Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Hear the 1980 demo by Henry Rollins’ pre-Black Flag band, S.O.A.

Before Henry Rollins was the frontman of Black Flag and Rollins Band, an author, a publisher, a spoken-word performer, and a TV host, he was Henry Garfield—a kid from Washington, D.C., who was part of that city’s burgeoning punk scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s. But he wasn’t just watching. His first band State Of Alert—better known as S.O.A.—released a 1981 EP titled No Policy on Dischord Records, which had been recently founded by his close friend Ian MacKaye of the seminal hardcore band Minor Threat. No Policy has become a legendary release, but it’s not the whole S.O.A. story. On December 29, 1980, the band recorded an eight-song demo, and only three of those songs wound up being released. Now the full session—which can be heard in its entirety below—is being issued under the name First Demo 12/29/80. Full of jittery energy, brutally efficient riffs, and youthful wrath, the S.O.A. demo is a barrage of short, sharp bursts that capture a turning point in American hardcore—and in the life of the 19-year-old Garfield, who was only seven months away from being asked to move to California to join Black Flag.

First Demo 12/29/80 will be released March 18 via Dischord.


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