Boise, Idaho is not generally a city one considers when talking about the larger picture of the hardcore community but some of the movement's heaviest hitters currently inhabit this city. Though not getting the attention it deserves, it's one of the most diverse scenes in the Northwest. Historically, Boise was home to the influential band Septic Death (fronted by Pushead), and it currently boasts such local outfits as Ingrown, Witness Chamber, and Rejection Pact.
Starting their story before the pandemic, and making a name for themselves in the area as well as the Western states through touring, Rejection Pact dropped their first EP, Threats of the World, in 2019. Since the EP's release, the band has utilized their time away in the pandemic as well as they can to refine their approach and sharpen their critique of American society.
This brings us up to today, where Rejection Pact just issued their excellent debut LP, Can We Wait? A focused, more biting and impactful attack on their already established enemies, the album was recorded by Ryan Morgan of Misery Signals and mixed by Taylor Young (does he ever sleep?) at The Pit in Los Angeles.
I recently was able to chat to Rejection Pact vocalist Devin Boudreaux about the band and Can We Wait? As we both write for No Echo and study hardcore like it’s our job, the interview had plenty of theorizing on the nature of the scene as well as jokes at our own expense. We also got to talk plenty about the album’s content, Boise hardcore, and Rejection Pact’s place in the larger hardcore scene. Enjoy!
Describe the recording process for Can We Wait?
I have to preface this by saying this was probably the first time where recording felt really fun for me at least. Not saying I’ve done a lot of recording but being a singer and recording can be pretty stressful cuz you don’t wanna blow your voice out and all that.
It was good when we recorded the seven-inch in our drummer's space, he knew my voice and all that but when we went in again in 2020 we demo tracked the entire record and it was just weird. I had never actually sung on any of those songs so I had to figure out how they would go and what vocal patterns I’d use. It was a long process.
It was kind of a blessing I guess because after listening to it we had time to figure out what to change and get comfortable to go in the studio and record with Ryan Morgan. It was just easy because there was no pressure on us, we could go in and take as much time as we needed. I tried to go as much as I could during the sessions and there’s some footage that we want to compile together for some sort of “making of” video.
We were able to really take our time on this one and make sure everything was to our liking. I think we recorded from spring of 2021 to the fall and there was really no pressure the whole time. We had some guest spots that didn’t work out, the record would’ve probably been mixed and mastered quicker if they did but it still worked out great honestly.
I now understand why some bands love going and recording. I get why people don’t want to record full records though, lots of bands nowadays will be going and just recording a few songs for an EP or something like that and won’t put out an album for awhile.
We’ve seen a lot of bands in the scene get big off of one or two EPs, like Pain of Truth. It seems like getting music out rather than conceptualizing an entire record is really benefiting the scene right now.
I feel like before COVID there was already rumblings about how you don’t need to do a full album because I feel like with some hardcore LP’s there can be a lot of filler songs. Going in to record an album you think to yourself ‘alright this will do.’ It also seems like with the rise of Tik Tok people want things shorter and more to the point I guess. Albums are becoming less and less an essential thing in the scene today.
During most of the lockdown, I got into a lot of '90s rock, not just hardcore but rock, I always felt like these are records that I’d like but never really gave them a listen. One of my biggest takeaways from the “CD era” was that most records only had a couple good songs on them. I feel like a lot of the bands we’re pulling from wrote “albums,” “full albums.”
How long did you guys have these songs written before recording them?
The song “Hollow Ethos” was written back I think in the summer of 2019 or so? We wrote about half the record before Covid hit and then the rest of it we wrote remotely. It was a pain in the ass because we weren’t really able to meet up and practice everything.
When we finally did get time together again, I think we met up that summer like twice we were able to flesh out like six songs. Then I’d go and work on the lyrics and Charlie and I would work on them more. We wanted to make sure everything rhymed on this record, everything. It’s way catchier that way.
All the best songs we enjoy usually have a certain rhyme scheme that gets stuck in your head and you memorize them instantly. It also all had to make sense, so there was a rhyme and a reason for all this. With that we really sat with the lyrics and Charlie would be like, “There’s a better way to say this right here” or something to that effect.
This record has a different sound to it than your 7-inch did which was mostly straightforward hardcore. What influenced this direction?
Half those songs on the 7-inch were recorded at a point where we were just figuring out what kind of band we wanted to be. There was a lot of, “We should lean into this more,” new band bullshit. Like on the first 7-inch there was this piano part and we knew when we recorded it that we’d never play it live. Then people ended up really fucking with it and now we’ve gone even weirder on this record and we really just hope people fuck with that too.
We really wanted songs that made us go, “Kids will totally wanna stage dive to this” or something to that effect. Go It Alone is our biggest influence and I feel like with this one that’s more apparent than on the 7-inch because there’s flat out breakdowns on that one. Every song on this new record has a mosh part but you kinda have to know where we’re coming from to know it’s a mosh part.
Throwing out band names I guess I’ll say American Nightmare, Modern Life Is War, Verse, and Paint It Black. For Ralph, specifically, I know he’s a big fan of Anti-Flag and Dinosaur Jr. are where he draws his bass playing from. Have Heart and just most of the Rival Records, early Bridge Nine and Deathwish stuff.
On the first record we didn’t really care for having an “Oh shit this is a breakdown” part but here this feels like what we were always going for but just couldn’t materialize. We leaned way more into the punk rock aspect. I feel like lyrics were the most important aspect of these songs because they all had to fit into a cohesive theme. One thing outside of music that really influenced this record was just everything going on during the lockdown and all the political bullshit that we’ve seen go on.
You’ve been a staunchly political band before with your merch and lyrics, what events and topics influenced your lyrics for this record?
Watching idiots be idiots honestly. Living in Idaho as well because there’s conservative nitwits out there but Idaho I feel has a bit more than many places in the Northwest. I was talking with somebody from New York the other day about this and he was like “I think it’s really cool that y’all are really outspoken about all this stuff because of where you’re from.” It’s easy to stand for that kind of stuff when there’s more people who validate your viewpoints but it’s a different story out here.
The libs love Boise but outside of that it’s pretty red. I did a lot of reading during the pandemic cuz I finally had time to read them and actually think about what I’m taking in here. I don’t feel like I’m bringing anything new to the conversation but I figure these are things that should be discussed and how we feel about them.
I feel like I can hear things multiple times and it doesn’t really stick with you until you hear it spelled out a certain way. So I just wrote things knowing fully that they’ve been touched upon before but maybe try to say it in a way that hasn’t been said before, maybe it’ll click with some kid down the line, you know?
I’m sure you remember a time when there weren’t many kids in the hardcore scene to where nowadays there are a lot of kids in the scene? Well, I’m trying to break out of that habit of thinking, “Oh, everyone’s already heard this said before.” That’s not always true these days and we’re lucky to have that in the scene.
What inspired the album's title Can We Wait? and the names in the tracklist?
The song “Hollow Ethos” specifically was written towards people who are pro-life yet praise cops shooting people down in the streets or putting kids in cages and stuff. You can just instantly see how hypocritical they are in their rhetoric to where we were thinking about American ethos and how hollow it is. Everyone’s morality is like paper thin basically.
We came up with Can We Wait? because we wanted it to look good on a t-shirt and also as I said before all the stuff we speak about is nothing new and nothing’s changed about them. At the time when we wrote the album they all felt like they were coming to a boiling point. It was also kind of a joke because when we finished it I was thinking “By the time we get this out it’ll have been a really long time.” I’m a big fan of ambiguous or vague titles or wording so that you can interpret it however you want.
If you see it somewhere you’re gonna be like, “Can we wait for what?” It reminds me of your stickers that say “Join the Rejection Pact.”
I work in SEO so I think a lot about how something’s gonna stick out not just for search engines but for one someone sees it on the streets or online somewhere. So many bands have names that are so similar or you can just tell how they’re gonna sound from their name. When it came down to the song titles I’m pretty sure I didn’t find any other titles that were similar to ours.
I feel like too many band names come from songs they like or some movie reference. I think we spent more time coming up with the band name than we did anything else in the early days. I think it paid off because I figured people might not know what it is and be concerned about it when they see it on a sticker with an upside down flag that says: “Why Would Anyone Worship This?”
My girlfriend was at a festival and people would ask her what the Rejection Pact was and she’d just tell them, “Oh, it’s my boyfriends band” and they’d be confused. Some people’s first reaction is thinking it’s a legit movement. We want to elicit some sort of reaction or curiosity.
Do you feel like Boise could ever establish its own sound and how would you describe the scene's identity in a few words?
To answer the first part, I don’t think Boise ever could. Every band from here sounds different, no band is gonna make you say, “Oh, they’re from Boise I can tell.” Kids are showing out for the bands coming from outside the state which is fine and all that. They do usually gravitate toward the bands that have a harder sound.
We played that Drug Church, Scowl, GEL and Public Opinion show and while that show isn’t a heavy show by any means there were so many kids there stage diving and going off. I will admit though that the smaller shows do draw a good crowd each time but you’re not necessarily seeing the punk listener show up here.
I think the city is just too fragmented and isn’t big enough to establish and sustain its own sound. If more people started bands then maybe it could become sustainable at least, like there’s a new band out called All That Matters and what I love about them is that they sound like a young band. They really come with a youthful energy that we need around here, every scene needs those kinds of kids just playing in a band and having fun. I heard their demo and they had the sound that really captured that early hardcore I got into when I was young, it really sounded like a hardcore demo.
It may ruffle some people up but I sincerely don’t mind seeing kids getting into hardcore through Tik Tok nowadays. If that’s someone’s entry into hardcore and what spurs their interest in their own scene then fine let them have that. No one is Freddy Madball you know? Your entry into hardcore was just as corny as theirs is.
What are your plans for promoting this record? Shows? Tours?
We just did a SoCal weekend with Change the first weekend of November. We just played Act Like You Know fest in Tulsa. We’re trying to do East Coast. That’s the plan for like late spring. The problem is that we have to work around everyone else’s bands as well so it’s hard to really wanna book a tour way out into the next year. We just wanna do the stuff that’s fun, less is more. We’re in talks of trying to get over to Europe next year, which is like a bucket list thing for us.
Anyone you wanna shout out before we finish here?
Shoutout anyone that’s posted the new stuff, shoutout to Change, Vancouver, Boise, Damage Control out of Canada, and shoutout to anyone involved in hardcore that’s doing cool shit for their scenes and all the smaller bands that are doing good shit.
Can We Wait? is available now via Safe Inside Records.
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