Often, there is a lot of left over content that doesn’t quite fit the narrative or direction of a story. Case in point #1: Converge for dB #96. Case in point #2: Throughout the interview process, the members of Converge had rad stories to tell, but somehow the quotes never quite made the cut. So, this is a little like looking back—on Converge’s newest album, All We Love We Leave Behind—and peering into the future—Converge will headline Decibel‘s 100th Issue Jubilee on January 19th—with one of the magazine’s favorite bands.
THE ROARING ’90s
Jacob Bannon: “I think we’re pretty under the radar. We’re a weird band to get into. We’re too punk for the hardcore kids. We’re too hardcore for the metal kids. We’re too weird for the punk kids. We don’t really get a typical audience. We challenge all those sub-genres. As people, we came up during a really inspiring time for independent and aggressive music. When we started this band—I was 12 or 13-years old—we had thrash occurring in its heyday, the Golden Age of hardcore, we were around for the rise of the second wave of black metal, the rise of contemporary punk, and the rise of indie music from bands like Slint and Sunny Day. We were there to see the later era Dischord bands—like Hoover—come around. We took it all in. The same day. I remember driving around in Kurt’s car. We’d listen to Fugazi, and I’d be like, ‘Oh hey, I got this album called Forest of Equilibrium.’ We’d drive around in his old station wagon listening to Cathedral, but I remember his tape deck was broken. It’d flip sides randomly. You couldn’t even tell it was a different song. [Laughs] Earache, at the time, was releasing their most important records. On any given day, we were listening to Cathedral, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, or Entombed. Our band is weird amalgamation of things. I don’t know if bands get that any more. There’s so music that’s derivative of other things. There’s not much out there that’s wholly inspired or truly unique. We don’t sound like a lot of bands because of that.”
WHAT’D HE SAY? EXTREME GLOSSOLALIA
Jacob Bannon: My vocal style—that I happen to like—is borrowed from bands like Rorschach, The Accüsed and Starkweather. These emotional, really abrasive vocalists. It’s kind of a rarity now. When we were coming up down there were tons of bands that had that same approach. Groundwork and Honeywell. I see criticism of our band, and it’s one of the things they comment on. Like ‘It could be great if I could understand the vocalist.’ I have to wonder if they really get aggressive music. When I was sitting in math class—pretending to pay attention—listening the first Deicide record I couldn’t understand anything except the “Dead by Dawn” chorus. [Laughs] I’m a massive fan of John Tardy. He made it an art form not to say anything. But it was beautiful. He made it this awesome thing. I remember being turned onto Diamanda Galás and more experimental music. They kind of opened my eyes on how vocals were treated. So, yeah, it’s either kind of cute or incredibly sad that people don’t get our band. It’s a little bit of both.
EVERY MORON HAS A VOICE
Jacob Bannon: The voice thing, I go back and forth on. I was watching this documentary the other day. They touched upon the fact that you used to go to a show or a festival and you were the audience. Now, it’s changed. The perception has changed. They go, they pay, but they’re the artist. They’re there to document their experience as an artist, and then reflect it as a critic or blogger. It’s not about your emotional outpouring or performance. It’s more about their perception of it and their recording of it. To me, that becomes a little strange. A sense of entitlement emerges. You’re not afforded that opportunity as an artist. Sure, you can go to their blog and see photos or read what they wrote, but you can’t be critical of it as an artist. The sheer volume of information is overwhelming. Everyone’s a journalist. And that’s where I draw the line a little. Not everyone should have a voice ’cause, let’s face it, not everyone has something really relevant to say. There are writers and bloggers out there that I read on a daily basis. I think they’re really interesting, but the sea of crap out there is overwhelming. That’s the main issue with the Internet. It’s this open forum for everything. What ends up weeding out people from the Internet is time. There aren’t many people willing to work on their own time for long periods of time. They’re not truly inspired. You see that a lot. Blogs three years ago will have 65 posts and slowly it’s less and less. Then, it’s like two posts in a year. Then, no activity. True artists, writers, or creators will stay dedicated to something for longer than a year. But this is just my opinion. I’m completely aware these are subjective opinions that I’m making. For example, I find music that’s offensive to my personal tastes all the time, but I don’t go to message boards and say, ‘God this is the worst thing! These people should have their vans flipped over, they should explore and their family should die.’ That doesn’t appeal to me. I change the record. I don’t like the hyper-critical aspect of specific sub-cultures. I don’t acknowledge it. I think truly creative people don’t have time for it. I have friends on a regular basis that are affected by these things. They say, ‘Have you read this?!’ A lot of times I just don’t care. It’s an opinion of your band or your art, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter if it brought you emotional or creative fulfillment when you created it. That’s it. I mean, once you release a record you lose ownership of it. For example, the day Led Zeppelin released Houses of the Holy, the songs were no longer wholly their own. The intention, the emotional content, how people will connect with them, how people will relate to those songs in their own lives are things you don’t have control over. You might as well not even reflect on it. Do I get pissed about somebody interpreting my music or art in the wrong way? No. I can’t spend the rest of my life correcting them or how my art should be perceived? No. That’s pretentious bullshit. I’d rather put out something, make it cut and dry as possible, and if I get something positive out of it, then great. That’s the measure of success. It’s not how many records you sell or how many people you connect with on social media. If you want to keep that as pure as possible, then it’s best to not acknowledge criticisms or praise of what you do.
Jacob Bannon: All the subject matter is personal subject matter. I felt the need to get out there in an artistic way. Stuff I didn’t need in me anymore. I use art and music for that purpose. I mean, how many death metal records have celebratory titles? You don’t have Corpsegrinder Fisher writing about getting a new puppy. I think a lot of the trouble comes when you start channelizing music. Look at us or Cannibal Corpse or some random political-punk band A or B. They’re not wholly defined by what they put out there. That’s not their whole life. People will identify with you. People will identify with the darkness you’re feeling. A common bond can be established that way. As far as our titles and our art are concerned, the new title just felt really powerful to me. It summed up a lot of feelings in a small fragmented sentence. That’s why I wanted it to be the album title.
BANNON THE DESTROYER? OR BARBARIAN? YOU CHOOSE
Jacob Bannon: I co-own Deathwish. That takes a lot of time. I enjoy doing that immensely. It’s not an enormous cash machine like kids think it is. It’s a positive place for people. I create fine art. I do the band. I do solo work. I’m a licensed MMA judge in the state of Mass. Even though they’re all entrepreneurial efforts, I need them all to get by. It’s a typical middle-class American story. It’s relatively simple to become poor but incredibly hard to become rich. But it’s harder to stay in the middle. I didn’t come from money. I put myself through school. I just finished paying for school last year, and I graduated in ’98. Sometimes I think about what would I be like if I did this or that in 25 years? That’s hard, too. I’m so wrapped up in what interests and motivates me now. If I wanted I wanted to make money, I’d quit everything I’m doing and get a corporate design job. I’m definitely qualified for it. But I’d be so unhappy as a person. I don’t think I can work that way.
** Converge’s new album All We Love We Leave Behind is out now. Order it HERE. Converge is on the cover of dB #96. Order it HERE. Converge is playing Decibel‘s 100th Issue Jubilee on January 19th. Get tickets HERE.