On the edge
Throwdown keeps the lifestyle clean and the music dirty
After years of putting in time for the hardcore scene and financing tours out of the band members’ pockets, things are falling in place for Throwdown. The band just released a new record, Vendetta, on indie label Trustkill Records and is touring nearly nonstop across the country.
But as with any underground band that finds itself on the cusp of success, the prospect of commercialization and dilution are traps the band has no intention of falling into. Keeping the idea of hardcore pure from outside pressures is a task the members of Throwback decided to shoulder.
“There’s more of a potential to be exploited and polluted, but it’s like that with everything,” bassist Matt Mentley said. “Those people who are sincere—and everyone in this band is and we’ve been doing this for a long time—will keep it that way. And we deserve to make a little money.”
Of the bands playing at the upcoming Senator show, Throwdown will most likely deliver the most explosive set of the night. The band came up through the ranks of do-it-yourself hardcore and earned a reputation as one of the genre’s most aggressive and hardest-working bands. The group scored slots on Ozzfest, last year’s Sounds of the Underground tour and this year’s Warped Tour, as well as regular invitations for other tours around the world.
The band is also gearing up for the Download Fest in England’s Donnington Park next month, where they will share the stage with the likes of Clutch, Fishbone and Dredg. As a giant of the underground hardcore scene that is on the verge of breaking out into the greener pasture of mainstream acceptance, Throwdown has carved a niche as a band that still champions its roots while tasting some of the fruits of its labor.
As the bastard child of metal and punk rock, modern hardcore spent more than a decade in the shadows. Now the underground scene of the hour is hardcore (with a slew of MTV bands ripping off the genre), and Mentley said he’s enjoying his time in the sun.
Early records like 2003’s Haymaker have drawn comparisons to Pantera in the press by mixing metal with the underground hardcore sound, but album photos featuring whiskey bottles and lyrics describing drug trips will remain conspicuously absent.
One of the aspects of not selling out is that all of the members are still “straight edge,” a subculture within the hardcore scene where members keep it clean (no smoking, no drinking, no doing drugs)—something Throwdown has supported for more than 10 years.
Mentley said the members of Throwdown continue to shun all harmful substances despite criticism.
“Where we are at this point in life, it’s not even something we have to think about.”
And while many hardcore bands who meet with success start flirting with whiney sing-a-longs to appeal to the mall crowd, Throwdown remains a stalwart of the simple and bare-bones hardcore style, brutal and from the gut. The ethos and style that made the group a standout in the hardcore scene continue on Vendetta. Breakneck speed is tempered with the crushing breakdowns that will have the mosh-pit ninjas spin-kicking their angst away.
"[Hardcore] is what we love to do and we’ve found a way to make a living doing it,” Mentley said. “Success is a blessing for us.”