Void - Biography
By Oliver Hall
Void was a Columbia, Maryland hardcore/metal band distinguished by athletic hardcore musicianship, heavy riffs, and above all, the brilliant, eccentric style of African-American guitarist Bubba Dupree. Void’s side of the Faith/Void split LP (1982 Dischord), in particular, has been widely influential in the hardcore punk, metal, and crossover genres.
Columbia is a “planned community” just south of Baltimore, 30 miles north and east of Washington, DC, where John Weiffenbach, Chris Stover, and Sean Finnegan attended a boys’ Catholic school. In the book American Hardcore by Steven Blush (2001 Feral House, Dupree remembers the band’s early days playing hardcore shows in DC: “Void, we were the outcast rednecks. To this day I don’t understand why we were accepted in the DC hardcore scene. We were so blatantly not a part of it. By the time we started to get big, we didn’t consider ourselves hardcore. We thought we were playing rock.”
In a 2002 interview published at the hardcore website KILL FROM THE HEART (http://homepages.nyu.edu/~cch223/), bassist Stover says, “We came together in 1980 in Bubba's basement. Starting off originally, [the band was] Bubba and I, then Sean, Bubba and I, then the final mix which included John.” Somehow, singer Weiffenbach was able to deliver anguished hardcore vocals even as he performed high-jumping feats that continue to amaze. He didn’t want to play for the school team, though; Void played a compelling phys-ed protest song, “Organized Sports.”
Void first played in DC in late 1980 at a Wilson Center hardcore show organized by Bad Brains, where they were one of 15 bands. Void recorded a 1981 demo at Don Zientara’s Inner Ear Studio in DC, which was released years later on the 7” Condensed Flesh (1992 Eye 95, CD 1995 Lost & Found). Three Void songs appear on the DC hardcore compilation Flex Your Head (1982 Dischord). Dischord’s next release was the split LP Faith/Void (1982 Dischord), one of the classic albums of the hardcore genre.
It seems it was around this time that Void started to consider itself more a rock band than a hardcore band. In American Hardcore, Maria Ma remembers Dupree performing in “a bullet belt, lipstick, and a Mötley Crüe t-shirt.” Stover remembers, “Sean was big into hip-hop. Bubba was into the glam thing. John was way into AC/DC. I was into GBH, Motörhead, and Black Flag. All these tastes melded together was going to sound more rock and metal. Plus, we wanted to become ‘musicians.’” During the summer of 1983, Void recorded an album that was to be released on Touch and Go Records. This album, which moves toward a more conventional hard rock style, has never been released, though it has been widely bootlegged, often under the title Potion for Bad Dreams. Dischord’s website dates Void’s breakup in the winter of 1983, though Stover remembers the band’s last show taking place in November of 1984.
Finnegan died in January of 2008 of a heart attack. He had been working on the HBO series The Wire, filmed in Baltimore, in which Weiffenbach occasionally acted. Stover was working in software at the time of his interview with KILL FROM THE HEART. Dupree has continued to play guitar in the bands Hater and Earth 18, and as a member of the touring bands for Soundgarden and Moby. He contributed to Dave Grohl’s Probot (2004 Southern Lord) and performs as a solo musician.