Sick Of It All
Sick Of It All are a Hardcore punk band formed by brothers Lou (vocals) and Pete Koller (guitar), Armand Majidi (drums) and Rich Cipriano in 1986. They are one of the most influential and long-lasting Hardcore bands of all time.
Hailing from the borough of Queens in New York City, Sick Of It All were formed from the ashes of another New York band, Straight Ahead, which featured Majidi and Cipriano, as well as current Sick Of It All bass player Craig Setari. After the break-up of Straight Ahead, Cipriano and Majidi joined forces with the Koller brothers to create Sick Of It All. The band began to play Sunday afternoon matinees at renowned Hardcore venue CBGB's, and soon after released a self-titled 7" on Revelation Records (which was later re-issued on the tenth anniversary of its release, in 1997).
The band released their first full-length, Blood, Sweat And No Tears on Relativity Records in 1989, which rapidly became an underground classic. Their follow-up, the legendary Just Look Around released in 1992, confirmed the band as the flag-bearer for a new era of Hardcore. It also heralded European and Japanese tours, a significant line-up change and the chance to sign for a major record label.
Amidst cries of 'sell-out' from fickle fans and under pressure from misguided music executives to rival the success of bands like Rancid and The Offspring, Sick Of It All released their heaviest record to date on major label EastWest Records, in the form of 1994's Scratch The Surface. The record was a brutal response to those who assumed the band would create a more radio-friendly sound, as the band took aim at rule-makers, rapists and Hardcore reality. They even found time to record the hilarious "Step Down" video - a biting parody of Hardcore dancing that showcases the band's oft-overlooked sense of humour. The record was also the first recorded with long-time friend and former Agnostic Front bassist Craig Setari, who had by now replaced Rich Cipriano in the band.
Unfortunately not everything was running to plan. Some fans chose to side with pseudo-anarchist outfit Born Against, who insisted in an infamous radio argument between the two bands that Sick Of It All's decision to sign for a major record label was the antithesis of what Hardcore music was about. Worse still, in December 1992, a mentally-ill student wearing a Sick Of It All shirt shot and killed two people at a Massachusetts school, and wounded several others. After being inundated with claims that they initiated violence at shows and through their music, the band eloquently defended their craft in the liberal media (particularly The New York Times), but offered a more forceful indictment on the knee-jerk reactions of conservative America in the form of the scathing "Goatless" off the Scratch The Surface album.
The success of Scratch The Surface allowed the band to tour worldwide, and it was not until 1997 that they released their second record on the EastWest label, Built To Last. More punk-inspired than their previous effort, Built To Last produced a number of live staples for the band, including "Us vs. Them," "Busted" and the always-played "Good Lookin' Out." The album also marked the end of Sick Of It All's contractual agreement with EastWest and, having received dubiously little money from the sale of any of their records, it was with some relief that the band left the label for pastures anew.
A New Beginning
In 1998, Sick Of It All signed to independent record label Fat Wreck, owned and run by Fat Mike of Californian band NOFX. After releasing the "Potential For A Fall" single - for which another side-splitting video was filmed, Call To Arms was released in February 1999. The album featured relatively few traditional Hardcore tracks, as the intensely personal lyrics of songs like "Let Go," "The Future Is Mine," "Morally Confused" "Hindsight," and "Martin" shone through. There's even a love song on the album, in the form of the touching "Sanctuary."
Less critically acclaimed was the 2000 follow-up, Yours Truly. Despite containing some of the bands favoured live tracks, including "Blown Away," "The Bland Within," "District" and "America," some fans felt alienated by the album's progressive nature and in a recent interview, frontman Lou Koller claimed that the album's cover art probably contributed to its poor reception. 1
Live And Living On The Ropes
In 2001, Sick Of It All released their classic home video The Story So Far, and a year later a live record was released as part of Fat Wreck's Live In A Dive series. The album showcases tracks from Sick Of It All's entire career up to that point in time, and is generally regarded as an excellent example of the incredible intensity and energy generated by the band and its fans.
2003 saw Sick Of It All release their seventh studio album. For some, it was a return to the form of old as the band lashed out against political oppression, violence and complacency in an album reminiscent of their earlier Scratch The Surface opus. In 2004, the band also released an album of b-sides, covers and rare tracks entitled Outtakes For The Outcast, which contains some must-have Sick Of It All recordings.
Not merely through their longevity, but also via a back catalogue of essential Hardcore releases and one of the most dynamic live sets ever seen, Sick Of It All have established themselves as one of Hardcore's most vital bands. From the snarling anger of early tracks such as "Friends Like You" and "My Revenge," to the socio-political commentary of songs like "Just Look Around" and "Call To Arms," from indictments of the music industry in "Disco Sucks, Fuck Everything" and "Paper Tiger (Fakin' The Punk)," to the positive unity inspired by tracks like "Step Down" and "Chip Away," Sick Of It All will continue to remain a vibrant and relevant member of the punk community, long after the band decides to call it quits.
In 1995, the somewhat dubious German label Lost And Found Records released in Europe only, Spreading The Hardcore Reality and Live In A World Full Of Hate, the latter of which was recorded live in New Jersey in 1993.
Numerous Sick Of It All fans have tattoos of the so-called Alleyway Crew dragon - generally regarded as the band's unofficial logo. Some New Yorker's have claimed that the band misappropriated a gang symbol, but the band often claims that the Alleyway Crew was never an actual gang to begin with.
- Self-Titled (1987)
- Blood, Sweat and No Tears (1988)
- We Stand Alone (1991)
- Just Look Around (1992)
- Scratch the Surface (1994)
- Live in a World Full of Hate (1995)
- Spreading the Hardcore Reality (1995)
- Built To Last (1997)
- Potential for a Fall (1998)
- Call to Arms (1999)
- Yours Truly (2000)
- The Story So Far (2001)
- Live in a Dive (2002)
- Life on the Ropes (2003)