New Jersey's political hardcore activists Scary Hours spoke with Idioteq about five speeches and lectures that helped shape their new record 'Symptoms of Modern Hegemony'...
Rooted in heavy hardcore punk with metallic tinges of thrash and beatdown (think Knocked Loose and Counterparts meets Slayer meets Minor Threat), new Jersey Hardcore band SCARY HOURS are releasing their debut album “Symptoms of Modern Hegemony” on July 29th so we’re giving it a closer look with a special insight on some of its lyrical inspirations.
A menacing, crackling sample burns slow like the tinder that revolutions are built on; a dissonant sonic explosion, and then a vehement onslaught of rhythmic indignation from a singer with a scorching predilection for social enlightenment: “Somebody taught you to hate your skin, somebody taught you to hate your lips, somebody taught you to hate yourself from within for the state that you’re in.”
You’re about one minute into “Symptoms of Modern Hegemony” the newest auditory upheaval from New Jersey’s Scary Hours, set for release on July 29th 2022 by our buddies at Pyrrhic Victory Recordings.
The album, recorded at singer/songwriter Ryan Struck’s home studio over the course of the last year, is rife with moments like this, as poignant as it is profound, as catchy as it is heavy. But the lyrical topics aren’t just of a political nature; the album also addresses personal issues like grief, addiction, and isolation with one consistent message for anyone anxious about the future, whether it’s personal or political: “We scream louder when we scream together.”
“Much of the lyrical content revolves around the current US political climate, but not in a preachy way; it’s all about how marginalization and exploitation affects us personally.” – comments the band.
Top 5 speeches & lectures that influenced the creation of the album:
MARIO SAVIO – “THE OPERATION OF THE MACHINE”
My introduction to punk and hardcore came mostly from Fat Wreck/Epitaph’s brand of 90’s skatepunk. One of those bands was Good Riddance, whose song “Article IV” from their album Operation Phoenix contained a sample from Mario Savio’s incredible 1964 Sproul Hall speech. Savio likened himself and his fellow Berkeley students to raw materials in the eyes of the university. This was my first exposure to the idea of solidarity: in sheer numbers, the underclass can maintain control if we align our interests and unify.
MALCOLM X – “WHO TAUGHT YOU TO HATE?”
Malcolm’s poignant and enlightening work continues to go unmatched. He was able to reach the hearts of the disenfranchised and marginalized with his fiery approach to civil rights issues through a philosophical lens. This 1962 speech, in addition to his “Message to the Grassroots” speech, informed much of the vernacular and ideology of the opening track “Suffer Peacefully.” You have been conditioned to hate yourself, to believe that you are a second class citizen, and you live as though you deserve to be treated as such. You are supplied the means to your own demise by the capitalist class. It doesn’t matter that you suffer, only that you do it peacefully. Shortly before Malcolm’s assassination, he had begun to draw similarities between working-class and civil rights issues; this focus would later serve as a foundation for the Black Panther Party in addition to the works of Marx and Engels. With the growing wealth gap, continuous savage police brutality against entire BIPOC communities, and those who worship at the altar of Trumpism and authoritarian sympathy, we need Malcolm’s words now, perhaps more than ever.
MICHAEL PARENTI – “EMPIRE AND NEO-IMPERIALISM” LECTURE
I had first heard Michael Parenti speak when I was a kid hearing Choking Victim for the first time, and I honestly had no idea what he was talking about or who he was, and I didn’t care. When I got older and began diving into the topic of US imperialism, I found him and recognized his voice. After 9/11, this guy kicked into overdrive and gave tons of speeches and lectures pertinent to the forever wars in the Middle East but he hit a lot of other history along the way, zeroing in on the West’s demonization of sovereignty and how it relates to working-class struggles. The topics of this particular lecture would go on to inspire, amongst other ideas found on the record, “Western Thirst.”
DR. RICHARD WOLFF – “OCCUPY THE MIND”
In January of 2012, economics PhD Richard Wolff joined a panel to discuss the Occupy movement that started near the tail-end of 2011. He opens the speech with a firebomb analogy that likens aspects of slavery to aspects of capitalism; I noticed this video making rounds on TikTok and Instagram lately. The entire speech communicates the stark perils of the capitalist system as a result of 30+ years of stagnant wages and rising productivity combined with crippling credit card debt. “You do not need a PhD in economics, although I have that, you don’t need it to understand if what the employer gives you is flat for 30 years, but what you give the employer goes up for 30 years, it’s bad news for you and good news for them.”
BOBBY SEALE – “10 POINTS OF THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY”
Bobby Seale speaks at a rally advocating for Huey P. Newton’s release in 1968 after Newton is charged with manslaughter following the killing of a police officer during a traffic stop. He outlines the 10 demands of the Black Panther Party, modeled after Marx’s 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto with an emphasis on neutralizing militarized police action against black communities. The speech was met with a standing ovation. These ten points were vital in creating a basis for community programs needed to help the black and working-poor, notably the children’s breakfast program. Bobby Seale’s diatribe on savage police brutality and systemic oppression remain sadly relevant today.
Lastly, Idioteq asked the band to share some of their top sonic inspirations for “Symptoms of Modern Hegemony”. SCARY HOURS have put together a nice handy Spotify playlst to address that and now you can rock it below.
You can listen to all the tracks and the speeches here: https://idioteq.com/revolutionary-sounds-5-speeches-and-lectures-that-helped-shape-influences-symptoms-of-modern-hegemony-by-nj-hardcore-band-scary-hours/