Riphouse. Man, when it came to the Rockland Scene, they were the big metal hopefuls. I can't tell the whole Riphouse story, start to finish and really do it justice. That's been done already (more on that below), but I know MY Riphouse story, and just about everyone in the Rockland scene has his or her own.
My dad worked at the post office. Riphouse drummer Jim DeMaria was a postman as well at a different office, but on some sort of delivery or drop off, they got to talking and my dad and Jim got on the topic of Jim being in a band and my dad told him I was a big music fan. Jim, ever the constant promoter, sent me a Riphouse cassette ("Rip II") and I was hooked. I got in touch, and Jim and the guys changed my entire world. Going to rehearsals, hocking tickets to kids in my high school. Jim came to my school and told them he was my uncle and got me out of class. I was already running a fanzine at the ripe old age of 15 (Unchain the Underground) and covered Riphouse, but really it was just a way in the door to hang with the guys. They were rock stars to us, but treated the 'fans' like family. We converted people to the Riphouse faith. If they made it, we made it. We were such a part of things that when guitarist Jon Eleazar died, it was like losing a member of our families. We all felt it. We still do. Suddenly we all grew up a little bit and realized we weren't going to live forever, but damn if our heroes weren't.
"The Family" on stage singing at the Jon Eleazar memorial show at World Stage
Riphouse dominated the Rockland scene, inspiring a bunch of bands, wiping the floor with them at shows, and showing everyone how it was done, and then how not to do it. They released two "official" demos: "Join The Family" in 1988 and "The Family Dies"! in 1990, then the never-officially-released "The Cat Starves" with what could be their best recordings. A two-track live recording is floating around out there too with the last batches of songs they wrote. It is criminal they were never really recorded properly. Riphouse never got signed. Came close, but naturally somehow it got all fucked up. Sure, some other Rockland bands put out "albums," but they never touched Riphouse, and they all knew it then and know it now.
The Riphouse story has everything a music story worth telling should have: success, failure, religion, drugs, happiness, sadness, life, death. I'll never forget seeing them open for Flotsam and Jetsam. They outdrew and outplayed them. Flotsam were going to be HUGE, or so we thought. Jason Newstead went on to Metallica, for fuck's sake. And here were our local boys beating the absolute tar out of them on stage. How could Riphouse NOT make it? Our pal Pete O'Brien made a documentary called "RIPHOUSE 151: Could've Been's & Wanna Be's" that covers exactly how. He summed it up better than I ever could, and credit to Pete... he wasn't even there back in the day. His brother turned him on to the 'House, and Pete took it on himself to go deeper into the story than anyone thought possible. I couldn't come close to making sense of it all the way Pete managed to, so I won't even try.
Check out www.neddihyllausiv.com/p/riphouse-dvd.html for the lowdown on the movie, and a link to watch the whole thing online. You'll see my grim mug all over that flick, and get an insight into the band that we all loved and why we loved them so much. I am not sure if listening to the tunes below will make you like the documentary more, or if the documentary will make you like the tunes more (Anvil, anybody?), but check out both.
Rest in peace, Jon. And rest in peace, Riphouse. We miss you both. I am sure I am not the only one to think that we sure as hell could use another band like Riphouse right now...Greg S.
Riphouse I: Join the Family (1988):
1. Bacardi 151
3. Big Box Bitch
5. Warriors March
6. Square World
Riphouse II: The Family Dies (1990):
3. War Of The Worlds
4. Riphouse II: The Family Dies!
5. Speed Metal Blues
6. Big Box (re-recorded)
Riphouse III: The Cat Starves (1990):
2. No Police State
3. The Big E (Evil All Around Us)
4. Existence Refused
Riphouse Remixes (2008)
2. Square World
3. Existence Refused
4. The Big E
6. No Police State
7. Speed Metal Blues