H20 WALLS OF JERICHO IGNITE DESCENDENTS HARDCORE PUNK CROSSOVER
Harley Flanagan Dag Nasty Knuckledust WORLD BE FREE
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DOWN FOR LIFE STUDIO G12 REGENT HOUSE 1 THANE VILLAS LONDON N7 7PH Tel 0207 2818880 www.downforlifezine.com EDITOR Miles Hackett firstname.lastname@example.org
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REVIEWS EDITOR Ian Chaddock email@example.com INFO PIC - AGA HAIRESIS
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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Paul Hagen Louise Brown Ian Glasper May H John Consterdine Tom Barry James Sherry Darren Sadler James Batty Dave Wroe Chris Wynne Ian Chaddock Mark Freebase William Scott
PHOTOGRAPHERS Aga Hairesis Christophe Lightbox Revelation Jessica Lotti
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THIS MAGAZINE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF NICK MANN
WE’RE THE CREW
ELCOME to the inaugural issue of Down For Life! This idea has been some eighteen months in the making so thanks for checking it out. After twenty years of service with Big Cheese magazine a few of us thought it was time to return to our roots and cover the music we were inspired by in our youth, which as you all know is still here today, stronger than ever - hardcore punk. This global, self-sufficient movement exists without trends, fads or mainstream intervention and has been marginalised by many but we felt deserved a platform of its own and so, Down For Life was born. Our aim is to span from the old school, through classic NYHC, SxE, Youth Crew to the modern contemporaries of the scene whilst rubbing shoulders with our punk rock brothers and incorporating the sonically heavier end through grindcore, power-violence and metalcore. Hopefully a bit of something for everyone and if you have any suggestions they’ll be gratefully received. After all, this scene is all about voicing your opinion, right? Lastly, we’d like to dedicate this magazine to our brother Nick Mann. Many of us had the fortune of knowing and working alongside Nick at Big Cheese, many of you probably saw him at a show or bought his incredible fanzine ‘A Short Fanzine About Rocking’. Nick tragically passed away last year but we know if he were here today that he would be a huge part of this project, his passion for hardcore is part of the inspiration for starting this in the first place. Rest In Peace brother, I hope there’s plenty of bad mosh wherever you are. Right, without further ado we hope you enjoy issue one of Down For Life. No Gods, No Masters!
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT Next Down For Life onsale Nov 21st. Order Down For Life online at www.downforlifezine.com and check out our other magazines-Vive Le Rock and Louder Than War.
PUBLISHING LTD 2016
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10. START TODAY All the news you need including a festival guide, a firsthand look at the American scene and much more.
LEPERFEST PIC: AGA HAIRESIS
16. ILL BLOOD Pears, Career Suicide, Risk It! and more profiled.
78. SCRATCH THE SURFACE New albums from the likes of Hatebreed, Angel Du$t, Face To Face and Discharge reviewed along with many others.
86. Consumer DVDs, movies and ‘zines to pick up.
GROEZROCK MEERHOUT - BELGIUM
Words/Photos: Miles Hackett/Lightbox Revelation
DAY ONE T may be cold and wet and but the faithful masses are out in their droves for the first annual punk fixture on the European festival calendar, the mighty Groezrock festival. First stop on Friday is at the Back To Basics stage to catch Russian powerhouse SIBERIAN MEAT GRINDER, whose crossover thrash is an ideal jolt of energy to start off the day. Straight after it’s metalcore giants WALLS OF JERICHO who shred the Impericon stage, front woman Candace pacing the stage like a woman possessed while airing their new album ‘No One Can Save You From Yourself’. TERROR never play a RANCID duff show and the Back To Basics tent is bursting at the seams for their set tonight, the crowd are not disappointed. Scott Vogel is often obscured by the stage divers as the band scorch through their trademark, furious hardcore. Not long after the chaos of Terror it’s the welcome return of YOUTH OF TODAY. Making only one of two European appearances here, this line-up which features Ray Cappo, Walter Schriefels, Porcell and Sammy Siegler turns the tent to utter mayhem when they kick out tracks like ‘Break Down The Walls’ and ‘Can’t Close My Eyes’. It doesn’t get DAG NASTY
much better! Over on the main stage metalcore heavyweights HATEBREED turn in a bruiser of a show, singer Jamie Jasta grinning from ear to ear as they unleash some smashers from their forthcoming new album ‘The Concrete Confessional’ during their career spanning set. However, tonight is all about one band – RANCID. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their seminal ‘...And Out Come The Wolves’ album Tim Armstrong and crew bounce through the album in sequence, predictably the audience loses it and chant along every word. This album was Rancid at the top of their game and with shows like they’ve put on tonight, they prove they are still top of their game on stage.
HE rain may have left off on Saturday but the ground underfoot has turned to treacle, Mix that with a few beers and there’s a few punks falling down here and there. New Fat Wreck signing PEARS’ explosive set wipes away the hangover with their raw and raucous punk rock and kicks off the day in style. The Impericon tent is now a mud bath but that
doesn’t deter the die hards from getting moving during BURN’s set, the NY progressive hardcore heads clearing loving the attention. Chi Pig from SNFU is dressed in a gold sequinned dress this afternoon and despite his diminutive size these days, he’s still has got it in the vocal department and their set is good clean fun. Punk ‘super-group’ THE FALCON boast members of Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms and The Loved Ones in their ranks and their collective output over the years has been second to none, so it’s with great joy for many that they finally make it to Europe. The crowd goes nuts for them. NIGHT BIRDS pull a strong crowd over at the Watch Out stage with their modern twist on Dead Kennedys and Adolescents. They’re raw, snotty and have some of the catchiest tunes. FACE TO FACE rock it up on the main stage and are plugging their new album but it’s not until they churn out the classics like ‘You’ve Done Nothing’ that the sing-a-longs get going. SICK OF IT ALL are celebrating 30 years tonight and the heaving Impericon tent has come to party. The wall of death before ‘Scratch The Surface’ is off the hook and the place loses its mind to ‘Step Down’. Can this band get any better? Well, tonight they did. It’s been a long day but there is still a massive buzz of anticipation for the Back To Basics headliners, DAG NASTY. Thirty years in the waiting and they do not disappoint. Kicking off with ‘Values Here’ quickly followed by ‘Under Your Influence’ this is punk rock perfection, vocalist Shawn Brown launching himself into the crowd. Dag Nasty were mesmerising, it may have been a long wait but they delivered the goods. Thank god they’re back in August. Thanks Groezrock, it’s been emotional!
WALLS OF JERICHO
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88. BRINGING IT DOWN Live reviews featuring the likes of Life Of Agony, Netherlands Deathfest, Groezrock, the Persistence Tour and more!
94. GET IN THE VAN Upcoming gigs for the months ahead.
98. DON’T FORGET YOUR ROOTS DFL garners some pearls of wisdom from hardcore icon Keith Morris KIETH MORRIS
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26. IGNITE With ten years having passed since Ignite last released an album, the Orange County melodic hardcore band have returned with a grander ambition in the form of ‘A War Against You’. Paul Hagen gets the story.
30. TWITCHING TONGUES The metallic hardcore quintet are currently riding high with ‘Disharmony’. Down For Life’s Mark Freebase spoke to the L.A. commanders of controversy and found out they are not prepared to tow the line one bit.
32. KNUCKLEDUST Since their formation in an east end youth club in the mid-’90s, Knuckledust have been representing the scene and sound they helped to spawn, relentlessly. Tom Barry found out more...
34. DESCENDENTS 12 years since Californian legends Descendents last released an album, it’s no wonder that the punk world is buzzed for upcoming seventh album, ‘Hypercaffium Spazzinate’. Ian Chaddock looks back at their early days with Bill Stevenson.
40. WORLD BE FREE Louise Brown meets legendary figures Arthur Smilios and Scott Vogel to discover how Gorilla Biscuits and Terror spawned World Be Free.
44. SICK OF IT ALL
SICK OF IT ALL
Celebrating their thirtieth anniversary, Miles Hackett caught up with SOIA guitarist Pete Koller for the lowdown on the band’s history, what makes them tick and the determination that drives them.
56. WEEKEND NACHOS James Batty chats to Chicago’s finest about latest album ‘Apology’.
58. WALLS OF JERICHO It’s been eight long years since the planet was graced with new WOJ material. Candace Kucsulain talks about new opus ‘No One Can Save You From Yourself’, motherhood and lifting.
62. HARLEY FLANAGAN Ian Glasper spoke to the Cro-Mags legend to get the low down from the streets.
66. BROKEN TEETH John Consterdine sat down with Broken Teeth vocalist Dale Graham to talk about jumping on a big label, ten years as a band and why UK hardcore is the best it’s ever been.
PICS: AGA HAIRESIS / LIGHTBOX REVELATION
Returning to the UK with 2015’s storming ‘Use Your Voice’, their first album in seven years, US hardcore band H2O are playing by their own rules as they explain to Paul Hagen.
72. NAILS Nails frontman and founder Todd Jones tells Darren J. Sadler about the creation of new record ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’.
74. DAG NASTY James Sherry meets the legendary Washington DC melodic crew to discuss everything from ‘Can I Say’ to ‘Cold Heart’.
DOWN FOR LIFE
WALLS OF JERICHO
Tight New Dimension
Debut album for Fat out now!
Debut album for Fat out now!
Brand new Album 1/7/2016
Debut album for Fat 24/6/2016
State is Burning
Mild in the Streets
17 song acoustic comp 1/7/2016
Honesty Lives Elsewhere Brand new album 29/7/2016
NEW YORK HARDCORE CHRONICLES FILM
The New York Hardcore Chronicles Film has long been in the works and should be hitting screens this coming December. The film, which is the brainchild of Antidote frontman and filmmaker Drew Stone, will deliver slices and chunks of NYHC in an “episodic” way that covers the old and the new featuring interviews with many of NY’s main players, including Freddy Madball, Ray Of Today, Civ, Lou Koller, Mike Judge, Harley Flanagan and dozens more. The film will feature live clips and photos spanning 1979 to the present. Drew has this to say “My intention is not to make a film documenting the history of New York hardcore, but to tell the story in an episodic format with the thread of New York hardcore running through it,” said Stone. “For example, the ‘Spray Paint the Walls’ segment explores the connection between graffiti and New York hardcore. In ‘The Return to the A7,’ Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front re-visit the legendary A7 club, the birthplace of New York hardcore, for the first time in over 30 years.” Visit Stonefilmsnyc.com for updates and news as it happens.
Down For Life brings you your essential festival guide
FEST 15 Gainesville, Florida, October 28th -30th own For Life is proud to sponsor the Gainesville, Florida punk/hardcore festival in October. Having been a long-time friend of Big Cheese magazine, The Fest is indisputably one of the best and most fun punk festivals in the world. Celebrating its 15th year on October 28th to 30th, Fest 15 will see hardcore punk favourites such as Canadian face-melters Propagandhi, Richmond melodic hardcore veterans Strike Anywhere and ‘80s Detroit legends Negative Approach. Want more? How about A Wilhelm Scream, War On Women, Boysetsfire, United Nations and Night Birds? There’s also reunion performances from The Ergs!, Latterman, Pink Razors and Gunmoll, as well as sets Dillinger Four, Off With Their Heads, Samiam, Iron Chic and many more. If you want more then there’s Pre-Fest 4 in Ybor City, Florida, close to Gainesville from October 26th and 27th before Fest so you can avoid any clashes! With tickets and hotels available now, head to TheFestFL.com for more info and to join the biggest punk party on the planet! It feels like summer in October. Down For Life will be there, you should too! Thefestfl.com
D JOHN STABB
WORDS: Ian Chaddock/Miles Hackett/Ian Glasper PICS: Greg Wheeler/Lightbox Revelation/Jessica Lotti/AGA HAIRESIS
JOHN STABB (RIP)
The DC hardcore scene lost one of its pioneers on May 8th, Government Issue frontman John Stabb. He formed GI back in 1980 and although he was the only constant member of the band they made a large contribution to the Washington punk scene during the 1980’s until they split in ’89. In recent years the band had re-united for a handful of shows before declaring they would reform for good late last year until Stabb received the news that he had stomach cancer in early 2016, he lost his battle in May. He was interviewed in the Salad Days documentary recently and a memorial gig was held for him which featured the likes of Thurston Moore and former band mate J Robbins. He’ll be sadly missed in DC and beyond.
UKHC legends Imbalance have announced that they’re set to reform. For the uninitiated, Imbalance were a UKHC band from Grimsby , formed in 1995 and were probably the best around in the late 90’s early 2000’s. In that time they released two full length albums ‘Spouting Rhetoric’ and ‘Wreaks Havoc With The Inner Ear’ pulling on influences like Dead Kennedys, Youth Brigade, Gorilla Biscuits and some thrash metal chucked in but always maintaining their British Northern-ness. Sadly in 2002 Imbalance called it a day finishing off with a series of farewell gigs in Leeds, although in the following years they reformed for a couple of one offs in 2005 and 2011. However lifelong fans and friends of the band Vanilla Pod have managed to coax them out of retireIMBALANCE ment once more to appear at their Norwich based fest – Podstock 2, happening on October 29th and 30th in Norwich at The Owl Sanctuary. Will this be the last we see of them? Who knows, but you could do worse than checking them out at Podstock as they never disappoint!
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IEPERFEST Ieper, Belgium, August 12th - 14th rguably the most important fixture of the year on the European hardcore scene’s calendar, this year’s Ieperfest is shaping up to be another colossus of a line-up. The annual three-day, open air mosh fest is mostly about hardcore but is always cleverly interspersed with some quality punk, grindcore, stoner and death metal. If it you like it heavy and loud then this will have something for you. Already boasting three of the heaviest hitting headliners in LA bruisers Terror, NYHC institutions Agnostic Front and TERROR the 30th birthday celebrations of Sick of It All. The rest of the bill is pretty eclectic too, but all killer, no filler with legends like Jello Biafra and his Guantanamo School Of Medicine, H20 and Knuckledust rubbing shoulders with sonic terrorists Atari Teenage Riot, UK 82 legends Chaos UK and metalcore giants The Black Dahlia Murder. There’s good beer, vegan food, a fanzine library and stalls, spoken word performance and merchandise village, also it’s held over three stages two indoor and one outdoor and most important of all, none of the stages have barriers. With more bands being added all the time Ieperfest is a must go to event that’s run in true DIY spirit and won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. It’s a mere hour drive from Calais and has a camp site too. What are you waiting for? Pick up your tickets now! Ieperfest.com
Chris from In Effect drops some U.S. knowledge AGNOSTIC FRONT
REBELLION Blackpool, Winter Gardens, August 4th - 7th 016 is a big year for the Rebellion festival. Not only is it the fortieth year of punk rock, but the annual festival is itself twenty years old. And to celebrate this momentous occasion, they’ve lined up what is quite probably the best line-up the festival has ever seen. Of particular interest to Down For Life readers will be the veritable slew of US hardcore bands scheduled to appear, not least of all the legendary Dag Nasty making their first ever UK appearance. The Washington DC band changed the face of melodic hardcore of course, with their celebrated ‘Can I Say?’ album, and expectations are sky high to finally see them live. Also making their Rebellion debuts are Californian melodicore royalty, The Descendents and FLAG, who boast original Black Flag members Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski. And as if that wasn’t enough ‘core for your coin, you’ve got The Dickies, Bouncing Souls, Channel 3, Dwarves, Naked Aggression, Freeze, Reagan Youth, the Weirdos, Lars Frederiksen’s Old Firm Casuals, and skate punk heroes, JFA (AKA Jodie Foster’s Army). TSOL are fronted by the cult of personality that is Jack Grisham, MDC are fiercely political and always seriously raging, and Agnostic Front are the undisputed godfathers of NYHC, who never disappoint. SoCal punk rock’s finest The Adolescents make a welcome return, as does the always-relevant ex-Dead Kennedys front-man, Jello Biafra, with his incendiary new band, The Guantanamo School Of Medicine. If that hasn’t got you frothing at the mouth, you’ll also be treated to UK legends such as the Exploited, Discharge the ever-reliable Subhumans, GBH, ENT, UK Subs, and The Damned, recently the subject of the brilliant ‘Don’t You Wish We Were Dead?’ documentary. With a new band stage too, to stop it being a total nostalgia fest, and even a literary/acoustic stage when you need your ears to stop ringing for a bit, this is the one punk festival to rule them all. Rebellionfestivals.com
THIS IS HARDCORE Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 4th - 7th he East Coast of the USA boasts some of the finest hardcore gatherings of them all with the likes of the Black GORILLA BISCUITS N’Blue bowl in New York and East Coast Tsunami fest in Reading, PA but it’s the annual event of This Is Hardcore that has to be one of the finest of them all and the 2016 edition boasts a mouth-watering line-up. The four headliners – Youth Of Today, Integrity, Gorilla Biscuits and a rare appearance by Turning Point are worth the ticket price alone but when you drop in the likes of Floorpunch, Breakdown, Killing Time, Burn and Terror - to name but a few on this enormous bill, it really is a beast. With the Friday harbouring some heavyweight contenders this year with Ringworm, Nails, Iron Reagan and Full Of Hell, all on board to shake your fillings out with their grinding noise. Other notable appearances across the four days are Strife, Angel Du$t, Powertrip, Lifeless, Incendiary, HC super-group World Be Free and Wisdom In Chains, all here to reinforce what is always a monstrous festival line-up. So what are you waiting for? Beg, borrow or steal the money for a flight and head out to Philadelphia for what promises to be the most exciting edition of This Is Hardcore so far. If you go, can you smuggle us in your luggage? Thisishardcorefest.com
hat’s going on out there HARDCORE fanatics? If you don’t know who the hell I am, the name is Chris Wynne from NY and I do a website called: www. InEffectHardcore.com The site started over 4 years ago and it grew out of a print fanzine that I started in 1988 simply called In Effect Fanzine and no, we do not have any affiliation with the record label who had the same name way back when. This column is going to be NY-centric and hopefully a somewhat current round up of what’s happening in the city right now.
am going to start off with some bands on the newer side of things, not brand new bands, but bands that may not be on your radar just yet but should be. We will start off with Ache who are finishing up work on their debut 9 song album titled ‘Fade Away’. Their members are no strangers to the NYHC scene or being in bands in NY. Their sound and style takes the NYHC basics and puts a more dark and somewhat noisy twist to it making for a unique listen. Live is where Ache shines and where they are most dangerous led by their frontman Ryan Bland who has been tearing up NY pits for ages. Give the man a microphone and a solid line-up behind him and pure aggression will follow.
p next is Manipulate who recently put out their second release which is a 6 song EP titled ‘Becoming Madness’ on Flatspot Records. The same Flatspot Records run in part by Ricky Singh who plays in NY’s Backtrack. Did I mention that Ricky is on guitar here? How about Jonathan Buske on bass who used to be in this band called Terror (and a bunch more as well). They got the pedigree and also a beefy sound that is rooted in the NYHC style but with buzzsaw like thrash guitar playing that simply shreds. I am an old-school hardcore purist at heart and hate most of the so called metalcore stuff out there but Manipulate just hits the fucking nail on the head with what they are putting out. It’s just not fair to the other bands when you break down what Manipulate has been doing in the recording studio, first with their demo and now this. Hopefully the rest of 2016 sees them playing out more than they have to this point.
ext up is Regulate who are a 5 piece predominately from Long Island with one dude from Brooklyn and another from New Jersey. They have a 6 song 7” titled ‘Years Of Rage’ coming out on Edgewood Records in June. They are a band that has been hyped up some recently but it is 150% deserved although I have not caught them out live yet. That should change though on May 14th when they open up the Black ‘N Blue Bowl at Webster Hall in NYC. This year’s edition is back to a one day event and is currently headlined by American Nightmare with the Adolescents and Madball joining them at the top of the bill. Other notables are Billy Club Sandwich who are playing their first show in a few years. They never officially broke up but it’s been a minute since we caught them. Another notable is The Eddie Leeway Show which is Eddie Sutton from Leeway and friends playing tracks off of the first 2 Leeway albums. Eddie has been doing ‘The Show’ for well over a year now and the lineups playing behind him have fluctuated in that time. Look for Eddie’s other project called Truth & Rights to start making some noise again as well. Not many people know about Truth & Rights who put out an EP a few years back and not much else. Look them up on You Tube if you are a fan of what Eddie has done in the past.
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Chris from In Effect drops some U.S. knowledge
lackout Records is back for at least one more release as they are working with Sheer Terror to put out a 5 record box set of all previously released material titled ‘Sheer Terror- The Bulldog Box’. All 5 records in this set will have something exclusive to the box set including the first ever LP version of the ‘No Grounds For Pity’ demo. Famed NYHC artist Sean Taggart is on board with some special art for this project which is a “pre-sale” only item meaning it will not be available in stores once the pre-sales are done. Head on over to the Blackout Records website if it isn’t too late to get a hold of a must have for diehard fans of Sheer Terror.
PINS & PIN-UPS Down For Life and Vive Le Rock magazines present a mix of bowling and punk/hardcore at London’s O2 Brooklyn Bowl,
he first annual Punk Rock – Pins and Pin-Ups bowling weekend will hit London’s O2 Brooklyn Bowl on October 7th, 8th and 9th. Three days of punk rock and bowling, it’s going to be wild, with prizes for highest team and individual bowling scores and your chance to bowl with some of the bands. Saturday will feature headliners East End rabble rousers The Cockney Rejects, as well as seminal reggae punks Ruts DC. Finally, Sunday will round it all off in fine style with NYHC hero headliners H2O, with London punks Argy Bargy supporting. Full line-ups and supports will be announced shortly. Down For Life and Vive Le Rock DJs will be playing songs all weekend and tickets are just £20. That’s a strike! Keep your eyes on Facebook.com/DownForLife for more details in the near future.
H20 Pic: Jessica Lotti
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urn, who made their return at last year’s Black ‘N Blue Bowl, have not only been making the rounds playing shows but also should have new music out around the time you read this. Look for a 3 song EP which will have one brand new song as well as two older ones that never made it to any of their earlier studio releases.
ilent Majority who were one of the biggest hardcore bands out of Long Island will be coming back in early June to play a few shows as a benefit for the late Robert McAllister who recently passed away. Robert had been in Iron Chic and was also in Capital along with Silent Majority frontman Tommy Corrigan. Silent Majority broke up in 2000 and both shows in Amityville, NY sold out pretty damn fast. RIP Rob McAllister.
he ‘New Breed Cassette Compilation’ which was put out in 1989 by Freddy Alva and Burn’s Chaka Malik has been putting the final touches on a new documentary which should be out soon. The documentary takes a look at the NYHC scene and the bands that were included on the now famed comp along with current day interviews with many of the participants. Bands that appeared on that 1989 comp included Raw Deal, Outburst, Absolution, Breakdown, Lifesblood, Beyond and a ton of others. The compilation can be gotten via iTunes these days. Screenings are scheduled for Brooklyn, NY and Philadelphia with sales of the documentary to follow.
last Furnace Productions out of Brooklyn has been doing some really good things for the NYHC scene as of late booking shows in Staten Island and Brooklyn. They take care of up and coming NY bands which might not be a part of your vocabulary yet but might be in the near future. When people look to NYHC they of course look at the big hitters like Sick Of It All, Madball, Agnostic Front, Sheer Terror, and the Cro-Mags and they should as they put (and kept) NYHC on the map. Operations like Blast Furnace have been helping push the newer breed of bands, the ones who need those breaks and have done a really good job in the process. Look out for NY bands like A Breed Apart, The Last Stand, Enziguri, Reason Enough, Enrage, and tons of others like Yo! Scunt, Urban Waste, Out Live Death, High Card, Yuppicide, Two Man Advantage, and so fucking many more to list here. The bands listed range from brand spanking new to crusty old-timers and many in between… all of whom make up the dysfunctional NY family that will never go away. WE IN HERE! And… make sure to check out www.InEffectHardcore.com for the scoop on NYHC and beyond!
Name: React! Records Hometown: Baltimore, MD, USA Formed: 2007 Specialises in: Hardcore, straight edge and youth crew Number of releases to date: 53 Brief history: Originally founded in 2007 in Vancouver, Canada by Aram Arslanian (Betrayed, Face Tomorrow and The First Step) ownership was ceded to Evan Wivell (Mindset, Warxgames) in 2013. Mantra: “React! is more than a label, it’s a way of supporting bands that embody the same value system and energy through ideas like straight edge and veganism and to encourage self-reflection and personal growth as a means to changing the world around us.” Key Releases: Mindset – ‘Leave No Doubt’, Angel Du$t – ‘A.D.’, Praise – ‘Light’s Went Out’ Latest Release: Insist – ‘Insist’ EP Website: Itstimetoreact.com
Our good friends at Berlin’s Core Tex Records give us their top 20 records right now. 1. LOIKAEMIE
20 Jahre. Das Fest. Der Anschied. Die Geschichte
Last Call For Adderall
he Concrete Confessional
Vipers and Thieves 7”
BIG CHEESE’S BIG SEND OFF LAGWAGON Pic: Joe Leonard
5. WALLS OF JERICHO
No One Can Save You From Yourself
Down For Life is the bastard son of Big Cheese magazine, which lasted 20 years and is holding a massive all-dayer in London on 17th July as a farewell.
ig Cheese was at the forefront of punk, rock, metal, hardcore and ska for two decades and now has closed its doors, with Down For Life picking up where they’ve left off on the heavier end of the spectrum. Big Cheese are saying goodbye with a 20th anniversary farewell all-dayer gig on 17th July at London’s O2 Kentish Town Forum and it promises to be unmissable. The line-up features Californian skate punk veterans Lagwagon, UK ska punks Jesse James (one-off reunion!), King Prawn, Sonic Boom Six and The King Blues, and also more friends of Big Cheese in the form of Vanilla Pod, The Setbacks, The Bar Stool Preachers and the Big Cheese All-Stars. Sonic Boom Six vocalist Laila K enthuses: “Eugene and the Big Cheese crew hold a special place in my heart. From day one, the support we have received has kept us going as a band. From when we released ‘The Ruff Guide to Genre Terrorism’ on Deck Cheese to being asked to play the send off party, they’ve always cared. When you have been doing what we do for as long as we have, you get to know who the true supporters of underground bands are and they’ve always given a shit. It will be a very sad day, but we will raise our glasses to all they have achieved. With the set, expect the classics like ‘Bigger Than Punk Rock’ and ‘Sound of A Revolution’ with a mix of the bouncy ska party off the new record. Get your dancing shoes ready!” Presented by Academy Events and Big Cheese magazine and sponsored by Jagermeister, the all-dayer gig (with guest DJs and stalls) is on Sunday 17th July from 2pm to late at London’s O2 Kentish Town Forum, with tickets available now from Ticketweb.co.uk
FIREBALL FUELLING THE FIRE TOUR LESS THAN JAKE
The first Fireball – Fuelling The Fire Tour, featuring Less Than Jake, The Skints and Mariachi El Bronx announced for October.
ire it up! Coming in hot this October, the driving Florida ska punk favourites Less Than Jake are headlining the Fireball – Fuelling The Fire Tour 2016. Also on the line-up are UK reggae/ska heroes The Skints and The Bronx’s alter-egos, Mariachi El Bronx. On the first four dates, Japanese-American ska punks Kemuri will join the bill and the last four will see eclectic Aussies The Bennies joining the party instead. Tickets are just £10 from Ticketweb.co.uk. Talking about the tour, Less Than Jake drummer Vinnie Fiorello comments: “Thanks to Fireball we were able to assemble a huge group of our friends on this tour from around the globe. We absolutely can’t wait to come back to the UK shores for what will feel like one huge party every night, night after night.” Fireball UK brand manager James Pattison says: “We’re extremely excited to be launching the first ever Fireball – Fuelling The Fire tour with such a strong line-up of incredible bands, we can’t wait to see you at the shows!” The dates are as follows. October: 3rd Bristol O2 Academy, 4th Sheffield O2 Academy, 5th Birmingham O2 Academy, 6th Brixton O2 Academy, 8th Newcastle O2 Academy, 9th Glasgow O2 Academy, 10th Manchester O2 Ritz, 11th Bournemouth O2 Academy. MARIACHI EL BRONX
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6. CULT OF LUNA Mariner
7. KVELERTAK Nattesferd
Last Great Sea 7”
Nation of Greed 7”
10. STRENGTH APPROACH Over the Edge
11. DISCHARGE End of Days
12. THE WILDING INCIDENT Prey for the Wolfpack 7”
13. SIBERIAN MEAT GRINDER Face the Clan 7”
14. YESTERDAY’S KIDS
By Tim Hackemack (book)
15. BROKEN TEETH
At Peace Amongst Chaos
16. ALTERNATE ACTION Thin Line
17. WORLD BE FREE The Anti-Circle
Sie Wollen Wieder Schiessen
Love Don’t Live Here
20. EXPIRE Old Songs
PHOTO: JACKIE JONES
PEARS Fat Wreck-signed crew mix up punk and hardcore to winning effect.
URNING in one of the best punk albums of 2016 so far, New Orleans’ Pears are sitting pretty with the fantastic ‘Green Star’. In the weeks following its release, guitarist Brian Pretus filled us in about the album, signing to Fat Wreck and what punk means to the band.
What did becoming a Fat Wreck band mean to you? “Ever since we were in bands together when we were younger we had always joked about the possibility of that ever even happening, so it was always definitely a big dream of ours to be in a band on Fat, it’s still pretty surreal honestly, it’s one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to us.”
When writing ‘Green Star’ did you apply any lessons you learned from ‘Go To Prison’? Did you change up the recording process at all? “We definitely did. For both, we had a method to how the songs got written. Basically all the songs are moulded from little clips of us that we’ve recorded onto our phones of riffs we like, and we have a gigantic mountain of these riffs piled up, some are my riffs, some are Zach riffs,
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and I piece them together and add new parts or connecting parts all on the computer to make a full songs demo, and we definitely became more efficient at it by the time ‘Green Star’ was happening. But we definitely learned a lot of lessons in the studio with James Whitten (who engineered and mixed both) as far as tones we would’ve made better, and a more efficient recording process was the outcome of just learning how to work together while recording ‘Go To Prison’, so ‘Green Star’ was much easier to tackle because of it.”
How important is a DIY work ethic to Pears? “That idea is at the very core of our band for sure, we basically still do most things ourselves, we just have an awesome label helping us out when we get ourselves in a jam now, which is a huge relief. It’s great to do stuff on your own, and every band should, to a certain degree. I feel like If you try to do literally everything yourself, then everything you do is only going to come out as good as you knew how to do it, which is why we choose to have people who are better at stuff like recording and that kind of thing do it for us because it makes for a much better product in the end, just having someone who knows what they’re doing instead of trying to do something you know nothing about. Same thing goes with automobiles. We’re never going to try to repair the axle on our van because we definitely won’t do as good of a job as someone who knows how to do it.”
Where do you hope ‘Green Star’ will take you? Do you have any goals or targets to hit? “We’re hoping that ‘Green Star’ will rocket us into the richest 1% in the world, because being broke sucks, but realistically we just want to see the entire world, so if the album helps us in doing that then it would be enough for us. Hopefully by the time we go to record our third album we will have been to at least every continent. We still haven’t been to South America or Africa or middle or Western Europe, or Japan or China so we have a lot to do still.”
What values from punk and hardcore do you apply to your own personal lives? “We’ve been involved in that scene since we were all little kids and I’d say most of the things we do day to day are affected by the values of punk and hardcore. I mean as far as not being a scumbag and thinking for yourself and everything. Doing things yourself is always a great way to handle things as long as you are capable of doing that thing. And you know, the whole unity thing is cool too. Everyone should be nice to each other, but that should just be a value of every day life anyways.”
BRINGS IT LIKE: NOFX / GNARWOLVES / PROPAGANDHI OUT NOW: GREEN STAR (Fat Wreck)
“Foul TasTe oF Freedom” & “The TruTh hurTs” RE-RELEASE of the Cult-Hardcore-Metal albums incl. BONUS TRACKS, NEW LINER NOTES of GARY MESKIL and much more!
NOW! THE NEW ALBUM - OUT NOW! DIG I / LP / DOW NLO AD
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DROPSET ‘90s-referencing sonic fury.
ARKING back to the nasty metallic hardcore of ‘90s outfits like All Out War, Merauder, and Integrity, Dropset have emerged from the London/Kent/Essex triangle on a mission of sonic wickedness. Down For Life’s ears pricked up with the ‘No Gods’ demo
and the band have been more than happy to demonstrate their vicious take on crossover hardcore with a string of impressive live shows. The group are currently in the studio recording tracks for their first EP, which we expect to be every bit as mean as their demo - it’s obvious that these guy have the riffs and they know how to use them: they use them to kill.
Facebook.com/Thefourthcrusade Tom Barry
FOURTH CRUSADE Eviscerating death metal riffs and veganism collide.
NGRY vegans in XL shirts and wide pants stealing riffs from Arkangel, Day Of Suffering and Slayer; it’s a 100% 1990s worship record and I think we did a good job,” states Adrian Brachmann, vocalist in Fourth Crusade, about their latest effort ‘Sowers Of Perdition’ out now
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BRINGS IT LIKE: KNUCKLEDUST / PROVEN / CRIPPLER OUT NOW: NO GODS – DEMO 2015 (Dropset)
through. Of course it’s also their lyrics that fascinate and inspire me, especially those of Day Of Suffering, who used religious symbols as metaphors for mankind’s crimes against nature. It’s interesting how a message of love and caring about others can be expressed with so much anger and despair.” Whilst the musical influence on Fourth Crusade is quite obviously rooted in the 1990’s European metallic hardcore scene, the band’s lyrical influences come more from personal beliefs and lifestyle choices. “When we started Fourth Crusade we were not like ‘Hey, let’s start a militant vegan band!’. My lyrics always dealt with social injustice and I think there are only a few crimes worse than those committed on animals on a daily basis so it was just a logical thing for me to sing about it.” Adrian explains. “Veganism is not only about animal rights but also about human rights as humans are animals and sentient beings as well. I think having a message is very important; people nowadays are ignorant enough and I don’t need to fuel their ignorance with empty words so I try to raise awareness for those that can’t live a high life, not caring about anything or anyone.”
on Soaked In Torment Records/Rising Nemesis Records Vinyl & Tape. Formed in early 2015 from the ashes of other local bands, the quintet from Gieseen, Germany hark back to the glory Facebook.com/Thefourthcrusade days of Goodlife and Lifeforce metalcore, a style Adrian is certainly passionate about. “I John Consterdine can’t think of music that sounds angrier than these bands do; I love the combination of early ‘90s hardcore, death metal and BRINGS IT LIKE: EARTHMOVER / ARKANGEL / EARTH CRISIS Slayer riffs,” he enthuses. “These bands OUT NOW: SOWERS OF PERDITION (Rising Nemesis) sound so incredibly pissed through and
A WAR AGAINST YOU Choose from LTD. EDT. CD BOX SET (inc. Digipak CD, dog tag on keyring, button set and poster)/ EARTH · DIGIPAK EARTHMOVER / ARKANGEL CRISIS CD + Bonus track LOW PRICE CD · LP and DIGITAL DOWNLOAD.
THE BLISTERING BRAND NEW ALBUM.
YOURS TO OWN. OUT NOW.
‘Our Darkest Days’ was an exceptional record... it’s inevitable that expectations are high. Ignite have successfully met those expectations and quite possibly exceeded them.’ Paul Hagen, Big Cheese 9/10
CAREER SUICIDE Hard-hitting punk that pushes the past towards the future.
INCE their formation in Toronto, Canada in 2001, Career Suicide has been blazing a burning trail of direct and hardhitting hardcore punk across the globe that never fails to hit the spot. Whilst they are unashamedly inspired by the initial energy surges of the first waves of punk and hardcore, this ain’t no nostalgia trip. Career Suicide sounds vital, powerful and now. In 2015 the band returned to the UK for the first time in seven years for a short blast of incendiary shows and they unleashed a razor-sharp new track called ‘Cut And Run’, our first taste of new material in as many years. Now they finally have a new album, titled ‘Machine Response’, due later this year and we caught up with frontman Martin Farkas to find out more.
There’s been a long gap between this and the last release, does it get harder to dedicate as much time as you’d like to the band as you get older and real life gets in the way? “Committing the time to a band that regularly practices, records, plays shows and goes on international tours is never easy when you need to coordinate between fourfive people that have busy lives, but we’ve always
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managed. I suppose we’ve never been particularly good about practicing, so that makes it easier. It does take a bit of sacrifice, but we’re all in a position that we can be relatively flexible --none of us are chained to a desk-- and most importantly, we all really enjoy being in the band, so we make it work.”
You’re sometimes labelled a ‘retro’ hardcore band and are certainly influenced by the early waves of punk and hardcore. How do you feel about the current punk and hardcore scenes with so many old bands reforming? Is nostalgia healthy?
other hand, when I saw the Saints, it was so embarrassing that I couldn’t bare to listen to their music for years afterwards, despite how important their music had always been to me.”
Your recent UK tour was the first time you’ve been over in about seven years, did it go to plan? The performance at DIY Space in London saw you constantly having to wrestle your microphone back from an unfeasibly tall skinhead! All par for the course? “We had such a great experience on our UK/ Northern Ireland tour that we’ve long wanted to return, the timing just never quite worked out. We must have invited us a hundred times since that tour, but we could never make it work. As far as mic theft goes, it’s par for the course. I’m so spoiled by the wild interaction between the audience and band at punk/hardcore shows that I can barely sit through a normal band that just plays at their crowd. At our shows, the crowd is such a huge part of what makes the gig, so I really appreciate it when people are enthusiastic and go nuts. That’s not to say it can’t be annoying, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that witnessing someone losing their mind to some stupid song we wrote wasn’t one of the greatest compliments.”
“I think nostalgia is not only healthy it’s requisite. As for old bands reforming, I approach it with a sceptical optimism, though my bar is quite high, so I am usually disappointed. As someone in his mid-30’s it would be pretty funny if I started yapping about punk just being young person’s game, but I do believe that you need to hold yourself to a high standard and be able to deliver a performance worthy of your music. In other words, if you’ve let yourself go and are just going up on stage for old times’ sake, you won’t be able to hide it behind some stupid outfit, or rest on your past glories. When I see a band like the Kids from Belgium, that are clearly putting in the work to put on great James Sherry shows, and they hit the stage with a totally furious intensity, I count myself lucky to have gotten to see them despite BRINGS IT LIKE: BLACK FLAG / PAINT IT BLACK / MINOR THREAT that I was fifteen years too late to OUT NOW: ATTEMPTED SUICIDE (Deranged) catch them in their heyday. On the
PETROL GIRLS Passionate and principled post-hardcore.
ETROL Girls are a feminist post-hardcore band based in South East London. Formed in 2013 for an International Women’s
Day gig, the band have toured regularly around the UK and mainland Europe after having released their fervent ‘Some Thing’ EP to high acclaim earlier this year via Bomber Music. By the time you read this the band will be in mid-swing of a run of headline tour dates which will see the four-piece relaying
WOLF DOWN Lupine chaos with a political bent.
TARTING their journey in 2011 with their debut EP ‘MMXI’, Wolf Down have put themselves firmly on the international hardcore map, touring tirelessly in
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Europe, Asia and Russia. The ‘Liberation EP’, released last year, not only marked the debut of vocalist Dave, but also offered their most uncompromising mix of metallic hardcore to date at that point, fueled by radical political content and drawing comparisons to bands like Hatebreed, Bitter End, The Ghost Inside and Trapped Under Ice.
their new music and their message to hungry ears in the flesh. They had this to say about the dates: “All four of us are really excited to be touring the UK again after taking quite some time off to record our first album and relocate to different living situations and such. Also, we can’t wait to finally present all the new songs we’ve been working on so hard during the past months.“ They’ve recently been working on a debut album, the release of which is yet to be announced. Their music combines manic jagged rhythms with vocals that range from furious screaming to intricate melodies and harmonies. They are known for their explosive live performances, with influences such as Refused, White Lung, Bikini Kill, RVIVR, Propagandhi, At The Drive-In and War On Women. Identifying explicitly as a feminist band and drawing on personal experiences to challenge and ridicule sexism as well as exploring wider political themes such as alienation, mental health and the current anti-austerity movement.
BRINGS IT LIKE: WAR ON WOMEN / BIKINI KILL / FUGAZI OUT NOW: SOME THING (Bomber)
With their second LP ‘Incite And Conspire’ which dropped in February this year, Wolf Down are now poised to become one of the most important bands in their genre. Produced by Dominic Paraskevopoulos in the Level3Entertainment Studios (Kreator, Caliban, Arch Enemy) ‘Incite & Conspire’ sounds even more powerful than any of the band’s previous work. A central theme of the LP is the direct link between human rights, animal rights and the fight for the preservation of our planet. From the call for active environmental protection in ‘Protect / Preserve’, to the denouncement of the abuse of power in religious institutions through ‘True Deceivers’, right up to the demand for the abolition of all cages and the plea for a vegan diet: Wolf Down make it clear that it’s not possible to solve the massive issues they address without recognizing their coherences. If you want to talk about hardcore in 2016, you will be talking about Wolf Down.
BRINGS IT LIKE: EARTH CRISIS / BITTER END / STRAY FROM THE PATH OUT NOW: INCITE & CONSPIRE (End Hits)
EARTHMOVER / ARKANGEL / EARTH CRISIS
RISK IT! Straight out of Dresden and ripping up stages all over the place!
NCE in a while, a band come through town that completely blow all others out of the water... a band that are so talented that when you see them for the first time, your jaw hits the floor. This was what occurred when German band, Risk It! played Surya in Kings Cross in 2013. The band name had been floating around for a while and this was their first headlining show in London. They filled the tiny room with energy and completely blinded everyone with their talent, leaving the crowd gobsmacked. The band formed in 2009, making them relatively young in hardcore terms. Hailing from East Germany, they had a strong scene behind them. “In my opinion, it has one of the best scenes around and it helped us a lot,” singer Greg Lesky tells us: “It’s
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great to see that the people here support their local bands and shows. You can go to small DIY gigs almost every weekend. People are really active here and well connected which makes it all possible the way it is today.” Risk It! have been growing steadily since then. With a few line-up changes in their past, the current inception of the band is stronger than ever. They recently released ‘Cross To Bear’ on guitar player Thomas’s label, Farewell Records, receiving rave reviews. “The label is 100% DIY and the best way for us to release our music. It started out as a small label just to release the music of the bands he played in but it grew and now has a lot of cool bands signed from all over Europe and even Brazil,” Greg says: “We are really looking forward to playing these songs live.” The band have been touring consistently and have just finished opening up the Persistence tour at the start of the year and have many other support slots and tours
under their belt. The best that they have played? “That’s a tough question,” exclaims Greg: “Every show in our area is something special.” He specifically mentions Pitfest in Aachen, Germany, run by Merchpit. com and the now-infamous European Hardcore Pool Party, which they played in September 2015. Held in Lisbon Portugal, where hardcore kids from all over the world join together to enjoy the glorious sun and good music, the fest is proving popular amongst the European crowd. What’s next for Risk It!? “We have a nice tour coming up in May, a tour with Bitter End and also some other things in the making - more news about it soon!”
“The label is 100% DIY and the best way for us to release our music.”
BRINGS IT LIKE: BACKTRACK / LIONHEART / TERROR OUT NOW: CROSS TO BEAR (Farewell)
WITH TEN YEARS HAVING PASSED SINCE IGNITE LAST RELEASED AN ALBUM, THE ORANGE COUNTY MELODIC HARDCORE BAND HAVE RETURNED WITH A GRANDER AMBITION IN THE FORM OF ‘A WAR AGAINST YOU’ PAUL HAGEN GETS THE STORY.
S a result of the great success ‘Our Darkest Days’ enjoyed globally (along with the decision of vocalist Zoli Teglas to join skate punks legends Pennywise for a few years), it’s been a decade since Ignite were able to put out an album. ‘A War Against You’ was released back in January and saw the band move in a slightly different direction compared to their previous album. It sounds immense and polished, an effort that you can imagine being played on daytime radio as well as at the Camden Underworld. That location is where we find bass player Brett Rasmussen shortly before their sold-out show and in between sound checks Brett explains how he, Zoli, Brian Balchack (guitar), Kevin Kilkenny (guitar), and Craig Anderson (drums) managed to come up with the mighty rock found on ‘A War Against You’. Ignite are back in Britain a few days after they finished their stint headlining the Persistence tour in mainland Europe, playing with the likes of Terror, Iron Reagan, and H2O.
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Brett and the boys seemed to enjoy themselves on it, no doubt helped by the fact that it was a hardcore tour. “It was a lot of fun,” Brett readily concedes. “I mean, it was a great package. Those are easy tours to do. Those are like festivals where you know there’s going to be a thousand people there, you know they’re going to be there to see all those bands. It’s a similar genre so there’s not a lot of risk involved in a tour like that, it’s kind of a win-win for everybody. They’re great. You get on stage and a ton of people are there and they know the words to all the songs, even the new ones went over really well. Yeah, it was a great tour.” As coincidence would have it, Ignite are returning to play the Underworld a day short of a year since they last appeared there. It’s been an extremely busy year for them, as Brett explains. “Well, we had started the record at this time last year. The drum tracks were basically done. So basically we went in and finished writing. We had the record three-quarters completed and then we knew we needed to have a few more songs added so between like April and probably June we finished off the writing and the recording. Then after that you think, ‘oh, the bookable work is done’ and then that’s actually when the bookable work starts. You’ve got to mix, set up the mastering session, you have to start working on the artwork, you have to start working on the tours, you have to start work on everything around the
marketing direction, supporting it and yeah, it’s been a busy year.” Ignite have had some free time in recent years, which has given band members the opportunity to play in the likes of Pennywise, Strife, Into Another, and Nations Afire. This has led to a definite impact when it came to the
IGNITE making of the new album. “For me, I could see it in the other guys in the band that went off and played. Like our guitar player Brian went and played in - he plays still in - Into Another and the stuff he was bringing to the table guitarwise, you could tell was this new inspiration from playing with those guys. I mean just writing and recording and jamming with different musicians, you learn. It’s always a learning experience, you know. I think all of us got to grow and dealing with the chemistry of working with other people. For us, we realised that there’s a special thing that we have in Ignite when we get into a room and we write songs that makes people like the band. There’s something cool about the chemistry between the five of us when we write songs and work together. I think it’s maybe because we’re so hard on ourselves about the music and so at the end of the day everything is really scrutinised. For me, playing with other people just gave me a chance to learn how to write differently and how to play my bass differently. I think we all grew.”
Is that level of scrutiny one of the reasons why it took a while to release the album? Brett: “Kind of. I mean the recording process,
we kind of did it the same way we did the previous album. We did it over a long period of time and we do, we get pretty particular about the parts. ‘Is this guitar lick right, is this drum hit right’ and we really get into the nuts and the bolts of all the details. But I mean the biggest thing was Zoli did Pennywise for three years which at that point we knew we wouldn’t have time to really start working on a new record until he and they took a break or until, what ended up happening, where Jim [Lindberg] came back. We toured four or five years off that last record. We just kept getting opportunities to tour and opportunities to play new festivals and new countries so we just kept touring and touring and that lasted until 2009. And then all of a sudden Jim quit so boom, that took us to 2012 in the fall. We started thinking about writing the new
PIC: JESSICA LOTTI
record in 2013. It goes quick.”
You had 18-months dedicated to the song-writing process. What effect do you think that had on the album? Brett: “Once we decided to get in there, it was a little awkward at first because we didn’t really know what direction we wanted to do with this record. We knew we didn’t want to just make a carbon copy of ‘Our Darkest Days’ because you can’t capture the magic of the previous record
“THE FIRST RECORDS WE PUT OUT ARE 20 YEARS OLD. IT ALMOST SEEMED LIKE A DIFFERENT BAND AT THAT POINT.”
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“YOU NEED TO HAVE IT SOUND SOMEWHAT FAMILIAR BUT ALSO YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING FRESH AND NEW TO MAKE THE ALBUM STAND ON ITS OWN.” and I think a lot of bands fall short when they just try to emulate their previous records and it doesn’t have that spark. We knew the album kind of had to stand on its own and we had to bring in this fresh, new, creative stuff but also you have to make sure that people go, ‘hey, that’s Ignite. That’s the band I like’ when they put the new CD on but go, ‘oh wow, what is this? I wasn’t expecting this. This is awesome’. So it’s like tricky, you know. You need to have it sound somewhat familiar but also you have to do something fresh and new to make the album stand on its own.”
Did you take any inspiration from other bands when it came to stretching the boundaries? Brett: “We take it from weird stuff. Whenever you start working on a song, if there’s a vocal part or if there’s a guitar part that reminds you of like, ‘oh, this is going to be like the Queen song’. The guys in the band listen to so many different styles of music. Like Metallica to Johnny Cash to Die Antwoord to Helloween. We’re all over the board. There’s a lot of different things that we pull from. So I wouldn’t say there was anything
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in particular that was inspiring other than just the amount of emails we were receiving from people wanting a new record. That was the biggest inspiration. We wanted to make sure that we delivered a record to our fans that they were really happy with. That was the biggest thing.”
gnite worked once again worked with producer Cameron Webb on ‘A War Against You’, a relationship that has endured over many years. With Cameron having known the band for so long, it was inevitable that he would make some changes to their music. “He would destroy our songs,” Brett admits. “He would make us rebuild them. ‘This song sucks, where’s the chorus, where’s the hook, go back in the studio’. He’s brutal, which is good because at the end of the day I think you get a better product, you get better material. A song like ‘Rise Up’ was
like a mid-tempo punk song and it’s got this big intro now and half-time part and that was all Cameron’s restructuring with the entire song. The song’s still in the same key but the feel of the song is totally different and he did that with quite a few songs.” Cameron also seemed able to give ‘A War Against You’ a bigger, broader, more expansive sound than that heard on ‘Our Darkest Days’. It’s a point that Brett agrees with. “I think so. I think that was pretty much a conscious effort. We really wanted to make it the best sounding Ignite record. Nothing’s more disappointing than when you have the vision of the record just be amazing sounding and then you get the CD at the end when it’s finally mastered and it just doesn’t cut it and that’s so disappointing. We were really, really, really scrutinising every part of the recording process from the microphones to the amp settings to everything to make sure.
IGNITE We wanted to have the record sound as good as Foo Fighters or Rise Against or the new Metallica. We didn’t want a drop in production. We wanted to have that major label-quality recording. I think we nailed it.” Brett adds: “I just think we spent more time on the details and the particulars of actually recording. I think we all went in with a more focused mindset of the sounds we wanted to get and what we wanted it to sound like.” Cameron has said that the band is in a different place now compared to when Ignite made their previous album. Brett explains what was meant by that particular comment. “We’re friends with him in the studio as a producer but then also outside of the studio. We play basketball. It’s a friendship as well as a working relationship. So he knows the ins and the outs of the band. Basically when he’s saying that, ten years ago a couple of us were going through some heavy stuff. We’re ten years older first of all and some guys have had children, some guys are just in a different place in their relationships and stuff so it’s like a lighter, better-spirited band as individuals. That’s what he kind of means by that.”
Would you say that it’s a more positive album than ‘Our Darkest Days’? Brett: “Feels like it. ‘Our Darkest Days’ was pretty angry.”
You’ve said that you feel like this is more of a punk record than a hardcore record. Brett: “You know what, we wrote so many songs and it’s so funny because musically we wrote 40 or so songs and then not all of those got vocals on them. We kind of figured out which ones sounded the best when we were jamming, which ones were translated really easy from a demo to a live version in the room and that’s important because it’s got to feel good when you get together and play it as a band. Then it just seemed like kind of a little of the bit more punk rock sounding songs tended to made the cut. They were just stronger musically and Zoli started putting vocals on those. We whittled it down to probably about 18 songs and then when we went into the studio we landed on 15 songs. Some songs that you’re really psyched on never really materialise into anything amazing and some of the songs where you’re like, ‘I don’t know if this song is going to be awesome’ and then all of a sudden there’s vocals on it and
it makes the whole thing really pop. The song writing formula is crazy. You never know what you’re going to get.”
You’ve been touring on ‘Our Darkest Days’ since 2006. How do you feel now the new album has been released and you can play the new songs? Brett: “Thinking about getting on stage and having finally people know these words to the songs and the parts is really exciting for all of us. At the end of the day, you just trust your instincts on the songs and you hope that the material you write is going to be well received but getting out there and playing the songs in front of people is the true test. But since the record came out basically the day before the tour started, or a couple of days before, you wonder how many people have had the chance to really sink their teeth into it and learn the whole thing. I think we’ll get a better feedback on really everything as the year progresses and as we come back more and people are really familiar with the album. There’s a good amount of people singing along the words to new stuff but give it a few months and it’ll be a lot more well heard.”
iven that it’s been ten years between albums, it’s only inevitable that there would be some concerns in the band about losing some of their fanbase. However, the strength of their last album and regular touring seems to have eroded those fears. “Well, it’s weird because you put out a record in 2006 and then you don’t put one out until 2016 and you assume that the band is going to lose part of its fanbase or something but that record was weird,” Brett says philosophically. “People really gravitated towards our last record and it was like, ‘oh my God, it was the best record in the last so many years’. People would be constantly turning other people onto the record so it was weird because we continued to sell the record through the whole ten years. I mean sales obviously fell off after the initial push but we played Groezrock two years ago and we did an autograph signing session. There was a couple of hundred of people in line, which is always nice to see. Most of them had never seen us and they’d just been turned onto the band. Like, ‘oh, my friend turned me onto this band two years ago. I’ve never seen you guys. This is the first album I…’ A lot people don’t even know we have too many records before ‘Our Darkest Days’ because the first records we put out are 20 years old and it almost seemed like a different band at that point. It’s been interesting to see the band grow but also at the same time I think heavy music continues to grow so we kind of grow with it. It seems like heavy music is becoming more and more mainstream and with that said, we just have more people interested in punk rock and metal and hardcore in general. So I think the fanbase is just growing
in general across the board.” Brett believes that growth can’t be attributed to any one thing but notes that the mainstream musical environment has improved in the past couple of decades. “You’ve got to think that this version of punk rock didn’t really hit the mainstream and major labels until that mid-‘90s push so you think that’s 20 years only of people being exposed to harder and heavier music. I think it was ‘91 or ‘92 when the ‘Black’ album by Metallica really went mainstream mainstream and so all these people that maybe just listened to classic rock, their parents’ music, were now being exposed to heavier music. I just think all those bands from the punk rock and the metal side of it just getting onto a way more mainstream level is the reason why the scene keeps on growing. You have like Hatebreed and AFI and all these bands that started out playing basement shows, all those bands went on to sign major label deals with Universal and DreamWorks and marketed as like major label rock bands and all those bands had hardcore roots. It’s been interesting to see all these bands start on small labels and move onto bigger labels.” Another explanation could be the increase in levels of file-sharing and people having the ability to listen to music for free. It’s something that Ignite have undoubtedly benefited from. “100%. It’s crazy,” Brett notes. “We did a festival in Indonesia in March  with Lamb of God and I think on all the royalty statements I’ve ever got from the label, sometimes it breaks down where you record sales are, I don’t know if we’ve sold more than 100 records in Indonesia but we went to a 25,000 person festival and there was Ignite stuff bootlegged all over the street and thousands of kids were singing the lyrics to our songs and that’s obviously a direct result of file-sharing and MP3s being online and being passed to people. If it enables us to go to new territories and play and build a new fanbase, I mean at the end of the day record sales are dwindling anyway. Artists aren’t making as much money anymore selling records so if we can grow our fanbase around the world and go to new countries and play in these cities where before there was no chance people would have heard our music, I’m all for it.” ‘A WAR AGAINST YOU’ IS OUT NOW ON CENTURY MEDIA
DOWN FOR LIFE
“I FEEL SOMETIMES WE ARE TOO HARDCORE FOR THE METAL AUDIENCES, AND IN THE SAME RETROSPECT TO METAL FOR THE HARDCORE FANS.”
DOWN FOR LIFE
TWITCHING TO NGUES Metallic hardcore quintet TWITCHING TONGUES are currently riding high with their new full length offering ‘Disharmony’ surfacing via their new label Metal Blade Records. Fresh from a slot on the annual hardcore behemoth the Persistence tour, Down For Life’s Mark Freebase spoke to the L.A. commanders of controversy and found out they are not prepared to tow the line one bit.
APPY to use the descriptive ‘irregular’ regarding Twitching Tongues, vocalist Colin Young chuckles as he confidently quotes “an enormous variety of abnormal things make this band” it seems a positive comes from within what so many would consider negative. It’s a trait the band have relished strongly, and as the nonchalant frontman emphasises, it’s how it has always been for them. “People have to take it the way they want to take it, but we are just gonna keep on doin’ our thing”. Twitching Tongues are a band intent on pleasing themselves first. “We definitely write what we want to hear” and that’s probably understood by the fans anyway.” Twitching Tongues have never been a band to bow down to conformity. These elements make the quintet quite hard to pigeonhole, and to pin down to a certain dynamic. “It’s just the way we end up doing it” maybe intentional, maybe just driven by a twist to be against the grain or even self-indulgent, but Colin calmly discloses “We don’t really anticipate how different the album is going to be, or even how each song will turn out at the end” this all adds to the content which makes Twitching Tongues a total blend of genres. Has the band suffered from this? “I think so…” stifles the vocalist… “I feel sometimes we are too hardcore for the metal audiences, and in the same retrospect to metal for the hardcore fans” this leads to the conclusion they are maybe a little weirder to fathom out for the both. With genres merging and boundaries coming down easier these days a song that is as much Hatebreed as it is Candlemass can be consumed vigorously by the listening audience. “It is really easy now, but it wasn’t always that way”. Six or seven years ago when the band started it was significantly tougher and some would say hard to figure out, but Twitching Tongues have continued to plough forward regardless of what people thought. For a band that has been part of the hardcore clique for so long, putting their neck outside the nominated boundaries is something they do not live in fear of doing. “One of the biggest talking points is how my vocals are not typically hardcore” and this quite rightly gives them a different characteristic. Drawing influences from hardcore contemporaries Cro-Mags, Only Living Witness, Sheer Terror, and mixing them with metal attributes like Candlemass and Type O Negative. In the earlier days - and especially the latter ‘90s - the hardcore crowd had always been way more of an open minded contingency, is this a contributing fact as to how bands are fusing wider elements now? Or is it the metalheads who are showing more open arms? “Well this seems like the first time since the ‘90s that hardcore bands
are jumping to larger labels, and doing bigger things, than they have in the past fifteen years or so” emphasising the fact that hardcore is surely about to branch out over a much greater spectrum. Whether people are prepared for it or not is just another question. “If you don’t put a label on it, will people say its bad ass or awesome?” The less people stigmatise it, the more people take it all as one, it’s a perspective Twitching Tongues want to utilise as a musical standpoint, just remember “this is not mainstream music”. People seem less scared to admit to musical influences these days, and embracing the inspirational sounds is what drives this nonconformist machine. “You tell me that Celtic Frost’s ‘Cold Lake’ is not a bitchin’ record!” is a comment many may shrug their unimpressed shoulders to, but Colin’s cries of “‘Cold Lake’ is sick!” will also ring true for many. This comes from a band who can grace the boards of all things metal at the mighty Hellfest, and sit comfortably amongst the likes of Terror and Wisdom In Chains on the packaged Persistence tour. “This has been a great experience for us, as we have only come by ourselves, or as a co-headlining tour to Europe so far. It was awesome, and we had a lot of fun. They were some of our best shows in Europe to date actually. Twitching Tongues are totally into mixing it up, we are at this point now where we would totally like to tour with bands we like, bands that are peers, bands we have respect for, or some bucket list bands… you know; regardless of genre”. Twitching Tongues’ dark side is always one that is prominent, especially present for new album cover ‘Disharmony’ which delves deeper into the tailing end of a theme which has run through previous releases. “We wanted this to clearly stand out in our discography. So that you know it’s a different thing. Our cover artwork consciously covers lyrical topics, and for the new record I saw this particular image from a witchcraft magazine in the ‘70s that I used as the inspiration for the album cover. This sacrificial element that I wanted to indulge and immerse amongst and the overall concept for the song ‘Disharmony’, and some of the other songs like ‘Sacrifice’ all comes together and is a true representation of where we are at as a band. I am very happy with this, and it’s out there as my favourite.”
ome may consider signing with the larger labels moving away from their roots, or even selling out, but what does a label like Metal Blade Records have to offer? “I think this will give us better distribution for sure, I know for a fact that it is not as difficult to find the album in Europe any more, which
is cool, I am aware that many people will internet buy or order these days anyway, but it still has a wider availability on Metal Blade. It has also opened us up to a larger circle of music fans who might not necessarily of known who we were before… it’s also a possibility for better tours, which is definitely great and a real positive point for us guys. As far as changing the way we operate, I’m pretty confident in saying this statement is minimal. The label always knew we operated a little differently, and we were a little bit weird, and it’s certainly going to stay that way [laughs]. We are certainly not abandoning any of the things we indulged in during early conception. I mean, take the bands we played with for example, we have always played amongst all spectrums of hardcore music, so we are not doing anything with any changes here. Cross-pollination is something that runs deeply within this band, and to be honest we have not worked deep enough within the metal end of the continuum yet. We would like to expand on this, for sure, but it has to be with things we like, as it seems that even on every cool metal tour there is something that sucks. It is frustrating when we get the opportunity to head out with a band we really like only to find out we are first on out of a bunch of five, and the second and third bands are total dogshit!”. An instance that arises for many bands throughout their career; so is it all to do with the politics of the beloved music business? “One thousand percent. It has always been that way. I’m not hatin’ on anybody though. I respect it. Whether you like a band or not if they get to a certain point its usually because they busted their asses to get to that place.” Reigning in their true roots and keeping a tight hold of where they have evolved from becomes apparent during the cover versions recorded for ‘extras’ on the new record. “Ahhh, the two Agnostic Front Songs… well we wanted to do a couple of bad ass, classic, hardcore songs. Give them to people who might not be familiar with them, and they are different from what we actually sound like as a band, another part of the branching out example. The ‘No Thank You’ song was a live outro that Merauder did, but they said different stuff, I made my own no thank you’s though. They said things that were particular to them in a live set during the early 90’s, so we just changed the musical aspect of it, and I filled it with my own shit! You only have to listen to what I’m saying out loud and you will get the message!” [laughs]. Not wanting to reveal too much and hoping to surprise people in the future. Colin seems a little shady, or maybe even vague as to the life expectancy of ‘Disharmony’ although the band does have plans he is happy to disclose. The final expressions of Twitching Tongues can be summed up with the frontman’s chilling quote… “We are extremely comfortable with hardcore but almost to a fault!” ‘disharmony’ is out now on metal blade records
DOWN FOR LIFE
“IT DOESN’T SEEM LIKE 20 YEARS. IT ALL SEEMS LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY”
KNUCKLEDUST are a UKHC institution: since their formation in an east end youth club in the mid-’90s, the London band have been representing the scene and sound they helped to spawn, relentlessly. Earning the rock-solid respect afforded to the group hasn’t come quick or easy, and this year marks two decades of the four original members consistently putting in the kind of hard work necessary to be considered legends of the scene. Tom Barry found out more...
now; the same four guys playing show after show with no let up. Recording and touring as an underground band is not easy, and keeping the original line-up through thick and thin is almost unheard of. Any tips for younger bands starting out?
You’ve been smashing out shows like this for 20 years
“It doesn’t even seem like 20 years. Lots of old photos have surfaced lately which do make me feel quite old, but in reality it all seems like yesterday. As a unit I guess we never really aimed too high and just tried to enjoy it - I think if you make huge goals for your band you will end up disappointed. This game is full of empty promises: lots of people promise the world and deliver
S hardcore shows go, Knuckledust’s 20th Anniversary set at London’s Pipeline club was perfect. If you could boil hardcore music down to the essentials and throw it straight up on stage, you’d get the passion, power, and resultant tsunami of a crowd we witnessed tonight. Down For Life caught up with KD drummer and UKHC OG, Ray Dust, after the show to talk about the band’s 20th anniversary, their latest album, and the recent Rebellion Tour.
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nothing when it comes to playing big festivals or being on supports for major tours. Theo at GSR Music has put out our records, managed our tour booking, merch, and driving for the last 12-13 years, and if he wasn’t doing that then I doubt we’d be as active as we’ve been. In fact, I’m sure of it. If I could give advice to younger bands it would be just to enjoy it and play music instead of seeking major label deals and trying to get on shitty TV channels like Scuzz and get to know people. Nobody gives a shit about your music as much as you so it’s important that, if you want to play bigger shows, then go meet the people
KNUCKLEDUS T (Agnostic Front, and later Madball, guitarist) Matt Henderson’s son and wife, I probably would have told you to get off drugs and clean up.”
for Madball in the past so we’re good friends and he knows about Knuckledust and what we need to sound like. We write the songs but the How were things compared to the Resistance tour back production really is down to the engineer - if you in 2003? write the best song in the world and it’s recorded “Things were a lot easier than that tour. We shit then you’ve blown it. Years ago people loved had a van and would follow the tour buses around that raw sounding recording but people just do on that tour - in some places went on stage not accept it these days, not even at demo level. before the doors were open. It was a 17 day tour Igor did an amazing job on ‘Songs Of Sacrifice’ that ended up costing us and on ‘Bluffs, Lies & Alibis’. It more than £4000. We spent always sounds pretty good in the years after paying it off. studio but when he sends back a Thankfully on this tour we master recording it just blows my had beds on the bus and a mind. The guy is a genius.” food and drink rider. It was a shorter tour but took in The new album stays true to the major cities like Prague and classic Knuckledust sound but also Berlin. Sometimes I woke up builds on the more Oi-influenced and didn’t have a clue where anthems that first popped up on we were.” ‘Bluffs, Lies & Alibis’. We understand (‘London Hardcore’, 1997)
Essential Knuckledust Tracks
When Down For Life caught up with you on the German leg of the tour, you mentioned there were still plenty of hearts and minds to win over as you moved across Europe - what’s the attitude before you go out onstage? Do Knuckledust have any pre-show routines or rituals that you’ve picked up over the years?
(‘Time Won’t Heal This’, 2000)
‘TRUST NO ONE’ (Unite split, 2001)
‘25 YEARS DEAD’
‘Universal Struggle’, 2003)
How was the Rebellion tour? “The Rebellion tour was amazing and something we’d been working hard to be a part of for almost 8 months beforehand. As you can imagine, every band out there wants to be a part of it so we timed the release of our album and video to coincide with the tour’s schedule in order to make it happen. For that we thank Freddy Madball and the people at MAD tour booking. We played 11 shows in cities around Europe - some places had heard Knuckledust and some had not, so it was especially nice to get a warm welcome at those places that were a little unfamiliar with our stuff. The whole tour package was made up of a cool bunch of people - we definitely made some friends for life. If you told me 20 years ago that I’d be sitting backstage doing magic tricks with
“Yeah Wema sent me a demo and we just learnt the songs to record them. We hardly changed anything from the demos other than to add our own individual style/feel to the music. If you ever saw the movie ‘Whiplash’ then that would give you an idea of how he was with me in the studio when I was trying to get the timings right on the songs. My personal favourite is ‘Life Struggle’ and the video came out amazing but the intro to ‘Humanities Nightmare ‘shreds. That shit is heavy, I love it!”
“We usually just argue (‘Unbreakable’, 2005) about how shit we were the night before and promise not to do it again! Even if (‘Bluffs, Lies & Alibis’, 2012) we have a great show we are always our biggest critics but I like that ‘cos it keeps you (‘Songs Of Sacrifice’, 2016) on your toes. I think people warm to bands that look like they have a passion for So what’s next for you guys? the music and enjoy playing live - I don’t think “We will keep doing what we do and with no anyone can take that away from Knuckledust. We plans to stop! This summer we’ll be hitting a few had good responses at all the shows and we’re of the bigger festivals around Europe so keep an very grateful for that.” eye out for us - and check out the new record if you haven’t already cos it’s a cracker!”
‘BLUFFS, LIES & ALIBIS’
that are booking them. Look them in the eye and shake their hands and negotiate how you can go about getting your band on. Don’t send an email or Facebook message, that’s just a waste of time.”
that Wema (KD guitarist) took care of a lot of the song-writing for this album?
You’ve recently released your new album, ‘Songs Of Sacrifice’. Aside from the great tunes, the production sounds immense. Producer Igor Wouters travelled over from Holland with his box of tricks to record you in your local rehearsal space. Does Knuckledust take this mobile approach in order to record in more familiar surroundings? “No, we do it that way because the budget dictates it. We’re just lucky that we found a guy that knows what he’s doing and gets our band. We’ve toured with Igor a few times as he’s the drummer for Backfire and has also played
‘SONGS OF SACRIFICE’ IS OUT NOW ON GSR MUSIC
PIC BY AGA HAIRESIS
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It’s been 12 long years since Californian legends DESCENDENTS last released an album, in the form of 2004’s ‘Cool To Be You’, so it’s no wonder that the punk world is buzzed for upcoming seventh album, ‘Hypercaffium Spazzinate’, out in July on Epitaph. They’re following that by returning to the UK to headline the Thursday at Blackpool’s Rebellion Festival on 4th August. Ian Chaddock looks back at their early days then catches up with drummer, founding member and former Black Flag sticksman Bill Stevenson to talk about what the band have been up to over the last decade or so and how it feels to be back.
F FAMILY “FOUR MONTHS AGO MILO BOUGHT MY AN ESPRESSO MAKER, SO NOW ORMED back in 1978 when three young teenagers delved into the LA hardcore punk scene, it was a baptism of fire for Bill Stevenson, Frank Navetta and Tony Lombardo, as Stevenson told Big Cheese back in 2011. “I remember that one of the big turning points was when we opened up for the Germs. Their fans hated us so much and thought that we were total wimps. They were throwing stuff at us and hitting us. That may have kind of made us evaluate the idea of maybe having a little more aggression in the sound. It was around that time that Milo started coming to practise all the time to watch us.” Recruiting the bespectacled Milo Aukerman as their vocalist for 1981’s ‘Fat’ EP, 1982 would be a landmark year for Descendents, releasing debut LP, ‘Milo Goes
to College’, now regarded as a hardcore/ punk classic. Aukerman told Big Cheese in ‘11, “I remember being already off at college, when my roommate said, ‘Hey, my friends have your record, let’s go check it out!’ I was thinking to myself, ‘Wait a minute, how do these guys know about my band?’ It was the first time I heard the final mix, so when they played it I was totally absorbed listening to it. Uncomfortable too. The record didn’t have an impact at least initially, but seems to have increased in importance through the years, and I’m proud of that.” When Aukerman headed to college, Stevenson joined hardcore punk heroes Black Flag. “When I began filling in for Black Flag and then joining the band later, I was under the notion that I could do both. But it proved not to be the case. I ended up focussing on Black Flag for quite a while. It wasn’t planned out because I was too young and stupid to plan anything.” Although Descendents were on hiatus from ‘83 to ‘85, they returned in style with two albums – 1985’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up’ and 1986’s ‘Enjoy!’. It was a time Stevenson told Big Cheese in 2011 was a “wonderful time”, DESCENDENTS IN THE EARLY DAYS despite line-up
changes and mixed reviews. “The touring that we did in the mid ‘80s was some of the most fun touring ever. I don’t know, we were still young adults and we were just out there causing trouble in every possible way.” Fast forward through 30 years, more lineup changes and three more albums (1987’s ‘ALL’, 1996’s ‘Everything Sucks’, 2004’s ‘Cool To Be You’), not to mention Descendents playing and recording with different vocalists and going by the name of ALL, and now we’re looking at a summer that finally sees their recorded return. With Aukerman and Stevenson being joined by Stephen Egerton (guitar) and Karl Alvarez (bass) since 1986, the long-standing Descendents quartet is set to unleash another mighty slice of hyper melodic punk on the world with ‘Hypercaffium Spazzinate’. 12 years since ‘Cool To Be You’, Down For Life talks to Bill Stevenson to find out what’s been happening.
I’M EVEN MORE OF A CRACKHEAD THAN I WAS BEFORE.”
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Your last album, ‘Cool To Be You’, was released on Fat Wreck 12 years ago. How do you feel about that record now and what are your memories of that time in 2004? Bill Stevenson (drums): “Each of our releases tend to sort of ‘mark time’ for me. Personally, I think of a somewhat dark time, and me trying to reconcile myself with ‘grown up’ type stuff. For example, ‘One More Day’ is about my father passing away.”
You’ve had some really hard times since ‘Cool To Be You’, including some incredibly serious health struggles and the loss of original guitarist Frank Navetta. Did these things make you closer to your Descendents family and more determined to write another album? “Both Karl [Alvarez, bass] and I have had lifethreatening health issues over the last decade
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“FOUR MONTHS AGO MILO BOUGHT MY FAMILY AN ESPRESSO MAKER, SO NOW I’M EVEN MORE OF A CRACKHEAD THAN I WAS BEFORE.” and a half. I do think that when I survived the brain surgery and also the pulmonary embolism, it seemed to perhaps wake all of us us up a bit, and we started playing a lot of shows not long afterwards… maybe a ‘now or never’ sort of thinking. We never really talked about it. It just kinda went that way.”
2010 saw you reunite for one-off shows and come over to the UK for shows in 2011. Sadly those shows didn’t go so well as Milo blew his voice out and you DESCENDENTS IN THE EARLY 90’S
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had to get by with guest vocalists and cancel the second London show. You made light of the situation in typical Descendents style with the excellent ‘F’ grade Descendents t-shirt when you returned for rescheduled shows but was that a rough time? “We have each had to adapt to the mechanics of being 50 year olds playing at a teenager’s tempo and intensity level. I have doubled and tripled my rehearsal routine, and, yes, after Milo lost his voice, he then had to re-think the logistics of being ‘properly prepared to rock’.”
Was that an influence on why you now seem to favour playing one-off festivals rather than touring extensively? “Until recently, we have just been doing shows on the weekends, kind of whenever Milo [Aukerman, vocals] could get away from work. But starting this year we will be doing a lot more shows. Milo no longer works as a bio-chemist, so, Descendents will be able to be more active.”
DESCENDENTS What has been your favourite festival you’ve ever played and why was that experience so special to you? “I think I like FEST in Gainesville the best. I seem drawn towards the smaller festivals.”
You’re playing Rebellion Festival in Blackpool in August, alongside the likes of Flag, The Dickies, Peter and the Test Tube Babies and more, while other days of the festival include Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers and The Damned. Are you excited to play such a respected UK punk festival and will you be trying to see some of these bands or catch up with old friends? “Woah, that is quite a line-up. Seems like I will be trying to scurry to and fro, to catch several bands.”
Can we expect any other UK gigs or festival appearances?
“Yes, I’m sure we will get back over there next year as well.”
Before Rebellion, you’ll be releasing your longawaited seventh studio album ‘Hypercaffium Spazzinate’. I presume you’ve been knocking back the bonus cups while working on these songs? “Four months ago Milo bought my family an espresso maker, so now I am even more of a crackhead than I was before.”
How much material did you have for this album after 12 years? How did the writing and recording process go this time? “Each of us brought about nine songs in... so, yeah, there was a lot to dig through. We send demos to each other, we fly to each others’ houses, we do various things to get the music right.”
What are the themes and messages of the album? Is it more serious or fun or a mixture of the two? What albums would you say this one is most like? “We have never really had ‘a direction’. Primarily this is because we always have four people writing songs, so our albums have always been, and continue to be, somewhat ‘all over the place’. It seems natural to us though. A day in life is sort of like that… sort of ‘all over the place’.”
Any favourite song or ones that mean a lot to you personally? Why? “I fail to answer this question every time. I think the catharsis of the creative process is what I love, and the songs are just the ‘bi-product’ of that very healing process. Each of them heals a certain thing at a certain time.”
This album will be coming out on Epitaph again, are you excited to be releasing it through them? “They are the best label in the world. They have been for many years.”
Any chance of a sneak peek of the album artwork? Does that tie in with any themes of this one? The hyper ‘bonus cup’ Milo perhaps? “You’ll have to wait and see...”
The Descendents/ALL documentary ‘Filmage’ was incredible and finally told your full story with love, detail and respect. What did you think of the movie and were you happy with the final product? “It is weird to watch one’s self in a movie (unless you are an actor), so, it’s hard to look at it objectively. I think the film makers did a wonderful job, I just don’t like to see photos or videos of myself, because I am self-conscious about my appearance and my mannerisms. I do not know why really.”
It came as a shock to myself and many others about the extent of your illness and your brain tumour. Was it hard to open
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“EACH OF US BROUGHT ABOUT NINE SONGS IN... SO, YEAH, THERE WAS A LOT TO DIG THROUGH.” up about that or did it feel good to talk about it? “I have had good luck surviving, so I am happy to share my joy. FYI – I just had ‘open lung surgery’ six months ago, to finally get the pulmonary embolisms out of my lungs. it went extremely well. It is so much more fun to play drums now that I can breathe properly.”
Was your sickness and members’ busy producing work and family lives part of the reason for the long gap between albums this time? “We all have ‘lives’ now, as it were… so,
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we don’t record real often. But, honestly, I think it is our relaxed pacing that has kept us together for so long – we don’t cram together all the time and break up, like what happens to every other band.”
Do you feel that ‘Filmage’ has helped to get the Descendents even more love from fans, old and new in the last couple of years? “I’m not sure. I don’t have as good of a sense for ‘promotional effectiveness’ as I do for notes and chords. in some ways, I think the movie is a celebration for many people.”
Who are your favourite bands, old and new, at the moment? Who are you listening to and what makes them great to you? “A Wilhelm Scream, Audio Karate, Charlie Parker, Cole Porter, Chris Knight... I guess music effects me in visceral or subconscious ways, so, usually, when I like a band, or some other form of art, I really do not know why I like it. It just makes me feel something.”
After the new album and Rebellion festival, what do you have planned for the rest of the year? Will we be
DESCENDENTS seeing more of the Descendents in 2016? “We will be doing an increased amount of shows, and I do think it is likely that we will not wait another ten years to record, maybe only two years or so. I don’t know, it just feels like that.”
What’s happening with ALL? Any plans? “We should do more ALL records. For the moment our emphasis will be on Descendents.”
Finally, in 2016, which of the All-O-Gistics are you and the Descendents still abiding to? “We still adhere to ALL of them.” ‘HYPERCAFFIUM SPAZZINATE’ IS OUT JULY ON EPITAPH DESCENDENTS PLAY REBELLION FESTIVAL ON 4TH AUGUST
DOWN FOR LIFE LOOKS BACK AT WHEN FRONTMAN MILO AUKERMAN TALKED BIG CHEESE THROUGH HIS MEMORIES OF THE DESCENDENTS BACK CATALOGUE IN 2011... MILO GOES TO COLLEGE (1982) “I would ride my bike over to the studio to record. We had practised the songs forever, it seemed, so everything was killer tight. Spot had dialled in the right sound for us, without a lot of effects. I was just starting to learn to sing melodies, but I still liked to bark and yell, so it was a bit of a synthesis of those styles. A fun record to make, and none of us really had any idea of the impact it would have through the years.” I DON’T WANT TO GROW UP (1985) “I was at college, and Bill called me up and said, ‘I got these new songs, wanna hear?’ I said, ‘Sure, I got some too.’ We talked to Tony [Lombardo, original bassist], and he also had a bunch of songs. Bill was still full-time in Black Flag at this point, but we decided to work on the new material with Tony and Ray [Cooper, second guitarist], and see what happened. It was all code-named ‘The Bold Crusaders’ so no one would know it was the Descendents reunited. The practises were comical; we played low volume in Tony’s garage, almost acoustically. I think Bill even used a toy drum kit! Not everything worked; ‘In Love This Way’ and ‘NoFB’ still make me wince today. But I’ll always remember a practise at Jeff Atkinson’s house, where I used a Casio toy keyboard to work out melodies for ‘Christmas Vacation’.” ENJOY! (1986) “The first record to show the effects of ‘tour damage’. Doug Carrion [second bassist] had joined, and he had written a bunch of songs without lyrics, so I added my words. Some of them turned out better than others. In our demented state, we thought the song ‘Enjoy’ was genius, and it also became the album title. It closely beat out ‘I Stepped In Shit’ (which we already had cover art for – a photo of a foot squishing actual poop). Along with the fuck-it-all crassness, the touring gave this record a harder edge. Some songs are a difficult listen for me; ‘Green’ and ‘Days Are Blood’ especially. But the sound is much improved over ‘...Grow Up’, much tougher.”
ALL (1987) “As with ‘Enjoy!’, I tried my hand at writing lyrics for other people’s music, again with mixed results. After this record, I resolved to never try to set poems to music again. Some people can pull off pretentious; I’m not one of them. On this record, the highs are very high, and the lows are very low. We were experimenting, enjoying the fact that the new guys [current members guitarist Stephen Egerton and bassist Karl Alvarez] were so skilled and could pull off King Crimson-esque riffs. Musically, it kills, but I’m sure many were turned off by the experimentation. Not everything worked, obviously. But I’m still proud of songs like ‘Impressions’, just because it was so out-of-the-box for us.” EVERYTHING SUCKS (1996) “Back to basics, in a sense. Like with ‘MGTC’, a lot of time was spent with the songs prior to recording, because ALL had been practising and demoing many of the songs for months, before we decided to do them as Descendents songs. So the songs were solid, and there were a lot of them. I remember thinking, ‘How are we going to cut some of these?’ because there were way too many good ones to put on the album. I’m just happy ‘Eunuch Boy’ made the cut; that was the first lyric I ever wrote (set to music by Tony Lombardo, back in 1980!). We finished the record, and I was so amped about how it turned out, I said, ‘We gotta tour to support it! It deserves nothing less!’ The rest of the guys were more than ready.” COOL TO BE YOU (2004) “I guess we finally grew up. I can’t write about the girl who left me any more, it’s on to more mature subjects. Bill’s dad died, Karl’s wife left him, I’m struggling to have a successful science career. Why not have those be the songs? This record is one of the most honest we have done. I wondered if anyone would listen; in some ways it’s a vanity project. I had all these songs stockpiled, many that didn’t sound at all like Descendents, and somehow, they ended up on the record. Unlike our other records, which I couldn’t listen to for years after I made them, I found I could listen to this one (and enjoy it) immediately after. So I’m happy with how it turned out, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not.”
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WORLD BE FR EE Louise Brown meets legendary figures Arthur Smilios and Scott Vogel to discover how Gorilla Biscuits and Terror spawned WORLD BE FREE.
RTHUR Smilios talks at a million miles an hour. He’s sat backstage at their second London Gorilla Biscuits show in as many days and he’s excited about a thousand things. He’s in his favourite city (after New York), he’s just scored some original 1970s Fred Perry shirts (anyone who knows anything about Arthur knows that he has two loves: vintage Fred Perry and cats), Gorilla Biscuits are about to play and he has a new band. As much as we want the godfather of hardcore bass to regale us with tales of the Biscuits’ early days, seeing Agnostic Front at CBGBs, playing with Underdog and CIV, the genius of Walter Schreifels, he’s on a mission, and that is to tell everyone and anyone to listen to World Be Free’s debut album ‘The Anti-Circle’. Recorded in two days in March 2015 it’s an album that possesses all the raw, urgent, positive energy of early East Coast hardcore. It has the DNA of Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Dag Nasty, Gorilla Biscuits and Youth Of Today in its veins. There on the back is the Yellow Star itself, the stamp of the legendary Revelation Records. But it didn’t come out in 1989. It came out in February and is the brainchild of Scott Vogel, the notorious frontman of hardcore behemoths, Terror. Wait, hold up. The same Terror, who burst onto the scene back in 2003 with the pissed-off, heavy metalcore EP ‘Lowest Of The Low’, and have relentlessly toured, recorded and put out some of the most seething, violent hardcore ever since? Scott Vogel, the motormouth frontman who is as famed for his between-song banter as he is his injury-inducing, mosh-heavy anthems? He’s behind this slab of old school hardcore, dripping with PMA? Arthur’s beaming. Damn right, and he can’t praise the album, or the band’s founder enough. “He’s just an amazing human being. He’s a freakin’ weirdo in the best possible way. We just did these shows with World Be Free and he’s really funny. When he tries to be funny he’s funny but sometimes he’s not even trying. He was killing me on these shows. Vogel got it, he killed it. The lyrics are great, his execution is great and it’s a departure for him. It’s a departure from Terror in every way. The germ of the idea was his,” Arthur tells us. “He went running one day and he was listening to ‘Start Today’ and he just had this moment where he decided he wanted to do another band that had the same effect as Gorilla Biscuits. He said he wanted it to be a positive band, a band that makes people happy. He and Andrew
wrote all these songs within the first couple of days, they got Sammy involved and they had the record written by the time they called me.” Oh, that will be Andrew Kline from ‘90s hardcore veterans Strife and Sammy Siegler of Project X/Youth Of Today. “But what was funny was that Vogel was telling me that this is what he wanted to do,” Arthur continues, still beaming. “On my side of the stage yesterday, I saw people smiling and singing every lyric. I thought, whatever we’ve done in the world, I’m part of a band that makes people happy. I love that people don’t come to our shows to fight, people don’t come to our shows for posturing, they come because it’s fun and World Be Free, it’s a heavier band to Gorilla Biscuits sure, but the lyrics have that effect and that’s what Scott’s original idea was and that’s what we all want out of it because they’re just four other goofballs too. Which is great as I cant be in a band with people who take themselves too seriously. Take the music seriously, not yourself!” ‘The Anti-circle’ is serious. It’s melodic hardcore, embracing all the poppy bounce and finger pointing, singalong choruses you’d expect from positive punk rock in the vein of Grey Area and Descendents, but it’s serious, urgent. It’s a record that’s immediate and pulsating and defines that punk rock rawness. Arthur laughs at this suggestion. “We had a whole conversation, Scott and I, and he said ‘I don’t really like punk, I like hardcore’. See this is what’s funny, I love hardcore but I like punk so much more and always have. This first wave British shit, that’s the stuff that really got me and then I got into hardcore and I love it, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re talking about that first wave of British punk, there is very little I don’t like. If I had a time machine there would be a few things I would do but most involve coming to London somehow. London in ‘76 and ‘77 must have been electric.”
ut that wasn’t Scott’s journey. While the British bands paved the way for the pioneers of the NYHC scene like Arthur, they in turn paved the way for a kid from Buffalo to start down his own hardcore path. And now, however many years later he’s started a band and managed to get the ultimate NYHC rhythm section to play in it. That would be like Arthur starting a punk band with Glenn Matlock and Paul Cook. He gets it. “Scott told me something really funny,” he interjects,
“I can’t be in a band with people who take themselves too seriously. Take the music seriously, not yourself!” Arthur Smilios
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“The goal of World Be Free isn’t to play the prettiest, the most perfect music, it’s to get the result that we got – raw, angry, melodic hardcore” Scott Vogel nodding in agreement with our comparison. “He said when he played the rough mixes for his brother, he said, ‘Well I like it, but that bass player is really into Gorilla Biscuits. But you know, I see Scott as a peer, he’s younger but he’s just a great dude with a massive personality, so I don’t know whether it was weird for him to ask us, you have to ask him because Sammy and I are just two jerks from New York. Sammy’s a little jerk that was born in Manhattan and I’m a little jerk that was born in Queens, and Scott’s a kind of younger jerk who was born in Buffalo.” And ask him we do. Inspired by Arthur’s enthusiasm we call up Scott a few days later to get his side of the story. “If you would have told me when, God let’s see, I was probably 15, seeing Gorilla Biscuits and Judge, those bands would come to Buffalo where I lived, and you know, they weren’t much older than me, maybe they were 17 or 18, but they were on a different level. They were coming from New York City so they were hip to what was going on before a kid from Buffalo was and just
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being in a band with guys whose lyrics, literally, shaped your mind when you were a kid... if you told me back then I would still be into hardcore I would have probably laughed at you, if you told me I’d still be playing music and travelling the world I’d laugh at you but if you told me it was going be with Sammy and Arthur I’d be like, well, it’s mind-blowing.”
cott’s been sermonising the gospel of Gorilla Biscuits since Terror started in 2002. He’s been interpreting the words of ‘New Direction’ in his onstage patter for over a decade and now he’s in a band with their bass player. He’s been “Calling it United Blood” since he was 15 and now he’s in a band with Judge’s drummer. Over the phoneline from his California home you can hear the sound of his disbelief. “It’s the same thing with Andrew. That’s a little bit different, it’s a little bit later. There was a point when Strife were the biggest hardcore band in the world, so there’s a similarity but it’s just
not as cool, for lack of a better term,” he laughs. “There’s something about late ‘80s New York City hardcore that is just cooler than anything else, and I was younger, it was new to me. By the time Strife came around it was the same thing, but just the next generation. You always have a soft spot for the first thing you heard.” Telling Scott about how hard Arthur was pushing World Be Free gives him a boost but he’s surprisingly modest for a man who’s become one of the most prolific, and outspoken, frontmen in the scene. To this day he still can’t believe his idea to launch a positive hardcore band in 2015/16 has come to fruition and that people are digging it. “I mean, the whole idea of this band was in my head, I’ve been thinking about this for years,” he admits. “For years and years I would listen to bands like Gorilla Biscuits, Turning Point, Dag Nasty, Uniform Choice, all these bands that I grew up on and still listen to and love, but my whole back catalogue, I don’t know the right word for it but every band I’ve ever been in has been this
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very aggressive, metallic, moshy, negative hardcore and so along the years I thought I would just like to do something different. Instead of the goal at the show being that everyone got punched in the face, the goal is everyone laughing and having fun and leaving with a smile on their face. Eventually I just put it in motion and those two, Arthur and Sammy, were the last two pieces of the puzzle. “My friend Joe, who’s the other guitarist in the band, he’s from Buffalo too and I was in bands with him in the mid-’90s and I just knew that he was going to be perfect for this style. I got him to start writing and then me and Andrew live close to each other and he heard it and he was like, ‘I wanna do it’. I had this little idea in my head, like if we could get Sammy that would give this a whole different dimension, and it all came together and here we are.” Was he nervous calling Sammy and Arthur up? The guys were in all his favourite bands from being a kid, you know. He must be blown away that they agreed.
“Oh man,” he laughs, as if that’s the understatement of the year. “On that level it’s really cool but there’s another level to it. Sammy and Arthur are musicians you, know. They can play their instruments and I don’t wanna take away anything from Terror because everyone in Terror is very talented and very dedicated, but they’re also on a different level. Nick Jett, the drummer of Terror, is amazing and I could say million good things about him but he doesn’t even like playing drums. He would rather play guitar than drums, so to have someone like Sammy, who is an actual musician and then to hear Arthur play the bass, it’s like a different level of musicianship for me, which is kind of scary because then you put me in the mix and I’m supposed to hit some notes in this band. That’s a whole new thing for me, so you take me doing something totally new to me, playing with guys that are totally better than me, it’s a scary combination. “Of course, the goal of a hardcore band, or at least World Be Free, isn’t to play the prettiest, the most perfect music, it’s to get the result that we got – raw, angry, melodic hardcore – and you know when all’s said and done and that record was finished, I would listen to it every day. After seven Terror records I don’t wanna say anything bad, but you don’t get the same feel from something so fresh and new to me. I was listening to the World Be Free record as a fan.” We wish we could’ve been a fly on the wall. Scott’s this larger-than-life character, a confident, brash frontman who doesn’t take any bullshit, but we wish we could have hard him calling up Sammy, all nervous, to ask him to join his new band. “I didn’t do it,” he laughs. “Andrew did. I knew Sammy from a ‘Hey, what’s up?’ level. Sammy knows I love all his bands. I’ve never really spent any time with Sammy more than me probably telling him ‘I love all your bands’, so Andrew actually reached out to him. I got the text from Andrew that said Sammy was down and it was really cool what he brought to the table because before he was in the band, in my head, this was going to be a 7”. And it would probably have not been anywhere near as good because Sammy’s whole attitude was ‘I wanna do this but if I’m doing it, we’re gonna do it 100 percent’. Now thinking about that, if you’re gonna make music, you shouldn’t have the attitude of ‘Oh, let’s just see how it goes’. Sammy’s attitude of ‘Let’s do this all the way!’ really was something I needed to hear and really helped.”
t some point we have to mention the elephant in the room. If there is one word that makes any musician cringe it’s this, but we have to drop the ‘S’ bomb. Scott from Terror, Joe from Envy, Andrew from Strife, Arthur from Gorilla Biscuits, Sammy from, well, every important NYHC band ever... Is World Be Free a hardcore supergroup? Scott sighs. “This supergroup thing, we really try to avoid or denounce that. That’s something we would never say and if you see a journalist say that about someone, it’s almost negative. People don’t say supergroup and get
super excited, they’re like ‘Oh, who thinks they’re fucking cool’. That’s the way I look at it so the first song we released on the internet we put no names, no ex-members of, no Scott, no Sammy. We just put the song out and of course some people knew a little bit but for the most part we just wanted to the song to be judged as a new hardcore band. No matter who it is, there are people who love Terror, there are people who hate Terror, people have so many preconceived notions and opinions, positive or negative so we just wanted to try and avoid it and say ‘Here’s a song, check it out’. Then of course people started talking so those preconceived notions come back one way or another, like ‘Why is the guy from Terror in a band with the guy from the Gorilla Biscuits, that makes no sense’. Well, it has to make sense because it’s happening. You can’t please everybody.” Hardcore levels the playing field, it’s a scene where you will see the frontman from the band selling merch after the show. There’s a true DIY vein running throughout everything Scott and Andrew and Joe, Sammy and Arthur have done. Even Arthur, as soon as our interview is done in London, is out there chatting to friends and people who admire his bands (he hates the word “fans”). “That’s almost having a rock attitude attached to a new band before the band’s even done anything,” he agrees. “Whenever I see the word supergroup, like that thing Walter did with the guys from Rise Against and Thursday, I can’t speak for them, but I can only guess they’d be like ‘We don’t wanna be a supergroup, we’re just some dudes making some music’.” World Be Free are a shot in the arm for hardcore. One foot in the past but with a modern message that can bring about the “rebirth of hardcore pride”, to quote Señor Civarelli. But with its members so busy with their other bands, will World Be Free be able to spread their message far and wide on the live scene? “That’s a tough one,” Scott ponders. “I went to a show the other night, and the booking agent for Cruel Hand was saying that he wants to do a US tour. I didn’t give him a total no but in my head I’m like, we can’t do that. I don’t think the plan is to jump into a van and tour for a month. I think it will be more like weekends or festivals. With Terror it’s go, go, go, we gotta play, we gotta stay on the road, we gotta keep putting records out, we gotta keep relevant, we gotta stay on top of everything so it’s almost nice for me to be in a band where it’s like, well, we’ll play when we want. Hardcore has become so professional, everything is so full speed ahead. Terror’s been that way for 13 years straight so it’s nice for me to just be ‘whatever happens, happens’. There’s no rules, no rush. If we, I don’t think this is true, but if we never played again it wouldn’t be the end of the world, it is what it is and let the pieces fall where they fall.” ‘The Anti-Circle’ is out now on Revelation Records
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SICK OF IT ALL are an NYHC institution, one of the finest, no contest. This year they celebrate their milestone 30th anniversary together. That’s thirty years of hard graft, dedication and no compromise, just three of the many qualities that make this band great. Miles Hackett caught up with guitarist Pete Koller at Groezrock festival in Belgium before their celebratory performance, headlining the Impericon stage in front of thousands of rabid fans for the lowdown on the band’s history, what makes them tick and the determination that drives them. What we found was a humbling story of four friends who simply adore what they do, how they do it and not giving a flying fuck if you don’t like them doing it.
ONVERSATION starts way back at the beginning, back to the mid-’80s to be precise. New York City back then was a hotbed of punk rock and the CBGB matinee hardcore shows were almost legendary. Sick Of It All were born in the basement of brothers Pete and Lou Koller’s parents house around this time so Pete kicks off the interview with a little insight into the sounds and scene that turned him and his bandmate and brother onto the sounds of hardcore punk rock and the inception of their now seminal band. “We were always into music, me and my brother Lou and our other brothers Matt and Steve. Matt and Steve were always into the heavy stuff which got us into it but then me and Lou were into the heavier stuff, especially Lou, he really dug the heavier stuff. So we started out finding Venom and GBH, also bands like Motorhead and Cocksparrer do you know what I mean? So where would we find music like that around us? Well, that would be at CBGB’s, where we’d go see Agnostic Front, the Cro-Mags, the Bad Brains – all that stuff. It was a crazy time for music for us, it was super-inspiring. Vinnie Stigma would be in the pit, then he’d go play and we were like ‘Wow! That’s so crazy!’ You don’t really have to be a musician to be a part of it. [laughs].” It was this inclusion and camaraderie of the New York hardcore scene back in those days that led the new bandmates to pick up their instruments and form a band. Pete reminisces back to his schooldays and his inability to concentrate that ultimately led him to pick up the guitar. “In school it was hard for me to learn. I always got distracted, you got lessons or had to read a
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book and I didn’t know nothing about that but as soon as I learned to make a bar chord I started writing my own stuff and that was it. Nowadays I can play anybody’s guitar music but back then I couldn’t so that’s how I started.” The four components that make up the Sick Of It All we know and love now have been solid since the early ‘90s when Craig Setari joined the band on bass full time, but their history and friendship goes back way further than this. Two of them are brothers by blood but more importantly the four of them are brothers in arms. Pete explains: “Obviously Lou’s my brother, Armand went to high school with us and Craig grew up in the same neighbourhood. I mean, back then if you lived in the same neighbourhood and were into the same music, you knew each other. If you wore Doc Martens, I’d know you’re into punk or hardcore. That’s how it was.” The early days of any band’s inception can be tough and there’s few bands, even the ones that might be perceived as such, are full time. Downtime from touring can be tough for budding musicians and ends have to be met and the early days of Sick Of It All were no different. Pete gave insight into the initial work they had to put in and the benefits it reaped in the long term: “The first few years of the band we’d work in a mailroom or work in construction or whatever when we weren’t on tour and come back and get another job or back to the same one if they were cool when we came back from being on the road. We made it work like that for a while but as soon as we started coming to Europe, in fact the second time to Europe that was it, we became a full time band. We were like “Wow! This is great!” We’ve played
all over the world, even places we thought we’d never get to see like Iceland. There used to be an amazing scene there, now it’s just like, meh. It’s weird though, through touring people know you wherever you go. I mean, the first time we went to Singapore families met us at the airport! It was because these guys had been waiting twentysomething years to see you and now they have families and they bring them all to the airport to meet you. It’s really cool. They’d be like crying when you’re leaving and getting all emotional, it’s crazy.”
o it was in 1986 that Sick Of It All released their initial demo and immersed themselves in the New York hardcore scene. They were a regular fixture at the CBGB matinees they’d attended in their youth and this led to a buzz of interest which saw them release their debut selftitled 7” on revered underground label Revelation. This in turn led to their record deal with Relativity Records who ultimately released their debut album, ‘Blood, Sweat And No Tears’. We recall these times and how events played out - were the band this super-ambitious machine determined to succeed or was fate dealing them a favourable set of cards? Pete picks up the thread: “Our whole career was just the way that things progressed really. I mean, we did a record and because there was a scene, the guys at Revelation said ‘We’ll do a 7” for you’, and it did really well. Then one of the guys from the scene got a job at Relativity Records and started Combat or Combat Core Records, which had the hardcore imprint In-Effect Records, we signed to them. Everything kinda fell into place. It was a
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“Some guys go through the motions and we will never do that. You have to give it your all.” bit like playing shows you know, you started playing CB’s opening up and then a little while later you were headlining. Then someone in Boston would be like ‘Why don’t you come and play here?’, so you went to Boston and then someone from Europe got in contact with a letter, that’s how it was back then, but that took us to Europe.” Of course being signed to label brought its benefits and although Relativity was an indie its specialised approach to heavier music was a
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perfect home for Sick Of It All. With a diverse roster it enabled the band to spread their wings further afield from their hometown roots in Manhattan and Queens. Pete recounts their first and unlikely trips away from the Big Apple. “You know it was crazy, one of the first bands who took us outside of New York to bigger shows was Exodus (thrash metal legends from the Bay Area of San Francisco). They were on Combat Records so we got paired up them for a tour the guy down there wanted to do something
different and sent us out with them. It was only for something like five shows and it was a very different crowd to we were used to, the metal crowd. Every night, they looked at us with short hair and shorts or whatever and we would come out and as soon as they saw the energy and that we didn’t give a fuck what anybody thought, everybody got into it, it was great. Then after that DRI took us out for a whole US tour which was amazing and our first time around the entire country.”
Crossing over to metal audiences was something Sick Of It All did from an early age and why not? The music was cut from the same cloth, it was heavy and powerful and aside from ‘image’ the brothers Koller couldn’t see why the two didn’t pair up more often. In fact, as Pete knowingly tells, one of their most diverse early tours was amongst some of the heaviest metalhead line-ups around. “Of course, me and Lou were always like ‘Why don’t all these bands just play together? We like all these bands’ In the States things weren’t that open, firstly there was punk, then there was hardcore and the two at the time didn’t really mix so that would have been unusual. This bill however was mainly metal. It was Sepultura, Napalm Death, Sacred Reich and us and it was like a two month tour and it was really good, it was really fun and we crossed over to a lot of different audiences which was great for us as a relatively new band.”
ick Of It All’s second album ‘Just Look Around’ was released in 1992, again on Relativity but in 1993 they did something no hardcore band had done before: signed to a major label. Sure, there were their detractors shouting ‘sell out’ along the way but a hardcore band signing to a major? That must’ve been a first right? Pete recalls. “Yeah I think so. If you’re talking about straight hardcore with no ambitions of being pop or anything. And the good thing is that when they signed us, they didn’t wanna change us at all! They had this idea that you know what, they had Metallica who’d sold millions of record, then came along Pantera who were that bit more heavier and also sold a tonne of records and then they thought the next big thing was going to be something even heavier than these two bands. When they’d come and see us play in New York, we played at a place called the Limelight that held, I dunno, tons of people, eighteen hundred, maybe two thousand people and the two shows they came to see were completely sold out and they were insane! It was the height of hardcore in New York, it was insane! The shows went off and were totally crazy. The label guys from East West were like ‘This has to be the next big thing!’ and we were like ‘Who cares?’ [laughter]” You’d think, as is often the way with major labels, that they would want to dilute and change the band. Look at it on paper: four guys from the boroughs of New York City, playing some of the fastest and heaviest music dressed only in T-shirts and shorts. They didn’t care about image - in fact they didn’t care about much. They were just having fun. Ironically though, that is exactly the way the label wanted them which is was perfect for the mindset for Pete and the boys. Chuckling he recounts the events of the time: “Okay, a good story, we gave East West the first mix of ‘Scratch The Surface’ and our engineer at the time kinda slicked it up and cleaned it up. We were like ‘This isn’t what we want!’, and the label were like ‘This isn’t what we want either!’, so then we got a guy to come in and he made it dirty, so that’s what we have now.” Of course, in a scene born from the rebellious, anti-establishment values of punk rock, signing to
SICK OF IT AL L a major was tantamount to blasphemy for the punk police and Sick Of It All raised a few eyebrows and angered many an armchair critic. We discuss how they dealt with the punk police. “Back then there was these people on at us ‘These guys sold out, they sold out!’. Where are you now? I’m still here, in a dirt field, playing. That’s all I do, play the music that I love. Being signed to a major gave us the opportunity to keep on doing it, expanding our fan base and getting it out on a global platform. Why the hell wouldn’t any band do that?” Ultimately, this break sealed the band’s longevity. If it wasn’t for their time on a major we may not be sat here today reminiscing about their triumphant, thirty-year career, a feeling that Pete is quick to back up: “Of course, being on that major enabled us to headline the stage what we’re playing tonight. Because of them we had the opportunity way back in the ‘90s to build up a fan base, because back then people would see us at some random festival, wherever it was. People that were there had never even heard of us, but there was three thousand people waiting to see us because they had never fucking heard of us and from that day on we had fans. If you can get only 5% of that audience into you then you grow a strong fan base.” In a bizarre twist of fate - again thanks to the major label marketing machine - they got one of the unlikeliest breaks on what was arguably one of the most watched programs on TV back in the ‘90s. Couch potato, potty mouth teenagers Beavis And Butthead. The video for the seminal track ‘Step Down’ got the full treatment and catapulted them into homes across the USA, Europe and beyond. “Hell yeah! And they didn’t make fun of us, they were kinda into it [laughs]. You see we’re always kind of underneath popular culture - we pop up once in a while but we always stay on top. It’s really weird. But yeah, only good things happened from it.” On the 14th December 1992 a lone gunman by the name of Wayne Lo entered his University building in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and
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“It was crazy, something like fifteen thousand people running around in a circle pit. Crazy shit!” opened fire on staff and students, killing a professor and a fellow student whilst seriously wounding four others. This, in the America of today, is an unfortunately familiar story but in this case the gunman was arrested wearing a Sick Of It All T-shirt. Sections of the press were quick to try and link the band’s music and lyrics with the terrible events of that day. However, several high profile publications intervened and allowed the band a voice of response. Pete recalls the backing they received: “Yes, they gave us a platform to reply. If I remember, it was the Village Voice or maybe it was Rolling Stone that said something about the connection between us and him and we were given a platform by the New York Times to reply and everything came out. The tragic thing was that it was a sick kid, he wore our shirt but it could have been anybody’s, it could have been a Rolling Stones shirt but that was obviously his statement. In fact I pretty much know the show that he got it at, because it was near that school the terrible events happened.”
ack in the 1990s hardcore shows were beginning to be plagued with mindless violence from outsiders who saw the incendiary nature of the live shows as a playground for them to cause trouble and harm to others. Sick Of It All were one of the bands besieged by it. “It was at a point in time where there was just violence at every show and we were trying to be like ‘This is supposed to be fun’ and not this tough guy bullshit. Over the years we’ve been falling away from all the violent stuff. For example, why would you come to a show and be all like ‘This is my favourite band and the other guys in the audience beat me up!’? You’d be like ‘I’m not going anymore, fuck the band’. You wouldn’t blame it on those guys beating on you, you’d just be like ‘Fuck them! I’m not going to see them anymore’. We need these people to live, they’re paying for our houses and lives, they just deserve to have fun without getting the shit beat outta them.” Pete goes on to explain how they dealt with the violent meatheads in the audience by confronting them face on: “Of course, we’d single people out and get the crowd to call them out. Everyone in the audience can see that we’re smiling onstage - first and foremost music is fun. It makes you feel good, it makes you feel cool. If it makes you feel tough that’s cool too but if you wanna fight there’s plenty of place to pick a fight. Hey, go join the army!” [laughs] During their time on East West the band released an EP and live album on a couple of indie labels to keep the wheels turning. Pete
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gave insight into that move and the inevitable lack of knowledge and support often offered by their then label. “Yeah, we put something out on Bridge 9, an EP or something. They just let us do something to keep it underground and help out a small label or whatever. Those labels really knew what we’re about and supposedly what the scene was about, everybody was cool and they were fun to do. The only bad thing about the majors was the only person that didn’t change was the president of the company. Every month there was somebody new saying ‘Oh, we’re taking over now’ and they wouldn’t know anything about us. The people who signed us, who were super-psyched, weren’t even there anymore and these new guys were just like ‘Meh, let’s just put this out’. At the end of the day you’re just a commodity to them. I mean, one thing that was telling over that time and how things change was that Poison were the big thing at our label, you’d walk in and there would be a huge poster of them. Then, all of a sudden, bang! It was Nirvana. I’m sure Poison’s people’s calls from then on were all greeted with ‘I’ll get back to you’!” [laughs] In 1998 Sick Of It All were out of contract with East West and signed to underground punk label Fat Wreck Chords, the brainchild of NOFX frontman Fat Mike. This partnership saw the band take a more experimental and diverse approach to their songwriting and dynamics over their time on the label. Pete recalls their relationship and the creation of the albums ‘Call To Arms, ‘Yours Truly’ and ‘Life On The Ropes’. “We ended up being on the label because Mike and Erin (NOFX’s Fat Mike and his now ex-wife) are really good friends, any festival we’d be at NOFX would be playing and we’d talk and whatever then when we were leaving the label Mike gave us an amazing deal, way better than the one we’d just had on the major. He was our friend. Musically, what comes out of us, comes out of us, that’s it. We don’t care what’s popular, we don’t care what every other hardcore band is doing because, we do what we feel.” Surely though, something is, consciously or not, inspiring the creative process at this time ‘Call To Arms’ had a very old punk feel to it and ‘Yours Truly’ was quite progressive. Pete concedes: “Yeah, yeah. It’s like I’m influenced by what I’m listening to and when I write I hear it in my head, you can’t stop it. I hear the riff, I hear the drums, I hear everything then we just put it together, that’s the way it comes out. Sometimes I listen to back to them and go ‘How did I come up with that?’ Like you around the time of the stuff from the Fat Wreck, sometimes I think ‘How did I come up with that riff?’ When Pete gets the writing bug, he doesn’t stop either. He is keen
to offer up a little window into the modern day song writing process that the band goes through when penning new material: “When I get into the mode of writing it doesn’t stop. We’ve just got some new songs but that’s not just it, I’ve got a whole bunch of other songs in my phone. I don’t just stop writing. I mean, I live in Florida now, just across the street from the beach so when we’re going to put out a record or do something new I’m like ‘Right, I have these songs’, email it to everybody or Armand emails them to me and we go up and take a week to learn all that stuff, take ‘em apart and write more then come back then it’s done.” At this point we rewind to the admission of new material. A 30th anniversary celebratory release perhaps? “Hell yeah, all the recordings are done. There’s going to be five new songs and we’re putting out a photo album. We’re putting out a big book to accompany it of all old pictures, backstage pictures, live pictures or whatever and then inside there’s going to be a 10” vinyl with a digital download. A nice collectable, anniversary item. The songs came out great, I wrote three of them, Armand wrote two. It’s the usual Sick of It All stuff but it came out really mean-sounding,” he announces proudly.
or the last decade the band have resided on Century Media Records and have still been turning in quality product across the metallic ‘Death To Tyrants’ album, its follow up ‘Based On A True Story’ and their 2014 full length ‘Last Act Of Defiance’ which is a return to the classic NYHC sound Sick Of It All initiated way back at the start of the career. Pete enthusiastically jumps in at this statement: “Always! That’s the correct thing. Old school Sick Of It All hardcore. If you listen to new hardcore bands now they’re all like ‘We’re going to sound like these guys’ and they end up sounding the same. Don’t be them, be you. Who cares if they don’t sound like band X - good! It’s good that you don’t sound like anybody ‘cos you sound like you and Sick Of It All sound like us, nobody else. Whatever comes out, whatever I hear, or whatever Armand hears is what comes out. We don’t care about anything or what people think.” The ‘not giving a shit about what anybody thinks’ attitude is a recurring theme across Sick Of It All’s illustrious career and no doubt one that has preserved its longevity. Pete expands the ethos humorously: “Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? Unless it’s your wife or your mom and dad, you don’t wanna be an asshole. But I don’t care what anybody thinks of me. As long as my wife and daughter love me fuck everybody!” Despite their attitude a whole lot of people
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revere and cite Sick Of It All as a huge influence and this was committed to wax in the form of 2007’s tribute album ‘Our Impact Will Be Felt’ which featured a whole myriad of covers of the bands finest songs by renowned artists like Rise Against, The Bouncing Souls, Hatebreed and Napalm Death. “Yeah, it was cool to see scenes that you have influenced and people you’ve influenced where they have nothing to do with you style-wise, it’s just that you’ve inspired them to take a chance or go on or whatever,” Pete says modestly, but did any of the homages to the band’s material not meet with his approval? “No not all, I think it was all really good. It was all great stuff,” he finishes resolutely. No Sick Of It All live show is complete
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without the spectacle of their famous wall of death. For the uninitiated or those of you who stand at the back, the crowd is divided in two then on singer Lou’s order, charge toward each other. It can get pretty brutal. Some say the band invented this mass scrum but as Pete explains they can’t accept responsibility. “That was an old hardcore thing. That’s the strange thing about music these days, you have to tell people ‘do a circle pit, do a Braveheart wall of death’. Back in the day it just happened but my brother Lou decided ‘Why don’t people do that anymore?’, so he told people to do it.”
ack in the 1990s the band were on the summer festival circuit and they instigated one of the hugest walls of death ever seen at the Reading festival from the main stage on a sunny afternoon, an event Pete remembers well: “That was so crazy! It was very crazy if not a little dangerous. I remember someone from
that show, it was their first time seeing us and got their arm broken by getting run over by people running towards each other. We’re lucky we didn’t get sued! It was a little dangerous but obviously now people expect it right before we do ‘Scratch The Surface’. It’s a spectacle and everyone wants a fuckin’ spectacle. It was crazy, something like fifteen thousand people running around in a circle pit. Crazy shit! That was a good few years ago, these days everyone is about our age and panting after just a lap” [laughs].” In a twist of strange irony everyone is getting that little bit older, his statement about one lap of the pit and you’re out of puff rings very true yet Sick Of It All still play at 110%. Their show is as physical and energetic now as it’s ever been, another reason they’ve reached this much deserved birthday. Pete is resolute about the band’s performance and giving it their all: “You have to. We don’t get up on stage to be second best. If any of these bands are not here to be the best and fucking rip it up then they don’t belong here. You have to give your all, even if there’s thirty people. If your back is fucking killing you, take some Advil. You have to give it your all.” And all this physical exertion means the band have to be in peak fitness all the time. Is there a thorough training regime they follow? “It’s all
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“I’m still here, playing. That’s all I do: play the music that I love.”
I do. After tour, I train twice a day. In between that I take care of my daughter, which is training in itsself, running after her and whatever.” If you’ve ever had a peek backstage just before showtime you’ll see the four members limbering up, doing press ups and getting in shape for the show ahead. “Oh yeah, we have to do that. In fact we do it more now. Obviously the older you are the more you have to stay in shape to perform the way we do,” he insists. In a recent interview with the Rolling Stones, who coincidentally have just celebrated their milestone 50th birthday and are still going strong, Mick Jagger said that the band would go on as long as drummer Charlie Watts was up for it. We amuse ourselves with the notion of this statement applying to their drummer who has to play considerably more frantic material. “[laughs] Yeah I guess so, Armand does smash the shit out of those drums. We never talk about breaking up though or ending. Why? There’s no time limit. If we sucked and we started coming out all sloppy and kinda hanging around, people would be like ‘Wow! This isn’t Sick Of It All’. Some guys go through the motions and we will never do that.” Fair comment but I bet he wished he’d not set the benchmark for live performance so high when they started. “Yeah we did set it high! We should
have set it really low. [laughs] If people see you slip a little, everyone always wants to see you slip but you can’t. You have to give it your all,” he chuckles. Of course, Pete is now a Florida resident but what of his home of New York City? A city that has seen such massive urban regeneration and property boom that it’s almost unrecognisable as the one that the band started in back in the mid 1980s. Wealth and greed has driven out neighbourhoods and creativity and the areas that once spawned the furtive NYHC scene are populated by yuppies and the super-rich. Pete still visits his hometown on a regular basis and gives his views on its metamorphosis over the last couple of decades: “Yeah, what’s happened to New York sucks. I mean the shows are still great, people come from the outer boroughs to go to shows. I think the only person I know who lives in Manhattan now is John Joseph from the Cro-Mags, that’s it and he’s been in the same apartment for a hundred years [laughs]. I love to go back and see my home blocks from Manhattan but people look at me like, ‘Oh, look at that guy and the way he looks’ and it’s like, what? This is what everyone looked like back in the day. Back then musicians, artists, construction workers whatever, they all lived in the neighbourhood but now all the people are students going to NYU university there and they’re all very rich and they’re all like ‘Wow, look at these people, look how they look!’ Is it true that Sick Of It All don’t play in New York City much anymore though? “Well yeah, I guess, but you can’t play all the time in your home city. We’re doing our big one in New York on July 9th, a big thirty year anniversary show at the Webster Hall. It’s gonna be great. We did the twenty five year one there and it went off exactly how we wanted it. It was fun! We had confetti cannons a bit like we did here at Groezrock five years ago. So that’s going to be July 9th. I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got Murphy’s Law and Angel Du$t playing with us, it’s going to be cool.” Sick Of It All enlisted the input of their fans in building up the set-list for this milestone
anniversary tour. The aim: to bring out some old gems that haven’t been aired in a while and mix up the set to give their fans a say in what they wanted to hear. This was all conducted via the band’s website. “Of course people voted for the songs we always play, we knew that was going to happen so we pulled those out of the way ‘cos we know they’re going to be in the set anyway and then we found the highest voted songs. Not all of them were obscure but there’s songs like ‘Potential For A Fall’ in there and some other older stuff,” he explains. But was it just super old material that was getting nominated? It’s quite often the way with partisan hardcore fans with their ‘you can’t beat their first album’ mentality but apparently not! “No! It’s really weird ‘cos we expected people to vote for older songs that were in the set, say, five or ten years ago and people loved them but no, we got a mix of old and new. The problem is we have so many fucking songs!” he laughs.
hen you look back over a career that’s spanned thirty years and four decades the high points are too numerous to mention and it has to be said their forward-facing attitude is inspiring. These guys live and breathe what they do, something that is both evident and humbling as conversation turns to a show the previous night and the kicks that Pete still gets from being in Sick Of It All, all these years down the line. “There’s always little spots in shows that are great every night in this band. For instance, last night we played in Hamburg. The show was sold out for like two weeks and when we got up on stage there was such a fun atmosphere. There was a great mix of older people and younger people but above all it was fun. Even the older guys were in the pit and stage diving and at one point I remember everybody smiling and singing all the words and it gave me goose bumps. That’s thirty years into it. I mean, when I was sitting in high school just hating being there, imagining playing to a sea of people in a band and now there is! There’s no feeling like it. When I’m playing, I’m smiling because it came true and I wanted to cut out of school real bad. Wouldn’t it be great just to stay home for a living? [laughs] That’s what I get to do, I get to play shows and hang out at home. It’s pretty great!”
SICK OF IT ALL TOUR THE UK IN AUGUST
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30 years in, Sick Of It All are one of the biggest and hardest working bands the hardcore universe has ever seen. Craig Setari has been Sick Of It All’s bassist since the early 1990s. Our friends over at In Effect Fanzine last interviewed Craig at a pool hall in Bayside, Queens in the mid-’90s for issue #5 of In Effect. Earlier this year our USA correspondent Chris Wynne hooked up with Craig once more for another insightful chat about the life and times of the bassist and his band some two decades later.
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DFL. Who was the person or musician that inspired you the most to want to pick up an instrument and start playing?
Craig: I would have to say it was Danny Lilker who played in Anthrax and Nuclear Assault. I was a little kid and he went to high school with my brother. I was still in grade school and he would come over for lunch and he would teach my brother bass because they wanted my brother to be the bass player for the first version of Anthrax back when they were a cover band. I would watch them and I would learn more than my brother because my brother wasn’t as into it. Danny was also one of the people that turned me on to the early new wave of British heavy metal and then a little bit later punk rock and hardcore. He was
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a huge inspiration to me musically as well as getting me into the scene.
DFL. Do you ever think where you would be in your life if the bass spot in Sick Of It All didn’t open up when Rich Cipriano left in the early 1990’s? Craig: I would still be a musician. That is for sure. Before Sick Of It All I played in Agnostic Front and all these other bands so who knows exactly what band I would be playing in or if music would have carried over as consistently as it did with Sick Of It All. The fact that I was never in the band before that was just a fluke because I had started being in bands a couple of years before them because I started being a musician earlier. We are all friends, all from the same scene and all came up together. The
timeline for all of us being into the scene is the same. The timeline for me being a musician was a little earlier. The bottom line is I am so grateful that this all worked out because I couldn’t be happier.
DFL. What are some of the things you have accomplished with Sick Of It All that bring you the most pride? Craig: Just the overall body of work and breaking in new territories. We were the first guys to pretty much hit all these random places that nobody had ever been to before. We were one of the first hardcore bands to hit Southeast Asia and also Australia. On a personal note, the people I have met and the way my life is now… I have friends everywhere. My girl will
SICK OF IT AL L blown out both knees. I had surgery on one, the other I let heal naturally, it’s all screwed up. I tore the tendons in my right foot falling over a kid on stage in Belgium. I broke my hand the first time boxing and the second time at a show having a fight with a bouncer, so technically I broke my hand at a hardcore show. Hearing damage… in 1996 I was missing 40 percent of my hearing. Punch drunk from loud music. If you read studies they say that loud music mimics dementia so between boxing and playing hardcore I wonder why sometimes I forget things and type things backwards. It didn’t start happening till I was 35. I’m half joking when I say that but the loud music does make your brain a little scattered. Pete has had broken feet, and his knees are messed up and of course his back… we all have back injuries. Armand has serious shoulder problems, Lou has blown out his back and he gets these like blood polyps on his throat sometimes. There is a lot of stuff with us but typical stuff. The knees go though… when you play hardcore music the knees go, the ankles go, the lower backs go and your shoulders and hearing get messed up. I can go on forever about specifics. There is imbalance because of the instrument you are playing and you also have so much adrenaline that your form gets a little crazy and that’s where you get hurt.
ask me, “Who is that you are talking to?” and I will be like “oh, this is my friend from Malaysia”. I love how I can communicate from anyone from any part of the world and it is like there are no barriers outside of language. Once you get enough travelling under your belt and you communicate with people all that shit with perceived barriers goes away. It becomes a thing where the world is like one big open place and there is no difference. A lot of the perceived barriers between people that the TV and the media pushes are just a way to divide and conquer us. In reality 95% of the people you meet and run into on the street you are going to get along with very well.
DFL. All of you have been playing in hardcore bands since the 1980’s and as the years roll on you probably play more shows now than in the earlier years. Have the years of touring taken a toll on each of you physically and what are some of the physical issues you have that can be directly related to playing in a band? Craig: I still get numbness on my whole left side because of the bass having one strap. I invented a double strap to help it out. Some other guy patented it and stole the idea but whatever, he is a weasel and I was never looking to profit on it because it stopped me from getting all kinds of nerve damage. I have
DFL. This particular lineup of Sick Of It All has been together for something like 25 years solid without any changes. What have been some of the biggest contributing factors into you guys getting along so well and being able to consistently tour and put out album after album?
words you can pretty much get over anything. We get to scream and yell every night so we let most of the steam off, you know what I mean? One more thing before I forget… about 5 or 10 years ago we stopped with the mother jokes. Everyone’s mother is older now so at a certain point we just looked at each other and said, you know what? Your mother is old, my mother is old, no more mother jokes because they were a little stinging. My mother is over here right now and she is looking at me and laughing.
DFL. What kind of advice would you give to younger kids coming up that might want to start a band and follow in the footsteps of bands like yours? Craig: I would say don’t be judgemental and keep an open mind and enjoy yourself. Don’t get stuck in thinking you have to sound a certain way but don’t over-experiment either. Write songs that feel good, enjoy yourself, and don’t stress the clickiness that goes on, do your own thing. The bottom line is there might be times where you lose focus… you can lose your focus, but you still got to push through. You still have to keep walking the path. Bands don’t last long when people lose interest and slip out. If you lose interest go into another avenue in your life and do what you need to do but don’t forget your music. You can do your hobby, but don’t forget the music if it is that deep in you. Stay the course, do your own thing, don’t follow trends. That’s it.
Craig: We do argue. Pete doesn’t argue with any of us really, it’s like a different dynamic. Me and Armand very rarely argue, sometimes Lou does get a little pissed off, he is the frontman so that’s what he is supposed to do (laughing). But no matter how crazy shit gets there are two things. First, you never hit anybody, no matter what. You never raise your hand to your brother. It just never happens no matter what, and two… at the end of the day, no matter what shit goes down the bigger picture is the band and the 4 of us doing what we do, so no matter how personally you get hurt or upset or angry at the end of the day… Sick Of It All… the collective, means more than your personal feelings being bruised. If you never raise a hand and an argument is just
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FROM THE BIG CHEESE VAULTS...
SICK OF IT ALL From: ISSUE 12 â€“ MAR 1999
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“The band was what kept me from killing motherfuckers during my twenties.” 56
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After twelve years of sonic brutalism, Weekend Nachos are calling it a day and going out on a high with the end note of ‘Apology’. James Batty spoke to frontman John Hoffman about the reasoning behind it, respect and why the good citizens of Chicago might want to watch their backs... Congratulations on ‘Apology’. You must be very proud? It really is an outstanding piece of work - was it everything you hoped it would be? “Thank you so much, I’m glad you dig it. I’m actually very proud of this last album of ours - it’s a lot better than I could have ever hoped! We really outdid ourselves, I think. It might be the best Weekend Nachos record in my opinion.”
You are one of the few bands that manage to capture the raw power and brutality of the live experience on record. Any tips on how to do this? What is the process of recording and has this changed over the years? “It’s hard for me to give advice on this, because I’m not a sound engineer. Our guitarist, Andy, however, is the one who has always engineered our recordings from day one, so he knows a lot about this. I think the fact that we don’t use triggers or any special effects to make our instruments sound polished is what really makes our records capture a live setting. We basically try to keep things as authentic as possible without doctoring up the instrument tracks too much, if at all. What you hear is very close to what we sound like live, and of course we always play hard, brutal riffs and the drums are loud already, so it translates on the recordings.”
So do you still feel like breaking up now you’ve had time to live with the prospect for a while? Do you think it might not hit you until right at the end? “It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling, but we are still very confident about our decision to call it a day. The band meant a lot to us, but it is just time to move on. We don’t feel like we should be doing this specific band anymore - it has lasted for twelve years and naturally it is just over. If we keep going after our time is up, the band will probably become something it shouldn’t, and no one wants that. We are sorry to anybody who is bummed about the breakup, but we hope they will continue to check out our future endeavours.”
I love the Full of Hell shirt with your picture on it. How important has the camaraderie between yourself and other bands over the years? “Well, it depends on which band it is, but
generally I think we get along with most people. It’s important for us to be respectful towards whoever we cross paths with. If that respect is returned, there is a good chance we will form some kind of friendship with said band. If the respect isn’t returned, and of course there has been a few instances of that, then we will either ignore them or maybe indulge them in their disrespect and start a controversy. But at that point, it is what it is!”
A while back I think I saw you were playing a gig with Owls in Chicago or did I dream that? “We do like surprising our audience from time to time. In this case, we decided to just play a show with some friends of ours, in the band Owls. We knew people would be surprised by the line-up, but sometimes that happens. Mike Kinsella and the others are good dudes who have been a part of the Chicago scene for a long time, just like all of us in Weekend Nachos have. There’s no reason not to mix it up from time to time!”
What will you miss the most? “I guess I will miss all of the chaos and the fun times at our shows. People always liked to get really wild when we played, and I’ll miss that kind of intensity and passion from the audience. Hopefully we can re-create some of that in our future bands, but honestly I think there was something special about Weekend Nachos. Those shows are never going to be duplicated in my eyes. It was a unique era for me.”
Do you like doing interviews? “I used to. Now, I can honestly say I do not like doing interviews anymore. I’ve said so much over the years, and now it feels a little redundant. This is another reason why I’ll be glad to see Weekend Nachos break up. I don’t really want to talk as much anymore (laughs). People should listen to what someone else has to say now.”
You guys hold the DIY ethos in high regard. How do you think that has changed over the years with regards to the advent of technological changes? “I think technology should be used more as a tool than an actual way of life. To me, it’s fine
if you use technology to your advantage, but don’t forget that hard work, blood and sweat is what produces the best results. If you can’t put your own passion and personality into what you’re doing, then it’s not worth doing. Some people just get lazy and allow technology to represent their art one hundred percent, and I think that’s a slap in the face to your audience. You need to put yourself into what you do if you want anyone to care. I still consider everyone in Weekend Nachos very DIY in this regard.”
The mag is called Down For Life - do you think you guys as individuals will be somehow involved in the scene in years to come in some capacity or have any of you had enough and want out? “I love hardcore, punk and metal and to me this scene has always been a part of me. I don’t intend to leave it at all, I will stay active and continue to play music and try to stay involved. I think the other guys feel the same way, but we’ll see. As we get older and start families and careers we don’t have as much time to go to every show or tour with the bands that we’re in.”
Do you guys have day jobs? It can’t be easy holding one down with your touring schedule? “We all work, a ton. This band doesn’t offer much in terms of financial support. We make some money doing it, but it is very scarce. We work jobs so we can support our lives and hopefully make time to do the band on the side. It’s always been that way, and it’s the main reason why Weekend Nachos was never a fulltime touring band or signed to a label.”
Should the good people of Chicago be worried now that you guys no longer have this cathartic release for your rage? “(Laughs) Yeah man. The band was what kept me from killing motherfuckers during my twenties. Now I’m older, wiser, way more fed up and way more crafty. I’d say random citizens are much more likely to get murdered once we break up. They should watch their backs.” ‘Apology’ is out now on Relapse Weekend Nachos play the UK in October
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It’s been eight long years since the planet was graced with new WALLS OF JERICHO material. James Batty caught up with frontwoman Candace Kucsulain to talk about their devastatingly heavy new opus ‘No One Can Save You From Yourself’, motherhood and lifting.
ALLS of Jericho have been a mainstay of both the metal and hardcore scenes almost non-stop since their inception in the late nineties. They are a band that have garnered acclaim and fans from both genres which not all bands (as we know) are capable of doing. Originating in Detroit, they invest their music with a sense of wrought iron, blue collar, strength and determination which has seen them survive and prosper throughout the naughties, a period which saw many bands of their ilk fall by the wayside. Some of these bands made ill-chosen musical style changes and many found out that they just didn’t get on with each other over time. It’s true
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that many of these first and second wave metalcore bands may have reunited since, chasing the money or perhaps looking for the recognition they felt they were entitled to the first time around. Very few of these however could have delivered the festivalstealing performance Walls Of Jericho did at Ieperfest last year which a few lucky DFL staff, including myself, were present to bear witness to. They haven’t changed their style much at all over the years; laying down fan-pleasing metallic hardcore but allowing the listener and the material to breathe and giving frontwoman (and mad keen weight lifter) Candace an opportunity to exercise her vocal talents with more mellow moments peppering their body of work. Not least on the new record ‘No One Can Save You from Yourself’ which moves into some dark territory and lyrically allows for exploration of some of the tragedies that have beset the band over recent years. There must be something special about a band that can endure the changing tides of musical tastes and
avoid becoming an irrelevance or even worse a scene joke by just keeping on doing what they do so we decided to contact them to try and find out what that might be and Candace was kind enough to reply.
Did you always feel that you’d be back in the WOJ saddle sooner or later? “What I feel people might not realise is that we never really stopped. We had a two year break back in 2010 because I wanted to start a family which was a personal thing that I felt needed to happen. We had been going strong for over ten years at that point and I felt it was time before we talked about doing another record. After my daughter was born I waited close to a year to start touring again. We have been on tour three to four times a year since. It took us a while to get a record done. Mainly the hold-up was lyrics. I had a hard time getting back on the saddle and so it took a few more years to get out what I believe is our best record yet!”
It seems like you are firm festival favourites. Do you like the fact that you get to play large festival stages and smaller club shows? “We love both. They both have their own unique things. Fests have insane energy but club shows you can be in the crowd and in the energy. I love being able to touch and move with people. I’m not a fan of the barrier at the fests but there’s nothing like
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“I’m not a fan of the barrier at the fests but there’s nothing like seeing thousands of people circle pit.” Candace Kucsulain seeing thousands of people circle pit. I love them both and I am grateful that this is a part of our lives.”
How do audiences compare between the US and Europe?
It seems that over the years your sound has become more refined and sophisticated without losing any of its brute force. Have you become better musicians or do you have more in the budget that allows for this?
“We’ve mostly toured Europe because it’s much easier to travel and the shows are always amazing. Since we are trying to balance home life we prefer to be on the road no longer than two weeks at a time. There are little differences but not much and both scenes have a lot of heart.”
“Probably both. We did the first two records in Mike’s studio before it was a real studio and those got done in two days so having an actual budget and time definitely changed things and for the better I would say. You can only hope that as time goes by and experience happens that you learn and grow and become better at what you love.”
You must be very proud of the record. What was the recording like?
Are you surprised with your longevity and continued success?
“Pre-production only took a couple months and the recording itself took around five weeks. Both were amazing experiences. During pre-production I was going through a lot of personal things and I needed to be surrounded by music and using my emotions for good and constructive things. So it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Recording as we did with Ben at Spider Studio, we all had to take turns going because we had real life stuff like family and jobs to work around. I got to bring my daughter with me and that’s something that will always stick in my mind when thinking about this record. It’s always a great experience with Ben. He knows what we like, what we need and can sound like and he treats us like family.”
“Every day I am grateful that this band is still in my life. There were times I took it for granted and didn’t know what I had. We have a great team and people who care about us. That’s what helps us keep going. The scene never stops caring and we never stop caring about it.”
You never seem to let your audience down live or on record. Are you conscious that the hardcore scene can be a fickle one? “Can’t any scene be? What’s important is that you stay true to who you are and just keep doing what you love. We love to play live, we still love playing the songs we do and we are even more excited for the new ones. We are a give-it-hell kind of band. You put all you got on that stage or you don’t sleep well that night. I’m not sure exactly what it is that we all have in common that drives us to be this way but we just do. We do it with and for each other and we love it otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it.”
How important to you personally are the more melodic moments that have peppered your body of work? “I believe you are talking about the mellow songs. I love that we are able to do a song like this on every record. Music is what we like to do and we are gonna do it anyway we want to! I have always loved to sing and so it’s kind of a dream come true to be able to record the nicer stuff and have it in the world. Music is about connection and I want to do that any way I can.”
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It’s natural that members will come and go in a band that’s been around for as long as you have but you have had the same line-up for a while now with a decent number of original members. Does this current line-up feel like the most exciting line up the band has had? “We have had the same guys since early 2000. Mike, Aaron and I are originals. Chris came in around 1999-2000 and Distin not long after. Chris is full time touring with Stick To Your Guns so we recently added a sixth member, Bobby, to the band.”
How has motherhood changed things for you in terms of your approach to WOJ? Must make things more challenging logistically? “It doesn’t make things challenging but only because I don’t want to spend time away from her, so we try to find balance and had to learn to say no. We don’t do long tours, nothing more than two weeks unless it makes sense to. This summer will be a touch over two weeks and it will be the longest in four years. Having her was the best thing that ever happened to me. She has helped me love and appreciate life on a whole new level.”
As with many bands you use impersonal pronouns in your lyrics when you talk about ‘we’ and ‘us’... Is there a scene or class of people that you are referring to specifically or a group that you identify with in particular perhaps? “The Scene! Anyone who will listen or can relate!! A united front is much stronger than one standing on their own. But if you must stand on your own than that’s what you do.”
Do you enjoy interviews? “I appreciate them for sure. Right now I’m trying to get this done in a timely manner and I can be a procrastinator but I don’t mean to be. I love when I get a question I’ve never heard.”
What inspires your work outside music? “Lifting does! I am part of an organisation called Relentless. They raise money for kids with cancer and other life threatening illness. I’m lucky enough to lift at the meets and raise money for these amazing kids and their families. But that also inspires me musically. We wrote ‘Relentless’ from the new record for these kids.” ‘NO ONE CAN SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF’ IS OUT NOW ON NAPALM RECORDS
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If there’s one man synonymous with Nyhc it’s the inimitable Harley Flanagan. From his teenage years he has eaten, breathed and slept the music of his city. From drumming at the ripe old age of eleven in the Stimulators to being the founding father of Cro-Mags, who’s milestone ‘Age Of Quarrel’ record is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. Now after a tempestuous few years he’s back with a new solo record, simply titled ‘Cro-Mags’. Ian Glasper spoke to the man himself to get the low down from the streets.
ITH his notoriety often overshadowing his musical abilities, it’s easy to forget that Harley Flanagan is an incredible bassist – and drummer! – and has written some of the most potent hardcore music ever recorded. Specifically that stunning debut Cro-Mags album from 1986, ‘The Age Of Quarrel’, not to mention some of the other, more overlooked, Cro-Mags records like ‘Best Wishes’ (1989) and ‘Revenge’ (2000), but, as his new album, aptly entitled ‘Cro-Mags’, so ably demonstrates, he’s still got chops, and still has exciting new music to share with us. The new album is an incredibly intense work, inspired by all the negativity Harley has endured the last few years, in particular the Webster Hall incident in 2012, where he was accused of stabbing two members of the current line-up of Cro-Mags, but was later acquitted due to lack of evidence. Harley, who was also stabbed himself in the altercation, maintains that he was attacked backstage and was merely defending himself. For those who’ve been asleep under a rock these last few decades, this is just the latest in a long, bitter dispute between ex-members of the CroMags, whose incredible musical prowess has
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almost been overlooked due to the infamously bad blood. So, is that why Harley chose to name his new album ‘Cro-Mags’, to remind people what it’s about: the music? “There was a few reasons. The Cro-Mags was my name and my band; I started it, I wrote the music, and I came up with the name. I am just re-claiming what is mine, a valuable name that has been misappropriated and dragged through the mud for nearly 20 years by a fraudulent band that didn’t write any of the music. Hopefully this record puts an end to that by showing people once again who the writer was.” And ‘Cro-Mags’ is literally dripping anger, with song titles like ‘I’ll Fuck You Up’ and ‘Fighting The Urge To Kill’, but writing angry has always made for the best hardcore records, and as Harley himself points out in the sleeve notes, ‘When I started working on this album a lot of bad things were happening in my life... I took all the anger and frustration I was feeling and poured it into this album – I feel much better now!’ “When I write a song or an album, I am always very honest with my lyrics,” he explains, “I just dig in and what comes out is what comes out. I have always written from my experiences. To me that was one of the things that made hardcore different from metal. And PIC BY ALEXANDER HALLAG with the Cro-Mags, ‘Age Of Quarrel’ era, we always wrote about what we were living, about survival on the streets etc. “Metal bands were writing about the devil and fantasy shit, killing people, and stuff they have never done or experienced; it
went right along with the inflatable dragons, the big Eddie puppets... I was never a Kiss fan, I was never into fantasy rock; I just wrote what I knew. It is sometimes weird to re-visit those places lyrically, but they are parts of my life, so it’s in me, it’s in my memory. It doesn’t go away.” Songs like ‘I Come In Peace’ and ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ make some very pointed observations about the current NYHC scene, so how does Harley feel the current NYHC scene compares to the glory days of the Eighties? Are there any modern NYHC bands that he rates? “It just doesn’t compare to the early scene, they’re two different worlds, two different scenes, with totally different values and a different mentality. They talk the same shit about ‘P.M.A’ [i.e. positive mental attitude] and ‘unity’, but it’s all just empty words. I haven’t been a part of the scene in years, ever since it started turning into lots of gangs and crews; I got bored with it when all my old friends started joining crews and gangs to stay relevant, and everyone started doing blow and thinking they were gangsters. I completely lost interest.”
he new album is an amazing statement of intent, whatever inspired it, but was originally scheduled to come out through Southern Lord. It’s now been issued on Harley’s own 171-A Records. “Southern Lord had some issues with their distributor and decided they couldn’t sign any new bands,” he explains. “Greg is a really great guy and they helped me out a lot and paid for the recordings etc., but as it turned out they were unable to release them and thus I was able to release it myself. “171-A was a rehearsal studio run by Jerry Williams, R.I.P, where the Bad Brains recorded the legendary ‘ROIR’ cassette; they and my old band, the Stimulators [who Harley drummed for in his pre-teen years], used to practice there and they had gigs from time to time in the basement. They had a record store, Rat Cage Records, which
“The Cro-Mags was my name and my band; I started it, I wrote the music, and I came up with the name. I’m just reclaiming what is mine.”
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“Check your ego at the door, ‘cos you don’t mean shit, and death will take care of you in the end, just like it does every-fuckin’body-else. So shut the fuck up, and live life while you can, and enjoy it - because it will be over before you know it.” also put out the Agnostic Front ‘Victim In Pain’ album and the Beastie Boys’ first single, as well as The Young And The Useless. So I put it out on ‘171-A Records’ as a tribute to that place and Jerry Williams...” And it would seem that ‘Cro-Mags’ will be chased into the racks by another Harley Flanagan release sooner rather than later, as he’s in a prolific mood right now – but how does writing today compare to writing when he was younger? Older but wiser, perhaps? “Everything is the same, I write what feels good to me. I write a song or record some riffs every day. It’s one of the first things I do in the day and one of the last things I do at night.
“I am going in the studio again in a few weeks because I have a lot of new material; some songs I didn’t have time to track on this last one, and a whole bunch of other new ones... “Well obviously ‘Age Of Quarrel’ had the most impact,” he says, as talk turns to his favourite – and least favourite – Cro-Mags records, “But I also think ‘Revenge’ is one of the best ones. ‘Best Wishes’ has a few good songs on it, and I like the Harley’s War ‘2012’ release (MVD Audio Records). But I think the new one is the closest to the ‘AOQ’ style and sound than any of the other ones that came out since... so if that’s what you’re into, I think you will like it. “’Alpha Omega’ had a few good parts, but it
was one of my least favourite Cro-Mags records, and ‘Near Death Experience’ was garbage; I don’t even consider it a Cro-Mags record. It had a few riffs that were good, but John [Joseph, Cro-Mags vocalist] and his band of thieves completely ruined any shot that had at being a good record; none of them wrote anything; they just tried to steal and re-create riffs, and they failed miserably. “Unfortunately a lot of the Harley’s War stuff I released was demos, so they didn’t have the production value or the time and effort put into them that they should have had. But that’s life. I look at it like this: just track it, keep moving forward, don’t sweat it, and just keep writing. If it didn’t turn out the way I wanted, I just keep writing, keep playing, and have fun doing it; it’s all good.”
PIC BY KIM GRAF
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arley’s prowess as a bassist is not to be sniffed at, with his uniquely aggressive style primarily coming from the fact he was a drummer before a bassist, so his playing is exceptionally percussive. And it’s fair to say he leaves it all up there whenever he steps on a stage. “It was at The Peppermint Lounge in NYC, in Times Square, opening up for my old band, the Stimulators, and it was fun!” he says, recalling his first ever live appearance as a bassist. “It was the first incarnation of the Cro-Mags before the members that appeared on ‘Age Of Quarrel’ had joined. We did some originals, a Dead Boys cover, a Black Flag cover, and we did the song ‘Motorhead’ by Motorhead... but with all the wrong lyrics! We didn’t have the lyrics to anything, so it was more of a messy jam... “When I first started learning how to play bass, it was bands like the Sex Pistols, the Damned, and then Cockney Rejects, basically old punk stuff that was influencing me; this was before hardcore existed, of course. Then bands like Bad Brains, Motorhead and Black Sabbath changed everything; that’s when I really started to develop my style of playing. But my single biggest influence would have to be Darryl [Jenifer] from the Bad Brains. “Some people have pointed out that I play three parts at once, and I guess I kind of do. I play the drum parts by laying down the kick and snare pattern with the rhythm of my strumming or picking, and I lay down the bass line with the droning notes of whatever the key of the song is in, as well as the rhythm or the guitar melody over it, all of this within my strumming. So in a way I do play three parts at once, if that makes sense? “I really like the freestyle jam at the end of ‘Alpha Omega’, it’s a hidden track,” he adds, when pushed for his favourite Cro-Mags bass-
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line. “I don’t know, I like ‘em all… it’s always fun to write and record and play them live. I honestly don’t know which ones to pick! There are a couple I have gotten tired of playing over the years, but besides that, I don’t know. “I like the sound I got on the original ‘Age Of Quarrel’ demo [re-released by Cro-Mag Recordings in 2000 as ‘Before The Quarrel’...] and on ‘Best Wishes’, but I think the best playing and sound was on ‘Revenge’. But my playing is better now than it ever was, and I’m looking forward to writing and tracking new stuff.” And what is he playing on – and through – these days? “Ampeg SVT is my go-to amp of choice, but I’ll play anything. I can make anything work. As far as basses go, I have wrecked so many basses over the years, going nuts onstage, that I won’t buy anything expensive anymore. Besides, I think it’s in the hands more than in the bass so I’ll play whatever: as long as the intonation is good and the action is good, I’ll play it. “Lately I have been playing bullshit Fender copies and getting a great sound out of them. I still play a Guild Star Fire; they are really sweet. I play my son’s Ibanez too. Like I said, I’ll play anything; I just like to play. I’ll play a 2 x 4 with a rubber band on it... just gimme an Ampeg SVT to plug it into and I’ll make it work!” Harley certainly seems in a happier place, with not only the new album out there and receiving a great response, but his muchanticipated book, ‘Hardcore: Life Of My Own’, finally due out in September through Feral
House. Years in the making, it tells his life story, and should be a must-have for any fans of the Cro-Mags, or hardcore music/ lifestyles in general. On top of all this, he’s a top instructor at the Renzo Gracie school of Brazilian jiu jitsu in Manhattan, a martial art that has allowed him to channel his frustrations positively. “Yeah, things got a bit nuts a few years back, but jiu-jitsu helped me keep my focus. I try to apply what I learn on the mats to what I have to deal with in life; that, and my wife and kids, keep me focused. My life is going great, I am happier than I have been in years; I am surrounded by people I love and respect every day of my life, and at my work, and there is no greater feeling. I truly appreciate what I have; I am a lucky man and I know it, I feel blessed, I really do.”
o, in keeping with the positive vibes, will we ever see Harley bury the hatchet with his ex-band mates from the Cro-Mags for what would surely be the most hotly-anticipated reunion ever? “I don’t think it will ever happen... and it’s less important to me every day. I would like it to happen for the fans, the real fans, and I’d like to do it just to get together with those guys again, even if it was just one time in a rehearsal studio with no audience... just because. It meant a lot to me, and they all at one point meant a lot to me. So yes, it would be great to get that closure, but in truth, it means less and less to me, especially with all the nasty shit they still say about me. I just don’t care that much anymore.” With all the adversity he has had to face down, has there ever been a time when he seriously considered giving up music altogether? “Everyday,” he replies, without hesitation, “But not because of
music - because of people, and fans, and the music business. I don’t really like any of it. But I am an artist; music is in my soul, and I would be playing music even if I was alone on a island, and had never been in a recording studio, and never been in a band. “I always hear rhythms and time signatures and chord progressions and melodies, it’s not something I can shut off. If I could, I would have a long time ago, ‘cos I can’t stand people and all the shit that goes along with being in a band, and I hate the hardcore scene - at least in NYC. I really don’t know much about the ‘scene’ anywhere else, and it really doesn’t mean that much to me. I am an adult; scenes are for kids and desperate people who want to be popular. When that shit became a popularity contest, I stopped giving a fuck.” Given his time over again, would he have done anything differently then? “Well, for starters, I would have never played with Parris [Mayhew, Cro-Mags guitarist] or John! Why? ‘Cos I would have been fine without them... but you’ve got to just live life; try not to complicate it, it’s hard enough. Check your ego at the door, ‘cos you don’t mean shit, and death will take care of you in the end, just like it does every-fuckin’-body-else. So shut the fuck up, and live life while you can, and enjoy it - because it will be over before you know it.” And there you have it, some words of wisdom from a man that’s been there and done it, bought the T-shirt and got it covered in blood. Hopefully we’ll see him out on the road again soon, playing these new songs where they need to be played – in front of a live audience. “Well I have been jamming with most of the guys I toured with in Harley’s War, Sean Kilkenny from Dog Eat Dog and Will Dahl; I have also been jamming with Gabby Abularach who played with Cro-Mags and Harley’s War. I have been playing with a lot of guys, so I guess we shall see. I’m just looking forward to making more loud music with my friends.” ‘Cro-Mags’ is out now on MVD
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With their long-awaited debut album ‘At Peace Amongst Chaos’ about to drop on Nuclear Blast, John Consterdine sat down with BROKEN TEETH vocalist Dale Graham to talk about jumping on a big label, ten years as a band and why UK Hardcore is the best it’s ever been..
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BROKEN TEETH ROM the day it got announced, going on their website and seeing the list of bands your name’s under; it’s just like, for fuck’s sake it’s just crazy!” So says Dale Graham, vocalist of Manchester’s Broken Teeth, about their new home on Nuclear Blast. Formed in Manchester in 2007, Broken Teeth started at a time when the city’s local music scene was over-saturated with fly by night metalcore bands, and had a local hardcore scene that wasn’t much to write home about. Originally Teeth wanted to channel the 90’s vibes of Biohazard’s ‘Urban Discipline’, Merauder’s ‘Master Killer’ and the infamous Merauder demo from 1998 with Leeway’s Eddie Sutton on vocals; since then the band’s sound has continued to evolve with each release, and their major label debut ‘At Peace Amongst Chaos’ is Broken Teeth at their very best, now sounding tighter than ever before and perfectly straddling that fine line between hard 90’s NYHC and crossover. The band have gone through their share of member changes over the best part of the last decade, all while clocking up a string of releases on the now defunct Power Negi and Purgatory Records plus a split release with The Mongoloids on Neutral
Words Records/6131 Records, but their current lineup now sees Dale and fellow founding members Adam Kelly (drums) and Dave Egan (guitar) joined by Matt Weston (guitar) and Niall Moran (bass). Broken Teeth’s eagerness to play shows early on is what has made them who they are today, often referred to as the hardest working band in the UK hardcore scene, Teeth laid the ground work for themselves by never turning down a gig they were offered; taking them from the opening act on local bills in Manchester to playing up and down the UK on a whole host of different line-ups. In turn, this led to lucrative slots on tours with the likes of Terror, Trapped Under Ice and Backtrack which raised their profile massively and helped put them on the path that has ultimately lead to a debut full length on Nuclear Blast. Not a band to do things by halves, Broken Teeth had Terror drummer Nick Jett fly over to the UK to help them out with their new long-player, but in true hardcore style still kept things DIY. “Nick came out, he recorded it with us, mixed it, mastered it,” Dale continues, “we recorded it in Niall’s washroom/spare room with all the clothes hung up, just a laptop and one microphone. One microphone recorded everything, vocals, guitars, the bass, we went in the studio for a day to do the drums, that was the only time we ever spent in the studio, the rest was just sat in a living room and I was shouting in the hallway [laughs].”
or Dale though, it’s all about hearing what people think about this record, “When it comes out I’m just gonna sit back, I don’t know what the fuck to do [laughs]. I’ll probably just sit on the internet all day just like, ‘what’s going on? What’s going on?’” he jokes. “I obviously wanna hear some feedback of what people think but I just can’t wait to get it out and start playing some songs and I can’t wait to start playing that record in full. It’s ridiculously hard and I wanna see what we can do with it.” With the short shelf life of a lot of hardcore bands, Broken Teeth fall into a small minority of UK acts that have managed to last the course. If you look back there aren’t many, if at all any, bands who formed around the same time as Teeth that are still going strong. Heck, some bands have even split up, reformed and even split up again in that time. So what’s Dale’s take on all that and where UK hardcore is today? “Yeah when you think about it, it’s a whole different ballgame, different bands completely. Since like 2006/2007 you had the
birth, the rise and the death of Dirty Money; Cold Snap, fucking hell Cold Snap, that band was sick!” He continues, “sounds keep changing in UK hardcore, something else comes along and it comes in swings. I think right now it’s fucking cool because at the moment it’s the most diverse I’ve seen it since I was younger. So many different styles of bands, different sounding bands, and you see it all on the same bill rather than it all sounding the fucking same.” “That keeps you excited and keeps young people excited, so I hope it doesn’t go back into that era where everything sounds the same again or this time it’s all the heavy bands or now it’s all the fucking punk bands. Diversity for me is the key for this thing to rise up and without diversity it’s just a one track thing and it’s boring as fuck.” One thing that’s very clear is Dale’s passion for the UK hardcore scene, and quite rightly so, the UK scene is at the strongest it’s been for a very long time. While Nuclear Blast may well have a strong hardcore/punk portfolio with the likes of Agnostic Front and Madball, UK hardcore isn’t exactly something they’re known for, but Dale is keen for Broken Teeth to use this to their advantage, to open new doors and tread new ground. “It puts our foot in the door where we get to go and expose ourselves to people who don’t have a fucking clue about what we’re doing but we get to show them and show them there’s other places that they can do rather than spending 25 quid to do it.” He explains further, “There’s so many other fucking cool bands that you get to come to these intimate rooms and do some crazy shit and it’s like five pounds or whatever; it’s a community where it’s not just the music that you’re buying into, whereas you go watch all these metal bands and watch a light show and buy the really fucking expensive merchandise and then go home. “I ain’t scared what people say. It’s not as if we’re gonna go and do all these crazy metal tours. I said yeah let’s do some of that, one of them a year; spice it up, go show some fresh music to people that don’t know what it’s about, encourage them to come and get involved. It’s not a bad idea is it? I’m not gonna forget my roots, I still thoroughly love hardcore, I’m still firm here. I’m not gonna start wearing leather pants, high heels and bullet fucking belts [laughs].” ‘at peace amongst chaos’ is out now on nuclear blast
“IF I HAVE THE POWER TO SHOW PEOPLE WHAT HARDCORE IS AND WHAT IT CAN DO FOR YOU, THEN WHY NOT?” DALE GRAHAM DOWN FOR LIFE
Returning with 2015’s storming ‘Use Your Voice’, their first album in seven years, Paul Hagen finds H20 playing by their own rules with nothing to prove.
catch up with Toby Morse (vocals) and Adam Blake (bass) at their hotel shortly before they’re due on stage at a packed, sweaty Camden Underworld back in January. The duo are in an upbeat and jovial mood and are clearly excited at having the chance to play some new songs. Despite having dealt with the departure of primary songwriter Todd Morse recently and with only two albums of new material released in the past 15
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years, H2O have somehow kept the momentum going and, if anything, increased in popularity over the years.
You did a brief US tour towards the end of last year. How did the new material go down? Adam: “I’ll tell you this much. It went over well but it was a little too much, too soon. I think we hit the road a little too quickly after the record came out so there were some delays.” Toby: “Like five-week delays.” Adam: “Do you have a Record Store Day over here? Okay, so Record Store Day has basically changed the industry because everybody wants to press vinyl. Bands that never used to do vinyl are now doing vinyl.” Toby: “Massive bands.” Adam: “It’s one of those businesses where the supply hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand so records are being delayed a lot. Our album’s release was delayed and then kids had to wait even longer to actually get their copy of the record.” Toby: “Like five or six weeks.”
Adam: “So we were on tour with a record that was kind of out but kind of not in kids’ hands yet, you know what I mean. This is actually I think the first real tour.” Toby: “I wish we started the new album cycle today and waited a couple of months, you know.” Adam: “Yeah, it would have been better. We were a little too quick out of the gates.” Toby: “But the shows were great.” Adam: “The shows were great. The new material was great.” Toby: “Pretty much the best response of any new record, people loved the record. Everything was positive. Haven’t seen one negative review for the first time ever, which is crazy because everyone has their own opinion, it’s fine. Now, starting today, is the start of the cycle today. This is when we think the kids actually have the album in hand.”
How easy was it for you to step up to the role of the main songwriter for the album following Todd’s departure? Adam: “I’ve always kind of wanted to, you know, but it’s like when everyone else is delivering stuff too, the easier path is to take a back seat. But
then when I had to write more, I did it. With Todd leaving, someone had to do it and I was in a place in my life where I felt really inspired to write this kind of music and I just did, you know.” Toby: “But you wrote a lot of songs on ‘Nothing To Prove’.” Adam: “Yeah, I wrote stuff on ‘Nothing To Prove’ too.” Toby: “Actually [the song] ‘Nothing To Prove’ you wrote.” Adam: “Actually ‘Nothing To Prove’, yeah. I contributed progressively, as we go I’ve contributed a little more every record but this was the first record where I contributed a bunch, you know what I mean. Like a lot, yeah. It was fun. I like it. And then the lyrical genius over here.” Toby: “An Englishman is a big part of an American hardcore band.” Adam: “It is. Weird, huh.” Toby: “Pretty awkward.”
Do you intend to do the same sort of workload on future albums? Adam: “Future albums? That’s a giant
presupposition my friend. I don’t know if there’s going to be any future albums.” Toby: “If we get inspired, we’ll see what happens.” Adam: “Like for us, it’s very in the moment. Right now we’ve got a new record out, we’re having a ton of fun, and if we feel like going and making a new record, we’ll go and make a new record. But we’re not like a regular band, you know, that makes a record…” Toby: “…every year. Like we toured on ‘Nothing To Prove’ for the past seven years so with this album just getting started, who knows how long we’ll be touring this for. I don’t know.” Adam: “We do things in our own time in our own way. Our rules.” Toby: “Six albums in 20 years is amazing. Is that a bad track record?”
Adam: “Nah, it is what it is. It’s our track record, you know. It’s the only band we are so it’s how we do it.”
I get the impression Todd left the band after he fell out of love with hardcore. Would that be correct? Adam: “Yeah, that’s the truth. I think so. I don’t think he fell out of love with listening to hardcore, I mean I don’t think he listened to modern hardcore.” Toby: “Just writing it and stuff.” Adam: “He just didn’t feel it in his heart any more. I think without a doubt it’s the best reason and the most pure reason to leave a band. If you’re not into the music, that’s the reason to leave, you know what I mean. There’s no animosity, nothing personal.”
“WE WON’T MAKE A RECORD FOR CAREERIST PURPOSES” ADAM BLAKE DOWN FOR LIFE
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“WE DID IT BECAUSE WE WERE INSPIRED AND WE WERE SICK OF PLAYING THE OLD SONGS AND NOW WE’VE GOT NEW SONGS THAT WE CAN PLAY. I’M REALLY HAPPY THAT IT CONNECTED AND PEOPLE WAITED THAT LONG ONCE AGAIN.” TOBY MORSE Toby: “For us, it’s kind of hard because we’re 100% into the music, into the lyrics, into the albums, playing the shows but we’re not 100% into leaving our wives and kids. We’re 100% into the main thing this is about.”
How are you guys able to prevent getting that same feeling?
Adam: “One of the things that I really realise for us, especially going forward is going to be more about touring smart than touring hard, you know. Like, pacing ourselves because we all have wonderful home lives that we love a lot. So we want to pick our battles wisely and when we fight our battles, fight them with all our heart and soul, you know what I mean. But not just do things for the sake of staying busy. Do things that make sense and are smart.”
because we kept getting kind of burnt too soon and we didn’t want to ever feel like it’s a job.” Adam: “You never want to have a tour coming up and be dreading it, you know what I mean.” Toby: “We were psyched for this.” Adam: “You want a tour where you’re really jazzed up and excited to play so we’re going to make sure that we always monitor ourselves and make sure we feel that way.”
You’ve had your albums produced by New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert since you signed to Bridge 9. What do you think he brings to your sound?
Adam: “He has a really great understanding of… He kind of has a foot in both worlds, you know. Like, he understands what we’re good at and who we should be but also what kids like about us, you know what I mean.” Toby: “He’s a friend, he’s a fan. He has an H20 In order to avoid getting burnout? Toby: “And make it feel like a job. This is like our tattoo. I met him years and years ago. I sang some back-ups on some of the New Found Glory job for 20 years but it’s also super fun and we records. He’s a hardcore kid, he was in Shai Hulud. never want it to feel like [a job]. That’s why we cancelled a couple of shows at the end of the year He comes from the scene, like. He knows the
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things he loves and doesn’t love about H20 and so when we did ‘Nothing To Prove’ I think he brought the best out of us. When I write lyrics, I just think of topics and write them in a book and keep writing and writing and he helps me take my OCD crazy writing and put it into a structure, you know what I’m saying. He’s great with everything. He’ll hear things, he pushes us.” Adam: “He’s like that rare person who has an understanding of the kind of music we play and the kind of band we are and the skillset to make a really great record. You know what I mean, like you don’t normally find that in one person so we’re really fortunate to have Chad working with us.”
Those albums have both been 23 minutes. Toby: “I didn’t even know they were both 23 minutes. Oh shit.” Adam: “Well you know, eventually we’ll write a 24-minute album.” Toby: “I didn’t know they were exactly the same amount. That’s creepy.”
H20 Do you feel like that’s the ideal length for an H20 record? Adam: “I think so. It’s the same with the live show, you know like. Maybe if you’re like The Grateful Dead or Phish you can play for four hours. H20, we’ve got 60 hard-felt, hard-fought minutes, you know what I mean.” Toby: “If you think back to our other releases, we had so much filler on there.” Adam: “We had two songs off ’Nothing To Prove’ that never got played live. On this record, so far we don’t know but the goal is to eventually - apart from maybe ‘Still Dreaming’ which is a little weird for us - probably play everything live at some point.” Toby: “I feel like looking back on the Epitaph records, we had so many extra songs on there. People love those records but for me, 18 songs is a lot of songs.”
You’re mates with the actor Michael Rappaport, who was in the film ‘True Romance’, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott. What does he think of your ‘True Romance’ song? Adam: “Mainly this guy here. We all love Mike.” Toby: “Yeah, that’s my boy. Good friend of mine. He loves the song. He also breaks my balls a lot because me and my wife are completely obsessed with that movie. He calls me out on his podcast about how sometimes me and my wife think we’re Alabama and Clarence and he’s really Dick Ritchie. He loves the band. When I first met Mike he’d never heard punk or hardcore, he was a hip hop New York dude, so I brought him to a Bad Brains show and played him other stuff. It’s not his cup of tea but he likes H20. I met Mike maybe eight or nine years ago. We met each other jaywalking. We both got jaywalking tickets in Los Angeles. We’re both East Coasters and I heard a commotion and he was yelling at the cops, it was crazy. Then I started seeing him at clubs and we started going to the same skate ramps with our kids and started hanging out. Two dads hanging out. He’s a great dude.”
While on the surface ‘True Romance’ seems like a song about Toby and his wife’s relationship, it could also be interpreted as a love letter to Toby’s bandmates. That wasn’t the inspiration for the song though.
home-grown bands, you know what I mean. It seems that for a scene to sustain itself, it can’t sustain itself on national and international bands coming through, you have to have a local grassroots thing. In Europe, there seems to be a lot of that. A lot of local bands, kids are really passionate about it. In the States in certain cities - like I say, Richmond is really good for that, Long Island is great for that. They have a home-grown scene and it brings in new kids but then some places, where no one started bands, no one really did anything, it dies out. But it ebbs and flows too, it picks back up again. But Europe seems to consistently to be, for all the bands we’re peers with, seems to be the place, you know.” Todd: “I think in America you’re oversaturated too, you know. There are so many tours, so many shows, everywhere you go. Kids have so many more choices. Over here, kids don’t get to see bands as much as they can. Maybe they appreciate it more here. I don’t know.”
You’ve had long gaps between your albums since your MCA release ‘Go’. Are you planning on releasing material more frequently or do you feel the current rate has suited you well? Adam: “It all depends. We won’t just make a record just for careerist purposes. When we feel like let’s make a record or something cool is going to happen, then we’ll make a record. Or not.” Toby: “I think we’re going to go some places we haven’t been yet on this record. We’ve finished 20 years, now 21 years, released a couple of videos, and just focus on that.” Adam: “See what happens.” Toby: “We did it because we were inspired and we were sick of playing the old songs and now we’ve got new songs that we can play. I’m really happy that it connected and people waited that long once again and the reactions has been really PIC BY TODD POLLOCK
positive, which makes me really happy.” Adam: “Joe Strummer said ‘the future is unwritten’. He could have been talking about us. The future is unwritten so who knows?”
What were you doing in the years between the albums? Toby: “Playing.” Adam: “I mean we all have lives at home but band-wise, playing, touring, constantly.” Toby: “Even in that hiatus between ‘Go’ and ‘Nothing To Prove’ we toured a lot. We just didn’t put out new music, you know what I mean. We were out there. We never stopped touring.” Adam: “We might be slow workers in the studio but we’re fast workers on tour, you know. We were out a lot. We were constantly on tour for years.” Toby: “Somebody said we toured so much, they didn’t know how we had the time to make that record because we did tour so much. We were actually touring around making the record, going to Nashville and doing the vocals and then going back on tour.” Adam: “So we’ve been busy, you know.” Toby: “I’m so happy we did other records after ‘Go’. I’m so happy.” ‘USE YOUR VOICE’ IS OUT NOW ON BRIDGE 9 H2O PLAY DOWN FOR LIFE’S PINS & PIN-UPS BOWLING ON OCTOBER 9TH.
Toby: “No it isn’t. People thinking that shit? It could be a love letter to my band, a love letter to my wife, to relationships, yeah. More than four times people have asked about what the thing was. Someone asked me if it was a love letter to music. It could be anything. I mean I know what it was meant to be but interpret it how you please. ‘No one believed in us’.” Adam: “You’d have to change the lyric to ‘21 years’ [from ‘20 years’].” Toby: “It’s true. ‘No one believed in us/As we did each other’.”
You’ve said that you’re more successful when you tour in Europe than when you tour in the US. What do you attribute that to? Adam: “Yeah, for sure. One thing I’ve noticed and you’ll notice it in cities - in the United States, you’ll see this too it in certain cities. Richmond, Virginia is a great example of where they have
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“There’s no such thing as freewill. We are forced to deal with life” 72
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NAILS California hardcore crew NAILS have been cultivating their presence in the scene for a number of years. With third album ‘you will never be one of us’ and a new label behind them, it’s a record that’s shaping up to be on one the year’s most talked about. Frontman and founder Todd Jones tells Darren J. Sadler about its creation.
want to tour with Napalm Death, Full Of Hell, Hatebreed, Behemoth and Terror. Not all at once of course, but if we could ever play with those bands, that’d be fucking tight. I just want to play shows and rage!” So speaks Todd Jones – frontman and founding member of Californian powerhouse Nails. Lofty ambitions of mainstream success and rock star lifestyles are not on the cards for the Oxnard State trio – not because of lack of talent or drive, but because Nails are realists, lifers and a band who care more about their songs than the latest fashion in musical trends. Could Nails play with any of said bands? Well if the stars align (or in reality, if Booking Agents exchange emails), all of the above would be feasible. You see, Nails have slowly and steadfastly been proving themselves in the underground for a number of years, and their latest opus ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’ continues to see their momentum continue to rise. “It’s my favourite Nails album,” beams Todd, speaking to Down For Life. “Not because it’s our newest, but because when we started this band, this record most encompasses the sound I heard in my head when originally thinking of what I wanted Nails to sound like. Third full-lengths are generally very important milestones in bands careers and I think ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’ is going to be extremely important in ours.” Indeed, ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’ is important. It signals a new relationship with Nuclear Blast records (Slayer, Behemoth, Death Angel, Soulfly et al) and will no doubt open up the band to new audiences across the globe as a consequence. Eagle-eyed internet warriors would have seen over the past few months the release of two rather tasty brutal numbers (the title track and ‘Savage Intolerance’ accordingly) both accompanied by equally visually violent and dark videos to boot. Both are great indications of the direction and importance of Nails’ pummelling musical approach, which is stamped all over the entire album. And it’s a sound that Todd and his cohorts - bassist John Gianelli, and drummer Taylor Young, who also plays guitar with his brother Colin in Twitching Tongues - have developed over the course of their career. And with most songs again clocking in on average at the oneminute mark, it’s rather a condensed approach.
The black sheep of the family however is closer ‘They Come Crawling Back’, which, at eightminutes, is almost as long as the rest of the album combined. “I don’t see [that song] as a curveball,” reasons Todd when asked about that songs inclusion. “I think it fits us in context of the albums sound, and vibe. It’s angry. It might not be as lean as some of the other tracks but it makes sense. I like fast shit more than slow stuff, but yeah, I love that song.” Written as four piece alongside former guitarist Andy Saba who resigned from active duty late last year, ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’ is the product of simple ambitions. “[Our ambition was to] just to make a record we liked,” explains Todd, who once played guitars for the legendary Terror. “We wanted to add some chunk to it that was absent on ‘Abandon All Life’. Also some more grinding material. Generally, when an album process is started, the end result is much different than what you pictured it to be from the beginning. You just have to go where the music takes you. If you force it to be a certain way, it’ll not be organic and that’s something that is easy to hear very quickly.”
ike its predecessors 2013’s ‘Abandon All Life’ and their 2010 debut ‘Unsilent Death’ (both released on Southern Lord), Nails enlisted Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou to produce. Travelling across the country to work at his GodCity Studios in Salem, Massachusetts, the hardcore legend certainly has left his stamp over the final product. The recording was an experience that Todd describes the experience as both “awesome” and “easy”. “Kurt has helped shaped our sound and also makes it very easy for us in the studio. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time so I enjoy hanging with him and also like his production so... it’s a great fit for us.” He continues: “Kurt is an excellent conversationalist so sometimes we would get off track and spend more time just hanging out than we should’ve but that’s not such a bad thing. “I’ll give you some insight into Kurt’s studio. It’s a two-story building (and a basement) where the first story is where his studio is, and then the 2nd is the living space. Kurt used to occupy the living space but recently moved out and turned it into a place where bands could potentially stay, so
we were staying in the studio which made things extremely convenient. We’d wake up, roll out of bed, and start tracking. “I think that we were so comfortable this time around that it almost felt too comfortable. I was stressing out about the fact that I wasn’t stressing out [laughs]! It almost seemed like we weren’t making an album.” Beneath the Jef ‘Leviathan’ Whitehead artwork (“I showed Jef the lyrics to the song and he did his thing; he killed it. Leviathan’s ‘Scar Sighted’ is one of my favourite albums of this decade, if not ever”), is an album that is born in realism, nihilism and negativity. For Todd, there are two particular stand-outs: “The title track because that song is basically the song I wanted to have the band write since we started. [The second] is ‘Made To Make You Fail’ because that’s the closest we’ll get to sounding like ‘Reign In Blood’.” The title track points its fingers at bandwagoners and sycophants who, believes Todd, dilute the lifers in the metal and hardcore scenes. He has previously remarked: “It’s about people who try to latch onto something you’ve been doing and dedicated yourself to and making a mockery out of it. For every person who has dedicated themselves to punk or metal, there’s five people who’ll attach themselves to the same thing with a tenth of the dedication you have and they truly don’t belong and if these leeches had any self-awareness, they would know that they didn’t belong. These people aren’t interested in growing and learning, but to using something for themselves in a disingenuous way.” And then there’s the song ‘Life Is A Death Sentence’. Does Todd really feel that way? “Sometimes I feel that way, yeah,” he says. “People have to face life, it’s not like you can just flip a switch and turn it off for a while. Choose to be responsible and handle your business or choose to be a piece of shit. Either way, you’re probably doing something you don’t want to do. There’s no such thing as freewill. We are forced to deal with life. That’s just a fact - sometimes, life is definitely a death sentence.” By the time you read this, the album will be out and Nails will hit the UK later this year including an appearance at the Damnation Festival in the Autumn. Whatever happens after that, Todd remains grateful for anything else that may come their way. “I try not to think of the future too much. Whatever happens, happens,” he concludes. “We’re just excited we have people who like our band and want to see us. I wanna extend all gratitude to anyone who is down with Nails. We’ll be here for you.” And amen to that. ‘YOU WILL NEVER BE ONE OF US’ IS OUT NOW ON NUCLEAR BLAST
DOWN FOR LIFE
James Sherry meets Brian Baker, DC guitar legend and founding guitarist of DAG NASTY to talk nostalgia, new material and why it’s taken them over thirty years to get to the UK.
S a teenager growing up in the mid-to-late 80s in the UK captivated by American punk rock, bands such as Minor Threat, the Descendents, Black Flag and Dag Nasty were mythical beasts that had for the most part ceased to exist. These were legendary bands that we never in a million years expected to ever see live. In those pre-YouTube days, having absorbed and obsessed over every second of their records, when we could find them, VHS and audio tapes were traded amongst an inner circle, desperate to see
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glimpses of these past glories of American hardcore punk rock culture. When The Descendents regrouped and finally toured Europe in 1996, it was a big deal and incredible to finally get to witness them live. Minor Threat is never going to happen and Black Flag should never have bothered (still trying to erase the painful memories of ‘What The…’) but Dag Nasty, these fabled Washington DC hardcore legends have never toured Europe, not in the ‘80s, nor when they reformed for studio albums in 1992 and 2002. So, when news broke earlier this year that Dag Nasty would finally tour
the UK in the summer alongside the release of a new 7” ‘Cold Heart’, on Dischord Records, the news was met with a feverish response from those who know and care. Because this was Dag Nasty, the band formed by ex-Minor Threat guitarist Brian
Having reformed in 2012 for a then oneoff reunion show with their original pre-Dave Smalley era singer Shawn Brown (later of Swiz and Jesuseater), the band reformed again in 2015 and are finally back on what looks to be like a far more permanent basis. We spoke to guitarist and founding member Brian Baker to find out what’s got them wigging out in denko’s all over again.
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Baker in 1985 who, inspired by his former frontman brothers band The Faith (Alec MacKaye), was part of the wave of bands (Rites Of Spring, Embrace, Gray Matter), that took DC punk rock away from the fast aggressive thrash of its origins (Void, Minor Threat, SOA etc) and morphed it into something more melodic and developed. Words like ‘emotional’ were banded about (the roots of emo? Apparently so. Thanks.) and their debut album ‘Can I Say’, fronted by current Down By Law frontman Dave Smalley, was a towering achievement of brilliant song-writing and high-energy execution. This, followed by the ‘Wig Out At Denko’s’ and ‘Field Day’ albums, both fronted by Peter Cortner, stamped Dag Nasty’s reputation as one of the most important and influential bands to rise from the mid-80s American punk rock underground. And they’re back.
We’re now at a point in music where so many classic bands have reformed and there is so much nostalgia for the original wave of bands. How do you feel about it, do you think it’s healthy for music in general? “I have no problem with nostalgia. I feel like a teenager every time I listen to The Damned! It’s sort of like time travel without the emotional baggage. I think any performance of live music is healthy for music
“It totally feels like a band. A band of teenage girls on holiday.”
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“I think any performance of live music is healthy for music in general.” a lasting contribution to music and culture.” in general. Especially ones using ancient analog instruments like guitars and drums.”
Was it important for you to create some new music with Dag Nasty rather than have it purely about the older material? “Actually I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough material for a headlining show, so we made some more. Not kidding. We just wanted to play and write music together.”
How was the writing process for these tracks? What was it like stepping back and creating with the original line-up and Shawn all of these years later? Did it flow easily? “We make songs just like we did when we were kids. I’ll have maybe half a guitar part idea and then all of us will just work on it until it flowers into a song or dies. The good stuff gets lyrics.”
How does it feel to be finally in Europe with the band now? What do you think stopped you from coming here in previous years? “It’s super fun to be here with Dag. We never came over back in the ‘80s because we simply didn’t know how it was done. We should have asked somebody.”
How do you view the old DC hardcore days now? Is it through rose tinted glasses or was it as vital as it’s made out to be? The ‘Salad Days’ film really brought the era alive, did you enjoy the film? “Loved the movie. Of course, some friends of mine made it so I got all the good lines. When I look back on the old scene what strikes me most is how small it was, and how completely unconcerned we were about making
What was the path the lead you to reuniting with Shawn Brown rather than Smalley and Cortner? “We reunited in 2012 to do a benefit for the ‘Salad Days’ movie. Dischord had just released ‘Dag With Shawn’ at the time, so it seemed natural to have Shawn sing at the benefit. It was so much fun that the four of us decided to keep at it.”
How to you view the Dag Nasty catalogue when you look back on it now? Each album is very different in sound and vibe and there’s quite a jump in progression with each release. Were you really intent on pushing the sound forward or did it all flow quite naturally? “Each Dag album reflects the music we were listening to during the writing of the records. The plan, if any, was to be as cool as our influences.”
Although it was much maligned at the time, ‘Field Day’ is actually one of my favourite Dag Nasty albums. Although the production is very much of it’s time, the songs are fantastic and it’s a favourite of many Dag Nasty fans I know. How do you feel about it now? “There are some good songs on ‘Field Day’ but these days all I hear is the weed. It’s like the record really wanted to break ground, but it was too high and lazy to do it.”
With the sporadic activity of Dag Nasty over the years, I guess it become more of a side project over the years and something you dipped in and out of. Does it feel like more a band again now you’re on the road more with a secure line-up and new material on the way? “It totally feels like a band. A band of teenage girls on holiday.”
How far are you wanting to take the band this time? Is this a brief reunion or are you going to continue to tour and work towards a new album? “We are basically going to follow the Descendents model - tour a bit when everyone can get time off from work, make a record whenever we have written enough
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songs to do so. Stop if not fun.”
Do you think older age makes you appreciate playing punk rock more than when you were younger? When you’re young it’s happening so fast and you’re so intent on moving forward that you don’t always appreciate each moment. I guess now the attitude is very different and you probably enjoy and appreciate each moment, right? “I am so grateful to be playing this music at an age when I can truly appreciate it.”
You’ve played with so many iconic bands now, is there anything left that you’re like to achieve, places you’ve never played? What keeps you carrying on? “I really love playing guitar. That’s all there is to it.”
What are you most proud of in your career? What is the one music moment, above all of the others that you are most personally connected too? “I’m most proud of my twenty two years (and counting) of playing guitar in Bad Religion. That’s no easy slog, I can tell you.”
Although in current times we’ve learnt to expect the unexpected when it comes to band reunions, the one people still talk about happening is Minor Threat which would obviously never happen, does it amuse you that people still expect or ask about that now? Although I guess people would never have expected to see Dag Nasty touring in Europe! “I get that since virtually every single seminal punk band that has ever existed has gotten back together it’s natural that someone will ask me about a MT reunion it doesn’t bother me at all. It does tell me that you might have a limited understanding of the type of person Ian MacKaye is, however.”
What do you think is Dag Nasty’s legacy? Despite being accused of being the roots of what has become pop-punk and emo, there’s a quality and passion to the music that has truly lasted the test of time. “I really don’t know. Hopefully we will be remembered as innovators who occupy that critical space between hardcore and punk where melody and chaos coexist. Or we could go down as Travis Barker’s 23rd tattoo. Whatever.” ‘COLD HEART’ IS OUT NOW ON DISCHORD RECORDS DAG NASTY ON THEIR DOWN FOR LIFE SPONSORED TOUR AND AT REBELLION FESTIVAL IN AUGUST
PIC BY LIGHTBOX REVELATION
DOWN FOR LIFE
THE CONCRETE CONFESSIONAL (Nuclear Blast)
Jamey Jasta and co return in furious form.
e found that New England metalcore heavyweights Hatebreed’s last album ‘The Divinity of Purpose’ featured some of their strongest material in recent years, showcasing more of their punk-edged hardcore influences. While Hatebreed have never really been known for their musical variety, they’ve made some stylistic changes with ‘The Concrete Confessional’, their seventh album. Opening tracks ‘A.D.’ and ‘Looking Down The Barrel of Today’ blast out of the blocks and have strong thrash metal elements, featuring vocalist Jamey Jasta at his angriest. This isn’t a hardcore/thrash metal album though and there’s various shades of hardcore to be found throughout ‘The Concrete Confessional’. Indeed, ‘The Apex Within’ features some whoa-oh gang vocals that add a punk flavour while ‘Something’s Off’ features Jasta’s clean singing, an aspect of his style that he’s demonstrated before with Kingdom of Sorrow and his solo ‘Jasta’ album. While Jasta has never been shy to project his inner anger and turmoil via his lyrics and vocals, he’s really kicked things up a notch on this album, taking a more
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markedly political approach to some of his lyrics amid the usual more personal Hatebreed topics of overcoming adversity and keeping that PMA in difficult circumstances. ‘Something’s Off’ sees Jasta address his feelings of anxiety, a condition that he’s suffered from since childhood and as he has noted: “I’ve written songs about depression, alcoholism, and falling back into destructive patterns. However, I never felt like I could really put my finger on what anxiety is… I had to confront it directly in the lyrics here.” It’s a very direct album (not that we’ve ever come to expect anything less from Hatebreed) and the 13 muscular, fat-free tracks zip by in a pacey 33 minutes, which makes ‘The Concrete Confessional’ their shortest album since 2003’s ‘The Rise of Brutality’. They go full-throttle and it’s a tactic that pays off. As Hatebreed scream on ‘Looking Down The Barrel of Today’: ‘No sleep. No rest. That’s what it takes to be the best’. Essentially, a lot of people’s thoughts when it comes to a new Hatebreed album contains one main question - will the songs incite carnage in the pit? Once again Hatebreed have succeeded in doing just that, in this case by producing a record filled with fury and intensity that boils Hatebreed down to its essence. Paul Hagen
“THEY GO FULL-THROTTLE AND IT’S A TACTIC THAT PAYS OFF.”
(Six Feet Under)
Raging New York hardcore is good for the soul...
West coast punk legends drop new album.
THE AMITY AFFLICTION THIS COULD BE HEARTBREAK (Roadrunner)
THE BODY / FULL OF HELL
Canadian skate punk veterans feel the force.
es, this is Belvedere’s fifth full-length and their first since their 2012 reunion. Originally formed in Calgary in 1995 and influenced by the likes of Bad Religion and NOFX, they honed their technical skate punk over the years and arguably peaked (the first time round) with their ripping 2002 third album ‘’Twas Hell Said Former Child’. Now they’re back with an album that fans of the likes of Millencolin and Bigwig will probably enjoy. The guitar work, driving rhythm and soaring vocals of ‘Years’ and the hardcore-infused ‘Transmissions’ are blistering highlights and the energy levels don’t drop throughout. Unfortunately, elsewhere it’s business as usual and it’s hard to believe it’s been twelve years since their last album, 2004’s ‘Fast Forward Eats the Tape’. However, it’s Belvedere doing what they do best – relentless skate punk. Ian Chaddock
ONE DAY YOU WILL ACHE LIKE I ACHE (Neurot).
From despair to here.
t’s been a good year so far for the outer reaches of extreme music; the Dragged Into Sunlight and Gnaw Their Tongues collab set a certain tone and with bands like Wolf Eyes reinventing their sound whilst losing none of their power it’s a healthy time to make unhealthy music. The Body I can take or leave, but Full of Hell, for my money, is the best act out there on this circuit. They are inventive, exhilarating and have a youthful energy that many in the noisey metal scene lack. This is a collection of songs though that genuinely makes me worry for the mental health of the people producing it. Aside from the odd Aphex Twin style interlude this is the soundtrack to a nervous breakdown. With so much of this music you are afraid for what the people making it might do to other people, here you wonder what they might do to themselves. James Batty
Debut album from this Dutch hardcore mob.
REVENGE OF THE FIFTH
Australian melodic metalcore crew return with cathartic fifth full-length.
alifornian punk veterans Adolescents are currently celebrating their thirty fifth anniversary this year and to ring in this milestone they’ve just released a new full length album in this, Manifest Destiny. A fitting birthday celebration it is too! We all know what Adolescents do best – short, sharp shocks of melodic hardcore punk rock fuelled with their sun soaked, Californian abrasion and this is no different. Part skate punk, part hardcore this record is chock full of rebel rousing anthems like the snotty ‘Escape From Planet Fuck’ the rowdy ‘Unhappy Hour’ and ‘Bubblegum Manifesto’ which are brimming with intellectually sharp and cynically critical lyrics. A powerful production honed by Paul Miner (Death By Stereo, H20) gives the songs that added punch making Manifest Destinty one of their finest releases to date. Miles Hackett
f you can only think the happy sounds of Shelter when you think of Krishnacore, 108 might scare you a new arsehole and then some. There’s little peace and comfort to be had in their music, but their heaving apocalyptic metalcore is undeniably therapeutic. Celebrating twenty years since its original release, Six Feet Under have reissued ‘Threefold Misery’ – which originally came out on Germany’s Lost and Found Records – complete with stunning new artwork and two bonus tracks from the ‘Curse Of Instinct’ EP and all lovingly re-packaged on vinyl for the first time. As the likes of Cro-Mags and Inside Out proved, spirituality can be fucking intense when channelled this aggressively, and 108 are right up there in the anger stakes. An album worth rediscovering. Ian Glasper
ollowing on from their platinum-certified 2014 album, ‘Let the Ocean Take Me’, The Amity Affliction seem unphased by their growing success and look set to grow even bigger this summer, with a Download festival set as well as touring across Europe and Australia. This album sees them embrace soaring melodies and raw power on the driving opener and first single ‘I Bring the Weather With Me’ and the catchy title track. There’s crunch and bounce on ‘Nightmare’ and the heart-on-sleeve acoustics meet big chorus of ‘All Fucked Up’. It may be a little too emotional for some hardcore or punk fans but there’s honest feelings throughout, dealing with death and loss (and on the cover art). The punishing closer ‘Blood in My Mouth’ brings this release to a powerful end. The world is at their feet. El Parry
AT PEACE AMONGST CHAOS (Nuclear Blast)
Manchester young-bloods show their bite with full-length debut.
aying their dues playing countless shows since forming in 2007, Broken Teeth’s strong work ethic paid off with a deal with Nuclear Blast where they now sit on a roster that includes Agnostic Front, Hatebreed, Madball and Biohazard. Esteemed company indeed, but with this punishing release Broken Teeth more than hold their own. Following a brief acoustic introduction they never let up with a barrage of gargantuan metallic riffs and formidable breakdowns encased in memorable songs. The production courtesy of Nick Jett of Terror (who are a good point of reference) is both crisp and crushing with Dale Graham’s every barked word audible. Anthems like Stomp To Dust and Lose My Grip are primed to ignite pits when the band hit the road supporting this release. Don’t miss them. Dave Wroe
ailing from the Brabant region of the south of Holland are he unpronounceable Angstgegner which translates in German as – your most feared opponent and features members of a variety of Dutch acts like Otis, Fehler and Razorblade. Following on from a couple of great split EP’s this debut full length sees the Dutchmen really hone their raw take on the early Californian hardcore sounds of the likes of Black Flag and more recently OFF! This is sixteen tracks of full on hardcore punk assault in a raucous old school style with a modern twist. The vocals are spat forth with venom and the songs powerful, visceral and pound with a seething anger on songs like the raging ‘I Shot The Deputy’ and ‘Itch You Can’t Scratch’. A great debut. Miles Hackett
SLOW DEATH (Nuclear Blast)
Deathcore heavyweights fade to black.
tating that your new album will reshape a genre and start a new movement for aggressive, dark metal is quite a proclamation. Previous album Die Without Hope impressed with its technicality but also in a few places introduced symphonic black metal flourishes. News that Carnifex were working on arrangements and programming with Mick Kenny of Anaal Nathrakh hinted a further lean towards the black, echoed with song-titles such as Black Candles Burning and Countess of The Crescent Moon. Whilst there are still elements of deathcore, the likes of Drown Me In Blood lean more towards Dimmu Borgir territory. Whilst Carnifex are undoubtedly proficient at this style it can sound quite forced and lyrically unsubtle. This is not so much a genre changer but a new type of crossover in terms of straddling deathcore and black metal. Dave Wroe
DOWN FOR LIFE 79
DESPISED ICON BEAST
Extreme metal mauling.
ontreal deathcore veterans Despised Icon have honed their craft over the years and ‘Beast’ certainly lives up to its name and goes for the jugular. Five albums in, this follow-up to 2009’s ‘Day of Mourning’, is the Canadian crew’s first album since their 2014 reunion. With albums such as 2002’s ‘Consumed by Your Poison’ and 2005’s influential ‘The Healing Process’, Despised Icon helped to merge the worlds of death metal and hardcore, with added breakdowns to the classic savagery being at the forefront of an emerging sound, ‘deathcore’. Now they’re back to reclaim their crown and show people how it’s done. Relentless, brutal and unapologetic, the likes of ‘Inner Demons’, ‘Bad Vibes’ and ‘Doomed’ capture the mood and aggression of ‘Beast’. They’ve been gone far too long but now Despised Icon are back with some slamming death metal ferocity. Rich Armstrong
THE POOR AND THE HOPELESS (RUCKTION)
Second album from these London bruisers.
outh London, LBU hardcore mob Diction blast back with another totally uncompromising release with this, their second album ‘The Poor And The Hopeless’. This is about as raw as it gets, the unpolished harshness of these tracks is crushing in both heaviness and attitude. Across the ten tracks here that include the aggravated assault of songs like ‘Bottomless Pit’ and ‘Bullshitter’, Diction go for the throat and increase their grip track by track. It’s lyrically stark, covering the struggles of adult life and the hardship our youth will experience as a result. Diction live and breathe this struggle and this is emphasised by the nihilism and violent approach to their music. Not a record for the faint hearted but anyone looking for a release of the pressures of modern life will relate to and let off steam to this. Paul Davies
Pounding stoner/doom from Dutch sludge-lords.
B van der Wal is a very busy man. When not grinding on the bass with Aborted, recording, producing and mixing or working front of house sound he’s found time to assemble the third album by his sludge/doom outfit Herder. Clocking in at just twenty-eight minutes, Fergean does not hang about nor wallow in the mire that often typifies the genre. The seven tracks are for the most upbeat with monster riffs and infectious grooves flourished with memorable melodic guitar melodies. It’s certainly heavy, but then you should expect that from a band who were recently escourted from a venue for playing too loud. Van der Wal’s production affords both clarity and warmth to the bass and guitars with former Born From Pain frontman Ché Snelting’s caustic vocals providing an abrasive edge to the band’s hard-hitting sound. Dave Wroe
I AM REVENGE
END OF DAYS
Third album from Hamburg hardcore heavyweights.
A welcomed return from the Daddies of D-beat.
ear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing’ will always be a landmark in Discharge’s career, and in the spectrum of all things music related obviously. ‘End Of Days’ is about to give that well documented 1982 album a real run for it’ money, as the ferocity and drive this fifteen track assault delivers is a mighty fine wake up call. New vocalist Jeff Janiak (or JJ as he is to be known) re-ignites the flames these D-beat originators once created and carries the band naturally with good old-fashioned hate-filled street hostility. This ain’t no tough guy syndrome, just straight up hardcore punk aggression – fast, filthy, furious, and straight to the point. What better could you wish for? Any of these new tracks would sit comfortably amongst earlier tunes, but that said, does not find the UK quintet seamlessly churning out nostalgias of the past. The formula ‘End Of Days’ incites is one that rekindles (thankfully) sounds of the definitive resonance yes, it rebuilds and strengthens the Stoke lads original blueprint, yet mixes all with solid production and techniques of the millennium age; bolstered to a five piece (original drummer Tezz, now moving to second guitar alongside brother Bones) giving Discharge an even meatier sound, but with songs to match the requirements. ‘Raped And Pillaged’, ‘New World Order’, and the gnarly snarl of ‘Hatebomb’ prove that the nightmare well and truly continues. With ‘End Of Days’ Discharge have stolen the crown from right under the Exploited’s nose, no two ways about that at all. Mark Freebase
80 DOWN FOR LIFE
Am Revenge’s latest record continues their style of down tempo beatdown and generally does little to make itself notable. Over the course of its 10 songs, ‘RVNG’ just gets a bit repetitive and risks fading into dullness despite the competence of the band in creating this type of music. It’s not a long album, it just seems like it is and the fact that almost half the tracks break the three-minute barrier doesn’t really help their cause as brevity would have been beneficial. ‘RVNG’ feels a little slapped together with the intention to insert a load of a hardcore clichés into it, as on the likes of ‘2nd Year’. I guess it fulfils a function and there’s nothing wrong with creating music exclusively for the pit but ‘RVNG’ doesn’t do its job particularly well. Paul Hagen
AWAKE FOR EVERYTHING (6131)
ontaining members or ex members of various outfits but primarily the brainchild of the singer from Touche Amore, Jeremy Bolm, ‘Awake for Everything’ is another example of a record that can be aggressive and accessible at the same time. The recent Like Rats record was similar in this respect, and it’s good to have these records which either have more hooks (the former) or a bit of a groove (the latter) to balance out all the nihilistic noise we surround ourselves with on a daily basis. There’s light and shade and plenty of breakdowns to keep the fans of his day job band happy. It’s a record that is both personal and universal at the same time and it benefits from thought out production and doesn’t feel rushed which is an achievement in itself considering the inevitable logistics of getting the band together to play. James Batty
SONGS OF SACRIFICE (GSR)
Sixth album from the unbreakable London HC stalwarts.
ow in their twentieth year with the same line-up, it’s hardly any surprise that Knuckledust have the kind of natural chemistry that most other bands would kill for, and never has that chemistry been more apparent than on ‘Songs Of Sacrifice’, with the band summoning forth some of their most desperately ferocious material to date on this their sixth full length platter. Opening with ‘Humanity’s Nightmare’ (which is more Sepultura than Madball!), things soon settle down into the band’s more usual relentless beatdown that is pure NYHC done London style. The multi-vocal angst recalls Blood For Blood at their height, but Wema wrings much more melody from his guitar to keep things fresh for 2016. What a fine way to celebrate their twentieth year, there’s certainly no let up! Ian Glasper
New album from the grindcore terrorists.
t’s been seven long years since Magrudergrind released their last platter of sonic violence and during their time away, although the band have still been touring, they have a new drummer and are back and as brutal as ever. This time around the material feels a little more stripped down and raw. Gone are the samples and intros in favour of a back to basics of crushing riffs, blitzkrieg blast beats and scorching vocals. Produced by Converge man Kurt Ballou their sound is heavier than an out of control steam roller. This is no frills, no holds barred, in your face aural punishment that sees the ‘grind still top of their game. This album is relentless and crushing in equal measure, just the way we like it. Welcome back Magrudergrind, it’s been well worth the wait. Miles Hackett
PARANOID SATYAGRAHA (Southern Lord)
Re-issue of this Swedish D beat inferno.
wedish D Beat terrorist’s Paranoid originally released this back in 2015, now long out of print. Their metallic tinged crust punk noise pricked up the ears of those at Southern Lord who’ve given their debut a new lease of life with this re-release. Paranoid grind out the kind of frantic D Beat that their forefathers Anti-Cimex trademarked before them but add a little metallic dirge into proceedings to make their sound ever dirtier with claustrophobic riffs reminiscent of Hellhammer or early Celtic Frost in both texture and sound. This crust/metal combination really gives the songs a fresh and vital feel, by pushing what can be a constricting genre into new territory. Add on some cracking, melodic guitar leads and licks and Paranoid have really created something unique in Satyagrhaha. We await it’s follow up with baited breath. Paul Davies
FACE TO FACE
YOU WILL NEVER BE ONE OF US
A return to form.
SoCal melodic punk veterans unleash album nine.
veryone remembers where they were the first time they experienced the brutal, raw, in your face energy of the Nails live experience. For me it was when they were a power (violence?) trio and this was in essence what made them such a compact and awe-inspiring unit. When Southern Lord re-released their debut album it was a shot in the arm for extreme music. Then on their sophomore release they seemed to lose their way slightly. This can happen when a band is afforded time, money or both to record they lose the essence of what made them stand out in the first place. I’m happy to say though that Nails powergrinddbeatmetalsludgepunkcore their way through just over twenty minutes (a veritable epic for them) of vivifying brilliance, you need this record in your life. James Batty
GREEN STAR (Fat Wreck)
Sophomore effort from off-kilter New Orleans melodic hardcore punks.
ollowing up their rousing 2014 debut ‘Go To Prison’, Pears are back with another adrenaline shot of an album. The 16-track ‘Green Star’ is a hyperactive, thundering listen from the start, with ‘Hinged By Spine’ and the ripping ‘Cumshots’. Humorous punk meets blazing fast aggression throught, that sounds not dissimilar to a glorious collision between Fat labelmates NOFX and (early) Propagandhi. There’s some A Wilhelm Scream in there too, perhaps unsurprisingly as their guitarist Mike Supina helped engineer the album. Pears are one hell of a lot of fun. With a couple of piano interludes breaking up the chaos and frontman Zach Quinn’s eclectic vocal style, this may be a little too whacky at times for some but at heart ‘Green Star’ is a frenetic, slightly darker album that captures Pears’ irrepressible sound perfectly. Ian Chaddock
t’s hard to believe that Face To Face are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. Back on Fat Wreck, who they released their debut album, ‘Don’t Turn Away’ through back in 1992, it’s a comfortable yet uplifting listen. The fast pace and driving rhythms of opener ‘Bent But Not Broken’ sets the tone, with ‘woah’ backing vocals, Trever Keith’s distinctive vocals and lyrics that proclaim, “some things never change”. This 11 track album, produced by Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson (Rise Against, Alkaline Trio) sounds crisp and bursting with irrepressible energy, more than they have any right to have this far into their career! The likes of ‘I Won’t Say I’m Sorry’ and ‘Double Crossed’ have the anthemic, experienced nature that the likes of the Bouncing Souls and Social Distortion can capture when they’re on top form. Following the excellent 2011 comeback album, ‘Laugh Now, Laugh Later’, Face To Face stumbled with the hit and miss 2013 record ‘Three Chords and a Half Truth’, so ‘Protection’ needed to hit the mark. Thankfully, it does just that and it’s great to hear the four-piece locking in so tightly again on the likes of the driving, melody-infused ‘See If I Care’ and the rousing title track. There’s not much variety and certainly no reinventing of the wheel but there’s no denying the catchiness of the likes of the upbeat ‘Keep Your Chin Up’ and the ripping closer ‘And So It Goes’. Great to hear them keeping it fast and fun. Ian Chaddock
PETROL GIRLS SOME THING
Poison Headache Poison Headache (Metal Blade)
Raging feminist post-hardcore brilliance.
Clandestine crossover debut.
etting together for an International Women’s Day gig in 2013, this South East London quartet have been going from strength to strength. With songs about feminist film theory (‘Protagonist’), sexism, alienation, mental health issues and the anti-austerity movement, this is political and important music. With a sound that’s angular and anthemic, the likes of opener ‘Slug’ and driving ‘Separated’ bring to mind the likes of War On Women, Propagandhi, Fugazi and Pettybone, although Petrol Girls are certainly carving out a sound that’s all their own on this thrilling six track EP. Ren Aldridge and Liepa Kuraite’s vocals are savage one second and soaring the next and ‘Some Thing’ shows there’s still exciting homegrown political punk bands. Currently recording their debut fulllength, Petrol Girls are a force for good. Punk is about positive change and Petrol Girls are all in. Ian Chaddock
n issuing the gnarly Sin Eater as a preview, Metal Blade remained tight lipped on Poison Headache’s line-up, preferring to let the music do the talking. That secret’s now out and this is not what you’d initially expect from Phil Sgrosso of Wovenwar/As I Lay Dying, together with old school friends Andy Kukta, ex-Internal Affairs, and Kyle Rosa of defunct hard rockers Thieves and Liars. Poison Headache’s main goal was to combine the speed and simplicity of punk with the abrasive side of metal and they’ve met that brief with their belligerent self titled debut. The album growls with an Entombed old-school Swedish death metal vibe but streamlined with the directness of metallic hardcore. With Twitching Tongues/Nails’ Taylor Young on hand to assist with the recording and mixing, this is a commendable opening shot from the crossover three-piece. Dave Wroe
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LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND (React!)
PRIMITIVE WEAPONS THE FUTURE OF DEATH (Party Smasher Inc.)
Baltimore hardcore ‘supergroup’ get ready for a revolution summer.
ormed in 2009 by members of Turnstile, Mindset, Champion and Angel Du$t, Praise took on a more melodic direction than their other bands, drawing heavily from a mid ‘80s DC influence. Having released an EP in 2010 and their debut album, ‘Lights Went Out’, in 2014, the straight-edge band are back with a modified line-up and their most tuneful release yet. This EP will delight fans of Embrace, Dag Nasty and Rites Of Spring. Produced by Will Yip (Title Fight, Turnover), the likes of energetic opener ‘Makes No Sense’, the urgent, driving ‘Crash Into My Life’ and the anthemic title track show the strength of songwriting on offer. The slow-burning ‘Walk to the Edge’ and an Egg Hunt cover (‘We All Fall Down’) are stunning. This is true melodic hardcore with energy and passion. Praise be! Ian Chaddock
Tasty re-release of NY hardcore/ crossover group’s debut album.
here’s no denying that Primitive Weapons like to keep it heavy and unpredictable. With comparisons to everyone from Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan to Glassjaw and Fugazi, they’re a band that are hard to pigeonhole and like to push their sound in different directions, embracing chaotic heaviness with infectious melody. Whether it’s the driving, riff-fuelled opener ‘Ashes Or Paradise’ and the raging, wild ‘The Electric Drama’ or the new wave-like ‘Panopticon Blues’ and the angular, groove-infused ‘Old Miami’, Primitive Weapons aren’t afraid to push themselves and the listener in often unexpected and thrilling directions. Arguably one of the highlights is the building, dark ‘Whistle Past the Graveyard’, on which vocalist David Castillo sings, “what I’m asking for is so much more, than another pound of flesh for a song.” Rich Armstrong
THE COMPLETE YOUTH ANTHEMS FOR THE NEW ORDER (Cleopatra)
Complete discography from the veterans US hardcore punks
leopatra records issue another lovingly put together historical and very concise package this time it’s the complete recordings by legendary ‘80s political protest punk rockers/anarchists Reagan Youth, all packaged in a deluxe multi-format 7” x 7” box set . This luxurious package features both of the band’s full length albums plus eleven previously unreleased recordings and two 7” vinyl featuring the original 1984 recordings that the band made years prior to their 1988 debut album. This document of the bands short career is some of the first politically charged, hardcore punk that came out of the East Coast of the USA following the lead of West Coast bands like Dead Kennedy’s and MDC. Singer Dave Insurgent tragically took his own life in 1990 just a couple of years after the band released their debut album but the bands legacy still lives on through guitarist Paul Cripple, who still tours the band with a new line-up to this day. Some of the recordings here reflect their age but that doesn’t make them any less poignant in today’s society. Reagan Youth were born of their time but have stood the test of time rather well. This boxset also comes with extensive liner notes penned by punk rock historian Jack Rabid (The Big Takeover magazine) plus a foldout poster, sticker and badge just to add some more value for your buck. A great piece of punk rock history. Miles Hackett
82 DOWN FOR LIFE
FOUL TASTE OF FREEDOM
Brooklyn quartet’s searing second album of post-hardcore.
RINGWORM SNAKE CHURCH (Relapse)
US metalcore heavyweights return in brutal fashion.
ith the unfortunate demise of the Crumbsuckers bassist Gary Meskil and drummer Dan Richardson went on to form this now legendary trio. Taking elements of hardcore from the past, infusing them with metal sounds, and pinching a little rap influence ‘Foul TasteOf Freedom’ exploded onto the scene. Meskil’s guttural vocal rasp spits out tales of drugs, economic issues, homelessness and corruption giving the likes of ‘Murder 101’, ‘Foul Taste Of Freedom’ and ‘The Stench Of Piss’ real kudos. With only two of the thirteen album tracks passing the 3.30 minute mark Pro-Pain’s sharp blow to the face is enough to knock hardcore fans and metalheads into an unconditional frenzy. Bonus track ‘Take It Back’ is a good thrashing of NY street justice whilst the ‘Pound For Pound’ remix is ashorter hip hop infused amalgamation. Mark Freebase
POISONOUS LEGACY (Southern Lord)
Rabid crust hardcore!
ans of Severed Head Of State, Disfear and Wolfbrigade take note… this second album from the Greek crust hardcore crew will be right up your street. Noisey, ferocious, and vicious along with content of economical depression, and general oppression to the state, it’s all points addressed here. The heavy tone this quintet excretes is reminiscent of life struggle and no doubt meaningful for so many people; and with sixty percent of the content being under the three minute mark it’s no surprise Sarabante do not hold back on their pace one iota. Withseveral tracks in native tongue the intensity of ‘Poisonous Legacy’ smacks the listener like a claw hammer and imprints a dark blackened focus on all that is audible. One thing that is for sure here is Sarabante are guaranteed to bring you to a very new low. Mark Freebase
ingworm’s career of nihilism has covered some twenty five plus incredible years and this year they drop their eighth opus of their trademarked sonic fury, ‘Snake Church’. Their relentless attack straddles the hardcore and metal genres once again on this record without mercy across songs like the demonic ‘The Black Light Of A Living Ghost’, ‘Brotherhood Of The Midnight Sun’ and ‘The Razor And The Knife’. This is twelve tracks, raging over 30 minutes of crushing metallic hardcore that is as violent as Nails, as pissed off as Integrity and as wanton as Slayer with their mix of thrashing rifferama and leads combining with 90’s hardcore toughness in a seamless mix of bleakness. Ringworm are always a formidable listen and Snake Church keeps it true to their mantra of ear splitting punishment. Paul Davies
SWEATIN’ TO THE OLDIES & SWEATIN’ 3: SKATIN: SATAN & KATON (Tankcrimes)
Play loud and fast.
7 songs, culled from a heap of long outof-print singles, comps and split releases from the now defunct legendary power-violence hardcore band Spazz, this collection was originally released on Slap A Ham in 1997 and is back again, remastered for your delectation and amusement. And amusing it certainly is; Spazz were always the masters of the short-fast-loud approach; they were tight, powerful and ridiculously snappy, but they injected a jumbo shot of whacky humour into their music that set them aside from the pack. Tracks like ‘Skatin And Satan Go Hand In Hoof’ go some way to telling you where this bands heads were at. That, combined with some totally power-violenced cover versions of punk classics make this collection a whole lot of fun to listen to and annoy your friends, family and neighbours with. James Sherry
BUILDING THE BEAST (Demons Run Amok)
SURGE OF FURY
New album from this Belgian beatdown squad.
achen-based metallic hardcore band Still Ill’s debut album is a pleasingly assured affair, undoubtedly helped by sharp and crisp production. ‘Building The Beast’ examines some of the more pressing issues facing the world today but does so in a way that keeps the music varied, engaging, and exciting. The title track bursts with a certain amount of freshness and fizz, incorporating various elements of hardcore and rock to create a cohesive whole. The rest of the album is equally accomplished and the shredding guitars are kept right in your face. ‘Building The Beast’ shows a strong amount of promise for a debut album and should lead to Still Ill gaining an expanding rep in Europe. The album also features guest appearances from members of Optimist, Done, and Countdown. Paul Hagen
TEMPERS FRAY LIFE SLAP (Rucktion)
London hardcore band drop seventrack EP.
empers Fray have been around since late 2011 and their second EP of brutal metal-tinged hardcore is an intense affair that has more than a touch of London griminess and nastiness to it, much of that attributed to vocalist Bob’s striking contribution. Opening track ‘Gainsay’ lays down the band’s sound and Bob dropping the line, ‘Listen, you need to sort your shit out mate… it’s time to man up and face the world you fucking prick’ on ‘Wasteman’ lets you know that this is definitely a London HC EP. ‘My Mind’ is the only sub-two minute track on ‘Life Slap’ and features a slighter more varied tempo than that found elsewhere on the EP, where the songs are predominantly slower and heavier groove metallic hardcore. If you like Rucktion hardcore, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Paul Hagen
Rock The Fuck On Forever
German hardcore band tackle sociopolitical issues with a concept record.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Second album from the melodic hardcore punk super
ormed in 1997, Surge Of Fury hail from Liege in Belgium and have been causing a stir across the European hardcore scene with three albums already under their belts besides numerous EP’s and splits. Their mixture of old school hardcore and beatdown is brimming over on this new fourteen track album with the band once more on their game and stirring up pits with their furious riffs and pounding beatdowns. Tracks like ‘Piece Of Shit’ and ‘Doom And Gloom’ are certified bruisers and Pelbu from Knuckledust pops up on ‘Till Infinity’ to lend a hand with vocal duties as does Matty from Nasty on ‘Temperature Is Rising’. Surge Of Fury have always done what they say on the tin and ‘Where It All Began’ is no different, they always live up to their name! Paul Davies
TIRADE / PROVEN SPLIT
Bruising UKHC split
ith one a little more old school in flavour and the other newer in style, a penchant for mid-paced hardcore and unmitigated anger form common ground for the two bands featured on this London split. Both groups had well received demos so I was eager to hear what would come next. Proven kick things off with a continuation of their grove-laden, dual vocal sound, and the positivity of second track, Get Involved, is thankfully tempered with some good old fashioned lyrical - lots of heavy drops for the dancefloors to boot. Tirade come with a slightly rawer mix, which fits perfectly with their more classic HC style. Vocalist Tom Ninebar rampages over the tough NY bounce, setting the world to rights - all HC newbies should be made to listen to, Genuine Article as a matter of course. A cracking split. Tom Barry
altimore hardcore supergroup Angel Du$t are fronted by Justice Tripp of Trapped Under Ice and also include Turnstile member Daniel Fang, both movers and shakers I’m sure you’ll agree. The band’s sophomore album Rock The Fuck On Forever is their first release on the new label Pop Wig after their much heralded self-titled debut album dropped in 2014 on React! Records. So what have we got? We’ve got a whole lot of infectiously melodic hardcore punk jams. With a sound that falls somewhere between The Lemonheads, Bad Brains and the Descendents this melodicore five piece have created one of the finest releases this year so far. With a fuzzed up guitar sound that - dare we say it, strays into Weezer territory here and there, this thirteen tracker is brimming with bitter sweet, yet bouncy love songs like current single ‘Stay’. Every song on this is killer, from the stomping opener ‘Toxic Boombox’, through the rousing anthem ‘Somebody Else’ right down to the slowed down melancholy of ‘Twist And Shout’. The songs are short, sharp and extremely addictive and where their all too short but sweet debut just clocked in over 15 minutes, this time around there’s a bit more tuneage for your buck, although with songs like this you’ll still be left wanting more. This album is going to be the feel good hit of the summer. Essential. Miles Hackett
Sixth album from the Stockholm crustpunks.
veryone knows that Sweden (well, and Finland!) gives you most bang for your buck when it comes to crusty punk, and if you’re a fan of such D-beat legends as Anti-Cimex and Wolfbrigade, this latest offering from Victims will hit the mark with lethal accuracy. Boasting a tight focused production to match its deadly delivery, ‘Sirens’ hits the sweet spot somewhere between gnarly fury, metallic precision and dour melodies. Yes, you read that right: the word ‘melody’ in a review of a fast hateful punk album. But Victims have developed their own sophisticated take on the old Discharge formula, taking note of At The Gates and Refused along the way, forging something uniquely listenable. Sirens sees the band explore their sound in a unique way that will raise them to the status of their Scandinavian peers. Ian Glasper
DESCENDING FLASH (Hypertension)
Belgian annihilation with you in its sights.
elgium has been releasing some of the most nihilistic music of late, if you’ve heard the likes of Oathbreaker of Cocaine Piss you’ll know what we mean. These Belgians VVOVNDS sure know a thing or two about noise, with ‘Descending Flesh’ being a blur of distortion and violent thrashings. ‘The Light’ is just that: a brief respite that momentarily summons forth the simplistic repetitive groove of early Killing Joke, building relentlessly to a coiled crescendo, but then it’s straight back to uncompromising brutality. Is it punk? Is it grind? Is it power violence? Yes, yes and yes, it’s all these things and more, and all that reverb will give you one hell of a headache if you don’t brace yourself for the onslaught. Compelling enough while it’s on then, but not something that stays with the listener after the feedback has faded. Ian Glasper
DOWN FOR LIFE 83
WAKE THE DEAD
WALLS OF JERICHO
UNDER THE MASK
NO ONE CAN SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF
(Demons Run Amok)
New album from this French melodic hardcore group.
ake The Dead have been bashing out their Comeback Kid, Have Heart, Defeater influenced melodic hardcore punk since 2010 and have toured across an astonishing amount of countries covering several continents. Hailing from Marseille in France the band have two new members, a drummer and vocalist who seem to have seamlessly blended into the band making themselves right at home. This is a pretty angry record in most places but has moments of grandness on tracks like ‘Song Of Storm’ which is metallic in sound and with a huge vocal chorus. There’s quite a bit of variance in each song and its evident a lot of thought has gone into the writing process here. It’s unashamedly modern in sound and offers plenty of different sonic diversity to keep the listener enthralled. Paul Davies
No frills comeback from metalcore stars.
fter being out of the game for 8 years, Walls of Jericho have returned with an album focussed on what they do best – early 00’s metalcore. Double bass drums lock in with staccato riffs and screamed statements of intent precede metallic breakdowns whilst vocalist Candace rallies the troops with motivational messages throughout. There’s been some variation in sound over the band’s 5 albums but aside from the sung, orchestral string-backed, Probably Will, the new release does away with any previous musical flourishes to bring everything back to basics. This results in a few more metalcore clichés being thrown into the mix than we would’ve liked (a couple of breakdowns sound more than little familiar) but it’s unlikely that this will deter fans of the band (or fans of this style in general) from digging the new record. Tom Barry
NO CURE NO SAVIOUR (Prosthetic)
Guildford post-hardcore quintet’s savage third album.
uilding on 2014’s ‘Shadowed By Vultures’, it’s clear that ‘No Cure No Saviour’ is a leap forward for POLAR. Opener ‘Blood For Blood’ sets out their stall, with pounding hardcore combining with intense, emotional soaring sections, but all in an organic way that’s powerful and effective. It sounds simply crushing, with the recording and engineering handled by Justin Hill (Rise To Remain, SiKth). Adam ‘Woody’ Woodford’s vocals sound versatile and mighty throughout, with gang vocals and monstruous riffs adding to the layers. It’s perhaps unsurprising that POLAR are touring with Boysetsfire in June, as this album has seen them addressing the issue of homelessness and supporting the charity Crisis. “We were looking at the world and current affairs for inspiration,” explains Woodford. “Over our touring career we have seen first-hand the ever-growing issue of people living homeless lives, we feel this is an issue that is close to our hearts and really needs to be highlighted.” Perhaps this is what has fed into song titles such as ‘Lost Souls’ and ‘Downfall’. While the emotional hardcore beatdowns get a little repetitive at times, there’s enough passion to hit home here, and a guest spot from Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld on ‘Deus Ex Machina’ is a nice touch. The likes of ‘Tidal Waves and Hurricanes’ and ‘Lost Souls’ see them at their ripping best, while closer ‘No Saviour’ is a sprawling finale. Epic, heavy and anthemic, POLAR have gone big. El Parry
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WEEKEND NACHOS APOLOGY (Relapse)
WHATEVER IT TAKES DEATHBLOW (BDHW)
Final and perhaps finest album from this US grind mob.
Belgium quartet bringing back hard into hardcore!
WORLD BE FREE
eekend Nachos frontman John Hoffman recently described his band as a cross between Youth Of Today and Carcass, which might sound preposterous on paper, but isn’t a million miles from the truth when you consider the unhinged delivery, the hyper speed, and the thick dense tones... yes, it’s grindcore – but not as we know it. There’s a pure hardcore energy that elevates this above its peers, a flailing manic vibe very reminiscent of that UKHC scene pioneered by the likes of Napalm Death and Doom. This is furious filthy fun, and it’s such a shame they’re splitting after this album, but at least they get to go out at the top of their game. So long, farewell and thanks for all the grinding noise Weekend Nachos, no need to apologise. Ian Glasper
INCITE AND CONSPIRE (End Hits)
Hardcore for the barricades.
ith high end production and slick artwork, it’s clear Wolf Down are focussed on getting their message to the masses on this latest release. DFL will always love a bit of anarcho-punk but it’s definitely a refreshing change to hear strongly political lyrics up front and clear in the mix (as opposed to buried in a far crustier musical serving). Environmentalism, social inequality, and animal rights are amongst the subjects addressed by new vocalist Dave, all backed up with big fist-pumping tracks like, Flames of Discontent, and offering a real alternative to some of the more vapid lyrical posturing bandied about by their peers. Continuing the journey they started with founding singer Larissa (currently on vocal duties for Venom Prison), Wolf Down can undoubtedly look forward to winning over quite a few more believers to the cause on the strength of their latest record. Tom Barry
s what the cover sticker denotes, and thankfully these heavy weight bruisers certainly do dish it out. If you are looking for sensitive embellishment, then Whatever It Takes no nonsense pounding is not for you. The abusive tone of street filled lyrics certainly backs up the brutal guitar riff and hammers home a real sense of visceral aggression, angst, and pissed off expression. This four-piece engage a true European sound combining U.S. elements of Hatebreed and Biohazard but without losing their own credibility. Whatever It Takes manage to keep it heavy yet escape having too many metalcore fundamentals in the equation, the focus is on a big sound and plenty of groove-ladden sing-a-long parts; this I am sure will have any audience moving. Mark Freebase
THE ANTI CIRCLE (Revelation)
A hardcore super-group that’s spectacularly super.
nce a phenomenon of the 70s, the super-group was often the product of bloated uninspired rock stars in search of further cash. World Be Free, however, is a collective of musicians all motivated by their love of the initial hardcore punk explosion and this, their debut album, oozes with passion and excitement for the music they love so much. Featuring members of Gorilla Biscuits, Terror, CIV and Strife, these 14 tracks plug directly into the roots of hardcore, before it became weighed down in chugging metal riffs and macho posturing. Every moment captures the joy and energy of bands like Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Gorilla Biscuits and those amazing early Revelation Records releases and if this album doesn’t pump you full of energy then you probably never loved the music in the first place. James Sherry
WORLD NEGATION IMBALANCE
WORLD OF PAIN ENDGAME
(Demons Run Amok)
Straight up heavy hardcore with no additives.
he debut album from World Negation definitely won’t win any prizes for originality but it’s a solid release and bodes well for the band’s future. The required breakdowns and guitar licks are all present and correct and there’s little doubt that vocalist Andreas has put his all into each track of Imbalance. Taking their cues from the likes of Terror et al, tunes such as, Against the World will satiate anyone looking for their fill of such fare but, as stated, this is not an album for those looking for something new. From opener, Shaped By Demise through to the albums end, pumping bass, fast breaks and driving two-step only let up briefly during moody instrumental, Low Spirits, before the band return to the matter at hand – straightforward hardcore with no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. Tom Barry
Grinding mid-to-slow-paced hardcore from San Diego.
orld Of Pain’s second album ‘Endgame’ isn’t your typical SoCal hardcore sound. It’s undoubtedly hard-hitting and benefits from a slow pace to emphasise the heaviness of the music. After a fairly unnecessary intro (helpfully named ‘Introduction’) the album sets the scene with ‘End Of Days’, varying the music between slow, fairly slow, and the occasional blasts of fast drumming in order to open up the pit and incite some crowd action. They’ve undoubtedly caused some carnage on their recent European tour with the ‘Endgame’ tracks. The musical formula outlined of ‘End of Days’ is then used throughout the record to create an overall air of menace and hardcore fury. It’s nothing particularly new or done with a shedload of flair but it’s certainly effective. ‘Endgame’ has guest appearances from both All Out War and Lifeless. Paul Hagen
Down for life spins the latest singles and EP’s for your aural delectation. Dag Nasty
Cold Heart / Wanting Nothing (Dischord)
t’s great to see Dag Nasty back together and these two new tracks bode well for the future. With Shawn Brown back on vocals these two tracks are classic Dag Nasty right down to the Ian Mackaye production at the famous Inner Ear Studios. Excellent. JS
ACxDC / Disparo Split 7”
(Here And Now)
alifornian power-violence ragers ACxDC contribute 5 tracks to this split and each is a bona-fide kiler. Always relentless and showing no mercy they slay with ease. Disparo on the other hand are let down by weak production that sounds like a bee in a tin can. JB
Bl’ast / Eyehategod Split 7” (Rise)
0’s hardcore meets 90’s sludge in this split and oddly the two juxtaposition of sounds compliment each other. Eyehategod’s ‘The Liars Psalm’ will shake out your fillings where Bl’ast!’s ‘Cut Your Teeth’ is a precision jab to the jaw to knock out your teeth. PD
his is Dutch negative hardcore in the vein of Infest, Left For Dead and Sheer Terror. Not for the weak this skull crusher of an EP is six tracks of contempt and disgust for mankind produced by Marc Van Duivenoorde from Herder. Uneasy listening. PD
Mindset WRONG WRONG (Relapse)
REVENGE REGRET REPEAT (GSR)
Ex-members of Torche, Kylesa and Capsule unleash noise rock debut.
NYHC with added English Oi.
uelled by big riffs and a clear love of ‘90s grunge and alternative metal, Wrong are a new band to get excited about. The Miami quartet show their calibre with the list of bands that members have played in but, thankfully, they’re more than just the sum of their parts. A band since 2014 and with a kick ass EP under their belts, their debut full-length is bursting at the seams with pummelling, groove-driven songs that bludgen you into submission. The likes of the thundering ‘Turn In’ and the battering, fast-paced ‘Read’ will make you gasp for breath, while ‘Entourage’ will bring shades of much-needed, yet still intense, melody to the mix. Anyone who loves the likes of early Helmet, Unsane and Big Black need Wrong in their life. Wrong feel so right. Rich Armstrong
t’s been 25 years since New York hardcore crew Yuppicide released their debut full-lengther in the form of ‘Fear Love’ and over 20 years since their last album ‘Dead Man Walking’. They split in 1998 and reformed in 2010, releasing the ‘American Oblivion’ EP in 2012. ‘Revenge Regret Repeat’ is lively retro-sounding punk/hardcore anchored by strong drumming and bass lines. Singer Jesse Jones is from London and gives the band a distinctly non-NYHC flavour. On tracks like ‘Insolence’ and ‘You’re Gonna Get It’ they sound more like an Oi band but then this is a varied album, with the furious ‘80s hardcore of ‘Bad Blood’ particularly effective. The touches of dub reggae on ‘Ghosts’ is a misstep though. ‘Revenge Regret Repeat’ is solid and shows that Yuppicide are still capable of producing new, decent quality hardcore. Paul Hagen
Nothing Less (React!)
fter deciding to call it a day this year Mindset bow out with three tracks of the finest straight edge hardcore. A rough production gives songs like ‘Effigy’ more poignancy than ever and the urgency of the title track is one of their best. They’ll be sadly missed. MH
Angel Du$t Upside Down (Grave Mistake)
econd single from their new album ‘Rock The Fuck On Forever’ is the bouncy as hell ‘Upside Down’, a hellishly infectious tune. Flip this 7” over and you get the exclusive ‘Teenage Haze’ which is a short rocker with a swerving psychedelic riff. PD
No Second Chance Cursed (RUCKTION)
ondon heavyweight hardcore bruisers No Second Chance break in new vocalist Adrien on this four track 7” EP. It’s tougher than leather and got riffage as heavy as an Ox. Tim from Cold Hard Truth pops up as guest on the track ‘Asleep’ too. PD
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DVDS A FAT WRECK (Fat Wreck)
at Wreck Chords, the hugely influential music label has spent the last twenty five years, in their own words ‘ruining punk rock’. This feature documentary tells the story of founders Fat Mike, the inimitable frontman from SoCal punk legends, NOFX and his ex-wife Erin Kelly-Burkett, spanning the birth, growth, struggles and survival of their record label. Half inspirational story of chosen family and community, half debauchery and occasionally involuntary drug use. Funded via Indiegogo, ‘A Fat Wreck’ if a movie made by the fans, funded by the fans for the fans. Fat Wreck Chords celebrated its 25th anniversary last year so this documentary (complete with puppets of the key players) is a fitting homage to their quarter century milestone birthday. There are screenings going on across Europe and the USA through the summer with a DVD/Blue Ray release to follow up later in the year.
SALAD DAYS: A DECADE OF PUNK IN WASHINGTON, DC (1980-90) (MVD)
inally available of DVD and Blue-Ray is the critically acclaimed documentary chronicling the rise of punk rock in Washington DC. ‘Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90)’ examines the early DIY punk scene in the United States Of America’s Capital. It was a decade when seminal bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Government Issue, Scream, Void, Faith, Rites of Spring, Marginal Man, Fugazi, and others released their own records and booked their own shows-without major record label constraints or mainstream media scrutiny. Contextually, it was a cultural watershed that predated the alternative music explosion of the 1990s (and the industry’s subsequent implosion). Thirty years later, DC’s original DIY punk spirit serves as a reminder of the hopefulness of youth, the power of community and the strength of conviction.
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FANZINES UNDER MY SKIN #1
rought to us by UK label and gig collective The Essence, Under My Skin is an interesting vantage point of zine that focuses entirely on the answer to the question, ‘What is it that makes hardcore so important to you?” Over its 24 pages (put together in true DIY cut and paste style) many people from different parts of the world, different ages, different tastes in music and perhaps different politics outline what it means to them. This fanzine offers a unique perspective on a collection of ideals based on creativity, independence and empowerment through the words of the likeminded and what drew them to hardcore and why they remain. It’s an interesting read as it pitches unique views that, although held by a particular individual are something that runs through all of us. Scott Vogel contributes here but it’s the words of others you may not know that often ring as true too. http:// theessence.bigcartel.com/
BOOKS NOFX : THE HEPATITIS BATHTUB AND OTHER STORIES NOFX & JEFF ALULIS (Da Capo Press)
illed as a tell-all autobiography of the US punks who’ve sold more than eight million records, toured 42 countries and starred in their own TV series this is more a collection of stories than a year-by-year recounting of the band’s history. Much of it reads like a backstage chat and includes eye opening, behind the scenes stories that are put together in a cool, conversational way that gives the reader a feeling of inclusion and revelation. Some stories come from each member, giving them a multiple perspective. It’s often crude, vile and yet sometimes tackles serious issues within the line-up and their part in the meteoric 90’s punk movement. Ultimately this is a tale of a band’s sheer will to exist and it’s unlikely success over the last 30 years. A unique approach to storytelling and a highly enjoyable read.
MDC: MEMOIRS FROM A DAMAGED CIVILISATION DAVE DICTOR
COMMUNAL GRAVE #3
ne of the most elaborate zines we’ve seen to date hails from the Czech Republic - but is written in English. The third issue of fastcore/ power-violence bible Communal Grave, like its predecessors comes with a full 12” LP featuring ten of bands from the issue and at twelve euros is pretty damn good value for money, There’s a lot to get your teeth into here if you’re a fan of all things extreme, lots of reviews and in depth interviews with the likes of ACxDC and Fissure, plus you can blast tracks by the bands on your stereo from the included LP as a background while you read. This is a thick A4 zine and although has a DIY, cut and paste aesthetic is well laid out, easy to read and is really in depth. A must purchase for all things fast, loud extreme.
(Manic D Press)
ronting one of the most important and long running, political hardcore punk bands in history, the inimitable Dave Dictor has been rebelling against conformity, complacency and conservatism with his iconic band MDC for nearly four decades. As you can imagine his book deals with the struggles and fights to stand by his convictions from confronting homophobia in the ‘80s, spearheading the Rock Against Reagan tour and being the first US punk band to tour Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is a raw portrait of an underground folk hero who took his message to a global audience through punk rock and is part punk poet, satirist, renegade and lover. Dave Dictor is the real deal, an authentic character carrying the progressive punk fight into the twenty first century and his memoir is essential reading.
GROEZROCK MEERHOUT - BELGIUM
Words/Photos: Miles Hackett/Lightbox Revelation
T may be cold and wet and but the faithful masses are out in their droves for the first annual punk fixture on the European festival calendar, the mighty Groezrock festival. First stop on Friday is at the Back To Basics stage to catch Russian powerhouse SIBERIAN MEAT GRINDER, whose crossover thrash is an ideal jolt of energy to start off the day. Straight after it’s metalcore giants WALLS OF JERICHO who shred the Impericon stage, front woman Candace pacing the stage like a woman possessed while airing their new album ‘No One Can Save You From Yourself’. TERROR never play a RANCID duff show and the Back To Basics tent is bursting at the seams for their set tonight, the crowd are not disappointed. Scott Vogel is often obscured by the stage divers as the band scorch through their trademark, furious hardcore. Not long after the chaos of Terror it’s the welcome return of YOUTH OF TODAY. Making only one of two European appearances here, this line-up which features Ray Cappo, Walter Schriefels, Porcell and Sammy Siegler turns the tent to utter mayhem when they kick out tracks like ‘Break Down The Walls’ and ‘Can’t Close My Eyes’. It doesn’t get DAG NASTY
much better! Over on the main stage metalcore heavyweights HATEBREED turn in a bruiser of a show, singer Jamie Jasta grinning from ear to ear as they unleash some smashers from their forthcoming new album ‘The Concrete Confessional’ during their career spanning set. However, tonight is all about one band – RANCID. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their seminal ‘...And Out Come The Wolves’ album Tim Armstrong and crew bounce through the album in sequence, predictably the audience loses it and chant along every word. This album was Rancid at the top of their game and with shows like they’ve put on tonight, they prove they are still top of their game on stage.
DAY TWO THE rain may have left off on Saturday but the ground underfoot has turned to treacle, Mix that with a few beers and there’s a few punks falling down here and there. New Fat Wreck signing PEARS’ explosive set wipes away the hangover with their raw and raucous punk rock and kicks off the day in style. The Impericon tent is now a mud bath but that doesn’t deter the die
hards from getting moving during BURN’s set, the NY progressive hardcore heads clearing loving the attention. Chi Pig from SNFU is dressed in a gold sequinned dress this afternoon and despite his diminutive size these days, he’s still has got it in the vocal department and their set is good clean fun. Punk ‘super-group’ THE FALCON boast members of Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms and The Loved Ones in their ranks and their collective output over the years has been second to none, so it’s with great joy for many that they finally make it to Europe. The crowd goes nuts for them. NIGHT BIRDS pull a strong crowd over at the Watch Out stage with their modern twist on Dead Kennedys and Adolescents. They’re raw, snotty and have some of the catchiest tunes. FACE TO FACE rock it up on the main stage and are plugging their new album but it’s not until they churn out the classics like ‘You’ve Done Nothing’ that the sing-a-longs get going. SICK OF IT ALL are celebrating 30 years tonight and the heaving Impericon tent has come to party. The wall of death before ‘Scratch The Surface’ is off the hook and the place loses its mind to ‘Step Down’. Can this band get any better? Well, tonight they did. It’s been a long day but there is still a massive buzz of anticipation for the Back To Basics headliners, DAG NASTY. Thirty years in the waiting and they do not disappoint. Kicking off with ‘Values Here’ quickly followed by ‘Under Your Influence’ this is punk rock perfection, vocalist Shawn Brown launching himself into the crowd. Dag Nasty were mesmerising, it may have been a long wait but they delivered the goods. Thank god they’re back in August. Thanks Groezrock, it’s been emotional!
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WALLS OF JERICHO
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TOGETHER FEST LONDON ELECTRIC BALLROOM
Words/Photos: Paul Hagen/Jessica Lotti
MODERN LIFE IS WAR
HE Together Fest European tour concluded with a sold-out gig at the Electric Ballroom, with California post-hardcore band TOUCHE AMORE putting in a typically intense performance that saw a significant proportion of the crowd screaming along to Jeremy Bolm’s uncompromising lyrics. The one-two punch of ‘Praise / Love’ and ‘Anyone / Anything’ from their ‘Is Survived By’ album is particularly effective. Iowa’s MODERN LIFE IS WAR are hungry as anything and frontman Jeffrey Eaton launches himself around the crowd like it was the last gig he was ever allowed to play. On tracks like ‘D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S.’ the atmosphere is electric. As good as those bands were though, everyone was here to see headliners GORILLA BISCUITS. The legendary giants of NYHC are here to bring joy and positivity and they do so in abundance. The only problems in their set is some overzealous security and the use of a crowd barrier, factors that Civ clearly hates. Still, as soon the trumpet intro of ‘New Direction’ kicks in, all is right with the world and we’re treated to an hour of sheer hardcore heaven. Given that they essentially only have one proper album in the form of 1989’s classic ‘Start Today’, Gorilla Biscuits pepper their 20-song set liberally with covers from the likes of the Buzzcocks and Judge but it’s the ferocious version of Minor Threat’s ‘Minor Threat’ that brings maximum carnage. Gorilla Biscuits’ own songs still sound fresh as a daisy and when they launch into the likes of ‘Things We Say’ it’s impossible not to feel happiness in your heart. GB played a barrier-free set the following night at The Dome that was more of a communal hardcore gig but they showed at Together Fest that after nearly 30 years, this band are still at the top of the game. GORILLA BISCUITS
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PERSISTENCE TOUR 2016
Words/Photos: May H/M.A.D
HE Persistence tour has long been a stable of the MAD Tourbooking winter calendar, helping everyone get over the void that the lack of festivals leaves over the long months. With previous line-ups including legends such as Suicidal Tendencies, the tour attracts hardcore kids from all around Europe who flock to various venues on the mainland. The show opened up with a local band UBERGANG - “The singer plays in a skinhead oi band” we’re told prior to the set starting. Unfortunately, we’re met with lacklustre death metal vocals over a less than average guitar sound, playing to an empty room. The few watching look like they can’t TERROR wait for the band to finish. RISK IT wake the crowd up again. Hailing from East Germany, this band are one of the most promising European bands currently out and the perfect way to open up the tour with their great energy, with a similar style to Terror. Definitely one to watch out for. WISDOM IN CHAINS are currently one of the best bands in hardcore both on record and live and this showed in their performance tonight. Their infectious sing-alongs and catchy tunes had all attendees in the Tubinenhalle smiling and singing along. They ended the set with the incredible ‘Chasing the Dragon’ and the lyrics “last night hardcore saved my life” have never rung more true. IRON REAGAN hail from Richmond, Virginia and feature members of
Municipal Waste. Similar to their mother band, the bands thrashy songs mostly last under two minutes and have humorous titles such as ‘Your Kid’s An Asshole’. They bring something fresh and different to the table and were IGNITE a joy to watch. TWITCHING TONGUES were one of the most popular current hardcore bands, with slots on all the major hardcore festivals in the US and three well attended European tours under their belt. They decided to take a slightly different turn when releasing ‘Disharmony’ on Metal Blade, completely taking out the hardcore element in their songs. The band also had a complete member overhaul which included the addition of ex-Hatebreed guitarist, Sean Martin, leaving only the Young brothers as original members. Whilst playing well, their set mainly comprised of songs from the new album with one or two songs from their previous releases. The crowd did not meet this with enthusiasm and spent the majority of their set looking confused as to why they weren’t playing the more hardcore tracks on this tour which would have been the obvious thing to do. There is nothing better than NYHC and H2O are one of the best bands in the genre. They remain, to this day, one of the most fun bands to watch, with Toby Morse, Adam Blake
and Rusty Pistachio running around the stage putting hardcore kids half their age to shame. This set was full of hits like ‘Five Year Plan’ and a few wonderful guest appearances, with Mitts from hardcore legends Madball taking guitar duty for ‘Guilty By Association’ and Joe from Wisdom In Chains doing second vocals for ‘What Happened?’. The band are always a delight to watch and never disappoint. Has anyone ever seen a bad TERROR set? I don’t think it’s actually possible. Scott Vogel, to this day, stands as one of the best vocalists in hardcore, always enthusiastic and always positive onstage. The crowd love them, singing along to classics such as ‘One With The Underdogs’ and ‘Overcome’. The only downer on the set is that they don’t play enough from their first record ‘Lowest Of The Low’. IGNITE are a member down. Nick has left and the stage looks slightly empty without him. The rest of the band plays well and a full, slightly drunk Turbinhalle sing along to every song. The band are a perfect end to the night and everyone walks out into the snow exhausted but happy. Thanks MAD Tourbooking for putting on a mini fest to get us through the winter!
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REBELLION TOUR 7 NETHERLANDS DEATHFEST HANNOVER KULTURZENTRUM FAUST Words/Photos: Tom Barry/M.A.D
HE 7th Rebellion tour rolls into Hannover headed up by MADBALL who’ve very kindly brought recently reformed fellow NYHC legends, CROWN OF THORNZ, along with them. The venue fills early and it’s evident from the get go that the crowd are here for the whole show and happy to check out all of the bands playing (or maybe the small bar set aside for the smokers is so ridiculously dense with nicotine clouds that it’s safer to stay in the main hall). Snappily named, TAUSEND LÖWEN UNTER FEINDEN open up with some decent melodic hardcore before handing over to Bulgaria’s favourite sons, LAST HOPE who steam in with some fast-paced old school, visibly set on getting some early movement from the crowd. London’s KNUCKLEDUST take their cue and turn the small pit that gets going at the start of their set into a noticeably bigger one by the end, with big reactions for the likes of ‘Bluffs, Lies & Alibis’ and ‘Trust No One’. Meaning business and with far less on-stage banter than expected from frontman, Lord Ezec, CROWN OF THORNZ power through their set, dropping bangers like ‘Juggernaut’ and ‘Ice Pick’ to a crowd who possibly don’t appreciate the band as much as the old farts in DFL do. A great set from a great New York band. Former Brightside frontman Dennis recently took over vocals for RYKERS and it’s a surprise to hear familiar tunes without Kid D’s gruff voice, but Dennis does a great job in ensuring that the band gets one of the best reactions of the night. Headliners MADBALL play 96’s ‘Demonstrating My Style’ album in full and are joined by original guitarist and writer of some of your favourite NYHC gems, Matt Henderson. Classic after classic is launched at the crowd who show their appreciation from the first bar to the last. The 7th Rebellion Tour was undoubtedly a success - we look forward to number 8! MADBALL
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Words/Photos: Miles Hackett/James Sherry
URATED by the team who host the legendary Maryland Deathfest comes the inaugural Netherlands version and despite a heavy leaning towards the death metal spectrum there’s a good glut of DFL friendly bands on this year’s bill, notably on the Friday night. Dutch hardcore punk mob VITAMIN X kick off proceedings and are an incendiary start to the night. Quickly followed by grind veterans DROP DEAD who still bring the rage in blitzkrieg style. Crust punk institution DOOM are always a formidable prospect who do not disappoint this evening, their cover of ‘Symptom Of The Universe’ a welcome surprise. Over on the second stage MAGRUDERGRIND cause grind obliteration with tracks from their new album and Italian grind masters CRIPPLE BASTARDS crush the crowd into submission. The first of two debut Euro appearances tonight is made by AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED, their dual vocal attack is visceral but you feel a little cheated by the drum machine accompaniment. INFEST on the other hand tear the roof off, the OG power-violence crew’s first Euro show turns the crowd wild. Vocalist Joe spending most of the time in the pit as divers are halted from invading the stage. They are breath-taking and many can’t believe they are finally here. The night is rounded off on the second stage by Swedish D-Beat masters WOLFBRIGADE, making a rare live appearance they rinse the last drops of energy from the assembled throng of deathsters. More grind and PV than most, NDF’s first year blew it up mercilessly!
LIFE OF AGONY
LIFE OF AGONY LONDON ELECTRIC BALLROOM
Words/Photos: May H/Jessica Lotti
IFE OF AGONY haven’t played in the UK for seven years. For a band that appeals to most that are into any form of alternative music, that is a lifetime, so when they announced three dates in the UK, the excitement behind these shows was unsurpassed. The London show being held at the Electric Ballroom and had long sold out in advance. By the time the band took to the stage, the room was heaving with people of all ages, both young and old. Looking around, we were reminded that Life Of Agony are one of those rare bands that can pull people out of gig retirement, with many old faces that had not been seen for over a
decade had reappeared for the occasion. They opened up the title track from their hit album, ‘River Runs Red’ and effortlessly slipped into ‘This Time’. The swelling crowd sang along to every word, completely energised. Mina Caputo’s stage presence was hypnotising, with everyone completely transfixed and eating from the palm of her hand. Of course they played an array of hits, including the incredible ‘Weeds’ from the last album released, ‘Soul Searching Sun’. Guitarist Joey Z and bass player Alan Roberts hold their own and were just as captivating as Mina. The band also played a couple of new songs from their soon-to-be released new album, which was received with enthusiasm and bodes well for the full length. Mina spends the last couple of songs up on the barrier, with the crowd singing along and desperately clamouring trying to get close to her. The band end with the incredible ‘Underground’ everyone in the audience, bar none screaming along. Everyone left the gig happy and hoping that it wouldn’t be another seven years before their return. Here’s hoping they grace out shores again soon when their new album ‘No More Pain’ drops.
POISON IDEA BRISTOL FLEECE
Words/Photos: Miles Hackett
ORTLAND miscreants POISON IDEA return to the UK for a second time in less than a year and their inimitable frontman Jerry A has shed a few pounds and is looking younger than ever. With a new drummer in the stool this time around they kick off in furious style with ‘Punish Me’ and crank out a set of classics including ‘Plastic Bomb’, ‘Hangover Heartattack’ as well as some choice cuts from their 2015 album ‘Confuse And Conquer’, notably the super abrasive ‘Bog’. Jerry dedicates their songs to stalwarts of the Bristol punk scene, of course he’s sporting a thousand wash grey Chaos UK shirt tonight. The band are as tight as hell and their cover of Motorhead seems more relevant than ever this time around. Poison Idea have had their share of troubles and it’s great to see them back on form, back on the road and back on top.
DOWN FOR LIFE
(Germany), 17th Gottingen Einsb (Germany), 18th Zurich Wek21 (Switzerland), 19th Koln MTC (Germany), 20th Antwerp Kavka (Belgium), 21st London Underworld (UK), 22nd Manchester Rebellion (UK).
AGNOSTIC FRONT August: 5th Marktredwitz Sticky Fingers Fest (Germany), 6th Leeds Brudenell (UK), 7th Blackpool Rebellion Fest (UK), 10th Tolmin Punk Rock Holiday (Slovenia), 11th Wien Arena (Austria), 12th Torgau Endless Summer (Germany), 13th Jaromer Brutal Assault (Czech Republic), 14th Ieper Fest (Belgium), 16th Kassel 130BPM (Germany), 17th Dinkelsbuhl Summerbreeze (Germany), 18th Aarburg Musicburg (Switzerland), 19th Saillant Sur Vienne Les Cheminees Du Rock (France), 20th St. Ave Motocultor (France), 21st Krefeld Kufa (Germany), 25th Niedergorsdorf Spirit Festival (Germany), 27th Worstadt Neuborn Open Air (Germany).
July: 22nd Antwerp Het Bos (Belgium), 23rd Hannover Faust (Germany), 24th Rokycany Fluff Fest (Czech Republic), 25th Budapest Durer Kert (Hungary), 26th Vienna Dasbach (Austria), 27th Mannheim Juz (Germany), 28th Zurich Werk21 (Switzerland), 29th Chemnitz AJZ (Germany), 30th Cologne AZ (Germany), 31st London Underworld (w/ RENOUNCED, FRAME OF MIND, DROPSET) (UK).
BOUNCING SOULS August: 2nd Huddersfield The Parish, 3rd Glasgow Stereo, 4th Blackpool Rebellion Festival, 5th Bristol The Exchange, 6th London Underworld, 7th Kingston Fighting Cocks.
BROKEN TEETH BACKTRACK * - W/ TURNSTILE * - W/ HIGHER POWER June: 16th Moscow Brooklyn (Russia), 17th St. Petersburg Mod (Russia), 18th Saarwellingen Rockcamp (Germany), 29th Clisson Hellfest (France), Roissy Pub ADK* (France), 21st Zurich Dynamo* (Switzerland), 22nd Munchen Feierwerk* (Germany), 23th Wiesbaden Schlachthof* (Germany), 24th Marburg KFZ, 25th Ysselsteyn Jera On Air, 26th Margate Wetcoast Bar** (UK), 27th Cardiff The Full Moon** (UK), 28th Glasgow Audio** (UK), 29th Leeds Temple Of Boom** (UK), 30th London The Dome** (UK). July: 1st Bruxelles Garcia Lorca (Belgium), 2nd Munster Vainstream (Germany).
Presents BIG CHEESE BIG SEND OFF W/ LAGWAGON, THE KING BLUES, KING PRAWN, SONIC BOOM SIX, JESSE JAMES, VANILLA POD and more. July: 17th London O2 Forum Kentish Town.
June: 18th Saarwellingen Rockcamp (Germany), 19th Oxford O2 Academy (UK), 20th Worcester The Marrs Bar (UK), 21st Leamington Spa The Assembly (UK), 22nd Southampton Engine Rooms, 23rd London Brooklyn Bowl (UK), 26th Sheffield Deadfest @ Corporation (UK). July: 22nd Lappeenranta LPRHC Fest (Finland), 23rd Manchester Star & Garter (UK). August: 12th Ieper Fest (Belgium), 13th Bristol The Fleece (UK), 14th Birmingham Rainbow Warehouse (UK), 19th Leeds Brudenell Social Club (UK), 20th Trier Summerblast (Germany), 21st Cardiff Throwfest (UK). October: 14th Berlin Cassiopeia (Germany), 15th Mengersgereuth-Hammern Back To Reality (Germany).
DEADFEST W/ BROKEN TEETH, MERCY, RESTRICT, FULL STRENGTH June: 26th Sheffield Corporation.
DOWN TO NOTHING W/ BREAK AWAY October: 14th Berlin Cassiopeia (Germany), 15th Mengersgereith-Hammern Back To Reality (Germany), 16th Dresden Chemiefabrik
ENDLESS SUMMER OPEN AIR FESTIVAL W/ COCK SPARRER, AGNOSTIC FRONT, TERROR, BOOZE & GLORY, H2O, NO TURNING BACK, DEFEATER, THE DWARVES and more. August: 11th - 13th Torgau (Germany).
Presents FEST 15 W/ PROPAGANDHI, STRIKE ANYWHERE, A WILHELM SCREAM, BOYSETSFIRE, NEGATIVE APPROACH, PLANES MISTAK EN FOR STARS & many more! October: 28th - 30th Gainesville, Florida. (PRE-FEST is October 26th and 27th – Ybor City, Florida)
HARMS WAY * - W/ BRUTALITY WILL PREVAIL * - W/ CONVERGE June: 11th Warsaw Znosna Lekkosc Bytu (Poland), 12th Berlin Cassiopeia (Berlin), 13th Hengelo Innocent (Netherlands), 14th Cardiff The Full Moon* (UK), 15th London Boston Music Rooms* (UK), 16th Antwerp Kavka (Belgium), 17th Clisson Hellfest (France), 18th Madrid Sala Lemon** (Spain), 19th Baladona Sala Estraperlo** (Spain), 20th Feyzin Epicerie Moderne** (France), 21st Monthey Pont Rouge** (Switzerland), 22nd Mannheim Juz** (Netherlands), 23rd Wiesbaden Schlachthof (Germany), 24th Essen Dont Panic (Germany), 25th Pair Le Gibus (France).
HELLFEST OPEN AIR FESTIVAL W/ REFUSED, CONVERGE, SICK OF IT ALL, VISION OF DISORDER, WALLS OF JERICHO, DISCHARGE, TURNSTILE, STRIFE and more. June: 17th - 19th Clisson (France).
DAG NASTY August: 4th Newcastle O2 Academy2, 5th Glasgow O2 ABC2, 7th Blackpool Rebellion Festival, 8th Birmingham O2 Academy3, 9th Bristol Fleece, 10th London O2 Academy Islington.
LOUDER THAN DOWN FOR WAR LIFE
IEPER HARDCORE FEST W/ SICK OF IT ALL, AGNOSTIC FRONT, TERROR, H2O, JELLO BIAFRA ATGSOM, KNUCKLEDUST, NEGATIVE APPROACH & more. August: 12th - 14th Ypres (Belgium).
NAILS W/ FULL OF HELL November: 4th Glasgow Cathouse (UK), 5th Leeds Damnation Festival (UK), 6th Bristol
The Fleece (UK), 7th London Underworld (UK), 8th Paris Point Ephemere (France), 9th Antwerp Trix (Belgium), 10th Koln Underground (Germany), 11th Aalborg Metal Festival (Denmark), 12th Malmo Babel (Sweden), 13th Hamburg Hafenklang (Germany), 14th Berlin Musik & Frieden (Germany), 15th Prague Futurum (Czech Republic), 16th Vienna Arena (Austria), 17th Munich Hansa39 (Germany), 18th Stuttgart Keller Club (Germany), 19th Nijmegen Doornroosje Indoor Fest (Netherlands).
THE OLD FIRM CASUALS August: 6th Blackpool Rebellion Festival, 7th Glasgow Audio, 8th Newcastle Think Tank, 9th Derby Hairy Dog, 10th Bedford Hairy Dog, 11th Watford The Flag, 12th London 100 Club, 13th Leipzig Endless Summer (Germany), 15th Bristol The Fleece, 16th Birmingham Rainbow, 18th Cork City Limits, 19th Dublin Voodoo Lounge, 20th Belfast Voodoo.
Presents PINS & PIN-UPS W/ H2O, THE COCKNEY REJECTS, RUTS DC, ARGY BARGY, and more. October: 7th - 9th London O2 Brooklyn Bowl.
PUNK ROCK HOLIDAY W/ NOFX, DESCENDENTS, AGNOSTIC FRONT, JELLO BIAFRA ATGSOM, FLAG, BOUNCING SOULS, ALL, TERROR and more. August: 9th - 12th Tolmin (Slovenia).
REBELLION FESTIVAL W/ DESCENDENTS, THE EXPLOITED, DAG NASTY, FLAG, JELLO BIAFRA ATG SOM, THE DICKIES, GBH, JFA, ADOLESCENTS, AGNOSTIC FRONT, BOUNCING SOULS and more. August: 4th - 7th Blackpool Winter Gardens.
Presents SICK OF IT ALL June 15th, Montbeliard, Le Moloco FR, 16th Cergy Pontoise, L’Obervatoire FR, 17th Annecy, Brise Glace FR, 18th Clisson, Hellfest FR, 21st Freburg, Crash GER, 22nd Bologna, Freakout Club IT, 23rd Milano, Leonicavallo IT, 24th Solothurn, Kofmehl SWI, Vsselsteyn, Jera On Air NL. August 6th, St.Maurice De Gourdans, Sylak O.A. FRA, Hunxe, Ruhrpott Rodeo GER, Tolmin, Punk Rock Holiday SVN, Lindau, Club Vaudeville GER, Puttlingen, Rocco Del Schlacku GER, Ieperfest BR, 13th Bristol, Fleece GB, 14th Birmingham, Rainbow Warehouse GB, 16th Limerick, Dolans Warehouse IE, 17th Dublin, Voodoo Lounge IE, 18th Glasgow, Classic Grand GB, 19th Leeds, Brudenell Socal Club GB, 20th London, Underworld GB
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ATTITUDE “I come from a place, having been in Black Flag and growing up at the beach, when you’re standing at the end of the pier and the intention is to leap off the end of the pier and into the water, you jump. You don’t wet your thumb and stick it up into the air to find out what direction the wind is blowing in. You’ve got to take on that attitude. That gung-ho, go for it, who gives a fuck mentality.”
OFF! “We’re playing a very angry, spiteful kind of music. Music that slaps you in the face. We’re playing a music that steps on your toes. Kicks you between the legs. I’ve had people say, ‘Keith, you keep playing this music and it’s so destructive. You’re going to die early because you harbour all of these ill-wills and all these hateful thoughts. These dark, black thoughts.’ The fact of the matter is, it’s just who I am.”
UNDER YOUR INFLUENCE “The thing that [OFF!] have going on is that we love and enjoy a lot of different bands. We’re older guys so we’ve heard a shit tonne of music and one of our common threads in our band is that we all love Led Zeppelin and the first Led Zeppelin album was one of the first albums I ever owned. My first three albums were ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘Are You Experienced?’ by Jimi Hendrix and the first Zep album and they are three of the greatest albums ever recorded.”
FLAG SINCE 2011 “We had to rehearse of course because the songs, even though we’d played them several thousand times, sometimes leave your memory. We actually rehearsed in a very hot and sweaty room in the summertime.”
KEITH MORRIS Touring the UK and Europe with other former BLACK FLAG members as FLAG in August, including shows in London and a set at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool, what better time to talk to vocalist and 60 year old hardcore punk legend Keith Morris? Born and raised in Hermosa Beach, California, he formed Black Flag with his friend Greg Ginn in 1976, singing on the band’s seminal 1979 debut EP ‘Nervous Breakdown’ before leaving that year after “freaking out on cocaine and speed”. He then formed CIRCLE JERKS with former Redd Kross guitarist Greg Hetson and released albums including 1980’s mighty ‘Group Sex’ (which included fan favourite ‘Deny Everything’). In 2010 he formed a new band called OFF! with members of Burning Brides, Redd Kross and Rocket From The Crypt, with a couple of albums proper and a collection under their belts, and is now touring with FLAG. Down For Life looks closer at the man behind the music. 98
DOWN FOR LIFE
“I’m not a dad, I’m an uncle. I can’t bring kids into this fucked up world. Too much of a big mess this world, it’s not fair unless you’ve got a ton of money and you can surround them in a castle!”
SURVIVOR “I’ve suffered three comas and lived to tell the tale. Rolled a van in black ice and crushed it to the point nobody was supposed to walk away. I also experienced dysentery when I was quite young to the point where I shrivelled up to the size of a large prune. Maybe we’re not supposed to be having this conversation but we are. I just consider myself very lucky and I do use near death experiences as a fuel to continue doing what I’m doing.”
CIRCLE JERKS REUNION? “To be honest, I’m in no hurry. I’m having the time of my life. I’m not fretting and worrying. If and when there’s a right time then we’ll get back together but only when the time is right.”
Flag play two shows at London Underworld on August 1st and 2nd and play Rebellion Festival in Blackpool on August 4th, as well as various other European shows.
The first ever issue of Down For Life Magazine has been SOLD OUT for over 2 years! After much demand from fans, we've brough the issue back...
Published on Jun 20, 2016
The first ever issue of Down For Life Magazine has been SOLD OUT for over 2 years! After much demand from fans, we've brough the issue back...