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Black Army Jacket Reunite for Two Shows

Gary Noothgrush

The long-defunct Black Army Jacket — featuring Municipal Waste drummer Dave Witte and Noisecreep scribe Carlos Ramirez on bass — are reuniting to play a pair of reunion shows nearly a decade after their break up. They’ll take place Aug. 19 at the Best Friends Day Festival in Richmond, Va. and Sept. 4 at Cake Shop in New York City.

“[By the time the band broke up] I was the singer, and we brought in Tom Hayden to take the bassist slot and John Audubato to play second guitar. We were planning to change the name of the group and continue on, but it didn’t work out. We all got along really well, so I’m still not sure what happened,” Ramirez told Noisecreep about the band’s splintering. “John and Dave started Burnt by the Sun shortly after. I think Andrew Orlando, Dave Witte and I always felt we should have closed out Black Army Jacket in a better way. We agreed that if we ever did a reunion show, it would have to be with Rob Lawi on vocals.”

The band tried to get it together to reunite for Chainsaw Safety‘s anniversary show last year in New York, but it didn’t pan out since the members are spread across the country. “That’s what made it so difficult to plan. It just turns out that all of our schedules were open for the Best Friends Day Festival on Aug. 19, so we decided to do it,” Ramirez said. “We also felt weird not playing one more show in N.Y.C., so we approached our old friend Rich Hall at 1,000 Knives and he set up a cool show for us with Tombs, Defeatist and Concrete Cross.”

If you’re in need of a little Black Army Jacket history, here it goes: Orlando was kicked out of Milhouse, but that didn’t deter him from wanting to start a project that culled its style from “Infest, Napalm Death and all of the so-called ‘powerviolence’ bands that were popping up on the West Coast,” Ramirez said. “He got the original lineup of the band together, which was made up of people from the Queens and Long Island area. Dave Witte joined the group about a year into it. That version of the band is the one most people know. We toured a lot, released an album, plus a bunch of compilation, seven-inches and splits with bands like Spazz, Corrupted and Agathocles. As more of a metalhead, my favorite moment of playing in the band was being part of the Relapse Records stage at the 1998 Milwaukee Metalfest.”

Since Witte is considered one of the extreme metal scene’s best technicians, Ramirez ruminated on the skinsman’s role in BAJ and how he was able to flex his normally ultra-metallic muscles in a different way, saying, “For starters, Witte rocks one of the best blast beat styles on the planet. Black Army Jacket provided an outlet for that side of his playing. He also blasted a lot on the Discordance Axis stuff, but I think his work with us was more on the crossover side of things. In Municipal Waste, he doesn’t blast all that often, so when he practiced with BAJ for these shows, he told Andrew that it felt good being able to do it so much again.”

Even with the reunion shows on the horizon, don’t hold your breath (and get a subsequent headache) for a full-blown reunion. “I would love to do a couple of West Coast shows next year, but I don’t know if that will happen,” Ramirez admitted. “I always felt that we did better out here, so it would be cool to do something in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”

Expect Black Army Jacket to play stuff from their demo through their final EP. There will also be limited run t-shirts and posters, so collectors take note.

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