Monday, August 31, 2009

Rorschach, Deadguy, and Kiss It Goodbye


One of my favorite NJ hardcore bands is reuniting for a show at the Asbury Lanes at the end of the month, so I figured I'd write an article about them because I don't think they get enough recognition. I also figured I might as well advertise the show as well (assuming someone's actually reading this). So...

Rorschach formed in 1989 with Charles Maggio on vocals, Andrew Gormley on drums, Nick Forte on guitar, Keith Huckins on guitar, and Chris Laucella on bass. Laucella stayed with the band until 1991, when he was replaced by Tom Rusnack who stayed with the band until they called it quits in 1993. The back cover of their discography CD sums up the band very succinctly: "Rorschach existed from May 1989 until August 1993. Their first show was in August of 1989 at the Pipeline in New Jersey with Chain of Strength, Insight, Turning Point, and Poor Excuse. 25 people attended that show. 247 shows, 3 tours, and 31 songs later Rorschach played their last show on July 31, 1993 in the Basement of Mama Joe's Pizza in Kent Ohio with Spork and Splinter. 20 people attended this show."

In the band's lifetime they released two albums (Remain Sedate in 1990 and Protestant in 1992), three 7"singles (a split 7" with Neanderthan in 1990, Needlepack in 1991, and a split with 1.6 band in 1992), and two exclusive songs on two different compilation albums( Fear of Smell and God's Chosen People). Almost everything was compiled in 1995 for the band's discography CD called Autopsy released on singer Charles Maggio's own label, Gern Blandsten. Later, in 2001, Maggio released a Rorschach live album consisting of a show recorded in Italy in 1992. Also, specifically for this reunion the band released both full lengths as a limited edition double LP.

I'm not gonna go through this band's discography item by item like I've done in the past, but suffice to say EVERYTHING is worth owning. This band is one of the heaviest bands I've ever heard and I've yet to hear someone scream as well as Chuck Maggio. My personal favorite songs include "Pavlov's Dog" from the Remain Sedate LP, their cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" from the God's Chosen People comp, "Bone Marrow Biopsy" from the Needlepack 7", and their cover of Black Flag's "My War" from their split 7" with 1.6 Band. I'm not entirely sure what happened to Gern Blandsten, whether they're still operating or not, but I believe the Rorschach CD is out of print. All of the original vinyl is long out of print as well, but not too hard to find if you look hard enough. As an interesting side note, more than a few bands list Rorschach as a big influence, the big famous on is Converge.


Fast forward to New Brunswick, 1994 and Rorschach guitar player Keith Huckins is now in a new band called Deadguy. Deadguy built on the Rorschach sound keeping the heavy as fuck attitude but making the music more technical. They were also influenced by one of my favorite metal bands, Unsane. For their first 7", the band consisted of Crispy (Chris Corvino) on guitar and vocals, Dave Rosenberg on drums, Pops (Tim Naumann) on bass, Keith Huckins on guitar, and Trim (Tim Singer) on vocals. That 7" was 1994's White Meat 7" which contained the songs "Extremist", "Druid" and "John Dear." These three songs are such an incredible debut they need to be heard to be believed. Later that year they released the Work Ethic 7" which again contained three songs that will blow your head off. Both of these singles were repackaged on CD as the Work Ethic EP.

From there, with two 7"s under their belts, they singed to Victory Records and put out a full length. Fixation on a Coworker was released in 1995. It's louder, heavier, faster, and angrier than the 7"s, and it kicks ass for a half hour. By the end of the tour they did supporting this album, the band was split. It was Dave, Crispy, and Pops against Keith and Tim. Keith and Tim ended up quitting the band and moving to Seattle, where they would form a new band, but before we talk about that band, Deadguy still had one EP left in them. Pops switched to vocals, and they recruited Tom Yak and Jim Baglino to play second guitar and bass, respectively. The EP they made was called Screamin with the Deaguy Quintet, and it came out on Victory in 1996. While not as instantly classic as Fixation, it's still really good. It has more of a metal sound than hardcore sound this time and Pops' voice works really well. The band called it quits the following year, playing their last show in May of 1997 in New Brunswick.

Kiss It Goodbye

After leaving Deadguy in 1996, Tim Singer and Keith Huckins formed Kiss It Goodbye with Huckins' former Rorschach bandmates Andrew Gormley and Tom R
usnack. Soon after forming they moved to Seattle and signed to Revelation Records. Their first release was their only full length, She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not... in 1997. The album builds on what they had done with Rorschach and Deaguy, and it would have worked as a really good followup to Fixation on a Coworker for Deadguy had the band not split up. It takes the sound they had on Fixation and slows it down just a bit, giving it just a touch more atmoshphere and suspense in the music while Tim Singer screams his fucking head off at you for 45 minutes straight. After the album, Revelation released the "Preacher"/"Target Practice" 7". The two songs were from the She Loves Me sessions, but were left off the album. After a tour with Unsane and Obituary in 1997, Huckins left the band, and was replaced by Demian Johnston. They recorded an EP in 1998, but then according to Johnston, Tim Singer only wanted to tour once a year and the rest of the guys wanted more out of it so they went their separate ways.

That's some of the musical lineage stemming from Rorschach. Nick Forte put out a few solo ambient LP's and some of the members have gone on to other bands as well, so if you dug what you read, go out and keep searching for more. Maybe I'll see you in Asbury at the reuinon...

UPDATE: I got home from the Rorschach reunion show a few hours ago and it was incredible. Torchbearer were amazing, and the drummer was in Deadguy back in the day. Black Kites were also really good. Rorschach's set, however, was life-changing. It was honestly one of the most incredible shows I've ever seen and I've seen my fair share of bands play. 20 years later, and they still rocked out like they were 19 years old, flinging their guitars all over the place and jumping around like lunatics. I spent $50 on Rorschach merch and do not regret it at all.


  1. Cool overview! It's spelled Johnston. With a T (in reference to the Kiss It Goodbye stuff). The EP we recorded (choke) was paid for and made for SUBPOP in Seattle but when we broke up they decided they didn't want to do it so Revelation took it over. It wasn't because Tim quit either, Tim didn't want to tour more than once a year and for some of us that wasn't going to work so we decided to call it quits. It was a bummer. Most of the Kiss It Goodbye songs that we were working on at that time became Playing Enemy songs on the Cesarean LP.

  2. Demian, thanks for reading. I'm glad you dug the article man. Sorry about the misspelled name.

    Thanks for the info about the Choke EP and Playing Enemy. I had actually never knew of Playing Enemy so I'll be trackin a copy of that first album down soon.