Interview: DARE… to Live in a Hostile World

OC’s DARE will be releasing their very, highly anticipated debut LP on Against All Odds this Friday on Revelation Records. The straight edge band made their mark with explosive live performances pre-COVID, and have taken the downtime of the pandemic to write and record an album that is worthy of their talent and the force of their collaboration.

We caught up with lead vocalist Angel Garcia ahead of the album’s official announcement this past spring and a version of that interview appeared in Issue #58. You can now read an extended version of that conversation below.

Interview conducted on May 22, 2021 via phone. The transcript has been edited slightly for the sake of clarity.

So what happened with your record? It was supposed to come out last fall 2020 … what happened?
It was just delayed. Writing it became a lot more challenging, I guess. We went through a period where we were kind of just figuring out our next move and the kind of sound we wanted. There was a lot of clashing in the beginning in terms of just writing music and all that stuff, and so, we kind of put it off for a second.

Then, of course, COVID hit and that just made it super hard to write music just because we missed each other for the first two or three months. So, we were just sitting on like GarageBand demos, and trying to send them to each other, Facetiming and stuff. Just trying to figure it out. It was just a long process. Of course, it was supposed to be out a few months ago. The record has been done and recorded since September [2020]. But with plant delays, and one thing after another, it just kept getting delayed.

Are you happy with how everything came together finally?
Oh definitely. I think it’s gonna be very much worth the wait in terms of our album art, the layout, the record itself. I’m super excited.

What was so challenging about writing this new record?
I think just figuring out what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it. If you listened to our previous releases, they’re all under five minutes. So this time we wanted to write an actual record, so we figured out how to write song structures, and all that kind of stuff, versus just doing what we usually do. Our longest record right now is six minutes, and the LP, I think, is 20. We definitely put a lot more into it and tried to write the best songs we possibly could.

Your band has a pretty defined sound. You’re in that lane of Californian straight edge meets New York hardcore … is that still what you are going for on this new record?
Those are things that we wanted to emulate while having longer songs. Our main goal was to write songs that were good, not boring, but still longer than a minute, you know? We actually had a lot of things written that hadn’t even really gotten the time of day. We had to sort out what we wanted to use and figure out what needed to get cut. There’s so much that when into it.

Unfortunately, just as we were getting into it, is when COVID started. It all came just as we were starting to get our momentum. And working in GarageBand just isn’t anything like working in person. Like, you’re sending each other stuff and if you want something to change, like a riff, or maybe change the style of drumming, it takes a full day or two to get a response and re-record it and send it back. It’s a lot harder.

Yeah, and one of the things that really works for you guys, and that people have really latched on to about you, is the energy that you have. I can imagine that it’s hard to capture that when you’re not all in the same room.
Exactly, just that whole thing is kind of out the window.

When you finally were able to get back together, did you feel rusty? Did you need some time to get back in your groove?
Not at all. Once we could all play together again it came together pretty easily. We could talk and figure out what we actually wanted to do. And it made it so much easier.

What are some of the different sounds that we’re going to be hearing on this new record? Is it still going to be like a lot of Uniform Choice and Terror kind of stuff? Or, what else are you guys doing?
The vibe is going to be pretty much the same. We have some more rock songs. Straightforward, four-on-the-floor, mid-paced stuff. That’s very different than anything we’ve done in the past. But, we have some heavier and faster tracks as well. It’s a pretty well-rounded record, overall.

Were you able to work in any hip-hop influences for this new record?
Lyrically, I guess. That’s part of our appeal is that I’m just firing off. But that’s not intentional. It’s just kind of my style. I always shoot myself in the foot and write too many lyrics, so I then have to cram them all in. [Laughs]

Well, like hardcore vocal styles, there’s really not that much of a difference between like, what a lot of folks are doing, and a really forceful rapper style like, Busta Rhymes or somebody.
Yeah, definitely. It’s all just dancing on the beat.

And you said that you had been worked on your compositions as well … so it’s not just parts. Like a lot of cool parts …
For the first time, I had to write choruses and verses and all that kind of stuff, you know. And I’ve never had to do that before because our songs are, like, 45 seconds long. There is no chance for anything to repeat. So, I had to figure out stuff that’s going to work and be worth repeating as a course.

So what are some of the themes for this new record?
I guess just dealing with depression and shit going on in the world. And straight edge. The opening song “Violation of Trust” is just about calling someone out. And there’s songs about how hard it is to watch everybody deal with all the stuff that’s going on.

OK, so you have a couple of COVID-inspired songs?
There’s one. It’s pretty to the point about just how hard it was in the beginning, just trying to adjust and try to be positive and look forward to things even though everything was so dull and up in the air.

What has it been like surviving through COVID in a place like Orange County where there’s such a disparity in incomes and material stability?
Yeah, I was living in Huntington Beach when it all started and it was pretty gnarly. I lost my job for the first three months and then I used to live by the water so my rent was super expensive. It was super hard having to sell all my belongings just to make rent.

Obviously, HB doesn’t have the best reputation through all this COVID shit because they’re all, like, the anti-mask protesters. I mean, even when I eventually got a job again, it wasn’t great. I was at a spot that was run by people that were anti-vaxxers and didn’t believe in COVID. They wouldn’t let us wear masks for the first two months and encouraged customers to come in without masks. It was crazy. So when I first got a job again, I was definitely just scared. It was pretty rough.

Did anybody end up getting sick? Or, did your employer’s attitudes end up causing any problems for you and the other employees or employers?
Thankfully, none of us got sick while there. I eventually did end up getting COVID in late January [2021], but I don’t work there anymore.

Oh shit.
Yeah, I had a couple of relatives who died of COVID around the same time that I had it. My whole family got it. And then, like, people were dying. So it was kind of rough. But since then, everyone’s getting vaccinated and things have kind of mellowed out.

How was it for you? Did you have a really mild case?
Yeah, pretty mild. I just lost my sense of taste and smell and was tired all the time.

Cool, so you’re vaccinated now? Which was worse, having COVID or your reaction to the shot?
Oh, the COVID for sure. That lasted way longer. The difference was two days vs. 10.

Plus, you don’t lose your sense of smell and taste with the vaccine.
Yeah, that was definitely the worst part.

Anything that you’d want to add to wrap this up?
Let’s see. We got some tour dates coming up. One of our member’s other band Zulu is recording a new record. I don’t think Aaron’s other band, Vile Reality, has recorded anything, but check them out. My other band Abrasion has an LP coming out sometime this year. I think that really it.

Image courtesy of the artist.

Read our review of Against All Odds here.

Buy Against All Odds and all your DARE gear from Revelation Records here.

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