Carry On is my favorite hardcore band of all time. I didn’t say they were the “best” or “most influential” hardcore band of all time or anything like that – I said they are my favorite hardcore band of all time. If you don’t know me, or you’re not from California, you’re probably thinking “wtf” right about now, yeah? That’s OK, you don’t know what this means… And you never fucking did. Haha, I’m just kidding. Ryan used to always tack on “…and you never fucking did” at shows when he would sing the “you don’t know what this means” line at the end of the song. But anyway, here’s the simple truth: Carry On was my “Salad Days”. They were the band I hung out with, traveled with, lived and breathed during my most formative years from 18-22, and nothing will ever change that. They were playing straight edge hardcore that I could identify with, a style that was pretty dormant in California. They were hardcore for me and my friends. They were a polarizing band, especially here in California, and that only made all of us in the crew that much closer. We were young, and we were pissed off, and Carry On was a way we were able to express ourselves. We all did all sorts of ignorant things during that time period, but I feel like all of that was necessary for us to vent, learn, and grow. More so than any other band around me at that time, they adopted a group of us as pseudo band members. So much so that we adopted them back, almost giving a feeling of ownership of a band that we didn’t even play in. Carry On was our band. It was all our effort, it was all our blood. And you know what? These feelings still haven’t faded.
Just a photo with all of my Carry On 7″s together. More descriptions and stories below…
Some would argue that the “Stabbed In The Face” 7″ isn’t really a Carry On 7″, since the band completely changed when Corey Williams and Todd Jones joined the band. The band was always Ryan George on vocals, but every other position changed quite a few times before the band ever got noticed on any sort of national or even regional level. So that is a fair assessment, but nevertheless, this 7″ was very important to how I became so involved with this band… Carry On was started as a band called Persevere in and around San Luis Obispo, CA, including the small towns of Atascadero and Paso Robles. Persevere didn’t last long, and eventually they became Carry On. And it just so happened that I moved to San Luis Obispo, CA for college in September of 1998. After a few months on campus, I luckily ran into a kid who was wearing a straightedge jacket – Nick Koets. Back then, especially in small towns in California, you always introduced yourself to a fellow hardcore kid you hadn’t seen around before. We exchanged land-line telephone numbers (haha, no cell phones) and said we’d stay in touch regarding shows and stuff. A few months later, Nick told me about a show happening in downtown San Luis Obispo, CA at this little recording studio type thing. I went to the show, and Nick introduced me to Mike Stelle and Jeremy Johnson. I also found out that night that Nick and Mike had just released two 7″s on Jitsu Records – Stand Your Ground (from Oxnard) and local dudes Carry On. Jeremy was putting on the show that night, and recently he had started doing all sorts of cool shows in the area, mostly at the Paso Robles Boys & Girls Club. Instantly I was dropped into the heart of a group of kids on the Central Coast actually doing something to make hardcore what they really wanted it to be – DIY! Little did I know that 3 years later I would start a band with Nick (The Damage Done) or that Jeremy would start a home studio, record our first demo, and be the inspiration for our last 7″ (City Of Hope). All of these guys suddenly made my first lonely year of college a lot better than the nerdy computer science dorm I lived in, and a hell of a lot better than the jocked-out-frat-party-goers that I had forced myself into being friends with because I couldn’t deal with the nerdiness of those computer kids. For a straight edge hardcore kid feeling alone in somewhat of a college party town, I finally felt like I’d found a home. Before the show started, I was standing outside with Mike, and he got to talking to this dude in a burgundy Carry On hoodie (in hindsight, I think it was a 1 of 1 type deal that he’d had made when they were running off some t-shirts, because Carry On definitely didn’t have hoodies and lots of merch at that point). They were talking about Stand Your Ground, and then Mike said “Oh yeah, you’re playing in Carry On tonight, right?”. The dude replied with, “Yeah, and actually I’m in the band now”. A couple of minutes later, Mike introduced me to that kid – Corey Williams (or HardCorey, or Corey On, haha). Corey had played guitar in Stand Your Ground, but Corey had recently joined Carry On on guitar. Corey and I have been friends since that day in 1998/1999. Corey is a good dude, man. Even though we don’t see each other that often anymore, he is the kind of guy that I know I can always count on. I know that if I ever need him all I have to do is pick up the phone, and he’ll be there without any questions asked. At that point it was Ryan George on vocals, Jeremy’s brother Jordan Johnson playing guitar, Josh Luce on bass, Corey was added on guitar, and I never really knew their drummer, Jason. I don’t remember who was headlining the show – it might have been Fury 66 from Santa Cruz? That sounds right, but I can’t remember. Anyway, I hadn’t even heard Carry On yet, but when they played that night, I was blown away – even back then. Now, if I saw that same performance today, it probably wouldn’t really make much of an impression on me. But at that point, the majority of bands in California were playing metallic hardcore, emotional post-hardcore and/or screamy type stuff, or were “bigger” bands like Good Riddance, AFI, etc, that kind of walked that line between hardcore and more mainstream Fat Wreck or Nitro Records type punk. There weren’t a lot of bands doing this. I remember the ceiling was super low in that place, it felt like you would hit your head if you jumped around. The truth is, you probably wouldn’t, but I do seem to remember the Carry On dudes kept doing jumps (probably Josh, haha!) and hitting their guitar necks on the ceiling, and kids were hitting their heads on the ceiling when they’d jump up on people’s shoulders, etc. It was also really tiny, and super hot in there. Everyone was pumped, but also smiling at the same time. It made the whole scene just feel really cool and intense, even if in reality it probably wasn’t, haha. I’m not trying to be one of those assholes that dramatizes something from the past when in reality probably wasn’t very important – I know that it wasn’t. It was just some local show in a small town in California. Instead, I’m trying to paint a picture of how I saw it through my eyes, and it was important to an eighteen year old me. That’s the power of locality in punk, and it’s something I talk about a lot. Anyway, after the show, I bought a Carry On 7″ from Mike, even though I didn’t have a record player in my dorm room. I used to play my vinyl at home on my dad’s old record player, but I hadn’t brought any of that big stereo equipment with me to my tiny ass dorm room at school. I bought the record anyway because I thought the band was fucking cool and wanted to check it out as best I could. Mike told me that he would make me a tape of it, which he did, and Nick gave it to me the next time he saw me. I was hooked!
UPDATE: About a year after I posted this entire Carry On blog entry, I opened up an old computer printer in my garage and found this flier inside it! The printer belongs to my roommate, Aaron Menesez. Apparently he had been trying to scan this flier, but the printer wasn’t working with his computer. He finally gave up and put the printer in the garage, where it’s been sitting for 2 or 3 years. Once I stumbled upon this flier, I just had to take a photo and upload here (and of course then I gave the flier back to Aaron). This was an awesome find, since this show was kind of the “set up” to the whole Carry On story here! I had completely forgotten that Towards An End played this show too! They were a local band from the Bay Area that I really liked around this time.
Around the same time that we found the flier, Aaron pulled out this old home-made Carry On sticker. He said that he got it from Josh Luce (Carry On bassist) and he had saved it all these years! Cool shit!
Here is a complete set of the “Stabbed In The Face” 7″. There are also some sketchy Gorilla Biscuits rip-off covers, but those are shown in a photo later with separate story. There were 106 on white and 171 on blue, both hand-numbered on the labels in metallic gold pen. The remaining 700 or so were on black vinyl. At some point Corey made those orange “Team Carry On” covers, and they are numbered /25 on the back – mine is #11/25. A little known fact about the blue color on this release: it is a custom mixed color picked specifically by Mike Stelle. At the time, Erika Records had an option where if you paid an extra couple bucks, you could choose your own custom color by determining exactly what amount of mixed color(s) go into your marbled vinyl. I remember Mike was stoked on doing this for the blue Carry On 7″ and the green Stand Your Ground 7″. So this blue color is a tad more vibrant than the baby blue marble you’d normally see if you just requested “marble blue” or “solid blue” from a pressing plant.
I got my test pressing from Nick in 2007. Mine is #2/8. He had a kid on the way, and it was time for him to sell the remainder of his records. I was actually supposed to own Jordan’s copy… After Jordan’s death in 2000 (read later), Jeremy had two, and he had promised me that I could have Jordan’s copy. But we never got around to getting me the 7″. Then in 2003, Jeremy passed away too. Those 2 copies are probably still with the Johnson family. I’m sure you’re wondering what is up with all of this horrific shit. I talk about it later in this blog post…
Close-up of the metallic gold numbering, mine is #10/106. After Mike Stelle and I became friends, he gave me this out of his stash since I had missed the original pre-orders for the Carry On 7″ before I ever moved to San Luis Obispo. There’s also an original advertisement for the Stand Your Ground and Carry On 7″ on Jitsu.
That limited blue cover was made before covers were ready, and is numbered out of 50 on the back. I had this early “Team Carry On” patch that I threw in this copy for safe keeping. I wish I still had some of those big red or blue Team Carry On stickers with yellow ink! I think I put them on record boxes or even my car when I was younger, haha.
Close-up of the little note in the blue cover. Funny little drawings of Ryan, Josh, and Jordan. Also, remember those funny email addresses in the 90’s that you would get from your dial-up provider? “@calinet.com” haha. Funny how he put “.calinet.com” instead of “@”. Whoops.
Here’s another look at the white vinyl, surrounded by a bunch of original stickers and patches from the Carry On days. When I was younger, I actually used up all of my original TEAM CARRY ON bumper stickers on record boxes, instrument cases, and, well, my car! haha. But after I launched this blog, my buddy Carl Cordova hit me up and told me he had an extra red one that he’d give me, so he brought it to me the other day. I’m stoked to have it! Thanks Carl!
Here’s a quilt of shirts that I paid a women in my neighborhood in 2007 to make for me out of all my hardcore shirts that didn’t fit me anymore. There’s a cool Jitsu Records t-shirt, just above the Shark Attack shirt. I’m a size M or L, so most of the shirts in this quilt were either size Mediums that were really on the small side, old XL shirts that I never could wear anyway, or just shirts I didn’t like wearing but wanted to save for nostalgia. This quilt is awesome – it’s a double-sided queen sized quilt, with 8 shirts down the side and 7 across the top. So, 56 shirts on each side, for a total of 112 t-shirts. Fuck yeah!
Just for fun, I thought I’d also include the Stand Your Ground 7″ here, since it was released around the same time as the Carry On 7″ on Jitsu Records, and ended up having a lot of the same members as the Carry On that most people know. More importantly for me, this 7″ indirectly led to me meeting my friend, Todd. At the time, Todd Jones was a sixteen or seventeen year-old kid from Oxnard who played in Stand Your Ground. One night Mike Stelle and I drove down to a show at The Living Room in Santa Barbara, CA. I don’t remember who was playing, but it was a fairly “big” hardcore show with a couple of touring bands. Mike walked in and started talking to Todd, probably about something Stand Your Ground related, and introduced the two of us shortly thereafter. Todd was wearing an Oxnard Hardcore embroidered hoodie, haha (and so were his friends Ryan Fredette, Pat Beltran (RIP), Little Matt Bowles, and probably Josh and Aaron Belchere, and some other kids I met that night). Mid-way through the conversation, someone starts playing a cover song – I don’t know who was playing the song, or even what cover song it was, it could have been anything – and Todd just says “I’ll be right back” and goes tearing off towards the stage, runs up these little stairs that were on the side of the stage, and proceeds to jump off the stage feet first, head-walking all over everyone, screaming his head off…. Then, he comes back 90 seconds later and resumes the conversation where he had left off! You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that was all it took for me – Todd and I have been close friends ever since! hahaha. Anyway, the following were in Stand Your Ground at some point: Corey Williams on guitar, Todd Jones on guitar, Zack Nelson (later guitarist of In Control) on bass (and later switched to vocals in SYG), Tony on drums (Todd Jones’ cousin, also drummer of In Control) and Aaron Belchere on vocals.
There were 50 copies on pink and 200 on green. The green vinyl was a custom color chosen by Mike Stelle, as mentioned above regarding the Carry On blue color. The remaining 750 were on black vinyl. My test pressing is #8/8, and was Corey Williams’ copy. I bought it off him last year when he was selling all his records at the end of Internal Affairs.
It seemed like almost everything changed for Carry On from 1999-2000. The band progressively became an L.A. band, as opposed to a Central Coast band. Ryan George moved to L.A. Corey Williams was living in Thousand Oaks (I think). They got a new drummer, Nat. Josh remained on bass, Jordan remained on guitar. There were more shows down in L.A., and though shows were still small, the energy was building at shows at the PCH Club in Wilmington, CA and Headline Records in Hollywood. Joe Onlife from Youngblood Records was living in SoCal at the time (I think San Diego), and took notice of Life’s Halt and Carry On, and ended up recruiting both of them to be YBR #4 and #5. Carry On got together and recorded “The Line Is Drawn” 7″. I can’t remember if they recorded before they knew the record would be out on Youngblood, or if things just took a while to get put together once they had recorded for Youngblood, but it seemed like it took forever to come out.
Anyway, there was this tape of the rough mix. In today’s times, a label would probably be super pissed if a band did this, but I mean back then it was pretty unlikely that anyone was really dicking around with ripping cassette tapes onto computers the way kids are easily able to rip vinyl onto digital format today. So this tape had the Youngblood 7″ on it, as well as “Set The Pace” which was going to be put on the “Memories Of Tomorrow” compilation on Youngblood. Like anything in the 1999 era of hardcore, this tape was numbered – mine is #18/29, haha. If I remember correctly, there was also an alternate version of this song on the “As The Sun Sets” SoCal compilation put out by this dude Graham. That comp was CD only.
At some point after the recording, but before the 7″ really got put together by Youngblood, Todd Jones (from Oxnard / Stand Your Ground) joined the band, replacing Jordan on guitar. Someone closer to the situation could elaborate more, but as I remember it, it was just getting harder and harder for Jordan and the guys to get together with Jordan living so far away, and there were some other things going on with some strained friendships back home, I think. In the end, when “The Line Is Drawn” 7″ finally appeared on Youngblood, Carry On now had the trio of Ryan George, Corey Williams, and Todd Jones that made up the core of the Carry On that most people are familiar with. The first pressing was 260 on gold vinyl and 738 on black vinyl. The gold vinyl copies had orange lettering on the cover, while the black vinyl had yellow lettering. That was kinda neat how they had the cover lettering change for the gold vinyl. 100 of the black vinyl covers have a stamp out of 100 on the inside, shown below. So there are 638 on black with no stamp.
Sometime after the 7″ came out, Carry On did a short (and small) east coast tour with Count Me Out, who had only released their “Few And Far Between” EP so far. I know that the shows on this tour weren’t huge by any means. These stamped 7″s were sold at those shows, I think. Since I don’t live on the East Coast, I didn’t get mine at the show. I got mine via trade later, so I hope I’m remembering this right.
Here is the original insert that came with the first pressing. You can see that it lists 6 band members – Ryan, Corey, Nat, Josh, Todd, and Jordan (upper right). Jordan had previously written and recorded the songs on guitar, but Todd had recently joined the band. There is even some text on the reverse side of the insert that says “Extra special thanks to our new guitarist Todd Jones who has stood by us forever. Good luck we love you Jordan.”
There are 24 test pressings of “The Line Is Drawn” and I own 2 of them. The test pressing covers were made by Corey Williams. He worked at Kinko’s so he was always making cool shit like these foil embossed covers. The tattoo art of X’d up praying hands was one of Corey’s own tattoos. I didn’t realize until I was taking this photo that one of my test pressings has the entire tattoo art embossed in gold foil (left), whereas the other copy (right) only has the writing around the art embossed in gold, but the hands are not embossed. I got my first copy of this test pressing from Ryan George in exchange for a Mouthpiece shirt. We were hanging out at a show at the Ojai Women’s Club one night, and I had this Mouthpiece shirt on that my friend had just gotten me in New Jersey when Mouthpiece played some reunion shows in 2000. It’s nothing special – just a royal blue shirt with varsity print in yellow and “XXX” in the middle. Ryan really liked it and kept wanting me to trade it to him. I told him I’d just gotten the shirt and I liked it, so I didn’t really want to trade it. He told me he’d give me a “Line Is Drawn” 7″ test for it, so I caved in. Haha, this was obviously a really good trade for me, and Ryan knew it, but he didn’t mind hooking a friend up. Thanks, Ryan, that was very cool of you! The second test I bought on eBay a couple years back. I have no idea why – I mean, I already owned one! I just love Carry On and for some reason decided I wanted to buy another one, haha.
Most importantly, the inside of the 2nd pressing had a memoire printed for Jordan, Carry On’s previous guitarist: “In Loving Memory… Jordan Johnson”. Sometime around the year 2000, Jordan passed away unexpectedly from heart complications after some kind of skate boarding injury progressed into something more severe. Oddly enough, I never knew all the details, and never had the heart to ask. I didn’t know Jordan very well, but his brother Jeremy was a friend of mine, and some of my good friends were close with Jordan. To say the least, it was shocking and sudden, and it affected everyone instantly. I remember getting a call from Mike Stelle, telling me that Jordan had passed away. I think Mike was up in Vancouver, BC when it happened. He was there with In Reach who had come out to the west coast to do some shows after Mike had put out the In Reach / Open Up split 7″ on Jitsu Records. Mike is a pretty stoic dude, but I just remember how shook he sounded on the phone when he called. Before he said anything, I knew something really fucked had happened. I was out of town on a family trip when the funeral happened, but I remember everyone telling me that they came into town for the funeral and how fucking sad it was to see a bunch of kids so young mourning the loss of a fellow young friend. To this day it just seems so tragic. I remember a part of me feeling so thankful that I wouldn’t have to go through that anytime soon for one of my friends – we’re too young for this shit. Little did I know in 3 years I’d be doing just that…. and unbelievably enough, this time for Jordan’s brother, my friend Jeremy Johnson.
During the time period after “The Line Is Drawn” 7″ came out, shows in SoCal were small, but very cool, mostly centered around the PCH Club in Wilmington, CA and Headline Records in Hollywood. There were also a few shows in the Santa Barbara area at The Living Room, or The Pickle Patch. During this time period is actually where I met one of my best friends, John Eightclip (eventually, vocalist in Allegiance). He was going to school in Santa Barbara, and my friends and I pretty much went to every Santa Barbara show. I don’t know how we hadn’t met sooner, but the way we met is kind of funny. My friends and I had gone to see Sick Of It All, Indecision, and AFI play at the Ventura Theatre in Ventura, CA. There were a ton of nazi skins there that night. Whenever any of the hardcore kids tried to mosh, the nazi dude were beating the hell out of us. John was wearing a hardcore jersey of some kind (Ensign, I think… haha, it’s OK, that was the time period), and I just remember both of us kinda seeing each other, realizing we had to protect each other, and just smashing any sketchy dude we saw that looked like he was about to fuck with another hardcore dude. Luckily, those nazi dudes ended up getting handled by huge SOIA and Indecision roadies from NYC, haha. Mid-way through the set, John and I introduced ourselves, and we’ve been best friends ever since – we even lived together for a long period of time. From that point on, I would often go down to shows at the Pickle Patch and spend the weekend at Eightclip’s pad in Isla Vista, CA. I remember one day Todd Jones came over to hang out and get burritos. He played us the new recording that Carry On had just done (which would become “Roll With The Punches”). John and I would also run into Ben Merlis (Ben Edge, vocalist in Fields Of Fire) whenever I would go down there. There was this one night where John and I ran into Ben on the street, where he was just watching all this craziness go down. The tradition in Isla Vista during the last week of school (mostly frat dudes and shit) is to throw your couches in the middle of the street and light them on fire, haha. So we sat there watching people light couches on fire, then literally throw them off 2 and 3 story balconies. Meanwhile, we started shit with bros and tried hitting on drunk college girls, haha. Yeah, we were dorks. Isla Vista is this fucking crazy party place where it’s almost just like “anything goes, as long as no one dies” type deal (and unfortunately, “dying” does happen). The cops just kinda let anything go on – case in point: allowing this dude Steve Aoki to do shows at “The Pickle Patch”, which was just his regular ass apartment in Isla Vista / Goleta (every school year it would move because Steve would get a new place). I definitely saw Ensign and Kill Your Idols play in a fucking regular living room of a 2 bedroom apartment, with people stage diving off the stairs that were inside the apartment, with hardcore kids just spilling out into the parking lot and common area of the apartments. Anyway, during this time there was a solid group of bands playing shows together, including Carry On, Life’s Halt, and No Reply. Metallic hardcore still reigned supreme in California, especially in Orange County with Throwdown, Adamantium, Eyelid, Bleeding Through, Eighteen Visions, and any number of similar bands. I’m not knocking these bands in any way – they were doing their own thing, and everyone should always play the music they want to play. There was just this whole contingent of smaller straight up hardcore bands that no one was paying attention to. All of these sweet bands were being overlooked by the “larger” hardcore population. And some of us did support the bigger metallic hardcore bands and go to their shows. But when kids are supporting what you’re doing and you don’t return the favor, some animosity is always going to start building. So this group of underground hardcore bands stuck together and played some cool shows together. In hindsight, it was better that the shows were small, that’s what made that time so special. As I mentioned before, Youngblood had been able to tap into that, because Joe Onlife was living in SoCal at the time (San Diego?). The advertisement above for the Carry On, Life’s Halt, and ROTP 7″ was stuffed in one of my Carry On 7″s, and shows Joe Onlife hanging with Ernie and Felix from Life’s Halt.
Here’s a cool photo of a young Todd Jones singing along to Life’s Halt. This photo is in the SK-8 or Die 7″ compilation that our friend Ryan “It’s Fucking Ober” Ober put out on “Pig Pen Inc.” Records, haha.
V/A – “Memories Of Tomorrow” Compilation LPCarry On’s “Set The Pace” appeared on the classic Youngblood Records LP compilation “Memories Of Tomorrow” that featured Life’s Halt, What Happens Next, and tons of others. Pictured here is a test pressing in the upper left #/24, the “bands” press on clear vinyl out of 150 in the upper right, clear vinyl with regular cover out of 200, and black vinyl out of 800. Each LP came with a sweet stapled booklet that had one page for each band.
The test pressings had shattered pieces of vinyl glued to the front of the LP sleeve. It would be interesting to know what records Joe and Sean smashed when creating these. haha. The booklet has a red cover instead of the usual blue. The vinyl has special hand-made labels glued on. Mine is #18/24.
Here’s a close-up of the shattered vinyl glued onto the front of the jacket. You can’t really tell it’s vinyl though. It would look cooler if it was transparent colored vinyl where you could easily see the grooves. I’ll bet each copy had a different record sacrificed for the cover, so maybe some of the others have something other than white vinyl, I’m not sure.
The “bands” pressing out of 150 had a special spray painted cover and more hand-made labels glued on the vinyl (but different labels than the test pressing). These were given to each member of a band that appeared on the comp and the couple extra left over were sent out to early pre-orders. I got mine directly from Youngblood via pre-order.
Carry On is pictured on the back cover of the booklet. Oddly enough, the guy on the right playing bass is Ryan Coughlin, and I’m pretty sure he only filled in on bass less than 5 times for Carry On, and he made the album photo! hahaha. Ryan Coughlin was a kid that was going to college in San Luis Obispo, CA that would hang out in our crew. I remember this very night that the photo was taken. It was taken at Jerry’s Pizza in Bakersfield, CA. Ryan actually drove me from San Luis Obispo to the show in Bakersfield, and I remember him being all nervous and jacked up about the show on the drive over. I can’t remember if Josh Luce was just unavailable to play the show that night, or if Josh had already left for the military and it was that weird time in Carry On where they just never really had a very permanent bass player. Either way, I think Ryan Coughlin played less than 5 shows filling in on bass for Carry On!
Over time, things got frustrating in Southern California for Carry On, and by the time they were writing for their next 7″, frustrations were reaching their limit. First of all, the metal scene in California just kept growing, and Carry On just didn’t fit in with those bands. Worse yet, it seemed like that scene didn’t even recognize Carry On, Life’s Halt, or these other bands as “hardcore bands” at all! It was as if they were fucking invisible, despite continuing to get better and better as bands. I remember standing outside with Todd Jones and Ben Merlis (BenEdge) after a Kill Your Idols show at the Pickle Patch in Isla Vista, CA. Todd was getting ready to leave, and he turned to me and said, “Hey Kyle, you probably won’t be seeing me around much anymore. You’ll see me at hardcore shows like this one, but there aren’t many of those anymore, so you won’t see me as much. Those other bands don’t support me and my friends, so I’m not going to support them. Keep in touch, man.” It may sound elitist or melodramatic, but I knew what he meant… He was just sick of beating his head against a wall, especially since I know a lot of us in my group of friends had supported a lot of those other bands when they would play, but it just was never reciprocated. To make matters worse, there were all sorts of things that occurred at shows, and unfortunately, on messageboards too, that contributed to a huge schism (no pun) with even the smaller contingent of bands playing shows together. In the end, it really felt like it was Carry On vs. everyone else, which tended to be people who were more in tune with the “politically correct” type bands, or the more metal scene with their designer clothes. There were particularly heated conversations on the Rev board (haha) between our group of friends and a few particular kids that seemed to be always pushing people’s buttons. It just went on and on, and there was this high and mighty attitude from the “politically correct” type of kid that we were all quite frankly pretty fucking sick of. Did we end up coming off like elitist pricks? Yeah, there was some of that too. But in general, we felt like it was a retaliation for being made to feel like we were garbage and weren’t good enough for not writing about or commenting about the “hot topics” in the “right way” at the “right times”. I think this note that Carry On put inside their “Roll With The Punches” 7″ when it came out on Teamwork Records in the summer/fall of 2000 pretty much sums it up, and comes directly from the horse’s mouth:
Now you know where songs like “Fuck Your Politics” and “Off My Chest”, plus the “Fuck California” vinyl labels are coming from. It was just a time and a place. And this place felt particularly fucking alienating for Carry On because at first it was the more metallic hardcore scene refusing to recognize them, then it was their own fucking smaller scene making them feel un-welcome because they didn’t exactly fit the liberal mold or… something. It didn’t help that Floorpunch had just visited California on tour, and Todd had been in touch with all the folks out there that had been integral parts of the ’97 hardcore revival in the tri-state area of PA/NJ/NY – think Youngblood Records, Teamwork Records with their Growing Stronger 7″ compilation, and The Time Is Now 7″ compilation in Tension Building Fanzine, etc. He had seen first hand what it can be like when everyone puts their heads together to create a special time and place. Case in point: I was just thinking about something the other day and never really questioned why this happened (Todd, maybe you know?) – In My Eyes flew out to play one last California show on October 6th, 2000 at the Showcase Theatre in Corona, CA (Orange County). The Showcase always had the “bigger” hardcore shows, and your band definitely had a bigger “profile” if you played shows there. Not to mention it had a stage that was great for stage diving, plus a crazy balcony and this back railing that made shows wild when kids would do insane dives off those other points too. Usually those shows were with bands like Throwdown, Adamantium, Death By Stereo, etc. Anyway, was Carry On on the In My Eyes bill? Nope. Was a “post-hardcore” band on the bill that I’m pretty sure wasn’t really even friends with In My Eyes or anything like that? Yup. Why? Probably simply because Carry On wasn’t yet on the “radar” of the predominately metal scene going on in Orange County at the time, so the promoters/club hadn’t even noticed or considered Carry On. Or worse yet, and probably more likely, they did know about Carry On, and they purposely didn’t want anything to do with them. This kind of thing was typical back then, so I think we just stopped questioning why things were happening the way they were. Instead, we just said “fuck em”, and created our own “big, high-profile” shows…. At our new spot: the Ojai Valley Women’s Club.
Here’s a shot of Carry On playing at the Ojai Valley Women’s Club, most likely in the summer of 2001 or thereabouts. That’s me running across the stage (to the left of that other kid singing along with Ryan), about to dive onto a perfect crowd of sing-alongs.
Meanwhile, Carry On was just “rolling with the punches”, and spitting back fucking fire. Quite simply – this 7″ fucking rips. All of the sudden, Ryan’s vocals have gone from straight up posi-core to fucking scathing, and with Todd adding to the song-writing, things have been sped up by about triple and all of a sudden there’s all these angry hard parts (Off My Chest… damn.). I remember when all of us heard this record, we were like “hell fucking yes” – this was what our crew of friends were feeling, at least in this time, in this place. During the fall of 2000 and the winter of 2001 after this 7″ had come out, there was a solid crew of us that just went crazy at Carry On shows, just going as wild as we could because we had this attitude like it was us against the world. In the fall of 2000, American Nightmare announced they’d be flying out to CA for a few shows during the winter. AN was a new band, but they had been killing it all summer on the east coast, and there was a ton of anticipation surrounding their first trip to the west coast. I was bumming hard because I knew I was going to be home on Christmas break in Oroville, CA (way northern Cali, not near anything!), whereas if I’d been in San Luis Obispo it would be centrally located to catch the Bakersfield, Ojai, Santa Cruz, and Gilman shows! The day before their first show in Bakersfield, I said “fuck it”, and decided I’d drive the 8 hours to Bakersfield and just follow the tour around. I called Lucas (later of Go It Alone), my buddy from Vancouver, BC, who was living in LA and playing drums in Carry On at the time. Lucas had recently replaced Nat on drums. Lucas said he’d ride back to Chico/Oroville with me if I drove all the way down there. He wanted to come hang out with Zach Harlan, Tim, and I in Chico, and then he’d take a bus home to Vancouver, BC for a bit. I picked up this kid Chris Jones on the way down to that first show in Bakersfield (later Chris Jones filled in on drums in Carry On for a few shows and pulled some crazy shit which ended up making those bogus Carry On GB covers infamous – I’ll get to that in a bit). Man, that show in Bakersfield was fucking sick! It was at Jerry’s Pizza, which had this brick basement that was super long and narrow. It would get so hot and crazy down there. You barely had room to move, and you’d inevitably scrape up your hands on the exposed brick walls when you were thrashing around. Carry On played that night, as they always did, and Givens, Leighton, me, and all the regulars went nuts. It felt like we had something to prove – like, the west coast always got a bad wrap, ya know? We wanted to show these dudes who’d finally come here from the east coast that Carry On was the shit. It wasn’t in a confrontational or competitive way, it was like, we wanted to share this little secret we had in CA. They finally believed us. You could see Standhard, Chris Wrenn (Bridge 9), Tim, Wes, all the dudes in AN were impressed. Then when AN started playing, the room went bonkers. You could instantly tell that there had been so much anticipation for this show all summer and fall. It was like a flurry, it felt like they only played for like 3 minutes (maybe they did, I think they only had 7 songs at that time, haha). When all was done, I was so pumped I’d driven down for the shows, and was looking forward to more. That night I met Chris Wrenn from Bridge 9, and I thought it was so cool that he recognized my name, knew what I had ordered from him over the years, and was really friendly to me. It wasn’t like a “star fucker” type thing, it was just comfortable and cool and friendly, and I thought it was rad that he’d taken notice enough to know who I was, even though I didn’t do a band or whatever, etc. Anyway, fast forward a couple of days to the Santa Cruz, CA show. All of my friends from both SoCal and NorCal were there at the Vet’s Hall basement, it was a cool vibe. At some point during the show, I’m standing inside to stay out of the cold, and Lucas comes in grinning from ear to ear, and says he wants to go outside to talk. We go outside, and he tells me that Chris Wrenn had just met with the Carry On dudes in the van and asked them to be part of Bridge 9. They would be flying to Boston and recording an LP for B9 in 2001. B9 was still a very small label, but they seemed to be doing all the right things, and it just felt exciting. Carry On had really stepped it up with their Roll With The Punches 7″, and it was time for an album. I remember Todd and Ryan being so stoked that night, everything just felt good. I was so fucking pumped for them, and for all of us in our little crew really, haha! Carry On was finally going to get the east coast to pay attention to them. Eventually the dates were set for Carry On to fly out to the East Coast to record their LP at God City, in April of 2001. But just before that in February of 2001 Carry On was planning a weekend of shows with Champion. They planned to drive up and play a show with Champion in Seattle, then they’d drive back down to California, playing the Bay Area and Ojai, CA (near Oxnard). The day Carry On was headed up north, I was dicking around online, talking with Todd on AOL Instant Messenger. He was talking about getting ready to leave, and I was saying how that sounded a hell of a lot more fun than my upcoming weekend of work. He said “fuck work, come with us.” Haha, something got into me, and I just said “ok, I’m in”. I called my roommate Geoff to see if he wanted to pick up some extra shifts. Geoff said yeah, so I told Todd “ok, so how are we gonna do this?” Todd said, “Yo, we’re leaving in 15 minutes. I’ll come up Highway 101 and see you in 3 hours. Can you just meet us right on the freeway?” 3 hours later I had my roommate Geoff dropping me off at a Ralph’s parking lot and was hopping in the Carry On van for the weekend. Fuck work! haha. That weekend was full of all sorts of funny shit, mostly due to the crew in the van. First of all, Carry On didn’t have a van, so they were taking Jon Westbrook’s van (later Knife Fight vocalist), and Westbrook was coming along too. Secondly, Carry On’s lineup had changed around again. Josh Luce (bass) had gone off to the military and Corey had hurt his back so he couldn’t play shows for quite a long stretch of time. So that weekend the lineup was: Ryan on vocals, Todd on guitar, Graham Clise on bass (later Annihilation Time guitarist and local Ojai townie/skater!), Lucas McFadden on drums (later Go It Alone drummer), and Aram from Champion was going to fill in on guitar for the weekend. For those that know any of those individuals – you couldn’t ask for a funnier mix of personalities to share the same van! hahahaha! Seriously. Graham and Lucas? Goofiest dudes, but in completely different ways. Westbrook – most negative, bitter, sarcastic dude! Todd – at this point in his life, just flying off the handle and being aggressive to anyone and everyone he comes in contact with. And Ryan, just kind of a clever smart ass that’s always chuckling in the background and poking fun at the ridiculousness around him. On top of the band members, throw these dudes in the van too: me and my buddy Jeff Givens – both of us generally just positive smiling idiots that just like to have a good time, go crazy at shows, and you can get us to do anything stupid if you pump us up enough. Plus one more – Scott Magrath, a dude that’s a little older than all of us, and that much more bitter because of it, who loved to egg-on me, Todd, and Givens to do funny/crazy shit. On the way up, Lucas actually wasn’t there because he was still in Vancouver since riding the bus home around Christmas time from Chico, CA. Neither was Aram, because we had to pick him up at the first show in Seattle. The best shit about these type of van rides was that we were all buddies that hung out all the time at shows, and it just added to the legend of the Carry On crew. Sidebar: some un-related, case-in-point photos of me, Givens, and my friends on a typical wild weekend, at shows, whatever…
Me diving off this huge stack of speakers at a Nerve Agents / Good Riddance show at the Grange Hall in San Luis Obispo. Jeff Givens, Jeff Leighton, Marko, and Pat Chapman had driven up for the weekend from Simi Valley, and we were all egging each other on at the show. Somehow they got me (and possibly Givens or Leighton too) to dive superman style off this huge high-rise of 3 speakers stacked on top of each other, that was already on-top of a legitimate 4-5 foot stage. Russ from Good Riddance was not pleased with my antics, haha.
I won’t even try to explain this. A different visit up from the guys in Oxnard/Simi to San Luis Obispo. A 20-year old me with weird hair, an IBC 40 of rootbeer, wearing an X swatch, giving the “shocker”. Pat Beltran (RIP) and Matt Bowles grabbing a boob each. Then from left to right in the back, James Gianello, Jeff Givens (lurking, face mostly hidden), Chris Voegtli, and Brian Kean. No, there was no alcohol involved here, and yes, we were all straightedge. Haha, “fast times at the SLO dorms” was what Givens would always say when he was planning a trip up. Anyway, this gives you a point of reference for the typical mindset we were dealing with in this van at this point in our lives, hahahaha. So, back to the Carry On van ride up to Seattle: we made the snowy drive up over Grants Pass in Oregon, through the middle of the night. I remember Ryan and I laying on the floor in the very back of the van, meanwhile Todd and Scott Magrath were up front playing every single fast, hard, abrasive NYHC record you could think of, turned up to 11 of course. From early Agnostic Front to Sick Of It All to Straight Ahead to Breakdown to burned CDs of the Raw Deal demo and Outburst 7″ – they covered it all. Todd also mixed in some of his current aggro favorites, Death Threat and Right Brigade, just for good measure. I remember at first Ryan and I were feeling it, but at some point we just wanted to scream and jump out the back of the van. I distinctly remember Todd switching from something like Agnostic Front “Victim In Pain” over to Madball “Set It Off” or something, and Ryan just looking at me and going “Is he fucking kidding?” hahaha. It was so fucking loud and so abrasive, and we just wanted to sleep. Meanwhile you could hear TJ up front slamming his fists on the steering wheel to the sweet sounds of NYHC hate, laughing it up with Magrath as we wheeled through the snow, almost crashing the van into a tree at one point as we took an off-ramp and hydro-planed. Westbrook was definitely not happy, since it was his van and all, meanwhile Graham was probably just laughing and making some random joke/comment that didn’t make any sense. Hahaha, it was all around ridiculous. At the rest stop, we switched drivers and I started driving. I picked Givens as my co-pilot, and we did the only thing we knew how to do: chill out to some positive hardcore. So we gave them the same business, but we called upon In My Eyes, Hands Tied, Ten Yard Fight, Fastbreak, Chain Of Strength, Gorilla Biscuits, and even mixed in some Nerve Agents. Also on the snowy drive up in the middle of the night, something hilarious happened when Graham popped his head up from behind the seat after he’d been sleeping, and his face just looked totally fucked up. His “sleepy guy face” seriously looked like one of his eyeballs had slid halfway down his face, making him look like some kind of monster from the swamp or something. There was a huge commotion in the van as everyone just kind of reacted at the same time like “Whoa, what the fuck is wrong with you?!?!” hahahaha. Scott Magrath then delivered the classic line “What happened to you, Quasimodo?”, and that was the beginning of an all-weekend-inside-joke that culminated with Lucas and Aram’s various incarnations of “Posi-Modo” and his “Quas-top” haircut. The “Quas-top” thing always fucking cracked me up, and that nickname stuck for quite a while even after Graham left Carry On. It even lived on throughout the life of his other band, Fields Of Fire. But it should be noted that during the flurry of Quasimodo jokes, Graham fired back with a clever ass nickname for me that stuck for quite a while too – “Sieg Kyle”. Yes, like the Hitler “sieg heil” bullshit. I know, I know, so fucking sketch. For years and years, my jack ass friends would whisper “Sieg Kyle” at shows under their breath. Seriously, so sketch. Anyway, once we finally got to Seattle, we all went to sleep and didn’t get up till noon or 1pm, when the guys had to go to a studio to practice because Aram had never filled-in for Carry On before. The show in Seattle that night was awesome, and it was the beginnings of forging a friendship between the two bands – Carry On and Champion. Givens and I did our usual wild routine during Carry On, and you could tell the folks in Seattle hadn’t quite seen this type of harder straight up hardcore, with all of the hard and angry moshing, haha. They had seen plenty of metal (kickboxing), plenty of emotional stuff (heart clenching), plenty of posi stuff (weiner mosh), but never this kind of straight forward “positive hardcore” with the anger and hard parts. Seattle is just a really isolated place up there in the northwest, but it was awesome to see their eyes light up to Carry On. I knew for sure that Carry On was finally “spreading”.
Here’s a photo taken that weekend at “Brotherhood Park” (obviously it’s not really called that) in Seattle. Sorry for the really poor quality! Back row: Lucas McFadden (definitely rocking huge pants even in 2001, and insisted on wearing them all the way up through about 2004-2005), Graham Clise, Ryan George, Todd Jones, Jeff Givens, Scott Magrath. Front: Jon Westbrook, Kyle Whitlow (Me, sporting ridiculously ugly bright red Saucony Shadows, haha).
After I originally posted this blog entry, Todd emailed me this photo as well. It came via his friend, Shannon. I love the autographs by each of the band members! hahahaha. “Fuck Life” by Todd and “X The Truth X” by Graham. Amazing. That’s Jeff Givens in the bottom center photo with Graham. I love how Graham is doing the exact same “standing hard / X” pose in two completely separate pictures, haha!
Anyway, back to Seattle… That night after the show, I decided to switch with Aram and ride down to California in the Champion van, while Aram rode down with Carry On. With Lucas joining the Carry On van, it was crowded, and I was excited to hang out with my friends from Champion. I had been friends with Chris Williams from Champion for a while, but hanging out in Seattle and the trip back down to California was also the beginning of my friendship with Aram Arslanian, Jim Hesketh, Todd Preboski, and Timm McIntosh. I remember Aram wanting to ride down with Carry On that night because he’d spent some time with Todd that day, and Aram kept talking about what a trip Todd was, how frustrated and angry he was, hahaha. He wanted to get to know him a little better, and see what was up. Overall, I think he was kind of intrigued by Todd, haha. I think that was probably the real beginning of Todd and Aram’s friendship too, which has lasted for over 10 years and culminated with their band together – Betrayed. The next night was at Burnt Ramen – a super small warehouse near the train tracks in a hard part of Richmond, CA. It’s funny, you can trace a polarization of the Bay Area hardcore scene that lasted for years to this very show. The Bay Area has always been either more of a metallic/heavier hardcore scene or a straight up punk scene (revolving around 924 Gilman St.). There has not been many traditional straight edge hardcore bands from here, much less “posi bands”, as the local Bay Area folks started calling them around this time. That night, all the hardcore kids that were more on the heavier side of things came out because they liked Champion. Champion always did a great job of being inclusive and friendly to everyone, and it always created a cool vibe around them. Carry On, well, they were the opposite – mostly due to the feelings they had regarding the way they’d been treated before. Anyway, while Carry On was playing, the mic kept cutting in and out, so Ryan finally spiked the thing on the ground and was visibly pissed off and annoyed with it. This was in stark contrast to the all-inclusive “it’s all good” vibe from the dudes in Champion. The locals at the show definitely didn’t like Ryan’s attitude on stage, or any of our attitudes really. So there was instantly this rift between the dudes that liked the heavier style of hardcore in the Bay Area vs. the “posi kids” (as they called them), but Champion always got a pass. This held out for what felt like forever – for years and years, and dudes like John Eightclip and I always felt like we had to go out of our way and over-compensate with everyone to prove that “hey, we’re OK dudes”, haha. It didn’t help that the Breaker Breaker dudes were there that night and obviously on-board with Carry On, so that helped cement the rift between the “posi kids” of the Bay Area and everyone else. Luckily, most of that division eventually went away, with the help of a lot of people involved with things like Rivalry, Allegiance, The Damage Done, For The Crown, Life Long Tragedy, Ceremony, Lights Out, All Bets Off, Time For Living, and Alcatraz, all working together and being open to what everyone else was doing. That’s eventually what made the Bay Area scene huge for a 2-3 year period of time between about 2002-2005, because for once, everyone was working together. Hardcore shows at Gilman were regularly 300+ people, which was unheard of. Prior to that, you’d never get that many people for a straight up hardcore show. But we were able to get that for locals-only shows! Not to mention, the vibe at Bay Area shows was super cool… Don’t believe me?
Check out the video of The Damage Done’s last show, or ask anyone who toured through the Bay Area during those years. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s stay in 2001 for now.
The pressing info for this 7″ was really very simple: 200 on blue, the rest on black. I can’t remember for sure, but I think they did 2,000 to start.. So it’s either approximately 1800 on black, or 800 on black. I don’t totally remember. The only other variation was the “420 cover” used on 100 of those black vinyl copies. In the photo you’ll also see a couple of test pressings. This stuff is discussed in close-ups below.
I own 2 test pressings of Roll With The Punches, which is kind of amazing since there are only 8 of them. It was originally thought that only 7 test pressings existed. They all came with the “Fuck California” cover, are numbered with a stamp on the label (mine is #7), and have a Teamwork Records sticker on the dust sleeve. This second copy with the weird Ali boxer cover is a weird story. I was lurking around eBay with a search of “test pressing”, and about 50 test pressings came up that all basically had the same description – “Unknown test pressing XX-XXX (catalog number)….”. I guess a pressing plant had gone out of business, and someone had gone through and listed all the old reference copies (test pressings) that the plant had kept around forever. Most people don’t know this, but even if a record label says there are 8 test pressings, there is most likely at least 9, because most pressing plants will always keep one test pressing on file at the plant, referred to as a “reference copy”. But whoever was listing them didn’t know much about these test pressings other than catalog numbers. So anyway, I scanned down the list and one caught my eye – it simply said something like “Unknown punk test pressing T-4″. I obviously couldn’t have known that “T” must stand for Teamwork Records, but I clicked on it and was able to identify the test pressing as a Growing Stronger 7″ comp test pressing due to the other matrix etchings that were listed in the auction description. I scored that test pressing for like $8!! What a score! (See the rest of my Growing Stronger 7″ collection in the Floorpunch blog entry). So despite most Growing Stronger tests coming with a cover and a numbered dust sleeve out of 7, there is definitely an 8th copy, and I used to own it. So, along the same lines, I picked up this Carry On test from that same eBay seller. Now, he obviously knew this one was a Carry On 7″ test, given this weird cover that somebody had made for it (someone at the pressing plant???), but he still listed it as “Teamwork Records T-11 test pressing”! So I was able to pick this one up for cheap too, but not quite as good of a deal. Maybe like $50 or something. When I got it, I of course checked everything out meticulously – the matrix etching, the groove spacing, etc. It’s most definitely a test pressing of the original “Roll With The Punches” 7″.
Here’s a closer look at the secret 8th test pressing. Notice it’s got the catalog number and dates written on the label – that is very typical of a reference copy stored at a pressing plant, to help identify what it is and when it was first pressed. When I was running Rivalry, I had a few similar reference test pressings sent back to me from United when I asked them to send me my metal plates so they wouldn’t be destroyed due to inactivity. They always had the catalog ID and the dates written on the labels. These Carry On test pressings were not pressed at United, but I’m sure most pressing plants have similar policies.
The original “Fuck California” cover that comes with test pressings #1 through #7. Hey – I never even noticed this before, but that date, August 4, 2000… That is my birthday! My 20th birthday, to be exact. Cool.
When Carry On went out to record their LP in Boston during April of 2001, they played a sweet show on 4/20/2001 with American Nightmare, Bane, Panic, and Late Night Revenge. Of course, it had to be titled “420 Fest” and have some honorary weed leaf covers! haha. I need to ask Todd who sat there cutting these 100 fucking covers out – that shit seems like it would have been annoying! I had never thought of that till right now. I’ll tell you what though, they did a pretty good job of it – the weed leaf looks pretty clean, haha. Anyway, they are numbered on the inside of that little back flap. Mine is #028/100.
Here’s a show poster at the Showcase Theatre with Bane, Reach The Sky, Carry On, The Movielife, and The Killing Flame. It says February 10th. It would have had to be either 2000 or 2001, but you can probably bet that it was 2001 because of what I was saying up above… The Showcase Theatre was the venue where the “big shows” happened and Carry On never got any fucking respect until “Roll With The Punches” had been out for a little bit and we all started just going apeshit at shows because we were sick of it. By February 2001, the announcement would have come out that they would be on Bridge 9 Records, so that would have helped them get better shows too.
Carry On / Striking Distance – “Split” 7″Yup, you read that right. Carry On / Striking Distance split 7″. It obviously didn’t happen, but it got closer than you might think. I found this advertisement in my Tear It Up / Fast Times split 7″ the other day when I was taking photos of the Youngblood catalog. Notice in the bottom left hand corner: The Carry On / Striking Distance 7″ split is mentioned, as well as The First Step 7″ on Youngblood. Neither of those releases ever came to fruition, but I remember both of them being talked about, and it’s cool to look back at this ad/flier now. As far as the Carry On songs for the Striking Distance 7″… Funny story: the Carry On songs technically did get recorded at one point, well sort of. There was actually a recording session where they re-recorded the entire “The Line Is Drawn” EP, intending to put these tracks on the “It’s All Our Blood” CD (complete with Ryan’s more “angry” style vocals). During this session, they also recorded a crop of new songs, but they weren’t happy with how the recording turned out. So Todd and Ryan destroyed the reference copy CD so the tracks could never leak out, haha. The plan was to use three of the new songs they recorded for the split 7″ with Striking Distance. Shortly thereafter they got the offer from B9 to record an LP, so the Striking Distance split 7″ was kind of put on the back burner. Some of these new songs were eventually re-recorded and used on the “A Life Less Plagued” LP, and some songs were scrapped altogether. I know that the Striking Distance split 7″ idea was re-visited later after the LP had been recorded, but nothing concrete ever materialized.
Another flier advertising the Carry On / Striking Distance split 7″ which came with my Youngblood pre-order for the Striking Distance LP. Also note the Rancor “demo” 7″, which never materialized either.
At some point in 2001, the incident occurred that produced the “Stabbed In The Face” Gorilla Biscuits rip-off covers, a.k.a. “The Sketch Press”. I’m including it at this stage of the story because it fits better in the chronology of everything, rather than up at the top with the other “Stabbed In The Face” 7″s. There was a show at the Ojai Women’s Club one weekend that Mike Stelle, myself, and Thorns Capricorn were planning to head down to. Thorns lived in San Luis Obispo, CA with all of us for a 1 to 2 year period in 2000-2001. I rolled over to Mike’s apartment that afternoon around 5 p.m. or so, and I walk in to these GB rip-off covers laying all around the apartment “drying”. Haha it looked like a fucking garbage dump in there. I asked Mike and Thorns what this was all about, and they said that Mike had just gotten this cool new color laser printer that they had been playing with. To make a long story short, Mike was dicking around and eventually got the idea to make these limited GB rip-off covers so he could sell the last 100-150 or so of the Carry On “Stabbed In The Face” 7″s that he had lying around the apartment. For whatever reason, I guess because it was fun to mess with this new color laser printer, he was making all sorts of different colors – pink, red, blue, yellow, black, green. By the time I got there, they were almost all done, and were all lying around to dry so the ink didn’t smudge. There were just two really big problems: Mike hadn’t cleared it with the guys in the band that he would be making these covers, and to make matters worse, Mike wasn’t on the greatest of terms with the dudes in Carry On . I don’t remember there being some huge beef blowout or anything, I just think over time a lot of random things had happened and both “sides” kinda knew that the other wasn’t really too pumped on the other anymore, one of those type of situations. I honestly never really thought to ask Mike if he’d cleared it with the dudes, I just kinda walked into this situation and took it at face value. I probably should have asked some questions, haha. So, once the covers finished drying, he finished up numbering them. Like I said, he had just printed out all sorts of different colors, so there happened to only be 4 yellow copies, 5 pink copies, 20 of the green, blue, and red ones, etc. So he numbered them accordingly. He also stamped the little Jitsu Records character stamp that says “Thanks” on the inside of the covers. We packed up the 7″s and we drove the 2 hours down to the show in Ojai. Once we got there, I was milling around talking with friends, honestly probably hanging out with Givens, Leighton, Marko, and Todd, doing whatever. I don’t remember who was playing the show exactly, it might not have even been a Carry On show. All of the sudden, one of my buddies comes up and says that there’s some beef inside because someone just stole the stack of Mike’s 7″s right off the merch table while he was selling them. It took a while for it to come out, but sure enough, it turned out that this dude Chris Jones had stolen a big stack of them right off the table. Chris Jones was this dude from Santa Cruz, CA that we’d all known from going to shows for years. While Lucas was back home in Vancouver, BC, (or maybe Lucas had left the band by then, I don’t remember?) Chris Jones was filling in on drums for Carry On at a couple of shows. I know for sure one of the shows was at the Living Room in Santa Barbara, but I can’t remember if Carry On was playing this Ojai show with Chris on drums. I kind of have a feeling they weren’t playing, and Chris was just there because he was in SoCal staying and practicing with those guys. At any rate, Chris and the Carry On dudes were at the show. The guys were really pissed off that Mike would make these covers without talking to them about it, and even if he had talked to them about it, they would have told him “no way”. To start, a GB rip-off had no relevance to their band at all, and secondly, they didn’t want a limited cover being sold of an old 7″ that none of them played on anyway (other than Ryan). One thing led to another, and at some point Chris said he was just gonna walk up there and steal them right off the table. I think Mike just kind of had them sitting in a stack on the table and would take one-off the top and sell it when a kid walked up. While Mike was turned around getting some more out or something, Chris just walked up and grabbed the entire stack, haha. In hindsight, this whole stupid story is actually kind of hilarious. I know at the time, the Carry On dudes thought it was pretty funny. I told them to just trash the covers and give the vinyl itself back, since technically those were Mike’s copies, but they denied even being involved with it. I myself was kind of pissed, because now I was caught in the middle – my friend Mike was all pissed off, not to mention my ride home, meanwhile my other friends (Chris Jones and the dudes in Carry On) were laughing and denying and refusing to just give the stupid vinyl back (without the covers). Luckily there was no big fight or anything stupid like that, and we went home after the show with no incident, but still no records. It really shouldn’t have been a big deal, it was just 40 or 50 pieces copies on black vinyl, but it was kind of the principle of the whole “stealing” the things that kinda had me feeling bad for Mike. So I spent the rest of the weekend talking with dudes on the phone and online, especially telling Chris that what I thought he did (while kinda funny in hindsight) was a shitty thing to do – stealing at a hardcore show fucking sucks, any way you cut it. I eventually got Todd to admit that Corey still had the stupid things, and that Corey would trash the covers and bring me the vinyl at the next show. Eventually Todd or Corey brought them to me, and I gave them back to Mike. Case closed, GB sketch press put to rest. Obviously, some copies were sold to kids at the show before they were stolen, plus Thorns and myself put some aside at home before we ever left, plus I imagine the dudes in Carry On kept a few. So I mean, most of them got out there anyway, but I do know think that 30-40 of those covers were probably trashed because I did get handed back a bunch of black vinyl with no covers. Also, I’ve seen some covers sold on eBay that are printed on blue paper with black ink, that say something like the “final 25”. I honestly don’t know anything about those. Either they are straight up bootlegs, or Mike said “fuck it” after the whole ordeal and made up these covers years and years later and sold them on eBay. I really have no idea. I do know for sure that he didn’t make those covers anytime around the time period of 2001 when we both still lived in San Luis Obispo (I moved away in 2002, and so did he, to Las Vegas).
I know there were some “bootlegs” of this floating around (bootleg of a bootleg? haha), so if yours doesn’t have the little Jitsu “thanks” stamp on the inside, it’s probably a “fake”. Although, I do know that during the course of all these covers strewn about the apartment, I have at least one copy that doesn’t have a stamp on the inside, so it’s not 100% sure that your copy is “fake” if it doesn’t have the stamp.
The yellow covers were numbered out of 4, well, because that happened to be how many yellow ones that Mike ran off that afternoon. The pink one is numbered out of 5, the green, red, and blue ones are all out of 20, and the black one that I have doesn’t have a number or a stamp inside. It probably somehow just missed the assembly line or I pulled it out and put it in my stash before Mike finished the assembly line, who knows.
In April of 2001, Carry On flew out to Boston to record their LP at God City. If I remember correctly, it was just Ryan, Todd, Corey, and Lucas – I think Graham had quit the band and either Todd and/or Corey recorded the bass on the album. I remember while they were out there, Todd called me on the phone one night after one of their recording sessions, telling me he’d gotten one of those clear vinyl “friend’s press” copies of the American Nightmare 7″ from Wes and he’d sell it to me because he didn’t really collect vinyl. He also asked me if I wanted him to pick me up anything else cause Wes was selling some of his personal stash. He asked me if I wanted a test pressing, so I was able to buy a test pressing of the first American Nightmare 7″ from Wes via Todd for a very reasonable price. I was really thankful that he’d called me to check to see if I wanted anything. Todd has been a really good friend to me over the years, in lots of different ways, and that was an example of something that always made me appreciate his friendship. Anyway, the first time I heard the Carry On LP was one weekend when Voegtli, James, and I decided to go visit Jeff Givens in Simi Valley for the weekend. Givens’ parents had like the hangout pad. Pool, basketball, like 3 refrigerators stocked full of food, and they always let a billion of us come over and hang. It was not uncommon for me, Chris Voegtli, James Gianello, Brian Kean, Jeff Leighton, Marko, Todd Jones, Pat Beltran (RIP), Pat Chapman, and Matt Bowles to be over there at any one time. Being the VP of something at Budweiser had definitely paid off for the family. His dad used to give us all shit because we were all straightedge and he needed our generation to buy beer!! hahaha. So that weekend, Todd came over one evening and brought me those AN records that he’d gotten me on the east coast, and he had a burned rough-mix copy of “A Life Less Plagued” with him. We listened to it together, and obviously it’s hard to pick up on things the first time through with a bunch of friends around, but I distinctly remember four things that we were all psyched on. The first was obviously “the hardest kids still put an X by their fucking name”! The second was the fact that Sweet Pete did guest vox on the re-recorded version of the “Roll With The Punches”. The third was that part: “What happened to the times? Where we’d stay up all night? We’d fucking fight! And we’d fight and we’d fight and we’d fight.” – we all thought that sounded cool. And the fourth was quite simply – “yo, the fucking mosh part on songs #2 and #6 are ridiculous”. Those parts always made me go bonkers, and they still do. Todd really out-did himself on this record with the song writing, and I feel like he established himself as one of the best hardcore song writers around, period. Todd and Corey did an awesome job with the recording of the guitars, they sound really thick and aggressive. And the bass sounds really driving on this record, it isn’t all bouncy and shit. The tone is awesome – it’s sludgy and sounds dope with the speed and the mosh parts. Ryan’s vocal delivery sounded fucking awesome. And I was super proud of my friend Lucas – he had always wanted to record a full length hardcore album, and his drums sounded fucking on-point on this record. It was such a huge step up from everything else they had all done, and it was an appropriate full length with all the ingredients. You had a couple 30 second bangers (#1 and #5: “The View” and “Mirrors And Needles”), those hard ass mosh parts in songs #2 (“Waiting On Forever”), #6 (“Is This All There is?”), #10 (“Off My Chest”), a unique long song with interesting song structure (title track, #7 “A Life Less Plagued”), emotional songs with melody (#3 “Killing A Sound” and #9 “So Much Of You”), songs with catchy lyrics (#4 “Roll With The Punches: Sweet Pete on ‘so X your first show me what’s left inside'”, #8 “X’s Always Win: the hardest kids…” and #11 “Broken Strings: and we’d fight and we’d fight and we’d fight”) and a classic album end-er with a special nod to Jordan Johnson by using a guitar riff that Jordan originally wrote (#12 “Rethinking”). That actually covers all of the songs right there, numbers one through twelve, and they all add something special to the album – there is no filler. The song that impressed me the most was “So Much Of You”, just because Todd had never really let us hear a more emotional sounding song that sounded like that. That was really outside the box of what I would expect him to write, and the fact that he did, and that he did it so well – that was super impressive and it made me realize the talent that he had. It’s no surprise then that he’s gone on to tackle almost every genre of hardcore, and do it better than most: straight up hardcore with Carry On, heavy ass hardcore with Terror, melodic hardcore with Betrayed, and most recently gnarly gloomy speed metal with Nails. I was so stoked on “A Life Less Plagued”, but man, it didn’t seem like this album was ever going to finally come out… The wait between April when they recorded the album and the record release in October seemed like forrrrrever! A few things changed during that time period – namely, their drummer Lucas left the band after recording. It had just gotten really difficult for him to stay in L.A. Being a Canadian, he couldn’t really get a job in the U.S., and he really just couldn’t afford to spend so much time living in California anymore. So he went home for good to Vancouver, BC. They were also still missing a bass player since Graham had quit. There was a very brief period where Jeff Neumann from In My Eyes started playing bass in Carry On. I think he moved out to California shortly after In My Eyes played their final shows in October of 2000. He must have started playing in Carry On sometime in the Spring of 2001, because I know Graham was definintely on that trip to Seattle in February 2001, but Graham did not record with them in April 2001. Anyway, the thing with Jeff Neumann really didn’t last long at all – maybe he moved or something, I don’t remember. There was definitely a period earlier in Carry On where they had played as a 4 piece sometimes, with Corey on bass, but I know Corey hated it. So then Jon Westbrook played a show or two on bass (and also later played guitar on the East Coast Tour in October 2001). Basically, the bass position was always a revolving door in Carry On after Josh Luce left the band. In the end, they ended up recruiting two kids that most of us didn’t really know at the time to play in Carry On – Greg Bacon on bass, and Nick Jett on drums. Everyone spent that summer, anxiously awaiting the release of the LP. This was a big deal for Bridge 9 – everything else on B9 had been 7″ EP’s. American Nightmare was doing their full length on Equal Vision, and the Carry On LP was going to be B9’s first real full length recording (since the Death Threat LP was really a vinyl license from Triple Crown). From day one when Chris Wrenn signed Carry On that night on the first AN west coast trip, he told them that he had planned for Carry On to be the Bridge 9 band, the main focus for increasing the profile of his label. For that point in his label’s life, he went all out on spending for the recording, the advertising, and printing that big poster which was pictured up above. Bottom line, the you could tell the Carry On LP was a big deal to him, to them, and to his label.
That summer there was a show at 924 Gilman St. in Berkeley, CA, and our friend Allison Murdock took this photo. I’ve always loved this photo, because it’s got me stage diving and Jim Hesketh from Champion singing along. You can also see my current roommate of 5 years Aaron Menesez (O.G. hardcore kid from Atascadero, CA) sing along up front (far background, kind of under Ryan’s armpit), as well as my best friend since kindergarten and Rivalry Records co-founder Zach Harlan singing along just under Jim (Zach is kind of hidden behind the blonde headed kid in the foreground). I must say, a photo full of crucial dudes.
Here’s another photo from that same show. Chris Williams from Champion piling on, Duane Harris from Some Still Believe and eventually Allegiance right behind him, me singing along while taking a breather on the side, my (ex-)girlfriend Isa to my right, and John Eightclip’s then-girlfriend-now-wife Gaelyn filming the show. Towards the end of summer, all sorts of rumors starting swirling around Carry On. Particularly regarding Ryan breaking his edge, doing some heavy drugs, etc etc. Their LP was slated to come out in October 2001, and they did a string of shows on the East Coast in October in support of the release. The rumors really started flying around then. It sucks that these personal things were so public, but I guess that’s just what happens in a “small world” type scene, especially if you’ve been outspoken about any particular subject like straightedge. Everyone always wants to have an opinion and talk about juicy gossip, even if they don’t know the people involved, and it’s that much worse in a scene full of 15-20 year old kids. Next up was the double record release show with Carry On and Over My Dead Body at the Ojai Women’s Club. That show was particularly cool for me… First off, all of my friends and their bands were playing that night! Some Still Believe, Breaker Breaker, Diehard Youth, Carry On, and Over My Dead Body. Secondly, my band, The Damage Done, was going to hop up and play our first hardcore show that night! Me and all my best friends – Nick Koets, James Gianello, Chris Voegtli, and Dave Copp – had started our band in San Luis Obispo that summer, and Jeremy Johnson had recorded our demo for us the month earlier. I was talking with Todd online one day and we got to talking about the demo, and I asked him if we could hop up on either the SSB or Breaker Breaker set and play 3 or 4 songs. I’ll never forget what he said – “Kyle, you know I wouldn’t do this for anyone else, right?” And trust me, he pretty much meant exactly that, haha. Todd was an abrasive dude back then man, and most people didn’t get in that inner circle – but there was this crew of us that were tight. Todd is a very loyal dude to those that stick with him and return the favor, and this was just another example. It was really special to me that he was letting us do this, because Todd ran a super tight ship when it came to booking shows with keeping them short and sweet. This was awesome for me and my band mates, to feel like we were a small part of what all of our other friends were doing in California with SSB, Breaker Breaker, Diehard Youth, Carry On, and OMDB. And it was obviously a huge hook-up to play a first show in front of that many people at a high-profile show. Todd had made us keep it a secret, so it was not announced and we didn’t tell anyone other than SSB and Breaker Breaker what we were doing (because we had to borrow their stuff). We hopped up and played a couple of songs, opening with an Insted cover – “Feel Their Pain”, my favorite vegetarian song. John Eightclip actually filmed our little set, and he recently uploaded a bunch of his old hardcore videos to YouTube!
You can see a young Dennis McDonald (shaggy hair back then) being so pumped on the cover and going apeshit, haha. Dennis is my buddy, another O.G. Central Coast kid, plus he has a Carry On panther tattoo on his arm – fuck yeah. You can see young versions of a bunch of my other friends running around in that video too – Skones (Some Still Believe, Right On), Walter Yetman, Aaron Menesez, Zack Nelson (In Control), Ryan Fredette (In Control), Jeff Givens, Zach Harlan, Chris Williams (Champion), Anthony Torres, Eli Horner (Killing The Dream), etc. Obviously looking back at this video 10 years later is kind of embarrassing – we were just a shitty little hardcore band! But this was the first time we’d ever done this, and I still think this was a pretty fucking cool first show!! I rambled on and spoke so fast you can’t even make out what I’m saying in between songs, but at 6:58 I say something to the effect of “If you don’t have any money for a demo, just come talk to me, I’ll just give you one. We just wanna give you guys another band in California to mosh to.” That pretty much summed it up. There weren’t a lot of bands doing this shit in California back then, and we just wanted to contribute. The Damage Done went on to release three 7″s, and we were never a great band, but our friends were always super supportive, and I really appreciated that. That night was awesome, and the Ojai Women’s Club went off when Carry On played. It has an old elevated wood floor, and I remember stepping back for a second during “Off My Chest” and watching everyone stomping, it looked like that fucking floor was going to cave in. Seriously, the entire building felt like it was shaking.
Check out the record release show footage on YouTube, courtesy of John Eightclip. At 12:25 you can hear the loud ass “Off My Chest” sing-along and the stomp that ensues, haha. Also, at 4:00 in that video, you see me run across and do this cannon ball stage dive… I remember that! I jumped way out there and totally took out this poor little kid that was just chillin on the side, it sucked, haha! To make matters worse, it looks like I didn’t even help him up or anything, because 10 seconds later at 4:10 you see me hop right back up from where I landed on him and run across and do it again, this time on the other side. Haha, what a dick! That song they were playing was “Killing A Sound” (song #3 on the LP). It had been released on the “Fighting Music” compilation that summer, so it was really the only new song that I knew all that well yet, but I fucking loved it. The show was awesome, and it was fucking sweet to finally hold the LP in our hands. The only bummer about this show, which is common to all record release shows, is that of course the band wants to showcase all of their new material, but no one in the crowd really knows it yet. This album hadn’t leaked or anything, so you can see that a lot of songs look really “tame” because no one knows the stuff yet. But man, I’ll tell you what, if you watch videos of the final Carry On shows in 2005, you’ll see what things could have been like once people learned those songs. Unfortunately, this record release show was definitely the beginning of the end for Carry On. The next month in November 2001, The Damage Done traveled up to Seattle with Carry On for a weekend show. Up there it was obvious that Ryan was really disconnected from everyone else. He had his girlfriend there in the van with him, and things were just different. There are points in life where you get this feeling like it’s an “end of an era” – that night was definitely one of those points. One era was ending, and another was starting – for me personally in my own band, and a new era for California hardcore as a whole with a new crop of bands. I was sick as a dog, and I barely remember anything else about that night – I was just happy to get through our set. We stayed in Seattle at Chrissie Good’s house, and Carry On continued back to California to play this cool show at 924 Gilman St. with Limp Wrist, of all bands! haha. I remember Chris Voegtli and Zach Harlan drove back to California with Brian Horwitz that night so they could all go to the Gilman show. Crazy-B had driven all the way to Seattle on his cross-country trip back home from Boston where he had been playing juniors hockey / going to school out there! He decided to detour and come to Seattle just for this one show, so Chris and Zach just drove back down with him. Fucking crazy ass! B was/is a maniac, and he is still one of my best friends to this day. Anyway, those guys made it to the Limp Wrist / Carry On Gilman show, and Zach Harlan still talks about how cool it was, because of the mix of crowds there. It went off well, and everyone had a great time. I’m bummed I missed it, but I was just too sick and kinda chilled out for the day in Seattle and came back Sunday. I found some videos of this show on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2.
Even though people had started to come around, even at this point in 2001 a month after their LP was out, you still really only see our crew of people – Chris Voegtli, Brian Horwitz, Jeff Leighton, and Ryan Marks moshing and singing along. It was just really hard to get kids in California to pay attention to what we were all doing. Anyway, this was about it for Carry On. If I remember right, Carry On only played one more show after that. It was in Hollywood, I believe. Things came to a head that night, and just like that, the band was over. I heard from Jeff Givens the next day that Carry On was done, and I was so fucking bummed. But I mean, I knew it was coming. Given the current state of things, it was just time to move on.
Here is my collection of “A Life Less Plagued”. There is a test pressing out of 8, orange vinyl out of 150, clear vinyl out of 400, and black vinyl out of 1440. I actually own two orange copies. One is a lighter orange (middle), and one is a very dark orange, almost red (right). Both have white swirls in them. I also have an un-opened sealed clear vinyl copy that has original artwork by Linas Garsys, out of 7 copies.
There are only 8 test pressings of “A Life Less Plagued”. Mine is personalized, simply “To Kyle, Love Todd”. Todd gave me this as a gift shortly after the band broke-up. I remember he brought it to me at a show at Pat’s Warehouse in Ventura, CA sometime in 2002. He also gave me a Hope Conspiracy File:03 7″ with the two songs from the Jesus Eater split pressed on the b-side, out of 100 copies (all other versions of that Hope Con 7″ are 1-sided). He had gotten it while he was out east at the B9 offices. Todd always looked out for me like this, so I’ll always look out for him.
Close-up of Linas’s original drawing, out of 7 copies. Each is different. He did one for each band member on that East Coast Tour in October 2001. Mine was Jon Westbrook’s copy. I got my copy in 2006 from Westbrook in a trade for a couple Rev singles.
Here’s a close-up showing the differences in my orange copies. They both have the white swirl, but the orange one on the left is definitely lighter and more transparent. The one on the right is so dark and opaque that it’s almost red.
When the Carry On LP was repressed in 2011 as a 10-year anniversary pressing, Todd arranged for Bridge 9 to send me a test pressing along with a copy of each version. So here they are, thanks guys! Obviously new test pressings had to be made after 10 years of inactivity, so you’ll see a new test pressing here – mine is #20/20. Staying true to the original layout and first pressing colors, the 10-year anniversary pressing is transparent gold vinyl and white vinyl. Nice.
One of the coolest things about this 10 year anniversary pressing is the new gatefold layout!! I never knew this (or at least I don’t remember), but apparently Todd and Ryan really loved the Bold “Speak Out” LP and always wanted a gatefold layout. But at the last minute, B9 had to change the plans because they really just couldn’t afford a gatefold layout back in those days. B9 was really focusing a lot of cash on promoting their first full length release, and it just didn’t make sense to spend the money on the LP gatefold layout at that time. But this time around, the release got the original treatment, and it looks sweet!
Life After Carry On….It seemed like immediately after Carry On broke up, all the guys started bands immediately. Corey and Nick Jett started a band with Nick singing – Piece By Piece. Corey and Greg started a band with Corey singing – Internal Affairs. Westbrook started a band with him singing – Knife Fight. Greg Bacon eventually started Impact (Stand & Fight) with Wrench from Ten Yard Fight. Scott Magrath started Takeover Records and released the Piece By Piece and Terror 7″s. Scott also kept himself busy doing artwork/layouts for all sorts of bands. I kept myself busy with The Damage Done from 2001-2003. When I graduated college in 2002, I left the Central Coast, and moved to the Bay Area, where I eventually started a label – Rivalry Records with Zach Harlan in 2003.
Here is a poster from Scott Magrath’s label, Old Guard Records. When he released the Piece By Piece and Terror 7″s, his label was originally called Takeover Records. But this pop punk band that was getting radio play at the time, Yellowcard, sent him a Cease And Desist letter because supposedly they had their own start-up label called Takeover. Wack! This poster features Scott’s dog, Mugger, and urges for animal adoption. As a fellow owner of a rescued pitbull for the last 8 years, I love this poster! Mugger’s World!
Todd did a small project called “Vengeance!”, with him singing, Jon Westbrook and Kevin Jaros on guitar, Greg Bacon on bass, and one of the Carry On drummers, Nat on drums. The guys got together at Nick Jett’s home studio and recorded a couple of songs, but they never ended up doing anything with that band. Scott Magrath did make a logo, and there were even Vengeance t-shirts made (see above), but no shows or anything.
I know that Todd was still really angry about how everything went down with Carry On. My guess is that most of all, he was so fucking pissed that after all of that work, Carry On had finally made it to where he wanted them to be, where kids were coming out to their shows and going crazy and Carry On was influencing other bands to play straight up fast hardcore. They had written this classic fucking record, and now it was going to fucking waste by the band breaking up within a two months of its release. To top it off, I know Todd felt embarrassed, and he felt indebted to Chris Wrenn. Chris and B9 had made a lot of promises to Carry On, and likewise, Carry On had made the same promises to B9 to push this record to the limit. None of that was possible anymore… I think Todd did the only thing he knew how to do: channel all of that anger and intensity into new songs, and seek out the most fucking hardcore dude he could count on to live and breathe hardcore – that guy was Scott Vogel. It didn’t take long, and Terror was born. I’m pretty sure that The Damage Done played Terror’s first show. To top it off, we played last that night! Holy shit was that intimidating and inappropriate – haha, Terror should have been headlining their own first show. But I mean, they couldn’t really do that. That show was at Pat’s Warehouse in Ventura, CA with Piece By Piece, Terror, Hit The Deck, Diehard Youth, and The Damage Done. I think Terror played 2nd. They played in this tiny ass warehouse space, with dual full stacks on either side, with Scott Vogel hoods-up in a 100 Demons hoodie that had this gnarly ram’s head screen printed on the back of the actual hood, so you could only see it when the hood was up. The whole scene was just super impressive, both musically and visually, and it was fast, heavy, intense, and fucking loud. The rest is history, but man, that shit was a cool way to start a band.
Here’s a photo that Todd asked Chrissie Good to take of us at a show one night… I think it was probably a Terror show, sometime in the 2002-2004 range, but I could be wrong. It may also be at the last Champion show in Seattle in 2006? Todd and I had both flown up there for that. People would always make jokes when me, Todd, and Chris Wrenn would be standing together at the same time, saying we looked like brothers or cousins or something. All 3 of us have the same general height, build, and hair styles usually. Haha, it’s kinda true.
In March of 2003, our friend Jeremy Johnson passed away after a fight with leukemia. As mentioned above, Jeremy’s brother Jordan played in Carry On and passed away about 3 years earlier. I’m including this here because this blog post has kind of turned into a memoire of my time on the Central Coast of California from 1998 to 2002, and how my life was changed because of the friends I made during that time. Jeremy had been suddenly diagnosed about a year earlier when he went to the hospital because he kept feeling really sick/tired. Dave Copp and I would always go to the hospital in San Luis Obispo to visit him and his girlfriend, Megan. We would bring in pizza, listen to music, and play video games. We hated seeing him in there, but we wanted to try to make it as fun as possible for him in there whenever we could. After a few months, I graduated college in 2002 and moved up to the Bay Area, but I would drive back down to San Luis Obispo for band practice about once a month. Eventually Jeremy started spending time down in L.A. at City Of Hope hospital, and I know Dave would still go visit him there when Dave was back at his parents house in El Segundo, CA for the weekends. In between Jeremy’s rounds of chemo, he would get out of the hospital for a while, and he always wanted to hang out and do as much with my band as he could. Jeremy had recorded The Damage Done demo for us in 2001 in a little home studio that he had built, and he was always super supportive of everything we were doing. We weren’t a very good band, but we were learning as we went, and he was always trying to help us in any way he could. He went down to San Diego with us when we recorded our Never Wash Away EP at Double Time Studios, and he would travel south with us when we’d play little shows in Ventura or at The Smell in L.A.
In March of 2003, The Damage Done went on a weekend trip to Seattle with Allegiance. We all had such a fun time together, it was one of those weekends you really remember. The photo above is from that weekend – James Gianello and I doing a photo at “Brotherhood Park” in Seattle. The night we got home, I listened to my answering machine (I didn’t have a cell phone, even in 2003), and there was a message from Mike Stelle’s (ex-)wife Sara that just said “Hey Kyle, it’s Sara, can you give me a call when you guys get home?” I remember a shiver running down my spine, and I knew exactly what was up… I could hear the tears in the shaking of her voice. I took the phone in the bedroom by myself, and I just broke down and couldn’t even dial the fucking numbers on the phone. I already knew what she was about to tell me when I called her. Once I was able to dial, she explained to me that Jeremy had passed away while we were already in Seattle. She explained that she didn’t call earlier because she knew we would have canceled the shows and tried to come back, but we’d never have been able to make it back in time. So she wanted to wait to talk to us when we got back. She did tell me that Corey Williams was able to make it out to the hospital in time, because he lived in the L.A. area. Corey was able to do a marriage ceremony for Megan and Jeremy at bed-side before he passed. Whenever I talk about that marriage thing, I always just break down and cry… It’s like a bitter-sweet feeling. I’m just really glad Corey was able to get there in time to do that. Like I said at the very beginning, Corey is a good fucking dude, and you can always count on him. After I hung up the phone with Sara, I remember just sitting in my bedroom crying, feeling fucking empty. I finally got up and went out into the living room to tell the other guys. I don’t even remember how I said it, but I do remember their faces looking like they’d seen a ghost the second I walked around the corner. There had been a lot of hope that Jeremy would beat it, but a final blood marrow transplant didn’t take, and it was ultimately unsuccessful. It was fucking tragic that the Johnson family lost both of their sons so young, to completely different things, leaving their younger sister Kate as an only child. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that this happened to one family. But all of this made a really lasting impression on me, and it changed my outlook on a lot of things in life. In the months after that, our band lost a lot of steam. Part of it was the long drives back and forth for me between the Bay Area and San Luis Obispo, and part of it was just the emotion of dealing with Jeremy’s death and the feeling that another time and era had passed. He was part of this band for me, and it was just time to call it quits. We had been writing for a full length, and Dave had about 7 songs queued up. I thought they were good fucking songs too! Only 1 or 2 them had lyrics, and only 5 of them had been practiced with drums and everything. We decided that we would play one last show in October 2003, but we wanted to record these songs, just to have them for ourselves. I finished up the lyrics for the other 3 songs, with Jeremy heavy on my mind, and we were ready to go. We just did a simple in-home recording with Dave’s friend Brett in El Segundo, CA. Eventually we realized that these were far and away the 5 best songs we’d ever done, and it was ironic that we’d done this for pennies in our friend’s bedroom. We never planned to release these songs at all. But I had recently started a small record label, Rivalry Records, with my best friend Zach Harlan, and we decided to go ahead and release the 5 song “City of Hope” EP on Rivalry. The two songs below are obviously about Jeremy Johnson. I included the other 3 songs from the EP too. I’ve never been much of a creative or artistic person, I’m more of a “numbers guy”, so these songs are without a doubt some of the things I’m most proud of that I’ve ever created. The Damage Done was never a great band, but I fucking love this EP and I hold it super close to me to this day. I feel like in a weird way, Jeremy was still with us when we were working on this EP, pushing us to be the best we could be.
Here’s footage from the last show we ever played on October 4th, 2003. We asked all of our closest friend’s bands to play the show: Champion, For The Crown, Allegiance, and Lights Out. We had finally kind of learned how to do this “band thing”, and this performance is quite a bit better than the video of our first show when we didn’t know what we were doing, haha. You’ll see lots of my friend’s familiar faces singing along that would later go on to do a lot of cool things in hardcore. Little Matt Wilson from Set Your Goals has a big sing along in the first song, Eli Horner from Killing The Dream on the 3rd song, Zach Harlan (Rivalry Records) all up in the mix, Connor Spencer, Andrew Dilburger, Kevin Williams from Lights Out up front bobbin’ around, Ross Ferrar from Ceremony crawling all over people, John Eightclip from Allegiance and Brian Horwitz (Crazy-B) mashing it up, Matt McCall and Aaron Menesez from Right On singing along, Aaron’s nephew Jakob Menesez (RIP) up front too. I’d like to think that Carry On and all the bands of that era, The Damage Done included, were able to make an impression on dudes like this, and push them to try to make hardcore whatever they wanted it to be. If California wasn’t going to listen, just keep pushing forward until they can’t ignore you anymore. Look at the 300-400 people in this room? All there for straight up local California hardcore. FUCK YEAH, we did it. Watching this video in hindsight, it just felt like “mission accomplished”. All that was left to do now was start a record label, Rivalry Records, to help all this great shit on the West Coast get some (inter)national attention. This is what my friends and I in Carry On mean when we say “It’s all our effort, it’s all our blood, these feelings will never fade.”
The Damage Done – “City Of Hope” mp3: “It’s taken one away from us, I’ll die before it’s two. This isn’t fucking over with, this isn’t fucking through. They’re telling you there’s nothing left they can do. This can’t be real, no fucking way. This can’t be true. I’ve never seen a will to live as seen in you. We’ll beat this thing, don’t give up hope. Fight this through. Fight this through.”
The Damage Done – “Love. Life. Laughter.” mp3: “Laughter. Lend your ear. This world has enough pain and fear. While I was screaming, ‘It’s unfair’, you were laughing, even as you were gasping for air. Your time here was so fucking short. So how did you make the most profound impact on those you touched? You left your mark on me. You changed me every way. It’s a travesty, that it takes a tragedy. It’s a travesty, that it takes a tragedy…. Love. Life. Laughter. is what you would always say. Love. Life. Laughter. You’re with me every day. You’re with me every day….”
This is a painting of a tattoo that Jeremy had on his forearm, thus the song title above “Love. Life. Laughter.” A photo of this tattoo was put on the back of the pamphlet at Jeremy’s funeral ceremony. After Jeremy passed away, my (ex-)girlfriend Isa could see how much it had affected me. For my birthday that year in 2003, she secretly took my funeral pamphlet out of my files and had a woman she worked with who did paintings in her spare time paint this for me. I love Isa for doing that for me, and this is one of my favorite possessions. It hangs right next to my front door in my home, so I see it every time I walk out the door. A constant reminder to keep my head up and make the most of my life around me. This is the speech I gave at Jeremy’s Memorial Service in 2003. Megan asked both Corey and I both to speak that day. Corey went first… Man, Corey is a tough ass dude, so watching Corey trying to get through his was so hard on me – he could barely speak he was so choked up, and I’d never seen him like that before. This was my contribution:
“Jeremy’s outlook on life is and always will be an inspiration to me. For those of you that didn’t have the chance to visit Jeremy while he was in the hospital, you’d never believe the attitude that he had, laying on that hospital bed with tubes hanging out of him everywhere, telling us not to worry about him, that he would be just fine.
He believed in himself, his family, and his friends so much, that he flat-out told me that collectively, we were all stronger than this disease he was fighting, that he could beat this thing with enough support from everyone. …And I never doubted him for a second. That’s just the way Jeremy was – he could take the bleakest situation, put a positive spin on it, and change the way you looked at things. He could make a believer out of anyone.
I’ve never seen a will to live like this kid had… People talk about “seizing the day”, well Jeremy didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. Whenever I was complaining or upset about something, he was always the one to say “Kyle, take a step back and look at this situation, does any of this really matter, are you even going to remember this five years from now? Probably not, so quit worrying about it and let’s go grab some dinner.” He was right. I don’t remember any of those little things that I was stressed out about… But I do remember nearly every single night that I spent hanging out with Jeremy, whether it was going to shows or just hanging out at Farmer’s.
That is what I’ll remember the most about Jeremy. He made the best of every moment that he had, right up till the very end. And while most people would have folded when dealt the hand that Jeremy Johnson was dealt, he didn’t give an inch. Instead, he lived every day like it was his last, and he did it with a smile on his face.
Some may say that two weeks ago, Jeremy lost the fight with leukemia. Well the leukemia may have won the battle, but Jeremy Johnson won the war. His spirit lives on in my heart, and in my head. Jeremy was too special of a person to be kept down and out. He touched every person in this room, and a little piece of him lives on within all of us.
Most people say that one person can’t change the world, but I’ve always disagreed with that. The way I see it, every single person changes the world every single day, simply by going about their every day lives. When all is said and done, it’s up to each individual to decide whether they will change the world for the better or for the worse.
Jeremy made this world a better place each and every day, and he continues to do so. He is one of the best human beings I’ve ever known, and he’s made me a 100% better person, simply because he was part of my life. And I can guarantee that if you asked anyone in this room, they would say the exact same thing. He made an impact on hundreds of lives and those that he’s touched will continue to live on, affecting the world more positively than they would have if they never knew Jeremy Johnson. I challenge anyone to think about that, then take a look around this room, and tell me that Jeremy didn’t change the world.
I refuse to allow the memory of Jeremy Johnson to become past tense or fade away. Jeremy, I don’t know if you can hear me, but you know that I always say what I mean, and mean what I say. This is no exception. I hear you everyday when you tell me to keep my chin up, when you tell me that things aren’t so bad; and I hear you when you tell me not to sweat the small stuff, when you to tell me that I just gotta roll with the punches. I won’t ever stop listening, your voice won’t ever fade away. You’re an inspiration, in life, and in death. You’re always with me. Rest in peace, buddy.”
James Gianello, Dave Copp, and Jeremy Johnson outside Dave Copp’s parents house on one of The Damage Done’s little trips down to the L.A. area. There had just been a big pellet gun war waged in the front yard (instigated by none other than Mark Kelley, of course) and everyone was recovering, hahaha.
This photo was screen printed on the protective cardboard mailers that were sent out with the Youngblood / React pre-orders for the re-issue of “It’s All Our Blood” on vinyl. This photo was taken after their set at the final Carry On shows…. Eventually time healed some things, and in 2005, the guys were able to get together and play some proper final shows. They played two back-to-back nights at the Showcase Theatre, with a bunch of people who had been involved in what they had been doing back in 2000-2001 – specifically, Champion, Betrayed, Allegiance and Right On (which featured members of Some Still Believe), Blue Monday, No Turning Back (they were here from Europe around this time), and More To Pride (multiple generations of Lynwood hardcore kids had supported Carry On). Their line-up for those shows was Ryan, Corey, Todd, Greg, and Todd. I’m so glad that they did these shows. It was really good to see Ryan again, and I was happy to be able to see him have a good time without having anyone doing any of the shit-talking that had gone down so publicly years earlier. My friends and I all had a fucking blast, and the vibe of the show was so fucking cool. It felt good to be back in the time and place again, even just for one or two nights. Here are some videos on YouTube from the last shows: Off My Chest, X’s Always Win, Rethinking.
Looking at these videos, you can imagine what things could have been like if Carry On had been able to continue playing shows well into 2002 after this LP came out and give kids some time to learn the words a little bit, tell their friends, etc. I remember looking up while Carry On was playing a cover of “Look Back and Laugh” by Minor Threat, and seeing tears streaming down Todd’s face. Say what you will, call us all nostalgic pussies, but that said it all for me. I’d never seen Todd Jones cry before, and I probably won’t ever see it again… There was just something about this band and the bonds that our little crew made during that time that will never be replaced.
Minor Threat “Look Back And Laugh”: “I want to tell you a little story, cause it makes me warm inside. It’s about some friends growing up, and all the things they tried. I’m not talking about staple shit. They went for something more. I guess it was too much dreaming. Too much to hope for. One day something funny happened. But it scared the shit out of me. Their heads went in different directions. And their friendship ceased to be. I’m telling you I want it to work. I don’t like being hurt. Something’s not right inside, and I can’t always put it aside. What can we do, what can we do? Try. I guess I make too much shit. Someday we’ll look back and laugh. Mr. Present, go away. Come back and fuck with us some other day. Mr. Feelings, run and hide. You have no right to what you feel inside. Motherfuckers, quick to kiss, talk your shit, but don’t fuck with this. All I want to know is, am I holding on? Am I moving on? What can we do, what can we do? Try… Try… Try… Try.”
Youngblood and React Records co-released this record. They did a great job taking the original CD layout and preserving it in this awesome 36×12″ tri-fold insert. The original CD featured “The Line Is Drawn” 7″ and the “Roll With The Punches” 7″ plus comp songs. There were 250 on red vinyl sold through React, 250 on white vinyl through Youngblood, and black vinyl out of 1,000. Also shown is a test pressing.
Todd mailed me this test pressing, and that cool printed cardboard mailer was included with it. There was also a bunch of old 7″ labels from “The Line Is Drawn” 7″ that Youngblood had left over included in the package.
The React essay for the Carry On release was titled “Responsibility”. Todd and Aram actually asked me to write it, but I declined because I was feeling really burned out after running Rivalry for 6 years and told them I just didn’t want to be putting myself out there anymore for kids to rip apart. Spence Gooch did a much better job with it than I could have anyway. Spence booked a ton of great shows at the Che Cafe in San Diego, including shows for Carry On, Champion, and my own band. He was a big help to all of our bands and always gave us a place to play in SD when we needed it.
My Carry On collection:
- Carry On – Stabbed In The Face (TEST PRESS, #2/8)
- Carry On – Stabbed In The Face (BLUE, BLUE photocopied record release cover, #1/50)
- Carry On – Stabbed In The Face (BLACK, Orange Cover – Team Carry On Youth Crew, #11/25)
- Carry On – Stabbed In The Face (BLACK, various GB rip-off covers – if yours is real, it will have a Japanese character stamped inside sleeve with “thanks”. RED #4/20, GREEN #1/20, BLACK, PINK #4/5, BLUE #2/20, BLUE #20/20, YELLOW #2/4)
- Carry On – Stabbed In The Face (WHITE, #010/106)
- Carry On – Stabbed In The Face (BLUE, #108/171)
- Carry On – Stabbed In The Face (BLACK, out of 700)
- Carry On – The Line Is Drawn (TEST PRESS, X Praying hands cover, out of 24)
- Carry On – The Line Is Drawn (TEST PRESS, X Praying hands cover, out of 24) – I have 2 copies
- Carry On – The Line Is Drawn (GOLD, ORANGE letters, 1st press, out of 260)
- Carry On – The Line Is Drawn (BLACK, YELLOW letters, 1st press, #34/100 stamp on inside cover)
- Carry On – The Line Is Drawn (BLACK, YELLOW letters, 1st press, out of 638)
- Carry On – The Line Is Drawn (RED, RED letters, 2nd press, out of 500)
- Carry On – Roll With The Punches (TEST PRESS #7/7, Fuck California! cover — YES, FINALLY!!!)
- Carry On – Roll With The Punches (TEST PRESS un-numbered 8th copy w/o Fuck California cover. Pressing plant went out of business and sold this reference copy. It has been verified to be authentic based on matrix etchings, hand-writing, and label color. Now there are 8 known to be in existence, this is the only one w/o a Fuck California cover.)
- Carry On – Roll With The Punches (BLUE, out of 200)
- Carry On – Roll With The Punches (BLACK, 420 cover, #028/100)
- Carry On – Roll With The Punches (BLACK)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (TEST PRESS, out of 8. “To Kyle. Love, Todd” on label. Don’t even bother, this is one of my favorite records I own and is priceless to me…)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (ORANGE, very dark orange/almost red with white swirls, out of 150)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (ORANGE, lighter orange with white swirls, out of 150)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (CLEAR, with hand-drawn LINAS art from Fall 2001 Tour, 1 OF ONLY 7 THAT EXIST)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (CLEAR, out of 400)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (BLACK, out of 1400)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (TEST PRESS, 2011 10-year Anniversary pressing, #20/20)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (GOLD, 2011 10-year Anniversary pressing)
- Carry On – A Life Less Plagued (WHITE, 2011 10-year Anniversary pressing)
- Carry On – It’s All Our Blood (TEST PRESS)
- Carry On – It’s All Our Blood (WHITE, out of 250)
- Carry On – It’s All Our Blood (RED, out of 250)
- Carry On – It’s All Our Blood (BLACK, out of 1000)
- V/A – Memories Of Tomorrow, Youngblood Records (TEST PRESS #18/24, with broken vinyl glued to cover and RED insert booklet labeled “test press”)
- V/A – Memories Of Tomorrow, Youngblood records (CLEAR, “band only press” w/spray painted cover, out of 150)
- V/A – Memories Of Tomorrow, Youngblood records (CLEAR, regular cover, out of 200)
- V/A – Memories Of Tomorrow, Youngblood records (BLACK, out of 800)