By Mat Weir
When it comes to Santa Cruz music, few bands are the caliber of hardcore punk, four-piece Seized Up.
That’s due to two factors.
The first is their erratic, take no prisoners intensity that hits you like a brain freeze on a scorching hot day. The second is that this four-piece act consists of Andy Granelli (ex-Nerve Agents/ The Distillers), Danny Buzzard (Fast Asleep/All You Can Eat), Chuck Platt (Good Riddance) and Clifford Dinsmore (BL’AST!) literally making them the godfathers of local punk.
But despite the major talent packed into this band, they keep their DIY hardcore ethos close at heart.
“There are no egos in the room to get in the way,” Platt explains about Seized Up’s writing and practices. “Anyone can stop and say ‘Dude, that sucks, don’t do it.’ We’re just really honest with each other.”
That brand of honesty manifests itself in their recordings, delivering some of the rawest–and heaviest–hardcore on the scene outmoshing bands half their age. Their debut album, Brace Yourself, dropped last year on Pirates Press Records. A blistering 11 songs
packed into 24 minutes and 34 seconds of pure adrenaline that won’t let up. However, because of the Covid-19 global pandemic, they never got to have a record release party. . .until now.
On Friday, September 17, Seized Up will play their first show since the Before Times, making their debut at Moe’s Alley.
Shockingly it will only be their fourth show as a group and you don’t want to miss out on this one like I, admittedly, will. Unfortunately I made plans months ago to be out of town this weekend, putting my local punk membership card into question. Trust when I say don’t be like me.
They will be joined by seasoned punks, Enemy of My Enemy and newcomers, Mondo Chaga, a heavy, local two-piece that formed around the time Seized Up did in 2019.
“Imagine if [Canadian punk band] Nomeansno was really stoned,” Buzzard says describing Mondo Chaga. “It’s super all over the place but fucking jamming! It’s a lot of weird, metal and funk influences but the guitar playing is just insane.”
Despite the global pandemic, Seized Up wasted no time. Whenever they could get together safely, they practiced and continued to write new material culminating in the abrasive three song EP, Marching Down The Spiral.
Chaotic and raucous, Marching Down the Spiral’s tracks are stripped down from their Brace Yourself counterparts.They tap heavily into hardcore’s origins as evidenced in the recording process with long-time Bay Area sound engineers, Mikel Ross and Kurt Schlegel, the later who has worked with the Melvins, Corrosion of Conformity, the Swans and others.
“We ended up going a different route this time,” Platt states. “We tried a different take on this process and did it as a one day recording.”
Marching Down the Spiral dropped earlier this year on the newly formed Cursed Blessings Records, owned by Al Nolan of Canada’s The Almighty Trigger Happy. Platt and Nolan have known each other since 1994 so when the latter wanted Seized Up as the first band signed to the label, the guys were happy to do it.
“We were all like ‘Yeah, sounds fucking awesome,’” Buzzard remembers. “And it turned out to be really cool. Al and Doug [Smart, label manager and vice president] are just phenomenal.”
The new material continues the band’s message of questioning the state of society around them which there was no lack of inspiration after last year.
Lyrics like “Social media/festering forum of decay/and every breath you fake/drowns you deeper in the techno age/no substitute for real air/no replica of real life”off the opening track, “Forum of Decay” don’t hold back with the band’s disgust for online interactions.
Or take the title track with lyrics that question people who claim Christianity-a religion who’s savior was “impaled by Roman cops” yet embrace a police state “marching down the spiral of an endless death toll.”
But don’t let the new material fool you.
Even though they just released the EP only a few months ago, Seized Up says they already have another “seven or eight” songs written with “five completely dialed in” during their twice a week practices. It’s still too early to say when or where these mysterious new tracks will be recorded but fans can get a sneak peek this Friday at Moe’s Alley.
“We decided we have to play a couple songs from the EP, a couple from the record and then douse people with these new songs,” Platt says.
Buzzard sums it up concisely in one sentence.
“It’s going to be insane.”