New York hardcore veterans All Out War return with a new studio album Give Us Extinction, their first full-length in quite a while. Frontman Mike Score gives us the lowdown on the new disc, changes in the hardcore scene over the years, his take on Trump and other topics.
Chad Bowar: What led to the 7-year gap between full-lengths?
Mike Score: In the past seven years, we have gone back to the For Those Who Were Crucified era of the band and some members left and others returned to the fold.
Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Give Us Extinction compared to past albums?
The song writing process is much easier in the days of file sharing, so that helps out a lot. Our guitarists write riffs, record them, send them to me and I try to arrange them. Then they go to the drummer and he tells me if me arrangement can work with the drums are not. Lyrically, the new album has a much more political lean than past releases.
What led you to work with Steve Evetts, who also produced your 2015 EP?
Steve is great and since we’ve gone back to this lineup it makes sense to go with Steve. He produced For Those Who Were Crucified back in 1998 and we wanted to recapture that sound. Steve doesn’t settle and he really pushes you to be at the top of your game. On a personal level, we really like Steve and consider him a friend, so it works all the way around.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I ended up in the hospital with kidney stones at the beginning and the end of the recording, so that will probably stay with me for a long time.
How did you decide to cover Nausea’s “Cybergod”?
We love Nausea, the lyrics fit, and Nausea doesn’t get enough attention, so we decided we would go with them. We thought “Cybergod” really fit the album.
Did you struggle with song order at all?
Yes, we always do. We go back and forth listening to different arrangements trying to get it right.
There’s no shortage of lyrical subjects with the state of the world today. What did you focus on this time around?
Like I said earlier, the lyrics have a political slant. I wrote most of the lyrics during the 2016 election. I couldn’t believe that these were the two candidates to choose from. The rhetoric on both sides was unbelievable and it was amazing to me that people were buying it. It was sheep mentality at its best.
As you get older, does the anger/passion that fuels your music come from a different place than when you were young?
No, I’m still angry and I have just as much passion as ever. I’m not slowing down even a little bit.
What are you goals and expectations for the album?
We never have goals or expectations. We aren’t looking to be famous and we are not looking for recognition. We play music because we have something to say and we enjoy being in a band.
What are your upcoming tour plans?
We have a lot of shows coming up in the states and South America. No full tours per se, but we will be all over the country in the next few months.
What were some of the highlights of your recent European tour?
Definitely Resurrection Fest in Spain. It was huge and we got to see some really great bands.
How does the band’s level of popularity/awareness there compare with North America?
I think it depends where in Europe. Belgium and France have been big supporters of All Out War for years, so those shows are always great.
What do you see happening with the Trump presidency?
I see more division on the way. In my lifetime, the country has never been this divided. This could be a colossal disaster.
As someone who has been part of the hardcore community/scene for decades, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen in recent years?
I think it is less of means for social awareness today, but at the same time, I think the community aspect still remains. It would be false to say it sucks now because I just got back from This Is Hardcore in Philadelphia and it was a great experience.
A lot of the criticism I would have would be unfair to say it’s unique to this era. There has always been divisions and people ready to tear you down to make themselves feel superior in some way. It was like that in the ’90s and it still exists today.
Are there any younger bands you’re impressed by?
I like Code Orange a lot. I think it takes some guts on their part to take as many risks musically. I also like Eternal Sleep, Xibalba, Jagged Visions, Mindforce and Incendiary a lot. I think all those bands are awesome. I hope they all stick with it.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I always listen to a lot of German thrash like Kreator, Destruction and Sodom. I can’t get enough of that stuff. I have also been listening to Incendiary, the new Integrity and Black Anvil a lot lately.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Go out and buy Give Us Extinction!
(interview published August 11, 2017)