Hardcore music hasn't changed much from its earliest incarnation. While bands have continued to churn out aggressive music year after year; one thing has defined hardcore music more than anything: passion. Hailing from San Francisco, Allegiance is a band that epitomizing hardcore. Their music sets crowds into a frenzy and their lyrics are those that any individual can relate to. Scene Point Blank chatted up vocalist John Eightclip about the band's newest album, life on the road, and why Barry Bonds sucks.
Scene Point Blank: For those of our readers that are unaware, could you give us a brief background on Allegiance from its formation up to this point?
John Eightclip: Duane and I wanted to start a heavier sounding band, something a little angrier. When he and basically all of Some Still Believe moved down to the Bay Area from Redding we finally got it put together. That's basically how the band started. Since then we've had about a million member changes and are even still trying to figure out exactly where we stand as a band.
Scene Point Blank: Allegiance just released your second full-length, Desperation. Prior to releasing the full-length Allegiance released the "Out of My Blood" 7" single. What was your reasoning behind this? Also, how important is having vinyl releases available in addition to the CD format for Allegiance releases?
John Eightclip: We like having releases; I like to put out records. Plus, the idea is to get new music out as soon as possible. If you put it on a record, it means one more piece of music, one more piece of artwork, and one more place where people can get a hold of your music. That's important to me, and plus, it's just plain fun to have records. I like having records, I don't know if it's necessarily important to have vinyl, however, with vinyl you get to do a lot of artistic things that wouldn't necessarily be feasible with other kinds of releases.
Scene Point Blank: The production on Desperation opts for a more gritty and rough sound as opposed to a glossy production. Was it a conscious decision to have album sound this way? If so, why?
John Eightclip: This was definitely a conscious decision. Our sound has slightly changed, our moods have slightly changed and our outlook on things from Overlooked to Desperation has slightly changed. Along with that comes an angrier, dirtier record. This record came out exactly how we wanted it, nothing too clean, yet still when you put the record in, it's loud as fuck. Pretty much, 100% how we wanted to record to come out.
Scene Point Blank: Where do draw influence from when you are writing new songs for Allegiance - both musically and lyrically?
John Eightclip: I don't write the music, but I know that it comes from things like the Cro-Mags, Minor Threat, Pantera, etc. Lyrically, I don't know about drawing influence, I like to take what my friends' bands have done and elaborate on it. I also like to draw references to what other bands have done. However, I don't think I look at a band and say, "There - those are the lyrics I want to write." As for the sound of the vocals, if that's what we're talking about, I know my vocals are different, I know that they stand out, but this sound is what I prefer. There are a million bands that sound like us, and the vocalist uses a deep growl. I'm sick of that, I want something different. It seems like every time we put out a record peoples problem is the vocals. That's fine with me, I like it, and so I sing that way.
Scene Point Blank: The vast majority of hardcore bands focus their lyrical content on scene politics and social/political topics. Allegiance, on the other hand, treads different water as its deals with a lot of personal topics. Why the distinction?
John Eightclip: What affects me the most are personal things. Like anyone else I get pissed off about the current state of the world, or the state of the hardcore scene, or whatever. However, the stuff that really pisses me off or the stuff that I truly love to sing about is the things that bother me specifically. I could care less whether there are dudes that wear girls' pants in hardcore. That's style, and it will change in a year or two. I can only change what personally affects me and I only know what happens to me. I can sympathize with others, but for right now, I'm going to focus on changing myself? then we can do things like change the world.
Scene Point Blank: Lyrically, there seems to be a lot of reflection on how things used to be in hardcore. What do you miss most about the days of yesteryear? What do you miss least? What do you enjoy most about the present day hardcore scene? What do you dislike the most?
John Eightclip: On this record there are references to when I had the energy to make long trips to see hardcore shows, and when I knew for a fact that every single one of my friends would be at the show. I loved that, but like everything else in life things change. Its not a bad thing, it is just change. I am reflecting in these songs you refer to on my time growing up and finding myself in the hardcore scene. However, it's not a reference to saying that the times I'm living now aren't great. It's just a reflection on memories I have from six ? eight years ago.
Scene Point Blank: On "Summer Relief," the lyrics talk of "the three bands dying out." What bands is this in reference to?
John Eightclip: There are more than three, but I am pretty sure the original idea was Champion, Carry On, and Over My Dead Body. However, there was also another group of three which was pretty important to me, and that would be Breaker Breaker, The Damage Done, and Lights Out.
Scene Point Blank: The song "No Dice" is one of my favorite songs from your catalog. Just curious if the song was written in response to any particular incident?
John Eightclip: Not really, it just seems like some people are standing in the room, not for hardcore. They're playing around on their little Internet, talking to someone who's not at the show sometimes saying, "I wish I was hanging out with you." That's pretty much bullshit, fuck off? I'd respect you more if you just said "Oh I just came to see blah blah, now I'm going home." At least you were there for the music, not to just be seen.
Scene Point Blank: Allegiance continues to identify itself as a straightedge band ? something that is reflective in your lyrics. What makes this distinction - as opposed to just labeling Allegiance as a hardcore band - so important to the band's identity?
John Eightclip: Allegiance started out as a straightedge band; we were all dudes that had similar beliefs. What makes being a straightedge band different from a hardcore band? Nothing, except for the fact that we don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. If that turns you off from listening to us, then that's too bad. We sing about much more than just being drug free. There's much more to me than being the "straightedge singer." I'm proud of being straightedge, and so when this band plays I'll put x's on my hands. We just want to show people that we are a hard band that plays and sings about a wide majority of things. However, it just so happens that we're also all straightedge and we don't smoke, drink, or do drugs.