We Got Ways #2: NO FUCKER


May 5th, 2011 by

NO FUCKER – To Whom Tomorrow Belongs EP
NO FUCKER – Conquer the Innocent EP

In the previous installment of “We Got Ways”—your favorite online column revisiting the great DIY punk/HC records (both heralded and unheralded) from the decade known as the aughts—we discussed the YOUNG WASTENERS 12” that gives its name to this column. Today’s featured band represents a departure from the cute, immediately likeable, hyped-to-death Wasteners—Utica, NY’s NO FUCKER.

No Fucker’s career (now over?) has been strange. Their story begins with the two main cretins behind the band cutting their teeth in a more-or-less terrible crusty HC band called DEATHBAG, which existed just before NF’s emergence. Living in NYC in the early 2000s, I saw these upstate NY freaks on a number of occasions and didn’t think much of them either way. They were a typical opening band at some typical crusty HC shows. That is to say, both live and on record, Deathbag was nothing to lose sleep over. One day, I heard that the two Deathbag dudes had dissolved their band—rumor had it that they too had realized that they were nothing special—and started what was billed to me as a DISCHARGE worship band that would never release vinyl records. They dubbed their new band No Fucker — a brilliant and hilarious (albeit obscure) Dis- inspired band name if I ever heard one — and promptly released a pair of righteously raw demo cassette tapes. My interest was naturally piqued. After that, the no vinyl records rule apparently fell by the wayside, as two split EPs with Japanese idols DISCLOSE materialized in 2004, to go along with a few dates on that band’s brief West Coast U.S. tour. Growing ever fonder of their vicious output and live explosiveness, I assumed at the time that this association with Disclose was destined to get folks outside of New York State to start paying attention to what seemed at the time like a well-kept East Coast secret. After all, this era was one of the many heights of the Japanese noizecore craze in the U.S. punk scene, with bands like FRAMTID, FEROCIOUS X, and DEFECTOR (along with countless less worthy others) releasing records of varying quality that instantly sold out or were apparently distro’d only by eBay. Despite seemingly being in the right place at the right time, and being better than many of the more hyped bands, No Fucker didn’t gain the plaudits of their Japanese (to say nothing of PDX, Austin, or SF) brethren. After a few hurrahs on the Disclose tour, they slinked back to Utica, and slowly but surely released two EPs that didn’t seem to get too much credit or attention among any but the most obsessive. Their first EP (To Whom Tomorrow Belongs) got eviscerated in a snarkily dismissive MRR review—one of my great regrets is not double-reviewing this gem at the time—and their second EP (Conquer the Innocent) seemed to get passed by altogether by most tastemakers. By that point—five or six years after No Fucker had made their debut—time seemed to have passed them by. Of course, doomsday d-beaters knew their name, but too many seemed not to flip over their splits with Disclose often enough (too bad for them—the song “Anti-War” on the Overthrow split is a real mix-tape worthy stomper), and NF never seemed to get enough attention from the fashion-crazed myspace crust world or scenester festival circuit to even gain much T-shirt love. In fact, outside of a few diehards in Japan and New York, I can’t say I ever heard anyone give this band the attention it really deserves.

No Fucker (photo by Al Quint)

What’s up with that? I mean, it’s not as though this band was going against the trends. If anything, they began No Fucker just in time to start playing what quickly became the HC sound of their era—DISCHARGE influenced hardcore with layers of fucked up noize lifted straight from CONFUSE’s handbook. They were friends with popular Japanese bands. They even got some random (if unexpected, at least to me) accolades from noise-hipster types. They put out cool looking records with great songs. When I saw them in 2003 at ABC No Rio with DSB, they played one of the most exciting sets imaginable, getting so crazily into it that they managed to play their then best song (the aforementioned “Anti-War”) twice. When I saw them at a show with Sex Vid in NYC in 2007, they blew the Vid—who were no slouches themselves that night—off the stage with their outrageous barrage of feedback. Most importantly, from the early Deathbag days to the last No Fucker days this band just kept getting better and better. I could imagine them pulling a Black Flag and practicing for 10 hours a day in their small town in an attempt to perfect their noise-laden art. Even when I was listening to their first demo in 2002 thinking, “Hey, this is pretty cool!” I never imagined that I would walk out of that 2007 show thinking, “Holy shit, I just saw the best fucking band in America…”

Ultimately though, it seems that No Fucker was not a band that would easily get popular with the cool kids. After all, the backbone of the band was two strange and ugly dudes—one old, lizard-skinned ex-con (who eventually lost a finger and had to stop playing guitar and settle for just being NF’s vocalist) and one young, nerdy freak with his oversized T-shirts tucked in—two friends obsessed with obnoxious, crazy music in what might be the shittiest, poorest city in all of New York State. The other members of the band seemed not to matter much either; hilariously, No Fucker featured a series of indistinguishable bass players referred to both individually and collectively as “Fangboner.” And though they befriended similar noise heads like Kawakami from Disclose and Stuart from Game of the Arseholes, they did not seem interested in being schmoozy; on the contrary, they were kind of abrasive and even antisocial. Though I met and chatted with them a number of times throughout the years, I could never tell if they liked me, hated me, or even remembered who I was. They didn’t fuckin’ care about that shit—they made noize not music, and that was that. They released their records themselves (on a label they called No Real Music) to middling distribution, they didn’t seem to tour much if ever, and though they not-entirely-successfully attempted to get a DIY space up and running in Utica, they ultimately chose to live in that fucked up old industrial wasteland full of meth heads, junkies, and people whom time had passed by rather than moving to any available (and more fashionable) punk mecca.

Now about their two self-released EPs, which were meant to be the subject of this essay, and without which none of my bloviating would matter…

2006’s To Whom Tomorrow Belongs is the earlier of the two, and it betrays the simple musical key to their formula, which they would really perfect on 2008’s Conquer the Innocent. What is that key, you ask? Well, this band steals a lot of guitar parts and swagger from ANTI-CIMEX. Really, this writer’s ears hear a lot more Cimex in NF’s sound/songs than either Discharge or Disclose. And while this distinction is admittedly minute if not downright farcical—it’s not one that my mom would pick out, that’s for sure—the patented Cimex guitars-as-if-recorded-in-a-wind-tunnel sound gives No Fucker a sort of out-of-an-‘80s-Swedish-time-machine quality that their Japanese peers (with their 48 tracks of guitar distortion) lack. Like Disclose, however, No Fucker uses their vocals as more of a rhythmic instrument than a melodic one, sometimes punctuating their guitar riffs with even greater effect than Kawakami, the Japanese master himself. No Fucker’s lyrics are minimal, but they are perfectly timed and placed. The guitar leads are at once idiotic and sublime. Happily, No Fucker lacks any “heavy”/“crust” pretentions, maybe even more so than Disclose (because they avoid the palm-muted metallic-tinge of that Japanese band’s “Dis-Bones” era), but nonetheless No Fucker is not really a party/fun band. Instead, they represent the most punk ideal: a band outside of the spotlight that spends every minute of free time trying to make and perfect their hardcore art. In this sense, No Fucker was an art band in the strict meaning of that term, at least in the sense that they created substance out of their very specific style. And for a few brief songs on two all too brief EPs, No Fucker put themselves on par with the best of the 30-year pantheon of cult bands that have been totally and utterly devoted to excruciating guitar screeching, d-beat flailing, and lots of shoutin’ and screamin’.

24 responses to “We Got Ways #2: NO FUCKER”

5 05 2011
Nick (14:20:14) :

they played in So Cal three different times 2004 (tour with Disclose), 2006 and 2007. they also had a shirt distro with tons of badass designs, but last time i sent Underage money for a Diatribe shirt (yeeeeeeeeearrrrrs ago…) and never received it. oh well…. fucking great live!

5 05 2011
Alex (15:08:43) :

What a great column, totally makes me want to blast those tapes again. They were supposed to tour Europe at some point, we in France were really excited about it (I mean, the three of us who were into them) but then they cancelled the whole tour at the very last minute cause they missed their plane (!) or some shit.

5 05 2011
Shiva (17:07:41) :

I remember seeing them at Abc with Crude in 2009 and they all looked extremely tweaked out, the guy was playing bass without his finger and they weren’t even playing riffs most of the time. It was fucking awesome. I love how they shamelessly stole Shitlickers riffs and Discharge song titles chord for chord and word for word. Oh and this and the last one were great! Please do them more often!

5 05 2011
sexual lizard bitch (19:16:47) :

we played with them once a long time ago in wusta massachusets. The singer was staring at this weird blinking pink cell phone toy that made funny beeping noises in the corner all night. This band was fucking incredible. Last time i saw the singer he was in nyc and looked haggard as shit, apparently going to school and living on the street???. I really hope he’s okay.

ANTI ANTI ANTI WAR

5 05 2011
golnar (22:02:22) :

Hey, thanx for the props Alex & Shiva–it means a lot to have two of my favorite zine writers like the column. I’ll be trying to get them out with a bit more regularity in the coming weeks/months.

And thanx everyone for these awesome NF related anecdotes. This band was truly unique & awesome.

6 05 2011
ellen (09:49:16) :

I love anyone who is willing to spend every free minute of time perfecting hardcore art

7 05 2011
C.J. (09:32:24) :

The last lineup with Luke WAS No Fucker. Jesse has a new band which may or may not be called Herpes. I saw their first show a few nights ago. No less tasteful than you’d expect from the Jman. Luke and John bailed me out of jail when no one else would. John is a grad student at the New School and homeless. If you see him buy him a meal in exchange for some stories.

8 05 2011
varsoviaenllamas (06:38:58) :

Two aborted Euro Tours if I remember correctly.

The first one was at the time of FRAMTID European tour. They were at some of the shows following FRAMTID around but didn’t play, I think the drummer couldn’t get in the plane or something equally fitting.

The second one was a Spanish tour organized by FIRMEZA 10 people, this time around the entire band couldn’t get on time to the airport to get in the plane.

NO FUCKER were always amazing, even when they had a shit night like the first Seattle gig on the DISCLOSE tour. Anyone who witnessed their set inside Emos at Chaos in Texas MUST agree that it was one of the most vicious sets ever. I only managed to see them 5 or 6 times but they left a deep mark on my brain.

9 05 2011
Filip (01:56:50) :

I think they were also supposed to tour Japan in 2009 or 2010, at least I have a poster somewhere from gig with their name listed, but they cancelled this tour as well… bad luck!

10 05 2011
brad (11:03:07) :

Yes, their set at Chaos was most devastating! Conquer the Innocents achieved something that none other Western-band has achieved. Still looking for the Disclose/NF split on Overthrow if anyone has that for sale/trade…

10 05 2011
Chuckie Hardcore (23:45:10) :

Just had too share this email from JJ tell about the very unknown side project band with kawakami (of Disclose).

Just a brief history of our (No Fucker’s) friendship w/K (aka Kawapussy, Kawagopher, Filthy Arse, any no# of stupid nicknames everyone had):
John from No Fucker and I started bootlegging shirts from old punk bands and wanted to do some shirts from newer bands. We sent K a box of disclose shirts along w/a gushing fan letter asking if it would be OK to make a few shirts to sell. At the time, not many people were making shirts of these Japanese bands. Ours were pretty shit quality, but he agreed. When No Fucker recorded a practice tape we sent him a copy. He was really excited and wrote back asking to do a split right away. This was probably 2002. “Gee, should we do a split with Disclose?” “Fuck yeah.”
Fast forward a few months or a year, the Disclose tour was being booked by about 10 different people. We had a van, musical gear etc, so we offered to drive them. We ended up booking the southernmost part of the tour. There were a lot of bad feelings on that tour before it even began, just over who was booking it.
I’m not sure who had the idea to begin with, but the idea might have started with Stuart Schrader a/k/a SS, Commandant of the Asssholes. The original idea was to do a project band w/K on guitar, Otto from Selfish on drums, John from NF on other guitar and maybe me on Bass. Or something similar. Otto ended up not coming to the States for the tour, and SS only made it to a couple of shows. We wanted to play Jezus and the Gospelfuckers style, with tons of solos and wah wah guitars. The original name was Cunts in the Freezer, after the Shotgun Solution song, “IKYCIMF”….but then, I think I have said too much about that.
At some point we got the idea that it would just be No Fucker w/K singing. I know that both K and I were geeking out over a lot of Swedish KBD punk bands like Warheads, Stoodes, and KSMB and how they channeled the D-beat from the Buzzcocks song “You Tear Me Up”. We wanted to play in the cock-beat style of those bands. K decided on the name.
So….after the last Disclose show, which I believe was in Salem, OR, Abe-Chan and Uo-chan from Disclose bid us tearful goodbyes and flew back home. I haven’t had contact with either since that time. Uo-Chan and I connected deeply, he called me his little brother of d-beat. Everyone in Disclose called me Harry Potter and wrote a song about me, called….”Harry Potter”. We had a hilarious time just hanging out, eating pizza and talking about music.
Kawakami drove back to Utica NY with us with his GF, Shiho. He was exhausted and stir-crazy from living in a van for two weeks. We took him through places like South Dakota and no one at any of the diners we stopped at had seen anything like him before (probably after). It was a long drive back to NY.
The bass player at the time was named Chuck. He only lasted for that tour and until after Apoc. Disfuckerz. His total time in the band was possibly two months.
Kawakami and I wrote the majority of the music to the songs, mostly stealing from…Discharge (big surprise). K didn’t really dig playing KBD punk stuff, it was only natural for him to play raw D-beat. As I said, some drunk teenagers wrote the lyrics.
As far as the story of actually playing and writing music, it’s pretty mundane. Though, I will say that K and I got in a gigantic argument about the size of my crash cymbal. He felt that a 16″ inch crash was the perfect size, I was used to using 18″. We argued about it forever, the end result, I gave up and went to the music store and bought a new one.
Another interesting tidbit, is that K’s screaming voice is probably the loudest thing I had ever heard. We recorded some of the vocals live w/the music, but the vocals were not coming out of any PA or anything, just straight into the recorder. You could still hear him over 2 full stacks, drums and bass! It was unearthly.
After we played the show, we bid adieu to K and Shiho. After he left the country, we didn’t talk much, he went on to his crazy satanic trip and there was ill blood between us. One thing that still haunts me is, when we were friends, we were sending K non-narcotic Melatonin (basically just sleeping pills, but not addictive, etc). After our falling out, we stopped sending them to him and he returned to drinking a bottle or two of vodka a night to fall asleep. He tried to get someone in the states to purchase them for him, but that person didn’t know what they were, and K wouldn’t just fucking ask us. If he had, I would’ve told him, I would’ve sent them to him. Maybe he would still be here. I know you can’t think about this shit, but I do, often.
Anyways, that’s enough writing on that subject, send me a copy when it’s done.
peace
JJ

11 05 2011
Alex (04:30:56) :

Thanks for the above, the comments here are a goldmine. Every person who posted a comment should get some money together and release a No Fucker discography LP with extensive liner notes.

11 05 2011
JJ (15:50:18) :

Thanks for writing this article, Golnar. I got a little misty eyed.

Bad luck? Nah, just stupidity.
Europe shows #1 in Germany/Amsterdam w/Framtid were aborted b/c our bassist at the time freaked the fuck out and wouldn’t get on the plane. He disappeared shortly thereafter. Goodbye, Fangboner.

Europe Take Two was basically fucked up due to drugs. I had nothing to do with it, still bums me out severely, lost some good friends over this. The band pretty much petered out at that point.

Japan was never really going to happen, and I didn’t agree with other members deciding we were going to play. I knew there was no way we could afford to go.

And that was that.

16 05 2011
golnar (11:49:11) :

Hey JJ, I am super stoked that you read and liked the column. Let me know of new projects/bands/etc.

19 05 2011
Tony (02:12:00) :

Really enjoyed reading this.

Shame it’s published on the internet and not in a zine (or indeed as the liner notes to a discography LP -which I would totally buy!).

I suspect a similar story could (and should?) be told about Deathcharge from PDX.

22 05 2011
golnar (22:26:16) :

Hey Tony,
It’s funny you mention Deathcharge, cuz I have been planning on writing about them for one of the next installments of this column. Unlike NF, I don’t really know much about Deathcharge’s history but I do know that I listen to that Hangman single all the damn time.

30 05 2011
Johnny Underage (10:58:16) :

To Golnar and everyone who has read this.
JJ turned me on to this article several weeks ago and it produced the same results in me. Although it was much more than misty eyed. Definitely, Heroin and many other unfortunate twists of fate destroyed what was No Fucker at the time. I apologize to everyone,(especially to JJ, Shin, Contrast Attitude, Paco, Mr. Dandoh) for my choices, actions and fucked up logic that shooting dope after 13 years clean was the answer. Once again sorry for fucking up the only good thing in my wretched life.
Later
Johnny

3 06 2011
Justin (08:31:12) :

-Johnny!

This is Justin (from AGHAST) I really hope you can see this-I heard through the “grapevine” that you had relapsed- I know how you must be feeling but if this article and the comments associated are testament to anything-is that, not all is lost,even though as thats the way it seems (trust me, I know the score) I always enjoyed the times our bands played together (with the exception of my broken rib not allowing me to sing in Albany? was it? right after you cut your finger off..!) If you can, shoot me an email, I’d like to get in contact w/ you, if possible, just to talk- I’ve been clean now for the better part of 3 years, and some days are still hard.. Also, my band SOMA will be playing NYC sometime in July (I think..? haha) So, if you can make it..
email me @ .
Cheers, hope to hear from you!

10 06 2011
Doug Pukeface (21:49:09) :

No Fucker was a great band. I never got to see them, but their previous band Deathbag played at my old house twice, thats where I met the dudes. I don’t really talk to John much, but i would love to, and I talk to Jesse all the time, he’s one of the most solid people I know….His new band which may or may not be called Herpes KILLS…if anyone wants to hear them or deathbag please check out my blog, i got some shit up there…peace

15 06 2011
chris punx (16:17:51) :

NO FUCKER was an amazing breathe of fresh air in utica, ny! fuck our stupid cover bands and fuck the hipsters. wish No Fucker would play again, even if its just a show or two.

-chris punx

27 06 2011
s_o_m (13:55:22) :

I like to think that more bands should break up and more bands should form, but not EVER band should break up. I wish NO FUCKER had kept going, f-king up the scene / system / anti-scene / anti-system.

“This next song is about how war sucks. Just like all our other songs.” – Ron G/Deathcycle

30 06 2011
young p (22:36:37) :

JJ/Underage,
was the material with kawakami ever released anywhere_ or is it ever going to see the light of day? and also what are the chances of a reunion or a couple shows or FUCK just reform and start again!! this article and comments are proof that theres still alot of NF love and we could all use a solid ass noisy as hell DISband in our lives!

3 07 2011
chris punx (18:49:16) :

young p. i don’t think it has. and i don’t think theres a chance of them reforming. sucks i know.

28 07 2011
johnny (21:47:42) :

Just got out of jail again, fuckerz!!!!!! “A handful of ‘dope’ and a nose full of speed, dangerous drugs is all we fucking need….”JATGF. 61 days off the dope and methadone and coke. Thanks to all of you for giving a fuck.

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