“It’s taken a lifetime to get here; it really has.” For documentarian, filmmaker, vocalist, and all-around music lover Drew Stone, Incendiary Device are the musical breath of fresh air he’s long been waiting for. Rounded out by the ever-rhythmic and reliable co-founder, Tristan D’Graves on bass, D.C. music scene veteran and solid stringsman Shaun Brennan on guitar, and the punchy Mike Flaherty on drums, the band shed old skin and fully embrace a fresh start on their new, self-titled, 12-song smasher.
Stone’s heavy involvement in what would later be referred to as the earlier years of the hardcore music movement, can be traced back to Boston in 1981, “up on the fourth floor of a warehouse building, in some unfinished art space,” where he saw SS Decontrol perform for the first time.
“That’s how I fell into this whole thing,” recalls Stone. “My timeline goes from being in Boston and in The Mighty C.O.’s, to coming back (home) to New York and doing The High & The Mighty, then joining Antidote for a bunch of years. Antidote went on hiatus, then we came back and played, then, the Antidote thing just went bad and got ugly.”
After riding on a rollercoaster full of ups and downs throughout his time in Antidote, over time, Stone felt as though his capabilities in being a frontman/vocalist became severely hindered and restricted.
“I didn’t do the vocals on Thou Shalt Not Kill. It’s an iconic NYHC record, but I didn’t sing on it,” says Stone. “When I joined Antidote, I was singing some of the older songs which I didn’t (originally) sing on. So, the whole time I’m in Antidote, it felt like there was this albatross around my neck. Sure, I sang on the later stuff, but I was also singing stuff that wasn’t mine.”
Stone continues, “We (a few members) attempted to move on and rebrand ourselves as Antidote NYHC, but that also went ugly when other former members went out as Antidote…I wanted nothing to do with that, I really didn’t.”
Fast forward to early 2022, when former Antidote NYHC members Stone, D’Graves, and Brennan, decided to detach from the negative energy associated with the name and start something new.
“It forced our hand in a certain way, and at the time, we already put a 7” out with a couple songs as Antidote NYHC, and one of them was called, ‘Incendiary Device.’ We really just wanted to move on and it gave us the excuse/opportunity to close the door and start something new…I thought, let’s call it Incendiary Device, and the other guys fell right in with it and things just opened up for us after that.”
Channeling the spirit of a lot of first wave American hardcore bands, such as Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Black Flag, as well as Negative Approach and SS Decontrol, Incendiary Device put together a collection of catchy, to-the-point tracks, that fire off with an in-your-face type energy.
In true first wave fashion, Stone was able to have fun with it, but still be honest and direct. Having waited so many years to be able to scream the words from his heart, without any ceilings over his head, Stone acknowledges, “The coolest thing, 100%, is that this material has been written for me to sing on, you know? Everything in this band was written from the ground up, and I’m singing it the way that I comfortably can sing this kind of stuff. It’s such an incredible release. Tristan (D’Graves), who does a lot of the songwriting, really knows what my strong points are, and with that, he writes really great, catchy stuff.”
With the LP produced by former Antidote member, Neal “Zum” Ostberg, who has gone on to develop a big presence in the music amplification field, Stone highlights one of the most important elements of the recording: separation.
“We wanted to come across with that old-school, sound separation, where you can hear the drums, could hear the guitar, you could make out the vocals. That’s what we set out to do and that’s what we did.”
He continues, “Zum hooked it up. He produced the record, and he’s another guy that has been around, played in Antidote, knows what works, knows what doesn’t work, has a great, really methodical, infatuated ear, that’s way beyond me…What Zum also did, was he got Dan Korneff involved. Korneff is a studio guy, a mixer, that’s been involved with bands like Papa Roach, MCR, The Devil Wears Prada, Ill Nino-big bands.”
And outside of the production on the self-titled record sounding explosive, Stone describes the band members as being the best part about Incendiary Device. “When people show up to rehearse and walk through the door, nobody talks about their fucking bullshit. You know? Nothing else, other than, we’re here, four friends, and music, that’s it…it’s an agreement we have. When it’s band time, it’s band time, nothing else. I really enjoy that and I love the guys that I’m in with, I really do. It’s really great to be with these guys, this far down the line.”
He continues, “The ID record is hard as fuck. It’s really inspired by one of my favorite bands, Minor Threat. The songs are quick and to the point. It’s a super aggressive record and it gets your blood flowing.”
Stone’s gratitude for his current position within this band shines through his words brightly. And with that, his closing message to the people and a great reminder to all: “Do good things and good things will come to you.”
Photo courtesy of Steven J. Messina