"Sometimes it seems like it can't be done,
But if I don't care then why should anyone?
If you want to start a fire,
Be the spark.
It's going to take a fire to light the dark."
- Mindset "Be The Spark" from R E A L P O W E R (2009)
I can think of a lot of trends that have come and gone in the past two decades of my "hardcore" experience. I remember fashionxcore, massive threads on esoteric message boards about the unscrupulous behavior of Tony Victory, PAHardcore being obsessed with Manowar, the rise of the B9 board, and on and on and on. Hardcore can be really awesome. It can also be really dumb.
A lot of things in hardcore just don't appeal to me anymore. I don't go watch bands that I think suck, which is probably most of them. I haven't been to a fest since Burning Fight. I stopped collecting records for the most part. But, the best things in hardcore still mean the world to me. Friendships I've made with complete strangers that have lingered from the 1990s, into the 2000s, and still persist now in 2016. The Straight Edge - thanks to everyone who said I would "break" - and all the positive life experiences I've had associated with that. Of course, music is the real key to hardcore. Isn't that really what it was always about.
There was an energy, an anger and a bottomless well of adrenaline. And that is the one thing I remember about all of my favorite bands over the years - Shai Hulud, Buried Alive, Strongarm, Gorilla Biscuits, Harvest, Champion, Turning Point, Stretch Arm Strong, Eighteen Visions (I love them, deal with it), Throwdown, Coalesce, and, yes, Mindset.
There are thousands of hardcore bands. We all know the "classics." But, for each of us a different band, sound, lyric sparked action in us. I love hardcore because it lit the spark and still does. It takes the anger and frustration and helps me focus it in a direction that I believe in. That could be straight edge or some type of activism or religious path or maybe even a gang. People from all different walks of life tapping into the same vein, spreading throughout the entire body of "hardcore" and giving this big awkward place some real life, a real spark.
"The Question is not: Who will let me?
The Question is: WHO WILL STOP ME?"
- Mindset "Create/Control" from Time & Pressure (2010)
A lot of the bands I came up on were from metallic end of the genre. Bands that had a message as equally abrasive as their music, but definitely on the really heavy end of things. I don't recall where the early straight edge and youth crew styled bands came into things for me, but it wasn't much later. I remember reading an interview with Ten Yard Fight in Thrasher at some point in the 90s and being hyped on it. I think the move to those old, big-name bands was a natural progression for me because I liked the really hard, really fast music and already had learned to identify with the straight edge lifestyle.
To inform and empower the listener is the single greatest contribution that hardcore music has had on me and the people I know. It's really easy to get caught up in the hate and cynicism of watching trends, "crews," "edge-breakers," "sell-outs," and all manner of fads tarnish friendships and ideals. It is also really easy to turn someone off to idea that doesn't agree with them when it is presented at full force through an album like Judge's Bringin' It Down or Earth Crisis's Gomorrah's Season Ends.
Hardcore gave me a voice that was louder and more threatening to the world around me that I was at odds with, making me harder to ignore since it was no longer just my voice but the voice of an entire movement that I was trying to physically embody. I'm always going to be thankful for that. The combination of a sound and ideas that the rest of the world found dangerous was empowering for me, it made me wonder who could stop me - and no one ever did stop me.
"Foundations crumble, structures rust.
I'd rather be ashes than a pile of dust."
- Mindset "One Step Beyond" from Leave No Doubt (2012)
A lot of things change and that is true in hardcore just like everywhere else. We are all just people, after all. While some great bands like The First Step and Right Idea slowly receded from memory, Mindset pressed on and carried the torch.
Sometimes a band grows into an identity bigger than themselves. Was Judge the only straight edge band? Were they the most violent? Most hated? Sell-outs? If they were any of these things, they were not the superlative. They did manage to tap into those things and convey them in a way that others didn't before or after, perhaps. And that is true of a band like Mindset as well. No, I don't mean some reputation of violence or hate. Everything that Mindset has ever done drips with energy, fury and emotion. You can feel it in every song they ever recorded. You can see it every picture and video of their performances.
Mindset put everything out there for the world to consume. They informed and empowered while championing ideas like the straight edge, social justice and responsibility, personal struggle and action. Above all, action. Bands will come, bands will go but their message can carry on. Mindset created songs that were genuinely enjoyable to listen to and jam really loud in my old car or in my living room with my wife. The call to action is what really matters and what Mindset was always careful to provide.
Fire burns hot, lit from a spark. Mindset burned bright and shared their light in a world of dark. Sometimes I appreciate music for the musicianship or the art, but a song or album that compels me into an action or conscious decision is so much more powerful like a fire that burns and leaves nothing but ash. I'd take that over the dust of feel good, empty music any day.
"Never compromise, never bend.
I stand behind every word I ever said.
I gave everything, everything I had to give.
Nothing less than true.
I'd ask the same from you."
- Mindset "Nothing Less" from Nothing Less (2016)
Mindset has done a lot of good throughout their existence. And it has been an exciting ride as an observer, as someone impacted by their message and their music. In the true spirit of hardcore, these are brothers in hardcore and the straight edge. From MindSWEATS to cassettes, it has been a memorable ride.
The final release from Mindset, Nothing Less, is a true testament to the band. A new twist to the Mindset sound combined with exactly what we've come to expect from the band. The lyrics are hard hitting and music carries a slightly harder edge, if that is even possible.
The band isn't fading away with this final release, they are burning up with the same measured fury and passion that they have brought to every other thing they have ever done. The members of the band aren't going away and their other projects are wonderful endeavors that you should check out and support.
So celebrate the final Mindset release with me. Let's all look back at what they have given us and take the words and music they produced into our hearts and be the catalyst, the spark for the change that we want to see in this world.
by Daniel Coughlin (@xvanwilderx)