"Originally it was just going to be a few shows but after those shows, a few of us really wanted to see what it would be like to write a new Chokehold song in present day," says Chokehold vocalist Chris Logan says No Echo. We're chatting because the band will be releasing With This Thread I Hold On, their first new album in close to 25 years. Formed all the way back in 1990, the Canadian outfit has influenced countless bands throughout the years, both musically and politically.
In all of the years since Chokehold first appeared, the state of the world is arguably at its worst right now, something not lost on Chris. "It just happened to coincide with shit hitting the fan politically and socially so it definitely inspired and gave us a lot to work with lyrically. So ya, the state of the world has made it really easy to write punk rock songs these days."
With This Thread I Hold On will appear in stores next month, but who wants to wait that long? Chokehold have chosen No Echo to premiere "2.0," the record's opening cut. "It's a song about the hardcore community and the use of social media to tear down like-minded individuals within it," says Chris of the track, which both scratches that '90s hardcore itch and also delivers an immediacy that matches the intensity of its lyric:
The new album follows Chokehold's half a dozen EPs and two prior full-lengths, Prison of Hope (1993) and Content with Dying (1995). The cover art for With This Thread I Hold On (seen below) features images of pharmaceutical drugs, a crucifix, a television, among other symbols. I ask Chris if that visual concept represents the overall lyrical direction of the new record. "For the most part, yes, it does represent many topics on the record, but also the overall theme of the album in general.
"The cover art symbolizes the constant and crushing bombardment of the things going on in our world every day. The wars, the horrors, injustices and showing the tools (pharmaceuticals etc.) designed to keep us numb to those very things, and we are all holding on to our sanity by a thread."
As Chris mentioned above, Chokehold have been performing again, so what would he say is the biggest differences he's noticed playing gigs in the last year compared to the band's earlier years? I mean, in terms of the way promoters build bills. Some people in our age group (we're both in our 40s) complain that shows aren’t diverse enough these days, so I was curious to his thoughts on that. "For sure, the biggest difference I have noticed—especially in my neck of the woods—is the lack of all ages shows. There seems to be a lot of newer younger bands coming up but all ages shows just aren’t a given these days which just fills a room with grumpy old folks like me with their arms crossed.
"You can’t really expect a scene to regenerate and survive if younger kids can’t attend the shows."
"But you are also correct in the fact that when I was younger it would be hardcore bands, punk bands, emo bands, etc., on local shows. But now it seems to keep just one genre. Don’t get me wrong, there are people doing amazing things for their scene. Philadelphia—for example—has a huge community that is constantly booking every kind of show imaginable. But I do think our community could be far more welcoming in general."
I mentioned Chokehold's influence previously in this piece, but does Chris hear that when he's checking out newer bands? "I keep it up with the majority of what is happening these days thanks to your website, but it does get overwhelming with the amount of bands that are around right now. I usually give everything a chance even if I don’t relate to it lyrically or musically. As far as us influencing anyone musically, I don’t know about that. We played fairly simple chug music, so anyone playing an E chord could be influenced by any other band in the hardcore scene," laughs the vocalist.
A lot has been written about Chokehold throughout the years, so I ask Chris what he thinks the biggest misconceptions people have about Chokehold are. "Not sure? I know there has been a lot of shit said about our band over the last 25 years. There have been screaming matches at shows, Denny’s parking lots, etc. [Laughs] We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that sort of thing. We have a renewed passion for what we are doing and can’t spend time on what other people’s opinions are of us. They are either going to support the band or they aren’t, and that’s totally fine."
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