96: North Jersey Hardcore Unleashed

96_1Demonstrating a sense of pride and determination that has made the East Coast hardcore scene legendary all over the globe, 96 is destined to ignite frenzied mosh pits wherever they play.  Their debut album for Hotfoot Records is entitled Caught In The Grips, a collection of hard hitting anthems that are well worth seeking out.  They’ve opened for the very best – Sick of It All, Suicidal Tendencies and Cro-Mags – and will surely find their own vibrant place in the genre if their dynamic CD is any indication of greater glories ahead.  Here is a recent interview we conducted with two of the 96 crew members to discuss the locla music scene, their band’s compelling lyrics, stripper poles, and other hardcore topics.  Read on as we present to you 96: North Jersey Hardcore unleashed…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in 96, and how long the band has been together.
Corey: My names Corey James Donohue and I’m the vocalist for 96. The band has been together since summer of 2010.

Pat: I’m Pat DeFrancisci and I play guitar for 96.

Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
Corey: We are based out of Northern New Jersey in the Essex County Area. The music scene in this area, especially the hardcore scene, seemed to explode in the late 90s and early 2000s and then seemed to die out over the past 10 years. Now we slowly are seeing a come back in this area which we can only hope is partially because of us and bands like Knuckle Up and Suburban Scum who seem to be making a mark in the scene these days.

Pat: The North Jersey scene back when we were younger was almost centered around the Bloomfield Ave Cafe in Montclair. Every band you wanted to see came through there and bands like The Banner and Folly really made North Jersey a staple for hardcore and heavy music. It was great, anytime you went out to a show you saw tons of people you knew and it was a real tight knit scene but like Corey said it died out and now we’re starting to see it gain some ground again. As far as other local bands IDES is a really kick ass female fronted seizure of a band we love playing with, shows with our buddies in Raw Law are always a wild time and also Dutch Guts are seriously awesome too.

How did you wind up signing to Hotfoot Records?
Corey: Hotfoot showed interest in us when no one else seemed to care about what we were doing. I guess most people didnt see much hope in signing a hardcore band being that the present state of music has shifted to screaming electronic bands with crazy auto tune vocals. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” haha seinfeld.

Pat: Yeah Jeremy (the owner) came out to a show and gave us some really awesome feedback then he invited us out to play a showcase in NY and it just seemed like everything clicked from there.

96caughtcover1Is there any story or concept behind the Caught In The Grips title?
Corey: Absolutely, our bassist G came up with the name Caught In The Grips. Its really a drug term used to describe someone that is an addict and cant break free from whatever it is they are addicted to. Its really about all the friends and family that we have watched fall victim to drugs and alcohol over the past few years. We have lost a few close friends and still watch some struggling with their addictions now. The name is kind of a wake up call and a message to some to break free from whatever is holding them down.

Select two songs from Caught In The Grips and what inspired the lyrics.
Corey: Had Enough is all about what I just spoke about. Its about being fed up with seeing my friends go down the wrong path and how these pharmaceutical companies keep prescribing drugs to kids and making them into addicts. It also has some personal home town references that only people from this area would recognize. On a lighter note, there is 16 Inches which is about delivering pizza. The song hits home for most of us because we all worked or still work in Pizzerias and if your from New Jersey you know that pizza is a very big part of your everyday life haha.

Who produced Caught In The Grips and what was it like working with them?
Corey: Tim Gilles at Big Blue meenie Studios in Jersey City, NJ.  It was an awesome experience working at that studio. If you look at the guys resume of records that he has recorded, you will know how much of an honor is was working with him.

Pat: Working with Tim was legit but we also worked with this dude Noz who really helped us flesh out certain issues and really bring the songs together.

What could one expect from a live 96 show?
Corey: We try to just bring as much energy and excitement as we can to shows. We are still learning and every show feels a little bit tighter.

Pat: Lots of punk jumps, swinging fists, punching motions I swear Corey gets closer and closer to punching me right in the jaw every show we play but accidentally of course.

Has 96 ever played in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
Corey: Never played California, but if it was up to me I would get in the bus tomorrow and head out there.

Pat: Ive been to the LA area on a tour with a friends band but I was just doing merch.  I would love to get out to the west coast soon.

Any strange or unusual happenings while out on the road or at a live show?
Corey: Playing The Meatlocker in Montclair, NJ is strange enough in itself. We once had a game of dodge ball played during our set…….with Christmas lawn decorations. Yeah.

Pat: We havent played much outside the Tri State area (which we would love to change) but we played a motorcycle culbhouse bar thing in queens once owned by some mexican motorcycle gang.  There were stripper poles on stage and stripper cages everywhere (but no strippers…) but anyway the cops rolled up and just shook everyone down hanging out outside.  I’m sitting at the bar watching this all go down via security camera TV conveniently placed in front of the bar and one of the brolic motorcycle dude takes off his coat and gives a knife the size of my head to the bartender before he went outside and dealt with the situation…..insane.

You’ve opened for some pretty legendary bands such as Sick Of It All and Suicidal Tendencies. What was the experience like playing with those two bands and did you get to hang out with them at all?
Corey: It was a great experience and it put a dream I’ve had right in front of me. Now I have in my brain a real idea of what I want to do in this band, and that’s play to 100 kids every night and put on the best show I possibly can so kids remember and talk about us forever.

Pat: That show was so cool because I got to cross 2 things off my bucket list 1. playing with Sick Of It All because they have been one of my favorite bands for years and 2. Play Starland Ballroom because i’ve been going to shows there since i was 16.

If the music of 96 was a donut, what kind would it be and why?
Corey: Glazed… classic and delicious

Pat: That brownie batter donut because I’m stoned and after I read donut that’s all I can think about…

What’s up in the near future for 96?
Corey: Touring, we just bought a senior citizens bus for $600, its fucking rad.

Pat: Yeah we are hitting the road with our labelmates xhonorx and Denouncer beginning of April for about 3 weeks. Keep an eye out for those dates.

Any final words of wisdom?
Corey: Thanks for the support and hopefully we will see you Los Angeles this summer.

Pat: Don’t smoke crack.

96 is:
Corey Donohue- Vocals
Marc Gurducci- Guitar
Pat DeFrancisci- Guitar
Giavonni Escamilla- Bass
Steve Csi- Drums

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

96 on Facebook


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