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The Death Of A Punk Rock Legend

I was a strange kid growing up. I gravitated towards skateboarding which led me to become completely entrenched in punk rock where I’ve stayed involved for over twenty years of my life. Through punk I’ve come across an extended family of miscreants, oddballs, and some of the best humans I’ve ever encountered.

When I was 13 or so I begged my mom for a pair of skateboarding shoes. I wore her down and got a pair. As soon as I wore them to school, everyone asked if I skateboarded. Next step was skateboarding. I became proficient enough to ride around, ollie, kickflip, shove-it in my driveway and was good enough to go out to find spots. From there I began to socialize and learn the culture rather than making up things as I went. I learned quickly that music was a huge importance and there was a clear divide between listening to rap and listening to punk. No ill will to rap but all the popular kids in the 90’s were really into it so I got into punk. I dipped my toe in the water with Green Day’s Dookie but the real revelation happened when I first heard Minor Threat.

Minor Threat live — source unknown

Minor Threat lead me to spiral down the punk rock rabbit hole in the mid 90’s and I never really crawled out of there. There wasn’t a lot of posts online about music and it wasn’t freely available online like it is now so finding music was a different beast. I would stumble onto music and pick tirelessly through the bins at Record Exchange for anything that was punk and aggressive. You could usually tell from the album covers the amount of dirt and grit. This lead me to the discover of powerviolence.

Lets fast forward time. The story goes about how you would expect it. I heard Charles Bronson, which lead me hearing Spazz, which lead me to hearing Capitalist Casualties which is where this story starts and ends. I met Shawn Elliott the summer of 2010 — to give you powerviolence aficionados a bit of time frame this is three years before the Infest reunion shows which weren’t even in my general area of the world to go and see. You can imagine my surprise, anxiety, utter excitement of a band like Capitalist Casualties coming to Wilmington, an easy two hour drive to the beach from me. I remember reading my camera and making the drive and being super excited. I had made the mistake before of not charging my camera and not bringing the charger to one show in Wilmington so I was not going to make that mistake again.

Capitalist Casualties live, Wilmington NC by Will Butler [link]

Fast forward again, it was a great show. I introduced myself awkwardly to most of the band, really mainly Jeff as I had been in contact with him online before. I stayed at my friends’ house and later learned that half the band was also staying there so Shawn and Mike were on the floor next to me. My bad memory strikes again and I don’t remember interacting with them much at that time but I do remember interacting with both of them quite a bit at Maryland Deathfest in 2014.

Me, Sergio, and Spider Mike @ MDF by Sergio Amalfitano
Capitalist Casualties live @ MDF

I saw them again at SF&L Fest in Gilman Street and in between meeting them but MDF really felt special and felt like I formed a friendship with all the members of the band.

The time before 2014 was not only paved with being a fanboy and seeing them at SF&L and Chaos but I also had the very distinct pleasure of releasing a split for the band. During that time I talked to Shawn during breaks at my old job about the upcoming record. I would duck out for a break, run around the side of the building, and was talking to a musical hero of mine about a record that I couldn’t have been more exciting to release. The other band has my dear friend Justin Abare in it and were old tracks from what I think was going to be a split with the band and Charles Bronson back in the day and also has another musical hero Travis Ginn making an appearance on that side.

It was so easy and familiar to talk to Shawn on the phone at those times. He’s such a genuinely nice guy. I always call him the powerviolence Iggy Pop to my friends because I think that is the most accurate description of him as I can think of — he not only has a striking resemblance to the aforementioned singer but also when I was growing up Iggy Pop was on The Adventures of Pete and Pete and although he was sort of a doofy character, he was lovable and super nice.

I was never Shawn’s close friend, but I felt really lucky to call Shawn Elliott a friend and I’m glad I got to have known him with the little time we interacted. Rest in peace my friend.

Shawn — source unknown