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Rites Of Spring

Because the term emo has come to define a sensibility more than a particular sound, it can be difficult to pin down even if you're not an outsider. Yet there's a general consensus -- by no means universal, but fairly solid -- that Washington, D.C.'s Rites of Spring were the first true emo band. Their music epitomized emo (or emocore, as it was then more often referred to) in the original sense of the term: an emotionally charged brand of hardcore punk marked by introspective, personal lyrics and intense catharsis. While Rites of Spring strayed from hardcore's typically external concerns of the time -- namely, social and political dissent -- their musical attack was no less blistering, and in fact a good deal more challenging and nuanced than the average three-chord speed-blur. Although they didn't exist for long or record that much (two releases in just under two years), and didn't attract much attention outside of D.C. during that time, their influence was tremendous and far-reaching. Not only did they map out a new direction for hardcore that built on the innovations of Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade, they spawned a host of imitators, first locally, then elsewhere; these descendants in turn gradually brought emocore to a wider underground audience, from which point it mutated into varying strands that often bore no surface resemblance to Rites of Spring, but owed them a great debt nonetheless. Additionally, half of the band went on to join Fugazi, whose status as punk icons helped shed light on Rites of Spring's small but still-potent recorded legacy.

Rites of Spring were formed in March 1984, with a lineup of lead vocalist/guitarist Guy Picciotto, guitarist Eddie Janney, bassist Mike Fellows, and drummer Brendan Canty. Canty had played in the local hardcore band Deadline from 1981-1982, while Janney was a seasoned veteran of the D.C. scene, having been a member of the Untouchables (1979-1981), the short-lived, Ian MacKaye-led Skewbald/Grand Union (1981), and the Faith (1981-1983), which some credit with laying the groundwork for the early emo sound. Breaking free from hardcore's stylistic straitjacket, their music was powered by melody, tuneful (if hoarse) singing, guitar solos, and compelling instrumental interplay. Frontman Picciotto's lyrics were by turns nostalgic, heartbroken, confused, and desperately searching, expanding hardcore's range of subject matter into territory rarely covered (save for Hüsker Dü). Owing in part to the draining intensity of their shows, Rites of Spring didn't play live very often, but when they did, their gigs were full-fledged events, inspiring fierce devotion among fans and usually ending with the stage covered in flowers and smashed instruments.

Rites of Spring signed with Ian MacKaye's Dischord label and recorded their self-titled debut album in early 1985. Eventually hailed as a landmark in some quarters, at the time it didn't receive the kind of widespread critical attention that Zen Arcade had the year before. In January 1986, the band returned to the studio and cut a four-song EP, upon which point they disbanded; the EP was released posthumously the following year as All Through a Life. Picciotto, Janney, and Canty promptly regrouped as One Last Wish, which moved Janney to bass and put ex-Faith member Michael Hampton on guitar. They disbanded by the end of the year, and in 1987, the entire original lineup of Rites of Spring reunited under a new name, Happy Go Licky, and played a more experimental brand of post-punk influenced by Gang of Four and Mission of Burma. Again short-lived, the group's only recordings were live, but gave Canty the connections to join up with Ian MacKaye in Fugazi later that year; Picciotto would follow him several months later. Mike Fellows, meanwhile, formed Little Baby with ex-members of Soulside, and went on to play with Government Issue and Royal Trux. In 1991, Dischord compiled all of Rites of Spring's recorded output -- the Rites of Spring album, one unreleased song left over from the sessions, and the All Through a Life EP -- onto the CD release End on End, which was remastered in 2001. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Love em real emo lets go
i heart them
I'm going down going down deeper than inside!!!!!!
thelittlebar d
Fantastic music.
I love this band :) <3 btw. Who ever follows me I follow back :)
emocore= post hardcore with emotions. dealt with relationship s and all. descended from descendants and BR. EMO= scenster bullshit fake as hell mallpunk. just an offshoot of melodic hardcore.
it's not emo. well, not the emo that's packaged and shopped out to ignorant kids in the mall at hot topic. this was EMOCORE(hard c o r e , really; post, even). there's a huge difference. hardcore, as the review states, was angrier, political, disenfranchi s e d . this was inwardly emotional hardcore, not as violent, for sure, but just as meaningful. bands like rites of spring/fugaz i , samiam, jawbreaker, early hot water music, early sunny day real estate. jawbox and shudder to think sorta belong, too.
guyandnadja
They were what the individuals brang to the table at that time. Pure and simple. Just as any band does. Labels are what other people put on a band.
o_stormn_nor m n
check out Sunny Day Real Estate for an early emo band, very good music and lyrics, with the emotional aspect carried through the vocals, as well as the music. I agree with Mike, this is not emo, but another non-classifi a b l e band, closest might be punk, but I am not one for labels. Love these guys and Fugazi too, just not emo, not a huge fan of emo.
danielsrober t p
how do you remove a station
did somebody really invoke nuclear war in a metaphor about rites of spring?

it sounds like mozart.
they might be 'emo'....the y always did hate the term, 'emo' so i don't really know if they can be classified as such
lord byron was def influenced by this band.
different look or sound. it would be like calling a nuclear war a neutron war cause they're tactical nukes being slung around instead of hydrogen nukes. both kill and leave its area of effect desolate, and they both have the same kill radius accept for the russian czar-bomb. which is incredibly overpowered both in blast and radiation output
furthermore, i dont see how this affiliates with emotion or emotive hardcore. i can understandin g giving the label to later descendents and green day, but i dont consider this or fugazi emo. both display allot of the natural punk tone, their lyrics pertain to the raw ingenuity and rebellious mindset of it all, just in a more softer tone instead of a grungy one and with like i said before, very poetic lyrics and delivery. emotion is emotion. rebellion is rebellion. it cant be changed by a differe
i dont see how this could be in any way affiliated with the so called emo scene that poisons highschools, malls, and the music scene of today.
the only difference i can see from this band compaired to the earlier bands is that their lyrics are more in depth and poetic. though just the same, its very contradictor y cause allot of later black flag featuring henry rollins was very poetic and in depth. anyone willing to explain this to me?

replace any and all of your old fugazi with rites of spring for better mileage and a more exciting ride!
never heard till now but will definatley start 2
great band
stinkingrose s 3
One of the best bands to date.
It seems emo might have been around since the 80's ha ha reinventing the wheel.
I find it amusing that most bands that people say are emo are actually more often than not just sad pop punk bands. Rites of Spring is one of the most important punk bands ever because they elevated punk beyond "F**k insert Republican President here" politics and helped punks express more than just hate and anger. For the first time a punk could state their emotional crisis. Now emo is a vast wasteland of sad pop punk with an inflection of metal. RIP Rites of Spring.
For my money, Rites of Spring are THE definitive emo hardcore band--meanin g they precede the definition of the genre and therefore are not a pain in the a**. Some of their songs are excruciating - - " D r i n k Deep" is incredible.. . Lead singer Guy Picciotto went on to form Fugazi with Ian M.
just gets better and better and better and better and better and on and on...

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