“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s a real treat just in time for Record Store Day…

The Catatonics were Syracuse and Central New York’s first hardcore punk band, pioneering the 1981/82 scene there and their breakneck release “Hunted Down” was considered one of the first hardcore/thrash metal crossover releases. Thrown in with chronological contemporaries like Jerry’s Kids, SSD, Negative Approach and even Slayer, The Catatonics were very much the centre of their own suburban orbit in reactionary redneck Reagan’s America. Even though they were only 5 hours from NYC they may as well as been 10 years away from the cultural epicentre, until city expat kid Belvy teamed up with a Florida export called Joe Miller and literally DIY-did it, setting up a band that transmogrified into The Catatonics. They were a band that could change your life.

It’s taken some time, but thank the Southern Lord, “Hunted Down” is being reissued as a 12″ vinyl release tomorrow on said label in time for RSD22, complete with bonus tracks. And as an absolute bonus/treat for us, Belvy has picked a “song for ewe”. Welcome to Velvet Sheep Belvy!

The Catatonics/Belvy photos by Raw Leakage / Sub-Culture Archives

A bit like The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag did for the West Coast, The Catatonics very much the go-to for bands visiting the Central NY state area, and they hosted on their floors the likes of Youth Brigade, Black Flag, 7 Seconds, Gang Green, Suicidal Tendencies, Scream, M.I.A, Die Kreuzen, Husker Du, Necros, GBH, Battalion Of Saints and many more – turning a previous dead zone into an electrified monster of a scene.

With the acceptance and influence of their peers, The Catatonics grew in confidence and after a few tapes their debut record proper, the self released “Hunted Down” featured the “classic” Cats line-up of Belvy, Joe (known now as Jack Shit), Farmer and Jeff Jacques. The ace zine Maximum Rock N’ Roll (a real influence on Velvet Sheep) did a Syracuse feature and perhaps the band’s defining song “Descending In E” featured on the equally seminal Flipside zine’s second comp LP.

Why don’t you dive in here…

The Catatonics light burned strong and bright but with such intensity snuffed itself out quickly (not without leaving scorch marks obvs). Belvy went onto play and record with West Coast hardcore luminaries 7 Seconds, classic Brit punks UK Subs and co-founded NYC glam punks D Generation. A salad days Belvy can also be spotted playing for 7 Seconds on a feature film called “I Still Believe In These Words” about the band’s “Walk Together Rock Together” tour of America and the recording of their “New Wind” album  produced by Dischord/Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye. He’s done loads more besides, but there’s a great Dischord ref in the song pick so that highlight bore repeating…

without further ado, this is Belvy’s “song for ewe”…

“This is the opening track off of what I think is the best punk record of the last 20 years, Flash Flash Flash by The Explosion (from Boston by way of Jade Tree Records).

I remember people called it mod punk when it came out even ‘tho they don’t sound anything like The Jam. I think it was probably more because of their fashion and graphics style

But what it is, is an absolute banger of a GREAT record. It’s full of super catchy songs, loud as fuck guitar, great pic slides and really great snotty vocals. It’s also got a bit of an early Dischord sound and attitude. I go back and forth between No Revolution and Terrorist as my fav track but today I’ll go with No Revolution.
Anthemic.
Loud.
Proud.
This song (and entire record) still jumps off the turntable and right into your face.
20+ years on and it still sounds fresh and not at all dated.
Put this on, crank it up and I dare you not to be bouncing off the walls, jumping up and down and singing along.
It’s that good.”

THANKS TO BELVY AND LAUREN BARLEY AT RARELY UNABLE PR

Please queue up and pick up The Catatonics reissue of “Hunted Down” (Southern Lord) tomorrow Sat 23 April…

here’s the links to the band too:

https://www.facebook.com/TheCatatonicsNY

https://www.instagram.com/thecatatonicsny