Interview with guitarist Scott Crouse and vocalist Chris Colohan | By Hutch | Photos by Michael Thorn
SECT are a fierce, no-frills vegan straight edge hardcore band comprised of dedicated scene vets ready to confront and conquer. Their third LP, Blood of the Beasts, was summoned by metal guru Kurt Ballou, manning the boards again, and savagely portrays the remnants of a callous world. Their politics, delivered via the lungs of vocalist Chris Colohan, are bold, and the music is bolder. The members—who are spread across multiple cities, including Raleigh, North Carolina; Portland, Oregon; and Toronto, Ontario—tend to not rely on their staggering credentials. In fact, their Facebook says their lineup features “ex-members of Shut The Fuck Up [and] current members of SECT.” Focusing forward, their talent and convictions rival all the members’ amazing previous output.
On Blood of the Beasts, released Aug. 30 on Southern Lord Recordings, the band’s chemistry is focused and vicious. “Not much has changed, really,” guitarist Scott Crouse comments. “We still have the same basic process of [guitarist] Jimmy [Chang] and I writing and demoing the music at my house, then sending them out to the others for input.” Crouse emphasizes his bandmates’ attributes, noting, “I think we understand each other’s strengths now, so those are certainly considered while writing the songs. Chris is left alone to exorcise his demons lyrically, and he never fails to impress us. We don’t get to hear much until recording starts, but his vocal placement is always so tasteful and complements the songs so well that it’s not a worry.”
SECT know there is no time to waste in these dire times. Their message is about sociology, ecology, and the fetters of vices. To match the ferocity of the message, SECT create blazing-fast songs with a short duration and loud approach. The members embrace riffs as well as atmosphere and chaos. Crouse and Chang unleash driving guitars and rely on the ravaging rhythm section of bassist Steve Hart and drummer Andrew Hurley. “We like to try to add new elements with each album, but the additions are subtle,” Crouse says. “On this one, we have a brief melodic section in a song. There was a conscious effort to try new song structures, but overall, I feel like Blood of the Beasts is really just us being a little more confident and sure of ourselves. In my opinion, the trick is always to grow as a band but also stay grounded to the original idea. I feel like we accomplished that on this one.”
“Confident” was established on their sophomore LP, 2017’s No Cure for Death. Now, it’s more like “dominant.” Sounds intact, it was Colohan’s cue to do his thing.
As 2019 burns into history, more and more desperate scientific studies are being released that should encourage people to adopt a plant-based diet to help curb climate change. The U.S. is behind the rest of the world, and it would take so much to dismantle its current meat industry. Major chains have been incorporating alternative proteins, and many consumers are embracing these options but, paradoxically, are still giving their money to businesses that thrive off of industrial meat production. Even when people cut out meat, the motivation to go fully vegan often evaporates from the equation.
“I think it’s a conversation more everyday consumers are wanting but getting half of right now with the more corporate wave of the vegan boom,” Colohan says. “People who weren’t thinking about it really are experimenting with substitutes and demanding them, but it’s being coopted back into the previous existing cycle of convenience. Now, the same money that feeds slaughterhouses and everything people think they’re walking away from is cycled back into that exact economy via veggie burgers without stopping it. So, the more convenient veganism gets, the more ‘plant-based,’ apolitical, and less vegan it’s also getting. The repercussions of convenience follow us even here.”
On Blood of the Beasts, Colohan’s lyrics attack elements of a selfish, gluttonous, unrepentant society. In the album’s press materials, he coined the phrase “the new old tribalism,” and by that, he means “the base, animalistic self-protection instinct ingrained in us as animals, where, despite the pretense of civilization or the self-deception that we’re not bad people, we can consistently be depended on to devolve into frightened tribes when our security or place in the pecking order is threatened—in the exact same way that bullshitters could turn [fear] into easy power and money not just decades or even centuries but millennia ago. So, it’s back, because we’ve never actually been more evolved than that and neither has power, as evidenced by the recreation of the worst atrocities of the 20th century just as their last witnesses die out.”
Colohan expands beyond veganism and addiction; the desire for convenience motivates the consumer beyond those obvious ways as well, and when corporate and governmental entities exploit every possible river of profit, people’s very existence is shaken. Yet, in the face of “the new old tribalism,” the masses often decry the scapegoat. Ignorant and shortsighted, many fail to see that the Fourth Industrial Revolution and capitalist interests, not immigration, will be largely to blame for future job loss. Colohan expounds on how he predicts automation will continue to impact people—not just at work, but in their interactions and expectations.
“The extremes of automation, the ultimate result of the [First] Industrial Revolution, was always going to be our own obsolescence,” he says. “We didn’t write checks and balances into that, and we assumed that the better world it would be making would better the world in general, which is never the case. There’s a power structure to who does whose work, who pays for whose lifestyle. It’s not fair or good and never was, but it’s real and isn’t going to voluntarily phase itself out. Now that automation has reached the point where the redundancy sees no ethnicity or color chart, the entitlement of people higher up that food chain to somehow remain superior to someone else is laid bare and [they’re] scrambling for scapegoats.”
“Immigration built the West and continues to, and if you’re not native, your people are new here yourself, and you should probably shut the fuck up about immigration,” he continues. “Show me one of those ‘Duck Dynasty’ fans who haven’t shut up for three decades about who was taking their jobs actually reclaiming some awful, unprotected job in a field now that ICE is dragging people away [at higher rates]. I’m not seeing these patriots learning to make the electronics that their world revolves around, handling lithium and living with mountains of e-waste for sweatshop pay and no protections so they can stay in the lifestyle to which they’re accustomed if they think that China or some other enemy of the week was luring that work away from them all this time.”
“There’s so many layers of cognitive dissonance about the whole chain of events happening at once,” Colohan asserts. “So, no, if 2019 is any indication of where we’re going, I’m not sure people will stop blaming all the wrong scapegoats for the hole they’re in or how the future looks because of the imbalances we built on and swept under the rug until it was too late. I think populists will seize on that more and more, because we’re showing them we’re simple enough, collectively, to be played that way. I think we’ll get more violent and illogically xenophobic to protect our laziness rather than smarter to find our usefulness in time to survive ourselves.”
The current paradigms of social media and traditional media produce various incessant streams of information and “news,” honed and shaped by profit motives to cater to individuals’ predetermined views. Engaging in nuanced debate has become a rarity, but being so awake and angry can be exhausting. Whether listeners see Colohan’s views as cynical or realistic, the ideas that informed Blood of the Beasts impact his daily life and interactions with other people and he accepts this burden.
“If you’re writing it honestly, a song is the reflection of your outlook rather than the other way around, going out more so than back in,” he says, “but I find the more negative a thought is and the longer or louder it’s been doing circles in my head, the lighter I feel for getting it out in words and [sharing it] with people with the same frustrations and barriers. I’m actually quite a people person one on one—I just can’t do humanity.”
Pick up SECT’s Blood of the Beasts from Southern Lord Recordings today.
And, if you are able, New Noise encourages you to consider donating to Freedom For Immigrants’ National Immigration Detention Bond Fund or check out Community Justice Exchange’s National Bail Fund Network for a directory of community bail funds in your state.
For those who cannot afford to donate, check out YES! Magazine’s list of “20 Ways You Can Help Immigrants Now” for more ways to lend aid and show solidarity.
There can be no change without direct action.