December 23, 2010

Kingdom interview

Kingdom is a Philly band (soon to be a Richmond band?) keeping the faith in a big way. They play heavy, NYHC inspired hardcore and stand out as a band with something important to say. They've got a new 7" on the way and a US tour coming up, so I talked to their vocalist Davin and their guitarist Dave:

So first off, what can kids expect from your upcoming EP and can you give any hint to what label its gonna be on?

Davin: You can expect to hear something that sounds like our 7" and our full length getting together, listening to a lot of Hatebreed, then having a baby. We kept it fast and punk (like our 7") with lots of solos and snotty singing, then tried to make it as heavy as possible (like our full length, but even heavier and better.) I think it’s our best stuff yet! And hmmm. Ok, here’s a hint: one of the co-owners sings for a band we toured with.

All of your songs are about real issues - what sort of stuff are you going to be singing about in the new songs?

Davin: Well it’s kind of a concept record. My goal was to take really big, overwhelming issues and give them a face- the face of people I know. Each song is a story directly ripped from someone in my life’s life: a guy who went to jail and had his family torn apart due to crooked cops, a woman who was forcefully raped at knife point and went on to become a fierce and scrappy feminist, a drug addict who struggles constantly with his addictions- and then there is "my" song which is basically about how of these issues, and furthermore all suffering I and my friends and my family and people around the world endure, I see clearly in the suffering of animals. The point is that these issues effect people in all of our lives, not just mine. And when these things are effecting those so close to us, if we can see them on the small scale, it’s impossible not to care.

What's your take on the current state of the hardcore scene?

Davin: Depends on the day. Sometimes I get really bummed on how commercialized and packaged it’s all become, like when bands say "WE HAVE MERCH IN THE BACK" between every song instead of anything of any substance (also, as if people don’t know there’s merch- what fucking hardcore band doesn’t have merch?), how little kids seems to care about the meaning... and sometimes I wonder if there even is any. I wonder occasionally if I'm living in a memory, seeing the hardcore I come from not the hardcore I’m in. But really this is just me getting really bummed by spending too much time online (message board- ugh!), or too much time on tour (I can’t tell you how depressing it was to overhear a very prominent member of 80’s hardcore asking his bandmates how many "units" they moved after a fest we both played.)

BUUUUUT all it takes to snap me out of that is a show. Especially here in Philly, we have a really great scene. I’m not sure if I’d be so psyched elsewhere. But here at least hardcore is alive and well . People writing zines, demo tapes on every table, no rock star bands, no asshole kids. New bands are supported , old bands still play shows. I’m really stoked on a lot of what I see in general, especially the aspects of what makes this more than a music scene: blogs dedicated to hc (like yours!), zines making a comeback.

Dave: When I go to a show that has new bands like Backtrack and Dead End Path playing with one of today's biggest bands, Cruel Hand, and 20 year veterans Merauder (who are also the source of Dead End Path's name, I assume) - I realize that some people still care, and that this is still a real thing that we're all a part of. Singer of Merauder was talking about his kids between songs, and how he's like 40 years old - but he still got in a van and drove to Philly to play good old fashioned hardcore in the backroom of some church. Scott Vogel was moshing, right alongside some 18 year old kid who probably was seeing Merauder for the first time. Shit like that is real. Hardcore transcends age, gender, and so-called status. In that room, when Master Killer was being played, we were all one in the same. These things still happen, and this is what I'm a part of.

What was your first hardcore show and how did it impact you?

Davin: My first hardcore show was a bunch of locals and a band called Polyglot, who basically sounded like Hatebreed and came from the town next to me. I was 12 years old. It was such a huge night for me! I smoked pot for the first time ever (in the parking lot outside), and then saw my first hardcore show. Talk about life never being the same again...

After that I went to every Polyglot show I could get my Dad to drive me to. The singer worked at a record store in a neighboring town and I IDOLIZED him, I can’t even tell you how cool I thought he was (I was 12, he was maybe 18 or 19 and had long dreadlocks and the voice of a monster), so I would go in all the time to hang out (hoping he’d talk to me, which he never did because I was basically a child), and then one fateful day I noticed a sheld that had "staff favorites", including his - Man Is The Bastard’s DIY CD. I bought it. That CD changed my life, and Man Is The Bastard is probably my favorite band of all time. I have 2 MITB posters on my wall that I’ve had since I was like 14. But anyway...

After seeing Polyglot and their SUPERKEWL singer, Jay, all I wanted to do was sing for a hardcore band. I was 14 when I sang for my first "band" (if you could call it that- we played together only once or twice), when I was 15 I sang for a band called "Out Of Step" (by then I was straight edge), and at 16 I sang for my first band that ever played shows, Acadia. So basically that first show made a really, really big impact.

Dave: One day...a friend of mine at the time asked me if I wanted to go see Toxic Narcotic in the city (Boston) that weekend. I asked my parents (LULZ) if I could go, and we hopped on the train and went. I liked Toxic Narcotic, but didn't know any other bands playing. Poison Idea maybe? Thumbs Up? I don't remember. Then, a band set up and some old guy walked out on stage and said, "Hi, we're Slapshot..." and then shit went wild. I had been to like, a few rap-metal "concerts" and "moshed" before, but this was next level shit. They played a song I had never heard before called "Old Tyme Hardcore," and by the 2nd chorus I was piling across everybody else, in my Rage Against The Machine shirt, singing those words. It was unreal.

It took me a little longer to fully immerse into the hardcore scene. Like, I would listen to Embrace Today right next to Dream Theater or something lame like that, but even in the metal bands I was in my ethics were always more punk. "Hey guys, let's go on tour." "But we're not signed." "What? Let's just call some venues in these towns, find out who books our kind of music there, ask him to do it, get in our van, and fucking go." "We need to make a music video." (Mind you this was pre-YouTube/Myspace, I have no idea why these clowns wanted to make a music video...) But that same kid who brought me to see Toxic Narcotic introduced me to a few more people here and there, and then I was in my first hardcore band, and all was right in the world...

You recorded the new songs in Richmond, how awesome of a city is that place?

Davin: Extremely! Dave and I are thinking about moving there! (James, our bassist, already lives there.)

Dave: It's so awesome that moving there was my idea (haha!) Great food, friends, hardcore... what more does one need?

What new bands have you been listening to?

Davin: I think Fire and Ice is really sweet, and I listen to Hour of the Wolf and Outlook just about every day.

Dave: The only newer bands I think I listen to are Dead End Path and Fire & Ice. There's some other decent ones, but I just haven't gotten to buying anybody's records yet.

Anything else you want to add?

Davin: Thanks for interviewing me! We’re going to be touring soon, all the dates will be on, and all the stories (pics/vids) from it will be on our come out and check it out!

Dave: Thanks for the interview! Go Vegan, stay Straight Edge, listen to my friend's band Quiet Arcs, read my friend's zine Litmus Test, and come to our shows and talk to me about Star Wars.

Kingdom on Myspace

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