In Memory of Siege vocalist Kevin Mahoney (September 6, 1965 – October 14, 2011)

Siege’s Kevin Mahoney dead at 46 (September 6, 1965 – October 14, 2011):
Deceased singer of legendary Boston hardcore/proto-grindcore band remembered

By Jay H. Gorania

Kevin Mahoney, founding member and former singer (and occasional saxophonist) of the legendary Boston band Siege, died Friday, October 14. He worked in the IT industry, at hospitals, for the better part of his adult life; however the extreme music underground will always respect and remember him for his frantic, intense vocals for Siege, a game-changing band that was a pre-cursor to what eventually became grindcore.

Aside from a brief reformation in 1991 with Anal Cunt singer Seth Putnam—another Boston-area legend who sadly died this year—Siege played a hyper-charged, thrash-influenced form of hardcore sometimes referred to as “thrash-core” between 1983 and 1985. But they weren’t a flash in the pan. They burned a hole right through it.

Their legacy stands on the strength of their pivotal six-song demo, Drop Dead, which was accompanied in several re-issues with three tracks from Pushead’s Cleanse the Bacteria compilation (a couple of re-issues included three other songs). And that’s it. That’s all they ever released. On the strength of that alone, Siege was and is unquestionably a pioneering band for all grindcore, powerviolence and fast hardcore.

For years, yours truly has found catharsis and satisfaction through grindcore, so about a decade ago I traced the genre’s origins to several bands including Siege. Upon first hearing Drop Dead via Relapse Records’ mail-order, I was awe-struck over the fact that such brutal, fast and incredible songs were recorded in 1984. I’m still blown away, and it rivals the intensity of any band today. But who cares about my perspective? Here’s what some notable folks, including some of grindcore’s pioneers, leaders and up-and-comers, have to say in tribute to Kevin Mahoney and Siege…

Mark “Barney” Greenway – NAPALM DEATH (vocals)
It sort of blows my mind that a lot of people who, in recent times, have picked up on fast hardcore/powerviolence/what’s-its-name don’t have an inkling about Siege. There were lots of quality bands around in the early-to-mid eighties doing the chaotic speed thing, but Siege’s Drop Dead demo is the center-point for me—classic songwriting and an off-the-rails attack of the highest caliber. I never knew Kevin, but he delivered his lines like it was the end of the world. We’ve been playing “Conform” live now for a while, and it’s our nod of appreciation, if you like. Rest easy, Kev.

Champ Morgan – KILL THE CLIENT (vocals)
Sad to hear of Kevin Mahoney’s passing. Siege were a fantastic band that basically started what became grindcore. Kevin’s vicious, rabid dog vocal style and the band’s savage music were like a ripping blade to your skull. They had such raw, unbridled power. It always sounded right on the verge of blowing up. They influenced the “godfathers” of grind. Without Kevin there never would have been Napalm Death. No Terrorizer. The list goes on and on. None of it. They took punk rock, turned the volume to 11, the speed to 100 mph, and kept angry social lyrics pounding through your head. This is a big loss to the grindcore and powerviolence scenes. Truly a sad day.

Richard Johnson – DRUGS OF FAITH/AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED (vocals/bass)
The first thing that comes to mind when hearing of Siege’s loss is the description Relapse used to put in their old catalogues about the Drop Dead album, which in part went something like, “If you don’t own this, you can’t call yourself a true fan of grindcore!” I suppose that sums it up, because Siege was so important to the evolution of grindcore. I could say that I would never have played grindcore without Napalm Death or Terrorizer, but they wouldn’t have sounded quite the way they did without Siege.

William Yurkiewicz – Co-owner of RELAPSE RECORDS/EXIT-13 (vocals)
Rest in peace Kevin Mahoney, singer of Siege, without a doubt the most savage American hardcore punk band, responsible for influencing the creation of “grindcore.” Aristotelian prime movers of musical extremity and lyrical profundity. I can remember flipping out over the page in Maximum Rock ‘n Roll magazine and that classic live photo. I can still recall the exact disbelief at first hearing the three tracks on Pushead’s Cleanse the Bacteria international hardcore compilation LP. I still have the dubbed Maxell cassette I got via tape trading that had the Drop Dead demo on it. Of all the recordings that I ever had a hand in releasing/distributing via my label, Siege’s Drop Dead CD has to be the top one that makes me the most proud and satisfied that I chose a career in music. I consider Siege drummer Robert Williams to be one of my closest musical compatriots and love his post-Siege band Nightstick nearly as much as Siege. I doubt any new music will ever be created that has the same devastating effect of hearing Siege in 1985. They literally changed my life forever. But don’t just take my word for it. “Siege will always have a special place in me,” says former Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris. “Still play Siege every week or so. Nothing stronger,” says former Napalm Death bassist/vocalist Nicholas Bullen. The music increases in gravitas with every listen, with every passing day and with each new stunned fan having their mind blown away by the unrelenting ferocity. Siege rule all, and this music will live forever.

Dave Callier – PLF (aka Pretty Little Flower – vocals/guitar)
If you ask me, Siege was totally pioneering extreme thrash hardcore in the United States. No one was playing that fast, or that intense in the Northeast at that time. The Neos were across the border to the north, and bands like Lärm or Asocial were all the way on the other side of an ocean. Kevin Mahoney—and the other young, pissed-off punk rockers in Siege—was certainly raging with pure, otherworldly fury to unleash such unadulterated blasts of protest and pure hate as they did. They shredded passed the pretentious mask of fashion and image that can sometimes characterize punk music, and just raged in absolute hell. His intensity as a vocalist was certainly unmatched, at the time, and paved the way for legions of bands to come. Salutes to a man who left such a mark, without posture or pretense, but only righteous anger and outrage.

Mike IX Williams – EYEHATEGOD/ARSON ANTHEM (vocals)
Boston legends are passing quickly these days it seems. It’s sad but true. Last year we lost Mark Sheehan, vocalist of the prolific and mighty Massachusetts outfit Out Cold, then my good friend Seth Putnam—who coincidently sang for a different version of Siege in the early ’90s—lead screamer and conceptualist of state enemies Anal Cunt, and now most recently Kevin Mahoney, the original raspy throated front man of the aforementioned proto-grind quartet Siege. These Northeastern forefathers of fast as fuck HC Punk were truly ahead of their time, and after hearing a probably ninth-generation tape traded dub of the so-called Drop Dead sessions, I was never the same. Along with Holland’s Lärm and the Neos from Canada, Siege were one of the super quick thrash units we couldn’t get enough of for sheer speed and intensity. It’s insane the influence and legacy they have left in their wake as not much info was available on the group while they were active; always mysteriously absent in fanzines, rare to play live gigs, and their recorded output was minuscule at best. A real musical inspiration to me, the mythology of Siege will live on. Rest in peace Kevin.

Brian Patton – SOILENT GREEN/EYEHATEGOD (guitar)
Well, I didn’t really know the man at all, but Siege was a big influence on me, no doubt. The first time I had heard them was on some crappy compilation, what feels like forever ago, and it was the only band that had three songs on it. I wondered why, and when I heard them I understood. Short and fast as fuck. One, one of the true originators of fast and ugly music; two, one of Boston’s best, no doubt; and three, one of the bands that still hasn’t aged. I can still listen to those guys and it makes me feel the same as I did so many years ago. One word: Fuck! It also make me think of another fallen legend: Mr. Seth Putnam, who I think did a short time with them in place of Kevin, and was very proud to do so. All I can say is: Another down for the count that has made a real impact to music, and he will be missed. Break Down the Walls!

Joe Mack – COMPLETE FAILURE (vocals)
In the short time Siege had to create and dissolve what ended up becoming an entire sound, most bands today aren’t even able to cue up their hair and metallic all-over print shirts properly for the next swing of promo shots. Not a whole lot was said when Siege was around, and even less is known to speak of about it today. But what was put forth was one of a kind and completely legendary. At the forefront of that mysticism and ability was Kevin Mahoney, the most notable element of Siege. It’s somewhat pretentious that I even comment as I was about four years old when the tracks that ended up becoming Siege’s groundbreaking Drop Dead came to be. But it’s something that has had an impact on me for many years and always will. Siege was raw and primitive as a sound, but honest and clear-as-fuck as a message. I’d like to personally challenge you to find that anywhere today. Rest in peace, Kevin Mahoney.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.

  • Bill Yurkiewicz

    I am so very honored to be a part of this tribute to Kevin!!!

  • Robert R. Williams / SIEGE & Nightstick

    I was privilaged and blessed to have called Screamin’ Kev Mahoney a collaborator and friend. Kev was a rager, one of the originals, and a sincerely funny guy indeed. I was given a second musical chapter with Kev – to record politically charged punk again with To The Victor The Spoils (on Deep Six) and the rage and rasp rang out again. This was a creative force of a human being who will be greatly missed by friends and listeners.

  • Kurt Habelt / SIEGE

    Much thanks to Jay, Bill and the other artists who who took the time to write about Kevin and our music. It’s an honor.

    Kurt

  • John G

    Amazing tributes to an amazing guy!
    Rest easy Kevin!

  • Calder Brezina

    Siege is still and will all was be my most love to fucking hear evey band but one i found witch made me happy is the band youth corps if this not right let me know but were fast if not faster then not as narbar and was form the same place Kevin was from siege and this youth corps will ways have a place in my head haha