When it was announced earlier this year that Terror had signed to Victory Records to release their forthcoming album Live By The Code, it surprised many. Having heard so many unsavory stories about the label circulated from various bands over the years; what led one of hardcore's most prevalent names to sign to them? Punknews staff interviewer Faye Turnbull chatted with outspoken vocalist Scott Vogel about the band's decision, Terror's turbulent relationship with Century Media, reiterating how The Ghost Inside and Refused are "fake" bands and a load more.
You recently signed to Victory Records, and you said it's cool, because you're a fan of the older bands that were signed to the label like Strife, Earth Crisis, etc. However, over the past few years, I haven't really heard a single good word from bands on their roster – Streetlight Manifesto, Comeback Kid, A Day to Remember, etc. Did that not make you a bit skeptical and hinder your decision at all?
For the first part, yes. I definitely like a lot of old Victory bands. I mean, I'm friends with Comeback Kid, but I've never talked to them about their record label situation and I don't know what a Streelight Manifesto even is. I'm not really worried about what other bands are doing and saying. I have to worry about myself. I know every label that I've been on throughout my life, there's been good and bad. I think whatever label you're on, it's always greener on the other side. You're always thinking that you're getting the short end of the stick. I just know more than anyone Terror's exact situation with Century Media and how this whole thing happened. It was just the right thing for us to do. Who knows? Maybe next year I'll be on their side saying it was a bad move, but right now, I'm very excited and hoping for the best. I think it will be cool; so far it's been great.
I know that Emmure had a crazy deal with them, having to release an album every year for five years, you haven't signed anything like that have you?
No, it's nothing like that. The other thing is, I think a lot of bands like that, I can't speak for them and I'm just assuming that when they signed their deals, they were a little bit younger and were just excited to get a record deal – I could be wrong. But for us, I've been doing it for a long time, I knew the things we needed in the contract and the things we didn't need in the contract. I don't want to turn it into this huge deal. Terror wanted to put out a record on a label that was excited and was going to do it right, and I think we found the right label. We're not at the point where we're begging someone to put out our record, so we figured out what we needed and we got it.
To be perfectly honest with you, our plan was to put out the record ourselves and we really fought with Century Media for six months to try to put the record out ourselves, and they honestly just wouldn't let us go. They wanted a lot of money to let us out of our contract, so when that option was not possible, we came up with the plan that we thought was best. The record is coming out in the US on Victory, on Century Media in Europe and Reaper Records are doing the vinyl, so it's a pretty wild web that we've weaved, but it's also very interesting. The last record Keepers of the Faith, in my opinion, was a really good record and we put it out on Century Media in the United States, and they had like one ad and you couldn't find it in stores. It was really disheartening.
For a band like us, to work as hard as we do, and I'm not saying we're the biggest or best band, but dedicate our lives to and to put out a record and for it to just not get any sort of push hurt. It feels like shit. The new record was done June 3 and it's now eight months later, because we didn't want to release another record again for it to not get any sort of push. I say to you, and to anyone who knows about underground music or Terror, if I saw Terror signing to Victory, I'd be like, 'What the fuck?' too, but if you really knew the ins and outs of it, you'd understand.
That's weird about the lack of push, because it really seemed that Keepers of the Faith rejuvenated your fan base, a lot more kids seemed to get into you with that record.
Yeah, I don't want to talk Century Media, I'm just being honest. In Europe, they did a good job, but could you imagine if they actually did something with the record? From a United States standpoint, everything you saw about that record was Reaper Records and Terror grinding, thinking and brainstorming. They didn't really do anything. Could you imagine being me and doing all that and having a big record label like Century Media do nothing for you? It just wasn't okay.
With Keepers of the Faith, you experimented quite a lot, you wrote your first love song ("Shattered"), dabbled in some grunge ("You're Caught") and was very well-polished. Would you say your forthcoming album Live By The Code goes back to your roots or have you experimented again, as I listened to "Hard Lessons" and it sounds a lot more old school?
I think it's both. I'd say it's back to the roots, but also we've been a band for a long time, so we definitely try new things at the same time. There's not a love song this time. Well, there's like a positive love song in a negative light.
You're known for your onstage banter, Vogelisms and stage dives – do you sometimes feel people regard Terror as bit of a novelty?
I mean sometimes I feel like the focus is on stupid stuff, which takes away from the actual meaning of the band, but either side-by-side or on top of those stupid things, people always know Terror is – whether you agree with it or not – a band that has something to say and we have a meaning. I think those things are funny for a minute then become corny. It gets stupid and takes away from the meaning, but I think the real essence of Terror is always above those things.
There's a 'tough guy' image associated with Terror and your shows are always very physical, heavily advocating stage diving and moshing. I saw you play in London a couple of years ago, and you stopped the show in the middle of Keepers of the Faith because a fight broke out and you refused to come back on stage to finish the set. I didn't think you would be so anti-violence.
I don't think advocating stage dives and moshing is advocating violence whatsoever. I think stage diving and moshing are kind of a positive release of energy if you're doing it in the right mindset. I think if anyone's stage diving or moshing and the word 'violence' is part of it, then they don't know what's going on. To play a song like Keepers of the Faith and have people fighting, it's like going jogging while you eat a candy bar. It just doesn't make sense. We play so often that I don't recall that incident, but good for me. I'm glad we didn't finish.
I also saw you at Groezrock in Belgium last year and you didn't play your last song. Instead, you gave the band Take Offense 10 minutes of your set time. I think it's cool that you're still involved and enthusiastic about the hardcore scene when a lot of older bands become jaded and don't really care about any other band but their own.
Thank you, Faye. I do actually care and actually like a lot of new bands like Take Offense. They're a great newer band, we're friends with them and we were on tour with them. The festival said that there was no room for them to play and we had an hour, so we gave them 10 minutes. I guess you're right, a lot of bands don't care and are focused about themselves, but it's kind of fun to do stuff like that.
I read in another interview that you think the hardcore scene is becoming saturated, can you explain what you meant?
I don't know what exactly I was saying in the interview, but there are so many bands and when I was a little bit younger, there was like one show a month or every three weeks with a band from out of town, another band from out of town and two local bands. You'd look forward to that. Now, it seems that everyone tours and everyone in the world is in a band, it just seems like going to a show is like going to a mall. There's so much and when there's too much, it kind of takes away the beauty.
I've noticed there are a lot of newer hardcore bands who seem more keen on releasing videos, having managers and releasing merch before even playing a show – do you have an opinion on that?
Yeah, I have a strong opinion on that. I don't think bands really need a manager or booking agent until they actually know what those people are doing. I mean, if you're getting to a point where you tour so much or you're so valuable that you can't do the job yourself, that's when I think you need a manager or booking agent. But when you're just getting a booking agent or manager, because other bands have them and you want to look like you're important, I think you're doing it the wrong way. I think every band should go out themselves and book their own tours, make those connections and understand what it's like to tour and how to book a tour instead of putting your heart in someone's hands that you don't really know or understand concept of what they're doing for you. I think it's a hard thing.
On the other hand, maybe I'm a hypocrite, because within the first year of Terror we had a booking agent, but I think that's okay since it was the person who booked my band before Terror and knew the ins and outs of what it entailed. Also, as soon as Terror started to play, we were on the road immediately and continuously, so in some ways I think it's okay, but if I say this to other bands, I've got to look at what we did and we had a booking agent pretty fast.
A few months ago, you called The Ghost Inside "a bullshit hardcore band"- what did you mean by that?
I just meant that they claim 'hardcore' and write it all over their stuff and talk about it, but I lived in LA for 10 years and for the last year and a half as I've been dating a girl over here, and I never see those people at shows, ever. Maybe if Stick to Your Guns played a show, they would be there, maybe. But I've never seen those guys supporting the hardcore scene and their definition might be different to mine, but when I'm talking about hardcore, I'm talking about the hardcore scene that I believe in.
I mean, I'm not the know-it-all, I don't always do the right thing myself, but I also know that I'm someone who believes in the scene and when I have something on my mind, I'm going to say it. First of all, it's insane to me that I can say something to a crowd of 200-people in the UK and that's all anyone can talk about for the next week. Do people not have anything better to do than that? But at least, I got everybody to think, is the Ghost Inside worth their support? I'm sure a lot of people said yes and I'm sure a lot of people said no.
There's a song on the new record called "Nothing in Your Head" and it's basically about how no one in the hardcore scene says anything anymore. There's a line that says: "Keep telling me your life is hard, I've heard it before and wonder if yours was." I see all these kids that have a Northface jacket, look pretty clean-cut and happy, then they start bands and all they talk about is how hard the world is. That can sum up most of the bands that are out right now, but is the world that hard for them? On top of that, isn't there anything else to talk about? My point is, whether you agree with me or not, at least I'm saying something that's getting people talking and thinking.
I don't really remember why I said it, but at that point I thought it was necessary to say that The Ghost Inside is fucking fake. Did I want it to turn into this whole retarded Internet drama? Hell no. I don't hate them; I just think they're fake. Just like Refused. I don't hate them; I just think they're full of shit. Sometimes you've got to say something and, of course, when I say something it opens up the floodgates of "Terror's a generic hardcore band, Refused are such amazing musicians." Shut up. That's not the point; I didn't say they couldn't write good songs, I just said they're fake. Both of those bands to me are fake and I'm sure to a lot of people Terror is fake; that's fine. I'm sure people say "The Ghost Inside is fake, but you signed to Victory Records? You're a hypocrite." It's all fine, at least people are thinking.
I don't know what it's like in the US, but here in the UK, the 'hardcore' label is probably more popular than ever. Those people who were into bands like The Ghost Inside, Stick to Your Guns, etc. a couple of years ago now act like Mr. Joe Hardcore in their Terror sweatpants, maybe you caught onto that.
I didn't notice that, maybe because I'm not over there enough. Stick to Your Guns is a hardcore band to me, because I know they care and I see them at shows, Jesse at least. They're completely in their own right of being open to criticism; they do some questionable tours and stuff like that. When it comes down to it, a band can play any style and tour with anybody, but at the end of the day, if you support the hardcore scene, then you deserve support from the hardcore scene. A lot of people ask why I consider Title Fight a hardcore band, and to me, no matter what style of music you play, if you're a hardcore kid that represents hardcore then you're playing hardcore to me. That might seem far-fetched, but if a bunch of hardcore kids get together and make noise, then that's hardcore.
You've just been on tour with H2O, I remember when I interviewed Toby Morse a couple of years back and he claimed that "Terror is the hardest working band in hardcore," how do you feel about that?
I guess, I don't know. It sounds like we deserve a free vacation. We actually just had two months off and it was wonderful, but as sad as it is to say, there's five people who live off Terror, so it would hard to take six months off. We work pretty hard and we're pretty fucking busy. I don't know what other bands do, but I know a lot of bands that tour a lot. I'm trying to think of a band that comes to mind that can challenge our work ethic… Sick of It All is pretty fucking busy, Hatebreed is pretty busy. Fuck it; Terror is the hardest working band in the world.
Your touring schedule is insane, when I interviewed you a few years ago; you said you get drunk before every show. Is that still a thing?
Not every show, but it's a fine line. When I go on stage and I haven't had a drink, I feel like I have less energy, as sad as that sounds. I like to put a little fire in the tank, before we play. It's not a good thing.
Are riders not a problem? Especially with the amount of alcohol you're given on a daily basis.
Fuck yeah. It's a problem. It sucks. I don't know, we play so often, but I've done month-long tours where I don't drink for the whole month. It just depends on what's going on with my life and the tour. On certain tours you're with bands where you like to get rowdy with and certain times you're like, "I don't want to drink right now, I want a little more focus."
I think I'm done, is there anything else you want to touch upon?
No, I think you had a plethora of questions that touched upon every aspect of Terror – drinking, The Ghost Inside, Victory Records, posers.