Thanks to Hollywood, South Boston has become the most prominent neighborhood in all of the city, and in those productions has created an assumption on the region's identity. South Boston’s no longer made up of rude, quick-witted and cute Irish folks like in The Departed and Mystic River as those people have, for the most part, been uprooted from the area due to gentrification.
Those original members of the community who remain are being suffocated by the rising rent prices, a higher cost of living, and the stranglehold the current economic situation has put so many Americans in. This is where the members of Neighborhood Shit have called their home.
Neighborhood Shit is a hardcore band consisting of members Alex, Terry, and Brendan, who are all from South Boston. In the last decade, the trio has made a name for itself around the city for their raucous DIY shows that they booked through their own Original Local collective, which generally took place at the infamous Wreck Center in Allston.
Growing up in the city, witnessing all the ills this metropolis has to offer they reacted against the dogmas of their surroundings with punk and hardcore music as well as skateboarding. “When we were growing up we used to hang out at Copley Square by the fountain which was where all the weird kids would skate and hang out," explains bassist Alex when talking about their neighborhood and how they came together.
"Terry and I have known each other forever and we’d hang out there and Brendan we also knew so we’d all hang there, smoke, skate and just chill. It was great.”
There’s been a lot of stereotypes about the neighborhood the band came from but the band never subscribed to any of them and sought out what truly made them feel like themselves, punk rock and skateboarding, which gave influence toward their sound. “We always gravitated toward punk rock but we always went to hardcore shows at the Elk’s, Roman’s, and the Allston basement scene was a huge influence for us," mentions Terry, showing love for the scene they grew up with and were inspired by.
He continues: “Influence-wise we’re all over the place but we grew up heavily with Toxic Narcotic and Blood For Blood, Trash Talk, and No Warning.” The heaviness of Neighborhood Shit's sound certainly comes from the latter influences but their sludgy heaviness is always countered by their abrasive speed and destructive sound reminiscent to Toxic Narcotic and the crusty punk scene from Allston.
“To sum it all up, we’re really mixing Toxic Narcotic and Product of Waste with Boston hardcore, particularly Blood For Blood’s Spit My Last Breath," Alex adds to Terry’s explanation of the band's influences. Product of Waste in particular seemed to be the hardcore group for Alex that changed how he wrote lyrics himself, stating: “When I heard that man speak on You Won’t Take Me Alive, it was just something I’d never heard before.”
Neighborhood Shit’s lyrics touch upon a feeling many born and raised Boston residents feel in the ever changing city as rent prices skyrocket in what were once the poorest neighborhoods of the city. These rent prices steal both a culture and a living from those whose families lived in those neighborhoods for generations. Obviously not all of those experiences in the city were ideal, in fact many came up in a world of domestic abuse, fell victim to drugs and alcohol but it was still their home that’s being ripped away.
Alex states that the band identified with New York bands such as Lower East Side legends like INDK and Choking Victim because of where they grew up and seeing their neighborhood changing around them. “They were talking about the gentrification in their hoods and when we’d say ‘gentrification’ and nobody knew what that word meant but now everybody does because you have to. There’s no choice in the matter," Alex elaborates on their experience.
One of the band's standout songs, the one they end their shows with, is “Destroy Your Hood,” which is Neighborhood Shit's last stand against the yuppies and politicians coming to claim their neighborhood. One of Brendan’s lyrics in particular struck a chord when he says:
“These people will never know the struggles that went down in their perfect house up on the East side of town.” This line reveals the ghosts that live inside these houses which yuppies see as quirky apartments when in fact the two bedroom flat they rent used to house a family with five children.
Brendan elaborated on such ghosts when reminiscing on a place he used to skate in front of when he was younger called Gate of Heaven Church, “We used to call it Gatey and there was this little two-step there that I used to skate on.
One night, I was there in the middle of the night, doing nefarious things and I just had this thought of like ‘how many kids went through this school and left just to get hooked on some kind of drug?’” It’s hard for them to separate their environment from their art because it’s something that has consumed their everyday experience.
Outside of their community however Alex has expanded his lyrics to write about the problems he sees throughout the world and how little it differs to the world he has grown up in. Another Neighborhood Shit song that stood out was “Illogical Sensationalism Intense Suffering,” which is also known as "ISIS."
The lyrics talk about the conflict in the Middle East but also offer Alex’s own viewpoint on American intervention. He explained his desire to write more about issues across the globe came from attending school and other experiences in his life, broadening his views and outlook on the world.
Their artistic expression and love for the community reached an apex when the band found the Wreck Center in Allston on an alleyway known as Rugg Road. The place was an abandoned factory that the members acquired through a local friend and used as a practice space and also a squat. The fact that the band even came about the place was something of a miracle which even they are still surprised by.
“It was almost serendipitous how we even came about that place, it came together at the weirdest time,” explains Brendan, an understatement toward how peculiar and lucky the band was to find the space.
Once the boys found the spot they made it their own with shows in their practice space and utilized it as a space for squatters to lay their heads if they needed a place to stay. Alex explains their reasoning for trusting the space to local squatters stating, “We had these kids sleep in the space because we needed someone to watch the gear for us when we weren’t there and they were good about it. It was terrible how everyone who lived there ended up back on the streets once the place got raided.”
The space provided the band along with a plethora of local and national bands a venue to play at just for the love of heavy music and community which the band and friends did through their Original Local Collective. The venue ran for nearly five years and the group brought a wide range of artists to the space, the shows are fondly remembered in YouTube videos and in conversations.
Some of the bands the collective brought to the space included NYC’s Ache, La Armada, Opposition Rising, Fuming Mouth, Psychic Weight, and Rat Trap just to name a few.
In 2017, the space was raided by the police and condemned leaving both the band with no practice space and all of the tenants kicked back out on the streets. A heartbreaking end to one of Boston’s greatest DIY venues ever.
The end of the venue took its toll on the band who remarked that they were exhausted after it ended because running the place was a nightmare but one that was filled with memories that will never go away. Despite this end the Original Local Collective have soldiered on and continued booking shows in Boston.
Recently Neighborhood Shit has been in the process of recording in order to put out a follow up to their 2018 self-titled album. Wanting to continue building their community of bands Alex stated “We’re doing a split with all the bands that we’ve been making moves with right now in Boston. If you’ve seen us lately expect the bands on those lineups to be featured on the split. I don’t wanna reveal too much though but it’s all in the works.”
Alongside playing shows more frequently the bands want to build up the others who they appear with at shows. Terry adds, “We have two new songs that will be on that one (the split) and then we got a few more that we’ll wanna release in the next year and a half or so."
Neighborhood Shit is also working on a list of shows coming up this summer, many in Boston and others in New York as well hoping to stick close to their friends. One of their biggest is OSU Fest in Queens, New York alongside Subzero and The Slashers. The band will also be bringing their friends in La Armada back to Massachusetts in August.
Neighborhood Shit is a reaction to the environment around them, one of Boston’s best and most accurate since Blood For Blood and that’s been their intention since they formed. They don’t have time for the hardcore posturing, they’re busy trying to survive this city but they will crush any other band at the shows they play. Be on the lookout for their new music and catch them at a show if you can, just ask a punk if you don’t know where to go.
Neighborhood Shit on social media: Instagram
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