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~.
Punks are notoriously “anti-“, especially when it comes to holidays centered around what many perceive as greedy, narcissistic capitalism. Some, on the other hand, just like to make traditional holiday hits a bit heavier. So in the spirit of giving, here’s a playlist of ten tracks to make your Xmas a bit less merry and a bit more merciless.
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
The following is the first interview in our ongoing serial “Women of Hardcore.” For more from the serial click here.
After a morning of speaking on panel, loitering in empty bars themed after literary eccentrics Oscar Wilde and H.P. Lovecraft, and meeting with an artist for a friend’s tattoo consultation, I remember it’s almost time for my interview with Katie Cole, drummer of Ohio band Dangerkids. Stranded in the lower east side of perhaps the loudest city in the world, I try to find a quiet place. The bar I end up in is playing music and has no service. Turning the corner, I cubby myself in the frame of the backdoor to protect Cole’s answers from the wind. There, she tells me all about the upcoming Dangerkids record, the band’s recent tour in Europe, and how to laugh it off when dudes think you’re the drum tech and not the drummer.
First thing’s first, I apologize for New York City’s screeches. “It’s okay,” she assures me, “I was just in the weirdest place ever. I was trying to find a quiet place too. I went into this coffeehouse; it was so loud and no one spoke English.”
“Where are you?”
Though the drummer is back at home, she and her bandmates recently ended their European tour–where you’d actually expect a coffeehouse to be filled with non-English speakers.
“What was your favorite place you visited?”
“Scotland. Just ‘cuz everyone there’s crazy. They just like to party and have fun.”
Anyone who has heard Dangerkids’ debut record, Collapse, knows that fun is a big part of the band’s M.O. I tell her how the first time I saw the Rise Records band, they were opening for We Came As Romans in NYC. We all know that opening bands can be pretty insufferable, but Dangerkids were so assured and animated they nearly stole the show. It’s a refreshing change of attitude in a scene where bands can take themselves too seriously.
“I get excited to play any time,” she says, “so I smile the whole time. We all get really pumped.”
“During that night’s set over a year ago, Tyler (Smyth, M.C.) said something between sets about not letting anyone tell you you can’t do something, especially because of your gender. Do you have any personal experience with that?”
“I honestly don’t get as much hate as I ever expected to,” she admits. “Obviously there are some people who will judge you or think you’re not gonna be good at what you’re doing because you’re a girl, but I don’t see it too much. Most people who hate the most on it have never even listened to us or haven’t even seen us play. I feel like after people watch us they don’t tend to hate on it as much. A lot of people think it might be a gimmick or something like that, but they tend to respect it after we play.”
I share with her that when I go up to band members after shows, sometimes guys automatically assume I’m a groupie.
“Yeah, God I hate that! No, that’s so crazy. I’ve seen that so many times and it makes me so angry. People always think that I’m doing merch or that I’m a drum tech or something. That was the funniest thing. We played this show and I was sitting on my drums, about to play, and one of the sound guys on stage was getting so angry. He was just like, ‘Where’s the drummer?!’ And I’m like, ‘I’m the drummer. I’m setting up my stuff…’
“He didn’t even know you were in the band?”
“Exactly. No one ever thinks that when I’m setting up my drums. They’re just like ‘Oh, she’s just setting them up.’
“That’s kind of cool though, on the other end of it, because you get to surprise them.”
“Yeah. I don’t let it bother me. I think it’s funny.”
“That’s a good attitude to have about it.”
“Yeah, you should be that way too.”
Interrupting the interview, an old, unshaven man hobbles by and stops to talk to me about some nonsense. I point to the phone. He keeps talking until finally, my frantic hand motions are enough to shoo him away. I return to Cole in my ear, talking about playing Rock On The Range on May 15th. “Other than that [we’re] just finishing the album,” she says. “Once we get that done we’ll be able to play a lot more shows.”
“What can you tell me about the new album?”
“I really really love it. I love the direction that it’s going. It just sounds more like Dangerkids. We’re developing into our own style. There’s a lot more radio rock, a little bit less screaming. But it’s really cool, I feel like anyone can get into it.”
“What was one of your favorite songs off your first record?”
“One of my favorites is ‘Cut Me Out.’ That’s one that a lot of people don’t really know; it’s not one of our big singles. I really like that one, it’s really fun to play on drums. ‘We’re All In Danger’ is probably my favorite to play on drums because it’s so fast—it’s exhausting.”
“I know you said the new record is going be more radio rock, but is it still going to be that fast-paced vibe that we got from the first album? Or is it gonna be totally different?”
“There are a couple heavy ones that if you’re into heavy music you’ll be like (she cheers). There’s also a couple really fast songs. We actually opened with one of them when we were in Europe. So it’s got a lot of similar stuff as the first record. I think anyone that liked that record will definitely love this next record.”
Wrapped in what she’s saying, I hardly pay any mind when someone bursts through the backdoor I’ve been sheltering in and slams my body off onto the sidewalk. It’s also warm enough outside that the ice cream trucks are on patrol and sounding their creepy songs down the street. Note to journalists: Avoid this situation at all costs.
With a finger in one ear I concentrate on Cole with the other as she begins to tell me more about her touring experiences.
“Our first tour was with Sleeping With Sirens. The first show—I think it was in Atlanta; it was at the Masquerade—we went on and in the middle of our first song [“Countdown”] the track cut out. It ended up being okay, but it’s always really scary when that stuff happens.”
“Who are your favorite bands to tour with?”
“Sleeping With Sirens is really fun to tour with. I really like We Came As Romans. We toured with Silverstein too which I thought was really cool ‘cuz that’s one of the bands that I used to listen to all the time.”
She pauses, then adds, “I don’t really listen to a lot of heavier bands. I’ll check them out and I like it, but I usually listen to pop and emo music from back in the day.”
“What other bands do you listen to from back then?”
“I love The Used; they were one of my favorites. I was obsessed with Green Day when I was younger; they got me into everything. Taking Back Sunday…any band like that. But The Used is definitely my favorite. I love Underoath too, they were great.”
We bond over the importance of Underoath for a minute. “Aaron Gillespie is my favorite drummer,” she says. “I really looked up to him for a long time and he kind of helped my style develop. He just plays interesting things. I’ve never seen someone play the types of beats that he plays, and he has so much energy live. He’s really fun to watch.”
“Favorite Underoath song?”
She goes with the anthem, “Reinventing Your Exit.”
“How would you describe Dangerkids in one word?”
Cole struggles for a moment. Finally, she comes to an answer. “Motivational,” she chooses. “A lot of our songs are about getting through tough times. It’s crazy how music can do that. I’ve always really liked sad music and film scores. If I’m ever feeling down, I listen to that kind of stuff because you just feel it so much. If I’m not doing that I’ll listen to Kesha.”
“People always take very different views of the saying ‘Music saved my life.’ Where do you stand on that?”
“I feel like my whole life basically revolves around music. If it wasn’t for music I wouldn’t be playing drums, or be in a band, or doing anything that I love, really. I’ve always loved to be able to travel and play for people. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have music. So I think that’s definitely true for me. I think it’s true for everyone in the band.”
Before hanging up, she turns back to the film score question and divulges that her favorite soundtracks are from Titanic and Forest Gump. Last words? “Hans Zimmer is dope.”
Expect the release of Dangerkids’ sophomore full-length record sometime this summer.
The point of emo is that it rubs you slightly the wrong way. The point of pop punk is to have a good time. Combine the two seemingly antithetical genres and you’ve got Short Stories, a San Diego band who are as emotionally grating as they are uplifting. It’s an odd mixture that at first can sound like water and vinegar but ends up working out like PB&J. Vocals that tend to sound more like angsty, off-tone confessional poetry a-la-Taking Back Sunday and major tonalities that meet up with rapid percussive sounds like that of Blink-182 make Short Stories’ Only Time Will Tell a must listen. It’s 2003 nostalgia with a 2015 twist. The so-called “Emo Revival” is here.
Top Tracks: “A Long Time Coming”; “Fortune Teller”
Alternative Press has exclusively premiered news of the upcoming A Tribute To Taking Back Sunday record with a stream of Everyone Dies In Utah’s version of “A Decade Under The Influence.” While this is not the first tributary album Pacific Ridge Records has released, it signifies something tremendously important to this music scene generally and to me personally. (Take one look at my bio and you’ll get a small impression of why that is.) Though HXC Magazine is not purposed to delivering my personal narrative, my story is bound to HXC‘s mission of making the individuals of the scene just as valued as the bands who shape it.
That fifteen bands have come together to honor and celebrate Taking Back Sunday speaks to the Long Island band’s indelible legacy. Countless artists and fans alike have been moved and impacted by the band’s music since the first time they heard “Cute Without The E (Cut From The Team)” and asked, “What the fuck was that?” and hit replay for the first of many hundreds of times. As for me, Tell All Your Friends (which I have tattooed on my hand) was the record that ignited an obsession for this kind of gritty yet deft emo punk sound that consequently evolved into my love for hardcore. I credit Taking Back Sunday with not only the development of my music taste but in part to the development of my person, and A Tribute To Taking Back Sunday, set to come out April 14th, proves that many of you have been impacted the same way.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes an album or a band revolutionary or memorable; what it is that makes them almost a larger than life institution or ideology rather than a collection of people and sounds. At the heart of it, though, lies a distinct kind of genuineness and spirit. When listening to a Taking Back Sunday album there is a sense that some part of the soul has been left there. It’s raw and it lives. This new catalog of covers serves to remind us that some albums are so seminal that they manifest lives of their own and last for generations; that any individual or collection of individuals can make a lasting impression worthy of remembrance; that our scene is one that converses and feeds back into itself and truly warrants the label of community. So to the all the undying Taking Back Sunday fans who have been so long under the influence, I hope these simple words find you well.
Check out the new Everyone Dies In Utah track over at AP and pre-order the record at Bandcamp.
A Timberwolf from New Jersey.
THIS EDITORIAL WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED THROUGH TAYLOR MARKARIAN’S GRIMM ROCK REVIEW AND IS RE-PUBLISHED HERE VIA THE AUTHOR’S CONSENT.
“Rock ‘n’ roll” is a heavy phrase. It carries with it sex, drugs, death, youthful rebellion, dreams made and dreams broken, all culminating in a unique spirit that has all but become synonymous with America itself. Unfortunately, folks, it’s all over.
Gene Simmons told us the bad news on September 4th in an interview with Esquire— “Rock is finally dead.” So all of you up-and-coming’s out there can pack your bags, clip on a tie, and major in finance, because none of what you’re doing matters. The kids lined up around the block hours before the show can go home. Warped Tour? Mayhem Fest? Shut ‘em down. And all of those band t-shirts in your closet can be sewn into a nice dark quilt for grandma because there’s just no arguing with Gene.
Really, who are we to point out that Warped tour garnered $23.4 million last year and is the longest running musical festival in the country (Billboard Magazine)? Or that numerous acts such as My Chemical Romance, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blink-182, The Foo Fighters, and The Used have become landmarks of rock and of American pop culture post-1983, the year Simmons demarcated as the last of true “musical anythings that are iconic, that seem to last beyond their time”? How can we dare to worship albums like Senses Fail’s Let It Enfold You or Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends 10 years after their release? And what miscreant keeps plastering the words “sold out” on almost any venue hosting Asking Alexandria, Pierce the Veil, Lamb of God, or Avenged Sevenfold?
The answers to these snarky questions are multi-dimensional and interconnected. In all seriousness, Gene Simmons is partly right. That amorphous, umbrella term—“Rock”—is dead, in that its dozens of subgenres have made it relatively meaningless. No one can be just a rock band anymore, because it’s simply too broad. What are you? Metal? But what kind of metal? Thrash, Nu, Black, Death? Are you hardcore? Meaning, are you post-hardcore, hardcore punk? The lists and divisions go on and on.
Another reason Gene Simmons is right is the same reason that he is laughably, infuriatingly wrong. His definition is limited. He equates rock with acts like (what a shock) Kiss, The Beatles, The Stones, and U2. For him, rock is dead because it is no longer main stage. The arena shows are reserved for Justin Bieber. Radio time is given to endless repeats of the latest Katy Perry club mix.
Well—and let me be as professional and eloquent as possible here—DUH! It’s 2014, not 1980. (And it’s not 2008 either, by the way. The “file-sharing” argument is not news. So if Gene Simmons was going to announce the vicious murder of music, meaning all music, it should have been during the golden age of Limewire, not in 2014 during an LP revival.) The technology has changed, the entertainment market has expanded, and the media is over-saturated. Of course when we develop new electronic gadgets every five minutes the mainstream sounds of our generation are going to be pop, hip-hop, and EDM-centric. The enormous technological shift finds its echo in a shifting cultural paradigm, so it makes sense that the gritty, raw texture of Beartooth is going to be passed over for smooth, shiny, easily-digestible Deadmau5 nine times out of 10.
But does that make all rock music irrelevant and the victim of senseless slaughter? Of course not. To stand by such an assertion would be flagrant and ludicrous reductionism. All genres have their time in the spotlight, and if we’re being true to the meaning of rock, the “underground” is exactly where it should be right now anyway.
“The meaning of rock.” What’s that? It’s a question that can engender thousands of answers, but if we’re speaking historically, rock is fundamentally counterculture. Rock always needs something to resist. Whether it be The Sex Pistols or Bob Dylan, rockers of all branches have been “anti—” and controversial for decades. They even oppose each other.
On the other hand, rock is and has been one of the most uniting forces the world has ever known. It provides much needed respite for the world-weary, the angst-ridden, the broken-hearted. Kids who might otherwise have wanted out of this life decided to stick around because of that one chorus in that one A Day To Remember song.
So we pick up our guitars. We set up our kits. We plug in our amps and attempt to dial them past 10 even if we won’t ever book Madison Square Garden, because house parties and club venues and even empty basements are just as good. We don’t scream the lyrics for the money. To paraphrase a Dangerkids song, we do it because “there is something in us that won’t leave us alone.”
So, in the spirit of all that is rock ‘n’ roll: Fuck you. Rock is alive and well.