It’s been a year since I last talked to Merrimack Valley hardcore band RISK. After releasing their debut album in August last year, the Billerica residents have just put out a nice 2-song teaser for their upcoming EP coming out later this year via Prospect Records. Taking Anakin and his Star Wars fellow-characters as the central core of its lyrics, the release seems to be at least interesting – you just gotta admit it ;)
Taste the new tunes below and find out what’s up in Massachusetts hardcore scene.
Ho ho ho! We meet again, Brendan! One year after our last chat, it’s really nice to check out what’s up at the RISK camp! :)
I couldn’t find your official facebok profile and just realized you have a new one, right? How come? Dealin’ a new hand?
Haha, it’s good to hear from you too! And for some weird reason, ours got reported for spam and Facebook shut it down. Weird haha
Ok, we did the last interview right before the premiere of your debut full length “Streetwalkers”. Do you remember any of the early review press you received for it? How are the reactions to the record so far?
All in all, the record went over pretty good. Alot of kids got into it, we even got it pressed on tape in California which is pretty cool. It didn’t get as much hype as some of the bigger bands but all in all we were content with what reactions we got. The problem with “Streetwalkers” was that it was too rushed, we just wanted to get in the studio and record it as soon as possible. We aren’t doing that with the next release, we’re going over every riff, drum fill, lyrics, ect with a fine tooth comb this time around haha
Oh yeah, the new stuff! You recently put out a new high-budget official video for the song “Rot” :) It’s a natural teaser for the new release, isn’t it?
It is! We are still in the writing process of the new ep, we have a few songs down, Rot being one of them. It should be out on vinyl/cd/digital download via Prospect Records early 2013. It’s funny you say teaser, I just uploaded rot and a newer song on bandcamp as a teaser. It’s a concept album so alot of work is being put into this one!
Wow, sounds busy, indeed. Tell me more about the concept!
Well, I found it extremely unsatisfying to continue to write about the things I wrote about in RISK’s earlier releases. I felt as though everything I was using I had already used before. So, for starters, the last lyrics of the last RISK song on the last album (Amnesia) which are “Nothing’s real, it’s all the same” are repeated in the beginning of the first song in the first lines on the next album. The last lines of the first song tie directly into the first lines of the second song, and so on. Also, it is loosely based off the Star Wars character Anakin Skywalker. I thought it would be a challenge to write as if I was Anakin but without mentioning anything that has to do with Star Wars, and actually it is extremely tedious, but so worth it. This next release is going to be our best release by far.
Are there any concept albums you love that you love and want to share?
Did you ever get a chance to see them live? I’ve heard terrible stories about their live appearance ;)
SHIPWRECK I’ve seen tons of times live, they always set it off. I guess I’m kind of a poser when I say Leviathian is the only MASTODON album I know so unless they played that front to back I probably wouldn’t shell out 40 bucks to see them.
Alright, focusing back on the new RISK, I can hear the new tracks bring in more poetic lyrics indeed :) Apart from the general concept, what subjects are included and what do you want to bring across with them?
Well back to the star wars topic, the first song, ‘From The Depths’ is about how Anakin decided to leave his planet and follow the path of a Jedi, so it has more of an optimistic message to it, about being your own man and not letting anything get in your way. As for ‘Rot’ it’s more about how Anakin wanted to fall in love with Padme, but he wasn’t allowed too, so he lost his mind because of it, giving the song a ‘Not Getting What You Want’ kind of feel. I think most people can relate to both of those topics. I never want to force my beliefs about government or religion upon people, so I try very hard to stray from those topics and keep true with how I’m feeling whenever I’m writing a song. Every song in “Streetwalkers” had it’s own message behind it (Death Eaters is about falling out of love, Blisters is about being a construction worker and how much it fucking sucks for example), so I’m doing what I can to stay true to that as well as writing the album as a story book.
Brendan, I really dig it. I’ll put Star Wars in the title of this feature, you’ll see! :)
What’s up with this burning cover on Soundcloud? Does it reflect the lyrics for “Rot”?
Well I thought the scene in which Luke Skywalker cremates Darth Vader would be a good teaser cover for it, I threw it together on MS paint in like 5 minutes haha. I think it’s a pretty moving picture, as well as a moving scene in the actual flick. Don’t sue me George Lucas.
Ok, let’s not forget about touring, right? I saw a word or two about 2 shows on the turn of the month. Tell me more about these events. Do you have more gigs planned already?
We’re trying to set up a weekend tour at the end of June. 6/28 in Providence, Rhode Island with REVENGE and DICK MOVE. 6/29 in Conneticut somewhere that hasn’t been announced yet, and another show in Western Mass. Our current upcoming shows are:
May 23rd at Anchor’s Up in Haverhill, Ma with FEATHERWEIGHT, BOXER, CLASS STRUGGLE, LOCKDOWN
May 31st at 11 West St, Wilmington, Ma with UNION BOYS, DEALBREAKER, SWINGBACK
June 1st at Bogarts Pub, Bridgewater, Ma with REVENGE, BLACK SHEEP, LIFELESS
June 21st in Nashua, NH with A TURN FOR THE WORST
June 28th in Providence, Ri with REVENGE, DICK MOVE
July 7th in Morrissonville, Ny with WOLF DEN
Those are all of our shows as of now. It’s hard to set up a tour for us because we’re all working constantly.
Do you have to make major adjustments to life at home to do this?
I think so I mean we’ve never toured extensively like bigger bands have, we all have steady jobs right now and we really can’t afford to take the time off to do it. We’ll do one off’s litterally anywhere but as for a full tour, that may be out of the cards. Maybe someday soon. Until then it’s just weekend tours.
Do you regret something you did or missed when you were young because of being part of the “scene”? I mean, it’s so easy to lost sight of the future when you’re into something. Is there anything you would do differently now if you could turn back time?
The scene as in hardcore? No, I could never imagine my life if I wasn’t into hardcore. I know alot of people say that, but we all have our stories. Hardcore made me who I am today, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. If don’t get it, you never will. I don’t care how long I waste away at work as long as I have that one Friday night where I go see awesome bands and hang out with all my friends. That’s all it is.
So what does it really mean to you? How would you define “hardcore”?
Ah man it’s so hard to explain that. There isn’t enough words, metaphors, or whatever to even begin to explain it. It’s a feeling, like when your favorite band is playing your favorite song and you throw yourself to the front of the stage to get the mic. When your in the pit with your friends having a blast dancing with eachother. It’s when you go to a show by yourself and you get hit really hard and are carried out the pit by people you’ve never met. It’s like when your walking down the street and you see a dude in a wisdom in chains shirt and you both head nod at each other because you both get it. It’s when you waste all of your gas driving across state to see bands you’ve seen millions of times. The intensity that is shared from the pitters, divers, band, to everyone in that room when the band is playing. It’s like an unspoken bond. Here’s a fact – every kid I’ve met at a hardcore show or through hardcore has been significantly less of a nimrod than any kid I’ve met through anything else. I could go on and on trying to break down what it means to me and how I could define it, but I would run out of space. It’s hardcore, it’s my blood, it’s all that I care about.
Do you think hardcore punk’s meaning has changed in the public eye over the years?
Everytime I try to describe my band to my nana she calls to screamo crap, so maybe haha. If you don’t get it, you never will.
Anchors Up, a venue in Haverhill asks for donations to help keep their doors open. I saw your spreading the word about this tough case. Have you been part of its community? Share some thoughts on it.
I’ve been going to shows there forever now, I’ve seen some awesome bands there and made most of my friends there. It’s the best place in the world. Recently, an abandoned building next door has been turned into apartments and every show there is like 20 damn noise complaints. We’re trying to remodel the venue and soundproof it so it doesn’t keep getting shut down. We’re actually selling our tee shirts to benefit the cause. Anchor’s Up has been my home for many years, and I would never want to see it get its doors shut.
Is it a real threat? Have there been some legal actions taken to close it down?
God damn.. they should start a Kickstarter campaign to gain some funds for the soundproofing.
There is a paypal, Anchorsupmvhc@hotmail.com. The owners have been meeting with town officials to keep it open. Hoping for the best!
By the way venues, what other local places do you enjoy going to?
The Kave in Maine is great venue too. Kathy does a really good job running that place! Playing there was awesome.
So what cool shows have you all been to since our last chat last year? Which were your most memorable gigs?
We played with Incendiary and RUDE AWAKENING in Holyoke on Oct 14th and that was pretty cool. All in all, we try to make any gig we play memorable.
Alright.. What else? You can add anything you want that I might have forgot to ask you.
I wish you the best of luck with the new outing as it seems to be quite interesting, I must say. As a band, what would you wish for this year if you only had three wishes? :)
Thanks so much for your time! Have a good one, boys!
As for the 3 wishes, shows, shows, and shows. We will play anywhere, we don’t care. Shout outs to AU, Pinehurst, DEALBREAKER, DRY HEAVE, MATAHARI, HOUSE ARREST, and every other band that we’re friends with. Support hardcore!