For those unfamiliar with the unfettered ferocity of The Neighborhoods’ hyped-up hybrid sound, imagine the infectious melodic dissonance of early material by The Who and The Jam mixed with the unhinged aggression of early punkers like Dead Boys and Stiff Little Fingers and the cocksure sass and swagger of standard rock combos like Thin Lizzy and Cheap Trick.
A punk-powered trio with a garage-rock vibe called “the Hoods” by most fans, they incorporated complex chord structures, unexpected acoustical twists, impressively poetic lyrics and an unpretentious intellectualism into meticulously crafted songs to become favorite sons across New England and the Northeast beginning in 1979 when they won WBCN’s debut Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, held at “Boston’s CBGB” The Rathskeller (”the Rat”) – where they became practically a house band – by beating out La Peste, Lyres, Classic Ruins, Mission of Burma and others. The group recorded one EP and four LPs between 1984 and 1992 plus a live album released in 2010 – from a Rathskeller gig, naturally – and left a respected legacy as an unrelentingly raucous live act whose studio work showcases the unbridled intensity of their artistic scope, as evidenced in their most recent LP, 2019’s Last Known Address.
The band was formed in 1978 in suburban Boston by 17-year old guitarist David Minehan, 19-year old bassist Jim Bowman and 16-year old drummer Mike Quaglia, nicknamed “Careful” for the way he maintained a metronomically precise beat. Minehan, the group’s chief songwriter, had played in a cover band – “very glam-rock oriented, Bowie and Bolan,” he’s said – and on his and Quaglia’s first trip into Boston together they saw DMZ, their favorite Boston band, at the Rat. Minehan has said the most influential album of his teen years as Iggy Pop’s TV Eye Live 1977 since “everything was just so scary and intense,” that Cheap Trick was a “gateway band” to his punk sensibilities because they were “kind of left of center,” that The Ramones’ basic three-chord model led to his first songwriting attempts, and that his second-favorite Boston band at the time was Nervous Eaters since they had “attitude galore.”
Before winning the Rumble in July 1979, the Hoods had played the Paradise Rock Club in January that year and the Rat in May in addition to gigs at The Space in Boston, The Main Act Concert Club in Lynn and various universities around New England. In 1980, Boston-based Ace of Hearts Records released their first single, “Prettiest Girl” (b/w “No Place Like Home”), which became a local hit and sold over 10,000 copies, an extraordinary achievement for a new band on an indie label that made them an in-demand act across New England and led to their debut that year at The Living Room in Providence, where they headlined frequently and in 1991 opened for The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Julian Lennon, then for The Joe Perry Project in 2010.
In 1982, after splitting up from mid-1980 through1981, the Hoods reformed with bassist Lee Harrington replacing Bowman and spent the next two years gigging at area venues like The Channel while watching contemporaries like Nervous Eaters, Jon Butcher Axis and The Atlantics land major record deals. In 1984, however, the tide turned after Mustang Records released their 12″ EP Fire Is Coming, which they followed with their first full album, 1986’s The High Hard One on Restless Records, then their most commercially successful studio effort, 1987’s Reptile Men, recorded at Presence Sound in Connecticut and Normandy Sound in Rhode Island and released on Roadrunner Records.
From 1987 to 1990, the Hoods lived the dream of practically every punk/rock group on the planet, playing over 200 shows a year. In September 1987, they opened for David Bowie in front of over 60,000 fans at Sullivan Stadium in Foxborough, then crisscrossed the US opening for The Ramones in 1988 while playing across New England at venues like Bunratty’s and Chet’s Last Call in Boston and Toad’s Place in New Haven. In 1989, the band toured North America with Bowie and Tin Machine and recorded their third album, Hoodwinked, produced by Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, then hit the road again in 1990 as the opener for Cheap Trick.
In 1991, when the Hoods debuted at The Orpheum in Boston with Tin Machine, the band signed to the Atlantic-distributed label Third Stone and recorded a self-titled fourth LP, also produced by Whitford but with a new lineup featuring Carl Coletti on drums, replacing Quaglia, and a second guitarist, Dan Batel. The Hoods spent the next year gigging throughout the Northeast including Massachusetts shows at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge, the Beat Club in Danvers, Twilight Zone in Mendon, Club 3 in Somerville and the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis.
On October 24, 1992, the Hoods played at the Rat in what was billed as their final show, and in 2010 Ram Van Records released the performance on a two-CD set, The Last Rat: Live at the Rat ’92, which includes 24 originals (five previously unreleased) and five covers. The lineup is varied, with Minehan and Harrington being constant presences while drummers Coletti and “Careful Mike” share kit duties and Brad Whitford sits in on two songs. Minehan mixed the album without any overdubs at his Waltham, Massachusetts, studio, Woolly Mammoth Sound, which he opened in 1998 and still runs as owner, engineer and producer.
During the 2000s, the Hoods have reformed occasionally to record and play gigs with the lineup of Minehan, Harrington and former Watts’ drummer John Lynch. In 2005, the band was inducted into the Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame; in 2006 they played at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, and the Locobazooka festival at the Tweeter Center (now the XFinity Center) in Mansfield, Massachusetts, with The Fools and others, and their song “Parasite” was included on the Guitar Hero 2 soundtrack and game; in 2008 they appeared at the 30th anniversary of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble at Harper’s Ferry in Allston; and in 2009 they performed at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, the Paradise Rock Club and House of Blues in Boston. In 2019, Tamper Proof Music issued their latest LP, Last Known Address, a 12-track collection of originals recorded at Woolly Mammoth featuring Minehan, Harrington and Lynch.
When asked about the current music scene, Minehan highlighted the importance of mixing genres and audiences. “The trouble today is it seems that everyone goes to their particular musical church denominations and houses of worship, and not much cross-pollination of bands and fans in clubs is happening,” he said. “I think we’re due for another big shake-up. I’ve been lucky to see a few over the last decades and the energy released in such explosions is very exciting.”
(by D.S. Monahan – October 2022)