How Sedition Became the Toughest (and Funniest) Band in Hardcore
The Ottawa five-piece have beef with Papa John's, an arsenal of memes and some seriously heavy tunes
Published Sep 05, 2018There's a caveman humourlessness that's often associated with beatdown hardcore, but Sedition have proven that a sense of self-awareness goes a long way. The Ottawa quintet quietly released their debut EP War Against All last month through Walk A Mile Records, and have since spawned a beef with Papa John's, an arsenal of memes and, to top it all off, some serious songwriting chops.
We've all known this music is secretly funny for years, so pairing tongue-in-cheek irony with sincere social commentary gives Sedition a uniquely fresh take on the genre. It also instantly sets them apart as a band to watch some two months after they formed.
Because of their subject matter, aesthetic and sound, we thought it'd be fitting to talk to the Sedition braintrust in the form of an old-school Q&A blog post. Below, read what guitarist Mike Contos and frontman Lance Crowder have to say about the ridiculous (and ridiculously great) new band they share with guitarist Aleks Trzebunia, bassist Matt Fors and drummer Nik Laliberte.
What was the original idea for Sedition? Did it change at all?
Mike: Growing up I really loved stuff like E-Town, Death Before Dishonour, Hoods, CDC, Recon, early Lionheart, etc. I clearly remember the experience of going to certain shows as a teen, and within the first three seconds of a band's set you would instantly be scared because you knew it was going to be absolute chaos and people were going to get hurt. With Sedition I wanted to write music that captured that same feeling of excitement and danger. There are a lot of people out there who consider this type of music corny, but I think there's something unique and special about bands that unapologetically crank the aggression up to 11 without worrying about being over the top. I hope with Sedition that we've managed take that formula and bring something new and interesting to it.
Let's talk about irony and hardcore, two things that don't often mix very well. Sedition is clearly a serious and hard band, but you're also very funny. How do you straddle the line between having a laugh but playing serious music?
Mike: I think you have to be somewhat self-aware when you're creating something this over the top, otherwise it's going to seem pretty goofy, but at the same time, the lyrics are about real shit…. I guess the answer to that question is that we don't really spend any time thinking about balancing the band between being serious and being funny. We just want to put out songs that go as hard as possible, and we're going to have a lot of fun and laughs along the way naturally. Other people have been too, which is awesome. Bands that are too serious to take a joke or make jokes about themselves aren't any fun.
Lance: I think it's all about substance. If a band is from a pretty safe place, with a good upbringing, they can't write songs about "hard" stuff and have it seem authentic. That's why, despite the over the top commitment Mike managed to capture in the instrumentals, sound clips and album art, at no point is a single lyric I write trying to be something that we aren't. I can tell you exactly what I wrote about: One song is about an abuser who was outed in our city, and they tried to gaslight, manipulate, and rewrite survivors' stories. I don't fuck with that. Another song is about my early life growing up as a person with a physical condition that caused me to be in and out of the hospital regularly. In "Sentenced," I'm not talking about something wild like going to prison, I'm talking about being born, getting handed a label, and having to live with that over my head, getting looks from people, getting blunt and rude questions, and so on. I think you can play any kind of music so long as you mean it and are committed to what you're doing. If you're "out of your lane" so to speak, you'll come off as corny, cringey, or straight-up fake.
Do you feel like the concept is going over people's heads, whether they think it's too funny or too serious?
Mike: Nah, I think people are taking it exactly like we were hoping. Sometimes you go to a show or turn on an album and hear something so ignorant that the only possible response is laughter, but at the same time, you wanna go hit the gym and hit a PR, and the fact that people seem to be having that exact reaction to our EP makes me really happy. It's exactly what we were hoping for,
Lance: I think it's landing, but also think there's nothing wrong with a listener leaning one way or the other. If some young kid hears this, and it falls in line with what they listen to, and it gives them a reason to come out to shows, that's cool. That's what it's all about. If someone hears it and thinks its insane, and they poke fun at it, that's fine too. If we're bringing people any kind of enjoyment, then I feel good about that.
Your fans love to make Sedition memes (myself included)... how do you feel about the memes?
Mike: The memes are great! The fact that people have listened to our songs enough to find some absurdist humour in them is awesome.
Lance: Any press is good press. I find it hilarious that we're getting called 'dumb people music' or 'the best dumb band.' We're almost all college or uni grads and that's hilarious that we're pumping out 'stupid music.' The dichotomy kills me.
Mike: People actually care if you get bullied at a pop-punk show.
Lance: I have no idea what either means. I was tracking vocals and my roommate said, 'let me get in on this,' took his shirt off, held a hammer overhead and starting screaming various rants. We have so many different takes of different things. People seem to like it though, so that's cool.
We have a message for you Papa John:— Sedition (@Sedition613) August 27, 2018
You. Are. Not. Forgiven. pic.twitter.com/1Z3bPp4htP
The Papa John's thing is getting some much-deserved recognition. Tell me about how that came to be.
Mike: Yeah, that's an interesting story. People think that we jumped in the studio to make that in response to their tweet, but nothing could be further from the truth. The title track from the EP has a section before the last riff where our friend Mitch does a mosh call/rant type thing. We probably spent an hour or two trying different things and trying to get it right. This was probably a day after the news had broke that Papa John had said the n-word during a conference call and it was all over Twitter. So anyway, Mitch is trying all these different rants, most of which were too heinous to ever release, I start recording a new take, and out of nowhere he starts screaming "YOU CAN PUT ON AS MANY YUMMY TOPPINGS AS YOU LIKE, BUT IF YOU SAY THE N-WORD ON MY CONFERENCE CALL, PAPA JOHN, YOU BETTER GET FUCKED, AND KILL YOURSELFFFFF." We were all rolling on the floor laughing because it came out of nowhere, and I saved the take because I thought it was so funny. For a while we toyed with the idea of including the Papa John's rant on a few random tapes as an easter egg, but when the Papa John's twitter released that hilarious apology video, we knew that the time had come for the Papa John's diss track to be unleashed.
Tell me about hardcore in Ottawa. What's happening?
Lance: I've been booking shows in Ottawa since 2011. It's cool. A small growing scene full of people from various backgrounds. There is a lot of crossover with the metalcore scene, and even the local hip-hop scene (see Reh Reh). Ottawa is small, and of course any scenes have problems, but with the continued support of it's members, and open communication to weed out shitty people and dangerous behaviour, it can only get better.
Didn't know Sedition already had band pics pic.twitter.com/iYkgfMysA6— Mitchell (@Mourningxprayer) August 1, 2018
The snare sound on your EP is truly insane. What were some of your tone inspos (for guitar too)?
Mike: The inspiration for the snare sound is basically the sound of an aluminum baseball bat hitting an empty beer keg. When I think about moshcore/beatdown/etc, there's this archetypal set of sounds that define the genre, and the obnoxious, pinging snare sound is definitely one of them. I wanted to take that concept and ratchet it up even more for Sedition. There's a lot that went into making the snare sound the way that it does on the EP, but one of the main elements was a sample of that classic MySpace-era grindcore snare that a lot of bands used to use, and that was mixed in with the sound of the actual snare.
As far as guitar tones, I have always been a believer in the idea that the guitar needs to be a mid-range instrument, and that the bass needs to be a low-end instrument. I'm not a huge fan of overly distorted bass, probably my favorite bass tone is the one of Friends Family Forever or Count Me In by Death Before Dishonour. I'm not sure what they used on those records but I think we achieved a similar sound by running the bass through a SansAmp into an Ampeg stack. It's really basic stuff, but I love that punky sound where the bass has a nice clean low end, while having enough presence up top to burp through the guitars sometimes.
As for the guitars, I'm a religious 5150/6505 guy. I've never played another amp that even comes close when it comes to playing heavy, distorted riffs. I think the intuition when dialling in a guitar tone for this type of music is to scoop the mids and crank the highs and lows, but I actually did the exact opposite. I think the mids were at a 10 for both guitars on the EP. I love that barky, mid-heavy sound for guitars, probably my favorite guitar tone of all time is on The Caitiff Choir by It Dies Today, the guitars literally sound like someone is dragging slabs of concrete around on a cement floor.
Does Sedition have plans to tour? Are you going to become a massive band that opens for Comeback Kid for 200 dates a year throughout Australia?
Mike: Currently we're all adults in our mid-to-late twenties with school and full time jobs to worry about, but if the opportunities come along and we can make it work, we're going to do as much as we possibly can.
Lance: I'm not a young kid anymore. Tour is fun, but to willingly sleep on floors and smell like a nutsack for an extended amount of time, it would have to be worth it. Like Mike said, if the right opportunity comes around, I'm game. No Australia though. I'm scared of sharks.
What else do we need to know about Sedition?
Mike: When we put out this EP, we were expecting to get some backlash on the internet. But the material we're writing now is honestly probably going to get us stabbed and I'm really excited to drop more material and see what the reaction is going to be like.
Lance: This music is for people who like having fun. This band is riding for Ottawa, Calgary, Poland, and Canadian hardcore as well as calling out unacceptable behaviour. If you're a hot take machine with edgy views looking to get troll likes and shock laughs, please stay far away from me, my band, and our scene. I'm looking forward to getting more stuff off of my chest, whether it be social issues, personal conflicts (internal or external), and I just really want to put out more music that people enjoy listening to or making fun of.
Sedition is music by smart people for stupid people.— Chain Gretzky (@DereckBurns) August 14, 2018