It was a dark day when California’s Strife, one of the most influential hardcore bands of the 90s, packed it in due to frustrations with the business. With a penchant for ballistic heaviness, sheer aggression and intelligence, it seemed like the hardcore scene was destined to fall by the wayside as a new brigade of snot-nosed upstarts fought for the brass ring.
But before you could say Sick Of It All, singer Rick Rodney, bassist Chad Peterson, drummer Sid Nielsen and guitarists Andrew Kline and Todd Turnham had brought it all back together again. A deal with Chicago’s Victory Records and a fresh start at gaining new fans proved too tempting to resist. Gearing up for their first tour in over two years, Kline says the release of Angermeans shows a new side of Strife.
“We’re excited. Most bands would go out and tour on the fact that they’ve reformed, but we insisted that nothing happen until a new album was out. I mean, when you play shows, people don’t want to hear songs they don’t know, right? And we have a ton of new material that we want to play. So it makes sense to wait and then mix the old with the new.”
Asked whether the songs were written prior to reforming or after much deliberation, Kline reveals that the material was pretty much in the bag, paving the way for a true reunion.
“The songs were written during our inactivity, ’cause we were taking time away from each other. Sid and I got to jamming and talking about a project called Anger Means, but it really was just a side project. When we went in to record our stuff, I went to sing, but was totally not strong enough, so I asked the best person I knew: Rick. At that point, with the three of us together, Strife was pretty much reformed.
“To be honest, we never really planned on getting back together. We had Chad and everyone else, so the choice was to either start from scratch or just be Strife again. And at this point, the kids who used to come see us are out of the scene and the new kids don’t know us, so it’s still like starting from scratch!”
Reflecting on the past two years, Kline emits a sense of great pleasure, almost as if the band’s break-up was the best thing that could have happened.
“Just before we broke up a couple of years ago, we had all just quit our jobs and were relying on the band for income. Unfortunately, we weren’t ready for that step and it caused a lot of problems.
“We had a vigorous touring schedule which put a lot of pressure on us. We’re trying to pay band bills and our own bills through these shows, so it’s a pretty heavy time. On top of that, we were getting so much flak from the hardcore scene for every move we made. It’s like, ‘You’re asking for guarantees at your shows? That’s not hardcore.’ But it’s something every fucking band does to survive. We just wanted to keep playing and help the hardcore scene grow, man.”
And their reaction now?
“The kids in the scene at that time didn’t understand the pressure. Similarly, we didn’t know how to deal with it. But this time around, all I have to say is: if you don’t like the music or bands, start your own band and tour with bands you think are better. Sing about your messages in your own songs. In the end, this is our band and we’re gonna do what we want.”