Running No Echo, I've been reminded that hardcore music has found its way into nearly every region of the world. As the son of a Colombian father, it's with great pride that I've seen the country generating some great bands of the ilk in recent years. "Hardcore came into our lives unintentionally," Juanito Gil says, drummer of React!, a Medellín-based straight edge band that recently landed on my radar via Andrew Kline (Strife, Berthold City). With a sound that recalls the stomping power of Youth of Today and Rival Mob, readers of the site should take immediate notice.
"We were first heavily immersed into 'punk medallo' (underground Medellin punk rock movement in the early late '80’s, early '90s), which certainly was the opening door for discovering other louder and strident sounds of music, coming from the big cities," says the React! drummer.
"The first hardcore band we got into was Sin Salida, the first hardcore band in Colombia, which captivated many ears of those present in the Medellín scene. Regardless of their ideologies (which certainly we don’t share), their sound made a remarkable contribution into hardcore, as we know it. After them came emerging bands like Grito and Ira, who were and are still very appreciated here until this day. They certainly gave a huge influence to thousands of young kids to create their own projects of hardcore.
Andrew has welcomed React! into the WAR Records family, a label he owns and operates that also includes such bands as Fixation and Enact. The first release of the union will be a cassette version of the group's recently released 5-song demo:
React!'s lyrics are delivered in their native language, which we're seeing more hardcore bands do these days. Juanito says the following about their decision on that front:
"We are aware of the importance of English language into hardcore, but we as Latinos, we want the message and lyrics to be clear, refering to the social issues and situations that compromise the stability of our country, so we want to maintain that linguistic relatedness and connection to all the hardcore kids that listen to our music in our country and our city."
The drummer continues: "We did not want to seem selfish and write our lyrics in English, but we know the importance of it, because we also want to spread our message for the international hardcore community. So, we are planning to do some songs in English as well."
How about some of the common musical influences Juanito and his bandmates share? "Warzone, True Vision, Heavy Discipline, Berthold City, Big Cheese, Muro (Bogotá), Breakdown, Pressure, Outburst, Killing Time, SSD, Floorpunch, Big Laugh, Victimas, Armor, Exit Order, Puñal, Rotting Out, Mindset, Hatebreed, Line of Sight, Last Straw, Odd Man Out, Bad Brains, Judge, Fixation, and many more..." Man, I am exhausted just typing that!
Juanito told me a bit about the current politcal climate in Colombia. is going on in Colombia politically? "The issues in Colombia can be summed up in one word: Inequality. The country has belonged in much of its history to the same families of its leaders, who fluctuate between them, before and now. State impositions and lack of guarantees for its citizens is not a real condition that is reflected in the media. Corruption, indiscriminate murders, massive attacks to pensions, health care, social, educational, and environmental reforms converge in the various situations that complicate a decent living in the country.
"The protests, strikes and riots are the consequence of a country that awakens from the injustices and atrocious events that have occurred to our parents and ancestors, we just want a country with guarantees for our families and the enjoyment of the beautiful things that this country has to offers us."
At the very least, that turmoil sounds like fuel for great lyrics. "The lyrics and their music is a rejection of their own situations and that we hope it will not happen again, music is affected in the good sense of the word, because we believe that what is displayed in our music is due to the reality of the country and our families, therefore, the honesty of the message of our lyrics and music is notorious."
Lastly, I ask Juanito how he and React! connected with Andrew and WAR Records. "Our first contact With WAR Record started through social media, one day after the release of the demo. Also, through Diego Montoya, the guitarist in Bent Blue, who gave us his support by posting our demo in his social media platforms. That allowed us to amplify our voices in California (a big shout out to Diego in San Diego!)."
"In terms of our plans for 2022, we want to release our demo tape and start to work on our 7-inch. In addition to that, we hope to be able to get the opportunity to tour and play shows with WAR Records in California. We would love to invite bands from the label and share stage possibly in Colombia as well in the US."
The React! demo cassette is available for pre-order via WAR Records.
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