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TERROR Interview with Vocalist SCOTT VOGEL on ‘Total Retaliation,’ Bridging Hardcore & Hip-Hop, and PURE NOISE RECORDS [w/ Audio]

Scott Vogel, vocalist for the hardcore stars Terror, discusses the band’s new album Total Retaliation, how he sees the worlds of hardcore and hip-hop connecting, signing with Pure Noise Records, and more.



Terror vocalist Scott Vogel doesn’t believe in the separation of artist and audience during a performance. Evidenced by the numerous times throughout the band’s set where Scott would walk off the stage to encourage the crowd to move up and “step on someone’s head,” it’s clear the veteran hardcore frontman just wanted everyone in attendance at the sold-out show at Toronto’s Hard Luck Bar to have a good time.

Speeding through choice cuts from their seven-album discography (and even two songs off the band’s 2003 debut EP Lowest of the Low) with furious precision, the energy from Terror and the audience was wild throughout the lively set. It all came to a peak of insanity during the group’s closing song “Keepers of the Faith,” where audiences piled on the stage yelling the title of the band’s modern hardcore anthem.

Before the show, I sat down with Scott to talk about their latest album Total Retaliation, playing Toronto’s Not Dead Yet Fest, how he sees the worlds of hardcore and hip-hop connecting, signing with Pure Noise Records, and more.

It’s Friday, October 12th. I’m here with Scott Vogel of Terror, currently on tour in support of their latest album Total Retaliation. How are you today?
Scott Vogel: I’m very good!

Terror pushes back with “This World Never Wanted Me,” the opening track off Total Retaliation.

Good to hear! The last time Terror headlined Toronto in 2015, you were sidelined with a neck and back injury. The band continued to play shows while you were recovering. How has your health been since then?
Vogel: I’m feeling pretty good. We’ve done a bunch of touring, we definitely slowed down as compared to how crazy we used to go. I don’t think I’m ever going to feel perfect again, but there have really been no problems. I try to take a little bit better care of myself with icing my back up every night, stretching and stuff like that, and maybe trying to be a little less crazy on stage, if that’s the right word.

Which is hard for hardcore and the music you play.
Vogel: I think touring a little bit less… We actually did that tour, the last time we were here with Knocked Loose, and that was a five or six week tour and that was fucking long. So I was worried about that, but this is just less than three weeks. So, everything’s been okay.

That’s great. Tonight, the “Total Retaliation Invasion Tour” is part of Toronto’s Not Dead Yet fest. How does it feel being a part of this DIY hardcore/punk fest?
Vogel: We’ve never played this before. I’ve always seen the flyer, I think it’s a cool idea. And I say this as a good thing, it’s a little bit outside of our box, it’s a little bit more punky, I guess. I kind of wish… it might be our own fault, maybe our booking agent pushed for it to be this way, I think it would even be a little bit cooler if we got to mix it up with a couple of the other bands that are a little bit different so it’s… I’m assuming since it’s our tour package and just hardcore bands, it’ll probably be the same crowd we usually play to, it would have been cool if it was a mixed bill.

I’m not complaining, I know the show (tonight) was sold out pre-sale. We’re obviously excited to be here, I think the fest looks cool. I gotta be honest, I looked at the flyer, a lot of the bands I don’t even know who they are, which is a good thing too.

Peep Omar Ludin’s shots of Terror with Harms Way, Backtrack, Year of the Knife, and Candy on October 12th.

Yes, same with me, I didn’t know. It’s good to check out something and be introduced to so many other things. I’ve been a fan of Terror since One With The Underdogs. You guys have been so consistent with putting out really solid, different records over the years, and Total Retaliation isn’t different. What does that album title mean to you?
Vogel: The overall, looking at the record as a whole, from the music to the lyrics, to the title, to the artwork, I guess negative… I guess it’s the most, I don’t know if negative is the right word, angry, aggressive… A lot of the Terror stuff, like One With The Underdogs like you mentioned or Overcome, are more like “OK the world has got these problems, and it’s a fucked up place, but keep your head together and you’re going to get through it.” That’s a lot of the messages of Terror but on this, it’s more “The world’s a fucked up place and it’s getting more fucked up, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.”

I would say there are two songs on the record that maybe have a positive message, and the rest are just straight up dark. Maybe that’s the word, “dark.” With the title, in the Terror world, it was like “Wait, and things are gonna turn around” and maybe now it’s “not wait…”

“It’s time to to push back,” maybe… In the middle of the album, there’s a track with Vinnie Paz (titled “Post Armageddon Interlude”). This isn’t the first time you have a rap track in the album, you had one on Always The Hard Way with “Dibbs and Murrs Check In.” It’s also not the first time you collaborated with Vinnie Paz, you did a remix of his song with Jedi Mind Tricks “Heavy Metal Kings.” It’s safe to say you guys are fans of the hip-hop and the rap scenes?
Vogel: Yeah, I can’t really speak for (bassist) Chris on his rap knowledge, but I know everyone in Terror, me, (drummer) Nick, (guitarists) Jordan and Martin, I’m sure Chris to some extent, maybe more than I even know, are all fans of hip-hop, in different stuff. With Vinnie, it started with him reaching out to us. I think the first thing he wanted us to do was the remix of “Heavy Metal Kings.” We went and we did it, after we hung out and drank, and it was crazy for him to see our knowledge of hip-hop and he knows SO much about hardcore and metal. So we are very similar.

Rapper Vinnie Paz brings the world of hip-hop into Total Retaliation with “Post Armageddon Interlude.”

Also you didn’t mention, we put out a 7 inch called Rhythm Amongst the Chaos, and we did a cover of a band called Breakdown on that, and he did vocals on it, like hardcore screaming vocals, and he sounds really fucking good. So yeah, we’ve done a bunch of stuff with him. The first day of this tour started in San Diego, and he was playing there the day before, me and our guitarist Martin drove down a night early, caught his show, hung out with him. He texted us last night, he’s going to come to our show in Philly on Tuesday.

I’ve heard you wanted to bridge the scenes and the gap between hardcore and hip-hop, and maybe play a show with him.
Vogel: Yeah, I’ve talked to him about it a bunch, it’s never happened. We played with Necro and Ill Bill once in London. In some festivals in Europe, we played with uh…what’s that fucking guy’s name… we played with a couple different artists. I mean for me, it’s more like the hip-hop scene and hardcore are very similar in mindset, but the music is obviously so much different.

It feels nice to break the record up (with “Post Armageddon Interlude”) because Terror songs, although they are different, they all sound very similar, especially with my vocals. My voice is pretty much one dimensional. So to have something like that break everything up is cool. It’s kind of like a half-way point, it gives you a breath from me screaming.

You mentioned Necro, I remember seeing him on the Sounds of the Underground 2007. Apart from him, it was mainly a metal, metalcore, hardcore lineup.
Vogel: Oh yeah! I think that was the year after we did it.

Yeah you guys were on it in 2006. I know he didn’t fare too well, I know the Toronto crowd didn’t really dig him. But maybe today, ten years later…
Vogel: You know, I’ve seen Jedi Mind Tricks a bunch, and when they go on stage I look out and I’ll be like “I wonder if Terror played right now, what this crowd would be like?” So I don’t know, I’d like to do it but I don’t know.

Hopefully soon. I feel like today, hardcore and hip-hop are more…
Vogel: I know Trash Talk does a lot with that whole… that’s more like the current rap world, which isn’t really my… I don’t know everything about that. But yeah, we’ll see what happens.

It would be cool. You guys have been with Pure Noise Records now for The Walls Will Fall EP and now with Total Retaliation. As a band who’s released so many albums over the years, with so many different record labels, why’d you go with Pure Noise Records, and what do you guys like with them so far?
Vogel: I think the most important thing to us with Pure Noise was that they’re geared towards the current youth, like younger kids. Because I think most older people know who Terror are, they either like us, or they used to like us, or they don’t care, they never cared; We kind of have that covered. But there’s this whole younger scene, and to them, we’re an older band. We are an older band. For me, I think of Agnostic Front as an older band, but the reality is, we’re an older band.

Something important to us is to stay relevant with the new kids, and the younger kids. There’s all these Warped Tour worlds and bands… like Stick To Your Guns, I love them, but that’s a whole different world that we want to try and… you know, we’re always going to be Terror, we’re always going to be a straight up hardcore band, but drawing those kids in, and exposing them to what we’re doing is important to us. That’s pretty much the main reason.

“Stick Tight” is one of the classic Terror tracks and videos, from Keepers of The Faith.

I just love that they’re so different with their marketing. I know they always collaborate with the Grill ‘Em All burger shop in California, and you guys have a themed burger, and whoever went there to eat that, gets a free copy of the album.
Vogel: Yeah, the burger was good too!

Did you guys have any input in that?
Vogel: Our guitarist Martin would know more about that because he knows the owner and I don’t really know, but I went there for the first time. They were super nice to us, and they had a burger that had jalapeno bacon, and it was so good!

That’s amazing. One of the things I love about hardcore is how that it’s such a global scene. It transcends cultures and even languages. So you guys have toured the world countless times throughout your whole career. Do you still get blown away by kids who don’t even speak English singing along to your lyrics?
Vogel: Yeah for sure. Being able to just go, take the music away, just being able to travel to these places because of the band is super cool. I’ve been, I don’t want to say everywhere, but many places and it’s all because of the band and our music, and we’re not a big band, we’re just a hardcore band, but I think it’s amazing, like what you were saying, there’s this network of kids in every city across the whole world that book shows and they have their local bands, and they’ll bring you there and yeah, kids that don’t even speak English will sing your words back to you, and I think that they feel it and did some (work) figuring out what the lyrics meant, so when they’re singing it they feel it, and that is one of the most amazing things for sure.

We’ll leave you with one of the most popular Terror tracks and videos of all time, “Keepers of The Faith!”

Definitely. Just to end off the interview, what’s next for Terror after this tour and in 2019?
Vogel: After this, we’re off for a nice break, because things have been really hectic, like getting the record recorded and getting the record out, and doing this tour. We have a nice six-week break, which I’m really looking forward to. Then we go to Europe, for the record release tour over there, which is us, Deez Nuts, Backtrack again, and Risk It!, a great band over there.

And then, we’re talking about, it’s not announced yet, I think Japan and Australia are gonna happen in early 2019. And then more of the same. That’s enough to figure out right now, but you know, it’s just gonna be the same, some tours, trying to tour less, we’re really happy with the record so we’re gonna try to push it and see what happens.

Any shout-outs or anything you wanna say before we conclude this?
Vogel: I’m not here to do a sales pitch, but I know a lot of people have been saying this is their favorite Terror record since Keepers Of The Faith or One With The Underdogs, I think if you haven’t checked out Terror in a little bit, this record might be a good time to check out a song or two and see if you’re feeling it, because I think it’s a pretty powerful record.