Ugh, in case it was not clear that I was (and therefore probably still am) a terrible archivist, take as an example these two great photos of Saetia:
Saetia, clearly in the basement at ABC-NO-RIO, circa 1998
Saetia, maybe NYU?, circa 1998
I definitely did not take these. They were given to me when we were working on the Saetia full length released on Mountain. Apparently I never wrote down who took these pictures on the images themselves; I need to pull out one of my Saetia LP’s to see if there’s a credit in there.
The year? Definitely 1997 or 1998. Discogs tells me that I put out the Saetia LP in the summer of 1998, so these images were from just before then.
The picture will Billy screaming in the foreground is clearly the ABC-NO-RIO basement, a nice image capturing the conditions down there (big P.A., not much space).
The other one of Jamie, Greg, and Adam (and I believe the late first bass player Alex) I am guessing is at NYU, but that’s just a weak guess. Is that a young Mark McCoy in the background?
So much to say about Saetia, most of which I will post later. An amazing band that I was very lucky to work with.
I have been going through a bit of a screamo thing lately. I have relatively diverse musical tastes and what I am listening to at any given moment probably reflects some inner state that I can’t fully articulate. These have been screamo times.
Who the hell knows what “screamo” means: it’s just another one of those semi-useful genre terms. But for me what really typifies a good screamo band is a very basic combination:
- Screamed vocals that are emotionally evocative and have that feel of someone who’s not just pissed off; and
- Music that’s heavy when it needs to be but also creates emotional dynamic, often through a certain level of melodic.
I feel really lucky to have put out two of my favorite screamo albums: the self-titled debut records from both Closure and Saetia. I don’t really think that any of us had any idea of what “genre creation” we were involved with when these two records came out: there was just a desire to combine the screamed vocals of our favorite hardcorepunk bands with music that wasn’t so much of a hit-you-over-the-head sound. And maybe I need to check that: this was music that was written to hit you over the head, but to make it through your hard head and into your heart. I see the release of these two records as a big part of my rebellion against the tough-guy, very man-gendered nature of DIY music of that time and place.
Very few people know Closure, but somehow Saetia has become this beloved screamo band, with versions of their original Mountain LP going for hundreds of dollars on eBay and Discogs. I think that both bands deserve recognition for their contribution to the genre, but you know how history goes: it’s always spotty.
A few weeks ago I was browsing Bandcamp, which has been a bit of a revolution for me in discovering new music (or at least music that’s new to me in my semi-isolated current state). One of my favorite features of Bandcamp is that you can check out what other people have in their collections: I have gotten a lot of amazing “tips” from looking at what other folks have supported. You can also follow other users, which is a neat feature. I have only three followers, two of which are Ben Kates from Countdown to Putsch and The Mountain Collective for Independent Artists and Adam Goren of Atom & His Package fame. My other follower is Divy, and I have to thank the brother for introducing me to the amazing screamo band Frameworks.
Damn, Frameworks is a good band. I started off with their 2013 EP “Small Victories”, which is still my favorite release. But they have released so much music, and all of it is really good. Check them out on Bandcamp, or peep some of these videos:
What I love about Frameworks is how they exemplify what screamo has become. There are a lot of sounds in Frameworks — particularly the pedal-infused space guitar — that weren’t a part of those early screamo bands. But the heart and soul of the best early screamo bands is channeled by Frameworks. I hope that they keep it together for long enough for me to get to check them out live.
One of my favorite screamo bands of all time is Tokyo, Japan’s Envy. The band has been around for a long time (1992!) and were forerunners of epic, emotional post-hardcore. I place them alongside Saetia in terms of influence: whereas a lot of the guitar and vocal sounds were innovated by Saetia, Envy really mastered the rollercoaster-ride composition that’s so important to this genre.
I was super-excited to discover this incredible full set video of Envy performing in Hong Kong back in 2015:
It’s kind of ridiculous the kind of documentation that now exists for live shows, and this set is meticulously captured.