Struck Nerve Vocalist Marty Williams on Straight Edge, Philly Hardcore + More

Photo: Dan White

Struck Nerve is a straight edge hardcore band that resides in Philadelphia, PA. I recently had the chance to chat with Marty Williams (ex-Agitator), who once served as their guitarist and now is the vocalist of the group.

In this interview we discuss the perks of being in a straight edge band, the Philly hardcore scene, the origin of Struck Nerve, and much more! 

First things first my man, let the people know who you are and what the fuck you're about!

I’m Marty and I sing in Struck Nerve and write the songs on guitar. I just want to be in a straight edge band.

A man of many hats I see, that's dope. What is it about being in straight edge band that you dig compared to being in a regular hardcore band?

I think straight edge is the coolest thing on earth, so it just makes sense to me. Most of the bands I’ve been in have been edge. I hate being around drugs or alcohol so I like being around people who feel the same. Also, there’s just something intangible that’s cool to me about straight edge bands.

I enjoy straight edge lyrics a lot as well. The messages tend to be more productive and have substance. Why do you think the straight edge scene has more thoughtful lyrics compared to other styles of hardcore?

I like when bands are just straight to the point. Like, you hear Floorpunch and there’s no questioning what they’re about.

Yeah, sometimes all the hidden messages can be a bit diluted. Speaking of Floorpunch, who are some bands you're currently jiving with?

I’m working on a new song and have been listening to a lot of Mental, Step Forward, and Drug Test for inspiration. As far as new music I’ve been listening to. Worn, All Under Heaven, and Stiff Meds. Oh yeah and that new Teenage Wrist record is really cool! 

Photo: Errick Easterday

What's the new song you've been working on?

We recorded a new song at the end of March that’s going to be on the next One Scene Unity Compilation on From Within Records. I’m really excited to be on it. Carter is one of my best friends and I love his label.

That first installment of the One Scene Unity Compilation was stacked with some great hardcore acts so its only right you guys get a slot on there this time around. Speaking of albums, Rattle the Cage was a non-stop rager, man! What was the driving inspiration behind the album? 

For me it was about trying to bring back a sound that I missed. When I first started going to hardcore shows in 2006/2007, bands like Desperate Measures, Mental, and Righteous Jams were all really popular but I had just missed the chance to be able to see all of them. I love watching the old Posi Numbers videos and I wanted to try to make music that would feel at home on one of those lineups.

MySpace days, what a time. You guys emulated that vibe you were searching for no doubt. In terms of making music that feels like home, how would you say the Philadelphia hardcore scene has stood out compared to other regions?

Philly is awesome because Joe Hardcore and Bob Wilson book some of the best shows in the country and not just tired tour packages coming through over and over. Regardless of the waves in the scene when there’s a lot of local bands or just a few, there’s always something awesome going on.

Philly hardcore is the main reason it would be hard for me to ever move away from here.

Joe Hardcore and Mr. Wilson put in heavy work for the Philly scene, no doubt. I'm stoked to see what happens now that the pandemic seems to be leveling out and what to expect with a new This is Hardcore fest. Who are some of the local acts that you're vibing with?

Fixation and Chemical Fix are my favorite local bands right now. They both have new records on the way. Year of the Knife is close enough that I’ll count them. Their record last year was awesome.

Outside of hardcore, Webbed Wing is amazing and I don’t think they get enough recognition.

I’ll have to check those guys out for sure. You guys did a switch-a-roo with the roster a few months back! What inspired the decision to put you on vocals and Anthony Marinaro on guitar? 

Basically, Anthony [Marinaro] is never around between playing shows with Jesus Piece, having a girlfriend who lives in Canada, and he’s always traveling so it was really hard for us to ever do anything.

When we knew we were gonna be doing the record on Youngblood, we wanted to be able to make sure we can do the band justice, so we decided I would sing and he would play guitar. That way he can still be in the band, but we can still exist when he’s not around.

Marty fronting Agitator @ Sound and Fury 2011. (Photo: Matt Gill)

Ah, I see. Well, that's good it's sorted out and the integrity of the music wasn't compromised by having to replace anyone or anything. In your perspective Marty, how did Struck Nerve come to fruition?

Yeah, as far as the music goes, I’m still writing everything, so nothing’s changed there.

For years after Agitator broke up, I kept trying to start new bands and no one ever actually sat down and wrote music, so I got frustrated and kinda gave up. Then I was talking to a friend about how it’s annoying that there aren’t more younger kids who learned instruments and started bands, but then I realized I had no room to complain when all I did was sing in a band.

So I decided to try to teach myself guitar and three months later had the demo written. I hit up Anthony and he was into it and had the idea to ask Joe to play drums and Jake to play bass. Then I asked Pat to play guitar because I’ve been in bands with him forever, and I needed someone to hold it down on guitar, since I suck.

Wow! That’s an inspiring tale though, Marty. With all that being said in terms of the obstacles that you faced with starting Struck Nerve, what advice would you give to upcoming bands that are trying to come up in today’s scene? 

I would say for anyone thinking of starting a band or learning an instrument, just do it. If I can write a song then anyone can. Maybe it will suck or maybe it won’t, but I can guarantee that being an active participant in hardcore is infinitely more fun than sitting on the sidelines.

Well said, man, well said. I agree, just send it folks! I appreciate you and your time, Marty. Do you have anything else you'd like to add before we wrap this up?

Last thing I’ll add is shout out to Philadelphia straight edge. Gonna come back strong in 2021!


Rattle the Cage is available on vinyl or digital formats via Youngblood Records. 


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Tagged: struck nerve