Interview with Martin Stewart from TERROR; Playing Buffalo 2/26 and Albany 2/27 with H20! @terrorhardcore @backtracknyhc @victoryrecords
Los Angeles, California’s Terror are what hardcore is all about. If you follow the style at all, you know EXACTLY who this group is. If you claim to dig hardcore music and don’t know who they are, you’re living in a cave (and should probably stay there.)
Terror puts on one of the heaviest, hardest, and down right aggressive performances on the market right now, and they have been doing so since their very beginnings. And let me tell you, when lead screamer Scott Vogel takes the mic, you’d better prepare yourself for a pissed-off emotional release like you’ve never seen before. To quote Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys, “That guy is intense!”
Recent Victory Records signees (how appropriate,) Terror is currently on the road with H2O, Backtrack, and Code Orange Kids, and will be hitting a city near you. If you need a fitting soundtrack to let off some steam and get your ass handed to you in the pit, this one is for you. I caught up with guitarist Martin Stewart to talk about the tour, signing to Victory Records, and what we can expect from the new record.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Terror has been going strong and touring incessantly for many years… How is everything going on the road with H2O right now?
M- It’s great! It’s been like the most perfect first week of show that I’ve ever experienced on a tour before. It’s fuckin’… oh can I curse?
G- We are uncensored, man. You can say whatever you want.
M- I think this is show number 7 or something like that, and every show has just been crazy. Like banger after banger, sold out and stuff like that. So…
G- Well, with this lineup, I mean, how did this lineup even come to fruition anyway, cuz you’ve got the upstarts (C.O.K.) who are onstage right now. You’ve got Backtrack from Long Island, you’ve got you guys from L.A.… I mean, that’s like…
M- I know. I mean, we’ve played a lot of shows with H2O before, but we’ve never done, like, a whole tour together. So, it just made sense, you know? We were looking to tour at this time, they were looking to tour, Backtrack is a band that’s always looking to tour because they’re like a newer band and trying to get out there, and then the Code Orange kids. Like, none of us knew who they were, but it was brought to us, like, this would be a cool band to have. So, we’re on tour with them and it works out perfectly!
Every band is kinda like bringing their own thing to the table, and it’s working out just perfect. It’s a great mix!
G- And the crowd is moving pretty good down there right now, so I’m sure this is not going to be a stand still type crowd, looking tough and crossing your arms type. (laughing)
M- I hope not. I mean, we haven’t had anything like that yet, so…
G- And you never, ever will. So, you guys recently got back from a tour of Japan…
G- How were the shows in the far east, and what is it like playing so far away from your hometown of L.A.?
M- Umm, it’s like one of the most beautiful things in the world for us to do that. Like, just to start a little hardcore band. I didn’t start the band, but I’ve been in bands before and stuff like that, and your ambition is never really that far when you start a band. It’s kinda like ‘Let’s do a band, and record a demo,’ and then somehow, a couple years later you’re traveling all over the world, like Japan of all places. It’s a crazy feeling, especially because that was like my 3rd time there at this point, you know? It’s not like I’ve only been there once…
G- With Terror?
M- Yea, so, I’ll never, ever get over it. It’s always crazy to me no matter what. No matter where we go or what shit we do, none of us ever take it for granted… It’s always like ‘Holy shit! We’re in Japan’ and not only for the first time. It’s like ‘wow!’ So yea, it’s a great feeling!
G- Excellent! Now, tell us a little bit about how you got involved with Terror, when you got involved with the group for the first time, and how did it all come about for you?
M- I’ve been in the band now for almost 7 years. It’s kinda crazy to think, because every now and then it’ll all seem so new to me, because Scott and Nick started the band together. Scott lived in L.A., moved to L.A., AND nick grew up in L.A. and so did I.
I had a band with me and my brother… We did a band together, and we met Scott at a show, and I had seen Buried Alive and shit like that back when I was a teenager and stuff.
G- Hell yeah.
M- We met and we all just kinda clicked when we started hanging out, and then our bands started playing shows together. My old band played early shows with Terror…
G- What was your old bands names?
M – It was called Donnybrook. And we toured hard for like a year or so, and we played Houston a shitload of times, so… Anyways, like we did a European tour together, and it was Donnybrook’s only time overseas, you know. We had a tour with Terror and Blacklisted, and it went really well. And after that tour was done, Frank 3-gun, who was playing with Terror at the time, he stepped over to Hatebreed and I stepped in and started playing guitar for Terror, and that was almost, like, 7 years ago now.
The New England Metal Fest is the anniversary of me joining the band, because my first show ever with Terror was at NEMHCF, so that will be my 7 year anniversary with the band. And we’re playing it again this year!
G- Are you going to be playing on your exact anniversary date?
M- I don’t know. I’ll have to look back and see what actual date we played, but one of those days will be the anniversary.
G- Great! I’ll be at those, and I’ll also be in Albany and hopefully Buffalo in a couple weeks as well.
G- So hopefully I’ll see you there as well, but let’s talk about the sound a little bit for the readers who might not know. Terror plays one of the most pissed off and aggressive forms of hardcore on the market today. Your shows are always nuts and the crowd always responds in kind… Do you guys have any preparation or Terror pre-show rituals that you guys have to do to get ready to hit the stage or anything like that?
M- Umm, all of us individually just kind of do our own thing. 3 of us drink, so that’s usually what is involved before playing. I’m not drinking right now because the last couple of days, I’ve been drinking a little too much, so I’m taking it easy.
M- But, I don’t know. Nothing silly. Like, we don’t get together and…
G- No Terror Kumbaya or anything like that?
M- No, we just do it. We all kinda just get in the zone our own way and make it happen.
G- Dig it. Alright, so you came up in the old school hardcore scene, and Terror takes a lot of influences from the older bands and you give it a modern sound, but when you guys are on the road or even just for pleasure for yourself, what do you find yourself listening to, and are there any acts you think we should be checking out?
M- Oh man. I listen to, like, a lot of shit. My musical range is very wide and it’s cool because all 5 members of Terror all listen to a ton of different stuff. I listen to a lot of metal, black metal, and death metal that a lot of the other dudes don’t listen to, but I also listen to some pop stuff that, you know, I share the same interest with someone else. So, we kinda like have our own things that we listen to, but we all meet in the middle with certain things, too.
I don’t know, man. When I’m on tour and playing hardcore shows, I find myself not actually listening to a lot of hardcore because we’re playing it every night. I mean, there’s bands that I’ll always like… There’s a called Rude Awakening from Massachusetts I think, and they’re a new band that is just, like, killin’ it!
There’s a band called Criminal Instinct from Atlanta. Suburban Scum from NJ, Backtrack… Every hour of the day, even if we’re not listening to hardcore, we’re still in touch with what’s going on, always getting new music, demos, paying attention, being in the show when the show is happening, and seeing what t-shirts people are wearing and checking out shit if I haven’t heard of it before.
I’ve noticed that the difference with a lot of other bands is like they let themselves get sucked in to, like… they don’t pay attention.
G- Alright, well let’s talk more about Terror. You guys just signed with Victory Records for your next release, and that seems very, very appropriate. Let’s talk about how the signing came about, when we can expect a new record, if you have any news or tentative titles for the album, and if you have any songs written at this time.
M- Oh no, man. We recorded the record last year.
M- The record has been done for a minute, and we just had some label trouble with Century Media. We just couldn’t agree on shit or whatever, long story short. So, it was delayed for a long time, and Victory picked us up, bought us or whatever you want to call it. So, the record’s been done. In a few months, it’ll almost be a year, and it’s coming out in April, beginning of April. It’s called Live By The Code.
G- Live By The Code. Ok.
M- And yea. It’s been ready to go for a while now, and it’s finally all finalized, and the release date is solid, the artwork is done, and all that stuff, so…
G- Can you tell us about where you recorded and who was behind the boards for this one?
M- We recorded the drums at a place called Sunset Lodge in L.A. with this dude Matt Hyde in the studio.
G- Name sounds familiar, too.
M- Yeah. He’s done, like, a lot of shit. He’s even done, like, No Doubt records, Children Of Bodom records…
G- (laughing) There’s a nice little mix!
M- There’s a huge range of stuff that he’s done. So, we did the drums at his spot, and we did everything else with our drummer Nick. He has a studio and that’s where we did everything else, so he basically engineered the whole thing, like DIY.
M- Yeah he engineered the whole thing, and we had this dude Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory…
G- Of course.
M- He helped us with the last record and we got him back for this one.
G- Nice. Nice. And he’s on the new Shai Hulud, too. What a tour THAT would be… Shai Hulud and Terror!
M- Yeah. He recorded the record with them, but he’s not going to tour with them. That’d be impossible… That’d never happen. He played shows with them, though.
G- Yeah Revelation Records Anniversary. I was at those.
M- Yeah. It’s like the best Shai Hulud record that I’ve heard, and when we were recording, they were also recording, so when he would leave the studio, he would go to that studio and lay down vocals. It’s really good!
G- Right on. Now, in all of your travels and touring/recording experience, what would you say is the most difficult thing about being in a touring band and being a touring musician? Is there anything that you have to tell yourself or, like, have you ever thought about giving this up?
M- Luckily, I haven’t run into any hard spots like that. I can’t speak for everyone, but I feel like we’re pretty lucky. I can’t say we have it easy, but we have it easier than my other bands because we put in a lot of work.
G- Oh yeah.
M- So, I don’t know. It’s hard for me to ever say that it’s really hard work. It is, and I don’t think a lot of people can handle being gone as long as us, all the traveling. To some people, it all sounds like one big party, and we do party. We have a lot of fun doing this, but it’s not all fun and games.
It gets difficult. You gotta kinda tell yourself like it’s never that difficult. You’ll start to bitch and moan about something, and then you’re like ‘C’mon, it’s really not worth crying about.’ We’re still doing what we do. Even something as simple as being in Houston. I’m from L.A. and some of the kids I grew up with have never even been past the state line, and here I am. It doesn’t seem like much to some people, but still it’s cool traveling around our own country, different countries, meeting all kinds of people making new friends with other bands, this and that. So, you just gotta tell yourself that when it’s hard, it’s not really hard.
In the end, it’s great. We have fun. It’s not all fun and games, but it’s not the worst thing in the world, you know? It kinda trips me out that some people complain about doing this.
G- To all you kids on the road who tour, let me tell you… You could wake up 5 days a week in the morning and go to work like me, or you can suck it up, get rid of your problems, and go back on the road like these guys.
So, a few last questions for you. What I’d like to know is do you have a favorite song you have ever written or perform live with Terror, or if you were to give one song to someone who’d never heard Terror before, which is silly, what song would you offer them and why?
M- Anything from the new record. It’s kinda like, when you’re in a band, every time you do new stuff, it’s always going to be your most favorite stuff. I love everything that the band has done, but it’d be weird to me to think that ‘Oh yeah that song we did 10 years ago is totally the best song!’
I’ve always been about current shit and what’s going on right now, and the new stuff… We’re pleased with it and I could legitimately pick any song off of it and say ‘Hey, check this out!’ I’m confident in the new stuff.
G- Very good. Now, you’ve already shared stages with many, many bands. You’re sharing the stage with H2O tonight, which is great, and you just got back from Japan, but in your personal opinion, if you could select your own dream lineup that you’d put together and Terror would be on, what bands would you choose?
At this point, Backtrack’s lead singer is hanging out and Martin asks him for some input.
M- Help me out with this.
G- Somebody just entered the fray. Who is this?
M- This is Jimmy V.
J- I’m Jimmy V.
M- From Backtrack from NYC, and they’d definitely be one of them! We have these friendships. It doesn’t even mater what band… It’s like crazy!
J- I’d say, when we played with you guys in Europe, I’d say Naysayer.
J- I felt like my birthday running into them! Instantly we were all going off, screaming!
M- Yeah, like, the legendary stuff is cool, but like I said I focus on current stuff all the time, and to be able to go on tour with backtrack is one of the best things in the world. Naysayer from Richmond, Va is another great current band. And I don’t know… Maybe throw in T.U.I. (Trapped Under Ice) or something like that!
J- Yeah that’s what’s up!
M- It’d be perfect! All friends, we all get along, we all act retarded together. I’m 31 years old, and when I’m hanging out with these dudes, I feel like I’m 18 again, doing silly shit.
G- That’s excellent and I’d definitely be at that show! I have one more question, and since I have both of you here… (To Jimmy) Young band, working hard. (To Martin) Been around for a while, still working hard. The music dream is never gonna die and there’re kids out there that want to form bands, they want to perform, they look up to you and want to do what you guys are doing.
If you could each give them one piece of advice on how to get into the music business, how to make it n the road, and how to make it as a professional musician, what would you say to them?
J- I would say, in the words of Breakdown, don’t give up!
J- Don’t write a sick record and sit on your ass. If you write a good record and are touring, people are going to recognize it, they’re going to respect you, and they’re going to come out and see you.
J- Work your ass off and it’ll pay off.
M- And I’m going to be the darker half here and say this… If you’re going to try to be in a band that’s touring, collectively sit down together and ask ‘If the internet did not exist today, would we still be able to survive today,’ and if the answer is ‘No,’ then fucking sit at home and do nothing. I’m so sick of bands that bitch and complain about every little thing and not realizing how easy it is today. It’s so easy to tour today, and then you see all these bands that, like, are breaking up… They’re a band that’s been together for like 2 months, they tour and blah blah blah, and then you see them on Lambgoat and it’s ‘This band broke up.’ Every fucking week, there’s a new band breaking up because they don’t think about it ahead of time.
Think hard before you actually commit to doing it, because it’s just silly to put yourself out there and fail, and that’s that.