Interviews

To channel the negativity away – an interview with metallic hardcore band INTROVERT

Dark, harsh metallic hardcore band INTROVERT have recently released their second EP and it’s about you discover it and show some appreciation for these young rebellious souls. “No Funeral” shows a seriously dense and to some extent a continuation of their style defined on debut EP “Detached”. The energy of this new offering is very reminiscent of some of the most uncompromising and inspiring metallic hardcore products of the 90s and it’s always very pleasant to hear how a band can borrow from more traditional hardcore punk aggression and blend it with more modern twists and ideas for songwriting. Such mixture gives the final effect a sense of realness. Taste it below and read my interview with INTROVERT in which the band tells IDIOTEQ what’s their view on running this band, discuss of their approach to creating process and what’s ther view on hardcore punk scene.
Enjoy and catch the band live at the following stops in early 2016. Also, don’t be shy and drop them a line, cause they’re looking for more shows in December and January:
January 8th- Greencastle, PA at The Breathing Room with Great Grief, The Death in Me, and BoughtxBlood
January 9th- Philadelphia, PA at The Nest lineup TBA

Hey guys! Let’s ride the old school way and serve our readers a proper introduction to your band. What’s your background, what other bands have you been in and who is who?

Ian: I started going to shows when I was about 13 and kind of fell in love with the whole scene immediately. I spent awhile playing guitar in a bunch of bands that never really went anywhere. After moving to Pennsylvania at 16 I started a few bands with friends that were born and died in a garage. Eventually I played bass in an indie rock band that stuck around for about a year. At the same time I started a joke hardcore band with Jack that I would rather not even mention the name of. It was ridiculous but we had a lot of fun and got out to play a few shows. It was a good time. For the past two years I’ve been doing vocals for INTROVERT.

After thinking about all of this I just realized that Jack and I both filled in for our friend’s pop punk band for about a month. We recorded a few songs and opened for CARLY RAE JEPSEN. If that’s not the hardest shit you’ve ever heard then I don’t know what is.

Jack: I got into hardcore when I was 16 and had just met Ian after he moved to my area. Our hometown is kind of famous for being cesspool of bad metalcore so we spent a lot of time listening to Baltimore bands and going to shows there. I’ve played guitar since I was 12 but never played in a band until Ian invited me to play bass in his joke hardcore band, xKICKx. xKICKx became INTROVERT after we wrote a couple songs we thought were good enough not to be jokes. Ian remained the vocalist, I switched to guitar, we added Jack Walsh as a bassist, and Aaron Rivera (who was the drummer for xKICKx) eventually returned to play for INTROVERT.

Cool! So, how would you describe your local scene of Harrisburg? Has it helped in getting your work noticed?

Ian: Harrisburg has a pretty much non-existent scene when it comes to hardcore. To get any exposure at all we’ve mainly had to jump on punk and metal shows. For some reason it’s just not the “cool” thing to play. But that’s fine with us. We play what we like and when we meet other people who like the same thing it’s just a little more special.

Jack: Even though Harrisburg doesn’t have a whole lot going on, York and Lancaster have pretty established DIY scenes so we tend to try to play outside our hometown. Unfortunately, we’re all full time college students so we only get to play live a few times a year, but it definitely gives us something to look forward to when we’re home.

INTROVERT live vocals

INTROVERT band logo

Ok, so tell us more about your new recording. Who did you produce it with and when ca we expect it out?

Jack: No Funeral is the end product of almost a full year of writing and emailing demos back and forth between the members. Even though we don’t get to play shows often, being separated during the school year gives us a ton of time to tinker with new songs. We decided to record our seven most polished songs and hit the studio in the end of July. The album was recorded and produced by our friend and former INTROVERT drummer Mike Reilly in his home studio over the course of about two and a half months. We actually just received the final mix last night and will probably be releasing it on our Bandcamp for free later today (10/16/2015).

Did you intentionally try to differentiate your offering from “Detached”, but also from hundreds of other hardcore bands to ensure your listeners were somehow challenged?

Ian: I think going into this record we just wanted to challenge ourselves. In our time since Detached we’ve all grown as musicians and finally solidified ourselves as a band and I think we wanted to show that off a little bit more. When people listen to this record we want them to be hearing something new and not just the same songs that are regurgitated by every new band in the genre.

Jack: At least on my end there was a definite effort to establish a new sound for ourselves. While we were writing Detached I was mostly listening to the bands that originally got me into hardcore, like TUI, INCENDIARY, CRUEL HAND, and TURNSTILE, so we ended up with an EP that really reflected that metallic hardcore style. But by the time I started writing guitar parts for No Funeral my tastes shifted towards more death, black, and doom metal, and especially hardcore bands that incorporate those styles into their sound. Every member of the band had sharpened our technical abilities since Detached and I wanted to write something that would showcase our abilities as musicians without sacrificing. substance. No Funeral is still very much a hardcore album, but blending the other genres opened up a ton of options for experimenting with new sounds.

Cool. Can you take us briefly through your creative process conducted for this record?

Jack: Like I mentioned before, most of these songs were written through me sending low quality phone demos to the others while we were at school. Pity, Shallow, and Aware and Awake were all written before we were back together.

Ian: Once we all got back to Pennsylvania we sat down in a basement and grinded out ideas a few hours a day for around a month. We eventually came up with an overall theme for the EP and worked on tightening up the songs. We were only in town for a few months and were also playing shows on Detached so it gave us a bit of a time crunch but we ended up getting it all done and I’m really proud of how it came out. I think it’s the start of a new direction for us as a band.

Jack: We also challenged ourselves in little ways to try to see the songs differently than we may have originally envisioned. Like our drummer didn’t use a double bass pedal while writing until all the songs were done because we didn’t want to rely on certain drum patterns. It was all just a concentrated effort to prevent writer’s block and create interesting songs.

Ok guys, so how do you think, what’s the point in starting a band and putting out recordings after all? What are some lessons that people can learn from such an experience?

Ian: Writing music makes me feel like I’m doing something with my life and helps me deal with anxiety. When other people enjoy what I make it helps me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. And there’s also nothing I would rather do with my friends than get out and play music.

How do you feel about punk music as an art form? Can it be acknowledged as such? Is it obvious or a pipe dream?

Jack: I’ve always believed that art is simply a way to give substance to human expression and that there is no medium that can be considered more of an art form than another. Punk and hardcore are the most interesting to me because they are incredibly raw and visceral genres that allow us to channel negativity away from self-destructive behavior into something productive. I think this view is very common among those in our scene and even though this music is not particularly accessible, it deserves to be recognized for what it is.

INTROVERT live

Punk and hardcore are the most interesting to me because they are incredibly raw and visceral genres that allow us to channel negativity away from self-destructive behavior into something productive.

Do you support the idea of written documentaries of this movement by writing or simply reading some hardcore related books and, most above all, zines? How thriving are American local scenes when it comes to this matter?

Jack: I was a huge history nerd growing up so I think it’ll always be important to me that we have a written tradition of this movement. However, at least in Harrisburg, there aren’t many people hand-making zines anymore. There still is a zine from a town nearby called “The Scene” that has picked up the slack for everyone else, but other than that most documentation in our scene has gone online. There is a documentary currently being made on the people of Central Pennsylvania that includes interviews with prominent members of the DIY community and also an archive page on Facebook that keeps track of all local punk shows and local artist’s releases. I can’t really speak for other local scenes but I think the country has a whole is doing a good job of capturing how great this generation of bands is. If you consider non-written sources, Sunny Singh at hate5six might be the most important person in hardcore right now. He’s captured an unbelievable amount of live sets and actively seeks out footage from decades-old shows and digitizes them. He even filmed an INTROVERT set and no one knows who we are.

Yup. He’s so busy that he actually abandoned the idea of an interview for IDIOTEQ shortly after starting it haha. He’s traveled with MINDSET in Europe and delivered tons of amazing stuff, that’s right.

Is there something you find lacking in hardcore these days?

Ian: I feel like like right now most hardcore is too similar. It seems like a cool band comes along and then there are 15 others that sound exactly the same right after it. I hate the new “merch swap band” trend. There are way too many bands that care more about their image and how cool their shirts look and not about how their music sounds.’

How about the message? How important are the words behind the notes?

Jack: Lyricism is hugely important to me and in a genre like hardcore where it is so easy to get lost in overdone riffs and cliche lyrics, I think having a strong message behind your music is necessary to stand out. We spent a lot more time writing lyrics for No Funeral than we did Detached and there’s no doubt in my mind that the lyrics are much stronger and more honest. Ian and I sat down for a couple hours after most practices leading up to recording and made sure that every line felt like it belonged in the song and fit the mood. For the first time we tried to create a narrative that basically covers everything that went wrong for us over the last couple years, but we didn’t want to be overly specific in our writing so that others can listen to the album and relate to the emotions, if not the specific circumstances.

Ian: This is the first material that we have written where the lyrics really mean a lot to me. There were a few songs on Detached that hit home for me, but every song on this record has some depth. This EP was written during a time where I wasn’t in my best mental state and a lot of the lyrics were written as a way to kind of vent or cope with how I was feeling at the time. From the beginning of the record to the end there’s kind of a mood shift that completely reflects how I was feeling at the time. Early on in the record there is a very hopeless tone to every song. The middle of the record is basically just explaining how I felt that nothing actually mattered or was important. By the end of the record it’s kind of embracing the notion that nothing really matters, but that it’s okay. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people but that’s fine. Time moves on and things could always be worse. Writing and recording this EP really helped me out when I was going through a rough time and I hope that someone else can listen to it and have a similar experience.

Content-wise, are there some newer records that have resonated with you recently?

Jack: Blissfucker by TRAP THEM, Nothing for Us Here by CULT LEADER, Tragedy Will Find Us by COUNTERPARTS, and Show Your Greed by AXIS are probably my favorites of the past couple years. Especially on Blissfucker and TWFU, the guitar work on these albums made me want to sit and write riffs for hours on end, which is where the bulk of what you hear on No Funeral came from. Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite bands are COUNTERPARTS, CONVERGE, and TRAP THEM (in that order) and I think the reason for that is because they show that despite the wannabe 90s metalcore beatdown bands that have suddenly become trendy, there is still a place for technicality in hardcore. And TRAP THEM sounds like what getting your ass kicked feels like so what’s not to love about that?

Ian: While we were writing the record I was listening to a lot of THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, OLD WOUNDS, and THE BANNER. NAILS and TRAPPED UNDER ICE are always in my rotation as well. I really liked the last album that THE BANNER put out. I’ve always liked that they write about exactly what they want and don’t care how it could sound to other people. I’ve always enjoyed writing really bleak songs and writing about things that I actually think about but there’s such a fine line before writing bleak songs just sounds cheesy. That’s another thing that NAILS does so well that I think I’ve really taken to heart. It made me want to write exactly what comes to mind because if it’s delivered with some actual passion behind it then it’s authentic.

Ok guys, so last but not least, do you have plans for some live shows in the coming months?

Ian: We’re all out of town finishing up the semester right now so we don’t have anything coming up immediately but we do have some plans coming up in a few months. Everything is still getting hashed out but it’s looking like we’ll be making a few runs throughout December and January and hitting some spots up north. We’re going to try to get out to Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and then a few spots in Pennsylvania. I know we’ll definitely be in Philly for a show in January and we’ll have a hometown show or two.

Thank you guys for taking some time and asking us a few questions. We appreciate the help and hope everyone likes the new record.

Jack: Also, thank you for giving us the opportunity to do our first interview. It’s been a lot of fun and it was cool to feel like a real band for a little bit.

Thanks a lot! Cheers from Warsaw!

INTROVERT logo

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introverthc@gmail.com
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