Latest release: I Owe You Nothing (Good Fight)
S.O.S. brings together hardcore leading lights Scott Vogel and Nick Jett (Terror), Beattie (Hatebreed), Matt Henderson (Madball, Agnostic Front) and Sam Trapkin from Trapped Under Ice. With guys like that involved you couldn’t expect anything else but straight-up hardcore and their seven track EP ‘I Owe You Nothing’ keeps it real. Loudcaught up with guitarist Henderson for a brief chat about DIY, the hardcore ethic and bringing his kids up on music.
Q: Hi Matt. Can you start by giving us a bit of a low-down on how the S.O.S. story came to be?
A: It really started with Scott Vogel, the singer from Terror. He’s always looking to do something and he just has that passion for hardcore that keeps him movin’ and shakin’ and he and Beattie from Hatebreed decided to do something together. The opportunity was there to play some straight-up hardcore and have some fun with it and not having to worry. He’s got Terror, Beattie’s got Hatebreed, so there’s a certain level of — for want of a better word — professionalism they try to maintain and they got to try to keep doing what those bands are known for doin’. So with that in mind, it was just a case of, ‘Let’s bang out some shit’. I was basically presented with the option to join along, and I was like, Yeah, I’m game. We all know that we love simple hardcore music, and there was no other objective other than that. Let’s do that, and nothing more.
Q: You’ve been part of the hardcore scene for a long time. It seems to me like every new band with a bit of an edge that comes along now gets labelled “hardcore”. What are your thoughts on that?
A: [Pauses] I think that’s been the case for a lot of years actually. Hardcore’s one of those things that’s kinda hard to define. You know it when you hear it, you know it when you see it, but if you consider all the bands through the years that’ve been considered hardcore, there’s a fair amount of diversity. So how do you really make the determination whether a band’s hardcore or not? I think the answer to that really is: the feeling that you get. Because Bad Brains didn’t sound like Agnostic Front, Agnostic Front didn’t sound like Minor Threat, Minor Threat didn’t sound like Black Flag, but those are all hardcore bands and there’s a common element in there somewhere. And then you get a band like Hatebreed where some people say there’s a metal sound to them, which is true on some level for sure but there’s still that hardcore element there… so how do you classify it? See what they’ve got in their hearts.
Q: How long did it take to get ‘I Owe You Nothing’ together?
A: A couple of weekends. It’s only a few songs anyway, and I think we were all kinda itchin’ to go so once we got together we just bounced off each other really easily and obviously it’s not like we’re doing anything groundbreaking. Keepin’ that original intent and just bangin’ it out. That’s all we did.
Q: Are there going to be any S.O.S. shows?
A: I hope so. The possibility is definitely there. It won’t be anything that we do any extensive touring or anything like that on, but if we can find the time when we can all get together in a particular city and something is going on where we think we can compliment the bill we’ll make it happen.
Q: So do you think there’s a chance that the five of you could be maybe playing on the same bill at some time and just get together for an S.O.S. show at a nearby club or something?
A: Yeah! That’s a possibility. For me, I’m the odd man out there because I’m not in an actual band right now. I’m in the LA area, so there’s always the possibility that those bands will be together on the same bill, or if the option was presented where I could fly out and meet those guys I’d consider it.
Q: There’s definitely a hardcore attitude at work here, because in the current climate where record sales are down, just getting together on a whim and recording a CD doesn’t seem like the thing to do so much anymore.
A: Yeah… but we’re lucky enough to work with labels who share the passion we do. Even with the studio we worked at, the producer and engineer Dean… he loves it too. But he does have to make a living. He does have to pay rent on his studio. I don’t got the money myself to pay for that studio time. Luckily there was a label…. two labels actually: Reaper and Good Fight, who put some money in to help it happen. We all just kind of came together and did that because it’s cool.
Q: It seems to me that old hardcore spirit is still very much around.
A: I go back to the mid-80s… and I’m afraid to do the math out loud on that and work out how old I really am, but the fact is… it’s still here! I think it has peaks and valleys. Some years it seems like it’s boomin’, other years it’s kinda in a lull. But it’s still out there, man. I mean, I’m doing an interview today with you, all the way on the other side of the world. So there’s still some action.
Q: The DIY aesthetic was always part and parcel of the punk and hardcore scenes, but now it seems like that ideal is spreading out across the whole industry.
A: That’s true, and I think that is a pretty dramatic shift in the music industry as a whole. It’s kinda interesting that hardcore and punk rock were pretty much doing it all along!
Q: So what have you been listening to lately?
A: I haven’t really been keeping up with the current stuff. I got two little boys, another one on the way, and that’s a pretty full-time gig on its own. I’m out of the loop, man.
Q: Bringing children into your life, does that change you and your approach to the lifestyle?
A: Oh yeah! That’s why I’m not in a real active band right now! That’s why S.O.S. was the perfect thing for me, because on a limited basis to get together and do that record and these guys don’t expect me to commit to doing any long tours so I don’t have to feel that pressure. Taking care of my kids is a pretty full-time job for me. And my kids love music! I don’t really push any music on them. Like, I play stuff I like sometimes, stuff they might like, sometimes stuff they might not like as much. They love Kiss. They love the Cro-Mags. They love Van Halen. They definitely love the rock n’ roll the way I was brought up, so that’s cool.
Q: Is there anything they listen to that terrifies you?
A: My wife’s been pushing the Justin Beiber. In being fair, when I was growing up, I liked Kiss and I know my parents sure as hell didn’t! They made sure they were going to step on my toes and tell me what I could like. Made me feel, you know, awkward about liking what I liked. So, I don’t break my kids’ chops on it. I break my wife’s chops for pushing it! But I leave my kids alone. Let ’em like it.