ARCHIVE: Sick Again, and Loving It

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The way they were: Arnie Baars, JoJo Albano, Greg Macolino and Bobby the K — The Chronic Sick — take their major reunion world tour back to the Brighton Bar this Saturday.

By TOM CHESEK (First published on Red Bank oRBit August 4, 2009)

The story, reproduced faithfully in press releases to this day, goes something like this: it’s 1982; Reagan’s in the White House, the Falklands War and the Tylenol Killer are in the news, and the first compact discs are starting to edge vinyl off the store racks.

Meanwhile, in a drab Jersey recording studio specializing in cheap ‘n nasty local-dude records, a Long Branch-based bunch of punks called The Chronic Sick are attempting to wax a full-length followup to their first 12-inch EP for the legendary Mutha Records imprint; an effort (Cutest Band In Hardcore) that was branded the “Best Record Release of 1981″ by the formidable Jello Biafra, that hit Number One on every important college radio station in the state, and would go on to become a “Holy Grail” that reportedly continues to fetch selling prices approaching $1500.

Midway through the sessions, guitarist Bobby the K — “frustrated with the lack of grit in the singing voice of frontman Greg “Gory” Macolino, punched the lead vocalist in the throat, thinking it would add just the right quality.” It didn’t. In fact, the incident, coupled with the admitted lack of discipline and maturity on the part of the teenaged bandmates, spelled the early demise of the zitfaced, pockmarked, swastika-scribbling cuties.

Part of a small but respected scene of proto-hardcore punk and psychedelic bands that burned briefly and brightly in the early 1980s, in places like Long Branch, Red Bank, Asbury and Belmar, The Chronic Sick  (Gory, Bobby, bassist Arnie Baars and drummer JoJo Albano) would join their contemporaries — Fatal RageSecret Syde,The WorstThe BeastLaughing SoupdishMODE/IQ and Public Disturbance — in a largely doomed stand against what were then the crushing forces of the coverband dinosaurs, then in their pumped-up prime at clubs up and down the highways of Central Jersey. By contrast, the Shorecore bands, like their Brunswick and Bloomfield-based brethren to the north, homesteaded their own scene at places like the dying Fast Lane, the infamous Hot Dog House in Asbury, a couple of random neighborhood bars and rec centers — and most significantly at a recovering package-goods pukestop called the Brighton Bar.

Flash forward a couple of largely forgettable decades and you’ll find a significantly less cruddy (but still creddy) Brighton Bar still standing as the hallowed Home of Original Music on the Jersey Shore — with Macolino, now a high school teacher and a veteran of another seminal Jersey Shore band (The X-Men), one of the owners of the West End landmark for the past ten years.

History, no stranger to the little stage that helped spawn the likes of Monster Magnet and Godspeed, happened again a few months back, when the classic configuration of the Chronic Sick reunited after more than 25 years to play a special vintage hardcore show — an event that led at least indirectly to the rebirth of the celebrated Syde, and directly to such Sick happenings as their first-ever formal tour; an excursion that returns them to the Brighton boards this Saturday night, August 8.

The bandmates, who played Maxwells in Hoboken this past weekend, and are scheduled to appear tonight at The Red and the Black in Washington, DC, will be continuing their world-domination tour with stops in NYC (August 9), Cambridge, MA (August 12) and New Haven, CT (August 13). And, with the help of Adam Hamilton from LA Guns, they’re “polishing off and putting the finishing touches” on the album that was to be their second release, entitled 1982 — a set of songs that, considering when the tunes were written, has literally been in the making since that fateful year.

Red Bank oRBit talked to three of the four Sickies as they prepped for their invasion of our nation’s capital, and no going for the jugular this time. Read on.

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