Few of the European hardcore punk scenes could equal that of Italian community from the 80s and mid-90s. The 1980s became the crucial decade for the scene which almost immediately became one of the most interesting and creative movements in the world, promoted by outspoken, charismatic, energetic, and internationally well-known bands like Raw Power, Negazione, or the Impact, Nerorgasmo, and Bloody Riot. Joining them in mid-90s was an eclectic band called SHEAR, who became quite a phenomenon in Italy, Germany and Austria, but never really gained larger popularity.
The band’s vocalist Giorgio Senesi relesed a book about the Italian Punk and HardCore in the 80’s called “Straight Against The Wall” two years ago, and today we’re looking back at the story of SHEAR, through the band’s first hand commentary and special premiere of their previously unreleased EP called “999”, for proof of how damn good they were and that TURNSTILE‘s blend of styles and influences is nothing new to hardcore, even 30 years ago.
After many years of hiatus, inspired by the release of Giorgio’s book “Dritti Contro un Muro”, SHEAR has decided to join their ranks and make some new music!
“Reading it I realized we still had something to say.” – says guitarist Dani Sindaco. “So we are writing new material at the moment purely driven by the joy of making music together. We are pretty lucky: not only there’s a great chemistry among us musically wise, but we are best friends too. I don’t know how many bands where band members don’t like each other can function. It wouldn’t work with any of us for sure.”
SHEAR has 5 new tracks so far and currently Giorgio is in the process of writing vocal lines and lyrics. “As we live in different countries now, we are doing the demos digitally, but we plan to record together to give the tracks that “live vibe”.” – concludes Dani.
Asked about the very beginnings of their project, drummer Nico Masi recalls: “The fact that I play drums today is most definitely thanks to Giorgio and Dani. At first, I was playing guitar in the band together with Dani and Giorgio but then the drummer left and so I proposed myself. I picked it up quickly and I will never forget their expression of disbelief at the first rehearsal where I was behind the drum kit. We sounded amazing. Everybody was excited to start this new chapter.”
SHEAR recorded their first demo tape in 1996. The following year Applequince Records produced their first official release, an 7″ EP titled “… East Coast ‘997”. The same year, they came up with new EP “Heat From The Sun” on Mele Marce Records (Giorgio’s label). SHEAR recorded their final EP “999” in 1998 with a new bassist player, Francesco Patruno who replaced the founding member Fabio Ferrara.
“During those years we played many shows in Italy and toured central Europe twice. In 1999, personal projects pulled us on hiatus.” – recalls Nico.
Having mixed many influences together, from rock, old school hardcore, to funk, their grooves made it stand out and at the same time hard to classify.
“From the beginning of the band, we have had an incredible synergy among the three of us (Daniele, Nico and myself).” – says vocalist Giorgio Senesi . “This is the sort of thing that is a total trip to look back at, how a few friends can take a bunch of ideas, candid stories and put it all together in music to share.”
Musically, the sound pulled heavy influence from their personal backgrounds and from early 1980’s hardcore favorites, but also later 1990’s post hardcore stuff, as their inspiration to pick up instruments and begin their own journey.
“Our influences are actually pretty different.” – continues Dani. “I grew up with 70’s Hard Rock music and British Blues; that made me pick up the guitar. I liked punk rock too, but the band had to be tight. I couldn’t and still cannot listen to a sloppy band. I never understood that sense of pride, coolness some garage punk bands have of being sloppy and sucking at your instrument.”
“We were rehearsing at least 3 times a week for hours. We recorded the rehearsals on cassette and analysed what we did. We always tried to improve. We took pride of that. Stylistically at the time I really liked the dissonant chords of Denis D’Amour of VoiVod, the tightness of Page Hamilton of Helmet and the weirdness of Larry LaLonde of Primus.”
“Our song writing process has always been drum-based: I would bring a guitar riff and work with Nico on the drum-beat or ask Nico to come up with a cool drum-beat first and I would find a guitar riff that would work nicely with it. The rule was: if the drum-beat is not great, neither will be the song.”
Nico agrees that the different influences of each of the band members have contributed to giving space and originality to their compositions. “For example at that time I listened to a lot of metal and followed drummers like Dave Lombardo, Gene Hoglan and I liked the idea of inserting the double pedal without worrying that it was not “punk correct”. In the songs the drums follow the guitars a lot and vice versa, it was not a choice, everything was born spontaneously.”
As for the lyrical content, Giorgio has its own process. “I mostly write all the lyrics, then I show them to the rest of the band just so they can give me feedback on certain things.” – he admits. “As for inspiration, in the early days I got a lot of it from hardcore themes of unity and community, respect for everyone. Those have always been a highlight in my lyrics.”
“Lately, I get a lot of inspiration from my background of my studies (geology/environmental phenomena), short stories, and the various stuff I’ve read and seen throughout the years of travels. In fact, sometimes I’ll just Google random thoughts about the subject I’m writing and see if any quotes or stories ring true with me, and take inspiration from those.”
Lyrically, the “999” EP is a bit more personal. “Or that’s how I take it anyway.” – says Giorgio . “Then, what’s personal and what’s political? Each track is also left to the listener to interpret as their own.”
Asked about some of the newer inspirations, Nico says that during his late teenage years I was a lot into dark music and then moved on to hard rock, death metal, hardcore, and progressive music, but in recent years if there is a band that has completely conquered him, that is Mastodon. “Their genre cannot be classified.”- says Nico. “Their music has sludge, metal, hardcore punk elements, heavy guitar riffs driven by jazz-influenced drums and long interludes which are very Progressive Rock. Their way of daring in their compositions is what won me over.”
“Musically, we’re all different.” – says Giorgio. “I remember getting into Dark/Goth and Punk and all that, but I always liked the more aggressive shit. Then, I discovered Minor Threat in the ’80s and one day in the early ’90s someone mentioned in New York there was this band called Sick of it All and I was like: “This is amazing!”.”
“I was a lot into the old American Hardcore (7 Seconds, Minor Threat, Black Flag and the Bad Brains had a huge impact on me) but I was more influenced by the NYC (Agnostic Front, Sick of it all, Cro–Mags, etc.) and Boston (SSD, DYS, Slapshot , etc.) scenes happening back then.”
“That used to really excite me, but I was not blind to other sounds such as rock and roll from the ’50s and all the European hardcore punk scenes as well. I got involved in punk in the ’80s and still love the freedom and ideas surrounding this kind of music.”
“My love for 70’s Hard Rock, Blues and the best Punk all got together in Danzig‘s sound of first four albums.” – adds Dani. “I think they are brilliant. His talent was incredible on those records; he wrote, arranged and basically produced those albums (apparently Rick Rubin did not do much). The band had a fantastic chemistry as well. They were what I was missing in the music scene at the time.”
“Of more obscure stuff, I really liked a late 90’s band from Brighton, U.K. called The Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster.’
“They were powerful and heavy without relying on heavy distortions or “big-sounding” drums. And the singer had his own style and was a great front-man too. I had the pleasure to meet them and they were great guys; also they were smart enough to give up chemicals and become Zen followers which only increased their creativity. They disbanded after 3 albums to pursue other projects, music or acting related.”
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑜𝑚 𝑜𝑓 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑠 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑓𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑎𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑤𝑎𝑑𝑎𝑦𝑠 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑛 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑡 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑓𝑢𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠
Apart from the music itself, Giorgio emphasizes the meaning of inner integrity and the importance of social, political, but also nature-related consciousness.
“The people must not be deprived or shortened of the right to speak, write or publish their feelings, thoughts and art. This great bulwark of freedom must be inviolable.”
“Also I would like to say that as individual entities before and as a band immediately after we have always had a strong bond and respect for nature and natural events. It is no coincidence that the name of the band “Shear” is a geological term, the response of a rock to deformation usually by compressive stress. The shear in earthquakes is the stress component parallel to a given surface, such as a fault plane, that results from forces applied parallel to the surface or from remote forces transmitted through the surrounding rock.”
“In a certain sense, a similarity with our lifestyles that want to have a certain detachment from a cynical and hyper-consumerist society to live a more peaceful life in contact with nature.”
Nico also believes that in this historical moment we should be aware of what is happening around us, “taking it for what it is although it could be different from what we’d like it to be.”
“With this I mean understanding the reality by overcoming our mental schemes and prejudices. Finally a recommendation would be to feed your passion, do things well and that will bring you happiness.”
Dani concludes: “I don’t know if we humans are smart enough to fully understand Nature’s wordless language. But we should be more humble toward it for sure: respect it and re-immerse our self into it. I believe Nature is the soul of the world. By connecting with it we connect with our inner-self and become one with it. That’s what surfers, divers or climbers experience; beside the technical skills they have that connection. And without becoming such hi-profile athletes everyone can experience it just by interacting with the nature respectfully. I am trying to.”