Sunday, March 14, 2010


I asked my friend Mitch to write up something about Undertow for my blog.
I did it so i could also get an education about this band as well as to spread it to other people.
Mitch is THE authority on all things 'Tow and his collection will verify that.
He also runs the Undertow fan page on myspace which you can view here.Any questions please send them here.Take it away Mitch.

Seattle and the Pacific Northwest region of the US and Canada is known today for putting out some of the best hardcore of the last decade. From now defunct bands such as Seattle's Champion and Go It Alone of Van-City, to current ragers Get the Most and Not Sorry, the NW has been producing some of the best jams since the early late 80's/early 90's. However, the scene that is now recognized as being one of the today's best was once small and nearly non-existent. In late '88, a group of kids heavily influenced by local acts like Brotherhood, Inside Out and Youth of Today started jamming. In a city with a small and dying scene, these kids formed a band which would drastically change throughout the years, but carry on the remaining life of the straight edge and NW hardcore in general.

The band, which they named Refuse, was comprised of Joel DeGraff (vocals), Mark Holcomb (guitar), Josh (Bass) and Ryan Murphy (drums). Refuse recorded an eight song demo, printed up some XL shirts, and played some shows around the Seattle area. Shortly after, the bassist broke edge and was kicked out of the band. He was replaced by John Pettibone, another local edgeman. At this point, the band changed their name to Undertow and recorded a 4 song demo in the fall of 1990. Seth Lindstrom was added as a second guitar, and the band recorded two more songs which appeared on a split with Resolution (ex-Brotherhood). Those tracks also comprised the elusive and little known "Edge of Quarrel EP", a vinyl mispressing of the Resolution split (limited to 110 copies, Overkill Records).
Mitchs shirt collection

Due to disagreements within the band, Joel eventually peaced out and John moved over to vocals. James Stern stepped in on bass, and the band recorded two songs for a split with San Diego's Struggle on Bloodlink records.

1992 brought "Stalemate", a five song demo which was originally slated to come out as a 7" on Overkill Records. The demo was eventually pressed on vinyl by Dave Larson's Seattle based Excursion records. Songs on the demo, such as "Stalemate" and "cutting Away" (which was originally written and recorded while Joel was on vocals, but rerecorded with John for this release), became staples of Undertow's live sets and sign along favorites. Seth and James left the band, and Demian Johnson filled in on bass. The lineup signaled the end of the revolving door of band members, and Undertow was set in stone. In 1993, the band completed and released "At Both Ends LP", the only full length record the band released, and often times looked at as the pinnacle of the band's existence. The albums covered subjects including love and loss, homophobia and religion. Though these topics were present in much of the metallic hardcore in the early-mid '90s, few were able to convey them in the raw and emotional way Undertow did. Though Undertow was a straight edge band, the traditional edge themes were barely present in their lyrics on any of their releases, including this LP.

By 1995, the band had slowed down a considerable amount. The new wave of violence in the Seattle hardcore scene disheartened the guys, and members had moved on to other projects. Undertow released the "Control EP" on Overkill records, which was their final release as an active band. The band broke up in '95, but reunited shortly afterwards to play a European tour with Ignite and a final show in Seattle. Undertow reunited for one night in December of '97, headlining a show with Seattle’s Murder City Devils, and local newcomers, Botch. Indecision Records put out a four song self-titled 7" in 1999, and released a comprehensive 28 song discography, which contained every song the band recorded with John on vocals.

Upon the 2009 release of Brian Peterson's "Burning Fight", a book containing discussion and interviews about the '90s hardcore scene and the bands within it, book release shows were announced. The first show would take place in Chicago, and the other in California. Undertow was booked for the Cali show (along with Unbroken, Swing Kids, Threadbare and Portraits of Past). They also played a surprise set the night before the show at the Che Cafe in San Diego. The band played a final reunion show in their home town of Seattle in October of '09 with Unbroken, Strain, Converge, and a couple other local/touring bands. According to words spoken at the show by members of the band, this is the end of Undertow and there are no plans for another reunion.

Here is Mitch's epic Undertow vinyl collection.You will need to click this to make it bigger.

He also trades tapes and all footage he gets he uploads to youtube.Linkage
Undertow 07/10/1994 New Jersey
Undertow 07/14/1994 New Jersey
Undertow 04/02/1995 Corona,California

1 comment:

  1. I would love to get hold of one of the Undertow Gatorade style shirts. I got one back when I saw them at Theater Triad in Pboenix.