We were Young, having fun, and had no idea what was about to happen.
Jerk Reaction was a band from North Eastern Pennsylvania. This was my first serious attempt at being in a punk band. Before 2008, we had written a demo, our attempt at a full length (Entitled Straight Edge-ucation that was quickly changed to the Cliff Weighknecht EP after we dropped a few songs we didn’t like), in which we had a handful of songs we were serious about, and a hand full of songs that were jokes.
EXAMPLE: “HOCKEY, BEER, MOSH, HARDCORE”
We still aren’t sure if we were making fun of things, or of ourselves to this day. Being as we loved hockey, hardcore, drinking(underage), and moshing came with the hardcore thing.. but here we are.
All of us had been at it with other projects during high school, so we had made some connections, played some shows, and we had a very realistic goal.
“Yes, I want to do this forever”
But something happened within the mid 2000’s for our area, and I want to go through how I saw it unfold from my teenage eyes, full of hope.
Through the nostalgic looking glass.
NEPA is, pretty much, a shit hole. There is nothing to do, everyone is addicted to something, and the weather sucks.
This, is where it all started. A shit hole area, of a shit hole town. Our branch of this story was specifically in The Poconos (Pocono Pines, Emerald Lakes, Mt Pocono… here is a map).
The winters were long, cold, barely livable, and the summers were over populated, loud, and obnoxious.
Being a punk kid in this town, was not all that uncommon. But successfully throwing house shows in a garage/basement/back yard/firehall/movie theater/college campus room/rec center/barn should NOT have consistently yielded 50 to 100 kids.
But it did. Every. Single. Time.
Turns out, there were a fuck ton of people who thought we lived in a shit hole, and loved aggressive music.
The bands I’d been in, and always have been in, are usually hard to swallow on surface level. I was the kid in the band where your parents are like “I like the music, but why are they screaming?!” Now this wasn’t most bands in the area. In fact, the majority of the music around us were the beginning stages of bands like The Menzingers, Title Fight, Tigers Jaw, Captain We’re Sinking, and The Holy Mess. (I KNOW SHIT IS UNREAL)
We were all just a little more spread out, and doing shit that wasn’t quite as good. Some of us really honing our craft and becoming amazing at what we do, some of us, just playing faster and faster(Oh hey, whats up…)
Now, Where I grew up was in a separate circle from most of those extremely awesome bands I just listed, but we all had one place that we all were at, every weekend.
Cafe Met, or just simply “Metro”. Was the venue we all went to every time there was a show. It didn’t matter who played. I would go to their website, Check the show listings, and if someone was playing, I was there. I saw some of the coolest shit there. This is where a lot of us became friends. Even with not being close friends to the scranton folk. The people in those bands have always been so nice to me. When we got used to seeing each other around we would be invited to their places to hang out, or just simply a smile and some small talk. It felt awesome being mutually respected by other young musicians who I had personally really looked up to.
This is a video depicting Cafe Met at one of its last shows ever. I was surely there, and had one of the hand screened flyers from Justin Phillips (ONE WIN CHOICE)
I may or may not be bad at fanboying to bands, just because I’m overly emotionally connected to music. It is cheesy sometimes, but I can’t control it. I should, like make a music based website or something…
I remember some really surreal times of hanging with the kids in scranton and be like “Damn did we really all just pick up acoustic instruments and play clash covers with the kids in Captain and Menzingers?” or “Damn did I really just get invited to dinner with the peeps in The Holy Mess?!”
It. Was. So. Cool.
As a young kid, who inevitably made stupid mistakes, thanks for giving me those memories. Y’all really changed a life.
All of this gushing aside, I was in this band, who played fast and loud, and we didn’t always fit in, but we were always looked at the same, and that shit rules. That is the shit that needs to happen more in the underground music scene…
But for Jerk Reaction, as we approached 2008 we really put our shoes to the concrete and started writing, in my opinion, the best music we had ever written.
Originally we had our friend Pete Traina on Guitar, Sean on Vocals, Bill on Drums, and me on Bass. But by this time I had moved to Guitar, Bryce Sipes was on Bass, and Prece-Dave was second Guitarist, with Bill and Sean in their roles, respectively.
We found our stride as a band. See, we were always stuck in this weird spot where we weren’t punk enough for the punk kids, and weren’t hardcore enough for the hardcore kids. We got to a point where we said “fuck it” and we started writing extremely melodic fast music, and our vocalist brought a guttural scream that would normally never be welcomed onto this music. But we did it.
“Life is no sin, only hard to obtain”
The reason I am writing this, right now, is because we were young but growing up, and things happen with friends who spend way to much time together, who are way too passionate about music and start growing up. So, we never got to release these songs.
In fact, there are a lot of recordings from some really amazing bands that got lost from what I will call the “Dave Sessions”.
Dave who was in Jerk Reaction during these years, who would end up being in The Greek Favourites, and Sing Bird Of Pray. But at the time he was Prece-Dave. Because he was in a band called Precedent, and WE ALL LOVED PRECEDENT.
Destination Mr.Z’s was the shit!
In this recording, drummer Cliff Weighknect was 14 i believe? and the other members not much older than that. This shit was, and still is inspirational. Still some of the most amazing musicians to this day.
Well, as of 1am on September 2nd, 2019. I was finally able, after years of trying to, pull usable quality versions of Jerk Reaction’s 2008 E.P. off of my broken Ipod touch (First gen) and I am putting it out here, for free.
These songs to me, have been a huge part of my life. They aren’t perfect, especially to today’s standards(We had 4 mics to mic everything, I had extremely sub par guitar gear at the time, and this still sounds decent). But I was 19 years old and we dumped our hearts into this.
I remember spending hours in Prece-Dave’s room forcing everyone in the band to do a vocal part, even if it was a small one, because we felt it was important that everyone had a small part in it. Some of us didn’t do well under that pressure but we all ended up on that recording.
You really don’t become comfortable with someone until you’re in the same room as them and everyone has to be extremely quiet while you scream into a crappy mic over, and over, and over again.
To this day, when I record vocals, I try to make as many people a part of it as possible, because of this very moment.
As time passed, Jerk Reaction had a falling out, followed by some of my most regrettable moments as a kid. But at the end of all things… Most of us ended up back in a band together called KIDS. I ended up spending the few years isolated, getting better at guitar, and finally purchasing real gear, which I still use to this day.
When KIDS came together, our friend BEAR (Of Mouthin’ Off, and now Mannequin Pussy) had written a bunch of really fucked up hardcore songs and had approached our drummer Bill( who ended up in Captain, We’re Sinking). They’d been working on about 10 fast as fuck, power violence influenced songs. That’s when Bill opened up the door for me again, asked me if I was into coming around and jamming. It was a huge blessing, I hadn’t talked to any of the members in years. I was extremely depressed and suicidal at the time. I don’t think I ever really told any one either. I just know that I showed up, learned these insane songs and it saved my life.
Thank you Bill. I can’t emphasize enough how this impacted my life.
After a few practices and trying out some awesome friends of ours on vocals.. We ended up with Sean again, and our good friend Rickey Tartaglia on bass.
KIDS went through some changes, and I ended up leaving Pennsylvania due to my severe struggles with depression and anxiety. But through it all, KIDS is still doing next level stuff. Ben Roth(Sleepy Limbs, You Me and Everyone We Know) took over bass after some time, and they just stuck to one guitarist and really perfected the weirdness that is KIDS. I am very happy to call all of them my family, and they have been the most supportive friends I could have ever asked for.
So, as Jerk Reaction turned into KIDS, FO-A-CHA turned into The Holy Mess, Bob and the Sagets turned into The Menzingers, Dead Radical turned into Nimbus Terrifix, Precedent turned into The Greek Favourites, Rosary Ligature turned into Cavities, and continuous other refining and renaming.
I am just so happy I am able to share my story, and share this previously unheard music with the world.
We all have our own version of this story.. and maybe I will dive into that with people and share their versions.
To the end of an era…
“Please empty my head, Please staple it shut”