The Formative Years – Born Against and Vermiform Records
Sometimes it is funny how music and the ideas it portrays strike a chord upon first listen. Musically and looking at individual sonic ingredients, it might be the song writing, energy and catchiness that will sink its hooks into you immediately and resonate the first time you listen to a song.
However, these things tend to become stale with time because there are, in a way, somewhat superficial elements to every song.
What makes you keep listening to a song is when, below the surface and the catchy rhythm, there are a wealth of other idiosyncratic details, side plots, or mysterious feelings or ideas that you cannot quite put your finger on. Within the musically often confined realm of punk and hardcore, interesting lyrics and an angle that you can relate to, a story, or just a sound that has an interesting new character play a major role.
As a teenage delinquent, emotional and social contexts from the surroundings that I listened to songs served as amplifiers of immense proportions as a song became an encapsulation of significant moments, or a time of my life, and lived on through that.
In 1991 I spent my allowance on mail ordering new music on a regular basis. Provocative names and titles that caught my attention served as a major motivation to make the effort to pay a visit to the bank, exchange Deutschmarks into US currency, write a letter, enclose cash and hope that weeks later slabs of vinyl would materialize in my mailbox.
When the name Born Against popped up, it caught my attention straight away and after consulting my dictionary to find out what the title of their 7” “Eulogy” meant, I had to get it.
I am not sure what I was expecting but after the first spin of Born Against’s first 7”, taking in the artwork and overall aesthetic, things were no longer the same.
I found a band that challenged the status quo of the scene (in this case supposedly an affront to how Equal Vision Records conducted themselves), had an aggressive political message, a DIY approach, a kick-ass aesthetic yet was sonically abrasive and powerful and informed by everything I loved about traditional hardcore punk.
I made a concerted effort to not only track down their demo, every compilation track as well as revisit the releases by their predecessor Life’s Blood, but also started collecting not only earch of theirs but also the releases on the singers, i.e. Sam McPheeters’ Vermiform label, his Dear Jesus fanzines and later on both his other musical and written emissions, all of which had challenged me in the most wondrous ways.
Witnessing Born Against in a live environment during their European tour with Nations on Fire in 1992 solidified my interest as their demeanour, inner band tensions and refreshingly alien status and non-conformant attitude in a cliché-ridden scene all contributed to their appeal.
A unicorn of a band that remains unrivalled both in terms of sound and vision to this day.