Youth Brigade Biography
Youth Brigade was formed at the end of summer 1980 in Los Angeles, amid the explosion of the punk scene in Southern California, by brothers Shawn,Mark and Adam Stern. The brothers Stern have established YOUTH BRIGADE as one of the most powerful, independent groups in North America over the course of their 7 odd years of existence. The basic philosophy of the band is the “youth” is an attitude, not an age and that every generation has the responsibility to change what they feel is wrong in the world. Unfortunately, it seems that many people either forget or grow weary of this responsibility as they get older in years, so the band feels it is really important that every new generation realize this responsibility and act upon it. It is with these ideals in mind that the band was started, and the eldest brothers Shawn and Mark formed the Better Youth Organization in ‘79. The BYO is dedicated to promoting alternative music, art and other creative endeavors in a completely independent manner. They started off promoting shows,(They ran the infamous Godzilla’s night club!), started BYO Records in 1982 (which has released 25 records to date and become one of the strongest and most respected indy labels in the world), set up tours for many bands, (including the first BYO tour which was done in a big school bus and documented on 60 hours of video tape to become the movie “Another State of Mind”) as well as many other projects too numerous to mention.
YOUTH BRIGADE played their first gig as a 3 piece(the bands first year of existence was as a 6 piece!) on New Year’s Eve ‘81/’82 at Godzilla’s. They were part of the big BYO extravanganza, “Youth Movement’82” at the Hollywood Palladium, where 3500 people showed up for an all L.A. bill in early Febuary. Then they recorded 3 tracks for the first BYO record release, “Someone Got Their Head Kicked In”, and took off in their big yellow school bus on their first North American tour during summer of ‘82. After about 30 shows and several breakdowns (all documented on film!) they returned home to record their debut LP “Sound and Fury” (A premature version was rushed together before the tour but pressing was stopped at 800 copies as the band was not satisfied with the quality of the material or production.) This all new version was recorded and met with rave reviews upon release in June of ‘83 followed by a highly successful, 50 date tour of North America during the summer. After having secured a licensing deal for “Sound & Fury” in England, plans were made to tour Europe in the fall of ‘84. They released a 3 song EP, “What Price?” in spring ‘84 and then played about 50 dates throughout Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia, Poland, and England and were one of the first indy American bands to tour the “underground” of Europe and especially eastern countries. After this tour younger brother & bassist Adam decided to return to art school and finish his degree. The band recorded his last show in June of ‘85 at Fenders ballroom in Long Beach and these tracks have been released on Italian and French releases as well as the “Sink With Kalifornija” CD collection Brothers Shawn and Mark continued on as The Brigade for about 2 years, but it wasn’t the same without all 3 of them together.
After taking time off, the 3 brothers were again touring North America and Europe. This time with their new bands in later ‘91,; Mark and Adam’s red hot be-bop, jump, jive sensations, THE ROYAL CROWN REVUE, and Shawn’s hard hitting melodic punk band THAT’S IT!. Meeting in a bar in Hamburg while touring, Mark and Adam expressed the desire to reform YOUTH BRIGADE for a tour and Shawn agreed, as long as they would work on a new record. When they returned home in January ‘92 they started working on new material and did a wild show at the Whisky A GO-GO in Hollywood, late April. As people chanted along to “Men In Blue”, it was an eerie comeback just 3 days before the riots (inspired by the unjust verdict in the case pertaining to the white L.A.P.D. officers who violently beat black motorist Rodney King.) that rocked L.A. They even played shows during this uprising, having one shut down by police in Santa Ana, 50 miles south of L.A. As the city gradually returned to it’s usual state of unrest, they recorded 6 songs in July at the infamous Westbeach Studios for their newest EP, aptly entitled “Come Again”. As they planned that cold, intoxicated night in Hamburg, they once again packed up their equipment, a couple of roadies and a film crew, and boarded a jumbo jet in the middle of September, to tour Europe again as YOUTH BRIGADE. The tour covered Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Czechoslovakia & Poland. The film crew documented the music, politics, and madness of the world they live in and have been able to help create a part of. This will be mad into a movie, “Searching For America’, celebrating 10 years of BYO and the spirit of idealism they try to keep alive through their work.
Ten years after their landmark debut, the band recorded “Happy Hour” was at Westbeach & released it March of ‘94. They recently add former CADILLAC TRAMPS guitarist Johny “Two Bags” Wickersham & finished the latest record, “To Sell The Truth”. Recorded in January & mixed by old friend Thom Wilson, This Highly acclaimed album contains 14 new rompin’ stompin punk rock action tracks, and has considered their best album since “Sound & Fury”. The band toured extensively through Canada/U.S./Europe & places beyond for the rest of the year. Recently, the boys collaborated with Mexico’s Cuca for the upcoming “Red, Hot & Latin” Aids Benefit Compilation Album on Jellybean enitez’ H.O.L.A. label. The track is called El Son Del Dolor”, and it features the Brigade spreading their word in Spanish. The album also features Los Lobos, Money Mark, David Byrne, Fishbone, along with many other diverse artist, scheduled for release April ‘97.
Yes, the brothers are back and YOUTH BRIGADE hope to inspire the ideal “youth” is an attitude, not an age. In a world where power and greed continue to drag us down to annihilation, it’s time for us all to stand up for real change.
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