YOUTH BRIDAGE
Youth Brigade LA
PHOTO: GLEN E. FRIEDMAN

Youth Brigade was a power trio consisting of the three Stern brothers: Shawn (guitar/vox), Mark (bass) and Adam (drums). Their family moved from Canada to LA where father Stern worked in the film industry. The brothers were surfers who played in cover bands until punk rock hit them in 1978. Their first band, the Extremes, featured Shawn singing with a fake British accent. In late 1979 the elder two Stern brothers (Shawn & Mark) moved into a giant punk party house dubbed "Skinhead Manor" next to Hollywood High School. Youth Brigade was conceived in 1980 as a skinhead swing band, but couldn't find enough members willing to shave their heads. Stripping down to a three-piece outfit, the band started playing out, initially without much success. After the demise of the Manor, the Stern brothers continued the band and their new psuedo-collective: The Better Youth Organization (BYO). BYO was Shawn's positive reaction to a bloody riot at the Masque. The loose-knit group worked at a grassroots level doing promotion, booking, and even security for LA-area shows.

Using the brother's Bar Mitzvah money, BYO put out their first record in 1982, the Someone got their Head Kicked In! compilation LP. The record featured bands from BYO's "Youth Movement 82" showcase - a huge show attended by thousands of punks. The title came from a song by UK band The Rezillos (and was actually written by a member of Fleetwood Mac!). The LP featured the first Youth Brigade material. The band quickly followed up with their own full-length, 1982's Sound and Fury. After the first pressing of this record, however, the band decided they were unhappy with some of the material. They rerecorded the LP and released a new version with several songs and the front cover changed. The Youth Brigade sound was a bombastic mix of early UK punk and skinhead sounds with the emerging US hardcore thing, though "Men In Blue" found them dabbling in early rap stylings. Most of their songs had anthemnic sing-along choruses, and the lyrics often posed questions rather than offering slogans. They took the act on the road along with Social Distortion in a beat-up used school bus - an ill-fated trip documented in the classic movie Another State of Mind.

Youth Brigade managed to put out one more 7", 1984's What Price? before they fell apart in 1985. Adam went to art school and the other two continued playing as the Brigade, dropping the hardcore sound for a more bland, rock thing. The band reunites from time to time, touring and putting out records as Youth Brigade. The reunions sparked some controversy in the new, DIY-centered hardcore scene (see the exchange between Shawn and Kent McClard linked on this page for more of that). BYO continues to operate as a record label, and all the early Youth Brigade material has been reissued on compact disc.
DISCOGRAPHY

Releases

SOUND AND FURY LP (BYO, 1982)

SOUND AND FURY LP (BYO, 1983)

WHAT PRICE HAPPINESS 7" (BYO, 1984)

COME AGAIN EP (BYO, 1992)

HAPPY HOUR LP (BYO, 1994)

SPIES FOR LIFE split 7" w/ SCREW 32 (BYO, 1995)

TO SELL THE TRUTH LP (BYO, 1996)

YOUTH BRIGADE/SWINGING UTTERS split CD (BYO, 1999)


Reissues

SINK WITH KALIFORNIJA (BYO, has the first 2 records)

SOUND AND FURY CD (BYO, rerelease of the original version of the LP)


Compilations

SOMEONE GOT THEIR HEAD KICKED IN LP (BYO, 1982) "Violence", "Boys In the Brigade", "Look In the Mirror"

UNDERGROUND HITS 2 LP (Aggressive Rockproduktionen, 1983)

SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN LP (BYO, 1984) "Care"

SUBURBAN VOICE 15TH ANNIVERSARY COMPILATION CD (Suburban Voice, 1998)


INFO

BYO Records Website
The label started by the Stern brothers. The Youth Brigade page mostly just has sound files.

Youth Brigade section on Dementlieu Punk Archive
Check out the section on Youth Brigade/BYO - there's a well-written history of the two entities, as well as a bunch of interviews and miscellaneous stuff.

Youth Brigade Website
The usual fanpage - bio, discography, lyrics, pictures, and an interview from 1993. Nicely done.

Interview from Suburban Voice #12
Hear Shawn Stern's crazy opinions about evolution! Interview by Al Quint from 1984.

Interview from sometime in the 90's
A good interview with Shawn Stern. Among a bunch of other things, he talks about a letter that Kent McClard wrote to him about their reunion in 1992. (McClard printed it in No Answers #10.25 - here - and also allegedly bootlegged Youth Brigade material from their first LP on a 7").

Youth Brigade Website on Punkisdead.com
An "Authorized Site", not run by Youth Brigade though. The other fan site is better.



KILL FROM THE HEART Home