When someone says you’re making a scene, they might mean that you’re being too overdramatic in public for comfort. But here at Staten Island’s Overspray music venue, where the walls are as covered in artwork as most of the show-goers skins, a bunch of punks, rockers, hardcore kids and metalheads (including an eight-year-old who is most definitely cooler than you) came together for August 5th’s Summerfest to make a scene that’s about more than just being overly loud and in your face.
A big part of being “in and of the scene” is being invested in local music. In this interview with Zoúme, the budding New York City band take HXC Magazine on a tour of their favorite spots. From big name venues like Irving Plaza and Webster Hall to world famous punk landmark Trash & Vaudeville, we shed some light on who three of the five Zoúme members actually are. Find out which of these guys showed up to a concert in a full suit, which one wouldn’t mind being on tour with the Jonas Brothers, and which one only started eating bagels last week. (P.S. – Along the way we also run into members of other NYC bands like Sylar and Perspectives! So make sure you watch the full video.)
If you want to know what a hardcore show can be like, look no further than Terror’s “Live By The Code.” The iconic band have been a staple of the hardcore scene for over a decade and this video can give you a glimpse as to why that is. Between the simple chords and the half-barked vocals are the people that make up a community. To the unfamiliar eye, it may seem like they’re all abusing each other, but really a show like this one stands for the very ethos of the genre. It’s aggressive, sure, but it’s also a home. The lyrics themselves are a kind of ode to that belief: “Desperation,the broken, we found honor/ Live by the code, the music and our culture/ Live by the code, the roots and the ethics they have taught us.” It’s what hardcore was founded on way back when, and it still looks like a hell of a lot of fun to me.
What do you think of when you hear the word “scene”? If you’re just the average Joe, you probably are thinking of the setting and actions of a play, a moment in your favorite movie, something built up and dramatized, or just something concrete to look at and remember. It can even reflect a culture or lifestyle as one major umbrella topic.
What a pretty scene here at the beach. That’s my favorite scene in Almost Famous. That neighborhood has such a cool skate scene. It’s all good and dandy; that is, unless you are talking about the “scene” of the substream music world. Then it becomes a dreaded word.
I am talking about the -core bands, the non-mainstream pop punk movements, and offshoots of metal that help make up Warped Tour lineups, Hot Topic trends, and give magazines like us, Alt Press, and Rocksound something to write about. While the varying sounds and genres of all of these bands may not overlap, their fan followings, press coverage, and tours usually do. What’s the most logical term to use to describe that? Scene, of course.
Growing up with the music that I liked, the shows that I went to, and the people that I hung out with, I always just referred to it as my “scene.” Of course, as I was referring to this the term, “scene kid” started to replace the term “emo” and became just as degrading or offensive. In fact, as I started to interview bands, if I referred to anything such as “this music scene” or “the scene your band stemmed from,” they’d typically try to correct me and say they didn’t want to call it a scene, however, they never really offered another term for it to go by.
The problem with this realm of the music world is that it’s not fully hardcore, it’s not fully punk, it’s not fully metal, it’s not fully pop. It’s a strange mixture of sounds with a varying range. Why can State Champs, Blood On The Dance Floor, Vanna, Terror, and Attack Attack! all be offered the same opportunities from Kevin Lyman if they have (for the most part) opposing sounds? Well, because many of their values and audiences overlap. The fact that many of these “diehard” or overbearing children of the MySpace age (myself included) became labeled as scene kids for how they looked, acted, and what they listened to is not a product of the music, it’s a product of the time. Sure, generic stereotypes came out of wearing intense side bangs that covered your entire face, crazy dyed hair, skinny ties (usually as anything but a tie), highlighter colored vans, and rubber band bracelets a mile long up your arms, but we loved and rocked that look. And who were the people who hated on the scene kids? The metal heads and the hardcore kids? Basically the kids so involved with the offshoots of this substream world that they knew what to look for to hate on scene kids. Please allow me to also wear immense amounts of black and a Metallica shirt from their thrash age that I lifted from my dad, or immense amounts of flannel shirts in varying colors with my square rimmed glasses and a Texas in July beanie. Trust me, I can willingly and gladly rock all of the fashions and support all of the styles of music associated with metal and hardcore, too.
When we talk about scene, the negatives trend around a previous fashion, style, and look characterizing a generation for the most part that has now grown up. But why is that term still so negative? “Emo” was hated for years. My Chemical Romance, the band who reportedly “Wouldn’t front the scene if you paid me,” denounced being emo, and guess what? They went down in history for 1. fronting the scene and 2. being one of the most influential “emo” rock bands to break the mainstream (and still didn’t sell out to do it, I might add). Now look at the music headlines. Everyone is talking about the “emo revival” that’s upon us. It’s being lauded for what it was and the upcoming bands that influenced it. Emo had been a stereotype associated with a style, sound, and negative actions of self harm. That’s why people hated it, because they all believed that kids who listened to it were mopey and in need of psychological help. That’s gross, and widely untrue. Associating a sound with one particular mental state is an invalid overgeneralization. A sound that helps inspire someone in need is what music is all about however, and emo was the poster child of that movement. A band doesn’t literally save someone’s life, but the connection and inspiration one gets from listening to music that relates to them does.
Eventually emo would open the doors for the term “scene” since it is, first and foremost, just a noun referring to a collective state or following of something. That’s it, a noun. It’s not all-inclusive or exclusive and doesn’t mean you can’t break out of it. Look at Of Mice & Men or A Day To Remember or even Blink-182. They started somewhere, with a certain scene, and branched out, but are still loved by the fans that first helped jumpstart their careers. When turned into an adjective, however, for some reason “scene” is a dirty word because guitarist so-and-so and vocalist whatshisname don’t want to be crowned “the poster child of Hot Topic” or whatever their shallow qualms may be. Why? Hot Topic probably sells your band’s T-shirt, and you know damn well you probably want people to buy and wear your band’s name. That’s why people make music: to share it with other people.
So in defense of the scene kid, the emo, the hardcore kid and the metal head, all terms I’ve been labeled for how I dress, act, and what I listen to, I say fucking own your title. Those aren’t negatives because people say it with snark or try to avoid it. By not owning what and who you are you give power to those who want to put those phrases down. So in defense of the music SCENE that I am heavily involved in, largely in love with, and have been for the majority of my life, I refuse to not use that term when referring to this musical collective and lifestyle.
It’s difficult to always say “the musical substream of the bands that are widely accepted on Warped Tour and through offshoots of ’90s metal,’80s hardcore and pop punk.” That’s exhausting and takes forever to type. Let’s just call it what it is. It’s our music scene. It’s fun, diverse, ever-changing and something we should be proud to be associated with. We don’t have to be scene kids. We just have to love our scene and know that it’s okay to call it that.
This week’s pick for MVW is the 5 minute visuals paired with Opheon‘s “The Distance.” Though theme-wise the video is fairly minimal–the basic images of the band playing live cut to footage of the vocalist singing on his own–it is the song that we are so impressed with. The British melodic hardcore rockers went from a very djent-oriented sound that has been regurgitated time and time again to something far more progressive, innovative, and new to the -core scene. With stylized breakdowns, actual melodies, and even a guitar solo (can you believe those still exist?), this track reaches a level of sophistication that warrants a minimal video and lets the music speak for itself. Don’t believe us? Then check it out and see for yourself, because when they drop their upcoming 2015 EP it’s destined to hit the top of your favorite playlists.
Some of you may question what it takes to be a true HXC Diehard. While the answers to that inquiry may be varied, one trait we look for is entrepreneurial spirit. No, we’re not talking about stiffs in suits walking down Wall Street. We’re talking DIY. The term ‘DIY’ is significant enough in the hardcore scene historically, and when applied to bands conjures forth a few well-known facts: Zero label support, hard work, and relentless pursuit of passion. But what about when it’s applied to one person? Meet Leonel Salcedo, founder, manager, and contributor for CrossHeart Industry. We interviewed him for our Diehards section because he had an idea that he chose to follow, and it led him to be not only a participator in his local scene, but an active shaper thereof. Read the interview below to find out more about him, CrossHeart, and what makes the New York hardcore scene worth investing in.
Christopher Tito from Zoumé named you an HXC Diehard—someone who really goes above and beyond for the hardcore scene. Why do you think you deserve this nomination?
[Laughs] I’ve been attending [local] shows for three years. I’ve never missed a show, and I have a bunch of local friends in local bands and I support them. Not only that, but I’m creating a social media platform that help bands promote themselves around the world, and also helps fans connect with every band they wish to.
You’re talking about CrossHeart Industry. How did the idea for that come about?
To be honest, I was just sitting at home and I was just like, ‘Fuck it.’ It was just random, one of those random ideas that just happen and you’re just like, ‘Okay, let me see what I can do with it.’ Things just happened and it ended up shaping up on its own.
So you say it’s a way to help bands promote themselves. How does it work?
So, if you have a new single coming out, you’ll be able to preview it to a few thousand people, depending how much you pay and how much [exposure] you wish. Not only that, let’s say you have an album coming out, you can stream it for free, you could play your whole album on the website. For the fan part, if you attend shows, if you purchase merch, tickets, albums, if you take pictures with the bands you can also earn rewards for doing basic stuff like that. In return you get [more of] the band’s merch, new albums that are coming out, and more.
“They don’t even know your whole history, they just easily become your friends. Just saying ‘hello,’ it automatically sets something off.”
What is your role?
I’m just the founder and manager. I keep the whole team in tact. I’m also a photographer. That’s it for me. We have three other photographers, we have another manager, and we have someone who writes reviews on albums and upcoming events, someone to run our social media websites, and a graphic designer.
Is that how you know Zoumé or did you hang out with those guys before you launched CrossHeart?
That was before we launched CrossHeart. I met Christopher Tito when he was really in his scene phase. I don’t really recall how I met Jeff (Freedman, bass/vocals). One day he just came to one of my parties I threw. Brean (Holguin, drums), I just randomly met. Farhan (Tanvir, guitar) was just from hanging out with the guys.
Where are you from?
I’m Dominican. I was technically born there, but I came to America when I was one year old, so I’m kind of an American in my own way.
Where in the New York area do you live?
I live in the Bronx.
Why has the local NYC scene become so important to you?
Damn, that’s a tough question. I guess one of the main reasons is because I see a lot of my friends struggle with their own bands. A lot of them, their dream is to make it out there and tour the world. I see a lot of these other mainstream bands that really don’t deserve it. So it’s like damn, these guys are really struggling to make it out there and these other bands are like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so beautiful. Sign me.’ It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s just something you grow up with. I’ve been going to shows for three years. I don’t want to say I grew up with those kids, but they became family. When you go to shows, all these kids have their own life but when you chill with them and you hang with them and you actually spend some time with them, it’s so easy off the bat. They don’t even know your whole history, they just easily become your friends. Just saying ‘hello,’ it automatically sets something off. It’s really weird, but cool.
How long have you been working for CrossHeart? Where do you see it heading?
It’s been six months since we’ve started. For the future, we’re planning to launch our beta by this summer. If it goes well, then we’ll become a full website by next year. That’s what I have scheduled for now. But if everything does go well, I’d see us becoming one of the major milestones in the music industry.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I guess it would be Samuel L. Jackson, Dave Chappelle, Lelouch.
Why those figures?
Because Samuel L. Jackson is one badass motherfucker. If I could be any motherfucking badass in this world, it would be him, and I just have to say ‘fuck’ a lot because that’s his character. Dave Chappelle because he’s one of the funniest men on this planet. It’s something great to make people laugh a lot and if you have that talent, fantastic. Lelouch, because he pushed the boundaries of himself and he did anything possible to make his dream true.
Stick To Your Guns, Fit For A King, Scary Kids Scaring Kids.
Why are those your favorite bands?
Honestly, I really don’t know. I’m not a person who listens to music lyric-wise. When I hear it, it’s just something my body is very accustomed to. I can’t explain it.
Who would you name the next HXC Diehard?
Oh, crap. I’ll go with Marquis Green, Hector Sabino, and Tyler Andrew.