As I write this, I, like many of you, have been listening to David Bowie’s The Next Day (which, so far, is pretty good). His first album in a very quiet decade—for him, at least—Bowie uses the time to seemingly come to terms with getting old. His voice sounds aged, and it is, but he uses this biological inevitability to give his music a different edge. Aging in rock ‘n’ roll has always been a tricky act to pull off, but with a balance of grace and creativity, Bowie continues to show that it can be done.
In a press release touting their upcoming Invisible EP, Philly hardcore future legends Paint It Black had this to say: “This new record has been in the works for what feels like a long time. So long, in fact, that it seems like a lot of people, us included, stopped believing it was really going to happen. The challenges of geography, too many bands and tours, and other more mundane aspects of adult life, all conspired to delay and discourage us. But here we are, despite these obstacles, with a new record and a renewed sense of purpose.” Its most resonant line echoes the fabled search for peace in rock ‘n roll adulthood: “It’s about figuring out how to keep making noise even when life quiets down.”
Though not as old as Bowie—the band’s members are in their early 40s, on average—frontman Dan Yemin and Paint It Black are vets in their own right. As a regular at the long dead West Philly hardcore house Stalag 13, Yemin spent the ‘90s playing countless shows in our area with his previous bands Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, who’ve also left a famed legacy. After both bands dissolved, Yemin continued with his day job—a gig he still holds today—as a psychologist, working mainly with teenagers. In 2001, Yemin suffered a severe stroke, which, after a full recovery, energized him back into the hardcore scene. He quickly formed Paint It Black, trading his guitar for straight vocal duties and bringing former Kid Dynamite drummer David Wagenschutz with him.
The band’s ‘03 debut album, CVA, was filled with minute-long “Woah-oh-oh” filled tunes, catchy yet aggressive, with Yemin’s thought-provoking lyricism. (A song title like “Less Deicide, More Minor Threat ...” should tell you what you need to know.) Two years later, Paint It Black released their sophomore effort, Paradise, running down 14 songs in 21 minutes with a rougher, more jittery sound. The group took a sonic steer in a weirder direction with 2008’s New Lexicon, arguably their best. Featuring songs that almost hit the three-minute mark, far more lyrical and experimental—check out the industrial outro of “Gravity Wins”—Yemin and the boys matured their songwriting without missing a step.
Next Sunday’s sold-out show at the Church will celebrate Paint It Black’s Invisible seven-inch, their first release since 2009. It’ll hardly be their first time at the venue—and probably won’t be their last. But for these “old” punks, now fathers, their ride into rock ‘n’ roll adulthood has been as graceful as they come.
Sun., March 31, 6pm. Sold out. With Joyce Manor, Loma Prieta, Congenital Death + Bad Side. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 215.821.7575. r5productions.com
PW's Music Issue 2014