FENCE CUTTER PERTH AMBOY, NEW JERSEY
New Jersey’s FENCE CUTTER are right in the middle of the resurgent central New Jersey hardcore scene. They got started in January of 2017 and in that time they have released a 4 song demo (May, 2017), a 6 song EP (June, 2019) and have played close to 50 shows playing with bands like Floorpunch, Cro-Mags, Vein, Blind Justice, and Raw Brigade. The band consists of: Avery- guitar, Derrick- guitar, Juan- bass, Jason- vox, and Sterling- drums. Avery also plays in another up and coming NJHC band called Brute, while Juan and Jason also split time with Ambush. Their latest EP called “My Environment” was released as a very limited cassette (also on Bandcamp) by New Morality Zine and it simply rips. In his review of the new Fence Cutter EP In Effect writer Dave Cafferty said: “Fence Cutter delivers a well needed kick in the ass to a scene that is choking with clone bands. The music is fresh, full of substance and shows promise for sustainability”. I have to agree with Dave’s assessment of this band while also pointing out that they seem to have really ramped up the amount of shows they play in the past year or so. Let’s find out more about Fence Cutter from Avery and Jason in this August, 2019 interview. Above photo by: Jason Zaleski.
IE: What’s up guys? There was an advertisement/flyer put out leading up to your “My Environment” EP that asked the question… “Remember Hardcore?” I want to start off this interview by asking you guys that very same question…. Do you remember hardcore and what is the essence of “real” hardcore in your opinion?
Jason: Hardcore has never died and has always been alive and well in New Jersey. It was more of a head nod to the OG Floorpunch flyer since we played with them a few days after posting that. Hardcore is about having fun and doing bands/shows all for the core. Not for personal gratification.
Avery: Hardcore in a sense is about being yourself and keeping it authentic. No extra BS or gimmicks.
IE: Fence Cutter is from Perth Amboy, NJ which is just across from NYC’s Staten Island. What was it like growing up in Perth Amboy and how did you and your friends find hardcore music?
Jason: Growing up in Amboy is pretty cool. It’s a small city with a bad rep but it’s really picked itself up the past decade (after superstorm Sandy). Growing up me and my friends would spend most of our free time skateboarding in abandoned buildings and docks along the water and when we discovered hardcore we felt the music, message and imagery was all for us. My boys mother came home once with Terror stickers for whatever reason and since listening to them, we started feeding each other with bands we found in the recommended section on You Tube.
Avery: I grew up in a small suburban town on the other side of the Raritan Bay from Amboy. I think I got into hardcore out of sheer boredom since there was literally nothing to do where I grew up.
FENCE CUTTER @ LOT 13, BAYONNE, NJ JUNE 7, 2019. PHOTO BY: CARL GUNHOUSE
IE: Who were some of those early gateway bands that got you started on your way and what were some of the earlier shows you went to that made you want to find out more and more about this music?
Jason: Rotting Out, Cruel Hand. Suburban Scum were the band all the kids in hardcore were talking about when I first got into it. I saw them open up for Senses Fail and after that I just went to every hardcore show I could.
Avery: Rotting Out, Terror and Turnstile were big ones for me. I was always into earlier hardcore and punk stuff like Black Flag, Minor Threat and The Descendents but being able to see that kind of music in a live setting was what really got me into it. I saw Rotting Out open up for The Story So Far and about a year later I saw Turnstile play at Game Changer World.
IE: What was the actual motivation to get this band started? Was there a light bulb over the head moment where you thought to yourself “I want to start a hardcore band?”
Jason: We straight up just wanted to start a hardcore band. Also wanted to do a band just to get more friends and locals to come to shows. It was a goal to get shows back into Perth Amboy.
Avery: We all knew each other from going to smaller basement gigs and we thought it would be fun to play said basement gigs.
STREAM OR DOWNLOAD "MY ENVIRONMENT" BY CLICKING ON THE COVER BELOW
IE: The “My Environment” EP is a really well put together EP song structure wise and with your playing as well. When you think back to the earliest practices and the infancy stages of the band compared to what you are doing now what are some things that immediately come to mind?
Jason: What immediately comes to mind was how bad we sucked! Haha!. We did not know what we were doing at all but some of my favorite shows we played was when we first released the demo... so I don’t know.
Avery: Since those days we’ve definitely got our shit together in terms of song writing and stage presence.
IE: What do you remember from the first Fence Cutter show? Where and when was it? Who else played and how would you say you guys did?
Jason: The first FC show was some random bill our homie Edgar put us on last minute in Trenton. Honestly can’t remember who it was with but we played 3 songs and a Product Of Waste cover. It was a lot of fun.
Avery: Our drummer at the time was at a wedding reception nearby right before we played so he played the set in a suit and immediately went back to the wedding.
IE: New Morality Zine put out the new EP out on cassette back in June and was a very limited release. Does the band have any plans of releasing “My Environment” on any other formats like vinyl or even CD?
Jason: Probably not. We liked how the cassette was very limited. We are most definitely trying to get our next release on vinyl. Labels if you’re reading this hit us up!
IE: What kind of topics are you touching on with the lyrics on “My Environment” and where does motivation usually come from when you go to write a song? Do band members other than Jason get involved in any way with lyrics and do you think a band has to have everyone on board with a particular song’s message for it to be as real or authentic as possible?
Jason: Most of the lyrics come from the feeling of failure and trying to get out of a personal hole that I’ve dug myself into. Past friendships as well as problems with the media/government. The motivation comes from listening to some of my favorite lyricists in hardcore. Freddy Madball, Ant Money (E-Town Concrete), Terry from Product Of Waste (RIP). I usually do the lyrics, then Avery helps touch ‘em up to make ‘em flow perfectly. We used to have past members help out with lyrics and all that and it didn’t work out really, so it’s just me and Avery for now but I do believe the whole band has to be on board with the message we are trying to push, every song. For example… why front a straight edge band if one of your members is not? I wouldn’t make a song about how I’m straight edge for FC, it just doesn’t make sense.
Avery: I check Jason’s grammar.
IE: I wanted to bring up the name Fence Cutter as well as the bands graffiti inspired imagery with your logos and artwork. They kind of go hand and hand and give Fence Cutter an urban/street feel when you look at the cover and see your flyers. Where did the name come from and who is behind the majority of your artwork?
Jason: Honestly, we wanted a name that nobody has taken yet. It was just a random name that came across in a convo and we all thought it was good. A lot of people openly hate on the name which i can respect... but if you do just make sure you tell all your friends how sick we are. As far as artwork goes, I’ve always had a thing for urban photography and graffiti. For the EP cover I took the picture and our friend Morty did the lettering, and Ridge from Life’s Question did the layout and made it look pretty. All our artwork otherwise is done by our friends.
IE: The New Jersey hardcore scene has this young and rejuvenated vibe going on right now. I have seen a bunch of younger bands coming up and venues like E-Bloc and Copa De Oro on flyer after flyer. Give us a rundown on what is making your area in New Jersey a spot to keep an eye on as far as hardcore music goes.
Jason: There’s a lot of kids in Central NJ that currently give a shit about hardcore and want to get more involved. I love it… New Brunswick, Howell, Edison and Perth Amboy are all hotspots where a core group of kids are coming out of. Most of the shows are well attended, weekday or weekend. There has been less division lately and more unity in our scene.
Avery: Lately it seems like every show we have there is a kid I’ve never seen before. It’s sick!
IE: As you know hardcore bands come and go on a regular basis. Do you see anything with the group you have assembled here that feels like it could be a long ride for Fence Cutter where you continue to do this band for years to come?
Jason: I definitely see it. But I really don’t know. Only time will tell.
Avery: We’re a hardcore band so I don’t want us to drag it out for years and years but I would definitely like to see where the band goes for the foreseeable future.
IE: If you guys were given a hardcore time machine that could send you back in time or anywhere for that matter what bands would you want to play with? Give us some scenarios that would blow your mind if you knew you were going to play. I personally see you guys fitting right into the Coney Island High and Wetlands (90’s NYC venues) types of shows that would often see bands like Crown Of Thornz, 25 Ta Life, District 9 and others of that ilk playing on a regular basis.
Jason: I can see that too! Dream scenarios for me personally would probably be something along the lines of E. Town at Birch Hill in Old Bridge New Jersey or OG Cro-Mags lineup at Club Krome in South Amboy… oh also any show at Stelton Church in Edison.
Avery: Stelton Church in Edison.
IE: Upcoming in September are a few dates up in Canada. Can you talk about these dates and other upcoming shows like the final Back To School Jam in Jersey City in September?
Jason: Our homie Ron got us on a show in Syracuse with Billy Club Sandwich and Hangman. We are cool with the frontman of BCS and he asked us to play with them the next day in Toronto. We made friends with GAZM this summer and they are hooking us up with a show in Montreal the day after. It’s all of our first times going into Canada besides just walking over Niagara falls so it’s gonna be really fun. Back To School Jam is gonna be sick too... it’s really cool to be playing the last one. We are also playing Amboy on September 26th and Wilkes Barre/Baltimore October 26/27th. I’m extremely excited for those shows.
Avery: I’ve been to Quebec City when I was 10 but I’ve never been to Toronto or Montreal before so I’m excited for that!
IE: To date most of the bands shows seem to be close to your home base in Jersey. Do you see playing further out from your home area and for longer stretches as a realistic possibility going forward with Fence Cutter?
Jason: We want to and we will plan something eventually. We all have school/work so weekends will do for now. If anyone’s reading this and wants to book us out of state, hit us up!
Avery: If this Canada run goes well I think we’ll be more adventurous about playing far away. There are a lot of places we haven’t been to yet that I really want to play.
IE: Aside from the upcoming shows we just talked about what’s next for Fence Cutter? Are there new songs already written and when can you see a follow up release happening?
Jason: We are currently writing stuff for a follow up EP. “New Jerusalem”. Expect some new Fence Cutter music in 2020.