If u can remember back to 2011, you will recall that the hype band of that time was this band on century media called TRAPPED UNDER ICE. Their popularity evaporated even faster than ODD FUTURE’s, but they somehow managed to permanently raise the profile of the band that was quite obviously their number one influence: CROWN OF THORNZ. I’m glad people finally appreciate COT, but this post is about COT’s vocalist Ezec’s other band SKARHEAD– who were probably 20x more popular in the 90s than COT, and don’t get the love they deserve from Kids These Days.
Listening to SKARHEAD now, the thing that stands out to me is that their songs are really fucking good. Like “with the right marketing this band could’ve been the next DROPKICK MURPHYS” good. Ezec is hands down one of the most charismatic, best frontmen in the history of hardcore, and they combined hardcore, punk, rock, and hip-hop in a way that imo has still never been equalled.
BTW, if you are looking for third-hand stories about things that these guys supposedly did or juicy gossip about how scary they are, you’re not gonna find it– this post is about their MUSIC. I’m sure some 19 year-old Belgian has compiled a great thread about DMS gossip on B9 so go read that if you want.
My personal favorite Skarhead song, “Skarhead.” Also one of my favorite guitar sounds– still waiting for a reply from Mike Dijan on how he got this tone!!
With Tumblt social justice bullshit at an all-time high, “Punk Rock Fantasy” is more relevant than ever: “You bitch and moan about government / You bitch and moan about life / Get a job like everyone else / To relieve some struggle and strife / Because in this world / You don’t get something for free / And if anarchy is your solution / Then punk come and see me.”
NY OG’s feel free to correct me if I’m getting this wrong, but as I recall, SKARHEAD started as essentially a joke “all-stars of NYHC” project featuring Ezec, Toby Morse (H20), and some guys from bands like Maximum Penalty and Subzero (sorry, my memory is failing). From what I remember Toby saying in interviews back then, they wrote a bunch of the lyrics to their debut EP on the way to the studio so obviously they weren’t taking it super seriously, but idk I think came out pretty fucking great. I didn’t expect them to ever do more than this EP and a couple “just for fun” shows, but they stuck around and actually became a real band.
My favorite track from “Kings At Crime”, “Drugs Money & Sex.” So, so catchy– this is fucking great songwriting any way you look at it.
They’re just as good when they get serious, eg “Rebirth” (ft Jorge from MERAUDER) which I am guessing is about somebody’s struggle with addiction
“Snickers” is the best song MURPHY’S LAW never wrote.
Fast forward a few years and somehow or another, they ended up signed to Victory and put out the “Kings At Crime” LP in 1998. They toured a whole lot for this record, and were a pretty big band (by the standards of late 90s NYHC, that is). I personally think it still sounds fucking great even today. The most impressive thing is that every song on this record feels like a SONG, with its own identity and point of view– to me, that is the hallmark of truly great songwriting in any genre (for example “Enema Of The State”), and it’s almost unheard of in hardcore.
“3140″ is the closest thing to the classic SKARHEAD sound on this album, featuring the most amazing prechorus/chorus of all time: “We came to party / Don’t make us put that hole in your body”
Many, many people have tried to combine hardcore and hip-hop and it is almost always a complete fucking abortion. “NY Crime” is how you do it right, kids.
The last thing SKARHEAD did before going on a 7 or 8 year hiatus was what would have been their second release for Victory, an untitled EP that never saw the light of day. (and in a random “wow hardcore is a realllllly small world” moment, it turns out that my buddy Jesse Cannon recorded this at his parents’ house in 2000 or 2001 lol) From what I hear, Tony hated it and didn’t want to put it out, which I think is weird because imo it’s fucking awesome and could have been huge. It’s basically TRANSPLANTS for hardcore kids: Ezec and Puerto Rican Mike rapping over punk/hardcore riffs, and probably the best execution of “thugcore” that’s ever existed. Could have been a huge release for Victory with crossover appeal imo– U BLEW IT, TONY.
I know SKARHEAD has played a few shows here and there lately, but I’m not sure how active they are, if there’s any new material in the works, or anything else about their status. I’m sure if you hit up Ezec on Twitter he can tell you what’s up, and in the meantime, please do yourself a favor and dig through their back catalog– there’s not a bad release in their entire discography and it’s well worth going through every song!