The second episode of HXC Magazine‘s Cellar Door Sessions podcast is here and this time we talk about the records that changed it all. The key records that shaped our music tastes and who we are today. Not only do we talk about blasts from the past, but we name a few contemporary records that you definitely need to check out right now! If you like Whitechapel, Senses Fail, Get Scared, Hundredth, Vanna, Beartooth, Taking Back Sunday and more, listen to this episode of The Cellar Door Sessions ~creeaaaakk~.
One more thing about the Not So Summer Slam Festival that we still need to tell you: The entire day was riddled with technical difficulties. From blown out speakers to failing microphones to screeching feedback, it’s probably safe to say no one made it through the day without some kind of issue. But that’s what makes it DIY, right? Punks ain’t supposed to give a shit anyway.
On a day dubbed “the worst fuckin’ day of the year” by Senses Fail vocalist Buddy Nielsen (a day otherwise known to NYC residents as Santacon), Silverstain, Senses Fail, Hundredth and Capsize played the main room at Webster Hall. Fans stood wall to wall as anthems new and old blasted through the speakers, such as Hundredth‘s “Break Free,” Senses Fail’s “Bite To Break Skin,” and Silverstein’s “My Heroine.” Check out some of the photos from the event below and tag us in some of yours on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/whatever else if you were there that night!
Photos by Alex Chan
Anything can make you a better person if you let it. Scratch that. Rephrase: Anything can make you a better person if you work with it. Being the best “you” takes effort. Hardcore, as far as music genres go, is uniquely capable of aiding in that process.
Hardcore doesn’t initially sound pleasant or happy or pretty to anyone who hears it for the first time, and that’s not by accident. It’s abrasive and grating and loud for a purpose: To confront the things in life that aren’t necessarily pleasant or happy or pretty. To talk about issues other genres don’t talk about. Let yourself listen to it for a little while, allow the rough sounds to sink in and become familiar, and you start to understand. You begin to tap your fingers, to bang your head and to feel something–the reasons behind the screams. It becomes more and more clear that form, as it always does, reflects content, and that the sounds of raw emotion coupled with the meaning of thoughtful lyrics create music that is more than music. Hardcore—the songs, the lifestyle, and the code of ethics—is a powerful guide if you pay attention to what it has to say.
It’s no secret that hardcore deals with some of the more “negative” emotions. For this reason, it also tends to sound pretty harsh. These very characteristics that draw people to hardcore are what repel others from it. Usually, it’s a matter of how naturally comfortable or willing you are to sort through those kinds of emotions. And this is the first way hardcore can help you become a better person.
Hardcore provides a space for you to confront and work through suffering. Life is messy and troubling. Everyone has problems with it. It’s hard. Sometimes, though what you may want most is to forget about what bothers you, what you need most is to go through the pain; to “look in the basement of your heart,” as Senses Fail phrase it in their song, “The Path.” Hardcore music helps you realize the things that may feel bad or negative are just part of life. In a way, they’re not really negative at all. Hardcore not only sympathizes with you, but reminds you that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. At the risk of sounding like a fortune cookie: From suffering comes strength, from self-reflection comes wisdom.
In these goddamn dark nights I start to realize
This is war.
I’m gonna have to fight tooth and nail,
Tooth and nail just to stay alive.
Look at me, I’m living proof.
You’re not alone, we have each other and we’ll pull through.
This chapter’s called “you’re alive.”
You’ve been writing it this whole time.
So come back to life.
Not only can hardcore help you realize that the tough times are worth going through, but also that you’re not alone in going through them. Hardcore is as much about the individual as it is about a community; a community of outcasts, of misfits, of weirdos. If you’re having trouble, this is the place for you. We know what it’s like and we’ll help you through it. As Vanna say in their anthem “Digging,” “You’re not alone, we have each other and we’ll pull through.” Keep going, keep pushing, and you’ll find something worth sticking around for, even if you have to fight “tooth and nail.”
Just as important as accepting others is the ability to accept yourself for who you are. This genre is perfect for wrestling with that, too. Again, I use Senses Fail as an example:
I have learned to love myself
I have learned to care
I have learned to make peace
With the sadness and despair…
…I want to love with the courage of an open heart.
— “The Courage Of An Open Heart,” Senses Fail (Pull The Thorns From Your Heart, 2015)
Being vulnerable is scary. Leaving yourself open to getting hurt by opening up to others is difficult to do, and for that reason most people avoid it as much as possible. Hardcore itself offers conflicting messages about this. The “fuck this” or “fuck you” attitude is a huge part of hardcore and its progenitor, punk. Although it may seem contradictory, you can say “fuck this” or “fuck you” and at the same time be open-minded and vulnerable and strong. How? By realizing that these words aren’t all antonyms for each other. Stand up for what you think is right, and stand against what you think is wrong, and don’t let people tear you down, but at the end of the day, don’t shut everything and everyone out either. “Love with the courage of an open heart.”
Speaking of sticking up for your beliefs, traditional hardcore has a very strong code of ethics concerning staying true to who you are. One of the biggest hardcore bands in the modern age, Terror, dedicates an album to it–2013’s Live By The Code. The title track’s lyrics elaborate on just what that means:
Convictions you built in me /A sense of purpose, firm standing beliefs / We’ve kept traditions, held with clear aims / Respect the roots, but we live for today / Fighting against the grain / Live by the code, the diehard remain / The ethics, traditions kept / Live by the code, the freedom to live / Live by the code / Foundation, you are my strength / You are my rock, the anchor I need / Keep me honest, you keep me tight/ The freedom to live, I remain positive / Fighting against the grain / Live by the code, the die hard remain / The ethics, traditions kept /Live by the code, the freedom to live / 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 / I believe in now, the new breed / LIVE BY THE CODE!
— “Live by The Code,” Terror (Live By The Code, 2013)
While we hardcore kids may put up a middle finger to many things in this world, there is a strong sense of morality behind the gesture. In this way, hardcore music can give you the strength to be yourself against all odds as well as the encouragement to get up and take action. The music video for “Live By The Code” is also a great example of why this scene is as much a culture as it is a collection of records. Sure, it can be super aggressive and even somewhat dangerous, but shows provide a communal space for people to let out their aggression in a positive way that doesn’t end up in destructive, mass violence like you see on primetime news channels. It’s a positive outlet for negative things, and I guarantee you that most of the time after you see people slamming into each other at shows, you’ll see them hugging it out and smiling moments later.
The importance of self-reflection, understanding, acceptance, suffering, individualism, community, empowerment, identity, compassion, self-sufficiency, hard work, dedication, creativity–these are just some of the lessons hardcore has to teach those who are willing to listen and learn. It’s a place to turn to; a home. There are countless other lyrics from countless other bands that could keep illustrating my point, but at the end of the day, what you need to know is this:
Hardcore is burning through my veins
Without you who the fuck would I be?
Gave me a place to call my own
This will forever be my home.
— “The New Blood,” Terror (Keepers of the Faith, 2010)
The sixth studio album from Senses Fail, Pull The Thorn From Your Heart, delves into emotions normally reserved for a therapist’s office or angsty teen novels. But with a winning combination of screaming vocals, powerful guitar riffs, and soothing melodies, this album doesn’t feel so heavy. Instead, it leaves wisdom and a strange sense of calm in its wake.
The opening song, “The Three Marks of Existence”, sets up an expected Senses Fail album–all aggressive guitar riffs and angry shouting. But something sticks out like a lost red mitten in a patch of snow. The lyrics cut deeper than they ever have. Buddy scream-sings, “It takes compassion to confront your pain/ It takes strength to be vulnerable enough to float on the rivers of shame.” Out of context, the lyrics could be mistaken for a quote from a self help book.
These meaningful, frank lyrics, coupled with soft melodies and subtle guitar changes give an entirely comforting feeling. The juxtaposition works in the band’s favor and continues through the album. They pair hard and fast traditional hardcore songs with slower, more Taking Back Sunday-inspired tunes, which gives the record a distinctive flow. Just as it amps you up with heavy, smashing cymbals, rocky rapids give way to slow calm. It takes a breath and brings you back down, asking you to give your feelings room. On the track “Surrender”, for example, Senses Fail combine building guitars and steady bass with lyrics about finally surrendering to your heart.
The songs all touch on the difficulties of being alive. The love, loss, pain, and work that go into existing all come tumbling out like towels from an over stuffed dryer. The track “Wounds” has a few lines that almost hurt to listen to: “There are moments of extreme joy, there are moments of love, there are moments of madness/ And this is life; we cannot change what arises, only how we greet it.” Listening, you realize these are words that needed to be sung.
It is so easy to get lost, let go, and breathe the music into you with these 11 tracks. The masterful combination of raw guitars, subtle drum beats, and heart-wrenching lyrics makes this one of the best albums of the summer.
by Maria Spiridigliozzi
Senses Fail‘s new album, Pull The Thorns From Your Heart, is out now via Pure Noise Records and is streaming in full on their YouTube channel. Accompanying the songs is additional commentary from frontman Buddy Nielson after each track. The new record follows the more straightforward hardcore sound that was begun with Senses Fail’s last album, Renacer, along with some more positive lyricism.
Pull The Thorns From Your Heart is available for purchase on iTunes. Check out the stream below and tell us your thoughts! We’ll let you know what we think soon enough…
Once a month, in the epicenter of hipster culture in Los Angeles, the Echoplex opens its doors for Taking Back Tuesday—a night that brings every “emo” kid together to listen to their favorite 2000-2006 jams. A group of DJs spin their favorite emo tunes and a special guest DJ usually plays later in the evening; everyone from members of Senses Fail to Blink-182 have played a set. So this June, two friends and I caked on the eyeliner, pulled on our band t-shirts, and headed into Silverlake to see what Taking Back Tuesday (or #EmoNightLA, as it’s also known) was all about.
The Echoplex, as a venue, has seen rock stars of all types, including The Rolling Stones, Beck, NIN, and The Mars Volta. It’s a small venue (capacity caps at 700) and it has that rock ’n’ roll smell of stale beer and deodorants mingling together. Taking Back Tuesday looked like every My Chemical Romance concert I went to over the last decade. But even more importantly, it felt like every My Chemical Romance, every Taking Back Sunday, every Blink 182 concert I’ve ever attended. All these people, men and women with varying degrees of dyed hair and tattoos, came together to celebrate this music and what it does for them.
This is music that grabs hold of someone and sticks to them like sap on a car windshield. No matter how hard you scrape, this shit is on you. It pulled me into a strange time warp, where it didn’t matter that no one was playing an instrument on stage because I felt like I was back at my first concert. It took me back an entire decade, back well before this kind of music was popular—back to a time when I got shit for being an emo kid.
When emo first gained popularity in the early 2000s, the word was widely used derisively. People used it to put down the music and the people who identified with it. Being an emo kid was almost like wearing a target to school that said “I FEEL MY FEELINGS HARDCORE,” giving other insecure middle and high school kids the opportunity to pick on them.
Once I got to the Echoplex and saw the enthusiastic crowd and the excitement, however, I realized things have since shifted. Now, emo kids—or former emo kids who like to dabble in the culture—have taken back the word. There was a feeling in the room, which was amplified by the DJs, that being an emo kid is cool now. The DJs asked, “How are all you emo kids doing tonight?” to which they got an uproarious response from the crowd. No one felt picked on or shamed for being there. It was about celebrating the music and the culture associated with it.
If you look closely at actual lyrics, it’s easy to see why these bands resonate so strongly with confused adolescents (and struggling 20somethings). In the My Chemical Romance song “Thank You For The Venom,” frontman Gerard Way croons, “You’ll never make me leave/ I’ll wear this on my sleeve/ Give me a reason to believe.” Lost, lonely, and searching for anyone to understand, these lyrics hit close to home for emo kids everywhere. The universal feeling of being misunderstood doesn’t go away entirely when you grow up. People will always misunderstand and overlook and be sort of shitty. You’ll always have to deal with that, and finding a healthy way to channel those feelings constructively, like with music, will always be important.
The feeling emo music gives me is one of acceptance and recognition; like someone turned to me in a moment of my own intense weakness and said, “I get it, this sucks, but you’ve got to stay strong.” That was the feeling that washed over me, like a warm shower, the moment I stepped into the #EmoNightLA crowd. It felt like I had found an old pair of Vans, well worn and held together by colored duck tape, that slipped on like no time had passed. It was like stepping back into my skin.
People jumped, bopped, and moshed to Sum 41, Taking Back Sunday, and Brand New. The moment the opening lyrics of “Fat Lip” blared from the speakers, (“Storming through the party like my name is El Niño/ When I’m hangin’ out drinking in the back of an El Camino/ As a kid, I was a skid and no one knew me by name/ I trashed my own house party cause nobody came”) 300 screaming attendees pushed forward and a mosh pit appeared like a sink hole, pulling in bodies from every direction. The songs that amped up the crowd most were songs about rebellion and being misunderstood, eliciting instant recognition and nostalgic joy.
Emo Night at the Echoplex gives people who never stopped being emo a place to jam together; a place to scream, jump, and enjoy the music that has become part of their soul. It’s a place where the year is 2006, and you’re watching the best damned Warped Tour of your entire life. The fact that this still exists, a decade later, is a testament to how much this music and this community still care. If every night could be Emo Night, then you would know where to find me: Jamming in Silverlake with a bunch of fucking emo kids.
EMO NIGHT IS THE FIRST TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH
FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/emonightLA
by Maria Spiridigliozzi
Everyone knows that when you’re headed to the beach, you’ve got to have a solid playlist for your ride. After all, half the fun of a road trip is blaring your favorite tracks on your way to your destination. So we’ve assembled 10 songs to help make your summer drive equal parts heavy and fun, with songs from R&B twinged Issues to metalheads Children of Bodom. Get your floaties on, folks. (PS–There might just be a BONUS VIDEO at the end…)
Remember back in the day when you went to birthday parties laden with adult supervision, store-bought birthday cake, and awful entertainment? Senses Fail does, which is why they decided to demolish the innocence of childhood festivities in the music video for their new single “The Importance of the Moment of Death.” There’s a drunken clown, firearms, and parents paying more attention to cocaine than their kids; the opposite of what a ten-year-old’s party should be. It looks so wrong, but feels so right.
Following their last album, Renacer (2013), this new single (which premiered on Noisey) is heavy and reflective of the style that Senses Fail has recently adopted. The riffs are raw, there is little to no clean singing, and it is clear that their sound has changed from the days of Let it Enfold You (2004) and The Fire (2010). Regardless of how SF fans feel about the band’s new sound, you can’t deny that the video for the single is fun, taking the purity of youth and smashing it to bits.
Grab Senses Fail’s new album Pull The Thorns From Your Heart when it’s released June 30th, and catch them at Warped Tour when it comes to your town this summer. Bring your raw meat-filled piñatas, it’s going to be a grand old time.
by Kelly Fay
Senses Fail have released their first new single of 2015, a b-side from their upcoming record Pull The Thorns From Your Heart. A decidedly heavier track than anything from the band’s first few albums, this single takes the more hardcore punk-oriented sounds of their 2013 record, Renacer, even further. “All You Need Is Already Within You” will be one of four tracks to be released on a special split with Man Overboard on March 3rd, available for pre-order NOW.
Catch Senses Fail on tour with Bayside, Man Overboard, and Seaway.