Swiz were a band that I’d often see cited as an influence by bands I liked, but — as of 1996 or so — I hadn’t actually heard them. Somewhere in there, I heard the debut 7″ from Sweetbelly Freakdown, which found the reunited lineup of Swiz making music under a new name, but with a relatively similar aesthetic to their predecessor. (I soon tracked down the discography that Jade Tree had released.)
Sweetbelly Freakdown recorded a seven inch and a self-titled album; its members went on to such projects as the memorably-named Jesus Eater and Retinsonic. A few years later, I would also talk with guitarist Jason Farrell about his other band at the time, Bluetip. More recently, 3/4 of the group’s lineup has reconvened as Red Hare, and recorded an album that was released by Dischord.
This interview took place in February 1997, after Sweetbelly Freakdown had finished a show at Wetlands with Texas is the Reason, Promise Ring, and Rocket Science. It appeared in Eventide’s second issue.
The first time I saw Ink & Dagger would have been sometime in 1996. In my particular corner of the hardcore scene, their use of theatrical elements — painted faces, fake blood thrown into the audience — was a huge change of pace. Their lyrics borrowed supernatural imagery and built it into extended metaphors — much of them vampire-related. Their first two seven inches were collected on an album called Drive This Seven Inch Wooden Stake Through My Philadelphia Heart; their first seven inch, Love is Dead, featured removable tombstones.
But all of that shouldn’t distract from the fact that Ink & Dagger were really, really good. The theatrics were bolstered by taut, gripping music, and Sean McCabe’s vocals escalated horrifically over the course of many a song. Later albums — one self-titled and one titled The Fine Art of Original Sin — would move further afield from traditional notions of hardcore. McCabe died in 2000; in recent years, a reunion of sorts took place wit h Thursday’s Geoff Rickly on vocals.
This interview was conducted over the phone with Sean McCabe in the spring of 1997. It appeared in issue 2.