Though times seemed tough for Jeremy DiMeo, he remained resilient and never forgot about his long-dormant musical side. The State College punk-rock musician recently released an album with a little help from his friends under the moniker H8. His story is one of redemption and passion.
“This isn’t a sob story,” he said. “Some crappy stuff happened. I was down, but I’m using the music as an outlet. It’s very therapeutic and fun.”
DiMeo cites the 1980s-era State College punk scene as the foundation for the new record. He was in the band Positive Hate; Rusty Glessner joined Positive Hate’s spin-off, Heart of Darkness.
“After I retired, the remaining members of Positive Hate regrouped with some other guys ... and Rusty came in around 1987. So, I’ve known him a long time, but even he had never heard me play before other than one time 27 years ago, when Heart of Darkness was playing at the Brewery,” DiMeo said. “The singer couldn’t remember the words to a sing so (Glessner) invited me up on stage and I sang. He was surprised when I said (after recently seeing Glessner’s recording equipment), “ ‘Hey, let’s record some of those old tunes.’ ”
The project quickly gained ground with Glessner producing DiMeo’s vision.
“It started just for fun,” DiMeo said. “In the ’80s, we recorded on a boombox, so everything sounded bad. But, when we played out live, we thought we sounded pretty good, and the audiences were there.”
With Glessner’s home studio, DiMeo was able to make his vision a reality. “Say I’m Not From Hell,” the five-track H8 release, strikes a punk-rock chord reminiscent of bands like Black Flag and Social Distortion.
“He told me to pick one song and practice it. I don’t even own a guitar,” DiMeo said. “I don’t know the notes, I just play what I think sounds cool, and I played guitar on the whole record. I don’t really know what I’m playing, but (I think) it sounds cool.”
“I can narrow all my musical influences to the ‘Louie Louie’ single by Black Flag with Dez (Cadena) singing on it,” he added. “If you listen to that, then listen to everything I do, you’re going to be like ‘Yeah, I get that!’ ”
Filling out H8 are fellow guitarists Bill Rupert, Don Strong, who both performed with Heart of Darkness, and a Pittsburgh-based musician known simply as “Kilroy.”
“Say I’m Not From Hell,” was recorded as a labor of love.
“I made 100 copies of the CD and I’ve given away about 80 of them,” DiMeo said. “I’m accomplishing exactly what I want. I gave them to my friends; I’m reminding people that I went to high school with 30 years ago that I was in a band; I’m reminiscing ... That’s what I hoped to accomplish, and I did.”
H8’s music is punk rock — stripped down, bare bones, attitude-laced power-chord maliciousness. Songs like “Everything Gets Dark” and the title track “Say I’m Not From Hell” are stark contrast to today’s less heavy local musical landscape. H8 exposes itself with raw, unashamed passion.
And while DiMeo may seemed hard edged and rough on the outside, he said believes people should follow their own paths in life.
“Whatever you dream of doing, do it,” DiMeo said. “I took my dream off the shelf, dusted it off, and I did it. If you have an interest or a passion, do everything you can to accomplish it.”