Born Against

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Born Against
Origin New York City, United States
Genres Hardcore punk
Years active 1989–1993
Labels Vermiform
Associated acts Breathing Walker, The Butchies, Cattlepress, The Convocation, The Great Unraveling, Kylesa, Life's Blood, Menace Dement, Men's Recovery Project, Moss Icon, Team Dresch, Universal Order of Armageddon, Vitapup, Wrangler Brutes, (Young) Pioneers
Past members Sam 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 1989–1993.[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.


The group was founded in early 1989 by guitarist Adam Nathanson and bassist Neil Burke (both formerly of the New York hardcore band Life's Blood), vocalist Sam McPheeters, and drummer John Guzman,[2] who was replaced in early rehearsals by a drummer named George. George's tenure was also brief, and he was replaced after a single show by Nigel Schreiber in July 1989.[3] 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.[4] 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 latter of the New York hardcore band Citizen's Arrest. The band issued its first two vinyl releases, the Eulogy single (whose anti-religious title track was controversially dedicated to Steve Reddy of Equal Vision Records upon his conversion to a Hare Krishna lifestyle) 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 would go on to play in the groups Iabhorer, Cattlepress, and Kylesa. 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 sparked much controversy,[5] and they endured prominent animosity in New York City and beyond. 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 (later of Team Dresch, The Butchies and Ex-Members) 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 – 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.[3]

After the group's demise, members would continue to collaborate in future bands. Men's Recovery Project, McPheeters and Burke's absurdist/ironic noise rock outfit, featured occasional guest appearances by Headley, Joy, and Nathanson. (Young) Pioneers, Nathanson's proto-folk punk band, also saw membership from Headley and Burke. Joy's group The Great Unraveling contained Headley in its final incarnation. Most recently, McPheeters and Headley reunited in the Wrangler Brutes, a hardcore punk band active from 2003–2004.

Two posthumous CDs containing the entire Born Against canon (aside from their demo tape) have since been released – Patriotic Battle Hymns[6] (featuring Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children and Battle Hymns of the Race War) and The Rebel Sound of Shit and Failure[7] (featuring all other material). Initially released on the now-defunct Vermiform, these records have since been taken on by the Kill Rock Stars and Prank Records imprints.


  • 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)


Compact discs and vinyl[edit]

  • Eulogy/Riding With Mary 7" (1990)
  • Born Against 7" (1990)
  • Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children LP (1991)
  • Born Against/Suckerpunch 8" flexi-disc split with Suckerpunch (1992, Ebullition Records)
  • Battle Hymns of the Race War 10" (1993)
  • Born Against/Screeching Weasel split 7"/CD with Screeching Weasel (1993, Lookout! Records)
  • Born Against/Universal Order of Armageddon split 7" with Universal Order of Armageddon (1993, Gravity Records)
  • Patriotic Battle Hymns compilation CD/LP (1994)
  • Born Against/Man Is the Bastard split 8" with Man Is the Bastard (1994)
  • The Rebel Sound of Shit and Failure compilation CD/LP (1995)

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. ^ "Born Against Is Fucking Dead". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  3. ^ a b "All Born Against Shows". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Born Against - Murders Among Us - compilation". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  5. ^ "Interview by Kent McClard". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  6. ^ "Discogs page about "Patriotic Battle Hymns"". Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "Discogs page about "The Rebel Sound Of Shit And Failure"". Retrieved 16 October 2013. 

External links[edit]