This article is the first in a series that will endeavor to pay homage and raise awareness to one of the most under recognized and under appreciated musical dynasties in punk and hardcore. This musical lineage, not unlike the great crime families of the early to mid twentieth century, has a Don, Family and Affiliates. The Don’s seat in this particular family is occupied by the band Kid Dynamite. The rest of the family includes (in no particular order), Paint It Black, None More Black, The Loved Ones, LaGrecia, Armalite and a series of solo acts. The family affiliates include but are not limited to Kill Your Idols, H2O, Municipal Waste, No Friends, No Redeeming Social Value and the Explosion. But in order to understand the Kid Dynamite lineage, we must first start at the source, the proverbial country from which the Don immigrated. This family was created from the ashes of one of the most influential melodic hardcore/emo bands to come out of the East Coast. This band was called Lifetime.
Lifetime was created in 1990 by New Jersey natives, singer Ari Katz and guitarist Dan Yemin. The New Jersey and New York hardcore scenes heavily influenced Yemin and Katz’s creative process, especially during Lifetime’s early years. These connections would lead to the driving hardcore-punk tempo and instrumentation heard in the bands releases. The hardcore roots plus the positive message and melodic vocal delivery from Katz would become the staples of the sound that permeated through all of Lifetime’s releases. Katz and Yemin recruited second guitarist Scott St. Hiliare, bassist Justin Janisch and drummer Dave Wagenshutz to round out the original band lineup.
Lifetime would go on to release three full-length albums as well as a handful of EP’s and seven inches from 1993 to 1997. These full lengths were entitled Background, Hello Bastards and Jersey’s Best Dancers, respectively. Their early albums were released on the respected Jade Tree Records, with the exception of their first album, which was released on New Age Records. The records were all received relatively well and would make Lifetime one of the flagship bands for the New Jersey melodic hardcore and Emo scenes. The band broke up for the first time in 1997 shortly after the release of Jersey’s Best Dancers due to personal drama between members.
In 2005 the band did a series of reunion shows on the East Coast over the course of one weekend. They then went on to do another weekend of reunion shows that summer, this time on the West Coast. By November of that year, Lifetime made the announcement that they were officially getting back together, and had plans to put out another full-length record. In March of 2006, Lifetime surprised everyone with the announcement that they were signing to Decaydance records, an imprint of the record label Fueled By Ramen and co-owned by Fallout Boy bassist Pete Wentz. Lifetime released their self-titled album in February of 2007 to much critical acclaim. They promptly left Decaydance after the album released and signed with popular punk label No Idea Records. They have yet to release an album on their new label.
During their almost ten-year hiatus, members of Lifetime went on to start and play in many bands that would become influential in their respective scenes. Many of these bands (which I will cover more in-depth in future articles) are still active today and continue to create quality and interesting music. Lifetime’s disbanding and eventual reforming shows the cyclical nature, not only of the music scene, but the world at large. These men started off doing what they love, went and did their own thing for a while, and then came back to where it all began. In a way, I guess we could say that this whole crazy web of bands both starts and ends with Lifetime.
Be on the look out for the next article in the series where we look at the Don himself: Kid Dynamite.