There are many names and images that can be conjured up at the mention of the Philadelphia underground music scene, specifically in the realm of punk rock.
Somewhere on that list, you are sure to find Dan Yemin. Involved in some of the most influential Philadelphia bands for almost 15 years, there is no one quite as qualified as Yemin to offer insights into the significance of the Philly music scene, what he has done for it, and what makes it tick.
Interestingly enough, however, Yemin’s first band, Lifetime, was initially associated with New Jersey. As a matter of fact, according to Yemin, up until 1991 to 1992, Lifetime would attempt to get shows in the Philly area, and no one would call them back.
It wasn’t until Lifetime’s Jade Tree Records debut, Hello Bastards, was released, that people began to embrace them. Yemin sites a Halloween night 1995 benefit for Temple University’s chapter of PETA as the first time him and his Lifetime band mates really took notice of the support. “We were like ‘Wow, Philly really loves us,'” Yemin said.
When Lifetime bottomed out in 1997, Yemin rebounded almost immediately by starting one of Philadelphia’s most loved punk rock bands, Kid Dynamite.
“Philly embraced Kid Dynamite from the first minute,” Yemin said. “It was a Philly band, with Philly people, and we repped Philly hard.”
Along with the new band came a new vocalist, Jason Shevchuk, and a more streamlined yet abrasive sound, as opposed to Lifetime’s decidedly poppy vibe.
As all good things seem to, though, Kid Dynamite eventually met their end when Shevchuk decided to concentrate on filmmaking. Kid Dynamite played their last two shows at the First Unitarian Church in February of 2000.
The story up to that point held an interesting sidebar. In 1992, Yemin had begun attending Widener College, and eventually attained a doctorate in psychology.
Following Kid Dynamite’s demise, Yemin, whether consciously or not, began to move more towards practicing, and was eventually dissociated from music altogether. This lead to a minor stroke, quite literally, in April 2001.
However, Yemin was one of the lucky ones. He suffered no permanent damage from his attack, and in the wake of it, came away with some rearranged priorities.
Following his release from the hospital, he began making moves to put together his newest project, Paint It Black.
Eschewing any sort of pop sensibility whatsoever, Paint It Black was a full on step into the direction of hardcore for Yemin. Their 2003 debut release, CVA, is an exercise in old-school hardcore.
Launching through 17 songs in a scant 18 minutes, driven forward by Yemin’s throat ripping scream, this is a record most would make at age 18, but it didn’t come out of Yemin until age 35.
While Yemin’s past bands have been all but canonized amongst Philadelphia youth, Paint It Black is poised and ready for more success then both Lifetime or Kid Dynamite. They have already gone on two tours in support of CVA, despite most of the members holding down day jobs.
In the face of all of trials he’s been through, Yemin remains an incredibly humble and unassuming man. He still comes out to shows two or three times a week.
“(The Philadelphia scene) is something I support and something that has supported me”, Yemin said. When asked to mention which current local groups are important, he is quick to mention names like R.A.M.B.O. and Affirmative Action Jackson.
What’s next for Dan Yemin? According to him, more of the same. When asked how long he plans on keeping this up, he responds simply, “Until I run out of stuff to say.” For fans of good Philadelphia punk rock, that is very good news.
Chuck DelRos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org