Exclusive with Mike of ‘Inhuman’: Talkin’ bout music and the NEW project
June 24, 2010
Words & Interview by Steve DiLodovico | Smutlife
Mike Scondotto is the roaring throat of Brooklyn’s Inhuman, a powerful outfit that combines the best of Old School NYHC with elements of Punk and Metal to achieve a brutal throwback sound. Scondotto is a student of the genres and what began as a simple interview about his own band quickly progressed into a detailed discussion about all things Hardcore and beyond. Mike, having been born and raised in BK, was right in the middle of the late-80’s NYHC explosion and witnessed some legendary bands at the height of their prime. But, first and foremost; he’s a fan. He’s an unapologetic Metalhead and a connoisseur of collectibles and getting into a music conversation with Mike can end up lasting for hours. That is, if you can hold your own…
For those that don’t know, give us a little history on Inhuman.
MS: Basically the band started in 1995, in the summer. Before that I was a bass player in a band called Confusion. I always wanted to have my own band and to sing. I wanted to do something more along the lines of traditional New York Hardcore. Confusion was more of a Death Metal band. My original scene was New York Hardcore; I started going to Hardcore shows when I was 14. I think secretly I wanted to be a singer, so I started writing a lot and actually wrote a lot of the songs that became our first demo and 15 years later I’m still doing it.
One of the things I personally dig about Inhuman is that the sound is very reminiscent of bands like Sick of it All, whereas it seems the newest trends in Hardcore tend to lean more towards a Metal sound.
MS: It’s an amalgamation of everything I grew up on; everything I listen to. I, personally, love Metal. I’m a very big fan of Death Metal in particular, but that is something I kind of tried to keep separate, sonically, from Inhuman. I never wanted to make Inhuman strictly a Death or Black Metal band. That’s just my own personal thing. But, I simultaneously listen to all kinds of music. People do kind of drop out of Hardcore; go in and out of it, but I always kept it in my life. To me it’s kind of second nature at this point. For me it’s not a job, not a hobby: it’s my life.
Yeah, if I’m comparing Inhuman’s sound to a lot of the new stuff coming out, I think it’s miles away from that heavy, blast-beat, Death Metal growling type of new hardcore.
MS: There’s definitely a lot of stuff out there that is heavier and darker (in the new Metal scene); it just depends on what you get exposed to. When Hardcore was kind of dying out a bit in the early 90’s Death Metal really spoke to me in the same way hardcore did. A few years later I found Black Metal and it did the same thing. I’ve always liked extreme things, whether it is music or movies or art; books… anything like that. That’s just something I’ve always liked. I mean, I’ve been fortunate that there have been people all over the place who appreciate what we do. That’s really cool. After 15 years some people would have given up. To me, like I said, this isn’t a job: it’s a passion.
And that is totally Hardcore; the ethics, the aesthetic…
MS: It’s funny because we have been accused of being a quote-unquote Metal band, but I think if people hear what I just said… that, to me, is the epitome of Hardcore and Punk Rock.
MS: Right. And, the thing is, we do mix it up. We never intentionally say “oh, let’s write this kind of song or that kind of song.” However it comes out, it comes out. On the last record we had a song called “What You Wanted” which was very Punk Rock; kind of Social Distortion-sounding and a lot of people said it was one of the best songs the band ever wrote and it was their favorite song. Was it definitive of what Inhuman sounds like? Not really, but, to a lot of people, they just think it’s a great song. We have the freedom to that in this band. The next record could possibly be full of nothing but fast, very short songs. The next record could be a total 80’s Hardcore throwback… we will do whatever it feels like we want to do.
One of the very few drawbacks of what I think our scene has always been is this desire for people to really want to put labels on stuff, especially the music. As much as people want to talk about freedom, diversity, independence, etc. it seems like the hardcore scene has always been very big on labels and they kind of allow themselves to be dictated by these self-imposed labels. A perfect example would be Suicidal Tendencies. First album: pure Skate Punk Hardcore. After that they went Metal and there are people, to this day, who haven’t forgiven them.
MS: Actually, as much as I like that first ST album, I love the second and third albums as well. It’s funny you mention Suicidal: technically they may have been the very first to cross over. That album was, like, ’82 or ’83. In ’82 and ’83 you had either Hardcore or Metal. No in between. That record is before DRI’s Crossover, it’s before COC’s Animosity, and that kind of kicked it all off. I went through a period when I first got into Hardcore where I was very anti anything that wasn’t Hardcore music. But, about a year down the line I was like; ‘you know what? I do like Slayer’ and I discovered bands like Kreator and Sepeltura and I was like; ‘wow, this is great shit, too.’ There’s no need to be close-minded. If you’re a music addict like me, these things really don’t matter.
Exactly. A record that blows your head off is a record that blows your head off; it doesn’t matter what the “style” is.
MS: Totally. It’s funny because my whole musical path goes back, actually, to Metallica. If it wasn’t for Metallica wearing nothing but Misfits and Samhain T-shirts all the time, and me seeing that at a young age, I may not have found this music. Me and some friends growing up were big Thrash Metal freaks when we were like 13 years old and we were like; ‘OK, we need to see what this Misfits band sounds like because Metallica loves them.” We thought the Misfits would be the heaviest band in the world because Metallica liked them and wore their shirts. Me and some of my friends went to the local music store and one of my friends bought Legacy of Brutality and I purchased… I can’t remember if it was the first Suicidal or the first M.O.D album on cassette. It was one of those two. But we immediately through on the black cassette of Legacy of Brutality and when we heard it we couldn’t believe that it was not the heaviest thing we had ever heard! We all actually agreed that it almost sounded like Elvis. The three of us said that immediately. But we liked it. We didn’t know what the hell it was. It was Punk Rock; what I knew of Punk Rock when I was 13 was… I don’t know, like Rock the Casbah or something. I didn’t know what the fuck Punk Rock was. I could name the Sex Pistols and I knew the Clash and that was about it at 13. But we just got hooked. We were like; ‘this isn’t what we thought it was gonna’ be, but we really like it anyway.’
I had a very similar experience with the Misfits
MS: It’s funny, that kind of thing probably still goes on today. People see their favorite bands wearing other bands’ shirts and it drives them to go check it out. That is a great way to find a band. It’s just a cool way of finding new music.
When we were coming up there were really only two ways to find new bands, it was either by seeing the shirts your favorite bands wore or checking the thanks lists in records.
MS: I still look at thanks lists all the time! I don’t own an IPod, I don’t really download anything. I take a lot of gambles sometimes (laughs). I “blind-buy” a lot of times.
Tell us about the Brooklyn Monster Factory.
MS: The Brooklyn Monster Factory is a comic book, T-shirt, toy, and now vinyl LP shop that my brother Jon and I opened up in April 2006 and we are still in business. We make pretty much no money whatsoever from it though. All that we make goes back into the ordering for the store. It is a real labor of love, for the love of comics for sure! It’s also a cool hangout and I have actually forged good friendships with people as a result of it. We specialize in more modern day comics, from say the mid 80′s till today. We also sell Inhuman merch and merch from our friends’ bands like Sick of It All, Maximum Penalty and Candiria. We sell Pitchfork clothing too, and also sell tickets to shows like the Black N Blue Bowl every year. We are located at 493 7th Ave Brooklyn NY 11215.
What kind of a crowd do you see at Inhuman shows?
MS: The majority is what I call Hardcore kids. You know: kind of that non-descript, shorter hair, tattooed look. But we actually do have a lot of Metalhead fans, as well as Punk Rock kids. It’s kind of a mixed bag, but I would say the majority kind of fall under that blanket of Hardcore kids.
It’s got to be a rewarding feeling to know that your music is appreciated by all kinds of fans.
MS: It definitely is. I’ve also come to learn that when you gain respect from other bands; when people in other bands like your band; sometimes that is just as rewarding. I like the fact that we’ve earned the respect of a lot of people, that people have said a lot of kind things about us.
What do you guys have coming up?
MS: We’re kind of in writing mode right now; we hope to have something new out by next year. We’re looking for a new record label, too. Aside from that we’re probably going to do a 15th anniversary show at Santo’s Party House at some point in October. The guys in Inhuman are kind of busy: Joe is in Agnostic Front, Henry is in Seventh Void and I am doing a new project as well, but Inhuman is our priority.
What’s the new project you’re doing?
MS: This will be my first time publicly speaking about it…
You mean I got an exclusive?
Nice! Hit me…
MS: It’s a new band called The Last Stand. It’s myself, and the guys from the band Shutdown. It’s brand new; I think we’ve rehearsed twice so far. The project is something that Dion from Shutdown has put together. He’s written all the music and pretty much all the lyrics as well. They asked me to sing for this because Shutdown is on an extended hiatus. It’s different from Inhuman, I think, and it’s different from Shutdown. It’s definitely in the Hardcore realm, but it’s a little more melodic, a little more of a west coast feel; like Ignite or maybe Uniform Choice. Brand new project, we’ll probably be playing our first show after the summer. I pretty much watched Shutdown grow up: my younger brother, Mark, is the singer. Everyone in that band is like a brother to me and when they asked me to do it I, of course, said yes. The thing is, they haven’t played a show since 2006 at the Black and Blue Bowl. My brother’s down in Florida and he has two kids, married, doing his thing down there. But I think the guys missed playing and wanted to do something new. It was something they wanted to do because they love playing and love Hardcore. I think once you hit your 30’s and you are still in Hardcore you’re probably never going to leave…
Stay up-to-date with Inhuman: www.facebook.com/inhuman and check out tracks on the band’s MySpace page: www.myspace.com/inhuman. You can also find information on the Brooklyn Monster Factory at: www.myspace.com/brooklynmonsterfactory.