interview with Dylan (guitar)
AXIS reminds me what was very popular when I got into hardcore in the early 00s. Something really chaotic, similar to metal but flirting with different emotions, bands like CONVERGE or COALESCE were at their peak at that time and dozens of bands all around the world were trying – unsuccessfully if you want my opinion – to copy ’em. I’m not anymore in that kind of music but I’ve seen many blogs and people sharing this record on social networks and it TO-TAL-LY rips! Check it out!
– There is something really chaotic about “Show Your Greed”, your first LP on Good Fight Music, (or even in that song “OC80” featuring on 2011 “Rites Of Passage” EP on Nothing In Vain Records) which really reminds me CONVERGE and other bands which have released records on Deathwish Inc. (like HARM’S WAY or CODE ORANGE, recently).
I guess AXIS has really specific musical influences, can you tell me which ones?
What is your opinion about the different bands I mentionned?
– You’re right, we definitely tend to gravitate towards the more chaotic sounding bands, we don’t provide much in the way of melody haha. We owe a lot to the obvious genre leaders (CONVERGE, TURMOIL, COALESCE, etc), but more specifically we pull from bands like KISS IT GOODBYE, KNUT, SWARM OF THE LOTUS, NEUROSIS, SPITFIRE. Since we collectively have a really diverse taste in music, we end up ripping off tiny details from pretty random bands. For instance, one of the new songs we’ve been working on has a short drum part that our drummer took from a BOUNCING SOULS song. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to rip off CHELSEA WOLFE for the past year or so, hasn’t worked yet. We all hold CONVERGE with pretty high regard, definitely a collective favorite. HARM’S WAY and CODE ORANGE is less unanimous.
To another subject, when I red all of your lyrics, I realized there was something really “unique”, or let’s say very specific about AXIS lyrical approach towards hardcore: it might sound pretty strange but reading these texts, written with a lot of anger and, somehow, sadness, it reminded me a lot of American books and movies where the narrator or the main character have to face the fatality of both his/her loneliness and need of justice or revenge. I mean, reading “Rites Of Passage” lyrics, I could have figured an entire scenario or figure all the settings from a really dark movie. Does making music allows you to calm down these specific feelings and these visions any individual can have when we have to face injustice, sorrow, anger, frustration…?
– For better or worse, I think most people involved in hardcore will tell you they feel alienated from most other aspects of their life. That, combined with that innate longing to belong somewhere that I think everyone feels, tends to provoke those feelings you’re talking about. “Rites of Passage” was with our old singer, and he tended to write from a first person perspective which ended up creating the kind of narrative that a book or movie would have like you’re saying. Rafael’s (our current vocalist) lyrics usually have a more omniscient standpoint, but he still pulls from extremely personal experience. We all love hardcore and it’s cathartic in its own way for each of us, it helps that we’re all such close friends aside from being creatively compatible. On the subject of dark movies, France has no shortage of fucked up material. Irreversible, Eyes Without a Face, Martyrs… Good stuff)
– Any special anecdotes concerning the lyrical process of “Show Your Greed”?
– Not particularly, he tends to go through the same process whenever he writes lyrics.
– When did you guys form?
– AXIS originally formed in 2009/2010 with an almost entirely different lineup, only one of the original members (Patrick) remains. There were frequent line up changes until about 3/4 years ago until we really found our place and sound.
Were you playing in different bands before starting AXIS?
– We’ve all been in or are still in other bands, but none of which have had the success that Axis has had so far. We’ve played hardcore, punk, metal, indie, we can’t make up our minds haha. PRAYER CHAIN, NO HARM DONE, KHANN, HARBRINGER, SHOVELHEAD, MEANTIME.
Whose original idea is it? Did someone texted everyone like: “Dudes! I totally want you to help me start this band I dreamed about last night…”?
– That was before I was in the band but AXIS started in the last half of 2009, when Patrick’s previous band was just winding down. It started as something that was supposed to be an honest emulation of the 90’s metalcore scene partly in an effort to try a different thing than what was happening at the time. FOUNDATION, DEATHBED, UNRESTRAINED and CONVICTED were doing cool things then but that was before this big resurgence in that sound we’re experiencing now had really begun. AXIS has evolved creatively and fell into more of its own sound in those six years since it’s inception but we still retain those core influences we started with.
– Who does what in the band?
– Tyler plays bass, Rafael sings, Patrick plays guitar, I (Dylan) play guitar, and Tommy plays drums.
What I like about “Show Your Greed” is that calculated style of making hardcore music. Everything seems to have been set for a specific reason: who/what inspired you to work like this?
– We like writing music that is unpredictable. We try to create that sense of tension and chaos and have parts that sort of come out of nowhere while still sounding coherent. Bands like BOTCH, COALESCE, KNUT, etc. executed this perfectly, but if you’ve never listened to music like that, it initially just sounds like someone through a bunch of instruments in a blender. Not at all trying to say we have chops like those dudes, but that’s sort of what we’re going for. We spent a great deal of time nit-picking a lot of little things on this record, namely when writing “Transgression” and “Discouraged”, but tried to draw a line between instrument masturbation and actual good song writing. We don’t want listeners to feel like they’re doing math homework, but we also don’t want them to see every heavy riff coming a mile away.
In my mind, there is something about what I usually called “chaotic hardcore” which is very unique: some metal influences mixed with discordant/noise/grind influences, not really grindcore, but more these 80s/90s hardcore punk bands playing disturbing noisy music like Dwid Hellion (INTEGRITY) with his fascination for Japanese Burning Spirits bands like G.I.S.M. … does AXIS really analyses how to to compose such tracks? I ask you this because on your bandcamp page you tagged “metal experimental hardcore punk” to describe your music.
– We get some level of influence from those bands, Patrick was in a grind band for a while (KHANN), so I’m sure there’s some crossover there. I’m not sure who decided on the “experimental” tag haha, but in the scope of the tiny genre that hardcore is we’re not that experimental. Compared to NICKELBACK? Sure. But we don’t have the innovation of bands like GISM or INTEGRITY (RINGWORM is better).
Somehow, “Show Your Greed” reminds me this typical circa-2010 trend inspired by bands like RISE AND FALL, CONVERGE…which had mixed elements of crustpunk/crustmetal and 90s Swedish and American death metal, like OBITUARY from Tampa + the use of this BOSS HM2 pedal effect. Are you into this kind of music? What particular pedal boards do AXIS guitar players use on studio and on stage?
– RISE AND FALL rules. Rafael’s lyrical style has some commonality with that guy’s. It’s kind of hard to grow up in Florida’s underground/heavy music scene and not have some affinity for that era of death metal, unless of course you’re “too punk” for that. OBITUARY, DEATH, ASSÜCK, MORBID ANGEL, they all influence us on some level, subconscious or otherwise. ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, and ROTTEN SOUND influenced another band we have called SHOVELHEAD, but not so much AXIS. I think the way CONVERGE used the HM2 on their earlier records is awesome but it doesn’t really have a place in our music. We don’t do anything too fancy in the ways of tone tricks, we put one cleaner/clearer guitar on one side and a heavier more distorted one on the other. A distortion pedal, tuners and suppressors is it really. Tyler is much more the pedal wizard. He uses a combination of some standard overdrive and this Green clone pre-amp and it sounds killer.
– I’ve seen on your Facebook page you’re part of the ” COLD MOON – A Benefit for the Wolf Sanctuary of PA” compilation cassette (available in January 2016), what can you tell me about this project? Why did you decide to join the other bands featuring on this tape and why did you chose the last song of your first LP (“With Grace”)?
– Everyone in the band is vegan apart from me, so the idea of doing something beneficial towards animals is an easy sell for us. Plus we were also attracted to the fact that Hydrogen Man has worked with cool bands in the past, namely our label mates OF FEATHER AND BONE. It’s funny, the logical song choice for this comp should’ve been the first track “Graze the Fire” because it’s about veganism, but we all just really like “With Grace” so we put that on haha.
– How’s Florida’s hardcore scene nowadays?
– Florida’s hardcore scene is awesome. It feels like people are always starting new bands, usually with more or less the same members. Having a music scene as incestuous as ours has its ups and downs, but the final product is usually great. Most of the people at shows are pretty young and they have every reason to stick around because there’s always shows and there’s usually good bands playing.
Which bands would you recommand to our readers?
– From Florida: DEFLECT, PRAYER CHAIN, SOCIETY ABUSE, DAY BY DAY, GOUGE AWAY, BLISTERED (I’m sure you’ve already heard of), HEAD CREEPS, HITLIST, GROSS, FALSE PUNK, MARUTA, CAVE OF SWIMMERS, WRONG, WASTELANDS.
– Not Florida: OF FEATHER AND BONE, HOLLOW EARTH, KDC, OLD WOUNDS, SERAPH/THE LIGHT, V SECT, GATECREEPER, YAUTJA, HOMEWRECKER.
What is your opinion about how hardcore is going in 2016? Don’t you think we have really good reasons to keep forming bands and dealing with important social and personal issues?
– Absolutely. For the most part hardcore is awesome. You’re still hard pressed to find a community as large as this that’s as open minded, anti-prejudicial, and mostly supportive of exchanging ideas. I’m amazed at times at how hard some people work at preserving this culture and supporting their friends or complete strangers simply because their ideals align. It’s great. I think lately there has been this surge of hyper political-correctness over the past few years that has its benefits and draw backs. I think that mindset is founded in good intentions, but is often counterproductive. Placing so munch sensitivity and emphasis can have the adverse effect and perpetuate those stereotypes and prejudices they’re trying to eliminate. Preserving the tenants of this community that I mentioned above should always be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but I think sometimes that intention is lost on tunnel vision. We should try to spread those ideas outside of this community to better the world around us, not only ostracize every person who slips up in a distasteful joke. There’s a lot of awful things happening in the world, finding solace among friends and loved ones is a beautiful thing and this scene can definitely provide that.
– Have you planned something special for 2016? Like touring for example?
– We’ll be pretty busy for the first half of the year, we’re doing BANE’s final tour which is a huge honor for us, plus getting to play shows with BURN will be awesome. We played a handful of shows with BANE a couple winters ago and had a great time so we’re very excited to be included in this. Then we play the final Rainfest in May which we’re equally stoked on, that’s something we’ve always wanted to do so playing the last one is an added treat. Other than that, we’re really only focusing on writing more music and stretching out to different parts of the world, namely Europe and Japan, so hopefully we’ll see you this year!
– I have no further questions! Any final words?
– CELESTE rules. “Les 150 Passions Muertrières” is the best KICKBACK record. Thanks very much for the interview, we really hope to be in your neck of the woods soon.