Horrible Earth: Boston Grind Band’s Latest Album Was Made for These Nightmarish Times

Photo: Chuck Marshall

It can be argued that grindcore started in Massachusetts when Siege played their first show at Weymouth North High School’s Battle of the Bands back in 1984. After recording their tape Drop Dead that same year and appearing on Pushead's Cleanse the Bacteria compilation in 1985, their reputation grew amongst the extreme music scene and even into the hands of some kids across the pond who formed a little band called Napalm Death.

Following in the footsteps of their grindcore forefathers is Boston’s Horrible Earth who carry the punishing spirit on their Weakened By Civilization album, which dropped back in February. Having been together for a decade now, they can easily be considered veterans of the scene, especially since the group's members had already cut their teeth beginning in the early '00s via other projects.

Since forming, Horrible Earth have dropped a slew of singles and dropped their debut album, Typical Human Behavior, in 2016. Now, seven years, their latest record drops you right in the middle of Boston’s worst streets (aka Allston) and reminded you just how awful everyday life really can be not just out here but in America at large. They even flex their playing skills well with a jazz number in the middle of the album that somehow doesn’t stop the experience dead in its tracks, on the contrary even, it elevates it.

I’ve been meaning to get an interview with them done for awhile so here it is at long last. If you enjoy grindcore dealing with the reality of capitalism delivered through calloused hands and exhausted eyes.

How did Horrible Earth come together?

Steve (vocals): Horrible Earth was the title of a song Alex and I wrote with a project band called Violent Order. One day we were jamming the song and Alex turned to me and said that’s a great name for a band, and it stuck in my head.

Alex and I were really looking to start a grindcore band and convinced some good friends from the Boston band Guilty as Sin to join Horrible Earth. Shortly after we formed Alex brought Frank in and that was the first version of the band.

What were some of your key influences going into this and did they change when you wrote the new record?

Steve: I think we stick to more of the older style of grindcore when it comes to key influences but what really changed the writing was the addition of David’s drumming

Alex (bass): My key influence is always Nasum. I also love Rotten Sound. To be honest, Frank wrote 99% of the riffs on this record. We hashed it out in rehearsals with David and Steve working on the arrangements. 

What was the recording process for Weakened By Civilization like?

Steve: We are very fortunate to have a great relationship with New Alliance Audio, working  with Jon Taft, and with Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East makes it easy for us and we are very comfortable there. We did Typical Human Behavior and our self-titled album there also

Did you guys test these songs on audiences before the release? What’s the reaction been like?

Alex: We did, we have been playing these songs for quite a while. People have been generally pretty receptive. Some folks get mad because they feel that the songs are a tease. 

Steve: We always sneak in new stuff when we play out ! our fans notice, after our set they definitely approach us and ask wtf was that song and they usually take the set  list we printed out and if you come to our shows then you know you want one of our set lists!

Lyrically what inspired you on this album? Do you feel like your lyrics have also changed over the years or do you feel like what you wrote 10 years ago still rings true today?

Steve: The state of the planet, misinformation, sociopolitical subjects... I’ve said it before it’s like grindcore public service announcements under a minute! Most of the lyrical content does ring true today, some older songs I went off the reservation with stranger fringe subjects but yes I think the messages hold  

Alex: I won’t comment on Steve’s lyrics. He always has the right verse for the moment.                 

Describe this new record in one sentence.

Alex: Fast and brutal with moments of pure filth. 

Steve: The members of Horrible Earth have combined all of their favorite hrindcore, hardcore punk, and death metal influences in creating their best album yet, Weakened by Civilization.

You guys have been going on for 10 years, how different is the scene you occupied back then compared to now?

Alex: I feel that the scene is actually thriving . There are a good core of bands here in Massachusetts and in the New England area there are quite a few top grind bands.

Steve: I think the scene has always been pretty good unfortunately venues are disappearing in Boston.

How much time after COVID restrictions were lifted did you wait to play shows again?

Steve: I think we played right away !!

Alex: Yeah! As soon as we felt it was safe we were back playing live.  

Do you feel like there’s been a renewed energy injected into the scene?

Steve: The shows for me have been great  and I don’t think the energy every left and I appreciate all the promoters ,bands ,venues and labels that stuck it out during the pandemic and the ones that didn’t I hope you can get back doing your thing

Alex: The shows back have felt much more intense, I believe because people now know that it can all be gone in a moment’s notice. Best one after coming back from COVID? I don’t know, maybe the first one? It felt great to be on stage again. It’s my favorite place to be. 

What have been some other memorable shows in your 10 years as a band?

Steve: Honestly, all the shows coming back are great and I don’t take it for granted, we played a lot of amazing shows in the past 10 years from Berserker Fest in Pontiac  Michigan to the Maryland Deathfest and Quebec Deathfest in 2018. But my absolute favorite was a big show we played in Hamtramck Michigan outside of Detroit, No Pulse No Problem Fest at the New Dodge Lounge in May of 2015. It was awesome.

Alex: The most memorable show for me was Maryland Deathfest in 2018. It felt like we had arrived. The second most memorable was the Quebec Death Fest later that year. Truth is we have played many shows and all of them have a different energy. It’s always great to be a part of something that someone has taken the time to put together. 

Who are some bands you admire right now and some you’d like to play shows with?

Steve: I love that All Out War is still at it and I love what Ground out of New Jersey is doing and Come to Grief, and I’d love to play with Deadguy.

Alex: We love to play with anyone who will have us. Rot Bus, Strictly Hip-Hop, and Blast Shield are some of the bands we won’t say no to!

Do you feel like the Boston Grindcore, hardcore and even death metal scene is more integrated and you guys and those l bands can comfortably play mixed shows?

Steve: I do think it’s more integrated in Boston but I don’t think we’ve been on a lot of shows with hardcore bands, definitely more death metal and thrash metal bands. I think a grindcore band is a great way to mix up any show

Alex: The scene here is really integrated! We say okay to mixed bills all the time. That’s one of the great things about the Boston scene. We all end up trading the same 10 bucks and t-shirts at shows. 

What are you doing in promotion of this album? Tours? Merch?

Alex: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions has been handling getting us out on the socials and we are taking care the local promotion. As far as touring is concerned we might put together some dates for the East Coast and Canada. Also we’ve got a ton of merch all ready to go, what size do you need?

Steve: We have CDs and shirts and We are always working on new merchandise. Tour? Maybe this Fall like Alex said. Please go check out Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, our merch, music, and a ton of other great bands stuff is available, our discography t-shirt is available too. Only the hardest can rock that.

Are you thinking of a follow up or is it too soon to think of that?

Steve: We have already started working on new stuff and I know I’m excited about it!

Alex: That’s true, we’ve been writing and there are some ideas brewing there.

Anyone you would like to shout out?

Steve: Shout out to Mike of HPGD Productions for working with us and putting out our new album and all the bands and promoters that have helped us through the years you know who you are

Alex: I would just like to shout out all those that still throw heavy shows. All those who still show up, dance and have a good time. That is what keeps it alive for me.


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