Crumbsuckers

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Crumbsuckers
BEASTONMYBACK preview.jpg
Album cover of Beast On My Back
Background information
Origin Baldwin, Long Island, New York, United States
Genres Thrash metal, Crossover thrash
Years active 1982 (1982)-1990 (1990)
Labels Relativity Records, Combat Records, FOAD Records
Associated acts Pro-Pain
Members Gary Meskil
Dan Richardson
Chuck Lenihan
Chris Notaro
Past members Dave Brady
Kevin Carroll
Dave Wynn
Robbie Koebler
Marc Piovanetti
Joe Haggerty

Crumbsuckers was a 1980s thrash punk/metal/crossover/thrash band originally formed by bass player Gary Meskil in 1982, in his home town of Baldwin, Nassau County, New York.

Crumbsuckers spearheaded the mid-1980s movement, amalgamating thrash and punk/hardcore sounds and principles, making an immediate impact on the wider scene with their groundbreaking 1986 debut album, Life Of Dreams.

Gaining support and respect from fans and fellow artists along the way, their second album B.O.M.B., whilst showcasing dazzling musicianship, failed to build on the expectations which their debut album had perhaps promised. The departure of key lead vocalist Chris Notaro in 1988 heralded the start of their gradual and eventual decline, despite valiant attempts to create a new identity for themselves but, even so, the band had already firmly cemented themselves as pioneers of the punk/metal/thrash/crossover movement.

Crumbsuckers are expected to reunite with Chris Notaro on vocals at the 2015 Black 'N' Blue Bowl Festival as headliners on the second night. [1]

History[edit]

In June 1983, the band recorded a five-song demo unofficially called "The Crumbsucker Cave" (the name given to the place where Crumbsuckers used to rehearse) at Nino Studio in Baldwin, which included a cover of Chubby Checker's "The Twist". It was with this demo that the band landed their first CBGBs showcase, and subsequent Hardcore matinees.

At that time, the line up consisted of Dave Brady - vocals, Dave Wynn - guitar, Gary Meskil - bass and Kevin 'Toast' Carroll - drums. From the time of their first matinee performance, they prided themselves on playing all original music,[2] with the occasional homage to such classics as Black Sabbath's Sweet Leaf and the theme from "Inspector Gadget".

Early in 1985, looking for a sharper edge, they added a second guitarist; fellow Baldwin resident Chuck Lenihan, and replaced Carroll with a highly talented local 16-year old drummer called Dan Richardson. Lenihan's metal-influenced guitar solos contrasted beautifully with Wynn's blues-based offerings. Both Crumbsuckers' lyrics and musical direction naturally took a notable turn towards a more metal edge, with songs such as Life of Dreams and Return to the Womb written around this time.

Following Brady's departure, they needed to recruit a new singer and soon found one from another local hardcore band, Krakdown; Chris Notaro.

Whilst opinions may vary, the "classic" line-up was now complete, and so they set about recording and releasing their first album.

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 clocking in at less than 33 minutes. "Life of Dreams" delivered a collection of 158 punk/metal-style riffs, with metal-style and blues-style guitar solos, laced with frequent time changes and all topped off with Chris Notaro's gravel-style vocals.

The album cover for Life of Dreams

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's cover artwork was designed and painted by Sean Taggart,[3] 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 commercially released. (The other two tracks, Bullshit Society and Return to the Womb, disappeared for many years but have since surfaced on YouTube.) Trapped originally featured as the opening song on an underground video compilation of English and North American punk bands called "Hardcore", released by Jettisoundz in 1986.[4] The track is now widely available to view on YouTube.[5]

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." being assigned to this release).

The album opens with a passage of slightly dark, melancholic piano, played by Lenihan's cousin, Mike Francis. The piece had originally been written on guitar (and performed later as such in the live arena), but offered an immediate surprise to those listeners who had become familiar with Life of Dreams, and certainly differed from other metal/crossover albums of the era. The guitar-driven instrumental tracks Rejuvenate and Initial Shock were penned by Matt Cardin, a fellow Baldwin native and highly respected guitarist although, disturbingly, no credit was actually given on the record sleeve. (Cardin had also contributed ideas to a few tracks that found their way on "Life of Dreams".)

The band was nominated as the "Best Hardcore Rock Band" in the 1988 'New York Music Awards'.[6]

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 global commercial success. The shoulder-rubbing also extended to lesser commercially-successful artists, though no less respected, such as Agnostic Front, Bad Brains, Cro-Mags and Carnivore. It was during this period that Marc Piovanetti (from Carnivore) joined Crumbsuckers as a full-time guitarist, following the long-standing vacancy left open since the departure of Dave Wynn (and the subsequent entourage of stand-ins).

Following a successful US tour to promote "Beast On My Back" in 1988, playing with such notable bands as Sacred Reich and Pantera, Notaro decided this wasn't for him, citing 'musical differences'. At that point. the band were already contracted to fulfill a winter tour in Europe (with Onslaught as headliners) in late 1988, but Notaro's replacement for those shows, 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 from their European Tour, Haggerty was fired and replaced with a local singer, Craig Allen. New material was written and tightly rehearsed, with a new sound emerging, leading to the band dropping the name 'Crumbsuckers in favor of a new identity: Heavy Rain.

Heavy Rain rehearsing in May 1989

Heavy Rain offered a more radio-friendly rock sound, with vocals more akin to Queensryche's Geoff Tate. Whilst they retained small doses of Crumbsuckers' audacious/ridiculous guitar solos, most songs were recorded and presented in a much more straight, hard rock feel. Despite the quality of their new material or their formidable heritage, these new songs failed to attract any interest or support from record companies who had been approached. Much time and effort was spent recording a considerable number of professional studio demos between 1989 and 1990, although nothing was ever officially released. Heavy Rain kept on writing and rehearsing, playing the odd showcase from time to time but, even though they eventually replaced Allen with a new, much stronger singer, things just simply failed to come together them.

Heavy Rain disbanded in late 1990. A combination of contractual arguments and disagreements as to which direction the band should take, coupled with the poor response from potential record company interest led to the project's collapse. It marked a sad end to great friendships and, ultimately, the end of Crumbsuckers. Meskil and Richardson continued to jam together whilst, separately, Lenihan kept himself busy, with all three eventually converging on a new project in 1991; Rawhead.

Pro-Pain[edit]

From the ashes of Heavy Rain (and indeed, Crumbsuckers), Lenihan began jamming with former (Stormtroopers of Death and M.O.D) vocalist Billy Milano, under a new project called "Rawhead". Meskil and Richardson came on board but, over a period of months, a revolving door of guitarists ensued. Lenihan was dismissed and replaced by another Baldwin guitarist, Al Zaleski. He was later replaced by a third Baldwin fret-wizard, Tom Klimchuck although, owing to personal reasons, had to take a sabbatical from the band.

In the late summer of 1991, Meskil came up with a new name for the band, Pro-Pain and the band gathered at Pyramid Sound Studios, Ithaca, New York to record their debut album, Foul Taste of Freedom. However, further line-up changes took place here, with Milano being sent home (as Meskil decided to take over the vocal duties himself), whilst Lenihan was briefly drafted back in to play lead guitar, only to be ejected for a second time shortly afterwards. A new guitarist, Mike Mays, eventually ended up playing lead guitar on the album tracks. With Klimchuck all the while considered the official Pro-Pain guitarist, but still unfortunately unavailable to tour at that time, the baton was then passed to another new guitarist, Nick St Denis, who finally helped bring a measure of stability to the line up, certainly for the next few years.

Pro-Pain released three albums between 1992 and 1996, touring extensively in Europe and the US, but the departure of founding drummer Dan Richardson in 1996 left Meskil as the only original 'Crumbsucker' in the band. From there, Pro-Pain added a second guitarist (similar per-se to Crumbsuckers), although they never came close to sounding like Crumbsuckers, and indeed never aspired to. Meskil's remarkable and commendable commitment to keeping Pro-Pain alive and kicking for over 20 plus years, mostly self-financed, (thus avoiding record company interference), has been very much in keeping with the original Crumbsuckers ethos and vibe.

Pro-Pain never lost sight of their roots, something they favorably demonstrated when they recorded a cover version of Just Sit There on their 2003 covers album, "Run For Cover".[7]

In 2006, long-time Pro-Pain guitarist, Tom Klimchuck, had the honor of playing on stage with Crumbsuckers at their Reunion Show at BB Kings, playing in tandem with original lead guitarist, Chuck Lenihan.

In 2015, current Pro-Pain guitarist, Adam Philips, will be joining Crumbsuckers on stage in the same capacity as Klimchuck did in 2006 and is expected to execute the same killer riffs, crazy solos and time-changing madness widely abundant on Life of Dreams & B.O.M.B.!

Reunions[edit]

In the summer of 1990, Meskil (inspired by a visit from a devoted English fan, Alex Meissner), put together a Crumbsuckers reunion show with Chris Notaro, being that Meissner had felt somewhat 'cheated' seeing Crumbsuckers in the UK in 1988 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 and featured the same line-up from the tour of that year; Lenihan, Meskil, Notaro, Piovanetti and Richardson. The venue was sold out but 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 great 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 [8] in New York City, to commemorate 20 years since the release of their debut album "Life of Dreams".

Once again, it was Alex Meissner who helped initiate the reunion, having rebuilt broken bridges between some of the original band members.[9] The packed out venue witnessed an appearance by original members Dave Wynn and Dave Brady on the classic track Hub Run. Around 2000 fans gathered that evening to celebrate the anniversary, including a significant number of old friends of Crumbsuckers from the early days (many of whom had driven or flown considerable distances to attend the show). Everyone considered the evening to be the equivalent to a 'big old class reunion', with Dream Theater's (then) drummer Mike Portnoy making particular reference to the evening on his personal website.[10]

On 24 December 2014 it was announced that the band would reunite one more time, to play the Black N' Blue Bowl (in New York) in May 2015. The line up of: Chris Notaro - vocals, Gary Meskil - bass, Chuck Lenihan - guitar, Adam Phillips - guitar and Dan Richardson - drums will be headlining on the Sunday evening (17 May 2015).[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 Van Halen-inspired 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 many titles, including Hardcore, Speedcore, Thrash (which extends to Thrash/Punk and Thrash/Metal), Crossover and Speed Metal. Along with local comrades such as Agnostic Front, Bad Brains and Cro-Mags offering similar contributions on the East Coast, and bands such as DRI, Excel (band) and Suicidal Tendencies reflecting a similar movement over on the West Coast, Crumbsuckers were certainly at the forefront of this new hardcore punk/thrash/metal crossover movement.

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.

Interesting Facts[edit]

The band's name was allegedly conceived following an incident in the canteen at Baldwin High School, where Gary Meskil observed a fellow student sucking the crumbs off his plate; "'Hey! Look at that crumbsucker!'" Meskil supposedly exclaimed and, from there, the name Crumbsuckers was born.[12]

Crumbsuckers were one of the first bands to mix the two genres of hardcore punk ethos and heavy metal pathos, as evidenced on 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 officially 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. This latter track finally made it to vinyl some 30 years later, on "Turn Back Time: The Early Years 1983-1985".

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

The song Charge was originally composed as an instrumental song Charge of the Light Brigade and was erstwhile earmarked for inclusion on their debut album, "Life of Dreams". However, it was later extended, with lyrics added, and eventually found its home on "Beast On My Back".

Since first taking a pop at the (then) U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the song Just Sit There, there have been only 4 other people to have held the office of President of the United States of America in that whole 30 year period: George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), Bill Clinton (1993-2001), George W. Bush (2001-2009) and Barack Obama (2009-2015).

Although an all-American band, Crumbsuckers' heritage is mostly derived from European lineages: Germany (Meskil), Great Britain (Richardson), Ireland (Brady & Lenihan) and Italy (Notaro & Piovanetti).

While Crumbsuckers were riding high in 1988, they remained great friends with another Long Island band who had yet to fully blossom. That band was called Majesty. Waving a strong demo tape before the bosses at Mechanic Records, Chuck Lenihan campaigned hard to get them to offer Majesty a record deal, which they eventually agreed to in 1988, giving Majesty their first big break. Shortly afterwards, having recorded and released their debut album, Majesty changed their name to Dream Theater.[13]

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

Between band rehearsals, drummer Dan Richardson pushed himself by donning a set of headphones and jamming along to albums such as Rush's Power Windows to hone his drumming skills. Furthermore, he often utilized an electronic metronome during band rehearsals to get the band to play with pin-point accuracy.

After leaving Pro-Pain, then joining Life of Agony at the height of their success, Dan Richardson later turned down an opportunity to join Nine Inch Nails, an extremely successful commercial rock band at that time. He later played drums with Stereomud, on their first two albums.

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".

Chuck Lenihan's trademark white Aria Pro II Flying-V guitar, featured in countless photographs from their live shows during the 1980s, was accidentally left behind at a venue in Paris, France, while Chuck was touring with Genitorturers in 2004. Since that loss, he has adopted a Gibson SG for his live shows.

Since their inception in 1982, both of Crumbsuckers' previous 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). The third reunion, planned for May 2015, deviates from this tradition.

Crumbsuckers' musical family tree has extended in many different directions, including: Darkhaus, Pro-Pain - (Meskil), Life of Agony, Pro-Pain, Stereomud, Medication - (Richardson), Christian Death, Electric Hellfire Club, Genitorturers, Glitter Guns, Vasaria - (Lenihan) and Carnivore [reunion shows], Lava Baby - (Piovanetti).

Crumbsuckers' enduring respect and admiration, with evidence of increasing popularity today, has much to do with the exchange of information through websites such as YouTube, Facebook and various Metal (music) related websites. Back in their day, without such technology, Crumbsuckers successfully advanced themselves without any radio airplay or promotional activity from their record company, relying mostly on word of mouth, bootleg cassette tapes changing hands, interviews in homemade fanzines (and the occasional Metal magazine) or simply by gigging wherever they could. The internet didn't exist.

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:
33:39
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:
34:51
  • Turn Back Time: The Early Years 1983-1985, FOAD Records 2014
No. Title Length
1. "A-OK"   1:19
2. "The Twist"   1:53
3. "Emil Mauer (You Dick!)"   1:13
4. "Kids In My School"   0:47
5. "Don't Like It"   2:05
6. "(Just) Sit There"   1:08
7. "Shit's Creek"   2:19
8. "Shot Down"   0:54
9. "Interlude"   3:13
10. "Trapped"   2:31
11. "Brainwashed"   2:56
12. "Live To Work"   1:32
13. "Charge Of The Light Brigade"   3:01
Total length:
24:51

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)
  • Dave Brady: vocals
  • Joe Haggerty: vocals (Knucklehead, Primal Scream, Zero Hour)
  • Craig Allen: vocals

Also credited[edit]

  • Mike Francis: keyboards (on Breakout, the piano intro in the opening track to "Beast On My Back")

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/crumbsuckers-to-reunite-for-appearance-at-next-years-black-n-blue-bowl/
  2. ^ Fisher, Jason. [1]["PRO-PAIN announce North American release date" - The Gauntlet, June 13, 2010]
  3. ^ "Cover Art by Sean Taggart". rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  4. ^ "HARDCORE". Jettisoundz. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  5. ^ Crumbsuckers - 'Trapped'. YouTube.com. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  6. ^ Duffy, Thom. "DEMON GUITAR HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL TO JOE SATRIANI'S SUCCESS" - Orlando Sentinel, May 22, 1988.
  7. ^ "Run For Cover (track 10)". Pro-Pain.com. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  8. ^ CRUMBSUCKERS To Reunite For Special 'Life Of Dreams' 20th Anniversary Concert, Blabbermouth.net, retrieved 2013-04-16 
  9. ^ Fisher, Jason. [2] "PRO-PAIN Interview" - The Gauntlet, March 20, 2006.
  10. ^ Portnoy, Mike. [3] "Hero of the Day" 4 August 2006
  11. ^ Black N’ Blue Bowl 2015 (Sat, 5/16 & Sun, 5/17) Complete Line-Up And Ticketing Details, blacknblueproductions.net, retrieved 2015-02-19 
  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]