By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Along with fellow Midwestern band Necros, Detroit-based singer John Brannon’s hardcore outfit Negative Approach was one of the first purveyors of a new faster, more aggressive style of punk rock that emerged in the region during the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Following a trail blazed by Los Angeles’ Black Flag, San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys and D.C. pioneers Bad Brains and Minor Threat, Negative Approach came together in 1981 after Brannon and original bassist Pete Zelewski after the friends reportedly attended a Black Flag show. Zelewski would not last long with the group, but Brannon soon found longtime drummer Chris “Opie” Moore and the McCulloch brothers Rob (guitar) and Graham who would make up the seminal early line-up of Negative Approach.
After recording a demo and contributing a song to the Process of Elimination compilation 7″ single put out as one of Meatmen singer Tesco Vee’s first releases on his Touch and Go label, the band would release it’s eponymous 7″ EP for the imprint in 1982. Featuring Brannon’s angry, barked vocals and a blistering instrumental assault, the EP included some of the group’s definitive songs like “Nothing” and “Can’t Tell No One.”
While growing tension withing the quartet would lead to its demise the following year, they would come back together long enough to record their proper full-length debut Tied Down. The record included slightly longer tunes than the feral under a minute blasts heard on the EP while slowing the band’s typical breakneck tempo for the corrosive dirge “Evacuate.” Brannon would put together an entirely new line-up of musicians, but the group fell apart after a handful of dates in 1984, the last time Negative Approach would perform for over two decades.
The singer remained an important figure on the Detroit punk scene, fronting the noisy, more blues-minded Laughing Hyenas until the mid-1990s and his later garage-rock band Easy Action. Brannon and Moore would resurrect Negative Approach to play the 25th Anniversary Touch and Go festival in Chicago in 2006, teaming with Easy Action guitarist Harold Richardson and Laughing Hyenas/Easy Action/Necros bassist Ron Sakowski to fill out the band.
Negative Approach have toured regularly ever since, becoming a consistent festival attraction with it’s incendiary live sets (playing All Tomorrow’s Parties in the UK, Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX, and No Fun Fest in Brooklyn among others) and hitting the road on both sides of the Atlantic with like-minded bands including OFF! and Punch.
For the band’s current tour across the U.S., NA has been joined by Bloodclot, a new group fronted New York hardcore legend John Joseph. As the original singer for Cro-Mags, Joseph delivered seething vocals on the band’s groundbreaking 1986 debut album The Age of Quarrel, a collection of songs that helped define the NYC punk sound of the era.
While Joseph would split with the group before it recorded the more metallic follow-up Best Wishes in 1989, he eventually rejoined the Cro-Mags in the early 1990s and currently stands as the only member of the band from the original line-up performing under the moniker. While Joseph has branched out as an author and competitive tri-athlete, the singer’s latest project is his punk supergroup Bloodclot with friend and guitarist Todd Youth (who has played with iconic East Coast crews as Danzig, Murphy’s Law, Agnostic Front and D-Generation).
After an injury left Joseph unable to compete in a Los Angeles triathlon in 2015, Youth booked studio time and the pair started working on demos. The promise of the new songs led Joseph and Youth to recruit the powerhouse rhythm section of drummer Joey Castillo (Danzig, Queens of the Stone Age, Bl’ast) and bassist Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Dwarves, Queens of the Stone Age, Bl’ast) to form the high-octane hardcore quartet. The band’s recently released debut effort for Metal Blade Records Up In Arms has been widely hailed as an ferocious salvo of punk-rock fury. Metal-tinged SF crossover band War Bison opens this sure to be packed show at Thee Parkside in San Francisco.
Negative Approach with Bloodclot
Thursday, Aug. 3, 8 p.m. $17