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An Interview With Boise Based Hardcore Punk Band Rejection Pact

Boise based hardcore punk band Rejection Pact will be visiting Tulsa next month on the Saturday date of the Act Like You Know Festival. They will be performing with Chemical Fix, End Game, First Day Out, SHIIVA, Squint, Terminal Nation, Move, Gates To Hell, and more.

Rejection Pact, formed in 2017, play a blend of youth crew and melodic hardcore punk that is short and sweet with no songs crossing the 2 minute mark. With a strong lyrical focus on political/social issues & personal growth/reflection, they’ve found comparisons to bands like Suicide File, Go It Alone, Bane, and Allegiance.

The band released their two song promo back in July of this year via Safe Inside Records and have plans to release their LP titled Can We Wait? before the end of the year (hoping sooner than later!). The two tracks “Social Murder” and “Hired Goons” are must listen tracks.

Before the Act Like You Know Festival announcement, I was not familiar with the band. Safe to say I am a fan now! I had the chance to ask vocalist Devin about a whole bunch of different things including their new music, the Boise hardcore scene, other hardcore favorites to check out (both bands + labels/zines/other projects), and more! It’s clear that the band is a positive and supportive group.

Join the pact & read the interview below!

Hi! Hope you are doing well. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions! Can you take a second to introduce the band?

Devin: Vocals

Charlie: Drums

Ralph: Bass

Hunter: Guitar

Nate: Guitar

Let’s just say I have “joined the pact.” I’m truly loving your music and the new promo! Before the Act Like You Know festival lineup was announced, I was not familiar with your music. I’m happy I found it! So, the promo was your first release in some time, with the pandemic being a factor. What were some mindsets that you guys set to be able to keep working on music during that time?

First off, thank you! Love to hear that.

The way our band operates, we all have pretty busy schedules and always work well getting in a room and writing stuff on the spot with just a real basic song idea to start with. Once we realized the pandemic was in full force and shows & life was just going to be different for a while…our biggest mindset we kept in mind was safety as well as being productive and more deliberate.

So our mindset was how can we be productive but safe.

Prior to going into lockdown and all that, our plan was to record an LP during the summer, and we had about 5 or 6 songs written before things shut down so having to finish writing the record differently as well as recording it was something new.

Going back to safety, as a band…we took covid really seriously and being in Idaho…covid felt like a “joke” & it was handled really poorly so it probably made us 2x as worried about it compared to other areas; but let’s be real, the U.S really fucked it up as a whole. So when it came to keeping up with writing new material and taking advantage of our down time, we pivoted on how we wrote music together, which was both fun and challenging. Instead of just showing up to practice with a basic idea & writing on the spot, we’d take our time flushing out ideas at home, recording videos on our phone or on our computers, sharing them in group chats, and really fine tuning things before we even tried to get together.

We wanted in particular the lyrics on the new material to be a reflection on how we were feeling about the world around us during all of this. 2020 was pretty ugly and brought to light a lot of things that were already there or were festering just below the surface.

Additionally, we wrote the record as “album” and we wanted the lyrics to reflect a cohesive theme and vibe. So we took our time crafting the lyrics and editing/re-writing stuff, being very picky and meticulous.

So to circle back…we wrote much more remotely & used technology to keep things as safe as they could be and then when we finally got together a couple times, we wrote the rest of the record.

Once the record was written, we demo’d the record in our practice space with Charlie & it was finished by the end of the summer. After that, we wanted to sit with the music, listen to it and get familiar with it so when it came time to record in the studio, we’d be happy with the end product and be as efficient as possible.

With covid cases going up like crazy around when we were going to hit the studio and covid infections within the band…we decided to just hold off until we could all be vaccinated so recording was just safer/less stressful so once we all got jabbed, we started recording the LP in the studio.

Sorry if that was kinda long winded, haha.

A few of your members are also in other bands, like your drummer is also the drummer of Ingrown. How might this influence how the band writes or works together?

I’ll be honest…it’s hard haha but we make it work. Since our formation, we’ve always had multiple members doing other projects and at the current time as with most bands in Boise, everyone shares members and when we added Hunter…it made things easier/harder haha.

Basically when we go on tour…the other bands in town are pretty much screwed haha.

Scheduling practices/tours and show availability is definitely “fun” but at the same time, since everyone’s used to it, we figure it out quickly.

In terms of how the band writes…I don’t really think it makes much of a difference outside of everyone’s availability. All of our bands are pretty different sonically so we kinda know what ideas or influences fit where. Like sure it’s all under the sun of aggressive or DIY music but they’re all far enough apart that there’s no riff or idea sharing that falls onto other projects.

The promos are a look at your LP Can We Wait? that will be released soon via Safe Inside Records. If you had to describe this LP in three words, what would those three words be?

1) CAN 2) WE 3) WAIT? haha

How do the two promo tracks compare/contrast to the rest of the LP, whether that be sound or message/lyrics, writing process?

I’d say they fit in quite well with the overall sound of the LP but also these tracks are much more straightforward than some of the other songs on the LP.

Lyrically, these songs fall right in line with the theme of the record since the record thematically is rooted in social/political issues/topics.

Sonically, the two promo tracks are less “risky” and we didn’t want to release some of the more creative or “newer” sounding songs right out the gate, we want to save those for the actual LP rollout.

Touching back on earlier when I mentioned how we had to change up how we wrote during the pandemic; remotely, looking back at the record, you can tell slight shifts or changes here and there and it’s funny looking back, those are the songs we wrote during the pandemic.

Another writing aspect that changed was a lot of the songs on our previous 7” we wrote within the first 6 months of our band and when we only had 1 guitarist. Our primary influences haven’t changed from then to now but adding Hunter & just having been a band longer and understanding each other’s writing styles and how our band operates really helped when putting together the new material.

The other thing was we weren’t constricted by deadlines or tour schedules, so when we hit the studio to record it, we had all the time we wanted, which allowed us to workshop things in the studio and try things out in the moment. It was really relaxing and made recording the record a lot of fun.

Basically with the LP what we really set out to do and I think we accomplished it, was fine tune the sound we had and really focus on the aspects that really characterized our band. It feels cohesive & deliberate that I think really lets our influences and ideas flourish and is a much better representation of our band.

You talked a little bit about politics and your message as a band with No Echo and how you’ve always wanted politics/social issues to be at the forefront. Could you talk a little more about this to us and what you are doing now/plan to do in the future for change?

Hardcore and punk have always been a place for more “radical” ways of thinking whether it’s veganism, straight edge, or politics. A lot of our viewpoints and the way we conduct ourselves beyond the band have been informed or influenced by hardcore punk.

HC is a youth centric movement and in those formative years, you learn and pick up on a lot. I don’t think what we’re talking about or saying is necessarily groundbreaking but I do think there’s topics or issues that should be discussed. You can hear points talked to death but sometimes depending on the medium it’s presented to you, it “clicks” or some places you’ll give the issues more weight or attention.

Aside from us feeling a way and wanting our songs to reflect that, I think if we can be a band that has something “click” for someone or perhaps gets them to go beyond the lyric sheet/show environment then that’s a win. Even if it’s somehow just reading through the lyrics or seeing a merch design or reading an interview and they go “hey I feel that way too” and it strengthens that sense of community or common ground, then that is cool too.

I don’t think every HC band needs to be political or have an agenda, but I also think there’s a lot of bands right now that aren’t really saying anything.

On August 3 you made a post on your Instagram celebrating the one month of the promo and made the comment, “HC is a beautiful thing and comes in all shapes and sizes and there’s something for everyone if you take the time to look.” I totally agree with this statement. What bands, labels, things, etc. should people be checking if they are new to the scene or are looking for something new?

Ahhh I love hyping up my peers!

I don’t wanna leave anyone out and I’m not gonna include bands I think are “bigger” OR bands playing ALYK cuz we’ll be touching on them later, but here’s some folks that are awesome and might be under the “radar” for newer people:

Bands: Witness Chamber, A Mourning Star, Strange Joy, Peace Test, Hush Money, The Enforcers, Mean Time, Bent Blue, No Other Way, Milspec, Perfect World, Change, Faim, Tolls, Sunstroke, Insecure, Burning Strong

Labels: New Morality Zine (NMZ), Sunday Drive Records (SDR), War Records, Flatspot Records, Delayed Gratification Records, Convulse Records, Life & Death Brigade, Kill Yellow Fever Records

I think folks like Axe to grind is a great way for younger folks to get put onto a lot of HC history since they do a lot of deep dives, and honestly there’s a ton of really cool other podcasts, YouTube channels, IG accounts, zines, etc that really put on for what’s happening now. Being a newer person getting into HC right now would be content overload honestly haha.

Based on some of the comments in the No Echo interview, the Boise hardcore scene seems to be doing awesome things right now! What does being part of this scene mean to you?

It means being an underdog & making folks have to care about what you’re doing. Boise is kinda geographically fucked. It’s not a major destination, for years and years it was the city bands took an off day in, and it was pretty much overlooked by the rest of the NW.

The actual “HC” scene here isn’t huge, and everyone knows everyone, and it’s come a long way into a very positive and welcoming scene. None of the bands here have been fast tracked and no one’s been “cool.”

Being a part of Boise HC means you’re actively involved and everyone makes it as successful and fun as it can be. It’s not like a bigger scene where you can kinda just go to shows when you feel like it and regardless, tours will keep coming through and bands will want to play your city.

The energy Boise has right now is due to the bands and everyone else involved who’s doing their part to make people care about what’s going on. Boise is an underdog and the folks in it care and know there’s something cool happening and want as many people to be a part of it as possible.

Rejection Pact Live by @comfythecommie

I was also looking at some of your past shows and noticed you played a show with Keep Flying in October 2019. They’re good friends of mine! The Instagram caption shared that you usually don’t play pop-punk shows but it’s still cool. Do you remember anything about this show and what the reaction was like?

That show was pretty interesting. Charlie’s friend booked it and it was a house show. It was in a very residential neighborhood that really hadn’t had any house shows in the past, or at least to my knowledge. When we showed up for the most part we didn’t know anyone there besides a few people. We knew that Keep Flying had some sort of footing within HC and several of the folks in the band were wearing HC merch which was cool.

By the time we played, there was actually a decent amount of people there, and it was pretty much a bunch of people who’d never seen us before. The reaction we got was cool…it wasn’t people like moshing or whatever, just a lot of head-banging and pushing each other, but everyone seemed stoked and maybe we were some of their first experiences with a HC band? Maybe that’s presumptuous haha but either way it was cool and in Boise, I love any opportunity to play in front of new people who aren’t the regulars that go to most of the HC shows.

Would you want to play more mixed bills in the future and who would you want to play with?

Oh 100%. I think with the way HC currently is, and the amount of new faces and people into the scene, the likelihood you’ll go over at a mixed bill is much higher than ever before, and I think our sound in particular could appeal to people from all sorts of underground backgrounds, not just standard HC.

Since we’re pull influence from various aspects of punk & rock, I think we can sonically fit in with a wide range of bands/audiences even though we’re still a hardcore band. In terms of bands, playing with the bigger skate/punk bands would rule since a lot of those folks like hardcore but aren’t necessarily keeping up with what’s happening in HC in my experience, but are down if they catch a new band. I also think given our political nature, that could click for those folks. Bands like Anti Flag, Rise Against, Pears, Propagandhi, etc.

Also hitting the HC adjacent crowd in the more rock/post punk realm since a lot of those folks are rooted in the HC scene but aren’t playing traditional “HC” anymore. Bands like Spiritual Cramp, Fiddlehead, Lurk, Hush Money, Glitterer, etc.

So one of the main reasons for this interview is to highlight your expected performance at the Act Like You Know Festival in Tulsa. How does it feel to you as a band/personally to be included in this festival?

What are you looking forward to in Tulsa? Any restaurants or stores you’re going to check out?

It feels really cool. We were slated to play “Promcore” 2020 then the world took a giant nosedive and then when it came back…our drummer got sick and we were unable to make the trip out so hopefully the third time it works out! Haha

Each year I think Aaron levels up the lineup and I think Tulsa isn’t necessarily a destination hub when you think of HC but him taking the time to curate a really cool lineup and bring it to his city is awesome. I think Aaron also does a really great job of including bands that are on the come up with a lot of positive energy and buzz and gives them a platform/opportunity that a lot of the bigger fests aren’t necessarily doing for a lot of bands. There’s a lot of risks and logistics into booking a fest so having a fest put on SO hard for so many up and coming HC bands is really cool. You can take a look at the lineup for ALYKF and it doesn’t look like any other HC fest lineup wise and that is cool.

HC moves so fast and people move on from bands so quickly, and post “pandemic” we haven’t been QUITE as active as we were before since we’ve been getting our new record ready and what not, so again it feels great that Aaron has wanted us to be a part of the fest and we can’t wait to play.

In terms of what to do in Tulsa etc…I’ma be honest…no clue haha the closer it gets we’ll probably do some Googling and asking locals about spots to check out. Any vegan food or collectible toy stores or record stores…plz send our way 🙂

What other bands on the festival lineup are you excited about right now?

There’s a lot of bands on the fest that are cool and really show off how diverse HC is right now sonically, and some of the bands each of us are particularly excited about are:

Charlie: Snuffed on Sight, Anxious, and Gridiron

Nate: Chemical Fix

Hunter: Slug & Gridiron

Ralph: End Game, Slug, and Take It To Heart

Devin: Strange Joy, Take It To Heart, Slug, and Constraint

Basically we really like SLUG!

If you had to share one last message with our readers, what would that be?

Support your peers and support smaller HC bands/tours.

The coolest aspect of HC is the community and good vibes are contagious especially to new faces. Bigger HC doesn’t exist without smaller HC so don’t skip out on smaller shows or checking out smaller bands because you haven’t heard of them or they aren’t being bombarded across your timeline 24/7. Everything’s connected, it all matters, and we’re all part of the same scene.

Listen to their two track promo on Bandcamp below!

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