Terror – Hardcore for LifeTuesday, 2nd October 2018
It’s easy to look at Terror and see the embodiment of the hardcore genre in their bones. Their entire discography has been dedicated to spreading the word of said genre and its strengths. That spirit of aggression and what it means to be a part of something have been a big piece of the band since the beginning. The genre’s heyday still wears its influence on each of the band’s releases, and the recently released Total Retaliation is no exception. In fact, it’s probably more furious than the band has been in recent years (as we will discuss below). So we grabbed vocalist Scott Vogel for a round of questions to dig into what makes Terror tick: what they stand for, what makes up their music, and of course, what keeps them coming back to the hardcore genre.
Dead Rhetoric: What does Terror stand for, at this point in your career?
Scott Vogel: The first answer that comes to my head is that I think we stand for an honest man’s type of band. We don’t have a gimmick or costume. We wear, on-stage, the same sort of thing we wear off-stage. You will find members of Terror at hardcore shows all the time, where we are not playing, because we feel like we are a part of the community and support it. I think if you want some support, you have to give some support. We enjoy going to shows and being a part of this [scene].
I think we represent that basic piece that gets lost – that underground music is made by people who are much like the audience. The audience and the band are very similar. I think that’s one reason people gravitate towards Terror. There are bands that have a costume and a big stage show, I’m sure that attracts a certain type of person. People like me, when I got into this, I couldn’t believe that the guy next to me was next up playing, and that’s something that has always been important to me.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you see as the role that Total Retaliation plays?
Vogel: Every Terror record has a different presentation. Some of our records, like our first record Lowest of the Low, was very pissed off and negative. Our next record, One with the Underdogs was a little more uplifting – trying to beat the bad stuff in this world. I think the point that the band is in right now is a really good spot. We get along well, there’s been times where there has been more inner-band nonsense. We are touring a lot less, so we are happier because we can be at home more and be more of a ‘human.’ But unfortunately the rest of the outside world is in a really ugly place. Even though the band is in a great place, I think the record comes off as being absolutely negative, pissed off, and aggressive. There are one or two songs that are a little bit positive, but for the most part, this is probably the most pissed off Terror record in a while.
Where you are in life, where the hardcore scene is at, and where we are as a band, and the state of the world all go into your record. I think right now, it’s not the best time. Especially being a citizen of the US. I sometimes feel embarrassed. I’m not super political, but I turn on CNN every morning and watch it for a half hour or so. The stuff I see is just embarrassing and really sad. I think the way it’s affecting people and making them more divided – I don’t think we are making any steps forward, but reverse, and it’s really sad to see. It’s a reflection of the times. If Terror as a band was in this really good place, and if the world was beautiful – maybe our record would sound like the Guerrilla Biscuits [laughs]. I don’t know if that would be possible, but maybe? But right now, it’s just angry.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you discuss the “PostArmageddon Interlude” that appears on Total Retaliation?
Vogel: That’s Vinnie Paz from Jedi Mind Tricks, a hip hop group from Philadelphia, who is a good friend, and he definitely grew up in the hardcore scene. I can talk hardcore with him for hours. Back on Always the Hard Way, we did something similar. The track is called, “Dibbs and Murs Check In,” which has Mr. Dibbs, a DJ from Ohio, making a beat and we had Murs, an LA rapper, do the same thing. It’s just an interlude. Everyone in Terror, in varying degrees, is into hip hop. It’s a nice way to break up the record. Terror records are pretty short, but after 13 or 14 songs in a row, it starts to get monotonous.
Dead Rhetoric: What are the ingredients of a good Terror song?
Vogel: I’m always a fan of fast shit into something groovy for the chorus, and then a hard-hitting breakdown. Maybe that’s why Madball is one of my favorite hardcore bands. But you can’t do that on every song. For me, it’s just an energy. The songs, the riffs, the tempo, the lyrics. It all has to have an energy. I can’t say that there’s one formula to it. To write this record, there was probably 30 ideas written. I don’t want to call them full songs, but ideas – Nick [Jett] and Jordan [Posner] are the main songwriters, and they will play something to me sometimes and I’ll think it’s perfect, and other times I won’t know what to say.
For me, I hear it, and if I get a buzz off of it, then I think we are going in the right direction. If a riff doesn’t move me, then I say, “nah.” Unfortunately, I’m sure it’s frustrating sometimes because they have to just trust me. If I don’t really feel it, then it’s not really something that I will be able to push to a few song. But there’s been a few times where I didn’t feel it, and they made a fake vocal pattern, because sometimes I don’t see their vision. They will put where the words go, or things like that, so sometimes they prove me wrong. So I think most of the formula is just what I feel.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been on a number of the biggest metal labels, what drew you towards Pure Noise Records?
Vogel: Honestly, they were the only label we were interested in. I had thought about Bridge Nine, which was the label that put out our first record. I thought that could be kind of cool, but for a band like us, one of our goals/needs is to stay relevant with the younger crowd. We’ve been a band for 16-17 years, and kids are half our age for the most part. We have some that have stuck with us from the start, but for the most part, if you want to stay relevant you need the youth.
If you want your shows to be rowdy and energetic, you need the younger kids. The ones that have been coming from the start will still show up, but they are probably going to be in the back having a beer and not be jumping off the walls. So Pure Noise, for what’s going on with youth, they are very much in the mix. That was the most important thing. I don’t want to discount the fact that the people that worked there were cool, and they aren’t too big of a label but not too small. They are located 20 miles from my house. It’s just a good fit.
Dead Rhetoric: You bring up a good point with the band getting older. How do you try to stay relevant and project to the younger audience?
Vogel: Going back to the first question, I think the younger kids still see us around and that we are a part of things. Nick records a lot of younger bands. We take younger bands out on tour that get us psyched. I know some older bands that are okay playing to an older crowd, and they aren’t too concerned about the new generation, but for us, it’s something that I’ve always thought was important. You have to focus on what is going on now, not the past.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you talk about your approach to stage banter? What’s the role of it?
Vogel: To be honest, I don’t do so much of it anymore. When it started to become a focal point of Terror, I kind of let it go. We were just in Canada and we played 8 songs without stopping. I’d have a couple things to say and we’d play 7 more songs and it’s the end of the set. The band is important to me, so when the focus became stupid shit that came out of my mouth I decided that it was time for it to go. Let’s put it back to the music. So we don’t stop much. For the most part, I want one time to say anything that’s important to me. It’s with the vibe of the show. If anyone is having a really good time, I might try to say something funny or make fun of ourselves. But for the most part, it doesn’t happen that much.
Dead Rhetoric: With Terror entrenched in the scene and being proud to represent it for so long, what are your thoughts on the hardcore scene and the changes over the years?
Vogel: For the most part, when you get down to the foundation, it’s pretty much very similar. You still have little shitty, dirty clubs with hardcore bands playing and people doing it because they love to do it, and they need to do it. I think the ethics of hardcore and the foundation is very similar. If you go out and look for it, the word hardcore has broadened by definition. There are more bands that you could consider hardcore bands. There are way more bands on tour and more putting out music. I feel like that for someone like me, who comes from the traditional hardcore scene and holds onto those values, the tradition is still there.
But I’m also open-minded enough and like music enough, and have grown up enough, to know that things can’t stay in a tiny, little bubble. They are going to grow and change, and that’s a good thing. The technology comes into play. I could have an idea for a song right now, record it tonight, and release it tomorrow. There is a little bit of maybe too much going on for people to keep up with. I can’t keep up with all the bands and things going on. Especially in LA, I could probably go to a show or two every night. Not all hardcore, but all forms of underground music. It’s hard.
With money too, who can pay for all that stuff? A lot of shows are filmed, so I think some kids check out what happened at the show last night on their phones, which is kind of crazy to me. You can see it, but it doesn’t feel the same way if you aren’t there. So things have stayed the same, but over 15 years or so, they are also going to change.
Dead Rhetoric: You said the band often catches shows. What still draws you towards hardcore, what do you love about the genre?
Vogel: I listen to all types of music, and I really like hip hop, and I do see a lot of similarities between underground hip hop and hardcore. Between the labels, the way they tour, and the affiliations and lyrics. I think that’s what draws me to both are the lyrics. I don’t even have to agree with them. But if I can feel the lyrics are making me think, and they are honest, then that’s a big deal to me. I’ll meet some people and ask them what they listen to, and they say, “Whatever is on the radio.” I’m like, “Man, my whole life has been the exact opposite of what you just said.”
I’ll still get demos and pop them in and I’ll get goosebumps. That energy doesn’t come from anywhere else. I’ll go see other types of live music, and it’s great, but there’s something about the perfect hardcore show. When the crowd is going off and it’s super aggressive, but not in a hurting each other way, and the band is going…I don’t know. I still love it, and there’s nothing else that gives me that rush. Even if I’m not playing, and I’m standing there watching, I’m like, “God damn, that is cool!”
Dead Rhetoric: What’s next for Terror this fall? I know there’s a tour coming up.
Vogel: Before that tour, we are going to Costa Rica for one show, which is kind of cool. We have only been there once, so it will be cool to get back there. Then we have the [US] tour in the fall, then we will go to Europe and do the same thing…a record release tour so to speak. We are trying to tour a little bit less. Before we would be gone all the time. Now we are picking our stops and doing shorter tours. It’s nice to be able to say no and know we will be home sometimes. It’s nice to be offered things and where we would be like, “We have to take it,” now its like, “No, we don’t. We’ll play there when we want. It will be waiting.” So more shows and tours, but also keeping in mind that we aren’t 20 year olds that want to live in a van all the time.