Rejection Pact have just released their first new music since their 7-inch, Threats of the World, which was released by Safe Inside Records in 2019. Although that was only a mere three years ago, our world has changed so much since then and the band has a lot to say about the change that has occurred in that time.
The Pact’s Promo 2022 is a two-song teaser featuring one song from their upcoming LP, Can We Wait?, and a re-recorded version of a song from their 2017 demo, which is a real heater and setlist staple called “Hired Goons."
On the cusp of embarking on their first string of out of town gigs since their weekend run with One Step Closer in late 2021, the boys from Boise are looking to cover some ground in Vancouver BC, Portland, and Tacoma. The promo gives us a taste of what’s to come and a fresh look on what we’re already familiar with.
Tell us about the song "Social Murder," the first single off of Can We Wait?, which you recently released a little video for.
This was one of the first songs we wrote post Threats of the World that we wrote back in I wanna say late fall or winter 2019. Out of the first batch of songs we wrote for the new LP, this was the reigning champ for a while due to the fast/driving nature of the song, how the rhythm kinda reminded me of American Nightmare at times, and how at the end there’s a mosh fake out.
The riff into the mosh part sounds way harder than the actual part mosh it goes into. The mosh part is much more of a creepy crawly/soft skank part. I always get a kick outta when bands throw in a fake out, it keeps it less predictable.
Lyrically speaking, the song’s about the decaying idea of the American Dream in relation to work. Whether it’s towns that were once prosperous drying up, once successful industries now dead ends, people harming themselves physically or mentally for a paycheck, and just the general manipulative nature of what a job entails and why we work.
The few at the top get rich and benefit from the work and labor that the many parktake it, with scraps in return. It’s sickening how people must spread themselves so thin just to live paycheck to paycheck and for what? These conditions and everything surrounding it are so normalized and although quite often it’s legal, it’s still a form of murder. Maybe you aren’t dying in that exact moment, but you’re being killed, even if it’s a little at a time.
You recently played a show in Boise that was a fundraiser for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund. How did it go?
It went great! Right when the initial murmurs of Roe v. Wade being overturned hit the news, Alex and the Boise Hardcore Booking Collective got the ball rolling on getting the show put together. They did a great job curating a cool lineup of active current bands of varying degrees of metal/hardcore/punk, as well as adding on a couple bands who hadn’t played in several years.
Leading up to the show, they got numerous local abortion rights groups involved which I think was important since it brought in a perspective that was needed vs just a bunch of mostly dudes in bands being involved with the event. We also went to some local protests/marches the week before and passed out flyers and talked with people and it seemed like there was a general excitement around the show.
The show itself was great. That was probably one of the best Boise shows we’ve played. Since the lineup covered a lot of ground, it brought in a ton of people from younger kids, regulars, and old heads who probably hadn’t been to a local show in several years.
The show ended up raising nearly $4k to donate to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, I wanna say. For a city that is located in a very large red state and has targets on the backs of women’s rights that is also probably celebrating Roe v. Wade being overturned, I was really happy that our local community could come together and contribute something positive outside of just hardcore and patting each other on the back.
Did you always intend for the band to have a political message or is that something that developed with the life of the band?
Broadly speaking, yes. When we started the band it was a couple of years into the Trump Administration and at that point, we were getting more and more disillusioned and frustrated with things and wanted to write about it.
At the time of our demo, I was also really on one with my job, so that came out in a couple tracks, but I could argue those are also political in a general sense. Threats of the World was a mixture of political as well as personal/introspective ideas but the big key theme to Threats of the World was people. Whether we are destroying the outside world or ourselves, (which can also have a harmful impact on the outside world) people can be a big threat. The way we think and treat ourselves and handle situations is fully learned behavior due to our surroundings, upbringings, social norms.
When it comes to merch designs, live shows, things we wanted to be a part of and talk about, we’ve always wanted politics/social issues to be at the forefront. We’re all pretty frustrated as individuals with the state of the world so cohesively bringing that together in the band and how to conduct our messaging, lyrics, and atmosphere was easy. We see the band as a means to bring awareness, share frustrations, and hopefully have some sort of positive impact ideally beyond hardcore.
With the new record, we wanted it to be more cohesive and deliberate in ideas/themes. We spent a lot more time on the lyrics and several of the songs were written about what was happening around us in real time. We wanted the lyrics to be much more on the nose, so when someone is listening or reading along to them it’s very clear what the songs are about.
The new record to me feels like the perfect mix of the best aspects of our earlier material meshed together with greater attention to politics and current issues that I really hope resonates with people in a positive way.
Boise seems to be popping off right now, which seems to have changed from the time y’all started out. What do you attribute that to and for those who don’t know, what other Boise-area bands are you in?
It’s kind of a few diff things. First and foremost, when we started the band, the scene was very disjointed, not everyone got along as well, and it was awkward. That has since been squashed and for the most part, everyone is super supportive of each other and that rules. Boise is far too small of a place for that nonsense. Not everyone has to be friends, but everyone should be able to get along and be civil and tearing each other down and not supporting your peers in a small music community isn’t doing anyone any favors…it’s just screwing things up in my opinion.
The influx of new bands/young kids/mixed bills is also helping a ton. I feel like before the pandemic, if you booked a hardcore show here, it was mostly hardcore bands on the bill, and you could kind of expect the same kids at every show, with a handful of randoms depending on the lineup.
We played an all locals show last summer and it was a mixed bill with some new metal bands as well as hardcore bands and that show felt different. There were so many young kids and just freak/weirdo/alt people I’d never seen before at a show ever and it was awesome. I feel like this set a blueprint of how shows here started to go.
Since then, most shows that are happening have either a metal band, a grind band, maybe a punk band—just something different that are bringing out a whole crop of kids that might not be there otherwise and now we’re seeing that crossover to when we do have shows that are primarily hardcore bands, you’re getting the not prototypical hardcore kids at said shows.
I also think the bands here right now are just better than they’ve ever been and for a few different reasons. None of the bands here are playing styles that are trendy or flavor of the week shit. None of the locals here really sound the same either, so everyone has their own thing going on. The bands here are touring and getting out there and representing Boise in a positive way.
I also think having folks outside of Boise excited about what’s happening here just helps the overall morale of the scene and positive energy is infectious. It legitimizes the work bands here are doing in a cool way. I’ll never forget when Axe to Grind played a song of ours on one of their listening parties…and they first said the phrase “BOISE ON TOP." That phrase now has a life of its own and for our band to be included on a listening party with bands like Rotting Out or Drain..that was a big deal for us, it made us feel like not just a band from Boise, but like peers of the larger scope of hardcore.
Also, Boise is a fucking underdog city. A lot of places in my opinion are super spoiled and a lot of people have really big egos and are super cliquey and I have zero energy for that shit. We’re eight hours away from Seattle/Portland, 12+ hours from California, we have one stable venue, and for the longest time, people dunked on Boise a lot, so seeing all of the love and energy around Boise right now feels really good and it’s very appreciated.
What are some Boise bands No Echo readers should check out?
Witness Chamber: Our axe man Hunter plays guitar in this band and my favorite local band. If you like Dead End Path, Twist of Fate-era Downpresser, Inclination, you will love this. They’re the boys.
Ingrown: Charlie, our drummer, is also their drummer and they’re busting their ass. If you like ultra fast/heavy mosh pit music. Get with it.
Texas Ketamine: Young kids playing ultra heavy slam/death metal. The excitement around this band locally is so sick and they’re touring this summer which is bomb as hell. I think a lot of the younger kids in hardcore who love death metal would fuck heavily with this.
Grave Titan: Grim and heavy. If you’re into headbanging and hard to read font but also like throwing spinkicks, check this out.
Natural Evil: Crossover thrash that keeps the songs much more dialed in than a lot of the other crossover stuff imo. Plus they have an Alice In Chains cover that is awesome!
Teratoma: New school electronic metalcore with a lot of mosh parts. If you’re vibing on the newer Code Orange material or See You Space Cowboy, take this for a ride.
Our City Skyline: Long time OG Boise band that is back! Ferret/Trustkill records style mosh core. Looking forward to their new material!
Sidenote: I think someone from Vancouver that coined the yell “BOISE." Vancouver was the first city to fully put on for Boise and every band from here that plays there has a crazy reaction. It’s my favorite city to play.
Tell us about some of the bands you’re playing with on your PNW run this summer. Any bands you’re looking forward to catching in particular?
We’re playing Tacoma with CUJO. I’ve never seen them, but have wanted to for a minute. I used to really like Kevin's old band, Malice, back in the late 2010s. Insecure: They put out a flexi on Safe Inside Records. I’ve never seen them and I’m very stoked. They’ve been huge supporters of RP so that’ll rock. The rest of the lineup is newer bands like Wretch, Room 13, and KAIZO.
That show sonically is kinda all over the place but all under the umbrella of hardcore and I think that’s sick cuz not every show needs 4+ bands that all sound identical, and I think that really hurts attendance at shows.
We’re playing Vancouver with Your Problem (the boys) and Ghaul. The first two times we played Vancouver was with Your Problem and I haven’t seen them in a minute so I’m really stoked. Everyone should check them out if you like faster hardcore that isn’t exactly power violence but it’s still fast as hell. Like early Ceremony or Trash Talk.
We’re playing Portland with Lockdown and Blu Blaz and I’ve wanted to see Blu Blaz since their demo dropped (which YOU put me onto). This shit sounds like old Hatebreed and Satisfaction is a top 10 favorite hardcore record for me, so anything in that vein I’m going to love.
I’m stoked for all the shows and since we’re playing with a handful of bands I’m not too familiar with, I think that’ll be cool because I’m going in with a clean slate and when bands impress you live, I feel like they always stick with me way more vs listening to them a bunch before.
The artwork of the promo looks pretty gnarly. What’s going on here?
So the original concept was by Ghost Bongo. We’d wanted to work with him for a bit and always dug how his art was overtly political and not dancing around anything. We needed some new merch designs and we were wanting to incorporate some of the new material into it so I hit him up and sent him the lyrics to “Social Murder” and he came up with the original shirt design.
We were blown away with how he visualled the lyrics and we felt like it deserved more than just a shirt design:
We then spoke with Chris Mollet who loved the design as well and had the idea of re-imaging it in a more realistic sense and Ghost Bongo was on board with it. In terms of what the Bongo Head means by the design, I’ve never actually spoken with him as to what specifically it means but I like that art can be interpreted in numerous ways, just as he took our lyrics and that’s what came out.
I read the art as we’re working ourselves to death while the elite continue to get richer. It’s a cycle we can’t escape so we’re handcuffed to it in a sense. The whole process is like a factory assembly line.
The way our entire workforce functions and who gets rich and who struggles is also very intentional and thought out and built to run and work in a certain way, much like a factory:
There is a lot of mythos around hardcore bands releasing their sacred first LP. Often thought of as a new beginning or the band’s final breath, the pattern seems to be demo, a handful of 7-inchs splits or EPs, which create the buildup to the LP, and then the LP arrives.
What can we expect with Can We Wait? What are some of the lyrical themes you explore? Can we look forward to classic Pact hooks or will you be veering off into uncharted territory?
You can expect a fast and intentional hardcore record. What I mean by intentional is the artwork/layout is going to match the lyrical themes of the album, the album title relates to the lyrics/themes, the music was written and laid out in the sense of an album; not just a bunch of songs put together to form an album. Also the songs are fast and short. Most don’t cross the two-minute mark. No one’s trying to listen to a hardcore LP that is 30 minutes long.
Lyrically speaking from a broad stance, the record touches on political and social issues. More specifically without giving it all away just yet, some of the themes include American Exceptionalism, capitalism, wealth hoarding, social norms, systemic racism, the pandemic, etc.
I think the new record sounds like a culmination of the most interesting aspects of our earlier material as well as incorporating some new and more “risky” directions. I think anyone who’s a fan of the old material will enjoy the new material more and I think this has the potential to pull in people who are in the hardcore adjacent world.
To quote my friend Rusty, “It’s a lost Rivalry Records album from the future.”
A lot of bands did not seem stymied by the pandemic and kept releasing new music. While y’all released that sweet Go It Alone cover for the Safe Inside COVID benefit comp, you chose to hold off on dishing out more than that. What led you to make that decision?
We just didn’t want to put out a bunch of new music and not be able to play shows and support it. Trust me–we had our new LP demoed summer of 2020 and wanted everyone to hear it then, but with COVID and everything, it just seemed like it if we put it out, people might check it out, but it seemed like so many good records that came out were lost in the sands of streaming or lack of show support.
Plus with the pandemic and everything, we had the opportunity to take our time recording in a nice studio and get the best takes we wanted and try some new things and fuck around with ideas/sounds that we probably wouldn’t have been able to if there was no pandemic.
Admittedly I had fomo seeing bands releasing new music but I also saw a lot of awesome music get lost or not get the proper shine I thought it deserved, and we didn’t want that to happen to us. Maybe it wouldn’t have? We’ll never know.
Plus Charlie is also in Ingrown and trying to balance touring/promoting two new records at once (sounds like a nightmare) and they dropped something in spring of 2021, so we were happy to take a back seat and work on recording/fleshing out our record while they promoted their album and whatnot.
In the end, we’re the kind of band that needs to play shows to sell records and be actively involved to move them, so it didn’t make sense to release new material during the pandemic given the circumstances.
Loyalty seems like an important aspect of the band. Rejection Pact is the longest running active band on the Safe Inside Records roster and your partnership with Youth Energy Designs has really helped the band’s visual aesthetic flourish over the years. Both are unique and special milestones to look back on.
Were these relationships conscious aspects of the work you are doing?
I don’t think it was ever something that we intentionally set out to do, it just kind of has happened. I’ve known Chris for a really long time since and he understands the vibe that our band has been going for since day one and where we’re pulling from sonically and visually.
He and I constantly talk about branding within hardcore and aesthetic choices and how important it is for the visuals to match the sound/vibe of the band and how consistency is crucial. Keeping all of that in mind, we’re often on the same page and being that we’re so close, when he’s working on something for us, it’s a very open collaborative process and there’s no awkwardness to be honest with each other.
He really understands what we’re going for, he’s super talented so it makes the whole process smooth and working with your friends kicks ass.
We’ve always had a great working relationship with Burt/Safe Inside. I can be very honest with him and I think that’s important. He put out our 7-inch, when we were literally a local band who’d done one PNW run and had a demo tape. He invested money, time, and energy into getting our record into distros and in front of people we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
You can write killer music, but if it’s not seen or heard by the right people, it can really be hard to take off and gain real momentum around it, so a label putting their faith in a newer band from Boise is not lost on us. He took a chance on us and we have always appreciated that. Burt lets us do what we want, which rocks.
I see a DIY label as a labor of love. Usually the people running a label have full time jobs, and are doing it because they want to help out bands put out their music physically and they believe in the band. Bands constantly jumping labels hinders the ability for a label to grow and develop into something cooler. I think mutually beneficial growth across hardcore is important and the less self-serving we can all be the better.
That said, we aren’t opposed to working with other people; we’ve had work commissioned by Andy Norton and aforementioned Ghost Bongo, we had a lathe record put out by Life Haunt Records in Canada, and we’ve had other friends do little things here and there.
We just like working with people who understand our band, who put on for us, are easy to work with, and understand what we’re going for.
Speaking of Safe Inside Records, the roster has ebbed and flowed over the years. While you certainly go hand in hand with bands like FAIM, Pain Strikes, Time and Pressure, and Headcount, there are definitely breaks in the label’s melodic hardcore streak with bands like SpiritWorld, Nowhere Roads, and Bazookatooth.
What have been some of your favorite releases from the label? We need a SIR Showcase in 2023, am I right?
I’ve enjoyed most of the releases on the label honestly but if I had to choose three I'd go with Pain Strikes, FAIM, and Stepping Stone.
SIR showcase is a must! I think that would be awesome. I’ve definitely echoed this before, and will continue to do so. I’ve always loved when labels did this and think it’s a cool chance to showcase the talent on a roster as well as getting the bands/label to all meet and what not.
Imagine each member gets to drive the van on the upcoming Pacific Northwest run. What are each of you playing when you have control of the aux cord?
Devin: Well first off…driving the van gives me major anxiety but if I am driving we’re listening to High Vis, Lurk, or some '00s moshcore playlist
Ralph: I’d like to play as much classic rock or trap music I can get away with or Vennu Mallesh “It’s My Life What Ever I Wanna Do”
Charlie: Andrew WK, I Get Wet and Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak.
Hunter: I’m playing an endless loop of my Radiohead playlist, because if I have to be sad, then everybody has to
Nate: Any ska that I can get away with…Less Than Jake, Streetlight Manifesto, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones
As a whole..we’re probably going to be listening to way too much Longmont Potion Castle since that is the van staple for every tour.
What’s the last movie each of you saw in theaters?
Devin: The Black Phone
Charlie: Jackass Forever
Nate: Apocalypse Now at the Balboa in San Francisco
Hunter: Crimes of the Future
Ralph: Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Album of the Year for each of you so far?
Devin: Peace Test, Pry
Charlie: Drug Church, Hygiene
Nate: FAIM, FAIM (reissue)
Ralph: A Wilhelm Scream, Lose Your Delusion or Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
Hunter: (EP)Volcano - Fool 2 Tha Game / (LP) Terror - Pain into Power / (Single) End It - "Hatekeeper"
The last words are yours:
Thank you, Thomas, for taking the time to speak with me and Carlos/No Echo for publishing the interview, Stream the new flexi on whatever streaming platform you prefer, read through the lyrics, and if you fuck with physical media, pick up the new flexi from Safe Inside Records, and if you live in the PNW you can get one from us on our weekend later this month.
Boise Hardcore Forever.
Catch Rejection Pact on their Pacific Northwest Coast Weekender this summer:
The band will also be performing at Act Like You Know Fest in Tulsa, Oklahoma this November:
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