Last year we excerpted a couple selections from Lewis Dimmick's excellent book This Music over at the Metalnomicon. Today we bring Dimmick back with a sweet little essay on catching up with an old friend currently serving a tour of duty in hardcore megaliths Sheer Terror. And to put a pretty goddamn big exclamation point on the whole shebang, the band graciously agreed to give Decibel readers a sneak peak at "Ain't Alright," a blazing track from the upcoming comeback record Standing Up For Falling Down, out in June.
CONTROLLED FIRE By Lewis Dimmick
I was standing on the shore in South Beach, Staten Island with my friend of thirty years, Michael Thomas De Lorenzo, and he was telling me about the last four years of his life as guitar player for legendary New York Hardcore band Sheer Terror.
At one point he gestured across the bay toward Brooklyn. “I think I can see my building from here,” he said. He talked about his wife and stepchildren and described some of the books he has recently read to his stepson. I was happy that, although I was the one to suggest writing something on Mike and the band, he was gracious enough to come to my neighborhood and hang out with me where I feel most at home.
I first met Mike in the late ‘80s. I was playing in a hardcore band, Our Gang, and he wrote me a letter ordering a demo. We began writing letters back and forth, odd considering we both lived on Staten Island. There couldn’t have been more than a dozen or so kids on Staten Island back then who knew about the underground hardcore scene in New York; we would see each other on the ferry on our way to Sunday matinees at CBGB’s.
One of those kids happened to be Sheer Terror bassist Jay Carter. Mike and Jay also met in the late ‘80s. One spotted the other standing on a bus stop wearing a Murphy’s Law t-shirt. The rest, as they say, is history.
For as long as I’ve known Mike he has been passionately playing music. He has devoted his life to it, doing loads of writing, recording, and touring with bands like Sleeper, C.R., Celebrity Murders, and Kill Your Idols. I’ve never known him when he wasn’t in a band. I don’t think he would have been happy, or could have fathomed, not being in a band, even if all it meant was playing some squat with shit on the floor.
Meaning if you do what you do out of love, and you persist, good things will happen. For Mike it’s been headlining This Is Hardcore in Philadelphia with Sheer Terror, touring Japan, playing to two thousand people in his own city; and now, recording a phenomenal new album with the band that was always one of his favorites as a teenager.
Standing Up For Falling Down is Sheer Terror’s first full-length album in nearly twenty years. We took a drive and cranked it up. The production is first-rate, the musicianship solid, and the songs impressively varied: fast, traditional hardcore alongside menacing and soulful heavy jams alongside melodic punk tunes, all blending together perfectly. The vocals are brutal, memorable, intelligent. My first impression upon hearing the record was that this should be a big moment in the band’s history.
Mike’s job prevents him from touring extensively. Even if he were able to, he doesn’t like being away from his family for long. That’s where he feels most at home.
I asked him, “Do you think you would feel more fire for this experience if you had joined the band when you were a teenager?”
“Don’t get me wrong,” he answered, “it’s still a fire. It’s just more of a controlled fire.”
Meaning the band doesn’t have to be his whole life in order for him to give it his whole life, to bring to the experience passion, expertise, and that adult ingredient, perspective.
I just received an envelope in the mail that contains custom Sheer Terror guitar picks with Mike’s initials on them; and the other day he sent me a mockup of a custom guitar he’s having built, a one off, with the Sheer Terror bulldog on it. I think the pride in his band is evident.
My old friend of thirty years is happy to be where he is, in all aspects of his life.
“My son and I rode our bikes to that Toys R Us over there,” he says, pointing across the water.
“A controlled fire. There’s no chance of it going out. I get to have my vegan cake and eat it, too!”