Salvation interview

A few years after their debut album Of Unforgiving Wind was released, I caught Salvation play at the Cake Shop in New York City. Within moments, singer Matt Adis launched into the crowd like a bullet, only to emerge moments later covered in blood and broken glass, screaming like a vicious animal. The performance continued unabated.  After their set Adis was peeled off the hood of a car outside the venue and taken to the hospital. Rumor has it he was cut so many times, that it was difficult for the doctors to find the actual lacerations through all the blood. The band’s reputation for confrontation and sheer hubris is both impressive and frightening. Among the most violently anti-social in a new breed of nihilistic hardcore punk music, Salvation are so vehemently destructive and alienating that their music rings with true outsider authenticity. They claim part of no scene, their music strictly focused on internal issues rather than the political or social. Hardcore as a form is so rigid, that what separates the wheat from the chaff is in a band’s ability to convince the audience of the authenticity of its ferocious desires. This comes across in abundance on the band’s new album Morality Interactions, released on the iconic Youth Attack label. The fact that Adis and crew have survived the wreckage of their performances to deliver the aggressive existentialism of a follow up album is somewhat of a miracle in itself. That the record surpasses all expectations in fury and intensity, speaks volumes. We caught up with Adis, who also has a new book of drawings released on the Heartworm Press imprint, on the eve of the new albums release. Those seeking a view into this distressed existence should seek both out.

Violence and hardcore have always come hand in hand; often it’s a reaction to the music. Salvation, and you as the frontman, seem willing and able to jump fist-first into this chaos. This is instigated by both the band and the audience. Do you feel like you have an adversarial relationship to your audience? Is the violence internal and the music causes a visceral physical reaction?

Hardcore and punk music have always appealed to me due to its energy. All I really have to say in regards to this: if your music doesn’t set you off, you’re not doing it right. It’s confrontational music, and whatever happens when we play happens. It is an outlet for the internal.

When preparing for a show or a recording what do you do to mentally put yourself in a state so that you can perform the material with the proper intensity?

There’s really no method of preparation. Playing a show is usually enough of an anxiety overload.

Going into your second LP what were the challenges and goals and how did you tackle them? Did you feel the need to “up the ante”?

It’s rather imperative for me to stray from repetition with this band. Every recording must contain characteristics which set them apart. Who wants a totally predictable album? After sitting on Of Unforgiving Wind, I found particular elements that I felt needed improvement, so I took it upon myself to work on them. I wanted the atmosphere to be completely different from the previous LP as well. The construction of an album as a whole is vital, and so is the way one perceives each as a separate entity. Otherwise, the progression in songwriting is gradual. Progression within this genre of music is perfectly acceptable to me, but I don’t feel the need to incorporate an orchestra to spice up a record.

Salvation echo an existential nihilism that seems so far away from the direct language of what came before genre-wise. That being said, what of the regional is reflected in this music if any, and do you feel a connection aesthetically with certain peers?

All writing and thought expressed via Salvation is basically stemmed from the personal. Some bands, artists, and writers have clearly made some sort of subconscious impact on me, but in no way am I interested in purely channeling someone else’s thoughts. I have my own interests and I expect other individuals to hold their own, although most fail to. There are certain bands that currently exist which I can appreciate, but in no way do I feel a connection with any band aesthetically.

At this point of the bands existence, Salvation has outlasted many of its contemporaries. What continues to fuel and motivate the project when so many others burn and fade so quickly?

Salvation began as an outlet for whatever issues I had to air out, and has since been that. The band will come to an end when things begin to run smoothly. Bands within this realm tend to pigeonhole their sound, and that’s one of the main problems I see. Too many bands existing without any genuine traits whatsoever. People putting forth less focus on one project by dispersing their energy between six other projects. It all runs together.

How does your idea of morality play into the album? It seems almost like Salvation deal in a post-moral aesthetic, as you say stemming from the personal rather than the political.

I will begin by saying that politics mean absolutely nothing to me. Whatever political climate one is dropped into is what they must live with, and is what they understand. My stance relies on the bare bones of existence. Morality is a man made device implanted in the mind. The struggle we face as mortals and human beings is an everlasting indecision until our dying day. No matter what stance one may hold, there’s an underlying fear from any outside influence to haunt. Absolute chaos. Through personal experiences I’ve delved into a certain psyche, which at times I feel is impossible to let go of. The mind is a powerful, manipulative tool.

In many ways Salvation remain intentionally alienated, no comps or splits…Is it safe to say that you claim part of no community?

Association goes a long way. You can look at any band and quickly lump them in with a handful of others because they may be a part of the same record label, or merely base this off what bands they play shows with. This is fair for any person to do. It’s inevitable, however – yes, some bands think differently and do not care to be a part of what others are doing in a collaborative manner. I have no interest in being half of someone’s split record. I don’t care to be involved with any compilations. I enjoy the distance and crafting records solely for this band.

How much focus is required to accomplish an album for you? Having sent yourself to the brink of personal destruction at shows you all have intense dedication; have you ever felt you have pushed too far?

The process requires much focus and once started will remain on my mind consistently until completion. Being the main contributor as far as writing goes (music and words / Kyle places drums to my riffs); there’s much groundwork and expansion to be worked upon. The visual aspects of an album take just as much time and energy, and I skip through many avenues before deciding on the appropriate. I’d say it all comes together well in the end, but the process has been painful in the past with assembling the others to wrap it all up. My main qualm has always been the reliance on others, but you must take what you can get. As far as pushing too far goes – pushing it as far as possible is essential to attaining perfection.

Having released the record how do you feel about the direction of the band moving forward?

I feel great about it, really. I’m sure the album won’t sit well with some who glorified Of Unforgiving Wind mostly due to the slight variation in songwriting. I do think that it’s successive enough and is in no way too far removed from the last step. A transitional piece. I only foresee the band’s sound continuing along this path.

In the end, what motivates you to continue, is it sadism or masochism?

Masochism is what leads me on. Double negative equals a positive. My work reflects any amount of horror I have faced, and in turn the pleasure received from release merely dissipates for want of some escapist relief. That’s not an option.

photos by Josh Landes
illustration by Chris O’Neal

by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 1/17/2011 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , ,