WORDS: Perran Helyes
Rowdy LA crew TERROR are staples of the hardcore scene and are seen by some as ambassadors for what it might represent. Ahead of their show at Manchester’s Sound Control with TWITCHING TONGUES, we caught up with guitarist Martin Stewart to talk the state of the scene, the variety within it, and what’s next on the agenda for TERROR.
How are you guys doing?
Martin: Very good, we’re coming up to the end of the tour, this is our third week I think. We’ll be going back home pretty soon.
How is it being back in the UK?
Martin: It’s great! Yeah, I love it here. It’s always cool to go from mainland Europe to here because it feels a little bit more familiar and more like home. We’ve been here a few times and there are places I know and wanna see every time.
Any particular favourite places or festivals you like playing here?
Martin: We’ve only done Ghostfest in Leeds I think. But playing London is always a highlight, The Underworld. We’ll be there in two or three days for the last date of the tour.
The last record’s been out a while now, how’s the reception been?
Martin: Seems good. I don’t really pay much attention to tell you the truth, but I’m pumped about it and so is everyone else in the band. It seems good, no complaints whatsoever.
You play quite an old school style of hardcore, how do you keep it fresh?
Martin: It’s a hard question for me to answer as I’m not the primary songwriter by any means but I’d say by staying active. I think it has a lot to do with playing with current bands, it revitalises you. Playing with these younger bands gets you pumped up and you kinda feed off them. It keeps you from being outdated, so just staying active with what’s going on right now.
Do the other guys ever find themselves struggling for ideas or is it an easy constant flow?
Martin: From what I see absolutely not. Nick our drummer is the main songwriter and man, he is like a machine and especially now with how easy it is to record something. He’ll just sit there with a guitar and go. He’s one of those fucking geniuses, it bothers me because I’m not like that! I wish I could play other instruments like he does. He’s really good at what he does. Jordan our other guitar player is the same way, he writes a lot of the songs. Jordan’s from Toronto so he’ll come down to LA and when those two get together they’ll spend a couple of days together and have fifty new songs ideas like that. So I never see a shortage of ideas, no.
Do you ever feel the need to change up your sound?
Martin: We’re a hardcore band and we’re gonna put out a hardcore record. Changes will naturally occur but it won’t be wild and drastic because that’s not what we do. I think we have done some left field shit here and there which made sense to us and turned out cool, but it’s not gonna be too crazy.
You’re touring with TWITCHING TONGUES who while fitting within the same scene are quite different to TERROR in sound, are you fans?
Martin: Yeah definitely. They’re from LA also and I’ve known the two brothers Colin and Taylor for a really long time. I saw the band start and I got the first demo and all that so it’s cool to see that they’ve worked hard and gotten to places. They’ve put out multiple records, they’ve just signed to a label that’s pretty cool in my eyes and definitely in their eyes, Metal Blade’s awesome, so yeah it’s cool to see.
Do you feel the contrast is good for a touring package?
Martin: For me, yeah. In my opinion when I go to a show to spectate I love to see that. I don’t wanna see the same band play five sets in a row. You will always have those people who are only there to see one band but I think it’s really cool and I know a lot of other people do too.
Do you ever feel that TERROR is able to bridge the gap between the hardcore and metal scenes?
Martin: We’ve toured so many times now so we’ve done some crazy shit that has surprised me. We’ve toured with bands like CHIMAIRA and to be able to get up on stage in front of people who are there to see them is interesting. You could see it happen, we’d start playing and obviously they’d have no idea who we were and were confused at first but the more we played you would see them start to feel it so from my experience from playing those shows yeah it’s happened many, many times. I think it comes from the attitude that all of us have. There’s no point in not playing for anyone, we will play any show anywhere and still do what we do and not switch up the way we play depending on who we are in front of. I think that if someone’s there and expecting aggressive music, if we get up there and give them that there’s no reason why they shouldn’t enjoy that. The lines have blurred a lot over the years, but at the same time I think back to when I was a teenager and I used to see a lot of different shows where you’d have a punk band, a hardcore band, a metal band, maybe an emo band thrown in the middle of it. I just don’t think people think about the words to define them that much anymore, though it will always be important to some people.
Is that crossover a good thing?
Martin: I think so, because the way I always see it is that I wasn’t born into this shit. I was doing my thing and then you see that one band that changes your perspective on everything, and the only way it happens is through that crossover. So why not play any kind of show? You might change that one person’s mind and put them on a different path as they dive headfirst into this whole thing they never knew existed.
There was a situation a couple of years ago where HATEBREED were booked for Bloodstock Festival which annoyed a lot of the metal purists and then they ended up playing one of the best sets of the day.
Martin: Yeah exactly that! HATEBREED are the kings of being able to do that. I think that’s so cool, they can play anything and people will be wowed. Maybe they won’t become their favourite band or anything but they’ll at least think “That was cool”.
Do you think hardcore is doing enough at the moment to maintain its interest as a scene?
Martin: For me yeah. If you ask ten people that question you’re gonna get ten different answers but for me absolutely. There’s so many new bands and if you have something to complain about, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do something about that. There are so many resources out there at everyone’s fingertips. You don’t like what bands are playing, get on the internet and book the bands that you want to see. All the bands we tour with are great like tonight. There’s always gonna be shit to complain about but nothing’s being ruined.
What’s next for TERROR then?
Martin: We’re not doing a bunch of touring this year like we usually do but we’re hitting Mexico which is first, then heading to Japan with STICK TO YOUR GUNS for a week or something. We’ll be back over in Europe for some of the big festivals like Groezrock. We have the rest of the year pretty much planned out. There’s always stuff getting written but it’s not like we’re trying to have a new record any time soon. It all depends on how things are going.
Alright well that about covers it, so thank you for your time!