New York, legendary home of the hardcore metal scene, fueled a drastic change in heavy music. From amidst this revolution, rose Life Of Agony. In the summer of '89, Capital Punishment members Keith Caputo (vocals and keyboards), Joey Z (guitar), and Alan Robert (bass), recorded a few songs. After reviewing the newly recorded material, they started to realize the potential of their music. Now taking the band seriously, they focused fully on their creation, simultaneously changing the band name to Life Of Agony.
The story of the name is more than skin deep as Joey describes, " Alan had a dream that newspaper flashes were flashing in his face and kept saying "Agony", "Life Of Agony", "Death", and all these things, so he took Life Of Agony out of that dream and asked us, what we thought of that name." The mood he got from this experience directly described the feeling put behind the music. The rest is history. Little did they realize how far this name would take them in years to come. Four months passed, the band was now recording their first demo at Sty In The Sky studios (owned by Josh Silver Type O negative). Josh helped walk the band through the recording process, being their first producer. He is an obvious influence on their sound from the keyboards to the gloomy and hard-hitting notes derived from their earlier material. The band credits Josh for many of their accomplishments.
Their beginnings in New York City's turbulent underground hard rock scene, saw the band striving for success. While playing numerous local shows and writing tirelessly, guitarist Joey Z acted as the manager. The road to stardom was led in '91 after the release of their two demos "Step Aside" and "Depression". Ken Kriete (Manager of Type O negative at the time) helped book shows for LOA at Brooklyn's popular club L'Amour. Noticing Life Of Agony's talent, Kriete put the band with well-known acts in the NYHC scene such as Biohazard and Madball. Although LOA had definite roots in hardcore and many of the same fans, they never considered themselves hardcore. Keith's vocal influence was crafted mainly from Annie Lennox, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Stone Temple Pilots.
Surprisingly, Keith's vocal coach, Don Lawrence, worked with Annie Lennox, Mick Jagger and others. Bassist Alan, alike Keith, had roots in classic rock. Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin had a large impact on him. Last but certainly not least, there was Joey. His signature guitar playing branched off from his metal influences. Kirk Hammet of Metallica was his inspiration to start playing guitar. All these factors mixed, inevitably formed something incredible that not only grasped the attention of heavy music fans, but opened the minds of countless people, bringing LOA to a new level, and packing clubs with crazy die-hard fans. Life Of Agony released a fourth demo, "Stain Remains", and were signed to Roadrunner Records quickly after. Their hard-hitting music and honest lyrics brought forth their powerful and groundbreaking 1993 debut, RIVER RUNS RED.
This effort clearly reflected the band's youth and exuberance, mixing melody and aggression. Life of Agony's formative years of touring after RIVER RUNS RED widened their fan base and tightened up their live shows.1995 saw a more mature LIFE OF AGONY return with their follow up to RRR. UGLY, an introspective record that "reveled in the existential angst in life", brought a slightly more "commercial yet refreshingly innovative" collection of aggressive, yet sensitive music. This was a rare transition... an educational experience that furthered LIFE OF AGONY as a band and as individual musicians. Touring to support UGLY with Ozzy Osbourne, Korn, Anthrax, KMFDM and Type O Negative did not beat Keith, Joey and Alan, the experience made them stronger musicians and enriched their sound. In addition, the next album would not have Sal on drums.
After being on tour with Pro-pain in Europe sharing the same bus, LOA met Dan Richardson (ex Crumbsuckers). He learned all the material fast, became close with the band, and replaced Sal. The addition of Dan Richardson on drums in early 1996 and the band's work with Phil Nicolo (who worked with The Rolling Stones, Dishwalla, etc.), were steps necessary to make the leap that heralded their third album. SOUL SEARCHING SUN, LIFE OF AGONY's third venture is a true combination of individual expression and experimentation on the part of the four band members. Each musician accessed their unique experience and knowledge, blending their individual interests and tastes to craft each of its 13 tracks. Songs like "Hope" and "Neg", draw from the band's early history of thunderous guitar blends and heavy overtones. "My Mind Is Dangerous" and "Gently Sentimental" are more melodic compositions with an array of harmonies and lyrical variations, taking the band into a new direction.
Lyrically, the desperate alienation felt in "Weeds" and world-weary vulnerability felt in "Desire", contrast the bitterness and anger of "Whispers", overall displaying the gamut of emotion on "SOUL SEARCHING SUN". All tracks are testaments to the hardships of being on the road, venting the diligence in their creation, and describing the expected thrill of their eventual performance. The now infamous Life Of Agony, with their three master albums, came to a turning point on the Soul Searching Sun tour '98. Keith Caputo, their master lead singer, quit the band. He, unlike the rest of the band, did not feel he was being true to the fans when he was performing onstage. The awe was gone and he did not want to sing lyrics that were no longer in his heart. Joey, new drummer Dan, and Alan were crushed. They had to find a new singer to perform on the tour.
Whitfield Crane (formerly Ugly kid Joe) and Joey knew each other from a party 3 years back and hadn't talked since. At an Anthrax show in Hollywood, LOA's manager Michael Alago, ran into Crane and discussed the current situation. Remembering Joey, Crane was enthusiastic to play with the band. They went over the songs and rehersed for about a week before leaving for tour. Once the strenuous months of touring were over, Whitfield, Joey, Alan, and Dan went into the studio once again to record. In the process of recording, the band decided that, although Whitfield was an excellent stage performer and was a great asset to the band live, his voice was not what they needed. They didn't want a fill in vocalist on their next album.
The music and their fans meant too much to them. Here is where everything changes...January '99 it was announced that, "Knowing that Alan was always a great vocalist they decided that now was the time for him to take over on vocals. Alan will now be singing and playing rhythm guitar. " Corey Lowery (ex-stuck mojo) wound up joining the band to play bass, but for only a brief period of time. It wasn't the same. They gracefully stepped down. Life Of Agony broke up officially April 99. After 10 years of touring and growing together, their band became a huge part of their hearts and their fans' lives. Life of Agony may be gone, but they are definitely not forgotten.