Article by: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist ‡ Edited by: Leanne Ridgeway, Owner/Chief Editor
Long before NYHC (New York Hardcore) became the world recognized institution it is today, the Lower East Side of Manhattan’s WARZONE were integral pioneers of this musical style.
Formed in 1983, WARZONE not only helped create the NYHC sound, but were also leading innovators in creating the hardcore skinhead style / image and the Youth Crew sub-genre. For the uninitiated, the Youth Crew musical movement is attributed to hardcore and punk bands active in the mid-Eighties, ones that were distinguished by their optimism and moralist outlook. The original youth crew bands and fans were predominantly straight edge (abstaining from alcohol and drugs) and vegetarian advocates.
During WARZONE‘s 14 years of activity – which saw countless line up changes that are nearly impossible to correctly document – the band melded diverse influences into their music. The obvious punk and hardcore styles were their foundation, but they also incorporated Oi! and metal elements which resulted in their broad range appeal to fans of differing “scenes”.
The one constant, consistent person within the ranks of WARZONE was Raymond “Raybeez” Barbieri, who originally joined the band as their drummer in 1983 (the same year he played on the Agnostic Front 7″ EP début, United Blood). Within two years, Raymond had become the crew’s vocalist and front man where he remained until his death in 1997, from pneumonia-related complications at the all-too-young age of 35.
Barbieri used his position in WARZONE to sing lyrics urging unity, denouncing anything that was divisive such as prejudice and racism. He also openly advocated for and encouraged young women and girls to become active in the traditionally male-dominated hardcore punk scene.
As I stated earlier, the roster of musicians that would come and go in WARZONE is a lengthy compiling, as is the band’s official discography (listed below). Some of the noteworthy players that did time in WARZONE include Todd “Youth” Scofield (Youth Of Today, Murphy’s Law, Danzig), Walter Schreifel (Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits, CIV), Vincent “Vinny Value” Verga, and Jason Lehrhoff.
WARZONE Official Discography:
Skinhead Youth CBGB (1984)
As One (Demo) (1986)
Some Records Tape (1986)
Live On WNYU (7/23/87) (1987)
Lower East Side Crew (1987) – EP
Don’t Forget The Struggle, Don’t Forget The Streets (1987) – LP
Open Your Eyes (1988) – LP
Warzone (1989) – LP
Live At CBGBs (1993) – live EP
Old School To New School (1994) – LP
Beyond Birth And Death Split w/ Cause For Alarm (1995) – split 10″ EP
Lower East Side (1996) – EP
The Sound Of Revolution (1996) – LP
Fight For Justice (1997) – LP
The Victory Years (1998) – partial discography LP
In league with the WARZONE discography, this week brought news that the band’s 1988 sophomore album ‘Open Your Eyes’ will be getting a new vinyl re-issue – in several colored variants – through Revelation Records on November 9th.
The re-issue will contain a 16-page, 12″ x 12″ booklet with previously unseen photos, lyrics, liner notes by Tony Rettman, and an interview with late front man Raybeez. Pre-order for this must-have staple of NYHC is active now HERE.