Debt to Society: Canadian Band Worships ‘90s Tough-Guy Hardcore on New Release

Photo: Anisa Moroso

Formed in the summer of 2020, Debt to Society is a Canadian hardcore band making its No Echo debut today. "I was living in an isolated pocket of Ontario, missing shows/friends, and realized the type of hardcore I enjoy wasn't being represented locally," vocalist Connor Atkinson tells me. "I'd go to shows in Detroit and be amazed by how nasty the bands are, how hard everyone dances, and be confused why that environment doesn't always manifest at Ontario shows.

"I am not a great guitar player, but I started fiddling with some riffs and pieced together an early version of the first song on our 2-song debut, The Initiation. I sent it to our guitarist Adam (bass, Perfect Limbs) in the middle of the night, asked him what he thought of it and if I was on the right track. I woke up the next morning to a fully programmed demo of the song; he knew exactly what I was going for and was completely on the same page.

"We brought our longtime friend Louie (drums, Strange Ways) into the fold and wrote two more songs throughout 2020, then we recorded with JJ Sorensen in 2021 and dropped a demo with zero intention but to get a laugh out of our friends. Come fall when shows returned to Ontario, our brothers from the west in End Game hit us up and said they wanted us to open one of their Ontario shows in December. We weren't even a real band, but they forced us to become one.

"Shout out to Wolfgang and Spencer for that. We got Jon on guitar, who's originally from out west and rode for Debt to Soceity from day one, and Jacob on bass, who is Louie's cousin and has drawn the art for both releases. Ontario locked back down in January, so we hit the studio to get these two tracks done with JJ again. This time, we got Jesse Price from Momentum/Abrasion in on the mix, and he took the band to great heights."

The results can be heard on Debt to Society's brand-new release, a 2-track beating called Takin No Prisoners:

Connor, who is also a contributing writer to No Echo, tells me a bit about his group's stylistic approach: "Debt to Society is strictly a hardcore band. I feel a lot of bands have a pile of different influences and sometimes get lost in the sauce and create something either really muddy and confusing, or super unique and innovative.

"In our case, we just wanted to bring that new breed of hardcore to Ontario, while also being uncompromisingly true to the originators of the sound. I'd say Madball, Bulldoze, Cold as Life, Death Threat, Next Step Up, and Fury of Five are big ones for us."

Photo: MG Omert

Next, we get some insight on the lyrics on Takin No Prisoners: "On this release, I almost wanted to play this loose cannon character, a sort-of Slim Shady complex. I love a good revenge fantasy, and I love songs about winning and stickin together. Why not fuse that? It's funny because if you read the lyrics to the demo, especially track 1, they sort of read like a Morrissey song. On this release, 21 Savage was my biggest lyrical influence."

And, to close this out, some great news: "Hardcore is definitely back in Ontario. New people are coming out and down to check out whatever, familiar faces are still kickin it, and old heads are coming back around to see what's new. Local shows with 100+ people every time. Hold Your Ground Fest in the fall really steppin' up to do something big.

"There are a lot of great Ontario bands who leveled up in the last two years, and new bands that have come out swingin. Shout out Die Alone, Temper Tantrum, Just Right, Rust, Friction, Real World, Deadly Game, Bar Down, and so many more."


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