Exclusive Interview: Scary Hours talk “Symptoms of Modern Hegemony”!

Somebody taught you to hate your skin, somebody taught you to hate your lips, somebody taught you to hate yourself from within for the state that you’re in” screams vocalist Ryan Struck about 60 seconds into the chaotic, fast and loose Hardcore Punk of hard hitting opening cut “Suffer Peacefully” of Scary Hours new record “Symptoms of Modern Hegemony” and it’s from there on in that you need to buckle up, because it’s one hell of a white knuckle ride. After picking ourselves up from the floor having heard the record and inked a review for it, we spoke to Ryan about the record and the conversation went something like this…

How have you found the reaction to “Symptoms of Modern Hegemony” so far? “Generally, the reviews have been positive. It’s so easy to get bogged down by metrics in such a saturated music market, especially with so many incredible bands popping up in every genre. It’s like, who gives a fuck about some 30+ year ol dude screaming in his basement? “OK, boomer!” But I’m overwhelmed by the enthusiasm from folks who have been reaching out about it. The most consistent negative criticism I’ve gotten is about the production which I know had some interesting choices for a hardcore record. I intentionally mixed it like a 90s skatepunk album and I think that deterred some hardcore purists in the first 60 seconds since it deviated from the Will Putney sound most heavy bands are going for, but I can’t say I’m bothered by it. Honestly, the most flattering review came from MetalNoise. Not because you gassed it up or anything, I just felt like you completely understand where it came from and it really speaks to your own encyclopaedic knowledge of heavy and alternative music. You fuckin called me straight out on the SLATFATS influence, my favorite NOFX album, and I didn’t even realize it was there. Distorted Sound also called it “a masterclass in punk” which made my heart flutter a bit especially considering they’re one of my favorite outlets for music. Another place said it was a 30 minute lesson in the last 40 years of American hardcore which made me smile. When you don’t make money (and don’t want to) hearing stuff like that is payday for me so I am very grateful. I don’t take it lightly and I don’t take it for granted”

Our favourite cut from the record has to be “Secular Grace“ which crosses the genres of Punk, Thrash, Black Metal and Deathcore in a single cut! Is variety the spice of life? When it came to writing the record, which cut was the one that you enjoyed piecing together the most and why? “My grandparents said salt is the poor man’s spice cabinet, I’m not doing anything but biting everyone else’s sound and hoping it works hahaha. But it’s funny you say that because “Secular Grace” was one of the last songs to come together and immediately became the one I was most proud of and had the most fun with. I told Joe, my comrade and Pyrrhic Victory Records owner, that I was almost done with the record but I was running out of steam. He told me to purge everything I felt I hadn’t gotten out yet, give it a final squeeze and blast out something chaotic with a breakdown as the centrepiece. I didn’t want to throw in a Hatebreed chug just to take up space and I kind of did that type of breakdown already in “Sackler Street.” So I wrote the “you pledge allegiance to the executioner” part which had ETID or Converge vibes. I’ve always thought that what makes something heavy is not necessarily the part itself, but the parts around it. So I put that Bracket/NOFX sunshine pop part in and threw in those 8th note dissonant chugs right after the melodic break. I felt like I could amp up the chaos a little more but didn’t know how. Then I remembered this song on an Igorr record that had Corpsegrinder as a guest vocalist and there was this killer 8-bit break in it, it was so fucking cool. I took that idea and threw that quick Nintendo part into the breakdown and I felt it hit just right. See? Just pinching from the world’s spice cabinet haha”

Talking about diversity, the lyrics of the record cover a very broad spectrum of things from the US political climate to personal issues like grief and addiction. How difficult did you find it to get those subjects to marry together for the album? Is there any subject matter that is off the cards that you would never write about? “I didn’t have any issues or concerns about tying any overall theme to the lyrics. It came down to what I’ve lived in and situations I’ve observed. I feel that my own perceived inadequacies are tied to systemic problems, many of which I talk about on this record. I think most of us suffer from a lack of control that we manifest in different ways. Those manifestations are the symptoms of a greater sickness. That’s where the album title came from. Writing these songs helped me exercise some of that. For example, “Trapped” attempts to explore the similarity between substance abuse and hustle-culture. One can get so lost in some other identity (professional, gym rat, addict, content creator) that they spend their lives actively neglecting the things that might bring them some type of fulfilment or cultured experience and opt for self-destruction by another means. Interestingly enough, the addicts are stigmatized while the hustlers are glorified despite suffering from similar consequences, i.e. strained relationships, ailing physical and mental health, etc. They’re both coming home and kicking the dog and gaslighting themselves. When I started out writing that song, I knew where I wanted to start but I didn’t know I’d have what felt like a crucial realization for myself: the next time some asshole in a suit who thinks they’re better than you treats you like a piece of shit or slam talks someone who may be suffering with addiction or mental illness, they’re just rattling the cages of their own trap. Listen for it”

We’ve picked out some influences in our review of the record from NoFx to Counterparts and Every Time I Die – so if we are the product of our genes and influences, what’s in your Jeans and who would you consider your influences? “There are too many to list but I’ll try to boil it down. I am just in love with music. Edgelords talk your shit, but I cannot understate the importance of Rage Against the Machine in my personal and musical development. With barely any melodic vocals on this album, I drew all the rhythmic vocal inspiration from rap music. My favorite is Gza so I think I take a lot of cadence from him and the other Wu members. The speed, attitude and bizarre chord progressions come from Minor Threat, Paint it Black and F-Minus. “Master of Puppets” changed my life and brought some thrash to the table, along with “Far Beyond Driven” and “Vulgar Display of Power.” The more modern hardcore edge definitely comes from bands like Knocked Loose and Incendiary, who reinvigorated me to hardcore music after several years doing other types of projects. And I learned all my most rudimentary tools from skatepunk. NOFX and Leftover Crack taught me the importance of a good octave run. Lifetime taught me it’s ok to use your bottom 3 guitar strings and make interesting chords. Dustbox taught me jazz chords and punk rock are friends. Most importantly, Propagandhi taught me that punk rock can, and should, be intellectually stimulating and to “whine and kick and scream until everyone has everything they need.”

If you had the opportunity to work with a guest the next time around, who would you like to bring into the studio to work on a cut with you and why? “Sierra from No Right is just a fuckin beast on the mic and I connect to her lyrics a lot. I’d be honoured and stoked if she ever expressed interest in a collaboration. I would love to get a verse from Ben of Such Gold. Nobody talks about how fucking sick his voice is. When he screams, his voice shreds and his sense of melody is so unique; he has an incredible singing voice as well. I also think Jess from Mortality Rate/World of Pleasure has one of the best voices in hardcore”

What’s next for Scary Hours? “Right now the priority is getting the band ready to play out. I’m dying to take these songs to a show and experience the catharsis of playing them. We are shooting for end of 2022, fingers crossed!”

Symptoms of Modern Hegemony” by Scary Hours is out now via Pyrrhic Victory Recordings

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