New Bedford’s A Wilhelm Scream have long peddled their sort of highly technical and ripping hardcore punk. Back with their first new material in nine years, the Massachusetts band’s forthcoming album, Lose Your Delusion, is a glorious mélange of everything they’re known for, be it the blazing tempos or earnest mood pieces.
In advance of the record dropping and the seemingly endlessly globetrotting tours they’ve crammed their calendars with, A Wilhelm Scream has returned. Lest I play spoiler and reveal that it’s possibly they’re finest hour (even though Partycrasher would like a word about that), I’ll instead point you to Creator-Destructor Records, the hardcore tastemakers (Gulch, Slowbleed) handling the release this go round.
I was lucky enough to gab, albeit virtually, with A Wilhelm Screams' Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals) and Nick Angelini (drums). Endless thanks to them both for indulging me.
Firstly, kudos on Lose Your Delusion. It absolutely rules. If my math is correct, it’s your fifth full-length and first in nine years. What keeps the flame burning because it’s white hot this go round?
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): Thanks so much! I think a big motivating factor is wanting to write a satisfying next chapter for the band. I’ve been thinking a lot about our body of work and it’s super important to me that each record has its own distinct vibe and identity. That’s always an exciting challenge.
I first caught wind of the band when you were known as Smackin’ Isaiah. I want to say I saw you in the summer of 1997 somewhere around Baltimore, but don’t trust my shoddy memory. I’ve long wondered... Was the name change In the grand tradition of Descendents/ALL?
Building off of that, A Wilhelm Scream is solely responsible for punk kids learning about that stock scream in all of our favorite childhood movies.
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): That sounds about right. Smackin’ Isaiah did tour the summer after high school graduation in ‘97. I think the name change was kind of necessary as our founding guitarist left the band and it felt like a perfect time to reboot.
It wasn’t an easy decision because Smackin' Isaiah worked so hard to get our music out there, and A Wilhelm Scream, although admittedly not a great band name for us [laughs], fits what we are into at least: nerdy movie stuff. And I love the idea of it.
Creator-Destructor Records is, in my opinion, the perfect home for the band. From the vanguard of California hardcore with Gulch and Sunami to more metallic leaning bands, AWS fits well in that cadre of bands. How’s that been so far?
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): It’s been great! We first met the owner Ben [Murray] when he was 15. He and Laura [Nichols] came to see us open for Strung Out and I remember being so impressed that these kids were in a sick thrash metal band doing big things (Ben and Laura are both members of Light This City), and shocked that they liked our band so much!
I believe Trevor [Strnad] from Black Dahlia Murder turned them on to us, which has been a common thing, actually. He has gotten a bunch of folks into us [if you’re reading this, thank you Trevor!] But yeah. I am super proud of what Ben has accomplished with his label and honored to be a part of it. His roster is sick!
I can’t understate how impressive the band is on a technical level. It stands to reason that a band would progress, but it’s shockingly complex at times. I’d love to get a peek behind the curtain. How do songs like this come together? To Nuno, do you still insist on No Work Mondays [laughs]?
Nick Angelini (drums): It was a little different writing this time around for me. Trevor and I have always written the drum parts together. Before we recorded this record I learned how to use MIDI drums. I spent a lot of time at my drum kit with my computer to my left. I’d listen to the demos write beats on the kit then plug them into the computer to see how they sound with the song. Once I was happy with what I got, I’d meet up with Trev, and we will go over them.
Sometimes Trevor would have some cool ideas that I wouldn’t think of, and vice versa. We mash our ideas together and make sure they didn’t step on the vocals or anything like that. And I’d go back to the woodshed and hash them all out. I’m pretty sure Nuno still has Mondays off.
I’ve long wondered about the vocal harmonies, which are incredible. How important is Bad Religion?! They were actually my entrée into punk, having seen them on an old skate video. Skateboarding has always had a special place in the band’s identity, whether intentionally or not. What’s the connect?
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): Bad Religion was essentially our harmony school—that’s how we learned by singing along to their records as loud as we could in the car or hanging out in my parents’ basement jamming. We did it so much that we would start singing harmonies that weren’t there, and those moments of epiphany stayed with us. We are self-taught musicians and I don’t really know music theory at all (scales, nothing). All I know is just grip it and rip it until it feels right.
I think the skateboarding connection to the band would have to come from Nuno, as it’s been such an important part of his life since he was a child, going back years before I even met him. A big part of his identity and growing into the man he is today could be attributed to skateboarding—the culture and friendships and lessons he has learned from it. He learned about tons of bands the same way you did, from skate videos. My personal connection to skateboarding is that Nuno is my friend.
The band has a long and fruitful relationship with The Blasting Room. Give us the Reader’s Digest version of how amazing that’s been? How was the text doing for this one different? It sounds incredible.
Nick Angelini (drums): It was pretty incredible. I learned a lot about myself as a drummer. We got to hang out with punk rock legends and meet so many cool people in Fort Collins. Bill [Stevenson] and Jason [Livermore] made us feel at home, and it still feels like a second home every time we go through Fort Collins. This latest recording was pretty incredible as well. Trevor built an amazing state of the art studio.
The drums sound so fucking good in the drum room. I also felt very prepared for this recording. We were supposed to record it two years earlier. But the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into that. Our bass player Brian [Robinson] lives in Canada, and was not able to get over the border. I took advantage of those two years and practiced my ass off. I’m really happy with how the recording turned out, and I think I leveled-up as a drummer.
The video for “GIMMETHESHAKES” looks like it was an absolute blast to make. A la Mode pun aside, give us the inside scoop on the shoot. Also, how many brave pies were harmed in the making of this video [laughs]?
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): It really was a blast making a weird-ass art video. Tilson and Joe took my rough idea of us getting pies to the face as judges in a pie-making competition and turned it into a Twin Peaks-inspired, wacky, existential crisis art video, and I couldn’t be more stoked on it.
They probably had like 30 pies and they all got smashed. And eaten. The response has been perfect as well. Pure confusion [laughs].
This is more a curio than anything else. The Nitro trifecta includes both “Ruiner” and “Career Suicide," which coincidentally share names with killer hardcore punk bands. [Laughs]Do you dig either one?
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): When we came up with those titles, I wasn’t familiar. But I am now! Both bands are awesome. We typically name the albums after songs on the album, so in my head they exist already whether we change them or not. Having said that, if I had known there were cool bands that had those names I certainly would’ve chosen different titles.
New Bedford has a storied hardcore scene, having its own fest with envy-inducing lineups (Lifetime, Converge, Chokehold) to the rise of the game-changing Have Heart. Speak a bit on the unique importance of the scene.
Nick Angelini (drums): Oh man, those hardcore fests were the best. I remember watching Lifetime with my friend Seamus at one of them and this dude decided to jump off the balcony and totally landed on one kid. The kid got hurt and the guy that jumped off the balcony was totally fine. What a dumbass. The band stop playing and they had to take the kid out on a stretcher. Lifetime did not get to finish their set.
We used to play this place called Reflections in New Bedford, which was a place for recovering alcoholics. So many awesome bands went through that venue. It seemed like there was a show there almost every weekend. I got to see bands like Mock Orange and Hot Water Music at this little weird venue. We didn’t realize it at the time but we are very lucky to have that place.
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): Yeah, for so many years Smackin’ Isaiah would be the one pop-punk band on a show with tons of heavy hardcore bands; it’s something we were always used to. It made us tough in that we learned early on if a certain portion of the audience visibly didn’t like us, we would be even more determined and steely-eyed in our resolve to do our thing and gain respect.
Some very important fests have gone down here, and I am stoked to have been exposed to such a diverse scene back then. It definitely had a positive impact on our music. Bill used to say Wilhelm was like five bands playing at once and that’s probably because the music we were into was all over the place. That can be attributed to those hardcore shows where you would have so many different styles of hardcore under the same hardcore umbrella. I’m very proud of the music lineage New Bedford has helped foster.
The album does a great job at mirroring all the anxiety and uncertainty of the last couple of years. This is most notably present on the poignant and killer “Apocalypse Porn.” Was that a difficult place to arrive as a unit? How cathartic has this all been?
(Also, pro tip: don’t Google the song title unless you’re alone... very, very alone [laughs])
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): It’s been very cathartic, which is a big part of why you make music (to get the negative feelings out in a constructive way). Creativity can break the chains and make you feel strong.
It must feel amazing to be gracing the stage again. Your November run with Comeback Kid and my favorite modern hardcore band One Step Closer looked phenomenal. How’s it been to get back out there?
Trevor Reilly (guitar/vocals): It feels right. We have been playing shows since we were 15 years old. A year hasn’t gone by since those first gigs that we haven’t played a show and that was a jarring thing to realize. It makes you really appreciate it more than ever. Nothing can replace the live show experience. Nothing. Thankful to be back at it.
This spring all the way into fall looks like quite the busy season for the band. How excited are you to hit the sky and the roads? See you in Baltimore in September. Should be an exciting time to be in Charm City, since my beloved Orioles will be gearing up for their World Series run.
Nick Angelini (drums): For a while I was not sure if we would ever be able to do this touring thing ever again. I feel very lucky to be able to travel the world with my brothers in A Wilhelm Scream. I don’t think I’ll take this opportunity for granted ever again.
Lose Your Delusion will be out digitally on April 15th via Creator-Destructor Records. The vinyl begins shipping this summer and can be pre-ordered here.
Help Support What No Echo Does via Patreon:
Tagged: a wilhelm scream