Siege at their high school's 'Battle of the Bands' in 1984. Rob Williams, Kevin Mahoney, and Kurt Habelt are shown left to right.
|Origin||Weymouth, Massachusetts, United States|
|Genres||Hardcore punk, grindcore, powerviolence|
|Years active||1981–1985, 1991–1992|
|Labels||Deranged, Deep Six, Relapse, PATAC|
|Associated acts||Nightstick, Anal Cunt, The Spoils|
Siege paired extremely fast tempos with vocalist Kevin Mahoney's screeches and growls in their intense style of hardcore. Though little known during its short existence, the band posthumously became revered by punk and heavy metal fans worldwide and is now regarded as one of the pioneers of the grindcore and powerviolence subgenres. Subsequent musicians have cited the group as a major influence, including the British grindcore band Napalm Death and the American thrashcore band Dropdead, whose name was taken from the title of Siege's initial demo.
Formation, early years (1981–1984)
Then teenagers, the members of what would become Siege began playing together in 1981 in Weymouth. Guitarist Kurt Habelt, bassist Hank McNamee, and drummer Rob Williams rehearsed informally before completing Siege's original lineup in 1983 with the recruitment of vocalist and occasional saxophonist Kevin Mahoney from nearby Braintree.
Self-described as a "second wave" punk band, they cited hardcore punk and New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, as well as the desire to play faster than their predecessors, as formative influences on their sound. Siege's first official show was at a Battle of the Bands in early 1984 at Weymouth North High School. They were disqualified for obscenities and McNamee's smashing of his bass onstage.
Radiobeat sessions, breakup (1984–1985)
Siege recorded a six-song demo tape at Radiobeat Records in Kenmore Square on February 6, 1984. The demo was produced by Lou Giordano, the producer of records by Hüsker Dü, Negative FX, SS Decontrol, Goo Goo Dolls, and many others, which would later be extensively bootlegged. In October 1984 the band recorded three more songs at Radiobeat with Giordano for Pushead's classic 1985 hardcore compilation Cleanse the Bacteria. Those 3 songs were Siege's only official original release.
Giordano later recalled those sessions:
The way our studio operated was that anything that comes in – there’s no value judgements made about the music. We just record it. Still, one of the things that I guess was cool about being a staff engineer is that I wouldn’t have sought out a band like that. I wasn’t philosophically into anything that they were doing, but they were all good musicians – you would have to be to stay together at the speeds they were playing at. So there was that aspect of it, and just the whole pushing the envelope thing. It sounds like it’s just gonna completely break apart going 700 miles through the sky and then all of a sudden everything just comes right together again.
And they were some of the most unassuming, laid-back people to ever work with. I mean, they had no attitude at all. They just came in and they were just really polite and very thankful, and then when they turned on the amps and made that noise, it was just unbelievable that it was coming from them.
Despite their proximity to Boston, Siege did not fit into Boston's crew-dominated straight edge hardcore scene, and performed most of their gigs farther away in Western Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. They played in Greenfield with local hardcore bands DYS, Cancerous Growth, The Freeze, B.I.U, Outpatients, and Deep Wound, out of state at the Living Room in Providence, and at Anthrax in Stamford.
Siege reformed briefly in 1991 with Anal Cunt vocalist Seth Putnam replacing Mahoney. They recorded a four-song demo and played a small handful of local gigs before again disbanding early the following year. Williams later called the 1990s lineup a "false-start" reunion.
Post-breakup and legacy
Despite writing a mere 20 minutes' worth of music and failing to play outside of New England, Siege became highly influential. Their tracks on Cleanse the Bacteria exposed them to wide audiences, including Lars Ulrich of Metallica, who described them as the fastest band he had ever heard. Numerous pioneering bands establishing the death metal and grindcore subgenres in the mid-1980s cited Siege as a formative influence, including British groups like Carcass and Napalm Death. Their demo became a highly-sought bootleg in collector circuits.
Relapse Records gave Siege's three songs from the Cleanse the Bacteria compilation and six-song demo official release in 1994 as the Drop Dead CD. The same material was released on 12" vinyl in 2004 by Deep Six Records. Two separate additional reissues of the original Siege material issued on LP in 2006 and 2009 by the Deep Six record label contained an additional three tracks, "Two-Faced", "Trained To Kill", and "Questions Behind The Wall", recorded during Radiobeat sessions.
The 1991 recording went largely unreleased for many years. The track "Cameras" was eventually issued on the 13 Bands Who Think You're Gay compilation LP released by Putnam in 2004. The additional three tracks – "Death & Taxes," "New World Order", and "Disregard" – were thought to be lost before being rediscovered on cassette in 2014. They were released on PATAC Records as the "Lost Session '91" 7" later that year.
Williams remained musically active and later formed the band Nightstick, which additionally featured Putnam and Habelt at times. Williams and Mahoney also played together in The Spoils, who released the ...To the Victor LP in 2007. Putnam died of a suspected heart attack on July 11, 2011 while Mahoney died months later on October 14 after an extended battle with diabetes.
- Napalm Death covered "Walls" on their second John Peel session as well as "Conform" on Leaders Not Followers: Part 2.
- Witch Hunt covered "Conform" on their Crucial Chaos Sessions.
- Lycanthrophy covered "Conform" on their split with Say Why.
- Exhumed covered "Drop Dead" on their covers album Garbage Daze Re-Regurgitated.
- Williams's sludge metal band Nightstick covered "New World Order" as "The Pentagon" in 1998.
- Mr. Bungle covered "Cold War" on their 1995 tour.
- Ripcord covered "Starvation" on their Harvest Hardcore EP as well as a live cover of "Walls" featuring vocals by Lee Dorian on their Live At Parkhof Alkmaar Holland - 18/09/1988 album.
- Intense Degree covered "Conform" on the Manic Ears 'The North Atlantic Noise Attack' compilation.
- Water Torture covered "Walls" on their split with Corrupt Bastards.
- Pillage covered "Starvation" on their 2013 demo 7"
- Voltifobia covered "Drop Dead" on their split tape with Agathocles (band)
- Kurt Habelt – guitar (1981–1985, 1991–1992)
- Hank McNamee – bass (1981–1985, 1991–1992)
- Rob Williams – drums (1981–1985, 1991–1992)
- Kevin Mahoney – vocals, saxophone (1983–1985; died 2011)
- Seth Putnam – vocals (1991–1992; died 2011)
- Drop Dead (1984) (cassette, self released)
- Drop Dead (1994) (CD, Relapse Records) (Demo '84 + Cleanse The Bacteria compilation tracks)
- Drop Dead (2004) (12", Deep Six Records) (Demo '84 + Cleanse The Bacteria compilation tracks)
- Drop Dead (2006) (12", Deep Six Records) (Demo '84 + Cleanse The Bacteria compilation tracks + "Two Faced" and "Trained to Kill")
- Drop Dead (2006) (CD, Deranged Records) (Demo '84 + Cleanse The Bacteria compilation tracks)
- Drop Dead (2009) (12", Deep Six Records) (Demo '84 + Cleanse The Bacteria compilation tracks + "Questions Behind The Wall")
- "Lost Session '91" (2014) (7", PATAC Records)
- Compilation appearances
- Cleanse the Bacteria (1985) (12", Pusmort Records) (3 Tracks - "Sad But True", "Cold War", and "Walls")
- 13 Bands Who Think You're Gay (2004) (12", Menace To Sobriety Records) (1 Track - "Cameras")
- "In Memory of Siege vocalist Kevin Mahoney". Hellbound.ca. October 31, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Mudrain, Albert. Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House, 2004, pp. 47
- Suburban Punk Fanzine, Spring 1984
- "MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL - Kevin Mahoney of Siege: 1965-2011". Maximum Rock 'n Roll. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Mudrain 48
- Mudrian 51
- Mudrain 49
- Mudrain 51
- Mudrain 38, 126
- "Siege: Lost Session 91". Deaf Sparrow. May 26, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
- "Nightstick Interview". Deaf Sparrow. November 1, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- "BLABBERMOUTH.NET – ANAL C**T Frontman SETH PUTNAM Dead At 43". Roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
- Swash, Rosie (June 13, 2011). "Seth Putnam, the 'GG Allin of grindcore', dies aged 43 | Music | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
- "R.I.P. Kevin Mahoney of Siege". Exclaim.ca. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- "Upcoming Events". Boston Hassle. Retrieved March 19, 2015.