The 5 State Regional Chapter (5SRC) of the New York Death Militia (NYDM) spreads its influence over the frosty, wide-open plains of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota. This frigid, sparsely populated land is unexpectedly peppered with metal bands and fans. It hosts strong, diverse metal scenes. It is the goal of the 5SRC to protect the integrity and health of these metal scenes and to foster growth wherever potential may lie. To this end, the chapter has pulled together in brotherhood and selected a solid, core group of officers and uniquely skilled members. The chapter is currently represented by approximately 50 members. However, the current strength of the 5SRC could not have been possible without the influence of major players in the Minnesota metal scene from long ago. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that we tell the story of our origins.
It is impossible to recite 5SRC history without referencing Don Decker (RIP 5SRC President Emeritus). Being the founder and vocalist of Minnesota grindcore band, Anal Blast, Don was well known for his hard work in the Minnesota metal scene from the 1980s, onward. He owned Nightfall Records and The Inferno club in Minneapolis, and booked and promoted many local and national acts all over the Twin Cities. He frequently toured with Anal Blast, so his influence was quite extensive. One fateful night in May of 2006, Anal Blast played Bossman’s (NYDM International Enforcer) birthday show, which the Illinois Death Militia of the time was hosting. It was there that Don was asked by Will Rahmer (NYDM International President and Founder) and Bossman to join NYDM. Don showed his newly obtained copy of our bylaws to Aaron Whitesides (5SRC MN Warrior and Co-Founder) and influenced him to join as well. There was no prospecting then, so the two were patched right away. These were the seminal events that led to the creation of our chapter.
The 5SRC officially came into existence as the Minnesota Regional Chapter on July 30th, 2006 at Station 4 in St. Paul, Minnesota. At that time, the chapter was growing beyond the Twin Cities and into northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Eventually, the powers that be wanted Don to oversee the other states that make up our modern day territory, thus in 2008 the Minnesota Regional Chapter became the 5 State Regional Chapter.
Reception of the Chapter
In the early years of the 5SRC, people either loved or hated the chapter because they either loved or hated Don Decker. As a chapter, our members followed no established protocol, so most of what the locals knew about the 5SRC and NYDM came from Don. The reasons for the stark contrast in outsiders’ perception of the chapter can be touched upon with a few recollections about Don:
Jeremy Davis, 5SRC MN Warrior: ‘The first time I met Don Decker, I was 15 years old. It was at the Cabooze Bar in Minneapolis, and the event was all ages. Morbid Angel, Entombed, Unleashed, and Nerotoxin were playing that night. This was the first Death Metal show I ever attended. The night of the show, I rode to the venue with my band mates from a now defunct project, Autumn Embrace. Dan Zidar, one of my band mates, was a well known tape trader and had been in contact with major labels and bands. He knew Don, so he wanted to introduce me to him at the show. As I went up to talk to Don at the Nightfall Records table, I was looking through his merch and he said, “Hey kid, you’re holding up the line. Either buy something or get the fuck out of here!” I was kind of dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say. I intended to talk to him, but was stricken with awe at all the music he had on his table. As I continued to stand there looking at him he said, “What the fuck kid, you gonna buy something or what?” I couldn’t believe he said, that so I left and went back into the crowd. I didn’t actually meet him that night, but that was my first experience of Don Decker.’
Eric Freitag: ‘I remember the time Don Decker and I, plus a few others, stormed a convenience store. Don stuffed a frozen pizza into the microwave and waited for a total of 30 seconds. When he took it out, it was mostly still frozen but some of the cheese was burnt. He then broke it in 2 over his head and started eating it as he paid the horrified cashier on his way out of the store.’
Despite all of his influence and the work he put into the metal scene, Don was a character and rubbed many people the wrong way. Regardless, he was one of the most recognized figures of underground metal, not only in this part of the country but in many others. Don was essentially an NYDM Johnny Appleseed. Wherever he would go with Anal Blast, he sparked interest in NYDM. Many times when he visited an area he had toured previously, there was suddenly a prospecting chapter budding. Then, on the next tour, that chapter was official. His command of others’ respect was undeniable.
A Growing Influence
The 5SRC didn’t begin putting on its own shows until 2008 when Jeremy Davis and Donn Morinville created NYDM Northern Hammerfest. Prior to that, some of the flyers for the national acts Don booked with SwordLord of SwordLord Productions sported the Minnesota Regional Chapter logo. Eventually, there were the NYDM Hell O-Ween Metal Slaughter and NYDM St. Valentines Metal Massacre shows in the Twin Ports area, but unfortunately the venue that held them went out of business. NYDM Spring Bash will be has been an ongoing festival for several years. The chapter began hosting charitable events in 2011 with a Toys for Tots benefit show in Wisconsin, although there were some benefit shows arranged by club members without using a direct connection to the club. We now host Toys for Tots annually as well as Mosh Out Suicide and other shows that help our communities. Benefit shows for various things that pop up suddenly happen throughout the year. These can range from helping people with unforeseen medical expenses to gathering donations for good causes.
In Fall of 2009, Don Decker was admitted to the hospital due to ongoing medical issues. Aaron Whitesides went to visit him and realized how very sick Don was. He had to tell him goodbye. Don passed away at 2:17am on October 11th. He left Nightfall Records to Aaron with 20,000 CDs and other merchandise; an overwhelming responsibility. Four months later, Aaron took over as 5SRC president, inheriting the rank as he was Vice President at that time. Aaron was not in a positive place. He had no desire to act as President while grieving. Blüd Hammer and Randy Kastner took the initiative to organize and salvage what was left of the chapter. The pair tracked down everyone who had been involved in the club and determined who was and was not currently a member. Greg Chilton also became more active after Don’s death. Aaron eventually stepped down as President and left it to Greg to carry on what Decker had started, feeling the club was in good hands. Don’s funeral was two months later and the Don Decker Memorial show was set up in December of 2009. Once the chapter stabilized, we began to put on small, local shows, although there was a freeze on patching prospects in for a while after Don’s death.
In May of 2012, Kristopher Kunze (RIP 5SRC Eternal Enforcer) passed as well. He was a guy anyone could talk to and if he felt comfortable with you, he would entertain you what he called “stupid human tricks”. He was fun to be around and if you had a problem he would try to help you solve it within his means. He was very intellectual, played bass and a little guitar, and liked to sing. After his death, he was given the rank of Eternal Enforcer.
A Modern Perspective
The metal scenes within the five states are getting to know the 5SRC better as we become more visible, so our image is improving. The chapter is shifting toward a business perspective due to our potential. We’re becoming increasingly productive and are living up to the core values of the club as a whole. Over the years, the chapter has positively affected our local metal scenes by helping touring bands coming through the area, booking, and promoting shows without bias. We have also helped demoralized people in the scene gain hope for metal in their areas. This is because they are seeing the work we do, and our results inspire to them work harder on their own. However, more success does mean we will get more negative attention. That is an unavoidable, universal truth. We simply have to ignore those who try to tear us down and keep doing what we do in spite of it. Some people seem to think that the chapter will save their scenes, but that’s a misunderstanding. We work with what is already present and try to improve things. There are no guarantees of success, but doing nothing at all will guarantee failure.
The Future Looks Bright
The 5SRC has gotten bigger, stronger, and more organized as the years have gone by. We’ve become smarter at what we do, and every time an issue comes up we learn from it. As long as we keep learning, we’ll keep progressing. As we progress toward our goals, stay on the same page, keep a good core group of officers, and promote people as they need to be promoted, we’ll have a stronger chapter in the future.
We have a worthy and noble history, and we will continue to create incredible stories to be told through the generations of our chapter.