6.20.2017

SPOTLIGHT: CONSTRAINT

SPOTLIGHT: CONSTRAINT

As I'm sure you've noticed, people like to sleep on the Midwest. When they aren't sleeping on it, they love to slander it and pretend it isn't worth a damn. This offends me for several reasons. The first being that the Midwest is a very special place. They make hardcore happen in a place that most bands never want to venture to on tour. It's all entirely DIY and their work ethic is unparalleled. The things we take for granted on the east and west coasts they have to work for all the time.
The second is that the energy of the scene is so much different. I've never been to any other place where the egos of people around me weren't palpable. The Midwest has no ego, no grand designs on taking over the world. They just want to make great music. Which explains why the caliber of bands they produce is also on another level entirely, which brings me to Constraint.

Constraint is a band from Louisville, Kentucky. They put out a demo in May that  has six tracks of fast-paced hardcore on it. Lyrically, it's nothing short of genius. On "Protest Vote" singer Tyler Short states his exact feelings towards that tangerine in the White House.
With "False Flag" he muses on the state of hardcore and how it is now a trend to be "weird" with lyrics like It's gotten way too common for everyone to be uncommon/When every single person feels the need to be different differences tend to lose their intent/when you fly a false flag just to appear to be woke you turn everything it represents into a fucking joke. A powerful sentiment in a time where it seems you can't meet anyone who doesn't claim to fly to a freak flag.
That being said, I think "HXT" is my personal favorite because of these lines right here: this is not for mass appeal/it's for a demographic of youth who can't seem to deal/so if you think some stupid subtweet makes any real difference/then I'm fucking sorry charlie you are here for the wrong reasons.  It touches on subculture tourism, because while hardcore is accepting of everyone, it is not for everyone.

Constraint has their sights set on what plagues our scene, better hope it's not you that's down range.

You can listen to the Constraint demo on their bandcamp

5.03.2017

2.25.2017

AN INTERVIEW WITH ALDO FELIX

AN INTERVIEW WITH ALDO FELIX

Singer of Human Garbage and World's Biggest In-N-Out Fan.



How did you find punk music and what made it stick as something important in your life? 

Punk was essentially introduced to me at an early age considering all the bands I grew up listening were heavily influenced by punk if they weren't punk. My old brother who's five years older than me introduced me to bands like Nirvana, No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, MXPX, NOFX, Rancid, ETC around the age of 7 or 8. A couple of years later I started skateboarding and because of those videos I started listening to bands like Black Flag, Slayer, Dinosaur JR, & Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies and from there I just branched off. 

Punk stuck because there was nothing else I could relate to more as I was growing up. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley and being a first-generation Mexican American you're often discouraged if not condemned to show any type of emotion, unless of course it's anger. The term "machismo" is often used and the idea of it is such an essential aspect of growing up Mexican that culturally there's no way to avoid it, so when I found punk I found a way to express myself that didn't seem too vulnerable in which the aggression, violence, and anger gave me an honest outlet where I could express emotion.


How has hardcore influenced your take on and approach to "normal" every day life?
Honestly, the DIY aspect of hardcore is so important. I think it forces people to not follow every rule or guideline given to them, and I truly believe that most people who have a good DIY ethic are more likely to succeed in whatever ventures they're trying to. 


What got you into hardcore and what has kept you in it?
I started off with 80's hardcore punk like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, you know all the staples of that era. In high school a bunch of the kids I met through skateboarding introduced me to bands like Hatebreed, Terror, Bane, and although at the time I thought they were just metal bands, they ended up growing on me I just couldn't get enough of it. I honestly feel that hardcore is better now (music wise) than it's ever been since I've been attending shows in 2005. I think the fact that I still get the same nervous gut feeling I did 12 years ago when approaching a show reminds me that I still love and enjoy hardcore. The day that feeling goes away is probably the day I'll stop attending shows, but I don't see that happening any time soon. 


Human Garbage is essentially infamous for the controversy created from the overall abrasiveness of the content of your songs, how do you feel about the way people react to your music?
I think people react the way I wanted them to react. It has proven my point that people will examine and discuss what they think your lyrics mean and condemn you for it before even approaching you and asking you about them. I understand the idea of calling people out, I understand being held accountable for doing fucked up shit, but only twice in the two years that Human Garbage has been a band has anyone approached me to discuss the context of these songs and my lyrics. It's usually only White people who are offended, it's usually dorks who consider themselves intersectional feminists, but nowhere in their opinion of this band would they try to put themselves in a situation to try empathize with my reality. They never think about actually holding a discussion with me, or maybe trying to understand what my reality is like compared to theirs. 

It's so ironic that they'll try to make someone else feel marginalized because that person might have different views or a different cultural upbringing which wouldn't align with what they consider socially acceptable. "Guilty of Being a Man" is about a specific set of people who felt the need to criticize what my masculinity means to me without taking into account my cultural upbringing and essentially the working class neighborhood I lived in. The majority of these people who felt the need judge me were usually people who grew up with better financial  circumstances and better access to education. I don't think a lot of these people want to know my struggle or the struggle of the community around me, although they'll claim to care, they'll never get it. From what I've experienced these types of people are only welcoming or tolerant of you if you exclusively fit the narrative of their world views.


What effect, if any, do you want Human Garbage to have on its listeners/the scene in general?
I started Human Garbage for myself. I started it when people were speaking lies of me, so instead of trying to prove I wasn't what everyone was saying, I gave them a reason to actually believe rumors. Although it was never meant to be a serious band, I've gotten a lot of recent positive feedback from people who come out of similar circumstances as me. It's good to know that there's people out there that can relate. I like the idea that as a band we are not only representing ourselves, but others whether you consider yourself Mexican-American, Chicano, or even part of the working class that doesn't have the financial comfort that a lot of other people have.


Tell me about Criminalized Records, what are your goals for the label this year?
 

I just want to put out bands that I like. Preferably bands from the San Fernando Valley or southern California, but I'm honestly willing to put out anything that I think is good. I also want to put out other things than just bands. I'm working on a few zines with friends that I'll be putting out under the Criminalized label.

Name your biggest non-musical influences.
 


My friends, my mom, my community. It's funny, I look back to when I was growing up and I always felt like I was immensely different from everyone around me considering I got made fun of a lot for skateboarding, for having long hair, for liking punk music, etc. The older I get the more I appreciate everything I went through, everything I had to overcome growing up. As corny and cliche as it sounds, my friends growing up had to be the biggest influences on me. The things we did, the fights we got in, the problems we got ourselves out of, that's really what shaped me as a man. Everything I learned growing up with those bastards is what I use on the daily to make decisions, bad or good. VMH forever.

How do you feel about the internet's effects on the subculture? 

There's a lot of advantages to it. It's cool having easy access to music and information to events. With that said I think it gives a lot of people a platform to give their opinion on situations that have nothing to with them. I think people make statements online without thinking of the possible outcome it could have in reality. I think it's made people more brave when it comes to speaking out against things they don't like, but they also can't handle being confronted about it in person. 
To quote something Criminal Instinct posted online the other day, "Words carry weight. Don't make yours heavier than you can handle." Hardcore in real life, at an actual show, is the best thing ever. Hardcore kids online that go to shows once every 6 months, but think they have the right to be involved or have an opinion could go fuck themselves. I don't believe you inherit respect, I believe you earn it. I think the internet has made people forget that.

Describe a Human Garbage set in one word. 

Short.

Who are your favorite bands right now? 

I don't know if this means current or just anything in general so I'll touch a bit of everything. Rilo Kiley, Culture Abuse, Plush, Chain Rank, Concealed Blade, Hard Pressed, Sheer, Dead Beat LA, The Midnight Sons, Protester, & Ill Intent.

Any final remarks/a message to the youth? 

There's nothing greater than IN-N-OUT!


You can listen to Human Garbage on Bandcamp and keep up with them on Twitter.

2.22.2017

SPOTLIGHT: NO VICTORY

SPOTLIGHT: NO VICTORY

(Photo by Gabe Becerra)
Hailing from the birth place of the King of Pop is No Victory. Otherwise known as Twitter's flavor of the week. All I've seen lately is tweets about how No Victory is music for people who steal from Goodwill and can't read. I won't lie, I'm guilty of making the joke myself. All jokes aside though, No Victory is music for people who can appreciate violence as a force of nature. I saw them at this year's Midwest Blood Fest and was nothing short of impressed. You know that feeling everyone talks about, of being uneasy, nervous, and paranoid about what could happen at a hardcore show? How that is what makes a band, making music that's able to turn people into feral animals who act on instinct alone? Well, in that one set No Victory reignited that feeling for me in a way I haven't felt in years and proved they know a thing or two about making people act out.

They have three releases, two demos and Time To Die, which is nine tracks of unrelenting hardcore designed without peace in mind. If you love hardcore that is so heavy it might as well be encased in lead, No Victory is the band for you.

You can listen to No Victory on Bandcamp and follow them on Twitter.

2.20.2017

MENTAL ILLNESS 101

This is something I've been meaning to write about for a long time.

Talking about mental illness is never easy. People either think you're seeking attention, having a pity party, or trying to be edgy, depending on your illness. No sick person wants to see that look in someone they care about's eyes when it turns from caring about us to pitying us. You think we won't notice it but we do, and it stings forever.

Now, I can't speak to every single illness because I don't have every single illness but I am a "special case" in that I have a few co-morbid disorders. Ones that tend to make people think I'm some sort of terrible person. I have Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD from here on), Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Mania. So I am, quite literally, an antisocial maniac. It took years of going through doctors, therapists, and a round of neuroimaging to reach these diagnoses. Imagine living your whole life up to a point not knowing what's wrong with you.

ASPD is the prevailing illness, on paper that means I have shallow affect, a lack of empathy, a lack of remorse, a proneness to boredom, and a constant irritability, to name a few things. Does this make me inherently bad? No. Does this mean I don't know right from wrong and my actions are excusable? Absolutely not. It means, assuming I want friends and to not be in jail, that I have to work twice as hard to just be decent than someone else does to be a saint.

People view ASPD as an illness that has a worse effect on those around the person than the person themselves and honestly, they can all eat a dick. Do you know what it's like to watch relationships crumble in front of your face because you can't care? I don't mean you don't want to or you're actually using this person for ulterior motives. Imagine wanting so badly to love and be in love, but feeling absolutely nothing inside. To create only shallow connections because you have no real personality. To have that thrown in your face every time you argue with someone because they think you aren't trying hard enough to understand them when they refuse to understand you at all. People wonder why so many of us don't ever try to get better, don't try to cope with the symptoms, and why we embrace them at the end. It's because we put more effort into feigned emotion and relationship upkeep than everyone else and just get tired.

Here's what you should take from this: when it comes to mental illness it is easier to write people off in some way that flattens them into a character than it is to deal with it as it comes and make genuine efforts to understand and support them. Make the effort. Let your friends explain their illness to you, don't just go off what you've picked up from Dr. Phil and Tumblr. Be there for them. However, that isn't a job for everyone. If your friend has a mental illness and you can't help them because you aren't the type who understands things like this, just leave them alone about it. You more than likely do nothing but patronize them anyway.

2.14.2017

RESISTANCE 101

NYLON curved me on this article because it "doesn't fit their editorial tone." Whatever, man. What can I expect from a website with Lena Dunham posted on the front of it? So here, enjoy it.

Resistance. That's a one word summation of the Black experience. Every act is one of resistance when your existence is political. American dominant culture is rich, suburban, straight, cis, and overwhelmingly White. When your great grandparents are slaves it's hard not to live a life that is political. Wars were fought over your bloodline's right to be treated like human beings. In the present day this makes simple, small acts become vehement protests of culture at large.

When I shave my head, I am protesting.
When I wear bamboo hoops, I am protesting.
When I go to college in hopes of being a doctor, I am protesting.
When I listen to Migos and twerk in the club for fun, I am protesting.

The thing about dominant culture is it doesn't stop at oppression. It wants you to either assimilate or go extinct. So, when I embrace Black culture I am resisting. Respectability politics is how they get us to assimilate, thinking if we abandon what our elders taught us we'll be accepted. The ugly truth is that no matter how little or how much slang I use, I'm still a second class citizen. Once I attain a degree and become a doctor, I'll still be a second class citizen. Why let them strip me of my culture that is so beautiful just to win a facade of favor from them? It's nothing more than a pat on the back for being a good monkey.

All of that is just inherent resistance; it's as easy as falling asleep. As an active member of the DIY hardcore community I find myself often countering counterculture. Navigating the punk scene as a nonbinary Black person is about as difficult as any other aspect of life. I'm tokenized and if I'm not being tokenized then I'm likely being patronized. The difference is punk gives everyone agency. I wanted to book shows so I did - I didn't need to ask permission. I wanted to start a magazine so I did - no "green light" required. I'm respected now because I worked hard for it. In "real life" I could work twice as hard to only end up with half of what everyone else has.

Of course there's the question of bigotry in the scene. The only answer is that nothing is perfect. Subculture is just a microcosm of society, the same problems are bound to exist on some level. The only difference is that I know my peers here work daily to make it a safe haven from the world. I feel safer presenting the way I want at a show than I do at college or even at home. There's too much good to focus on the bad in a way that isn't trying to fix what's wrong with this scene. 

2.08.2017

REVIEW: SWIFT MINDS OF THE DARKSIDE BY QUEENSWAY

REVIEW: SWIFT MINDS OF THE DARKSIDE BY QUEENSWAY

Swift Minds of The Darkside is the second release by Baltimore unit Queensway. If you picked up issue one of LOD Magazine then I know you've heard of them before. Well, they came back with a seven track EP to follow up the demo they released in February of 2016 and it does not disappoint in the slightest. In fact, I'm extremely impressed.

Most bands that take a similar approach to hardcore can't surpass their initial releases, relying heavily on the simple fact that they play a heavier style of the genre to carry them over from "good" to "memorable." Queensway is no such act. On this release they show you time and time again they made this style a science. Patric Gardner's lyrics are something more of a manifesto, depraved and raw, showing the extremities of where the mind can go when left to its own violent devices.

The album opens with ambient music, followed by Paul Sparer's voice giving the opening from Tales from the Darkside. Then you slide directly into the opening riffs and rhythms of "Fuel for The Darkest Man", almost four minutes of unrelenting guitars and a full on assault of well-written drum parts. The end of which is all feedback, moving seamlessly into "Trenchknife"- my personal favorite song on this release. Namely for its lyrical content.
Weak men, bow to me. Feeble and weak. My trenchknife will make you see. I won't let you stop me.
It's that very line that sums up Queensway's attitude quite well. "Return to Dirt" simply reinforcing the ideas laid out by the two previous tracks.

"Swift Minds of The Darkside" gives us a small intermission with another sample at its beginning, a quote from Burrell of The Wire, before barrelling into the track. Two minutes into this track we are graced with some of my favorite lyrics on this release, swiftly does the round leave the chamber/Playing god; Internal war/Simple lust and a means to an end. Throughout this album Queensway talks on the lasting effects perpetrating violence has on the mind. A refreshing theme from a band in this vein of hardcore. "Violent Breed" continues this with lyrics like what would you do with a strap in your hand?/Inflated feelings unshaken/Power of God: intentions of man.

"I.N.L." and "Shellshock" close out the album, leaving you reeling and wondering who could be responsible for something so violent and visceral. The answer is the one and only Queensway. 

You can listen to Swift Minds of The Darkside on Bandcamp and follow Queensway on Twitter

2.01.2017

SPOTLIGHT: UNITED NOTHING

SPOTLIGHT: UNITED NOTHING

(Photo by Ness Perry)
United Nothing is a five piece hardcore band from the greater Los Angeles area. They’ve been drawing a lot of attention lately, mainly due the energy of their live shows.  Having seen the band on multiple lineups I can vouch for their live sets being what can only be described as a party. They have a unique demeanor to them, considering they’re hip hop heads taking cues from the influences of crossover and youth crew hardcore.

United Nothing released a self-titled three song EP called UN on January 18th. With each member being under the age of 21, United Nothing truly represents the future of the west coast scene and the direction in which it is headed.

Listen to United Nothing on Bandcamp and follow them on Twitter.