New Noise Magazine is pleased to be bringing forth the exclusive stream to the perfectly built record Faith by SPINE. This is one hell of a speed rush, adrenaline roller coaster and aggressive hardcore record virulently placed into seven songs, ripping through eardrums with a tenacity that is both furious and fiery. Take a listen to this behemoth and read an exclusive interview with vocalist Antonio Marquez and drummer John Hoffman!
Make no mistake: hardcore is a genre that’s as beautiful as it is chaotic, and Chicago- and Kansas City-based band SPINE embody this to the fullest. Through Bridge Nine Records, the band are putting out another frenetic, relentless, emotive album in their sophomore effort, Faith. Out June 15, it builds on previous records like 2016’s Deny and 2014’s Time Has Gone and finds the quartet at their most mature.
Faith more or less sticks to what you have done in terms of its fast-paced style of hardcore, but there are subtle differences from the SPINE of old. What differentiates this record from Deny and Time Has Gone?
Antonio Marquez: I’d say, musically, Time Has Gone is more of a traditional feel of Floorpunch or Youth Of Today meets Infest. It’s a great record that was a strict progression of our sound. Lyrically, the themes dealt a lot with my never-ending grasp on time and equating it to losing and failing instead of gaining and growing. Up until that point, I was having a hard time with the idea of “growing up.”
I felt like I was moving away from things in my life and I had no control over it. Time was getting the best of me, and I was spending too much time on the past and nostalgia and not in the present and the future. The transition to being a student one day and being thrown into life’s responsibilities the next is hard. I just wanted the world to stop, people to stop leaving this world, people to stop growing apart, growing older, moving on, etc.
I also reflected a lot of the loss of personal friendships and tried to throw some perspective on the things we think we know in this world. The last track on Time Has Gone is “Known/Unknown,” after all.
Deny is, musically, a much darker record than I thought while it was being written. It went in a heavier, darker, and more punishing direction. Lyrically, [it] was a direct reflection of what was written. I was in a bad place mentally and emotionally. I had just recently suddenly lost my mother. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to witness or go through. It crushed me. I reflected those things in this record. For example, “Burden of Life” is about my mother and how life never let up for her. It was relentless, and I resented this world for what she had to go through. Deny isn’t a fun record, but it’s a record that, when we play songs off of it, it’s very therapeutic.
John Hoffman: Faith is definitely a lot heavier, more Cro-Mags-influenced, like The Age of Quarrel and Best Wishes era. We have progressed with our songwriting, and it’s just a lot better material. I’d also say it’s more personal, but all of Antonio’s lyrics are really personal. I think this record is just a lot more focused theme-wise. It’s almost like a concept album.
The world is a disappointment, not just with people we personally associate with but with society, government, etc. This album is about losing faith in everything and coming to terms with our war with pretty much everything we know, combined with the personal struggles Antonio has been through. Overall, we’ve just gotten a lot better as a band, and Faith shows that 100 percent.
To that point, what made Bridge Nine the ideal fit for this new record?
JH: We almost broke up, because we hadn’t had much time to devote to touring in literally years. We had a few new songs written but not an entire album’s worth, not even close. No one seemed to care anymore, and it was fading away. We liked the idea of doing a new album and bringing things back, but the motivation was lacking. I used to release all of our material on my own label, [Bad Teeth Recordings], but I wanted to stop doing that. I grew to really hate it.
Antonio and I decided to hit up some labels to see if anybody wanted to work with us on this new album, and Bridge Nine was the most interested. Their approach from day one seemed really genuine, and we felt right at home instantly. It was a choice to do it, but it was also an unbelievable option that we—even to this very second—don’t really feel we deserved. [Laughs]
Maybe we deserve it now, but I definitely don’t think we deserved it at the time. We really didn’t have shit going on at the time when it was offered. I’m very grateful for the opportunity, ’cause this new album rules, and Bridge Nine is fucking awesome for picking us up and making this happen.
These songs do feel like some of SPINE’s most message-laden and political to date. What are songs like “Activist” and “My World’s Corrupt” about?
AM: “Activist” is about how hypocritical this world can be—even more so, our scene. There are tons of platforms to stand on but no serious viewpoints. No conversations, just yelling and telling people what to think, how to dress, what to believe in, etc. Lots of opinions, but the reasons are hollow and sometimes super shallow. I’m not going to agree with everything that anyone says, but I’ll hear you out.
But if I disagree, I look to have respectful dialogue. That doesn’t happen anymore. Everyone is an activist, and it gives a bad name to the people who do take activism seriously. Don’t just retweet something, make a post, or “like” a page. Look to educate and not judge. Be about it.
“My World’s Corrupt” isn’t a political song at all. It’s about over-stressing and analyzing situations in my life. Just overthinking until the death of me. It fits in very well with the timeline, track listing, and theme of the record. I’ve had a lot of heavy things happen to me between Deny and Faith. The world that I thought I knew is dead and gone, and I’ve come to realize that the world and life I was living was corrupt. I had to pull the plug and restart.
JH: “Activist” is like a song I would have written in Weekend Nachos. It’s about posers who should shut up. “My World’s Corrupt” is a really cool song about Antonio being insane!
Last but not least, what would you say is the overall theme of the record, and what does the album title mean?
AM: The music and lyrics are in lockstep from the beginning to the end. After Deny, my life was turned upside down. I was dealing with the loss of my mother and what I wanted out of life. I fell out of love with the woman I was with for six years. We simply grew apart, and I wasn’t happy with where I was in my life. I felt like I was being held back by so many things. I was a mess. I was overanalyzing every move I was making. I couldn’t sleep for months, and I started making small changes in my life, changes that I felt were pivotal to the interests I had but hadn’t pursued because of what I felt others needed from me.
JH: The album started with a just a title, no context to it or anything. I told Antonio he should write a song called “Faith,” and we could call the album that too. He had a bunch of other songs written lyrically, and when it was all put together in order and everything, somehow it became this really awesome concept. Antonio’s social commentary is pretty realistic without being preachy or super opinionated. It’s pretty interesting.
AM: Being the older brother, oldest grandson, oldest cousin, oldest nephew, etc. in your family, you end up dealing with the responsibility of a lot of things. It became too much, and I had to blow up a world that I never thought I’d want to leave. These themes take you through all of these challenges I was having in order of how I tackled them on this record. Starting with the literal loss of my mother and the fallout from it in “Gone.” Then, the loss of my previous relationship and how hard it was to come to the conclusion that I didn’t love a person who I was supposed to marry, three months prior to doing so, and the pain and stress that came with that.
The record continues to march on with getting rid of toxic people, killing the person I was in “Time To Grow,” all the way until the end with the title track, “Faith,” which deals with no longer being able to trust anyone or even yourself, putting blame on others, never taking responsibility—people being robbed of their intelligence by putting their logical thinking aside and letting the news and social media make their decisions for them. This world, as of 2018, is fucking out of control, and the people in it are just getting worse and worse. We never intended it to be a theme record, but it kind of is. It’s the progression of where I was a few years ago, ending with me blowing it up—no more faith in anything. – Renaldo Matadeen