Behind the Barricade

Barricade, a local hardcore band, proves that it is doing more than just kicking and screaming.

Barricade’s latest album, Demons, was released in October 2008 (Courtesy Eulogy Recordings).

Barricade might be the biggest band in hardcore – literally. The weight of an average band member is about 250 pounds. Barricade’s motto states: “You shouldn’t be able to beat up your hardcore band; your hardcore band should be able to beat you up.”

However, that does not mean violence is Barricade’s main game.

The Philadelphia-based hardcore band fought an uphill battle to get where it is today in the hardcore scene but is proud of Demons, its second album, which was produced by Eulogy Recordings.

To promote the record, Barricade recently shot a music video for the song “Michelle” with Philadelphia underground hip-hop artist Reef the Lost Cauze.

Senior film and media arts major Noah Grant-Levine, who has directed and produced music videos for artists like Peedi Crakk and Gillie da Kid, produced the video and said it stirred up some controversy.
“[Barricade] wanted to do a stereotypical club hip-hop video,” Grant-Levine said. “We took the negative imagery like the objectification of women, poor fiscal responsibility and conspicuous consumption and turned it into a fun spoof, a satire.”

Though many see the video as adding to the negative stereotypes, Grant-Levine and the band said they are simply critiquing and making a mockery of them.

“People are taking us seriously, [assuming] that that’s what we do or that’s how we are,” said Tom Tarrant, a senior criminal justice major and Barricade guitarist.

Barricade, like any hardcore band, has a set of values. While some hardcore bands focus on personal choices like vegan or straight-edge lifestyles, Barricade’s values are less exclusive.

“We all have personal values and convictions, but as far as being a band, we don’t have one specific cause,” Tarrant said. “We talk about whatever makes us mad or what we think is a problem – from our views on the government to our views on religion.”

Though most of the band members consider themselves to be atheists, it doesn’t mean they do not care about their community. Barricade gets involved with many benefit shows – from helping a family whose relative was killed by a drunk driver to various cancer benefits.

Barricade’s most recent benefit show was for Trey Love, a Phoenixville, Pa., child diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma, a rare childhood brain cancer. As good as the band’s intentions were, the show was going to be canceled due to the outward appearances associated with hardcore.

“Our singer was in the newspaper, arguing for the benefit for Trey Love because no one would let the show happen,” Tarrant said. “The minute that they heard it was a hardcore show, they turned it down – they wrote us off because they thought we were just troublemakers with tattoos.”

They were able to put on the benefit show, but Tarrant said he thinks hardcore band members get an unfair reputation.

“There’s violence associated with [hardcore], but in the long run, there’s a lot of good people doing good things,” Tarrant said. “It’s like with anything – a couple people do something bad that are associated with hardcore, and then everyone associated with it is seen as bad.”

It took a lot of time, patience, hard work and a totaled tour van for Barricade to get where it is.

Since its formation in 2004, Barricade got what any band strives for in 2006 – a record contract. What seemed like a dream contract with Blackout! Records, the record label responsible for establishing the careers of the first big hardcore bands in New York during the 1980s, turned out to be more of a mess than a deal.

“They offered us a record deal, and we took it because it was the only thing we had at the time,” Tarrant said. “They already had songs written for us.”

Be Heard, Barricade’s first album, came out in 2006 with Blackout! Records. Though it sold out at all of its pressings, the band was not happy with what was produced.

“I guess some people liked it. We didn’t like it,” Tarrant said. “We don’t sell it anymore or even tell people that we ever made it, and none of the songs get played.”

Barricade’s yearlong contract with Blackout! Records ended in 2007, but the saga was far from over. The band continued touring and recording its own demos but faced strenuous rotations of bass players and drummers.

“We lost one bass player to drugs,” Tarrant said. “After we kicked him out, he broke into our practice space and stole all our money. Then, when we were on tour in Denver, we had to kick our drummer at the time out. We left him there – we threw all his bags out, threw his drums at him and left him in Denver.”

The band lost another drummer and bass player on top of that, and the most recent bass player is currently on probation.

A later tour in summer 2008 did not go well for Barricade either, as it was cut short due to lack of funds. But the band’s seemingly endless struggle was about to be rewarded.

Barricade recorded its own 7-inch, self-titled record, which found its way into the hands of record executives at Eulogy Recordings. Eulogy offered to put a digital version of the album out, and in October, Demons was released.

“Demons was the album that our sound finally came together, the one that we are most proud of,” Tarrant said. “When you get something in your hands that you make that other people can like, it means a lot.”

Katie Annesley can be reached at

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