Proudly emerging from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, home of one of the most thriving hardcore scenes in the US, comes Dead End Path. Having recently released their debut full-length, in the form of Blind Faith, their refined New York sound, along with some of the most proficiently written lyrics, make them a clear standout in their genre. Punknews interviewer Faye Turnbull sat down with frontman Uriah Thomas, ahead of their show in London, covering: the new album, discrimination within hardcore, violence at their shows, and his hometown scene.
Is this Dead End Pathâs first time overseas?
Yeah, this is our first time in Europe and the UK. Todayâs the first date of the UK date of this tour in London. The city is incredible, seriously awesome. The tourâs been amazing; every night has been awesome. Itâs really surreal, it hasnât really set in yet that Iâm sitting in Europe doing this. Itâs cool. It seems like such an intense tour package, with Harmâs Way and Brutality Will Prevail.
Yeah, itâs very intense, but everyone is super chill and besides the drives being kind of crazy, the vibe is good and everyone is getting along. Itâs a really cool experience and Iâm really happy that we were finally able to come over.
Didnât you do a weird tour with Title Fight, The Menzingers and Touche Amore last year?
Yeah! 2011 was the craziest year touring, weâve toured non-stop, and every tour weâve done has been with bands that donât sound like us. We did that Title Fight, The Menzingers, and Touche Amore tour, and then we did the Bane, Defeater and Miles Away tour, and we sound like none of those bands, but it worked so perfectly. We got on with all of those guys really great. Touring with The Menzingers was really cool, weâre from the same town as them, so Iâve known them for a really, really long time, but I didnât understand where they were coming from and they definitely didnât understand where we were coming from, but it worked really well. Sometimes there were fights and stuff at the shows, and thatâs not us at all. Weâre not a violent band. We donât support that shit at all, so it was kind of awkward telling people to chill out and that it wasnât cool, but on the other hand, there were kids coming out to see Title Fight that had never heard of us, but thought we were cool, so it really worked to our advantage than to our disadvantage.
Are you in more of your comfort zone on line-ups like this?
Not really, I think it might be a little bit more of a headache and more hard to deal with, because youâre kind of competing, like whoâs going to get the craziest reaction. When youâre touring with a band like Bane, who we sound nothing like, itâs more of you doing your own thing, coming into your own skin a little bit more.
You said youâre not about violence, is it a regular occurrence at your shows?
No, it hasnât been like that here. Every night has been crazy and kids are going off, itâs more of a positive vibe. It doesnât seem as violent as at home. There are kids at home that will come to the show just to start fights. Theyâll see a band like Title Fight playing and some of their crowd is younger kids, so they bully the younger kids. But here, I guess thatâs a positive about just being on a tour with hardcore bands, kids donât really have that mindset. As far as violence goes - no, weâre not about that. We play heavy hardcore, but weâre not violent people and we donât support violence. I donât understand that mentality, I donât get behind that at all.
You released your debut full-length, Blind Faith, a few months ago; it seems to be heavily themed around religion and death.
Everything Iâve ever written has been really heavily influenced by death. A friend of mine once told me that they only write lyrics about what theyâre really afraid of, and I guess that sounds cheesy, but death is one thing that scares me so much. In every day life, I canât face it, but I can kind of face it writing lyrics. I can write about it and come to terms with it, so thatâs why I write about death a lot. The religious thing, I grew up going to a Catholic school, had that shit shoved down my throat every single fucking day of my life. I use the religious terminology and imagery as a catalyst, like I can use God as a reference for something else. A lot of people get the idea that weâre a Christian band or something, and thatâs not the case at all. People can believe what they want, thatâs personal.
Were you raised Catholic?
No, I went to Catholic school, but I was never Catholic. I wasnât raised Catholic. I grew up in a very open household, like nothing was ever forced on me; I was never forced to believe in God. I didnât do anything I didnât want to do. Thatâs why I feel like Iâm such a tolerant person. You listen to hardcore bands and theyâre not typically talking about homophobia in the hardcore scene, and growing up my mom was always told me to be tolerant of everyone. It doesnât matter if youâre gay, straight, whatever. Nothing matters how you are as a person. I think itâs made me become very aware and open, but no, I wasnât raised Catholic. Thatâs what was so weird, growing up in a very open household then going to a school where everyoneâs saying, "Believe this or youâre going to hell." Itâs crazy.
Would you say itâs a concept album?
Not necessarily, but faith is 100% the theme of the record. It has a theme. If you listen to the record and read the lyrics, faith is the constant theme in every song. But no, not a concept record. I guess itâs just faith in different aspects of life, like having faith in something and being let down by it, and having so much faith in something and wanting something to happen and really believing in it. Just everything in life having to do with faith, whether it being your personal life or the band, or questioning my faith in God, family, friends. I guess in a way, itâs a concept record.
Iâve watched a few live videos of you recently and before one song in particular, you said itâs about homophobia and sexism in the hardcore scene, do you feel those issues are still rife within hardcore?
The songâs "Never Have Heaven Ever" and that songâs about homophobia and sexism. At least where I come from, like I said, Iâve always been open-minded, but it really didnât hit me hard until I found out that some of my closest friends were gay and hearing people get up on stage saying certain words, making my friends feel like outcasts and thatâs so sad to me. That seriously makes me so sad. Like, look at me, people reading this obviously canât see me, but Iâm in no place to judge anyone. Iâm nobody to judge and thatâs why I got into hardcore, because nobody was judging me and I wasnât judging anyone else. I feel like bands have a responsibility, when they get on stage, to either not say anything or be a positive role model or person to someone who might be on the fence about something. But if youâre on stage and you encourage people to say certain words then youâre doing way more bad than good. That is a problem in hardcore today; people overlook it or laugh it off or whatever. If you were to go to a show and youâre a girl, and someone says "Girls donât fucking belong here." How would that make you feel? Youâd feel awful. If someone got on stage and said, "Get that fucking fat dude out of here." How would that make me feel? Iâd feel so awful. Iâd never want that to happen just because of who I am or who you are or what might define us to some people.
Whatâs the story behind the more melodic parts on the record?
Itâs just cool having a few different people be apart of it. On our demo, we had our friend Alex sing a part, and on our 7", we had our friends Dan and Bob sing. I just think of bands I like and Iâm like, "I want that person to sing on our record." With our LP, Blacklisted is my favorite hardcore band of the last ten years, so I wanted George on the record. We got Hoodrack from War Hungry, who are an incredible band. Itâs also cool, because it mixes up the record. I donât want to say boring, but I guess it could get boring, but it kind of adds a new flavor. Iâm a huge fan of Leeway, so Nickâs part on the last song was huge. I love Georgeâs part, it reminds me of a Blacklisted song and I like Hoodrackâs part, it reminds me of a War Hungry song. Itâs just something Iâve always wanted to do and something weâll continue to do, always.
Dead End Path is obviously heavily influenced by New York hardcore, but your lyrics seem to have a lot more substance than your standard New York hardcore bands.
You can listen to a band, and if theyâre heavy and have mosh parts, then thatâs great, and I know I keep referencing Blacklisted, but George is an incredibly lyricist who makes me want to listen to the lyrics, and I wouldnât say Iâm anywhere near his league, but they really mean a lot to me and thatâs just my way of contributing to the band, writing the lyrics. If people think theyâre cool, then thatâs awesome.
Youâre from the Wilkes-Barre scene and there seems to be a lot of pride being apart of that.
Oh, yeah. 100%. It kind of sucks in a way, because a lot of people feel that weâre elitist or trying to outcast people, but thatâs not it at all. We have a lot of pride in where we come from with a lot of really great bands. Weâve had a crazy hardcore scene for a really long time, even before my time, just going on forever. Itâs just a small town that has a lot of pride in their hardcore scene. Everyone wants to identify with something, whether it be a sports team or you go to fucking Yale or Harvard, you want to identify that. Itâs just cool having pride where youâre from.
I know a lot of people from that scene are straight edge, are you?
No, and this is a huge misconception. I get asked about it every single day of my life. No, Iâm not straight edge, but some of the dudes in my band are. Thereâs actually more straight edge people in Dead End Path than none, but me and the guitar player arenât. Most people assume that Iâm straight edge, because of the bands I listen to, the way I dress and the people I hang out with. I listen to straight edge hardcore, itâs all I listen to. I hang out with straight edge kids, theyâre all I hang out with, so thatâs where I guess people get that idea.
Do you mostly just listen to hardcore?
Oh God, no. I love hardcore; itâs my life. Hardcore is life. I love it, it means so much to me, but itâs not the only thing I listen to. A lot of the times on tour, the last thing I want to listen to is hardcore. I mean, to me, hardcore is the energy of a show. You go to a show and you just feel the energy. A lot of bands write great records, you could listen to Bad Brains, close your eyes and just picture how crazy it is, or the Cro-Mags or Straight Ahead. You listen to those bands and I feel the energy through the record. Iâve listened to more hardcore this year than I ever have, Omegas, Soul Swallower, The Boston Strangler, all of these bands put out crazy good records last year, but so did M-83 and all of these other bands Iâm into. Title Fight is my favorite band, ever.
Most of the bands emerging from Wilkes-Barres seem so young.
Iâm 24, but most of the kids in Wilkes-Barre are now between the ages of 15 and 19. The band United Youth, for example, the singer is 16, some of those dudes are still in high school or fresh out of high school and just got into college, so itâs really cool. Wilkes-Barre hardcore was definitely at a low point, maybe 2-3 years ago, then we got a venue and all of these young kids started coming out. They go to every hardcore show and see every band that comes through, so itâs a really cool time to be from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
There seems to be a lot of âhypeâ bands coming from there too, with people buying their merch on eBay for crazy prices - pretty similar to Brutality Will Prevail over here.
Yeah, Brutality are very aware that kids are into that shit. Us too back home, I see it with us, Stick Together, all of the Boston bands like Free Spirit, The Rival Mob, itâs crazy. I donât know if itâs kids who donât go to shows and just buy it on the Internet, I donât know what it is, but itâs weird. With Brutality, I see their lines every night, kids just waiting by their merch, itâs kind of crazy.
I saw on your Twitter that you recorded a song for Americaâs Hardcore Compilation 2.
Yeah, like a week before we left for this tour, we recorded with a friend Will - he did our LP, the Title Fight LP, Blacklisted, Mother of Mercy, War Hungry. He recorded the song for the comp and itâs a lot different to anything weâve done. I think our LP is different than our other shit, and I hate to keep bringing up Blacklisted, but if you look at Blacklisted from the start to finish, every single record is different. Every record got better and better, in my opinion. So, Iâm not saying I want to sound like Blacklisted, but if we could keep progressing more and more with record. If you look at bands like Rise and Fall or Rhythm To The Madness or Justice, every single record was different. So, the song is different and everything we kind write from now on, is going to be a little bit different. But yeah, itâs for Americaâs Hardcore 2. Itâll probably be out by the summer. We have a 7" coming out on Back To Back this year and hopefully a 7" coming out on Lockinâ Out as well.
Do you have anything else to say before we finish?
I love hardcore. I love punk. I love The Stone Roses. I love Latterman. And I love London; the city is fucking amazing.