Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writing About Myself Shamelessly, Part 2: Sevin.

Right around the time that The Underminded came to an end I was developing a growing interest in the new crop of metallicly influenced hardcore music that was getting popular at the time. Some of the bands that caught my eye were Snapcase, Strife and Earth Crisis.  These bands were probably the most popular of the bunch due to the continued press hype of Victory Records.  I was to find out a few months later that much better and more interesting bands like Groundwork, Unbroken, Threadbare and 108 were out there.

An old friend of mine that I had met through skateboarding was playing guitar for this band called Sevin. They had this metallicly influenced hardcore sound. Apparently they were called Tension at first but had to change their name due to a band from Florida already taking it.  It was explained to me that Sevin was an acronym that stood for "Straight Edge Vegan Information Network".  Bare in mind, my friend who played guitar for them was neither vegan nor straight edge.

They asked me to join the band as the second guitar player. With the exception of my friend who asked me, the other guys in the band were all vegan straight edge, and a bit older than me.  I was 16 at the time and these guys were in their early 20's. Not much of an age difference mathematically, however in terms of life priorities it might as well have been 20 years. It was clear the only reason I was asked to be in the band in the first place was because I was straight edge and vegetarian.

Shortly after joining the band my friend (who had originally asked me to join) parted ways with us.  It was awkward, being this 16 year old kid who didn't really know these older guys. However, it educated me further on the concept of veganism and within a month I had adopted the diet and lifestyle (something I still do to this day).  I'll be forever thankful for that.

This band was my first experience with touring.  Growing up in a middle class New Jersey suburb my whole life, touring to destitute punk houses located in poverty stricken neighborhoods of the mid west was an eye opener.  It made going back to high school and hearing people yammer on about the drama of football games and proms a total joke.

From a guitar standpoint I had to completely change my playing style and tone to better fit this music.  I had no idea people got so much mileage off of a palm muted open E chord. I wasn't extremely thrilled on the limitations of this particular genre and as a musician I tried my best to to make it as interesting as it would allow (which was not very).

I met a lot of people who were claiming "Hardline", which was some sort "back to the earth" philosophy that melded veganism with homophobia, anti-technology and pro life.  I was open to the discussion and, at times, even found myself agreeing with some of the pro life aspects of it through young, impressionable 16 year old eyes.  Though, in the next year I would come to understand that the world was not black and white..and certainly something that was too complex to sum up in the lyrical content of a 3 minute hardcore song. While I still subscribe to both straight edge and veganism, the anthems of those early bands lacked a perspective to consider individual circumstances and situations. I guess that's why they call them anthems. Thankfully, the Hardline movement pretty much faded out of existence after the 90's.

Before coming to an end Sevin played a show out in Pennsylvania one day with 108, Mouthpiece, Abnegation, Endavor, Channel, Introspect, Canon and Arcane.  We made some friends that day who were playing in a band from New Jersey called Instil.  Eventually I would leave Sevin after being asked to join Instil as their second guitar player.    

The band recorded 3 times during the year that I was part of it:

Proving Ground Demo tape/Stones to Mark a Fire compilation
Final Solution Demo Tape
S/T 7" on Militant Records

Here's a bandcamp link to the songs that I could find from those recordings. They're not very good, even by 90's standards, but there they are.