1991-1996, 2005-present: 108

All humans long for spirituality. That’s how we’re built. We can ask, “Why are we built like this?” but it won’t shut us up for days, weeks, and decades. I don’t think we, as a species, ever stopped discussing it.

Of course, the easy solution to the quest for soul satisfaction is religion, and many of us have been born into one. That said, religion doesn’t equal spirituality; not always, anyway, and not for all of us. There are some who say that they’re devoid of spirituality, that it’s all bedtime stories to scare adults away from achieving something and leaving their wallet to the guys at the churches, mosques, synagogues, etc. Most of these people are ready to testify in the name of science and technology, telling you that astronomy proves there may be life in other planets, that math could one day help us reach the speed of light to step into a black hole and experience the event horizon.

Spiritual unrest happens to all of us. To some, all the time; to others, once every couple of years.

Hardcore is a suburban home, to borrow a title from The Descendents. It gives kids who don’t fit anywhere a place where they can crash, have fun, hurt themselves, cry, and smile a lot with people who feel the same way (coexisting with some complete headcases who just want to bust heads and start fights). It’s a place where they can live. So no one’s really surprised when you see spirituality enter the picture — although, it might be surprising if you don’t think about it. That and some free vegan meals is how the Hare Krishna became a serious thing for the NY contingent of that scene.

I rather not bore you with the history of krshnacore, as this piece is not concerned with that. We are talking about a specific band called 108, who are one of the most intense bands in the history of a very intense musical movement. Born from the ashes of such groups like Beyond, Resurrection, and Inside Out (with young Zach de la Rocha), 108 started because the members wanted a Krishna-centric band; they were contemporaries of Ray Cappo’s post-Youth of Today vaishnavist sensations Shelter and in fact had guitarist Vic DiCara before forming his own numerical band. The members had actual hindu names — but not for show; some were actually monks.

Their music was a mixture of I Against I-era Bad Brains with the weight of Cro-Mags circa Age of Quarrel. It could be slow and furious or fast and angry (unlike, say, Shelter who weren’t pissed off the way YOT were, let alone 108), but always with interesting rhythms and destructive yelling. Singer Rob Fish was gruff and screamy but left his voice a little out of control for an added effect, joined occasionally by the nicer stylings of then-bassist Kate Reddy in the album Songs of Separation, which is considered their finest hour. Their secret weapon was, without a doubt, guitarist DiCara. On “Mantra Six,” off Threefold, the band conjures a groove and dark metallic funk that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Rage Against the Machine album, with the exception that Vic doesn’t resort to his pedals to make his riff sting the way Tom Morello did.

It’s music like this that makes me want to not only punch walls or bang my head and scream along, but also ruminate on the intangible, the ineffable. I’m not saying that this music makes me want to go krishna. I’m talking about the sensual pleasures this music provides, the visceral effect that it has on me. It puts me at ease while providing me fodder for questions and possible answers that make me conscious about my existence and spirit. It’s a role that my favorite music fills in me, and it’s probably a similar kind of search that led the members of 108 to their particular path to faith.

Listen to their heaviest krishna-testifying track, “Solitary”:


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

Most Read