Chicago D-beat crew Nequient are back in the saddle with Collective Punishment, a four-song EP that features a pair of outtakes from the recording sessions for the band’s upcoming second LP Darker Than Death or Night and two live tracks. For those who worship at the altar of nonstop metallic hardcore and the aforementioned D-beat, Collective Punishment is a shot of pure adrenaline.
Decibel had a brief conversation with Nequient vocalist Jason Kolkey about Collective Punishment and Darker Than Death or Night, holding their album throughout the pandemic and the band’s DIY approach to playing music. It’s available to read below—edited for length and clarity—alongside an exclusive stream of the Collective Punishment EP, out November 5 on Nefarious Industries.
It’s been a long time since you last released music. How do you think this compares to your prior output?
In large measure, we’re just building on and redefining what we were doing already. It would be safe to describe as what we did on the previous as this sort of early ’00s, late ’90s metallic hardcore sound mixed in with some grind, a little bit of thrash, a little bit of death metal—all of those elements are still very much there, maybe even ventures a little farther into some of those different directions and adds a little more in terms of the noise rock, mildly psychedelic influence. I think there’s a little more adventurous musical stuff going on here and there throughout the record, but it’s still a heavy metallic hardcore record at its core.
You did the record at Bricktop Studio?
Bricktop with Pete Grossman. Pete and Andy [Nelson] from Weekend Nachos own that studio but Pete’s the one we’ve worked with forever now actually. He’s actually recorded every official release, every non-demo release that we’ve done so far going back to 2015. We love that studio, we love the whole atmosphere there.
Was it weird to record the EP?
Here’s the funny thing: all the actual tracking has been done forever. This is one of those cases where we went to Bricktop and recorded everything in early 2020.
So you recorded something and everything got fucked.
Yeah. We had wrapped all the tracking by late January 2020 and we were starting to figure out how we were going to handle the mixing and artwork and everything went to hell. Everything got shut down, every aspect got horribly delayed and it eventually reached the point where we just decided to push everything back.
I think that ended up being a sound decision for us. For some bands, they have enough of a dedicated fanbase that they can rely on the idea that if we put something out, people are going to listen to it. We’re not quite there, we need to get out on the road and play the songs for people.
Like you were saying, it works out fine because you want to get on tour with [your record] and take it on tour as a new thing.
There was no way we were going to be able to do anything the way we would want to do it in late 2020 or early 2021. It ended up being the best decision given the horrible set of circumstances. You can see bands on tour right now of course and it’s getting better—especially if you have the budget to do a really good job of maintaining your protocols—but I’m hoping coming springtime, it’ll be a much more hospitable atmosphere to do the touring and be able to do it in the DIY way that we do it.
There’s two live tracks on the EP that were recorded in 2019.
That was the last time we were able to actually tour. We did just a few dates with the band Ox out of Denmark.
Those songs were recorded at a place called the Valdosta DIY House in Valdosta, Georgia by the guy who runs that house. His name is Alan Sifuentes. It’s just a great DIY spot, bunch of college kids hanging out and they just bring in all different genres of music. It’s very hospitable and really cool that he would record and film every set that’s done there.
Given that we knew that was out there, we ended up getting in touch with Alan and sort of talking about could we get ahold of these tracks so we could mix them—our guitarist did the mixing on those. We came up with a couple that we felt were solid enough to put on this EP. The idea was that it would give you a sense for what it’s like to see us live in our natural environment, which is that kind of underground DIY spot.
So you feel then that this is an accurate teaser of what people can expect from your new record when that comes in the not-so-distant future?
The new record should be out first quarter of next year. The two outtake songs do cover a lot of the breadth of what we’re doing on this new record. The first song, “Collective Punishment,” is a typical Nequient song in a lot of ways. It’s going to hit the thrashy riffs, you’re going to get some blast beats, you’re going to get the big, slow, sludgy breakdown and you’re going to get me over the top of it all screaming about politics, in this case mostly about cops. I think every song we try to bring something a little fresh to the table but if you wanted to break down our formula, that could go a long way to it. We’re bringing together those different kinds of subgenres and trying to deliver it in a concise, hooky package that will make you bang your head and mosh.
But then sometimes we do other stuff. The first song, “Collective Punishment,” is mainly written by our guitar player, Patrick [Conahan]. The other song, the main writer of the music was our bass player, Keenan Clifford. He’s very into a lot of post-metal kind of stuff and I think that more expansive vibe starts to come through that song. There’s still D-beat parts and there’s a little bit of a black metal influence, but it’s also got that exploratory nature and it stretches out a little more.
I think that does in fact sum up what we’re trying to do—stay in touch with that more visceral, direct kind of songwriting while allowing ourselves some room to explore other stuff. We can allow ourselves to go to some weird places as long as we still make sure we’re going to hit you in the face with a heavy riff.