Tell us about the new single “Western Thirst” – the message of the song, the recording process and direction the band is going musically.
The song was conceptualized as a response to the media coverage of the Cuban protests in the summer of 2021. It got me thinking about how sovereign nations are economically and, often, militarily, punished for not allowing their land, labor, and capital to be exploited for profit. I went further down that rabbit hole and explored the concept of US and even British imperialism from the sinking of the USS Maine up to the endless wars in the Middle East. The tagline of the outro is a play on the saying “the sun never sets on the British empire” and the entire song reads like a satire of Rudyard Kipling’s imperial ode “The White Man’s Burden.” Musically, I was playing around with that chugging-tremolo riff on guitar and just built it from there. I wanted the song to musically represent the next era for the band and give a taste of everything in the pipeline in a tidy 2-minute bite. There are elements of post-hardcore, d-beat, and some groove metal in there.
Your first record was an acoustic/singer-songwriter record, deemed “anti-folk” by the press, you then released some singles and covers including classic tracks by Dead Kennedys and Elliott Smith, then your second record “Margins” was straight hardcore punk with melodic elements, and your last 2 singles “Precision Grooming” and now “Western Thirst” are heavy hardcore tracks with elements that borderline metal qualities. Explain the evolution of Scary Hours’ sound, and why you kept the same name with such different sounding records.
I’m just in love with music and have been as far back as I can remember. It’s an extension of who I am. At the risk of sounding trite and pretentious or whatever, my brain just started working differently when I got sober over two years ago. There was a lot of getting to know myself again and I got back in touch with the classic hardcore and punk records that initially inspired me to start playing music. Who says you can’t be a singer-songwriter and make heavy music? My idea for ‘Margins’ was to never spend more than 30 minutes writing the music for each song. Any time I got stuck, I just thought “what would F-Minus do.” But my favorite moments on that record were the heavier parts on songs like ‘Worthwhile Victims’ and ‘Shell Beach’ so I’ve tapped more into that headspace for the last batch. My listening tastes have changed as well. Joe from PVR changed my life when he held me hostage and made me listen to ‘Master of Puppets.’ The bridge of ‘Cost of Living’ is a blatant nod to ‘Battery’ by Metallica. I have fallen in love with thrash metal, beatdown hardcore, and even some deathcore. Discovering Knocked Loose and Incendiary through the Hate5six YouTube channel changed my life as well. Feasting on all this incredible music woke up this part of myself that made writing fresh and exciting again. So, when you hear a new Scary Hours song, you’re listening to me making new musical discoveries and sharing them through my own lens.
Two of your videos got pulled from HCWW (Hardcore Worldwide) youtube channel due to “violence and nudity” – which is clearly utterly absurd, you include some war and protest footage, but it is all content from news broadcasts, and one video was just the band in a basement performing the song. I tend to think it had something to do with the “Precision Grooming” cover, which shows Derek Chauvin in a KKK hood, even though that imagery was not shown in the video at all. It seems you are unsettling some people, and now you release a song shredding American imperialism. How do you feel about all this?
I feel conflicted sometimes because I would hate to think that I’m traumatizing anyone by sticking a klan hood in their face while they’re scrolling through social media. But that’s what Chauvin is, that’s what this country’s justice system defends, and that’s what the right rallies behind. I feel a pure hatred and devastation in my heart and this is the image my mind’s eye conjured and John Steinheimer fucking nailed the execution. People are unsettled? Were they unsettled for the sentencing? Are they unsettled by the news? I’m pretty unsettled, myself. Scary Hours, even in its ‘anti-folk’ phase, has always been rooted in anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, and anti-capitalist rhetoric. I don’t do this because it’s fashionable, I don’t do this for likes or retweets, and this isn’t some bullshit signal of virtue. I do this because this is my safe place for me to scream and express my anger and sadness, to make myself accessible to allies, and to interact with comrades. If you find any of that unsettling, opt out; I suppose it’s not for everyone.
I hear you have a band together and are getting ready to start performing.
Yes, I’ve reconnected with some friends from past projects and met some new folks and finally rounded out the lineup. I’m looking forward to getting out and playing shows without hiding behind a guitar and it’s a good excuse to just hang out with like-minded individuals like the guys on my team. I’m gonna refrain from dropping any names until we are show-ready, but it’s looking really positive right now.
What new music is coming from Scary Hours in 2022?
We are dropping a new single April 15th called “Sackler Street” which is about the opioid epidemic. We are looking to release another single “Suffer Peacefully” on May 20th for Malcolm-X day. I’m sitting on a full-length which will be out sometime this year, more details to follow. The music is fun, fast, and chaotic. People can expect more sociopolitical commentary, but there’s some deep personal stuff in the lyrics, too.
Check out the new video for the single "Western Thirst" and a playlist of songs that are currently or have been inspirational to SH sound and message below: