Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tear It Up, Tear It Down: New Jersey Hardcore's Touring, Recording, Thrashing Machine

My first connection with Tear It Up was from a mutual appreciation for Kiss. Sitting in the back of the Fast Times van during the summer of 2000, I can clearly remember Matt Wechter going on and on about this new band he was doing with some of the other members of Dead Nation. What really stuck out for me was that he proudly proclaimed that they were going to cover “Deuce.” And that was my favorite Kiss song. So I guess you could say they had me at “Deuce.” I remember seeing them for the first time in a basement in Somerville, Mass. They covered that Kiss song. It was me, a crusty punk and Dave Ackerman with our arms around each other screaming the words to a fucking Kiss song. That will always make me smile. Just like each of the guys in that band make me smile endlessly. They’ve been good friends for years and allowed me to interrogate them endlessly for this project. The good, the bad and the fuckin’ ugly. Thanks Andy, Dave, Matt, Paul and John…and Jon, Swank, Felix, and Brian as well! The rest is history and (part of) that history is below.

PS: This is just a taste of this band’s story. Against all odds, this will be a fucking book you can hold in your hands one day. Please stay tuned and follow along on Instagram (@thrashwagon) and/or Facebook (

PPS: Grammar mistakes, I’ve made a few.

Dave Ackerman I never thought I was gonna’ be in a band and it was gonna’ be a job or popular, but Dead Nation was finally getting some recognition - not even nationally, but we would play ABC and it would sell out. We were popular enough, as popular as I ever thought I'd be in New York. So why not just keep going?

Matt Wechter All the groundwork had been laid by Dead Nation.

Paul D’Elia We think we should keep playing. Matt was like “I have a few ideas for songs, if you have some ideas for songs let's meet up next week” and I was like, “I don't, but ok” and so I went home and I wrote six or seven songs. Matt had six or seven songs and we met up and that was basically the whole Tear It Up demo.

Matt Wechter The last LP Dead Nation put out and the 7” we put out, people were really amped on it, and then the band breaks up right away. Same dudes, new band, this our vibe, we’re doing this shit.

Andy Scarpulla The last Dead Nation show was in June of 2000. The first Tear It Up show was August 22, 2000.

Matt Wechter We just jumped right in.

Dave Ackerman (Tear It Up, Dead Nation)  After Dead Nation, I didn't want to do another band. During that window, I had a girlfriend. It was a summer. I worked a job. I worked at the liquor store. That’s when I worked with Paul D’Elia at the liquor store.

Paul D’Elia (Tear It Up, Dead Nation, The Rites, Cut the Shit)  Matt and I didn't have any sort of influence over Dead Nation. It was already an established footprint that he and I were playing in. Again, he and I working on that song “Battle Scarred” together, that was what sparked it. Hey we can do this too! We don’t need Molnar’s songs, let’s write our own songs.

Andy Scarpulla (Tear It Up) I think it was definitely a continuation of what Dead Nation had built upon.

Matt Wechter (Tear It Up, Dead Nation, The Rites, Cut the Shit) We got together a couple times at Paul's parents’ house and worked on some stuff there and we came up with the demo.

Paul D’Elia Really the only reason we kept going was we thought we needed to do it for ourselves and then we were just on fire. Let’s write more songs!

Andy Scarpulla June of 2000 was their last show. Sometime in July I got an email out of the blue from Matt that said “hey, me and all the other guys from Dead Nation except for Matt Molnar are starting a new band.”

Matt Wechter I was like there’s this kid from the shore, love his stage presence, man. The guy’s a solid rhythm guitar player, he just fuckin’ goes off.

Andy Scarpulla When Matt sent me this email, here was an opportunity to do a band with guys that I know who will take it a lot more seriously. Plus, it's dudes who just came from the band that was one of my current favorite bands wanting me to join a band with them…I told him to give me a day to think about it. Pretty much I already had my mind made up that I was going to say yes.

Dave Ackerman I think they practiced, maybe twice without me. They had Andy in it, so they practiced as a four piece, minus me. I told the story as far as interviews at the time - it's sort of true, sort of not - but I kinda’ got surprised into being in that band. I feel like it might've been seeming like an organic hang-out and it was like, “here's the stuff we’re working on, we want to do another band.” I was resistant, but at some point, I was like, what the fuck else am I doing?

Andy Scarpulla There was definitely hype about Tear It Up before we started playing.

Paul D’Elia I didn't expect it all. Our first show was good. Our first show we didn't even open up. It was like people were excited for us, which blew my mind.

Dave Ackerman We played third at our first show, so we got shit about that for sure…It wasn't like some festival where we played two hours later, like we all probably played 15 minutes sets. The whole show probably took two and half hours. It was at William Patterson in a classroom, in the college. I actually had classes in that room because I went to college there. It was a kind of weird show.

Paul D’Elia People went nuts and I thought everyone was going to leave because no one knew us. Me and Dave screened T-shirts at my house and we sold out of them. We sold out of demos.

Andy Scarpulla I remember just thinking I really hope I can keep up as far as how fast these songs are because I wasn’t used to playing songs that were that fast.

Matt Wechter We made no bones about trying to be attached to anybody’s scene…we’re not from the shore, we’re not from New Brunswick. We’re not in a scene. We do what we want.

Dave Ackerman You can go on the Facebook and there's a list of every show we played. You can see the volume of shows we played and we know we tried to just get right into it pretty early on.

Andy Scarpulla It was ridiculous and I didn't even blink at the workload or anything like that. I was just so excited to do it. It's all I wanted to do.

Matt Wechter I was writing a lot then. I had a very prolific period of writing songs.

Paul D’Elia He and I would work very fast together like that. We worked really well together. I'd never been in a band like that.

Matt Wechter Every time we’d practice we were writing more songs, like bang – here’s the 7”. Alright, we also have these other songs, bang - there's the 12”. Every time we finished a record, there’s people who wanted to put it out.

Dave Ackerman We practiced all the time, Matt was writing songs, Paul was writing songs, Andy was writing the occasional song.

Andy Scarpulla When we used to practice at Dave’s parents house, it was 100 miles one way for me to go to band practice. At least once a week. Never less than once a week.

Matt Wechter The first 7” that Tear It Up put out, everybody had a part in writing something. Everybody.

Dave Ackerman I had known Felix since the mid-90s from just being a Code-13 fan and a punk in general.

Paul D’Elia Felix was the type of dude who used to tour with bands, so he would come to ABC No Rio and Dave was always at ABC No Rio shows too. Dave had worked in a friendship with him to an extent, so Dave definitely mailed him a demo.

Andy Scarpulla Havoc Records has amazing distribution so that was something I'm sure it probably got the record out there.

Felix Havoc (Havoc Records) I had distributed the Dead Nation 7”s and I think those guys had helped out with some gigs in New Jersey, so it was natural I would do the Tear It Up 7”.

Paul D’Elia I was interested in art and photography. I took the photos to the cover of “Painless.” I was stoked on that. I was taking photo classes again while I was doing Dead Nation and Tear It Up. As I was pursuing arts I was like, I'll handle it, I want to do it. I came up with that idea of the Tear It Up logo based on the Psycho typography from Alfred Hitchcock's film. Alfred Hitchcock was a huge influence on me as a photographer because he was a purist. He worked tirelessly on his films. Every shot was meticulously manicured. I loved his work ethic, I loved the aesthetic of his films. I loved everything about it and that really influenced me. At the time, I was like this would be awesome. I took that idea, I created that font. I printed out Tear It Up written out in some shitty computer font and then just tore it and scanned it back in. There we go, that’s a logo. From the same breath, I had this book of Alfred Hitchcock poster art from around the world. This image of Vertigo was awesome, I've never seen anything like that before. I photocopied it and blew it up and scanned it in. It was actually Jon Collins that did that layout, but I brought it like “hey I made this thing.” I remember cutting the head up a little bit to make room for the Tear It Up type. I brought that with me on the print out. I was like “we should use this for the first cover.”

Matt Wechter There were a lot of people who were hungry, people who were starting labels or people who wanted to get involved, so the offers kept flowing in.

Dave Ackerman Down In Flames, we play a lot of shows with them, we’re gonna’ have a tour with them, let’s have a split. Fast Times, we play a lot of shows with them, we’re gonna have a tour, let's have a split.

Andy Scarpulla I love recording. I know some people for them, recording is stressful. Recording is one of my favorite things about playing music.

Dave Ackerman The three big Tear It Up sessions were each two days long. It would be one hell day of get there at 10 in the morning and be there until one at night, just do everything. Then the next day we would go in and do backups, any other punch-ups we forgot and then mixing. I want to say that I did all the vocals for the 7” and 12” in one go, all the vocals for the LP in one go and all the vocals for the December session in one go.

Dave Ackerman I liked touring and I never am someone who says my bands are great or we’re the best, but I always felt like any band I was in was a strong live band. That's what’s always important to me.

Paul D’Elia Our tour schedule always followed school. Dave was in school, I was in school, Matt was in school. When we had winter break, we would book a tour. We always did an east coast tour because it was winter and we only had a certain amount of time between Christmas and whenever classes started again. Summer was when we would try and book a full tour.

Andy Scarpulla I don’t think we ever strung together more than three or four out-of-state shows in a row before the Tear It Up/Fast Times tour.

Matt Wechter We were all friends. I had been in Fast Times for a while. They had a drummer and they lost their drummer and they were having a difficult time finding a drummer and they were stalling on stuff. I was just like, “let’s do this tour together, I’ll play for you.”

Andy Scarpulla I just remember being thrilled. I can't believe we're going away for a month and drive all the way across to the west coast and we’re gonna’ play shows all the way there and play shows all the way back..My brother was coming. I was really excited to be able to bring him with us. Everybody liked Brian. Matt to this day still says Brian is the best roadie he’s ever had. He came to Europe with us our first time to Europe and he did weekends and stuff too.

Matt Wechter The first bunch of tours we went on, Paul's the only guy in the band with a cell phone.

Andy Scarpulla All I took was $200. Think about that, $200 for a month. $200, here’s all I need for an entire month.

Ken Ramsey (Tear It Up roadie) One of my first impressions of Tear It Up was pulling up to the show in Vermont and seeing Paul and Andy spray-painting Tear It Up on a wall and Brian breaking into parking meters. I was like “what the fuck have I gotten myself into?”

Paul D’Elia I made that stencil. I was like we gotta’ put our fuckin’ mark everywhere we go. I was into art and I loved the idea of graffiti.

Matt Wechter In Vermont, I went into the house and shaved my head. I gave myself a half-head. Left all my hair in the sink in the bathroom and then went out and slept in the van.

Paul D’Elia I think Matt brought his copy of Friday. We would show up at people’s house and be like “you like Friday? We do. Let’s watch it.”

Matt Wechter “What do you want to do?” “Oh we’ll just watch a movie.” “Alright, what do you want to watch?” “Do you have Friday? We do!”

Andy Scarpulla We had the movie with us and we tried to watch it everywhere.

Brian Scarpulla (Tear It Up roadie) I remember the show in Moline, parking in front of the local Republican headquarters and Paul had the folder full of anti-Bush crack-and-peel stickers, which are the most annoying thing on earth. They never come off…We pulled up and Paul didn’t even say anything, went right into his folder and pulled out a full-sized 8x11 sticker that he’d been holding onto and plastered the window of this place.

Matt Wechter We stopped in Idaho and threw a garbage can off a cliff. We used that picture on the B side of “Nothing to Nothing.”

Paul D’Elia Doug was real pumped because he brought a cigarette rolling machine and the entire van ride all he was doing was sitting there rolling cigarettes. He’d be rolling it into the thing and making them. We stopped somewhere in Montana at a rest stop and he had a whole pile of them on the seat. When I was getting back in the van, I sat on them because I couldn't see them. I've never seen him so angry. He was taping them back together. He smoked every one of those broken cigarettes. He would prefer to sit in the front seat so he could roll the window down and then he would get angry because he’d get pelted with bugs.

Andy Scarpulla We didn’t have an air conditioner. We had the windows rolled down driving in the desert and it felt worse. It was hotter. It felt like someone had a hair-dryer and was just holding it in our faces.

Dave Ackerman Houston was fine, a side note, a dude who bought a shirt from us in Houston on that tour, then returned it the next time we played Houston on the Down In Flames tour, because it was too small or too big.

Matt Wechter I was washing the shorts that I’m playing in. I’m playing double sets every night, hot summer basement shows. I washed my shorts in the sink with this fancy shampoo and I’m wringing them out and it’s all black. It was so disgustingly filthy.

Dave Ackerman Columbus, Ohio, that is another show that I didn't know people hated us ‘til we got there.

Matt Wechter That's why you book tours, so you can play LA, because the LA show’s gonna’ be good. That's why you can play in Montana, because the Montana shows gonna’ be small. You’re not gonna’ make any money when you play that show in Wyoming, but you want to play the show in Wyoming because it’s fuckin’ cool. It's cool to go to these spots where there is not a gigantic scene. You want to show up there and play those shows because if you really like what you’re doing, those are the shows you want to play…there’s 25 kids here, let’s wreck this place.

Dave Ackerman I got money from my mom because I’d just come home from tour and I literally had less than a dollar to my name. I got five bucks from my mom so I could get pizza later. That's just to show you here I am coming home from a month-long tour from a scene that you're trying to document and I literally did not have one dollar to my name. I want to say I had $0.15. It was all the money I had in the world. We’re going to play show in Long Island now and I got money from my mom so I can eat.

Matt Wechter I don't think we ever walked off a tour with a sizable amount of money ever. It just went into the band fund.

Dave Ackerman People would often talk about how we were a popular band. Literally, I did not have a dollar. I had literally two coins to rub together. Anyone who says that we sold out or were popular, straight up, I didn’t have a dollar and that was Tear It Up. I didn't make $100 from being in that band for three years total.

Matt Wechter The last album we had done was Dead Nation’s in ’99, so we wanted to make an album. That was the next step.

Jon Collins (Dead Alive/Manic Ride Records) Recording that LP was special and I think cathartic for a lot of people…“Dead End,” they put out that record and everyone was like, “this is an amazing album, you guys did great.” And then it was taken away from them.

Paul D’Elia I remember feeling like we gotta’ make this record even better than the rest. Matt and I were definitely critical on a level we weren't before.

Matt Wechter We didn’t really write it differently. I came up with the skeleton of the way I wanted it to flow together…I had this sound in my head of what I wanted this to be.

Jon Collins I was living with Matt when he was writing that record. He really put so much thought and care into it being an album.

Matt Wechter I used to call it deliberate writing. I want this record to have this kind of feel, so this song goes into this song, goes into this song.

Jon Collins He literally wrote that LP in his boxer shorts on his bass while I was playing video games…The flow is flawless. It felt impactful.

Andy Scarpulla I actually wrote a song and a half on that record. I definitely wrote all of “The Cause” and wrote the music to “Trust Me I Don't Forget.”

Paul D’Elia All of the lyrics for the songs I wrote were written by Dave and then the songs that Matt wrote were written by him.

Dave Ackerman Initially, the secret rock 'n' roll song was gonna be “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and it became the Rose Tattoo cover the weeks before we recorded, if not, the week before.

Andy Scarpulla We wanted to get as tight as you possibly could before getting in the studio so we could do a lot of stuff on as little takes as possible, kinda’ speed the process up.

Paul D’Elia It was stressful. We always took recording seriously. I remember Matt especially just being really gruff about it – “no, we gotta’ get it right, we gotta’ get it better.”

Matt Wechter Dave wrote “From Nothing to Nothing.”

Dave Ackerman I wrote it in class. Matt had the general concept and the song was going to be called “From Nothing to Nothing.”

Matt Wechter I think he went in there and did it in one take, had a bunch of stuff written down and just kinda’ went off.

Dave Ackerman There’s a line in there that’s from a Dystopia song. It’s not totally out of the blue, but it’s inadvertently borrowed from Dystopia.

Paul D’Elia The thing about that song when I listened to it, it felt real to me. Knowing Dave and the time period, it wasn't an act. It wasn't like we were co-opting this idea of depression, it was what we felt. It felt like it was really communicated most transparently through that song.

Dave Ackerman Live, it was whatever lyrics I was making up on the spot. It wasn't until we played reunions that I had to go by whatever the record says. We didn’t play it live all that often. We played it live here and there, but it was definitely not a staple of our set. It would just be ranting about probably that day or that week. It would keep the same structure, probably start with the same opening line. I think songs like that are supposed to just be a cathartic free-for-all.

Matt Wechter The day we were going to mix “Nothing to Nothing” it rained the night before, the parkway was dry but the off-ramps were wet. I hit the off-ramp and skidded and my car went backwards over the median. “This can’t happen! I gotta mix this fuckin’ record today!”…my only thought was I have to finish this record, I can’t crash my car, I don’t have time for this shit!

Andy Scarpulla That was recorded in two days but that was probably two 14 hour days.

Paul D’Elia The last day of recording vocals and mixing, I was driving Dave home. We had a CD with us and we listened to it in the car after we left. Dave and I, we turned to each other and Dave was like “I feel like we could get in a car accident right now and it would be okay because this record’s done.” We felt like we did it. It was like a huge hurdle and nothing else mattered now. We did this, it’s done and if we die now, it won’t matter.

Jon Collins Matt cut his finger playing drums and he was “no, I’m gonna’ keep playing” and someone taped it up and he bled all over his snare drum. He thought that was the coolest picture ever. He wanted that to be the cover of the album and he wanted to call it “Play to Destroy.”

Dave Ackerman The record at one point was also going to be called “Play to Destroy” and the cover Matt wanted it to be was that photo of him on the back of the December 2000 Session, where it’s like his hand playing drums. It would have been a fine back cover, but it didn't seem like the cover of a record.

Jon Collins Play to destroy was really how he felt. He didn’t care about what happened between the shows, he just wanted to get to the shows.

Dave Ackerman Jon was such a big part of Tear It Up and Dead Nation layouts…For the most part, we really just gave Jon total creative control on both the “Nothing to Nothing” and “Dead End” inserts.

Jon Collins The Killing Joke record and the inside of the His Hero is Gone record were cool with the contrasting black and white with the color. I wanted to show them what they could do that might be cooler.

Dave Ackerman That’s Jon's wife on the cover.

Jon Collins That was the weekend that Aubrey was in town and I was like “can you do me a favor, can you like pose for this just so I can show them what might be cooler.” I took a couple pictures. It’s from Bloomfield because that’s where Matt and I were living at the time. I showed it to them. I spray-painted “Nothing to Nothing” at a little league field and I superimposed the spray-paint on this wall that I had taken a picture of Aubrey in front of. I was like “something like this” and they were “that’s the cover there.”

Dave Ackerman Jon Collins came up with the album cover. I wanted the records to be like a predominant color, I wanted each of the records to be like that's the red one, that's the blue one, that's the green one. It was talked about how the record was going to be a predominant color and it was between like a neon green and the pink that it ended up being. The cover was really just like Jon Collins “hey I did this, what do you guys think of it?” Four-fifths of us were like that’s definitely the cover.

Jon Collins I didn’t even say “put your head down, make yourself look dejected.” I think she was just getting herself up on the wall.

Paul D’Elia Jon Collins was the one who was able to physically lay the records out, so we would go to his place and me and him would always be really focused on doing the layouts…I remember having a real conversation with him about the cover art because, we were talking about it because it can't be orange because His Hero Is Gone used that on their gatefold. It can't be this color because this band used it. What about pink? Let’s do pink!

Jon Collins I’m really proud of the art work.

Swank White (Tear It Up roadie) From beginning to end, the way the record plays through, it’s fucking awesome.

Felix Havoc I love that 7”, but I think the “Nothing to Nothing” LP was their real triumph.

Jon Collins It was the best-selling record I ever put out.

Matt Wechter Not for nothing, Jon is one of the most legit dudes to work with.

Andy Scarpulla I Struggled to find a bad review of it and I’m pretty proud of that. Yeah, I think to this day it stands up.

Dave Ackerman We recorded that record and we just continued with the Tear It Up cycle of playing as often as we can and supporting the records.

Paul D’Elia I was really in a negative space in terms of my own personality. At that point, it was right when my mom and my girlfriend, Anna's mom had both been diagnosed with breast cancer in the same week. I already knew I'm finishing my last semester at community college, I have to do something. As much as I don't want to leave, I probably have to. I was definitely feeling that.  I was really bummed. I hadn’t even made up my mind yet, but I knew that my time with this band was coming to an end. I was legit upset about that already. I wasn't communicating that to them, but I was pretty depressed at that point…We finished recording sometime early October. Early in November I realized I didn't have any options other than moving to Boston for school. I had to tell them.

Dave Ackerman We weren’t like not friends anymore, but he was going away to school.

Paul D’Elia We weren’t on bad terms. It wasn't like we had some blow out and fuck you guys I’m out. I didn’t want to quit, but I had to.

Dave Ackerman Paul and Doug both essentially left at the same tour.

Matt Wechter That tour was going to be crazy as it was. Paul had told us he had to leave the band because he was going to school in Boston.

Paul D’Elia After Christmas we did a loop of the east coast and Doug was getting increasingly distant or disinterested in the band. He was always the odd man out with us. He was a little bit more disenchanted with it.

Dave Ackerman Doug didn't show up on that tour so he was out of the band, so then Andy moved to bass. We knew that we were switching to a four piece for that tour because Paul was leaving. But because Doug didn't show, we had to scramble so John Devlin flew in.

Andy Scarpulla I don't mean to talk bad about Doug. I absolutely love Doug even though he probably cost us as a band some hardships at times. I have absolutely no ill will towards him whatsoever to this day.

Paul D’Elia My last show was the “Nothing to Nothing” record release.

Matt Wechter John just moved right in playing guitar.

John Devlin (Tear It Up, Down In Flames, The Rites) I was thrilled to join…If we weren’t playing with them, I was probably at the show anyway.

Paul D’Elia I was loading my gear out and that's when I met Andrew and Blake from Bones Brigade for the first time.

Ken Ramsey This significance of that show always struck me. It’s the record release show for this incredible LP that Paul’s on. It was his last show with the band, but it was also the first show for The Rites! Finally, he meets Andrew Jackmauh at the show, the very person he would start Cut The Shit with later on.

Andy Scarpulla Basically, from October 2001 to October 2002 we were busy either playing shows or getting new members ready for the band.

John Devlin Every van ride, it seemed like there was something to laugh about the entire time.

Andy Scarpulla At that point we had probably a 60-song catalog and we never liked to play the same setlist two nights in a row. Even when we did those reunion shows a couple years ago we learned two pretty separate setlists, because it wouldn’t have been Tear It Up if we didn't.

Andy Scarpulla Paul and Doug were replaced by John and Ryan. We did the European tour without Ryan even though Ryan had joined. He just had other commitments so he couldn’t go to Europe. We did the European tour without him, home for five days, played a show in the middle and did the US tour with him.

Matt Wechter We did the first European tour as a four-piece.

Dave Ackerman Any tour, I’ll fall in a dark headspace, but you know it's still seeing places you’ve never been. It’s a crazy adventure. It’s super fun.

Matt Wechter Every tour, there’s always clunkers.

Dave Ackerman The second show of the European tour was somewhere in Germany with bands that didn't care. It was like in the way ‘90s shows used to be five dollars, four dollars with a can of food, it was five euros, free if you smoke the whole time. It was smokey, no one knew who we were, no one gave a fuck.

Matt Wechter The Netherlands always showed us mad love…Hank from Kangaroo records from Amsterdam, we’d known him since the Dead Nation days, so he’d always come. All the shows in the Netherlands were always awesome.

Dave Ackerman It was four weeks, we came home on June 30, we played July 2, and then left for the Down In Flames tour, July 6th. So we weren't home for very long…We played a show in Europe and then we began the US tour six days later, and that included flying back, as well as, playing a show in the middle.

Matt Wechter We went to Europe a second time and it was cool but I probably became more overly-controlling than I ever had been just because I felt I had to keep these guys in check.

Dave Ackerman The second European tour, that tour we had a big van with a sectioned-off loft that you had to get to through the back doors. It was dark and there was no connection to the driver and the other members. For that tour, it was just me and Wechter in a twin bed-sized space next to each other in the dark in a hot, air conditioner-less situation for seven weeks. I listened to four tapes over and over again, COC “Eye for an Eye,” a tape that was Amebix “Monolith” and the Severed Head of State “Anathema Device” LP on one tape, a tape that was Kyuss “Welcome to Sky Valley” and then the other side was a mix of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden heavy metal songs.

Matt Wechter I’m sure if you ask anybody who was in the band at that time about me, “he was a fuckin asshole, he was dick.” You know what, I felt like I had to be.

Dave Ackerman I was just a brooding weirdo. I’ll just be miserable and sit in the heat. I think the two people that wanted to have a chip on their shoulder about being weirdos and being miserable were me and Wechter. It made sense that he and I would both sit back there and do that. We both had a Rollins complex.

Matt Wechter Things were really shakey by the time we got back from tour.

Matt Wechter If you want to track the beginning of the end, it’s when we got Ryan playing bass in the band. You figure, me and Dave had been playing in bands since ’98. So that was four years. Things were just awkward.

John Devlin Ryan was the only one that would call Matt out on certain things, where the rest of us would just be quiet.

Andy Scarpulla The band definitely felt different after John and Ryan joined but I still enjoyed it…Ryan rubs a lot of people wrong way. He’s super sarcastic and super smart.

Matt Wechter Dave’s a very nice guy, Dave’s a very patient guy, Dave’s a very peaceful guy and he was just fed up with having to deal with Ryan.

Andy Scarpulla I loved having him in the band.

Dave Ackerman He was someone that definitely negatively affected the morale of the band…he had a way of bringing out the negativity in people.

Andy Scarpulla In general, I think everybody felt a little different, like maybe the band had been growing a little bit. Everybody was listening to more stoner rock, except me.

Dave Ackerman We played two shows in the beginning of 2003 where it was starting to crumble. We had on-stage arguments two days in a row, Yonkers, NY and Nutely, NJ. I can’t remember what the issue even was. I remember the Nutely show a lot more. It was a bad show for us. We were the only fast hardcore band on the bill. We were late in the bill and very few people were there for us. Since we play often enough, it was easy to skip a show if it was kinda’ far and generally crummy. I think people blamed Matt for getting us on these shows since he did the booking. I didn’t blame him. I think the arguments were caused by Ryan fucking around, like weird fills or playing things between songs. I guess Matt told him to stop and he didn’t. I honestly don’t remember. They bickered like that all the time.

Matt Wechter Relationships were definitely becoming strained…We only saw each other for practices and band-related stuff. That was it. People weren’t really hanging as much anymore.

Andy Scarpulla As probably evidenced by how much material we put out in a short period of time, we were always working on new material, writing new songs. I think the Taking You Down With Me EP developed a lot more slowly than anything else.

Dave Ackerman It was gonna’ be another 7” because it was too long. If you really want to get technical, I believe it’s too long because of feedback. We could of trimmed it probably and made it a 7”…Yeah, I mean it's just part of being a bloated rockstar. We write a record that ends up being too long, it takes us forever to lay out a record cover that’s predominately black.

Matt Wechter Felix Havoc asked Dave straight up, “are you going to do this album and break up, because then I don’t want to do it.”

Dave Ackerman Sorry Felix, totally our bad.

Felix Havoc By the time this record came out the band was kind of winding down, but I still think the songs are great. It was a huge flop from a sales perspective, I still have over a 1000 unsold CDs, but I dont care, it’s a good record. In this period, I was doing “crafty” limited editions of all the records. Working with wood, metal, glass, plastic whatever. This LP’s cover is a guy holding a knife standing over some freshly massacred band members. So I got some thrift store knifes and made a limited stenciled cover splattered in blood red paint and each one came with a knife. I had to go to a lot of thrift stores and flea markets to get 100 knives.

Dave Ackerman That record was the most road-tested of any record we did…I think musically, it comes off really well. I think it’s a solid Tear It Up release. As far as last records go, it's not “Break It Up,” it's not “Kill Kill Kill.” At least it’s a Tear It Up record.

Matt Wechter We went in and recorded everything and we played a few shows after that and then that was it. When one thing goes wrong, everything else starts getting shitty.

Dave Ackerman We did a Chicago, Minneapolis weekend which is not a good weekend no matter how you slice it. It’s a 12-hour ride, an 8-hour ride, and a 20-hour drive home. It sucks but who cares, it’s what we do. We played Chicago and the van died an hour outside Chicago and my now current girlfriend picked us up on the side of the road.

Matt Wechter Now we don’t have a home. That’s where we live.

Dave Ackerman One of the big things that was a big catalyst in the band breaking up was our van dying. We didn't have any money at all. It wasn’t like we could use our savings and buy another van.

Andy Scarpulla Dave's current-day girlfriend Amy came by and picked us up on side of the road, which is such a funny twist of fate. We drove back. We rented a U-Haul we loaded all our equipment from the side of the road from her van into the back of the U-Haul. Ditched the van on the side of the road, took the license plates off and drove back to New Jersey with me, John and Ryan in the back of the U-Haul with the equipment all the way back to New Jersey. I refer to that incident as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Dave Ackerman It was a 12-hour drive back from Chicago to New Jersey and we just essentially had a conversation about theoretical things we can do to make money. It was essentially like benefit shows which, that's not what benefit shows are for.

John Devlin On the way back, I remember me, Ryan and Andy had an agreement that we were all getting a little bit tired of Tear It Up. I don’t want offend anybody, but we were all getting a little bit tired of Matt. We had an agreement that if any one of us quit, all three of us would quit. That would just leave Dave and Matt. The only reason that Dave was excluded from the conversation was he was sitting up front with Matt at the time.

Matt Wechter Our last show wound up being the Black Flag Halloween show, where we opened the show as 81’ era Black Flag and closed the show as ’85 Black Flag. I guess it’s apropos if you will, nobody watched the second set because that wasn’t cool…A bunch of people cleared out to go see Negative Approach.

Andy Scarpulla We pulled it off pretty well.

Swank White The Degenerics did Bad Brains. Someone did Minor Threat.

Matt Wechter We practiced so much to nail these fuckin songs down. We had guys roadie-ing for us who were rocking flannels and mustaches like Black Flag roadies fighting kids in the crowd, dudes trying to fake punch Dave. We worked out this whole fucking act, it was really funny. “My War’s” our last song, we’re about to go into it, the cops come in, show’s over. That was it and we never played again.

Andy Scarpulla I think most of us knew at that show.

Dave Ackerman We didn't play a formal last show even though 4/5 of us knew that that was the last show.

Andy Scarpulla So we put in all this hard work to learn these two sets right before we knew we weren’t going to be a band anymore…What idiots, knowing full well that the band wasn't going to continue after this point, would put in so much time and effort…That’s Tear It Up - working hard til the very end!

Matt Wechter We had a meeting a week or so later where everyone basically quit the band but me. Everybody decided they were gonna’ quit for whatever the reasons were. Dave was just like, “this is not fun anymore, I don’t like this.” Everybody said what they had to say and that was it. Then it was done.

Andy Scarpulla We actually had a band meeting planned which we would do sometimes to just discuss what was coming up in the future and right at the onset, I think I was the first one to go, I was just like “I’m quitting, I’m done, I don’t want to do this anymore, it’s not fun.” I remember being pretty direct with Matt.

John Devlin I don’t know what it was. I just have to stop this right now. I told the guys I was leaving. We had a band meeting about it, which was in my basement actually, and I just told everybody I can’t do it anymore. It just went right down the line, “yeah I can’t do it, yeah I can’t do it, yeah I can’t do it.”

Jon Collins Dave would hold back for the greater good. Same thing with Andy. He wouldn’t want a beef. But then it just got so ridiculous. Egos just got involved.

Matt Wechter Unfortunately, in every band there’s always someone who’s got to be the asshole. I’m sure when you talk to everyone else from Tear It Up, they’re going to tell you it’s me. In every band there is an asshole and in our band, it was me.

Dave Ackerman I lived with those dudes another six months…We all had this awkward conversation where we just quit the band and I had to go back to the place where I still lived with two of them…I still lived with Matt at that point.

Andy Scarpulla I specifically remember even telling Matt I would like to remain friends with you, I just can't work with you in band situations.

Matt Wechter I didn’t talk to Andy for months.

Andy Scarpulla We actually were good immediately afterwards for a little bit and then we didn’t talk for years, probably three years.

Dave Ackerman It felt super weird. I was like I guess I’m an adult and I just work a job and be a regular person.

Jon Collins Everyone just seemed to go their own separate ways.

Andy Scarpulla I felt like I had broken up with four girlfriends all at once. I guess the good thing for me was Brian Gorsegner and Drew Levinson’s band also broke up really recently, so we were all able to focus on Forward To Death.

Matt Wechter Everyone’s gonna’ have their own version of the events where different people look like the reason and different people look like the bad guy. I’m just very grateful that eventually everyone was able to get past it for the most part.

Andy Scarpulla I’m on really good terms with Matt now and I pretty much remained friendly with everybody else after the breakup.

Matt Wechter As far as reconnecting with Dave and Andy and me and Paul and still being able to be friends and cool, that was important to me. It wasn’t easy.

Jon Collins Tear It Up without Matt wouldn’t be Tear It Up.

Andy Scarpulla He did all the booking, he did a lot of the writing.

Jon Collins Andy was very much the heart and soul of Tear It Up.

Matt Wechter Andy’s from the shore. He’s a shore kid all day, every day.

Jon Collins What I’ve learned in the last couple of years is that they’ve had a very lasting influence.

Dave Ackerman We weren’t not popular but it wasn’t like the scene died because we stopped playing.

Andy Scarpulla There was several waves believe it or not within that short time. There were times where we played New Jersey and nobody gave a shit about us and then there were times when we played New Jersey and we did fairly well. I think at first there was a big buzz about us in New Jersey and outside of New Jersey as well and I think in the middle period there was a lull and maybe near the end it was probably up and down.

Ken Ramsey It’s weird to think in your 20’s that some band is going to be this symbol of your youth. Like it’s going to somehow represent the high and lows of those years where everything is kind of in flux, but that was Tear It Up for me. You didn’t think that at the time. You just wanted to hang out with your friends and mosh and channel that negative energy that seemed to be always filling up to the brim.

John Devlin It was a lot of fun. It was totally different than Down In Flames, in that Down In Flames, I was the main battery of it. I got us the shows, it was my correspondence. I had to stay ahead of it. Tear It Up basically was, show up for practice and play the songs. In a way, it was a lot more fun than Down In Flames. I use that word “fun” in a very specific way, like riding a swing is fun. Life-wise, I’m much more proud of my time in Down In Flames because it was much more on my back.

Andy Scarpulla We were around a little over three years, which in punk and hardcore terms is like an eternity… 275 shows I think is the exact number not counting the reunion shows.

Matt Wechter We weren’t doing a band to just have fun. We did a band because it was a catharsis for what we needed. When you’re in your 20’s, it’s a different time. You got pressure on you to go make something of yourself or pressure on you to go to school. Pressure on you because the dude you went to high school with has a job and he’s getting married. You’re just trying to figure life out, man.


  1. Im so in love with this band and its people. The stuff these people have shared here in the blog shows how hardworking they were since day one.

  2. The stuff written in this chapter is so good and this means a world to me. I'm guessing that next chapter is either Cut The Shit or The Rites :).