Berthold City: Listen to the First Taste of Los Angeles Hardcore Band’s Stellar Second LP

Andrew Kline of Berthold City (Photo: Cindy Frey)

Berthold City is a hardcore band that truly goes from strength to strength with each release.  

Calling Los Angeles their homebase, the straight edge unit was started by vocalist Andrew Kline in 2017, who is best known for his guitar work in Strife and World Be Free, as well as running WAR Records. Along with Andrew, guitarist Dennis MacDonald ((Internal Affairs) and bassist John Jenkins (Allegiance) have been the core members of the group over the course of one album, several EPs, and tours throughout the US, Europe, and Mexico.

As stated above, Berthold City get sicker with each subsequent record, and they're currently gearing up to drop their best work yet. Produced by Nick Jett (Terror, Piece By Piece), Where Did We Go Wrong? is a 12-track punch to the face teeming with anthemic choruses, dynamic arrangements, and plenty of fast parts to satisfy even the staunchest core critic.

Berthold City just premiered the first taste of the new album via a track called "The Cost," so dig in below.

I chatted with Andrew about the LP, the band's new lineup, current straight edge bands to check out, and more.

From what seemed to start off like another hardcore side project to a full-on, touring band, Berthold City is back again. Did you always envision BC to develop into what’s it become? Most hardcore bands don’t ever get to a second album.

When I first started the band, I didn't have any specific expectations. I simply wrote a few songs to see if I could sing them. Over the years, I've grown more comfortable not only as a singer and frontman but also as a songwriter.

Some of the newer Berthold City tracks are the best songs that I've ever written, and I'm really excited to share our new record with the world.

While we're not a full-time touring band, we play as much as we can whenever our schedules allow. It's incredible how many places we've been able to visit, and we hope to hit some new places in the future.

Glen Tofuga of Berthold City (Photo: Ron Yamasaki)

Speaking of touring, seeing you guys live so many times throughout these past few years, I know you’ve had some lineup changes, but you always keep moving forward. How tough has that been, and what can you tell us about the current lineup of the band? Will the same musicians that play on the new album be the ones we see when BC plays live?

Berthold City has always had a flexible lineup. We all understand that if someone can't make a show or tour, someone else will fill in for them. While we try to keep the core members whenever possible, no one has an issue with having a fill-in if they can't make it. Honestly, that's the only way to keep a band going these days. We have a few friends ready to step in when needed.

The current lineup still includes me, Dennis MacDonald, and John Jenkins. Todd Hennig (Death By Stereo) joined us on drums during our first European tour at the end of 2022. Glen Tofuga, who filled in on our first East Coast tour, is now on second guitar.

Our good friend Michael Wetzel (World Eater) has been playing second guitar for us in Europe as well. He’s a great guitar player and lives in Germany, so it makes it really easy for us. Todd is a monster of a drummer and is so much fun to hang out with, so it’s been great having him in the band.

Dennis McDonald of Berthold City (Photo: Dave Mandel)

We’re premiering the song “The Cost” with this interview. 

“The Cost" is a commentary on the current state of hardcore music. Hardcore is bigger than ever, and I think it is great that bands are getting recognition on a bigger scale and that they are able to tour and make a living from their music. However, there is a downside to this growth.

Some kids and bands seem more focused on guarantees, t-shirt sales, and Instagram likes than on the message and the music itself. This growth has also attracted vultures who want to exploit the scene and use it as a marketing tool.

I'm not here to count the money in anyone's wallet, but it's important to recognize that at a certain point, you're no longer a hardcore or punk band; instead, you become a pop band with heavy guitars, using music to sell an energy drink.

When the spotlight starts to dim and everyone chases the next big fad, we all pay the cost.

From the credits you shared with me, the track features a guest guitar solo from Jason Lehrhoff, a fellow veteran of the hardcore scene.

I've been friends with Jason since the '90s when Strife and Warzone would play and tour together often. I have a deep appreciation for the Victory-era of Warzone; those records stand up against anything in their catalog, and they were incredible live during that period.

This song definitely captures the vibe of Warzone and Altercation, and I wanted it to sound authentic, complete with a crazy metal lead at the end. I reached out to Jason with my idea, and he recorded his track and sent it back within two hours. He definitely knocked it out of the park.

Jason Lehrhoff (Warzone), Andrew Kline, Vinnie Value (Warzone, Kill Your Idols), and Todd Youth (NYHC legend) in 2018.

You recorded the album with Nick Jett behind the boards again. I also remember seeing him fill in on guitar for Dennis at a show once. Is it fair to call Nick the 6th member of BC? What is it about him and his working style that suits you so much?

Nick is definitely our sixth member! He’s filled in on guitar many times and even played drums for us on our first East Coast tour. The first show of our European tour last year was a huge festival called Revolution Calling in the Netherlands. John’s first flight got canceled and his second flight the next day was delayed.

Nick was already in Europe with Terror (also playing the festival), and he came through in the clutch and played bass for us with less than 24 hours notice. John’s flight landed right as our set started, and he arrived at the show less than an hour after we finished!

Nick has produced both of our LPs, and working with him has been amazing. We work really well together, usually just the two of us in a room, crafting songs until they’re ready. I completely trust his instincts as a drummer and songwriter, and it’s great to have someone like that to bounce ideas off of.

He definitely pushes me as a singer, musician, and songwriter, and you can really hear his influence on the new record.

Berthold City (Photo: Gunnar Velten)

Another frequent BC collaborator, Jeremy Dean, is back on the new album. Does he have carte blanche or is a collaborative process whenever you start a new project together?

If Nick is the sixth member, Jeremy is the seventh! He has created the artwork for every release since we started. I completely trust Jeremy as a designer, and give him free rein to come up with the album art, and then we collaborate on the final details.

For this record cover, I took a different approach. I knew I wanted a slightly different look and feel, along with a new logo for the record. I mocked up a cover concept on my own, and Jeremy took that and worked his magic on it.

I love that the artwork for the band has stayed cohesive with every release but has also evolved with the music. 

What is the plan for the band now that the album is slated to come out next month?

Where Did We Go Wrong? comes out August 30th on WAR Records. I think the plan is just to get out and play as much as we can and hopefully get back to the East Coast, Europe, and beyond in the new year!

While I have you here, what are some other straight edge hardcore bands you’ve come across recently that you’ve been impressed by?

Some newer straight edge bands we are all fans of are: Raw Brigade, Broken Vow, Face The Pain, Magnitude, Firestarter, Home Invasion, Inclination, Time X Heist, Ultimatum, Weapon X, Steamroll, Inclination, and Affliction.


"The Cost" Limited Lathe Cut 7" and t-shirt are available now for pre-order at WAR Records.

Where Did We Go Wrong? will be out on August 30th via WAR Records.

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