WHO: Seven years ago, a Bay Area teen named Ross Farrar started a hardcore band named Hammertime. For reasons both unfortunate and understandable, the band only lasted a few shows. "I think he felt like people were taking it as a joke," says Anthony Anzaldo, Farrar's childhood friend and current bandmate. "But he was serious. He asked if we could start a [new] band. That was pretty much it: just four dudes who went to high school together wanting to play some loud music."
SOUNDS LIKE: The foursome has churned out furious, standard-issue slam dancers as well as envelope-shoving, forward-thinking fare that, while no less concussive, is simply too ferocious for the form. "It's purely subconscious," Anzaldo says of the shift toward less-traditional punk workouts, heard best on the band’s Matador debut, Zoo. "We can't be writing 40-second songs anymore. That's something you do when you’re a kid. Our tastes and the way we approach writing songs just evolves with us naturally. We literally did grow up."
HARDCORE VALUES: Anzaldo and guitarist Farrar were first introduced to their local hardcore scene via Life Long Tragedy, an influential band composed of older classmates. "The bond of people who were into this was pretty amazing," Anzaldo says of the other hardcore kids in Rohnert Park, their native suburb of San Francisco. “You perceive punk and loud guitar music a certain way, then you find out it's really all about unity. The groups were, like, all best friends and did everything together. I think that the contrast between the music and the method — the abrupt, abrasive style of music with this message of togetherness — was pretty great."
HEAVY METTLE: Leaving the often-stringent confines of punk, however, doesn't concern Anzaldo one bit. "You'll always see a common denominator of punk rock that will never be absent in our music," he says. "But if you played me the last song on [Zoo], 'Video,' when we first started the band, I'd be like, 'This isn't hardcore. Are you kidding me?' It's like what Billy Idol said: The music wasn't 100 percent punk rock, but the attitude was."