Do you remember the first time you were caught in a mosh? The narcotic euphoria of treading that thin line between exhilaration and peril has a way of sticking with you.
“There’s something equally exciting and calming about it,” Brendan reckons. “Feeling simultaneously connected to the music and the other people there.”
He can’t quite recall the bands from his first-ever show, but Brendan remembers the feeling. During middle school, parents in his childhood hometown of Burtonsville, Maryland would drop rowdy kids at an “event stage” erected at the local church or town hall, where misfit bands would tear through on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Music was a focus, but Brendan was as interested in the social aspect. “Sure, you can meet friends at school, but that’s kind of a forced environment,” he says. “At shows, there’s something drawing you there.”
Having come together with eventual Turnstile lead guitarist Brady Ebert in their pre-teen years, and playing in bands before they’d ever been to a real show, getting the call to step onstage was a breakthrough. “To go from playing in the basement every day after school to getting our first opportunity to feel like we were a part of something was incredible.”
High school came with a graduation into real hardcore. Brendan remembers the intoxicating menace of the first time he headed into the big city with older, cooler neighbour Juan to catch legendary Baltimore hard-nuts Scout at the city’s gritty Sidebar. “Going from little kids goofing around on each others’ shoulders in Knights of Columbus halls, to Xs on backs of hands and big, scary guys with face tattoos beating each other up in this dark, grungy bar felt like the scariest situation I’d ever put myself in.”
Brendan sidestepped macho posturing, far more interested in the scene as a space for free-thinkers to challenge norms with the support of a steadfast group of peers. Turnstile’s prolific drummer Daniel Fang is Brendan’s college friend and a veteran of several renowned bands, who famously discharged himself from hospital suffering from potentially life-threatening rhabdomyolysis to play the first show of the Time & Space cycle. Bassist Franz Lyons joined, having jumped on the bus with Brendan’s other band Trapped Under Ice one day, and never left. Rhythm guitarist Pat McCrory is an old hometown friend who joined up in 2016, and had shared stages with Angel Du$T, in which Brendan now also plays guitar.