If you find today’s so-called “Punk Rock” to be a little lacking and miss the pre-Emo days of classic Punk abandon, you’re in for a treat this week as two of the best American Punk acts team up with a pair of Ohio greats — Cincinnati’s SS-20 and Dayton’s Legbone.
The Zero Boys formed in 1979, hailing not from the Lower East Side of New York City nor Southern California, but Indianapolis, one of many non-coastal acts to spring up in the aftermath of Punk’s mid-’70s explosion. And like in those many other Midwestern cities (Cincinnati had SS-20), Zero Boys would themselves influence future generations, making their contribution to American Punk immeasurable.
Like Ohio’s Rocket From the Tombs and The Customs, Zero Boys didn’t initially last long and its discography was limited. But, like those aforementioned bands, that limited material became influential and its endurance with Punk fans has pulled the group out of retirement a few times. The Boys’ debut (and only, until 1992) full-length, 1982’s Vicious Circle, is widely perceived as an ’80s Hardcore Punk classic. The band broke up before completing its planned second album, eventually reuniting with a new guitarist and releasing two more full-lengths.
In 2009, The Zero Boys were reignited by reissues from popular Indiana label Secretly Canadian, which re-released Vicious Circle and put out the cassette retrospective, History Of, on CD for the first time. The Boys have increasingly done more shows ever since; next month, the group has a week of East Coast/Midwest gigs lined up.
Forming around the same time, Boston’s Gang Green would go on to earn a bit more name recognition than Zero Boys. Though the band did break up after just four years, the ensuing three decades would see a lot of activity from the band’s revolving lineup. The non-original lineups would go on to Gang Green’s biggest successes. In the version guitarist Chris Doherty put together in 1985, Gang Green released its Hardcore masterwork, Another Wasted Night. The group signed to Roadrunner Records a couple of years later, moving its sound — as many Punk bands did around that time — toward a more Metal vibe and continuing to build a following.
Gang Green has toured and recorded off and on since the mid-’90s, with Doherty ultimately relocating to Cincinnati. He’s been busy rebuilding Gang Green with local musicians — the current lineup includes locals Chris Donnelly (Sluggo, SHAG), Sean Boyle (Total Dudes) and drummer Dale Kishbaugh.
ZERO BOYS and GANG GREEN play Friday, July 12 with SS-20 and Legbone at the Southgate House Revival in Newport. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.