The low bass rumble drops like distant thunder on a dark day. Vocalist Sergio Chavez eyeballs the crowd as if it’s his last hour on death row and he hasn’t had his final meal yet. The drums and guitars kick in like a boot to the face, and all hell breaks loose. The crowd quickly gets rowdy and, inevitably, sweaty, and the dive-bar security are called into action. This is The Eulogy, and if you’re a fan of punk at the hardcore end of the spectrum and haven’t heard of them yet, you surely will soon.
The Eulogy formed about five years ago, when a group of East Coast transplants and hardcore scene veterans found each other on this side of the country. All of them had been in bands before, with guitarist Matt Henderson previously playing with such notable names as Madball and Agnostic Front.
“We all knew everybody from back east — we were friends from the Boston and New York hardcore scenes — and we just wanted to start playing again,” says bassist Kevin Norton, formerly of Eye For an Eye and Straight Faced. “We didn’t have any expectations whatsoever, and then when Matt and Pete [Reily, guitar] were available, it just clicked. Sergio I knew from an old band I was in — he was the 15-year-old kid at our show, and he used to come up and sing a song with us once in a while. Then he gave us a track that he sang on with another band, and we knew that he could really sing.”
Chavez is, in fact, the only person in the band not from the East Coast, and it’s that blend of scenes that makes The Eulogy so fascinating and outside of the regular hardcore blueprint. As with hip-hop, hardcore fans can be a little territorial and fiercely loyal. A coastal mashup is always going to be interesting. Add to that the fact that the band is almost as influenced by metal as it is by traditional punk and hardcore, and you have quite the soup.
“I live in Long Beach, and I just like that everybody’s got a little bit of punk rock in them,” Norton says. “I’ll run into a city councilor and we’ll talk about Black Flag or something. That would never happen in Boston. That being said, my roots are out there and my favorite bands growing up were mostly East Coast. I grew up with metal first and then hardcore. I listen to a lot of Entombed, Obituary, Agnostic Front, and Terror, who have been around forever but I’m so old that they’re a newer band. Marc [Jackson, drums] likes a lot of hair metal like Mötley Crüe and Van Halen, on top of the punk rock. Sergio listens to a lot of the classic punk from California like Descendents. Pete likes metal and hardcore, and also some weird stuff like Dick Dale, which I want to turn off right the fuck away.”
Chavez is also the principal lyricist in the band, and that leads to some pretty intense subjects covered through song. From bad relationships to a brother serving life after becoming heavily involved with gangs, the catalog of The Eulogy can be read like a biography. Pain sucks, but it does often lead to great music and, as a direct result, killer gigs. Thanks to their ongoing and longtime friendship, the band have played a lot with New York’s Agnostic Front.
“I grew up with them,” Norton says. “In one of my old bands, we toured Europe with them for a couple of months. I’ve been watching that band since ’85. I’ve probably seen them 60 or 70 times, more than any other band. To me they’re legends, they’re the best guys, and I always have a great time with them. It’s amazing to even be on the same stage as a band like that.”
We get to see one of those brutal performances when The Eulogy open the Punk Rock Formal at Chain Reaction in Anaheim on Friday, Feb. 9.
“I played that one a bunch of times and it’s always fun,” Norton says. “Get some OC hardcore going. The people there are super cool, and it’s been going for almost 20 years. You’ve got to give credit to anyone who can do it for that long, with all the bullshit that can happen at a punk/hardcore show.”
The Formal is headlined by Eighteen Visions, and Martyr AD and Forced Order also play. As for The Eulogy’s set, expect them to dress for the occasion.
“We actually have a friend filling in because Matt can’t do this show, so Eric from Take Vengeance is going to be playing with us and we’re going to give it our all,” Norton says. “We’re not going to leave anything on the stage. Because it’s a hardcore formal, we have a stupid shirt to wear. We’ve got a blue tuxedo shirt, like you’d wear at the prom, but blue. Because I’m not wearing a fucking suit."
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When the Formal is over, and the tuxedo shirts are neatly folded and put away, The Eulogy will be putting the finishing touches on a special split single.
“The most exciting thing we’ve got coming up is we’re doing a split 7-inch with Sick Of It All, on Pitchfork Hardwear Records,” Norton says. “We’ve recorded most of it, we’ve just got to finish the vocals up and do the mix. We’re really excited about that. That’s another band that’s just been around since the ’80s, just legendary, and to be on the same release as them is amazing. The thing with us is, not only do we all play in bands but we all love the music.”
And it shows.
The Eulogy play with Eighteen Visions, Martyr AD and Forced Order at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, at Chain Reaction.