Concrete Interview

"That's when you know youre a hardcore kid. When your heroes aren't the same as everyone elses, but also when you can hear a new band you've never heard before and be beyond excited to be seeing them in a month or better yet, sharing the stage with them even though only 10 kids might show up to the show...."

"That's when you know youre a hardcore kid. When your heroes aren't the same as everyone elses, but also when you can hear a new band you've never heard before and be beyond excited to be seeing them in a month or better yet, sharing the stage with them even though only 10 kids might show up to the show..."

Could you give us a short introduction of the band? How did it come about?

Jon: I guess it started back around 2009 when Lenny (vocals) and I (Jon, guitar) decided it was time we do a band playing the stuff we always loved listening to and would want to play as opposed to what was cool in the hardcore scene at the moment. It took us a long time find a drummer and the rest fleshed out quickly. We released a demo in 2011 and signed with Innerstrength shortly after. We did some long weekends, a full east coast tour with our friends in GhostxShip and then a year long hiatus as we did some band restructuring.

I’ve heard two tracks off of Deadlock and they both sound damn solid! Could you tell us what should we expect from the entire album? When it will be out?

Jon: We're really excited for it and it feels like its taken forever to finish but its finally done. We've got a lot of faster circle pit grooves, sing alongs and two-step breakdowns because part of the fun of hardcore is the energy and community at a show so we try to incorporate that experience into our songs as much as possible.
It'll be out May 14th on vinyl (several colors), cd and of course digital download just about anywhere you can download music from.

Deadlock seems to have a strong NYHC sound which is totally awesome. What is it about this style that resonates with you?

Jon: Lenny and I are older and we grew up with that sound. We were the kids who listened to the "yelling music" back in middle school. For me at least, there was an energy and feeling in the music that you just couldn't find in anything else. I could relate to it and that was huge for me. I couldn't relate to most of the pop stuff that was around. I was depressed and pissed off and here was this other music where the people were going through the same stuff I was going through and you could hear it in the lyrics and you could hear it in the guitars, so it was something for me to hold on to.

Lenny: I think me and Jon both gripped the same idea of this band being all about the fundamentals of New York hardcore, power chords that hit hard and angry vocals. That was the goal.

Any particular bands that influenced your sound?

Jon: I think all the bands we listen to influence our sound on some level but obviously there's a big Donnybrook and Terror influence, Down to Nothing, Guns Up, Madball... I know there's only one NY band there but...

Is there any connection between the scenes in Albany and NYC? Do you get any support from New York kids?

Jon: To an extent I suppose. I mean its only a few hours to head down to NYC and we certainly all make the trip for things like Black n Blue Bowl but to be honest a lot of the bands that pass through the city come up and play Albany too. Mike Valente from Black n Blue and the band Brick by Brick along with Dan Brotherhood bring a lot of great shows to Albany including NYC classics like Crown of Thornz, Sheer Terror, Skarhead, Madball, Agnostic Front etc. so we're really lucky in that regard.
As far as Concrete goes, we haven't made it down to NYC to play a show yet though we do get a lot of messages from kids down there asking us to play so hopefully we will soon. We lost a lot of momentum in our year off and now we're just trying to make ourselves heard again and we'll play anywhere. Lots of good shows coming up but nothing in the city as of yet.

I dig the tattoo styled cover. Who is the author? Is there any deeper idea behind it?

Jon: We knew we wanted something hand drawn and Matt Kerley (tattoo artist from NC) is someone who has impressed us a ton with his work. We met him briefly when we played in North Carolina and a friend of ours down there hooked us up with his info when the time came to draw up the cover. He's an incredible artist and you've probably seen his work for other bands and not ever realized it! As far as the meaning, that's all Lenny.

Lenny: The guys kinda threw this in my hands and told me to go with it. With the demo my friend took a photograph of the bridge in Arbor Hill, a spot in Albany near where we live. For this one I thought it would be nice to get something hand drawn by someone. At first, I wanted the ouroburos or some kind of serpent within the construction of it. I brainstormed it with Jon and he added the idea of a hand gripping the serpent and really, that became it. I had seen what Matt did for our friends, No Zodiac, and just knew it would be perfect. He's a great artist and just the nicest dude. The symbolic meaning behind it all is easier to get if you read the lyrics. It really represents this never ending struggle with snakes and demons in our lives.

The album is coming out on 12” as well. How important was it for you to have it released on vinyl?

Jon: Like I said before, the band is made up of older guys we've always loved the feeling of owning an actual physical copy of the music, which I think is something thats lost on a lot of the younger kids now. I mean I used to hang up record covers and cd covers on my bedroom wall. The artwork was part of the experience of the music itself and so we wanted that for Concrete because we're finally doing the project that we wanted to do. For ourselves.
Vinyl is making a comeback now to an extent which is great, but I'm also a teacher and the other day I had a student call me over to her desk and ask me what this word was. When I looked at what she was pointing at, I had to take a second before responding. It was "vinyl LP" and I had to explain what that was. It was a little depressing but I know at least hardcore kids are getting back into records!

What about the lyrical content? Where do you go for inspiration?

Lenny: The lyrics are all feelings I've felt. 2012 was the toughest year of my life which made for good writing. Within the songs, you can feel the pain I went through. Sometimes when I listen to them it makes me feel uneasy cause some of those thoughts were so persona that I'd wondered about writing what I had, but I knew it would be a good release for me personally and also for others who have felt the same way and would be able to relate. I was low and pissed off. It was my reality and this band kept me up.

You shared stage with some dope bands, like Terror, Cheech, Bulldog Courage, Wisdom In Chains... basically, almost all of my fav bands. Is there any gig that stands out in your memory?

Jon: We've gotten to play with all of those bands in our other bands which was great because we look up to them all so highly, but in Concrete we haven't gotten to play with all of them yet. Its always a huge honor to play with bands we look up to and 15 year old me still gets super stoked to play with incredible bands like those and its hard for me to grasp that I'm actually sharing the stage with them. That "holy shit!" feeling never really goes away. We'll still text each other with flyers like, "you ready to play with motherfucking wisdom in chains tonight?" or take screen shots of stuff like "SOIA mentioned us in some random thing! Holy shit!"

That's when you know youre a hardcore kid. When your heroes aren't the same as everyone elses, but also when you can hear a new band you've never heard before and be beyond excited to be seeing them in a month or better yet, sharing the stage with them even though only 10 kids might show up to the show.

As far as any gig that stands out... we played a show with Suburban Scum, Backtrack, Dead End Path, Born Low, Trenchfoot and Take it or Leave it in a very small room-- those are all bands we really respect and look up to so being on that bill was especially exciting. I think my favorite in recent memory however, was on tour with Ghost x Ship out in Greenville, NC. It was a tuesday night and all these kids came out and packed the place and just went crazy when we played. There was always someone moving and even though they didnt know the words they just felt it and went off. To me, that's why I do this. You're not gonna get super famous or make a billion dollars playing hardcore but THAT was the best feeling in the world. Afterwards everyone hung out and we all went and got some food together and it was like we had known them forever. A bunch of those kids actually drove a couple hours to catch us on another date of the tour on the return and we still keep in touch with them. They come up here and visit and we can't wait to get back down there.

What’s your definition of a real hardcore show?

Jon: I suppose thats different for everyone. For me, a real hardcore show is a show thats devoid of ego and bullshit. I remember going to shows at 13 and 14 that were super high energy and even super violent but it was a family. "Oh I hit you? Are you ok? My bad everything's cool." It wasn't a bunch of kids targeting the new guy or the different guy cause everyone was there for the same reason. It seemed like every show was packed no matter who was playing (all brand new locals, or national acts). A hardcore show is family, energy, and music all at the same time.

What are your thoughts on current state of hardcore music and the scene? What excites you about hardcore in 2013?

Jon: I think the scene got off track for a minute. It became all about hype and who was the coolest and toughest. Everyone talks family and unity and its even in the lyrics but when it came down to it, it was like being in high school with all these different cliques and shit. That being said, its coming back. A lot of those people moved on out of hardcore (as they often do) and the ones that stayed know whats up. The younger kids coming out aren't being excluded and theyre seeing hardcore for the amazing thing that it is.

It can be scary how oversaturated the internet is with bands and you can end up missing some incredible ones but you can also hear stuff that you never would have had the opportunity to hear before. There are great websites showcasing incredible new bands all the time and there really is amazing stuff out there. Anyone who says hardcore is stagnant or dead is just wrong. Its not even an opinion, they're just wrong. Incendiary, Rude Awakening, Nails, Terror, Rotting Out have all recently put out or are putting out insanely good albums. And then you have bands like Menace, Benchpress, Isolation AD, and too many others to count that you may never have heard of that are putting out some of the best stuff you've ever heard.
That's what excites me about hardcore in 2013-- that hardcore is not just alive and well, its growing and getting better than ever.

What’s interesting happening in Albany nowadays when it comes to hardcore? I guess everyone knows classics like Stigmata, War-time Manner or Dying Breed, but are there any good new bands around?

Well like I mentioned before Mike Valente and Dan Brotherhood put on shows constantly and work ridiculously hard to make sure the kids in Albany get to see the best bands, including all the classics (that are around or doing reunions or whatever the case may be) and also that every new band that pops up gets a chance and a place to play, oftentimes with their musical heroes. You don't find that everywhere. Albany has a really amazing history for heavy music from the troycore legends that you mentioned to hardcore bands like OneKingDown. The coolest thing though is that a lot of those dudes are still doing it and if you look for it, there's all kinds of new stuff to get excited about. Mike Valente's own band Brick by Brick are the new age of troycore along with bands like All For Revenge. You mentioned Bulldog Courage which had Buddy from Stigmata. Born Low is blowing up everywhere it seems like theres an amazing new hardcore band coming up all the time around here.

Shout outs and/or last comments?

TJ from HC Collective/Hollow, Sean Mott, Dan K, DJ, Mark, There's way too many people and bands to even begin a list so- everyone who is in a band, all the people that have supported us from day one and continue to help us or who have pre ordered or are getting a record, anyone who has come out to a show, and a fuck you to fair weather friends anyone who has doubted us.

Check out more about Concrete here.
Thanks to Taylor Rambo for letting me use the pics! check his other work here.

Bound by fate
Molded from hate
Street wolves that prowl gaze into the eyes of their prey
Tear you apart to survive and drag your carcass away
Pray you're not in our path- scavenging, the smell of the streets
A pack of predators ready to eat