Interview with vocalist Anthony Herrera and guitarist Greg Cerwonka
Take Offense are back after a six-year gap, on a new label with a broader sound. Still infusing a mighty dose of Suicidal Tendencies with Excel and NYHC crossover bands, the Chula Vista titans drop ten tracks in 32 minutes on Keep an Eye Out. Produced by Nick Jett (Terror) and mixed and mastered by Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust), the album fires up seething riffs and thunderous rhythms.
“It’s a cliché statement, but we put out the record we wanted to put out, and they stood behind us every step of the way,” lead guitarist Greg Cerwonka says about pairing with Pure Noise Records, after years on Reaper. “You can’t really ask for more in that situation. It was also a good fit because our rep from the label booked our first show in Sacramento back in 2011 and has been a fan of the band for a while now. A lot of our friends and brother bands – Terror, Rotting Out, etc. – being on the roster was also a plus.”
To get their feet wet again, Take Offense completed a big tour with Napalm Death, Sick Of It All, and Municipal Waste, proving the lines and fan bases between extreme genres are negligible.
“Getting to rip it up every night with some heavyweight legends is just an awesome and humbling experience,”Cerwonka says. “This tour was also our first foray into the, dare I say, more ‘metal’ crowd, which has been a long time coming for this band. Every gig had a couple rows of people up front ready to rage on the first note. Solid, positive reactions every night, from people that have never seen us before. We’re used to the horseshoe crowd, so it was a dope change of pace.”
“Above No One” crashes at hyper-speed while utilizing gang vocals, proving the blur of thrash and hardcore can mesh seamlessly into oblivion. Other tracks, say, “Hidden in Plain Sight”, churn a dark, mid-tempo stomp. The gamut runs a wide breadth, but all flows smoothly on Keep an Eye Out.
“It’s one hundred percent a Take Offense record,” Cerwonka says. “Our last full-length came out six years ago, so obviously there’s been a lot of ‘musical’ growth in that time period. We all listen to different types of music, which I think gives us the confidence to try different things. It was a very natural progression. I definitely studied guitar way more and learned new techniques to incorporate into my riff writing.”
Cerwonka admits Take Offense had to shake the dust off after their dormancy. But the guidance of producer Nick Jett was an amazing catalyst.
“It was a very strenuous process,” he says. “Having a six-year gap in between records meant having a huge amount of material to work on, which is a good and terrible thing. We had skeletons of what songs should be, but that is when the legend known as Nick Jett comes into play. We’ve known Nick since our teenage years. He produced our Under The Same Shadow EP, and our last full length United States Of Mind. He’s definitely a mentor to the band and has a saint-like patience in the studio. This record challenged everyone on a musical level, and also with personal schedules. All of us have full time jobs, and Nick is usually touring with Terror, so it was done in increments. A plus with that was it allowed us to sit on takes and ideas for a little bit longer. Having Joel Grind mix and master the record really brought it all together. We wanted it very natural and raw sounding, but still very clear with a big punch. He absolutely crushed it.”
To match the rebellious vigor and punching grit of the music, vocalist Anthony Herrera bellows in his classic delivery, bandying between vocal tones but continually summoning the tough bark that he has established. The theme of Take Offense being older and grown now is repeatedly stated. Herrera reflects this maturity in his lyrics.
“The subjects we tackle on this one have to do with human awareness, everyday struggles, cause and effect, and modern belief systems,” he says. “The main problem in the world today is people just plainly accepting ‘the truth’ as it is told to them, instead of on their own true instinct. Since our early life, we’ve been domesticated, taught to act and be a certain way. That said, the main subject of the record is to make sure you’re good with that, and if not, then act on it, in any way that you’re able.”
Top photo by Alan Snodgrass