Friday, 14 October 2016

Ink & Dagger

For the entire duration of its existence, hardcore has always been a forward-thinking genre. One would like to think that, at least. Perhaps one of the most definitive testaments to that is Philadelphia's Ink & Dagger, whose originality can truly be deemed objective. Simply put, there has been no other act like them, before or after. To start by focusing solely on the music, Ink & Dagger crafted such off-kilter rhythms that could make the listener almost feel uncomfortable, since they would go so against the natural progression that a song would usually go. Being caught off guard is an immediate guarantee that what's about to heard will be nothing short of captivating. And that it is. To describe their experimental sound is futile, since it doesn't sound like anything else. It sounds like Ink & Dagger, if that makes any sense. In addition, they had one of the most charismatic frontmen in punk rock history, Sean McCabe (who unfortunately died a year later after they broke up, at the age of 27). Him, along with guitarist Don Devore were the only two consistent members of Ink & Dagger, and definitely deserve to be credited as the masterminds behind this explosively unique project.

Of course a band's music is the priority part of their act, and as I've already stated, Ink & Dagger shot out of a different universe on that front. However, another part of what's solidified their legacy is their stage antics. They are perhaps one of few bands who can present legitimate "art pieces" on stage, and not come off as a group of pretentious pricks. For one, they would often perform in make-up. More specifically, dressed like vampires. From videos I've seen, and various stories floating around the internet, it sounds like Ink & Dagger had one of the most insane live shows ever, incorporating fake blood, strobe lights, coffins, and of course the classic vampire get-ups. McCabe also seems to have been notorious for being a bit of a shit disturber (i.e. throwing yogurt at an Earth Crisis show), for lack of a better way to put it. If his goal was to upset people's comfort zones and their own natural order, then that he did extremely well. As a personal (read: pretentious) note, that's what punk/hardcore has always been about. Not necessarily politicizing everything and taking a stance, but upsetting the natural order of things and making others question themselves and be taken out of their own safe-havens, regardless of where they stood morally, politically, you name it. I don't know if that makes sense, but that's something that's always really attracted me to the mystique of Ink & Dagger.

On a final note, since I just realized I forgot to mention this earlier, Ink & Dagger were initially around from 1995 to 1999. They put out two full-lengths and a handful of 7"'s, all of which are included below. In 2010 and 2011, the band reunited, with Geoff Rickly on vocals. They headlined This Is Hardcore and toured the UK. Not sure what else to say here, besides Ink & Dagger are an essential band for anyone looking to really hear something different, and to return to my very first sentiment, forward-thinking. Enjoy.

Edit: And yes, Eric Wareheim (of Tim & Eric fame) did play bass for them at one point

1. The Changeling
2. Frigid Shortcomings
3. Newspaper Tragedy
4. Bloodlust
5. My Ladylove

1. The Road To Hell
2. Shadowtalker
3. Caretaker
4. Full Circle
5. The Changeling
6. Frigid Shortcomings
7. Newspaper Tragedy
8. Bloodlust
9. My Ladylove
10. Crawler

1. Philapsychosis
2. 13th Dream
3. 13th Dream [JG's Remix]

1. The Fine Art Of Original Sin
2. Philapsychosis
3. We Live Despite Their Schemes
4. Cut-Throat Tactics
5. The Six Feet Under Swindle
6. The History In Ecstasy
7. VampireFastCode Ver. 1.5
8. The Fine Art Of Original Sin (The GFS Resonant Mix)

1. Ink & Dagger - Catch The Flashback
2. Le Shok - Electric Digits

1. Mayor Withdrawal
2. Part Time Prophet

1. She Came Crashing
2. Sweet Relief Of Revenge
3. Sarcastic Sunrise
4. The Lines Of Lies
5. Part Time Prophet
6. Den Of Scorpio
7. Absinthe
8. Lolita
9. Creatures Like Us
10. Omit
11. Facedremer


  1. Been trying to find more material by these guys for ages, thank you so much!

  2. That's bloody great, thanks so much. I love me a bit of ol' Ink & Dagger. I booked a gig for them on the 2nd euro tour in 1999 (I think...), pretty quiet bunch of boys, didn't say much, but nice folk. Rest in power Sean.

    1. Any good stories? I'm a bit of an aspiring film maker, and I always thought a documentary on Ink & Dagger/Sean would be a great watch.
      It's one of my dream projects.

  3. I saw them in a warehouse in Lancaster pa.(about an hour and a half from philly) it was one most scary shows I've been too. My 17 yr old brain couldn't register that these were people playing music as legit scary fucking people playing this intense heavy floaty type of aggressive music. Sean pulled my friend to stand in front whIle he screamed and danced around him.. good times

  4. My High School friend married Don. I used to go to shows at the Ink and Dagger house. Sean killed the singer of the band Autumn on the internet. Posted a whole fake funeral announcement. Everyone believed it. He tried to pull a personal prank on me by telling myself and his roommate that each of us was "in love" with the other.