If you’ve never been cold clocked in the face by your best friend in the middle of a pit, I don’t know why you’re alive. The best musical experiences, the best people in the world, can be found at any one of the annual east coast hardcore festivals held in Philadelphia. Hardcore festivals aren’t exactly music festivals, they’re more like huge family gatherings for artists and friends that have made up that particular scene for years. My favorite memory is being served food by Mad Joe Black of Wisdom in Chains. He made me a burger that was infused with love while singing “Surfing Bird” with his son. This was followed up by dodging a flying computer chair, laughing my ass off with the security (all a bunch of hardcore dudes), and continuing to scream every word of Blood for Blood’s Outlaw Anthems until I lost my voice. If you do not experience even one of the coming festivals;be it East Coast Tsunami, Black and Blue Bowl or This Is Hardcore to name a few.. Then your summer automatically sucks. Last week I sat down with the boys of the band Integrity, one of the headliners of this years TIHC, and we talked about some great memories and some of the bands on this years ticket.
You guys just finished playing Amnesia Rockfest, how was that? I see a lot of bands on the ticket that I’ll probably never see live again. Any amazing, cool or funny stories?
Dwid Hellion:I had a great time.I’m happy to have been able to see a lot of old friends and make some new ones. Iggor Cavalera, Domenic Romeo and I talked for hours about Twisted Sister. Unfortunately, my flight left before Lamb of God played, so I missed their set. We played at midnight after The Dead Kennedys, so that was pretty cool to be able to play with those guys. Just before I left for the airport, I was able to hang out with my childhood friend, Derrick Green who sings for Sepultura. I had not seen Derrick in a while, so it was fantastic.
Domenic Romero: It was a surreal 48 hours going in and out. I ate poutine for every meal and saw Twisted Sister play the best set of the entire festival. Cannibal Corpse was also fantastic, I haven’t seen them since ‘Vile’ came out, and seeing them work a crowd that big was unreal. On a side note it was pretty awkward to explain the lyrical content to someone who’s never listened to them. Cavalera’s Roots set was also a big highlight for me, and of course who can forget: Victor!
How was your set?
DH: We had a really great response from the crowd. By the end of our set there was fallout from all the dust that was kicked up by the audience. Felt like a scene from Beyond Thunderdome.
DR: Only thing missing was Angry Anderson with that weird doll / second head he totes around.
In August you’re going to be one of the headliners of one of the best This is Hardcore festival lineups I have ever seen; and I watched that festival develop over what feels like way too many years to mention. How pumped are you? What bands are you going to go the hardest for?
DH: I am excited to play TIHC. Joe is a great guy and he puts a lot into his festival. We have a really great lineup of bands on our day. Ringworm are old friends of mine and so are many of the bands playing on Friday
DR: I’m stoked to play as well. We tried to cull songs spanning the band’s entire discography, so Integrity’s set will definitely offer something for everyone. As far as band’s I can’t wait to see: Haymaker without a doubt.
What’s your favorite Gorilla Biscuits song?
DH: Actually it’s a funny thing, back in the late 1980s Walter from GB was the guy who got Integrity our very 1st record deal. So in a way, he is responsible for the plague that Integrity has spread for the past 3 decades.
DR: “No Reason Why!”
Have you been paying attention to Iron Reagan? This will be my first time seeing them live btw, I’m always out of town when they swing through whatever city I happen to be stationed in. What’s your favorite song by them?
DH: Tony is an amazing guy, I have hung out with him many times and he always makes everyone around him feel great. I can not say enough good things about Tony.
DR: I’ve been lucky enough to see them evolve from their infancy into a total powerhouse. One of my favorite current bands both live and on record. Great dudes too.
How would you explain to someone, who has never been, what it is like at an east coast hardcore fest? What would you say to make people understand the aggression that comes out of people in the pit, because I know a lot of people either love it or hate it for that reason. I grew up in the Reno straight edge scene, so… I know first hand the impact of the lack of definition of what hardcore is. How would you explain that to someone?
DH: This is actually the first time that I have played TIHC, so I can not really offer any insight. We used to play Reno a lot in the 90s, The Infamous Gehenna are an incredible Reno band.
DR: There’s definitely a lot of energy that feeds the room all weekend, and everyone has a different way of channeling that energy. It all somehow manages to coexist.
How does playing a festival like this empower you guys as a hardcore band? Are you reminded of the importance of what you do? Do you feel closer to Hardcore in a family sense?
DH: Integrity have always been outcasts, and we connect more with the outcast aspect of the underground music scene. While there are many people within the hardcore genre who are included in that, we are not limited to playing hardcore music.
DR: I was actually thinking to myself last year about how my favorite part of TIHC is catching up with far away friends from the past 20+ years in one place. Joe having an awesome and diverse lineup each year certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Tell me a couple of your favorite performance stories from a few of the bands on the ticket? Describe some personalities if you can.
DH: I have been friends with The Human Furnace (Ringworm) since we were teenagers. He is a great entertainer, artist and vocalist. Actually, Domenic owns the record label, A389 records and he has released records from Integrity, Ringworm, Haymaker, Full Of Hell, Iron Reagan and many more. Haymaker are some of my favorite hosers from up North, eh. Joe put a great lineup together for the Friday show.
DR: Many years ago I was filling in for Ringworm on guitar and my dad came to see the show. He rolled in with one of his card shark buddies looking straight out of the movie Casino. He made his way right up to the front of the stage to watch one song, and left. He later told me we were terrible and he didn’t understand why I don’t play nice music like Domenico Modugno.
I look forward to seeing you guys in August, as a broad on a budget I can’t wait to spend my life savings on all of your merch; can we look forward to some cool stuff at the merch booth?
DH: Yes, we will have some exclusive merch for the show
What can we expect in the future from Integrity?
DH: New album in 2017 on Relapse Records and we recorded a new song for Decibel Magazines flexi 7” series that should be available in August 2016.