Interviews : Converge
With Jack Bannon
Converge needs no introduction. The band is considered legends of modern hardcore. Their always-busy vocalist Jake Bannon was gracious enough to answer my email questions. Enjoy!
You've been together for over 12 years, released over two dozen official and unofficial recordings, and toured pretty much in every place possible. What keeps the band going strong through all these years?
The willingness to play relevant music. We've always written with the sole intention of creating music that moves us and propels us in some way. This, in general, is what keeps our engine running.
Has your attitude about being in a band changed throughout time?
More cynical and pessimistic, but much less ignorant to the community and all that it represents.
While some of the bands later in their career have a tendency to go softer, it is completely opposite with Converge; Jane Doe was your most brutal (in the sense of technicality and speed) release to date. What would you attribute that to?
We are an aggressive band. Our music will always be aggressive in that respect. Altering that path aside from progression would not be Converge. It would not be natural.
The first time I saw Converge was on the tour you did with Today is the Day in Club Q in Davie, Fl in 1998. I remember the kids I was bumming a ride from were telling me how incredible the band was live and the show was just great. It was funny to see everyone leave the room when Today is the Day was playing, only to come back for your set. What are your best memories about some of the tours you've done?
That was an interesting tour. All tours have their stories of some kind. They all also have their high and low points. We have been on the road on and off for the past year. To try and explain all of the nuances is close to impossible really. It's like trying to explain what and who you are as a punk rock kid to a nephew or parent. You have to live it to understand it.
The band had a fabulous performance at this year's Gainesville fest. Yet I heard that some things went wrong with the crowd during the set. Do you know what happened?
We had an issue with security that quickly spun out of control. Much of it was misunderstanding. However the crowd also felt just as dis-respected. What you had there was a situation boiling over than resolving itself. It happens.
Do you feel like some of the hardcore pits are becoming too violent and almost unsafe for people to be in?
Punk rock is violent and abrasive. So is crowd participation. It's no different now than it was 10 years ago. I have little issue with it as it has always been part of the community. When I was 16 I was horrendous.
You've stayed with Equal Vision Records for all your full-lengths. What has it been about that label that made you stay with them, when I am sure a lot of larger labels wanted to take you under their wing?
We have been approached by other labels in the past. However most labels are respectful of your agreements and allow you to honor them without interference. Not to mention that band feels we are obligated, both professionally and ethically to honor that.
The new disk is a re-issue of older songs. Was it your or Deathwish's idea to release the Unloved and Weeded out 7", some live songs, some demos from the 5"?
Along with our former tour manager, Tre, I also run Deathwish. The "Unloved" release was something that we have been wanting to do for a number of years. Tre originally released the 7"EP version of "Unloved" in 1995. So for him it was a re-introduction of a release that is very personal to him.
Why is right now the proper time for these songs to be heard?
It's necessary for any band to have their previous material and progression readily available to the public. All of these songs are still just as relevant to the band as they were in 1995. We felt it to be essential that they see the light of day as soon as possible.
Since the band is a big part of the hardcore scene, I will not ask you to talk smack about other hardcore bands, so instead, I will just ask you to talk shit about metal bands. Just give me anything that comes to mind about a band below:
Children of Bodom: Never heard them. Rhapsody: Never heard them. Cradle of Filth: I've met Dani before. Good guy. Metallica: Legends.
It has been an exciting road for Converge thus far. What would you say were some the lows and the highs the band has experienced since getting started?
It's all a trip really. Always has been. This path has given us the ability to experience something rare in life. I love, hate, and respect it all the same.
What would you like to see happen for the band in the future?
Keep writing and playing music. We have no traditional goals. Our goal is to create and that's what we are doing.
Thank you for answering these questions. Please feel free to add anything you'd like to conclude this interview.
Thank you for the interview, your time is truly appreciated.