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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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  • I found you surfing on blogexplosion… great blog… and a great idea! A friend of mine has been talking about blogging all his punk show stickers… I’ll send him your url!

  • Waikiki Ted played in the 2nd or 3rd generation of Life Sentence. I believe he gave me a song for one of the first Daghouse comps with him playing in Life Sentence.

  • it was the singer (i’m pretty sure) that came into reckless. when i asked him what he did in the band, his reply was:

    “drugs.”

    i just wanted him to leave.

  • I played bass with Eric (original Guitar and Vocals) well after Life Sentence original fall out, probably the 8th generation, we could not get a drummer to stick around for the project so I gave up and moved to Columbus and started Phallic Rescue. This was back in 1996-7. Anyone that knows Eric in dem times knows that drugs were the main focus, not Punk Rock. Me, a NYHC straight edge bass/guitar player type that only got drunk every now and then liked playing with Eric for some reason. It was weird tho we would have band practiced at like at 4:00am. We would often have to stop practice so that Eric could offload some smack. One thing I can say about Chicago, it is easy to get rid of a body. Anyone who has been in the hardcore drugs and punk scene for a few years in Chicago knows what to do if a fellow user ODz and died. I would like to think that Eric is still alive. Someone told me he got is shit together and works for UPS. I think it was that other Eric (drummer) from my super spaceout day.

    Anyway it has been some time since I was up in Chicago. If any old friend find this post, drop me a e-mail you can use the contact link on my googlefuck.com site

    L8ter Punks

  • I knew Eric from Hnging out Dreamerz and the old Estelle’s. I know that when I was living on Division street back in mid 90’s he was doing drugs. I recently saw him a couple of times while I was back in Chicago on leave. I’m pretty sure he was homeless. At least that seemed to be the way it appeared to me. I wanted to talk to him, but when people get to that point you tend to just want to avoid the whole situation. Eric was alwys cool to me back in the day. It’s sad to such a talented person go down like that. But , I’ve seen it happen to my friends before in that city and when I get back I’m sure I’ll see it again. I still have a Life Sentence tape he gave to me as well as a demo for the band he tried to get going in the mid 90’s called LCD. As far as the bootleg album…I think I know who put it out.

  • the first hardcore record i listened to, besides dischord: year in seven inches. seriously, by like 20 minutes. this makes me want to find this record again..

  • check out regress. Joe from life sentence is in the band I think. They are very good. I think Leguanda Armada put out their seven inch. I don’t understand why they don’t play chicago ever though.

  • Does anyone know the story regarding the original Life Sentence’s lawsuit against each other?

  • I knew Eric Brockmann (Life Sentence guitarist) when he moved from Ohio to Chicago in about 1980. His entire focus was primarily ingesting drugs with punk rock being his second interest. My brother was in his first hardcore band called the Anti-Bodies around ’81-’83 and afterwards Eric formed Life Sentence after his first band imploded. His girlfriend Lori Steinberg from that era eventually formed the Stoner Rock band Acid King. I caught up with Eric in the early-mid ’90s. By this time he was on horse, fulfilling his early ’80s fantasies with the drug. It seems that was his destiny as he always talked about being on smack. Given his outlook on life I seem to think that he somehow wanted to be dead. I don’t know the circumstances regarding his self-destructive behavior, but he always enjoyed it.

  • Did the Anti-Bodies ever release anything? What’s their history?

    Its pretty sad to hear about Eric. Over on the windycitypunk.com page, one of the dudes from Out Of Order (the drummer, I think) posted that Eric is living in some transient hotel and panhandling. I also read that Joe Losurdo did a Life Sentence “reunion” tour in Europe with Anthony from Rights of the Accused playing drums and someone else playing guitar.

  • Anti-Bodies recorded 3 songs for the compilation “The Master Tapes” a double vinyl release from 1982(?). I had the record, but lent it to someone and never got it back. It featured Midwest hardcore bands.

    Life Sentence’s original incarnation had a 4th member as a vocalist. That was Ray, originally from Six Feet Under. Ray was dumped from the touring van on a two-lane highway in a rural area after a fight and the band continued as the power trio for their first LP. After that line-up split, Eric asked me to join as bassist, but I declined.

  • I’d be very interested if anyone has a copy of Master Tapes Vol II. This record featured the Descendants and the Anti-Bodies were allowed three songs on the record. I was the original drummer with the Anti-Bodies
    and would love to get my hands on that record. Maybe I was bias but I thought the Anti-Bodies had real potential and talent for punk band. I continued being friends with Eric and all the boys from AB’s and LS throughout the ’80’s. I thought LS lacked the chemistry of the original AB’s. By the way fuck joey he was a snot back then and a mediocre bass player and from what it sounds like can’t seem to let go of the past by trying to capitalize off of it. Punk was anti-capitalism don’t you get fuck head.

  • The more I remember and read about how people who never formed the band went on to exploit it even recently. Life Sentence was formed from the embers of the Anti-Bodies. One band morphed into another back in Itasca, IL in Eric’s basement. After several incarnations of the AB’s it morphed into what sounds like about a dozen versions of LS. I knew Eric for nearly 10 years. These were his bands and his music for the most part. Everyone made their contributions but it was always his bands. We all knew 25 years ago he would end up the way he did but I have to ask the guys who are still trying to carry the Life Sentence torch, are you paying tribute to the musicand the man or are you some sorry ass wanna be fizzled out rockers trying to exploit some thing that was about the moment in time musically and culturally? I still love punk it ain’t dead but geeze invent something new musically if you still play in a band. Who wants to look at a bunch of old farts pretending to be some kids who were anywhere from 16 to 24?
    Get a Life

  • Dominic, I have that record and can record a cdr of it for you if you want. Drop me a line if you’d like, use the email button on the upper right side of this site. Do you have any recordings of Anti-Bodies?

  • i have to say that my favorite hardcore/punk records from the 80’s were the 1st Life Sentence lp and the F.O.D. “shatter your day” lp (their 1st). and both seem so unknown today.

  • Stumbled across this site by accident, but glad I did. Back in the late-80s I was far from Chicago — I was in upstate New York doing a college radio show (harcore, punk, crossover, industrial, speed, thrash, grind, and even alt-rock like Jane’s and Dinosaur when it was still known as “college rock”). Walkthrufyre sent me the two Life Sentence LPs, as well as a LS t-shirt. I played the albums frequently for about a year and put them on my weekly CMJ reports a couple tims (and I remember that I received numerous requests for “Punks for Profit”). I think the records are in storage upstate (I’m in NYC now), but I still have, and wear, the LS t-shirt.

  • Sad to hear about Eric–he was brilliant in a twisted way. I grew up with him in Cincinnati (he moved there from LA) and knew him/his family well. Nice people.

    Hope he can figure out that there is life beyond dope….

  • I got ahold of some footage of Life Sentence from about 1989. I do not own it tho I have permission to use it for a project. So was it the dark brown, long haired, quiet gutarist that died?

  • Going back to when Ray was dumped…I had set a show up for them in Memphis in June/July of ’86. They called me from the road and told me that they just kicked their singer out of the band (and the van in Arkansas) because “He was an asshole and had no sense of humor…and that is a bad combination” and that if he calls asking for directions to tell him to Fuck off. he called me asking for me to tell them that he wanted back in the band. I gave them the number where he was at, they just laughed. The show was pretty cool. They played a few days after Aggression. They wanted to silk screen some shirts before they left for New Orleans. They asked me and Ben Econochrist if we wanted to ride down to N.O. with them. for a July 4th show with Descendents and Short Dogs Grow…Awesome time, but 2 days later…Got to see the almighty Dag Nasty twice in Memphis (Peter’s 2nd show…Wish I coulda seen em with Dave) with Descendednts…what a week!!! Mike…this is the Roy you gave up the Gyruss machine to…I’ll shoot you an email. I’m back in Memphis now. Awesome site!

  • I’m married to Dave Shornden, the co-founder and original drummer of Life Sentence (living in South FL and northern NJ). The band did form in Eric’s basement, and was subsequently taken over by people who didn’t understand the whole meaning of punk (the ones who wanted to turn it into a money making machine – like Joe).
    Whoever posted (up further) that there is life after dope was right. Thankfully Dave found it and is “clean & sober” today. Sorry to hear about Eric. Life Sentence ended up so far from how it started. Those who want the gory details on the lawsuit, contact Dave yourselves at certaindeath13@yahoo.com and ask him what you want.
    Nice to see that the fire still burns for the early days of LS…
    -Sona Shornden

  • Holy Shit. Between Sona (whom I don’t know) and Dominic (Pete Best syndrome?)who I’ve met maybe 3 or 4 times, I had to take the bait and write.Money making machine? What world to you live in? I always liked Dave although he wasn’t even living with Eric when the lawsuit was going down. And if anyone wants to know the gory details, I have the actual settlement, not hearsay. I’m not going to harp on Eric too much, it’s a sad tale, but one of his own doing. I find it ironic he’s been elevated to martyr/victim status and I’ve been so vilified by people who don’t know me or met me a few times when I was 16 years old.Remember what you were like at 16? Anyway, all the internet folks shedding crocodile tears over Eric’s situation make me sick. Let’s gloss over all the shit we’ve seen him do (Dave should especially know what I’m talking about). Why haven’t any of these “friends” of Eric’s tried to help him out? I will personally bring you to where he hangs out and you guys can take in the 45 year old crack addict and nurse him back to health. Still as much as I dislike the guy, there was a time when I considered him a close friend until I saw his true colors (this was way before the breakup). I tried to track down his parents (they were up there in years 20 yrs ago) and his sister but came up with nothing.Since he burned all his friend bridges I figured they would be the only ones to take him in and certainly had the “funds” to help him out.Oh well, like I said, I took the bait. Every fairytale needs a villian, I suppose.
    Joe
    Oh yeah, did I mention he owes Tom and I a SHITLOAD of money?

  • I forgot to mention that Eric hated me so much that when I saw his group L.C.D. around 95 or 96, we chatted for awhile and he asked if I wanted to “jam” some time.

  • Could someone fill me in on what happened with the lawsuit? I know it was over the name, but how’s it all happen?

  • That’s would be the same as if i were to ask you about your divorce settlement with all the details. All I can say is everything that I’ve read on the internet (if it’s on a blog, it must be true!) is completely wrong. Eric spent a lot of time spreading bullshit about it (some of it is now 20 years old) and people took it as gospel without getting the other parties’ side of the story. i may someday write something to attempt to clear the air, but it’s not exactly high on my priority list. i hope people have enough common sense to not believe rumors and hearsay spread by people other than the three parties involved, but we all know the truth is so much less juicy.
    joe

  • Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply I was looking for settlement details, I was more interested in how the whole thing became a lawsuit in the first place. Like, did someone leave and form his own version of the band or what? But if you don’t want to get into all that, that’s cool. I don’t personally know anyone involved, so I’m not passing judgement on who’s right and who’s wrong. Just a fan of that first record who’s curious about the band.

    Whatever happened to Tom O’Connor?

  • Joe – I would be mroe than happy to update this feature with any Life Sentence history you’d like to share. I’m also curious as to the details of the suit and how it came to pass. I am only going off my fading memory of what I read 20 years ago almost so the details are rather hazy.

  • Tom is a successful businessman, married with kids,etc. We recently reconnected after almost 20 years and he pretty much looks the same. I don’t think he plays much drums, which is a shame as he was one of the best. Note to MXV- I’ve been thinking about all I would have to write and it is very complex and would be ridiculously long, which begs the question-who really gives a shit? A handful of people? But when i do, i’ll let you know.
    joe

  • Joe has been my best freind for 20 years.Never in that time has he stopped playing music in one form or another. That’s what he does. None of us that use to play or still play have ever made any fucking money doing this. We all do this by the same motivation; it’s fun. Lighten up.

  • Joe,

    It’s a good point about several sides to a story and I have to admit that it’s something we fall prey to. We’re pretty far removed from the WHOLE punk scene today. I can’t claim to know anything firsthand. I thought a lot about what you wrote and what I wrote, and I’d like to apologize for making a judgment on you via info that could very well have been skewed. My bad.

    In terms of Eric, I’d like to talk offline with you sometime. Personal stuff – doesn’t need to be on here. You can email me at shornden@gmail.com, because we WOULD like to find a way to help.

    BUT the apology I wanted to air on here. Your point was valid. I forget that everything is usually hearsay…
    and you’re not 16 anymore (and neither is Dave). I’ve seen him do a 180 and I’ll be damned if I would like anyone to judge him on how HE used to be, so…

    Sorry, man.

    And PS. Dave has nothing but good stuff to say about you, too. I make my own bad assumptions, thank you.
    🙂

  • He was a good guy besides the demons.I was lucky to have been brought along to do some small tours and local gig’s with them.Gus and Jeff were great to me and Eric never gave me a problem.I do have many live recordings and videos form that era and i have to say, they were extremely popular no matter where we played.Guys from Metallica and DRI always gave them props wearing the trademark logo shirt.I guess i just have to hang onto those memories.

  • I landed on this site due to the fact that I was just looking up some stuff on LS has I’m not really in the know on the history, politics etc.. The selftitled LP is still a milestone in the hardcorepunk scene today and its just a pity that not too many outta the US have actually witnessed such a HC classic. I’m not really concerned about all the bickering that has gone on in the past about certain members selling out or fighting over rights of ownership – thats just apathetic. I’m more concerned with todays scene cos this is now – that was then, and why live in the past. I’m from the UK and the Chicago hc/punk scene has come a long way since the days of LS.. Los Crudos, Huasipungo made a big impact on the chicano scene in the 90’s and theres still kids, even 30 somethings (40 in some cases) playing music with social political lyrics which are from the heart – not the pockets of some money grabbing labels. Its about DIY – the real backbone for such a sub-genre. But I still have respect for the older bands that were around in the day. ps: the s/t Life Sentence LP would be applaud today if only someone would officially realease it on vinly/cd! Hope I aint taken up too much of your vital time… Colin/Hell & Damnation zine

  • Right… now i will comment on this sudden blockade of ‘worshipping your idols’ blahh blahh blahh…. bands like Subhumans, Rattus, Discharge or any of the reformed old cronies can FUCK OFF – easy as that! why have they reformed – for the money! its like a backlogue of old school rejects reforming cos they have this theory that hardcore, or punk, is back in fashion… and obviously they have this lame ass supossitory where they think they’re is money to be made. well bands like that, or anyone, thinking its a good idea after a 15-20 or so year hiatus, to reform… GET REAL! this aint got anything to do with any of the above ‘comments’ I know – but its just to let ppl know that punk aint for profit(pardon the pun), its about doing it yourself… now go form a band, edit a zine, organise shows, masturbate in ya rich aunts bank account… do summot constructive instead of wining. I saw your mommy and your mommy’s dead…

  • hi joe, just a idea ok – maybe sublimed…. but was wondering if you are up for a interview for my zine!? If not a interview, a rant or what ever you wanna call it about Life Sentence. I would love to include what ever you have to say in the ‘Blast From The Past’ diagnosis, or what ever you wanna call it, antidote I sometimes delve into in my zine. Be cool mate…. be cool to hear what you have to say as Life Sentence as a band, or bunch of individuals, need to be known or recognised in todays scene… I’d much appreciate it if you would get intouch with me Joe… was awesome reading this site, even though most of it was pretty much dismal lolol… but still fucking cool to hear what you guys are up to.. all the best in your activities and life in general xx

  • I didn’t know him hardly at all, but Eric B. will always be special to me. I met him in 1982-ish when I was 14 years old and just discovering punk. He worked at Record City in Skokie when the store was morphing from a typical indie AOR type shop to a punk rock oasis in the suburbs. I admired him from afar mostly (yes, I had a huge crush), but I’ll never forgot how friendly he was to me, how he turned me on to some great music, and how he put his sweaty, wiry arm around my waist and danced with me at a DOA show in 1985. It was a moment that a girl will never forget, no matter how much the girl has changed since then. There’s probably many more people who have similar stories to tell of how Eric helped keep the Chicago scene a happy, fun place in his own way. And will the person who has live Life Sentence email me at sonicreducer@nerdshack.com? I’d love to get a hold of that.

  • Hi,

    I am working on a documentary about the Dallas Fort Worth punk scene.
    A girl gave mer her footage that she shot in the late 80’s to use in
    my doc. well, some of it does not fit in my doc but I have an interest
    in documenting in general and as I look at this footage I know some
    other folks would love to see some of this. On this one tape is Herb
    tarlicks from Detroit, Life Sentence from
    Chicago and Ultiman from St. Louis. If someone else is making a doc or
    makes one inthe future of these cities punk or music scene this
    footage would be great in it.

    If there is an interest let me know if anyone from way back wants to
    see this stuff and I will ask her if it’s ok.

  • We must remember life sentence was a band that loved to play. We were dedicated to the raw energy of punk in its infancy. If you toured & played chicago u probaly slept on our living rm flr. (A.K.A. the palace 432 Cherry ln. Itasca. We loved hardcore! WE were also diggin the attention (chicks)& free booze.But such is life we all needed money I started playing for a hair band eventually. Forget abt. lawsuits & album rights (we never made a gold record) we made a classic punk album. We were inspired by the times, regan,societies consumerism,life in general. It flatering to hear such rave reviews 20 years later. Thats FUCKIN PUNK ROCK!

  • I don’t know who this guy is. The first drummer to play gigs with Life Sentence was a guy named Jay (headband & Roto toms) later replaced by the irreplaceable Tom O’Connor who did the first LP with Eric,Ray, and myself. Look at the album credits.

  • hey everyone punk…..
    I have recently met Mr. LIFE SENTECE, Eric B—–, he still lives in Chicago,and unfortunatly, still down on his luck. It is funny, because all he want to do is play guitar again, but no one will let him play.By the way, you would need to supply him with a guitar,like I said, he is dow on his luck. So if anyone would like to indirectly give him a message, I see him quite often. Oh, and if you are wondering, he’s still punk through and through.

  • I saw Life Sentence play in Boulder Colorado at Penny Lane in . . . maybe ’88 . . . They fuckin’ went off!!! I think Diddly Squat played also . . . We ended up trading some some chronic bud for their new album (No Experience Necessary) . . . maybe it was ’89 . . . Were you in the band then Joe?

  • played in life sentence for a hot minute after i movrd to chicago, and lived w/erc., after playing with herb tarlics i was the guitar player for the tarlicks and 2nd in l.s.~
    heard erc was indeed down onn his luck and H was involved. very much too bad. he was a good musician.

    sg

  • Homeless, and asking for handouts on one of the Northsides many freeway offramps.You tell me.I know he drinks…but who doesn’t, especially someone down on their luck.He wishes he still had his guitar…(sold if for a bad habit he may have picked up along the way)…..Still PUNK as hell.Epitomy of “Gutter Punk” now. I’ve talked with him a few times, he is still sincere, still punk, still doing his own thing…just now he’s not getting paid to perfom, just paid from “nice” peoples handouts.Don’t know where he winters…I will ask him next time I run into him…

  • Hello, I found this website via Google – my brother recently died and seems to have a lot of VHS tapes marked with some of the bands mentioned here, dose anybody know the best way to sell them?

    He also has some records, but they are mostly the little ones.

  • This is weird – I played drums for Life Sentence in 1990, just after the release of “No Experience” and right after Roman got sick. I’m not surprised about Eric, he was a major mess when I traveled with them. Jeff, the bass player, was the only reason I signed on to play. He was a great guy, and a great musician. It’s sad to see how things turned out, but as mentioned earlier…there is life after drugs…I’m living proof!

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