Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Joe Hardcore of This is Hardcore Fest

Joe Hardcore
Joe Hardcore is a really cool guy.  He puts on one of the biggest and best hardcore music fests in existence (my dad and I are going this year!!!) in Philadelphia every summer.  People from a lot of the bands I have interviewed play there.  The thing that I like about this interview is he is really honest.  People should be more honest about themselves like Joe Hardcore.  If they were, the world would definitely be a lot better.

PMAKid: You are known really well in the hardcore music world for the amazing This is Hardcore (TIHC) fest that you put on in Philadelphia every year.  I know this year it is going to be four days and about 50 bands.  How did TIHC first get started and did you ever think it would be this big?

Joe Hardcore: This Is Hardcore started after the summer of 2005 showed me that Philadelphia would be a great place to have a hardcore fest.

I'd watched as Hellfest 2005 fell apart and my friends like Sean Agnew of r5 productions and Robby Redcheeks pulled bands from it and put together some of the coolest shows all within a 2 day period in our city. With the Lifetime/108 show capping off those shows at the Starlight, we finally had a big venue that we could book in for Hardcore shows. The second thing that really wedged the idea into my mind was that Posi Numbers was no longer going to happen. Bob Mac had encountered a lot of fights and just didn't want to keep it going. Without Posi #s or Hellfest being in the general area, it seemed like there would be a decent space in the hardcore calendar year for a new fest.

I wrote a bunch of names down in a notebook I carried on tour and when I got home, I started hashing details out. I just wanted to book a fest that encompassed more then just one style/variety of hardcore and be without a lot of the hoopla that had made Hellfest go under.

I never expected nor thought TIH was big enough for the Electric Factory and I am still in disbelief at times. I am just thankful that the efforts that I put forward in building up the bill and then how hard my team works throughout the weekend, is so supported by the hardcore scene. It definitely makes each year awesome for us.

PMAKid: You get some pretty amazing bands (some of them I have already interviewed) to come out and play, but you also add newer bands that are not as big as people like H2O, Youth of Today and others. Do you see yourself as a promoter of this one big fest every year, or more promoting the scene and just keeping it moving forward?

Joe Hardcore: I feel at times that I am not just promoting This Is Hardcore as a festival but that I am promoting the culture in a way that isn't always carried out by others. A bill that features so many diverse yet all equally hardcore acts in a weekend to me, shows the new generation the full spectrum of bands and ideas that falls under hardcore's roof.
I do my best to bring the bands that are coming back for reunions along with the big popular bands now and the up and comers along with some old favorites for the new kids and old faces to see again.

Its very important to me to keep TIH as close to a true hardcore show as possible despite how big TIH has grown. The culture and the aesthetics of what goes on inside the show remains a key factor and that includes who ends up on stage.

PMAKid: Obviously, it is important to me to keep a positive attitude and most of the music I listen to is the more positive stuff. Some of the bands at TIHC are not so positive, but just plain old hardcore.  Do you see yourself as a positive kind of person?  How do you deal with crappy situations?  Can you tell me about a crappy thing you had to deal with and what you did to get through it?

Joe Hardcore: I've had a lot of ups and downs in my life and I can't say that I've always been a positive individual. Life and experiences that I've had has made me cynical and skeptic at best, but in the last few years due to some unfortunate circumstances and the silver lining within them, I've grown to become a much more positive individual. Most of my teenage years, I was involved in some level of violence within and out of the shows. The circle of violence and the world that I'd put myself in put my mind and heart in a terrible state and I am lucky to be out of that life and more importantly that mindset.

In 2006 I was arrested and charged with an assault and other offenses. Having been in violent situations for so long, it was sad and ironic that the one time I did nothing that I would be facing jail time.

That time in my life was very hard and TIH was one of the few positive things going on for me.

The result was that I'd plead no contest to one charge and I would receive a house arrest sentence and mandatory court therapy. The therapy involved personal counseling and anger management.

It was hard to believe I was officially in trouble for something I didn't do, but through the therapy and help that I got, I do believe it was a perfect time that fate would intercede and end my misdeeds and put me on a better path.

Today I am non violent aside from my martial activities within the SCA. I go out of my way to not be mad about people and I look for reasons to forgive and forget if I feel I am wronged. I can't say that I don't suffer from depression, but I have a great many friends that keep my spirit up when I am down.

Knowing my capacity for violence because of my own anger, I do my best to never get angry and I won't handle things violently anymore. It makes my whole world just suck.

I think the tools I've been taught in anger management have made me a better person and in the years between my most violent times to now, I have now began to experience feelings of empathy and remorse for other people and for what I did many years ago. Being in that bad mentality completely blocked me out from seeing how my poor judgment and quick use of violence made me a different person altogether and now after 7 years, I am very thankful that I was arrested as it completely changed my life for the better.

This is Hardcore 2013
PMAKid: My friend Sunny Singh is one of the coolest people in hardcore.  People who have never talked to Sunny know him because he puts forth so much effort to make really good videos of shows on the east coast (including TIHC).  How did you and Sunny get to meet each other and is he going to record TIHC again this year?

Joe Hardcore: I found Sunny in a garbage pail down the street from my house. He had long nearly dreaded hair and smelled like old diapers. I took him in and fed him and once I realized he was not a dirty bum but an egyptian, I gave him a piece of my carpet and he instantly levitated and flew away.....

Actually Sunny Singh is from South Jersey, which is close to my city and Sunny was a regular at our shows. In meeting with him and his want to be a part of TIH we became friends. Until he got a real job and a girlfriend, he used to sleep on my couch and make my house smell 3 day old indian food.

We have bonded over arguing about racial stereotypes in and out of hardcore, our shared love of conspiracy theories. I am amazed that he is able to hold his camera up through the entire festival.

I hope that despite the fact that he is a well to do computer scientist, that he can just live off of documenting stuff because he has a great eye and is one of the most clever, silly bastards that I am thankful to call my friend.

PMAKid: One of the things I like about hardcore is that there are people with all different kinds of views. There are republicans and democrats.  There are straight edge and non-straight edge people.  There are vegans and non-vegans.  The hardcore community seems to be kinda accepting of all these different viewpoints.  Would you agree with that?  How do you think the community should deal with tension?

Joe Hardcore: There is some basic tenets to Hardcore Punk as a whole that I find very appealing and one of them is that for a small period of a 25 minutes while a great HC band is on stage, the world is all right. The shows bring forth so many diverse backgrounds and ideas and that is something that really opened me up as a person. Hardcore is not definitive to one idea but has room for many ideas. There is enough bands over 30 years that there is discussions now on what is and isn't a hardcore band..

Its one upside is that it is a melting pot of people, I think sometimes the ideas get lost along the way but it makes me happy to be at a show and not hear the usual bullshit conversations that take place amongs strangers. The tension of conflicting ideas in hardcore is a hard one to solve, there is always two sides to a coin and I feel that both sides have the right to be expressed and also be kept to themselves. I don't want to hear about conservative or liberal views all day. I don't want to be told why if I am not vegan, I am doing something wrong etc. I feel that there is a lot of positive energy and spirit in the hardcore scene but sometimes those who have political or sociopolitical ideas have to be reminded that at the end of the day, we are all here at a show for the same reason and share a common denominator. Getting through the rhetoric to instil that idea in some people can be maddening at times, but thats how I look at it- we are all here,what we agree or disagree with matters only if you truly care what I think about.

I've learned that acceptance of everyone's race/religion also extends to accepting someone who believes different political ideas as well as just basic “I think this band is better then this band” type of hardcore talk.

PMAKid: I think that sometimes people have these ideas about people in bands based upon their lyrics or other stuff, and I think it is important that people see other stuff about people in the hardcore community.  So, can you tell me your three favorite books and why they are your favorite?

Joe Hardcore: Asking me about my favorite books is like asking me about my favorite band or movie, I have no real answer but here are three of my most beloved books..

Amongst the Thugs by Bill Buford
Having played soccer most of my life as a young kid, I've known of the european soccer violence but I had myself, no real person information on it. Right around the time that I was finding hardcore, punk, skinheads (not on geraldo) I came across this book in the store looking for a book on soccer.

I took it home and have since read it a few times on tour and have always recommended it to friends who want to read about english hooliganism and soccer fights etc. I understand now more then ever how the pandemonium of crowd activities especially in violence can take one thing and turn it into something else completely.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
When I read this book it takes me away from the world I live in. I am not reading to find out what happens at the end, but to truly envision the descriptions which are so eloquently put in this book. This book's language is one of the most beautiful I've ever read and I make everyone who talks to me about books pick it up. Its fascinating and I always able to drift into the world that was created in it, I am amazed and taken in by the language used and its a rare book in itself.

The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 A.D. By James Reston Jr.
Recommended to me by Mike Score from All Out War, who is a history teacher . I am always amazed to see how history unfolded, the way that the Church grew and how its hands were not just in the ecclesiastical world but also the political. As with all history books, it always leads me to finish reading one, look at the bibliography and buy 3 others. A great starting book if you're interested in history.

PMAKid: There were some bands and labels and other people who really helped out my elementary school with the Hardcore for Education fundraiser.  Some of them were Dan O'Mahony (No For An Answer, 411, Carry Nation and his new band Done Dying), Aram Arslanian (from Champion, Betrayed, Keep it Clear and React Records), Evan Wivell (from Mindset), Jeff Terranova (from Up Front and Smorgasbord Records), Jordan Cooper of Revelation Records and others.  The money that they helped us raise helped to pay for my school band.  How important do you think music is (especially for elementary school) for kids? 

Joe Hardcore: Music is a key element in the human experience. I am at all times in my life with music. From a child til now, music is another form of oxygen, without it I wouldn't be me, my ideas wouldn't be what they are. Instructing children in music at a young age their minds develop and they grow as people because of it and its something that with the schools having less funding is sad to think of kids who didn't get taught what I did, regardless how much I sucked... I was never good at singing nor picked up an instrument at school but I studied music from classical to knowing a lot about music, how to read it etc. I just was never very good at it and found my interests elsewhere.

Hearing music that is coming out today makes me want to puke. Its not creative or original or even listenable. I grew up in a great time for music and I have always pushed music on my children. It is one of the most important tools we can give our kids.

PMAKid: I know that you are gradually releasing the lineup for TIHC 2013, but can you give me some hints about who you are going to be announcing? Since I might be going to TIHC this year, can one of them be Judge? Please?

Well you'll have to wait to see whats in store for May 3rd. We will be dropping all but 8 bands from TIH on May 3rd.

Then we'll release the rest of the bands at our usual time May 20th.

This is not just for the build up for the fest, but also for people to have more opportunities to purchase tickets. Its something we are trying out this year and hopefully if it works we will continue it..

Thanks for everything, can't wait to see you in August...

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