Terror's Scott Vogel: Living by the Code

The veteran hardcore warhorse tells us a bit about his hardcore way of life...

This bloody muzak is killing me. And the bloody people in the phone conferencing centres always trick me by telling me they are about to put me on ‘silent hold’ before connecting my call. And then it oozes into my ears, some sort of mechanically recovered jazz-funk schmaltz seeping out of the speakerphone. I mean, they must know they’re dealing with music interviews, right? How hard would it be for a call centre chimp to slip in a little bit of Hard Lessons before I’m up and running and talking to Terror frontman (for it is he that I’m waiting to speak to) Scott Vogel?

Sorry about that. But it’s the second time in a week I’ve been fooled by these bounders. Anyways, Mr Vogel’s here now, saving my ears from the treacle and expounding on why hardcore in its purest form is such an unmovable, timeless thing. “It is. I mean, there are sounds, there are trends, that come into the scene, and some bands that come and go, and we go… It’s like you see a band that has only been going a year, and they already have a bus, and thousands of screaming fans, and you think where the fuck did they come from, you know? And in a year they’ll be gone. But we are still here, after eleven years, and other bands bands like us are still in the scene. I think there is a lot of label intervention in our scene, management intervention, and some bands are happy to put their lives in the hands of these people, basically get raped by them for a two year period, you know? And I don’t like that, I don’t wish that on any band, but it happens.”

What prompted you towards hardcore in the first place? ‘When I first got into hardcore… before that I’d been to a lot of big shows, I used to go and see bands like Motley Crue, and Ratt and Def Leppard… and I felt that they were so far away from where I was that I could never be like that or do that rock star kind of thing: but then in high school I started going to hardcore shows and got a real inspiration from the fact that the guy standing next to me, who I knew, then got up on the stage and just went nuts! And I felt I could do that! You know, I love big rock shows. Seeing Iron Maiden in a big arena is a beautiful thing – but I love being in some sweaty club where there’s only a hundred kids but everyone is singing along to every word. That’s a beautiful thing too.”

Breaking down the barriers between the audience and the bands. That was part of what kickstarted punk wasn’t it? And it remains a big cornerstone of the hardcore ethic. “It absolutely is. I grew up in Buffalo, in New York State, and my favourite hardore band was a band called Zero Tolerance. And then I liked Solid State, which was what Snapcase was called before they became Snapcase. And they were local bands to me. I used to go into NYC and see those bigger hardcore bands but again, I was friendly with the guy who sang in Solid State (Tiger Balduf) and when I saw him getting up on stage and hundreds of kids singing along, I wanted to do that! I knew I could do that!”

And so it came to pass that you did it! And now you are in one of those ‘bigger hardcore bands’, about to head down to Australia to play Soundwave. You’ve mentioned sweaty clubs a couple of times – Soundwave will be sweaty, but it won’t be small. How do you adapt your show to suit the environment. Hardcore does after all work best in those sweaty clubs. “We play a lot of shows in this band, and we’re in that stage where one day it might be a festival show in front of thouands, the next it’s in a small club in front of 200 fans. And I give full respect to my band, who do this day out, and deliver the same show whatever size the audience. And that’s what we do. That’s what this band does and we don’t change that.”

Hardcore is very much about that integrity, isn’t it, and staying true to yourself? “Yes. And to take that to the opposite extreme, I’d say that if one of the guys came in and said after playing these big shows that they didn’t want to do the little shows any more, that they had had enough of shitty, stinking little clubs, then I’d fully understand that, but I’d have to say then maybe this isn’t the band for you to be in anymore. I really feel that.”

So we’ve established that you yourselves are the same wherever in the world you are. But what about your devotees? Is a hardcore kid the same wherever they may be? “You mean in how we relate?”

Not exactly. Well in a sense that’s what I’m getting at – How do they react to the music? “Well there is a difference in some places. But I guess it’s the same for everything, not just hardcore, and not just music. You know you see these bizarrely dressed bands and then you go to Japan and you see a guy dressed exactly the same. He can only have seen that stuff in a photo but there he is! And while that’s a bit corny it’s also very cool. And the crowds in Korea – they go off while you’re playing but then we stop and it goes very quiet, whereas in other areas everybody’s drunk and shouting shit at you between songs . So yes it’s different but in general I find hardcore kids, very committed to their scene.”

So there you have. Terror have rightly built a reputation as tell-it-like-it-is straight talking hardcore warriors, and I for one will be doing some serious shit shouting between songs when the band hits the stage at Soundwave. Come and join me!