Interviews

Against mindlessness and selfishness – an interview with PURGATORY

Currently on the road with Winchester, Virginia hardcore band HEAVENS DIE, Omaha, Nebraska heavy grim hardcore band PURGATORY check in on IDIOTEQ to talk about their latest EP “Gospel Of War”, the ognorance and other sufferings of modern society, the boundaries of metal and hardcore, Midwest punk scene, touring and more! See the full interview below and scroll down to see the details of their upcoming June dates, as well as the approaching August trek with MERAUDER (!), MALFUNCTION, MIZERY, LEFT BEHIND, RHYTHM OF FEAR, SENTENCED TO BURN and DETRIMENT.

PURGATORY released their Escapist Records violent debut “Gospel Of War” 7″ EP in December 2015. The record delivers six tracks of aggressive, unrelenting metal-driven hardcore that moves at a furious pace, never letting up from start to finish. The record unfolds but invigorates those influences with new life, demonstrating that the Midwest band is a force to be reckoned with in today’s hardcore scene. “Gospel Of War” was recorded by Andrew Nelson at Bricktop Studios (HARM’S WAY, WEEKEND NACHOS) and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audio Siege (CODE ORANGE, SLEEP) and will appeal to fans of ALL OUT WAR, XIBALBA, DISEMBODIED, CROWBAR and DOWNPRESSER.

Live photos by Errick Easterday. Answers by PURGATORY vocalist Matt Anderson.

Hey Matt! How are you? Your new EP “Gospel Of War” has just been unleashed for the masses. How does it feel to have it finally out? Tell me a bit about this experience.

It feels great to finally be able to show what we’ve been working on for a while now, and also pretty wild to have a proper physical release with the help of two labels we feel really strongly about, Escapist and Life To Live. Both the vinyl and tape versions turned out better than we could have imagined so after touring, writing, and tweaking the new songs, it’s been rewarding to see the hard work manifest itself into something very cool. We probably scrapped another EP worth the songs cause we tried to set the bar high for ourselves. Hopefully everyone feels as stoked on these songs as we do.

What did you want to get across with this record? Can discuss your inspiration for your lyrics and the title of the record?

I had to try and put this into words before but Gospel Of War is a slap in the face of the ignorance that fuels society, the corruption, greed, and overall disgust with the selfishness of humanity. It’s a fuck you to all the cowards afraid to think for themselves and the social norms everyone feels a need to follow to be “accepted.” Some of It deals with personal issues of suicide and depression while on the same note calling out people who feel a need to drag everyone down around them cause they feel sorry for themselves. There’s a lot of anger that went into writing this record that I think people will be able to feel and relate to. Gospel Of War is an outlet, a release for the anger and aggression you feel in your daily life and it should piss you off.

The title “Gospel Of War” is a statement that there is something wrong with the world, it’s the people in it as well as ourselves. It’s about standing up to the things you think are wrong and annihilating so much of the bullshit that populates the human race. Hopefully people will start thinking for themselves. The lyrics are all a representation of what I feel when I look outside and see everything around me. In our daily lives seeing so much mindlessness and selfishness, it’s just disgusting to me. I don’t understand what most people are thinking. I hate a lot of things and a lot of people and sometimes I hate things about myself and those closest to me. Nobody is better than me and I am better than no one. People need to remember this.

There seem to be some solid reference points to metallic hardcore classics from the 90s and some modern interpretations of this ferocious cross-genre hybrid. A perfect match with the straight up truthful content you’ve just mentioned. How do you translate your sonic inspirations to your own recordings and how was the approach to writing and recording this new joint any different from your past experiences? Also, how was working with producer Andy Nelson?

Haha yeah we listen to a lot of ALL OUT WAR, MERAUDER, CROWBAR, old METALLICA and SLAYER and stuff, SEPULTURA. Those bands are thee example of heavy incredibly well written music with so much dynamic and emotion behind it too. Huge influences to say the least. I’d say we just pushed ourselves in every aspect trying to write songs that were harder and heavier sonically and the lyrics reflect that. There were days when I’d have lyrics and say “this is how this part needs to sound to emphasize what I’m trying to say.” Shit like that. Sometimes our guitar player Aaron, we’d get into a disagreement and he’d be able to transfer his frustrations to guitar and it just embodies a whole mood. We were way more critical and picky which really tested us personally and mentally, and the songs show that as well I think. It’s like there’s a feeling of urgency and anxiety while sounding incredibly pissed off about a lot of stuff. Given how much harder we pushed ourselves during the writing process, we knew we had to step it up with the recording which is why we went with Andy. He’s recorded some of our favorite records and worked with some of our closest friends so we knew he would be able to realize the potential that we saw in these songs. He has an incredible ear for heavy music and made us sound like a real band. His advice and suggestions helped us bring in a whole new element and it most likely won’t be the last time we work with him. And he’s so damn good looking too.

PURGATORY live pic

Haha, nice. A lot of newer hardcore bands seem to miss something in terms of having their own voice. Do you think there is still something to create and reinvent in this, relatively, sonically simple genre?

Hardcore has never been more accessible, there are more bands that are able to record and even tour than ever before. The Internet is definitely a big part of that, which has its pros and cons. For instance, promoting and booking shows and tours is a lot easier than it used to be, but there’s also a huge over-saturation of information that makes it much more difficult to stand out. That plays into why bands at times can struggle to find a unique voice and bring something new to the table. Trends will come and go, and a lot of the sonic qualities you find in modern hardcore come around in waves. The great thing about hardcore and what makes it more accessible than other forms of music is the fact that you can be a great band and not have to reinvent the wheel. There are definitely good examples of bands challenging convention and bringing in new influences or combining influences that haven’t been done before, and that’s awesome. But there are also bands playing the same CRO-MAGS riffs that have been rehashed over and over for the last 20 years, and they can still be a great band if it’s done well.

It seems there’s a healthy scene in the Midwest for hardcore bands. How drawn to your local scene do you feel and how would you judge the state of Omaha hardcore and other independent music environments dearest to your heart?

Man this is gonna be long haha. There are some badass bands in the Midwest spine, BLINDSIDE USA, NO VICTORY, BENT LIFE, CROSS ME, NINE EYES, EXPIRE, and KNOCKED LOOSE etc bands that represent what MWB is here to represent are really holding it down and keep things going throughout the whole Midwest. Iowa, Milwaukee, and Oklahoma are 2nd homes and some of our favorite places to play. This kids that come out to those shows are incredibly passionate about their scene. The shows are wild and they’ll still travel a few hours to go see a band instead of staying planted in their own little environment. Heading any direction in the Midwest is a place we can still call home and I have a lot of love for that.

As far as Omaha, to be brutally honest the “hardcore” scene here is so hit or miss and generally it’s a miss. We represent Nebraska and we’re proud of this but a lot of the kids here are kind of missing the point of being passionate about their local scene. We do not have the luxury of picking and choosing what hardcore shows we want to attend here, if you miss one, well that coulda been your only shot to see said band or it might be a year or more til you can again. And the more this happens the more bands will skip over Omaha and things will just remain in limbo. We get a lot of local support which is great it’s very humbling and we are always grateful for that but there’s just us and BENT LIFE. It gets hard to say the least.

It’s insane playing out of state and having kids from your hometown go and see how wild some of the shows us or BENT LIFE get to play and we come back home and it’s like everything goes back to being PG-13. I bounce at a venue here to stay close to the whole scene and interact with kids who never woulda had any idea a small hardcore scene existed here and some of them started coming out and understand what this means. It’s not just all show or $15 local band t shirts and everyone walking around with their nose shoved so far up their own egotistical ass, some of the kids here have things so ass backwards they don’t understand how truly irrelevant they are outside of their own city. When it’s all said and done, our hardcore scene here doesn’t even come close to our surrounding scenes. If any Omaha kids read this, it’s up to YOU to change that, not necessarily the bands.

Can you blame today’s digital obsessed lifestyle and people on the move from real life to virtual reality for that?

Yes and no. The internet gives kids endless opportunities to discover new music and find out about bands they wouldn’t have had the chance to ever see. It’s a great way as a band to get your music out as well with all the options available to listen. But it also makes kids so lazy, a lot of kids stare at a handbill like it’s an artifact and only hit up big hardcore shows. Holiday hardcore kids. Rather than going to a local show and discovering a new band or even a band right in their hometown they may have never even heard. People are spoon fed and simply don’t want to do the work, but there still a good amount of guys/girls in hardcore booking shows, promoting shows, and introducing kids to old and new bands. It’s a give and take situation I guess.

PURGATORY live!

Ok Matt, just to close the part on your new EP, please tell me, how did you connect up with Escapist Records?

When we were considering labels to try and reach out too Escapist had a few bands on there we thought were sick. Michael who runs Escapist was one of the only people who responded and kept in touch and showed an actual general interest. Being from Cleveland I asked a couple of our friends in Homewrecker what their thoughts were and they had nothing but great things to say and that if we were talking, to go for it. A lot of the “bigger” labels whatever that means I guess, were just taking way too long to reply and didn’t feel right. Michael was invested in us right off the bat and showed unparalleled work ethic. To the day that hasn’t stopped and we still couldn’t be happier with the decision to work together. I know he’s gonna read this, so again from all of us in Purgatory, sincerest of thank you ‘s my bro.

You have had a 10-gig trek with DETRIMENT in early 2016. How did you pick these particular cities and how do you book your shows? Is it a struggle to organize a reasonable tour for a hardcore band in the US these days? Please share some of your experience on putting up shows.

DETRIMENT, badass band by the way, is from Long Island and we hadn’t been up to that area yet. They are working with Travis over at Forthright Booking who helps us out as well and had most of the route booked. When it comes to self booking a tour it’s really just a matter of what part of the US we want to go, what kind of time frame were working on, so we see how many cities we can hit that makes sense for the area we want to go given the time frame were working with. Booking the actual shows is usually just reaching out to friends or working with an agent and letting them handle the footwork, in hardcore it’s easy to get in touch with someone in a band or a person who books shows in their city. It just swells from there, everyone is connected and can usually point you in the right direction.

Being a smaller band, it can get hard to set up a tour. Unfortunately some people won’t even give you the time of day if you don’t have an agent or aren’t a big name. Getting ignored or some half assed bullshit excuse gets old but more often than not someone usually helps out. You can’t go on a tour ever expecting to play for X number of kids or playing this venue or playing with these bands. You can’t ever predict anything. If I agree to book a show for a band I am devoting my time to them and they are counting on me as a “promoter” to invest my time in them. So I try and find worthwhile bands to support, and work hard to get kids to come out and support. It’s a better time for everyone all around and bands will want to come back. Just don’t agree to do anything if you’re just not gonna do it, it’s not that hard of a concept, but still manages to escape some peoples thought process.

Can you share some more details on your plans to visit Europe?

We had some things being set up for May/June of this year but unfortunately they weren’t able to happen this time around. Hoping to get over there soon and experience hardcore over there and see some amazing scenery and culture.

Boooo. Be sure to let me know as soon as you start arranging it again.

Ok Matt, so let’s wrap it up. What albums, shows, books, movies and other pieces of art have you enjoyed in 2015 and what records, shows and adventures coming in 2016 are you still looking forward to?

We did some tours where we’ve met some people who have become some of our best friends, 2015 we hit a ton of the Midwest and both coasts. As for music BITTER END and AXIS both put out badass records along with LAID 2 REST, TURNOVER, SLAYER, FOUNDATION, ALL OUT WAR all put out great records, there was a lot of good music release it’s just hard to actually narrow things down. I loved mad max and fury off the top of my head, those movies were sick. 2016 has already been great, did the Midwest and upper east with DETRIMENT in January, played a prison riot of a set at MWB Fest in February, are hitting the road in June with HEAVENS DIE and then in August we are doing the east coast support dates 8/20 – 8/25 for MERAUDER’s last tour with MIZERY, MALFUNCTION, RHYTHM OF FEAR, LEFT BEHIND, DETRIMENT, and SENTENCED TO BURN. We are working on a west coast tour for hopefully this fall. We’re writing more music and might record this year again. This year is gonna be great, I’m really excited for what the future has in store for us.

PURGATORY live

PURGATORY live dates

Awesome! Thanks so much for your time! Feel free to add anything you like, and take care! Cheers!

Don’t be a snitch, don’t talk to the police.

Thanks for checking us out and patience with this interview, take care Karol.

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purgatoryhc@gmail.com
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