"My entryway into hardcore was through a combination of late '80s skateboarding and Headbangers Ball," Wet Specimens bassist Eric Pressman tells me. Since we're about the same age, I completely relate to his hardcore gateway drug, so to speak. "I remember seeing Lars Ulrich wearing a Black Flag shirt and immediately buying Damaged the next day in sixth grade. That’s where it all started for me."
Listening to Wet Specimens' 2018 demo, it's obvious Eric's love of hardcore hasn't waned over the years. Since we were on the topic of his formative years, I wanted to see if he had any mentors along the way. "I’d buy records and check out every band thanked in the liner notes. When I got my first very distro catalog, the whole game changed. As far as older mentors go, I’d say Javier VanHuss (The Mistake, Contraband Goods) and Chase Corum (Prime Directive Records) turned me onto a lot of music, but they aren’t all that much older than me and they really just my friends vs being mentors or whatever."
So, what's the story behind Wet Specimens. All I knew before chatting with Eric was what they sounded like and that they were based out of Albany. "Wet Specimens formed when our guitar player, Dylan, found himself without a band in fall of 2017. Dan and I were (are) playing in a power pop/punk band called Mystery Girl, and Dan and Colin were doing a D-beat/raw punk band called Neutron Rats. Dan and I told Dylan we’d do a band with him, and the three of us started jamming in winter of 2018. Neutron Rats decided to hang it up in spring of 2018, and Colin wanted to try his hand at singing without playing guitar, so he came on to sing.
We recorded a demo in our practice space and played our first show in Western Mass with Human Ignorance and our first hometown show opening for Dayglo Abortions, which was the coolest first show I’ve played in 27 years of being in bands. It’s been a blast since Day One."
Going back to bands like Devoid of Faith and Monster X when I was coming up in the ‘90s, it seems like Albany has had a healthy hardcore scene for a long time. "Albany is generally a cool place to live, but as far as the scene goes, it can be a little disjointed. There’s a pretty strong 'traditional' hardcore scene up here, but that crowd pretty much sticks to those shows. There’s an indie scene here too, but you rarely see those types outside of their basement shows all that often. We generally play punk shows, but if you give us a spot to play and there’s alcohol around, we’ll show up and make a spectacle of it [laughs].
"As far as other bands in Albany goes, we have a lot of really good ones. Male Patterns, The Abyssmals, Postage, Mystery Girl, Eternal Crimes, One Through Ten, After the Fall, Spirit of Violence, Your Brain on Drugs, and Aggressive Response are all doing different sounds, yet we all play together a lot and it totally rules."
Though Wet Specimens is definitely a hardcore band, I also hear elements of post-punk and the ultra lo-fi recording lends the material a creeped-out vibe. "Our sound is the product of our different influences. Dan, Colin, and Dylan all grew up in the Albany area and listen to a lot of Japanese hardcore, D-beat, and UK82 bands. I came from California and have more of a background in American hardcore, death rock, and new wave music. We try to pull from our favorite parts of what we listen to and then just put it through blown out distortion and reverb. Nobody’s reinventing the wheel in 2018, we’re just trying to see how far we can make the wheel roll with a tire with no tread and a nail in it."
Eric and his band mates have plans, man. "We recently re-recorded the demo songs and two new ones. I think we’re going to put out a 4-song cassette of those that in October. We are trying to record again in December, but we don’t know what we’re gonna to do with those recordings yet. There have been loose discussions of a Wet Specimens/Mystery Girl West Coast tour in 2019, but that’s just now moved from the 'talk about it while hammered at 3am at Pauly’s Hotel' stage of planning to the 'bringing it up in the respective group texts' stage of planning [laughs]. Hopefully we’ll be out there bothering y’all soon enough though."
Wet Specimens can be found on Bandcamp.