15 In Philly: Lifetime / Paint It Black / Kid Dynamite

Spend 15 years in Philadelphia and you’ll figure out that things in MAGNET’s native city aren’t always sunny or bursting with brotherly love. But underneath the tough exterior are some pretty sweet sounds. In honor of our anniversary, we pay tribute to our hometown scene.


For a city so fertile with negative vibes, feelings of inferiority, raw anger and working-class toughness, Philadelphia has proven incapable of home-growing a decent, sustainable hardcore band. Even our old-school punk history pretty much started and ended with the lightweight, goofily smart-ass Dead Milkmen. Laying claim to the lineage of Lifetime—the New Brunswick, N.J., hardcore band that started in 1990 and spawned Philly-based outfits Kid Dynamite and Paint It Black (pictured)—is a necessary act of eminent domain.

Lifetime, “Young, Loud And Scotty” from 1997’s Jersey’s Best Dancers:

Led by singer Ari Katz and guitarist Dan Yemin, Lifetime played melodic punk in the vein of forebears Dag Nasty and Hüsker Dü. Katz’s sensitive-guy lyrics and two albums on the Jade Tree label (home to the Promise Ring and Texas Is The Reason) saddled Lifetime with the dreaded emo tag by the time it disbanded in 1997.

Yemin, who earned the nickname Dr. Dan after completing a doctorate in clinical psychology a year later, emerged soon afterward with Kid Dynamite, a group that included singer Jason Shevchuk and original Lifetime drummer Dave Wagenschutz. After two albums of short, sharp hardcore blasts, Kid Dynamite called it quits. Yemin put his degree to use, counseling adolescents.

Yemin suffered a stroke in 2001, leading him to reconsider punk-rock glory one more time. As frontman for Paint It Black, his songwriting grew, well, darker within the framework of Kid Dynamite’s classic hardcore rage. Paint It Black’s third album, New Lexicon, gets a deep blast of bass-heavy urgency courtesy of producers J. Robbins (Jawbox, Channels) and Oktopus (of avant hip-hop group Dalek). Even as Yemin moves forward with Paint It Black, however, Lifetime fans—notably, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, who issued 2007 reunion album Lifetime on his Decaydence label—keep clamoring for the original blueprint of melody and noise.

—Matthew Fritch