Please introduce yourself and what you do in your bands.
Tish: Hi! I’m Tish and I do vocals for WithXWar.
Rikki: Vocals in Dying for It
Thomas: Drums in Dying for It
Please give the readers a run down of your band, just in case they’re not familiar.
Tish: WithXWar is a fairly new band in the PNW. I put out a post on Thankstaking(giving) that I wanted to start a vegan straight edge band that talked about Indigenous truths. I expressed that I wanted to be in a band that wasn’t afraid to talk about the Multnomah Chinook (the Indigenous people of Portland, OR) and how smallpox wiped out most of their people and later how the US government forced those that remained out of their territory. Daniela and Zach (guitarists) immediately wrote me. I had been talking to Tyler (bassist) before and he was in. We originally started as a four piece and started practicing around February last year with Zach on drums. Later in the year, Conner came into the band and we became a five piece.
Rikki: Dying for It is a hardcore punk band from Redding, CA. We started in 2015 and have 2 releases—a self-released, self-titled tape and 10”, Born to Deny on Safe Inside Records. Since we have started, we have been playing a passionate brand of hardcore similar to American Nightmare, Carry On, and Go It Alone. The lyrics are introspective and reflective as a WOC who’s struggled with life long depression which matches the intensity of the fast-paced music.
One thing I’ve noticed, is Dying for It is playing a style of hardcore that resonates a lot with me but isn’t necessarily what’s in or cool right now, how has that affected the band?
Rikki: We play the type of music that we are very passionate about and to do otherwise would be inauthentic. Sounds come and go in cycles, but what we do is representative of what we love.
Born to Deny has been out for a minute now; it was released in May, on Safe Inside Records. How has the response been for the album? Could you describe the whole writing/recording process for it?
Rikki/Thomas: Writing an LP in this day and age can be a gamble, because of the culture’s incessant need for fresh, relevant content on a frequent basis, and in response to this, band are having to continually churn out promos, singles, and 7”s to stay relevant. The struggle of writing an LP used to be will people be receptive of a new direction or sound, but today it seems like it’s more about will all of this time spent be in vain, if people forget about it in a year or two? This puts pressure on bands to second guess the process.
The writing process for this record was based off of an excitement and energy of what we were doing right after our tape came out. We were playing local shows, spending a lot of time together, and putting together a collaborative effort that was a representation of our progress to date. It was ready to go in mid 2017, we recorded it that summer, the engineer lost all of it, and we spent the next six months traveling, playing the songs more live, so by the time we were able to re-enter the studio in January 2018, we were ready to recapture what we had been refining over that time period.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re incredibly grateful to the response of the record and love making new friends who really connect with the music and extremely personal nature of the lyrics. Nothing could be better than that.
In my opinion, it's rare for most West Coast bands to tour outside of California, and Dying for It seems to tour quite a bit considering. Do y’all love being on the road?
Rikki/Thomas: Being on the road has helped us create connections with others who love what we love and feel a connection to what we are doing. It’s an incredible feeling going to different regions and states and being able to find the potential for new connections and friendships.
Speaking of new connections and friendships, y’all have a tour coming up in February with WithXWar; we played with them in Portland over the summer and I chatted with Zach for awhile, he rocks. How did this tour come about?
Tish: We put into the world that we wanted to play a weekender outside of Portland and to see where folks could help us get shows set up. Dying for It reached out to Tyler and asked if we wanted to to join their tour. We said yes and couldn’t be more excited.
Rikki/Thomas: Portland is like our second home. We have been lucky enough to have played there a few times and are crazy enough to drive seven or so hours just to go to see friends or watch their bands play. Our friends in Cutting Through (Portland’s finest purveyors of Youth Crew) helped connect us with them as Tish mentioned above and the rest is history. We’re looking forward to great shows, sweet hangs, and of course, a lot of delicious vegan food. Most importantly, we love their message and are really honored to be playing shows with an band that speaks up about important issues that need to be heard.
Tish, what are you most excited about for tour? Where else do you want to play outside of California?
Tish: I’m honestly so hyped to yell out our pitcall, “Indigenous people take back what’s yours” and see the response of the crowd. I really love seeing new scenes and seeing how things are different in other cities. We want to play everywhere and anywhere that would have us. We’d really like to play on various Indigenous reservations.
Regarding important issues, when we (Rejection Pact) played with y’all at Black Water, one thing that really stood out was the emphasis on having things to say in between songs and a point/purpose to it. That aspect of hardcore I feel is kind of lost on a lot of younger kids/bands. How have folks reacted to having such an outspoken and speech-inclined band?
Tish: The response has been great so far. I really appreciate that we haven’t had a heckler. I think that what we have to say is something folks are not use to hearing and are open to listening.
Tish, outside of the Indigenous truths that inform your writing, what other musical influences do you claim?
Tish: My biggest influences are vegan straight edge bands from the 2000s like Gather, Contend, and Seven Generations. Also bands like Trial, Inside Out, Rape Revenge, Racetraitor, and Rebirth.
It seems that Dying for It has had some lineup changes as do many other hardcore bands. How’s everything working out? I know y’all are a bit more spread across California.
Rikki/Thomas: We are certainly not the experts on the recipe for success in a band, but what we are learning through changing members is that it’s important to be aligned with a group of people who have the same motivations and ideals as you. We are taking the approaching of “starting with why” and while we (Rikki and Thomas) have always had a clear sense of why we have been doing this band, we are just now figuring out how essential it is for the wellness of the band that we all share in that “why” as well. With members in Redding, Oakland, and LA, we are doing the best we can to make this work, and are very excited to get out on the road together in February.
Dying for It is one of those bands who I see big upping other bands and seem to really have an ear to up and coming bands. Is that a conscious effort or just who you guys are as people?
Rikki/Thomas: It is definitely a combination of both. It’s in our nature to want to feel connected to something—a group of people, or an idea. That being said, it’s incumbent upon us—the bands and participants of the hardcore scene, to build a community of like-minded individuals who share a love of this music with a message. The best way to do that is by encouraging the people that you believe in and the people who believe in you.
Dying for It recently had a song featured on the Dog Years Records' Underdogs compilation. Was that a new song y’all wrote or was it one sitting around you guys never used for a record?
Rikki/Thomas: The song we chose for the comp. is the last song from Born to Deny, “Under His Eye," which is based off of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which outlines a patriarchal dystopian society in which women are valued by their ability to conceive children, which dictates their role in society. This incredibly right-winged religious controlled state sees to it that a woman’s worth is only equal to what she can produce and that’s often met rape, abuse, and torture. The parallels of society in this story and the direction of society in Trump’s America are uncanny and scary to say the least. In other words, we need to smash the patriarchy.
The Underdogs compilation seems to be doing incrediblely well and it’s honestly humbling to have been a part of it and see hardcore do something positive outside of the walls of a show. Do you think this will be something you see happen more in the future? You know, hardcore getting involved to help the bigger picture, outside world?
Rikki/Thomas: Hardcore should always have a purpose. Projects like the Underdogs comp. are proving that hardcore is working to be more inclusive and is coming together to raise awareness for people affected by trauma. It’s really satisfying to see the amount that has been donated to RAINN through this comp. and we know that more shows, bands, and releases will be centered around raising awareness of issues and organizations that contribute to the welfare of others.
Tish, WithXWar recently released a 3-song promo release. Do you have any plans to release an EP or LP in the near future?
Tish: We’re currently writing new songs and hope to have an EP soon. We’re planning to record this summer.
Portland seems to be having quite the growing hardcore scene as of late.
Tish: It’s really great! It seems like every so many weeks a new band is coming out and gigs are popping up. I definitely credit Emma from Against the Grain for keeping the scene alive and booking all these shows.
What can folks expect from Dying for It in 2019?
Rikki/Thomas: Right now we are working on writing our follow up to Born to Deny. Our next release with be out by the end of the year, or beginning of 2020. We are hitting the East Coast in the late spring/early summer, and are planning to return to the Midwest and Pacific Northwest before the year is over. We want to see some new places and are looking forward to new opportunities along the way.
Thank you so much Tish, Rikki, and Thomas for taking the time to speak with me about y’alls bands and the upcoming tour, any final thoughts?
Tish: I am hopeful that more bands will become more political and outspoken. I see the future of Indigenous voices in hardcore with bands like Homesick (Sydney, Australia), By All Means (Tacoma, WA), Mala Racha (Washington), and Amygdala (San Antonio, TX) paving the way.
Rikki/Thomas: Regardless of how hardcore sounds, we hope that it moves into a socially conscious direction that is inclusive of all people. Check out Cutting Through who we already mentioned, Problem Patterns, Time & Pressure, Berthold City, Sunstroke, Fixation, Sissyxfit, Pity Party, Stay Wild, Common War, Entry, Frontside, and Great Walls! Shout out to Burt at Safe Inside Records and Chris Mollet at Youth Energy Designs/Dog Years Records.
Dying for It and WithXWar tour dates:
Feb. 19 - Chico, CA @ Ike's Place w/ The Choice, Rogue Squadron, End/Game
Feb. 20 - Stockton, CA @ Vox Pop w/ Sissyxfit, Cardinal Sins, Head to Wall
Feb. 21 - Hesperia, CA @ Collective 47 w/ Stay Wild, Reclaim, Noble Bones, Cel Damage
Feb. 22 - Fullerton, CA @ Programme Skate & Sound w/ Entry, Bayonet, Frontside
Feb. 23 - San Diego, CA @ Ché Café w/ xReignx, Spirited Away, Frontside