Econochrist was an influential and highly revered early 90s hardcore band. The lineup originally featured:

Ben Sizemore - vocals
Markley - drums
Andy Christ - bass
Jon ??? - guitar

Ben, Markley and Jon formed a band in Little Rock, Arkansas while the members were still in junior high, calling themselves Father Asshole. The band was short-lived and played a few shows, including the Arkansas College anti-apartheid rally. Then, in 1986 the three started a new band called Criminal Mischief. Around this time things started to happen in Little Rock and a scene began to really develop. A guy named Robo started putting on hardcore shows at a venue called The Annex. Many of the classic hardcore bands of the era came through and Criminal Mischief, being one of the town's few hardcore bands, got to open most of the shows. Eventually the band's bass player, a wealthy kid named Jason, started to grate on the others so they kicked him out. He was replaced with Andy Christ (real name Andy Branton) and Econochrist was born.

The four clicked immediately, forging a strong and unique sound that would later be copied and built on by countless bands. It was essentially the sound of aggressive and powerful hardcore punk, backed with nimble, punchy bass lines. Andy's western cow punk bass playing merged perfectly with the rest of the band's straight-up hardcore attack. The scene in Little Rock really started to kick off at this point, and it centered around Econochrist and it's members, who lived in a squat in western Little Rock that was constantly filled with punkers (and complete with a homemade skate ramp).

They played many shows around the Arkansas area as well as in Memphis. They released a demo tape and a 7" EP titled "It Runs Deep" on Memphis-based Truant Records. In about 1988 the band and many of it's friends decided to pack up and move to the East Bay. This pretty much destroyed the scene in Arkansas - the Annex closed down and Little Rock's other premier hardcore band, Trusty, moved as well, to hardcore historical landmark Washington, D.C.

However, in the East Bay scene Econochrist flourished. They decided to replace Andy Christ - in a controversial move with the band's longtime fans, when Econochrist moved to Oakland they re-recorded their first album with new bass player Jon and changed the cover to feature Jon instead of Andy. This didn't bring Andy down, who went on to play with bands like Hell's Kitchen and Samiam. Econochrist joined the ranks of the Gilman Street punk scene and became much adored by the area's punk rockers. They continued to release records, play shows, and tour the country until 1993, when they decided to split up.

The members of the band have all moved on to other things now: Ben Sizemore is now an elementary school teacher, after spending time councilling street kids at the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic. Jon is now apparently "married to his dog" and working on a new musical project. Andy Christ has been keeping a low profile but is surely still kicking ass somewhere out there. Markley now drums for Strychnine, which also features members of fellow East Bay hardcore band Filth.

My favorite description of Econochrist goes something like this: "The thing about these guys was that they lived and breathed hard core punk rock. They lived in shitholes, toured on a shoestring, but most importantly they played kick-ass music." They will be remembered forever by the fans and the many bands they influenced - their signature sweaty, hard-driving punk backed with clear and punchy melodic bass lines developed into the sound of East Bay punk, as played by such luminaries as Jawbreaker, Green Day, and Rancid (who Econochrist played $2.00 house parties with when they were still a trio with no record).

ECONOCHRIST DISCOGRAPHY

Demo tape (198?, self-released)
"It Runs Deep" 7 inch EP (1988, Truant Records)
Appeared on "What Are You Pointing At?" compilation, two songs (1989, Very Small Records)
"Ruination" LP (1990, Very Small)
Split 7 inch EP with The Detonators (1990? Insurrection)
Appeared on "Give Me Back" compilation (1991, Ebullition)
Appeared on "Very Small World" compilation (1991, Very Small)
"Another Victim" 7 inch EP (1991, Vermiform - repressed on Ebullition)
"Trained to Serve" LP (1992, Vermiform - repressed on Ebullition)
"Skewed" 7 inch EP (1993, Ebullition)

(A lot of this information provided by my good friend Paddy Bollocks, who grew up in Arkansas with Econochrist and joined them in San Francisco in 1989. Thanks Paddy.)

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