Richard Brown / Peter Bevilacqua / Don SandersSS Records
By AJ Phink on 4th October 2016 at E-mail
After more than three decades in the wilderness, the legendary Boston punk band The Proletariat have finally reunited. Original members Richard Brown, Peter Bevilacqua and Tom McKnight will be joined by guitarist Don Sanders (from the Idle Rich) and will reunite for a series of shows later this year. The reunion coincides with the reissue of the bands debut album from 1983, Soma Holiday. The Proletariat also appeared on the legendary, and highly influential, compilation This is Boston Not LA in 1982 and released their second and final album, Indifference, in 1985. They will be playing a handful of shows towards the end of the year and they are planning further shows and festival appearances in 2017. Richard Brown, Peter Bevilacqua and Don Sanders took some time out from the preparations for their upcoming reunion shows to talk to The Punk Site
Hi, thanks for taking the time out from your rehearsals to take time to talk to The Punk Site, first up the obvious question is what have you all been up to since indifference was released in 1985?
RB: Well since Indifference was released Peter and I both got divorced. Tommy moved to California, I moved to Rhode Island.. Peter, Frank and I briefly played as Churn in the 90s. This spring Scott Soriano of Ss Records offered to reissue our debut album Soma Holiday. We gladly accepted and Peter and I pushed to do some reunion shows, but Frank elected not to be a part of it.
PB: Since 1985 I have spent a great deal of time working, supporting my family and trying to survive as a true member of the proletariat.
DS: I’ve been playing in bands all along, including Idle Rich, Medicine Ball, The Masons and The Followers.
What inspired The Proletariat to reform after a quarter of a century has passed since your last album?
RB: While the reissue of Soma may have gotten the ball rolling or rather started the conversation both Peter and I have been chomping at the bit to do some shows over the past few years. A few years back there was a movie released about the Boston scene that had a few “reunion” shows tied in with the release. We were asked to play, but couldn’t get the line up in place to do so, ultimately I am glad that we didn’t because we later found out that we were not even mentioned in the film. This time around it feels pretty serious. The political climate in this country (US) is absolutely toxic, even worse than it was 1980-84. The narrative that is being sold is that “we are a divided nation” which is exactly what the powers that be want. The truth is that since the 80’s we have basically been involved in class warfare, Reagonomics / Supply Side economics, whatever you want to call it, was the opening salvo of this conflict. Widen the gap between the rich and the poor, eliminate / reduce the size of the middle class, attack organized labor (portray teachers, fireman and postal workers as greedy, as lazy, as the problem). To this add the candidacy of one Donald Trump, the attacks on the poor, the racial insensitivity and poor treatment of women by a candidate for our nation’s highest office and the time seems right.
PB: I think there were different reasons to get back together one of the biggest reasons for me was Donald Trump and the fact that that jackass could actually be president. quite sick really.
Have the previous members given the reunion their blessing? and what are they up to now?
RB: There is only one original member that is no longer involved with the band and that is guitarist Frank Michaels. We tried to get Frank to join in but his schedule made it impossible. Frank has given our current line up and string of shows his blessings.
How’s the new guitarist Don Sanders (of the Idle Rich) fitting in?
RB: Frank’s replacement is Don Sanders from Providence’s Medicine Ball and the Idle Rich. Don was a long time fan and is a gifted guitarist with a shit ton of energy and a nasty sense of humor, so yeah he fits right in.
PB: Don is fitting in great, he gets it
DS: I was at The Proletariat’s shows even before the original Soma Holiday came out. Idle Rich had played many shows with The Proletariat back in the day, so it was good that I was very familiar with the band and their sound. I wanted to get it all right and I consulted with Frank Michaels on the songs and guitar tones.
So far you’ve got four reunion shows booked, are their plans for anymore ?
RB: We have 4 shows confirmed for this leg of shows, New Haven, Boston, Providence and NYC. We hope to string together a few more dates in early 2017, thinking east coast, and if we are fortunate maybe we can do a whole bunch. I would love to tour Europe and hit the west coast of the states too. We’ll see.
Are there any plans to record anything new in the studio?
RB: While we are mainly focused on getting the songs for the set as tight as possible, we are also working on new material, which I would say kind of answers the question of whether or not we will be recording again, I certainly hope so.
As someone who was around in the early years of punk what are your feelings about the 40th anniversary, does punk still mean the same thing as it did when you were first around?
RB: In my early punk days the level of energy was unlike anything I had ever felt, there were a million bands, new stuff was discovered every week. Pre-internet finding this new stuff wasn’t easy, you had to search it out. It was dizzying, there were tons of shows to see, British bands, NYC bands, noise bands, HC bands, LA, DC… it was great. Obviously it isn’t like that today. I think that punk instilled a certain “leeriness” in me. I tend to question everything, motives, policies, people’s opinions. I am sure that to those that didn’t live it comes across as odd, perhaps a bit rude. I don’t think it will ever change and I am good with that.
Do you have any particular favourite memories, and are their any bands you’re still in touch with from the eighties?
RB: One of my favourite bands in the world is/was Boston’s Mission of Burma. When we first started we had very small goals 1) to play the Rat in Boston 2) to record some songs and 3) to open for Mission of Burma. We were very fortunate, We played with Burma a lot and they were always incredibly cool to us. Now fast forward to 2016, our drummer Tommy, lives on the west coast and cannot practice with the rest of the band very often, so we really want to practice with a ‘live’ drummer, who comes to our rescue, Mission of Burma drummer Peter Prescott. In fact on the bill for our November 4th Providence show is Peter Prescott’s side project Minibeast, sort of a punk “circle of life” moment.
PB: Well I think back on all the letters we received that told us listening to our music made people think differently about the world. That’s what certain bands did for me!!
Thanks for taking the time out to talk to The Punk Site, good luck with the reunion shows and hopefully we’ll get to catch up with you next year
The reissue of The Proletariats debut Soma Holiday album will be released on SS Records this Autumn
You can purchase tickets for their first show at Café 9, New Haven, CT on the 29th October here
Tickets for the show on 3rd November at the Once Ballroom, Somerville, MA can be purchased here
Tickets for the show on 4th November at The Met, RI can be purchased here
Tickets for the New York show at St Vitus on the 5th November can be purchased here