Milemarker was formed in 1997 from the ashes of various southeastern hardcore bands. The names of these bands are not as important (you either remember them or you don’t, and chances are you don’t) as was the shared point of view fostered in founding members Dave Laney, Ben Davis, and Al Burian: fierce commitment to the self-reliance and community ethic of the hardcore punk scene, combined with confrontational musical challenges to the conventions and limitations of that same genre. Keyboards, samplers, video projection, pyrotechnics, French- anything which might shock the audiences’ sensibility and preconceived expectation was used.
Milemarker put out five albums in the first four years of their existence; the sound of the band solidified from esoteric artyness into driving electro-punk, focused on the tension between melodic danceability and the primal power of screaming and breaking guitars over each others’ heads. The band toured constantly, managing to pull off six US tours, four European tours and a trip to Japan by the end of 2002. The touring line up had been amorphous from the beginning, with drummer Sean Husick filling in for Ben as early as the second US tour, Roby Newton joining and quitting at various points, and a slew of other people pitching in or tagging along.
2005: After three more records and the accompanying tour mania, with years of relentless productivity and the bludgeoning self-abuse of non-stop travel behind them, the big questions inevitably arose. To what end? Where was the goal the band had sought? What was there to show for all the broken equipment, damaged nerves, and financial woe? Had all of this crazy behavior actually achieved anything?
It was at this point of crisis that band guru and existential advisor Ingo Ebeling stepped in, going so far as to arrange driver’s license suspensions and house arrests to carry out his program of recovery. Under his guidance, the band ceased their cavorting ways. Instead, Ingo insisted that they slow their chaotic momentum and refocus on their core. It was no easy task. But, after months on a steady regimen of carrot juice and group meditation sessions, the path was cleared. A new clarity and spiritual insight had been attained.
2008: No longer the ardent, middle-finger-giving nihilists of their youth, the band members now embrace a variety of forward thinking lifestyles: yoga, fasting, rolfing, and transcendental meditation are the order of the day. Additionally, the band has embraced a communal, self-sufficient lifestyle, cohabitating in a rural North Carolina compound where private property has been abolished and the days are spent brewing beverages and hemp-based gasoline. “Music became less important,” says founding member/guitarist Dave Laney. “It became more about the meaning, the philosophy behind it all.”
What is this exact philosophy? To discover the answer, one must read from the voluminous inspirational pamphlets being churned out on the band’s vegetable-ink printing press. Or, stop by the compound and spend a day milking goats and chatting with us. As for the music: when the band do pick up their instruments, as happens occasionally in the twilight hours, the effect is relentless. Unconstrained by genre limitation, interpersonal hang-ups, or belief in this illusory plane of existence, Milemarker is finally and truly free.