Usually I donít like the big bands coming to Santiago because usually they are lame bands like Agnostic Front, The Business or 108. Everyone goes crazy because such celebrities hit town and I donít give a shit. With Bane it as different. I know that there have been stories about the band in my home country that purely suck and I know that they are more than just backstabbing lies but ďcan we start againĒ is still one of my favourite hardcore songs of all times, it totally speaks my mind and sometimes I am just inconsequent, I know... Admission as usual with international bands here was way too high for me (in fact even higher than it would have been in Europe while wages are significantly lower; if you took wages into consideration admission would equal US$140 in the States!). So I waited outside in the cold with the other poor kids, sold my badges or traded them for vegan empanadas and finally got to enter just one song before the one song I had come for. I handed over my glasses and my backpack to some innocent bystander and hit the pit at a real hardcore hardcore show for the first time in years. And really this pit, this whole show was crazy, way crazier than anything I had ever seen before in my whole life. The whole room was one huge, non-violent pit and we sang along so loud you could hardly here the music at times. This was awesome! Moments like these are the reason I havenít ditched hardcore completely yet. So after the show I took the chance to talk to singer Aaron about a topic that is really important to me: Growing old in hardcore:
You are in South America right now. How would you say is the scene or are the scenes down here as compared to Northern America and Europe?
Before today I would have said that the scenes might be smaller but the kids are very enthusiastic, very giving and very caring. Maybe there is not as many kids into hardcore but those who are, are very much into hardcore. They seem to be very thankful that you made the trip and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. We played three shows in Colombia and then in Peru but this tonight with 400 or 500 kids this was as big as any city in North America. Seriously it was as crazy as any show weíve played in the last four or five years. It was crazy. Obviously the hardcore scene here in Santiago is very, very healthy. Everybody was going crazy; everybody was watching out for each other and having a good time. Iím a little in shock right now because we would have never expected this. This is a highpoint. We are all just amazed right now.
At this show tonight and I guess in general at your shows 90% of the kids who come out are younger than you on guys on stage. Hardcore is very often about youth crew and for the kids and so on. You are a grown man. How does that feel for you?
Itís a tricky situation because the thing that I like most about hardcore is that it is a youth culture. The things that drive it are the things that drive youth: energy, passion, eagerness, naivety and all of these things that come with being young and that I have not done a very good job of outgrowing. No matter how many years go by I cling to this. Maybe it is a fault. Maybe it is nothing to be bragging about but it keeps me from feeling like my age and it keeps me from getting involved in a cycle of life of going to work and paying your mortgage and worrying about bills or babies or any of that. Hardcore is really a fountain of youth as far as I am concerned.
I donít feel too much removed from the kids. I mean sometimes you talk to a kid after a show and you think wow! this person is really young or doesnít know much about life and whatís going on but Iíd rather spend my time with someone like that than with some old jaded fuck in a bar who is just bitter and lonely and angry and everything. You just try to keep hold of the fact that we decided to stay a hardcore band and remain hardcore kids and a lot of that has to do with hanging around people that are much younger than us. And thatís okay with me.
So, you donít fear you could reach a point where your life differs so much from the lives of the people in front of the stage that your lyrics canít reach them any more because what you are talking about are experiences that they just donít know?
Of course, I do. I always fear that there will come a day where something in me changes and I canít relate anymore. Iíve seen it happen to so many of my peers. So many of the kids that Iíve grown up with and been in hardcore with for a long time reached a point where it didnít seem to make sense to them any more, they think itís silly and that really these are just dumb kids. And I do worry about it, that it will happen and I really hope that I will be honest enough with myself to recognize that, okay, it is time for me to stop prancing around on stage and singing about this community that I no longer feel a part of. But being in a band that gets the opportunity to travel and to be part of amazing things like tonight it is hard for me to lose track of it, to stop feeling it. I mean, I felt like a kid tonight. I felt like I was invited into this very nice community. There were many straight edge kids, many hardcore kids. And I still feel excited the way I felt fifteen years ago when I see a Uniform Choice t-shirt. This is my life. This is what kept me through this whole journey and has kept me grounded and has kept me from turning into my father or turning into something that I canít respect. As I said, I just hope that when I am obviously too old for this that I will realize it and just walk away from it. But right now I am still as excited about hardcore as I ever, ever was. I still listen to young bands. I still get psyched when I see kids stagediving. I still get excited about all those thing that have been part of my life for a long, long time.
My favourite song of yours is ďcan we start againĒ. Roughly eight years ago in this song you sang that you still believe. Do you sill believe that hardcore can be this ďplace where the strange were accepted, judged by whatís insideĒ. I mean obviously big parts of the hardcore scene are clearly not. How do you keep the faith?
Because I believe that there is a small group of people who havenít lost track of the community aspect of this. Youíre right that it has largely grown into high school-like bullshit and there is cliques and the cool kids and the uncool kids and fashion. But I still find people who get it, kids that maybe are a little older, that have given some years to this and who really understand that this is a special place and you want to make it inviting for young people and you want to show them or teach them that it is not about how hard you dance or how cool you dress. Thatís what I try to concentrate on. And I still find them all over the world these people who get it the way I try to get it. So when I sing the song that is what I try to concentrate on, that I know that there is someone out there who thinks ďyeah man, this fucking scene saved my life and I want to give that to somebody else!Ē
This reminds me of something Austin Lucas, a crust punk who plays country now, told me in an interview. He said that whenever he is seeing a shirt that says ďpunk rock saved my lifeĒ he is like ďyeah, mine, too!Ē
Exactly! I think there is still hope. Maybe there is more bad than good but as long as there is some good and as long as there is some kids still holding on and carrying the torch then I am going to keep singing this song.
Youíve been quite a while in the hardcore scene. What is your perception? What has changed?
So much changes over and over again that it almost starts feeling like a cycle. You just see things coming and going and you know that it is ever evolving. Things are changing quicker now because information can be traded faster and young kids can learn about cool bands very quickly and about the right way to dress and the cool way to dance. Information just travels so much quicker now than when we first started because of the internet and because the way people when they get into something they really celebrate it and consume themselves in it. At least with kids with money in cities it is about consuming something so completely that it just becomes who you are. So now things are pretty much about fashion and about how cool you are and then it will change again. Right now in Boston there is these bands who donít get on stage wearing tight pants, bands like Have Heart or Verse or The Effort or Step Forward. They are hardcore bands. They donít give a fuck about being pretty. They have things to say on stage. It wasnít like that three or four years ago. It is just ever evolving, ever changing and you just hope that your voice will have some impact in the younger people who get into it and that it can stay a scene about intelligence and about what is beating in your heart instead of the outside stuff. And right now it feels very exciting. All across America there is bands that seem to concern themselves with things that are a little more deep than how fucking cool you are, how big your crew is and all that stuff. So right now itís good and in two years we could have this conversation and there could be something driving me so crazy about hardcore that it makes me want to pull my hair out. It is always evolvingÖ
Despite things being good right now in your eyes, if you could change one thing about hardcore today, what would you change?
I would just make kids not have to feel like they have to feel so tough all the time, just have everybody settle down and not be so eager to prove how hard they are or how tough they are because it is really ruining shows, it is ruining hardcore. It seems to me a misconception that people need to take respect from others like ďIím going to force you to respect me and my crew and my cityÖĒ Itís such bullshit because you canít force anybody to respect you. You have to earn somebodyís respect. By beating it into them you are just causing fear and anger. There is no real respect. I wish that everybody could just settle down and realize that respect is about treating people the way that you wish that they would treat you. People just try to force their will upon other people and thatís what young kids see when they come into the scene and that is what they gravitate to. They believe they have to dance hard, they have to kick people, they have to punch people and that is not what it is about for me. If I could change anything I would change that.
Okay, to finish this, please, just name a few present day bands that you really like and that you would like to share!
There is two bands right now that have me so excited about hardcore on so many different levels. One is Blacklisted from Philadelphia and the other one is Ceremony from San Francisco. We did a European tour with them last year. Weíve never been able to tour with Blacklisted unfortunately. They are two very, very special bands! Great bands, great people. They are not in this for the money or to run around and act like a bunch of frat boys. They really believe in hardcore. They get into a van and they fucking tour. I love them both and I really hope that one day I will be on a tour with Blacklisted.
Thanks a lot!