Next mutt on the block—our weekly riot of New York City hardcore punk bands continues, ripped from the pages of Tony Rettman’s big, meaty NYHC book.

Adam Nathanson, Life’s Blood/Born Against: “In the New York City scene, Underdog played the role that I imagine Minor Threat occupied several years earlier in D.C. They were the mutually agreed-upon and best-loved singalong band, and all of their songs were about growing up and having fun.”

Russ Iglay, bassist: “We were far from straightedge, but we got lumped in with that stuff. We put out our first 7-inch with New Beginning Records, which I think Ray Cappo had some involvement with. They Richie (Birkenhead, Underdog) joined Youth of Today on second guitar, and that really roped us into that whole thing. We’d be on tour and show up in Lawrence, Kansas. We’d slide open the van door, and the cooler would be full of cold Budweisers. These kids would be so bummed!”

Richie Birkenhed, vocals: “Underdog was a fairly major part of the NYHC scene, but I don’t think you would know that from our recordings. We were a band that always had a chip on our shoulder, and we didn’t want to choose between camps. We deliberately stayed off any of those NYHC compilations like The Way It Is or Where the Wild Things Are. Looking back, that was a stupid choice.”

Tim Chunks, Token Entry: “Underdog was positive and melodic, and their spectrum was so wide. Above and beyond anything else, it was Richie’s voice. When I think of Underdog, I just think of one of the greatest singers ever.

Follow the whole hydrant-defiling morning, noon, and midnight walks of NYHC mayhem! Read Tony Rettman’s NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980–1990.

NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980–1990, by Tony Rettman


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