Many hardcore bands have a short a shelf-life, but it ain’t the story of this mob right here. Since their inception in 1988, Detroit hardcore heavyweights COLD AS LIFE have had a long struggle, but apart from all the turbulances they’ve gone through, they remain one of the most influential and baddass bands in the history of oldschool, raw, in-your-face hardcore! Perhaps it’s due to the addiction of contributing to the scene, touring and delivering violent and uncompromising commentaries on controversial topics, but whatever the reason, when a band reaches their 30-year milestone, it’s an incredible feat. We have teamed up with the band’s early member, bassist Craig Holloway, to talk about the band’s new incarnation, their recent European tour, new record on Demons Run Amok Entertainment, and the city of Detroit. Feel free to familiarize with the full story below and read the full interview after the scroll.
1988 Detroit was one of the harshest, if not the harshest cities in the United States. The surrounding desolation, destruction and heartbreak led to two people’s desire to form a band. Roy Bates (drums) and Jeff Gunnels (guitar) came together on the west side of Detroit to play music that reflected their angst. This began the Apathetic Degenerates. After the addition of Rawn Beuty (vocals) and Jay West (guitar) the band morphed into the Mattress Rats and began writing and performing music that reflected the violence and harsh surroundings of Detroit.
The original lineup of Rawn, Roy, Jeff and Jay Way were joined by many different bassists, most notably Craig Holloway and Jake Loch rounding out the original lineup. Rawn eventually changed the name of the group to Cold As Life after one of their songs with the same title. This lineup recorded a series of demos which were compiled in 2004, and developed the signature sound that would make them infamous in the world of hardcore.
The early 1990s saw Cold As Life perform with many punk rock legends, most notably opening for Agnostic Front at the Capital Theater in Flint. Agnostic Front found new blood in Cold As Life and brought them to the East Coast many times, giving them worldwide exposure and recognition.
As the band was on the rise, Rawn’s urban legend at shows grew as did his reputation. Unfortunately, he was tragically murdered on September 15, 1993 by his former friend, Richard Worstein. The murder led the band into silence and discussions of breaking up. Eventually the surviving members made the decision to carry on with Jeff and Jay Way becoming the stewards of the vocal duties with Jake Loch backing them up. This group went into the studio with engineer, Bill Kozy, and recorded a demo in 1995, which was the first recording without Rawn and featured the first song written after his death, All Alone.
In 1996, the band imploded with Jay Way and Jake Loch leaving after the Detroit hardcore scene suffered another murder of Steve Krass of the Feisty Cadavers leaving Cold As Life with only two original members, Roy and Jeff. Cold As Life was forced into yet another decision. They decided to continue and recruited Mike Couls, who was 16 at the time, on bass and Johnny Hate (Meyers) on guitar. This lineup recorded the 1996 demo and began playing bigger shows. After receiving offers from many record labels and people in the industry, Cold As Life decided to turned down the offers and release their first, full length “Born to Land Hard” in 1998 independently. The release was followed by a North American tour including Canada and as support in Europe.
Jeff Gunnells eventually moved to vocal duty and the band recruited Big Dog from the legendary ALD on guitar. Cold As Life were most active during this time and this lineup would go on to record their second full length, “Declination of Independence” which was released in 2000. The band broke up in 2001.
After the death of Johnny Hate, the band reunited once again and did a short tour in 2007 featuring three of the four living members and continued to play sporadically until 2011.
Cold As Life reformed with Dominic Capo on vocals after the loss of Dan Meader (May 2015) for Motor City Fest and began the new short-lived formation of the band.
In today’s cutthroat world, you can get swept away before ever getting your feet on the ground and the year 2016 was a testament to that as Cold As Life returned to the stage with new members, Jesse Adkins on vocals, Matt Martin who started out on bass but eventually moved to guitar after former Cold As Life member, Craig Holloway returned on bass.
The name Cold As Life embodies Detroit. Self-made, determined, unrelenting, a survivor!
Suffer and For The Few 7″ by COLD AS LIFE is being released by Demons Run Amok this Summer!
Hey there guys! Pleasure to have you here! How are you? How’s the tour going?
We’re doing great. We’re sitting in a hotel in Sofia Bulgaria waiting on our ride to play Athens, Greece tonight. The show last night was one of the best shows we have ever played. People were diehard fans and brought their “A” game and the energy was off the hook. They really spoiled us with great food and we had the pleasure of sharing the stage with some awesome bands. VENDETTA and REJECTION really brought it. Big shout out to Alex and the crew over at Sofia Hardcore Tattoos. Attention all bands…go to SOFIA!!! We’re still on a high so all is well in the COLD AS LIFE camp.
Tell us more about this trek. What prompted you to hit our roads?
Well, it’s been 10 years since COLD AS LIFE has been in Europe so we are stoked to be here. We just released a new CD with 2 songs, “Suffer” & “For The Few”. We’re working with the guys at Demons Run Amok Entertainment who will be putting the 2 songs out on colored vinyl 7″ this summer. They’re taking pre-orders now at demonsrunamok.de. When we get home we’re going to continue writing our album of new material.
Ok, so what’s the story of getting back together? What led you to team up again? What’s the inspiration for the new record?
Hardcore is my addiction; it keeps me young! When Roy invited me back to play bass, I couldn’t resist the offer even though I now live in Austin, Texas. The guys are all on the same page and ready to rock. We’re coming up on our 30 year anniversary so this motivates us to create and perform as much as possible.
Photo: COLD AS LIFE live in Sofia, Bulgaria, April 27th, 2017, by Pink Tsonk
Time flies, huh? How’s Detroit, by the way?
Detroit is getting better and the economy is starting to shift. The city is really starting to make some improvements but of course you’ve still got to rely on your street smarts and be aware. Shit can go south fast but that applies to anywhere at any time.
I recently read that the last time it wasn’t in a top 20 cities by population was the 1850 census! Did many of your friends leave Detroit?
Well a lot of the jobs went away during the industrial restructuring. Particularly automotive jobs. Detroit isn’t the most convenient city to live in. Crime and political corruption don’t really equate with picket fences.
I can’t really speak for my friends but I actually did move to Los Angeles in 1995 to pursue a career in advertising and stayed out there until I moved to Austin, Texas in 2005 where I currently live.
What places, venues, and other spots would you recommend checking out for a first visit in the city?
I would recommend going downtown. There’s a lot of history there. For example Hitsville USA the Motown Museum. The Detroit Museum of ART. Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn) is a walk down memory lane. There you can learn more about authentic artifacts and stories from American traditions of ingenuity and innovation. The sports arenas all all within walking distance. Depending on the season you can catch the Lions (American Football) the Tigers (Baseball) the Pistons ( Basketball) or the Red Wings (hockey). If you’re a photographer there’s some great dilapidated homes and buildings. As far as music venues, I recommend St. Andrews Hall. A lot of history there with a pretty good sound system. Tons of bands have played there but if you’re looking for that underground, bare bones atmosphere with the notorious Detroit charm then the Sanctuary is the place to go. Bring Your Own Beer.
Photo by George Argyropoulos
How about some up and coming bands that keep the spirit of hardcore alive?
Aside from COLD AS LIFE, NEGATIVE APPROACH are still crushing stages. BITTER PEACE A.D. , SMASH YOUR ENEMIES, FREEDOM, POISON TONGUES, BACKSWING & TURNCOAT are keeping Detroit on the map. You should check them out.
Great, thanks. Please drop in your final words and take care!
Thanks for the interview. We really appreciate the support! Go to a show and support your scene. If you want to reach us please contact us on Facebook COLD AS LIFE Detroit HC. Cheers!
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Photo: COLD AS LIFE live in Sofia, Bulgaria, April 27th, 2017, by Pink Tsonk
COLD AS LIFE was formed as MATRESS RATS. The initial line-up was: Rawn Beuty – Vocals, Roy Bates – Drums, Jeff Gunnells – Guitar, Jay Way (Jeff West) – Lead Guitar.
The 1988-1993 line-up included bassists Craig Holloway and Jake Loch. The touring lineup featured Jay Navarro, Todd Pratt, Jay Clifton, Ron Parmiter, and Jamie Bates.
The 1994 line-up (recored the 1995 demo) Jeff Gunnells – Guitar/Vocals, Jay Way – Guitar/Vocals, Jake Loch – Bass/Vocals, Roy Bates – Drums.
The 1996 line–up (recorded “Declination of Independence”) – Jeff Gunnells – Guitar/Vocals, Roy Bates – Drums, Mike Couls – Bass/Vocals, Johnny Hate – Guitar/Vocals, Records “Born to Land Hard”, Big Dog (John Literacki) – Guitar.
The 2007 line-up: Roy Bates – Drums, Mike Couls – Bass/ Vocals, Big Dog – Guitar/ Vocals, Enzo Dufour – Vocals, Emery (Ewar) Keathley – Guitar.
The 2015 line-up: Roy Bates – Drums (founding original member has also played and plays with SBLC, H8 INC., HOBO GANGBANG, THE FIESTY CADAVERS, and HALO OF VULTURES), Mike Couls – Bass/ Vocals (played on both full length albums and is a member of HALO OF VULTURES and VEHEMENT SERENADE, was a member of MERAUDER, AGENTS OF MAN, and SWORN ENEMY, and has played for: SKARHEAD, CROMAGS, AGNOSTIC FRONT, TERROR, MURPHY’S LAW, MADBALL, and UNIVERSAL STOMP), Dominick Capo – Vocals (Singer of SBLC), Chad Kirk – Guitar (member of HALO OF VULTURES and SBLC).
The current line-up is: Roy Bates (founding original member) – Drums (H8 INC., HOBO GANGBANG, THE FEISTY CADAVERS), Matt Martin – Guitar/Vocals (WULFHOOK), Jesse Adkins – Vocals (ALL MY BLOOD, BORNDEAD, DEFENSE, CAGED), and Craig Holloway (former early member) – Bass (COLD AS LIFE, RICOCHET, DIE FAST, BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA, CONFUSED).
Many others joined the band in transition and fill in positions: Mike (need a last name) (ELEPHANT EAR)– lead guitar/ vocals for the first two shows with Mike Couls before Johnny Hate joined. 1996 (Krass Benefit @ St. Andrews Hall, Show in Ypsilanti), Matt Fraiser (EXECRATION/NECROLOTRY, CHALK, 1000 YARD STARE) – Guitar on the next two shows until Johnny Hate was hired. 1996 (Pontiac, and Pharaoh’s Golden Cup), Jake Dufour (H8 INC., DOG OF WAR, ALD) – Guitar after Emery’s passing. 2010-2011: Tom Maniaci (BEAST) (H8 Inc.) – wrote lyrics for 2 songs and music for 1 on “Declination of Independence” and originally asked to sing for the band in 2007 but declined, TJ (SMASH YOUR ENEMIES) – Guitar on the “last show” in 2011.
The band’s deceased members were: Rawn Beuty (Murder, September 15, 1993), Jake Loch (Overdose, August/September 2001), Johnny Meyers (Johnny Hate) (Overdose, Summer 2006), and Emery Keathly (E-war) (Heart Attack, July 22, 2009).