Give Up the Ghost roar back for a timely reunion

Growing up hardcore
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  December 20, 2011

HEAVY EVOLUTION “Kids who are truly hardcore and punk rock will always have that inside of them, but people grow,” says Tim Cossar of Give Up The Ghost. 

It's tough to maintain unswerving matter-of-factness without boring anybody. But hardcore, at its best, manages exactly that.

So does Tim Cossar. Chatting via phone from his residence in Freeport, Maine, he does not come across as a bullshitter. "Kids who play hardcore and punk-rock music grow up," says the guitarist and founding member of Give Up the Ghost, better known by their original handle, American Nightmare. "Kids who are truly hardcore and punk rock will always have that inside of them, but people grow. It's what it is. I think our band is a perfect example of that. Some kids like it. Some kids hate it. That's cool."

One of the architects of the early aughts upsurge in Boston hardcore, AN/GUTG have rematerialized for a pair of quickly sold-out shows after nearly eight years in limbo. One of these gigs will annihilate Revere's Wonderland Ballroom on Thursday. The other goes down somewhere mysterious in Los Angeles.

These gigs — worthy of an ATP Don't Look Back fest — coincide with vinyl reissues of Background Music (Equal Vision, 2001) and We're Down Til We're Underground (Equal Vision, 2003) on Deathwish Inc. Whereas Background exemplifies rampage-inciting hardcore exactitude, We're Down Til We're Underground cracks the mold.

Supposedly this act of mold-cracking demoralized a faction of the AN/GUTG faithful. This could lead one to speculate that the record anticipated its time about five years early. Considering how Fucked Up's been all huge and NPR-approved and such lately, perhaps not everyone was ready for "enlightened" hardcore at the time.

"We didn't want to put out a simple hardcore record like we did before," elaborates Cossar. "We wanted to do something that was still relevant, but for ourselves and our own creativity. I think a lot of people took it as us just throwing it all out the window and doing something completely new."

Despite accusations from finicky followers, Cossar and currently NYC-based singer Wesley Eisold didn't truly genre-bounce until post-AN/GUTG projects (most notably, Eisold's rightly renowned brood-pop outfit Cold Cave).

The way Cossar tells it, the story of AN/GUTG resonates as faux-ordinary enough as to be distinctly American, in that it's typical of the faux-ordinary experience of playing in a punk band, which is a very American thing to do. American Nightmare came into fruition when erstwhile high school chums Eisold and Cossar started a band in the big cityin the late '90s. They gained momentum after putting out their eponymous inaugural 7-inch, and they did well for five years or so. The operation ultimately crumbled under the hassles of lineup changes and legal drama with some assholes who also happened to have named their band American Nightmare (hence the rechristening as Give Up the Ghost). And, of course, if the physical and psychological toll of touring for eight-to-10 months a year for three consecutive years doesn't kill a person, at that point one of his or her bandmates is at least contemplating finishing the job.

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