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The Story Behind the Fake BOLD Reunion of 1996

Last week, a gentleman named Eddie McNamara hit up my No Echo email to pitch me a story that instantly grabbed my attention. In turns out, in the mid-'90s he played bass in what he referred to as a "fake BOLD reunion show," and wanted to tell the funny story behind it.

Oh, before I forget, Eddie has a cookbook out called Toss Your Own Salad: The Meatless Cookbook with Burgers, Bolognese, and Balls that I know many readers of the site will enjoy.

I'll let Eddie take it from here. —Carlos Ramirez

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If you vaguely remember seeing this flyer for a BOLD reunion show in the summer of 1996 and wondering whether it was legit or not, you’re not experiencing early dementia or the Mandela Effect. I’ve seen a handful of threads on forums and social media debating whether that show really happened or not, like some kind of hardcore unsolved mystery. You won’t even find it listed on the band’s surprisingly thorough Wikipedia page, but I was there. I played bass. That shit really happened. Well….kinda. 

On a Tuesday night in 1996, I found myself standing with my hands in my pockets outside the New Milford Teen Center in Connecticut. I was jonesing for a cigarette, but I didn’t want to light up and ruin the moment for all the straight edge kids who travelled to this show from Boston, Philly, and Cleveland.

A guy in a basketball jersey approached me with a good-sized chunk of the venue’s ceiling in his hand and asked me to sign it. “You should ask Matt to sign it,” I said, mortified. “I’m not an original member, you don’t want my—". He interrupted me, insisting on it. He said this was the best show he’d ever been to. I felt weird signing that broken piece of plaster, and even weirder about having just played a show under the BOLD name.

Somehow I had wound up in a cover band of one of my favorite hardcore bands… with the real lead singer on vocals. How the fuck did I get here?

It started one summer day in Brooklyn, when [BOLD vocalist] Matt Warnke met me after work to talk about starting a new band together. Mark Scondotto from Shutdown connected us, knowing we’d hit it off right away. I was working as a camp counselor in Brighton Beach.

Since Matt was from Katonah, New York, that meant he had a long-ass Metro North ride into the city, followed by a long-ass subway ride to the Southern end of Brooklyn to get to my job. Then Matt’s long-ass journey continued—it took two bus rides to get to my parents’ house in Marine Park. That gave us ample time to talk about what we wanted to do musically, plus our shared love of The Clash. Ours was going to be a punk band or a grimy rock 'n’ roll band or something. What it absolutely was not going to be? A straight edge hardcore band, since Matt seemed to be completely over that whole thing.

We stopped to pick up another bandmate at my folks’ house. Chris Daley (not Chris Daly from 108 and Texas is the Reason, and not the one who founded Smorgasbord Records) was a beast of a guitar player who had travelled even further—from Newfoundland, Canada—to immerse himself in New York hardcore.

As for why he was at my parents’ house? Well, Mark Shutdown, hardcore matchmaker, had given Chris my number about a month before. I soon got a call from a guy with a vaguely Irish accent asking if I wanted to play in a band, and the next thing I knew, he was crashing on the couch in my parents living room.  

Our first practice was at Ace London Studios in south Brooklyn, in the room Type O Negative rehearsed in. Practicing in there felt like wearing someone else’s rock star underwear—the room was fitted out with enough of their green logo amps to fill a stadium stage. It was absurd and also made plugging in without playing the bass line from "Black No. 1" impossible.

Whoever was supposed to play drums for us flaked, but Mark Shutdown was there and ready to step in as needed on drums and vocals. (When has this guy ever not been there for hardcore?) It was showtime.

Mark kept a beat as we each presented our newly-written originals to the rest of the band: Matt’s songs were straightforward and energetic, like The Clash or Fugazi. Chris wrote old-school hardcore bangers. I was on bass, so I was on that Helmet/early-Clutch tip with the stop-start riffs that reeked of the ’90s. After our awkward originals were out of the way, Matt blew off some steam behind the kit and pounded out the beat for "Accept the Blame." Then I came in with the bass line. Chris rung out on the guitar and Mark screamed his lungs out.

 

Suddenly, we three goofy teenage hardcore kids found ourselves plugged into Type O Negative’s equipment, playing every BOLD anthem with the guy who wrote them. Obviously, we acted totally cool about it, but inside, we were freaking out. It was like one of those Rock 'n’ Roll Fantasy Camp moments, but instead of Sammy Hagar we got to play fast and aggressive hardcore punk classics with Matt Warnke. 

We were hardly a real band yet, so we didn’t expect to play any shows for a while. In fact, I was already playing shows as a fill-in for Shutdown. I played bass on their demo, which was later released by Rick ta Life as a split 7” with our friends Indecision, called Youth Crew 1995. When Rick found out I was moving to England for college in the fall, he took a Sharpie and crossed my name off of every individual record. In ’96, I jumped back in to play Shutdown shows until they found a full-time guy called Dion DeNardo, who was 100 times better than me. 

The Shutdown guys knew what we were up to in the studio, so they asked us if we wanted to play a couple of songs at the end of their set at The Wetlands. Sure, why not? We could make it a surprise. The plan was to introduce ourselves and play one BOLD song and one original. Strife and Mouthpiece were on the bill and we figured that crowd would be into it. 

On the night of the show, our drummer went missing and the legendary Vinnie Value filled in at the last minute. Obviously, Vinnie didn’t know our new songs, so we scrapped the idea of playing an original. Then, we were introduced as “Matt from BOLD’s new band." (Again, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Would it have helped if we had decided on a band name ahead of time? Yes. Hindsight 20/20 and all that.) We ripped through “Wise Up” and “Talk is Cheap” and the crowd collectively lost its fucking mind.

The show became a huge pile-on sing along. The spirit of hardcore took over, and kids rushed up and crammed themselves onstage in a chaotic frenzy. It was the most authentic reaction I’d ever seen at a show. We repeated this performance at CBGBs shortly after and the reaction was more of the same. I thought: This is the best feeling in the world! This is what hardcore is all about! Shirtless teens yelling into the mic, shoving actual band members off the stage while doing acrobatics.

Photo: Kana Phillip 

Matt Martin joined us on drums (awesome dude, awesome drummer) and we were finally ready to play a full set. One of the Matts booked a show in New Milford, Connecticut. All we needed was a name. We brainstormed, but came up with nothing but garbage. We were leaning towards Endure, but wasn’t there already a band called Endure? Was it too generic? Was it too one-word hardcore band? Should we call it Old? Fauxld? Brazen? Bootleg BOLD? 

We ended up being billed as BOLD for the show, which I realize someone must have done on purpose. Maybe it was wishful thinking on their part. I had nothing to do with that decision. I thought it was wack and I felt like a poseur. 

This was supposed to be our new band’s first show, where we’d debut a bunch of originals and fill out the set with songs from Speak Out and Looking Back. But now people expected the reunited BOLD playing their first show since 1989. 

If this doesn’t seem like a big deal now, remember—this was way back before every band in the history of ever reunited and refused to go away. If you missed Judge, Youth of Today, and Gorilla Biscuits the first time around, you were shit out of luck in 1996. Those bands didn’t hit the oldies reunion circuit until almost a decade later. If I saw the flyer and wasn’t in the band myself, I would have gotten my ass to Connecticut, too—to see my own hardcore heroes for the first time.

The upcoming show was kind of a big deal to the people who believed the reunion was real. Other people thought it was bullshit. I guess the truth lies somewhere in the middle. On the bullshit-ometer, I’d say it was a solid 7.5/10

Can you imagine? Some poor 15-year-old guy who lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, or a bunch of college kids up in Boston loaded up the car for a road trip to Nowhere, Connecticut, thinking they’re going to see their favorite band…and they get stuck with some schmuck like me.

Photo: Vic Christopher

To be fair, after we played "Running Like Thieves," Matt got on the mic and addressed the elephant in the room: “Just to set the record straight, this isn’t BOLD, but we’re going to do some of those songs. We’re trying to get a new band going, but we’re at a loss for a name and we didn’t have one when this show came up, so…whatever.”

We followed up that motivational speech with a post-hardcore-sounding original song, to the delight of no one. Kids politely did that thing where they held the straps of their Jansports and rocked back and forth, so I guess we succeeded with the whole post-hardcore vibe. 

These kids were here for borrowed nostalgia. Who could blame them? The mid-’90s Youth Crew revival was in full swing, and the days of hardguy-core and dressing like a hip-hop plumber were coming to an end. 

Everybody in the room looked like they were going to JV basketball practice, and they wanted the experience of rocking out to the OGs they had only heard in their bedrooms and on their Walkmans on the bus to school, but never got the chance to see. Same for me. Same for Chris Daley. They wanted to hear the songs. We wanted to play the songs.

Photo provided by Eddie McNamara

Since this happened back before social media and the internet was still kind of developing, most of the kids at that show had no clue what the guys in BOLD looked like. They’d seen shitty Xeroxed pictures of the band as teenagers in zines or on record covers, but could they really pick John Zuluaga out of a lineup? To them, BOLD was three skinny white guys with dyed blonde hair or shaved heads and a handsome, preppy singer. Well, with us, that’s what they got! I told a lot of people that night that I was nine when the first BOLD record came out. What they did with that information, we will never know. 

The real BOLD in the late '80s. (Photo courtesy of Revelation Records)

We did the only thing we could—we all collectively suspended disbelief, ditched the originals, and did a full-on BOLD tribute show. For the next 15 minutes we were in the moment. If you wanted to believe badly enough the New Milford Teen Center was CBGB in 1988, we pulled it off and the kids were into it. Somebody broke part of the ceiling. 

Look, if your third favorite band (Morrissey and CIV never called) ever asks you to play a reunion show, I’d recommend doing it. It was a pretty rad experience. The only thing that sucked was when the girl I was seeing told me that her boyfriend’s favorite band was BOLD and he would have loved the show. Boyfriend? What the fuck.

So that’s where my story ends, forgotten by the sands of time or something. After the show, I took the train back to Brooklyn with Brian Schenk (nee Brian 40) and Vic Christopher (nee Vic Vegas). I found out a couple of weeks later that BOLD/Endure was playing a show in NJ, but my buddy Jay Nakleh was playing bass instead of me. I’m grateful for being kicked out without actually being kicked out. 

Matt and Chris continued with Endure, which turned into One Sided War and a couple of records. Matt did Running Like Thieves and eventually a real BOLD reunion in 2005. Chris Daley did a stint in nearly every hardcore band around, and Matt Martin became a Kung Fu master and remained an excellent person. 

I’m still tight with Daley. Actually, a few years ago we started a hardcore band with Rob Vitale from Black Train Jack and Kevin Corcoran from Buried Alive, called D is For Dead. We recorded with Don Fury when he first moved upstate, but couldn’t get our act together to put the demo out. 

If it ever does come out on 7 inch, look for my name crossed out on the sleeve. Check it out on Bandcamp:

Anyway, here’s the BOLD “reunion” show from November 16, 1996:

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Tagged: bold

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