Chuck Lenihan as a second guitarist, and replaced Carrol with a 16-year-old drummer called Dan Richardson. Lenihan's metal-influenced solos contrasted beautifully with Wynn's blues-based offerings. Lyrics and musical direction also took a notable turn towards a more metal edge with songs such as "Life of Dreams" and "Return to the Womb" written at this time.

They then recruited Chris notaro, a singer from another local hardcore band, Krakdown.

Life of Dreams (1986)[edit]

The band recorded their debut album Life of Dreams at Systems Two Studios in Brooklyn, New York, in 1985, which was released through Combat Records the following year. Produced by Norman Dunn, the album contained 16 tracks in 33 minutes. Life of Dreams delivered a collection of 158 punk-style riffs, with metal-style and blues-style guitar solos, laced with time changes and topped off with Chris Notaro's gravel-style vocals.

The closing track, "Moment Of Silence/Mr Hyde" demonstrated their ability to tone down the intensity of the previous tracks during a passage of clean and melodic acoustic guitars, before launching back into a frenzy of fuzz and aural aggression to round off the album. Life of Dreams was greeted with very mixed reviews in the music press.

The album cover for Life of Dreams

The album's cover artwork was designed and painted by Sean Taggart,[5] a local New York artist who had provided gig flyers for NYHC bands, as well as providing album covers such as Agnostic Front's Cause for Alarm, Carnivore's Carnivore and Retaliation, Prong's Primitive Origins and Whiplash's Power and Pain. He later went on to provide album covers (and eventually, defining cartoon characters) for the Jerky Boys.

Crumbsuckers recorded videos for three tracks from Life of Dreams 'live' at CBGBs in 1986, with only one track, "Trapped", being released. (The other two tracks, "Bullshit Society" and "Return to the Womb", have never surfaced) "Trapped" made it onto an underground video compilation of English and North American Punk bands called Hardcore, released by Jettisoundz in 1986.[6] The track is now widely available to view on YouTube.[7]

Beast On My Back (1988)[edit]

In the spring of 1987, guitarist Dave Wynn left the band and, after a few guitarists came and went, Robbie Koebler stepped in to help record their sophomore album Beast On My Back (the acronym "B.O.M.B." was also attached to this release).

The piano intro to the opening track, "Breakout", although originally written on guitar and performed as such in the live arena, was recorded by Lenihan's cousin, Mike Francis, who was flown out to LA to play and record the part for the album.

The guitar-driven instrumental tracks "Rejuvenate" and "Initial Shock", were penned by Matt Cardin, a fellow Baldwin native and well respected guitarist, though no credit was given. Cardin also contributed ideas to a few tracks that made their way to "Life of Dreams"

The band was nominated as the "Best Hardcore Rock Band in this year's New York Music Awards" in 1988.[8]

By now, Crumbsuckers were rubbing shoulders with some of their musical peers, including high-profile bands such as Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica, all of whom went on to achieve greater commercial success than Crumbsuckers. The shoulder-rubbing also extended to lesser commercially successful artists, such as Agnostic Front, Bad Brains and Cro-Mags and Carnivore.

During this period, Marc Piovanetti from Carnivore joined Crumbsuckers as a full-time guitarist following the long-standing vacancy left by the departure of Dave Wynn and his entourage of stand-ins.

Following a US tour in 1988, playing with such bands as Sacred Reich and Pantera, Notaro separated himself from the band, citing 'musical differences'. The band were contracted to fulfill a winter tour in Europe in late 1988, but Notaro's replacement, Joe Haggerty, failed to deliver the vocal performances which had so much become a trademark of their overall sound.

Heavy Rain[edit]

Within a few weeks of returning home, Haggerty was fired and replaced with a local singer, Craig Allen. New material was written and rehearsed, and Crumbsuckers morphed into the band name Heavy Rain.

Heavy Rain rehearsing in May 1989

This new identity delivered a more radio-friendly rock sound, more akin to Queensryche's vocals but played with a straight, hard rock feel. Much time was spent recording a considerable number of demos of their new material but nothing was ever officially released. They played the odd showcase, and replaced Allen with a much stronger singer but things did not come together.

Heavy Rain disbanded late in 1990, due to a combination of contractual arguments and disagreements as to which direction the band should take. Meskil, with the help of Richardson, began writing new material which leaned back in the direction of Crumbsuckers, but with far less fireworks and clinical showmanship.

Reunions[edit]

In the summer of 1990, Meskil (inspired by a visit from an English fan, Alex C Meissner), put together a Crumbsuckers reunion show with Chris Notaro, being that Meissner had felt somewhat 'cheated' seeing Crumbsuckers in the UK without Notaro.

Crumbsuckers' first reunion show was held at the Sundance Club in Bayshore, Long Island on 24 August 1990, with Chris Notaro returning to vocal duties for the first time since his departure in 1988, featuring the same line-up from the tour of that year; Lenihan, Meskil, Notaro, Piovanetti and Richardson. The venue was sold out and shortly before Crumbsuckers took to the stage, the crowd witnessed a bizarre recital of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" by Alex from England. The gig was a success, although Notaro disappeared off the radar immediately after the show.

Crumbsuckers, New York City, August 2006

Sixteen years passed until Crumbsuckers reunited once again on 3 August 2006 at B.B.Kings [9] in New York City, to commemorate 20 years since the release of their debut album Life of Dreams.

Once again, it was Alex C Meissner who helped initiate the reunion, having rebuilt bridges between some of the original band members.[10] The packed out venue witnessed an appearance by original members Dave Wynn and Dave Brady on the classic track "Hub Run". Around 2000 fans had gathered that evening to celebrate the anniversary, including a number of old friends of Crumbsuckers from the early days (a significant number of whom had flown in or driven considerable distances to attend). All of them considered the evening to be the equivalent to a 'big old class reunion', with Mike Portnoy making particular reference to the evening on his personal website.

Pro-Pain[edit]

From the ashes of Heavy Rain (and indeed Crumbsuckers), Meskil and Richardson formed a new band called Rawhead which included Billy Milano (Stormtroopers of Death and M.O.D) on vocals, but he was eventually shown the door when Meskil decided he could handle the vocal duties himself without all the problems that Milano brought with him into rehearsals.[citation needed] As such, in 1991, Pro-Pain were born. A revolving door of guitarists then ensued, with Lenihan briefly replacing original member Alan Zaleski, only to be dismissed and replaced by Tom Klimchuck who in turn, (though owing to illness), passed the baton on to another new guitarist, Nick St Denis.

Pro-Pain maintained a three-piece structure for two or three years, gigging profusely and releasing three albums before adding a second guitarist (similar to Crumbsuckers), but thereafter followed a greater number of line-up changes, most notably after Richardson packed off with his drumsticks in 1995. Although Pro-Pain recorded and released a considerable number of albums, whilst touring continually and extensively in the US and Central Europe in support of them, they never achieved the commercial success which they perhaps deserved, given the original heritage they had created for themselves. That said, Pro-Pain vastly outsold Crumbsuckers in terms of units of albums sold, although not surprising given the differences in the length of time each band remained commercially active.

Pro-Pain never lost sight of their roots, which they demonstrated when they recorded a cover version of "Just Sit There" on their 2003 cover album, Run For Cover.[11]

Style[edit]

Their combined styles, with

  • Meskil's roots in the British punk scene via Discharge and G.B.H.,
  • the West Coast hardcore scene Dead Kennedys and Black Flag,
  • Wynn's classic, blues-based, hard rock styles,
  • and Lenihan's furious fingerwork and guitar solos,

earned them respect among the CBGBs matinee crowd. In 1985, they recorded a second demo at CBGBs, with a new five-piece line up, featuring a very young but talented drummer (Dan Richardson) and began searching for a record deal. It was during this time that long-time vocalist Dave Brady left the band.

Notaro, known for his gruff vocals and high-energy stage antics, was a founding member of the Long Island band Krakdown, contemporaries of the already well-established Crumbsuckers. Getting Notaro on board was a natural fit and very much in keeping with the Long Island vibe.

Crumbsuckers' musical style has been afforded titles, including Hardcore, Thrash (which extends to Thrash/Punk and Thrash/Metal), Crossover, Speed Metal and Speedcore.

Lyrically, they addressed a host of topics not uncommon with similar bands of their genre: Politics of the day (including Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale, Jesse James & Dan Hart) {Super Tuesday, Just Sit There, Shot Down}, Drugs {Hubrun, Jimmie's Dream, Interlude}, Religion {Brainwashed, I Am He} and general societal issues {Live To Work, Bullshit Society, Breakout, Shit's Creek} were all mentioned in the bands' lyrics.

Crumbsuckers were undoubtedly at the forefront of the hardcore and metal crossover movement, with bands such as Agnostic Front, Bad Brains and Cro-Mags offering their own contributions on the East Coast, and bands like DRI, Excel (band) and Suicidal Tendencies reflecting a similar movement over on the West Coast.

Facts[edit]

The band's name originated from an incident in a canteen at high school, where Gary Meskil observed a fellow student sucking the crumbs off his plate. "Hey, look at that crumbsucker!" he exclaimed, and from there, the band's name was conceived.[12]

Crumbsuckers were one of the first bands to mix the two genres of hardcore punk ethos and heavy metal pathos, evidenced in their debut album Life Of Dreams. The songs were written by Gary Meskil, Dave Wynn, Chuck Lenihan and Dave Brady over the course of their formative years, 1983-1985.

Crumbsuckers' shortest ever recorded song was "Shot Down", clocking in at 55 seconds, but they had an even shorter song called "Kids At My School" which lasted only 47 seconds, although this never made it to vinyl.

The song "Charge" was composed as an instrumental song (Charge of the Light Brigade) and was earmarked for inclusion on Life of Dreams, but was eventually extended, with lyrics added, and thus found its way onto Beast On My Back.

Although an American band, Crumbsuckers' heritage is largely derived from European lineages: Germany (Meskil), Ireland (Brady, Lenihan), Italy (Notaro, Piovanetti), and England/Scotland (Richardson).

In the late 1980s, Chuck Lenihan spent many of his Saturday mornings teaching guitar to young aspiring guitarists. With the money he made, he then took lessons himself from Al Pitrelli: (Alice Cooper, Danger Danger, Megadeth, Asia).

Only two songs on Life of Dreams featured lyrics written by new vocalist Chris Notaro {The Longest War and another song}.

While Crumbsuckers were riding high in 1988, they were great friends with another Long Island band who were still finding their feet. That band was called Majesty. Crumbsuckers' guitarist, Chuck Lenihan, campaigned hard at Mechanic Records until they eventually agreed to sign Majesty, which ultimately gave them their first big break. Shortly afterwards, Majesty changed their name to Dream Theater.[13]

Since their inception in 1982, both of Crumbsuckers' reunion shows have taken place in the month of August: 24 August 1990 (Sundance, Long Island) and 3 August 2006 (BB King's, New York City).

After leaving Pro-Pain, and having joined Life of Agony at the height of their success, drummer Dan Richardson turned down an opportunity to join Nine Inch Nails, who were an extremely successful commercial rock band at that time.

Gary Meskil paid a fitting tribute (and respectful nod) to his former band by recording a new version of 'Just Sit There' on the 2003 Pro-Pain album, "Run For Cover".

Discography[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Just Sit There"   1:05
2. "Trapped"   2:20
3. "Interlude"   2:56
4. "Super Tuesday"   1:02
5. "Shit's Creek"   2:13
6. "Return to the Womb"   1:36
7. "Longest War"   1:56
8. "Shot Down"   0:55
9. "Prelude Intro"   2:42
10. "Life Of Dreams"   2:19
11. "Brainwashed"   3:13
12. "Faces Of Death"   1:30
13. "Hubrun"   2:24
14. "Bullshit Society"   2:05
15. "Live To Work"   1:28
16. "Moment Of Silence/Mr Hyde"   3:55
Total length:
32:12
No. Title Length
1. "Breakout"   5:06
2. "Jimmie's Dream"   3:12
3. "Charge"   3:12
4. "Initial Shock"   4:57
5. "I Am He"   3:26
6. "The Connection"   3:05
7. "Rejuvenate"   3:49
8. "Remembering Tomorrow"   5:00
9. "Beast On My Back"   3:04
Total length:
35:12

Line-up[edit]

Last line-up [14][edit]

Past members [14][edit]

  • Kevin Carroll: drums
  • Dave Wynn: guitar
  • Matt Cardin: guitar
  • Robbie Koebler: guitar
  • Marc Piovanetti : guitar (Carnivore, Lava Baby)
  • Mike Francis: keyboard/piano (not really a member, more like the cousin of the lead guitarist and special guest on "Beast On My Back")
  • Dave Brady: vocals
  • Joe Haggerty: vocals (Knucklehead, Primal Scream, Zero Hour)
  • Craig Alan: vocals

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Thrash Metal"(2007) of Garry Sharpe-Young P.107
  2. ^ "Long Island's CRUMBSUCKERS spearheaded the mid eighties amalgamation of Thrash and Punk / Hardcore principles to ... CRUMBSUCKERS made an immediate scene impact with the 1986 debut 'Life Of Dreams', released by Combat in the USA and ..." New Wave of American Heavy Metal By Garry Sharpe-Young, Pg. 99
  3. ^ The Guinness encyclopedia of popular music, Volumes 1-6 by Colin Larkin, Guinness, 1995.
  4. ^ Fisher, Jason. "PRO-PAIN announce North American release date" - The Gauntlet, June 13, 2010
  5. ^ "Cover Art by Sean Taggart". rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  6. ^ "HARDCORE". Jettisoundz. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  7. ^ Crumbsuckers - 'Trapped'. YouTube.com. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  8. ^ Duffy, Thom. "DEMON GUITAR HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL TO JOE SATRIANI'S SUCCESS" - Orlando Sentinel, May 22, 1988.
  9. ^ CRUMBSUCKERS To Reunite For Special 'Life Of Dreams' 20th Anniversary Concert, Blabbermouth.net, retrieved 2013-04-16 
  10. ^ Fisher, Jason. [1] "PRO-PAIN Interview" - The Gauntlet, March 20, 2006.
  11. ^ "Run For Cover (track 10)". Pro-Pain.com. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  12. ^ "Crumbsuckers Biography". Viola.net. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  13. ^ "John Myung (Biography)". DreamTheater.net. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  14. ^ a b Spirit of Metal website

External links[edit]