Album: Living in Darkness.
With the exception of X, who would have been outliers in just any scene they came from, I was never fully onboard with the early-80s hardcore scene. Hardcore always felt to me like they took all of the anger that had come out of the U.K. punk rock in the late 70s and distilled it so deeply that only the violence and nihilism remained.
Sociologically, that was pretty fascinating, especially when you added the ritual of slam-dancing as a way of expressing that violence and nihilism. At any given show, the pit was continually contracting and expanding, a real-life example of how random violence could engulf us all at anytime.
And for a generation that had spent our entire lifetime wondering if today was going to be the day that the nukes fell, the threat of random violence was an existential threat: we could all be gone in the blink of an eye at any. fucking. moment. No future for you, indeed.
It was musically where I had the problem: while I theoretically loved the anger and energy of hardcore, there were so many instances where that was all that existed. And I need songs somewhere in my songs, which hardcore consistently didn’t deliver.
So while punk rock changed my life, and I supported hardcore and loved how it was the genesis and raison d’etre for D.I.Y. music scenes all across the country, I was never a punk. I was always too much of a musical mongrel to declare allegiance to a single thing.
All of which means that most of the hardcore I loved probably wasn’t really canon (a distinction without a difference in 2015 but a real problem in 1985 when local punks would occasionally tell me to play more punk rock on my airshift). Like “Living in Darkness” by Agent Orange, a blast of supersonic surf guitar, weird percussion noises that nearly invoke The Handclap Rule, and singer/guitarist/songwriter Mike Palm’s assertion that withdrawal was the only solution.
I feel safe just being alone
Living in darkness
Living in a world of my own.
At 4:13, and featuring many guitar solos, “Living In Darkness” broke many of the musical rules that hardcore lived by (as did the band’s look – just three dudes who wouldn’t scare anybody on the street), while delivering the same energy and thrills.
Fan-made video for “Living in Darkness”
My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist: