black history month: spotlight on chuck treece of mcrad, skatepunk pioneer #soundcheck

February 4, 2013

Though orthodoxy holds that skatepunk originated on the West Coast, pro skater and multi-instrumentalist Chuck Treece was making the world safe for melodic hardcore in Philly during the mid-80’s. As the leader of the band McRad, Treece was a part of the movement to inject punk rock with reggae, funk, and metal influences. McRad’s 1987 full length Absence of Sanity is these days best remembered for the tracks it contributed to the legendary skate video “Public Domain.” But the record is more than just a soundtrack to a skate vid. Tracks like “Words of Life” feature some of the best punk/reggae fusion out there, while “Weakness” and “McShred” hold their own without the accompanying skate footage.

Treece spent much of the 90’s as an in demand session musician, playing drums with Bad Brains and bass on that Billie Joel song “River of Dreams” (because even skate punks gotta pay rent…). McRad reunited a few years back to release FDR, one of the rare reunion records that actually holds it’s own next to the band’s seminal work. Treece continues to skate actively at 48, and currently plays drums in the band Plastic Eaters. In honor of Black History Month, Nike recently created the McRad Dunk Hi Pro to celebrate one of the first African Americans to appear on the cover of Thrasher. While Nike’s labor practices continue to be pretty terrible (but they’re less terrible than they used to be! Hooray?) it’s always a good thing to see an icon and a true Original get the respect they deserve.

– Words by Nathan Leigh