Today we bring Blow The Scene readers around the world an interview with one of the most promising up-and-coming bands the U.S. has to offer – a three-piece, political hardcore group known as Less Life. With a musical execution trifecta of innovation, intelligence, and intensity – complimented by front man George Grimaldi‘s heartfelt vocal delivery of politically motivated, venom-laced truths – Less Life are quickly leaving the rest of the heard in the dust. The band’s latest LP, Today Will Be Ours, is an absolute shredder and can be sampled below the interview. We caught up with the entire band for an chat that touches on Less Life’s writing and recording preferences, lyrical themes, future plans, band picks, and much more!
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions for Blow The Scene readers around the World! Let’s begin by having you introduce yourself and declare your onstage weapon of choice with NJ’s 3-piece hardcore outfit, Less Life.
George – vocals
Rob – Guitar
Tom – Drums
Tom: We recorded the LP in about 8 hours with Steve Roche at Permanent Hearing Damage Studios in Philadelphia, PA. It was a very smooth process, however we decided in addition to recording that weekend that we should also play two shows. so our weekend looked this:
Friday afternoon: Work at our jobs.
Friday night: Drive to Philly, set up and track some songs.
Saturday afternoon: Track and mix all the songs.
Saturday night: Play a show in Doylestown at Siren Records.
Sunday afternoon: play a show in New York City.
It was an exhausting weekend but we were happy with how everything has come out.
Rob: It definitely was a hectic weekend but it was all worth it. The LP was just released on How Soon Is Now Records and everything has been really great so a far.
Joshua BTS: Less Life touch on many social issues within your lyrics. Can you touch on some of the lyrical focuses of the new LP?
Tom: I think George should probably hit this one.
George: Almost every lyric on this record is about the need for direct action and our past as a species. I believe that as a species we are currently waging war not only with ourselves but with nature as a whole. We are disrupting every natural cycle the planet can offer for personal comfort. When we finally succeed, we will no longer have the resources to survive. I think when most people read of eco-crisis and the global effects of our actions they separate time. Most people I know don’t actually believe we will see the effects of our actions in our lifetime. Sadly, I strongly disagree. I believe we already are. I also believe we are seeing the roots of what will most definitely be an industrial collapse. I tried to express that with most of my words on this record. I stand behind direct actions taken to preserve our planet and all animals who share it, not just humans.
Joshua BTS: You have members from several prominent bands in NJ, including Black Kites, The Assistant, This Ship Will Sink, You and I, Write Back Soon and more. Do you foresee Less Life becoming a full-time project as we head into 2012?
Tom: With Less Life we coined the term “responsible guy hardcore” (this name came out of my reaction of ridiculousness toward the trend of “mysterious guy hardcore”) meaning, at the time the band started we all had jobs that were pretty full time and what most punks would refer to as “adult” or “responsible”. This also implied that our band will not be touring the world 6 months out of the year any time soon. I think 2012 will probably be the busiest year so far for the band. We are playing shows pretty steadily now, the LP just came out and we have plans to record before the year’s end.
George: For me, Less Life has been a great experience. We work very well together and I am proud of the songs we are writing. Whatever the future holds for us I am happy with.
Rob: I also think being a full-time band has become much more difficult to achieve on the smaller level over the years. For us, full-time might be difficult due to our work schedules and personal lives, but i think we will definitely stay as busy as possible in the coming year. A lot more shows, and recording for some more releases.
Joshua BTS: The artwork for Today Will Be Ours is stellar. Who crafted the artwork and what, if any, significance does it have to the music?
Tom: My good friend Salvatore Dellaquila at salvationdesign.com did the artwork for us. He can typically be found doing graphic design for larger clients, but he used to play in hardcore bands (A Days Refrain, Den of Thieves, Lagrecia) so he has a strong connection to all of his friends bands. I made a mock up of some plants, trees, etc forming a circle and asked him if he could elaborate on it. He took it to the next level and did an excellent job. We are extremely happy with his work!
Joshua BTS: Sonically, you guys pull from a wide gambit of hardcore influences, everything from Chokehold to Botch. How do you approach the writing process for Less Life? With only one string instrument, do you have to rely on Rob Ross to come up with riffs or do you all play an active role?
Tom: Rob and I have been playing music together for such a long time in various bands (The Assistant, In First Person) so at times we are able to get in each others heads a little too well. Rob writes all the riffs, but once in a while I will contribute a riff or an overall groove that I think would work. We write songs pretty quickly, though Rob is constantly refining the songs for months before we settle.
George: Writing with this band is great for me. We all contribute but are really only responsible for our own parts. In almost every band I have ever played with before one person was typically doing all the writing and that was it. I find it extremely refreshing only having to write my parts while still enjoying every song we have.
Rob: Like Tom said, we’ve been playing music together for such a long time that everything just seems to click when we’re writing. I usually write most of the riffs with Tom throwing a few in occasionally, but we all contribute in terms of song structure and the direction a song might go in while writing. Sometimes songs might start with a riff and other times they might form out of a drum part Tom has in mind, but we’re usually all on the same page. I do however, have a problem with nitpicking, so even after a song is finished I tend to keep throwing out suggestions for changes until I get yelled at by everyone.
Joshua BTS: Is there a story behind the band name?
Tom: Supposedly Rob got the name from a quote in a book…..A quote I still have yet to see! But actually, it was ironic that the name of the band seemed to go hand in hand with many of George’s environmental and ecological based lyrics.
George: Tom and Rob were playing together with some of the songs on the demo before I joined the band. When I joined we decided to move forward and play some shows. Like all good band decisions we went out for burritos and wrote down every name we could think of. We all picked a few and any that we all liked we would work with. Less Life happened to be that name. Rob was the one who suggested it. Like Tom I am still unaware of the original quote but I do think it fits everything I write about. It was just a name that sounded different to me but not empty. Something I actually believe has value.
Rob: The name was taken out of context from an existentialist quote I had come across. Unfortunately I cant remember the exact quote, but it basically said something along the lines that, while life has become much more manageable for people, we’ve also become less engaged as people in the process. There was a line that contained the words “less life” and it just stood out to me. It was one of many names we suggested, but it stuck with us and has since taken on more meaning and value due to the fact that it does coincide with a lot of what George writes about in his lyrics.
Tom: – Definitely new material. Definitely more shows. Who knows…maybe a tour?
George: We all have somewhat busy lives so we don’t practice every week. When we do practice we tend to write songs very fast that we all enjoy. Things seem to click so ideally for me it would be to write as much as possible and release as much as we can.
Rob: Hopefully all of the above. We’re constantly working on new songs so hopefully some new releases and just trying to play as much as we can. Maybe a short tour or at least some weekend trips.
Joshua BTS: With such a rich history in various acts throughout the NJ scene- What is your current take on the level of enthusiasm for hardcore on the East Coast?
Tom: It’s tough to say. The East Coast and New Jersey specifically are so segmented that, at times, you could never even hear about a band that’s only an hour away from you. North Jersey, Central Jersey, The Shore and South Jersey are like four completely different scenes and there isn’t as much crossover between them as you’d think given that the geography is so close.
George: To be honest I can’t really answer this. Sometimes I feel like there are too many bands playing too many shows that some of magic is being bled out. Other times I feel like there aren’t enough bands playing enough shows sharing that magic. I feel like I might not be alone in those feelings.
Rob I think the enthusiasm is there but it definitely comes and goes at times. The East Coast in general and specifically NJ, has had its ups and downs, but I definitely feel like its been on its way back up for a little while now. There’s a lot of new bands popping up and a few bands that have been around awhile that are starting to get big and recognized now so its definitely a good thing.
Joshua BTS: Any bands out there, that are really exciting you guys right now?
Tom: Grudges from Brooklyn: blast beats, breakdowns and some great riffs.
Run With The Hunted from Phoenix: Super political, angry, very 90s sounding.
Deathbed from Atlanta: vegan straight edge 90’s style done very very well.
Millions of Them, from Antwerp, Belgium; think Botch meets Converge.
George: Excluding the bands Tom listed… I am really into Unrest from Oklahoma, Give from DC, and Unveil from Switzerland.
Rob I agree with most of the bands listed already, and I’d also add Iron Rain from Chicago who will have a new LP coming out soon. And there’s a new band called Regents that I’m excited about. They are ex-members of Sleepytime Trio and a few other bands and definitely still have the whole Sleepytime Trio/Four Hundred Years sound to them.
Joshua BTS: When you are not busy writing and performing with Less Life and the numerous other projects you are involved with- What do the daily lives of the Less Life crew look like?
Tom: I work as an IT Director for a graduate school.
George: I was recently laid off but have found more than enough work contracting. Besides work I can usually be found reading a book on the beach. I am currently reading Coyote At The Kitchen Door and Born Under A Bad Sky. I would also highly recommend Green Is The New Red.
Rob: I do TV Production work for a big Wrestling company. Its probably the one you’re thinking of.
Joshua BTS: Where is the best place for fans to keep up with the band online?
Less Life – Today Will Be Ours LP – If you dig, support the band and buy a copy!
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