“Hmph, powerviolence”: FISSURE discuss CA hardcore

Oh my.. You have no idea how glad I am to finally share this interview with you. Arranged months ago, postponed a couple of times and then lost. Until now. Blending the finest slices of powerviolence and fast blastin’ hardcore, Southern California’s FISSURE are continuing the push for their self-titled EP, just released via  Melotov Records. The band have just performed at  Gnarmageddon Fest at the Glass House in Pomona, CA and are gearing up for a tour in March and April.

Below you can find my interview with the band, discussing their work, powerviolence – ” the longest running joke in all of music”, punk venues in California and a lot more. Conducted a couple of months ago, the interview is told from the perspective of late 2013.

FISSURE is Oscar (vocals), Leo (guitars), Brendad (bass/vocals) and Dylan (drums).

Hey guys! What’s up man? How’s autumn shaping up in California? ;)

Brendan: Yo!

Leo: Hey dude! Good hearing from you again! Glad this stupid heat wave is finally over. Bring on the rain.

Ha! That’s it, man!

Please shoot us a brief introduction to FISSURE. How did you guys start this project?
Oh, and Leo, please tell us a story of your joining the band.

Brendan: FISSURE is a four piece hardcore punk band that has a strong powerviolence influence and we are based out of Southern California (Orange County and LA). We started in March of 2012, I had been living in Fullerton for around a year and Dylan had just moved in with me from the Coachella Valley and we were both anxious to get something musically going. We didn’t know too many people locally so we resorted to putting out a craigslist ad for a guitar player and singer with similar musical tastes. We eventually got a response from our now former members and started the band up. We practiced a lot, played as many shows as we could and put a lot of effort into our first EP and we were really fortunate to get a good response. I trip out sometimes that we even got noticed by anyone because there are so many good bands out, locally and all over SoCal right now. You listen to what everyone is putting out and it just inspires you to keep getting better and I know that’s why we keep improving as a band.

Leo: I heard through the grapevine about FISSURE being in search for a new guitarist. When I found out that they had already replaced their singer with Oscar (Venganza), my interest was piqued and I hit them up to play guitar. I figured “Fuck it, I need a band where I’m not singing and this music is right up my alley”. We got together at a friend’s house to jam a couple songs and everything just clicked, so I went in as the new guitarist and been having a blast ever since.

Nice. How many gigs have you already played together in this line-up?

Leo: For the amount of time that this lineup has been around, we’ve been able to do quite a few shows all over Southern California. Our first show together was back in late June and after that we just crammed in as many shows as we could within a hundred miles of us. I feel like we did one, sometimes two or three a week all throughout September and we’ve got a lot of stuff lined up throughout the rest of this year and into the next.

Were there any more FISSURE line-up changes in the past?

Brendan: Thankfully the addition of Oscar and Leo has been the only lineup change we have had to do and it has been 100% for the better.

Alright, so here you are, ready to put out your new EP, is that right? Tell me more about the idea behind it, the timing, etc.

Dylan: Yes, we recorded the entire E.P. on August 24th with Alex Estrada at the Earth Capital in Los Angeles. The idea with this batch of songs opposed to our last was to be more in-your-face and straight-forward than the last, not nearly as many sludgy or breakdown parts as the last tracks. I feel we went with a more hardcore punk approach to these songs and that is derived from all our respective backgrounds in the genre. We’re very excited with how the songs came about and the fact that they all came naturally definitely influenced our collective feel on them.

Is tape the only format that it will be available on? Are there plans to launch a full stream?

Dylan: For now, tape format is all that’s lined up but early next year we will probably be releasing the E.P. on vinyl. CVLTNation just put up the online stream and review of the release and it is still available for free listening. Go over to their site and check it out!

What’s your take on the current state of music industry and the domination of the digital formats? Do you embrace it or despise it?

Dylan: Digital format has proven to be very helpful, in my opinion. Through digital format, everyone has the accessibility to find some amazing bands all throughout the world and I think that’s an awesome thing. We’ve talked about putting out an upcoming split with a band from overseas and without the help of releasing music in digital format, we might not be able to do such and that’s a great thing.

Do you have more releases? The only outing your bandcamp hosts is the new EP. Is that all you managed to put out?

Dylan: In the sessions those recordings are from, we also recorded “Sacrifice” by RUDIMENTARY PENI for our friend’s cover compilation that should be coming out later this year but you can find it on Youtube right now. So far, with this lineup, this is the only release but we’re planning to go back into the studio this winter to record a handful of songs again, possibly for a split.

Cool. You mentioned on your Facebook profile that the new EP was going to be played on KUCI’s Slaughterama Radio in the morning. That’s interesting. Do you have a lot of punk stations in your area?

Dylan: To my knowledge, no and the punk stations that are around are usually college radio stations in the L.A./O.C. area. It’s still rad to know that people out there like us enough to play our music on their station and open us up to a more broad audience.

Personally, how are you proud of this new work of yours?

Dylan: Honestly, at first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Maybe because the new songs actually challenged me to play better hahaha but after playing it live the first time, I had much more confidence in it. A big part of that is in relation to the live energy brought on by Oscar and Leo, those dudes are incredible performers and they give the songs that much more intensity in a live setting so I’m very proud and hopeful for what we come up with next.

9 minutes bro! Not too long, haha! I read somewhere that the longest powerviolence song is 1 minute 21 seconds. Can you beat that? ;)

Dylan: Well, MIND ERASER wrote a 9 minute song and an 11 minute song so we might have to top that. I’ve always wanted to toy with the idea of putting in a hidden track so would the block of silence count? Hahaha

True :) When it comes to your influences, do you seek out inspirations, or rather do you rather try to distance yourself and come up with an original sound? Is there still room for originality in the genre?

Dylan: When it comes to my playing style, a lot of it is dictated by what I’m currently listening to at the moment. Writing as a whole, we all come from a punk background so I think we tend to draw from that and then come up with that one part that we can all say, “Damn, that’s killer.” I think there is originality but it usually comes at that one stand-out part of the song where everyone goes, “Ohhhh!!!!!” Some bands out there give me hope that there’s still tons of creative and original room in the genre and hardcore, overall and I look at them for some influence too.

By the way powerviolence, how do you define it? Do you like the label? Many people take it’s a form of grindcore, other say it’s pure punk. How the heck should we define it? I mean, NAPALM DEATH didn’t know what they had discovered. How do I know that what I’m playing is called powerviolence? ;)

Dylan: Hahaha, that question can be answered in so many ways. A friend of mine once said, “Powerviolence, as a description, is the longest running joke in all of music.” and I could see some truth to that. I think there was one band that was fast, then another band went faster and so on and so forth. To my understanding, the term powerviolence was coined by I believe, Joe DeNunzio during the Neanderthal sessions. He said, “We need it to sound violent and it has to sound powerful.” Someone in the background chuckled and said, “Hmph, powerviolence” and it just kind of stuck. As far as liking the label, I’m indifferent to it. I think it came straight from punk rock because that’s where grindcore, hardcore etc. stemmed from. I think we’re just a hardcore band playing blast beats hahaeats haha

Alright, so let’s dig how it works for you :) Does the lyrical content and themes of “powerviolence” affect the choice of what you write about?

Dylan: Oscar writes all the lyrics and albeit having very silly song titles, his lyrics are very personal and graphic. He just writes about what’s going on in his life, how he feels about certain things, life experience etc. and I feel that’s something most people who listen to the music like about it, being able to relate to real things going on internally and externally.

L.A. is a mecca for great powerviolence and punk acts. Do you have any idea why this happens? What kind of benefits does your area offer to help young kids develop this niche?

Dylan: I think a lot of that is from the surrounding areas and where you come from, that shapes how you perceive and get into this music. Some kids who live in bad areas see this as their escape and are just constantly improving and getting a better sound overall. Some of the best shows I’ve been to have been in the worst areas of town but that just goes to show how down people are for this music.

How about the venues? There are more and more campaigns making efforts for helping some spots. How’s the situation with Unit B, and how do you see it?

Dylan: I really hope the best for Unit B in this situation. Mark is such a great dude for opening it up the first time because he is an adult who really understands the need for an awesome all-ages venue that all kids and bands can come hang out at, watch some great bands and not have a care in the world.

It seems like there are a lot of original places popping up right now in California. I mean backyards, house shows, etc. Are there any places in particular that FISSURE likes playing at?

Dylan: Every few months, I book shows at my mom’s house in the Coachella Valley and for me, that’s my favorite spot to play. Granted, it’s a 2 hour drive from L.A./O.C., but every show there is always worth it. Last show we had there, there was roughly 200 people throughout the night and everyone had an amazing time. Every band who comes down to play it seems skeptical because it really is in the middle of nowhere but C.V. kids are so supportive and show much love for any band going down there. In fact, on January 11th DESPISE YOU will be playing their very first house show ever in California there so I suggest any of you reading this to come out to that!

I bet anything at night that is loud and lots of people hanging out on the street can cause serious troubles. Do you get a lot of shows broken up by the police?

Dylan: To my knowledge, that’s happened maybe once to us but in bands we were in prior, oh yeah, that’s happened to us several times. I got hit with a $500 ticket once for a noise violation and that was the worst and hopefully the last time that ever happens.

How about all ages clubs? Do you lack such spaces in your neighborhood?

Dylan: Yes, I believe so. There are a few that are still up and running but compared to how it once was. After California Discord Fest, I felt that venues were dropping like flies and that’s something So. Cal is really in dire need for, local all-ages venues for everyone to go to on any given weekend. Hopefully, there’s a resurgence in the next year.

Alright, back to local bands, there are tons of amazing packs out there. It’s hard to keep track. What are some bands from your area that are getting you excited at the moment?

Dylan: Damn, I can turn this whole interview into bands that I think are amazing from Southern California but right now I think CAVE STATE, CONDITION, GENERACION SUICIDA, FRAUDE, LEFT ASTRAY, TERROR CULT… there’s way too many out there right now that have me excited on the scene. So many more bands from down here that we’d love to work with more because there’s just so much raw talent coming out every day, it truly is hard to keep up.

How do you remember the INFEST reunion? Was it a unique experience? Explain a bit about your approach to this band.

Dylan: The INFEST reunion was very surreal. It was definitely one of the highlights of my musical career thus far and it was an experience, without a doubt. That day, we played with nothing but friend’s bands and I think that made it a very enjoyable and wonderful experience. INFEST definitely laid the groundwork for this whole genre so I think it’d be safe to say that without them playing their part, the genre and the sound wouldn’t have become what it is now. Even though the sound might not be totally direct, many powerviolence, grindcore and hardcore bands can all cite INFEST as an influence in one way or another.

What plans do you guys have for the rest of the year? What can be expected in the future for FISSURE?

Dylan: Well, last night we played with CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and F.I.D. and SLIGHT SLAPPERS from Japan so that was a huge show for us and that’s been one of the highlights of the year. As for the rest of the year, we’re about to do a Bay Area weekend with our buddies in SICK ‘EM. The next objective is to branch out from So. Cal a bit more and hit up the Southwest, Northwest and eventually the East Coast and hopefully some out of country stuff. We’ve got some new material we’re working on and I’m really looking forward to how it’s shaping up to be! Should be recorded in early 2014 and we hope to release it on the tape and vinyl formats by early summer.

Thanks a lot for your time! Best of luck. Take care!

Live pic by UnFun Zine.

FISSURE Facebook
FISSURE Bandcamp

FISSURE will be performing live on February 22nd at Bridgetown in La Puente:

They will be joining ANGRY SAMOANS, THE COLTRANES, MAFIA RUSA and more on Sunday, February 23rd:

Also, make sure to catch them live with FRAUDE at the end of March:

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