Full EP Stream: Dropdead – “Arms Race” and unreleased 1995 material

Dropdead circa today (photo by Hillarie Jason).

There’s a reason that we inducted Dropdead‘s self-titled album from 1993 into our Hall of Fame, and that’s because they’re an absolutely legendary punk/hardcore/crust/grind band. So today we’re thrilled to be giving you the first look at some unreleased material from the band.

Dropdead is dropping the digital Arms Race EP tomorrow. The EP consists of two cover songs; their take on B.G.K.‘s “Arms Race” has been floating around for a while, and today we’re premiering the EP’s other song, a cover of Poison Idea‘s “Give It Up.”

“These two tracks were started in 2005 and finished in 2013 when we had the original multitrack master tapes transferred for our remastering project,” says guitarist Ben Barnett. “We found a few unfinished tracks we never completed. We worked with Kurt Ballou at God City and as part of the full project went ahead and finished up a couple of these unfinished tracks, two covers we were playing for fun back then, ‘Arms Race’ by B.G.K. and ‘Give It Up’ by Poison Idea—two bands that influenced us greatly. Guest dive bomb explosion on ‘Arms Race’ by Kurt. Brian [Mastrobuono, drums], Lee [ Mastrobuono, former bassist] and I all loved Poison Idea and the Pick Your King 7″ was and remains a stone cold classic ripper of an EP. B.G.K. was [vocalist] Bob [Otis]’ idea for a cover; straightforward and simple and totally killer hardcore song, absolutely fun to play.”

When pressed why they picked these songs to cover, Otis has a straight-ahead reason.

“The simple answer is: our love of classic hardcore, which was part of the cement that brought the four of us together in the early days of the band,” says Otis. “International hardcore like B.G.K., Lärm, The Wretched, Raw Power, Discharge, Conflict UK, etc., were all bands that we loved and were spinning on our turntables constantly back then—and now [laughs]. B.G.K.’s ‘Arms Race’ was an absolute manic anti-war anthem and I always felt that it was exactly in line with our political stance and musical style. On the other side of the world here in America we were also being influenced by bands like Siege, Black Flag, Negative Approach, Septic Death, Poison Idea, etc. The Poison Idea song is off the absolutely essential Pick Your King 7”, and although less political than B.G.K. it still has that abrasive ‘fuck you’ in-your-face attitude that we always felt in our own music. Both songs are a tip of the hat to an era of hardcore that still influences us until this day.”

The material is being unearthed now because the band is hard at work on their second discography record, which will feature songs from the Nothing’s Quiet on the Eastern Front compilation, the complete 1995 session that includes the songs that make up the Hostile 7” and an unreleased 7” that was to be released on Pushead’s Bacteria Sour label, plus some songs that were never finished (this is the session where the Arms Race songs came from). The upcoming discography album will also include all the Dropdead songs from their split EPs with Converge, Brainoil, Look Back and Laugh, Totalitäar, Systematic Death, and Ruidosa Inmundicia, and a few other songs to round it off. The tracks were all mixed and edited in 2013 by Ballou at God City; the release date is still to be announced, but will be sometime in 2019.

And, because we love this stuff, today we’re giving you a special sneak peek at some of that material: see below for the remixed and remastered Hostile material, the unreleased Bacteria Sour EP, and a cover of SS Decontrol‘s “Boiling Point,” originally on the Deadly Encounters compilation. The material was all originally recorded at Headroom Studios with Bill T Miller in 1995, then mixed and edited in 2013 at God City by Kurt Ballou, and was mastered at New Alliance East by Rob Gonella.

In other Dropdead news, the band is also hard at work dealing with remastering all their existing recordings for complete remastered reissues of both full-lengths, Discography 1991-1993 (their first discography record), and demo recordings. And, saving the best news for last here, they are “about 24 songs deep into writing the next LP,” says Barnett, and they hope to record it with Ballou in 2019, the year that Dropdead turns 28.

Otis is healing from his back surgery and motorcycle crash from earlier this year, and the band is currently booking shows and festivals for spring 2019 and beyond.

Order Arms Race here, and then check out our exclusive stream of the EP below.

Stream Arms Race here:

Stream the remixed and remastered Hostile EP here:

Stream the unreleased Bacteria Sour EP here:

Stream Dropdead’s cover of SS Decontrol’s “Boiling Point” here: