Accomplices: Heather Peterson, Skye, Poppa Chris, Rainie, Mike and Bailey
Shattered Realm is a Hardcore band. No "Post this," or "Alt that" to contend with. Nothing to water everything down. Just straight up, New Jersey aggression - period. Formed back in 2001, the original group sprung to life in a largely stagnant scene. With a different lineup, not many places to play and not much more than their love for the music to propel them, the band began making their local presence known - ultimately recording a demo that was later remastered into the EP All Will Suffer. However, it wasn't until the addition of current guitarist Joe None that the mortal outfit really began to gain momentum. An appearance on Hellfest, along with a number of high profile shows with Hatebreed, Sworn Enemy, Cold As Life and many others lead the group to inking a deal with Alveran/Eulogy Records. The Death Metal/Hardcore classic Broken Ties, Spoken Lies was released soon after and the band quickly hit the road in a succession of tours, adding current bassist Danny and drummer Chris Rage as the pressures of the road caused original members to succumb and drop out. By the summer of 2004, Shattered Realm recruited a one Joe Hardcore to join them as their new, full time vocalist, documenting his introductory road jaunt on the Tour Is Hell DVD. Satisfied that they had at last solidified their most brutal lineup, the group buried themselves in the studio, emerging in late 2005 with their most satisfying if not definitive release From The Dead End Blocks Where Life Means Nothing. It was at such a time that I became aware of them and secretly planned their demise once their never ending tour should eventually come to Denver.
However, I was mystified to discover that Shattered Realm were surrounded and protected by a vast battalion of mortals called F.S.U.( which I was to learn stands for, among other things, Fuck Shit Up.) Because I can have no such meddling legion impeding my ongoing mission of killing Hardcore bands I deem as a threat, I decided a swift course of action was in order. While my own contingent of undead soldiery would have more than sufficed in rendering such a nuisance dead, I instead resolved to be creative and ingenious in my response this new threat. I decided to kill Shattered Realm, who, under my power, will in turn kill other FSU, who will in turn kill other FSU, eventually transforming the entire legion into my new and improved crew: FMU (Fuck Mortals Up)!
The FSU turned out to be more slippery than I had prognosticated, however. They must have already known of my existence and in anticipating my attack, provided Shattered Realm with a the only known weapon capable of thwarting my plans: A fully automated, M-40A3 attack Hobot, proficient at not only servicing the band while on the road, but also armed and ready to stop the gay undead in their tracks! As a result, I am now in a predicament I must now remove myself from (more about that in my next feature), but as you will see from the following photographs, my objective still was a success. Shattered Realm, along with their merch mortal Johnny Bones, is now dead and the process is unfolding. Behold, the eve of the FMU and the end of Shattered Realm...
L - R: Joe Hxc, Joe None, Danny, Chris Rage
Feature photography by Heather Peterson
Click on pictures to enlarge
Aren't you going to lose tough-guy-hardcore points by doing an interview with a gay zombie?
Joe Hxc: Hopefully we lose all tough guy points and start getting looked at as a Hardcore band for once.
Joe None: A lot of "tough guy" bands try and act too serious all the time, instead of relaxing and having fun. If we lose tough guy points I hope we at least acquire some gay undead points.
You will!...but only if you hook me up with your merch guy Johnny Bones. What will it take to get into his pants?
Joe Hxc: Sadly, Maris anything short of drugging him and a lot of duct tape will not secure a place in his pants.
Drugs and duct tape can be arranged.
Joe Hxc: Johnny Bones is a lover not a fighter, he has a yankee charm that will get the pants off of any girl...
Or gay zombie.
Joe Hxc: He has been told on more then a few occasions that he is the greatest kisser of all time... your chances are far too slim to see a reality in it.
Joe None: Well, Mr. Bones has been known to drink quite the few Diet Budweisers and as Joe said, he was told he's the greatest kisser of all time, so maybe if you entice him with beers and fault his "greatest kisser" claim, you may be in.
Correct answer, mortal! So let us speak about your pathetic, mortal band. What was the initial mission?
Joe Hxc: To be in an awesome band and bring that kind of Hardcore back to the area.
Where did the name come from?
Danny: Well, I was the original drummer. We were great, except the complete opposite of great. Anyway, I was sitting behind the drum set in the rehearsal studio and Chris Collins who was the singer at the time, smashed through the wall like the Hulk, walked through the smoke and rubble, shouting SHATTERED REALM! as if it was the 11th commandment. It just stuck. I wasn't arguing with him. He was on some Clash of the Titans shit.
What was the Hardcore scene like in New Jersey at that time?
Joe Hxc: It was in ruins. Clubs wouldn't do shows much, most of the halls had problems with attendance. It was a struggle at that stage for a once great state.
Joe None: It was ok. There was a sort of monopoly going on where only one club would do shows. People were too lazy to do DIY shows, cuz there wasn't many New Jersey bands. People were content with being lazy and waiting for the bigger bands to come through. The kids with bands were more worried about getting on that big show rather then pushing themselves.
Joe Hardcore mortal, you once mentioned that the band wasn't shit until Joe None joined. You shall now explain such a statement.
Joe Hxc: Joe None brought a tighter sound to the band and got them out of a rut of playing with a lot of same bands. He really took Shattered Realm and turned it up a notch.
Joe None: Thanks, Joe. I just think that Shattered Realm was a good band before I joined, but these dudes were more content with just playing. They were young guys and didn't have all the contacts. When Shattered Realm started, Hardcore was at the beginning of this internet thing, and it actually still took knowing people and having a good rep to get shows. From being around a while, I knew a lot of people that helped us out in the beginning.
How did each member come to join the band?
Joe None: Well, Danny was the original drummer, like he just said. Then it floated around for a bit. Al and Chris ( ex drummer and singer) were in the band and I stepped in as second guitar and Danny played bass. Al couldn't tour all the time so we had Rage filling in whenever Al couldn't. Al eventually started working at this super good job, and Chris couldn't tour anymore, so Joe Hardcore stepped in for the Eulogy tour '04. A lot of people think Shattered Realm is this whole new band. Danny has been in it since the beginning, and Rage was always filling in so its not like much changed in our point of view.
The early sound of the band was much more Metal influenced. Tell me more about that.
Joe Hxc: At that time, few bands really took the Metal thing and had the hard sound as well. So at the time it was quite a combination. As a year or two went by, most of the popular bands were the heavier Metal bands and it all started to sound like noise. It was a great, original approach, but it is good to not get lumped in with the bands that play that style anymore.
Joe None: Plus we wanted to change it up a bit. We wanted to try some new stuff as well as some new stuff with the old Shattered Realm style still in it.
How has Shattered Realm's sound matured/evolved over the last five years?
Joe Hxc: They started off just being a fun, young band. The early shows were a blast. With Joe and Alex on guitars they really got the heavy sound meshed with metal accents together. The first record was the best example of that. The amount of touring Shattered Realm did made some of the first record boring to play live. The new record is a better record, sound-wise and song-wise and to apply it to what Shattered Realm does the most, it fits well with our constant touring. You could say we went from fun, to serious, to seriously a lot of fun to play live.
Tell me about the new CD, From The Dead End Blocks Where Life Means Nothing
Joe Hxc: We recorded at Landmine which is our friends place. They really stepped up on this record and we couldn't ask for anything more out of them. Technically it was a record that took about two years if you count from the time the last record came out. There was two songs that were written before I joined the band ("Final Day" and "Endless") and we did an old song off the All Will Suffer EP ("No One Else"). The rest of the songs came together in the first half of 2005. A lot of late night practices and such. We went in and did a pre-production CD so we could hear the songs and such. That constant repetition of those songs helped us really define what we wanted to keep and change with the record. For the most part the music had been just where it was supposed to be before we went in, but a few changes made them perfect.
How did the lyrics come together?
Joe Hxc: Because of the speed in which we wrote some of the songs, I found myself writing lyrics and singing them to the music for the first time in the studio. It was a new experience for me doing both of those. My favorite songs would be "All That Matters", "Our Time", "New Disgrace", and "GBNF". I also really like how we updated "No One Else". All in all, this is a record I can walk away from without any second thoughts or regrets, which is a completely satisfying and unique experience as well.
Since Hardcore is becoming so fashionable on a national level, it's meaning is becoming many things to many people. Since you were there from the beginning, what do you see around you, that pisses you off? ...and what makes you proud?
Joe Hxc: People taking shows for granted in the East coast bothers me a lot. Kids are closer geographically and the shows that come by are all awesome but because of how close everything is and how often they happen, people don't take them seriously and feel the need to support as many of them as they can. The turnover rate in this area is about three years. Three years from the time a kid comes around 'til he is just about done with it. It's funny to see people move to Philly with the best straight edge, Hardcore mindset and walk away on drugs and worrying about the downtown bar scene. I am proud to be a part of the group that is making a difference. We got great shows at the First Unitarian Church in Philly and they are always fun, safe and packed with kids. To help in keeping those shows going and to make them more of an event then a show, is really rewarding. Especially coming from a place in my life where I used to have more to do with ending shows and venues. Its good to help out again. I like to see the young kids go off and really get into the new bands that are coming out. Its funny to see the some of the older guys get out there from time to time as well.
Joe None: As good as the internet is, and as much as it's making the scene bigger, its also taking away from the vibe that originally brought me and many others to the scene. Now you can watch shows from home over a webcast, you can buy records from a site instead of a distro, you can go to any eight websites instead of a zine. These things are good to get into, but it makes kids watch a show online instead of going there, rather than being able to watch it only cuz you couldn't make it.
Do you hope the increasing popularity of the genre will help Shattered Realm reach a reasonable level of success?
Joe Hxc: Success for me has already been attained. I've come from one of the poor neighborhoods where some people never even leave their hood to go downtown. I've got to travel all over the country, meet people and play to awesome crowds. Going to Europe is just icing on that cake you know? Hardcore is never going to be a cash cow for bands like us. We just have to take it in stride and enjoy the ride while its there for us to.
Joe None: Exactly. Who would have thought a bunch of idiots who play loud music would get to see the whole country...never mind Europe for free. I'm happy to see my name on a flyer. When you make something you want as many people as possible to be able to see it or hear it. We have gotten that chance and it means everything.
How well does the band adapt to the touring life?
Joe Hxc: For the most part everyone has given it 100% and good or bad we've made it this far. To come from all the headaches to a great tour we just ended, it was well worth it. Its hard to be a band on tour when you are playing Hardcore, your label can only do so much and the kids are the only thing that make it rewarding.
Danny: Lots of beer. We are constantly picking on each other, so our tours are for the thick skinned. It definitely has its ups and downs, but the same goes for anything. We drink a lot, except for Joe (Hardcore). I think I mentioned that already. I'd make note of the frequent nudity but I want you to finish this interview with dry undies.
Nudity?...Really?...Who has the largest wiener?
Joe None: Well, I won't talk about "big dick" Danny, but Rage's dick is small, peirced and disgusting, so it's nothing you want to even know about. But I'm Italian, so I have a nice, sweet sausage for ya.
Joe None: Plus, I'm half Sicilian, so there's a little extra weight in it.
Joe Hardcore: Well you know I am irish right? Too small to need a telescope, too big for a microscope. It's big enough to make a few smile and a lot laugh. I made two kids with it, so it's in proper order and not dysfunctionally miniscule.
Well spoken, mortal. Speaking of small things, you mentioned you enjoy playing little places, rather than large venues. You shall now tell me why.
Joe Hxc: I don't really dig the huge barricades, big stages and light setups. It's not my world. I am not a professional singer. I am in a Hardcore band. The kids are there separated from you, the energy is lost in the space from the band to the crowd. Places like sox place the kids are right there in front of you. You are on their level. Hardcore is just like that. The bands are nothing more then the kids on the floor. Today kids don't see that as being so as much and its a big strain and a sad loss to the integrity and values of hardcore. I am no different then anyone who comes to see us play and that's the way it should always be. I don't want to be 10 feet above them, if they weren't there I would have no reason to be here. I don't like that kids don't identify with the bands anymore or think that because they are in a band they are better then anyone else. Bands break up and then the members go back to being the kid on the floor again. It's the beautiful cycle of Hardcore.
What's the connection between Shattered Realm and FSU?
Joe Hxc: There are three of us that are a part of FSU. We get the best of both worlds; our band allows us to tour across country where we can see all our brothers in their cities and have a blast. After van fuck ups and other headaches its good to come into a town that's not ours and feel at home because we have FSU brothers there.
How did FSU begin?
Joe Hxc- It began in the late 80's in Boston/Brockton area.
Why did it start?
Joe Hxc: The different groups of people that all went to shows seemed to stick together. The FSU guys were not dressing like everyone, not dancing like everyone and as they stuck out they grew together and it just kind of happened out of comrade and similarities between the original guys.
Is FSU a crew, gang or a posse?
Joe Hxc: Call it a crew. Gangs have no cohesion other then crime and we aren't interested in being a gang. Posses are for cowboys.
I like cowboys. How big is this mortal army of FSU?
Joe Hxc: We have chapters in Boston, Portland Maine, Upstate New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Chicago, Seattle, California, Arizona, Florida and we have members scattered throughout the country, either in the military, full time, on tour or otherwise.
What is the truth about the FSU?
Joe Hxc: The Truth is too broad. FSU is a crew bonded by brotherhood and a love of Hardcore.
What is utter bullshit?
Joe Hxc: That we are drug-dealing, gangster bullies that want to ruin shows for everyone.
I always knew FSU to mean Friends Stand United. Where did the Fuck Shit Up come from?
Joe Hxc: The climate of the shows at the beginning of FSU were different. Where as being a part of a gang meant you stick out now, gangs were how you came to shows. FSU or Fuck Shit Up did just that. A bunch of guys that weren't punks or skins but loved Hardcore and didn't take anyone's shit. They were responsible for the expulsion of the white power nazis from Boston area shows. It was a different time then and the name fit well with the caliber of the guys involved.
I've heard that in the early days, many venues wouldn't book Shattered Realm because they didn't want their place being destroyed. Is this true?...Is it still a problem?
Joe Hxc: Half True. In the early days there weren't much going on. So kids would get excited. So on a few occasions the crowd got out of control and such. That led to people being weary about Shattered Realm coming through. But it wasn't that big of a deal and most of the people who had problems with Shattered Realm are already out of Hardcore.
Everyone I've met in the FSU have been most acceptable mortals. Where does the bad rap come from?
Joe Hxc: I think its about misconceptions. People are quick to want to be accepted but not able to accept people upon first view. The internet gives this picture of FSU that is wrong and then the people go with it. The bad rap comes from the people who easily led to believe the wrong things.
Joe None: It's a huge game of telephone. After 500 people post and repost what they "heard" or "saw" about us, you find out most of the people who posted it heard from a friend, or read it somewhere. The internet has ruined Hardcore because of this. But it has also gave bands like us the opportunity to be heard in places that don't have the biggest scenes
Does allowing the idiot faction to join FSU give the whole crew a bad name?
Joe Hxc: FSU has some serious criteria that hopes weed out the idiot faction. I would say the idiot faction would come from the other side of the fence, the types that are willing to make a mountain out of a molehill and proclaim the worst shit across the internet. Or the guy who thinks what he says on the internet is going to be just an online thing and nothing will come of the shit talking. That's much more idiotic then a few of us getting wild from time to time.
Does the fact that FSU has such a harsh reputation help Shattered Realm market themselves?
Joe Hxc: I would say it does the opposite. We can tell the world we are a hardcore band, but they see gang members playing thug music. It's just how it goes. I don't know if we have a collective image to go by. If anything being who we are and not hiding our affiliations has done more damage. The people won't even give the music a chance or read the words. Its just how things go these days.
Joe None: Fuck everyone. People give preconceived notions of what the think they know. You yourself were "warned" not to work with us. If you didn't give us a chance we wouldn't have been able to be part of your army and we would have all missed the chance. If people wanna say "You those guys don't take shit," then whatever, but if people get to know us they would know the real deal. If everything the internet said was true we would play to five people a night, sell 30 CDs a year and would not have the hundreds of friends we do across the world.
Tell me the rumor about what happened in Arizona. What really happened?
Joe Hxc: We got asked by the kids who go to Tucson shows to move a show from another venue to Skrappys. We fought with our booking agent and would have ended up getting less money but we were happy to play a place the kids wanted to go. A fight happened in the venue that caused the show to get cancelled. Outside someone pulled out a gun and a smaller fight ensued. When it was all said and done, one person was killed, another was hurt and going to the hospital and it was all Shattered Realm's fault and we didn't even get to play yet.
The rumor that was spoken to My Greatness is that FSU showed up at the show with hammers and started hitting kids with them. One of the attending kids ran out of the place to get away from the craziness and was chased to his car. The FSU hammer-wielding mortals smashed his windshield in and that's when he shot one of them - out of self defense.
Joe None: All I can really say is the paper prints what they know will get readers. There was some crazy shit that happened there. But anyone who believes that as a band, who wants to succeed, that we would show up and "hit youths with hammers" because they weren't dancing the way we liked, is complete bullshit. And if you believe that, then we don't want your support anyway. It's a common fact that the person who shot the gun had a fully automatic, assault rifle, a handgun and a bullet proof vest. He wasn't so innocent and acting in self defense.
Something that many mortals don't like to talk about is the fact that Shattered Realm are known for doing a lot of charitable events. Tell me more about that.
Joe Hxc: We played two shows for two friends, whose sisters were killed. We've helped raise not only money for legal fees but we played a benefit that brought toys to a little girl, whose father was going to be in jail for christmas. This life is too short to only be concerned about yourself and what you are getting out of a situation. It feels good to help out when we can. Its terrible to have to get on stage and be there trying to raise money for a lost friend or loved one. I can't believe the amount of tragedies that have been taking place. But it's what we, as a community, have to do. If there is never a need again, I will be delighted, but as long as people keep dying young we are going to do whatever we can. It's a fucked up thing, getting up there and trying to stay focused when your thoughts are on your friend who is still grieving for his sister. I would have rather been down there with him then up there on stage but I was happy to be a part of helping his family out. It's the least we could do. And god forbid if something were to happen to me or my family, I know people would help out as well.
Joe None: I think Joe hit the nail on the head. As a band I feel like we have succeeded - not as a huge MTV band or anything, but as a band that our friends can call on for a just cause to help them out. It feels good to be able to bring a lot of people to a show to see your band to support something. I mean a lot of people will come to just support the benefit, but there's also a lot of people that come to see the band, and they like the band so much that they are going to make sure they are there and that they are behind the band 100%. There is no better feeling than that.
Danny: There's not much I can say. The Joes pretty much said it all. It's really is a great feeling knowing that there is a room full of people together for one purpose. They may not necessarily all know one another, but it's an amazing thing when people come together in time of need. I'm privileged to say that I am even a tiny part of the things Shattered Realm and the kids at the shows have been able to do for friends and families.
In addition to the music you make, how would you like mortals to remember Shattered Realm, after you are finished being a band?
Joe None: All the bad rumors, at least they will have something to talk about.
Joe Hxc: Remember the good times shared, the stories we swapped and the shows that were a blast.