Interview: All Out War's Mike Score on "Crawl Among the Filth," Hardcore Roots, and Taking a Stand

(Photo credit: Aga Hairesis)

AA: Introduce yourself and what you do in All Out War.

MS: I’m Mike Score. I sing for the band All Out War.

AA: Who played your first hardcore show? What influence did that have on keeping you involved in hardcore?

MS: Who played my first hardcore show… My first hardcore show I probably saw was D.R.I. at City Gardens, and I really wasn’t sure that it was a hardcore show because I was coming from the metal aspect, so it was more of a hardcore show and… That opened up the floodgates to everything that would come after that.

AA: Crawl Among the Filth is going to be your first release on Unbeaten Records. What made you want to work with Unbeaten?

MS: Well, since we have gotten off of Victory Records, we really have been working with our friends so we worked with Clint [Billington] from Organized Crime for two records. Now, I’ve known Buddy [Armstrong, owner of Unbeaten Records] for a long time. Buddy was in a band called Stigmata, but I met Buddy even before that. Buddy and I have been really good friends for a long time and he’s a good guy, we talked about doing an EP, what was it... Last year, we talked about doing an EP? So, we talked about doing five songs, we started writing the five songs, and everything was just coming really easy to us. So, I asked Buddy, you know, instead of doing the EP, let’s just push it back a little bit and just do a full length. And again, since Buddy and I have a solid relationship anyway, he was psyched on that idea, we were psyched on the idea, and that’s what went down.

AA: How has it been working with the label? Has it been different compared to other labels you’ve worked with?

MS: I mean, Buddy’s been great, Clint was great before him too. Like I said, we’ve been working with our friends, but Buddy’s been fantastic. Everything’s been great as far as the promotional end of things, everything’s been smooth, he’s been really working hard and very transparent with  everything, so we’re really clear on what’s going on, which is awesome. And… Really, it’s been a team effort, so it’s been really refreshing in that way, you know, to be totally in the loop at every turn, so it’s been great. I can’t thank him enough for putting the record out.

AA: What kind of stuff has been influencing you in writing the new material?

MS: Musically, especially with this record, we’ve really started to focus in a little bit more on, you know, the grindier aspects of things, more of the grind influences  that we have. Touching on a whole different thing, this record is a lot more to the point than any other record we’ve done before. We decided we were really just gonna go for the throat, that’s why a lot of the songs are short. There’s really only one song that’s on the longer side, and all the rest are right around three minutes or under, which, you know, compared to the last two records is really short. So musically, like I said, a lot of different things came into play.

Lyrically, these records tend to write themselves today. When you look at modern politics and you look at things going on, especially in the United States, it’s so easy to get influenced. We’re really living in dark times where people are so easily duped especially due to social media where everybody thinks that they’re so in the know and they’re so willing to pledge their allegiance to all of these political figures, and, I mean, you name it.

People are so starved for a savior that they’re willing to accept anybody and everything, and it's really scary.

AA: Speaking of changing times - All Out War has been a band for a collective 26 years - that’s longer than a lot of kids in hardcore have been alive, much less involved. What would you say are your favorite and least favorite aspects of hardcore today?

MS: My favorite thing right now is especially the support we've gotten from a lot of younger bands. It's been great, very positive, especially since about 2013. we’ve gotten a lot of support, and bands have really looked out for us that are newer bands. That’s been fantastic, we really appreciate it. 

On the downside of things, I think social media and gossip and all of that stuff - but, I mean, the gossip has always been there - but now I think, with social media, it’s sort of on overdrive, where every little thing gets scrutinized. There seems to be so much more negativity now in 2019. It’s no longer good enough to not like a band’s music, now you have to go and rip them apart personally and do it from an anonymous username. It’s just disappointing that people have to be that way, but it is what it is.

AA: Yeah, for sure. I don’t know if you saw any of this, but there was [insert band]’s record that came out recently, and instead of people saying, “Oh, I don’t like this band,” people started calling them clowns, making fun of their assumed personalities based on the lyrics, whatever. 

MS: I’m not familiar with the record but I can totally see where you’re coming from. It’s no longer “Hey, I don’t like this music, it’s not for me.” Now it’s personal attacks and... You know, it’s really goofy. [laughs]

AA: Exactly. [laughs] They think they’re pointing out someone else being goofy, and…

MS: It sort of backfires! Because it’s like, this is what you have to spend your time on?  You have nothing better to do but this, and then you get all your other friends involved? I always laugh when I read tweets people throw out that are like, “I’m gonna cancel them on Twitter!” and it’s like really? That’s a thing? [laughs] Okay, whatever, good for you.

AA: Speaking specifically to the track “Judas Always Crawls,” what about that song stood out to you as a single?

MS: I think it’s one of the more aggressive songs on the album, and that was one of the reasons. And, it was a little bit different than what we usually do, so I thought we’d go with that one. It’s not a great representation of the entire album, but at the same time, it’s a little bit different. Usually bands pick something that really represents the album, but we decided to go with something that’s a little different than what we usually do.

AA: That definitely makes sense, because most bands out today usually only have 2-3 albums, but when you have a more extensive catalog, it’s more like, “Okay, people know what All Out War technically sounds like, now let’s show them something a little different.”

MS: Right, and that’s exactly why we picked it.

AA: You’ve stated a few times that All Out War is definitely a more metal-leaning band. In  my opinion, it’s very apparent that you guys have been influential to a ton of bands that are popular in the metallic hardcore genre today. What is it like to see that legacy continue?

MS: It’s really great when you hear from the younger bands that we influenced them. When we came up, we had bands that we were influenced by, so when people say your band is an influence, that’s very humbling, and it’s great to be recognized like that. When we first started playing this music, there was very few bands doing it. There was always bands that mixed hardcore and metal, but the bands in the early 90’s started to draw a lot more from death metal and really intense thrash metal, and we sort of all upped the ante a little bit… So, to see it progress to where it is now and see it come back how it has, it’s really cool to watch. It’s really cool to hear these bands and be able to pick out where their influences came from. It’s been a real honor to influence other bands that are up and coming, and bands that have gotten way bigger than we are... To see these bands blow up like this, I mean, it’s fantastic, and… [we’re] glad to be able to help them out in some small way. [laughs]

AA: If you don’t mind, tell the readers a bit about All Out War’s future plans.

MS: The record drops July 26th, we’re playing This is Hardcore that day, and then were gonna go out with In Cold Blood and Heavens Die for a short run into Canada...  After that, we’re gonna do something with EYEHATEGOD, so that’ll take us into September. We got some stuff I can’t really announce yet coming up in the fall, but yeah, we’re looking forward to really getting out there and pushing the record and playing as many shows as we can. 

Hopefully, we get to some places we haven’t gotten to yet, like South America for example. We’ve talked about doing Southeast Asia. We’ve done Japan, but we’ve never done anywhere else in Asia. We’re working on trying to put that together. Other than that, [we plan on] pushing the record, promoting the record, and just seeing where things go. It’s been a great ride, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon. Fortunate to still be here and still have people supporting us.

AA: A lot of bands that came up around the time you were first starting out have become inactive for many reasons. Life sometimes gets in the way. What do you think has kept you wanting to be a band this long?

MS: I mean, this is my life. This is what I’ve always done. This band has been part of my life since my late teens, so it’s, I mean… Everything that I do socially revolves around hardcore, metal, the band. I met my wife doing this. Obviously, my children are a product of this, our friends are a product of this. 

MS: You know, some people grow old and get really lame and sit around and… I don’t even know what they do. I have no idea what it means to be normal. Play golf, I guess that’s what they do? [laughs] There is nothing I find more boring than something like that. So I guess it’s just the pure passion and love for doing this that’s kept us doing it for so long. There's so many people that say it and don’t mean it. There’s so many people that say, “Oh, this is my life!” and then five years later, they’re gone. And, usually, the people that say that are the real big mouths, they tend to get on their soapbox for a few years and then you never see them again, they… 

AA: They cancel people. [laughs]

MS: Right, they cancel people on Twitter. [laughs] Create all sorts of drama while they're here, and all of a sudden - poof! - they’re gone. And you run into them randomly, and they’ll be like, “You still do that stuff?” They kind of look down on it after they’ve moved on. Meanwhile, they were the biggest… I don’t even know the word to call them.

AA: They thought they were the experts, I guess?

MS: Right, they’re the experts, they’re the gurus, they want everybody to follow their lead, and they’re usually the quickest ones that are gone. I mean, to answer your question, I love this stuff. It's just what I’ve always done, and I wouldn't even know what else to do.

AA: That just about covers the questions I had. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

MS: I think one thing I'd like to say is: I'd like to see more bands actually come out and take a stand on things and address issues that are going on, other than things that are just impacting their immediate life. Take a stand and address things that are going on in the world and be a little more proactive.

AA: Definitely! We could definitely use a couple more bands beyond the typical “I’m a tough guy, I’m gonna beat you up” stuff. And, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of bands doing that well! But there’s not as many bands that make an influence like, say… Earth Crisis. They made people totally change their lives, ethics, politics. There’s just a lot of… I don’t know.

MS: There is definitely a lot of bands that are great at that. But, we need more bands to take more of a worldly stance on things and try to make a change and try to open people’s eyes to things.

AA: Yeah. You don’t always have to agree, but taking a stance and finding unity and common ground is important for sure.

MS: At any time in history, now is the time to address issues lyrically and have a positive say, because there’s so many things going on, especially in this country, that need to be addressed.

AA: Thank you so much for the interview! The new album is great and I’m honored to be able to review it.

I hope you guys enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it! All Out War’s newest album, “Crawl Among the Filth,” will be releasing this Friday, July 26th, the same day they’ll be playing This Is Hardcore. Until then, you can head over to Brooklyn Vegan (click here) to stream it in full!


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