Much like the internets, hardcore is serious business. Don’t believe me? Just go to the MySpace pages of 1000 bands labelled hardcore and marvel at all the folded arms and stern looks. Still don’t believe me? That’s fine, but I’m warning you, my crew has my back. Yet, if you did want some evidence to refute such claims look no further than Minnesota’s In Defence. Their debut full-length Don’t Know How to Break Dance is filled with a mixture of fast-paced `80s thrashy hardcore punk and `80s NYHC. While their songs are presented in a ultra-serious / pissed off fashion á la Judge or Negative Approach, the content couldn’t be further from serious with song titles like “Veronica Mars, Bringer of War."
Hardcore has a lot of parallels to aspects of life and cultures other people might not immediately recognize. For instance, hip-hop’s seeming obsession with keeping it real or keeping it old-school, etc., can be seen as analogous to hardcore’s obsessions with staying true and tradition and all that jazz. “Boombox Crew” seems to address this similarity by combing floor punch-inducing chugging riffs with lyrics like: "Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five / You know we’re here to keep that tradition alive / We got some cassettes don’t know how to break dance / Just looking real mean with our hard stance." If you’ve ever been to How’s Your Edge you’ll see folks listing their twelve Bane hoodies and the eight versions of the same Set Your Goals album or some such nonsense. To me this always reminded me of the over-commercialization of the comic book industry in the `90s with issues having a million different die-cut super embossed covers. In “No War But Star Wars” In Defence channels their own inner sci-fi / comic convention nerd into a raucous ode the to holy trilogy with a blistering quick solo and infectious gang vocal chant of “no war but Star Wars!” they make ridiculous into seriously good.
But I digress: The album isn’t all breakdancing and Chewbacca. In Defence tackle some serious subjects as well, such as veganism. However, it might not be what you think; “I Eat Kids” is a hardcore interpolation of one of children’s musician Berry Louis Polisar’s songs -- you may have heard one of his songs in the opening credits to "Juno" (that’s right, the ubiquitous pseudo-indie wunderkind has found its way into a hardcore punk review; if you don’t like it, better watch your back because my crew has mine). The issue comes up again in what could be this generation’s “Straight Edge” in the form “Get Mock!”: "Get mock / get mock / get mock / get some mock duck / It tastes freakin’ awesome / and it’s not really duck / Get some mock duck." Beats the hell out of Earth Crisis’ “Eden’s Demise” if you ask me.
In a way, In Defence pay more respect to the hardcore of yesteryear than a ton of bands talking about staying true ‘til death because they seem to recall that hardcore punks started out with a great sense of humour that seemingly succumbed to some smiling smear campaign. If you don’t enjoy your music with a sarcastic tongue-in-cheek bent you’ll probably hate this, but if you at least don’t mind it and like `80s hardcore and NYHC you’ll probably like this because the music plain rips.