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Guest 7-Inch Corner: Jason From Suicide Note/Hawthorne Street Records
For this installment of The 7-Inch Corner, we’ve got a guest column from Jason Gagovski, drummer for Suicide Note, Sweet Cobra, Stabbed By Words and co-owner of Hawthorne Street Records. Jason’s spotlight is on Unbroken’s highly revered swansong Circa ‘77. The 7-inch was released by New Age Records back in 1996. I think we’ve all experienced that incredible feeling that Jason writes about in his column. Read on and enjoy.
Title: Circa ‘77
By Jason Gagovski
I can remember seeing this 7-inch listed in the Revelation Records distro catalog as “coming soon” and I couldn’t wait. It was 1996, I did a distro, played in bands, published a zine, and had just been accepted into a college for the upcoming fall semester. I had been lucky enough to see the band twice, once on their “Ritual” tour and once on the “Life.Love.Regret.” tour and they blew me away, as well as everyone else in the room. They were changing the face of hardcore by playing honest, emotional music that was redefining the genre. They looked like greasers and were serious about their music and lyrics. Their songs and meaning cut deep and they transcended their peers by leaps and bounds in subject matter and the way they approached it.
Read more of Jason’s column after the jump.
Fans and friends were very dedicated to the band; if you liked them, you loved them. So when they announced that they were breaking up after four short years of being a band, and playing some final shows, people were bummed, to say the least. I had listened to Life.Love.Regret. and the And/Fall On Proverb 7-inch one million times and couldn’t wait to hear something new. Since they were disbanding, I realized that there would be no more new Unbroken music to look forward to. When I saw that ad for the final 7-inch, I couldn’t wait to hear it.
Unbroken was the type of band that only got better with each release so I knew the final 7-inch would be a gift to us all. So I placed my order for ten copies (five on color, five on black) for my small distro. I knew at least ten people that loved the band that would be more than happy to get the 7-inch.
Fast forward a few months. Summer was ending and I was loading up to move three hours south to the hills of Brown County in Bloomington, Indiana to attend Indiana University to study design (this is also where Suicide Note was eventually born). I had lived in the house I grew up in my whole life so any kind of move was a big deal to me. I was out of the nest for the first time. I was excited, scared, and everything else in between. As I loaded up the last few things and got in my car to leave, I see the mail truck pull up. I get out of my car to greet her and she hands me a package addressed to me. I could tell it was records and my excitement started to build. I got inside the house and opened the box and there was a stack of Unbroken Circa ‘77 records. I immediately put it on the turntable, pulled out a tape, and dubbed it to a cassette and I heard it for the first time on my journey to my new home.
From the first fluttering sounds of feedback on “Absentee Debate,” to the last sounds of screaming on “Crushed On You,” it was everything I hoped it would be and more. The vocals sounded more angry, emotional, and urgent than ever but you could understand every word he was screaming, which made it have even more impact. The music was totally to the point with absolutely no filler. Each song is broken down to it’s most essential parts and each instrument has equal amount of sonic real estate in the mix. They sounded like they were losing their minds.
The small insert has the lyrics carved in handwriting with old photobooth style photos of each member of the band, a clever design element often copied. Side A ends with the words “I don’t care” screamed over and over again, while the music is a total pummel-fest of one of the catchiest guitar parts ever. Side B starts with a swirling guitar part that begins to show new direction for the band. The song is laced with melody mixed with grit, and layering not heard in the band’s sound prior to this. It ebbs and flows back and forth between the parts as the lyrics and vocals somehow sound more desperate than Side A. Then there is a dark bass and drum break before the song explodes into the final part of vocal interplay and the culmination of the song, with the vocals screaming “It doesn’t matter.” I was floored. I felt like the band really had touched on something innovative and truly emotional in less than six minutes of music.
I grabbed the tape and ran out to my car to pull away from the house I grew up in, realizing that my life would be forever changed from that moment on. I was out in the “real world” with that Unbroken tape playing on repeat as I pulled away.
I knew that after the demise of the band that all of the members would go on to do other great bands. Steve and Todd started Kill Holiday; Eric played in the amazing Swing Kids; Rob played in Some Girls among others; Dave played in Johnny Angel and in 1999, he and I started Stabbed By Words.