Post-hardcore is very difficult to unanimously define, since stereotypical answers will vary according to whom you ask. Ask your traditional, catholic grandmother, and she’ll probably think it’s a reason to fling holy water at you, and ask her local parishioner to keep you in their prayers. Ask a parent, and they’ll probably think it’s a scapegoat for their pubescent son or daughter’s violent behavior, general defiance to authority, and poor grades. Ask an angry, emotionally confused person, and its music that speaks to them on so many different levels. However, at it’s core, no pun intended, post-hardcore is fast, loud, hard, gritty, and adrenaline inducing music.
Post-hardcore is a subgenre within the larger hardcore punk and punk rock movements. It’s fundamental roots can be traced back to the golden days of the 80’s in the US of A, with bands like Naked Raygun and Saccharine Trust popping up and inspiring the greater post-hardcore movement.
Later, groups that could be officially deemed post-hardcore, started appearing in cities with established hard core punk fan bases, particularly in Washington D.C with a little band called Fugazi.
It has now expanded its influence throughout the greater portion of America, and even here in the Great White North with bands like Alexisonfire and Silverstein.
Despite post-hardcore being quite a vague definition that can encompass any sort of band with hardcore influences and a unique sound, music that makes up this genre is quite distinct. It’s morphed into discernable tunes that are typically quite heavy, fast, and rough, with screaming as the main vocal input, and features of melodic singing melded within as well.
Although the Canadian Post Hardcore scene is not even close to reaching it’s fullest potential, Key to the North, an up and coming post-hardcore band from Brampton, Ontario, is looking to put more Canadian post-hardcore talent on the map. They absolutely killed it on November 9th at the Rock Pile, and I have them to thank for the headache and neck pain I woke up with the next morning. You know, from all that non-stop head banging!
The band consists of Chase Landriault on Guitar, Jesse Moreau on Drums, Kyle Reinmueller on vocals and Chris Holiday on Bass. Although I knew it was a very broad question, I asked the band to define what their genre comprises of and what makes it so interesting. After a bit of deliberation, Chris, the band’s bassist, gave me a simple definition to work with. “Mostly, you just take that base of hardcore and metal core music and then you add your own personality, brand and flare to it.”
They were quite calming personalities to be around, and although I wasn’t surprised, it contrasted heavily with the personalities they embodied during their performance I attended only a couple nights before. In light of this, I asked what kinds of emotions they relied on to create and play this kind of music, and if the predominant emotion is a powerful sense of anger.
“I think it does come from a lot of anger, especially from past experience. Most people within this genre are quite calm, but there is this sort of anger within them, and they can let it out through playing this sort of music,” says Moreau.
All of them were in agreement that it does end up making them saner too, in some cases that is… Next I ask them to highlight what they believe are the dos and don’ts of any post hardcore performance. “Your energy levels have to match what you are singing about. Our music isn’t soft or acoustic so we try to convey that to the crowd.”
The fan base for post-hardcore music has always been vigorous, yet in the past, hasn’t been as large as some other more mainstream genres. I asked the band to comment on post-hardcore fans, urging them to correct any preconceived ideas that they are a different breed of aggressive and violent people. “I think its wrong to make unfair assumptions like that. Artists aren’t generalized based on their music, so why should fans be?” says Kyle.
Fortunately, post-hardcore is finally getting the recognition it so rightfully deserves. The genre continues to grow in popularity with each passing day, and has transformed itself into a more mainstream, marketable music genre. Although its quite easy to see that post-hardcore’s influence is growing rapidly, I conclude by asking the guys what they see in the future for their genre. “I think what we are going to see a lot more of is people trying to come up with new styles, with bigger and better chops. Everyone is always constantly trying to outdo each other in this type of genre,” says Chris.
After hearing from the experts themselves, one thing is for certain, post-hardcore isn’t necessarily for everyone, but for fans like myself, keep banging those heads, flashing those horns, and moshing in those pits. Post-hardcore isn’t going anywhere any time soon.