For most, the thought of Southern California in the '80s brings to mind a Less Than Zero-style existence full of cocaine and Ray-Bans. But the sun-baked swath of turf from L.A. south became, at the beginning of the decade, the cradle of searing underground punk. London's punk had its angular, spiky, plaid thing, and New York had its black-leather-jacketed Ramones vibe. But the SoCal bands were, arguably, often more fierce. Surrounded by suburban sprawl in a neon land of plenty, bands there were slightly less consciously citified. They were also more bored, angrier, louder, and faster. This is where the earliest stirrings of hardcore began, and among those leading the charge was the San Diego band Battalion of Saints.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Behind singer George Anthony, this Battalion was speedy and aggressive, fueled by a seeming nihilism that doomed them from the start. The original lineup split by 1985, but over time it became a cult favorite of record collectors. In the mid-'90s, Anthony re-formed the band, though he was the only remaining original member (two had died, and the original drummer refused to rejoin). Taang! Records in Boston reissued most of the previous'80s material on a compilation, Death R Us, which is also now out of print. But under the updated name Battalion of Saints A.D., the new foursome put out a new album, Cuts. At 13 tracks and barely more minutes in length, it's as stripped-down and amped-up as the early stuff.