Makin Waves Record of the Week: School Drugs’ “Relative Suffering”

The Jersey Shore’s School Drugs channel ‘80s hardcore punk with “Relative Suffering,” their debut for the new Trenton-based indie Hell Minded Records.

  If you’re a fan of ‘80s hardcore, you’re going to love School Drugs from Asbury Park via Trenton-based Hell Minded Records. This favorite of Mill Hill Basement and Asbury Park Brewery slaps the chunky, rhythmic chug of Agnostic Front onto the primal fierceness of Dead Kennedys, while the despair of Suicidal Tendencies envelopes the song construction of Bad Brains and Black Flag and the sharp societal contempt of all those bands. Lyrically and conceptually the antithesis of the straight-edge Minor Threat, School Drugs’ Relative Suffering EP also recalls that pioneering band’s musical energy.

  An all-star outfit featuring guitarist Bobco of Sick Shit, drummer Chris Pierce of Doc Hopper (and so much more) and longtime scenesters Josh Jurk on vocals, Eggy on bass, and G-Fern on guitar, School Drugs are the first-ever act of Hell Minded. The label was founded earlier this year by Joe Kuzemka, also the founder of Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market and Pork Chop Express Booking.

  The band open Relative Suffering with the standout “Not Alone,” a chronicle of suicidal thoughts amidst and despite camaraderie. I love the way this tune segues with a blast of distortion into the next track, the frantic “Side FX.”

  The six-song outing follows two previous EPs: last year’s self-released three-song First Dose and the 2016 debut, S/T, which also features six songs, including the original version of “Life Overrated.” That searing, pummeling tune is paired here in a maniacal medley with the uncharacteristically hopeful “Press On.” The EP also features the fiery “Burn,” the wicked, vicious “Black Tongue,” and the primally expressed paranoia of the closing “Relentless.”

  I have to hand it to School Drugs for staying true to their school of ‘80s hardcore with the kind of energy I experienced seeing Dead Kennedys and Agnostic Front live between 1983 and 1985. I also have to hand it to Kuzemka for making his dream of launching a label come true.

Josh Jurk of School Drugs is pictured stagediving into Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra in 2014 at Asbury Lanes, where Jurk was the cook. PHOTO BY TINA KEREKES

  School Drugs recently opened for Lifetime at House of Independents in Asbury and performed as Gorilla Biscuits in a charity tribute show at Mill Hill that also gave a nod to The Descendents, The Ramones and The Bouncing Souls. They will continue a slew of great shows on Nov. 30 at St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn opening for Beach Rats, featuring members of Lifetime and The Bouncing Souls, and Dec. 22 at Shore Style Punk Night Christmas Bash at AP Brewery with Spinal Ramones, Stag Party, Chrome Skulls and Terminal Freaks.

Bob Makin is the reporter for and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at And like Makin Waves at