Thoughts of Ionesco was a Detroit-based post-hardcore band extant 1996–1999 known for detuned guitars, screamed vocals, complex arrangements, improvisational sections inspired by free jazz, and their destructive live performances.
Formed in 1996, the band was briefly a five-piece named Building featuring members of the melodic hardcore band Empathy in addition to founding members Sean Madigan Hoen, Brian Repa, and Nathan Miller. After reducing the line-up to a three-piece, they recorded a demo and played a house show in Ypsilanti, MI under the name Triptych; the show was stopped by local police after the band finished their first song.Their demo tape displayed influences of My War -era Black Flag mixed with then contemporary hardcore groups like Deadguy and Universal Order of Armageddon; the band's sound was further complicated by the metal-influenced double-bass drumming by Repa. Prior to an early show opening for Washington D.C.'s Damnation A.D., the band renamed themselves Thoughts of Ionesco (referencing the absurdist playwright Eugène Ionesco), a decision motivated by their desire for an additional guitarist and what they perceived as constraint in a moniker signifying a set of three. The band, however, would never find an appropriate second guitar-player.
Two songs culled from their Triptych demo tape were released as a 7-inch on the band's own record label, Cascade Records, in late 1996.Hoen and Repa were in high school at the time, limiting their performances to weekend excursions around the Midwest. In December 1996, they recorded what would become their album ...And Then There Was Motion with Tim Pak at Woodshed Studios in Oak Park, Michigan. Pak also went on to engineer and produce the next two albums. In early 1997, Michigan hardcore label Conquer the World Records offered to release their latest recording, but the band offered instead a remixed version of their demo tape, which was released as The Triptych Session. The album was well received in hardcore fanzines. Thoughts of Ionesco toured North America in the summer of 1997, frequently with their friends Wallside.
Their second album, ...And Then There Was Motion, was released later in 1997 by Kalamazoo Michigan label Makoto Records. The recording revealed a heavier sound and more complex arrangements and was described by Alternative Press Magazine as "an ultimate realization of pain-through-sound." Throughout 1997 TOI performed shows with North American hardcore bands Converge, Coalesce, Dropdead, His Hero is Gone, Botch, as well as numerous punk and hardcore festivals. A split 7-inch with Detroit band Cromwell was released later that year.
In early 1998, original drummer Brian Repa left the band for the first time and was replaced by Derek Grant of the Suicide Machines (and later Alkaline Trio). With Grant, the band began exploring noise sections, extended improvisation and epic song structures inspired by Mahavishnu Orchestra and electric-period Miles Davis while simultaneously seeking an even heavier sound in the vein of Swans and Godflesh. The band recorded its third LP, A Skin Historic, with Grant in summer of 1998. It was slated to be released by the well-distributed Alley Sweeper Records and received advanced reviews, yet the label folded. Grant left the band and was replaced by Brett Fratangelo.The album was soon released on Makoto Recordings. At this time the band added a live saxophonist and, disillusioned with the hardcore scene, began opening for extreme metal bands like Brutal Truth and Nile. In February 1999 Thoughts of Ionesco contributed two exclusive songs to Utilitarian Records' Various Artists compilation The Collateral Compilation.
In May 1999, Thoughts of Ionesco toured the United States and Canada with Small Brown Bike and Dead Season.Amid personal turmoil and differences with Fratangelo, the band cancelled both a U.S. and European tour that summer. Drummer Brian Repa returned for the band's final recording, For Detroit, From Addiction, which was tracked days after their final show in Ann Arbor Michigan on November 20, 1999. The album was released two year later by At Arms Mechanics. In 2006, Chicago label Seventh Rule released an anthology CD, The Scar is Our Watermark, featuring selected, remastered songs from each of the band's releases.
In 2014, Alternative Press listed Thoughts of Ionesco in their article "Twenty '90s Bands that Need to Reunite Already."
Also in 2014, Hoen, now a writer, published a memoir Songs Only You Know, in which he recounted a troubled young adulthood and family life. The book features several scenes in which he performs and travels as part of Thoughts of Ionesco. The book was a Barnes and Noble Discovery Selection, a Michigan Notable Book, and was named a top-ten book of 2014 by Rolling Stone .
In 2017 TOI reunited with drummer Derek Grant to record a three-song EP, Skar Cymbals, and on June 24 played their first show in nearly eighteen years at the Magic Stick in Detroit, Michigan. Longtime friend and fan Jeff Tuttle (formerly of Dillinger Escape Plan) joined the band as second guitarist. Skar Cymbals was released to underground acclaim, although plans for future performances and releases were not announced.
Small Brown Bike is a band from Marshall, Michigan, United States that started in 1996. The trademark of Small Brown Bike is their "double vocals" backed by melodies. Their sound is often identified as being similar to other post-hardcore bands, such as Avail, Hot Water Music and Dillinger Four. Throughout their existence, Small Brown Bike have toured three times with Dead Season between 1999 and 2000 and once with Thoughts of Ionesco in 1999. Their last show was in 2004 at The Fireside Bowl in Chicago, after already agreeing to split up. Former members Mike Reed and Dan Jaquint later created the band LaSalle, with Reed's wife playing bass guitar. Ben Reed also started the Great Sea Serpents based out of Chicago, IL. Mike and Ben have also formed the band Able Baker Fox with former drummer Jeff Gensterblum and Nathan Ellis from the Casket Lottery. Their first album "Voices" was released in January 2008.
Revelation Records is an independent record label focusing originally and primarily on hardcore punk. The label is known for releases by bands such as Youth of Today, Warzone, Sick of It All, Quicksand, Side By Side, Chain of Strength, Shelter, Judge, No for an Answer, Gorilla Biscuits, and End of a Year.
The Suicide Machines are an American punk rock band formed in March 1991 in Detroit, Michigan. During the course of their career, the band has released seven full-length albums on the labels Hollywood Records, Side One Dummy Records and Fat Wreck Chords, as well as several EPs and singles. They have experienced lineup changes over the years, all with founding member Jason Navarro as lead singer and front man. The contemporary lineup includes Ryan Vandeberghe on drums, Rich Tschirhart on bass and Justin Malek on guitar.
Ten Yard Fight was an American straight edge, football-themed band formed in 1995 in Boston. Along with In My Eyes and Floorpunch, they spearheaded the youth crew revival in 1997. Ten Yard Fight's "official" last show was in Boston on October 17, 1999, which would become the first National Edge Day. They would later play additional shows with partial lineups.
Deep Wound was an American hardcore punk band formed in 1982 in Westfield, Massachusetts. They released one self-titled 7-inch and contributed two songs to the compilation LP, Bands That Could Be God, both of which are sought after by fans and record collectors alike. The band influenced the Massachusetts hardcore scene and the development of grindcore.
Vision of Disorder is an American hardcore/metalcore band from Long Island, New York, that initially released three albums before disbanding in 2002. The band garnered attention for blending melody and groove into a traditional hardcore framework, but its attempts to pursue an alternative metal direction on its third album were met with limited commercial success. The band reunited in 2008 and have since released two further albums, The Cursed Remain Cursed in 2012 and Razed to the Ground in 2015.
Derek Richard Grant is an American musician, singer and songwriter best known for being the third and longest-serving drummer for punk rock band Alkaline Trio from 2001 to 2023. He is also a member of Chicago "supergroup" Dead Ending. He was previously a member of The Suicide Machines, Telegraph, Gyga, Thoughts of Ionesco, Remainder, Walls of Jericho, The Exceptions and Broken Spoke. In addition to playing the drums, Grant is a guitarist and vocalist, and has filled in as guitarist for both Face to Face (1998) and The Gaslight Anthem.
Negative Approach is an American hardcore punk band, formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1981. The band is considered among the pioneers of hardcore punk, particularly in the Midwest region. Like most hardcore bands, Negative Approach was little known in its day outside of its hometown. It is now idolized in the Detroit rock underground and the punk subculture, considered to be one of the elite bands of the "old school" era, and continues to be influential. Negative Approach initially broke up in 1984 with singer John Brannon moving on to the Laughing Hyenas, and later Easy Action, but the band has reformed as of 2006 and continues to tour sporadically.
Sense of Purpose was an Australian hardcore punk band from Melbourne, active from 1996 to 2006.
The Holy Fire is an indie rock band from Detroit, Michigan.
Leaving Rouge was an indie rock band from Detroit, Michigan.
Spazz was an American powerviolence band active between 1992 and 2000. The trio released numerous records within this time, many of which are now highly collectible due to their relative rarity. The band's releases often showcased their unusual sense of humour: absurdly long and nonsensical song titles, audio samples from B movies and kung fu films between songs and the occasional use of hip hop beats as well as saxophones, banjos and other instruments rarely associated with hardcore punk. All three of the members shared vocal duties, usually changing in sequence from line to line. The group would typically play at all ages venues. 2015 saw the release of a tribute LP to Spazz by Scottish record label Mind Ripper Collective titled "Spazzin' To The Oldies - A Tribute To Spazz". In 2016, it was announced that Tankcrimes will reissue the out-of-print Spazz albums Sweatin' To The Oldies and Sweatin' 3: Skatin', Satan & Katon.
Voorhees is a hardcore punk band formed in Durham, England. From early 1991 until late 2001 they released records on international record labels and toured Europe and the USA.
Ensign is an American hardcore punk band from New Jersey. They formed in 1995 and signed with Indecision Records in 1996. They signed to the larger label "next door", Dexter Holland's Nitro Records, in 1998 and finally came to rest at Blackout Records in 2003 after a brief sortie back to Indecision in 2000.
Damien Zev Moyal is an American vocalist, lyricist, musician, songwriter and designer. Originally from Amstelveen, North Holland, Netherlands, he moved to the United States as a child and grew up in Miami, Florida, where he notably fronted such hardcore punk, metallic hardcore and melodic hardcore bands as Shai Hulud, As Friends Rust, Morning Again, Culture, Bird of Ill Omen and Bridgeburne R. Moyal has been based in Ann Arbor, Michigan since 2006 and is the founding member of the semi-eponymously named gothic rock/post-punk band Damien Done.
Morning Again is an American metalcore band from Florida. They were known for their metallic sound as well as for their straight edge, vegan, anti-religious and anti-government ideals. The band was a "sister band" to Culture, often switching members after one had left the other. Several members went on to play in other bands such as As Friends Rust and Dead Blue Sky. The band was originally from Cooper City, Florida, but moved to Coral Springs in 1998 before breaking up later that year. After playing several reunion shows over the years, the band released a new EP in 2018.
Black Army Jacket was an American powerviolence band. They released one album and many 7-inch EPs, splits and compilation appearances. Their members have gone on to play in such bands as Municipal Waste, Deny the Cross, Matt Pond PA, Burnt by the Sun and Hope Collapse.
Cold As Life is an American hardcore punk band based out of Detroit, Michigan, formed in 1988. Lyrical themes consisted of brutal depictions of the horrors of growing up and living in a city plagued with corruption, murder, drugs, depression and poverty, along with the tragedy of losing friends, family and bandmates to murder and drug abuse. Their shows were frequently violent, involving vicious fights that often included stabbings and beatings with various weapons. However, Cold As Life has a large "family" based following. Stories of these shows would spread throughout the Midwest punk and hardcore communities, contributing to the band's notoriety. Cold As Life drew musical influence from such bands as Negative Approach, Sheer Terror, Discharge, 4 Skins, Cro-Mags, Black Sabbath, and Slayer.
Kill Your Idols is an American hardcore punk band from New York, active from 1995 through 2007 and again from 2013 to the present. They were signed to SideOneDummy Records. Their releases on SideOne were Funeral for a Feeling (2001), a split with 7 Seconds in 2004, and From Companionship to Competition (2005). Other notable releases by the band were No Gimmicks Needed and This Is Just The Beginning... which were released on Blackout! Records. The band released several 7-inch EPs, splits with other bands, multiple compilation tracks, and two full-length LPs in their 11-year run. Most of their records were released on vinyl as well as compact disc. Some were released on different colors of vinyl, different sleeve covers, hand numbered tour presses, and picture discs, making their records a favorite among collectors.
Mule was an American punk blues band from Michigan, active in the early 1990s. Formed by former members of Wig and Laughing Hyenas, their music incorporated elements of hardcore punk, blues-rock, and country music.