Earlier this week, guitarist Robert Orr and myself decided to disband our crossover/thrash metal band Nuclear Hatred (formerly Zamboni) of seven years.
For six of those seven we were known as Zamboni, a punk/thrash powerhouse that never took itself too seriously. In that time we released a demo, two EP’s, a live album, and our one and only album. Those were good days. Thanks to the good people at the Meatlocker and some other local bands that we consider to be dear friends of ours, we built up a small scene in the New Jersey area, pulling together some great shows such as Midian’s one and only reunion show, a Cancerslug show that is now known as “The Jersey Massacre” on their YouTube page, and our five “Thrash Bash BBQ” events. If we needed help, another band was there to fill in on drums or help set up and promote a show. Everyone was going to everyone’s shows. Everyone was buying everyone’s merch. All the bands were looking out for each other. It was clear: We weren’t just making music, we were cultivating a community.
Fast forward to 2016. A week after we finally released our debut album (which was heavily promoted through Clawhammer PR and even got the attention of Zero Tolerance magazine and a few South American compilations), the suits came calling. The Frank J. Zamboni Corporation sent us a cease and desist letter telling us we couldn’t use the name Zamboni as it was copyright. While that is probably not true as Zamboni is a very common Italian last name (therefore impossible to copyright, and if it just so happened to be MY last name it would have made even less sense), we didn’t have the money to take them to court (In addition, we had copywritten our demo years back and if there actually WAS a copywright under that name, it would have gotten pinged back and we would have known to change the name on the spot). After pleading with law firms to find a loophole without changing our name and killing our long-overdue momentum, it seems that these ridiculous cases are simply done just to waste money and ruin a person financially at the company’s expense. We had no choice but to change the name in haste to Nuclear Hatred- the first song we ever wrote as Zamboni.
While we liked the name for a song and possibly album title, we hated it as a band name. We also hated the fact that we couldn’t really get booked anywhere unless we rented a place and booked the show ourselves (with one exception as a really wonderful human booking shows out of her parent’s Staten Island basement). Everyone was suddenly playing a very generic form of thrash or another genre and getting the booking we felt we deserved as we had accomplished much more than any of them.
And as for our so-called “community?” After all the help, support, and attempts to really create something over the years, not once did they offer us a slot on a show or ask what they could do to help us regain our lost momentum in our time of need. It was clear to us that there was no unity any longer. Everyone was only in it for themselves at this point and we were “just another band/occasional promoter.” The only times we would ever get any booking-related questions would be if we were booking a show and someone asked to be on it. When it came to even going to shows, there was no longer any excitement. You never felt like anyone in the venue cared nor that anyone playing was really going to make it – especially with the horrid shape that the music industry is in. People only showed up to shows for the headliner, and they “couldn’t afford” a local band’s t-shirt but just so happened to have the money for several overpriced drinks. The NY/NJ scene had died and anyone clinging to the idea that there still is one is a complete denier.
When it came to our writing, even the musical styles were changing, straying further away from crossover and thrash metal in our songwriting. The lyrical content for album two was to be much darker and revenge driven against the machine. We were simply too bitter and burnt out to really focus on our craft. Even routine practices were becoming a chore, happening less and less. We had plans to do some splits and EP’s, but they never materialized and we were given the runaround from people involved.
In January, we played our last show, although we didn’t know it yet (it also was the last SI basement show, oddly enough). Throughout the year we couldn’t squeeze out many practices due to scheduling and sometimes just not really having a drive anymore. Plus, we were listening to lots of other genres of metal and music altogether. I started a love affair with doom metal, gangster rap, and psychadelic rock. I also fell head-over-heels for stand-up comedy, voice acting, painting, podcasting, and the occasional game of Magic: The Gathering. Thrash in a dead scene that could care less about what I was doing seemed like a moot point.
After months of this, Orr and I sat down and had a phone call roughly a week ago. After about 30 seconds into the call, we both had the same idea: stop beating the dead horse and bury it. We both didn’t want to be there anymore. The music wasn’t fun, and the scene and our community were gone. Seven years was a good run, and we were too heartbroken over all of our hard work repeatedly being stabbed in the back to allow any of it to continue. Plus our lives were pulling us in different directions.
While we plan on still being musical for the rest of our lives, we’re not sure where the roads will take us. Until then, thank you for being a part of this journey and I hope to see you in the coming years. Hopefully the scene will sort itself out and there will be a community once again, but for now, there is much work to be done.