The (Young) Pioneers started in Richmond, Virginiain 1994, shortly after the breakup of singer/guitarist Adam Nathanson’s art-damaged hardcore band Born Against. They started playing trebly, acoustic folk and recorded prolifically, evolving through cryptic blasts of punked-up soul and finally landing on the loose rock’n’roll of their final LP, 1999’s Free the (Young) Pioneers Now! After the (Young) Pioneers broke up, they had a short-lived band called Teargas Rock. Hissy dubs of a demo were passed around Richmond, but never saw official release until now. These seven songs were tracked in late ‘99, and are the only Teargas Rock recordings. Songwriting-wise, they’re the logical continuation of the (Y)Ps’ sound, the band (Nathanson, long-time bassist Marty Key, and new drummer Randy Davis) a bit less hectic, more comfortable with melody, and delving deeper into ‘60s soul. A big change is the lyrics. The (Y)Ps’ lyrics spoke about social injustice in Richmondand were peppered with references to the radical politics of previous generations, while Teargas Rock’s lyrics were written at the height of anti-globalization activism, and work perfectly as protest anthems for Battle in Seattle-era politicos. The (Young) Pioneers gained popularity posthumously, and were often cited as an influence on the folk punk scene of the ‘00s. Against Me! even name-check them in a song. For me, the (Y)Ps were the ripshit trio who opened for Kill Rock Stars bands, and made something click inside of this new-to-the-south, half-black punk rocker who was trying to make sense of his identity and his father’s hometown. They made me feel okay with having one foot in black life and one foot in white music, and I’ll always associate the (Y)Ps with discovery of self and of Richmond. It’s super exciting to get more songs by these musicians, and to hear it sound so vital so long after the fact.
–Chris Terry (littleblackcloudrecords.com)