Issue #34 of New Noise Magazine features an in-depth look at hardcore music. Featuring everyone from your old favorites still releasing cathartic tunes to dynamic live photographers to the scene’s young up-and-comers, New Noise is proud to be shining a spotlight on a hardcore community that is all-inclusive and extremely open. Whether the bands are ripping through their brutally honest lyrics onstage or crushing a breakdown, their energy moves crowds, hearts, and other communities alike. Time to get moved and get movin’!
Counterparts | Interview with vocalist Brendan Murphy | By Michael Pementel
“I’ve always loved poetry. When I’m not writing lyrics, I do spend a decent amount of time writing,” vocalist Brendan Murphy shares. “I’m not known to experience great bouts of mental health for long periods of time. Writing is my way of coping with that.” Murphy’s lyrics are part of the melodic chaos of Ontario’s Counterparts.
The band’s work is the best of both worlds: crushing hardcore meets the elegance of poetry. “I’ve never been much of a storyteller, I just write about real things that have happened to me,” Murphy says of his lyrics. “I want to be as honest as possible with our listeners, almost to a fault at times.”
You’re Not You Anymore—out Sept. 22 via Pure Noise Records—marks the melodic hardcore act’s fifth studio release. The record aims to expand the beautiful strings of melody and brutal riffs that Counterparts are known for. It is also Murphy’s desire to give listeners a closer look into his life. “I would say that the record starts off immediately where [2015’s] Tragedy Will Find Us ends and takes the listener up to my present-day life,” he explains. “I want to share real experiences with our audience, specifically the not-so-pleasant topics such as relationships falling apart—romantic or platonic—and self-worth [and] esteem issues.”
If one were to go back in time and study hardcore music of eras past, it would sound much different than what one hears from newer acts like Counterparts. While the aggressive mosh pit mentality is still intact, the band always look to spice things up, adding touches of colorful melody. To Murphy, this combination is one of the best parts of the band’s writing, creating chemistry for engaging songs. “I think what attracts us to this sound is the lack of limitations we find within the genre,” he shares. “We can go from a very melodic and catchy section to the heaviest music we’ve written almost seamlessly. I love that. Who doesn’t like catchy music? Who doesn’t like ass-beater breakdowns? We try to throw them together, often in the same song, to keep the listeners and ourselves interested.”
Hardcore and metalcore music resonate within Murphy, acting as mediums for him to channel his art. “I think I was attracted to hardcore and metalcore because when I was growing up, we were the outcasts, but [when you were] at a show, you could forget that,” he says. “You could forget that everyone in your high school thinks you’re psycho for listening to ‘that screamo crap’ and just jam to your favorite bands without judgement.” The soul of hardcore is a lot like poetry, but with a little more grime clinging to its edges. It’s a form of music that speaks directly to one’s heart. “I always want to maintain a transparency between us and our audience, since we have nothing to hide,” Murphy adds. “We’re real people trying to make real music that we love.”
Counterparts are an extension of Murphy’s feelings and art—and a passion and energy he is eager to share. “I’m just proud of the fact that we can go almost anywhere in the world and have people care,” he says. “I want our music to be timeless. The band stopped being ‘friends just jamming’ around 2009 when we all started making real sacrifices to do this full-time. I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned from this band is that if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen. It may take almost 10 years of sleeping on people’s floors and being broke as hell, but someday, it may all work out.”
Moral Void | Interview with Rus Holler, Matt Russell, and Ryan Emmans | By Christopher J. Harrington
Chicago nightmare rippers, Moral Void, are infinitely punishing. With each mind-swirling passage on their debut full-length, Deprive—out Aug. 11 via Translation Loss Records—the blackened hardcore trio traverse the crusty-verse tenfold, again and again. This is some mean and lean shit. Music that evaporates as a whole: a complete statement of force.
“We all grew up in the extreme metal and hardcore scene in North Carolina, and it definitely shaped this band,” guitarist Matt Russell explains. “I feel like we have a very strong ethic to do everything on our own. We came from such a thriving scene that, at least for me, it heavily influenced the way I think about song structure, album structure, and trying to have a complete idea when creating a record.”
Deprive succeeds as such. The intensity is wicked and unforgiving, but each corner introduces nuance and exacting architecture. This record is as a storm cloud, floating with presence and purpose: full and blunt. “We’re very fortunate to be able to develop our songs in a unique way,” Russell notes. “I’m an audio engineer and our drummer Ryan [Emmans] is very competent with [digital audio workstation] software, so we’re are able to do a lot of preproduction and critically listen to songs before we finalize them.”
“We’ll listen to them to death,” Emmans adds, “tear them apart, move things around, bounce it back and forth, and keep doing that over and over until it seems right or we scrap it altogether.”
Vocalist and bassist Rus Holler completes the mix with some harrowing lyrics and grind-infused fret work, heightening the whole thing mightily. Moral Void are a crashing storm, with energy that destroys ships and darkens the skies. This is some real music, and Holler’s shrieks and screams are the high voice from above, the conscience of the chaos. “Matt and Ryan have developed a writing method that has worked well for the band. From observation, I understand that method to mainly consist of them arguing with one another in a small, dimly lit room for hours,” Holler laughs. “With ears in, I’ll pen some lyrics as they quarrel and craft, chiming in when my role as intermediary is needed. The process is fastidious from beginning to end—and generally without compromise.”
In a world of seemingly never-ending shit, Deprive is the soundtrack to the mayhem: all spiraling and void of pretense. It’s a light, even in darkness. “There is no limit to the depths [to which] we can sink,” Holler notes of humanity. “Every opportunity that arises to redeem ourselves is stamped out just as that fleeting glimmer of hope begins to flicker.”
Miracle Drug | Interview with guitarist Matt Wieder and vocalist Bricks Avalon | By Hutch
Miracle Drug are a recently formed Louisville, Kentucky, hardcore band comprised of elder statesmen of the scene, boasting members of C.R., By The Grace Of God, Supertouch, and Mouthpiece. The incendiary quartet have sparked an intense discussion around their release, How Much Is Enough, out on WAR Records July 21. On this EP—a follow-up to their 2015 demo—palpable passion drips through the speakers in the form of guitarist Matt Wieder’s chaotic chords and the furious rhythms of bassist Jeremy Holehan and drummer Thommy Browne, as lead vocalist Bricks Avalon critiques modern society.
Miracle Drug’s sound is a throwback to ‘90s D.C. hardcore, but with a vibrant contemporary feel. After a decade of trying to start a band with Browne, Wieder explains the anticipation of their first rehearsal. “We sent Bricks a practice tape of what we had written, and he showed up to the first rehearsal with what seemed like a million scraps of paper with lyrics scrawled on them,” he recalls. “He didn’t really say much. He just laid the papers out all over the floor and said he was ready to try one. We counted off the first song, and it felt like a bomb went off in the room. The dude brought full intensity from the very first note. What he did on that very first run-through of the song is pretty much exactly what ended up on our demo.”
Miracle Drug went to Louisville local Will Allard and his basement studio, Dot Complex, to record How Much Is Enough. Allard’s job was to capture the six tracks of potent hardcore as he has for bands such as Xerxes, Whips/Chains, and Coliseum. Wieder, content with their demo, explains that this was another casual approach—but the product was undeniable to all involved. “We originally went in with the idea of just doing demos of a couple of songs to send around to labels,” he reveals. To harness Miracle Drug’s full energy and emotion for How Much Is Enough’s ardent commitment to off-time rhythms and sonic explosions, the band blasted through their tracks. Wieder continues, “When we got in there and started working with Will, we had so much fun that we ended up just recording all the new songs we had. We’re not really a band that dives deep into the recording process. So, I don’t think we spent more than a few days total making the record.”
With a base of Shawn Brown-style hardcore—Swiz, Dag Nasty, and even Jesuseater—Miracle Drug weave in ‘90s metallic sparsity from bands like 108 and Threadbare. “I don’t think we had any specific intention in regards to sound other than playing aggressive, energetic hardcore,” Wieder resolves. “We’re all products of the ‘90s hardcore scene, so I think that just sort of naturally creeps into the music we write.”
After the band played two hometown live shows in April, the internet erupted with fiery praise. Avalon speaks humbly regarding the hardcore scene’s enthusiastic embrace, but he also knows it is earned. “We always go hard in the paint,” he says. “We do this because we love to do it. The reaction has been more than we could have expected. We are so grateful.”
The road dogs and scene vets in Miracle Drug have apparent sincerity. Backed by Strife’s Andrew Kline and his label, WAR Records, word of mouth is roiling about the new EP. Miracle Drug have used this support—and some savvy—to spread the word, though that process is different now than it used to be. “Obviously, the major difference is the internet and, specifically, social media,” Wieder states. “Twenty years ago, you had to really get out there and play shows for anyone to really take notice. These days, everyone has access to a worldwide audience through the internet. You can post a song online and reach a huge audience with a few clicks of a button. Honestly, though, in some regards, it may have been a little bit easier back in the day. It seems like there are so many choices and things are happening at such a rapid pace that it’s pretty easy to fall by the wayside if you don’t remain active and in the front of people’s minds.”
Later this year, Miracle Drug plan to record more songs, but for now, they will continue their dominance of stages. July 30 sees them playing This Is Hardcore Fest, and the day before, they play with Kill Your Idols and Violent Society, also in Philly. August finds them playing another fest in Kentucky, For The Kids, as well as Matter Fest in Indiana. After that, the plan is to run down the West Coast.
While Miracle Drug have fun, being in the band is not just for fun. Avalon vents his frustrations attained by viewing this world of greed and self-driven purpose. Just check the lyrics of “Liars / Scapegoat”: “Liars and hypocrites / Aren’t We? Well, aren’t you? / Everyone is… Everyone! / All this truth is slightly twisted / We can all find facts to prove any opinion.” Avoiding total cynicism, he admits the current social climate—however bleak—leaves a trace of hope. “There is always hope; I see struggle and speed and growing pains and confusion and greatness and total expansion,” he says, narrating his mindset when peering onto the new generation.
However, when evaluating the debates—or bandied tirades, to be frank—Avalon admits to being a bit pessimistic. “There are always frustrating moments where heated, opinionated debates and/or disagreements take place,” he says, “times that you feel like the absolute speaker of truth. Then, you realize that most of your truths are faiths [or] opinions, beliefs steeped in your own conscience. Even the Unabomber relied on outside sources.”
As the younger hardcore crowds flock to become enveloped in Miracle Drug’s sweat and piercing conventions, they must surely seek advice on getting their own bands moving. Avalon shirks any paternal role and basks in the punk ethos of a level playing field. “We don’t advise, we share,” he asserts. “We give and we take in the same vein that any active band or person in a community would. We utilize our strengths and experience and continue to learn and grow from our new experiences, whether it be through youth, new venues, new bands, [or] current issues.”