Interview with Terror vocalist Scott Vogel | By Hutch | Photo by Elena De Soto
“I don’t have too much bad to say about any label we’ve ever worked with, but finally doing our last record, getting done with our contract—it was an awesome thing to be free,” Terror vocalist Scott Vogel exhales with a chuckle. Released April 28, the band’s new EP, The Walls Will Fall, exhibits a rejuvenated band with hunger and anticipation. Now signed with Pure Noise Records, Terror are ready to continue defending their status as hardcore kings with a renewed energy.
Terror have released six full-lengths on three different labels and a plethora of 7”s, splits, and live albums. Their two most recent records, 2013’s Live By the Code and 2015’s The 25th Hour, were for Victory Records. “We signed a deal with Century Media for four records a long time ago,” Vogel explains, but two records in, there was friction. “We pushed Century Media to license us to another label. [Victory founder] Tony [Brummel] had heard the record and liked it.” Two more records later, Terror were once again unfettered.
The band connected with Pure Noise founder Jake Round, whom they befriended after a tour with The Story So Far. “Pure Noise was the right fit for Terror,” Vogel says. “It is the label we wanted to be on. Bridge 9 was the only other label we saw as a good fit. Pure Noise was a perfect fit.” After so many releases, finally finding a comfortable home was important. “I’m realistic,” he continues. “Terror isn’t the biggest band. It is harder and harder for labels to sell albums. I feel totally blessed. We get to tour all over the world. We have been doing this for 15 years. But underground music is in an industry mindset, and we don’t sell a ton of records. I don’t expect labels to get us on the cover of Rolling Stone.”
Triple B Records out of Boston will release the vinyl version of The Walls Will Fall in the summer. Vogel’s intent is always to work with small hardcore labels. “As long as I can remember, back to when we did the deal with Century Media—‘It’s that real shit, how you signed to a label / Vinyl kept independent and made the CD, major,’” he says, quoting a line from “Things You Do” by Evidence of Dilated Peoples on his solo LP, The Weatherman. “That line stuck in my head, how cool that is,” Vogel explains.
Even in Terror’s Century Media contract, Vogel demanded a stipulation requiring that the vinyl releases of each album would be on small hardcore labels. This was an easy sell, because “no majors cared about vinyl; hardcore kids cared about vinyl,” he says. “One of the few points that was important to me [for The Walls Will Fall] was to do the vinyl on a smaller hardcore label. Jake at Pure Noise was cool. There was some pushing and pulling though, as now, labels care about vinyl because CDs don’t sell.”
For the past decade, Vogel’s best friend Patrick Kitzel at Reaper Records handled these releases, putting out vinyl versions of the major label LPs and intermediate 7” EPs. For The Walls Will Fall, Vogel wanted to move in a different direction, explaining to Kitzel, “‘We didn’t want to leave you, but the 11th Terror release on Reaper isn’t exciting.’” Triple B will press the EP in three different colors—ice blue, orange, or blue splatter—two of which are already sold out at the time of writing.
The Walls Will Fall is a solid continuation of the stellar—albeit short—The 25th Hour, a brutal, slightly thrashy record: short and pissed and negative. The Walls Will Fall is five more tracks of this, including “Kill ‘Em Off” and a Madball cover, “Step to You.” Vogel says, “We got done with the [Victory] contract and just wanted to do an EP. We weren’t even thinking about a label. We are a hardcore band. We think like a hardcore band. We went into [drummer] Nick’s [Jett]’s studio and said, ‘Let’s get this stuff out.’ It will be a nice setup for the album. It will give us time. For better or worse, we think like a hardcore band.”
“It’s a lot easier to make an EP,” Vogel adds. “It’s rather fucking hard to make an album with 12 to 14 songs that keep people’s attention span—especially when you have your sound dialed in and you’re trying to stay true to who you are. It’s easy when there is no pressure to just rip a couple of things. I think it came out really cool.”
On March 23, Terror released the video for “Kill ‘Em Off,” whetting the appetite of hardcore fans. The track is 70 seconds long, set to a furious barrage of clashing images. “I had the idea—remember the beginning from the old ‘Headbangers Ball?’” Vogel asks. “Two trains smashing into each other. It clicked in my brain to get some images like that and flash quickly with live stuff. It complements the impact of the song.” The images reflect the tension and conflict in society, but Vogel asserts, “We didn’t want to do political images [that were] straight to the point, [but] with the world we live in now, you got to have that stuff not in the back of your mind, but the front of your mind. Terror is not a political band. But the title of the EP and the song ‘The Walls Will Fall’ is 100 percent a political song.”
This influence comes from a direct source: due to a spinal injury in May of 2016, Vogel wound up confined to his living room, fixated on the news. “The second half of 2016, I had my eyes glued to CNN constantly, watching this election unfold,” he says. “Seeing that, in 2016, there is talk from a lot of people about building a physical wall to build borders up. I thought it was such a crazy thing that that’s where we are in 2016, now 2017: talking about building this wall with people cheering for it, instead of looking at what the real issues are. I am hoping—it’s hard to have hope sometimes, [but] you got to hope that people start looking at things differently, that they look into solving real problems instead of putting up barriers with ‘us against them,’ instead of shutting others out.”