Interview with drummer Roger Camero
No one should look to cinema in their search for meaning, let alone an ’80s comedy, but Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure does make some pretty solid points. Most notably, it’s the outward viewpoint that we be excellent to each other that rings true. Both in that decade and today, there is way too much inward focus on selfish needs and desires, and not enough emphasis on making the world a better place for others.
It’s that central idea – not the movie quote, but the external drive for compassion and unity – that is driven home by the astoundingly awesome comeback album from Tehachapi, California-based hardcore behemoths The Warriors. Monomyth, out on Dec. 12 via Pure Noise Records, explores a host of philosophical questions and answers through the guise of punishing hardcore punk. The thread of classic thrash also weaves its way in to amplify the mighty music on display.
The band’s first new record in nearly a decade couldn’t come at a better time, and The Warriors were clearly up for the challenge. Drummer Roger Camero acknowledges that the break was just part of life.
“Life is full of challenges, no doubt,” he acknowledges. “Carving out the time to write and play music is difficult at this stage of our lives, but it’s an endeavor we all consider crucial and essential to our survival. That may seem a bit hyperbolic, but it’s true for anyone with a creative pulse. You have to find an outlet for all those emotions and ideas, or they will start to eat you alive. You can’t let life get in the way of living – the creative process is life itself. It’s why we’re here.”
That time off certainly gave the band some time to reflect on the state of the world. The Warriors have always been noted thinkers in the hardcore scene, but the depth on display throughout Monomyth is wonderful. Camero’s diagnosis of the state of the world is frank and grim.
“The evidence is clear: our culture is sick,” he states. “It’s our opinion that this sickness stems from a spiritual disconnection. We’re increasingly more disconnected to the people around us, the natural environment, and ourselves. We have to fight to keep these connections strong and vital. To paraphrase (poorly) [Joseph] Campbell’s concept of the Monomyth – we are all interrupting this universal, spiritual energy through our own personal, cultural lenses. When we’re able to see beyond the divisive lines of religious dogma, bi-partisan politics, etc., we will be able to build a sustainable social foundation, as opposed to the destructive path we’re currently on. Joseph Campbell’s books, as well as the Kybalion, are incredible, mind-blowing reads that we highly recommend to anyone who resonates with the lyrics on the record.”
It’s fascinating how well this message parlays into hardcore’s central tenets of unity and kindness to others. It’s also interesting how the belief systems of metal and hardcore can be put into a “myth” or a religious identity, in that those who follow the style tend to conform to certain ideological viewpoints.
“So true,” Camero concurs. “I’m sure many would take offense to us framing hardcore as a ‘religious’ practice, but the parallels are absolutely there: ceremony, ritual, mantra, brotherhood – the list goes on. We’re so grateful to have had the hardcore scene, in our youth as well as today, to provide the platform to share big ideas that we feel are important. The ‘big’ ideas being discussed on this record all center around the idea that all life is one – everything is connected. When your eyes are open to this truth, everything else falls into place.”
So, putting this into practice, how does one accomplish a better, kinder world? What does it mean to put the themes of Monomyth into action?
“The most important thing is to suspend judgement,” Camero answers. “Don’t waste your time judging anyone’s life choices or spiritual path. Lead by example. We’re all searching for our own truth. With practice, we can all get there in time. And, of course, spend more time outside. There’s real magic to be found everywhere, if you have the eyes to it.”
All this thematic inspiration had to ramp up the pressure when it came to putting these ideas to music. However, Camero and company relished the opportunity.
“The process of writing and recording this album was truly one of the most natural, free-flowing experiences I’ve ever had in the studio,” he says. “When I reminisce about the process, it’s actually a bit mind-boggling. Speaking for the music specifically, my approach was to lock ourselves in the studio for two weeks and see what we could conjure. There were a few songs that were written within minutes. I felt that if we couldn’t write a hardcore record in two weeks, we shouldn’t be doing it at all.”
“The Warriors is truly a sum of all our parts,” he continues. “Each one of us brings something special to the table. With this being our fifth record, and the fourth with me steering the ship, I wanted to push the envelope with what we’re capable of, stylistically and sonically. We wouldn’t be true to ourselves if we set out to re-write the past. Creating music, it’s all about progression. We’ve all grown as musicians, and at this point all of us are multi-instrumentalists. Using our skillsets as a whole definitely aided in the ability to write in such a short amount of time. As long as we had the blueprint, skeletons of songs, we were ready to get on that magic carpet.”
“There’s distance between many of us, as our group is not only spread out throughout Southern California, but also Washington, Colorado, and Michigan,” Camero reflects. “It’s crazy to realize what we were able to accomplish. That’s how much love we put into this band.”
He’s not wrong, as there’s a mythical quality to Monomyth that hits the head as well as the heart. This is profound hardcore coming at the perfect time. The Warriors are back, and better than ever.
Top photo by Joe Calixto