South Florida is a place unlike any other, geographically isolated and culturally diverse, so there is no surprise that the hardcore bands it produces are undeniably unique and authentic. Having experienced seeing South Florida bands in both my home city and in Florida, it’s an experience of its own.
MOMENT OF TRUTH is a band that has managed to stay under the radar even though they're stacked with South Florida staples but they are constantly thinking of ways to separate themselves from the new crowd of bands playing heavier hardcore. After a very successful 2019, the band's EP release was delayed by COVID, and with the turn of the new year, they’re looking to find their footing once again with the release of A CALL BEYOND.
I didn't want to review this record as I’ve been sitting with it for the weekend and being too close to the source so I found myself in a spot of observation.
* * *
How many bands have you guys played in together?
Burke recounts all the bands he’s played in with all the different members from 2015 to the most recent which I lost count of after 7.
Who is doing the majority of the writing? Or is it a collaborative process?
Burke: There are some pretty stubborn people in the band.
[Burke proceeded to cough and call out the name of another member of the band]
Sven: Some songs have more collaboration and some do not.
Do you think it’s a good thing to make music with stubborn people? Doesn’t it produce a better product?
[Sven goes on to say that everyone in the band is stubborn and agrees that they get a better product because of it and the loudest and most awful noise comes through his microphone]
Sven: Sorry, I’m in the shower.
Burke: I will say this, in the writing process I always want to give up but at the end of it when we put something out I’m always happy with the result. It’s a lot of work but I always feel satisfied with it.
The demo was released at the beginning of 2019, then the split with Kruelty in October, 2019. Have you been sitting on this new material for a while?
Burke: We’ve been writing throughout the pandemic but we talked about it coming out last February but it was not feasible.
[I start to move on to another question]
Sven: I’m so sorry but I have something to add to that as well and I’m finished in the shower.
[Faint noises of water droplets hitting the ground are coming through the mic]
Burke: Oh, he was actually in the shower!
Sven: I was shampooing my hair while that other conversation was happening and I just turned off the water, but what I wanted to add to the question of us writing and sitting on it. We had ideas recorded, very abstract ideas, which about half made their way into songs, since about the early months of the pandemic. Our original thinking was to release it when shows came back so we didn’t have a concrete timeline of when we wanted to have the record done because we didn’t want the possibility of it getting buried if other bigger bands released at the same time.
Yeah, it’s a weird time right now because shows are sort of back but some are getting canceled, so it’s probably hard to gauge when shows will be back 100%
Sven: Yeah at the beginning of the pandemic we were all under the impression we’d be playing shows again in six months.
This is a question for Burke, when did you start recording the instruments and how long did it take?
Burke: We started a few months ago and we recorded over two days. I never really understood why bands take longer than a month in the studio to do shit but we probably just think differently.
Sven: I’ve been with Burke in the studio enough times to say that he is great and capable of first taking solos and 3 taking entire songs. We definitely record very fast, but writing I’m not so sure.
What is the hardest thing about being in this band?
Sven: Dealing with Cejas’ Twitter fame, but more seriously I would say getting things done is a little bit hard because we’re all very particular but also knowing how we’re going to do things is also a cause of a lot of friction because there are a lot of heavy bands out there. I also think we want to be different enough to stand out because the last few years have been big years for heavier bands so we try to be particular about how we do things so we can try to stand out in a meaningful way.
I was looking for live sets of you guys on YouTube and wasn’t able to find anything, have you guys played any shows yet?
Sven and Burke together: We’ve played 3 shows, yeah.
How did they go?
Sven: We played one show at Space Mountain, another at the weird venue that’s someone’s house, an aftershow for FYA, and also the Edge Day show in Tampa, Edge or Not Day show.
Burke: So 4 technically.
What do yall argue about the most?
Burke: Certain parts of songs, shirt designs, a lot of things.
Burke, how long have you been playing guitar? I know Sven started learning since Elegy started.
Burke: Since I was like 13 or so. Freshmen year of high school.
What is the dynamic between you guys when you are writing for guitar?
Sven: Elegy started when I proved to Burke that I could handle playing a song. I learned Die by the Sword by Slayer and showed it to Burke and told him we could be in a band together now. The Elegy songs were collaboratively written, Burke wrote about 85% and I wrote the rest but I would essentially edit his ideas and if I had an idea I would try to hum it out to him.
Burke: I’ll say this if I write something with Sven 99% of the time we’re on the same page.
Sven: We grew up listening to the same music at about the same time so our taste is pretty similar when it comes to deciding what is cool and what isn’t.
How do you guys deal with writer’s block? Do you need to step away from writing completely or do you try to work through it?
Burke: What Mikey and I do, since we have writer’s block all the time, is we usually call it for the day and come back to it. I’ve never experienced writer’s block for a really long amount of time because someone will bring a new idea up whether that be lifting an existing riff or changing an old one so collaboration definitely helps but so does stepping away from it.
Sven: I know we have one or two songs, from past bands, where the writer’s block happens when the song is 4/5ths the way done and we come up with something quick to push through it and I don’t really like those songs very much. We definitely will step away from it or listen to similar bands in the vein of what we’re trying to do is helpful. Scanning for riffs to ripoff.
Do you revisit your past recorded music?
Sven: You’re talking to the two biggest Elegy fans that there are.
Burke: Do you mean like listen to our old bands?
Yeah, do you do it often?
Burke: My Spotify 2021 wrapped was all the bands that I’ve played in but I don’t listen in the “oh my god, these are so amazing” way but to listen to the mixes I do and critique how I played.
Sven: I definitely revisit things too but to be very critical about it.
Do you think that’s common practice?
Burke: Yeah, I think a lot of people are pretty critical of their work.
I followed up with gym-related questions which lasted 30 minutes but nothing interesting was asked or said
Sven: You’re not going ask us what bands we beef?
You wouldn’t be honest if I were to ask you that, so I usually stay away from those questions.
Sven: [Redacted] and you can print that! Actually just kidding, please don’t include that.
I was actually going to ask what your feelings are on the current state/ health of hardcore?
Sven: I feel like that is a pretty complicated question. It’s too big of a question to ask me because I’m not the person to tell you but I will say it looks like it’s in a pretty good spot for the most part. I think the lack of shows has ushered in a new generation of kids to see something and not feel intimidated by the community.
Burke: Do you mean the music or the community?
Separate them and answer both
Burke: Music-wise, I think it’s just as good as it has ever been. You have good bands and you have bad bands. I wish there were a lot fewer bands going heavy because I want to hear more classic, straight-up hardcore like that new band Dead Last. They’re really good and I want that style to come back, like the ‘Lockin’ Out’ sound.
As for the community, it’s hard to say what it’s like in person as there haven’t been many shows in Florida besides a select few but from how it looks online everywhere else seems fine. The one thing that I think is so lame is that obviously the internet is good at bringing people together but I think it’s very detrimental at the same time. I see stuff online that is so unbelievable that I wonder why people don’t filter themselves.
I agree with you and I’ve been trying to take a more relaxed approach over the past few years by not being vocally against the things people enjoy but ever since I started using TikTok it’s grown more difficult due to all the hardcore related content I see on there. And sometimes I can’t control myself in the comments section
Sven: I think there is a lot of good stuff and bad stuff but specifically since Covid I’ve seen people interacting a specific way with their bands to make them go viral on Twitter and I think that’s bled into the way people are now acting at shows like the guy wearing the same FUBU jersey for a whole fest.
What are your feelings on hardcore bands with social media?
Burke: I don’t think you should have one unless you’re touring the World.
Sven: I have complicated feelings about it because I think hyper-accessibility to hardcore is bad…
Burke: Yes, it should not be accessible.
Sven: But I think if your band is big enough to tour Europe you should have a Twitter account but if you’re in a band from a big scene that doesn’t have an issue with getting in front of a lot of people and you only use Twitter to tweet epic-virial-content then you should have your Twitter taken away.
Burke: Agreed, and I think it depends on how tasteful you are with it.
Sven: Yeah if you’re just ratioing some dumb kid from the midwest who tweeted some corny take about hardcore you should be banned from Twitter.
Let’s move away from this, what’s up with the guitar hotel?
Burke: Please no slander, I beg you, I work for the guitar hotel and I love the guitar hotel, it’s great, no slander at all, it’s fantastic, go there and spend all your money.
Sven: It’s beautiful, anyone with anything negative to say about it is an idiot. people will complain about the individuality of a city being stipped away for some nonsense, literally if you don’t like the guitar building you don’t like unique ideas and I think you need to be dealt with if you have anything negative to say. I took The FIght and Retraining Order to the casino there and they lost $400 in the first 10 minutes of being there.
That’s so epic
Sven: The guitar rules.
This is more so a suggestion or maybe even a statement but you guys should establish a new South Florida bandmember web map like the one from a few years ago…
Sven: The guy that made that is sadly too into crypto to update it… and wildly that one is sort of incomplete. It’s probably only 60% of the total bands.
Burke: Yeah, even being incomplete I really thought it was cool to see all the bands from this area and the members as a way to document what’s going on here.
I generated 50 questions using AI and I picked a few good ones to ask so here we go… What's your opinion on naps?
Burke: I take one every day.
Sven: I’m anti nap, I get a solid 8 hours every night.
What is a restaurant you refuse to eat at and why?
Burke: Pollo Tropical. The worst customer service.
Sven: Also Pollo Tropical, my freshmen year of college I was bulking and eating two bowls from there every day, and one day I got food poisoning from it and now I can’t even smell it without getting fucked up.
Burke: It’s only a Florida fast-food chain and it’s all Cuban food but the service is the worst service you’ve ever had in your life but the food is very good.
Sven: No comment about the service.
How do you entertain yourself when you're bored?
Burke: I’m not bored that often. After work, I got to the gym, then go home and work on school work and that’s it.
Sven: You’re going to accuse me of lying but I swear to God I’ve never been bored.
Burker: True, there’s too much shit to do to be bored.
Sven: At any given time there are two books I’m in the process of reading or a video game I’m playing whether it be an RPG or a platformer and also I’m anxious all the time about something I’m trying to learn on guitar or another skill. I’m never twiddling my thumbs unless I forget to bring something on a long car ride. I’m shameless with my 3DS and will take it with me on the subway and to the doctor’s office and just play it in public.
* * *
To wrap up the interview I challenged both of them to name their favorite South Florida hardcore band and the conversation carried on for another 15 minutes of them exchanging band names, of course, concluding they couldn’t answer. This was the only time I felt as if they took a question seriously when I thought they would have jokingly said Elegy in unison.
A CD and shirt are available through Arduous Path