Interview: Rule Them All's Jon Gusman on Positivity in Hardcore, Artistic Inspiration + More

(Photo credit: Jon Gusman)

Early last month, Long Island’s Rule Them All released Dreams About…, their debut release with Flatspot Records. In a full review that Resonating did around the release, I wrote, “While echoing back to the sounds of older, punky D.C. hardcore, as well as the bands from their native Long Island … Their sound fights against sometimes-limiting genre labels, while still maintaining a familiar, nostalgic feel.” This is classic, no-filler hardcore, which I personally loved enough to include in my top 15 releases of the year - therefore, I was very excited to speak with vocalist (and lyricist) Jon Gusman to learn a little more about the process of creating Dreams About… 

Introduce yourself with your name and what you do in the band.

My name is Jon Gusman and I do vocals.

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

The lineup was: Backtrack (Deal With The Devil Record Release) with Title Fight, Cruel Hand, Naysayer and Incendiary. I was 15 and I had never been to something like that by myself before, so it was scary, but also really exciting. It made me want to  not only come back, but dig deeper into this new thing I stumbled on. Going forward, it really shaped my taste and how I approached any creative endeavor I got involved with. 

Where do you guys typically find your musical influences?

Honestly, just hardcore as a whole, but for the sake of not being super vague, I’ll say NYHC and LIHC with a dash of inspiration from the Revolution Summer catalogue. 

Rule Them All has a really nostalgic, classic sound, compared to a lot of
what is popular right now. Did you aim to sound a certain way, or did it
sort of happen organically?

I think this ties into the last question. For us, all the classics are just as relevant today as they were when they were put out. I think when hardcore is genuine, it becomes timeless. For example, we (the band) have recently been talking a lot about how “Start Today” by Gorilla Biscuits still gives us the same feelings as it did when we were teenagers. I think that’s ultimately the goal with the band, to make something honest that follows the foundation that many bands laid down before us.

Your band’s name is a Lord of the Rings reference. Do you ever find
yourself being inspired by art/media/etc. when writing music?

All the time. There’s a few rejected album titles that I came up with that were ripped directly from different pieces from the Dada movement. I also always weirdly reference different spiritual themes in my lyrics. The cool part about art is that you’re supposed to mold the things around you into a new message. I think that alone gets me stoked to make music. As far as the band name, any time I have any type of say in that sort of thing, I always go for a LOTR reference. I don’t know why.

A lot of your lyrics have that kind of motivational, tough-love vibe to
them, particularly in the track “Look Inward.” What inspires you to write
those kinds of songs?

I feel it is only right that I write lyrics from my own experience. I also feel like people feel inclined to grab from the vault of stock “hard” lyrics which is cool too, I’m not knocking it. There are people that have done that and continue to do that who pull it off way better than I ever could. I really wanted to challenge myself and write something that comes from the heart. I’m a very positive person, even at my most miserable, and if I could use my words to inspire people, then that’s what I’m going to do my best to do. “Look Inward” is definitely the best example of that. 

What other themes inspired you lyrically on Dreams About…?

The narrative was a lot more focused on sending a message rather than telling a story (contrary to our last EP). A lot of the messages are derived from different things that happened in my life but ultimately, each song focuses on different ways to become your best self and redirect your focus on contributing rather than consuming. 

If my research is correct, this is your first time doing vocals for a band,
after typically being on drums. How has it been adjusting to being a

This is my first time seriously singing in a band. I say “seriously” because any band I fronted before this was a joke band. I must say - it’s a totally different release. It requires different energy than I’m used to using, and always requires different preparation. I’m also so much more conscious of what I put in my body since I started fronting a band, because it makes a huge difference in how I perform. 

How did working with Flatspot Records come about? How has
releasing the EP with them been?

Ricky caught us playing a gig and approached us. It was such a cool experience, and he showed us a few little things to get the best product possible, on top of being super patient with us. Both him and Che put in the work, and we couldn’t be happier. 

Do you guys have any future plans you’d like to mention?

We’re going to gig throughout 2020, and have plans to start writing very soon. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks to anyone who checked out the EP, and even came back to listen again. Come to a gig and let’s rock.

You can check out the band via the links to their social media and music below!


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