The Proletariat was formed in Southeastern Massachusetts (smack dab between Boston & Cape Cod) early in 1980 when Peter & Frank were attending Southeastern Massachusetts University (now Umass Dartmouth) and Richard was at a nearby community college (BCC). Fueled by their exposure to bands such as the Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, The Jam, The Clash, PIL, & Gang Of Four (and realizing that it didn’t take any special skill to be in a band – thanks Sid Vicious!), they eventually gravitated towards music.
Tired of the pompous bands of the 70’s with their elaborate stage shows they gravitated towards sparse presentation, preferring to let the music and lyrics stand on their own. Exposure to different political ideas in college and living during the Carter/Reagan years also greatly shaped their thoughts, political ideals and desire to focus on this subject matter. And although all were from normal middle class backgrounds, their activism leaned towards the left (attracted to the idealism of some of those philosophies, eventually realizing the naiveté of those systems).
Peter & Rick were the first to get the bug to start a band. After trying out a few guitarists with little success they started their campaign to convince their friend Frank to join (who was coming to most of the practices anyway). High schooler Tommy McKnight was later added on the recommendation of Peter’s cousin Patrick Norton.
The band played together almost five years. From 2/14/81- 7/1/85 they played 115 shows with 124 different bands. During that time they played with many of the best punk bands of this era (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Brains, Misfits, Flipper, Crucifix, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedy’s, Gang Green, Mission Of Burma, The Effigies, Stiff Little Fingers, Angry Samoans, Husker Du, Jerry’s Kids, Channel 3, SSD, Jody Fosters Army, Negative Approach, The Freeze, The F.U.’s, Volcano Suns, Etc.), young upcoming punk bands (Deep Wound, Sorry & Neutral Nation), punk pioneers (Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Johnny Thunders, Dead Boys & G.G. Allin) and other distinguished bands (Native Tongue, Dangerous Birds, Del Fuegos, 007, Plan 9, The Lyres, Boys Life, Prime Movers, Alien Sex Fiend, The Neats & Wild Kingdom).
While not a hardcore band they often played on the same bills, admiring their youthful energy & bonded in their rebelliousness. They made their mark by combining various styles into a unique sound while floating their political ideals above the din. Not wanting to preach they rarely forced these beliefs on people & kept the lyrics fairly cryptic and sparse to leave the thoughts open for some interpretation. Since their demise other bands have tried to emulate their sound but they still remain highly original and difficult to duplicate.
The band has various recorded works including the rare Distortion Cassette, tracks on the This is Boston, Not LA LP & Unsafe at any Speed EP, 2 full length LP’s – Soma Holiday (named after the drug used to control society in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World) & Indifference (inspired by the photography of David Henry of the homeless in Boston), Marketplace 45 released in conjunction with Indifference and various artists compilations like the Peace comp.
In 1997 Taang! released all the recorded works of the band (including some previously unrecorded) on the Voodoo Economics and other American Tragedies 45 song, double CD.
In 2016 the band's first full-length and critically acclaimed album Soma Holiday was re-released on SS Records. The band reunited for a short tour and hasn't stopped. New music to come.