From where I'm sitting, it's clear that Never Ending Game has become one of the most popular hardcore bands going today. The Detroit outfit built its reputation via their Welcome to the… EP (2018), Just Another Day LP (2019) , and Halo & Wings EP (2021), plus breakout performances at festivals like Sound and Fury and Tied Down.
Next month, Never Ending Game will unleash Outcry, their highly anticipated sophomore album. The 11-song collection was produced, recorded, and mixed by Andy Nelson at Bricktop Recording and its riff parade pounds you over the head like a mallet.
Since Detroit is such a focal point to the Never Ending Game world, I spoke with vocalist Mikey Petroski about his upbringing there, how it informs everything he and the band does, and how he got into hardcore in the first place.
In the press release that went out about the album, you talked about the importance of Detroit and its influence on the band, both musically and otherwise. A lot has been said and written about the city’s struggles and renaissance throughout the years. How do you see things going there in the last few years?
Well, it’s been 10 years since the city filed for bankruptcy… there’s definitely a lot more nice stuff now than I ever remember in my lifetime. Like most cities, there’s been a lot of neighborhoods that got gentrified but there’s definitely more that remains untouched.
There’s kinda a divide from the new Detroit in the downtown area and the “real” Detroit outside of downtown. There’s still so many abandoned buildings and houses and areas that look like a bomb was dropped.
I’m pretty used to it but when I take people from out of town through here they still get pretty shook about how it looks. Overall, though, things are still trending up, I love it here. Adversity makes the best kind of people.
Are your family’s roots deeply rooted in the Detroit area? Many people I’ve meet through the years from there have some kind of connection to the auto industry, which speaks volumes about how important that is to that region of the country.
Yeah, my grandparents came from Poland to the USA and ended up in Detroit from hearing the auto industry was hiring. My Dad worked in the auto industry as well.
Come to think of it, most of my bandmates have family who work in it as well. I guess it’s just what people do here. [Laughs] It’s kinda like how in hardcore everyones a “graphic designer.”
When and how did you discover hardcore?
I got into it through punk. I was into classic rock and started getting into what I guess you’d call classic punk. Ramones, The Clash, etc. eventually got put onto Rancid and that became my favorite band and I got into everything like that, Fat Wreck, Epitaph bands, and stuff like that. I found out The Suicide Machines, who had a track on the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater video game, were from my area.
I had thought that type of music didn’t really come from around here, so then I started paying attention and seeking out local bands. I made some friends in my neighborhood who were also into underground music and started going to anything we could ride our bikes to or get someone to drive us to. A lot of accessible shows for us had mixed bills, hardcore, emo, metalcore, screamo, ska, etc.
What are some of the local bands you remember seeing when you went to your earliest shows there?
Some bands we were seeing were Fordirelifesake, Suicide Machines, Fireworks, Razzle Dazzle, and xTyrantx... a bunch of others but most of the bands never became anything that made it out of here. But it also seemed like touring bands were regularly coming through so there was a show like every week it seemed.
Shoutout to the Static Age, the VFW on 9 and Mound, The Hayloft, Magic Stick, Refuge Skateshop, My Space Cafe… those were the spots I was going. If you know, you know.
So, after some time of going to all kinds of shows when I was like 16, I started really only fucking with hardcore shows and not much else. I wanna shoutout the band Face Reality, they were guys around my age who did a dope band and made me realize it was something I could do too.
Fortunately, Detroit has a rich history in hardcore and a lot of my peers made it a point to keep hardcore alive here, so finding it wasn’t hard.
How did you come to meet the other members of Never Ending Game, and did you all discuss making your love for Detroit part of the band’s identity? It certainly comes through in almost every aspect of what the band does.
Denis (bass) is my childhood best friend. We grew up and got into hardcore together and were both in a band called Freedom when NEG came about. He sang in that band and I played bass so I thought it would be fun if we swapped positions for this group. The rest of us all met from playing shows together in our old bands.
I think we all first bonded over Detroit sports, to be honest. Especially all being Detroit Lions fans, there’s a special bond amongst us. There’s decades of pain and suffering so when you meet someone who is vocal about supporting the team it’s like you found a long lost sibling.
I think waving the Detroit flag started with the sports. But I’ve also always kinda felt Detroit is one of the most important cities to hardcore but doesn’t get the respect it deserves, so carrying the torch for Detroit hardcore and all those that came before us is something I take seriously.
Going into writing the material for Outcry, was there something that you wanted to do or say that you didn’t on the first album? Do you see it as a natural progression, or were you specifically aiming to do some different things?
For sure. The first album was really personal and dark for me, a lot of pent up feelings and emotions of things I’d been carrying everyday for years. Having some time to reflect on that record during the pandemic had me thinking about how if my life were to end, would that be what represents me? Are my friends and family gonna listen to that and feel good about the words I’m saying?
So, this album was written with that in the back of my mind. Sure, there’s still some dark personal shit on here.. But I tried to tie it up with a little more optimism.
I’m kinda not your typical outgoing hardcore screamer. I keep a close circle and don’t let too many people in. So putting words to the music is my only real representation in the scene. I take that seriously and am eternally grateful to my band for giving me that opportunity and for anyone who listens. After this release, I can say I feel good about what I’ve left behind.
If you had to pick one record (album or EP) that represents Detroit hardcore to the fullest extent, which would it be and why?
Well, I’m sure everyone already knows what I’m about to say. It’s Cold As Life's Born to Land Hard. That album is Detroit in the '90s captured in audio. It has the feeling I had looking out the window driving by urban decay and abandoned houses on the way to church as a kid.
It tells the stories you heard on the news every night. It captures the hopelessness that so many were feeling at that time. The opening track is my favorite hardcore song of all time:
I think the lore that surrounded the band sometimes overshadows the brilliance of that record. The lyrics, the song writing, the drums, the guitar playing and the constant feedback throughout. The absolutely insane album cover. It doesn’t get better than that.
You could get a room of the best musicians in the world and they wouldn’t come close to replicating that album. That’s a 1/1 record that could have only come from here.
Outcry will be out May 12th and is available for pre-order now through Triple B Records.
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