One of the most important vinyl releases in my early education of the local music scene is the Lancaster Poo Poo Platter 7” compilation. It was released by Motherbox Records. Such a diverse mix of bands – Brom Bones, Spirit Assembly, Mystery City, and No One’s Hero.
I never saw No One’s Hero before they parted ways in 1996. I picked up their two EP records on Motherbox. It took some searching but I was able to get a copy of their first 7” which came out on the band’s own label, Crow Records, in 1991. Listening to these records over the years, I always wanted to learn more about this band. There was hardly a mention of them on the internet until 2006. The blog, Coregasm, which is due for a revival, posted MP3s of all three releases. The blog’s author, EMS, shared my sentiment of wanting to see what more this band could have done. In my mind, No One’s Hero should have reached a wider audience. Perhaps they were at a geographical disadvantage being from central Pennsylvania. It’s certainly not because they couldn’t write songs. Listen to the 7”s and hear for yourself. Then listen to the newly recorded songs they wrote before disbanding in 1996. This band is good. Really good.
Last year, I reached out to Ray, the guitarist, requesting interviews with the band members. Little did I know at the time there was a No One’s Hero reunion brewing. And there it was on Facebook a few months later. The band announced its first practice since 1999 and foreshadowed a reunion show in April. Taking into consideration everyone’s busy lives with family, jobs, and bands, I ramped up my efforts to get the band’s story. I met with Chris and Jon one night in Lancaster. They were very generous with their time as we interviewed for over three hours. Not long after that, I spoke with Ray on the phone for two hours. I then reached out to others by email and got their stories too.
This is a story worth telling. This is a band worth listening to. No One’s Hero is back – playing old songs and writing new ones. It’s now up to us to keep them around. Go to their shows and share their music with friends and the younger hardcore punks who never heard them before. These guys are veterans of central PA hardcore and punk. And I, for one, can’t wait to hear what else this band has in store for us.
Thanks to Chris Werner (vocals), Ray Wyland (guitar), Jon Yankowy (bass), Todd Simpson (guitar, drums), Evan Morey (guitar), Bruce Ewell (guitar), Larry Martin (Motherbox Records #2) and Paul Dengel (Motherbox Records #2, 3, and 17) for sharing their memories, insights, and music.
In their own words, this is the story of No One’s Hero.
Ray: I was all about punk rock. In the late 80’s, I was really listening to the Misfits a lot, the Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Circle Jerks. I didn’t really know hardcore. Never even heard of that type of music. I remember some of the first bands I heard like Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags. I remember thinking this is like metal without guitar solos. You have these songs and the breakdown parts and people go off to that or would mosh to it. Shortly after jamming with the other guys in the band, I went to my very first hardcore show. I never experienced anything like that before in my life. It was Burn, at Unisound, with four other bands. It was a whole new world to me. Chris, Tim, and Jon were going to shows and knew of the scene and were in it. For me, I was new to it.
Chris: I think I was in 10th grade and the original drummer for No One’s Hero, Tim, went on vacation. He came back with Minor Threat’s record and we skated, and that just threw our lives threw a loop. That was the first time we really heard anything like that. That’s when, for us, it really took off.
Jon: I got into it from visiting my cousin before my 9th grade year. We had all listened to metal growing up together. And then we came out for the summer and he got me into punk because he had gotten tired of metal. He played Uniform Choice for me and we immediately went to the mall and bought blank tapes and he taped Uniform Choice, Black Flag, Misfits, Exploited, all that stuff. So I had six tapes, I still have those tapes to this day, the bands that got me into it. Then I moved up to Stroudsburg in the Poconos for my 10th grade year and shortly after my record collection got big really fast. From there, I started going to shows in Allentown. I went to Iron Maiden in ’87. It was the Somewhere in Time Tour. That was my first concert ever. Second show, three weeks later, was The Exploited at Airport Music Hall in ’87. From there it was every single weekend I was going to shows in Allentown or New York.
Chris: I met Ray in college. He was wearing a Misfits shirt. We said hello to each other and got acquainted.
Ray: Chris and I went to Penn State. Chris and Tim both grew up in Pine Grove. They went to high school together. Tim and Jon went to college together. That’s how they met each other.
Jon: I met Tim in college at Millersville. I was in a room where all the kids in my class were in an orientation meeting. I was sitting there with a Misfits shirt on and I’m watching the kids walk into this auditorium. I’m shaking my head like “I am doomed”. There isn’t a single person I want to be friends with in this class. In comes some lanky kid with a Pushead Zorlac shirt on and I was like, “Oh, thank god!” I immediately went up to him after the meeting and was like, “I’m Jon, and we’re gonna be friends.” We hit it off and started hanging out and talking music, a lot of music. I introduced Tim to a ton of stuff – The Accused, Discharged. I listened to everything from straightedge to crust punk and just loved all of it.
Ray: Chris and Tim had a psuedo-hardcore band in Pine Grove. They called themselves the Barnyard Crew, or BYC.
Chris: We got together one night with another friend of ours from high school, and we put together these songs, ad-libbed them, spit them out. Maybe there were like three songs. They were just jokes.
Ray: They were looking for a guitar player. At the time, I had nothing going on and was looking to join something. They actually recorded a tape with three or four songs. I remember getting that tape and learning these really simple 2-3 chord riff songs. You could tell no one in the band really knew what they were doing. It seemed more like a joke band. We all were able to practice. We got together in December of ’89. I think we started working on new songs together. Obviously, this wasn’t going to be the Barnyard Crew, BYC. It was going to be something new.
Jon: He was an awesome guitar player. I had a bass. And the only reason I had a bass is because I told my mom I wanted a guitar. She bought me a bass because she didn’t know the difference. That’s how I started playing bass. I never took a lesson or anything. Ray is showing me stuff and I’m like, “I don’t think my fingers move like that.” It was interesting.
Chris: And Tim, when we first got together, he never had a drum lesson. We were borrowing a drum kit from a friend of ours’ brother. He’s just a multi-talented guy. He could pick up skateboarding. One of those guys you hate because it comes so easy to him. Within a year, he turned into an amazing drummer. I think he’s one of the best drummers I ever heard.
Ray: Chris borrowed an old guitar amp from someone and plugged the microphone right into it. Jon had some shitty old bass amp. I think I was the only one who actually had their own equipment.
Chris: Our first practice was so funny. It was the four of us – me, Chris, Tim, and Ray. It was on the back porch where I lived with my parents. We had no idea what we were doing. We were just getting together for the heck of it. Who knew?
Jon: I think we did write a couple that night. And those aren’t songs you want to hear. Very amateur, silly songs.
Chris: We all had the desire to do something and I think we all knew after that practice that this is something we would commit to, and I think we did. We did it for six or seven years.
Ray: We spent that whole first year, which would have been 1990, practicing a lot and writing songs. We started at ground zero. All the guys in the band really quickly became really good at their instrument.
Chris: Where I lived, my dad was a farmer so we had this huge barn. We had half pipes inside the barn. It was a pretty cool place. You would get professional skateboarders dropping by and skating it.
Ray: The barn was huge. It was so big it actually had sections to it. He created a stage that was right next door to it. That’s where we had our first show.
Chris: The first barn show was Trapped Door and that was it. I don’t know that we even had all of our songs so we would play Minor Threat covers, probably Misfits covers. It was more or less friends of ours there. Ray is always more than happy to appease the crowd. And he’s got a library of songs so he can whip out any song and play it. It was more just hanging out like a party than a show.
Ray: It was the fall of 1990. I remember doing “Twist of Cain” from Danzig. We might have done one or two other cover songs. Our set list might have been only 25 minutes tops.
Jon: Tim had gone to the Unisound before I did. He came back and told me about it. They had a ramp in there, and then they would have bands play on the other half. It was zero tolerance for racist kids. But he’ll play any kind of band – punk, hardcore, metal. I don’t think Jake had this huge contact list of bands. I think as more kids went there they would suggest what bands to get and then he would get in touch with them and bring them there. He had some great shows. The place was great. Biohazard, Burn, Sheer Terror, Sick Of It All, everyone played there. It was awesome.
Chris: If you were under 21, there was no place like that to go on a weekend. It was a great place to hang out.
Jon: It was a great location too. It wasn’t too far from Lancaster. It wasn’t too far from Allentown. It was a good central spot that tons of people went to. Chain of Strength played there one night. They showed up an hour and a half late, maybe even more. He still let them play and whoever was left had a freakin’ blast. He always said “we’re all friends here” and there weren’t too many fights. It was just a great place to play.
Jon: Tim booked that show and it was with Four Walls Falling. I think that was in the winter too.
Ray: Our first show went really well. I remember not being nervous but being really excited to play.
Jon: The main thing I remember is when we were done a kid came up to me and was like, “You guys were awesome like the Cro-mags.” That I will take as a compliment.
Ray: The Unisound crowd was always great and there was always a great crowd response.
Jon: Some of the older videos of Unisound where the place is packed and everyone was going crazy for us. To me, that’s what it was all about. I wanted to see people going crazy and we got that response a lot there.
Chris: Jake calls one time and wanted to know if we’d open up for Gorilla Biscuits. Hell yeah, we’ll do that. Tim was going on vacation. We brought in Dave Weston and he played for that show because we were just so amped to play it. The Unisound allowed us to play with a lot the bands we were listening to. To be able to play with them was an honor.
Jon: We realized and appreciated what it was and that it was a venue that catered to us as a band.
Demo and 1st 7”
Chris: We did the demo in somebody’s apartment in State College.
Jon: I think we did four or five songs. It basically became the first 7″ too. I think we just didn’t have all the songs on it.
Ray: The first time we recorded in a studio was up in State College. It was an experience to do that. Nerve-racking, actually. I never liked recording. You have to play through everything exactly right. You gotta do it again and do it again. That was a big deal for me to record at a studio.
Chris: I don’t know that they had any idea what type of music they were recording.
Jon: It was no Don Fury. With that demo, I think we were just really excited to do it. We had a lot of fun. Then the 7″ came out and it was basically a remixing of four of those songs.
Chris: I met Todd at State College. He became a good friend of mine and still is a good friend of ours. I think Todd was friends with the guitarist from Killing Time. So he came with his own set of stories.
Todd: Chris introduced me to Ray. I think an early version of No One’s Hero was together at the time but I never saw them. When I met him, he wrote down the chords for a bunch of songs for me…mostly Minor Threat. I was playing guitar as a hobby, not too serious about it, and not progressing. Then all of a sudden I knew how to play stuff I listened to. My ear picked up how to figure out songs and I just took off from there. I probably wouldn’t play guitar today if it weren’t for Ray. I lost touch with those guys for a year or so, and by the time I saw them again No One’s Hero had a strong set list and following, and my playing was a lot better.
Ray: Todd’s a great musician. On his own, he started learning the songs. And he had interest in joining the band. I wasn’t really looking for another guitar player. He wanted to jam and see how it goes. We practiced and he played all the songs perfectly. I never had to show him any of the stuff because he had them down. That’s how he became the second guitar player. I’m glad he joined because it definitely filled out the sound.
Chris: He’s very technical. When he gets it down, it’s down perfect. It’s almost robotic. It’s so clean and smooth. And Ray is technical but free. The two of those just clicked. They just fed off each other. It was a really good relationship. It was no-brainer. You had to bring him into the band.
Jon: The level of writing jumped. We progressed so much more when Todd joined the band because then I felt there was a little friendly competition between him and Ray when they would bring songs to the table. You can tell if you listen to the songs chronologically how it goes from this to up here as far as the technical end of it. Todd brought a lot of that to the table. I think he made Ray aware a lot more of the stuff he was playing too.
Paul: The sound got heavier, fuller and I think Ray was able to get slightly more creative.
Todd: I threw in some riffs here and there but I didn’t have much impact on the song writing. We’d all stand around, play riffs and everyone had input on the songs direction.
Ray: Todd definitely pushed the band in a good direction. He was all about not writing generic music. I’d write riffs and he’d say make it do this. Take it in this direction. The songs became more unique with him along. He only wrote a handful of parts for a couple different songs, but he was definitely a big influence in taking the band to the next level as opposed to just being some generic hardcore band.
Allentown and Airport Music Hall
Jon: Everyone in No One’s Hero had a group they were friends with. We brought them all to the table when they came to No One’s Hero shows. A lot of these kids were punk rockers and skaters and maybe skinheads from the get-go. Most of them were not skinheads initially. Or if they were, they were young and didn’t really know exactly…I’m not gonna say they didn’t know what it meant to be a skinhead, but maybe they were just kind of finding their identity as well. A lot of kids became skinheads as we were already friends with them. Some of my best friends were just skaters that eventually shaved their heads, especially in the Allentown area. Everyone knows Allentown was known for a lot of white power, Nazi shenanigans. It was weird for me because I was friends with them. And to this day, I don’t stop being friends with someone because I don’t agree with their politics or religion or whatever. To me, it just makes for a healthy debate. And most often, I’m not gonna change their mind, they’re not gonna change my mind. I think it grew because the skinheads in the early 90’s got bigger and bigger. More and more of them started coming to our shows. I think one of the reasons a lot of skinheads liked us is because Chris used to talk about Yuengling beer. They were all into Yuengling. Next thing you know, we’ve got a bunch more skinheads that like us. You look back and it’s such a silly thing but there was that connection.
Chris: We weren’t a political hardcore band and that probably was part of it too. We weren’t out there screaming about racism or anything like that. There were bands that did that. That wasn’t our shtick. It’s not like we had any alliance with them. If they had a problem with you, they were definitely going to tell you they had a problem with you.
Jon: To say that we never had an alliance with them is true, but I would say there were times at Airport that things didn’t happen because people were like, “Those are the guys from No One’s Hero. Leave them alone.” I felt like we were one of those bands that reached out to so many different kinds of people. I don’t know. I guess in a weird way they kind of respected us. And there were a couple things that happened over the years where some people started drawing their own conclusions that we were a white power band, but that is absolutely ridiculous. Never was, never would be.
Ray: They were really localized in Allentown. If you played any hardcore show in the Lehigh Valley, including Airport Music Hall, there’s gonna be skinheads there. I don’t remember skinheads ever really coming out to shows in Lancaster, Harrisburg, or up in Scranton. We didn’t really have much control over who liked our band or who doesn’t like our band. Our main thing about playing shows was we just didn’t want anyone to get hurt or beaten up. When the riot happened at Airport Music Hall, we played our set fine. We went up on stage and we played our set and there were no problems at all.
Jon: The lineup was No One’s Hero, Vision, Life of Agony, Wrecking Crew, Sheer Terror, and Agnostic Front. Possibly one of the best shows that could have ever happened there. I was so stoked to see Wrecking Crew and Sheer Terror.
Chris: If you listen to the Sheer Terror documentary, we were the band that Paul Bearer couldn’t remember. (Click to view)
Jon: During Vision, the singer kept saying, “What’s two plus two?” And then they’d sieg heil. And then he’d say, “No, it’s four you fucking idiots.”
Chris: Vision was antagonizing the crowd. There was plywood barrier and they were working on that thing and all of a sudden it just broke loose. It was a riot.
Jon: I remember standing in the back thinking, “Oh, boy. What are you doing?” I thought they would at least hold out until Agnostic Front to go crazy. I just walked out. It happened behind me. Somehow I didn’t get into the middle of it. Thankfully.
Chris: Even when No One’s Hero split up, there was a sense of relief because you go into these certain shows and, in a way, you’re taking your life in your own hands because you don’t know what’s going to happen. The violence that was happening at those shows could be pretty extreme at times. I believe if there’s not a good crowd there, they’re going to start to turn on you because that’s just the way it works. It’s not what we intended to set out for. I love people going off at shows. I really do. That’s great. But if you’re there just to beat the shit out of somebody, that’s a whole different kind of thought process.
Ray: I’ve always felt this about the riot that broke out – the lead singer of Vision was really taunting the skinheads and he wasn’t going to stand for their shit, rightfully so. But that did insinuate the riot. Looking back at it, if I had my way, I wish he would have just played the set. That way, potentially, the other bands would have played. I would have loved to say I shared the stage with Sheer Terror, Agnostic Front, and Wrecking Crew. But that didn’t happen.
Chris: The great thing about that night is Tim’s car broke down. We didn’t have anywhere to go so we jump in the van with Agnostic Front and went to Friendly’s. It was the highlight of my hardcore career because we had sundaes with Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma. You got these guys with full-sleeve tattoos eating sundaes. It was pretty funny, the contrast of sitting at Friendly’s. It was great.
Paul: I did not officially meet Jon until No One’s Hero played with Spirit Assembly on the Millersville University campus. I had seen him on campus and we may had conversed before then but just stuff in passing and I doubt it was very civil (neither one of us were overly nice guys at that point).
Jon: He used to do a radio show at Millersville. He would say the bands he was playing. And I would call in with ridiculous requests knowing he would not have that music. I was such a dick in college. I’d call and ask him to play Life Sentence or Discharge. I knew he didn’t have it. I’d give him a hard time about it over the phone. One night, we were in the same dining hall together. I was standing behind him in line to get dinner. I said some comment about “here’s that guy who doesn’t know anything about punk or hardcore.” He turned around and looked at me. He just started laughing. And I started laughing. Next thing you know, we’re great friends. He really loved No One’s Hero and pushed for us to keep doing more. Poo Poo Platter 7″ was the first thing.
Ray: He liked our band. He liked what he heard. He was starting his own label. He asked us if we would do something with him. He was the first, and maybe only guy, who was interested in us and had the power and ability to help us. Paul is a very important person for us.
Paul: Larry and I had talked about the second Motherbox release – if my memory serves, we wanted to do a Brom Bones 7” but they had released a recent demo and were having line-up shenanigans. Spirit Assembly didn’t have enough songs for another 7”. So I said let’s do a 4 way split. I don’t know how we got Mystery City but I wanted to do stuff with No One’s Hero and was surprised no one had up to that point … it’s a weird 7” for sure. None of the bands sound remotely similar stylistically.
Larry: We wanted to represent the diversity of the Lancaster music scene. And we only had space for four bands. Mystery City seems like a departure from what would fit with the other three bands. It is. On purpose. I became friends with the drummer from Mystery City while at college near Philly. It turned out, he was the drummer for Jeremy Weiss’ first punk band, Corrupted Image. So I wanted to help them out. There was no science to it. Just some kids putting out records and trying to help their friends.
The Bridge is Burning Down 7”
Jon: Then we did the Rain/Autumn 7″. And that studio was a plush studio. Somebody from Ratt was there while we were there. It was somewhere near Quakertown.
Chris: Again, I don’t think they understood the music either.
Jon: The recording there was so clean, I feel like it lost the raw edge of the songs. In the end, because of Todd’s influence with Leeway and that picking, I think that’s why Autumn turned out the way it did. Everything was very precise on that song. That was the most stressful time in the studio for me. Just those two songs.
Todd: We stayed committed to speed and building tension in the songs and Chris always had good lyrics and instincts on adding vocals in the right spot.
Paul: Bridge is definitely heavier, more polished. The band had gotten better.
Tim leaves, Todd moves to drums
Chris: When Tim was in the band as a drummer, we were playing shows probably every other week, if not every weekend. We were starting to get a bit larger, started playing out of the area. Tim was drummer and manager. He handled a lot of that. He’d make the calls. He was doing a lot behind the scenes.
Todd: After Tim quit, we auditioned two drummers and brought in Brian from SWAT. He was a really good drummer. We used to watch him play at the Unisound and he hit the drums so hard.
Ray: He was in the band for not even a half a year, a year at the most. It just wasn’t working. His styles weren’t mixing.
Jon: He was a very technical, timed drummer. Almost like Helmet. That’s the kind of style he had. Great drummer, great guy. But I think for that timed precision drumming it just didn’t really work for No One’s Hero.
Todd: In a band, you have to have the same style, the same direction, then there’s all the practical stuff like when you can practice, transportation…we just decided to move on.
Jon: I met a guy from Lancaster who was a metal drummer. I gave him the demo and I also made a tape of the bands we were influenced by. There were Accused songs on there. There were Poison Idea songs. Slayer, Melvins, Killing Time, Burn, stuff like that. So I gave him a little while to listen to it and he gets back to me. He’s like, “I love this stuff. I can do it. I’ve been playing drums for 20 years.” This guy must be amazing. So I pick him up in my truck and we drive out to Pine Grove. We try this guy out. Todd wanted to cut to the chase and play the hardest song first. So we played “Autumn”. This guy had the double bass. He had the whole rack system. He had this 10-piece drum set.
Chris: Weeks prior, Jon is hyping this guy up like he’s going to be able to handle it.
Jon: It was like he never played drums in his life. I was so embarrassed. Everyone is looking at me and I’m like, “He said he was awesome.”
Ray: At this point, Todd was already learning to play drums on his own.
Jon: Todd is trying to explain to him how to play it. He kept telling him using air drums and explaining to him how it should sound. And the guy just wasn’t hitting it. Todd said, “Can I show you how to play it?” And this is how I remember it. Todd sits down at the drums. He tells Ray to play the song and Todd just starts nailing it. My jaw hits the floor. I’ve never heard Todd play drums before.
Todd: I can’t remember if I knew I would play drums right away or if it just sort of happened. I didn’t want to play drums all that much but continuing No One’s Hero was more important than what I played. I borrowed a drum kit, got together with Ray and I could play half the set sort of OK. From there I gave it a go. Ray lent me the money to buy drums and I paid him back a few bucks every month! I had played drums in school band and taken lessons years before so I had a base to build on.
Chris: Todd’s influence in drumming was Mackie which is very clean, solid, a lot quads. That was it. It worked perfectly. It saved the band.
Lyrics and the last 7”
Ray: When people ask where the band is from, my answer is always Pine Grove. That’s where Chris and Tim were from, and for the first couple years when we were together that’s where we would practice. We didn’t practice down in Millersville until ’92/’93. When the barn burned down, it really affected Chris more than anyone. Chris was always an aggressive singer but it seemed to me after that, he definitely got even more aggressive and more frantic in his singing. If you listen to “Dead Empty” or “Healing of Time”, and then listen to “Car 54”, he took it to another level. All his lyrics were really personal. He always did a great job of being just vague enough with everything where you can interpret it anyway you want. And he’s a great singer.
Jon: Chris has always been very creative. It’s what he does with his life with design and everything. You can tell the difference between the early stuff and the newer stuff. The level of writing, something clicked, and he started writing so it wasn’t as literal and just gave you really something to think about. We’ve had fans come up to us and tell us they’re just so intrigued by the lyrics. One of our fans just told me, “Once I get all the lyrics to the new songs, I can’t wait to see what I can get out of them and then talk to you guys about what it is.” It’s like a puzzle. I like that.
Chris: I always thought we were more introspective in our lyrics. We weren’t coming from a urban lifestyle so it was more about how you felt about certain things. It might be internal. And if it did relate to someone, that’s fine. But it was more just singing about personal things. With hardcore music, I just love that it runs in conflict with everything else. The fact that 90 percent of the public doesn’t get it is a good thing. I think that’s what makes it what it is. It’s something special to a smaller group of people. It’s not big arena shows. It’s more intimate. There’s something really cool about that. And you tend to think different. Whether you like Ian MacKaye or not, he makes you think about things. Even Agnostic Front, you listen to it and there’s something in there you’re not hearing from everybody else that makes you think about it.
Jon: Those bands just paved the way, which is why I always loved Chris’ lyrics. We did the last 7″ which I felt was when we were really coming to our identity and what we were going to be and what we should have been. That was a great recording. It was in a place outside of Philly. Todd knew the guy. It was near the music store he was managing. He did a great job. Chris was going off in the studio. He had the headphones duct taped to his head because he was getting into it with so much energy. I love that recording.
Ray: The song, now called “Symmetry”, was actually a song called “RA”. We did record that when we recorded the third EP. So we always had that song recorded but we never released it.
Evan joins, and the end of No One’s Hero
Jon: Evan, from Christian Science, came in right after the last 7″ was recorded. After Todd wasn’t our second guitar player, we played a few shows and we all felt like we needed to have that solid two guitars. Evan came on board and played four or five shows.
Evan: I was always a big fan of the band. I hung out with Ray a lot and after Todd switched to drums they asked me to play 2nd guitar. This first show I played was in Kutztown Pa. I remember I was not old enough to drink yet. So I had to wait outside until it was time to play. I was 19 or 20 at the time. I think it was 1996. The main thing I got from being in NOH was sitting down and learning the songs. It was a completely different style than I was used to playing. I learned some new tricks for sure. I look at myself as a fan of No One’s Hero more so than an ex-member. I feel they are criminally underrated as a band and more redeeming musically then most of hardcore that was big at the time. I wish I could have written more music with them. I’m happy I was a part of it.
Ray: Evan is one of my best friends from the east coast. Evan is one of the best guitar players I know personally. I think he already knew how to play most of the songs on his own. At that point in time, the band was definitely starting to get stagnant. By the time Evan joined the band, we were together for five years. We weren’t writing a lot of new songs anymore, whether it be laziness or frustration.
Evan: I would say we were in a rut for sure. We usually practiced on a Sunday afternoon and many times no instruments would be played, everyone would hang out and joke around, and no one really seemed interested in playing. I was in the band to the end. I don’t remember who quit first. But it was obvious to me that it was over.
Jon: We were at a No One’s Hero practice and Todd came with a flyer that Violent Society put up in his music shop. They were looking for a new bass player. At the time, getting everyone to play shows was getting harder. And then not being able to write a single song was getting frustrating. I remember a point in college where we were sitting around talking about what we are going to be doing when we’re 40 years old. Are we still going to be into this stuff? And I was immediately like, “I will be.” And here I am today at 42. I’m in three bands.
Ray: By 1994, I wasn’t even going to hardcore shows anymore. By ’95/’96, I already started another band that was garage rock stuff, not hardcore at all. For me, I was already out of the scene, at least emotionally. Jon joined Violent Society. That was the nail in the coffin. But I think that was a scapegoat or a reason for the band to break up. I think we were trying to look for a reason why for the band and we went with that. It’s not like No One’s Hero was going great and “Oh my god. I can’t believe Jon joined Violent Society”. Because he would have done both, of course. If you want to give a reason, the reason is he joined Violent Society. But it’s more of an excuse than anything.
Chris: Everybody finished school. So now you’re no longer in college. Now you’re expected to get a job, start making money, starting your life. I think that was one aspect for me. Back then, I probably had insecurity problems that Ray wanted to be in another band and Jon wanted to be in another band. I was insecure about it and I would say that can’t happen. In retrospect, I should have said, “Go do it. Get it out of your system.” Because, if anything, you’re just going to come back to the band with more ideas and fresh. I didn’t think that way.
Ray: I remember when I got the news. Chris or Jon called me. I remember being sad about it, but I don’t remember being heartbroken about it. It didn’t destroy me like I thought it would have. I felt like our time was up. I remember playing our last show and feeling out of place. I think we headlined the show. There was something new going on and we weren’t part of it.
Jon: I think that was when we let whatever drama was there subside. And then we all realized we had a lot of fun when we did this before. We should do it again. There were two or three shows. The one show was more punk based. The one show we did in Ephrata was with Duane, from Eyeds of March, his old band Scurge. Duane put that show together. It was pretty fun. It wasn’t a typical show. It wasn’t a venue. It wasn’t an official hardcore show. We probably didn’t do as much as we should have done on our end to promote them. For me, I was just happy to play again with No One’s Hero. It was fun and it was kind of sad too. After that, that’s really when it was done.
Chris: I thought we were tight. We sounded really good. You put all that time and effort in it too, and your results don’t come out as your expectations aren’t as high you want them to be.
Ray: I think there were people who still had interest in us. And I think it was a simple matter of someone asking us to do the shows. And we did it, because why not. It was September of 1999. I moved to New York City two months later. As far as I was concerned, I was moved on with my life. I think everyone else was at that point. Jon was well on to doing Fisticuffs and Violent Society. Todd had bought his house and was living in New Jersey. It makes more sense, and it’s easier, and it’s more viable to do a No One’s Hero reunion now then there would have been after 1999.
Jon: About three years ago, I got approached by someone from Allentown. They were going to do a Lehigh Valley hardcore reunion show getting all the old bands back together. Someone emailed me and said, “I know you guys weren’t from Lehigh Valley, but you played there so much. You have to play this show.” I emailed Chris. I friend requested him on Facebook. He never accepted me. He never responded to my email. I didn’t know what else to do.
Chris: The reason I didn’t do it is, I felt at that time, I didn’t know that I could get back on stage. We used to get pretty crazy. Ray was such a really good guitarist. He could throw himself around and still sound great. We always had a good energy. And then I probably hit my mid-life crisis last year and figured I gotta do it because I’m gonna die in 30 years.
Ray: I lost connection with Todd and Chris. After the reunion shows in ’99, I never saw those guys again. By the time I moved to Seattle, I honestly thought that they were two people I would never see again.
Chris: It’s shitty because those six or seven years were some crazy times. Anyone is fortunate to have four friends who can go through that kind of thing and experience the same kind of things. It’s not like we did a national tour or anything like that, but our experiences were just as strong.
Todd: Chris is the one I kept most in touch with over the years, and he brought it up a few times.
Jon: Ray and I have kept in contact since No One’s Hero broke up. He called me one night, out of the blue, and said, “You’re never gonna guess who I talked to.” He told me Chris wants to do some shows. That night, I got on Facebook and wrote Chris an email a mile long. I waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, he got back to me.
Chris: It’s interesting how things can change. It’s unfortunate Ray is in Seattle because, to this day, reconnecting with Jon – we’ll get in the car in Reading and talk until we get to practice. That, to me, is just as good as playing music, if not better. Reconnecting with that friendship.
Jon: So Todd, Chris, and I got together. We talked about it and said we should do it. So that was settled. We were going to do it. Ray was, of course, on board in a heartbeat. Once I left the restaurant, I called Ray and talked to him almost all the way home. That was an hour and fifteen minute drive for me.
Ray: The original idea I came up was if we can get Tim to play drums, Todd could play guitar, and then they can practice as a band without me. Then I can fly home and get together with the band and go through the set once or twice, and we can play out. Todd sold all his guitar equipment. All he had was his drums. On top of that, I don’t think Tim was really interested in playing anyway. Tim is married with kids and has moved on with his life. We need someone to play guitar.
Jon: The only person we asked out of fairness was Evan.
Evan: They asked me to do the shows. I just didn’t have the time. I work weird shifts and my band keeps me pretty busy.
Jon: He’s in Secret Cutter now, outside of Allentown. I said there’s only one other person I know who could even play these songs and that person is Bruce. He came on board for the second string of Fisticuffs where he was my roommate. Bruce started Race To Die and they were looking for a bass player.
Bruce: Me and Jon didn’t talk for a while. We made plans to get back together and hang out. We were having pizza one night. He asked me what I was doing as far as music. I had things here and there but nothing really going on. He said No One’s Hero is going to do some reunion shows. I was really excited because I’m a fan. I said, “Doesn’t Ray live in Seattle?” He said they’re thinking about getting a second guitar player. I didn’t think anything of it. And he’s just looking at me. I said, “Me? Really?” He said, “the other guys asked if I knew anyone, and I told them I knew one guy who could do it for sure. And I told them it was you. They’re just waiting to hear what you say.” I said, “Fuck yeah!” I was excited about that. Ray called me and I talked to him.
Ray: I made videos of me playing the guitar parts. And then I uploaded them to Dropbox. He was able to watch them through that. He got a basic foundation of the songs that way.
Ray: Before the band even practiced as a full band, me, Jon, and Bruce spent an entire evening going through each song. Surprisingly, this all worked out pretty well. Then we decided we’re going to set up a time to record.
Chris: These last four song we put out are 20 year old songs. I think that’s when No One’s Hero as a band knew who they were. I think for a couple years you sort of feel it out. You’re trying on different things and seeing how it fits. I think those last four songs are really where we would have gone with everything. I just feel the music, the lyrics.
Jon: It’s raw. It’s heavy. It’s fast. It’s got a lot of balls to it. Carson [Atrium Audio] was able to keep that raw energy.
Ray: This is the best sounding thing I’ve ever recorded with any band I’ve ever been in. The recording blows away anything we’ve put out. I think a lot of that was being tied to the tools you had back in those times.
Chris: The bass never seemed to come through as it should have on some of our records. The last recording we did, I think the bass makes it. It adds that element. I think the sound is awesome
Todd: The recording is amazing and Carson was cool to work with. Bruce learned the songs quickly and he sounds like he’s always played with us….couldn’t have been better.
Jon: We did the studio and then went straight to the ABAG show.
Ray: When we played that show at the ABAG, for me personally just to have all that emotion and feeling to go off to those songs again was such a great feeling for me.
Chris: You really have to know Ray to appreciate him. It was almost like we should have had a stool out in the front. Ray comes out as a storyteller. He’s talking before each song and going over what his influence was or why he wrote it. It just cracks me up. He’s still the same way.
Jon: At one point I said this is like a family reunion. And I meant it. Hardcore and punk rock, those friends that I met over the years were like my family. And there they were right in front of me again twenty years later singing lyrics and going nuts. It was a blast.
Ray: We’re going to continue to do more shows now. I think it’s a situation where we can probably do this indefinitely. I just hope that there will be new people into it. That’s all I can ask for and hope for.
Jon: Steve is now playing drums. I’ve known him for almost as long as I’ve known Bruce. With Todd, he has a family now too so it was hard for him.
Todd: I’ve got a high pressure job that requires travel, two young boys in a bunch of different activities and all the other normal mid-life responsibilities – house, marriage and my wife works full time too. Plus, the distance alone to Lancaster means four hours minimum in the car to practice. It’s weird to think they’ll play without me but I get it…I would do the same thing. When you want to play and people want to hear it, you have to go do it.
Jon: He left it at a great level where he said if Steve can’t ever do it, he wants to fill in and do it. We’re posed in a good position to move forward. I think it’s going to work out great. We want to record new stuff. I’m working on some riffs. I’ve got a few good ideas that I think will work out. I’m always thinking of songs in my head. Ray is doing the same. Whatever we come up with I think will be pretty good for the people who want to hear it.
Thanks to the past and present members of No One’s Hero, as well as Paul and Larry from Motherbox Records for sharing the history of the band. Stay up-to-date by following them on Facebook, and listen to all their releases on Bandcamp.
No One’s Hero has two more shows this month. Please go check them out along with some other great bands. See the flyers below for more information.