In the Fall of 1991 (maybe 92?) I walked into an accounting class on the campus of St. John's University in Staten Island, NY and felt lost. Wearing a Jane's Addiction t-shirt and old jeans I looked around the room of probably 30 or so students and saw gold chains, designer track suits and neatly cropped, slicked back hairdos. I didn't belong. There was one exception however, a kid with long black hair and (if memory serves me right), a Misfits t-shirt. With a small sigh of relief, I sat near him and a musical friendship was born.
Mike Pellegrino (songwriter, guitarist of Enrage) and I have been friends for roughly 25 years. By association, I've been friends with (songwriter, lead singer) Jeff Altieri and all current and former members of Enrage, including former bass player, former roommate and more recently and importantly, two time cancer survivor, Joe Mariconda. Needless to say they've been a part of my life in one form or another for over two decades and I'm admittedly, and not shockingly a bit biased towards the band, their music and its members. In all honesty, I'm probably the last person who should be writing about them due to said biases.
The reason I'm writing this piece though is not to wax poetic about my friends, it's more about recognizing how music, more than anything else, is about community first and the rest of the world second. It's great to be known worldwide and have millions of people listen to your music, there's no doubt about that. When that happens though, it usually means a perfect storm of events have come together at just the right time to launch a band into global superstardom. However, to put your community first and feed your local music scene relentlessly throughout your entire career takes more than the stars aligning just right. It takes heart, commitment, a staunch DIY ethic and as Jeff likes to often quote from the mighty Bad Brains, "a lot of that P.M.A." (Positive Mental Attitude for those not in the know)
Throughout their career Enrage has catered to and built the local Staten Island scene out of the shadows of the more popular Manhattan and Brooklyn hardcore scenes. This hasn't stopped Enrage from touring throughout much of the US and parts of Europe. Being from the "forgotten borough" is something the band embraced many years ago. It's made them work that much harder for what they've achieved. It's that dedication to their community that has allowed them to continue doing what they love so much. It's what's earned them the respect of their peers along the way culminating in Jeff being asked to lend backing vocals to the 30th anniversary album for NYHC legends Sick of it All earlier this year.
The latest in the Enrage "give back" attitude is happening this Sunday, August 14th, 2016 at Mother Pugs Saloon (details here) during their video shoot for their latest single, "I Survive" of off the recently released EP Gateways Volume II. The shoot is free, open to the community, offering free food and drinks (for those old enough of course), and focusing on the women in the hardcore scene. It's an open invite for their fans to be a part of the all inclusive process and all about supporting the local scene. The band is encouraging fans wear shirts of ALL local Staten Island band so everyone is well represented. Be a part of this folks, it's DIY at its best and a great example of the power a local music scene can generate.
Respect is a two-way street and Enrage and their fans continue to prove this. From the band who once claimed to be "Down With Nobody" they're certainly acting like group who's down with everyone and honestly it's for all the right reasons!