“For us, we just want to carry on fighting for what we believe in.”
The sound of New York Hardcore in the late 80s and early 90s defined the sound of a generation. It gave birth to a whole wave of bands from the States who were angry and pissed off and had something to say. With revolution at a ground level seemingly more and more in the news today, a new wave of angry and aggressive bands are leading the way in the rebellious world that is known as hardcore. However, not to be outdone by their younger counterparts, NYHC originals Sick Of It All are just as pissed off as ever and have something to say about it.
“Some people think revolution is just for the young but we are an example of that is not the case,” Sick Of It All vocalist Lou Koller told Already Heard. “We have always written about how we are feeling at that exact moment in time, and obviously right now here (in the USA) and overseas things are crazy politically. So that is one of the main reasons we are still writing angry political music.”
It is this angry political message that serves as a heavy theme through the bands’ latest studio release ‘Wake The Sleeping Dragon!’ And even though this is their 12th full-length, Koller believes the message is as relevant now as it ever was, especially to people of his age, not just the younger generation. “The interesting thing for us is that a lot of people who we grew up with when we were younger, are now all in these cushy jobs and they started to leaning to the far right, which is a bit whatever, it’s down to them, but for us it’s like ‘what happened to your rebellious side?’
“But this can also be applied to people who in their younger years were left-leaning and are getting complacent and no longer standing up for what they believe in. For us, we just want to carry on fighting for what we believe in.”
One thing is for certain when it comes to Sick Of It All, you can expect a hard-hitting record with those elements that made the New York sound still so prevalent in their music. The title track from the new record is a prime example of this with Koller’s lyrics clearly addressing the political climate in the States. With the first word you hear the vocalist screaming being “Nazis,” it sets the tone, and then to the chorus where the lyrics “Can you hear me? Help me? Free me? Decimate the masses The means of this corrupt state” outline the outpouring of not just the band, but how a large majority of the United States is currently feeling.
With 12 records under their belt, it could easily be mistaken to think that Sick Of It All are just churning out albums, but for Koller and co this is most certainly not the case.
“We used to think that we had to release records all the time,” he continues. “We used to release a new album every two years, but I think you can tell in some of those records things are a little bit rushed. Now we won’t put something out unless we have something to say, we have kinda taken stock of what we want this band to stand for. We realised ‘oh we don’t need to keeping putting out music like this’ and that we can wait until we have something to say and go through the process properly.”
With the new record coming out in a new high time for hardcore, Sick Of It All may, to the untrained ear, seem more relevant now than they ever have. But for Koller, the hardcore world has always been there and leading the way with angry aggressive music, it is just now more people are taking note.
“We came along at a time when hardcore was fresh and new and that helped establish us,” Koller explains. “There are bands who have done records that are way bigger than ours but they just couldn’t keep at it. Some people have called it a revival, but it’s not that. It is just that mainstream media have started paying attention again. But for us, we have always been there with the same passion and pushing ourselves.”
‘Wake the Sleeping Dragon!’ by Sick Of It All is out now on Century Media Records.
Words by Tim Birkbeck (@tim_birkbeck)