A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring. I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up. I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever. Enjoy!
Today’s song is “Signal of Gratitude” by Pittsburgh band Fortiori off their demo CD that they put out probably in 2001. I couldn’t find this version online but found a SoundClick site that had what seems to be either an alternate mix or alternate recording of the song. It doesn’t sound as good as the demo recording but at least it gives you a general idea of their sound.
Fortiori were some young pups doing a dual vocals screamy/screamo-y, metal influenced hardcore sound back in Roboto’s early days. I think they were all from out in Butler or Beaver County and came into town to play shows and be part of the punk/hc scene in Pittsburgh. They were all still in high school (or just finishing high school) when this band was happening. They were energetic, idealistic and had positive attitudes. They were indicative of that fresh blood that Roboto’s existence helped bring into the scene at that time. Their live shows were always spirited releases of energy. I specifically remember one show at TBA-Hole on Chesterfield, which was a tiny tight basement. The power of that band in that small space was electric. This night was also somewhat special because it was one of the early hangouts between Emma and I, so perhaps another reason that this band holds a special place in my heart.
The band would be relatively short lived (or at least their time after they started coming to shows at Roboto, not sure how long they were together prior to that) but they released this demo CD and put one of the songs, “When Will We Realize”, on the “Go Down Fighting, Come Up Smiling” compilation CD that I put out in 2001. They recorded another CD’s worth of material but I think the band broke up before anything could be done with that.
Like I said, these kids were some of the first round of younger kids that were doing great stuff at that time that we were getting Roboto up and running. It’s been great to see how some of that younger bunch (not just the Fortiori members, but other kids who were in bands, doing other stuff and coming to shows at that time) have grown up and continue to do some awesome stuff. I haven’t kept up with all of the members of Fortiori but have had the luck of keeping in occasional contact with vocalist Dingo and drummer Jordan. After leaving the city for awhile, Dingo’s back in Pittsburgh making great art and working on opening a restaurant. Jordan got real into bike stuff and so I get to see him around on the mountain bike trails occasionally these days. He’s cut off the dreads and started a family too, which isn’t to suggest he’s any less punk rock.
In 2011, Fortiori reunited for a one-time show as part of that year’s Skull Fest. The show was at Belvedere’s, which truth be told, is a place I generally avoid as I don’t care for the smokey bar scene. But Fortiori are part of that golden era of Pittsburgh punk rock for me and as such, I made my way to the show. They put on a stellar performance and displayed all the energy and raw emotion of their younger selves. If they decide to play another show, I’m sure i’d try to make it again.
In some ways, Fortiori is a band that didn’t leave much of a footprint. They didn’t put out any “real” releases. You’re not going to stumble upon their stuff in a used record store. You can’t find any of their songs on Youtube. You’ll need to find someone who has the songs who can burn you a copy. Yes, for younger kids in the scene, Fortiori is likely a band that they won’t know much about. But for those of us that were there, I think they are a band that left a mark. They are a band that will be remembered.