Formed from the ashes of Living Laser, Poughkeepsie, NY's Mindforce has received more than a few comparisons to Leeway and Turnstile since releasing their demo last summer. Streaming their forthcoming 7", The Future Of... (pre-order now via the ever-excellent Trip Machine Laboratories), I have to admit: those were indeed the two bands that repeatedly came to mind. It really is the perfect hybrid of the thrash-leaning yet creatively melodic stylings of Leeway's early crossover classics and the hyperactive energy and groove of modern day heavy-hitters like Turnstile. There's more to it, of course, as you'll hear below—and read amidst the following interview with Jason (vocals) and Mike (guitar)—but there's a damn good reason this band's already making some noise...
Three-fourths of Mindforce were previously in Living Laser, and toward the end—especially on theTimeless True Blue EP—that band had really grown into a sound that's not far off from what Mindforce is doing, though certainly different from the point at which Living Laser had started out. Looking back now, how would you assess Living Laser's six-year progression and how that transitioned over into Mindforce?
Mike: At the beginning of Living Laser, we just wanted to be a fast and straightforward hardcore band. Toward the end of Living Laser, I was becoming more inspired by the thrash metal and crossover bands I grew up on, so by the time we started writing the songs for Timeless True Blue, those influences really started to show. We started to stray from the original idea of what we wanted to accomplish musically with Living Laser, and the band's activity started to slow down. It was time to end it respectfully, and all four members were on the same page. Nick was there at the end of Living Laser to help out with shows and writing while our bassist was on a break. His style was exactly what I was looking for to complement the riffs I was coming up with. Donny and Jay were excited by the idea of doing a new hardcore band that incorporated a thrash and crossover influence. Jay came up with the name Mindforce, and everything fell into place.
In Mindforce, Nick was the new addition to the former members of Living Laser, but Jason and Nick actually have an impressively lengthy history of performing alongside one another in a range of different bands—from When Dreams Die to Robots and Empire (a killer group that I felt was quite underrated) to Winterlong, which actually overlapped with Jason's time in Living Laser. That's one hell of a nearly two-decade musical partnership!
Jay: Nick is definitely a musical brother of mine. I met Nick in 1997 when my parents sent me to a private school for a year. I didn't know anybody there and my first week I walked into math class and saw Nick drawing Madball and Biohazard logos on his notebook. We started our first band shortly after. He has had just as much of a musical influence on me as my favorite bands. We've been through a lot of crazy adventures together, for sure. Even when Nick and I aren't playing in the same band together, we are still bouncing ideas off each other. I'm proud to say two decades later, we are still playing music together that is true to ourselves.
Despite that backstory—as well as other members having been involved with groups such as Casket Architects, etc.—I feel like there's somewhat of an implication out there that Mindforce is a "young" band of up-and-comers. Have you discerned that at all?
Jay: Well... we have barely been a band for a year, so we kind of are a "young" band in terms of our existence. I don't pay a lot of attention to how we're perceived.
The Future Of..., in particular, has drawn a number of comparisons to Leeway and Turnstile, and I'd have to agree. There are, however, other pieces at play—straight up thrash metal riffs, brash guitar solos, etc.—and Mindforce is bringing something different to the table, especially lyrically and in terms of attitude. How and/or in what ways do you feel like you're coming at things from a different angle here?
Jay: Honestly, we aren't making a conscious effort to come at things from a different angle. We're just trying to be ourselves and hopefully pay homage to the bands that have influenced us. Leeway is definitely a huge influence of ours. The whole genre of crossover is our main influence. Some other bands besides Leeway that have shaped us are Cro-Mags, Metallica, The Icemen, Vio-lence, Anthrax, and Cold Front, to name a few.
All of you go way back with Trip Machine Laboratories through releases from both Robots and Empire and Living Laser. That being said, it's a selective label that doesn't back just anything.
Jay: One of my favorite HVHC [Hudson Valley Hardcore] bands was Chris' old band, Atlas Shrugged. I've been boys with Chris forever. He's the man. He and I are such music-heads, and love a lot of the same stuff from not just the genre of hardcore. I was a fan of Trip Machine bands before I ever met Chris.
Anytime I'm interviewing a band that's entrenched in a scene that I've known to possess its fair share of unsung greats over the years, I have to ask: what are some of your favorite underrated acts from in and around your area that listeners should look into?
Jay: The Hudson Valley is New York's unknown treasure when it comes to hardcore and independent music. I was lucky enough to grow up here and I got to mosh to my favorite bands every weekend. Bands like All Out War, Atlas Shrugged, Eye 2 Eye, End of One, and Dissolve. Some other great bands throughout Hudson Valley history are Vital Stance, My Own Worst Enemy, Nerve Gas Tragedy, Dark Past, and Recycled Earth.
The demo and the 7" appeared to come together at a decently fast pace, and Mindforce seems perhaps poised for more hype than some of your past efforts. Are there any next steps already taking shape?
Mike: We've got The Future Of... 7" release show coming up on July 7th in Beacon, NY. Our friends in Hangman, Vein, and Slavestate are also playing. The original four-song demo tape is going to be released as a 7" through Coin Toss Records. We'll be doing a bunch of shows this summer and fall to promote both releases. In a week, we'll be recording a few new songs at Gate 4 Studios with Will Hirst. It's for a split 7" with a killer band from California called Dead Heat. Everyone needs to check them out.