The band Underdog was an example of such an experiment, with a lifespan shorter than expected, but with powerful after effects that still linger on. The two key, constant elements of Underdog during its span of four years were Richie Birkenhead (vocals) and Russ "Wheeler" Iglay (bass) who decided to form a band while talking at a CBGB matinee in 1985. The band, named True Blue for about a week, soon became Underdog. These two NYHC matinee regulars and longtime skateboarders, Richie and Russ, were indeed at opposite ends of the spectrum in temperament and circles they ran in.
Case in point: Richie did time with Youth of Today and Russ with Murphy's Law. Underdog was also one of the first punk bands with deep roots in skateboarding, and skating still remains a focal point in the life of the band. Richie, while fronting Underdog, raised the bar in NYHC during those years, in a scene filled with aggro, straight-up hardcore bands that concentrated more on athletic than vocal prowess and melody on stage. He prowled the stage, commandeered the crowd and could switch from a guttural scream to the voice of a choir boy in a split second.
Russ, well known for his Andy Capp, drink up, devil may care, knuckle-up persona equaled Richie in the stage presence department, swinging off ceiling pipes and taunting the crowd all while keeping the rhythm section tightly pumping with kid brother Dean Joseph (Iglay, stolen from Jersey Shore pranksters Good Humor), who replaced original drummer Gregg very early on and remained a permanent member. Underdog became a hugely popular musical hybrid capable of playing shows with any other band while winning new followers along the way. Their "fuck with our friends and you fuck with us" attitude wasn't just a bullshit theme for a song. These guys practiced what they preached.
The band's attitude on stage encouraged everyone in the crowd to let loose and go nuts without fear of getting sucker punched or bullied by anyone. And they did. Underdog shows were sweat-drenched, hard dancing, sing-along events for everyone involved. Their first 7" EP released on New Beginnings Records (with Gregg Pierce on drums and Danny Darella on guitar) instantly became a hot commodity in the NYHC scene, spread through the U.S.
and was quickly out of print. The legendary Matt Solomon cover art became the unofficial trademark for the band on T-shirts, flyers and tattoos. On the power of that 7 alone, While Richie, Russ and Dean remained fixtures (except for Richies brief departure to play for Youth of Today on one album/tour), guitar players were to Underdog what drummers were to Spinal Tap. Original guitarist Danny was later replaced by Arthur (Token Entry, Gorilla Biscuits), who was subsequently replaced by skater dude Chuck Treece (McRad).
For the recording of the Over the Edge demo, and also at the tail-end of their existence, Underdog played as a trio, with Richie on guitar. Already quite aware of Underdog and after hearing their 1988 Over the Edge demo, Caroline Records signed the band to record what became the album "The Vanishing Point". The band had matured into an extremely tight musical unit, mixing the best of power, melody and even reggae into a volatile mix second only to Bad Brains. Chuck Treece joined the band on guitar to help record the songs already written by Richie and Russ.
Recorded in one week at Electric Reels in upstate NY and produced by Don Fury, "The Vanishing Point" was one of the most anxiously awaited records of the year. A 1989 nationwide tour to support the record was their biggest and most successful at that point and there seemed to be nothing standing in their way. Sadly prophetic, the title of the record rang true at the conclusion of that tour. Arriving back in NYC and dropping off Richie, Russ and Dean drove home for an agreed upon short break.
That short break became a long break and they decided to cancel their European tour. It's hard to believe that was sixteen years ago. But now they're back, with the original core line-up, and with longtime friend and American Standard axe-man Matt Dolan as a fulltime member of Underdog. -Bill Dolan '98 The members are Matt (Guitar), Dean (Drums), Russ (Bass) and Richie (Vocals). More info at myspace.com/underdognyc or underdognyc.com 2º)UNDERDOG is an argetinian BritPop band originally born in the middle ninetieth by Eddy Caparelli (voice and acoustic guitars); Guillermo Stöltzing (Electric Guitar and Background Vocals), Mariano Acosta (drums), Walter C (bass and sequences) and Javier Tainta (guitars, bass and keyboards) The particular shine of the band resides in being an Argentinian band that compose all their lyrics in english, achievieng a way to wrap up their characteristic sound based on the sixtees rock pop and the traditional english pop, dinamic an versatile that endures through time hand on hand with bands like Travis, Muse, Coldplay and David Bowie among others. The band recorded several demos since their beggining and two albums (“Utopic” 2004 and “Privacy” 2007) and performed numerous live shows standing up among them their participation on several international level festivals in their own country like the PERSONAL FEST 05, where DURAN DURAN, MACY GRAY, BABASONICOS performed among others and COSQUIN ROCK 06 where they performed together with most of the greatests band of our country. UNDERDOG also opened the ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN show in the Gran Rex Theater on the second visit the legenary band made to our country on 2006, year in which UNDERDOG ended up performing 3 live presentations fully sold out at the Santa Maria Theatre in a show designed and produced by the band itself called “BRIT SESSIONS” giving the oportunity to other bands to show their music as well.
By doing this a door was opened to generate a space that does not exist nowadays in the Argentinian discographic market that searchs for a massive and immediate consume casting aside musical currents as those proposed by UNDERDOG through all their productions. In a few words and to all of those who participate in the UNDERDOG musical proposal here goes a brief synthesis of what happened.More info at www.underdog.com.ar 3º) Underdog from Germany was a heavy metal band who released a few albums in the 80s and disbanded. Underdog's 1984 album called Rabies In Town was re-issued on cd in 2009 by Old Metal Records. More at http://www.metal-archives.com/band.php?id=13357 4º) Underdog from Rome, Italy. A good mix of Frank Zappa, Nick Cave and Dog Fashion Disco. Their first album is Keine Psychotherapie, 2009. http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=35318426259 http://www.myspace.com/underdog78 5) Underdog from New Zealand was a psychadelic rock band. Read more on Last.fm.
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