Test of Time
Interview by hutch
Bridge Nine Records
Boston Straight Edge Hardcore. To me, when I see those words, I have an immediate sound and energy and presence that should accompany any band that boasts those labels. And many people, old and new, recluse and hipster, that will pocket check your cred when you step in a venue with that moniker.
I believe Test of Time will, well, stand the test of time in this case. Yesterday, a white square box was opened in my kitchen to deliver two seven inches which I preordered from Bridge Nine Records. Unveiling two versions, red and grey, of the one sided A Place Beyond ep, and a pressing of their first ep, Inclusion, my record player tapped its needle impatiently waiting to be blessed. Salivating, my turntable reminisced about the fury and urgency of last summer’s B9 seven inch, The Price.
Charles Chassinand, guitarist, may not be originally from Boston, but as a city, Boston welcomes someone with such sustained vigor. Coming from Florida, being in bands and working at Think Fast! Records, Charles has the resume. Charles spends his current days, over the Charles, at MIT doing AV/Sound for the legendary college. This job, especially a particular colleague, fuels his prolific songwriting.
Test of Time has existed for only two years come September. “I’m nuts about getting things going, moving forward. As soon as we did our demo, I had other songs written. Let’s keep it perpetual.”
And independent. Vocalist Todd and Charles put together money, recorded in their basement, and put Inclusion out themselves. 500 copies. Charles explains that they recorded twenty six songs and six covers. “The plan is to keep the music trickling. We are not able to tour. The singer and I have jobs not allowing it. So I want to always have music coming out.”
The covers which have been released are eclectic; Germs, Mission of Burma, Skid Row (“youth crew gone wild”). Charles also mastered the three tracks on A Place Beyond. I comment of the ferocity of the first track, blazing out of the gate. It has that Boston stomp, The Rival Mob channeling DYS. Charles admits, “it is a weird little song, one riff. But vocals over it make it seems to move.”
A Place Beyond progresses, though. The songwriting, remaining course and aggressive, ventures into Bane and Have Heart territory. While the songs punch with severity, the ethos of Test of Time remains reflected in the packaging, which he is doing. Attached to each copy will be one of five hundred unique 4x6 photos from Mexico/South America tour. The attachments are handmade and sleeved by Charles and the band. “Todd and I sit down and think about the layout and how to make it unique. Too many bands make the artwork seems like an afterthought.”
Charles unabashedly admits to emulating EVR or No Idea in the 90s. I contribute, “Oh, my favorite was The Swarm. The Frank Sinatra one. (Old Blue Eyes is Dead). That’s the pinnacle of packaging for me.” Charles agrees immediately. “That’s the exact record that sparked it,” he states. “Give people a reason to buy to this stuff.”
Musically, A Place Beyond was “written before our new bass player, Robert, who writes a lot now.” This information is spurred by my compliments of the raw intensity of the tracks which Charles wrote. That is matched by the dynamic structure of the songs. “That means a lot. I try to put effort and make the song move forward. The LP (By Design, out in July) will be like that more. I want it to have a flow. I use pianos to write. I don’t want it to sound like every hardcore record. I expose it to a co-worker who doesn’t listen to hardcore to tweak.”
“Every instrument is in my head. Not to be Stalinistic,” he clarifies quickly. “I know the parts and sounds and accents. When I put songs together for me, I have rhythm guitar and bass. I picture a lot of melodic parts, leads. I have 50% recorded before we move. So I know the record flows in a certain way.
Hardcore bands have the turnover rate of strip clubs and pub dishwashers. I would assume sporting the SXE emblem must be a hindrance to attaining new members. “I can’t see us having a full time member not straight edge. Especially at our age; lots of people drop it. I hang out with non-SXE people, obviously. But someone that has the party attitude could not be on board with our work ethic. What we end up needing happens to be SXE; those characteristics and qualities.”
And as far as that banner, which some use as a divisive implement, Charles chagrins. “I proclaimed edge when I was 12. Straight Edge kept my head of my ass. It promotes a lifestyle choice. If you’re SXE, here we are. If you’re not, check us out. We don’t have songs that condemn. Many SXE bands are accusatory, but we don’t separate.”
And how does a band hit the stage with comparable ardent rage to deliver when not inflated off of Jager bombs and groupie sweat? Charles explains, simply, “When we play a show, we hit an arcade. Two hours at an arcade and we get so amped.”
Well I hope Charles and Todd and company do a little research of European arcades. At the end of July, they head to Europe to play a string of 12 shows in two weeks. This tour will be complimented by a split with English band, only released in Europe. Additionally, there will a six song split with Old Flings from Asheville, North Carolina and then a split with Pick Up the Pieces from Mexico. All harvested from the thirty song cache. Hard work pays off.
I assumed it would be daunting to claim “Boston Straight Edge”. Charles brushes it off. “We aren’t stating a proclamation. I look at those bands – so few of those bands are SXE today. Seeing where those dudes are now, we are already older than they were when they broke edge. SO what did it mean to wave SXE? And Todd has been around forever. Boston forever. SXE forever. Having him front the band, gears the focus. He is sincere and a nice guy.
“We want to be nice. Some dudes are “nice”, but it is a bullshit act. They are nice until you talk about money or whatever issue sets them off. Todd and I don’t get upset. We stay cool.”