-Part 1: Incision (Late 1992 – October 1993)
Incision was a band whose reputation surely has never faded. In a way, they were the precursor to Grade. But Incision’s ideals and influences were completely different and revolved solely around straight-edge. Metal-influenced hardcore was pioneered in a triangle between Southern Ontario (Toronto, Hamilton), North Western New York (Syracuse, Buffalo) and Pennsylvania (Erie, Hershey). In this triangle, a tightly knit scene of bands would reinvent the sound of hardcore between 1989 and 1992.
Incision arrived at the tail end of this movement of “metallic hardcore”, influenced by such bands as Chokehold (whom they absolutely worshiped), Burst of Silence, Conviction, Framework, Slugfest, Snapcase, Integrity, Mean Season, Unbroken, Judge and many other bands on Revelation Records, New Age Records and Reflection Records (Arms Length, Trial By Jury, Counter Punch, Green Rage).
These guys were such big fans of Chokehold, attending as many shows as possible, that Chris Logan and Jeff Beckman even thanked them in all three Chokehold releases from 1992. In their split with Crisis of Faith, “No Tolerance for Hardline” they were mentioned as:
“…Darryl, Kyle, and the other cool Burlington kids…”
In their 7″ “Life Goes On” as:
“…Kyle, Darryl, Shawn, Lindsay, Carrie, and the rest of the Burly boys and grrrls…”
And in their demo tape “More Than Ever” as:
“…Kyle, Shawn, Kevin, Lindsay, all you fucks in Burlington…”
Sean Moriarty had also befriended Sandy Robertson and compiled a hardcore compilation with him in 1992. Sean eventually left the project, but Sandy finished it and released it through Chris Logan and Jeff Beckman’s record label, Structure Records, as the “Structure Records Hardcore Compilation“.
So with all of these good bands around, a bunch of friends in Burlington decided to get together in late 1992. Regrouping members of Noise Patch and Reckless Youth, a new band was formed featuring Kyle Bishop on vocals, Greg Taylor and Shawn Magill on guitars, Sean Moriarty on bass and Kevin Harris on drums. Initially the band rehearsed at Shawn’s parents house but this was quickly moved to Kevin’s parents house. Finally, Kyle was responsible for naming the new band “Incision”, styled as xIncisionx to reflect the straight-edge belief.
On March 6th of 1993, Incision played their first show, accompanied by true legends of the new wave of hardcore. Ryan Hollingworth and Zak Husted booked a show at their residence, House for Zak (400 Upper Sherman Avenue in Hamilton), with Burst of Silence, Fadeaway, and I.N.D. This was quickly followed by their second show, again at the same venue, on March 27th with Halfmast. The band would remember the show as the day Sean’s skateboard was stolen during their set, a nice way to promote the straight-edge alliance.
The day following their second show, on Sunday March 28th, Incision headed to Mainway Studio in Burlington to record their first six-song demo with Andrew Plante and Atilla Turi. Not knowing exactly what they were in for, the band had only booked an afternoon session and were so pressed for time that they recorded live off the floor. Their friends Johnny Lubera and Phil Favorboeck provided backup vocals. This first recording session featured the songs “Await”, “Takeover”, “Blink of an Eye”, “Weakness”, “Breathless” and “Victims of Ignorance”.
The demo, titled “Demo ’93”, was packaged with a pretty nice layout, which included a band logo, a thank list, contact information and lyrics to four out of the six songs. The tapes would be dubbed and ready to go on the following weekend just in time for their third show. This April 4th show at The Pierce Arrow in Buffalo, New York would be Incision’s first out of town event. For this they shared the stage with Slugfest, Soulstice, Burst of Silence and Halfmast. Worlds Collide was booked to headline the evening, but simply never showed up to the venue. This event is however memorable for Sandy Robertson filling in on guitar with Slugfest.
Incision provided copies of their new demo to everyone they knew. Chris Logan and Jeff Beckman were also given copies in hope that they would eventually put something out through Structure Records. Structure was already busy with Slugfest, and would go on to release a Bloodlet 7″ later in the year. The Bloodlet record would have most of its copies confiscated at the US border, which ultimately played a hand in the label going under. Who knows, had the label stuck around a little longer, Incision might have released a record with them.
Incision continued playing two or three shows a month throughout the spring and summer. House for Zak became a second home for them as they attended every concert, whether they were playing or not. On April 17th they played the venue with Ricochet and Soulstice; on May 15th with Chokehold and Burst of Silence; on June 30th with Undertow, Sparkmarker and Redline; and on July 18th with Mean Season, Unbroken, Soulstice and Fadeaway.
In May, Incision designed a new logo which would not only be used on new flyers but also on their first t-shirts, courtesy of their friend Darryl De Haan. On May 2nd, Incision was booked to play at the Corktown Tavern in Hamilton, with Snapcase, Chokehold, Burst of Silence and Basket Case. However Snapcase dropped out and Chokehold were offered a bigger show, opening for Earth Crisis at The Lost Horizon in Syracuse, New York. Whether the remaining three bands played or not has been forgotten with time.
That summer Incision finally started playing shows in their home town. They played at Manhattan Rocks with Earth Crisis and Chokehold and then at No Rules Cafe with Bloodlet and Burst of Silence. They also played at Toronto’s Opera House with Anemia and Yam Cat.
In late July, they returned to Mainway Studio to record seven songs with Atilla. Five of these were brand new songs; “Burn”, “Fear of the Truth”, “Pacifier”, “Sacrificed Purity” and “Tear it Apart”. The remaining two, “Takeover” and “Weakness”, would be re-recorded from the first session. This time they booked two full days, recording instruments individually and doing the job right. The result was once again brilliant.
Before they settled on a layout for their second demo, “Fear of the Truth”, they were approached by Chris Kelly from Wayne, New Jersey. Chris had started a new record label, Teamwork Records, in April of 1993, starting off with a Breakaway 7″. He was now putting together a compilation 12″ and, having recently landed their “Demo ’93”, asked Incision to contribute a song. They quickly sent him their new recording session, from which the new version of “Takeover” was selected to appear on Teamwork’s record.
While awaiting the release of the compilation, Incision played a few house shows in the Mississauga region with such bands as Chokehold and Face Down. They also started playing a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks”. A new logo (their third one) was also created and with this, Darryl designed their second batch of t-shirts.
By the end of September, Teamwork’s plan for the compilation had fallen through. But because Incision had been so prompt at sending in their song, and because Chris Kelly liked them so much, he offered to use the financing of the compilation to release Incision’s debut record. All seven songs from the July session would be released on a 12″ vinyl along with a bonus song; “Cable Man, a recording of a prank call to the local cable company.
In the fall, Incision started being booked regularly across the border. The Niagara, New York venue, Willow 104, would welcome them on September 18th with Chokehold, Redline, Slowpoke, Soulstice, Burst of Silence, Abnegation, Halfmast, Next to Nothing, Fineline and Solid Ground. They returned to the venue again on October 16th with Redline, Slowpoke, Next To Nothing and Fineline.
On October 23rd, they played a show at No Rules Cafe with Chokehold and Basket Case. The next day they followed Chokehold down to Syracuse, NY and witnessed Earth Crisis’ legendary “Firestorm” EP release show. Earth Crisis and Chokehold performed with Outspoken, Conviction, Ashes, Framework, Soulstice, Bloodlet, Grip, Green Rage, Bonejack and Flakjacket.
Everyone in the band was absolutely floored by what they heard. They picked up the 7″ and listened to it repetitively over the next week. This new metallic hardcore influence drastically changed the direction of the band and Incision quickly started writing new songs. They promptly contacted Chris Kelly, asking to put off the pressing of “Fear of the Truth”. The band was planning to return to Mainway Studio and record two brand new songs, which they hoped to add to “Fear of the Truth”. This plan quickly escalated into recording an entire new demo, which delayed booking the session until later in the year. They explained to Chris that he should hear the new material before investing in putting out the old songs. Although Chris had already sent out ads promoting the new 12″ in select hardcore fanzines, he agreed to wait off.
Incision was then booked to play again at Willow 104 on October 31st, with Fadeaway, Slowpoke, Next to Nothing, Fineline, Point Blank, Blacklist and Now What U Think?. But either the show in its entirety or Incision’s appearance was cancelled. At the same time, a few members decided to opt out of the straight-edge trend. When Kevin and Greg announced this at the next band practice, Kyle and Shawn accepted the idea to continue Incision as a non-straight-edge band. However, Sean was incredibly passionate about the movement and this understandably upset him greatly. Sean was primarily playing music for the purpose of spreading the word of straight-edge and this wasn’t fitting the picture anymore. But because the band was comprised of his best friends, he quit Incision without any negativity. Sean would later start a new emo band in 1994 with Greg and Kevin, initially named “Cedar”, but which quickly change name to “Auburn”. Sean would also eventually roadie on one of Grade’s tour and remained a close friend through out the band’s career.
-Part 2: Rebirth (November 1993 – January 1994)
The other four members had no intention of stopping the velocity which Incision had built up over the last eight months. They continued jamming at Kevin’s house and called on a local friend, Chad Newport, to step in as their new bassist. Without Sean, Incision renamed itself “Rebirth”. The new name was self-explanatory; they were reviving the band shortly after their demise, continuing along the same path, as if given a second chance. With the band still active, only under a new name, Teamwork tried to convince Rebirth to let him release “Fear of the Truth” through out November. But the band was already far away from this style of music and eventually Chris gave up hope.
Rebirth’s first show was booked for December 12th at No Rules Cafe, with Chokehold, Manhunt, Burst of Silence, Sun Still Burns and Basket Case. But it was quickly discovered that Chad wasn’t the right person for the band and he left in early December. Back in November, Greg and Kevin had started a new band, “Believe”. Rebirth then asked Believe’s guitarist, close personal friend and guest vocalist on both Incision recording sessions, Johnny Lubera, to fill in on bass at their first show (some members seem to remember that it was actually Believe’s guitarist, Tyler Macdonald, who filled in on bass).
At this show, Matt Jones (bassist in Sun Still Burns) was offered to come jam with them in the coming week. Matt was musically compatible and the line-up was solidified once again. After the holidays, Rebirth booked its second show; January 15th of 1994 at Grapes and Things in Hamilton. There, they were set to play with Ricochet, Empathy, Fadeaway and Basket Case. But on the way to the show, they realized how much they hated the name “Rebirth”. When Kyle got on stage that night, he took the mic and announced that from this moment on, they were known as “Grade”.
Some of the songs that were composed and influenced by “Firestorm” in the fall of 1993 would evolve and appear on Grade’s first demo, “Afterthought” in February of 1994. That month, Grade became officially associated with Workshop Records. Mike Wessel, the wallet behind Workshop, had been a close friend to the band members for many years already. When Mike decided to start releasing material, Grade was the first band he approached. He started out by helping financially with the production of the “Afterthought” demo. He then convinced them to put together about fifty tapes of Incision’s second demo, offering Grade additional merchandise to sell at their shows. Abandoning the name “Fear of the Truth”, the Incision demo was released under the name “Takeover”. This time though, only five of the eight songs recorded were used; “Sacrificed Purity”, “Fear of the Truth”, “Pacifier”, “Burn” and “Takeover”.
Exactly nine months, to the day, after Incision broke up, Grade played a show at Kendzies in Lockport, New York. This July 31st event was promoted as Fadeaway’s last show, with Everlast, Soulstice, Empathy, Halfmast and Envy sharing the stage. But Everlast and Soulstice cancelled so Moment of Truth and Against All Hope were added to fill the gaps. When Grade came on stage, they opened their set with Incision’s “Takeover”. This was the last time they played the song live.
Incision’s final appearance came in 1999, again through Workshop Records. After releasing Grade’s and Incision’s demo tapes in February of 1994, Workshop followed up with Believe’s demo in April of 1994. Then in the summer of 1994, as the label’s first official release, Mike put out a split CD featuring brand new Grade and Believe material. This split CD sold out of its first pressing in 1994 and then of its second in 1995 and 1996. By 1999, there was demand again for these early recordings and Workshop got the idea to re-release it on vinyl. Only this time, Mike replaced Believe’s side with Incision. Incision’s side of the vinyl would feature six of the seven songs from the July 1993 session; “Sacrificed Purity”, “Fear of the Truth”, “Pacifier”, “Burn”, “Takeover” and “Tear it Apart”. Only 1000 records would be pressed before Victory Records purchased the rights to Grade’s back catalog, making this the official end of Incision.
-Part 3: Grade (January 1994 – July 2002, July 2006, April 2009 – Present)
Coming soon! Stay tuned!
-Incision Show Listing
- 1993-03-06 House for Zak (Hamilton, ON) I.N.D., Fadeaway, Burst of Silence
- 1993-03-27 House for Zak (Hamilton, ON) Halfmast
- 1993-04-04 The Pierce Arrow (Buffalo, NY) Worlds Collide, Slugfest, Soulstice, Burst of Silence, Halfmast
- 1993-04-17 House for Zak (Hamilton, ON) Ricochet, Soulstice, Burst of Silence
- 1993-05-02 Corktown Tavern (Hamilton, ON)
Snapcase, Chokehold, Burst of Silence, Basket Case
- 1993-05-15 House for Zak (Hamilton, ON) Chokehold, Burst of Silence
- 1993-06-18 Manhattan Rocks (Burlington, ON) Earth Crisis, Chokehold, Burst of Silence
- 1993-06-30 House for Zak (Hamilton, ON) Undertow, Sparkmarker, Redline
- 1993-07-18 House for Zak (Hamilton, ON) Mean Season, Unbroken, Soulstice, Fadeaway
- 1993-08-19 Tim Dywelska’s House (Mississauga, ON) Face Down
- 1993-08-28 ??? (Mississauga, ON) Chokehold, Face Down
- 1993-09-18 Willow 104 (Niagara Falls, NY) Chokehold, Redline, Slowpoke, Soulstice, Burst of Silence, Abnegation, Halfmast, Next to Nothing, Fineline, Solid Ground
- 1993-10-16 Willow 104 (Niagara Falls, NY) Redline, Slowpoke, Next To Nothing, Fineline
- 1993-10-23 No Rules Cafe (Burlington, ON) Chokehold, Basket Case
1993-10-31 Willow 104 (Niagara Falls, NY) Fadeaway, Slowpoke, Next to Nothing, Fineline, Point Blank, Blacklist, Now What U Think
- 1993-??-?? Opera House (Toronto, ON) Anemia, Yam Cat
- 1993-??-?? Mel Gathier’s House
- 1993-??-?? No Rules Cafe (Burlington, ON) Bloodlet, Burst of Silence
- 1993-??-?? ??? Raisin Bag, 3 Orange Whips, Sponge
-Rebirth Show Listing
- 1993-12-12 No Rules Cafe (Burlington, ON) Chokehold, Burst of Silence, Sun Still Burns, Basket Case, Manhunt
- 1994-01-15 Grapes and Things (Hamilton, ON) Ricochet, Empathy, Fadeaway, Basket Case