Prize: Upstate New York Quartet Makes Noisy Hardcore for These Turbulent Times

Photo: Ryan Slowey / edited by Matt Bradley

Based out of the Albany area of New York, Prize is a band featuring members of Spell Runner and Throat Culture. If you're jonesing for a group bringing the hate-the-world hardcore that made both Deadguy and Kiss It Goodbye heroes in the black hearts of listeners throughout the '90s, Prize needs to be in your life. Fuzz Records recently dropped the quartet's album, Beat in a Fair Contest, and it's an ugly piece of work.

"What I think is cool about the actual formation of the band is that it happened very naturally," Prize singer Seth Eggleston tells No Echo. "Ben had talked to Pat about wanting to do some Deadguy type shit, and had talked to me about it separately. Coincidentally, I had been hitting Pat up about the same thing. At some point Ben and I found out we were both texting Pat that day, laughed about it, and kicked off the group chat.

"This was all in winter 2018. A couple lineup changes, and a bunch of phone demos later, we finally got shit off the ground. Lastly (and most importantly), I think that we’ve created an environment where someone sends a Meshuggah song and is like, 'yo 1:23 Prize vibes,' and then someone sends Portishead and is like, “for sure, dude, but check out 2:45 on this one,” or The Jesus Lizard, Shudder to Think, Lungfish, or whatever, and everyone knows what they mean. Maybe that’s not a musical level per se, but we definitely have a concise collective consciousness of sorts that feels very free and affirming."

Seth gives us his take on Prize's sound: "So, one way we talk about it is a locals-only term, 'twiz.' Twiz is like, a hatchet man face tattoo, cargo shorts past the knee with flames on them, chain wallets, mall goth unironically, walking around with a chip on your shoulder and a jack skellington beanie on your head, it’s the corny side of all things macabre. Don’t get it twisted, though, twiz is a term of endearment. It’s embracing the weird, freedom of self, difficult to describe, but impossible to ignore.

"Straight up, we’re trying to tow that line. Practice demos will be like 'mega twiz 4,' 'Pat’s twizzy riff,' etc. I think that’s important to touch on because growing up in Upstate New York, you don’t get exactly what you want. When you’re a kid, any show is worth hitting, because you’re about it, because you want that stimulation, and odds are your area was passed up by whatever you’ve been jamming for three months. It’s because of that we relish in twiz. We think our band sounds like it could only come from Upstate, because of our exposure to this or that, whether it was good, bad, corny or breathtaking.

"That being said, we definitely wanted the record to call back the early 2000s. We wanted to make tense music without a lot of resolution. We wanted it to be chaotic and heavy without relying on mosh parts. We talked a lot about repetition and creating a meditative aspect to it. Who knows if any of what I just wrote is conveyed, but them’s the breaks!"

Photo: Christopher Scesny

Speaking of Upstate New York, No Echo asks how the scene there has received Prize so far. "Well, we only had one show before Covid-19 swept the nation and shut everything down, that being said, it was sick. Super mixed bill with Lone Phone Booth, Deep Slut, and Leering. All types of people rolled out, capped out a small community space, and stayed for all the acts. It's definitely a nice feeling of connection with the city and the art scene. People are stoked, we’re stoked, and it’s a really supportive group of peers we have up here.

"Generally, people just want there to be art that feels real and excited. As far as bands we fuck with goes, it's gotta be the entire Fuzz Records roster. Josh holds it down and has collected a cool catalog of friends. Maggot Brain, They Are Gutting a Body of Water, Hour of Lead, Spell Runner, Hush, Scum Couch. We also dig Age of Apocalypse and Colony from the Hudson Valley. Lastly, shout out to Riot Stares from Charleston, SC. They have a new record dropping soon."        

Getting close to the conclusion of our chat, and Seth wants to mention one last thing: "I’d just like to take a minute to talk about the album art. By Melbourne, Australia video artist, Tess Landells. The image itself is a map created based off of a home video of a ballet performance, in an attempt to understand, and deconstruct, the viewers engagement with the show. Each blip marks a place where the anonymous filmer steadied the camera to study their subject. What’s interesting about the viewers engagement with the performance is that with so much going on the filmer at any moment could have lost the spirit of the display. However, according to Tess, the filmers course amplifies the emotive experience."

Beat in a Fair Contest is available now via Fuzz Records. Hit this link to find the album on a variety of streaming outlets, plus purchasing options.


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Tagged: prize, spell runner