Knifedance (1985-1990) was an American hardcore punk band from Cleveland, Ohio.
With The Dark broken up, Charlie Ditto’s band (or Charlie Ditteaux as he was known on the recordings), the Easter Monkeys, who he played bass for and sang on a few numbers, broke up as well. (The Easter Monkeys were one of Tom’s favorite bands, whom he interviewed in his one and only fanzine Spread, issue #1 of a small run, back in the early 80s.) Charlie wanted to form a new band and contacted Tom and drummer David Araca to play. In 1985, they placed an ad in the paper looking for a guitar player, Andrew Lesica answered it and Knifedance was born. They debuted on 6/13/85 at the Cleveland Underground. The band’s sound for the next two and half years was hi-energy, yet raw rock ‘n’ roll with a punk/blues feel to it, loud and drenched in volume/feedback. A 3-song demo on 4-track was recorded by Gary Lupico (r.i.p.) on 8/18/85 at their practice space, it was given out to clubs to get shows, but was never released to the public. By 1986 David Araca left, while a second recording was being set up in a studio named Angel in South Euclid, Ohio. Drummer Sean Saley (who was in the band for a few months, but never played out live with them, and had moved to Washington D.C.) was flown in to rehearse and complete the session. A month later, Ant Petti joined on drums. In 1987, After Hour Records out of Cleveland was interested in putting out a release by the group, so another recording session was set up at a studio called Great Tracks (near downtown.) A lot of money was spent on the recording, yet no one was happy with it; at the same time, another record label just starting up, Amphetamine Reptile (Minneapolis, Mn.) wanted to do a 7 inch single, and local Cleveland label St. Valentine, a 12 inch e.p. Nothing happened with any of the labels, so the recording was shelved.
The Wolf Hour lineup and Hit & Run Records
Guitarist Andrew Lesica the same year disappeared after a gig and was replaced by Tom’s brother Scott Eakin, giving the band a better sound, even giving some of the older songs new life, in a more Detroit hard rock/metal style, keeping true to their punk roots. In 1988 Tom formed Hit & Run Records, took 4 songs from the previous recordings and released the 12 inch e.p. “Who Then is Sane”, getting their name out there and hitting the road for two and a half weeks touring the Midwest /down South. Taking another stab at recording, they entered the recording studio Mars and hired friend / legend / Pere Ubu / Easter Monkeys guitarist Jim Jones (r.i.p.) to produce, and by 1989, the full-length album “Wolf Hour” was released on Hit & Run. A license deal with Double A Records in Europe/ West Germany was set up, resulting in the release of “Wolf Hour” (1200 pressed on clear vinyl) and the song “On Fire” appearing on the record compilation “Going Nowhere Slow”. At home, Jim Clevo put the song “Driven” on one of his CD compilations titled “Another Listen is in Order” as well, giving more exposure to the band. A second tour was set up, this time for a month and a half, hitting the Midwest, down South and the west coast. Along the way, many of the shows got cancelled, and to make matters worse, the booking agent out of Seattle who was to take care of booking the rest of the tour, lied to band, taking their money and leaving town. Frustrated, with tensions growing, Knifedance played one more date in Minneapolis, Mn. opening for Nirvana with drummer Ant quitting afterward. At the end of 1989/1990, Sean Watkins took over on drums. During this period, not much happened except for a few new tunes, some shows and a big write-up in “Your Flesh” magazine by friend /rocker Jeff Dahl. Double A records talked about doing a tour of Europe, which they began working on, but due to problems, the record label went under and no tour happened; from there Charlie Ditto quit. Scott Eakin’s old bandmates from False Hope, Chris Smith (rhythm guitar) and Sam Lopiccolo (bass) joined the very next day and with that, the band’s sound became even more intense and hard hitting. They entered Mars recording studio once again and laid down ten songs, mixing two for a 7 inch single on Hit & Run, with cover artwork by Antiseen vocalist/frontman Jeff Clayton. The rest of the recording was to be mixed at a later date, while a tour of the entire United States was being set up, half the group decided at the last minute not to do the tour, so Knifedance ended on 11/1/90 with the 7 inch single coming out that day. Three reunions happened in 2002, 2006 and 2007 with the release of the CD titled “Discography 1985-1990” (2006) of the band’s entire record catalog on Tom’s new record label Red Hour, formed in 1994. The short/mini documentary film “Cleveland Hardcore 1985” also showed up on the internet years later, with early footage of Knifedance being interviewed.
- Tom Dark - Vocals
- Andrew Lesica - Guitar (1985-1987)
- Charlie Ditteaux - Bass
- Ant Petti - Drums
- Sean Saley - Drums (Atomic Apostles)
- Scooter Eakin - Guitar (1987-1990)
- Sam Lopiccolo - Bass
- Sean Watkins - Drums
- Hawthorne - Guitars / Vocals
- Dave Araca - Drums
- Loaded Heart (1990) Hit and Run Records
- Discography 1985-1990 (2006) Red Hour Records