Articles of Faith was one of the great hardcore bands of the early 80's. Formed by Vic Bondi and fellow Chicagoans Dave Shield, Joe Scuderi, and Bill Richman (aka "Virus X"), AOF started off writing mid-tempo punk rock (I've heard their demo) and quickly evolved into a tight hardcore band. Although one of the faster groups at the time, what set them apart was their ability to infuse straightforward thrash with a melodic element (not unlike the early Bad Brains). This was thanks to Vic Bondi's singing style and, especially after the addition of third guitarist Dorian Taskbasksh, the band's complex guitar parts and songwriting. Even on the early singles, AOF's songs were jarring and discordant not just because of their sheer velocity, but also in their structure. Elements of reggae, funk, and jazz rhythms were thrown back to back with hyper-thrash. Solos and hooks melt into the wonderful din. AOF also specialized in the protest song: writing anthems like "Buy this War" and "I've Got Mine" as well as many songs addressing alienation and dissatisfaction with society. They expoused the idea that the "personal is the political" when getting neither political nor personal was fashionable in American punk.
Although from Chicago, AOF was not embraced by the original punk scene there. They had a bitter, public rivalry with the Effigies, whom they saw as suburban posers-skinheads with a closet right wing agenda (and who accused them as miming the DC hardcore sound). They did have allies, however, in like-minded Midwest bands like the Zero Boys, Die Kreuzen, and Hüsker Dü . Turned off by the age restrictions of the bar and club scene, AOF began booking DIY shows in the auditorium of the Chicago Centro-American Social Club. These shows gave life to an eclectic new underground punk scene and lasted until the band broke up in 1985. Vic Bondi also had a stint as a columnist in Maximumrocknroll.
Articles of Faith released two EPs: the first on midwest label Version Sound and the second a split release on their own Wasteland label and the Paul Mahern's (Zero Boys) label Affirmation. In 1984 they put out Give Thanks, the first of two full-length records produced by Bob Mould, and were given the opening slot on the amazing P.E.A.C.E. double LP compilation. By 1985, the band had just about come to an end. Their final release, In This Life, shows a definite Hüsker Dü influence - more personal song subjects and even a little acoustic guitar. It came out on Lone Wolf records in 1987, after the band's breakup. Vic Bondi went on to play in Jones Very and Alloy, and taught for a while at the University of Massachusetts. The band reunited briefly for a tour of Europe in the early 90's from which a concert album was culled. Their early material has been reissued by Bitzcore (who also reissued Give Thanks) as the Core collection. Alternative Tentacles is also repackaging and rereleasing all the AOF stuff with bonus tracks for the completists (and you should be).
WHAT WE WANT IS FREE EP (Version Sound, 1982)
WAIT EP (Wasteland/Affirmation, 1983)
GIVE THANKS LP (Reflex, 1984)
IN THIS LIFE LP (Lone Wolf, 1985)
YOUR CHOICE LIVE CD/LP (Your Choice, 1991)
CORE CD/LP (Bitzcore, 1991)
GIVE THANKS CD/LP (Bitzcore, 1992)
CHARRED REMAINS tape (Version Sound, 1981) "Street Fight", "Ghost In The House", "Poison In My Sweat", "AOF", "Belfast"
THE MASTER TAPE LP (Affirmation, 1982) "Buried Alive", "False Security"
STARVING DOGS tape (Little Farmer, 1983) "I've Got Mine", "Born to Be"
P.E.A.C.E. 2LP (R Radical, 1984) "Up Against a Wall"
CODE BLUE tape (Last Rites, 1984) "Buy This War", "Surrogate", "In Your Suit" (live)
MIDDLE OF AMERICA LP (H.I.D., 1984) "5 O'Clock"
Lyrics to Give Thanks, In This Life and various lyrics to Core
An excellent band-run website. You gotta check out the pictures on here. Also includes writing about the band and information on the (upcoming) Alternative Tentacles reissues.
Vic Bondi Website
I was surprised to find out Vic Bondi has a website (his own personal domain name too!). It has information and sound files for Articles of Faith and his subsequent musical endeavors, and also a whole bunch of essays.
Interview from Hex On You #11
An early interview with AOF - interesting especially due to their opinions about both anarchism and Grandmaster Flash. Thanks to Jamie for sending it.
Rap Session from MRR #8
This is a long discussion, from 1983, with Ian MacKaye, Dave Dictor, and Vic Bondi. The main theme here is "political vs. non-political punks."
Interview from Suburban Voice #11
A good interview by Boston's own Al Quint.
Interview from No Name, No Slogan #1
Here's a good 2002 interview with Vic Bondi. A abridged version of this interview appeared in the No Name, No Slogan zine. Much thanks to Tom for sending me the interview for the site!
Liner Notes from Your Choice Live record
I thought these liner notes were really interesting (especially the idea that punk music works against social change by allowing frustrated individuals to channel their discontent into music rather than taking direct action...), so I typed 'em up.
|PHOTOS: MICHELLE STRAUSS OHNSTAD|