Interview with Brandon, drums
Old Wounds are three 20-year-olds from New Jersey who have created a new album titled, From Where We Came is Where We’ll Rest. It’s the culmination of stubborn independent ethics, erratic line ups changes, and dedicated toil. They are a hardcore band in ethos, with a raw aggressive sound that mixes hardcore, sludge, d-beat, and whatever else. Their youth shows in their energy, but not in their attitude. Hearing their stories, I feel as if I am interviewing an underground band from the early 1980’s.
You haven’t been around long, but have had quite a few line up and role changes already.
We have been a band since September 2010. When we started the band, we had a different line-up. I was actually singing. We had a different drummer and a different bass player. The line-up we have now is the one we have been touring with and the one who put out the full- length. That is me on drums, Zach on guitar and he sings a little. Kevin plays bass and does the majority of the singing.
How is that for you? How is the difference between drumming and singing?
I have always played drums on my own. I have never played in a serious band that plays out and tours. Our old drummer, unfortunately, became unreliable. Zach and I have been the driving force behind Old Wounds. I said that I would suck it up and play drums. We met Kevin through a mutual friend. He didn’t even play bass before he joined the band. We started playing as a three piece with me on drums. It ended up better than any other incarnate of a line-up that we ever had. It is awesome, that, between Kevin never playing bass and me never playing drums, we ended up being the best line-up.
How long has this configuration been Old Wounds? I first heard of you with Terror Eyes.
This line-up has been since September 2011. Terror Eyes was when I still sang and we had the old drummer and old bass player. That was the original version of Old Wounds. The full- length is our new line-up, me on drums and Zach and Kevin playing bass.
The label, Love & Death, out of Atlantic City, did our first self titled seven inch, with only two songs. Witchhunter, out of England, did the II cd. Our friend Alex, out of Miami, did the cassette. Those were small releases. We were in such a transitional period with the band. I and II are from when I started playing drums and Kevin started singing. We were trying to find our sound. Those releases are teasers. They are us trying to find the sound that our full length captures.
Do you see them as a stepping stone?
All four of those songs will be on the full-length. When we first recorded those songs – it became an entirely new band after. The only thing that stayed the same was the guitar player. I went from singing to playing drums. Having a new singer adds a completely different dimension to the band. It changes everything. Those two releases were us trying to figure out who we were as a band.
So how do you feel about the sound of the full- length and the II EP?
The full- length is honestly my favorite thing which I have ever contributed to musically. I am extremely proud of it. It is our best work to date. Recording with Kevin Bernsten was awesome. We went in there and told him how we wanted it to sound. He set some things up and it ended perfectly. I could not be more stoked on how it came out. I am happy with our direction that we have gone into since becoming a band.
How does Old Wounds write a song?
We have such a wide variety of bands that influence us. We sit in my room and Zach comes up with a riff idea. We go to a practice setting and keep jamming ideas until we see the idea fit certain songs. We just keep building on them until we are one hundred percent satisfied. But it starts with us kind of jamming and then we mix in riffs or fills or anything. We map it out and then go into the practice setting to work it out.
The artwork is impressive. With whom did you work on it?
That actually is all me. I do all of the artwork for Old Wounds.
Very good job. Do you have artistic or design influences?
It is no secret that I am a giant Jacob Bannon fan. He kills it in the design field while being in an awesome band. As a person, he handles himself so well. That is more of the inspiration than the design work; how he presents himself. That is the biggest influence for me. When it comes to art and design, in order to stick out, you have to have your own thing. You can take influence artistically; but the main thing is how you carry yourself as an artist.
Is graphic design something you would pursue outside of hardcore?
My day job is designing for a clothing company, Kill Brand. We do stuff outside the realm of hardcore. Graphic design is such a universal thing. I hope to continue that as my job. It just happens that it works so well with hardcore. I am able to do it as a job and I can bring it into the band. It is an important tool for a band. A band’s visuals are as important component as the music or the shows that they play.
It is good to hear a twenty year old say that. You have a Jacob Bannon vibe, a little sense of it, but it stands out on its own.
There are plenty of other artists that I take inspiration from. I like 70’s psych rock art too. There are some out there stuff like that. But Jacob Bannon is a huge influence.
But when most twenty year olds are downloading music with no artwork…
There are so many other components of being in a band that other people over look. I am not a huge vinyl nerd, but there is nothing better than listening to a band which you are stoked on and you can flip through a booklet that reflects the band. That record will have a longer lasting impact on me. Like, Neurosis’ Josh Graham, he does incredible work.
What was your journey into punk rock and metal?
For me it was the old Tony Hawk Pro Skater games. Those got me into Motörhead and Rage Against The Machine. That struck my interest in an extreme sound of music. When I was in the fourth grade, I had a skateboard injury. I was bed ridden for weeks and my cousin’s boyfriend gave me a CD booklet. It had Thursday and Dillinger Escape Plan and The Bled; all those early 2000 bands. That shaped me more into this scene of music instead of a more metal scene. Zach has been listening to – well his dad took him to IRON MAIDEN when he was young. So… And Kevin listens to everything; goth to 90’s metal-core. We all have very wide influences. We all came to this scene in different ways.
With you singing and now someone else singing, what kind of subjects do the lyrics address?
The lyrics that Kevin has been writing are personally based. We don’t take a stand on political issues. When you do that, you limit who can get into your band. We are a band who writes music and play shows and hang out. We don’t want to limit who can get into us.
You just wrote a full length, you have a big tour. Do you have more goals for the band?
We actually just went in and recorded our side of a split. We are holding off on announcing it; we do not want to take away from the full-length and tour. We recorded three songs with Kevin Bernsten again. They sound awesome. We have plans to do another tour over the summer. We are looking into possibly going to Europe later in the year. But for the moment, we are trying to focus on this tour.
Is the US tour with anybody?
We just wanted to do a full US tour. It is hard to find another band that is able to do all that. The first week is us going around New England and the Northeast. We meet up with Full Of Hell and Homewrecker at Hellbent Fest in Lansing (Michigan). It should be awesome. It’s with Ringworm and Cro-Mags. Then we do a week with them down to SXSW. The show we are playing at SXSW is with Power Trip and Rzl Dzl. After, we are meeting up with Vices from Jacksonville, Florida. We do the Southwest and West Coast. Then we come back through the Midwest until we come home. It is like we are doing different tours as we navigate our way across the U.S.
Seeing you and Homewrecker on the same bill? That band is so cool.
They are so good. I am definitely stoked to see them for seven straight days. Full Of Hell, too. That is a band that each time I see them, they get better every time. It rules to able to tour with those two bands. Especially in the Midwest. If we went and toured there alone, the shows may not have been so great. We will have some awesome shows.
How did you coordinate these tours? Is that the label or you guys networking?
One thing that I definitely take pride in, as a band, is that we try and do everything ourselves. It may be because I am a control freak. But I like knowing exactly what we are doing. Full Of Hell, the singer Dylan asked us to do those shows. With Vices, they are on the same label, May Fly, as our other band Sex Cross. I was on their facebook post that they were going to the west coast. It just happened that we would be in Texas. We could meet up with those guys. There are no secrets to what we do. We want to tour, we see what bands will be around.
Well, as an old grumpy hardcore dude that is straight out the 80’s or 90’s it seems that you use Facebook as a tool to perpetuate a scene, not just “look at me.” You are not relying on a label – or just shooting to be on a big label that would instantly put you on some tour. Control freak or not, that creates DIY integrity. That is an attractive part of Old Wounds. You pay your dues like that and you will earn a nod of respect from the old grumpy dudes.
Honestly, being from New Jersey… the scene in New Jersey… all the bands that we play with and get along with, are older bands that have toured and put in their time. We just keep grinding. We don’t have a big label or agencies hitting us up. If we want to tour, we have to get out there and do it ourselves. It is like the design work. I enjoy it. I can relate that to the band. I agree. I think it is great when a band takes control of their booking and all the little things that go with a band and do not have other people do that for them. It shows that you care more about being in a cool band; but you are putting in the effort to make it more fulfilling.
Everyone in the New Jersey scene is a bitter old hardcore guy. We have been doing this for two-and-a-half years. We are just finally starting to get acceptance, at least in the New Jersey scene. When we first started, it was like an iron curtain. There was no way to break into it. But like you said, the fact that we have been putting in the work makes them appreciate that. They see what we want and that we are legit. Growing up how there made us how we are with this.
New Jersey is steeped in punk and hardcore history.
It is a rough scene to come up in as a band. There have been so many good bands that the expectations are set so high. It is a hard club to get into. We are so appreciative of it. We worked extra hard to get to do the things we do.
Purchase From Where We Came is Where We’ll Rest here: