Interviews

Thirty Nights of Violence Singer Zach Wilbourn on Their New EP, the Nashville Hardcore Scene

Photo: Cam Smith

Thirty Nights of Violence want to see what they can get away with while they are still considered a metal band.

“We don’t strive to be incredibly different, but we adhere to what makes the most sense to us—a broad spectrum of all kinds of music,” says Zach Wilbourn, vocalist of the Nashville-based metalcore outfit. “We take a lot of pride in doing something that isn’t totally expected of us.”

Speaking to No Echo amid “a lot of moving parts,” Wilbourn and his bandmates have spent their quarantine spending time with family, working from home whenever possible and gearing up to release the second Thirty Nights of Violence EP, You’ll See Me Up There

The group formed two years ago when Wilbourn, alongside guitarist Kelly Cook and drummer Ethan Young, disbanded their death metal band, Pinion, to turn a metalcore passion project they were demoing into a full-fledged band. Bassist Jake Chestnut, a friend of the band, joined on bass, and guitarist James Chatham met Wilbourn through a student organization at Middle Tennesse State University.

Recording their first EP, To Die in Your Portrait, in Nashville with producer Tate Mercer was the first time the five members were simultaneously in the same place. Returning to Mercer once more for their forthcoming EP, the ideas of Thirty Nights of Violence have recognizably evolved since then.

“We aren’t five people who solely listen to hardcore and metal all the time. Those are communities we grew up with and have a passionate love for that music, but we were so influenced by loads of other music. We have more of a grasp of where we’re at that isn’t in metal … Looking at influences that are external from metal music was something we flirted with a lot on this new release,” Wilbourn explains.

Photo: Joseph Wasileski

The process, described by Wilbourn, was “much more collaborative.” While every member’s voice made it onto To Die in Your Portrait in some way, shape or form, You’ll See Me Up There hones in on using each member’s vision and talent, from frenzied metal, hardcore precision to rock and industrial accents. 

“I don’t think that’s something most bands grasp on their first record. As you grow in a unit, in finding your writing cadence, your music inevitably matures,” Wilbourn says. 

From that ripened nature, listeners have gravitated to the group’s stylistic choices throughout the promotional cycle of You’ll See Me Up There. The music video for “Marbelled Aggression” runs parallel with early clips from a Bury Your Dead or Silverstein, showing the band dressed in their “Sunday’s best” to juxstapose against the aggressive, visceral tendencies of the music of Thirty Nights of Violence.

Even the artwork, crafted by Alex Miracle, captures the fleeting moments of Thirty Nights of Violence put into the context of a painting, not unlike genre staples Converge and their seminal Petitioning the Empty Sky album. It’s the result of “very diverse influences” from across the membership; something refreshing, yet familiar.

“When you’re influenced by unconventional things, things outside of metal music and what might be expected of us, we gravitate further towards that and keep doing what we find interesting or fun to listen to,” Wilbourn says. “We all come from different backgrounds in writing perspectives, so I would say we took a more structured approach to songwriting … We want to test the confines of our genre.”

Lyrically, Thirty Nights of Violence offer a nuanced approach to topics not unheard of in metalcore, bringing refreshing lyrical concepts with valuable dialogue and diverse perspectives. “In Vein” details one of Wilbourn’s sibling’s struggles with opioid addiction, something his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama has “a very bad problem” with. 

“I was witnessing my family fall apart in real time. It’s not something you can prepare a young man to experience. I held onto those feelings for a long time,” Wilbourn details. “It’s just as important to recognize that things can be okay, as opposed to holding onto one point in time that was very tragic. That song helped me let that go.”

Photo: Cam Smith

A similar catharsis is heard on “Shattered Glass,” a song from the mind of Chatham about his family coming to grips with his queer sexual identity. While Wilbourn sings on the record, the “sole goal of the track was to let James have his voice be heard.”

“He’s seemed to have found a lot of peace from that track,” Wilbourn says. “When my queer bandmate comes to me talking about wanting to express something like that, the responsibility on my end is not to make it about myself or commercialize it, it’s to elevate my friend’s voice who deserves to be heard.”

Wilbourn further affirms that while Nashville might be known for conservative, “honky-tonk” country music, their heavy music scene “is phenomenal in combatting bigotry head-on. We have a very zero-tolerance policy for that kind of shit.” With that, Wilbourn thinks Thirty Nights of Violence will return from their lockdowns to an invigorated Nashville Hardcore. 

“All the Nashville bands are under the same blanket, but are doing our own thing in a way that works. No two bands here are identical. Not many people can say that about their scene. It makes the music that comes out of here very special. We have a lot of venues at risk of closing their doors, but I hope for more shows. There’s so much wonderful history outside of what most people understand Nashville to be,” Wilbourn says.

“There are so many talented individuals and incredible music coming out. I hope when COVID finally chills the fuck out that we are able to continue celebrating that.”

Photo: Joey Wasileski

For those wondering if Young, who recently joined Code Orange as their live drummer, will continue as a part of Thirty Nights of Violence, Wilbourn sets the final question very straight: “I am incredibly unconcerned with that, because he is a badass motherfucker who will continue to thrive with us just as much as with Code Orange.

"I won’t reveal all of our cards, but we’re doing things behind the scenes to make shit work in a way that will continue to serve the diversity of our sound and the overall future of the band, considering that Ethan is rolling with one of the biggest bands in the scene … Ethan is, was, and always will be a part of Thirty Nights of Violence.”

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You'll See Me Up There is available now via Unbeaten Records.

Thirty Nights of Violence on social media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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