Many bands have come and gone that equate their music as the “heaviest” or “angriest”. Upon listening to these bands you come to one of two conclusions: that these dudes are macho posturing or that you’ve heard something like this before. The Banner, a hardcore band from New Jersey, is not the heaviest or angriest nor have you heard anything like them before. They are heavy and angry, but in a genuine way: The Banner is not an act. Having released four distinctive records since its inception, The Banner is poised to maul 2012 in the jugular with their newest material in four years as well as some old surprises. I took this opportunity to interview vocalist Joey Southside about these releases as well as some of the finer points of The Banner.
When did you form The Banner?
In 1999. We were called Constrictor and then changed it to Bruce Banner to better reflect the lyrical content. Then we discovered this other band from Sweden (I think) called Bruce Banner and they were way better than we were so we altered our name a bit to The Banner.
Full Interview after the jump!
What was your intention for your music?
My original intent for the band was to be good enough to live the hardcore lifestyle, go live in a van and yell in exotic places like Cleveland and such. While writing the EP I got super hooked on song writing and the focus sort of changed to trying to write shit that was semi-original while still being based in the HC sounds and such I grew up on.
The band announced its breakup in early 2010, what caused you guys to come out of hiatus and begin writing new material?
Who knows, I was probably throwing a hissy fit and trying to piss someone off. The Banner can’t really break up, since Each Breath Haunted the projects pretty much just me and whatever collaborators interest me at the time. Garret comes and goes like the wind as is his prerogative and Paul’s in his wigger band (Suburban Scum) which is quite the rage currently.
You have the Born to Ruin 7”s coming out this year. What is the decision behind splitting it into three releases?
Money mostly as far as recording costs and such. I personally don’t have an attention span to listen to an entire LP. I found that a lot of LPs that I’ve listened to in the past and found lopsided or weak in spots and later enjoying songs on the later tracks was basically just me having an ADD attack. I figure 5-6 songs are a good length and if you dig what you’re hearing it will leave you wanting some more. Plus it’s cool to do artwork for a triple gatefold. Most of my decisions on how I’ll release music in the future will be based on what I can do with the packaging and art.
The Banner had always had some very strong imagery on their records; I look forward to seeing the new artwork. On the subject of art what music has influenced the writing of Born to Ruin?
Killing Joke, Napalm Death, Warzone, Agnostic Front, and Orchid are most of the shit I listen to when writing all the albums. I don’t think the influences are immediately reflected in the sound of the record but that’s what gets me in the proper mindset. I’ve been listening to a lot of the old Industrial bands and industrial noise stuff of my youth. Those bands have definitely spawned a ton of ideas as far as what were going to do as far as tone and sound of the album.
I noticed the heavy use of runes on recent artwork, particularly the upcoming pressing of the Each Breath Haunted 12”; do I detect some Death in June at play?
Death in June will always be an influence but as with most bands and artists I respect I tend to throw art/songs out if I feel it’s too derivative of the bands and artists that inspire me most. The runes are actually an alphabet I developed as a hobby over a couple years, taking bits and pieces from other alphabets that I dig visually. I originally just used those letters for one piece and then a friend informed me how annoyed people would be if I used it all the time. So now I think I’m going to use it all the time.
It will sure piss off all the none rune-speaking fans out there. There has been a strong thematic motif throughout your material concerning classic horror imagery and lycanthropy. What draws you to these specific themes?
I never really thought we were a “horror imagery” band, I feel like that denotes like classic Universal movie monsters and such and that’s just never been a motivator artistically. Vampirism, lycanthropy and ghosts and such are ideas that have been around nearly as long as man itself and as something that has always interested me they rear their heads in metaphor pretty frequently for me.
I’ve always been drawn to the mythology and history of lycanthropy; it’s just something I enjoy as a vein of fiction. Growing up in a family of Italian descent I was always intrigued by Roman history so naturally the myth of the founding of Rome (Romulus, Remus, and the god of war, Mars) has always been a favorite of mine. Alternately being somewhat bi-polar and the connection to the idea of a beast/monster inside you just always lent itself well to what we do lyrically, this goes back to the band originally being named Bruce Banner.
A normal man becoming a beast is a strong phobia; people like to maintain self control. Are there any tours or festivals planned for this year?
Nothing planned as of yet but we will be playing for sure.
Be sure to look for The Banner in your area throughout the year. The vinyl pressing of their second album Each Breath Haunted will be available for preorder February 17, pick it up. As a teaser for Born to Ruin, check out their new track “Wolvesblood” below.