“It’s everything all at once. You better believe it’s urgent, it’s mad, it’s late on rent, unhinged, feral, trapped in a corner, fighting for its life, on the edge of collapse. It comes from a place of both love and hate, compassion, hope, and the promise of a future that doesn’t end like a sci-fi novel.”
That brief and to-the-point description is how Mike Taylor, guitarist of Richmond-based hardcore punk band Terminal Bliss, refers to the aggressive sound the band musters up on their debut album, Brute Err/Ata, out now on Relapse Records. The 10-track recording, which clocks in at just over a blistering 10 minutes, is a product of the frustration, anger, and anguish that comes along with being surrounded by the “hyperobject of consumption,” and all the negative side effects associated with people’s relentless desire to consume.
The name of the album came about while writing the lyrics, adds vocalist (and Mike’s brother) Chris Taylor:
“A brute force algorithm, one programmed to solve something by ramming failed answer after failed answer at it, only arriving at a solution by sheer, thoughtless determinism, ‘brute force’ without learning, relying instead on a barrage of errors (errata) to solve the problem.”
“[That] sums up nicely how I feel about music and a lot of other things in a time of apocalyptic, post-logic,” he says.
The very strong bond between the Taylor brothers goes back much further than this album, of course, beginning when they were young, and spilling out into the region where they grew up. Indeed, the Taylors have been playing in bands together since they were teens.
“I can honestly say Chris and I have always shared very clear, symbiotic musical relationships with each other,” Mike Taylor says. “We’re very musically in tune with each other. Chris is my favorite vocalist and favorite lyricist on earth, and I’ll go to the grave with that statement.”
Growing up in Sterling, Virginia, “30 miles west of DC and two hours North of Richmond,” the Taylor brothers “weren’t really influenced by the classic hardcore DC scene as everyone knows it.”
“Of course, when we were diving into punk further and further, as those first few years went by, we certainly became more aware of Dischord Records, and understood the relevance of that scene that came before us,” Mike Taylor says. “But it’s not something that hit home for us. We sorta figured our own world out in the country ’burbs.”
Back in 1997, the Taylor brothers were two of the founding members of the hardcore punk band Pg. 99, a project now regarded as one of the pioneering “screamo” acts.
“Pg. 99 didn’t pioneer anything,” Mike Taylor interjects. “We were part of a time and place where a collective punk movement was all pushing at once to do something that was true and spoke to itself. I am almost certain most folks my age grew up dissecting the music around them and thus inadvertently spawned “screamo” and its sub-genres.”
“I am also not ashamed to be associated with that sound or scene,” he continues. “A lot of great people made some great music and continue to contribute to our world artistically.”
The two have been constantly active ever since, utilizing the family of passionate musicians that reside in the land surrounding their hometown.
“[The area] has always been so intermingled and enriched with so many talented musicians and friends, that it’s inevitable that many of these players would come together over the years in so many different combinations,” explains Mike Taylor. This is where Terminal Bliss drummer Ryan Parrish (who has also worked with Iron Reagan, Darkest Hour, Mammoth Grinder, City of Caterpillar, and many more) and bassist Adam Juresko (City of Caterpillar), came into play.
Parrish and Juresko initially had plans to form a punk band that didn’t end up working out. The Taylor brothers then became part of the conversation.
“I’ve watched both Adam and Ryan play in so many good bands over the years that it’s just a damn pleasure to finally jam with them in my 40’s!” Mike Taylor says. “Yes, the scenes [in this area] have always been this way. Everyone is always interested in playing with one another.”
The experience that each member brought to the table for this project allowed for the sound of the band to unfold very naturally.
“What you hear on Brute Err/Ata is pure excitement and inspiration,” Mike Taylor says. “The energy was very positive and inspired. We were writing these songs quickly, and would just be giddy as the parts of certain songs would develop, and we’d each keep making suggestions until we got the songs where we wanted them.”
The assertive nature and immediacy behind the brand of punk that Terminal Bliss creates represents “the idea of an outlet for void commiserations,” says Chris Taylor.
“It’s really just a ‘rearranging the deck chairs of the Titanic’ sort of trope, that unironically stands true regardless of its surreal literalism.” he continues. “The way I see it, none of us have any choice at this point. It seems we are all going to the same hell in a handbasket, and while it’s slightly comforting to distract yourself from the fact that the ship is sinking, the world is in very real despair. Many people and many other living things already live in that awareness on a daily basis, and I guess I’m yelling at the ones that are still pretending that it isn’t happening.”
Pick up a copy here.