Category Archives: Women of Hardcore

Sharptooth Vocalist Lauren Kashan On The Fem Voices Hardcore Needs

Photo Credit: Kristina McComas 

It’s rare to come across such a tough, charismatic woman fronting an incredibly heavy hardcore band. While Baltimore band Sharptooth and their vocalist Lauren Kashan are a wonderfully unique find, we have to stop and consider why that is. Sharptooth are almost entirely melody-free, bearing similarities to bands like Every Time I Die and Stray From The Path, and for some reason that comes as a surprise. When people hear “female-fronted band,” they often immediately think of Paramore or even one of the many metal bands out there that are led by chicks. But in hardcore, there is a strange absence of fem that Kashan wants filled.

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Hollow Bones’s Sharon Malfesi Talks Hardcore Community, LGBT & New Record ‘Lionheart’

Music is a safe haven. Hardcore, we believe, doubly so. Guitarist and vocalist Sharon Malfesi of New York melodic hardcore band Hollow Bones reinforces this sentiment for us when she talks about her band’s upcoming record, Lionheart, as well as her road to self-realization within the LGBT and hardcore music communities.

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Interview: Jennifer Bartlett of Fine Fine Titans

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My absolute favorite object is called a palimpsest. I had never heard that word until about two years ago when I was sitting in a modern poetry class, tuning in and out of an ongoing discussion. The word sounded strange so it caught my attention. A palimpsest, as it would soon be explained to me, is an object or a manuscript on which the old writing has gone or been erased in order to make room for new writing. However, little traces or ghosts of past markings remain so you can see pieces of the old text beneath the present one. Picture writing a note, and even after erasing a misspelled word, still being able to see the faded letters in the paper. When Fine Fine Titans vocalist Jennifer Bartlett begins telling me the story behind the song “A Fire Retraced (Fahrenheit Diaries II)” off their upcoming album, Renaissance, all I can think about is a palimpsest and what it means.

Stream Renaissance in full here.

She sighs when I pry into the song and why it’s so dear to her. Her voice changes from the vibrant, energetic tone it carried when I first picked up the phone and becomes heavier, a little unsteady. “Back in 2008, I had an apartment fire,” she finally says, “and I lost everything except for a box of my journals. I’ve been journaling since I was maybe nine, and I had that box of journals except for one journal. And the one journal that I lost in the fire signified a really important part of my growing process. And so losing that journal, and losing the memories that were written in that journal…it felt like I lost a part of myself as well.”

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The Michigan post-hardcore band had recorded a song entitled “Fahrenheit Diaries” for their previous EP, Omega, about the fire and Bartlett’s personal loss. “This revisited it in a way to get deeper into that subject,” she explains of Part II, “which I don’t expect anyone to understand or even pick up on that, but it was really therapeutic for me to write about that specific incident.” This new song is her palimpsest; proof that an old story can be re-examined, a new one written, but the etchings of the past will always color the paper—or in this case, an album. Even lost words from a lost journal can bring bits of history to the future. 

The thing about fire, too, is it purifies at the same time that it destroys. Renaissance is about a similar kind of rebirth. Once on the verge of collapse due to a changing lineup and artistic focus, the band now feels as though they’ve risen from the ashes. 

“Vulnerability is not weakness.”

“Really in the last few years of the band it’s been kind of a whirlwind,” she says. “A lot of change in members and direction and I think for this new album we felt like it was really a new birth for us. We actually almost fell apart a few years ago, and instead of letting it go we kind of picked ourselves up from the bootstraps and decided we were going to move forward no matter what. In order to do that we kind of had to reinvent ourselves and the music.”

I have to ask if the Renaissance is actually her favorite period in history. She laughs it off, a little caught off guard, and despite admitting to an admiration for the costuming of the 1500s, says, “I try to maybe focus on the future a bit more.” Not a bad idea for a band that is currently picking up steam. Fine Fine Titans recently had their music video for new single “Mistress” debut on Revolver, and their following single “I Just Saw A Ghost” feat. TJ Miller of Still Remains premiered just the other day over at AllMusic. However, the vocalist’s favorite tracks from Renaissance still have yet to be shared.

As you might expect, “A Fire Retraced (Fahrenheit Diaries II)” is one of them. “Molasses Tongue” is the other, and for good reason. The enticing guitar riff that introduces the track carries throughout the song, and the music itself takes defibrillators to the post-hardcore genre, but “Molasses Tongue” also seriously showcases Bartlett’s vocal chops. Her dark, husky melodies are alluring enough, but this chick has some aggressive screams. Ironically, she insists aggression isn’t where her emotion comes from.

“It’s like being scared and frightened and emotionally distraught [and it’s] like this is the only way I know how to get this out right now.”

Getting a little philosophical, she persists, “Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s a stronghold and it’s the start of all emotions. And I think that we kind of confuse that for weakness and when we do, we let it eat at us. And it’s easy for other people to stomp on us and our dreams and the good will we have.”

“Especially when it comes to the music industry and being a woman in the music industry,” she adds, coming to the inevitable question of gender in the entertainment business. “I feel like [with] rock specifically, women feel like they have to be strong in order to be heard. And maybe that is true, in some instances, but I think as long as you’re honest that’ll take you further than being aggressive.”

What is clear from my conversation with her, no matter where it comes from, is Jennifer Bartlett’s strength—strength of conviction, of voice, of self. And it’s something she wants anyone who listens to Fine Fine Titans to take to heart.

“Hopefully [the record] inspires someone else to follow their dream, whether it’s in the creative field or in a political way or anything at all. I hope it inspires someone to have the courage and strength [to] realize that vulnerability is an asset.”

Renaissance will be released November 20th via CI Records.

Interview with Itarya Leo of Legendary Divorce

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People need to stop telling me that punk is dead. Like for (super) cereal, guys. Why? Because when you listen to up and coming bands like the Philadelphia-based Legendary Divorce there is no denying that punk, grunge, hardcore and all sorts of underground music genres are still thriving in their own scenes.

Here at HXC, we got a chance to chat with Legendary Divorce vocalist and guitarist Itarya Leo, one bad ass female killing it in the east coast music world.  As part of our ongoing Women of Hardcore series, we got to learn all about Leo’s love of Nirvana, Legendary Divorce’s latest EP Make Me, and, of course, Leo’s thoughts on the current state of the scene.

What was the mindset going into writing and recording this EP?
We wrote these songs over about six months, then decided to record with a friend. They are the first songs we wrote as a band and we were just excited to record them!

You began as a Nirvana cover band back in 2012.  Clearly Cobain must have been a big influence on you guys.  What about Nirvana inspired you to form this band?
The Nirvana cover set was for a Halloween show. I think we wanted an excuse to get together and play Nirvana songs. [Laughs.] They are some of our favorite songs. Nirvana, for all of us, was our first introduction to punk. I know, personally, I was not aware music could sound like that–Nevermind completely blew me away. There is such sense of purity and carelessness and frustration. It’s noisy, real, and SUPER fucking catchy, like dissatisfied pop music on drugs.

What have been some other major musical influences you guys have had?
I am really obsessed with the Wipers. Especially their albums Over the Edge and Is This Real? But, we all have a pretty diverse taste in music, digging everything from soul to grindcore to pop.  Tim and I can kill entire mornings listening to Deicide or watching L7 videos. We are all serious lovers of music.

You guys recently released a music video for the song “Easy.”  What made you want to do a video for that track?
It is the first song we wrote as a band! I believe that is the reason. It’s about a deteriorating friendship. Throwing stones at glass houses.

Do you have a favorite track on the EP?
Probably “Satisfaction” because it’s a total blast to play.

A lot of media has been saying there aren’t enough girls in the hardcore or punk scene.  How do you feel about that notion?
I am not sure if the issue is that there aren’t enough girls in the hardcore or punk scene (though there could never be enough). I know A LOT of super talented girls playing great music within both of those genres, and all genres. I don’t think female musicians are celebrated in the same way male musicians are in most circles. Though, we’ll progress! I believe music is a great uniter. Lots of girls go to shows, too. Some of the most avid show goers I know are female.

What first inspired you to  pick up a guitar or microphone?
I’ve been singing from a very young age. I performed in musical theater throughout my childhood. I’ve always loved music and performing. I kind of took a breather for about 10 years and then, when we decided to do the Nirvana show, I had to learn how to play guitar! Now it’s my favorite thing. Also, screaming into a microphone and playing loud, rowdy music is the most amazing therapy. It makes me a better person.

LD Make Me

We’re currently running a series on the women of hardcore and the punk scene.  Several of our interviewees have unfortunately had experiences in which many people have mistaken them for groupies or roadies.  Do you think gender should have any weight on the output of music nowadays?
I have never been referred to as a “groupie” in my own band, but have been called that when seeing my husband’s other band, Ladder Devils, play. It’s such a ridiculous term/concept to me. Everyone is there for a wonderful reason: they love the music and/or love the environment that the music thrives in; provides. We all want to hang out with and be liked by people we think are cool and respect. We all want to participate in music. I don’t think gender should have any weight on the output of music today. I do think that it is important to be able to express yourself however you want to. Sometimes gender, or lack thereof, has a big part in that, but shouldn’t be judged solely on that.

What’s a Legendary Divorce live show like?
It varies, but usually we get to play with great bands who end up being the loveliest people, so we’ve lucked out in that way so far. Audiences have been super kind and seem into it. Our best friends come out. We play very loudly.

What’s your favorite track to play live?
“Satisfaction!” Though, I am REALLY excited to start playing new songs out.

Are there any upcoming events from Legendary Divorce we should be on the lookout for?
We hope to have a full length finished by the end of the year which will be released on Reptilian Records. We don’t have another show scheduled until August, with The Cloth, but who knows what will come up!

Interview with Jenna McDougall, Whakaio Taahi of Tonight Alive

Photo taken from band's Facebook page.
Photo taken from band’s Facebook page.

The following is an interview in our ongoing serial “Women of Hardcore.” For more from the serial click here

Pop punk band Tonight Alive have earned themselves some serious attention over the years. They’ve played festivals like Warped Tour and Soundwave, had their song “The Edge” featured on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, and toured with the likes of Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, and All Time Low. HXC Magazine correspondent Liz Rainey recently had the opportunity to speak with Jenna McDougall (vocals) and Whakaio Taahi (guitar, vocals) at JBL Live at Pier 97 in NYC on the May 23rd date of the Future Hearts Tour. In the interview, they talk about exploring more of the U.S., the recording process of their third album, and what “punk” means to them. 

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