One phone call started it all...
Nearing the end of 1989 John Coyle and Mike Hartsfield, in one quick phone call, formed Outspoken. "John was one of the nicest guys I had met in hardcore, I just really wanted to do something with him" said Hartsfield. John had already been playing in bands like Pushed Aside, Stand Alone and Back to Back while Mike had been busy with Freewill and had recently quit Against the Wall. Mike knew high school friend Dan Adair and John had already started writing the songs that would later become the Outspoken demo with friend Dennis Remsing. After 2 months of rehearsals, the band began playing shows and eagerly recorded the "Look Beyond" demo with engineer Bill Krodel (Dag Nasty, Inside Out, Chain of Strength). "I knew Krodel had the skills and could help us get what we needed out of our first sessions in the studio" said Adair. Releasing the demo is just what they needed and they quickly followed it up with their debut 7", "Survival"(Conversion/New Age). Things began moving really fast...
The first tour was the west coast, in a 1988 Ford Escort. "We only brought the necessities" said Hartsfield, "but taking that into consideration, it was brutal touring in my car, in the winter, to say the least". The band was back to the studio soon after following up with recording the "Don't Admit Defeat" cassette single and "Start to Live" for the 7" compilation "Words To Live By" (New Age Records). Playing anywhere and everywhere possible with the likes of Judge, Insted, Chain of Strength, Inside Out, A Chorus of Disapproval, Mean Season, Strife, Unbroken and Undertow, the east coast followed soon after, but not before the departure of bassist Dan Adair. "I had been tattooing for a while. I was getting so busy and was just at a point where I had to choose" said Dan. They quickly added Jae Hansel from Mean Season and began writing their first full length release.
Outspoken recorded and released "A Light in the Dark" (Conversion/New Age) in 1992 and really set the pace for what was to come for the band. "Getting to the east coast was so crucial for us" says Hartsfield, "so many California bands were writing and recording but it was equally if not more important to get back east". The addition of 2nd guitarist Travis Guichard (also from Mean Season) was also a key point in solidifying the line up even further. Shows with bands like Mouthpiece, 4 Walls Falling, Worlds Collide, Lifetime, Earth Crisis, Chokehold were just what the band needed.
Shortly after adding 2nd guitarist Travis Guichard, the band went into For the Record Studios in Orange, CA. to record the "The Current". This would come to redefine them and many would say it put them among the best the west coast had to offer. Jason Hampton came in after the departure of Jae Hansel on bass. Yet even with their biggest release to date, it still couldn't slow the responsibilities that creep up on all of us as we get older.
The band decided to call it quits in 1994, playing a sold out show with a bunch of up and coming hardcore bands at the Ice House in Fullerton. "For a lot of bands, especially ones that would come later, I am sure playing a last show would mean packing it with big bands and going out in a blaze of glory." Hartsfield laughs. "When I set up that show, my goal was to pick bands that hopefully would lead the way for So Cal. Hardcore". Too bad that wasn't the case.
As Outspoken ended, members went on to form new bands. Jae went on to sing for The Twilight Transmission and filled in on A18 and Last of the Believers tours. Mike formed A18, Dennis and John formed Kill The Messenger, Travis went on to Whirpool.
In 1998, Outspoken got together to play a show with Unbroken to honor their former guitar player, Eric Allen. 1400 kids packed the San Bernardino Arena and truly showed their spirit. This seemed like a one shot deal but the band has continued to play here and there in the 21st century. The second reunion came in '03 again in So Cal. at the "Sink With Cali Fest", another in September '05 at the "Coming of Age" fest then again in October '05 playing on Connecticut's "Posi Fest" with Bold and Up Front.
In 2005, Indecision Records put out a complete discography of Outspoken recordings titled "Spotlight". It included their demo, comp songs, both ep's and a complete remix of the "A Light In the Dark" record. Attempted reunions in 2009 for Chicago, Florida and California all fell by the wayside. As things seem to have been put to rest... the unexpected happened.
In early 2010, original bass player Dan Adair had the idea of playing a show to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band forming. Dan made all the calls, got together those that were interested and the band began filling in the holes of missing members. Adair rejoined on bass with Hartsfield returning on guitar. Jae Hansel (former bass/backing vocalist) switched to lead vocals leaving voids in the 2nd guitar and drummer positions. "The guitar position was a slam dunk" says Adair, "Brian Manry was over the top excited about the chance to join. That's all we needed to know". Brian having played in Mean Season and The Twilight Transmission was a perfect fit. His friendship with the individuals involved with the band spans beyond the 20 years since the band formed. The drum position was quickly filled with Jae's long time friend Danny Baeza. His days in the hardcore scene go back to the early era of Outspoken as well. With Mike having written half the music on "A light in the dark" and he and Jae having written all of "The Current" 7" what could be next for the gang?