Music is a safe haven. Hardcore, we believe, doubly so. Guitarist and vocalist Sharon Malfesi of New York melodic hardcore band Hollow Bones reinforces this sentiment for us when she talks about her band’s upcoming record, Lionheart, as well as her road to self-realization within the LGBT and hardcore music communities.
“I would say that the record is mostly about loss,” Malfesi says, “and how people cope with it or don’t cope with it. How you kind of let it consume you. I think it also has a lot to do with personal insecurities and how you see that in the world around you as well.”
When I ask if there was a particular event in her life that inspired the writing of the aggressive yet equally melodic Lionheart, she has a definitive moment in mind. “I was going through some personal discovery,” she courageously admits. “I had recently come out as a lesbian and it was not an easy time in my life to go through that and deal with some of the repercussions of that kind of stigma, or what people think about you just because of your sexuality or your orientation or your gender.”
“The people that we meet just through playing shows tend to become some of the best people that you know, and I think that’s such a beautiful part of being in this scene”
Thankfully, Malfesi had her friends, bandmates, and the hardcore community to turn to during the process of coming to terms with her identity. Speaking of the hardcore music scene, she says, “It gives me not only the outlet that I need to get out some of the negative feelings that I have, but all the people that I’ve met in all my years of playing heavy music have really been my main support group. My band members, I’ve been friends with them for quite a while. They’re my rock. They’re my best friends. And the people that we meet just through playing shows tend to become some of the best people that you know, and I think that’s such a beautiful part of being in this scene, especially New York City.”
Hollow Bones aren’t directly from the metropolis, but as a band from the state of New York they are no strangers to the city’s music scene. With warm, excited tones to our voices we agree that there’s nothing like the camaraderie you can find in the hardcore scene, especially in New York City. “For lack of better term it’s a brotherhood,” she says. “Regardless of gender, it’s something you become a part of and you can meet people that share the same values as you and share the same kind of outlets.”
We connect over the shared feeling that the hardcore scene is more lively as of late. With more local bands coming together and pumping out music and more fans willing to devote time and money to local efforts, there’s a tangible spirit of regeneration in the air.
“I think [the local hardcore scene] is something that’s suffered in the past couple years,” she says, “and I think we’re finally starting to pick it back up and make it something real again.
“We want to reach out to other bands and other people that are passionate about the scene and we just want to help keep it alive, especially in New York. It was dying for a while but a lot of people are doing some great work to revive it. A lot of booking agents, a lot of promoters are doing really hard work right now and we’re just glad to be a part of it.” (Not to mention certain online magazines… *wink wink*)
Talking with the dedicated Hollow Bones guitarist/vocalist about the scene evokes an involuntary sense of love and loyalty. As I write this article, I readily admit that I’m caught in somewhat of an identity crisis myself, not in terms of sexual orientation but in attempting to navigate the awkward anxieties of a 20-something trying to figure out what the fuck to do in life. While I type up this interview and reread the words she’s spoken, it reaffirms my passion for and belief in the hardcore scene. It gives reason for why my HXC Magazine teammates and I spend endless hours pouring over it.
“I definitely would love to share the message that it’s hard but we can’t give up,” Malfesi preaches. “We have to support each other as local bands. I’m hoping anybody that reads this understands that that’s a huge part of the reason that their local bands get somewhere.”
For Malfesi and her bandmates (as well as, I’d like to attest, the majority of the hardcore community), music, values and lifestyle are all intertwined. Her powerful ethics and emotional life experiences translate directly to the sound of the band’s new record.
“It’s not just straight in your face all the time,” she says of Lionheart, “it’s very ebb and flow. And I think a lot of people can relate to that because those are the emotions that you go through when you’re going through tough times; it’s that ebb and flow of life.”
Malfesi uses her clean vocals for the more ethereal, softer sounding parts of songs (like the ending of “Drytooth“), but tears into raging uncleans for belters like “The November Diaries.” Speaking to why people should give Hollow Bones a chance, she says, “I think we’ve got enough diversity to draw an interesting crowd and I think we put our all into everything that we do and it comes across in the music.”
At the end of the day, the music is all about sharing a message and relating to one another. “It has a lot to do with humanity as a whole,” she says, “what people are like and how we respect and don’t respect each other, and how we should be more kind to our fellow man.
“Even though there’s so much negativity in the world, and so many reasons to hate so many things, I feel like the reason that we play music is to help people find the positive light…I’m just hoping that we put our message out there in a strong enough way that other people can understand it and feel similarly.”