Origin: Washington DC
Genre: Hardcore punk
Years active: 1980–1981
Henry Garfield − lead vocals (1980—1981)
Michael Hampton − guitar (1980—1981)
Wendel Blow − bass (1980—1981)
Simon Jacobsen − drums (1980—1981)
Ivor Hanson − drums (1981—1981)
No Policy (1981)
three songs on the compilation Flex Your Head (1982)
State of Alert (often abbreviated to S.O.A.) was an American hardcore punk group formed in Washington, D.C. in October 1980, and disbanded in July 1981. The group was formed after the members’ of previous group, The Extorts, lost its vocalist Lyle Preslar and hired Henry Rollins, then known by his birth name Henry Garfield.
State of Alert was fronted by Henry Rollins, then using his original surname Garfield. They formed in October 1980 and disbanded in July 1981. They released a 10-song EP titled No Policy and contributed three songs to the compilation Flex Your Head, both on Dischord Records. No Policy was financed by Rollins since Dischord wanted to afford releasing the first Minor Threat 7-inch as well. In March 1981, drummer Simon Jacobsen left the band and was replaced by Ivor Hansen, whom remained in the band until they broke up in July.
S.O.A. played a total of 9 concerts in and around the eastern US, their first on December 6, 1980, in Washington, D.C., and their last on July 10, 1981, in Philadelphia. Rollins later described their performances: “All of them were eleven to fourteen minutes in duration because the songs were all like forty seconds… and the rest of the time we were going, ‘Are you ready? Are you ready?’ Those gigs were poorly played songs in between ‘Are you readys?”
Breakup and legacy
Today, S.O.A. is remembered primarily as Rollins’ first band – before he joined Black Flag and then founded Rollins Band – but also as an example of early “DC Hardcore” and an influence to other bands such as Detroit’s Negative Approach and New York City’s Agnostic Front.
Out of what was left of the band guitarist Michael Hampton went on to form The Faith in 1981 with Alec MacKaye (brother of Ian MacKaye, later in Ignition) who joined on vocals and Ivor Hansen, S.O.A.’s final drummer. Later Hampton went on to Embrace with Ian MacKaye in 1985, and One Last Wish with Guy Picciotto (Fugazi, Rites of Spring) and Brendan Canty (Deadline, Fugazi, Rites of Spring).
Bassist Wendel Blow went on to play in Iron Cross and Lethal Intent.
State of Alert’s recorded material has been re-released by Dischord on the 20 Years of Dischord compilation and the Dischord 1981: The Year in 7″s compilation which includes the entire ‘No Policy’ EP.