Hauntingly ethereal melodies, intricate but memorable hooks, dynamic moods, crunchy riffs and the banshee wail of a metaphor-master lead singer collide within the groundbreaking and steadfastly unique outfit known as INTO ANOTHER, whose skilled musicianship and genre-bending musical wizardry knows no boundaries.
Almost disturbingly defiant of categorization, Into Another's catalog dabbles in hard rock, alt-rock, grunge, electro-pop and post-hardcore without sounding disjointed or disorganized. Into Another fashioned a sound distinctly their own with one foot deeply planted in the community of friends that comprises the New York Hardcore scene and the other fishing through the creek of Classic Rock.
Across a handful of albums on Revelation Records and a solitary major label outing, the world of subculture came to know Into Another as an intriguingly soulful artistic vehicle capable of transporting listeners through adventurous soundscapes and the band's nuanced, other-worldly approach to guitar-based rock & roll.
Into Another came together in 1990. Richie Birkenhead, one-time guitar player for seminal straightedge flag bearers Youth of Today and vocalist for the reggae-tinged hardcore band Underdog hooked up with drummer Drew Thomas, himself a veteran of old-school youth crew bands Crippled Youth and Bold. Both men shared a desire to abandon the restrictive musical and cosmetic limitations of the scene without sacrificing its sense of community or spirit.
The pair found exactly what they were looking for in Lower East Side musician Peter Moses, a longhaired guitar player who had never performed in a band before. His virtuosic and uninhibited playing style greatly impressed Thomas and Birkenhead, who next recruited incredibly fluid bassist Tony Bono. Bono had done a tour of duty in proto-speed metal act Whiplash, who once lent a member to Slayer.
Into Another performed their first show at New York's Pyramid, sharing the stage with a budding White Zombie. They were soon after offered a recording contract by Revelation. The following year, they released their debut, a self-titled album displaying Into Another's sharp musical chops and tripped-out spiritual vision, encapsulated by the band's multi-pointed star logo which adorned the album's cover artwork. "Underlord" quickly became a fan favorite. Birkenhead brought zero macho pretension with him from punk as he began to document his troubled childhood on record.
In 1992, Into Another released the playfully titled Creepy Eepy - four songs that reflected their increasing range. One of them was a mournful ballad for a fallen friend laced with beautiful acoustic guitars and heart wrenchingly honest and poetic lyrical prose.
Into Another grew in popularity as the press, fans and major labels took an interest in this odd band comprised of a shorthaired hardcore singer with a high-pitched range, a mod-looking drummer and two longhaired guys in bell-bottom pants. 1994 saw the release of what many consider to be their masterstroke - the epic Ignaurus album, filled to the brim with spectacular songs that venture into deep, dark, and progressive rock territory while still being firmly anchored in melody, groove, and abrasive angst. This album catapulted Into Another into the ranks of much-heralded "buzz" bands. Many proclaimed them to be the proverbial "next big thing" to arise out of the hardcore scene alongside one-time label mates Quicksand, Orange 9mm and Civ - all of whom had gone on to sign major label deals and tour the world with bands like No Doubt.
Into Another signed a major label deal of their own in 1995 with the Disney-owned label Hollywood Records, at the time best known for releasing the gargantuan alt-rock filled soundtrack to "The Crow." The mix of vegetarians and vegans gave an EP to Revelation, which included the track "Herbivore" (some proceeds went to PeTA).
Into Another entered Seattle's London Bridge Studios with Rick Parashar, who had produced Pearl Jam's cultural mile marker, Ten, as well as the Temple of the Dog album and Alice In Chain's Sap EP. The band emerged with Seemless, which reigned in some of their excesses in favor of shorter compositions and straightforward lyrics without sacrificing Into Another's well-established musical identity.
The band set off on tour with groups like L7 and Seaweed. The video for "Mutate Me" received some airplay and "T.A.I.L.," which spawned an EP of the same name, was a Top 40 rock radio track.
Even as Into Another's relationship with Hollywood (and with one another) began to unravel, they managed to record another album's worth of material: meditative, trippy songs steeped in electronica and drenched in effects that strayed far away from the band's barn-storming guitar rock. The record was never released and the band parted ways with their record label and eventually with one another.
During the decade-and-a-half that followed, Thomas enjoyed a short stint with the band New Rising Sons (together with the singer / guitarist from Texas Is The Reason) whose studio work for Virgin Records never quite materialized in the shape of a finished album. He later played with Walking Concert. Birkenhead reformed Underdog for a series of reunion shows, occasionally playing solo.
Any hope of a reunion seemed to disappear with the tragic death of Tony Bono in 2002. The remaining members drifted further apart as the years rolled on. Peter vanished into rural upstate New York, withholding his otherworldly gift from the world's ears.
Then, in 2012, as plans came together for a series of shows to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Revelation Records, one of the guys from a later generation of Rev bands reached out. Longtime Into Another fan and supporter Brian Balchack (Ignite) and his good friend Reid Black (Innaway) videotaped themselves playing guitar and bass on several Into Another songs, which inspired Richie and Drew to get back onstage for the Rev shows. Once Peter got wind of the developing plans he was happy to come onboard, as well.
Now a quintet united by the alchemy of the past and the chemistry of the present, Into Another's eleven-pointed star rises again.
- Ryan J. Downey
Richie Birkenhead - vocals
Peter Moses - guitar
Brian Balchack - guitar
Reid Black - bass
Drew Thomas - drums
Tony Bono - bass
||Rev Fest 2017 @ Aurea Vista: Into Another