I really thought that my next blog would be about some other iniquity in the criminal justice system, which the current Government is busily dismantling before the eyes of those who work in it. I never thought that instead, I would be writing about the shockingly premature death of a man whose band made what was, for me, one of the most important and influential albums of the 1990s.
2016 has so far been a pretty bad year for rock deaths. But when the news of the death of Jon Bunch, frontman of seminal post hardcore outfit Sense Field, appeared in my Facebook newsfeed a week ago, it genuinely knocked the breath out of me.
Most regular readers of my blog are probably unfamiliar with Sense Field. They are not a band who ever sold a huge amount of records, certainly not in the UK, and they didn’t play massive stadium gigs or have their songs used in TV trailers or ads for major corporates. But what they did, when they released the Killed For Less LP back in 1994, was kick-start the whole ’emo’ genre which came later in that decade and influence a whole slew of bands who became much more famous than them and then sold records by the gazillions.
Killed For Less was a massively important LP in my life for a number of reasons. I still remember the first time I heard it, 1994, in Kerrang!’s scruffy Carnaby Street offices, sitting at my old, chipped, overloaded desk when I was the Reviews Editor. The LP was on Revelation Records, so it was always going to get my attention as I was already a big fan of their catalogue (check it out here), but this was something different. From the opening bars of track 1, Today And Tomorrow, I was hooked.
This sounded nothing like the unpolished melodic hardcore tones of Jon Bunch’s previous outfit, Reason To Believe, who I also liked. This had some massive production, Bunch’s soaring vocals laying out stories of love, loss and looking up at the stars from down in the gutter. Soon the LP was rarely off the K! stereo, much to the horror of some of the more traditional metallers on the team. That year, Killed For Less saw me through two disastrous relationships and some of the most chaotic but exciting days in Kerrang!’s history. I wore out my first copy of the CD and had to purloin another, plus went through several cassette versions in my car stereo. And over the years, it’s a record I’ve returned to again and again, even after I left the music business behind.
I was fortunate to see Sense Field live several times. I didn’t know Jon Bunch personally, though, so can’t really put my finger on why his untimely death felt like such a personal blow. Maybe because the news made me put on Killed For Less immediately, taking me right back into that day in the office when I first played it, back to that seminal year of 1994, making me realise how much time had passed and how much has been lost or forgotten in those years in between.
In all the reports about Jon Bunch’s death (the reasons for which are still unclear), one thing is obvious: how much he was liked and respected by others. He was still making music, having gone from Sense Field (who should have been massive, but never were) to fronting emo rockers Further Seems Forever for a brief time. At the time of his death, he was fronting a new project, Lucky Scars, whose most recent video can be seen here.
I probably can’t put it better than Walter Schreifels has on his Facebook page – see link here – and Walter did know Jon Bunch personally. But as not all singers in rock bands are rich and leave a pot of cash for their families if/when they die, I wanted to publicise the fund which has been set up for Bunch’s young son: see here. I’ve donated, to repay in some small way the many hours I’ve spent enjoying the music Jon Bunch made.
Hopefully you can enjoy some of that too with the link here (sadly no proper video available), and perhaps understand what made me fall in love with the Killed For Less LP so irrevocably all those years ago.