Primer 55: Introduction to Mayhem


By Mike Pace

This is the hardest band I’ve ever heard.

From their press release: “I don’t know if you’ve ever been to downtown Memphis,” says guitarist Bobby Burns, the band’s founder and principal songwriter, “but I feel more comfortable walking down the streets of New York City alone at night. There were always people down there starting trouble.” In fact, it wasn’t far from their rehearsal space that drummer Josh McLane had his shoes robbed at gunpoint.

What I like about Primer 55 is that they keep it real. There’s no bullshit posturing on Introduction to Mayhem. Every two-chord most part, every rapped lyric, every song title (“Hate,” “Pigs,” “Set It Off,” etc.), every “muthafucka,” every scratched piece of wax, drips with sincerity. And let me tell you, seeing the posed photo underneath the CD tray of the band in front of a mountain-between their goatees, piercings, tattoos, and Brooklyn jerseys-sent a chill down my spine equivalent to the first time I heard Black Flag.

Primer 55 is perhaps the most important band to emerge in the cynical, self-reflexive late ‘90s. (Editor’s note: ;-o) Like their song of the same name, they give “The Big Fuck You” to all naysayers and post-modern theorists. They’d sooner break Barthes’ neck and mosh on his grave than deal with his trippin’ punk asss.

Like it or not (and they certainly don’t care), these guys are here to stay. When bands like Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Slipknot have all but faded from memory, one group will remain in the forefront, precisely because, as frontman J-Sin says, “our lyrics are real, about stuff going on around us every day.”

I wouldn’t be friends with anyone who liked this band.

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