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Stompbox "Stress" CD

Posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2005 @ 10:13am » permalink

Stompbox - StressFor some reason it's pretty damn hard to dig up much information on this defunct Boston band. Formed in 1991, they released a set of recordings called "Travis" a year later (I've seen this referred to as both a demo and an EP, I don't know the deal there), and their sole full-length, "Stress", dropped in 1994 on Columbia Records. Within a couple of years or so, vocalist Eric Thaler quit the band and the remaining trio allegedly changed their name to Slower. Members have since gone on to perform with Milligram, Placer, Chevy Heston, Juliana Hatfield (Huh?), and even… the Blue Man Group!? Go figure.

I just can't figure out why this record never caught on at least a little more, either. It was heavily promoted at the time – you couldn't go to any damn record store without getting loads of Stompbox sampler tapes/CD's, stickers, etc. And hell, it sounds pretty much exactly like Helmet at their peak, just with more of a rock 'n' roll flare – thanks in large part to the uniquely gruff vocals. Do the math: A lot of Helmet, a little grunge, the mid-90's… what was the problem? I don't know. Helmet had blown up two years prior, so maybe Stompbox just missed the boat on the whole super staccato rhythm thing. Fuck that, though. These songs are totally solid and the production on this fucker is pristine: Perfect for that ringing sort of textbook post-hardcore dissonance, not to mention a killer bass presence.

As with many other wrongfully shit upon records relegated to major label wastebaskets, "Stress" is one of the cheapest used CD's in the history of mankind, and has been for quite some time now. If you can't find this disc for significantly less than $5, you're not looking very hard. I don't know what the fuck would possess someone to sell a CD for a measly .31 cents, but… you know my mantra: People are stupid. So eat up, boys and girls:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

33 Comments...

  1. The vocal pattern on the Stompbox stuff reminds me vaguely of Quicksand..you're right, why didn't these guys take off? Time to go buy the album.

    Chris

  2. carlosNYC says:

    I saw them open up for someone at L'Amours in Brooklyn when that album came out. People were NOT having it! Brutal.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was at that show. The other bands were Dog Eat Dog, Buzzov*en & Life Of Agony. Weird lineup, I know!

  3. Ben says:

    I had to laugh at the record store promotion part, well, because it's true. I worked at only-marginally-cool record store through through most of the 90s, and I can tell you I was rockin' this shit until the cows came home. Like you said, halfway between grunge and Helmet — and in that sense, I always lump this one in with Tad's "Inhaler" and the first Paw album. I'm sure some A&R guy saw these guys as their mealticket, but the finicky kids failed to cooperate.

  4. chris says:

    damn, those riffs in "no woods" sound so helmet it hurts. i remember hearing a song or two from these guys back when at a party, but i wrote them off as a helmet rip-off and forgot about 'em. and i'm from fuckin' croatia, so i guess the word did spread far, but people never really paid too much attention. perhaps for the same reasons as me. anyway, i'm liking what i'm hearing now, so thanks for the reminder, as always.

  5. eddie says:

    good god, this is an album that i never expected to see her. years ago, i saw them open up for biohazard and unsane in baltimore and they floored me. i went out and got the album right away and i still rock it ten years later.

    i commend you for putting this gem in the spotlight.

  6. Bo says:

    A truly great record. It kicked my ass then and still does.

    Milligram was great too…

  7. kermit says:

    Wow, I am ecstatic that someone else has acknowledged the existance of this band. One of my favorite CDs ever. I must absolutely agree with the previous poster about the "Inhaler" and "Dragline" comparisons. Definitely in the same class. In fact I think I bought Inhaler and Stress on the same day. I suppose a person could make the case that they were a bit of a Prong and Helmet clone, but this album is better than anything those bands did, in my opinion (and I'm a big Prong fan). And the vocals are so much better. Who else was doing that gruff roar and whispery croon thing back then (think "No Woods" and "Saltpeterexitwound")?

    What really speaks volumes about this album though was that I could still put this on around 2000 or so, and it didn't sound dated at all. The production and vocals and songwriting, all great.

    Milligram has some good shit too.

  8. Ben says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention — despite how ghood this is, you do have to laugh at how stereotypically "90s" the name "Stompbox" is.

    There was also a good Milligram post over at Help Save the Youth of America recently:

    Clicky.

  9. ok. I just went to half.com and picked this up for $.75. The shipping was over 3x the amount of the cd. However, I still got it for $3.24.

    Damn.

  10. Awesome post. Stompbox were a big part of the early/mid 90s Boston scene. Peers of 6L6, Powerman 500, Honkeyball, Tree, Sam Black church, etc. Got to play with them a couple of times and saw them countless others. They were always a killer live band. They also released a single previous to "Stress". It was for the song "Pick It Up" with "Amelia" on the b side. There was a different drummer and guitarist on the single.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Andrew: I'm always stunned at how close our tastes are (except for the whole Jesu thing … ) LOL. Anyway, big fan of Stompbox — except for the name — and still play the CD today.
    d

  12. [email protected] says:

    Milligram are STILL good.
    And so's 'Innocents'.
    I remember when Stompbox was about to put out this album and people in Boston were so freaked it made the EVENING NEWS. And then…poof.
    Scissorfight just put out an EP to prep for their next album. Go to their site and buy one. Great band, great guys.
    How about Deformity and that whole H8000 scene? Great shit.

  13. Jeff says:

    Its sad that this band dissolved so quick. I saw Stopmbox at Deep Ellum Live in Dallas with Biohazard. 15 kids were up front, and everyone else was standing along the walls. There were probably 250 of those "square" records on the ground. I still have one. It has No Woods on one side, and BackGroundHogDay on the other. I may have been the only kid to pick one up. I am know 30 and still jam this cd.
    I have to disagree about them sounding like PAW. Stompbox didnt write no "Jesse" Thats for sure……

  14. Ezoangelofdeath says:

    I too worked at a record store in the 90's, I also worked at a radio station in Salt Lake City, I worked major air time in for The Making Of Pump, I could not get it to catch on, then we were purchased by Citadel Broadcasting, and I was fired, but I tried, I still have posters, stickers, and a Comp video with the video for No Woods on it, these guys got major promotion, but theres a big difference between that kind of promotion, and good promotion, another band recieving the same treatment was April's Motel Room, and Sponge, but Sponge was the exception to the rule, Stompbox was great though, and the great ones never really get the attention the deserve, or so it appears.

  15. Morris says:

    Yet another great band fucked over by H

  16. JMAC says:

    Is Eric even alive? He imploded, as the last comment mentioned, due to the dreaded H. For personal reasons, I'd just like to know that Eric is alive – if anyone knows, it'd be cool to find out.

    I was at Bearsville when they recorded this. Did 'schrooms with E while Jeff cut these guitar tracks. Jeff is a great guy and Zeph is one of the sickest syncopated drummers of all time. Pat was super strange but in a comical greasy kind of way. All good lads.

    Honestly folks, Sylvia Massey, who produced Tool's Sober, did a great job on Stress, but, for the vocals being a little too low in the mix.

    Even if you can't follow along, none of the bands these guys were considered 'copy cats' of (which, I can tell you, they were not copying ANYONE) could touch their riffs or rhythm – NONE.

    Long live stompy.

  17. Pat says:

    JMAC,
    Erich is alive and living in LA.

    I think it's important to point out that Erich's involvement with H has been grossly exaggerated and that his "implosion" had little to do with drugs.

    Super strange in a comical greasy sort of way? I'm sure you meant to say that I am super greasy in a comical and strange kind of way. Ha!

  18. mike i says:

    just came across this searching for stompbox info.

    Stress is a really, really good album and Stompbox was a great band. I
    only got to see them live once, and they were drunk as shit at the time
    but the totally fucking rocked like champs. Their music is awesome, it is
    certainly in that riffy vein, but i always felt they were bringing something
    special to it, the vocals and the hooks were motivating.

    It's too bad that they didn't fare better, everyone i know that listened to
    these guys loved them, and STILL do.

    another wasted gem in a sea of apathy.

    rock on Stompbox!!!!

  19. Alert says:

    Great band…awesome live.

  20. JB says:

    I saw/heard Stompbox and their mighty cohorts Tree, for the first time at the Rat in Boston on New Years Eve '95 and was completely blown away. I was in Tampa, FL a couple days later and couldn't believe it when I saw their album "Stress" (it was actually a cassette, haha) at some mainstream record store, WTF?? I had just seen these guys at a dirty little watering hole up in Boston. I snatched it up and slapped it into a rental car stereo and was blown away once again.

    Musta been within a few weeks that they were no more. Jaw dropping heartbreak.

    Funny, I had listened to Helmet a bunch before I ever heard of Stompbox and I never made the comparison.

    Stompbox was definitely it's own animal that dug a little deeper.

    Stress is a straight up unsung CLASSIC.

  21. Luciano says:

    HAVE IT LOVE IT !!!

  22. Luciano says:

    Love Stombox…..try Sugartooth !!

  23. Bought it when it came out. I was in Germany. Leipzig to be exact. The same day I bought a record by Hate Squad and Morgoth.
    I think this is a good record. Has a nice warm feel to it and packs quite a punch. And you are totally right about the grunge vibe.

    On no so related note. Did you ever do a feature on the US band A.D.

  24. x Gang Green and x Stompbox members unite for new release. Download the new single, "FIRST NICKEL" BY NUNS OF PUNK. https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nunsofpunk . This ripping track features Erich Thaler of Stompbox with Glen and Chuck Stilphen from the Alcohol / Another Wasted Night-era of Gang Green.

  25. Joe H2O says:

    I have had this Tape since it was released. Now I have the CD. It kicks ass from the begining to the end. I saw this band open up for Biohazard in 1995. They sounded the same live as on the CD. I wish they could have been around longer. This band has influenced others who have heard it!

  26. Indeed. These players were incredibly tight together judging by the album and any other documentation I've looked at through the years. Of which there are very few.

    Since everyone in these comments is in on the '90s I'm tempted to ask if anyone here remembers the band A.D.?

    They had a black frontman, who rapped skillfully and sang. Very little if any angsty screams. They were a trio I think.

  27. Anonymous says:

    best album of the 90's sound. i was /am very sad that crappy bands made it bigger than they did. this album changed they way i wrote/ write my music. still listening, still rocking

  28. Petrangelo says:

    The singer for Stompbox went on to play in another band called D-Con, I saw them open up for Humansbeing in Boston one night and they were so so but Stompbox was a great band and their shows were a good time back in the day!

  29. Johngo says:

    I know at least three of the band members were staples at Berklee College of Music. Eric, I think is a graduate. Jeff was already gifted enough not to go to school and the bass player was working at the bookstore for some time. You couldn't help but run into them if you lived in Boston. My impression was Eric had a slew of connections in the music industry. I don't think any of them had a big head or anything, it was they all understood what it was so well that is was a thing that wasn't wanted and I can see why. People misunderstand their talents and they are all capable of other styles. The offers pushed in to quickly. Security may have been an issue as well. So, much has to fall into place and for Stomp the ingredients were brewing.

  30. We are putting out the stuff we did with Erich Thaler as Celebrity Death Certificate. 2 Songs will be on an old school compilation coming out this fall of 2013. Will feature Celebrity Death Cert and Smegma And The Nunz from 1982. Members of Gang Green and The Freeze. Drop The Needle: Boston Punk Anthology on Trev Records. TREVREC.COM

  31. Anonymous says:

    Saw these guys at Luciano's Cofeehouse in pgh with the mighty Tree opening. I think Eric was missing that night due to sickness, and it was not that great. I still listen to Stress often, and have it ripped into my car stereo hard drive. Killer riffs, but less Helmet to my ears… More like Karma To Burn from West VA. No one else seems to get that huuuuge riffage from a les Paul and a stack like those guys. Still, lovely album and shame that there is only one to play over and over again.

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