Path To Misery was great but unfortunately largely underrated band from Pittsburgh, PA. Hope you’ll enjoy reading my interview with AJ conducted in 2008.
Hello. Let’s start with an introduction to your band. Who are you and why form the band? Is it because of the need to express some certain beliefs or ideas or you just wanted to start playing hardcore influenced by you favorite bands? Have any of you been in any other bands prior to Path To Misery?
Path To Misery is currently centered around Pittsburgh, PA and was a creation of a personal necessity as an outlet for the dissatisfaction that results from being exposed to the society in which we are subjected to. While screaming our frustrations into a microphone is a very therapeutic experience, the composition and performance of the music is something that should not be overlooked. Music can be traced back through history as a means in which humyns have related, bonded, and built communities upon. More specifically, tribal drumming has been essential in the humyn evolution of the arts… as well as in the development of our music.
While it can be fun to cover a song by one of our favorite bands (Disembodied) or to occasionally lift a riff as a sort of homage to one of our major influences (Racetraitor), the true enjoyment comes from the feeling of creating something that others might relate to or take the time to seriously consider. We have all been in our fair share of former bands, but it would be rather pointless for us to list them here as our line-up is constantly under construction. We did an interview a few months ago where we listed off some past bands and feelings and it is already out-of-date. While on this subject of line-up evolution, one should note that very little emphasis is placed on the individual members as the band is more of a collective as opposed to a glamorization of the identities currently involved with the project. The band has benefited greatly from the contributions of past members and will continue to do so throughout its existence.
How can you describe the music you’re making? What are your musical influences?
The music we create is a direct confrontation with the injustices, abuses, and corruption we encounter in our daily lives. As stated above, it is also both an instinctual and therapeutic experience that is viewed as a near-necessity for the mental health of certain people within the band. As for the musical influences specifically, there are some obvious comparisons one can make. We started off, on our first demo, as being very unorganized and thrashy in the vein of the earlier Racetraitor days combined with the brutal nature of Biohazard riffing. Along with our second demo came a faster, darker approach along the lines of His Hero Is Gone or Catharsis. Quickly realizing the overabundance of bands with the same set of influences, we decided to branch out a bit into our CD collections for inspiration. Burn It Down, Die My Will (an amazingly under-appreciated band from CT), Passover and many other 90s hardcore bands were called upon as influence for the remaining songs that were to be written for the full length. This can be reflected best in our songs For The Innocent, Inherent Incapability, and The New God.
I personally feel as though our full length album is a culmination of influences that span throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s. The futures holds no certainties for Path To Misery as new ideas are constantly being thrown around as far as future direction is concerned. Creation Is Crucifixion, killtheslavemaster, One Eyed God Prophecy, In Loving Memory, Arkangel, and many others potential influences are always being considered.
How’s the DIY hardcore scene in your area? Are there a lot of people sharing your views about the hardcore scene and politics? Are there a lot of activities and active people involved in the scene? Also the popular band Anti-Flag is from your area, what do you think about them? Are they really involved in activism and do they have anything in common with the underground scene you’re part of?
I always say this; Pittsburgh is the only area that keeps me motivated to stay involved with musical projects in the manner in which I currently am. While we’ve played in some other awesome cities on our scattered tours we’ve done, Pittsburgh remains to be the only consistently inspirational music scene we’ve been able to experience. Obviously a bit of hometown pride and familiarity is being expressed within this sentiment, but Pittsburgh is one of the few places where kids consistently pay respect to the bands and their purpose. While the show-sizes are usually quite small in number, the amount of support shown to legitimately sincere touring bands is unmatched, from both my perspective and that of the bands who come through and get to play The Mr Roboto Project or similar-minded venues. Different sets of ideals are expressed as freely as different lifestyles are chosen within our area and violence is typically at a minimum.
Obviously every city is going to have their detractors who can portray non-representative images of their hometown, but there is nothing that can be done in this forum other than to disassociate oneself from the negative energies. We have actually taken conscious steps in removing ourselves from the “hardcore scene” and the politics/drama that results from it, yet at the same time we can recognize and appreciate the support we’ve been given from the local crowd of show-goers collectively known as “Pittsburgh Hardcore”.
As for Anti-Flag specifically, I’m far from an expert on the subject. I personally got involved with underground music through the metal side of the spectrum and have never really had much interest in the kind of “punk” that Anti-Flag represents. When I say the “‘punk’ that Anti-Flag represents”, I’m referring to the surface-level type politics, protests, and organizations that are commonly supported by the band. Anti-Flag obviously has a reach and influence that this band can’t even come close to comparing to, and I suppose its cool to see them at least making kids realize the basic hardcore/punk rock guidelines of anti-racism, anti-homophobia, and anti-sexism.
Personally, the inconsistencies that I see in their stances, lyrics, and attitudes are too frequented for me to personally get behind. However, as a band, we have taken a specific stance in which we agree that any band, person, or organization working for a common beneficial goal while not free from criticism, is deserving of respect for their like-minded efforts.
What are some motivating factors that inspire you to write new songs? Are there some certain social/political issues or lifestyles that are important for you to touch in your lyrics or feel passionate about? You’re mentioning the book “Agents of Repression” about FBI behind the scene games as an influence to the lyrics of your song “Relentless Persistence”, are there any other books you could mention to have a role on the process of writing songs?
I am not personally the author of all of the lyrics used in Path To Misery. As stated beforehand, many people have come and gone while leaving thought-provoking lyrics in their wake. The specific song, Relentless Persistence, was in fact directly inspired by the aforementioned work. While I hate to essentially repeat what the CD insert says about the song, I’m trying to keep in mind that 99% of people just download our album and do not have access to the song explanations in which we’ve included amongst the layout. The song essentially deals with the violent, controlling nature of American government organizations who want nothing more than to be in control of a mindless, unquestioning society which can be bent to their every will. We go into further detail on our page and in our CD booklet, so I’ll leave things at this.
As for other specific books, I can’t really place any specific books to specific songs. I can, however, point out several books in which have been influential in the overall mentality of the project. Transformation Of America by Cathy O’Brien was a strong influence on a former vocalist/lyricist. This book is a first-hand account of the CIA mind control methods that has been very well-documented and dissected. A lot of the anti-civilization works through Black And Green Distro have become staples in our outlook on modern society.
Against Civilization is a collection of essays edited by John Zerzan which goes along well with the Endgame series by Derrick Jensen; all being a very serious, well-educated critiquing of the society in which is leading to the eminent destruction of our earth. I should note that as with our lyrics, none of these books or authors should have their word taken as truth. They are merely influences in which we have taken into account, dissected, put against our own critical thinking, and have learned from. We hope that all people can agree on this outlook so as to avoid the type of situation that can occur whenever you have masses of people all worshipping a single piece of literature as an ultimate truth (ever think about how scary fundamentalist religious organizations who base their entire existence off of a single book are?).
The reason that the Agents Of Repression book is specifically mentioned as a direct influence for a specific song is due to its first-hand account legitimacy and accuracy. It is not so much a book of opinion or personal account as it is of pure fact and historical truth. In general, our lyrics are not a mere recitation of another author’s specific thoughts or words as it is a culmination of the process in which I described above.
The outlooks possessed within this band are not those in which have been carbon-copied from other sources as human interaction, personal interpretation, and individual heritage are all relevant variables which constitute the opinions and lyrics withheld amongst us. It is the sole reason for which the band will never be considered to be part of a vegan, straight edge, christian, atheist, anti-civilization, pro-choice, pro-life or any ideal-specific genre.
Is it so important for you to write lyrics and their explanations, touching such subjects as the apathy of our lives through politics, religion, consumption or just the daily routine that surrounds us. What are the positive goals you try to achieve through the explanations of certain frustrations of this world we live in?
Ironically, I have a considerably pessimistic outlook on the future of society; feeling as though there is not much hope and that there is not much to look forward to. The reason, however, that I continue to persevere with the struggle that I present through my lyrics is to feel as though I have not been defeated by this world. There has to be some sort of hope in order to continue on in this life, regardless of how small it may be. Even considering the limited influence the 5 of us may have on a culture so deeply-embedded in its destructive manner, the urge to continue in our struggle is kept alive through the reminiscence of how we all became involved with the issues in which we currently are. Had it not been for the animal rights booth that Earth Crisis would bring along with them on their tours, my conversion to veganism may have been delayed many years. Had it not been for the feeling of community I’ve attained with other people in which I’ve met through going to hardcore shows, I may or may not have had the strength to carry on in my endeavors. I feel as though its monumentally important for people to continually express the way they feel, even if it is on a subject in which they feel may be “overdone”. One can never know how much impact the words they speak can potentially have on others.
Essentially, the ultimate positive goal that we try to work towards is the creation of a sort of community in which others can feel as though they are a part of. I’m not at all referring to any sort of “family” or “crew” that is commonplace within the hardcore scene where one must purchase designer shirts and jackets in order to become a part of. The dangers that we see coming along with the near-brainwashing tactics of these groups (creating a false sense of family, a strong emphasis on ego-driven violence, so on and so forth)… well, we could do an entire interview on that. The difference between what “they” are trying to create and what we are aiming for is pretty obvious in my book. We’re not pushing for any sort of specific agenda or set of ideals other than the obvious basic platforms* in which to build a sustainable community. Giving others a sense of belonging and companionship in a world that tends to be alienating beyond belief to those who choose to walk their own path could be considered to be the ultimate positive goal of the band. Yeah.
*Basic platforms include anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, and anti-speciesism amongst other seemingly common-sense morals that are inclusive and respectful of all different walks of life.
What’s the best lifestyle for humans to live in harmony on this planet and to share it with others? What kind of actions do you think are useful on a daily basis, personal or global attitudes that we have to adpot?
I am far from an expert on the subject and I definitely do not have the one and only correct answer. I have read up on many different outlooks as to how our race can survive at the current rate of growth and selfish greed. There are many characteristics of many different views that make sense in my mind. Certain characteristics of primitive anarchism make sense to me while, at the same time, I can see the value in more realistic situations such as the reformation and modification of the current ways of life we all partake in. I continually try to forge these specific aspects into a single thought process that I feel could somehow serve to maintain sustainability on a large-scale. It’s all a very frustrating situation, in fact, due to my belief in the quote that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” while at the same time having my skepticism of the logistics of a complete overhaul of society at large.
Looking into the future can be a very depressing and frightening process. Learning from the past, however, appears to be the best chance we have against the intimidation of the future. Despite the appalling history and nature of our culture, in a way, it gives me a sense of hope. It seems as though people have been calling for the end-times all throughout history while it has still yet to come to fruition. The second coming of Christ, the nearing ice-age, global warming, the rapture, Y2K, the end of the world in 2012 … the world has somehow managed to survive all of these scares with relatively little consequence. I am not in the slightest sense trying to justify the current disposition of our culture and its past indignities. As stated, in a fucked up kind of way, it gives me hope that the humyn nature engrained within us manages to persevere throughout the ages in some form or another. I definitely feel as though there are obvious ways that will NOT work.
Capitalism especially strikes me as putting the world in the fast lane towards extinction. Socialism and communism do not trail far behind, in my eyes, either. I’m not too sure that any economic system that feels as though a monetary value can be placed upon things such as the lives of animals (humyn and non-humyn) or the natural resources in which we depend on for survival can ever find a way to exist in harmony with the earth. Like I said earlier, while I don’t feel as though one way of life has all of the answers to maintaining the balance of humyn and earthly needs, I do feel as though we should seriously consider and learn from the ways of the indigenous peoples around the world who, still to this day, manage to live in harmony with the earth even amongst a world of destruction.
What do you do outside of the band? Do you all have day jobs? Are you involved in some kind of activism?
Specifics would be pointless in this manner for several reasons. I’ll say that we all try to do our best to live our lives on our own terms and to avoid the nine-to-five death trap that we’ve seen so many people become entrapped within. Our song, The Gauntlet, deals with this issue almost directly.
You told me you’re acquaintances with Brian from Catharsis/CrimethInc. and you have played with his new band, From The Depths. What do you think about CrimethInc? Are you connected in some way with their activities or the lifestyle they are promoting?
I met Brian unknowingly about 5 years ago at the Total Liberation Fest Tour that happened as he was out with Undying at the time. Looking back it was such an amazing show and I’m glad I was there despite the overall low attendance and cancellations (still have yet to see Maroon… FUCK!). I was a bit younger at the time and was only in the beginning stages of my social conscious evolution, but I specifically remember that show as being one of my first encounters with Crimethinc’s literature table. I had seen the name around a few times before and had heard the term being passed around a lot beforehand, but it was the collection of literature at that show that got me interested in the collective. While I don’t personally agree with a lot of the outlooks of the collective, I find them to be very thought-provoking and ingenuitive.
In fact, I would say that the lifestyle in which the publications suggest is that of a very enjoyable way of life for those who partake in it. I personally do not see how many of their lifestyle choices could possibly work on a large-scale, but perhaps that is not their intent to promote. I would think, however, that by mass-producing such publications and stressing the relevance of their ideological stances that they would intend for progressively more and more people to catch on and “live the life”. I think that is where the problem arises. Many of their ideals stem from living off of the excesses of the culture in which surrounds them… and I can’t think of a better way to do so, personally. I’d even go as far to say that I have personally adopted many of their outlooks into that of my own. If everyone were to depend on dumpster diving and shoplifting though, I’m not too sure how long we would survive. As with most other aspects in life, I am still in the process of engaging in and expanding upon my outlook on the subject.
Location fucking sucks and with Brian living in North Carolina (I’m pretty sure, at least), we don’t get to speak on subjects as much as I’d probably like. I know he’s not the sole spokesperson for the organization; I just personally enjoy his conversation as he has, even since I was 17, always engaged me in dialogue with respect and is always down to tell me awesome Catharsis stories. Being paranoid of annoying him with old band questions, like so many people tend to partake in, I apologized in which he replied with the insistance that he enjoyed conversation on past days as it gave him a sense of feeling like all of his past endeavors were worth something if people were to still be interested in them. That statement lit a spark in my brain like I hadn’t felt in a while.
From The Depths is perfection, in my eyes, and is continuing in the direction that Requiem was taking. Its what you want to and would expect to hear from the members involved with the project, yet at the same time completely innovative in all aspects. They’re recording starting January 3rd, I believe, at the legendary Mars Studio in Cleveland, OH. I am beyond excited to hear how this turns out.
You say you’re touring on waste vegetable-oil. What do you think of the controversies concerning bio-fuels?
Bio-fuel is considered to be an alternative, but the studies have shown that it may cause starvation, increasing the pace of global warming and other harmful things. I’m very glad of the placement of this question; coming after the one in which I’ve just answered. When I offer constructive criticism of and to other organizations, it is not out of spite or feelings of superiority. I just know that much of my growth and evolution as a humyn has been the direct result of direct confrontation with the way I live my life and the way that I do things.
I hope to parallel our veggie oil situation with that of my criticisms of Crimethinc. Yes, it is beneficial to us and to the environment comparatively. No, I do not feel as though it would work on a large scale and I am aware of the remaining negative environmental and social effects it can create. Running our vehicle on waste vegetable oil that we attain from restaurants is an overall very, very positive idea that we caught wind of through the people at Fossil Free Fuel (http://www.fossilfreefuel.com). Personally, I was having quite a moral dilemma with the thought of touring. “How can I sit back and write these songs persecuting those who partake in this oil war when I am personally funding it myself through the unnecessary usage of fuels?”, I was asking myself. The timing of the shop opening was perfect for us as it provided a way to be in line with my beliefs, while at the same time still being capable of doing what I love most. I am pretty sure that it is common knowledge by now that a combination of different types of alternative fuels must be attained in order for the world to survive anywhere past another 100 years of its current existence.
There is obviously not enough waste vegetable oil in the world for all of its cars to run off of. In the meantime, however, we are not only conserving our usage of fossil fuels through this method, but we are also, at the same time, managing to take waste materials and essentially recycle them for our own usage. Most restaurants are sketchy and dump their oil into the sewers or water sources anyhow to avoid the costs they would incur had they hired a removal service. In addition, our vehicle gives off approximately 1-2% of the CO2 emissions that would result from running on fossil fuels in any form or another. We have made major sacrifices and have put in many hours of labor in order to assure that this aspect of the band remains relevant. We still have to use a bit of regular diesel to start the engine and that 1-2% of emissions still adds up; we’re far from being perfect; but who isn’t?
In the song Cheating Life, you’re singing about organ donations. Why is important to you to address this issue? Do you have any friends who have been in need for organ transplantation? What do you think about transplanting animal organs to human bodies?
Organ donation is only one of the issues covered within this song. It is primarily addressing the issue of the selfish nature of people who refuse to submit to death, even when its inevitable time has come. Through the common burial traditions practiced by most in the western hemisphere, humyns continue in their tradition of squandering the earth’s natural resources even in death. Another intent of the song is the confrontation of the idea that some people of spiritual faith hold in which organ donation is not considered due to their belief in the necessity of having their bodies for the second coming of life.
As a band, we have no problems with people having faith in whatever religion they choose. However, whenever it starts to infringe on the rights or potential benefits of other people, we feel as though an intervention should be arranged. Regardless of the belief system one subscribes to, withholding a potentially life-saving element from someone in dire need is a crime that any god could not endorse.
As for animal organ transplants; I obviously feel as though it could be beneficial in a similar way that stem cell research could be, yet at the same time, I am 100% positive that due to our culture’s lack of respect for animal life that a corrupt system would arise in which animals would be bred into captivity and put to an early death in order for the use of their organs. While this is not any different than the current way in which animals are looked upon for the meat, fur, and leather which can be extracted from them, it speaks a lot for the some of the belief systems we hold. Positive advancements in society, such as potentially utilizing animal organs for human use, can not and will not be successfully made until we, as a whole, learn to respect lives which do not fall under the category of white, American male.
What do you think about the mania of electing Barrack Obama as the president of the United States? Did you cast your vote in this election? How do you think America will change in the next few years? What if McCain would have won? Do you agree that the USA became a modern-day Roman Empire in the 8 years of Bush?
I realized the other day that throughout the entire election process, I remained rather uninterested as I feel that the majority of politicians are of the same mindset and projection. Obviously there were no candidates running for the position that stood for anything that matters to me. I refuse to vote for someone in order to prove to anyone that I “care” or that I have some sort of faith in this country or the government that is control of it. It wasn’t until AFTER the election that I started to care or take notice of the situation that was developing. The adoration and borderline worship that surrounds Barrack Obama is equally scary to me as the flocking of the general population that I saw to George Bush post-9/11. The American population has once again put its entire faith in a single man who, for some underlying reason or another, has a desire to control a population of a country. Granted, this time around people are flocking to Obama out of enthusiasm as opposed to in fear as they did to Bush; the underlying theme is still the same. I do feel as though certain aspects will be better on the surface level. Individuals of the international community who are not entirely aware of the reality of American politics have obviously perceived the election of Obama as a sign of hope.
Americans of African descent obviously have gained a new sense of pride and faith in the American political system. The general United States population has an overall sense of “change” spreading throughout. Considering the fact that the majority of people in the world are living on what I would consider to be “the surface level”, I suppose that this election really did a make a big difference in the minds of a lot of people. So maybe I should be happy in the way that you’re happy for your little cousin winning the spelling bee or something. While I do feel as though several surface-level changes will go into effect and that the country is better off without another conservative Republican in command, I cannot bring myself to buy into the hype surrounding one man who, apparently many people forget, is a politician. Bottom line is that even if he were truly motivated for positive change, it would be completely irrelevant as the true power of the American political system has been in the hands of those behind the curtain for generations upon generations. The kind of politics that I see most people partaking in are similar in presentation to professional wrestling, in my humble opinion.
As for George Bush single-handedly turning America into a modern-day Rome; I’m torn on the issue. As a firm believer in the fact that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, I am confident in agreeing that America is well on its way to fulfilling its prophecy. In fact, the very first song we wrote was Victims Of Our Own Device, which speaks on this very subject. The gears were set into motion long before the tenure of George Bush being put into office and it will continue to do so even though he is now gone. While speaking on the subject of history repeating itself, I think it would be of interest for people to look into the similarities between the conditions that existed in Germany before the election of Adolf Hitler and those of which exist in modern-day America. Just as a disclaimer; no, I am not insinuating that I think Obama is the second coming of Hitler. I just feel as though it is important to keep in mind the potential of a nation who has been beaten for so long to have such unyielding faith in a new, charismatic leader under the false illusion of democracy.
Is there ever such a thing as a just war?
There is a motto in which I live by that insists, “There is a violence that liberates and a violence that enslaves. There is a violence that is moral and a violence that is immoral”. While this statement obviously leaves a lot of room for personal interpretation to justify what is “moral” and what is “immoral”, I feel as though the quote’s relevance is in the fact that it does not neglect the rare necessity for violence in a world where it is so commonly abused. I would, in fact, love to hear someone attempt to explain how it would be considered unjust for the Iraqi people to fight back after being invaded and crippled for the oil which happens to reside under their feet. I could go on to speak on other issues such as the “wars” being waged for animal rights or earth liberation, however I am assuming that you are referring to “real” wars that are waged between countries. Obviously the band stands behind those who fight for the struggles in which they feel strongly enough to do so, in almost any situation.
You have an Mp3 blog on the net sharing music of some very popular bands. Why are you doing this? What do you think about mp3 file sharing on the internet?
Regretfully, I don’t know if I’d agree on the “very popular” aspect of the statement. We started an Mp3 blog featuring out-of-print albums and rare demos from some of the artists who have influenced the band as a sort of homage to those who came before us. We have found that, even in its early stages, it has been creating a better understanding amongst the younger kids as to where we’re coming from. At the very least, the creation of the blog has been reducing the number of compliments we receive in which we are praised for creating the most groundbreaking music ever heard, haha. Maintaining the blog is a fun way to spread around some of the bands that we felt never really received the attention they rightfully deserve. A lot of the bands in which we are inspired by would be very well-known in this day and age of “hardcore” had they stuck around long enough to be a part of it. We occasionally upload albums by current bands in which we are bringing through town as we feel that by putting their album up for download prior to them coming through, it will in fact better their reaction at the show. Once again, this is something that I feel is unique to the crowd of kids who come to shows in Pittsburgh whereas in other cities it would simply be taken as a free pass to get their album for free. As for how I feel about internet file sharing, I’m going to say it is an overall positive deal. I’m not even going to comment on how it effects the mainstream market as its been conversed so many times over and I don’t really care anyhow.
Even for bands such as ourselves, it has been discussed in great detail many times beforehand. I’ll just say that we have actually chosen to upload our own album to the Mp3 blog community almost as a defense mechanism. The day we put our CD out, a poor quality, mislabeled set of Mp3s appeared all over the internet for our album. I instantly put together a collection of high-quality rips along with files of our lyrics and a list of ways in which to contact us in an attempt to at least have a better first impression of the band being distributed. We had spent so much time ensuring that a good recording was made, it was very disheartening to see it wiped away within one day of it being released through the carelessness of a single person. It sucks that it is the way it is, but it has become quite common for a large majority of kids to acquire their first impression of your band through the Mp3s in which they have downloaded. I personally think that all Mp3s, regardless of bitrate or file type, sound very bland due to their lack of bass and the increase of midrange through the recording (cymbals specifically). It has become a necessity, however, for bands to rely heavily on the Mp3 distribution of their music.
Coming from an environmentalist standpoint, it is a great way to promote your music without wasting limitless pounds of plastic and paper. I can’t even begin to fathom how many shitty demos the internet and Mp3s have prevented from being produced. Coming from an artistic and common sense standpoint, however, I can’t imagine how anyone would be into the idea of buying an intangible set of files for double the price of what we sell a fully packaged, tangible product containing a higher quality version of the same product. Kids will be kids, I suppose.
Future plans for the band? What do you want to achieve in the near the future?
The future plans of the band are to remain true to our convictions (whatever they may be at the time) as well as to simply survive. With an oncoming economic depression, it’s going to be hard to scrounge up the money to buy new equipment, or to record, or to travel, or to get kids to come out to our shows. Reality sucks sometimes. I would just be happy if the band survives in one form or another in order to keep my sanity in tact. Realistically I feel as though the band is going to focus more so on our live shows and writing process. While we are currently very selective on the shows that we play and the quality of the music we write; there is always room for improvement. I think we might put out a split and support it with our first full US tour in the spring. Time shall tell, I suppose.
Any last words or advice to the readers you would like to impart?
I just want to thank you for the opportunity to present my ideas and thoughts and to anyone who took the time to read me babbling. I spent a few hours on this interview and hopefully at least one person can take at least one thing from this. Our page can be found at http://myspace.com/pathtomisery as well as http://pathtomisery.blogspot.com. Think for yourself and pick up our disc while you’re at it.