The Upstate beat: Trauma School Dropouts celebrate release of lost album at reunion show

Trauma School Dropouts in a publicity photo from 1997.

Trauma School Dropouts in a publicity photo from 1997.

“Past Due” is a fitting title for an album that comes to us 25 years after its recording. Recalling late library books and never-completed school assignments, it’s also a fitting title for an album by Trauma School Dropouts.

The Albany punk band were mainstays of the local music scene in the 1990s with a raucous retro-seventies sound, a snotty sense of humor and a name that made them sound like reform school runaways. “Our live shows were closer to a carnival than a concert. They were unscripted and off the hook,” says frontman Duane Beer, a Rotterdam resident.

Trauma School Dropouts broke up in 1998, thinking that it was “better to burn out than fade away,” Beer says. But nearly a quarter of a century later, the band will reunite to play a show this Saturday, Aug. 6, at the Fuze Box in Albany.

Why now? When four of the five members of the Trauma School Dropouts turned up randomly at the Fuze Box in Albany for a recent gig by Beer’s current band Blasé DeBris, the singer decided this occurrence was too coincidental to ignore.

The Dropouts lineup currently includes Beer on vocals, David Ranford on drums, Thomas Howard on guitar, Jaime Lubbers on bass and Robert Marcello on guitar. “Rob and Jaime both played bass in Trauma School at different times. Rob has taken over on lead guitar for our original guitarist and longtime friend Henry McFerran, may he rest in peace,” Beer says of the guitarist, a founder of heavy metal band China White, who passed away in 2019.
A second reason for the reunion is the revival of Albany nightclub the Fuze Box, bought last year by local business owner and punk fixture Tragedy Yager. Throughout the 1990s, the distinctive White Tower hamburger building on Central Avenue housed the legendary punk club the QE2. “The ‘Q’ was our home away from home, and [past owner] Charlene Shortsleeve was our Queen of Clubs,” Beer says.

And finally, there’s the band’s third album, now titled “Past Due,” which Beer describes as “unapologetically unbridled.” Originally recorded in 1997, and shelved for reasons that no one seems to remember, the 14-song album is being released this week by Albany’s Cacophone Records, the label that issued the band’s first two albums in the 1990s: “Beach Party Dragstrip” and “Identity Crisis.”

“Digging into the Cacophone vaults is really fun. We never know what’ll turn up. Lucky for us, Duane booked the reunion gig and remembered working on what was planned as a third Trauma School full-length 25 years ago,” says Jeff Smith, who runs Cacophone Records with his brother Kip.

“When we gave the tracks a listen, the fun, energy and enthusiasm were over the top and undeniable,” Smith adds. “We’re super-excited that people will finally get to hear this long-lost album.”

The band intends for this to be a one-time only reunion, Beer says. However, he admits that reuniting so far has gone extremely well. 

“The first rehearsal was good, really decent for a band that hadn’t played together in over 20 years,” he says. “The fourth and final rehearsal was extraordinarily good. It’s been more fun than I ever would have imagined. We will not be mailing in this show. It will have all the bells and whistles and then some. Come see for yourselves and pick up a copy of the lost album.” 

Trauma School Dropouts play their record release and reunion show on August 6 at the Fuze Box (12 Central Ave., Albany) with Plastic Jesus and Society High. 8 p.m. 21+.

The Week Ahead

— Don’t miss the last Alive at Five free outdoor concert of the season at Jennings Landing (1 Quay St., Albany) this evening with rapper, record producer and beatboxer Doug E. Fresh. Dubbed the “The World’s Greatest Entertainer,” Fresh is a true hip-hop pioneer, having amassed countless awards for his mesmerizing beatbox abilities, catchy rhymes, signature dance moves and masterful command of audiences. With Ohzhe & DJ TGIF and DJ HollyW8D. 4:30 p.m.
— On Saturday, Aug. 6, the Black Arts and Cultural Festival at Empire State Plaza (279 Madison Ave., Albany) celebrates African American heritage and culture with free events throughout the day, including kids’ activities, crafts, food vendors and a headlining set by SWV. Formed in 1992, the Grammy-nominated SWV is one of the best-selling female groups of all time. The trio of women have released a number of top ten R&B hits, including “I’m So into You,” “Right Here (Human Nature Remix)” and “You’re the One.” 2 to 7 p.m.
— Summer events are really picking up at No Fun (275 River St.), the new music venue in downtown Troy. This week alone includes several shows by acclaimed indie-rock touring bands. On Saturday, Aug. 6, New York City’s Oneida play with local psych duo Spiral Wave Nomads (8 p.m.). Oneida is known for extended live improvisational performances, collaborating onstage with Mike Watt, members of Flaming Lips, Portishead, and many others. On Sunday, dream-pop outfit Widowspeak from New York City appear with local indie rockers Bear Grass and Rusell the Leaf (8 p.m.). And on Tuesday, Aug. 9, Death Valley Girls from Los Angeles bring hyper-charged rock that revels in dark mysticism. With Schenectady’s the Abyssmals. 8 p.m.
Reach Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected].

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts

Leave a Reply