By Brian Tucker
Local hardcore/straight edge band down in it will play an EP release show this Saturday at Red Dog’s on Wrightsville Beach with four other bands.
The band released their EP 32.3.1 on North Carolina indie label DIY Biter Melody Records and it comprises new material and songs from their I’m in Hell demo sessions.
Formed in 2013, the band played its first show a year ago. The music is relentless and heavy. So are the lyrics, and they’re meant to be accessible. They’re also personal, shining a spotlight on tragedy and society’s ill wills. For singer Shane Harris much of the material hits close to home, represented by the EP’s album title.
It’s about awareness and inclusion. Harris says everyone should feel welcome in hardcore, its music and its scene. His lyrics focus on frank and personal subject matter (homophobia, isolation, fear, rape, drugs) and serve to raise awareness about problems he feels aren’t discussed openly enough.
“We are just kids in a band playing songs,” Harris said of music as a means to foster expression and communicate. “But hardcore is so awesome because kids make bands. Bands make songs. And songs help kids.”
For people unfamiliar with straight edge, what does that mean for you?
Harris: Essentially, straight edge is a personal commitment. I can’t speak for anyone but myself about how much straight edge means to me and its role in my life. Growing up around drugs and alcohol and seeing the burden of addiction, it quickly became clear I had no room for it in my life.
Aside from being unable to see things for how they truly are, I can’t imagine not being able to physically help someone I love if I was incapacitated due to substance use. To me it comes down to conviction. You accept the title because you’re proud of that loyalty.
Most of the band are in their early 20s?
Harris: My favorite element of our band is the age range of all of us. I’m nearly 30 at this point. Donovan and Fletch are a few years younger. Meatle and Lar are barely under 20. It’s wild to see how we all offer such different influences to writing. Hardcore is about maintaining the community. The older generations have to look out for the younger kids. The younger kids are always going to be the ones who keep it fresh and keep it going.
Can you share about the album title?
Harris: The song and EP title are both representative of loss. In 2009 I lost quite a few people that meant so much to me. The song is specifically about the deaths of three particular people. The numbers represent the numerical value to how each of them died. 32 milligrams. 3 stab wounds. 1 bullet. I guess it’s a bit macabre, but it’s important to keep them in thought and value life for what it is.
I’ll never get over 2009 and all the pain that came with it. This song was a huge outlet for me to vent that hurt and frustration. I hope it is relatable to anyone who has felt that same loss, not just those who knew the individuals I wrote the song about.
Did Bitter Melody Records find the band or did you seek them out?
Harris: Grant from Bitter Melody hit me up about putting our EP out on cassette. We had been trying to figure out the steps in getting that thing released and he came into the picture at the perfect time. On top of him helping us out so much, we always try to support NC and what NC is doing. So it was a perfect match for us to work with a label out of NC who is doing cool things for the right reasons.
What themes/messages are important to get to people?
Harris: I think if I had to sum up the main objective of our band, it would be honesty and equality. We want to be whatever outlet that someone may need. We stand firmly behind equality and the fact that everyone should feel welcome in hardcore. Everyone should feel as if they can be who they are. It’s ridiculous to see bigotry in a community that was meant to be for everyone. All these elitists pushing kids out because they don’t fit the cool kid mold need to wake up. We are all here for the same reason. Hardcore kids supporting hardcore kids supporting hardcore.
Is there a single songwriter in the band?
Harris: I write all of the lyrics. I do my best to keep the topics relatable but still discuss subject matter that is most important to me. Be it rape culture, homophobia, depression, addiction, religion or whatever else that has burned me up inside over the course of my life. If kids can relate and it helps them, then all the taboo subject matter and lyrics we use are worth it. Hopefully through our message those who have felt silenced will find their voice. The songs themselves are all collaboration, musically. Each of the dudes in our band is important and play a role in making the songs all fit together.
People can be so unfazed, is it difficult to get a message across?
Harris: I think hardcore has always been about honesty. It’s an outlet for frustrated and angry kids. I think that somewhere along the lines bands stopped talking about important things because it was too taboo. I remember when I was young bands were talking about all kinds of insane stuff. I tend to write lyrics that specifically make me feel uncomfortable. Whether it’s due to things I have gone through or seen first hand. Or, how disgusting things like rape and homophobia are. If it bothers me then I’m sure it has bothered someone else. With that said I think all of our friends and peers in NC have understood our message and also supported us in delivering it.
“1 in 6” is a powerful song lyrically, brutally to-the-point in under two minutes.
Harris: The band had written the music for that song and it was pretty short and to the point. I wanted to write lyrics to fit that. Rape is disgusting. You can’t water it down. But I think people often brush it off because it’s so uncomfortable to even think about.
And doing that completely trivializes the pain that victims feel. I didn’t want to write a song to the victims of rape. I wanted to write a song to rapists. And I wanted the song to make anyone who listens to it uncomfortable. Hopefully that discomfort will continue to show how horrible rape is. Victims don’t get to brush it off. Neither should we.
Can you share the germination behind “Pseudo-Antipathy”?
Harris: I always hear these arguments about why it’s okay or not okay to use homophobic terms when speaking. I think the bigger picture is that kids are committing suicide over those terms and the hurt that comes with them. Regardless of your intention, kids are dying because they aren’t comfortable enough to be themselves or are being targeted because of their sexuality.
It all hit home when a family member tried to kill themselves. Alcoholism and depression were major roles in their decision. But what it ultimately stemmed from was the fear of coming out to the people that were supposed to care about them. If someone can hide who they are from the people they are closest with because they feel as if they can’t, how could they ever feel like they can be themselves to everyone else?
Maybe you’re justified when using whatever slang you want. Maybe you’re not. But, are you willing to be the cause of so much pain and hurt? I don’t really care what anyone says or what terms they find okay to use. Not my business. But I do my best to be respectful of people’s feelings.
The methadone’s a metronome
That’s drowning out the noise.
I’m measuring my minutes.
In fucking milligrams.
Another life gets washed away
Like it was footprints in the sand