Over the years hardcore music has branched out and includes so many sub-genres that it is hard to keep up. While some bands stay more in line with hardcore’s punk rock roots others like New York’s All Out War have gone completely in the opposite direction forming a band that showcases its love for both thrash metal AND hardcore. The result has been a brutal mix that has gained the band a very loyal following since they started in 1991. There was a breakup back in 2010 with a resurrection in 2013. Since the re-start they have a couple of releases out including the “Give Us Extinction” full length which has been out for a week now on Organzied Crime Records. In Effect caught up with Mike Score, singer for All Out War in this August, 2017 interview…
IE: What’s up Mike? Where are you at this very moment and what do you think you would be doing if we weren't bothering you with these questions?
Mike: Hi Chris. Right now I just got back from Long Beach Island and I would probably be either pitching softballs to my daughter or chasing my son around. At this point in my life I am either playing shows with All Out War, doing the family thing, or working. There is really little time for anything else.
IE: All Out War has a new album out now on Organized Crime Records called “Give Us Extinction”. Give us a little background on it and what was behind the delay with its release?
Mike: When we reformed in 2013 the writing came really easy, so many of the songs started to be written around the time we were working on “Dying Gods”. After not playing together for so long everything just really clicked and the writing came fast. We started recording “Give Us Extinction” last August and planned on finishing it in three weeks, but we stupidly booked a bunch of shows around that time. This slowed the process down and then, on top of that, I ended up in the hospital twice with kidney stones. In the end, we only got 10 songs done, one of which was going to Decibel Magazine for their flexi disc series. We didn't want a nine song album, so we went back in around November and recorded three more. We decided to record “Cybergod” by Nausea because we are all big fans of that band and we thought that Emily from the Straphangers had the voice to match up with Amy's so we recruited her to come in and do those vocal parts. By the time everything was mixed and mastered it was April....and there's the delay.
IE: This is the bands second release in a row with Organized Crime Records. Is it safe to say that Organized Crime is the new home for the band?
Mike: We've been friends with Clint for over 20 years and we know what to expect from him and he knows what to expect from us. We don't need him to break the bank for us, but we know he is going to put the work in to make the album a success and he knows we are going to get out there and do our best to push the record on our end. Clint does a great job getting it out there. The songs make it onto Liquid Metal (satellite radio) and Clint got Dave from Earsplit on board with promotion, so we are happy with the way everything is working out. The album is already getting positive reviews from Decibel, Revolver and Stereokiller, so we know it's making the rounds.
ALL OUT WAR @ THIS IS HARDCORE 2016. PHOTO BY: ANNE SPINA
CLICK PHOTO TO LISTEN TO THE NEW AOW TRACK "BURN THESE ENEMIES"
IE: Like a lot of bands with members in your age range there comes this point where families and jobs start to take priority over the band which in the grand scheme of things is a no brainer. It seems like this band has reached that stage to a degree but you still are probably pushing a little bit more than many of the other bands in similar situations. One example of that is the fact that this new album with 44 minutes of material came out close to two years after your last release. Add to that a recent short Euro trip and other weekends lined up like the one you have set up in October playing Flyover Fest with one day in Oklahoma and then the next day in Chicago. What are your thoughts and your bandmates thoughts on scaling things back a little to accommodate personal responsibilities as opposed to your younger days when it probably was a lot easier responsibility wise?
Mike: We are really appreciative that people are willing to fly us in to do shows all over the world. We have been able to play some huge festivals in both the U.S. and Europe. Sometimes it's very difficult to make people understand that we can't do every show/tour that is offered. We all have demanding jobs and families. Those things will always come first at this point. People sometimes take it as a slight when we turn down things, but it's just not always something we can make happen. We are just glad that we can still play music and still do the band now going into our 26th year. Everyone in the band is committed to do as much as possible in order to keep this going.
IE: Who in the band has kids, how old are they are what kind of day jobs is everyone in the band holding down?
Mike: Jesse, Andy, and I all have young children. Mine are 5 and 8, Andy's daughter is 2 and Jesse's daughter is 4. I've been a high school history teacher for 16 years. Jesse is the head of a chemical containment unit for IBM. Andy is a social worker. Erik is a project manager for a construction company and Taras paints houses and plays in a million bands.
IE: You guys took an extended hiatus a few years ago. When did that hiatus start and what were the circumstances behind taking a break in the first place? Going in was it looked at as some time away from one another or was it a full on band split?
Mike: We stopped playing shows in about 2010. Life just got in the way and everyone in that line ups heart didn't seem to be into it, including my own. I think it was looked at as a split at that point and, I think, everyone else saw it as a split if they were to be honest about it. It was nothing personal, it was just not fun and it wasn't really working at all. That line up made much better friends than band mates. Musically we didn't see eye to eye and we also had many disagreements on the direction the band should take. Whenever it starts to get to be more of an obligation than a band, it's time to move on. I think it was more of an obligation to everyone involved at that point. It really became like going to a job for everyone involved.
IE: Who was the person most responsible for All Out War getting back together after the time away?
Mike: Joe Hardcore called me and wanted us to play This Is Hardcore in 2013. There was starting to be some tension between some of the 2010 line up members so Joe suggested the “For Those Who Were Crucified” line up. I hadn't played with those guys in years at that point, but I thought it would be a fitting way to put the band to bed. It seemed appropriate due to the fact that the band reached its most success with that line up to go out with those guys and play one last show. Erik reached out to the other guys, we got together, buried old grudges, and had a blast. At that point we weren't sure if we wanted it to all end there. We started to get more offers to play and decided that if we were going to play shows we should write new music. Almost five years later, here we are. The writing process has been great and we have so many offers coming in for shows and tours.
IE: You are from the Hudson Valley in upstate NY... nowhere near NYC's fabled Lower East Side or other boroughs within NYC that pumped out so many hardcore bands way back. With that said, while growing up what were your introductions to underground heavy music. How did you and your friends discover the underground music scene?
Mike: Growing up there was (and still is) a cool record store called Rock Fantasy in Middletown NY. We bought records there and read the thanks lists to find other similar bands. I think the three bands that opened the doors for most of us up here were Carnivore, Agnostic Front, and Cro-Mags...or some similar combination. We also traded tapes and read fanzines to find other bands. If you were lucky enough to have older friends, that worked too. Living in the no mans land between Albany and NYC, you definitely had to put in some work to discover cool music and not be a slave to the mainstream.
IE: What were some of the earliest records you remember getting into and first shows you can recall going to?
Mike: After your typical metal records, just like most kids at the time, thrash came next. Early on I went to see Metallica, which led to Slayer and Anthrax, which led to Nuclear Assault. It was Nuclear Assault that turned me onto Agnostic Front, Carnivore, and Cro-Mags. We would go to Streets in New Rochelle, L’amours, and, strangely enough, City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. I say it was strange because City Gardens was so far away for us, but for some reason I had some older friends who loved going there. We would take the long trip down there maybe once a month. Two shows that stand out from City Gardens was Nuclear Assault with Broken Bones and UK Subs and D.R.I. with Kreator. Around that time we started to go to CBGB and the Anthrax in Connecticut. I really got into hardcore at that point, but never lost my love for metal. I've never been a hardcore purest and that would explain All Out War's sound. I was always a big fan of bands like Nuclear Assault, who I thought were great at mixing the NYHC sound with thrash.
ALL OUT WAR @ IEPERFEST 2015. PHOTO BY: AGA HAIRESIS
IE: What were the early days of All Out War like as far as developing your sound and style? All Out War 2017 is this absolute beast with a heavy style that sees you guys just as comfortable at the New England Metal Fest as you are at This Is Hardcore. Was the vision in the early days to do what you are doing now or were there more traditional hardcore ideas being kicked around?
Mike: That was the plan from the beginning, to be a band that blended both styles and just be as heavy as possible while still maintaining some aspects of hardcore. The band started in 1991 with myself, Karate Chris from Merauder and Sam Carbone (RIP) and Tom Connelly from a band in Newburgh called A.W.O.L. We were all fans of Cro-Mags and Leeway, but at the same time loved German thrash like Kreator and Sodom. The vision was always to mix those bands and just be heavy. The final result, we've NEVER fit in anywhere. We have always been too metal for hardcore and too hardcore for metal. Even in the 90’s, when so many hardcore bands were playing "metal" ...bands like us, Confusion, Starkweather, and Darkside NYC never fit in with any of those bands. We always did our own thing and I wouldn't have it any other way. Even though All Out War was on Victory, we really never blended with a lot of the bands they had on their roster. All Out War never tried to hide the fact that we were influenced by metal.
ALL OUT WAR @THIS IS HARDCORE 2017. PHOTO BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI
IE: Getting back to the new album, can you give some insight as to the title, its message as well as the cover artwork? Who did the artwork for it and was the band directly involved in how it came about or was it just drawn up without any input and you felt it matched the feel you were going for?
Mike: Alexandre Goulet from Quebec did the artwork. He also did the artwork for “Dying Gods”. He's been great to work with and, basically, it's been a team effort. He sends us his ideas, we give him some ideas, he counters with other ideas and, eventually, we come up with the final version. It's a long process and I'm sure Alex wants to kill us at points, but, it all works out in the end. We wanted something ugly and depressing to fit the lyrics and the music. I think we achieved that goal.
IE: Some of the song titles off of “Give Us Extinction” make me think back to my pre-hardcore days when I was a big fan of thrash metal although not always the imagery that came along with it. “Ingesting Vile”, “From The Mouth of Serpents”, “In Praise Of Leeches”, and “Worship The Cancer” are some of the titles off the new one that come to mind. When you are writing lyrics where do you usually turn to for topics and or inspiration?
Mike: This album in particular, I focused on the state of politics in the United States and the overall mind set we are starting to develop as a people. I wrote most of the lyrics during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign and it was such a joke watching it all go down. From the candidates, to their supporters, to the elite who came out and voiced their opinions...it was just a sad joke. The entire time I was thinking, this is the best the country has to offer? Then came the commentary on social media....from both sides. It was just a train wreck. Hence the name, “Give Us Extinction”. With this record, I touched on much more political themes than I ever had in the past.
IE: When you look back at this bands history what are some of the accomplishments that bring you the most pride?
Mike: There have been a lot. Getting to play CBGB’s, putting out records, getting to tour the U.S., Europe and Japan have all been great, but I think the biggest accomplishment has been all the friends we have made all over the world. I was able to meet my wife through playing shows and some of my best friends have come from playing shows. It truly is a community and one I am honored and proud to be a part of.
IE: What about past live shows that really stand out? Over the years some memories do fade but I am sure you also have some good ones you can remember either in the best show, worst show and craziest show categories...
Mike: There have been a lot of great shows and some not so great shows. All the shows Ralphy put us on at CBGB were always a lot of fun. We played the Continental once and Sob (RIP) threw a bar stool at the bar and the club flipped out on me....I'll always remember that one. Another show that really stands out for me was a benefit show we did for Chris Baldwin at the Rat in Boston. It was us, Wrecking Crew, Blood for Blood, Reach The Sky, Earth Crisis, and One King Down. We always had a lot of fun hanging out with the Boston people. Any shows with Buried Alive and Reach the Sky were also always an adventure. We did so many tours and shows with those two bands.
IE: I have never played an instrument and have never been in a band. Can you describe how you feel in the days and weeks leading up to the release of a new album that you have been working on for a very long time? Do you have a lot of confidence that people will like it? What are some of the worries or concerns as the days get closer or is it more of a carefree feeling for you?
Mike: I think you are a liar if you say you don't care if people like it or not, but at the end of the day, you have to write music you like. There is always a certain amount of stress that goes into releasing an album because you are putting something you created out there, but I think we worked hard on it and, at this point, it is what it is. So far, all the feedback has been awesome.
ALL OUT WAR @ IEPERFEST 2015. PHOTO BY: AGA HAIRESIS
IE: All Out War has already did the time away from the band thing a few years back as we talked about earlier. How do you see this whole thing continuing now though? Can you see All Out War continuing to write new music and play out as often as you are now?
Mike: I think we are going to keep going the same way we have over the past four years. We've been doing this so long and I don't see us stopping anytime soon. This has been part of us for over half our lives at this point and we still love doing it.
IE: The album is out now… what’s next? What’s the schedule look like for the upcoming months and the rest of 2017? Touring? A music video maybe? Also thanks for your time and your continued support throughout the years Mike.
Mike: We will play in the states as much as possible and try to hit the places we've missed the last few years, go over to Europe in March, and, hopefully, hit Japan again. We also have plans to release another EP by April, so be on the look out for that. The writing will continue and the live shows will definitely increase. I also want to thank you, Chris, for the interview. I have been a big fan of In Effect for years now and it is really cool to be included in the zine.