The further and further we get away from the birth of hardcore the more and more it seems bands are forgetting (or worse; never even knowing) just what this genre was born from and exactly what it stands for, which is why fans of the old school aesthetic mourned the loss of Iowa’s Modern Life Is War when they announced they would be calling it a day in 2008. Those same people though would have been delighted when the band returned with 2013’s Fever Hunting album, which, although heading in a more melodic direction, was still chocked-full of the break-neck paced, fat-free punk rock MLIW always deliver.
Even better news is that the band are finally returning to Europe for the first time since their hiatus for a short run of shows. “It’s been far too long,” states vocalist Jeffrey Eaton. “We can’t wait to come over and play these shows. To be honest we’re in a position now where we’re excited to be doing any show anywhere. So we can’t pick one night of the tour above any of the others.”
Not even the Camden Underworld? A venue notorious for its perfection as a setting for the kind of in your face carnage that hardcore punk revels in? “I think we played there with Converge in 2006,” Jeffrey muses. “But don’t quote me on that. You might have to fact check that for me.” Indeed they did. And it just goes to prove how many shows Modern Life Is War would have played during their first run that their own vocalist has no recollection of playing such a venue with a band like Converge.
Do you feel you may have burnt yourselves out back then?
“Maybe, but I just think that is the way bands like us do things,” shrugs Jeffrey. “I’m glad now that we don’t do as many shows. It means I can really enjoy all of them. I can treat this as a hobby almost, and get all of that shit from my day to day life out onstage when we do get to play. There’s less pressure on us now, we know exactly what we are.”
And what they are is a group of individuals that still believe in the ethics and morals that founded underground punk rock. “I try to keep positive about things,” Jeffrey says when asked about the state of hardcore in 2015. “The way I look at it is that we have our own little niche away from what’s going on. But it is different, and it can be frustrating to see what passes for ‘hardcore’ these days. I’m glad that those avenues weren’t open to us though. We had to go out in a tiny little van driving for hours, days sometimes, to play in front of hardly any people. I think that’s good for you as a person and I think it makes you a better band. It makes you appreciate the little successes you do achieve a lot more.”
And, when asked why fans of a more commercial strand of hardcore should attend the upcoming shows, Jeffrey is equally honest. “Ha! Oh man! Maybe they shouldn’t!” he laughs. “It’s funny we were talking about this the other day, I know that my band isn’t for everyone. You know? There are kids that will be into some of the stuff you see on TV and they won’t go any further… but some will. I know when I was a kid I liked some really terrible music! But if you’re really open and really interested then there might be something here for you. We’re not a gateway band, you have to dig pretty deep to find us. But I love it that there people out there who are willing to do that digging. That’s what this scene is about really.”
If you haven’t done so yet, get digging. Modern Life Is War are a band you can believe in.