Chopping Block is a new hardcore band out of Washington that has their 2019 demo tape coming out on Safe Inside Records in cassette form. I recently linked up with drummer Kevin and bassist Matt to discuss their band, as well as NWHC.
Chopping Block. First off. Who’s in the band and what do they do? Also, I like the band name. Is there a cool story behind that?
Kevin: The name comes from the band Civilized from Denver. They put out an LP on Youth Attack called Chopping Block that sounds like evil Youth of Today. Highly recommended if you’re not familiar. In typical Youth Attack fashion, very upsetting cover art.
Your band has a rather long lineage in terms of members who’ve played in other bands; Moving On, Clarity, The Scare, Safe & Sound, The Answer, etc. How/why did Chopping Block form? Give everyone a brief rundown in how the block became hot.
Matt: Chopping Block started with just Antonio and Kev. I’ve really liked all their earlier projects so I keep an eye out on what they do. I heard the demo, and dude holy smokes, it rocked! This had to become a real band, and I needed to play in it. So, I basically begged my way in. [Laughs] So far so good!
You played your first show with Red Death and Enforced.
Kevin: The first show went great. Kids pitting to any bands first show is always a good thing. Enforced and Red Death were both awesome.
NWHC historically has always had bands that come out with that more punk leaning/Youth Crew sort of sound, and Chopping Block is no difference. Do you think growing up in the Northwest has influenced that sound or kept it in the forefront?
Kevin: No question that growing up here has had a direct influence on the way our band sounds. Most of the cool bands when I first started going to shows were playing either straight-forward hardcore or Youth Crew-leaning and that’s imprinted on what I’ve written for any band I’ve started.
Sonically, y’all have that early/mid-2000s faster hardcore sound that is a nice bridge between the more Trash Talk/Outbreak stuff as well as Youth Crew stuff like Youth of Today and Get the Most. Honestly, it just has that classic sound kinda like aforementioned Get the Most, along with In Stride and Growing Stronger. Who would you say are your influences or what are you pulling from?
Kevin: Rivalry and React! Records.
Touching on that a bit more that Chopping Block is playing a relatively older or more punk/traditional sound of hardcore and a lot of what’s hot right now in hardcore has deviated from that, was that intentional? I guess sort of the reason I ask is at least to me, the NWHC scene has always a very specific sound throughout.
Obviously, there's lots of different types of hardcore, but I feel like there’s always a band(s) playing a fast, straight-forward sound regardless of whatever trend or style is predominating the current state of hardcore.
Matt: Wow, great question. There’s a ton of great bands playing heavier music these days, we just play the kind of music we want to listen to: fast, aggressive hardcore.
Kevin: I was talking to a friend from across the country about how there always seems to be the conotation that Seattle plays Youth Crew and melodic hardcore. I’m sure that the pivot away from this style of hardcore has impacted most of the country more so than here. I’m sure some lineage of it can be traced back to React!’s popularity and younger kids seeing those bands, but I also think most places have a place for traditional hardcore still.
How do you feel about the NWHC scene post Rainfest? It seems like tours; although always coming through, kind of slowed down, or perhaps that the destination moved from Washington to Oregon, but it seems like the northwest, as a whole, is getting some of that energetic momentum again, especially with the recent JAG event. Do you think the area is on the upswing again?
Kevin: Absolutely on an upswing. A severe lack of new bands post-Rainfest left it in a dire state for some time. In the last six months to a year, however, a ton of awesome new bands have popped up and started playing shows or have put out records. With Zack starting another fest, now there’s an attainable milestone to reach again.
How did you get linked up with Safe Inside Records?
Kevin: Thomas from Safe Inside and I have been internet friends for a bit, so when I posted that I’d started a band of this style, he just reached out.
Any touring plans for the future once touring returns? Truthfully, for bands in the northwest touring outside of the region can be quite a lot of driving. Do you think that breaks bands since it can be much harder to drive out to play areas vs bands on the East Coast who can drive much shorter drives and hit new audiences/areas.
Kevin: No question it’s more difficult, but having always lived here, there’s no way to compare the experience, right? You just have to drive from Portland to San Francisco or Reno at the start and end of every tour. Every band from here has made it work, so it’s not impossible by any means. We’re planning on touring both coasts sooner than later.
What can people expect from Chopping Block in 2020?
Kevin: We’re going to play shows and we might even put out a 7”. Unsure what the state of pressing plant turnarounds are these days.
Again, being that y’all have been so closely involved in NWHC for so many years, what keeps you motivated and interested in a culture that is very angsty and youth driven?
Kevin: Part of that has to be surrounding yourself with people who are doing cool and new things. The last year in the northwest alone has spurred a ton of new bands that rule and aren’t homogenous bullshit. Scenes can be stupid, but hardcore still rules.
Where do you see hardcore going in 2020? Where would you like to see it go?
Kevin: I think we’re seeing a creative spike. A lot of bands are playing hardcore with clear nods to other styles of music without sounding hoaky, which is a good thing.
Any shout outs, things people should check out or listen to?
Punitive Damage demo:
Change, Closer Still 12”:
The Chopping Block demo is now available on cassette via Safe Inside Records.
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