Selections from The Punk Vault [Life Sentence]

Life Sentence – LP (1986 Walkthrufyre Records)
Life Sentence were a Chicago hardcore band from the mid ’80s that had a fairly sucessfull run but not without its share of drama. They played tons of shows in the city and opened for a lot of bigger touring bands. They recorded a demo tape that was pretty well distributed and a year or so later they’d release their first, self-titled album.

It was after this record that all the trouble would happen. The band pretty much split in two and the two sides were suing each other over the name of the band. I remember all the scandal and shit slinging in the pages of MRR during this time and wonder why those guys couldn’t just work out their problems and get back to the task at hand, being a good band. Eventually someone won and they released a 2nd LP and a 7″, neither of which was nearly as good as this first record, and it didn’t feature the same members as the first one either. If I had the time I’d try and dig out those old MRRs and reprint them, but they are in boxes stashed away in a closet of the Manor, buried under a pile of other boxes and that alone would be a full day’s project just to dig out.

As to what happened to them, that is a mystery to me. I think a couple of them are still living in Chicago. I know this album was eventually bootlegged by someone actually in the band last year with bonus demo tracks and someone else from the band recently paid a visit to Reckless Records demanding to know who put it out because he claims he owns the rights and has been trying to get it officially reissued. The guy, as I was told, was obviously gimmicked up on some drugs, and appeared to be pretty down and out. I didn’t get his name, neither did the person who told me the story (an employee). So it would appear that time might not have healed all wounds, nor has it been kind. Hopefully someone will straighten out the mess and maybe someday this thing will get the proper CD release that it deserves. Until then, it sadly remains in the hands of only a few.






75 comments

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  • Allen re: comment #50
    sorry to hear about your brother’s recent passing. In regards to those ‘little’ records you have they probably aren’t worth anything, especially if they are by bands listed here and some of them are potentially dangerous. For example, if you have one by say, oh I dont know the Fix, its probably worth about .10$ and if you have one by the Necros that says ‘Endless Summer Skatepark’ on the cover, the ink it was printed with is HIGHLY TOXIC and may cause cancer, birth defects, etc. Records by a group called the Misfits also have this problem, and I would strongly recomend disposal immediately. If you would like, I will gladly e-mail you a ‘want list’ of records that you should probably get rid of right away due to similar problems. If you would be so kind to mail them to me I will dispose of them properly for you. Thanks, Dylan Cole.

  • holy crap, this is amazing. i was just looking for the album cover/logo so i can put it on my CDR of the first album that i ripped myself from tape. what a great series of messages. joe, great to hear that you’re paying attention. i saw you guys at some bar that was in a strip mall in chi-town “back in the day”, roto-toms and all. me, my buds, and all the guys from macabre were there hanging out. denis got up on stage and sang along on your amazing rendition of ‘Godzilla’. i will never forget it.

    if ANYONE has any info on how to get a copy of that bootleg of the first album with demo tracks, PLEASE contact me. i’m sure it would sound a hell of a lot better than my tape-to-disc transfer.

    anyway, great punk like that was a huge influence on my early drumming. still crushing it today, in Harkonin (harkonin.com).

    hope to hear from someone,
    C
    support@harkonin.com

  • hey C, if your quick, u can get ya hands on the ‘original’ press of the Life Sentence s/t 12″(on walkthrufyre recs) from the following address: http://www.elistarec.com The guy wants 27 english pounds for it. u will have to email him for the US price tag. should be something like $50-60 post paid.

    hope this is of any help to u or anyone looking for the original self titled 12″.

    Colin/Hell & Damnation

  • Hi guys, came across this looking for the track list of the s/t album as I only got it in mp3 format from a mate with the song titles all mixed up.
    Remember listening to it in the mid to late eighties at parties. Good stuff – but somehow if you listened to Gang Green and DRI in 81-83 not THAT smoking. Sorry. But I live in Europe so never saw them live. Most stuff is way better live, that’s what it’s all about, touring and partying. Now I’m an old fart surfing the net. All the Best to everyone here.
    To Colin comment #34, chill out, not everythings about money, maybe they just get bored once in a while and feel the urge again…the stage is addictive.

  • There is a punk mp3 blog out there somewhere that put up both Life Sentence albums. The second one isn’t all that bad, but it sounds awful in comparison with the first.

    The above poster is correct: if you are into the harder, DRI-style hardcore of the early 1980s, Life Sentence sounds pretty tame. They also sound pretty tame when compared with Heresy, Ripcord and the mid-80s hardcore scene in England, Japan, Finland, Italy and so on. Still, it’s not bad by any means, and their first album is a lost gem of punk history.

  • We would like to talk to anyone from Life Sentence we are doing a documentary of Midwestern punk & post-punk bands and need help finding people that where in bands and zine writer’s photographers and people who ran record labels form the 1970’s to the 90’s. We’ve all ready found a number of people but would like to find more. We are also thinking of making this a book as well. Any help would be great flyers pics video footage

  • Eric Brockman- the band leader- is definitely living in Chicago, actually working for some friends of mine. Let’s get him playing again!!!

  • Hello All,
    I didn’t know Eric that well, but have seen him in bands since 1980 at the old space place on Green Street. He loved Hendrix and so did I. I could hear it in his frantic fast riffing and had to ask. Patty from BIG HAIR (hair styling salon) wants to organize some benefits to get him some help, not money. If anyone is interested call 773-348-0440. No hair cut required. I also used to run the FreeFest, a now defunct music festival and had Eric’s band play. You can also reach me at heavymentalrocks.com and email me there. For the sake of avoiding spam I dont leave the address here. Sincerely, Wayne from
    Heavy Mental (1983)

  • To Whom It May:
    I am in contact with Eric B. on a daily basis. He is homeless and drinks daily. If anyone is interested in really helping him out call me 847-682-2939. I hope there is still someone out there that is willing to help.

  • I played drums with the Anti-bodies and later Life Sentence from May of 83 to March of 85. I replaced Dominick in the Anti-bodies. The life sentence line up was with Eric Brochman, Kent Kurzka, Chris Sim and the infamous Ray Morris.

  • hi all –

    couple of things:

    1) found a repress of the first album on ebay. it was on ‘Legends Of Hardcore’ records. red vinyl. side 2 had a couple outtakes from the studio, the demo, and two live tracks. it sounds friggin’ great. been loving it;
    2) if any kind of benefit show (for eric’s rehab stint) is organized, Harkonin would gladly play it. we are not punk but are huge, avid fans. might be weird to have a black metal band involved, but whatever – we’d love to. see email below.

    and hey, i have a home and a job, and i drink daily. it’s all context i guess. ^_^

    C
    support@harkonin.com

  • Eric Brockman has put together a brand new line up of Life Sentence. He is the only original member in the band. I saw them 4/24/09 on the northwest side of Chicago at a bar called Metal Shaker. Four other bands played with them, all I belive were from Kenosha Wisconsin. I didn’t recognise him until he got onstage and started playing, but since I don’t cut my hair into a mohawk anymore he probably didn’t recognise me either. When I saw in the Reader that they were playing my first reaction was Ah no, it couldn’t be. THAT Life Sentence? He has the face of someone who has seen some hard times, he didn’t have the youthful glow that he once had. I wouldn’t be surprised if everything I read about him being a homeless junkie was true. I remember that he loved to smoke pot. He’d probably spark a joint on stage if he thought he could get away with it. But his drug habits are neither here or there, and I don’t particularly wish to dwell on that.

    The new line up is quite good, with good musicians who’ve obviously did their homework.

    The downside is the audience seemed to consist of the bands that played with them and their friends.

    I didn’t see any old faces from the old days which kind of surprised me.
    I don’t know if they’re dead, serving time, married w/kids, r strung out and homeless, but this old timer wasn’t about to miss this show, and I’m glad I didn’t.

    Life sentence was/is one of my favorite bands from the old days when cops would stop you on the street, kick your ass frame you and bust you for something you didn’t do because they just didn’t like punk rockers and since we stuck out like sore thumbs we were easy targets.

    The old school scenesters missed out on a good show. their loss was/is my enjoyment.

    They also have a MySpace page and all three records have been re-issued on one CD.

    It’s not professional, it’s home burned, that doesn’t take anything away from the music or my personal enjoyment of it.

    I don’t know If they can legally reissue it but the legality of the product is not my problem.

    I’m just glad to have the music. I still have my original copy of the first album, but never had the chance to get “No Experience Nessesary” or the three song single when they were available, so this will do just fine.

    If everything I heard about Eric’s past is true, and he’s seriously trying to get his shit together and stay clean,then I’ll be more than happy to pay to get into one of their shows again.

    If however, he’s become a “punk for profit” and he’s doing this to make an extra buck, that’s fine too. I wish him no ill will, and at least it’s an honest way to make a buck.

    My final comment on this whole state of affair(s) is basically that the trendy Hot Topic types need a severe education about the GOOD bands that came from chi-town back in the day and that it wasn’t always loser pop-punk bullshit like Screeching Weasle, OKGO Rise Against ad nausua

    Life Sentence WERE the shit and the new generation can learn a thing or two from them. Fuck Warped tour and their trendy Hot Topic clones.

    Welcome back Life Sentence! Don’t blow it this time around!

  • LIFE SENTENCE LIVE AT GASTHAUS IN ELGIN IL SATURDAY JULY 25th…

    15 N GROVE

    ELGIN IL

    60120

    4 bands!!!!support your local scene

    Doors 8:00 PM

  • Haha Eric Brockman! I live with him now in chicago. he doesnt do many shows anymore but he would love to.

  • Hung out w/ Tom And Joe quite a few times in Birmingham , Alabama in probably 86 or early 87. One of my favorite hardcore bands. Seemed like really cool guys.

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