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Warxgames Vocalist Tony Pence on Their New EP, Working with React! Records

Photo: Farrah Skeiky

Back in 2017, I had the pleasure of welcoming Tony Pence into the site's Record Collector club, and just last year, I told you about his excellent punk band, Glue Traps. The owner of Baltimore vinyl shop Celebrated Summer, Tony is obviously a busy guy, but that hasn't stopped him from returning with a new record from Warxgames, a hardcore band whose first release came out in 2012. "It started with me and Aaron Kirkpatrick hanging out at the store and kind of bemoaning the fact that here we are, these two old straight edge dudes, for life and we have never been in a straight edge band," Tony tells me about Warxgames' formation.

"Basically, our interests, the way we look, and our age, just kept any of the younger kids from asking us to be in a band. We basically felt like outsiders and the only way we were going to do this was to make it happen ourselves. Brian came next, he moved here from Connecticut and had been in The Pist, who I loved. One day, we were talking at the store and I said 'Too bad you're not edge you could play drums in my new band.' I just thought that having been in The Pist there was no way he was straight edge, but it turns out I was wrong [laughs]. After a while, we got EV from Mindset on bass and recorded the first single. After that, we had a bunch of deaths in our families and EV dropped out to concentrate on the final year of Mindset. It took awhile but we got Chadd from Triac and Jeremy from Wall Breaker and it's a perfect fit."

Photo: Farrah Skeiky

Warxgames will be releasing a new EP called Violent & Depressed, a bleak title that Tony tells me mirrored a certain period in his and his band mates' lives. "Due to the nature of the personal problems the various band members were facing (in my case the sickness and then death of my mother in 2013-14) and having EV leave and finding new members, the songs on the new record were written over a really long stretch of time. The title track was one of the first written and the lyrics reflected where I was at that moment. I can't speak for anyone else in the band but I feel like we have all been there and it was a umbrella statement we could all stand under.  

"I pretty much write these kinds of simplistic self destructive and angry lyrics so that I can exorcize those thoughts and live my life in a more calm manner."

How would Tony describe the Warxgames sound? "Everyone wants to play hardcore in the band, right? But also everyone is coming at it from just a slightly different direction. I think that gives us an advantage. I'm the most straight forward, and if I had my way every song would just sound like Heresy, Ripcord or Crossed Out [laughs]. Luckily I don't have my way so Chadd, in addition to liking all that stuff comes in with a huge AmRep and noise rock influence, Aaron and Jeremy in addition to liking that stuff come in with more out of the box song structures and creative ways to not just repeat ourselves. And Brian keeps everything teathered to reality so we don't all fly off in 100 directions. Did I even answer the question? We sound like one part early Agnostic Front and one part power violence," laughs the singer.

Photo: Keith Baillargeon

Violent & Depressed will be released by the aforementioned Evan Wivell, aka EV, via his label, React! Records. I wanted to know how Tony and Evan initially met. "I met EV when he was in the pre-Mindset band, Anti-Wasteoids. I liked him right away and as a older straight edge guy I just wanted to encourage him as much as possible, turns out he didn't need it because Mindset quickly blew up and between that and booking shows, tours, doing awesome zines, and starting React! He wound up encouraging me by Joining Warxgames for a while and putting out our records!"

Warxgames (w/ Evan on bass) in 2013. (Photo: Brendan Fieldhouse)

I don't have the liner notes for Violent & Depressed yet, so I got the lowdown from Tony. "Aaron Kirkpatrick and Jeremy Evans on guitars, Brian Marshall on drums, Chadd Heath on bass, and me yelling. We recorded with Kevin Bernsten at Developing Nations in Baltimore, just 5 minutes from my house! It was a super easy session."

Since he owns a record store, I asked Tony if he ever finds himself selling any Warxgames records to people who have no idea about the connection. "I'm the worst and always forget to have them in stock. [Laughing] Sometimes people ask expecting them to be there and I'm like whoops, I left them at home in a duffel bag with our shirts." 

Violent & Depressed will be out in May via React! Records in the US and Refuse Records throughout Europe. If you prefere digital, Bandcamp has you covered.

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If you're shopping for vinyl, CD, and cassette hardcore titles, head to No Echo's partner store, Reverb LP, to see what they have available. Every purchase you make helps No Echo with site costs.

Tagged: warxgames

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