Born Against

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Born Against
OriginNew York City, United States
GenresHardcore punk
Years active1989–1993
Past membersSam McPheeters
Adam Nathanson
Neil Burke
John Guzman
Nigel Schreiber
Javier Villegas
Daryl Kahan
Jon Hiltz
Bret Blue
Melissa York
Tonie Joy
Brooks Headley

Born Against was an American hardcore punk band from New York active between 1989 and 1993.[1] In addition to their radical leftist politics, the group espoused a DIY punk message and challenged what they perceived as being a problem within the punk subculture of their time. Though Born Against received little media exposure while still together, they have since been described as "legendary" by the Chicago Reader and the LA Weekly.[2][3]


The group was founded in early 1989 by guitarist Adam Nathanson and bassist Neil Burke, vocalist Sam McPheeters, and drummer John Guzman,[4] who was replaced in early rehearsals by a drummer named George.[citation needed] George's tenure was also brief, and he was replaced after a single show by Nigel Schreiber in July 1989.[5] This lineup recorded a demo cassette and a track for the Murders Among Us 7" compilation released on McPheeters' Vermiform Records label before Burke and Schreiber left the group late in the year.[6] Born Against would continue to be plagued by rhythm section fluctuation throughout its career.

In March 1990, the band reemerged with bassist Javier Villegas and drummer Darryl Kahan. The band issued its first two vinyl releases, the Eulogy single (whose anti-religious title track was dedicated to Steve Reddy of Equal Vision Records) and a self-titled 7" EP, and several compilation tracks. Later this year, Kahan was replaced by drummer John Hiltz, birthing the longest lasting incarnation of the band. The group toured extensively, and released a debut LP, 1991's Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children, on Vermiform. Villegas left the group in late 1991. He was replaced in Born Against by bassist Bret Blue.

With Hiltz and Blue, Born Against continued its extensive touring, including a trip to Europe. By this point, the band's aggressive political message and related critique of their contemporaries had attracted media attention,[7] and they endured animosity in New York City and beyond.[citation needed] They began work on a new record, which was stalled in July 1992 when Hiltz left the group. The final sessions that produced the resultant 10" record, Battle Hymns of the Race War, featured Melissa York on drums, although York never performed live with the group.

By early 1993, Nathanson and McPheeters had relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey and begun a new version of the band with bassist Tonie Joy (of Moss Icon and Universal Order of Armageddon) and drummer Brooks Headley (also from Universal Order of Armageddon). Although only extant for seven months, this was a prolific incarnation, as they continued to tour and released split 7"s with Screeching Weasel (in which both bands swapped lyrics) and Universal Order of Armageddon. Their radical leftist stance became increasingly drenched in cynicism, which slowly threatened to overtake their message[citation needed] – the results of this evolution are evidenced in the nonsense song "Lillian" and other non-sequitur pieces from this time. Their final release was a split 8" record with Man is the Bastard, and the group played its final show in July 1993.[5]

Two posthumous CDs containing the entire Born Against canon (aside from their demo tape) have since been released – Patriotic Battle Hymns[8] (featuring Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children and Battle Hymns of the Race War) and The Rebel Sound of Shit and Failure[9] (featuring all other material).[10][11] Initially released on the now-defunct Vermiform, these records have since been taken on by the Kill Rock Stars and Prank Records imprints.[12]


  • Sam McPheeters – vocals (1989–1993)
  • Adam Nathanson – guitar, vocals (1989–1993)
  • Neil Burke – bass, vocals (1989)
  • John Guzman – drums (1989)
  • George – drums (1989)
  • Nigel Schreiber – drums (1989)
  • Javier Villegas – bass, vocals (1990–1991)
  • Daryl Kahan – drums (1990)
  • Jon Hiltz – drums (1990–1992)
  • Bret Blue – bass, vocals (1991–1992)
  • Melissa York – drums (1992)
  • Tonie Joy – bass, vocals (1993)
  • Brooks Headley – drums (1993)


Studio albums[edit]

  • Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children LP (1991, Vermiform Records, later reissued by Prank Records and Kill Rock Stars)
  • Battle Hymns of the Race War 10" (1993, Vermiform Records, later reissued by Prank Records and Kill Rock Stars)

EPs and splits[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Patriotic Battle Hymns compilation CD/LP (1994, Vermiform Records, later reissued by Kill Rock Stars)
  • The Rebel Sound of Shit and Failure compilation CD/LP (1995, Vermiform Records, later reissued by Kill Rock Stars)

Compilation appearances[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Anarchy in the Ozarks: Who'd have guessed there used to be a hardcore punk scene in the backwaters of Missouri?". St.Louis News. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
  2. ^ Raymer, Miles (11 April 2012). "A Q&A with Sam McPheeters". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  3. ^ Lapin, Joseph (9 April 2012). "Sam Mcpheeters, of the '90s Punk Band Born Against, on His Bizarre Novel About L.A.'S Angriest Chevron Owner". LA Weekly. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Born Against Is Fucking Dead". Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  5. ^ a b "All Born Against Shows". Archived from the original on 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  6. ^ "Born Against - Murders Among Us - compilation". Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  7. ^ "Interview by Kent McClard". Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  8. ^ "Discogs page about "Patriotic Battle Hymns"". Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  9. ^ "Discogs page about "The Rebel Sound Of Shit And Failure"". Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  10. ^ Smith, Chris (1 September 2003). "Born Against - The Rebel Sound of Shit and Failure/Patriotic Battle Hymns". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  11. ^ Kott, Paul. "The Rebel Sound of Shit and Failure [Vermiform]". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  12. ^ Kott, Paul. "Born Against". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 December 2015.

External links[edit]