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Agnostic Front is an American hardcore punk band from New York City. Founded in 1980, the band is considered an important influence on the New York hardcore scene, as well as for pioneering the crossover thrash genre.
|Origin||New York City, U.S.|
First era (1980–1992)Edit
Formed in 1980 with Vincent "Vinnie Stigma" Capuccio (formerly of the Eliminators) on lead guitar, with Diego on bass, Rob Krekus on drums and John Watson on vocals. Despite being billed at their first concert as the Zoo Crew, Stigma introduced them as Agnostic Front, saying that the poster had been made prior to deciding on the name. They soon added Ray Barbieri, aka Raybeez, on drums and Adam Mucci on bass. After Watson was arrested, the band hired James Kontra as their vocalist, who eventually quit before a performance at Great Gildersleeves after a disagreement with Capuccio about how to hand out stickers. Although never having spoken to him before, Stigma told some of his friends to ask Roger Miret (former bass player of the Psychos) if he wanted to be the vocalist of Agnostic Front, because he liked his style of slam dancing. In 1983, this lineup recorded their debut EP United Blood. The EP was officially released later that year, however by that point Mucci had departed from the band, and been replaced by Todd Youth.
During its initial phase, the band consisted entirely of skinheads. Although this would change over time, Agnostic Front would continue to feature skinheads as part of their line-up. This led to a belief among some that the band espoused ultra-nationalist or fascist politics, an assertion denied by vocalist Roger Miret in a 1985 Flipside interview:
"...We're skinheads. And the skinheads in England have a very bad name like with the fascists and stuff like that. But this is America not England. Just because the skinheads are fascists over there doesn't mean we got to grow our hair out if we don't feel like it.... We love our country — but not necessarily how our government works."
The follow-up, Victim in Pain (1984), is regarded as a seminal New York hardcore release. Dave Jones replaced Raybeez on drums, and Rob Kabula took over on bass. In 1984, Jimmy "The Kid" Colletti from Justified Violence joined on drums when the band went to tour with The Exploited later that year. The album pushed the band to the forefront of New York's fledgling hardcore scene, which was centered around CBGB, where they played with bands like Cro-Mags and Murphy's Law. Roger Miret asserts that all the songs on the album "are totally inspired by the streets of New York and my life and what was going on with my friends. It was dangerous. We did what we had to do to survive by any means necessary. It was like a war or a battlefield, and we stood our ground".
1986's Cause for Alarm was a difficult album to record, due to constant line-up changes and personnel problems. Released on Combat Records, it added thrash metal influences. With other bands such as Suicidal Tendencies and Stormtroopers of Death, this album would mark AF's foray into the world of crossover thrash. It also featured some lyrics written by Peter Steele and drumming by Louie Beateaux (both of Carnivore).
With yet another new line-up, the band soon released Liberty and Justice For... in 1987. The album featured stripped down punk with a lack of thrash influences, yet it contained many metal-style guitar solos. It did not sell nearly as well as previous releases. Sometime later, Miret was arrested on drug charges after releasing a live album, and spent his time in prison writing new songs while Stigma and the band toured Europe for the first time. The lyrics written by Miret while incarcerated formed most of 1992's One Voice, which featured members of Madball and Sick of It All. Not long after its release, the band decided to call it quits. Their last show was at CBGB on December 20, 1992, Last Warning, which was also released with United Blood EP on the end of the release.
Second era (1996–present)Edit
Stigma and Miret reformed Agnostic Front in May 1996 and did a few reunion shows in December 1996, signing to Epitaph Records and recruiting Jimmy Colletti on drums and Rob Kabula on bass, who was playing with Against the Grain at the time. Their latest venture was titled Something's Gotta Give. In 1999, they followed up with Riot, Riot, Upstart. They also won an MTV Award for the title track music video. Their comeback albums have sold well and been mostly acclaimed by music critics[who?] for their pure hardcore punk sound.
In 2002, Miret worked on a side-project band, Roger Miret and the Disasters, looking for a sound akin to old school punk rock and Oi!. Also that year, the band appeared in Matthew Barney's film Cremaster 3 along with Murphy's Law.
Agnostic Front came out in 2004 with Another Voice. The album was regarded mainly as a follow-up to One Voice. The album, however, did receive some criticism from fans and the press for apparently changing their music to fit the current wave of 'tough guy' bands. Musically, the album bears resemblance to bands that were heavily influenced by Agnostic Front, such as Hatebreed. Miret's vocals on the album particularly seemed to turn off many less hardcore punk-oriented fans. Later, the track "Peace" was contributed to the mash-up album Threat: Music That Inspired the Movie, where it was remixed by Schizoid and renamed "World at War".
On March 7, 2006, Agnostic Front released the DVD Live at CBGB. This follows the efforts of many bands that tried to save CBGB from shutting down. Miret claims that "We played more shows at CBGB than any band ever, and we played more benefit shows for CBGB than any band ever" when the club did close, most nostalgia focused on 1970s punk bands.
The band performed on the Persistence Tour in Europe in the winter of 2009 and have were confirmed for Rebellion Festival 2012 in Blackpool, England.
In 2015, the band released the album The American Dream Died via Nuclear Blast Records which consisted mostly of the bands older style of music with a modern touch. The band continued to tour extensively in Europe as well as the U.S. in support of the record.
- Vinnie Stigma – lead guitar (1980–present)
- Roger Miret – lead vocals (1982–present)
- Mike Gallo – bass, backing vocals (2000–present)
- Pokey Mo – drums (2009–present)
- Craig Silverman – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2014–present)
- Rob Krekus – drums (1980–1981)
- John Watson – lead vocals (1980–1982)
- James Kontra – lead vocals (1982)
- Diego – bass (1980–1982)
- Raymond "Raybeez" Barbieri – drums (1981–1983, died 1997)
- Adam Mucci – bass (1982–1983)
- Dave Jones – drums (1983–1985)
- Rob Kabula – bass (1983–1987, 1997–2000)
- Todd Youth – bass (1983, died 2018)
- Alex Kinon – rhythm guitar (1985–1986)
- Gordon Ancis – rhythm guitar (1986–1987)
- Joe "Fish" Montanaro – drums (1986–1987)
- Louie Beato – drums (1986)
- Alan Peters – bass (1987, died 2020)
- Steve Martin – rhythm guitar (1987–1990)
- Will Shepler – drums (1987–1993)
- Craig Setari – bass (1987–1993)
- Matt Henderson – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1990–1993)
- Jimmy Colletti – drums (1997–2004)
- Steve Gallo – drums (2004–2009)
- Joseph James – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2007–2014)
- Sean Yeaton (April 7, 2008). "Agnostic Front, Madball Shred Hardcore Family Reunion". Spin.
- DiStefano, Alex (February 23, 2015). "The 10 Best Crossover Thrash Bands". Retrieved November 30, 2015.
- Larkin, Colin, ed. (2009). Agnostic Front. Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195313734.001.0001. ISBN 9780199726363.
- Steven Blush (2001). American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Feral House. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-922915-71-2.
The band AF started in early 1982 as The Zoo Crew at Apartment X, Crazy Emily's Eldridge Street storefront squat. ... they tried with James Kontra and Keith Burkhardt, before teaming with Roger Miret (ex-The Psychos/Distorted Youth), ... When people thought of New York, they automatically thought of Agnostic Front.
- Vinnie Stigma, Drew Stone (3 May 2020). The NYHC Chronicles Live Episode 13 (video).
- Rettman, Tony (2015). NYHC : New York Hardcore 1980-1990. Brooklyn, NY. p. 154. ISBN 9781935950127.
- Rettman, Tony (2015). NYHC : New York Hardcore 1980-1990. Brooklyn, NY. p. 155. ISBN 9781935950127.
- Rettman, Tony (2015). NYHC : New York Hardcore 1980-1990. Brooklyn, NY. p. 157. ISBN 9781935950127.
- Donny the Punk, "Agnostic Front," Flipside, whole no. 45 (March 1985), pg. 54.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (2003). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 19. ISBN 1-85227-969-9.
- "The Godfathers Of Hardcore". The Godfathers Of Hardcore.
- Maximum Rocknroll No. 328 (Sept/Oct 2010), interview by Bruce Roehrs
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