Saturday, March 30, 2024

Interview with Waste Disaster by Dave Wolff

Interview with
 ARJ of Waste Disaster by Dave Wolff

Let's start with your August 2023 release "The Killer Pizza Delivery Man". When you recorded it, what kind of effect did you want? In the recording sessions, what kind of equipment was used?
The initial idea of Waste Disaster was to make a sound mixing Grindcore-Thrash-Noise with influences from bands like Unseen Terror, Masher, Lawnmower Deth, etc. Me and my friend Thon, who was also the drummer in my other band H.C.G., recorded the nine extremely short sounds from the album “The Killer Pizza Delivery Man” on an old portable recorder in his room. I recorded all the sounds with my Dolphin Thrash Superstrat guitar, and Thon used his old Peace drums. We wanted the loudest recording possible; everything was recorded live without overdubs, without mastering and without any effects or studios. Just an old recorder and us playing as fast and loud as possible, hahahaha. The concept behind the album revolves around our mascot Joe Violence doing absurd and insane things like blowing up a Greenpeace plane or being a serial killer who delivers pizza, hahahaha.

How long have you and Thon worked together, and have you always been a two-piece band?
In the band H.C.G. there were two more guys, the bassist Hiago and the vocalist DJ, We had a Death/Thrash band in a short period of time called Slaughter Hell. We played covers of Celtic Frost, Venom, Kreator, Exodus, Sepultura, Slayer etc. We only played one show with this band, there were some original songs but we didn't record anything, and the songs ended up being reformulated and used in H.C.G.

Waste Disaster sounds like an old school garage band mixed with early 90s death metal and grind. Did you intend to create this sound when you formed the band?
Initially yes, but after the first album we wanted to change the sound of Waste Disaster to something more Crossover Thrash style: Excel, S.O.D, D.R.I, but it ended up not happening.

What appeals to you about albums and EPs recorded loudly with inexpensive equipment? Do you strive to capture the raw sound of old school grind-noise bands?
What I admired was the simplicity of things, without all this shitty modernity that infests the world, things were more real. It was more organic, the rawness of the sound, it was all done for real. Nowadays I don't know what's real more, what was done by a human or a robot. It's difficult to say. I think we've reached the era of Skynet, hahahaha. That's for the worse unfortunately.

What was the inspiration behind choosing Joe Violence as the band's mascot? Does this character have any resemblance to characters in horror films or horror comedies?
Joe Violence was created by me, as Ted Dead mascot for the band H.C.G. was created by me. Both were inspired by characters from Trash Horror films from the 80s. In fact, Joe Violence had already been created by me before the band. I write some horror stories and I had written a story about a serial killer pizza delivery man who was Joe, so when we created Waste Disaster I decided to use it as a mascot and theme.

Where did you find inspiration for Joe Violence and Ted Dead in 80s horror films? Upon viewing them, what appealed to you? Have directors today been able to capture the feel of those films?
In fact, Ted Dead was inspired by the mascots Eddie [Iron Maiden], Sgt D. [S.O.D.] and Big Ben from the film “House”. Joe Violence was inspired by Ash Williams from “The Evil Dead” and Rick Caldwell from “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2”. What I like most about these trash films is the 80s feel. It was a wonderful time for music, cinema, books, comics, sports, etc... My favorite trash films are “Bad Taste”, “The Evil Dead”, “Night of the Creeps” and the aforementioned “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 and “House”. Man there are so many I would stay here forever, hahahaha. What attracts me to these films, besides their being from the 80s and 90s, is the gore, the politically incorrect humor, the abusive deaths, the situations, my favorite directors in this style are Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Steve Miner, Lucio Fulci, Fred Dekker and Lloyd Kaufman. I don't think any director today has managed to reproduce what these guys did.

As a horror enthusiast, do you like "The Walking Dead", "Ash vs Evil Dead", and "Stranger Things"? How do you feel about the popularity of these shows?
“The Walking Dead” I only watched the first three seasons, then it got really boring. “Stranger Things” I watched the first episode, I thought it was pretty good. “Ash Vs Evil Dead” I never watched. These programs became popular more because of marketing than because of quality.

Have you ever published your story about a serial killer pizza delivery man, or did it just serve as inspiration for Waste Disaster's mascot?
It was published at the end of last year by the independent publisher Opera Editorial. In fact it was my first published book, which is an anthology of fifteen short stories, entitled “Historias Estranhas Para Pessoa Esquisitas”, with the free translation of Strange Stories for Strange People.

How many horror stories have you written in total? Would you consider publishing an anthology of them, either independently or through a small publishing house? 
I have several horror stories written, at least thirty. I want to publish them soon but I want to publish them outside of Brazil, like in the United States or Europe because there are more outlets nowadays for these types of stories.

Is there any publishing company in Europe or the United States that you would be interested in contacting? Are you interested in publishing online?
I don't know yet, I have to start looking, I don't have much interest in publishing online, maybe after it comes out in a physical format.

Which of your fiction pieces has been published in "Historias Estranhas Para Pessoa Esquisitas"? Is it still possible to order copies online and how long has it been available? Are you working on any new horror fiction to keep with the others until they are published?
There are fifteen Strange Stories for Strange People. Here are the titles of the stories that appear in this book. “Eternal nightmare”, “Dead party”, “The shooter from apartment 15”, “A door to hell”, “The impaling janitor”, “Sewer massacre”, “What happened to Mr Chen?” “The killer pizza delivery man (Joe Violence!)”, “The taxi driver”, “The hourglass of the end times”, “The lightning”, “A toilet from the heavens”, “Knife duel in the alley”. “Hunting season is open!” and “15 minutes later”. It was released in December almost three months ago. Here is the link to purchase a copy of this book. However, it is only in Portuguese.
I have some ideas in mind, but I haven't written anything yet.

There have been many extreme death-grind-noise bands in the Brazilian underground for many years. How would you describe the current state of your local underground scene in terms of bands, zine publications, and venues?
The Brazilian underground scene was once very strong. Nowadays it has weakened a little more. You can find some people trying to keep it alive. Some independent labels are releasing a lot of things, and there are several shows taking place, but it's not like it was in the 80s, 90s, and even in the 2000s; it still resisted.

Please identify some of the labels that still support local bands. Do you know of any print or online zines from Brazil that are worth mentioning?
Zines I don't know, I haven't heard of any zine in a long time, but there are many record labels. Those that have released H.C.G. materials areDo Terceiro Mundo Caos, Tales From The Chaos Records, Two Beers Records, Heavy Metal Rock, are some that are always releasing material from new or old bands.

When do you have the opportunity to be interviewed for zines outside of Brazil? Tell us about some zines that you have been featured in recently.
No one has ever interviewed me, much less have I been featured, hahaha.

Is there any collaboration between labels to organize metal festivals in Brazil these days? Do you know of any venues that regularly host them or showcase individual bands?
There's the Kool Metal Fest and the Master Of Noise in Sao Paulo city, but I don't think they're made by collaborations with any label. These two events promote the underground well, especially Masters Of Noise, which promotes Grind/Noise Thrash bands, etc...

Give a brief description of the songs appearing on "The Killer Pizza Delivery Man" and explain how you came up with each scenario.
“Joe the Killer Pizza Delivery Man” - It's an instrumental intro sound, Joe's journey begins! “Joe Will Blow Your Brains Out With A Shotgun Blast!” - This song narrates when Joe goes to deliver a pizza and when the customer opens the door to receive the pizza he receives a shotgun blast to the brain! “Joe Attacks Killed a Hundred People with a Lawnmower” - This song is about when Joe killed a hundred people with a lawnmower in a party! It was inspired by the scene in the movie Braindead when the protagonist kills thousands of zombies with a lawnmower. “Joe Attacks in Delaware” - This is when Joe takes a vacation to Delaware! “Joe Goes to Disneyland” - Same thing as the previous one, but this time the bloody holidays are at Disney! “Joe Blew up a Greenpeace Plane” - Another instrumental narrating the situation when Joe blew up a green peace plane! It was just to make fun of these shitty hypocritical ecologists who don't even care about the planet. “Joe Will Deliver Pizza to Your Home, You're Dead!” - Same thing as the second song says, if you answer the door to receive your pizza and the delivery man is Joe Violence you will have your brain blown out by a shotgun blast or you will be stabbed to death, being decapitated by an axe, beaten by a baseball bat, etc... “Fast Shit Pizza!” - The lyrics are simply about fast shit pizza! It's just another fast, stupid, noisy sound I wrote hahaha. “Waste Disaster” - The last sound on the album, an instrument that bears the band's name, “Waste Disaster” is about a world after a nuclear war or nuclear disaster, would anyone be alive?

Could any of the songs be construed as social satire or are they simply intended to shock?
A little of both.

As of this writing, do you promote Waste Disaster and H.C.G. independently? Do you intend to continue promoting your work independently/DIY or do you intend to distribute your work through a local or larger independent label in the future?
The Waste Disaster album was released here in Brazil by my little label Ted Dead Records and was also released in Pro CD-R format in Poland by my friend Pawel's label called Undergrinder Records Limited. By the band H.C.G, most of the 56 releases that we have was from several independent record labels from various countries. The Waste Disaster album was released in a limited way on physical CD media, but in the future I want to find other labels in other countries that are interested in releasing it in other physical formats.

Have you contacted Undergrinder Records Limited for the release of Waste Disaster? Have your bands received more attention since you began working with the label?
I've known Pawell, the owner of the label, for a few years now, he's a really cool guy and a fan of the bands I've played with. When Waste Disaster's first album was recorded, Undergrinder was the first label that came to mind to release it.

Are Ted Dead Records exclusively dedicated to the distribution of Waste Disaster, or do you also sign other local bands? Which is the most effective way to promote this label over there?
In fact I have two small record labels, Ted Dead Records and Death Prank Records. I created these labels just to release materials from my bands like Waste Disaster and H.C.G. I release ultra-limited editions on CD-R just to exist on physical media and distribute them between them. My local friends.

Ted Dead Records has released its material in how many formats to date? If you regularly release music in physical form, how much does it cost to print and advertise?
Only in CD-R format. The costs are very small, I make a maximum of five, ten copies of each release. As I said, it's more to have the physical material and give it as a gift to some friends, more for fun, when it's to be publicized. I always look for other labels to release my bands' materials.

What other labels have you contacted recently in order to cross-promote your work? Are there any potential collaborations in the works?
The releases from Undergrinder Records, despite being in limited editions, gave good recognition to H.C.G. and Waste Disaster, especially H.C.G.

Have you approached any labels to appear on a compilation release? What are the benefits of comps for unsigned bands who release their own material?
We have only appeared on two compilations, one made by Undergrinder Records which was recently released and another by the German label Rat Covenant which was released in a limited edition on tape, the benefits are that it helps to promote the bands' material a little.

If your bands release more material, would you like to expand Ted Dead Records and Death Prank Records so that more people become aware?
It would be a good idea to expand these labels, but I need time and money, things that are in short supply for me at the moment, hahaha...

Are there any ideas you have in mind for your next recording of Waste Disaster? When are you likely to start working on new songs for a new release? How about H.C.G.?
Waste Disaster is on hold, I don't know when I'm going to write something for this project, but I already have a lot of riffs, lyrics, and some songs already completed for H.C.G. I think next year we'll be back with lots of new things!

-Dave Wolff

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Interview with Under The Shadows by Dave Wolff

Interview with Elias Negrin of Under The Shadows by Dave Wolff

How did you develop your latest EP "I Before You" and promote and distribute it since its release? What do you believe are the most important things people should know about it? 
Hello Dave, really happy to talk to you!
The drive for me since my school years is to make music, and this project is no exception! It developed really fast, within a few months actually, from inception to completion! I decided to undertake full production responsibility this time except for songwriting and arrangements, stretching myself a bit more but was fun too! Gained more confidence in the mixing-production part as well.
As far as line-up is concerned, I tried a different model too. Instead of trying to find permanent band members in a more traditional setup, I tried collaborations with musicians that I already know (have worked with them before) or by networking with new ones and seeing how it turns out. This also gives me more possibilities for the future. It did save a lot of time but brought more responsibility on me to explain properly what I want and still give musicians some freedom to express themselves within the boundaries of the songs. I am also very happy that my son Aris has helped with drums, this is absolutely cool and look forward to taking it further!
Distribution for now is only digital, started small and simple to test the waters a bit, EP can be found on all major digital platforms, Spotify, Youtube, Applemusic, Napster, Bandcamp etc. In the future I might press some vinyl and/or CDs. Promotion is done via an agency. I have worked with Kostas (Salomidis) before (with my other band Julian’s Lullaby) and I am happy to work with him again.

How does the name Under The Shadows represent your vision for the band and why was chosen in that regard?
I believe it encapsulates the general music direction of the band, a bit mysterious, somehow dark, not heavy metal exactly in a more traditional way but still a good fit, could make someone think and it creates a mood.

Who are the musicians you've collaborated with? Which of them appears on your EP? Provide a brief description of how the EP was recorded and mixed, as well as what songs are included.
I have collaborated with Eric Castiglia from Italy on vocals, he has quite an extensive experience and a number of releases in the melodic death/groove/gothic metal and related genres which makes him quite versatile as a singer. For lead guitars, I’ve worked with Dimitris Koskinas from Greece, an awesome player both in terms of musicianship and personality. We have worked together in my other band Julian’s Lullaby, which makes him a really credible and professional partner. On drums, as mentioned, my son Aris has contributed which is great of course but challenging as well since it takes a lot of effort to provide the necessary direction. Last but not least, Anna Spanogiorgou has contributed with her beautiful lyrics. We have a long lasting friendship and collaboration since 2009 if I recall correctly. I appreciate her both as a person and an artist, she is also a fantasy novels writer and definitely can get inspiration from her work.
Recordings and mixing-mastering were done at my home studio in the Netherlands, all collaborations were done by exchanging files online which makes it very convenient nowadays. It all worked quite well given I had the songs at a pretty much completed stage so I knew what I wanted more or less. Of course, while laying down the vocals and lead guitar parts we tried a few things and did a couple of revisions until we got the best possible version.
The tracklist of “I Before You” contains four songs; “Black Butterfly”, “7 (Sweet) Sins”, “The Emperor and The Nightingale” and “Blue Dragon”. The style of the songs is a mix of 90s metal with an in-your-face sound, short, tight compositions mixing some more modern metal elements. Lots of experimentation and things I didn’t try in the past. Future songs can be somewhat different; it's all based on the mood.

The process of finding musicians to work with seems to have been relatively straightforward. Initially, did you think it might be harder to track people down?
The process was indeed fast in terms of execution, I did flirt with the idea of finding long-term/permanent members but that would basically take a lot of time, tried with a couple of acquaintances and it didn’t work so quickly pivoted to finding professional musicians which is a general idea I have for many years now.

How does Eric Castiglia's training in vocals contribute to Under The Shadows' ability to expand their range?
Eric is a professional session singer, musician and songwriter with far too many collaborations under his belt to mention. Did approach him through a web portal after listening to some of his work and thought his style could match what I was looking for. We did the first song “The Emperor and the Nightingale”, it worked well and decided to move on with the rest of the material. I like the fact that his voice is versatile and can do both clean and brutal/growls.

How much experience does Anna Spanogiorgou have as a fantasy novelist? How does she obtain inspiration for characters and storylines, and how does it influence her lyrics? How does this affect the songs of the band?
Anna has already released a trilogy and she is very active in this community of writers, sharing her own reviews about other books, joining events and other activities. Fantasy and mysticism are the main sources of inspiration. Her lyrics though come from a different, earlier era where they more fit into dark and romantic fields I would say. I like both aspects a lot and I am glad we have this cooperation going on for many years.

How does Anna incorporate fantasy and mysticism into her recent trilogy? In what events does she share her work and her thoughts on other literary works?
The trilogy is a fantasy story where the protagonist is a girl called “Katia”, she possesses magical and mystical powers that she is not aware of and has a mission she doesn’t know anything about in the beginning. She lives a quiet, peaceful life and suddenly things turn upside down when she is dragged to an adventure beyond belief visiting imaginary places out of this world, places and people she never thought of or dreamed about.

Are Aris's musical tastes similar to yours or do they differ? When working on material together, what is the process?
We share a lot of common tastes in music and go to concerts together, but he is also listening to a lot of modern stuff that I do not resonate with necessarily. Working together is great and challenging at the same time. Exchanging ideas is easy as we have all the equipment at home. The challenge comes in terms of organizing our time, difference in mindset (and age haha), managing expectations, things like that. In general we communicate quite well, and it is fun which is most important.

In terms of working together and exchanging ideas, how does having similar tastes in music benefit you? Are there any bands that you saw together that were inspirational to you?
Well, having some similar tastes or references when creating anything (music, or art) is always helpful in capturing the end result faster and with more accuracy. Imagine asking a jazz drummer (with no metal influences/ playing style) to record an extreme death metal piece! I recall for example Annette Olzon who had no metal experience before and she was not a good fit at the end when she replaced Tarja at Nightwish. Hm now that I mentioned Nightwish, I recall we had a very nice time actually at Sabaton and Nightwish shows some time ago in Amsterdam. And of course not to forget the all-time great Mr. Udo Dirkschneider having his son Sven on drums, how nice this is!

How much input did your band mates have during the production of "I Before You"? How many other musicians do you plan to collaborate with once your current release gets around? How do you hope working with different musicians will provide the band with a variety of musical styles?
Given that I have the overall idea and responsibility over the project, I provided the framework/concept/style I am looking for every song, then let them process it and give me their interpretation. This is the model I intend to follow for this project in general, work on my ideas as the songwriter and then based on the style I want for every song look for the right collaboration. Don’t have a pre-decided plan on how many musicians to use but definitely this model allows me to experiment with various sounds, styles and musicians.

Who is the promotion company that is helping you spread the word? Could they also promote the CD and vinyl versions of "I Before You"? Do they also promote Julian's Lullaby?
The promotion agency is called K.S. Music Promotion, it’s an independent P.R. and booking management and the plan is to work with them for all future versions of the EP. We have worked with Kostas via another agency to promote Julian’s Lullaby in the past, and possibly will work again in the future. Talking about Julian’s Lullaby, we have been working for our third album for some time now but personal and family situations have delayed the whole process considerably. Hope we can finish it this year.

In what circumstances did you first become aware of KS Music Promotion, and what events led you to partner with them to promote your music? How much effort do they put into promoting their bands?
As mentioned, I have known Kostas for a few years now and we have worked together through Julian’s Lullaby so I’m fully aware of their professionalism and effort they put in helping their bands. Communication and transparency is also something well appreciated. We are all grown-ups so no room for fuss and making things unnecessarily complicated.

How long has Julian's Lullaby been around, with whom are you working and how many releases have you made so far as a project?
Julian's Lullaby is a band I formed in 2006 while still living in Greece, we have released an EP and two full-length albums on CD format. We have changed a lot of members throughout the years but our line-up is more or less stable since 2012, currently it is myself, George and Anna on vocals and a couple of friends as session musicians on drums, bass and lead guitars plus some guests on piano and violins.

Musically and lyrically, how similar are Julian's Lullaby and Under The Shadows? What are the different ways in which these bands can be distinguished?
Hm, musically I wouldn’t say much, except for the fact that I am the main man in both! Although I would expect someone that likes one could also like the other. However this is not the idea. I also expect to attract new listeners who wouldn’t like Julian’s Lullaby per se. Lyrically you can find similarities of course, but the style of Under The Shadows is more aggressive and direct. Julian’s Lullaby is more melodic and romantic with lots of keyboards and symphonic elements. The vocals are also balanced between male and female, while with Under The Shadows things can be much more experimental. In the future though, I intend to try other things with Under The Shadows. I am not limiting my options.

Does Julian's Lullaby exchange files in the process of composing? What file sharing software is best suited for collaborating and assembling material? Are you in contact with the musicians with whom you are working online?
Since we live in different countries with most of the musicians I collaborate with, file exchange seems the way to go. The actual collaboration is online but not synchronous, if I get the question correctly. I send the file(s) using Wetransfer for example, explain what I need and then I get the file(s) back for review, asking for revisions until the result is the best possible.

As the new recording of Julian's Lullaby is completed, how do you anticipate it will sound? Is there a desire for you to continue to build on what they have created so far?
The Julian’s Lullaby material is done to a large extent already, so songs direction is known more or less. Vocals and guitar solos are still to be done but the overall sound is not much different from the previous album. As long as there is an appetite for doing more, then I can definitely build up. It is true that we haven’t been very active in the past years due to various, mostly personal and family reasons. Hope we can soon finish the album and be able to release it!

If you considered the differences between Julian's Lullaby and Under The Shadows, would you say working with them has a balancing effect on you as a musician?
Yes, this is a fair statement to make.

Back to "I Before You", could you describe what “Black Butterfly”, “7 (Sweet) Sins”, “The Emperor and The Nightingale” and “Blue Dragon” are about, and how much of Anna Spanogiorgou’s experiences are reflected in the lyrics?
I don’t personally know what every poem (they were initially written as poems) is talking about, but there is a common denominator in most of them. They are dark and romantic, for example “The Emperor and The Nightingale” is a fairytale if I recall correctly. Fairytales and imaginary places are all over the place, like in “Blue Dragon”. You can sense dark romance and melancholy in most of these songs’ lyrics and this brings a certain mood, character and personality to Anna’s writing. Sometimes, I add a few lines or change the words to fit the melody but the core concept stays mostly intact. These lyrics have been an inspiration to me. The idea is to use a variety of themes in the future but I must also admit that writing lyrics is not actually my cup of tea unless I have a topic I really like to write about. Writing music is my way of expression.

In what ways, if any, do you think "I Before You" will provide inspiration for the material you and Anna prepare for your next recording? Is it more likely that you will wipe the slate clean and begin anew? At this point, have any ideas been proposed?
I have some ideas already for new songs and plan to begin pre-production in the coming months. I have some lyrics from Anna still to use so I will see what works and if I need additional inspiration. “I Before You” is definitely a good baseline for the next release but like I said, I don't want to limit my options.

-Dave Wolff

Interview with A.Moortal by Dave Wolff

Interview with A.Moortal by Dave Wolff

Were you born into a musical environment? Because your first exposure to it was when you played flute in middle school. Did you practice with a particular type of flute? And did you begin to consider a career in classical music at this time?
I wasn’t actually born into a musical environment. My parents both liked music but they didn’t play. My mom had played the flute in school but it wasn’t something that she stuck with. I really only chose band class and flute because my Mom always told me she did it when she was a kid and it sounded fun. The flute I had was just the cheapest one that the local music store had. I did ask to play the piccolo my third year but the band teacher said no. The greatest impact flute had on my music career is it led some friends to decide to teach me bass guitar. My two best friends in middle school were Sam Lanyon (of Anomalous) and Aaron Pauley (of Jamie's Elsewhere and Of Mice and Men). We were all new to music and they decided that I could learn to play bass because I had played flute. Still doesn’t make sense to me but they were right! We started our first band, Meniss Two Society or MTS. We were terrible but we had fun. I did learn some basic music theory playing flute that still helps me today but otherwise everything is self-taught and learned from friends.
When I got into bass my Dad helped me get my first bass guitar. I worked construction for him over the summer to pay for my first bass and amp. When he learned how affordable starting instruments were he decided to get a guitar. So we really started learning at the same time. Him having a guitar in the house led to me picking it up and starting to just kinda mess around. He thought I had a knack for it and when I was fourteen he came home with a guitar for me. I didn’t even ask. He just saw I was playing it and thought I’d enjoy it. I haven’t stopped playing guitar and writing since.

Did Meniss Two Society primarily perform locally? Are there any recordings they made during their tenure that can still possibly be heard today?
We never left the garage. Halfway through eighth grade Aaron Pauley moved out of town and the band died with his departure. But we all learned a lot and ventured onto new projects. I think there might be an old VHS tape somewhere of us playing and skateboarding but I have no idea where it is. So sadly nothing still remains.

If MTS was essentially a garage band that played for fun, what did it teach you about writing and arranging songs, as well as practicing with other musicians?
The biggest lesson it taught me is to follow the drummer. If everyone in the band follows the drummer, even if the drums are off, you’ll sound locked in. Other than that it really just showed me that playing music is fun and felt like home. It was a big step in becoming who I am today. And of course the basics of being in a room with other musicians. Getting used to what a full band sounds like in a room. How to set up an amp to work in the band instead of on its own. Stuff like that.

As a result of switching to guitar and discovering Disturbed, Slipknot, and Sum 41, your paradigm shifted. At this point did you decide to work at being a professional musician? In what ways did you relate to the bands you discovered and where did your tastes go from there?
I was always the weird kid. I got picked on a lot. My friends showed me some bands and it was just so raw. It was what all my feelings sounded like. This is when I realized music is what I was meant to do. I’ve been trying to make a career out of it ever since. I started writing on the guitar and every time I wrote an angry song idea I felt better about myself and my life. Over the years my tastes have evolved and broadened. I started going to local shows. I listened to everything from pop punk to extreme death metal. In recent years I’ve even started listening to top 40s pop music. Just to see what I can learn from it. These days I mostly listen to metal, I like a lot of newer stuff. Alpha Wolf, Thrown and Knocked Loose are always on my playlists. Slipknot still never misses. Lamb of God is one of my all-time favorites. I still listen to a lot of older metalcore too. 2000s Killswitch Engage is just untouchable.

When you started attending shows, who were the first local bands you saw? In what ways did they inspire you to compose music?
The first local show I went to was headlined by a local band called Below Ground. This would have been around 2004. They actually still play some shows and I’m pretty good friends with a few of the members now. The experience of going to an underground show with other people was so amazing to me. I still can’t explain it but it was like I had finally figured out who I was. I just wanted to feel that way all the time and help other people feel that way too.

Several years ago, I explored Celtic music and folk music. Extreme metal and punk bands incorporate these genres, and I see how they work together. What genres do you listen to that are compatible despite appearing incompatible at first?
I’ve always said metal is just classical music with electricity. I’ve always enjoyed classical compositions and opera. Pop music is probably the biggest departure from metal that I borrow from. A lot of metal feels like just throwing every idea at the wall. I love it, don't get me wrong, but I think the way pop music just gets to the point is really cohesive from start to finish is something every musician can learn from.

Describe Alpha Wolf, Thrown and Knocked Loose to those who may not be familiar with them. In your opinion, what do they offer that has not been done before?
All three I would classify as Metallic Hardcore. Definitely more punk-derived than metal. All three bands use pretty simple guitar riffs combined with elaborate drums, intense drums, and strange noises that aren’t exactly musical but sound really good in context. Knocked Loose has blown up in the last few years and does some weird, almost art piece things with their music. Last year they released two songs that seamlessly blended together and a music video to go with it. Alpha Wolf and Thrown are just so heavy in a way that I haven’t heard in more traditional metal and I really enjoy it.

When did you decide to start writing music after all of your exposure to music? At this time, what were your thoughts regarding being a musician and being a part of a band?
Once I moved from bass to guitar I started writing and composing. I kinda skipped over the whole “learn other people’s music thing.” I only learned a couple riffs here and there. I only recently started learning songs in addition to writing. As a new musician most of my thoughts on music were “I like this but I’d like it more if it did something different.” So I started trying to do that. As for being in a band I didn’t have many thoughts other than “I need to do this.” Playing live makes me feel alive in a way I can’t really explain. It’s more important than a hobby but less important than breathing.

When you compose music, how much effort are you putting into blending classical-inspired metal with direct, to-the-point music like pop punk?
I don’t think about it a whole lot. The writing process usually just starts with a guitar riff, sometimes a lyric, a feeling, or a story, but usually a guitar riff. I’ll record the guitar idea, put drums to it, then I’ll go through and pick apart its key elements. See what notes I’m using, determine the key, see if I’m moving through a chord progression in it, anything that might inform where the song should go. That’s where the pop influence comes in now. I used to just kinda throw riffs at the wall and call it a song. Now I break down the original idea and use that to grow the song. In my opinion this helps keep the music coherent and like it’s a connected piece of music and not just a bunch of ideas.

Can people instantly recognize your sound as one that belongs to you as a result of your approach to writing and combining genres?
I’ve been told over the years that I have a very recognizable style. Even friends who aren’t really into heavy music, I’ll show them something I’m working on and they’ll be like “Yup that’s an Aaron riff!” I do think that I have a way of writing that is somewhat unique to me which I’m really thankful for. I didn’t consciously cultivate that sound, it’s just happened over the years. I do have a very high output for creating and think that is what has honed my skills more than anything. I’ve definitely written some trash songs but I write like two to four songs or ideas a month. I think doing that for like ten years now has made me the musician I am now.

In your opinion, how important is it to channel emotions that people can relate to while listening to your music?
I think emotion is extremely important. Sometimes we musicians can get so caught up in technique and theory things can become too clinical. We forget that the theory and technique are tools to help us achieve emotional expression and not the whole point. I’m definitely guilty of this myself. But to answer the original question I think an argument could be made that emotion is the most important. Music is emotion. Most of my songs are about my battles with mental health and I think that comes through. I hope it does and that it can give some catharsis to people who have similar experiences.

Does your method of writing lyrics reflect your musical compositions in terms of how you channel feeling?
It varies from song to song. Lyrics are usually an afterthought for me. I’ll sit down with an idea and turn that into a full song instrumental. Usually I’ll start to see a story while I’m working through the music. That story will become the lyrics. Like I said before I’ve been struggling with my mental health pretty much my whole life. That feeling is always fueling my writing. A song will start from a vague sense of despair, or anxiety, or anger, and then get more specific.
Sometimes it’s the complete opposite too. My song “Hall Of Mirrors” started with the cover art. I was just messing with designs when it was slow at work and I came up with the artwork and the title. Then I decided on a story: it’s about someone who has betrayed you and has created struggles in your life. Once I had that I started working on the lyrics, no music at this point. I had 90% of the lyrics written before I ever picked up my guitar. I knew how I wanted the chorus of the song to sound vocally when I started working on the music too. I was screaming to a metronome in the car on my way from work that day. Once I got the guitar in my hand I had lyrics, vocal patterns, and a tempo. Then I started writing music to follow that. Short answer: yes, no, maybe, and sometimes.

What is the total amount of material you've released to date? Do you handle the release and distribution of your work independently, given your method of songwriting?
As of today, March 8th 2024, I have sixteen singles out, plus a new song releasing March 15th and another on May 17th. I plan on releasing a single every other month the rest of the year. I might even throw out a couple extra releases depending on how the year goes. I also have a physical CD I made by hand with thirteen tracks on it. It’s a compilation of the singles I’ve released over the last two years and a couple extras.
I do handle everything myself. I like to steadily release songs instead of an album every couple years. Right now I’m using Distrokid because it’s easy and affordable. I have a couple upcoming releases that I’m using Earache Digital Distribution to try out. See if it works better.

If you were to seek indie labels to reach a wider audience, where would you begin? Do you know what demographic and type of label you think would be a good fit for what you're doing?
I used to dream of a label. To get a record deal. That was the only way for years. Now I’m more interested in going the DIY route. My goal is to reach enough fans that the labels come to me. I’m not currently signed but I am working with Self Made Records LLC on marketing. It’s a cool set up because I’m still in charge of all my music and art but I get help with finding my audience.

What label of Erik’s were you signed to previously? Could you add how well it helped you gain exposure for your work?
I signed with Mistanthropik Records a few years ago. They helped me get interviews, reviews, and a lot of playlist spots. That’s why I was excited to work with Erik again!

How did you come to work with Self Made Records LLC and Earache Digital Distribution for promotion and distribution? In what ways have you been able to maintain creative control over your music?
I was signed to a label that Erik Leviathan ran a few years ago. Self Made reached out to me and said they wanted to work with me. When I found out it was the same team I said yes. They work with Earache distro so I tried it on their recommendation. I still have full creative control. That was never even a discussion.

When it comes to some musical genres, how do you define screaming? Do you think watching YouTube videos by vocal coaches would benefit your vocals? It’s common for coaches to demonstrate the importance of keeping your cords open to prevent damage.
Screaming is hard to define. I think any vocal that is heavily distorted could count. Anything from AC/DC to punk bands yelling at the top of their lungs are all a type of screaming. I’ve been doing extreme vocals for over fifteen years now and I still watch videos on Youtube and TikTok. I think I’m a pretty okay screamer but I’ll never think I’m so good I can’t learn something new. I actually just started learning proper warm ups a few years ago from watching Youtube videos.

Which vocal coaches have you watched on YouTube?
I watch Voice Hacks and videos featuring Melissa Cross that emphasize the use of melodic vocal techniques rather than shrieking. David Benites of Extreme Vocal Institute has some really good vocal tips. I actually found him on TikTok originally. Even in just sixty seconds he can be really helpful. Justin from Tallah has some really good videos on Youtube. I think his page is called Hungry Lights. I also watched “The Zen Of Screaming” by Melissa Cross when I was first starting to do screams seriously and not just for fun. Back then she was really the only one teaching it that I knew of.

How helpful have Melissa Cross and the other vocal coaches you have watched been to you? What adaptations did you make to the information you obtained from them?
The biggest thing was learning resonance control. I’m not a singer so I didn’t know how to control where my voice was in my body. Melissa gave a lot of really good singing advice that a lot of screamers overlook, but learning it really helped me get a fuller sound. I would also recommend her for learning proper breathing. I was lucky enough to learn that from the flute.

Do you have any vocalists who have inspired you as a vocalist over the last fifteen years? It Different singers from King Diamond to HR of Bad Brains have different styles to suit different moods. Is there something similar that you do with your lyrics?
Randy Blythe from Lamb of God. Probably my favorite screamer of all time. I really tried to emulate him in the beginning. Howard Jones (Light the Torch, ex Killswitch Engage) and Johnny Plague (Winds of Plague) were also really big influences in the beginning. For lyrics inspiration is more sporadic. Sometimes it’s what I’m listening to that’s inspiring, sometimes it’s a conversation or life event. I’m definitely influenced by the tropes of the genre. Metalcore kinda has a lane when it comes to lyrics. I try not to get stuck in doing things too the same, but you also kinda have to stay in the lane a little to appeal to fans of the genre. It’s a careful balance for sure.

When you compose, what genres do you tend to draw from most frequently? Is this different for each single? What methods do you use to reinterpret your influences?
Genres I think are probably Nu Metal and Metalcore. That’s what I listen to the most so there’s usually something I’m listening to a lot that’s in my head. It does differ from song to song for sure, but I like what I like ya know? But none of that is set in stone. Sometimes I’m just walking around humming a random melody and think “I should play that on guitar and put a breakdown under it” You never really know when or where inspiration is coming.
A lot of the time I’m just playing guitar for fun and I’ll improvise something I like. Then I’ll record it real quick and start messing with it. Change some notes around, add changes, have the root notes of it move through a progression. It’s a lot of just having fun with the guitar and experimenting.

Is it your practice to tailor your lines to fit the guitar progressions behind them, or do you fit them to the mood of the song as a whole?
Song as a whole definitely. When it comes to lyrics and vocals I follow the drums more than anything. But you gotta pay attention to everything going on. For example sometimes I’ll drop a line at the end of a part because I want some cool guitar run or drum fill to stand out. I’m a musician first so I’m usually making the vocals fit around the music. But like I said before, sometimes it’s totally different. That’s what makes music so fun, there’s no right or wrong, just what you create. Sure there’s “rules” but those are guidelines and ways to explain what you did.

As musicians find new ways to work within their genres, rules can be bent and stretched. Change some notes and experiment as you suggested. How much do you want to break the mold?
I never set out to break the mold. Or to fit in it. I just create and see where it takes me. Admittedly I don’t think I’m doing anything super groundbreaking. I think I sound different from most metalcore, but I’m not redefining the genre or anything. I think metal as a whole is expanding and I’m expanding with it.

Which of the singles you have released so far has proven most personal for you? What made those songs personal and what kind of cathartic experience was it to write them?
That’s a tough one. All of my music is very personal to me. I think my upcoming release “Hollow” (out 3/15/24 shameless plug) is definitely up there. Maybe just because it’s fresh on my mind. It’s a song about being depressed. That’s it. Not getting better, not overcoming. Just a song about how hard it can be to live with mental illness. I was in a funk and just needed to scream about it. The song is just catharsis for me, and hopefully anyone who hears it.
Another track that comes to mind is “Wage Slave”. When I wrote it I was working a dead end job, and hated it. I was just a number to them and barely scraping by. And I was just pissed and sad about it. I was looking for something better but I wasn’t having any luck. So I wrote a song about wanting to change the world so everyone can be happy, but also about wanting to fight your middle management boss in the parking lot.

Are “Hollow” and “Wage Slave” written in a way for younger and older listeners to relate to? Are the ideas about overcoming certain situations a common theme in your lyrics?
They’re written for me to relate to. I’d like to think my writing is timeless and for everyone, but that feels egotistical. These songs are written for the depressed and people fed up with the grind respectively. If that’s you, you’ll probably like them. Overcoming is a pretty strong theme in my music for sure. I try to be optimistic. “Hollow” is a departure from that. It’s not meant to be about overcoming. But I think that makes it an outlier in my catalog. What is the ease of composing solo as opposed to other musicians? Is this arrangement something that you would like to change at some point, or are you satisfied as a solo musician? The biggest difference is time. I don’t have to wait for someone to sign off on a part or spend half an hour teaching people parts to see if it works in the song or not. I can just write it and record it and decide. It can be really frustrating to have a group of people weighing in on your art. Especially if they’re not bringing anything to the table creatively. A.Moortal will stay a solo project. It was started as an outlet for me. I’m in some bands too but they satisfy different needs.

Is your desire for creative control reflected in your desire to independently produce your music?
Honestly self producing is more out of necessity. I’m a poor musician. I can’t really afford studios or producers. And I live in a small town, there’s not really anywhere to do it that’s reasonably close. I started learning production in high school because it was the only way I was gonna get my stuff recorded. I do like it though. It allows me to work as I write instead of needing to write a whole EP or album and then plan to record it.

Do you have any ideas for new material since your last release? Can you recall any recent experiences in your life that might serve as inspiration for lyrics?
My next two releases are fully finished and waiting. One will release in May and the next in July. I have an instrumental finished that will get vocals soon. For inspiration I think that one will use a haunting as a metaphor for generational trauma. Recently life has actually been pretty good, but it hasn’t always been and there’s a lot in the world I don’t like so I’ll never be lacking something to write about.

Given the personal nature of your work with A.Moortal, do you hope to be received by the metalcore industry? How do you weigh the importance of mass exposure and self-expression?
I would love to be accepted by the industry, yes. But it’s not the most important thing to me. I truly believe in my music and what I do. I don’t need to be world famous, I just want enough success to not need a day job. My hope is that if I just keep doing what I’m doing enough people will find it and like it so that I can make a living from it. Thank you for this interview by the way! Hopefully it will help get me in that direction!

Besides creating music as a solo artist, what else would you like to accomplish?
I have a new band I’m working on called RVR (pronounced river) that I’m really excited about. It’s more pop punk and rock. Just catchy, fun music. Other than that the goal is always just to be happy. Music makes me happy. My friends make me happy. My partner Ari makes me happy. My goal is to keep those things in my life and make as time as possible for them.

-Dave Wolff

Thursday, March 14, 2024

A tribute to M Teresa Clayton

Known for her evocative poetry, imaginative fiction, and insightful reviews, Teresa Clayton was long an inspirational member of the literary community. In addition to her contributions to Asphyxium Zine since 2015, Clayton penned a collection of hauntingly beautiful written works including Judith, Mystic Verses, The Umbral Garden, Storyteller, and My Name Is Metaphor. Tragically, she recently lost her battle with brain cancer, leaving behind a legacy of creativity and passion. In honor of her memory, a selection of Clayton's poignant poems from her Facebook groups have been posted at the webzine, shared with permission a few months ago. These verses, others at the webzine and those in her Facebook communities invite you to explore her unique perspective on life, love, and loss. For those who wish to offer condolences, Clayton's profile remains a place of remembrance and reflection. Clayton’s 2015 and 2016 interviews for Asphyxium provide more insight into her artistic journey and literary influences. As you take a moment to immerse yourself, explore the intricate, vivid imagery woven through her poetry, and connect with a truly remarkable writer.

M Teresa Clayton Official:
M Teresa Clayton Official:
M. Teresa Clayton's Collaboration Group:
Mystic Verses:
A Mindful Death:

Interview from 2015:
Interview from 2016:
Poems written by Clayton:
Fiction written by Clayton

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Interview with Lock Down by Dave Wolff

Jeff Lombardi
Interview with Jeff Lombardi of Lock Down by Dave Wolff

How did you achieve the underlying heaviness of your full-length “Step Over The Bodies”?
The process was pretty organic. The guitar tones represented what we gravitated to. Justin and I are huge fans of crunch masters such as Dimebag Darrell Abbott, so I think that’s the baseline of where we start. Of course, there are a lot of other variables that make up your sound. I think most guitar players are like Eddie Van Halen, where you’re never satisfied always chasing a tone. I’m already envisioning on the next recording to use lighter gauge strings to brighten up the sound and add a little bit more warm mids. The drums have nice power behind them. It’s a combination between performance, equipment (DW drums), and it didn’t hurt having the king of the Brooklyn beats Danny Schuler of Biohazard mixing.

In the bass tracks, there are hints of industrial music, giving the album a menacing quality. Do you think this was a conscious decision or did it just happen that way? In what ways does the sound you achieved on the album reflect the attitude of the band?
There was no conscious decision with the writing direction. I think our style draws from all genres of aggressive music. Some more obvious than others. I can tell you that Hatebreed’s “Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire” was the reason I moved back to New York from California to start a new band with Eric. We’re long time friends going back 35 years. We also played in Bile together during the “Suck Pump” era. I left Bile and was on hiatus for a few years living in San Diego. Then I heard “Last Breath” from Hatebreed and it was a game changer. That inspired me to start writing again. I wrote most of the album over a two month period. Then we connected with Justin who wrote “Won’t See Me Comin” and “Eternal”, plus we collaborated on “Blind Rage”. It all came together very quickly, and flowed naturally.
You can try to calculate and arrange riffs to make them fit… sometimes it works, but the best songs are the spontaneous ones. I wrote the title track “Step Over The Bodies” in ten minutes the day before we went to the studio to record. The next day, Roi wrote the lyrics on the spot and recorded the vocals without every hearing the song before, and nailed it on the first take. It’s my favorite song on the album and came together last minute.
Outside of the band we’re all relaxed funny guys, but the sound reflects our intensity and raw energy.

Why did you part ways with Bile, and how did you spend your time while on hiatus in San Diego?
Chris Liggio and I played in Napalm together and after we disbanded he approached me to join an industrial band he was starting, and although he was the driving force and primary song writer, it still felt like a band where everyone contributed with their roles. Three years later it was no longer fun and felt like a dictatorship. If you’re not playing with people to be hired hands, you shouldn’t treat them like they work for you. It just wasn’t fun anymore, so it was time to move on. The first few years were amazing, so no regrets.
After that, I stepped away from music for a few years. I was focusing on a career that generated income for independence. I never wanted to be in a position again where I had to depend on people for my next meal or place to sleep. There were plenty of days where the record label did not send a per diem, or if they did, it never reached my pocket. I’m also a diehard handball player, and spent most of my free time playing.

Napalm is going far back. At least two full-length albums were released by that band between 1989 and 1990. Were they disbanded afterward or what's the story with them?
Napalm was my first band right out of high school. We were a thrash metal band right around the time of the second wave of the genre. Napalm was signed to Steamhammer SPV records. After a couple of albums and European tours, we disbanded for various reasons, such as differences in musical direction.

Did the decline in popularity of thrash contribute to the musical differences within Napalm? How did the decline of thrash affected the local metal scene?
Eric Roi
I don’t think it was the decline of the genre, because during this time it was still near its peak. There was an oversaturation of thrash bands, and we overdid things trying to stand out and differentiate ourselves from all the bands forming left and right. The first album came very naturally, and was received very well by everyone, including the critics. We received favorable reviews from Kerrang, Metal Forces and Metal Hammer magazines. The U.S. branch of the label that signed us was shut down, and we only had the parent German label to work with. Unfortunately the band was in limbo for about a year until they gave us the opportunity to record the second album. So we had a year sitting around overthinking and experimenting outside styles, such as funk, which I think our attempt failed. The third album we wrote, was back to our roots and was much heavier, and we had gotten better as musicians. Unfortunately we lost the confidence of the label and we were dropped, which led to the breakup. The local scene in New York we were a part of had begun to trend in the hard-core direction.

Thrash metal made a comeback during the mid-to-late nineties. Did you discover new bands or regain interest in older bands during that period? What was your opinion of  “retro-thrash?
I didn’t listen to any new thrash bands in the 90s, but I did start listening to how metal evolved at that point. Really loved what Slipknot and Fear Factory were doing. There are some thrash bands that got better with time… Kreator is unmatched and just keep getting better. I still listen to all the classic 80s albums from Slayer, Exodus, Testament, Anthrax, and of course Metallica. I think all of them aged well.

What are the similarities and differences between writing and composing for Bile and writing and composing for Lock Down?
Bile was a great outlet for live performances. This day is still the best thing I’ve ever been a part of from that aspect, it was a spectacular thing to behold, and to be a part of. From a songwriting perspective, it was a bit frustrating as most of the songs were written and recorded, and then presented to the band. I was only able to contribute to one song on “Suck Pump” which was “Get Out”. Lockdown was, conversely, the exact opposite. Although I am the primary songwriter, I demonstrated the songs and rehearsal, and everyone was able to put their own stamp on it. Going forward I would prefer to collaborate… I like being part of a team in every aspect.

Do you channel the energy you generated in Bile when performing with Lock Down? Or do you primarily draw inspiration from hardcore? What is the contribution of metal to your sound?
I would say a little bit of both. There’s definitely a blueprint for hard-core performances that I’m sure is subliminally there and influences the energy. Visually, there is a lineage to Bile. We have continued with the vibe of wearing masks and face/head coverings during some of our shows. Plus, we are implementing a two or three vocalist attack similar to Bile. We like the diversity and contrast, as well as the performance intensity.
Metal is definitely in our DNA. I was learning guitar during the height of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as well as the first wave of Thrash.

What are some of the topics discussed on “Step Over The Bodies”? Were there any developments that inspired you to write the lyrics for that album?
Eric Roi is the primary creative lyrical force. Inspirations are across the board drawing from personal experiences as well as outside perspectives. For example, “Steadfast” is a close family who served in the armed forces for our country. The lyrics are inspired by his story. We are not trying to make a political statement with the song. Roi is simply describing the human experience.
“Enlightenment” describes the growth of your soul. “Trail of Tears” is about the American Indian genocide, specifically the story of the Trail Of Tears so the song holds a lot of emotion. The track “Human Racist” is just hating on the negative side of some human instincts such as war, prejudice, and betrayal. The title track “Step Over the Bodies” is about overcoming obstacles in your way and the betterment of yourself by raising your own bar. “Hard to the Core” is the embodiment of hardcore as a movement. “Blind Rage” is a general vent for the angst of life interpreted by the listener. “Respect Collected” sometimes people give you respect and other times you must take it from them. “Duked” is about betrayal which unfortunately we all experience at some point. “Won’t See Me Comin” is a first-person perspective of a vigilante “Hatred” is our disgust of oppression in any form. It’s ugly and should never exist.

Is it difficult to express personal experiences through your lyrics? In general, are they written in such a way that listeners will be able to relate to them?
Eric Roi is the main lyricist, and his thoughts just seem to be an endless flow. He sends me texts all the time of lyrics he’s writing and extremely brilliant. I’ve contributed to lyrics over the years, but it is much more of a difficult process for me, where I start out with a first draft and then make multiple edits. I really leave it up to Eric to handle, he’s a genius at his art. I think the only lyrics we ever intentionally wrote with the audience in mind was “Hard To The Core”. Everything else is just what is swimming in Eric’s head.

Generally, how have magazines and webzines responded to “Step Over the Bodies”? Are there any publications in particular that most understand the band's perspective?
So far the responses have been supportive and positive. To be honest I didn’t know how it would be received. When you’re a fairly new band, you’re kind of in a bubble where the only feedback you get it is the local fan base and friends. Regardless of any feedback good or bad, I learned the hard way a long time ago not to write for anyone but yourself. The best songs are the ones that just come naturally.

Provide a brief description of the video you recently released for “Trail Of Tears”. Can you tell me who worked on it with the band and how do you express the lyrics through the imagery?
Our friend and media director Pete Dolan created the video. We let him know the song is about the genocide of Native Americans. Eric Roi is American Indian and Filipino. So he wanted to tell a version of the story. Pete added some silent movie footage, which I thought was awesome. Reminds me of the Iron Maiden video “Run to the Hills”. So it has a certain darkness to the vibe.

What has been your experience with SelfMadeRecordsLLC since you signed with them, and what led you to hook up with them?
The label has done a great job of socializing our name. That was the primary objective… having the music be heard. Our business relationship started with an interest to be involved with a compilation that led to a larger idea to release our full length we already recorded.

Does Lockdown have a good reputation among rock and metal fans outside of New York? Where in the US and other countries are you well received?
We have a solid fan base in our area. We also support our Long Island hardcore community and other bands. It’s probably like a lot of scenes globally where everyone sticks together. Most of the Lock Down members have been in a lot of bands over the years and formed lifelong friendships some veteran groups. Eric played with “In Your Face” who were one of the earlier NYHC bands. So there’s a lot of ties there. Craig from Sick Of It All and Parris from the Cro-Mags have supported us through social media. That’s a huge honor for us to get the nod from legends in our scene.

How has hardcore managed to maintain its sense of individuality despite the pressure people are placed under to conform? Describe the core values of hardcore that have endured throughout the years. In general, has adhering to those values been easy or difficult?
Hardcore has retained its integrity throughout the years, because it’s true to life and the core values it was built on. Hardcore to me is very honest and organic. So it’s easy to be ourselves, and not have to fit into any particular image or mold.

According to your description of your songs, some of them may be perceived negatively by people who don't understand hardcore. Is the genre responsible for positive changes in the world?
I don’t think it’s any artist’s responsibility to change the world. It’s honorable if lyrics and messages spread positivity and open the listener’s mind to intake knowledge. But this is art… it doesn’t have to move mountains or serve a guiding light.

Are you currently writing material for another release, or planning to? In what direction do you see the band heading in the future, and what are you most interested in being recognized for?
We have four songs completed for a release by the end of the year. We will continue to write and keep things fresh, but I doubt we’ll deviate too far from the sound we’ve established. One of the songs is titled “Vigilante”, which is the continued story of the song “You Won’t See Me Comin”. Another is “Street Fighter”, which is about a motorcyclist fighting to share the road with four wheel vehicles who put his life in danger. Eric rides, so he’s probably speaking from personal experience. Another song is “Life Sentence”, which is basically life can feel like a fight until the death. It can be a struggle for most of us. The fourth song is “Still In Business”. You could say Eric and I are affiliated with a group of local friends known as SIB. The lyrics are about all of our fallen brothers, who were part of this community. Thirty years ago it was referred to as a gang by New York news media, but it was really just a large group of friends because at that time there was a lot of crews and clicks. Sometimes there was violence when one group passed another group. But I would’ve never referred to it as a gang. We didn’t wear colors, nobody was jumped in, and it was not organized in traditional manner. It was about strength and numbers and protecting each other. Musically, the songs still have a Lock Down vibe, maybe slightly more metal riffs. I’m looking forward to collaborating the guys and seeing what’s next on the horizon.

-Dave Wolff