Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sonic Poison seven inch review

Sonic Poison
LifeLine Records
Release June 22nd 2015
Review by hutch

Ron Grimaldi – vocals, Rick Lopez - guitar, Anthony Corallo - drums, Tom Clavin - bass.

The first time I heard the name Ron Grimaldi was on Kill Your Idols’ release, Fur is For Fucks.  He showed up again on “Miserable and Satisfied”, sealing my attention to this screaming bitter dude. When KYI disbanded, Paul Delaney and Gary Bennet formed Deathcycle appropriately with Grimaldi screaming. Deathcycle released two sinister full lengths and few splits. They broke up, and musically, Grimaldi had stayed quiet. Until Now. 

Enter current Sheer Terror drummer, Anthony Corallo and Rick Lopez of The Casualties to sling six strings and Tom Clavin on bass, the New York punk Rock/hardcore resume is stacked. Their first release here is four tracks of chaotic destruction.

Steeped in punk and DIY ethos, these four tracks hammer out rage and rebellion in the usual short fast loud fashion. It’s glorious. The synergy, from Tom and Anthony playing in Concrete Cross and Disnihil together, and everyone’s experience is a tight machine of anger. Production is on point, raw but focused. Each instrument is discernible, with low rumbles balanced with the galloping bass and clanging cymbals. Corallo produced this himself in the band’s space. 

Grimaldi’s honed spewing is aimed at social and political imbalance in a suffocating society in “Mass Surveillance”. Then with the opener, “Will It Ever End?” and the sequential “Another Day of Misery”, Grimaldi spits vocals of depression and jaded memories. KYI fans will rejoice in the malaise. The latter boasts a dope breakdown that will arms swinging and feet two-stepping to a hardcore beat meant to incite.

Round out this release with artwork from Chad Lawson (Rude Awakening, Expire, Backtrack, etc) and this EP is a must have. Influences are there, but Sonic Poison emulates no one directly. Similarities to Kill Your Idols are there, and will be noted. But that’s a huge bonus in my book. This EP is crushing. It rips out of the gate and is unrelenting to your speakers, ears, and guts. Inciting your emotions and sense of justice, this music will trigger all of punk’s attractive qualities.

RIYL: KYI, Discharge, Conflict, ENT, Negative Approach, Violent Arrest, Direct Control, Strung Up, Government Warning, Dead Stop, Tear It Up.

Bitter End Interview for New Album

Bitter End
Illusions of Dominance
Deathwish Inc
New Noise Interview with Jacob Henderson by hutch

This is an email interview with guitarist Jacob Henderson of Bitter Mind. It was answered around the second week of May 2015, right before BNB Bowl. Solid, down to earth dude. I have been into these dudes since they started. They stick to their guns and make kick ass metal tinted hardcore. The lyrics - and the artwork - represent views on a chaotic world. I am used to more general replies responding politics. I tossed an umbrella softball question re: Middle East and this intelligent man called me out on it. If this was a phone interview, we could have elaborated. Great to see smart people wwriting relevant, informed lyrics. I got this digital promo. After a few spins, i ordered the vinyl from DW inc. Had to support this band. I suggest you do the same.\

I have been listening to you guys since Mind in Chains. I think Guilty as Charged was your best, carrying the momentum of prior releases and years. And then… What happened? Where have you guys been?

We have been right here! It is so awesome that you have been listening to us since Mind in Chains. We have consistently been playing shows, fests, touring, and writing a new LP. It has been five years since our last release, which in hardcore, or music in general, can be the equivalent of a lifetime. So many bands have formed in that five year time frame. It is only natural that attention will be focused on the newer breed of bands. In music, you have to constantly be putting out new material and promoting in order to keep that momentum. Also, the everyday demands of life often get in the way of our ability to tour as much as we would like. We might not have the same hype or attention as we did when we first started. But for over a decade, we still write music, we still play shows, and we still doing it.

Can I have a present line-up? How does it differ from Guilty?

Currently we have Daniel on vocals, Shane on guitar, Sammy Pain on bass, Ethan Mania on drums, and me (Jacob) on guitar. It is different than the line-up for Guilty as Charged. However, this for the most part, has been the main touring line up for the last few years.

This album is heavy… tell me about the songwriting. Does the metal to hardcore ratio have a formula? *like “oh shit – we haven’t done a fast part in a few…”

Everyone in the band loves all different styles of music. We incorporated all the different genres, bands, and styles that we listen to in this record. Bitter End is above all else a hardcore band. There might be some parts on the record that deviate from a traditional hardcore sound, but I think that just makes the record sound more interesting. I think we created a great blend of different sounds for this record. We have some fast parts, mid-tempo upbeats, heavy parts, musical parts, mellow acoustic parts…we have a good combination of just about everything.

Not super technical Revocation; but you are not shying away from guitar solos…but it feels woven into the songs – not the metal showcase of: “oh that was the second chorus, solo insert here.”

I’m so happy that you said it feels woven into the songs! Ethan, Nick Jett, and I took a lot of thought in the structure of these songs. I didn’t want any of the leads or guitar solos to seem forced or unnecessary. My intention with the guitar solos was not “hey look at me shred like an asshole.” With every track I wanted the flow of the song to be the focus. I think all the guitar leads that are on this record just add to the song structure. Inserting leads are a good way to break up vocal lines and move songs along to the next verse or chorus. After we demoed our songs, I would record guitar leads at my house on my iPhone using garage band. I wanted to be sure all the leads were dialed in before I went to record with Nick. I am not much of a “guitar shredder” and I tend to favor simpler guitar leads. I wanted the leads to sound catchy, almost as if they were a chorus. Some of my influences were leads on Integrity – For Those Who Fear Tomorrow and even Tom Petty. Simple, memorable, effective, and catchy.

Tell me about the recording of this record?  How was working with Nick Jett? How long did it take?

Working with Nick was such a great experience. The whole experience was really a dream come true for me. I flew out to Los Angeles to record an album with a person who has been a huge influence on Bitter End and to me as a fan of hardcore. We had been writing these songs for a quite some time. Some of the riffs and ideas I had for this album started a several years ago. Nothing is more infecting or aggravating than an idea. Finishing this record had become an obsession for me. And like any obsession, it had started to make me a little crazy. I would be driving on the highway thinking about different song structures, riffs, or drum beats and would go off in a sort of daze. The next thing I knew, I would be miles away from where I was going. My experience of being lost on a road due to my obsession became a metaphor of my life for the few months leading up to finally meeting with Nick. All the songs and parts were there, but he really helped clear my head. We did a few rehearsals before recording and he helped with the song structure and validated parts that I had doubts about. Once we started recording everything started clicking. There was a creative atmosphere and everyone was throwing around some great ideas. It was very rewarding being able to finally hear the finished products of all the songs I was obsessing over. Even though it made me slightly crazy, I had a lot of fun writing and recording all the music. Hopefully everyone has fun listening to it.

What is up for 2015? Tours? Fests?

This weekend we are playing the Black and Blue Fest in New York City which I am very excited about. We have plans for some fests in early Fall and we are trying to make plans to tour Europe again and hopefully (fingers crossed) Japan.

Not that you guys were singing about sunshine and rainbows before, but the lyrics feel starker and deeper on this album. What has been going on in your lives that created these lyrics?

 Older, Colder, Crazier. I think that kind of sums up everyone in the band. I’ll answer this question by telling you about how I feel in my life at this moment. Keep in mind, my experiences and thoughts might be different than someone else’s When I was in high school I remember reading an interview with the singer of Good Riddance. He said that being a punk at 29 was a lot different than being a punk at 19. I wasn’t really sure what he meant by that at the time, but now that I am older I think I’m beginning to understand. With each phase of your life you start to see the world different and you start to see yourself different. Being in a band or even just listening to hardcore is incredibly rewarding but it can also be painfully lonely. Everyone in the band has normal “average joe” lives outside the band. It is very difficult to relate and interact with people who haven’t experienced what it is like being in a band, or never traveled to go see a show. When co-workers or just ordinary people find out we are in a band they will call us something generic like “rock star” and then laugh. How can you explain to them what it is like seeing the Cro-Mags in Germany in front of 1000 people? You can’t. How can you tell them what it’s like to drive 20 hours to play a 20 minute set? You can’t. It is a balancing act trying to juggle the reality of growing up, with the desire of doing what you love. I think these feelings of frustration combined with our tendencies to over-think, over-analyze, and over-obsess contributed to the starker feeling of the lyrics on this album.

Any thoughts on the continuous wars – Syria, Iraq III, etc… 

I have a lot of thoughts. This question is difficult to answer because you didn’t ask anything specific and these conflicts are very complicated. I’ll try to answer the best I can though. The Arab Spring gave hope that there would be positive changes and reforms to countries that have been ruled by dictators. However, the end result has been violence and conflict. There seems to be no real solutions, answers, or end to the conflicts. Any sort of intervention by the West has had negative consequences. The West intervened in Libya to get rid of Gadhafi and now militias are battling for control of that country. As a result of the breakdown of authority in Libya, smugglers are taking advantage of Eritreans, Somalis, and Syrians trying to make their way by boat to Europe. The U.S attacks ISIL in Syria which benefits Al-Nusra. The U.S condemns Iran for backing Assad but then attacks ISIL targets in Syria which helps Iran. Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting a proxy war in Yemen. Foreign fighters joining ISIL and supplies make it to Syria through Turkey, even though Turkey is a United States ally. Turkey is very vocal about removing Assad. It is all just a complicated mess. With all these struggles of power for territory and influence the civilians are the ones getting caught in the cross fire. Hundreds of thousands have been killed or displaced in Syria alone. This has led to the overcrowding of refugee camps in small countries such as Lebanon and Jordan. It is also the reason why civilians are so desperate to escape that they will risk drowning at sea in overcrowded boats just to make it to Italy. There is going to be an entire generation that will be uneducated because schools have closed due to conflict. It will also be a generation suffering from emotional and mental issues due to the stress of witnessing extreme violence.

Watching Baltimore explode the past few days – care to comment?

Explode might be the wrong definition to use. Inequality, poverty, policing practices, extensive prison sentences, and discrimination are all contributing factors to what we have seen in places like South Carolina, Ferguson, and now Baltimore. These issues have been occurring for a long time and there needs to be a national dialogue on how correct these problems. I don’t claim to have all the answers and I only know what I am talking about around 20% of the time, but this practice of revenue policing, to me, is completely un-American. This notion of increasing a cities’ revenue by issuing out tickets and warrants to people in a low-income area only creates a cycle of poverty. This revenue policing practice occurred in Ferguson and certainly occurs in other areas of the country as well.  It makes me sad that the United States has the largest prison population in the world, a disproportionate number of which are black or Hispanic. I do have some hope for the future since there are discussions about reducing prison sentences for drug offences or even decriminalizing drug possession. However change can move slow, and there are lots of changes that need to be made.

If not yet – breakdown the themes of  Illusions of Dominance?

“An epidemic of violence, men born into chaos, intoxicated with illusions of dominance.”

What do you want an audience to get from a BE show? What do you want to see?

I want them to have fun. I have been going to shows since I was 12, and I still go to shows at 28. Shows and concerts have been such a big part of my life and I feel blessed I am able to play music that people enjoy. I want to see people having a good time and I want them to drive home safe. Thanks for having us do this interview, I really enjoyed it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dr Know Interview for Woodstock Sessions and Black N Blue Bowl

Dr Know of the Bad Brains
Black N Blue Bowl May 16/17, 2015 
Woodstock Sessions, May 30, 2015

When I call Dr Know he is picking up Mackie and John Joseph. Mackie Jayson is most known as the drummer as the Cro-Mags and a part of the crucial Age of Quarrel album. He also recorded with the Bad Brains on Quickness and Rise; among other touring stints. He played in Fun Lovin’ Criminals, NYHC treasure The Icemen, Hazen St, and even came into Madball when Riggs stepped down. Doc and Mackie have been brothers for many years. John Joseph is returning from a Cro Mags’ gig in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The Ironman contender, outspoken vegan Krishna, NYHC retro tour guide, aka Bloodclot, will jump directly into the singers’ slot at Black N Blue Bowl.

Dr Know is the guitarist of Bad Brains. There are never sufficient words to describe Bad Brains quickly and their spiritual connection with their fans. Along with his partner in bass, Darryl Jennifer, Doc will be headlining day one of the BNB Bowl, with Mackie and John Joseph, as The Regulators. They will be performing an hour long set of classic Bad Brains’ material. Dr. Know (Gary Miller) describes the reunion as “an old-time special”.

“The show is at Webster Hall, which is the old Ritz. I haven’t played there in twenty years. It will be special. We are headlining, like the old days.” The energy will be indescribable. As much as Bad Brains came from DC, they can still be considered a NYHC band from the beginning. And JJ and Mackie were there to see and learn from their peers as the Cro-Mags were growing. “They’re family. We are all brothers. We did this line-up back in the winter, some smaller spot in the city. It was thirty minutes and it was great.” 

John Joseph will bring a fervent intensity. He does Ironman competitions. “He is more fit than ever,” Doc notes. The four will practice all week. Black N Blue Bowl is having a one off Burn reunion to top day two. The varied array will push all the styles that make up NYHC. Other bands appearing are Crumbsuckers, Sick Of It All, Madball, Earth Crisis, and Candiria. Among 100 Demons, Booze and Glory, EGH, Wisdom In Chains, King Nine, Rival Mob, Rude Awakening and even more, the vibe will be electric. Doc wants to give the people a crazy show, as many family and friends will be there. And The Regulators are, well as Doc says, “It’s the OG’s”.

At the end of May, Bad Brains will be recording a five song EP in Woodstock, NY where Dr. Know lives. The recording will be with Jesse Royal. The special aspect to this recording will be that the public can buy a ticket to attend the memorable event at Applehead studios. A series called Woodstock Sessions is hosting the Bad Brains recording with sixty to seventy people in attendance. “We are going to write the album that day. Make it up, revamp it, and record it.”

Jess Royal is a “hot new Jamaican. We met him at the Afro-Punk fest. We had a special set with rotating vocalists; Corey (Glover of Living Colour; John Joseph, Jesse Royal and two others.” While Doc is excited to record new material with a young vocalist, the addition of the fans is a unique experience. “People will get to know us as we record. It will be straight up spontaneity. Some of the songs we are working on, we have already in process. We need to jam them out. It all happen there. We wrote a lot of records in the studio.” Applehead is comfortable for Doc. He reports having done much work there. The idea came up between him and the studio.

“It’s cool. People are going to get to hang out all day.” The event boasts fans being treated to an open space studio, stocked with a Caribbean feast. When they leave the fans will receive a commemorative t-shirt of the day, a limited edition poster and reservation for a 180-gm vinyl of the recording. Doc is very excited to share this event. “The vibe will be incredible, laid back. It’s going to be fun. We are going to play some reggae, maybe a rock joint. We can’t get too wild, though,” Doc laughs.