Interview: Incendiary on Gratitude for the Scene

“At this point, we have an immense amount of gratitude to still be a part of this scene and have people still care. We’re really lucky to be able to release our fourth LP, and I think it’s a testament to the people in our band and our relationship as friends first, bandmates second. This album is us fucking firing on all four cylinders. We left it all on the field.”

Sixteen years into doing this, Brendan Garrone, vocalist for Long Island hardcore flag-bearers Incendiary, is cognizant of the band’s more established position in the world of hardcore music. On the heels of releasing their fourth full-length album, Change The Way You Think About Pain, Incendiary have undoubtedly reached another big milestone as a band.

The newest offering builds on their history but shifts the overall mood to a somewhat darker place and delivers more of a direct punch with their songwriting approach. Honing their strong suits: textured string work and crushing riffs, pulverizing breakdowns, and insightful lyrics, Incendiary made CTWYTAP more personal, cerebral, and explosive, allowing for every track to smash the listener like a ten-ton hammer.

“Personally, I’m so happy with how Thousand Mile Stare (the band’s album prior) came out. I think that we were conscious of it sounding a little polished and—from a music standpoint—we wanted to have a more aggressive, darker, more abrasive, more of a low-end album, so I feel like that was the mindset going in,” Garrone explains. “We were very focused on making sure that we were staying true to what we felt like Incendiary was, while continuing to push the ball forward.”

The initial spark to begin writing the new album came about after multiple cancellations throughout 2020 and 2021. Garrone credits Incendiary guitarist, Brian Audley, as the one who had the vision for new material.

“We were talking a lot about, like, does the world need a fourth Incendiary LP? And I have to give credit to him, because he was like, ‘I know what we’re doing. It’s gonna be a full-length.’ We spent a significant amount of time on this album. Over the pandemic, Brian and our drummer, Dan (Lomeli), met up a lot to work on the actual music. I know that (guitarist) Rob (Nobile) and Brian, for this album, coming out of (2017 album) Thousand Mile Stare, wanted to be a little more exploratory with some of the sounds and the tones that were used. They spent—to their credit—a lot of time on that, both in the studio and leading up to it, experimenting to build a more layered and textured sound.”

Written and crafted during what could be considered one of the most tumultuous times in recent human history, CTWYTAP encapsulates a lot of the feelings of darkness, aggression, frustration, and tension associated with the period in time in which it was pieced together. Pulling through the day-to-day living factors within their own personal lives, an entire pandemic, heightened civil unrest following ongoing instances of police brutality, the hyper-polarization of politics in America further dividing and isolating people, and ongoing crises continuing to brew abroad, Garrone took plenty of stock from what he was observing in the world. Being an avid reader and consumer of news and information, Garrone found himself making mental notes or actual physical notes about certain themes that struck him.

“I really focused when we were sitting down to write the album,” says Garrone. “I tend to have themes in mind, but, lyrically, I usually write towards the song, so I’ll get the music and prefer to have that in my head to help me write lyrics.”

Within CTWYTAP, Garrone strikes a balance between both his sociopolitical, external observations, and his more personal, internal way of interpreting the world around him—crafting each phrase with a cerebral-edge and sharp level of awareness. Songs like “Echo Of Nothing,” “Lie Of Liberty,” and “Rats In The Cellar,” deal with more of the vocalist’s external observations, while tracks like “Bite The Hook,” “Jesus Bones,” “CTE,” and the self-titled closer seem to reveal more aspects of the vocalist’s internal dialogue. Through writing, Garrone was able to recognize a common thread between the two and a loose theme for the record: People struggling with pain and dealing with pain avoidance.

“In my personal life, I have always found it difficult to watch people that I really care about make the wrong decisions. Not from a perspective of being holier than thou, because I make tons of mistakes and have tons of problems, but I’ve always struggled with the feeling of not being able to help people in my life. I run hot,” he laughs. “I’m an emotional, passionate person, and I found it frustrating, coming from someone who likes to control things and wants to help, that there are just things out of my control.”

He continues, “As I was working through the album and the lyrics, and looking at some of the outward-looking, more sociopolitical lyrics, I had this thing where I realized that a lot of the problems that I was seeing in society were probably also driven by those same concepts of pain avoidance. It’s definitely not a concept album. There are multiple, disparate topics on the album, but I did feel like it was weaving things together. I was struck by—even for some of my more political lyrics—what is actually at the root of the hyper-partisan nature of American society and I think a lot of it is that people are struggling, mentally, in a lot of unprecedented ways.”

From Garrone’s perspective, “Writing about sociopolitical lyrics was just what hardcore bands did—of the ilk that we are influenced by—like, late ‘90s, heavier hardcore, you know, more socially conscious bands. That was what I thought a hardcore band was supposed to be when I started this. What’s been interesting now—post-Trump, post-COVID—it seems like much more of a thing that I write these types of lyrics. I think it’s just because politics have become so partisan and have become such a hot-button issue, when to me, I’ve been doing this for 16 years. That’s been interesting to observe in our, unfortunately, very polarized society.”

Viewing the way he writes in two types of styles, Garrone explains how his words are generally directed at himself or, simply, just an observation.

“I don’t look at myself as being above anybody or being a preacher, I just feel like I’m an observer. I think some people over-engineer what it means to be a vocalist and a lyricist when, really, I’m one person growing up in the world, trying to make sense of it. All I’m looking to do is connect with people and try to make sense of things, ultimately, in a world that’s often very difficult to make sense of and very confusing.”

Follow the band here. 

Get the Incendiary cover variant here. 

Photo courtesy of Closed Casket

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