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Big reunions afoot for Suckapunch, 7 Hills Psychos.

Byline: Scott McLennan


It's been awhile since either 7 Hill Psychos or Suckapunch delivered a patented musical body-slam. But on Saturday each of those hard-core heavyweights reunites at The Lucky Dog Music Hall as the Worcester nightspot celebrates its ninth anniversary.

Credit music promoter Bill Dumas for reactivating two of Worcester's wildly popular club attractions. Six months ago Dumas played the "My birthday is coming up" card and started working on singer Brian Holbrook to regroup 7HP.

And after the members of Suckapunch met all together for the fist time since their 2004 disbanding and decided they would like to do a show, they approached Dumas and sweetened his annual birthday bash.

The final lineup for Saturday has Kid Empty, Tester and Wreckoning going on ahead of Suckapunch and 7 Hill Psychos.

"It feels great," Holbrook said of the music he has been rehearsing with guitarists Andy Holmes and Dave Capelle, DJ Shaboo, bassist Brian Silver, and drummer Bill Coomey. "There's no pressure. It's not like we are worrying about record labels showing up."

But in its heyday from 1997 to 2002, 7HP was most certainly a contender for band to bust out of Wormtown. The group's frenetic fusion of hard-core punk and rap was heavier and deeper than much of the same style of music that was breaking on a national level, leaving many to believe 7HP could - and would - cut through the static of Limp Bizkit and its soundalikes.

"If you're not signed buy a certain point, you make music your hobby," said Holbrook, who initially lit up the Wormtown scene with the band Bonehead.

As frustrating as it may have seemed, the members of 7HP amicably split.

"There were no drug problems or infighting," he said. "It was life."

On Saturday, the band will have a freshly rendered version of the CD "All the Insanity," a 17-track compilation spanning the band's five-year run.

Suckapunch could not claim an easy dissolution when it ground to a halt in 2004.

"I never liked the way it ended," said guitarist Jay Kelley during a recent meeting with the reunited Suckapunch. As the members tell it now, everyone was just burned out from the hard push to get the band past its status as regional draw. The lost money and frayed nerves took their toll in the summer of 2004, three years after the group came together during a heavy-music revival that included Sheckta, 12 Step Program and Skulltoboggan.

While the Suckapunch did undergo various lineup changes, the group assembling for Saturday's show is considered the "classic" Suckapunch with Kelley and Chris Drzal on guitars, Jason Sumrall on bass, Jeff Stoney on drums, and Joe Margagnoni on vocals.

Before growing into a punishing band that Sumrall described as hard-core with a touch of Slayer, Kelley, Margagnoni and Stoney were experimenting and jamming, and even played The Lucky Dog's opening weekend as The Tide.

But the group ultimately headed off into faster and more complicated tunes and became Suckapunch in 2001.

"I forgot how hard some of these songs are to sing. I've been getting into shape for this show," Margagoni said.

And he hoped it could last longer than a single show. Though Kelley and Sumrall are now in Wreckoning, and that band's stock keeps rising, all of the Suckapunch crew expressed an interest in doing more shows should Saturday pan out as well as rehearsals suggest it will.

Though metallic, Suckapunch distinguished itself by writing songs in a punk time frame and delivering them with intricately arranged vocals and guitar parts.

The band recorded a demo, but was stymied in its efforts to bring its sound to a broader audience. By the end, the band members were exhausted and barely on speaking terms.

Drzal had not seen his Suckapunch bandmates since the final show in 2004 until Kelley called him a few months ago. Before anyone played a note together, everyone made sure they could get along.

"The first Tuesday we met, we just hung out and talked about stuff. The Tuesday after that, we played. It was amazing; I remembered 90 percent of the tunes," Drzal said.

Like 7HP, the reunited Suckapunch feels it has nothing to lose and nothing to prove, and the band members are considering this weekend's show as much a treat for themselves as for the band's fans.

So even though it is the Lucky Dog's anniversary, and Dumas' birthday, the presents will be shared by all.

Fans of the blues harp can't go wrong on Saturday as James Montgomery is at Gilrein's, 802 Main St., Worcester, and James Cotton performs at The Bull Run, Route 2A, Shirley.

The Pink Floyd Experience touches down tomorrow at The Palladium, 261 Main St., Worcester.

The Silverbacks extends its engagement at Creegan's pub on Green Street in Worcester with another show Saturday. Guitarist Cliff Goodwin is on tap to play with Mike Lynch's Silverbacks that night.

Judecca releases its new CD Saturday at Ralph's Chadwick Square Diner, 148 Grove St., Worcester. In Dire Need, Casket Rot and others are on the bill.

Hard Drive is at Kas-Bar on Route 20 in Worcester tomorrow.

The Lancaster Coffeehouse presents The Laws on Saturday. The coffeehouse is held in the Janeway Education Center at the Perkins School, 975 Main St., Lancaster.

The Used is due back in Worcester on April 11 to play at The Palladium with Straylight Run, Army of Me and others. An illness scotched the band's previously scheduled date in the city last year. Tickets for the new show are $30 and go on sale tomorrow through and at F.Y.E. and Strawberries record stores. To order by telephone, call (800) 477-6849. Tickets previously purchased for the canceled show will be honored on this date.

Warrant front man Jani Lane has canceled his show, which had been scheduled for tomorrow at The Artist Development Complex in Southbridge.

Eric Clapton is playing June 4 at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield. Robert Randolph and the Family Band opens. Tickets are $125, $85, $65 and $45.50, on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.

And Jimmy Buffett heads back to the Tweeter with shows on Sept 4 and 6. Tickets are $129, $89 and $29, on sale at 10 a.m. Monday.

Tickets for the Tweeter Center concerts will be available at Ticketmaster outlets and online at

To order by telephone, call 931-2000 in the (617) or (508) area code.

Scott McLennan can be reached at


CUTLINE: Suckapunch, left, and 7 Hills Psychos perform Saturday at The Lucky Dog Music Hall in Worcester.
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Title Annotation:LIVING
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 6, 2008
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