RAPED APE was a South Florida metal band that - despite never quite grabbing "the brass ring" - made an indelible mark on the scene, locally and worldwide. Formed in early 1988 by guitarist Mike "Pooch" Pucciarelli and bassist Dan "Rattlehead" Cleveland, the quartet started out as a hardcore/metal crossover band with singer "Krazy Lou" Hilaire and drummer Jim Blackhall completing the original lineup. Lou, a veteran auto mechanic, provided the band's unusual name, taken from an old saying that if an engine runs hard and fast, "it runs like a Raped Ape!"
That lineup got off to a strong start and gained local support quickly, thanks in part to Rattlehead's pirate radio station WMTL, which was responsible for he and Pooch first hooking up. They recorded the first Raped Ape release, In Ape We Trust, in mid-1988. But by the end of that year, Blackhall was already on his way out.
Enter drummer JC Dwyer, younger than the rest and fairly "new to the game" but with a lot of fire and a big mouth. His skill helped the band begin to move in a bit more technical direction, and he quickly overcame "new guy" status to become a cornerstone of the band's sound and vibe. Then, in early '89, the young band was again put to the test when Lou announced he had to step out.
The band passed that test, a crucial turning point. In a "package deal" of sorts, guitarist John Paul Soars (aka JP) and vocalist Jimmy Kelly jumped aboard, and the band suddenly had the two-guitar attack that would help define its sound. The dynamic at first was the classic "lead guitarist/rhythm guitarist" set-up, with Pooch picking up all the leads and JP essentially holding down the fort. But that began to change very quickly. As they got to know each others' styles and pushed each other to play better and better, they locked in and became a guitar team to be reckoned with. JP went on to contribute the bulk of the leads, as well as his signature backing growls, another key element of the band's sound.
Pooch, JC and JP remained the nucleus of Raped Ape from that point on.
Another turning point came in early 1990, when a heated pre-show disagreement led to Jimmy abruptly leaving the band. No discussion was necessary. Everyone looked at Pooch like, "Well, I guess you're the singer now, dude." He stepped up, and the rest, as they say, is history. With just a couple weeks to prepare for the recording of 1990's "Perpetual Aggravation," Pooch took his new role by the horns and the two-guitar, four-piece Raped Ape was born. This lineup began to move even more in a technical direction, and the "signature sound" really started to develop.
Later that year, relations between Rattlehead and the rest of the band began to go south, and it was decided that a change was needed in the rhythm section. Mike Moreno joined up on bass, and the signature sound was complete. He locked in with the guitars in a different way, and the band instantly sounded tighter and stronger than ever. This would be the lineup that truly defined the Raped Ape sound, beginning with the recording of 1991's Lost In Mind. But more importantly, they would write and record Terminal Reality, released 1993. The Scott Burns-produced CD was the defining moment when the band really found its sound, a perfect marriage of the technical direction in which they had been moving and the heavy groove that had first attracted attention.
Terminal Reality is still considered to be THE definitive Raped Ape release.
Unfortunately, the relationship with Mike proved to be somewhat unstable. He was replaced briefly by Pete Sison in mid-1992, then returned for the Terminal sessions. The bass slot was filled permanently by Tommy Buckley at the end of that year. Tommy brought with him a killer stage presence and strong vocals, which helped re-shape the band's sound on "later era" recordings. These include the 1994 self-titled Raped Ape (aka the "Stuck" demo), and the band's final independent releases in 1995 and 1996 under its later name, PAINGOD.
In early 1996, a deal was struck with Century Media Records for a worldwide release. An album was recorded, but the band was already splintering during the sessions, and called it a day in summer of 1996 for many of the classic reasons. In 1997, roughly a year after the break-up, Century Media finally released the self-titled Paingod album. Reuniting for a European tour was briefly considered, but the members had already moved on to new projects and decided to let Raped Ape remain a band for the history books.
Now, 20 years since the release of Terminal Reality, this two-disc collection contains ALL the songs recorded from 1990 to 1995 by Raped Ape as an independent, unsigned band. Most of the tracks were available only on demo/cassette tapes and have never been released on CD.
This long-overdue release captures Raped Ape at the top of its game, the songs meticulously remastered and given new life by Divebomb Records.
Aug. 27: Founded by guitarist Mike "Pooch" Pucciarelli and bassist Dan "Rattlehead" Cleveland, Raped Ape plays its first gig in Jupiter, Fla. [See the flier]
Sept. 6: Raped Ape plays with Overkill in Miami Beach. [See the flier]
Sept. 17-18: The band records In Ape We Trust.
April 29: JC Dwyer plays his first gig as drummer. [See the flier]
June: John Paul Soars joins as rhythm guitarist.
April: Raped Ape plays with Death in West Palm Beach. [See the flier]
June 8: Pucciarelli takes over as lead vocalist when the band's singer quits five minutes before a show.
June 30-July 1: The band records Perpetual Aggravation.
Aug. 17: Raped Ape plays with Morbid Angel in West Palm Beach.
Oct. 4: Bassist Mike Moreno plays his first show.
Nov. 15: The band plays with Sepultura in West Palm Beach. [See the flier]
April 12: The band plays with Biohazard in Miami Beach. [See the flier]
June-August: Raped Ape records songs for its upcoming Lost in Mind release.
Sept. 1: Raped Ape is named Best South Florida Band at the second annual Tampa Bay Metal Awards and performs before 1,000 with headliners Obituary and Atheist.
Oct. 4: The band performs at the New South showcase in Atlanta.
Nov. 24: Raped Ape plays with Coroner and Solstice in West Palm Beach. [See the flier]
Dec. 7: A free concert at The Music Box, a record store in the band's hometown of Lake Worth, draws a packed house of 200. [See the flier]
Dec. 22: The band plays with Exhorder, Obituary and Malevolent Creation in Fort Lauderdale. [See the flier]
January: The Live at the Square CD is released.
April: The Unsigned III: Killing Time CD is released.
April: Raped Ape plays with Entombed in Fort Lauderdale.
July 11: More than 400 fans pack a hometown club in the first of several sellout headlining gigs. [See the flier]
October: Raped Ape records Terminal Reality at Morrisound Recording in Tampa with producer Scott Burns.
Nov. 27: Raped Ape is named Most Outstanding Thrash Band after performing for the second straight year at the South Florida Rock Awards along with Marilyn Manson, Collapsing Lungs and other top area groups.
Dec. 29: Tommy Buckley plays his first show as bassist. [See a gallery of his cartoons]
April 13: Raped Ape sets the attendance record at Abaco's in Lantana, the first of many great shows there. [See the flier]
July 15: Raped Ape picks up three South Florida Slammie Awards - Thrash Band, Drummer and Rhythm Guitarist (Mike Pucciarelli).
Sept. 5: Raped Ape makes its second appearance at the Tampa Bay Metal Awards and for the second time is named Best South Florida Band.
December: Raped Ape is named Most Outstanding Thrash Band at the South Florida Rock Awards for the second year in a row.
December: The band plays with Cynic in Davie.
December: Returning to Abaco's in Lantana for the first time in four months the band breaks its own attendance records as a hundred fans are turned away.
February: Raped Ape is named Best Hard-Edge Band at the Florida Jammy Awards and is nominated for Best Local Release, becoming the first and only band to win in all four of Florida's major award shows.
March: The band records four new songs for an upcoming demo release.
July 3: The band plays with Marilyn Manson before 1,200 at the third annual South Florida Slammie Awards in Fort Lauderdale. Tommy Buckley wins the Best Bassist award.
Aug. 20: Raped Ape plays with Carcass and Life of Agony in West Palm Beach.
Sept. 4: The band releases its four-song, self-titled cassette, referred to by fans as "The Stuck Demo".
September: Terminal Reality enters the Japanese metal charts at No. 26, ahead of such established bands as Entombed. [See the chart]
Oct. 31: Raped Ape plays a Halloween show with M.O.D. and Pro-Pain in West Palm Beach. [See the flier]
December: SFSA: South Florida Slammie Awards, Vol. 1 featuring Stuck by Raped Ape is released.
January: Easy Way Out and Self Made Man are recorded at Gled Recording Studio in Davie as the band is chosen to contribute to Metal Blade's annual Metal Massacre compilation. They later appear on the Power from the Vault compilation.
July 3: Raped Ape shares Band of the Year honors at the Slammies with Amboog-A-Lard.
August: Five new songs, including Paingod, are recorded; the song is selected by Metal Blade Records to be included on the Metal Massacre XII compilation.
Aug. 31: The band plays its final show as Raped Ape.
Sept. 30: Paingod releases its self-titled seven-song cassette at another sold-out in-store concert at Lake Worth's Music Box.
Nov. 7: Metal Massacre XII is released with Paingod as the lead-off track.
Nov. 14: Paingod performs with Machine Head and Stuck Mojo in Pompano Beach.
January: The band signs with Century Media Records.
March: Paingod records its debut album with producer Jeremy Staska.
April-August: The band plays with Pro-Pain and labelmates Stuck Mojo.
Late August: The band calls it a day, citing several of the classic reasons.
March: Century Media finally releases Paingod, a year after its recording, and the band is offered a European tour. But the group has been inactive since mid-1996, with all its members pursuing other projects. Paingod officially disbands.
October: Raped Ape signs a deal with Divebomb Records to release a double-disc collection featuring 29 songs spanning the band's 1990-1996 heyday.
November-December: The Land of Broken Promises collection is compiled by the band and Divebomb. It's set for a March 12 release to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Terminal Reality.
January: Discussion begins on a possible CD release party featuring Pooch, JP and JC's current bands: Ferocious Stones, JP Soars & The Red Hots and The Mobile Homies.
February: A March 10 date is set at Propaganda in Lake Worth for the release party, and the guys discuss maybe getting together to perform a few Raped Ape songs. Even at the first jam in 16-plus years, the chemistry still proves strong, and they decide to throw together a short set of classics. Bassist Rick Bentley (a longtime friend and fan of the band) steps in, completing the lineup and helping make it happen.
March 10: A Rape Ape reunites to perform at the CD release party before more than 200 fans at Propaganda in Lake Worth. The show also features the band members' current groups: Ferocious Stones, JP Soars & The Red Hots and The Mobile Homies. CDs, T-shirts and other merchanside are sold and the reunion is a rousing success.