Thank you to Matt, Paul, John, and Pete for your stories and to the other folks I interviewed about the band Jon, Andy, Andrew and Swank!
Thank you to YOU. For always expressing interest (guarded or effusive). One day, there will be a book. The ball is rolling...
PS: Grammar mistakes abound - you've been warned!
Matt Wechter (Dead Nation, Tear It Up, The Rites, Cut The Shit) The Rites started as a side project to be the antithesis of what Tear It Up was doing, to me. The music is similar because I’m writing a lot of it or Paul’s writing a bunch of it. Paul left, he moved to Boston and I wanted to work with him still.
Paul D’Elia (Dead Nation, Tear It Up, The Rites, Cut The Shit) I know the conversation initially happened in the Berwick (in Boston). Matt came up to me and was just saying how he was going to miss playing together. He and I were the people who wrote all the songs for Tear It Up. He was like “this really sucks that we’re not to going to be able to do this anymore, maybe we could just do a side project. Something faster and more intense than Tear It Up, more like Poison Idea. It'll just be for fun.”
Matt Wechter I asked John and Pete, do you guys want to get involved in this? John and Pete were still doing Down In Flames when we started it.
Pete Hilton (Down In Flames, The Rites) The Rites came out of Floppy Joe. Floppy Joe was me and Matt and John and Swank.
Matt Wechter That comes from that winter tour with Down In Flames…(At a show In Columbus, OH) it was miserable, it was snowing, there was nobody there. We were there 3 hours early.I was like, “yo, let’s put together a band, write four songs and do a cover song and do it right now.” We were there for three hours with nothing to do. Swank was singing, I played bass, Pete played drums and Paul played guitar and John played guitar. We wrote four short, fast songs that were about nothing and did an Agnostic Front cover. We decided were going to open the show and everybody who wasn’t in the band just went off, moshing hard, banging into the wall, putting holes in the wall, throwing shit.
Swank White (Tear It Up crew) We called it Floppy Joe.
Pete Hilton Matt was like, we should just actually do a real band and not do Floppy Joe.
John Devlin (Down In Flames, Tear It Up, The Rites) It was a very easy band to be in…As a band we didn’t have the same urgency as Down In Flames or Tear It Up. Matt had urgency and he needed to be heard, just the way you could see it at a Tear It Up show, he would take the mic and want to talk. You could tell he needs a microphone in front of him, so that was his outlet.
Paul D’Elia He always had a lot to say and I think being behind the drum set was restrictive. He was really ready to not be behind the drums for a while.
Jon Collins (Dead Alive/Manic Ride Records) He did not want to be back there just keeping time. He wanted the microphone. I mean, in Fast Times he played standing up.
Matt Wechter I’m chained up behind the drum set. For years, just being stuck behind the drum set. Now I get to get out there and just fuckin explode. It’s a beautiful feeling.
Jon Collins That’s what The Rites were, Matt unchained.
Paul D’Elia I Remember at the first practice, Matt already had five songs. I had two or three songs. The first 7” was done. All of us were already well-vetted in playing fast music and writing fast. Matt and I wrote very fast. He and I would teach everybody a record at a practice.
Pete Hilton The way that Matt operated was, “I have the record, all you need to do is learn it.” We learned the first 7” in like five minutes.
Paul D’Elia Everybody was already playing music all the time anyway, so it wasn't that hard for us to just put on a different hat.
Matt Wechter One weekend a month, it’s like the Army Reserves. One weekend a month, we practice, play a show and write.
Ken Ramsey (Boston scene) The first Rites show just happened to be Paul’s last show with Tear It Up.
Paul D’Elia We basically just played the EP start to finish because that was all we really had.
Matt Wechter The 7” was a little faster than where Tear It Up was at the time. It was just me wanting to work with Paul. We put out the LP and the LP was little bit different from the 7”, songs of different paces, tempos and flows.
Paul D’Elia It’s the record we had next to no practice with. At the end I remember being really pleasantly surprised at how well everything came together. I wrote all of my stupid leads while I was doing them there…I always liked recording with Will and I feel like he captured what we were about very well.
Matt Wechter I like them all for different reasons, but the one that feels the most complete for me is the first LP that we did. I was so angry.
Pete Hilton With all the drama that was going on between Tear It Up and Down In Flames, I remember that band being so drama-free.
Paul D’Elia All of a sudden it was like Tear It Up became this chore for Matt and The Rites was a relief.
Andy Scarpulla (Tear It Up) It was a weird thing because Matt was the primary songwriter in Tear It Up. He was also the primary songwriter in The Rites and I think a lot of it sounded similar.
Paul D’Elia Matt was just using all his songs for this other thing now and they were kind of bummed on that. I get it. Tear It Up was always everybody’s focus and that was it. It was 100% of everyone's attention and all the sudden I quit and I’m stealing Matt’s attention, so I get that.
Andy Scarpulla I didn’t have any ill will towards him because he was doing another band. I just was like this is something Matt’s doing on the side. I was probably doing Forward to Death on the side at that point or shortly after.
Matt Wechter The first Rites/Cut the Shit tour we did in the US, we rented a van and we did the whole country in three weeks. Went through the Midwest, boom, straight to Seattle down to California, boom, straight back.
John Devlin Matt played drums in Cut The Shit for most of the tour.
Matt Wechter We played in LA when we were still friends with all the Lifes Halt guys and those shows were so much fucking fun. We played Gilman St. It was awesome.When that was done it was kinda’ like the end of Jon and Pete really. Pete was going to college in San Francisco. John was just like “I don’t like doing this anymore.” He was really into the stoner rock stuff and he wanted to do a stoner rock band.
Pete Hilton I did the Kamikaze tour, I came back from that, same summer, and did a tour with The Rites. Then I went to San Francisco and went to college. That was it.
John Devlin It was around the same time that I left Tear It Up…I moved back home after the lease was up, went back to school. Took me a couple of years, but I got my bachelor’s degree. I started playing music again not too, too long after that. In 2005, I started this band ASD.
Matt Wechter Mullet who was playing drums for Bones Brigade in Boston…we got him into the band with us.
Paul D’Elia At that point, it was me and Greg (Mullet) from Boston and then Dave Sausage was still living in Philly, so we would just meet up at Matt’s for the weekend and we’d practice and write songs.
Matt Wechter Dave Sausage and I had been friends along time, since The Boils day. We tried to recruit him to be in Tear It Up and he said no to us.
Matt Wechter We go to Europe for this tour and for me, it was my fourth time going to Europe for a tour. I think it was Paul’s first time going to Europe.I was like why don’t we have Cut The Shit go with us? You’re playing in Cut The Shit, I’m playing in Cut The Shit. It’s only two extra plane tickets, we’re going to get paid for two bands and we’re gonna have six guys. This is gonna be great, not in terms of making money, but in terms of covering our costs.
Andrew Jackmuah (Cut The Shit) There are times where in Europe Matt definitely climbed up on a bar and dumped an entire ashtray into his mouth.
Matt Wechter We played a show in Italy, I picked up a full garbage can and threw the fucking garbage can into the crowd, it went everywhere. I came off the stage with the microphone and did a front flip into the garbage can. Had the garbage can on my head, did another flip and then tossed it. We played a show where I dumped a full ash tray in my mouth. It was stupid and disgusting.
Ken Ramsey: Technically, “Wish You Never Knew” only had a European release. It was for their first Euro tour and it was distributed in the States later.
Matt Wechter The guys messed up the printing of the cover. They didn’t print it in color, they printed it in black and white! We decided to color in red, white and blue versions of them.
Paul D’Elia We got a bunch of markers and just really shittily colored them in.
Matt Wechter Pissing on Your Grave had a couple different covers. We screened the first press cover, but the limited edition cover was black and white with me and Andrew peeing on GG Allin’s grave.
Paul D’Elia Screenprinting was my main focus. It was most interested me at school. Skateboards were the best way for me to really understand the process and get up close and personal with it. That was when I started collecting vintage boards. Every time I would get a new one, I would just be blown away by the technique and then trying new things in terms of how I was designing, based on the way the great skate masters were designing their decks 20 years before.I screenprinted the covers and they're pretty ridiculous looking with us literally taking a piss on a grave. We went to went to the graveyard by where Matt was living in New Jersey.
Matt Wechter We would name every record after a song on a previous record. I thought it was funny.
Paul D’Elia We did that with every record and all that leads to confusion in my brain about what’s what with this band. We intentionally made it stupidly confusing…It's almost like the record version of “who's on first.”
Matt Wechter We covered High Time by the Zero Boys at the end of Death of the Party. I had Dave from Tear It Up and Andrew from Cut the Shit come sing on it. They sing that song. I don’t sing on it.That’s the last one that Paul played on. When we were recording it, Paul was going into a different phase in his life and didn’t want to do it anymore.
Paul D’Elia I was done with school. I just got Married. I was back in New Jersey and I was really on this thing where I really wanted to have a normal job, be responsible. I don't want to go on tours anymore. I was trying to re-focus myself.I thought that would be it, but he decided to keep doing it, which was fine.
Matt Wechter In a way, we were the last band standing. Everybody else who was in Tear It Up who were doing bands weren’t doing what we were doing…It was almost back to the Dead Nation days. People didn’t want to book us in New Jersey.
Pete Hilton I just wanted to play and I loved Matt. He was really supportive. He was just a great guy to me, even though he still has an attitude. That guy’s a dick in an endearing way.
Matt Wechter That was the cool thing, I had that band.
John Devlin It was just a band that I was in. It didn’t carry any weight. The same way that being in Down In Flames was my thing, so I loved it and being in Tear It Up was being in what was then my favorite band, so I loved it. Being in The Rites was being in a band. It was me playing bass in a band, which was my way of being able to do something else because I played guitar in two other bands.
Pete Hilton I didn’t expect us to do anything. If someone was asking me to play drums and record it, I was down, especially if it was those guys.
Matt Wechter The Rites never broke up, we just stopped doing it. To this day, we always joke around, “yo, are we gonna play a show?”
Paul D’Elia It really was like we’re gonna do this thing and people probably won't like it but who gives a shit.