Hellbound’s Garren Ustel interviewed Incendiary vocalist Brendan Garrone earlier this year. Check out their conversation below.
Hellbound: How did you first get into the hardcore scene? Was it more old-school or new-school stuff that drew you in?
Brendan: My exposure to hardcore was really driven by the local scene on Long Island. I got into local bands like Subterfuge, The Backup Plan, and Kill Your Idols before I got into some of the classic hardcore bands. Strife was really the band that had the biggest influence on me in those early days.
Hellbound: What does “hardcore” mean to you these days?
Brendan: I guess I’m still kind of a purist in the sense that I still believe hardcore music should come part and parcel with sort of a different way of looking at the world and having a mindset of progressive thought, whether that is politically or socially. I’m not saying every hardcore band needs some kind major outspoken lyrical presence, but a hardcore band with nothing to say is really just a metal band to me.
Hellbound: Can you give me some insight into the origins of the band, please?
Brendan: We started in 2007 when I had just moved to NYC after college. I had always played drums in bands and since all of my friends and everyone who played music was still on Long Island, I wanted to do a band but didn’t want to lug my drums back and forth. I was honestly just trying to play the kind of hardcore I liked and maybe get to do some local shows. It is still unbelievable to me that we are still a band, let alone a band that has gotten to do some of the things that we have.
Hellbound: Incendiary is a fitting name for the band—who came up with it? How did they think of it?
Brendan: Thanks. Besides just thinking it was a cool word in general, The Backup Plan, the band I mentioned earlier, had an early release called the “Incendiary” demo, so I’m pretty sure I got it from that.
Hellbound: How does being associated with the overarching New York scene reflect on your sound?
Brendan: I would say less influenced by the classic NYHC sound and more so by Long Island bands like VOD as well as upstate NY bands like One King Down, Earth Crisis and Snapcase. As far as NYC, Indecision and 108 are both huge influences.
Hellbound: What does the title of your album Thousand Mile Stare mean? How is it related to the giant eye on the cover the record?
Brendan: The original meaning of Thousand Mile Stare is obviously a reference to some of the iconic photos of shellshocked soldiers in war. I wanted to take that reference and come up with a somewhat different meaning. For me, the record is all about perspective, both looking back on my past and trying to think about where I’m going. It’s that wide-eyed view of life as a young person moving into the next chapter of life and still trying to figure out how to cope with what’s going on in the world and what’s going on in my head. I wrote this record when I was 32, so obviously my outlook on things is a lot different from when I was younger.
Regarding the album cover, we were adamant about having a photo for the cover, influenced by a lot of the late ’90s emo and hardcore album covers of records I love. I don’t think any of us were particularly feeling the “mountain of skulls with a wizard drinking blood” type of br00tal album cover which, though cool, isn’t really our style. I basically wanted the exact opposite of that. When we were reviewing our friend Jon D’s portfolio of pictures, I knew instantly that photo was going to be the cover. The eye fits nicely with the album title and it reminds me of that voice we all have in our heads that’s constantly trying to keep us on some kind of path.
Hellbound: Can you list some influences that you like that maybe aren’t typical hardcore or metal bands? I hear “urban sounds” in your music a lot of the time.
Brendan: All of us have some pretty eclectic and wide-ranging tastes in music. As I kind of mentioned above, I was always very influenced lyrically by some of the seminal late ’90s emo bands like Texas is the Reason, Braid, Knapsack, The Promise Ring, et cetera. I guess vocal “flow” wise, I’ve always been into a quicker, VOD-style of delivery, especially since my lyrics generally rhyme.
I personally hate when hardcore bands try and act like some alternative shit is really apparent in their music, so I’ll stay away from that. For example, me and Audley, our guitarist, love a lot of the English 4AD Records-type of bands and he is also obsessed with Dinosaur Jr. but no, they are not a musical influence on Incendiary at all. We are a hardcore band and are not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re trying to refine and improve on the way our band already sounds. Hardcore bands who incorporate radically different music into their sound usually fail 98 per cent of the time and are generally too scared to start a new band with a new name that doesn’t garner their current guarantee for shows.
Hellbound: You are certainly one of the more exciting hardcore bands I have come across in recent times. How do you keep things sounding so pissed off all the time?
Brendan: I think it’s kind of related to what I was saying above. Incendiary is a hardcore band and play pissed-off music, so it is pretty easy to continue that. I still have that spark, that feeling when I step on stage and haven’t lost it yet. This is kind of what “Still Burning” is about.
Hellbound: Do you want to reach audiences outside of the hardcore scene? Are there ambitions to spread your messages to a larger audience?
Brendan: I really enjoy playing to different audiences; a lot of times people outside of hardcore are more open minded and accepting to give new music a chance. The WWE theme song we worked on I think exposed us to some new people, which has been cool, but we aren’t trying to “make it”. I just want to make our mark.
Hellbound: Do you consider yourselves a political or more socially aware band?
Brendan: Again, I don’t entirely understand how you can be a hardcore band and not at least somewhat touch upon sociopolitical topics, especially in this disaster of a year. Being “politically and socially aware” is synonymous with this style of music to me.
Hellbound: Any tour plans for the next year?
Brendan: We’re really trying to make it to some places that we haven’t hit before. We’re finally going to Japan in September, which we are all thrilled about. Past that, we need to hit a bunch of places in the US that we haven’t played ever or not in a while. I would very much like to get to Australia at some point as well.
Hellbound: How is it working with Closed Casket Activities? They have been home to a number of notable artists.
Brendan: Fantastic. We have been with Justin and CCA for a while now and couldn’t be happier. It is much more than our record label, really. We have a very collaborative relationship with Justin and use him as a sounding board for a lot of the things we do.
Hellbound: What was your mission statement with Thousand Mile Stare? Was there a specific goal when writing the record?
Brendan: Our last record, Cost of Living, was very much an outward looking record lyrically and focused a lot on the current climate of society as I saw it. On this record I wanted to try and look inward a bit more. It was important to me to write songs from my current perspective in life, a perspective that doesn’t really identify with the “my friend stabbed me in the back” or “my girlfriend broke up with me” types of things that I would have thought about when I was a kid. Overall we wanted to improve upon and refine our sound and write better songs.
Hellbound: How have you been handling the overwhelmingly positive reception to Thousand Mile Stare?
Brendan: The reaction to the record has been great from our end. Whereas nobody gave a shit about us before Cost of Living, I think we were all kind of cognizant of how that record did. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t care about topping that one. Being a band in 2017 means dealing with the shortest attention spans in history, so I am extremely thankful for people still giving us their time and attention.
Hellbound: Can we expect more new music from you sooner rather than later?
Brendan: No, probably not. It was a pretty epic challenge to get this record done with our schedules and responsibilities at home, so I have no idea what lies ahead.