In Loving Memory: Legendary Screamo Band Returns With New Music & Gigs (Interview)

An interview with Brian Dingeman of the influential screamo band In Loving Memory.

In Loving Memory is a Des Moines, Iowa-based screamo band that rose to prominence during their initial run from 1998 to 2001. Known for their intense energy, emotional performances, and unique dual vocal approach, the band has reformed with its original lineup and reignited its musical journey with renewed passion.

In Loving Memory was known in the small Midwestern hardcore scene for their electrifying stage presence, fueled by their high-energy and emotionally charged shows. Reunited in December 2022, In Loving Memory have painstakingly relearned their original material and unearthed the recordings of their 2000 album, As Years Pass and Feel Like Seconds. These recordings have been remixed and remastered to create a powerful listening experience. The band has taken matters into their own hands, self-releasing the record on CDR with hand stamped and glued artwork, created by one of the band’s vocalists, Jen Wiley, and all copies are already sold out.

To ensure the highest quality and reach a wider audience, In Loving Memory is also partnering with DIY record labels Init Records, Zegema Beach Records and Illuminate My Heart Records to reissue their early discography and release special limited edition cassettes of their full-length album. In addition, the band is releasing four brand new songs, the A Gentler Sun EP, and created a music video for the title track that has generated quite a bit of buzz, receiving over 3500 views on their Instagram page and over 500 views on their YouTube channel in less than 24 hours. The band is currently in production of a one-sided LP, where they will personally hand screen the B-side of the record, exemplifying their commitment to DIY principles.

Celebrating their return with their first live performances in over 20 years, In Loving Memory have announced two hometown shows in Des Moines, Iowa on September 8th and 9th. With old friends and new fans alike, these shows promise to be unforgettable, fueled by the momentum generated by their re-released old material, remixed and remastered original LP, new EP, and the great response from the community on social media.

We had the opportunity to speak with one of In Loving Memory’s vocalists, Brian Dingeman, who shed light on the band’s history and offered insight into their future plans. The band is entering an exciting new phase and the anticipation is palpable.

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In Loving Memory at the Botanical Center, 📸 Gina Brown

In Loving Memory was formed in 1998 and has played with many other screamo bands that are now considered classics. How old were you when you started and how did you fit into the scene? What were your influences at that time?

When we started jamming together, Jordan, Joe, Spencer and I were the initial lineup. We were all freshmen in high school except for Jordan, if I’m not mistaken he was in eighth grade, so we were about 14-15. Our band at the time was called Day of Atonement, but as we developed influences and our sound changed, we eventually renamed the band In Loving Memory and added Jen as a second vocalist and shortly after that Tanner on guitar. The first In Loving Memory show with the current sound and all but Tanner was with Reversal of Man and Combatwoundedveteran on their notorious 1998 tour.

What was your approach to songwriting and lyrics? Are there any lyrics from your initial discography that particularly stood out to you?

We all contributed to the lyrics in different ways. Spencer and I used to like to cut out little snippets of poems or lines that we liked from different books and shit and put them back together to make little passages that sounded cool and could be interpreted in different ways, so that’s a lot of the material that sounds more vague on the original stuff. Once Tanner joined, he contributed a lot lyrically, and Joe or I would write lyrics as well. We’d kind of take whole pieces and break them down into what would fit on the songs or whatever. I’m really proud of the way the lyrics all come together on our original music because there’s a little bit of pretty much all of us in there and it holds a lot of sentimental meaning for us with lyrics like “as years pass and feel like seconds” and “tonight I scream for you” resonating and kind of taking on even more meaning to this day.

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It’s always great to see some old photos from the intense shows in the ’90s and early ’00s. Can you share some specific memories from that era that you remember?

We were really lucky to be part of a very tight-knit region of amazing musicians at the time ILM was originally active. Playing with all of our friends’ bands in our parents’ basements or like the 605 house in Sioux Falls was always incredibly energetic and we really just had an electric atmosphere at a lot of those fun little local shows. We were also very lucky to have a couple of local guys like Sxott and Morty in Des Moines who booked all kinds of amazing bands at the Botanical Center there, and we found ourselves opening for some of our biggest influences through those guys, including Converge, Botch, pg99, and many others.

How was touring for you during this time of the band? Did you find certain regions where In Loving Memory did particularly well?

Hahah, ILM only ‘toured’ once. We played Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Omaha all in a row! We played with some legendary Midwest bands on that little run—Edict of Milan, Spirit of Versailles, The Hareste, Eclipse of Eden, Caligari, Plosion, and more. The shows were incredible! Preserving Hardcore on YouTube has full set videos from Sioux Falls and Sioux City from that tour that I found on an old VHS and converted for online viewing.

Forgive my ignorance, but have you ever played in Europe, Japan, or anywhere else outside of North America?

We never had the pleasure!

What was the reason for the split of the band in 2001? Most influential screamo bands don’t last long, but you didn’t just disappear, as members of In Loving Memory went on to play in Rue Morgue, Dispensing of False Halos, and even straight edge mosh machine Too Pure To Die.

We were so young when we broke up, and Tanner had joined the band after playing in Spirit of Versailles for a long time in Sioux Falls. He had gotten to tour with those guys, and just had the bug to get on the road. Being as young as the rest of us were, our parents wouldn’t really let us go play on the road, plus we’re still in high school at the time, so Tanner started a new band Examination of the… with a couple dudes that were out of high school and were able to tour, and that kind of spelled the demise of ILM. We tried to play without Tanner, but his writing influence on the band was too big a hurdle to clear and we were unable to really creatively push the band any further, so decided to disband. We played the first Exam show with them and Botch at the Botanical Center and later released a split 7-inch using a couple songs  off of the As Years Pass… recording that hadn’t seen the light of day yet.

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In Loving Memory from their legendary ‘00 three day tour of western Iowa/South Dakota/Nebraska.

Internet forums and file-sharing communities exploded in the early 2000s, and bands like In Loving Memory, Rue Morgue, Love Lost But Not Forgotten, The Spirit of Versailles, and I Have Dreams became known for creating a ridiculously named genre called kittencore. Were you aware of this at the time and what do you think about all this jargon with terms like skramz, emoviolence, Midwestern emo, etc.?

Hahaha, we laugh a lot about some of the newer terminology assigned to the style of music we played. We always called it hardcore or screamo or emo violence, but I suppose with the way people like to break music down into sub genres, it’s natural that once some of those terms, specifically “screamo” were kind of co-opted by more mainstream bands, that people would come up with new words or terms to describe some of the bands that are considered ‘true’ to the style they’re describing. I have heard some of the terms over the years, but kittencore I think is one of the most outrageous hahah! I don’t think we really identify as kittencore, but if that’s the term people wanna use for it, I’m not gonna hate!

Sorry if I’m talking too much about the past, but if you had to pick your favorite records from the screamo scene between 1998 and 2001, what would it be and why?

Song of Zarathustra put out a picture disc 10-inch pretty early on there that was a collection of split 7-inches and shit like that, that we all gobbled up! That band rocked so fucking hard. Did you know they were originally from Sioux City, Iowa?

Orchid’s Chaos is Me was big for us, the Reversal of Man’s Revolution Summer hit really hard for us as well, especially after playing with them we just really all identified with that record. Saetia, Jeromes Dream, pg99, and honestly we would really listen to each other’s music a lot like regional hardcore like The Khayembii Communiqué, Saqqara, The Hareste, Spirit of Versailles, Eclipse of Eden.

We had a really special little scene back then and without much access to the internet and all the streaming music and shit we’ve got now, you’d kind of just hyper focus on what was happening locally and influence one another a lot. I think that’s really why the scene around here was really special and why so many of the bands have a kind of specific style or sound that is kind of similar, because we all drew influence from one another!

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Now let’s talk about your current reunion. When did you create the songs on the A Gentler Sun EP and what ideas, emotions and influences did you put into it?

We had our first practice session in person together in December ‘22, and we had kind of all been really excited about it, so everyone put a lot of work into practicing, listening to the old songs, and generally trying to kind of get back in shape to make sure when we got together that we were ready to do the damn thing.

I’m fortunate enough to have just been a vocalist, so my prep work wasn’t as tough but Spencer, our drummer, for example hadn’t played drums pretty much since the band had broken up, so he put in considerable time and effort to be ready when we got together.  So we practiced and it went insanely well, everyone’s hard work had very clearly payed off, and so once we wrapped that session up and went home, everyone was just feeling really positive and electrified about the whole thing going so well that naturally I think we all wanted to revel in it and push it further along. Tanner, Joe and Jordan were almost immediately sending riffs into our little group chat, and Spencer would remotely play drums over them, and the process just kind of grew from there. We had three more live rehearsal sessions after that, kind of running through the old stuff then hashing out new songs, then in May we booked studio time and recorded the first four new ILM songs in 23 years!

Lyrical inspiration is drawn from poetry by a friend of Spencer’s and a truly talented writer, Thomas Cooney, among other snippets self written or found. Emotionally, I think it has a sense of anger and urgency likely fueled by the world we’ve all been enduring since the band broke up, but I think it also conveys a sense of happiness and positivity.  We feel like we managed to cram nearly the full range of ILM’s musical style into the four songs on the EP and tried to stay true to who we were, as well as who we are now.

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Do you feel satisfied with the way the record turned out and is there anything you wanted to say and communicate to the listener that isn’t so explicit? Is there a specific concept behind the EP?

We’re really really happy with how the record came out.  Like I said earlier, we think we give a full range of emotion on it and truly showcase the whole repertoire of the ILM sound in four quick songs, and we’re really excited to share it with the world!

Are you surprised by the great response from the community after reuniting and creating your online presence on Instagram and YouTube?

I am! We’ve always kind of been a super underground band because we were so young when the band was active, as well as having never toured. I think the style has a bit of a cult following, so I shouldn’t be super surprised at its popularity, but the response has been really really fun and positive. I run our Instagram and get messages from people all over the world saying how much they love the band and wanting us to come to places like Brazil and the UK and shit, it’s really wild to think that something so small and local and really hardly even pressed or distributed from way back when could have such a cool influence on people to this day and be inspiring young people to play music and shit!

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It’s amazing that you’ve not only reformed the band with the original lineup, but you’ve kept the DIY attitude while working with some of the best screamo labels right now like Init Records, Zegema Beach Records, and Illuminate My Heart Records. Can you give us an overview of the process of remastering, releasing and promoting both your old stuff and the new EP?

Steven at Init Records is an old old friend and he has always been incredibly supportive of not only ILM, but the DIY music of the whole region. He first released our discography in 2010, after it had laid dormant for so long, just getting circulated on CDr’s and shit in bands we played with after ILM had already broken up. He’s doing a repress of the discography which will include the original as years pass recording along with our split cassette with Black Market Fetus. Zegema Beach and Illuminate My Heart have been super supportive since we reunited and we wanted to kind of do some stuff with them because of that support and their obvious passion for this type of hardcore and also give their audiences the type of stuff that they want, while hopefully widening ILM’s audience as well, so it was a no brainer to work with those labels putting out the cassette of the remix/master of As Years Pass.

Mikey Allred, who did the work remixing and mastering that old material, as well as the new EP is an old friend and bandmate of Tanner’s from his amazing band Across Tundras, and the work he did with that old material was just so incredible, he was a natural choice for the new stuff, and we will most certainly be working with him in the future as well.

Promotion-wise, it’s really all just been grassroots social media shit for us. I’ve just been trying to keep Instagram engaging and active so folks stay interested, and it’s worked out so far for us. I’ve also been emailing blogs and labels and folks like y’all who are cool enough to promote DIY music and just hoping for the best! We haven’t gotten an awful lot of responses from cold calling blogs and whatnot, but we feel like as we continue to do what we’re doing, the attention will come. We’re just getting started!

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When you announced the first single of the new A Gentler Sun EP, you wrote a post supporting Pride Month and the LGBTQIA+ community. What aspects of hardcore punk culture do you feel have the most impact on today’s society? Is it possible for this music to continue to innovate and come up with new ideas like it did in the ‘90s, while remaining politically progressive?

I’ve always gone to punk and hardcore shows and have recently started seeing a really cool shift in who is coming out to shows and playing music, etc. You’ve seen a big emphasis on amplifying the voices of LGBTQIA+ folks as well as people of color, and I think especially with our current political climate in the US that it’s extremely important to make a statement about being supportive of these people in punk and hardcore because everyone is getting so marginalized and shoved in their fucking boxes and shit that I think it’s natural to not know if you’re truly welcome in places or scenes.

Punk and hardcore has always been about inclusivity and we as a band just felt it was important to show our support, especially during a month that is dedicated to Pride and celebrating what a joy it is to have such a beautiful, vibrant community be able to be themselves in our society. I absolutely believe in the power of punk and hardcore as well as the arts as a whole to continue to make positive changes in our society and continue to push to make everyone feel not just included, but encouraged to participate in making music and art.

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Now that you have reformed, do you keep up with the current scene? If so, what are some of the newer bands that have impressed you? Can you tell us a little bit more about your upcoming shows in September and the other artists on the bill?

I have been making a concerted effort to pay attention to modern screamo (or skramz or kittencore or whatever you care to call it) since ILM reformed. I like Foxtails a lot and this band Ostraca put out a record the same day our single came out and that shit hits fucking hard. I have admittedly not been a fan of the style pretty much since I stopped playing music super full time in around 2005, as I am more of a metalhead but like I said, I’m making an effort!

As for the September shows—we are super excited to be playing both shows with fellow Des Moines high school buddies and recently reunited Black Market Fetus, who broke up around 2010. They play a thrashy crust punk style and were responsible for ILM playing with the likes of Pontius Pilot, Against Me!, and Stàte of Feär back in our high school days. Also opening up day one will be Des Moines local hardcore punk maniacs Dose, as well as my band from Florida, Antacid Trip—playing some blackened swampy punk.

Day two has an insane lineup… Dryad from Iowa City playing some black metal punk, Druids from Des Moines playing some psychedelic stoner rock, Plack Blague from Lincoln, Nebraska doing his leather daddy industrial insanity, and Closet Witch from Iowa bringing their own brand of chaotic hardcore! We can’t wait to share the stage (floor) with all these old friends and new, and are super stoked on what the future may hold for In Loving Memory.

Follow In Loving Memory on Bandcamp, Instagram, and YouTube.

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