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The Talon

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The Talon

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Pedal Pushers Owner Rod Reddish is Bringing Hardcore Music Back to Severna Park

Severna Park used to be a hub of extreme music, now Reddish is bringing it back.
Liam Sherr, Aya Knox and others in the pit at Pedal Pushers Jan. 27, 2024.

When you ask a person to think of “Live music in Severna Park,” they may think of a jazz band at Sullivan’s Cove, an acoustic guitar set at Severna Park Taphouse or an indie band at Copper Creek Pub & Ale House. What they may not think of is legendary post-hardcore band Fugazi throwing it down at the YMCA with other local extreme music groups, as teens and adults body each other in a mosh pit, but that’s exactly what was going down in Severna Park back in the 90s. Over time that scene died out but now, Pedal Pushers owner, guitarist and bassist Rod Reddish is bringing that energy back to boring Severna Park by putting on punk shows in his bike shop and the hardcore youth of today couldn’t be more happy about it.

Punk and metal has a complex history with origins that could be traced back decades but in a nutshell, bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple in the 60s founded metal and punk bands like the Ramones and The Stooges in the 70s set the stage for later iterations of punk. As time went on, the music became faster and heavier. Metal became thrash with bands like Slayer and Anthrax and punk became hardcore with groups like Bad Brains and Minor Threat. The music was intense, fast and deliberate. It swayed people to develop an extreme form of dancing known as slam and a culture of shows, moshing and social get together began to sprout. The talented musicians that drove these subcultures of music inspired people all across the world to make their own music, put on their own shows and develop their own local scenes for these genres to thrive in. Around 1986, the hardcore scene hit Severna Park. Punk bands like Spastic Rats and Fugazi would play in and around Severna Park. They’d play at the YMCA, churches, the Earleigh Heights fire hall and kids coming to see them would mosh, slam dance and consensually bruise up their fellow man to the liberating sound of hardcore punk rock. Some of the youngins in their own bands would play these shows too and one of those youngins was Severna Park’s very own Rod Reddish.

Ryan Bessling, Logan Humphries and Sylvia Steppe headbanging in the pit with their arms interlinked. A common sight during shop shows.

Reddish is the owner of Pedal Pushers, a bike shop along the Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard retail strip. He’s been running the shop for thirty years now, but before his days of entrepreneurship he was heavily involved in Severna Park’s heavy music scene.

“My band when I was in high school, we used to always open up for all those bands. They’d come to town, they’re all local, they’re from Annapolis, DC or whatever.”

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Reddish was a student at Severna Park High School. He recalled a time when kids were much more active in starting music groups themselves. SPHS currently has four active and public student made bands. These include indie band Ivy League, funk band The Devil & the Deep Blue Sea, hardcore punk band Slag Dump, and sludge-grindcore band Tartarean. Back in the 80s, there were about fifteen active student made bands.

“‘84, Severna Park High School, they used to have something called jam night. Our guitar teacher Ms. Frederick put it on.” Reddish reminisced. “You had the metalheads playing ‘Iron Maiden’ songs and you had the punk rockers doing ‘Sex Pistols’ tunes, ‘Black Flag’, whatever. Very few punk rockers, Severna Park had more metalheads than punks. Then you had the electronic bands with all the guys playing keyboard and stuff. Then you had the Deadhead band playing all the acoustic [singing in a country accent] ‘tru-ckin’ but it was cool and everybody got along. That’s how guitar class was. You had all the musicians in one.”

Reddish graduated from Severna Park High in 1988. His band Tugboat would continue to play shows and he would later go on tour with thrash band Ironchrist at the young age of 19. As the mid to late 90s went on, the scene came to a slow. Shows became less frequent and many of the rambunctious musicians that kept the scene alive found jobs, partners, started families and settled into their suburban homes. There simply wasn’t any time for music anymore. Reddish bought Pedal Pushers in 1996 after working there for years, and Tugboat broke up that same year.

“I was burnt out from playing music. The metal scene was dying, the hardcore scene was dying.”

The wider DMV scene would continue rocking into the 21st century with new bands representing more modern genres of harsh music like grindcore, deathgrind, deathcore, sludge and metalcore. Hardcore punk rock and thrash as it was known faded and Severna Park’s hardcore music scene died entirely.

It wouldn’t be until over 20 years later that Reddish would start playing music again. In 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown, he got in contact with his old bandmates and started exchanging demo tapes. Tugboat would resume activity later the following years, playing in and around the Baltimore area.

In the Fall of 2022, Reddish, tired of playing so many shows in Baltimore and wanting to do something local, decided to throw a show in his bike shop as a one off gimmick to mix things up a little. However, the crowd energy at that show compelled him to throw more.

“All of a sudden the kids are slamming in my shop, I couldn’t believe it. It totally changed the whole mood. [I thought] Let’s do it again!’

Shows there are unique in their energy as both local and out of town fans gather to celebrate pure controlled chaos. Tens of people engage in true mosh pits filled with pushing, brutal crowd killing and particularly silly pit shenanigans. Colored lighting and fog machines set the mood as a wall of sound is blasted through the PA speakers and amps making for one of the loudest and best sounding hardcore venues in the Baltimore area. Shop shows typically have four to five bands play with sets lasting 20-30 minutes. Recently reformed 80s hardcore punk rock band Fear of God is often the headliner, which Reddish plays bass in. Other notable bands that have played there include Consumer Culture, Constituents and Severna Park’s own Eternal Pariah, once a metal band composed entirely of current and former Severna Park High School students. One of those former students is Braden Main, who gave his statements on shows at the shop;

“Pedal Pushers shows are helping people to grow a local scene for people of all ages in the area to connect with others like them and have fun. From the first Pedal Pushers show came the creation of a small scene that lived for those types of moments of pure emotional expression and connection with peers. It is continuously growing and evolving. The creation of a few bands have also spurred from the emergence of this scene, such as Tartarean (formerly Eternal Pariah) and Slag Dump. Pedal Pushers has created a place for all to be included in the music and sound. It is a local legend and will be an imprint on all of our memories for years to come. I believe one day we will tell our kids stories of how we moshed to punk/metal genres in a bike shop right near our hometown.”

Rod Reddish playing guitar with his band Tugboat at Pedal Pushers Jan. 27. 2024

Reddish gave his own statements about shows at Pedal Pushers;

“We [him and his band members] were so stoked to see the youth of today into the kinda music that I’m into and coming to shows and gung-ho and enjoying life and just doing what they wanna do and having fun. The future around here seems pretty positive so I think I’m happy with it. That’s why we’re trying to keep these shows going and if we can keep it going for a couple more years, we’ll see where it goes. I think it’s gonna be a good scene, and I think we’re gonna put Severna Park on the map so Severna Punks, I love ya!”

The next show at Pedal Pushers is on Apr. 27 at 7:00PM with bands Fear of God, Sick Move, Indictments, and Northbound Breakdown. The show will have a $5 entry fee.

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About the Contributor
Colten Billings
Colten Billings, Staff Writer

Colten Billings is a senior at SPHS. He is a returning staff writer of the Talon. He enjoys going to local punk and metal shows, skateboarding and playing bass guitar in his punk and metal band.

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    Colten BillingsApr 12, 2024 at 10:44 am

    Photo credit: Shubh Antares