The Cleveland outfit known as Soul Charge just dropped their new release, the track "Sackcloth Grin," as a benefit to youth development organization Beat the Streets.
Upon hearing this news, I reached out to Jason (guitar) to get more details. I am fascinated by seeing the wave of fundraising and activism taking place during the time of stay-at-home orders issued to combat the spread of COVID-19, especially by hardcore bands.
Like so many other current bands, plans have been interrupted by COVID-19. Soul Charge had a release in the can and a tour planned with Disappear. from Ft. Wayne, IN. However, the release of the new track “Sackcloth Grin” was always intended to be a benefit. Jason had won the studio time to record it in a raffle. The logical step was to pay that fortune forward.
Before stay-at-home orders put a halt to shows, Soul Charged planned to donate all money gathered from the new single, new merch, shows, and the repress of their tape Death and Taxes to Beat the Streets. However, the pressing plants and print shops needed for producing merch are temporarily closed.
“With the seriousness of the virus and impending financial hardships others would be facing, it just didn't seem appropriate to ask people to spend money on frivolous things, like shirts and tapes, even for a good cause. But we could not just sit idle. Just because we couldn't be together, didn't mean we couldn't try to make a difference.”
The aforementioned beneficiary organization, Beat the Streets, is a national organization that provides mentorship to K-12 kids through wrestling. Over 200 kids take part in Cleveland alone. Elliott (vocals) expresses his connection to the mission of the org:
“I got beat up a lot as a kid. There was a point in middle school when I would hide inside the building and wait ‘til the buses had all cleared out, because I was afraid of getting jumped. Like most young boys, I was socialized to feel ashamed of fear. It’s a terrible thing we do to kids, that I came to understand better when I first started teaching. Fear isn’t something you can control, but you can control how you respond to it”
More information on the org can be found here: https://www.btscle.org/
If you are not familiar with Soul Charge, they are damned good. Their blending of genre-bending styles make their sound something for everyone. High energy tracks on what they have released so far borrow from Strife, AFI, Outspoken, plus some classic youth crew fundamentals. "Sackcloth Grin" carries this tradition with blood pumping hints of Most Precious Blood, while maintaining sonic autonomy. The bass tone is top notch, too.
During these days of social distancing, the members of Soul Charge vary in how their lives have been affected, but all have clearly made major adjustments. Jason is “essential." Beth (bass) and Elliot have moved their work home. However, Elliot was in the middle of opening a comic and gaming shop when stay-at-home orders hit. David (drummer) is a dog trainer and was impacted by a huge loss of work, yet he remains resilient and has turned his garage into a gym to keep busy and fit. All are affected by the impact felt on small business, yet all know that social distancing saves lives.
“I am saddened by the fact that many people cannot work, have been denied unemployment, or are struggling," Jason told me. "I understand their frustration and support their First Amendment rights, but I cannot say I support the means by which some have chosen to express themselves. We stand with nurses, healthcare workers, grocery and retail employees. While this has been hard on us all emotionally and financially, as well as the people we love, we cannot lose sight of the issue. It's not all about us. We need to look out for others, too.”
The band has chosen to release the single on May 1, because that is a day when Bandcamp does not take a percentage of sales. Beginning May 1 until it sells completely, all their merch, music, and other stuff available through Bandcamp will also benefit Beat the Streets Cleveland.. However, I would be failing to fulfill my duties if I did not mention that the first of May is also International Workers Day. It will be a day when I personally will spend some money for Soul Charge stuff. Solidarity!
Download "Sackcloth Grin" on Bandcamp today and help Soul Charge help a great cause.
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