Sounds like: Madball, No Warning, Murder Weapon, and jail.
This file includes the 2014 demo, the 2015 demo version of “Downward Departure,” the 2015 full-length, In Grudge We Hold, and scans of all lyrics, artwork, and some unused art and shirt designs.
You can also download the full-length and demo here.
Derrick and I had been bullshitting for quite a number of years about starting a heavy hardcore band. But this time around, instead of the darker, Integrity-influence of Meantime, we wanted a more bouncy and fun hardcore sound like Madball. Well, after We’re Not Dead and Rewritten bit the dust, we finally realized our dream: Grudgeholder.
The initial line-up consisted of myself playing guitar, Derrick handling vocals, and Jake from Bad Luck on drums. We recorded our 2014 demo (entitled I Got My Own Back) with Christian from Direct Effect, who did – among many other things – the Axis demo and the Rewritten EP. We tracked the music in the sweltering, roach-infested confines of an old Lions Club where I used to do shows. Then Christian had us out to his house in Orlando to record the vocals. The singer from Gross was there during the session and I’m pretty sure he hated us. As soon as he heard Derrick spouting lyrics like, “That’s the motherfucking life I lead” and “I got my own back, now fucking get back,” I think he assumed we were a bunch of mongoloid knuckle-draggers.
Yes, the majority of our songs were about Derrick going to prison for three years. No, we didn’t carry ourselves as if we had some kind of tough guy pass because – to this day – we’re all pretty soft. I mean, I don’t even have any tattoos. And sure, I like Biohazard, but I don’t want to live like them, just hanging around on suspension bridges and yelling at people. Also, we live in Florida so jerseys, parkas, and boots aren’t really a viable fashion choice.
Jake quit the band early on. Bad Luck got signed and started blowing up, so his decision was understandable. Of course, Derrick and I didn’t tell Jake this so we could continue to call him a “baby bitch butterfly.” My good friend Jesse, whom I’d played with in Meantime and Night On Earth, stepped in to replace Jake. We added Joe from Dancefloor Tragedy, and Cory, an old Daytona scene vet who had played in The Other Side of the Sky, on second guitar and bass respectively.
Finally we had a full line-up and got to play some fun shows. And it lasted all of a few months before Joe and Cory quit.
The strange thing was, I wasn’t mad at them for leaving. Had I been younger, sure, I would’ve been furious. Both of them quit right before we were set to record our full-length at Goldentone in Gainesville. However, at the time, I just shrugged it off and told them it was no big deal. There was a certain malaise that was creeping into the band. We were all feeling it. And it wasn’t just Grudgeholder. I felt the same thing at the end of We’re Not Dead and during the extremely short lifespan of Rewritten. We were still playing music like we always had, but it just felt different.
It wasn’t fun like it used to be.
It was a shame we came to this realization during the Grudgeholder recording. We’d had high hopes to make a definitive example of how this type of hardcore was meant to sound. We finished the full-length and it was decent enough, but it fell far short of our original, lofty intentions. And after we got back home, things began to dissolve.
I’ve always heard the term “adult crash,” but – just like everybody else who hits the wall – I didn’t think it applied to me. Technically, we had the time to do Grudgholder and we enjoyed playing the songs. But it was like someone had doused the fire we’d been burning since 2001, when I started my first band with my friends. That frantic energy to “go, go, go” was gone. I didn’t want to think about piling in a van and touring. I didn’t even want to put my gear in my car to play a local show.
We played our final set as Grudgeholder at the last Lions Den show in February of 2016. The show was supposed to be a big deal, but, much like the erosion of the band, it was a lackluster affair. We’re Not Dead came out of retirement and did a set with Jesse on second guitar and Justin from Years From Now on drums. It was supposed to be like a family reunion, but the whole thing ended up feeling forced. Halfway through the We’re Not Dead set, I found myself thinking, “Get me the fuck out of here. It’s not fun anymore.” Grudgeholder closed the show and even though, for the very first time, we played our songs flawlessly, you could feel the aloofness in the air.
I always thought my tenure of intense participation in hardcore and punk rock would be something I ended of my own accord, if it ever came to that. But this dissolution was truly an involuntary thing. I’m still obsessed with bands and records (both new and old) and I’m always digging for more music. I haven’t “grown out of” hardcore and punk. But my drive to play it is gone and I don’t know if it will ever return. Lately, my creative energies have been redirected into other pursuits: finally graduating college this winter (2016) with a B.A. in English, becoming an English teacher, writing my own stories, scripts, as well as content for this blog, and doing stand-up comedy. Derrick is in school for commercial welding and when he graduates next year, with the right connection, he can write his own ticket as far as money is concerned. Jesse’s part owner of a local auto-repair shop even though he still likes to nap a great deal. And we’ve all been lucky enough to find ourselves – for once, goddammit – each in our own healthy, romantic relationship with supportive, understanding women. Derrick’s even a dad now.
Every now and then I’ll call Derrick up and we’ll talk about doing the band again. I’ll say, “Hey, I was goofing off and I came up with this beast of a riff. It’s like ‘Behind These Walls’ meets ‘Set It Off.’ In hell.” And he’ll respond, “Dude, we could do this huge intro over it, with everyone chanting ‘GRUDGE’ during the build-up.”
Then his kid starts crying and I have to go write a research paper.