Modern society is littered with social injustice, political unrest, and racism, and that’s before we’ve even touched on the shitstorm that has been the last twelve months. Inspired by all of the above, hardcore band Purgatory have pulled all of that into their brutal, uncompromising new offering Lawless To Grave, out on April 9th, via Unbeaten Records.
With plenty to talk about, V13 sat down with Purgatory frontman Matt Anderson, for a no-holds-barred chat about the inspiration behind his songs, and his thoughts for the future of the planet.
Thanks for your time. How is life treating you today?
Matt Anderson: “No complaints over here!”
Love the new single that is out. Was it inspired by life in 2020?
“Both new singles ‘Stack Em’ Up’ and ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ were both inspired by years worth of experiences so while they’re applicable to things that transpired in 2020, they definitely predate the year. The first deals with the overwhelming amount of vile and disgusting things that take place in our government, judicial system, and the police. The latter deals with personal issues with people we no longer consider friends and people who seem to have a problem for no real apparent reason.”
The album is out in April. Can you tell us what hardcore/metal fans can expect from the rest of Lawless To Grave?
“The album is just pure aggression. It’s raw, unfiltered chaos stemming from direct, personal issues regarding all of us in the band. It’s hard, it’s heavy, it’s fast, it’s angry, it’s everything necessary while keeping true and real. Just an absolutely fucking relentless record. You think you get a second to breathe and suddenly you’re just getting your shit kicked in again.”
Can you tell us about the writing process for the album as I believe you tried some new ideas in terms of collaborating with each other?
“Well, the biggest takeaway from this record is we had a year and a half of writing to work with. Anytime we were together we hashed out ideas as some guys live out of state and we were able to work with a lot of material. We scrapped or rewrote probably an album’s worth of material. But basically, every weekend was spent pushing and pushing to try and capitalize on the week before. Josh Mata (guitar) and Tito Richmond (bass), who live out of state, we would Facetime (with them) if they weren’t there physically or we would bounce ideas back and forth over Dropbox, or demos or whatever. when we could physically get together it was hammer time, since we demo every single thing and dissect it all so there’s no second-guessing or bullshitting. We wrote the best material we literally have and it definitely shows.”
The album takes a look at the darker side of life in middle America. Can you talk us through the inspiration behind some of the songs?
“A quick breakdown of the record falls like this. We spoke out with our distaste and hatred of the corrupt, vile, racist, child molesting fucks that run our country and the world. They’re all in conjunction with each other and the police force is trash, the government is lying to you and hurting its citizens, the judicial system is influenced by both which are a joke. It’s power and greed. It’s just disgusting.
There are songs about suicide and struggling with day-to-day life. From personal reasons and seeing friends and family hurting and struggling. The feeling of endless misery and absent hope and just wanting to end it all. There’s a very personal song about a relative who took his life stemming from being a victim of child molestation. How much it affected my family and I, yet coming to terms with knowing that they are at peace. There are a few songs about revenge on enemies and warnings to those who think they’ll skate by not suffering the consequences of their certain actions.
There’s stuff about sinking in life and having someone in your ear telling you God will save you and Jesus is the answer when they’re the biggest hypocritical sinners there are and making those people suffer endless pain. Ultimately being the master of our own destiny. There are themes of us living how the fuck we want, living by our own rules, and facing reality for what it is. Not living a fantasyland life and not knowing how to exist outside the internet like so many people these days. People have this facade and their true colours always come out in person. We’re the rabid ass fools waiting in an alley for you to slip. Fuck the system and your world too.
There’s a song about people being professional victims who cater to call out culture with the intention of providing witch hunts to ruin someone but their claims are empty and invalid. Barking louder than they bite.
The whole record is the biggest fuck you to basically everything and everyone plaguing the human race and its influence dripping into hardcore. You ain’t shit.”
Tell us about the songs written from your own experiences. How would you describe the last twelve to eighteen months for you on a personal level?
“Yeah, I mean in one way or another, they’re all from personal experiences from direct to being witness to certain things as well. In some way, everything has impacted my life if I’m speaking solely about myself here. The last twelve to 18 months though has personally impacted me and those in our circle in the sense of things being globally broadcast in regards to the racial injustice black peoples and POC have to live with, and also showcasing how corrupt and vile the powers at be are. This impacts me in the sense of witnessing my friends or loved ones who are POC being the ones targeted through this, they are living with these experiences. But the impact on me is nothing compared to that, I can’t begin to understand it or imagine. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating and dealing with the ignorance and disregard and lack of understanding from my surroundings as well. People who want to be blind to it or not acknowledge it for what is really going on.
In another regard, we’ve been exposed to people you think you know who end up being monsters behind closed doors. I can’t speak on behalf of victims, but we have to the smallest degree of what they feel, shared in their tears and anger with what they’ve suffered as well. This will affect me personally always because of what the song ‘JCA’ on the record is about, a family member committing suicide stemming from being molested as a child. At the end of the day, some of these things that I feel hold no weight to those who have had to, unfortunately, experience it.”
You spent four days in the studio recording the album. Recording the album in four days is pretty impressive, was that down to the pandemic or just out of choice?
“That was just out of choice, we will eventually take more time to record someday but we come to record prepared and with our shit in order.”
Like we’ve said, the album takes a look at life in Middle America. Again, on a personal level, what are the things you have found most challenging over the last year?
“Referring to above questions again but also it’s been a challenge watching friends succumb to feeling like their lives completely shut down because of the pandemic. Losing a sense of self because their schedule and routine were taken away and that does mental olympics to people. Relying on drugs or vices to cope, it’s a bad scene man. Trying to help be their stability and have someone to lean on when a future seems so bleak. Trying to be there to remind them to build themselves mentally and physically, this will secure them for a stronger future when things get back to normal.”
In terms of the band, what are your plans following the release of the album in April?
“Just try and play when we can and where we can. If places have the green light, we’re going to play. There’s a lot of contradictions amongst the people who have something to say about that choice. It is what it is.”
What do you get out of putting your thoughts and feelings about modern life across through the band and your music?
“Reality. Always. It’s facing real life and letting people know they’re not alone in that sense too. The day I become unaware of my surroundings is the day I’ve given up. We also get the effect of letting people know you can fake the funk all you want but there are still bands and people that exist where we’ll kick that pride right from under your feet. There’s role-playing in HC and it’s stupid, you find out quick if someone is about the shit they claim.
Aside from all that I’d just have to say everyone in the band gets the chance to have their creative input and offer their direction and it helps keep us close and a collective. The band is a family and we all look out for each other even through the worst and trying of times, we put those experiences out in our music. It’s absolutely a form of personal therapy because you pour the strongest and most moving emotions you can have and feel into a musical outlet and, it shows.”
Given that hardcore has always been inspired by the tougher side of life, how do you think the experiences of the last twelve months will drive the scene and the bands to make hard, angrier and more aggressive music?
“Well, I’d hope it made kids grateful for what they do have and feel fortunate enough to not struggle as bad as we’ve seen people have had to struggle but there’s a lot of self-entitled little bitches in this scene. So, unfortunately, I don’t think things will be angrier and more aggressive because a lot of kids don’t know how to define that struggle and utilize it to grow into stronger beings.”
And, looking ahead to 2021, what are your hopes for the planet, or do you think we’ve gone beyond that?
“At the risk of sounding cliche, it would be great to see a lot of the aforementioned things disappear entirely. You would hope that as a species we could progress past post-dated ignorance and believing lies put forth by our forefathers. As the pessimist in me sits and doubts that even if those problems were taken care of, there’s people… a lot, that just want those things to exist. It’s like they can’t live a normal life without needing that bullshit or stirring up something else, I can’t wrap my brain around it but that’s how it is. So, ultimately, I think we’re doomed.”
Thanks for your time and good luck with the album. Over to you for the final words…
“I say a lot of negative things and seem to have a bad attitude a lot. But, it’s your perception and a viewer chooses to believe what they see. Me and my boys and our circle are pushing every day to be a bigger and better person than yesterday. We acknowledge and confront the shit that we see and we accept the horrible things life has presented whether we have a choice or not. Stuff isn’t always nice and peachy and I choose not to present a life that’s masked with fake happiness.
The things I love and the people I love, I pour my heart into. I’d like to believe that’s where some of us differentiate from a lot of society. I truly believe if everyone stopped fucking worrying about how they look to someone else or being in everyone’s business all the time (to a degree) you’d see a strong and unified front full of people excelling. Punk and hardcore is about being yourself and not giving a shit, not trying to appeal to everyone else, and looking down on people for not wearing 300 dollar Nikes or some shit. You’re taking this subculture and turning it into the shit we hate about normal society. Step the fuck off. Shouts to Unbeaten Recs, INHC, the Midwest, and all the bands holdin’ it down with the real hardcore shit. Lawless To Grave.”
Purgatory release their new album, Lawless to Grave, through Unbeaten Records, on April 9, 2021, and you can pick up your copy here.