During the past seven years, the above symbol has become synonymous with the resurgence of Raleigh hardcore. Double Negative, the band that have emblazoned it on everything they release and every piece of equipment they use, arrived in 2006 and quickly became the standard-bearers for a new generation of Triangle punks. Founded as a four-piece filled with scene veterans, they funneled their powers into a sound that was as sharp as it was explosive, catalyzing one of the most exciting periods in Raleigh’s storied punk history.
Wednesday night, after years of playing chaotic live shows and producing a catalog that is pretty much unimpeachable, Double Negative announced that they are calling it quits.
“In 2006, I went to a show, saw some bands and said, ‘This is really cool, we can do this,’ Scott Williams recalls. The guitarist, who had previously played in bands including Days Of… and Daddy, rallied friends with equally impressive résumés. Singer Kevin Collins fronted the wonderfully skewed Erectus Montone. Brian Walsby had drummed with the pre-Superchunk outfit Wwax and the pre-Whiskeytown ensemble The Patty Duke Syndrome. Bassist Justin Gray had played with a long list of local bands, a few of which also included Williams.
“I was like, ‘Let’s put a band together and play like a couple house parties,’” Williams continues. “It went from that to going around to other countries and across the sea and around the country. It turned out pretty good. I had a pretty good time.”
Double Negative did indeed stretch its renown beyond Raleigh, packing clubs across the country and venturing to Europe, but their impact on the local scene has been enormous. As their crowd grew, they played alongside new acts, such as the pile-driving Stripmines and the wily Whatever Brains, helping to foster a fleet of intense and provocative bands that push the punk envelope. Starting with their second release, the aptly titled Raw Energy EP, they issued all of their material on Sorry State Records, bolstering the national profile of the flourishing Carrboro imprint and serving as an anchor for its strong local core.
The band never failed to deliver music that lived up to this scene-leader status. The Hardcore Confusion singles, issued in four installments over the past two years and recently compiled onto a digital compilation, capture Double Negative at the height of their powers. Riffs move on an undercurrent of feral noise and frenzied rhythms that shift drastically and unexpectedly, merging speed and force.
But the group had been in flux the past few years. In 2011, Collins and Walsby left the band for personal reasons. They were replaced by Brain F≠ drummer Bobby Michaud and Logic Problem singer Cameron Craig, for a time creating a new, equally powerful configuration. But Michaud moved to Atlanta, forcing them to search for a new drummer again. The process was trying, and nobody worked out for very long. Frustrated and put out, Gray suggested they hang it up.
“Double Negative changed everything,” Ira Rogers commented on Double Negative’s Facebook announcement of the break-up. Rogers has played in local outfits such as Stripmines and routinely books punks hows in Raleigh. “You guys were a fucking game changer, and raised the bar in hardcore, and the NC music scene. DN was one of a few reasons I’ve been happy to live in Raleigh for the past 6 years, and hold a certain pride and integrity to being a Raleigh hardcorepunkmetalfreak.”