If you know the name Robert Fish, you probably know him as vocalist of legendary hardcore band 108, but today Fish is celebrating the recent release of the new Every Scar Has a Story self-titled EP, which dropped on June 18.
The project is a duo also featuring Tom Schlatter of You & I and works firmly in the melodic hardcore realm, the three songs on the EP getting right to the point, with tons of energy and passion to spare. It’s what you’d expect from Fish, in other words, and today we’re taking a closer look at what exactly made Fish who he is today, through the five heavy albums that changed his life.
Read on to find what instrumetal band, recently released hip-hop album, and classic punk compilation helped shaped the sounds you hear today in Every Scar Has a Story.
Black Flag – Everything Went Black (1982)
The first day of my freshman year of high school I had shop class with a kid I had met and hadn’t seen in a number of years. I was a hip-hop kid and he was a metal kid. We ignored the teachers, talked music, and he gave me a cassette and said it would change my life; it did. Everything about it, the raw and unnerving energy just connected with me. Made up of Black Flag singles from their first three singers, the record was a great introduction to all things Black Flag. When the Ron Reyes version of the songs came on, it was all over for me. I connected with the sense of desperation in his voice and I can still feel that energy when I hear those songs today. From my perspective, this is the best introduction to punk, period. The recordings were all raw and possessed an intensity, sense of desperation, and pure rage that made it impossible to not get hooked. Every punk record I heard after that moment was measured against this record, and few stood a chance.
Henry Rollins – Hot Animal Sex Machine (1987)
While Henry wasn’t my favorite Black Flag singer, this record, when it came out, was just mind-blowing. It took the elements of My War-era Black Flag that I really dug and was shaped into a more focused and relentless soundtrack that really fit Rollins, lyrically and musically. [Chris] Haskett’s guitar playing had similarities to [Black Flag guitarist Greg] Ginn without it sounding like a rehash; I love the angular riffs that are all over this record. I remember sitting next to my record player and playing “Followed Around” again and again. The best way I can describe this record is “menacing.” “A Man and a Woman” was a stark and disturbing take on spousal abuse and it remains as unnerving today as it was when I was 14 years old. The heaviness of this record is stark—it isn’t about the number of guitar tracks or the tuning but the sheer intensity of how the music provided a perfect canvas for Rollins. The music sounded nothing like anything I had heard at that time; it spawned the Rollins Band, which had some crushing records, and I love the Rollins Band, but this first record, fuck.
Deadguy – Fixation on a Coworker (1995)
There is something really cool about seeing people you know, that you made music with, come out and make a record that literally inspired a new direction in punk and heavy music. Seeing and playing with Deadguy when they initially started was cool—you could see that they were focused on doing something different at a time when many bands were following the formula of whatever subgenre of punk they preferred. Things changed when [Keith] Huckins joined on second guitar—it was like the bands they were playing with had their amps set on 4 and theirs were at 15. Everything was heavier and watching Huckins and [Chris] Corvino throwing their guitars around in a live setting without it sounding like a load of noise was awesome to witness. [Vocalist Tim] Singer’s love for Rollins was very easy to see, but he had his own unique spin, which kept everything fresh. This record was and is an absolute masterpiece. The aesthetic, the music, vocals—all of it was crushing and unique. The entire band, every player, was in top form on this record and during this era of the band.
Russian Circles – Enter (2006)
Heavy as fuck but with an uncanny sense of melody and emotion. “Carpe,” the opener, is a perfect representation of what you can expect from Russian Circles. What I love about this record and this band is that they provide a soundtrack to our everyday surroundings. Their songs, tones and approach paint a unique landscape, which I have always appreciated. For me, the songs represent the beautiful, the ugly, the calm, and the desperation of the world we live in. It is all there and without vocals, leaving the listener to imagine and experience the songs in ways unique to them. Musician-wise, there is not a weak link in this trio. The rhythm section is devastating both in a live and recorded setting. The drumming… I am not sure this band could exist with a different drummer. Over the years I have seen them at least nine or 10 times and every time I find myself just fixating on the drums. Nothing [Dave] Turncrantz plays is overdone, yet his playing is incredibly nuanced and dynamic, which gives the songs a depth and emotion to them that I love.
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 4 (2020)
When I think heavy music, I don’t think guitars, I think emotional release. As a kid, some of the heaviest music I heard was Janice Joplin and The Beatles; think “Maybe,” “Blackbird” or “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The mood and the emotion in delivery was as heavy as heavy gets. Mix Run-DMC, Public Enemy, NWA and Wu-Tang and you have Run the Jewels 4. Shit is heavy from start to finish, and there is absolutely no filler to be found on this record. The production, samples, music, lyrics and delivery are devastating all the way through. Every time I listen to this record I hear new shit; there are so many layers to each song. My favorite records are ones that stir me up emotionally. I can appreciate something that is well executed but it doesn’t hook me unless it strikes a chord emotionally. “Walking in the Snow,” “Ju$t,” “Ooh La La,” “Pulling the Pin” and “A Few Words for the Firing Squad” are all the perfect soundtrack to 2020. This record makes me want to punch, kick, scream, dance, cry, laugh and burn my way through this world. Unfuckwithable, period.
Honorable mentions, just because:
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works (2007), Converge – Axe To Fall (2009), Lewd Acts – Black Eye Blues (2009), Blacklisted – Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God (2008) and Rest In Pieces – My Rage (1987)