Tag Archives: state champs

Interview with Jenna McDougall, Whakaio Taahi of Tonight Alive

Photo taken from band's Facebook page.
Photo taken from band’s Facebook page.

The following is an interview in our ongoing serial “Women of Hardcore.” For more from the serial click here

Pop punk band Tonight Alive have earned themselves some serious attention over the years. They’ve played festivals like Warped Tour and Soundwave, had their song “The Edge” featured on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, and toured with the likes of Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, and All Time Low. HXC Magazine correspondent Liz Rainey recently had the opportunity to speak with Jenna McDougall (vocals) and Whakaio Taahi (guitar, vocals) at JBL Live at Pier 97 in NYC on the May 23rd date of the Future Hearts Tour. In the interview, they talk about exploring more of the U.S., the recording process of their third album, and what “punk” means to them. 

Continue reading Interview with Jenna McDougall, Whakaio Taahi of Tonight Alive

Spring Break Playlist

spring break playlist

Ah, spring break. That mystical time of year when the world (supposedly) begins to thaw and stupid decisions become a mandatory cultural practice. Regardless of whether you’re in school or if you’ve just got a case of spring fever, it calls for some celebratory tunes. Even though we still wear black head to toe, we know how to appreciate a bit of sunshine. So we’ve assembled some star tracks to blare down the highway with or to chair dance to as you’re sipping your second margarita (which are hopefully mutually exclusive activities). All you’ve gotta do is scroll.

“Filth Friends Unite” by I See Stars

Sometimes when you want to have a good time, you’ve gotta get a little filthy. Self-destructive behavior shouldn’t be encouraged, but let’s be honest, it does happen from time to time, and being bad can feel oh so good. So if you’re into finding friends in the filthiest places, press play on this I See Stars anthem. –Taylor Markarian

“Another Song About the Weekend” by A Day To Remember

Everybody wants to get out of their hometown at some point, and your spring break is the best time to do it. This popcore ADTR jam is one of our favorite b-sides from the Florida rockers and the perfect tune to pop into your car stereo as you take your road trip to wherever the hell your heart desires. –Natasha Van Duser

“I Knew You Were Trouble” (Cover) by We Came As Romans

Melodic metalcore covers of pop songs are always a sinfully sweet treat, but nothing beats watching Kyle Pavone get the short end of the stick in WCAR’s version of Taylor Swift’s major hit. The guy just can’t win, and it’s hilarious. From bitching out during a tattoo session to getting ganged up on in a pool hall, it’s clear that the dude isn’t getting the girl anytime soon. The song itself is also a great adaptation that’s equally as catchy as the original and infinitely more badass. -TM

“Wake Me Up” by Crown The Empire

Crown The Empire blew up when their debut full length The Fallout dropped, however their Limitless EP in my humble opinion still holds some of the best work they’ve ever written with “Wake Me Up” being the staple. Combining catchy riffs, melodic vocals, heavy breakdowns and even dubstep, “Wake Me Up” is one of the most dynamic tracks to celebrate the warmer weather with. –NVD

“Deja Vu All Over Again” by Alesana

“Raise your glass to rock and roll” are the words we live by and this track from Alesana’s The Decade EP helps us celebrate that fact. Get yourself to a bar and toast to your friends and to the music you revel in, and on the way there blast this Ode to the Art Form. –TM

“For You” by Get Scared

If I could happy dance in my underwear like Tom Cruise all day to this song, I would.  Hands down one of the most poppy things Get Scared has ever released, “For You” proves that warm weather and good feels can even make a heavily emo-influenced band smile. –NVD

 

“The Best Of Me” by The Starting Line

The Starting Line’s signature track, “The Best Of Me” has been a banner song for pop punk kids for years. Though The Starting Line have ceased active writing and touring, with the exception of a few one off shows, “we got older / but we’re still young / we never grew out of / this feeling that we won’t give up” is a sentiment that still holds true. (Besides, TSL are supposedly coming out with new material in 2015…#DefendPopPunk) –TM

“Elevated” by State Champs

Spring Break and summer are both seasons basically designed for going to music festivals, spending time in the sun, and listening to upbeat pop punk.  And if there’s one new pop punk band to listen to, it’s definitely State Champs.  Heavily supported by the hardcore scene (always touring with Vanna), State Champs delivers some of the most in-depth, yet still catchy tracks in today’s scene.  Roll down your windows when you blast this one. –NVD

“Rodent” by The Menzingers

Even though the lyrics carry some tangible angst, “Rodent” is a modern punk rock track with a feel good vibe. Sure, it’s fed up with you and your bullshit, but the frank lines “I don’t care anymore / I’ll let it all go” make it all kind of okay. Roll the windows down, put some shades on, and drive down whatever highway you can and escape from the rodent in your wall. –TM

“A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More ‘Touch Me'” by Fall Out Boy

You can’t have a Spring Break playlist without at least one old school Fall Out Boy song.  Before the foursome were selling out arenas around the world and writing songs with Courtney Love, they were growing up in the suburbs of Chicago trying to get the girl next door–and apparently failing miserably.  Isn’t that just the story of everyone’s teenage and college years? It’s the perfect track to unwind to all week long. –NVD

Click below to listen to the full playlist on Spotify and YouTube!

“Scene” is Not a Dirty Word

Music Stereotypes

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.

Scene Feature

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.