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January 1, 1999

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I don’t know too many kids that are into Hardcore that wouldn’t list off KID DYNAMITE as one of their favorites. They were an amazingly powerful and passionate band that came to an end way before their time. This past weekend (April 11th, 12th, & 13th), a little over three years after their last show, KD showed that their passion was equaled by their compassion, as a call from a friend with an amazing cause was the initiation for a weekend of mayhem. Unless you were one of the lucky couple of thousand that were actually able to secure a ticket to the show, this piece is probably as close as you are going to get to the historic event. This is part I of an interview I did with someone whom I have long respected and felt fortunate enough to be able to call a friend, Dr. Dan Yemin, on the who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, and why’s of the KID DYNAMITE reunion shows. (Please also see the interview with Mark Savio-Beemer [Syrentha Savio Endowment] in this same issue.)

You’re going to have to excuse me for sounding bitter during this interview, but I wasn’t able to make it out to Philly this weekend, and I wasn’t able to get my tickets in the first ten minutes before they sold out!
(laughs) Dude, you’ve been with us since day one. You could have sat on stage with me!
So, let’s have it- how were they?
Sorry, but they were amazing. Those shows were just so insane.
Alright, just to keep from having to ask you questions twice, let’s do this bad boy chronologically. How did KID DYNAMITE reunion shows come about, and how was it being… ya know… I mean, I know the end of KID DYNAMITE was sort of eerily like the end of LIFETIME, (Dan’s previous band) what with a break up two days before the release of the record that would have broken the thing wide open for you. I know there were some raw nerves.
Yeah, there were a lot of bad feelings. Not enough bad feelings to make it ugly, but there was a lot of regret floating around. I’m not one to hold on to grudges. It takes too much energy, so I forgive really easily. It takes like a month of not seeing somebody who I’m mad at to forgive them and get over it. It’s more of the regret of having a couple of bands that I was that emotionally involved with kind of cut off in their prime. That aspect persisted; I just didn’t blame anyone for it.
So how did the shows come about?
It was real simple. Mark Beemer is a good friend. About a year and a half ago he lost his wife to cancer, and it was horrible. It still is horrible. It’s tragic. As weird as it is to say, it’s just awesome what he’s doing with his grief. He has the Syrentha Savio Endowment (SSE), which before this weekend had already raised over $50,000 just doing walk-a-thons, and charity dinners and such. The whole point of the endowment is to sort of honor his wife’s legacy by providing funding for chemotherapy to women who can’t afford it, and raising consciousness about the importance of early detection for breast cancer. I know how committed he’s been to this. I get the email updates every week about the endowment and it’s awesome what he puts into it and does with it. When he asked me if KD would consider doing a show to benefit the endowment, I didn’t even hesitate. All I said was that I didn’t want to coordinate it. I told him to talk to everybody in the band, and if everybody was on board, we’d do whatever it took to make it happen.
Did you think Jason would be into it?
I was pretty sure everybody would be into it. I just didn’t want to take responsibility for finding out. That would have seemed weird.
How in contact had you been with Jason over the years?
I was in contact with Jason sporadically. If I saw him, I always had a hug for him. I knew he had been working really hard on getting his new band together for a while, and I knew that he had been frustrated with that, and...
But doesn’t that frustrate you. I mean, KD ended because he needed to focus more time on film school, and he felt he couldn’t dedicate enough time to a band, so that’s the end of my favorite band. Now he has time to do another band? Is that frustrating?
Yeah, but, you know… Half of me was kind of like- “what the fuck?,” but the other half of me was… I don’t know. I had no illusions that he wouldn’t miss music again in a matter of months. He did what he felt he had to do, and that’s that. I’ve been sporadically angry about it, but, it was what it was, and you can’t change the past.
So how were practices?
We practiced like twice a week for a little over a month, and…
Was that first one pretty rusty?
(laughs) Very rusty! We didn’t remember the songs anymore. I wrote the fucking songs, and I couldn’t remember how to play them! Yeah, like two-thirds of them I had to re-learn.
So were you guys there with both KD albums and a boom box in the practice space trying to re-learn your old songs?
That’s exactly how it was (laughs). We all decided that we would each write down ten songs that we definitely wanted to play, and knowing that there would be a lot of overlap, we figured that we would probably end up with about 25 songs that we all agreed on. That’s exactly how it turned out, so that’s what we re-learned. Some we totally remembered, some we were totally lost, and a lot were in-between those two. But, by the second practice we had them all. That first one was a doozy though.
So by the time you guys took the stage, was it in true KD style?
It felt pretty natural, yeah. We were really nervous. You haven’t played together in like three years, and then all of a sudden you’re playing to over 700 kids a night for three nights, that’s a lot of pressure.
And I’m sure a lot of kids there never got to see you, and of course KD has been built up to this Godly status, deservedly of course, but now you have to go show these kids something on that level.
Yeah, no pressure! (laughs) Yeah, there’s this whole new generation, and we didn’t want to suck. Mainly we didn’t want it to be a cheap shot. We didn’t want it to be like one of those benefit shows for some convicted felon where some old band gets back together and just shows up and slaughters four songs that they hadn’t practiced, and then gets off stage. We wanted to tear the roof off and be as good as we ever were. Maybe we weren’t as good as we ever were, but we certainly worked hard on it. It was cool, my good friend Andy, he plays bass in PAINT IT BLACK (Dan’s current rock outfit), he said “why don’t you, as your last practice, have a house show at my house, and we’ll just invite 50 of our closest friends.”
Wait, are you telling me there was a fourth KD show that weekend, and one was a house party with 50 people?
Yeah, it was amazing.
Well, I’m now 33% percent more bummed than I already was about not being there this weekend.
(laughs) It was just like a dress rehearsal. We got to play in front of our friends who had already seen us, and it totally took the edge off.
So, all the shows sold out pretty damn fast, huh?
Yeah. It was crazy. We didn’t know. We started out planning one show. It surprised us when that sold out so quickly, so we were like- “hey, let’s try to do a second show, and maybe raise some more money for the endowment.” That show sold out even faster. Then we were like- “damn. Should we try a third show, or is that kind of arrogant?” Ultimately it came down to the facts that it will be fun, and it will raise more money for the endowment.
So you guys ended up making well over $20,000 this weekend for the endowment.
Yeah, definitely over $20,000. And that’s after paying for security, and the sound system, and everything. It was also keeping the door price low. Good bands too. STRIKE ANYWHERE came and played the first two nights, The CURSE played their final shows there, and then GRAY AREA got back together to do the third night, and TRIAL BY FIRE opened it up.
I couldn’t imagine seeing you guys and STRIKE ANYWHERE on the same show.
Yeah, that never got to happen in real life, so it was great to have it happen this weekend. They are a favorite of ours. You might know this, but most people don’t know that Thomas (singer of STRIKE ANYWHERE) was the first guy that tried out on vocals for KD.
That was from you being an INQUISITION (Thomas’s prior band) fan, right?
Yeah, I was a huge INQUISITION fan. We just weren’t sure what we were doing with KD at that point, and Thomas would have had to move three or four states over to be with us, and we didn’t want to ask anyone to do that, not knowing where KD was going to go. It just seemed too scary. What a great voice he has though.
It’s funny, ‘cause if he had joined KD, we would probably still be going right now, but… It would have been a different band though.
Yeah, you would have been in a political band for sure.
Yep, for sure.
So, how did it all end after the last show? Is there more KD stuff coming up in the future?
No, never. That was it. It was amazing though. It was a total celebration of life, and what the band was. I don’t think there was a bad vibe all weekend. I was really proud- I had a friend who really isn’t from the punk rock scene, but they came down and watched the shows. They made the observation that all these kids were crammed in there, kids are going nuts and bouncing off the walls, literally, and nobody gets hurt, and if somebody goes down, people pick them back up. That doesn’t happen too much anymore. That was one of the things we always tried to do with KD. We always tried to be the band that would create an atmosphere of respect, even though there’s like total aggressive chaos going on, and it played out like that this weekend. It was beautiful. It was just a big party. There were kids from England and Japan that came over for the shows. It was crazy. And the band all went out to dinner after the shows on Sat & Sun, and it was just, really, really nice. I don’t know. I don’t want to sound like “Mr.-Posi boy” or anything, but it was just a privilege to be a part of this weekend. It was all-good, no bad, and like a big love-fest if you will. It was an honor for sure.

Read part II of the Dan Yemin interview in the August issue of AMP, as he talks about life post KD, the stroke that altered his life, and the new band that came out of it, PAINT IT BLACK (out on Jade Tree Records in July).


Brett Mathews