I caught up with Colin Young after the last set of their 3-week tour with Wisdom In Chains and Terror, in London. The night was suitably intense, but I was able to have a fairly laid-back conversation with the vocalist of one of the fastest-rising bands in hardcore right now. What follows is a direct transcription of our dialogue in the Underworld, a premiere alternative venue in London’s Camden district.
So I know that touring with Terror and Wisdom In Chains is kind of a highlight in and of itself, but are there any particular moments that really stand out?
Young: We already have such a close personal relationship with Wisdom In Chains that going into that was already so exciting, just to hang out with them, and Terror as well, we’ve known those guys for years. So it was cool to have like fourteen people on a bus who are all like friends, I’d say that was pretty much a highlight on its own. So that was cool.
And I know that on tour you share music with each other.
Young: Oh yeah, we do that all the time. Like, Scott from Terror will just yell a band name at me and ask me if I like it. He’ll be like “Snapcase!” and I’ll be like “Fuck no!”
[laughing] So B.o.b. recently came out and went on this Twitter spew about the Earth being flat.
Young: Dude. What a fucking idiot. Like…aw, man.
Do you think that that’s a wider trend? Like, discounting basic scientific fact?
Young: It’s like, it’s an irrefutable fact. We have traveled through space. We can see it. It’s like, “Oh, there it is… it’s round. It’s spherical.” And now this fucking dork…ah-
Check out the song “Insincerely Yours” here.
Do you feel like conspiracies are common now?
Young: Sure. And it’s a sign, of…it’s a mental deficiency to deny what is a fact. Or just a desperate grab for attention from a one-hit wonder.
That cover for Disharmony reminds me a bit of Suspiria, and of Italian horror in general. Are you a fan of horror films?
Young: Absolutely. I’m not like a deep indie horror guy. But one of my favourite things is being scared. Like The Conjuring, that’s one of my favourite scary movies of the past decade. I love it.
So you like paranormal.
Young: Absolutely. Love it. Love it.
You say you like being scared. It must be a pretty scary experience being on the road in Europe.
Young: [laughs] Yeah, that’s kind of a different type of unsettling thing. Like, after those Paris attacks-
[We’re interrupted by a couple fans who ask to grab a picture. Colin obliges them before settling back into his seat opposite me beside the merch table.]
Young: Alright. Where were we?
We were just talking about the Paris attacks.
Young: Fuck. After those Paris attacks, I started to feel differently. Things I’d never thought about. We got to the venue in Paris on this tour, and there’s only one way in and one way out. And I found myself actively worried. I was like, “Wow, something happens, I cannot get out of here.” All of that’s definitely been on my mind a lot, more than I wanted it to be on this tour. So that’s a new thing too, I never, ever thought about that. That’s a different kind of feeling, that’s like real life feel. Whereas watching a horror movie is kind of a safe feeling. You know?
Yeah. Like being on a rollercoaster versus being out there, in the open.
Did it affect your writing, or lyrics at all?
Young: Which, the Paris attacks? Or how I was feeling about it?
The, uh, the general fallout from that.
Young: I haven’t written anything since then. But that’s a good idea. I mean, I’ve…
Better to let it process?
Young: Well, yeah. Exactly. I’m still thinking about it.
I wanted to talk about something particular to hardcore. Out of all the genres, hardcore, I think, still has the capacity to be dangerous. That’s why when black metal became big, it was because they were burning churches and killing themselves.
Young: It was real.
Exactly. And that’s something I want to ask, do you think hardcore is still dangerous? Does it need to be?
Young: [thinking] I mean, it definitely still is, like you say the wrong thing and you’ll get fucked up. You know? And I think that the Internet and the Tumblr kids who are really quick to jump on and attack people, while they aren’t like the authority they think they are, it’s sometimes really justified. Ah…it’s hard to explain, but yes it’s still dangerous. You know, it’s been a place for unity and for people to escape, but at the same time it’s a place for fucked up people to escape and to unify. And that’s why we’re here. Our world isn’t perfect. The things we sing about aren’t happy, shiny things, you know? Just the way it is.
Do you feel like we take that frustration out there and bring it into this?
Young: Of course. Whether it’s political or personal. There’s always been a purpose. Whether it is to instill danger in others is not necessarily the purpose, but that’s always come with the territory. And to anyone who doesn’t think so or argues that, you’re wrong, period.
Like make people question their own safety.
Young: It’s not like that’s the point. It’s not like, “We’re here to be dangerous!” But that’s always going to be there. That’s why a normal person can’t just fucking waltz in and – I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.
I understand. I asked you because you come from California, which has had intense scenes both in the past and now, and American hardcore in general has that propensity. I mean you look at something like FSU, right, which I know became something that people warped and distorted, but at it’s core, it was a crew.
Young: It really still is friends standing united. And at the end of the day, that’s what it is. People can misconstrue that or talk shit about that, but…it’s not what people think it is. The misinformed and the ignorant will probably never understand it. Because, in California especially, those people are the ones who book shows. Those people are starting bands. There’s no fucking negative aspect to it, where I’m from. It never has been.
I know Taylor mentioned in another interview that he watched Enemy. Did you watch that too?
Check out the song “Disharmony” here.
It’s that one with Jake Gyllenhaal…
Young: Oh! I haven’t. That’s not the same guy who did Prisoners, is it?
It’s by the same director who did Prisoners, yep.
Young: Prisoners I fucking love. I love movies like that. Prisoners I watched on a plane two years ago on our way to Europe and I woke the whole band up, ’cause there was like a little screen where you could watch movies. Woke the whole band up and I was like, “I just watched Prisoners, you gotta see it, it’s insane!” The whole band watched it separately in our scattered seats. So that was cool.
I know that you guys have had to deal with “genre-fying.” I won’t go into the same tired questions about that. But I will ask: You one time went on record as saying you guys sound like Fleetwood Mac meets Suffocation…
…which I still think is so out of left field, but totally on point.
Young: It kinda makes sense, right?
It totally makes sense. I don’t know if you’ve come up with another way of describing your band, but…
Young: I was real happy with that one. When I came up with that one, I was pleased. And I’ve been using it ever since.
But at this point, you guys, with that sound, are working hard towards a point where you’re becoming as well known as bands like Nails, like Full of Hell, like Code Orange. These are bands that are important to us here and now, because losing more and more bands to an RIP status, the only thing we have are bands that act as a common currency, and that means having them here and now and as widely as possible. You’ve become one of those bands. What is it like to be that currency?
Young: Fuck, I mean, I don’t know if I can ever personally see it that way. But, that means a lot for you to say that. We’ve definitely gone out of our way to be different from the second we started and I think that it’s a lot easier to be different now as a young band starting, because of bands like us, bands like you just mentioned, there’s less to question. When we were starting, it was a lot like it was now, where people either love it or people hate it. And the people that love it want to talk about how much they love it, and the people that hate it want to talk about how much they hate it. So that conversation always kept this air of polarization with us, and I think it’s a lot easier for a band like us, if they were to start right now, it would be a lot easier for them than it was for us.
When we talk about bands that are being different, I feel like it’s also from looking at bands in the past to provide inspiration for us to go in and say, “I see what they’re doing, I want to do that, but different.”
Young: I mean there’s tons of those bands that contributed to what we sound like. Bands like Only Living Witness put out one of the best records ever written and, you know, most people don’t know what that is, and that’s crazy. Called Prone Mortal Form, check it out. A band called Sam Black Church from the same state, Massachusetts, did something crazy different, and it didn’t reach the potential that it could have. It’s like, all the bands that we love and we put together that make us, really never got past a certain point. So it’s not a shock to me that we’re not blowing up and not some huge band. But we’re just doing our thing and that’s the way it’s always gonna be.
Yeah you are. And it’s working. Right now you’re in London, England…
Young: [laughs] Right.
…and you’re touring with Terror and Wisdom In Chains.
You guys are doing something right.