Perseverance is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Scott Earth, singer of NJ's Silence Equals Death. In 2012 when this website was just getting its feet wet Scott sent in his bands 4 song CD titled "Resurrection" and it warranted the solid review that it got. Shortly after I got that CD the you know what started hitting the you know what as band members started dropping like flies for various reasons and each replacement seemed to be replaced by another replacement. This revolving door situation went on for a few years but that perseverance paid off as Scott eventually assembled a solid lineup and earlier this year they put out their debut full length titled "End Times" which is easily one of my favorite releases of the year and is currently on heavy rotation on the In Effect iPod. Since "End Times" was released SED has been an even more motivated group, pushing their name and music out there to anyone who will listen and not just sitting around waiting for opportunities to find them. We caught up with SED's frontman Scott Earth to get more on the bands dark period as well as their plans going forward in this July 2017 interview.
IE: Hey Scott. Way back in 2012 you were one of the first people to actually send in a physical copy of their band’s music to be reviewed on In Effect Hardcore and that was in the form of SED’s “Resurrection” EP. At the time I thought I was getting in early on what I thought was going to be the next big hardcore band after hearing it but not too long after that you had this almost revolving door of band members with people joining and then leaving shortly after. Things with the band seemed to come to an almost standstill. I honestly thought that at some point you would throw in the towel because it had to be a good 3 year period with this situation and that had to be deflating to you. So my first question here is... how did you keep this SED thing going during that time?
Scott: For me it's about passion. I don't find anything else in the world that compares to playing and creating music. It's not only a distraction from the daily grind of being a human, but a reward when you perform or create something new. You also get that special comradery with the people who you create and play with. I'm a big Doors fan and in the movie Robbie says "We had some moments on stage like no one will ever fucking know". That's where my head is at. Things have kept going enough for those moments to remain fresh enough that it keeps the push going. Keep in mind though, in the midst of the past few years my wife was dying of cancer so the music was still happening, but not a true focal point where it could manifest into what it has today. The goal has always been the same, to touch on all genres of music and keep it under the hardcore umbrella. I guess the band was created in reverse as the template of the “Resurrection” EP was set then the band was filled in around it. Not that it was a solo project as 3 of us who helped write the songs played as SED in the beginning, but I had a clear idea of what would be SED's path and it was set with those songs. What we have now is 5 guys who share that same vision, but who also take influences from all over the map. From death metal to jazz, we use what moves us in creating our new material without losing that idea of our roots.
SED AT THE STANHOPE HOUSE, STANHOPE, NJ APRIL, 2017
IE: With the revolving door of band members what kind of stories, characters, and situations were you encountering during this time in the bands history?
Scott: The revolving door truly is amazing! I often tell people that SED is a jump-start to anyone who is lost in life. We've had a few guys come in and tell us "I have no job, no girl, live at home, music is my life". They'd be gung ho for a few weeks then the hammer always comes down. "Guys, I got this great opportunity, but I'm going to be working every weekend night. But I'll still play in the band"! Haha, yeah because that will work. We've had a guy get engaged and move hours away. A couple had kids. One guy decided to move away to start a new life. One started a company. One guy had a degenerative disease that made him lose his hearing. Another guy's wife was transferred to Chicago. Our current guitarist was our drummer, but decided he wanted to play guitar instead, so we luckily found Ryan to play drums. And of course, a few came in and liked the music but then wanted to change what we were so they eventually left and started a new band in that vein. So yeah, it's been crazy to say the least! All in all though, we're on good terms with 95% of the guys and even play shows with their bands. Sometimes things just don't work out, as long as you are adult about it, and don't bitch on Facebook, there is no reason the people who come and go can't be cool afterwards.
IE: Another thing that I have to give you credit for is the group that you assembled has pretty much mirrored the style and sound that the “Resurrection” EP had and expanded off of it as well. It might not be widely known but the original recording of the “Resurrection” EP is the last 4 songs of your current album "End Times" and the sound flows from the “End Times” songs right into the old EP. When you were going through the turnstile of different band members how important was it for you to keep that core sound that you created on that 2012 EP?
Scott: My original goal and the goal of the core guys we have now has always been to stay true to what has been set. By no means does this mean to pigeonhole ourselves, but if you envision a tree, the songs are the branches which can go off in different directions. The band is the trunk where the foundation is solid. What we play can be interpreted so differently by whoever listens. I love that people have a hard time describing what we sound like. With that said, I think to a large degree my vocal style and sound will always keep SED sounding similar. Often when writing we play riffs without me singing over the music and we talk about how certain ideas with a different singer would sound like a completely different band. This is one thing that drives me crazy in hardcore. We do some pretty hard breakdowns where if we had a throaty beatdown type singer people would want to kill each other. But that same breakdown is viewed as "punk" by those fans simply because I'm not screaming to "fuck each other up". I don't think we are afraid to try anything slightly out of the box these days because when it's done somehow it still finds its way back to "our sound". I'm proud of that.
IE: "End Times" is your new album which came out in April on Eulogy and the release of this album has given the band this new energy of sorts as you guys seem to be everywhere popping up on many shows within NYC, radio interviews, featured tracks on two compilations, a new music video and who knows exactly what else. These must be exciting times not just for you but for the entire band but also at the same time must take tons of personal time to set up. Is all of this promotional work split up amongst you all or just some of you and can you go over some of the things the band has currently in the works.
Scott: It is such an exciting time for us. This touches back on what I said earlier about passion. We're very lucky to be receiving some payoff for all the hard work. Trust me, it's not lost on us how this doesn't happen for everyone no matter how hard one works. The best thing for me personally after all the years of struggle is that SED has 5 hardworking members. Finally! The thing that sets these guys apart from the past is that they have all been through some crazy personal issues and have stayed the course throughout. I guess that shows the character of who they are and the drive to succeed. It's funny you ask because recently we divided up some of the different aspects of promotion between us so things run more streamlined. Also, when the CD first came out we hired Earsplit Public Relations to help get us started. They work their contacts to get bands press all around the globe. That is pretty amazing for a bunch of Jersey guys jamming songs in a garage.
After the release of “End Times”, we were approached by Tripsquad Records to do a hardcore comp CD. Now anyone who's been around knows that comp CD's used to be all the rage, but then it turned into something anyone with a computer could do by assembling bands and throwing the songs on a website. The whole concept totally lost its appeal. But Tim had a great idea. Take current bands and have them record a NEW unreleased song for the CD. Honestly I was skeptical if that many bands could pull it off but, they did and Tripsquad has a kick ass CD with bands from around the globe that we are psyched to be on. As for our contribution, we wrote a song called "Ghost" for the CD. As we were getting ready to record it, we had another song that was pretty close to being finished also called "No More Ashes". We wound up recording both of them but decided “Ghost” would go on the CD as it showed our diversity in song writing and wanted to showcase that as our first release after “End Times”. I also play bass in the band Crime Scene who also has a song on the CD. Soon after, SED was offered a huge opportunity by Terrorizor Magazine. They press 40 thousand copies of their zine which is distributed all over Europe and the USA and each one comes with a free CD. Luckily we had “No More Ashes” ready to go and it is in the June issue, You can get it at stores like Barnes and Noble. We just put the song up on the web so it is available to everyone, but I think having the song and our picture in a major zine is really cool. We also just shot a video for the song “Peacemaker”. We're really psyched about it and it’s just about ready to roll! Hopefully it will be out by the time this interview is up. We're currently working on getting “End Times” pressed on vinyl. We're not sure which label will do it yet, but hopefully we'll have it ready by the fall.
WATCH SILENCE EQUALS DEATH'S "PEACEMAKER" VIDEO BY CLICKING BELOW
IE: Where does the band practice. How often do you guys get together and are new songs coming together fast for the band? Who have been the main contributors when writing new material and how many new ones are there since the release of “End Times”?
Scott: We usually split time between my place (I have a complete rehearsal studio in my garage) and a place in Clifton. We all live far from each other so we certainly don't jam as much as we would like. All of us have recording gear, so the usual scenario is one of us comes up with a song and sends it out to the rest. We all jam it and come up with tweaks. Then when we get together we try out any new ideas for the song we might have. The cool thing with us all being of the same mindset is things have been real smooth with writing since the 5 of us got together. As for new songs, just the 2 songs I mentioned above are done. On my computer I have 6 songs in the works and the other guys have sent over partial songs here and there. We've been focusing on playing and promoting what we have right now. Probably after the summer and things die down a bit we will start to focus on new material.
IE: Why did you choose the name Silence Equals Death for this band? At the time you decided to use it were you aware of the gay activist group from NYC that started in the late 1980s?
Scott: I honestly don't recall where I heard the name. For a while I swore I made it up, but I am sure it was in my subconscious. Back when the band was first starting to manifest it was a very dark time for me. My last band was really doing well, but then imploded and broke up, my wife was diagnosed right around the same time and I lost my job. We all have social media where we can scream about our problems, but for me it never felt like enough. I love the connection with real live people, I love being able to stand on a stage and express views that someone might not have otherwise thought about and occasionally enlighten them. Most of all being able to literally scream out your frustrations is second to none in dealing with what life throws at you. The feeling of being shut out was overwhelming. The drummer I had at the time was also in my last band with me, plus his other band broke up around the same time. The bassist we had was in the band with the drummer, so we were all feeling that musical loss. It just seems like a logical name. I know for me personally, not to have this outlet was something that truly felt like a huge void in my life. I was not aware of the gay activist group until we started distributing our free sample CD's at shows. After being made aware of them and what they stood for it was something we embraced because it touched on what we were about just in a different realm.
SED AT LUCKY 13 SALOON, BROOKLYN, NY JULY, 2016
IE: When you dig into the SED “about” section on your Facebook it says in part "evolve our revolution for modern injustices to keep our voices strong and take power away from those in control". Nowadays you don't often see hardcore and punk bands with such strong beliefs. Care to get into this a little bit more?
Scott: I've always been a little different in life and have always embraced that. Growing up other boys who would act like "boys" would hurt animals to show they were tough and I would be against it and make no excuses for feeling that way. I grew up with a cousin who I was close with who happened to have a black father, so I never thought much of race. However, there was no shortage of people saying "nigger" all around me in my life. I remember I had a t-shirt with MLK on it that said "End Racism". I can't tell you how many times I had to defend myself when wearing it in public. So this brings us back to the question above and the gay rights group. I am not a blind optimist, but I do think we can change the world if we really wanted to. You always hear that change has to come from within, which I agree with, however, many are so closed off to accepting truth or legit information that they ignore diversity and the reality around them. You can't exclusively watch FOX News or MSNBC and think that you have the full "truth" of the world. Even with the internet and the wealth of information out there, it's so easy to sit on the computer isolated from different races or sexual orientation and form opinions about them which is why I think big cities are more liberal. To expand on that to politics, we stick our heads in the sand and keep electing bought and sold politicians who enforce bullshit laws that often only appease special interests. Lyrically I want people to hear my words and to think about the injustice of the world. I want them to get motivated to get involved and pay attention. We put these people in control and we have the power to take it back. It amazes me how you can watch the news and see foreign citizens fighting police in riot gear hoping to change their country, while we have to keep coming up with new ways in the USA to practically beg citizens to vote. From my first introduction to hardcore I have heard people like Lou from Sick Of It All and Zach from Inside Out/Rage Against The Machine, and they have always stood on stage and said meaningful words and tried to make an impact with the forum they have. That's what I want to do, that's what SED as a group is all about. It starts in your own bubble, but you must speak up, you must take control otherwise things will continue to get worse. Bernie Sanders was a guy who really connected with the youth. His politics aside, he inspired the young people of this country to get involved. Right in front of our eyes the people were told "no", and he was pushed aside. THIS is exactly the type of thing that SHOULD ignite a revolution. Should...
IE: What bands were you looking up to when you first got into hardcore music and made you want to make a statement along with the music? Were there particular bands and particular songs that drove you to want to write lyrics that were more than just being angry and pissed off?
Scott: Before getting into hardcore I was a metal guy. Loved lots of death metal back in the day… Slayer, Venom, Possessed, Death and yes, even early Metallica. I knew of some bands like Minor Threat, but it wasn't until I finally went to a CBGB’s matinee that I realized that bands were just guys like me. The songs of satan and corpses were fun fantasy, but to meet and hang out with the bands and then to hear them speak was truly life changing. My buddy was good friends with Supertouch so we hung out with them a lot. Mark Ryan would talk about unity in a way I never thought of. He also sang lyrics of how we are polluting our planet and against racism. Topics I too cared about. Then I was exposed to Uniform Choice and Youth Of Today and it was another shift for me. Being young and hanging out with nothing to do you fall into the trap of getting a bottle to drink or some pot to smoke. Minor Threat was one thing, but these bands took it to another level of saying "It's ok to be different in that way, it's ok to shout to the world that you care". I think the entire hardcore scene had an impact on me because it is so diverse in what it has to offer. I mentioned Lou from Sick Of It All earlier. To this day I reference him on stage because he taught me the one thing that has meant the most to me about hardcore… unity. They will fire up a song like “Injustice System” where it's pure anger at those who continually fuck the American public, but at the same time he will tell you "look, we are all in this together, if you knock someone down, turn around and pick them up, fight them out there, not each other". That's the major impact I felt. That's what I want people to feel when they hear my words.
Just to expand on that a little, I'm feeling like that aspect of hardcore is being lost. There seems to be a bit of "hero worship" happening in our scene and I gotta tell you, it's disturbing to a guy like me who's been around a bit. The roots of this scene are exactly what I said earlier, the bands are the fans, the fans are the bands. I simply don't understand this meet and greet autograph signing mentality. How do we differ from pop music if we are freaking out in the presence of a band member? I completely understand admiration and respect for a person’s craft, but to what extreme? I saw a kid post on Facebook how when he goes to see a band he likes on Warped Tour he might cry. The first comment was from another kid who proudly proclaimed "I bawled last time I saw them". Do kids today not understand these are simply guys playing some songs? Has hardcore moved into the same mindset as pop music where young people view a person on stage as a god? How disturbing! I don't want anyone looking up to me, I want them standing side by side with me ready to take on the world. I want people to read my lyrics and listen to me talk between songs and to think about what I say and form their own opinions. Our goal as a band is to bring back true unity. Don't bash young kids who don't understand what it's all about, teach them, embrace them, keep building so the scene continues on with integrity for years to come.
IE: For people outside of New Jersey the state’s image is often defined by things like the Sopranos, Bruce Springsteen, and maybe Atlantic City and the shore beaches. Have you lived your entire life in NJ and what is Jersey life particularly like for yourself and where you are from?
Scott: I grew up in Garfield, a mostly middle class town of Italians and Polocks. Which I happen to be half and half. Sadly enough, towards the end of my time there they started placing welfare families in the town because they ran out of space in neighboring towns. One would think many of these people would have taken that has a great opportunity to start a new life in a town not riddled with graffiti and crime, but, over the years they have continually dragged it down. I wound up moving to Tenafly in the late 90's to live with my girl and have been here ever since. It's a very upscale area in the north east corner of NJ. Granted I'm a bit out of place, but the more people I get to know the more you realize that we are all the same. Everyone is simply seeking to be happy and get by. Some just happen to make a better living and have more expensive toys. Having traveled all around the country and a good part of Canada I can say without a doubt I LOVE it here in NJ! So many only see NJ from the airport to maybe Giants stadium. My area alone is filled with trees and parks, and we're not even close to the farms and beautiful landscapes in the west and south. For me the best part of being here is the easy access to everything! Within a 2 hour radius we have skiing, boardwalks and beaches, NYC, Great Adventure, Action Park, race tracks, a bunch of pro sports teams, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, farms, lakes, the list goes on and on. Plus we have a thriving hardcore scene! Not to forget, we have diners that stay open 24 hours! Seriously, the rest of the country doesn't need cheese fries at 2am?!?! As for me, my life is pretty average when not playing music. Since it's just my 10 year old son and I at this point my focus is on him most of the time. Skateboarding, fire pits, general bafoonery.
IE: What does everybody in SED do for jobs and does work and possibly family obligations stand in the way of future touring possibilities? Are there plans to get this band out on some tours or just weekend type of things? What about playing outside of the US?
Scott: 3 of us have kids so extended touring isn't an option for us. We are looking into extended weekends and if we could pull off a few weeks in say Europe or even something like the Warped Tour we'd definitely explore it. Main problem is, we're all working class people, so taking time off means no pay and no pay puts a strain on bills. 3 of the guys are in IT. What exactly they do is beyond me haha! I'm a carpenter and the other guy runs maintenance at the crazy house.
SED AT THE BLUE ROOM, SECAUCUS, NJ DECEMBER, 2016
IE: Any last words here before we wrap this up? Thanks for your time Scott!
Scott: Thank you so much for being supportive of SED from the beginning. It's not often you come across people in this biz who have their heart in the right place. I feel like In Effect does it for the love of the music and we really appreciate that. And thank you to everyone reading. I do what I do because I love it and I hope my words express how much everyone's support of the band means. Follow us, become part of the change we need to see in the world, show the scene and the establishment that we can band together to make a difference. Become part of the revolution!