An Attitude Exhumed is the name of a music blog started by my good friend, Jonathan Buske. Many know Jonathan as the bass player for bands such as The Promise, Terror, Maximum Penalty, and Another Victim. Over the winter, he brought the blog to the printed page and published a full-color zine dedicated to hardcore past and present. I reached out to him to answer some questions about this new creative endeavor. How did it start and where he does he see it going? Jonathan is one of the most creative people I know and always has interesting viewpoints.
From what you've told me, An Attitude Exhumed really was birthed as an Earth Crisis-focused project. What made you take it in the all encompassing hardcore direction that it turned into?
It all really stemmed from the Raybeez zine I did alongside the shirt and pin for the memorial anniversary of his passing. I threw that little zine together in about an hour, just to have something extra to throw into the orders and it got me thinking of doing something similar for other bands. The idea of doing an Earth Crisis-based issue was mainly because of a love for the band and admiration for what they’ve stood for so long—beyond their vegan straight edge notoriety. I've found an admiration for a lot of the personal, non-political values that they don’t necessarily get credited or praised for. Beyond the political stance of the band, I find them personally empowering. Lyrics to songs like "Broken Foundation," "Smash or Be Smashed," "Born From Pain," and "One Against All" all strike a chord with me more now as an adult and I use them as a source of inspiration just as I did the lyrics to a lot of the vegan straight edge themed songs at one time.
So, I was going to approach that issue with more of an obtuse train of thought, but as I got working on it, I realized I didn’t quite have the content I thought I had and a lot of the writing seemed too personal, one-dimensional, and uninteresting, so it grew into something else. I’ve always grabbed content from sites and blogs, or whatever, and have stashes of shit from years past, so I decided to put all of it to use and compile a huge time capsule of imagery that’s influenced or inspired me over the years alongside some chats and contributions from friends.
You released the first issue of An Attitude Exhumed over the Winter to universal acclaim. What was the impetus for you starting this project and were you happy at how well it went over?
I'm totally happy with how well it went over. Starting something new from scratch, you never know what to expect, but I was definitely happy with how it all turned out being its maiden voyage. Couple things here and there I would change in hindsight, but overall it was a great experience and a lot of fun to do. I’m also not the most social of people, so it was good for me to break out of that shell a little bit and reconnect with some people of my own ilk once again, which was also an impetus in starting it. I fell into a mental emotional hole over the winter, as I often do, so it was a good way for me to be social and relieve some anxiety and depression of the season.
We both come from a time in hardcore where zines were of importance in getting the word out about bands, records, and the scene. With the advent of blogs and other music lifestyle websites, what do you feel the value of the physical printed zine is in the modern day climate? Is it a relic of days past or do you feel as though its still viable?
I definitely feel that it still has an importance, especially in our scene which is heavily driven on promoting and respecting the past, especially through tangible goods (vinyl, t-shirts, flyers, etc.). To think that the cost of some of the records we grew up throwing around our rooms have reached thousands of dollars these days, I think that goes to show that people still value goods and relics. Plus, I’m a graphic designer who is heavily influenced by punk/hardcore design aesthetics, so it's also a way for me of keeping that visual design approach sharp, alive, and moving forward.
As far as doing a zine is concerned, what zines influenced you during the making of An Attitude Exhumed?
My main influence was Tribal Tattoo fanzine done by my good friend Patrick Kitzel, who also runs Reaper Records. He banged out 10 awesome issues of that zine, all selling out quickly, and it was a quintessential punk/hardcore cut and paste DIY by the seat of his pants effort. That really inspired me on a creative level and showed me to put one foot forward, shut up and just do it. But also flipping through my collection of old zines was a huge spark of inspiration too. Falling on Shadows & Tall Trees, Cloudbreak, Crunchface, In Effect, Metal Maniacs, Terrorizer— most of which I have memorized per issue. Remembering how thoughtless and fun doing a zine was, and should be, and the simplicity in just sharing. Be it social thoughts, reviews, interviews, art, or cheesy emotional poetry... it’s real shit, and when it connects, it feels good.
You've been doing graphic design professionally for years, were there any particular challenges that came along with laying out a zine in 2018?
Like I mentioned before, it’s been a great way to keep sharp and use programs I don’t necessary use too often in my daily workflow. This newest issue is definitely of a much better design and quality because I had the chance to use the first issue as a guinea pig and learn InDesign a little bit better. The biggest challenge for me isn’t the laying out, it’s not knowing when to call it done and stop monkeying with shit that nobody other than me will ever notice [laughs]. Even though the majority of the zine is done digitally, I try and keep it very organic-looking as if it’s how I’d have laid it out without a professional approach. I think there’s something to be said for amatuer and “wrong” design sometimes.
How did you go about finding contributors for Issue 1 and was there anyone you had asked that just didn’t get back to you at press time that we are going to see in Issue 2?
Both of these have come together in a similar manner where I sit down, put music on and just get inspired by a band that comes on. I’m also trying to include more artists features going forward— like graffiti writers, tattooers, and graphic designers, as many of them tie into the theme of the zine and many come from the Punk/HC scene. The first person I asked an interview from for the first issue was RatBone$, and he never got back to me but still swears he will, haha. So, there may be a RatBone$ interview in a future issue.
You seem to have a lot of enthusiasm for this project. I know you are busy with your family. I was surprised at how quickly you wound up putting Issue 2 together. How many more issues do you see yourself doing?
I’ll keep going until it burns me out, that’s pretty much how I roll anyways. It’s definitely a juggle, but it keeps me occupied in between freelance work and it keeps my ear to the ground which is harder and harder to do nowadays because of the family situation you mentioned. But I do have ideas of it maturing into more, if time permits. I enjoy being a hardcore “kid” still, so working on this doesn’t seem like a burden at all.
For the people who purchased the first issue, what do you have in store in Issue 2?
I picked a few really cool and current favorite smaller, up and coming bands to feature like Black In Mourning and Funeral Leech, as well as an interview with sicko tattooer Simon Erl, a feature with Gary Bennett from Sheer Terror discussing the songwriting process for their newest EP, a quick little “get to know” feature with Kitzel, and an extensive interview with Kris Wiechmann, who played in some of the best Syracuse hardcore/metal bands like Earth Crisis, Godbelow, and Blood Runs Black. I also spent a little more time of the layout and design, so hopefully that shows and resonates.
You and I have talked about this numerous times. It seems as we’ve gotten older that it’s a bit harder to keep up with current hardcore bands and records. I know you still put the effort in to discover new bands. I there anything on the newer side that has caught your attention lately?
I do my best to keep up on bands, but so much of learning and keeping sharp is done through the social aspect of being enthralled headfirst and actively involved in the scene. Having a family redirects priorities and keeps us from being at every show as we used to be, but with the advent of social media and websites like Bandcamp, it really helps keep up some awareness. I’m usually late to the game in finding out about new bands, but there is definitely some good hardcore shit out there at the moment I’m into— Drug Control, Dominant Force, Stigmatism, Combust, Division of Mind, and Candy, to drop a few names.
You bring an interesting perspective as a New Yorker. You’re originally a Syracuse guy who then eventually moved to the NYC area and have embedded yourself into the downstate NYHC scene. That really comes through in An Attitude Exhumed. As a born an bred Upstate New Yorker, what were some bands from your area that you feel just never got out there that are worth discovering/revisiting for the people reading this?
Without a doubt, 315 forever. I’m grateful to have come up at a time in the scene where Syracuse made a mark, was influential, and was a really special place to be on many Sunday afternoons. I’ll never sell that shit out because those values are what helped make me who I am… just as much as the NYHC scene has helped mature them. But to answer your questions, Infusion and Blood Runs Black are two of Syracuse’s hidden gems. Infusion was an early '90s band that had a lot more of a metal/crossover sound than your typical hardcore band at the time, so they were one of those bands that got displaced and sort of overlooked because of that. They eventually turned into Blood Runs Black and really adapted to more of a metal sound (and look). As they weren’t the stereotypical vegan straight edge Syracuse hardcore thing at the time that a lot of the local bands at the time were being recognized for, they were further displaced and tragically overlooked. Blood Runs Black eventually morphed into Godbelow, who had a good run but also broke up long before they had enough time to truly get the recognition for being the powerhouse they were.
Are there any bands or people that on your wishlist for future issues of An Attitude Exhumed?
I’ve spoken with Vinnie Paz about doing an interview. Many people may not know that he’s a legit hardcore dude on top of being an ill rapper, so I look forward to talking Core with him. But like I mentioned before, it’s a pretty organic and thoughtless approach… just let something hit me and run with it.
Buried Alive is playing a couple of shows in Anaheim and Jersey City at the beginning of September. You are taking up bass duties for these shows. It’s no secret that you and Scott Vogel have maintained a close friendship for a long time which included you having a stint in Terror. How did the opportunity to play with Buried Alive come about and are there any plans for more shows or any new material for the band going forward?
Yeah, super excited for those shows… it’ll be great to be back on stage with Scott, as he’s always been one of my favorite frontmen and persons ever. We had some awesome times together in Terror, so I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off. Basically, their bass player, Joe, is occupied with a family and a business in Buffalo and can’t commit to the band fully. They had these show offers, and there’s talk of some more in the coming months, but Joe isn’t able to do them, so I got a call. My old band, Another Victim, played quite often with Buried Alive when we were both first active, plus my ongoing friendship with Scott over the years, it made it a no-brainer. As far as new material, there’s an intro and one new song in the setlist now, but no sure about recording plans for the future.
Maximum Penalty has seemed to have some activity this year. Is there anything else going on for you music-wise for that we should be looking out for?
Maximum Penalty is currently in the lab trying to wrap up a bunch of songs for a new EP on Reaper. We’ve recently acquired Eric “Goat” Arce (Skarhead, Misfits), so we’ve been spending some time getting acquainted with him behind the drums, but he and Joe Affe have been putting in a ton of work getting these new songs up to speed… so, hopefully that will be coming together soon. Also, when The Promise played those couple of shows last year, myself, JD, and Derrick wrote and recorded 6 new songs without vocals and have been talking to someone about singing on them for a new project. Don’t want to say too much as nothing is set in stone yet, but I’d really love for something to happen with that as the person of interest to front it is a man of highly influential words. So, there’s a cliffhanger to watch out for.
Last but not least, how can someone go about picking up issues of An Attitude Exhumed?
Pick it up in my webstore or through Rev HQ, Deathwish, or Reaper online. I usually have some on me in person too, so if you ever see me at a show and want one, don’t be shy. Follow An Attitude Exhumed on Instagram.