[This interview was conducted by Michael Thorn, the writer and photographer behind the Razorblades & Aspirin Substack.]
Life Abuse features musicians who have also played in such bands as Limp Wrist, Male Patterns, and End of a Year. With members spread out between Virginia, New York, and New Jersey, they recently released a split EP with UKHC band Skrewball.
With one of you being from Richmond and the others being up in New York and New Jersey, how did you find each other and start up the band? I assume that there is a connection from prior bands/projects—can you expound on that a little?
Mark Telfian (guitar, vocals): Life Abuse had originally started around July of 2020 as a project with me and a few friends. It was the height of the pandemic and none of our bands were active. We were working together and traveling most of the time so we decided to bring our instruments on the road. During that period I wrote a 12”, but by the time we would have gotten around to recording it, all of our bands had started to become active again so it got shelved.
Under Attack had broken up in October of 2022 so I decided to pursue doing Life Abuse again. I liked the name and already had 10 songs written. I just needed to figure out who I was going to play with. Dan and I played in Deathsquad together. Musically, that was always my favorite band. I envisioned Life Abuse to be in a similar vein.
Dan’s band, Male Patterns, had done a split 7” with Under Attack so it just made sense that I would run these songs by him. After weighing the options of how crazy it is doing a band based in VA and NY I decided to hit him up and see what he thought.
(Dan Barker, drums): Around December of 2022, Mark sent me two songs he’d written to check out for a split 7” he had in the works. I was really into the style right away and told Mark I’d like to be involved in the project. I had also recently run into Sean at a show that my old band was playing in Troy, New York. Sean and I had been friends for a number of years, and I thought he’d be a great fit.
I sent Sean the songs, and after listening to the audio files, he told me the material didn’t really grab him, but that he’d think about it. I told Mark he should hit up Sean directly.
Mark: When I texted Sean, I realized he had an Android phone and he sent Sean files to the green bubble of death, so I asked Sean for his email and sent him the files.
(Sean Doody, bass): When I heard the audio files originally, they were completely blown out and sounded like straight-up noise, but once I could actually hear the riffs they were right up my alley. I also hadn’t played music in a decade after getting involved in cooking professionally, and me leaving that industry coincided with me beginning to play music again.
Mark: One of the elements I wanted to add was having a lead guitar player. Our friend Nate said he’d be into it as a recording project.
Why choose the name Life Abuse—is there a meaning behind it beyond it just sounding ‘brutal’? Does it mean different things to each of you?
Mark: In 2020, when we started doing this project we were traveling from state to state doing work orders and repairs. Oftentimes being sent to work in areas that were considered COVID hot spots.
Doing long drives. working long hours and getting completely annihilated every night and to wake up at the crack of dawn to start all over. It seemed like a very fitting name for the music we were doing and how we were living.
Sean: I got a bachelor’s degree 20 years ago and thanks to playing in bands have still never had anything but blue-color jobs—cooking, being a delivery driver, overnight stocking, retail customer service. It’s a completely relatable name for me—summing up the bullshit choice between either feeding oneself or choosing to do anything remotely fulfilling outside of constantly working.
Dan: Modern life leaves very little time for leisure or enjoyment, and the name and lyrical themes reflect that.
Being spread across such a sizable distance—can you talk a little bit about the song writing process—is it a collective process? Is it a matter of intense weekends? Are you sending files back and forth and recording ideas?
Mark: I’d written the bulk of these songs in 2020, although there are a few songs that originated from around 2001 when Nate, Dan, and I were in Deathsquad together. Since I had started playing music again in 2018, that was always the style of music I’d wanted to gravitate back towards. When I sent Dan the Life Abuse songs, I always felt it was a continuation of Deathsquad, and Dan and I were always a natural fit.
We referenced practice tapes of unrecorded Deathsquad material and reworked some of those songs for Life Abuse. Playing music again with people who were also into that Eurocrust style, the original versions of these songs from 2020 drastically changed. I email everyone the rough tracks, but everyone has input on the final versions, and the originals are usually unrecognizable by the time we record them.
You’ve released a split single with the UK’s Skrewball on Crew Cuts how did that come about? Was there a connection prior with Skrewball?
Mark: Under Attack was supposed to do a split 7” with Attester on Crew Cuts. Unfortunately, both bands broke up, and it never happened. Daniel Hamlyn had told me that if I did a new band, he would still be interested in doing something with me on his label.
He asked if I’d be interested in doing something with Skrewball (his band). He hadn’t heard our stuff and went out on a limb for a completely unknown band. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for that. He helped establish us as a band.
Can you speak a little bit about the lyrics to the two tracks on the split single—when it comes to that aspect of the band, is there a discussion around the themes of meaning of the lyrics? Does that matter or are they more window dressing to raging - both specific to your band and your feelings in general. Is there a commonality in the theme of the lyrics to your songs? If so, what is it?
Sean: Dan, Mark, and I write the lyrics, and there’s a pretty even split in who writes what. We all have different approaches—I like using historical themes myself—but they’re all about the abuse of power and its consequences. How it atomizes human society and damages human relationships.
Dan: The lyrical themes tend to be media manipulation, police brutality, political control, civil unrest, futility, and paranoia.
Mark: One of the things that was important to me with Life Abuse was that we wrote all of our lyrics, because I’ve been in bands where people brought in outside lyrics.
I feel that when you’re playing angry, aggressive music, that needs to come from within. It's also important that the lyrics not only represent us and our rage but are our words and how we live our lives.
What are your future plans as a band—my assumption is that this isn’t going to be a project that is on tour constantly but to what extent do you want to have it be active, playing shows, touring etc? What about upcoming releases?
Mark: We are an active full-time band. We're playing shows when we can. It's just a bit tricky being in two different states, so we have to be a little more selective about what we play. Skrewball is supposed to be coming over in the early fall to do a small tour with us. We would love to make it overseas as well at some point.
As far as releases in the works, we have a split 7” coming out with Mutilated Tongue (Crew Cuts/Armageddon), a 12” (Armageddon), and in the next few months we’re going to record for a split 12” with Seein’ Red (Armageddon).
Life Abuse on social media: Instagram