For the most part, I tend to be kinda "done" with predominantly fast and in your face hardcore, especially that of the more traditional variety. Seattle, WA trio City of Industry, however, are not what I would call "traditional." While one can certainly discern archetypal hardcore amidst their work, the group's powerviolence-tinged approach buries dissonant melody beneath a certain dirt and darkness—all filtered through the unusual tonal skronk of noise rock—creating an aesthetic all their own. That they have something of actual value to communicate lyrically is an added bonus.
You'll have to wait until American Habits are Hard to Break is released this Friday, July 27 to fully digest what I'm trying to get at, but for now, stream "A Horse and its Master" as an example below, followed by an interview with guitarist/vocalist John Suede…
Saddled and tied to your owner, the habit
Broke in, then while backing you were fed lies and pacified with poison
Pride, lust, drink, the list goes on
I'm being taken for a ride by addiction
A horse and its master
There has been some talk—even from the band itself—of City of Industry's sound being "straightforward." Structurally, there's probably some truth to that, but overall, I think that short-changes the work in a way, because it's not just aggressive, high-speed hardcore or what have you. In addition to the not-quite-powerviolence edge, there are these hard-to-pin-down textural parallels to noise rock or even industrial; as well as some potential room for interpretation or metaphorical expression lyrically, etc. Am I reading too much into it as an outsider?
No, not at all. I think by "straightforward," I was mainly referring to our overall approach to this band. And now that I think about it, I was also referring to our musical brevity. There are a few songs on this album that don't fit that mold, for sure. While writing American Habits are Hard to Break, I made it a point to avoid repetition and unnecessary nuances. I personally don't like my aggressive music with much "fluff" or "fill." Short, sweet, and to the point.
Along similar lines, during my first few listens to American Habits are Hard to Break, it felt a bit more ferocious and linear to me, but upon further inspection, it actually struck me as estrangedly melodic—its nuances more subtle and covert. Obviously it's not a huge departure from last year's EP, but do you feel that the delivery shifted at all for this outing?
Yes, the process and mindset shifted, for sure. Though not on purpose. I make a strict point of not forcing change—musically or lyrically. That is when the music loses its true soul, in my opinion. Musical progression is natural—if you're lucky—and when it comes, I embrace it. I've been told by friends that American Habits are Hard to Break is more "approachable," for lack of a better term, in comparison to last year's EP. The EP was part of a group of songs and riffs that I sat on for years, and was recorded on a whim as a sort of experiment, more or less. I approached writing American Habits are Hard to Break differently in the sense that I was starting from scratch and had a clear idea of what I wanted it to sound and feel like—as well as a clear idea of what I didn't want it to sound and feel like.
Talk a bit about this particular track, "A Horse and its Master." I know that this release contains some lyrics that you're hesitant to discuss, so don't elaborate beyond your willingness, but—even just musically or in terms of brevity, etc.—how this composition fits into the whole…
"A Horse and its Master," musically, is definitely the "catchiest" song, for lack of a better term, and the most approachable for those not typically used to aggressive music. Lyrically, it's about habits and addiction. We all have them, and we are all "acted upon," in a sense, by them. Whether it's booze, drugs, sex, lying, caffeine, one's phone, manipulating people for one's personal benefit, the internet, loquaciousness, theft… the list goes on. Addiction is usually painted as something that only alcoholics and drug addicts experience—which in a lot of cases is correct—but I truly feel that in today's day and age, the sentiment can definitely be broadened to generally everyone, in one way or another.
American Habits… has been referred to as a "full-length" or "album." As devil's advocate, I must ask for some degree of elaboration on the concept of the possibility of an 11-minute "full-length": can it be?
[Laughs] great question! I don't know if I have an answer for you. We went back and forth as to what it should be referred to while promoting. From my research, classically speaking, an EP is less than 10 songs and usually less than 10 minutes. Retrospectively, there may be a slightly facetious tone in referring to it as a full-length, being that our first EP was a mere five minutes. For now, I humbly plead ignorance.
I tend to be very out of touch with contemporary hardcore, especially that of the shorter/faster/louder variety. I'm largely unaware of anything out there that—especially tonally—might compare to City of Industry. That being said, do you feel that you have any semi-comparable peers worth recommending to listeners who enjoy what you're putting forth?
Funny you should ask that. While promoting this album, I was asked what bands to use when it came to the "for fans of…" aspect. I feel that I'm too biased and involved to give a clear answer. I was hoping you could do that for us [laughs]! I stay pretty up-to-date with what's new in hardcore, but nothing really comes to mind in terms of comparing. The best I can do is list some bands that I know for certain have influenced my approach to writing music, such as: His Hero is Gone, Fucked Up, Dead Kennedys, Ceremony, Backtrack, Chain of Strength, Bad Religion, Despise You, etc. I can go on forever, but…