Mean Jesus: Virginia Hardcore Unit on Joining the New Age Records Roster, Their Latest EP

Photo: Robert Escue

Mean Jesus is a hardcore band from Norfolk, Virginia that closed 2023 off by dropping an EP, Abomination. The quintet's no-nonsense approach to the art was propelled with the addition of new vocalist Ian Robinson throughout the EP's 7 tracks.

Abomination is the follow-up to Mean Jesus' debut EP, Noble Abominations, which came out in 2021. Since that was the last time I checked in with the band, I reached out to guitarist Keith Baillargeon to get the skinny on their recent signing to the New Age Records roster (Life Force, Moral Law). I also got some insight from Ian since he's new to the lineup.

The last time we chatted was around the time Mean Jesus was releasing the Noble Ambitions EP.

(Keith Baillargeon, guitar): A lot has happened in the world of Mean Jesus since we last spoke! After Noble Ambitions came out in 2021, we immediately started writing for the next release. We were finally able to start navigating towards who we wanted to be as a band and songwriting became a hell of a lot easier because of that.

I always felt like Noble Ambitions was more of a demo release where we just kind of pieced together some ideas but never really had a clear idea what we wanted to do. Not knocking that release at all, I'm proud of it, but we just weren't by any means established. It also took a while to get Noble Ambitions out physically because of delays in vinyl pressing, etc. So, really by the time we had the record in our hands, we were already heading in a different direction as a band. 

What’s been happening for the band since? What are some highlights and changes, if any?

(Keith): In 2022, we recorded the Challenger EP, which I felt like was the start of what Mean Jesus sounds like today. We played some shows in support of that EP and around summer of 2023 we kind of sat down and discussed finding a dedicated singer for the band. Mean Jesus was born during the COVID lockdown years so we had to work with what we had, and that meant me on vocals unfortuntely [laughs].

I didn't mind doing it but in the back of my mind I always had the thought that one day we'd have someone actually taking hold of vocals so I could just focus on guitar. We spoke to a couple people regarding vocals and my buddy Ian Robinson showed some interest in the job. A tryout or so later and he was in. Its been great having Ian and its really pushing us towards what we are trying to do as a band. That was further established once we recorded/released our latest album, Abomination. To me, its the clearest picture of who we are as a band and what we are trying to accomplish.

The first five songs of the album were written while I was still singing, but Ian was still able to bring his influence onto those tracks and its been fucking great. The other two, "Shark Brained" and "Greed Overgrown," were created with Ian in the band and those tracks really stand out the most to me. The guitars are there, the drums are there, and finally the vocals are there.

The next step is to get an entire album written/recorded with this lineup. I'm really excited for whats to come and also super fucking stoked to work with Mike [Hartsfield] at New Age Records.

Yeah, speaking of which, how did you guys connect with New Age Records? Are you a big fan of the label and its history?

(Ian Robinson, vocals): Abomination was out and we had been getting great reviews from peers about the album. A little voice in my head just said “send them emails." What’s the worst that’s going to happen? A label isn’t going to listen to it? I reached out a few labels that we love and respect. Aim high, right? New Age was one of those labels.

A label that all of us have loved for years, New Age is legendary in our minds. In fact, New Age Records is our drummer John’s favorite label and it has always been a dream of his to be on this label and to have a New Age logo on the sleeve of a shirt. Mike responded a day or two later and said he loved it and wanted to know exactly what we wanted to do with the album.

We were and still are just blown away. Mean Jesus being on a legendary hardcore label, it’s just so wild. We are so stoked to be working with Mike. He’s been so informative and helpful through this process and we are so stoked to be able to announce that we are a New Age Records band. 

READ MORE: New Age Records: Everything You’ve Wanted to Know About the Seminal Hardcore Label

Tell me a bit about Abomination and the material you included on it.

(Keith): To me, Abomination is the beginning of something new for Mean Jesus as a band. A real kickoff of how what is in store for our future. The writing and recording of the album came very naturally and I've never really had that with a band so it feels awesome to be able to connect with your songs like that. I'm very proud of what we were able to accomlish musically on Abomination.

Our other guitarist, Matt, really contributed with the riffs on Abomination and all of us were able to piece everything together to create something fucking awesome. We have whats called the "Mean Jesus Riff Lair" that Matt and I are constantly updating with ideas we have for songs. Some were used for this album, some might be used for future songs and others might just die in the lair [laughs].

Lyrically, the songs hit both personal and social topics—we try not to limit ourselves with being a one track kind of band and honesty is key to conveying our message in the realest way possible. Ian has a very direct way with his lyrics and they hit really hard. We're all about trying to push ourselves musically but at the same time enjoying what we do because really if this shit wasn't fun we all wouldn't be doing it [laughs].

Photo:  Bambu Shoots

I noticed that you’ve been playing a lot of shows. How’s the scene in the Norfolk region right now? Are you noticing a new generation of kids coming out to shows and starting bands?

(Keith): Norfolk / Virginia Beach is great. There's a lot of cool bands and shows happening all of the time. Sure there's drama/whatever but that shit can be said about any area and really we're all old and don't give a fuck about any of that. 

Not For the Weak (NFTW) has been doing some really cool things around this area. What started off as a local label/recording studio is now a record store/label/recording studio that really helps smaller bands get their music out. Their rates are affordable so anyone can record there and they book shows often in the area.

One thing that I think is really fucking cool is that the shows NFTW puts on always brings people out, old/new generation included. I really wasn't sure if younger kids were still listening to hardcore/punk and it was really cool to see how many have been coming out to these shows and are starting their own bands too.

But yeah Its home to us and sure there's been a ton of changes over the years but I still enjoy playing around here. 

What’s the plan for Mean Jesus now that you have a label behind you? Can we expect some West Coast live dates this coming year?

(Ian): Well, Abomination is still very new so we are trying to push this album and support it as much as we can. We’ve already started the writing process on some new songs but we want it to be organic and take time on them. 

Festivals, we are trying to get some on some fests, big and small. We are playing the annual MacRock festival in Harrisonburg, Virginia April 5-7 (our day has yet to be confirmed, check the MacRock website for updated news and set times). We are currently booking for summer and fall festivals. 

We are headed down south for a few days next week (February 22-25). We are playing the Ridgeville Roadhouse in Ridgeville, South Carollina, Kona Skatepark in Jacksonville, Florida , This is Hasselberry fest in Casselberry, Florida and ending the run in Gainesville, Florida at Loosey’s pub.

As for the West Coast, we would love to play some shows there. It’s a lot of details to work out, but we’re very hopeful that the opportunity will arise. 


To celebrate Mean Jesus joining their roster, New Age Records just dropped a limited edition t-shirt for sale. Abomination is streaming everywhere.

Mean Jesus on social media: Twitter | Instagram


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