by Rich Quinlan
2020 is a year we all want to quickly forget, but if there
is one positive, it is the fact that angry times create
angry bands, and Long Island’s DemonScar provides
a punishing outlet for all those quarantine frustrations.
DemonScar is the definition of a blue-collar metal band
- no frills, no arrogance, and no hyphenated style; this
is old fashioned metal played with a punk aesthetic.
I had the pleasure to interview the band, virtually of course,
and Nza, Meds, and Jarrad (not the names found on their
birth certificates) provided tremendous insight into their
history, their future, and why Green Day is the smartest
band in music.
you're fortunate enough to see DemonScar live or streaming,
there is no escaping the towering force that that is Nza:
Eyes blacked with make-up, bass strapped low around his
waist, his guttural, snarling vocal approach propels DemonScar’s
songs into realms from late 70's American punk into the
darkest depths of metal’s imagery. Often donning
a classic Headbanger’s Ball t-shirt, Nza wears his
influences on his proverbial sleeve (or in this case, his
The seed of DemonScar was planted in 1998 when Nza joined
Meds’ band Tangent, and a spirited conversation on
a train to Newark to see Iron Maiden led to the two crafting
their own music. As Nza recalls it, “A few weeks later
we had completed the Demonscar EP. This whole project really
came out of nowhere”.
While DemonScar embraces metal, punk is always a tangible
component of the music. With influences from the Pistols
to Social Distortion, there is a grittiness to DemonScar’s
playing that recounts the grime and angst of punk.
A staple of the band’s live show is their blistering
cover of the Misfits’ “Where Eagles Dare.”
Once I heard that song, I was hooked.
Where Nza may break with some punk purists is this assertion
about a certain California trio who was a mainstay on MTV
throughout the 90's and early twenty-first century (Google
the videos, youngsters:)“Some may consider Green Day
to be sellouts. I call them the smartest punk band around.
They made themselves into one of the most successful punk
rock bands ever. I always love getting into the debate about
punk being an image vs a lifestyle.”
DemonScar is not an image band; these are three hard-nosed
guys who eschew any frills for a direct style that embraces
all forms of intensity but shies away from any political
stance, a tricky line to walk in 2020. Meds points out,
“People today have this insane belief that every issue
has to be a political one, or at least they try to turn
every topic into a political argument to fit their simplistic
understanding of the left-right political spectrum. We make
rock and roll songs. Don’t read into it too much.
Bang your head, throw some fists in the air, and enjoy the
This is a refreshing approach for some, but there will
always be people digging into the lyrics of any band. Nza
acknowledges, “Sometimes we sing about our truths.
Sometimes we like singing about old tales passed down by
generations. Sometimes we just like how words sound together.
Whatever we feel our listeners will find interesting.”
NZA in action
One interesting aspect of DemonScar’s existence
has been their ability to easily embrace new technology
and play “live”, even if people are starting
circle pits in their living rooms. The pandemic has
made life nearly impossible for bands of all levels to play
out, but that has not stopped DemonScar. The band put together
weekly “Live in Isolation” that attracted thousands
of eyes across the Internet, particularly on social media.
“Most bands are too lazy to put in the effort and
then they complain how the music industry is rigged against
them. We try to connect with everyone we can. It takes time
to grow a real audience, so I think most bands give up too
easily”, says Nza, who does acquiesce to the fact
that maintaining a social media presence is in itself nearly
a “full time job”.
The band’s energy and creativity even birthed an appropriately
titled track, “Quarantine”, spawned from a request
via text from Nza to Meds for “a two-minute aggressive
sounding punk song”, and “an hour later the
song “Quarantine” was completely tracked and
mixed. We released it two days later and it became our most
popular song on Bandcamp”. The guitarist went on to
excitedly add, “We have so much material coming out
and the pandemic certainly played a role”.
The guys have been prolific during this time of uncertainty
and new DemonScar music is out there to be gobbled up, including
the band’s first full-length album. Nza tells the
fans, “Our new all-original album DSXX drops November
13 on vinyl, cassette, CD, and digital formats. The presale
just went live on demonscar.com. The album was written
mostly in real time—one song per month—to match
up with this year’s general vibes”. The
band’s tracking of the record reflects the tone and
tenor of 2020, as “It [DSXX] starts off with January’s
more optimistic “We Rise”, Nza notes, “then
quickly descends into madness. We had no idea that this
was going to be a year for the history books.”
Not surprisingly, the band’s website
has all things DemonScar and is worth checking out, along
with the band’s Indie Underworld Mixtape that recently
came out, featuring fifteen of “the best independent
metal and hard rock bands on the planet”, according
to Meds. That compilation is available on indieunderworld.bandcamp.com
If that is not enough DemonScar for you - and trust me,
it is not - Nza went on to describe how the guys “teamed
up with Sharp Violet and Steve and the Not Steves [two of
the finest punk bands on Long Island, check out their stuff
right away, as well] to do Operation Ivy’s “Unity,”
which should be out soon.
Nza continues, "We were involved in another collaboration
project with Torture Drome for The Ramones’ Pet
Sematary. Currently we are putting the finishing touches
on a song for an upcoming Samhain tribute album in 2021
that is being put together by the Atomic Kavemen, a great
Bay Area garage rock band.”
Since the summer is wrapping up, that means the holidays
are approaching and Demonscar has your shopping list already
started with a Christmas sing; their own heavy-handed interpretation
of Elvis' “Blue Christmas.”
Heavy-handed also describes the newest member of the band,
drummer Jarrad, who joined the band only days before the
world came to a Covid standstill. Practicing on their cell
phones, the trio honed their sound despite the two founders
only “personally knowing him [Jarrad] for a few hours.”
A recent show on Long Island captures the world of Summer
2020 as DemonScar headlined a gig with horror-metal stalwarts
First Jason and the aforementioned talents of Sharp Violet
and Steve & The Not Steves by playing inside an empty
club and the show streaming on radio and shown on an inflatable
screen in the parking lot. Like everything for the
past six months, it was not ideal, but did give some hope
that life may be on the path back to normalcy.
Regardless of pandemics, social distancing, mandatory asks,
or flying droplets, DemonScar will continue to carry the
banner of pure rock n’ roll. For now, see them on
a computer screen soon.
For more information, visit demonscar.bandcamp.com.