The punk world lost one of its great assets as Brandon Ferrell passed away today, at 31. Touching the lives of thousands of people across the world with his most notable bands Government Warning, Direct Control, and Wasted Time, and his label No Way Records, he practically single-handedly brought USHC back to the forefront of our thoughts and helped define an era of North American DIY punk. Brandon had the golden touch; every band he played in was awesome, every record he touched was awesome. His fluency and competency of punk was flawless, and he will remain one of the best punk drummers of all time.
I have many treasured memories of seeing his bands numerous times around DC, Baltimore, and Richmond. It was never enough times as his bands were always incredible, and Government Warning and Direct Control remain amongst my very favorite American punk bands ever. While we weren't particularly close, I would say he was a friend, and I had the pleasure of enjoying his company many times as I booked his bands, played gigs together, did business together, and just hung out. He was always a joy to be around, a hard partying ball of energy and charisma, outgoing and friendly, with a bright passion for punk. He will be missed, and with his discography full of classic records, never forgotten.
While we became closer when we were a bit older, I actually met Brandon before most of these bands had started, when he was still living in NC. Because I am a total fucking nerd, I came across the Abikyokan demo by chance and was just so blown away that I wrote Brandon a bit of a fan e-mail telling him how much I loved his band. He seemed pretty amazed that anybody actually heard it, much less liked it.
Over the years, the Abikyokan demo became a bit of a white whale for me. I had a tape (I think?) and I lost it. Had the music on my computer, lost it when computer crashed. Got it again. Every time I heard it, I loved it more.
As I grew my label, I had the idea to reissue the demo on a 7". Now this wasn't only my idea. Eric from Government Warning approached me about doing it together a few years ago, but that was never more than a conversation. In the last few months, I'd been talking about it more seriously with Brandon, to do 300 copies with cheap/straight-forward packaging in a "cool bootleg" style/vibe. I love these recordings and thought there may be some interest since Brandon's name was attached to it, and I think Brandon loved the idea as this was a little neglected piece of his recorded history that he was proud of. I think this was amongst his first bands.
Brandon wanted to add bass guitar and remix/remaster everything...I wasn't really so keen to do that but was open to the idea. Now the chances of this record ever happening are basically none. So I have uploaded them so everyone can hear them. Listen to this, then listen to Direct Control, then listen to Government Warning, then listen to Commando, and you can get a good sense of the artistry and evolution of a guy that will go down in history as one of the great artistic forces of punk in our time.