Born Against was an American hardcore punk band from New York City, active between 1989–1993. In addition to their radical leftist politics, the group espoused a do-it-yourself message, and challenged the in-fighting they perceived as problematic within the underground hardcore punk community of their time.
The group was founded in early 1989 by guitarist Adam Nathanson and bassist Neil Burke (both formerly of the New York hardcore band Life's Blood), vocalist Sam McPheeters, and drummer John Guzman, who was replaced in early rehearsals by a drummer named George. George's tenure was also brief, and he was replaced after a single show by drummer Nigel Schreiber in July 1989. This lineup recorded a demo cassette and a track for the Murderers Among Us 7" compilation released on McPheeters' Vermiform Records label before Burke and Schreiber left the group in the fall. Born Against would continue to be plagued by rhythm section fluctuation throughout its career.
Six months later, the band reemerged with bassist Javier Villegas and drummer Darryl Kahan, the latter of the popular New York hardcore band Citizen's Arrest. This incarnation of the band produced its first two proper releases, the "Eulogy" single (whose anti-religious title track was controversially dedicated to Steve Reddy of Equal Vision Records upon his conversion to a Hare Krishna lifestyle) and a self-titled 7" EP, along with several compilation tracks. Late in 1990, Kahan was replaced by drummer John Hiltz, birthing the longest lasting incarnation of the band. The group toured extensively, and released a debut LP, 1991's Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children, on Vermiform. Villegas left the group in late 1991 – he would go on to play in the groups Iabhorer, Cattlepress, and Kylesa. He was replaced in Born Against by bassist Bret Blue.
With Hiltz and Blue, Born Against continued its extensive touring, including a trip to Europe. By this point, the band's political message, sometimes seen as overly aggressive, and critique of their contemporaries had sparked much controversy. The band endured prominent animosity in New York City and beyond at the hands of their criticism of specific hardcore entities they opposed. They began work on a new record, which was stalled in July 1992 when Hiltz left the group. The final sessions that produced the resultant 10" record, Battle Hymns of the Race War, featured Melissa York (later in Team Dresch, The Butchies and Ex-Members) on drums, although York never performed live with the group.
By early 1993, Nathanson and McPheeters had relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey and begun a new version of the band with bassist Tonie Joy (of Moss Icon and Universal Order of Armageddon) and drummer Brooks Headley (also from Universal Order of Armageddon). Although only extant for seven months, this was a prolific incarnation, who continued to tour and released split 7"s with Screeching Weasel (in which both bands swapped lyrics) and Universal Order of Armageddon. Born Against's radical leftist stance became increasingly drenched in cynicism, which slowly threatened to overtake their message – the results of this evolution are evidenced in the nonsense song "Lillian" and other non-sequitur pieces from this time. Their final release was a split 8" record with Man is the Bastard, and the group played its final show in July 1993.
After the group's demise, members would continue to collaborate in future bands. Men's Recovery Project, McPheeters and Burke's absurdist noise rock outfit, featured occasional guest appearances by Headley, Joy, and Nathanson. Young Pioneers, Nathanson's proto-folk punk band, also saw membership from Headley and Burke. Joy's group The Great Unraveling contained Headley in its final incarnation. Most recently, McPheeters and Headley reunited in the Wrangler Brutes, a hardcore band extant from 2003–2004.
Two posthumous CDs containing the entire Born Against canon (aside from their demo tape) have since been released – Patriotic Battle Hymns (featuring Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children and Battle Hymns of the Race War) and The Rebel Sound of Shit and Failure (featuring all other material). Initially released on the now-defunct Vermiform, these records have since been taken on by the Kill Rock Stars and Prank Records imprints. .