A Conversation With Purgatory's Matt Anderson

(Photo credit: Christian Barker)

Matt Anderson does vocals and writing for Purgatory. (He would also like to add to his introduction that he is “1 of 5 instigators, and chief shit-talker of the band.”) Matt has always been a friend and supporter of this blog - yet, somehow, we’ve not worked together much. After coming to the question of “why hasn’t this happened yet?” … We decided to do this interview! Follow along to hear Matt speak on their most recent EP, Section 219, what's in the future for Purgatory, what it means to be D4M, and a lot more.

Last spring, Purgatory put out a 3-song EP called Section 219. I asked Matt to explain a little about what inspired the EP. “So, Section 219 is kind of a culmination of a few things,” he began. “Off the bat, I’ve been closely associated with NWI for quite a few years now. It’s always been a home away from home, and the No Victory boys have always been some of our best friends. Moving here felt very natural, and Brian [Pilla, guitar] has always been filling in, and then playing for us permanently for years now. When Collin [St. Mary] joined the band on drums, we had the ability to play whenever we wanted again. So Section 219 was our introduction as being an Indiana band and having a chance to rep a place we call home.

“Regarding the music and lyrics, we’ve dealt with a lot of shit the last few years - from ‘friends’ being scumbags and stuff being surfaced you can’t not acknowledge, [a] lot of people falling to addiction, seeing everything and everyone you love in complete disarray. It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes - wrapped up in your surroundings, generating this sense of hopelessness. We went through a lot as a band the last couple years, and it’s just about making it through each day. You can only cry out for help so much before you understand it’s all these things that make you the way you are. It’s life, it sucks, you do what you can to change it, but it comes with a price. Having 5 people in the band all bouncing off ideas and feeding off all the shit we’re going through together and individually, it produced some fucked up, incredible new music that we churned out for those 3 songs. Love and hate.”

Album art

The intro track by the same name features an intro of two residents talking about how some of the more negative parts of living in NWI have affected them. This is one of the most striking parts of the release, mostly because of how raw and personal the confessional-style anecdotes are. One person discloses their struggles with addiction, and another with violence in his hometown. I asked Matt: what gave you the idea to include this? Was it hard to get people to open up?

“It was definitely hard getting some people to open up,  but Aurelio [Flores, vocals for Another One Dead] and our friend Cam really laid some heavy shit. We had a couple friends talk about some pretty intense stuff, but we couldn’t make it work. The idea came about because that’s our fuckin’ lives. Whether it’s wanting to swallow a bullet, wanting to swallow pills, turning to the bottle, dealing with violence, sexual abuse, depression, etc etc.,” he replied, “... Everyone we know has some story to tell, whether we did it or went through it. I sing about life because life deals a lot of shitty blows and is constantly checking you. Remembering we have each other is important, but life is a bitch - it’s just, you gotta deal with it and not let it make you one. Those 2 friends talking about that stuff is just something you can find in all of our everyday lives set the tone for what this is about. It’s not just an NWI thing, we all deal with so much shit.”

Matt has lived all over the U.S. during Purgatory’s 5+ year existence, prior to being settled in NWI, where he lives now.  Asking the next question, I began, “Matt - forgive me for forgetting which Dakota you’re from exactly, but you come from up north…” - he clarified with a laugh, "No problem. I come from South Dakota. Frontier land.” Dakotas aside, I asked what differences he’s noticed with the way doing stuff with Purgatory has gone, between the various members living all over the place to (for now) having most of the band’s members in the same place.

Matt laid it out thoroughly. “I’ve lived everywhere from the West to the East. I love traveling. We originated in Nebraska, and for a bit, all of us were in the same spot, but needing fill-ins is no new thing for us, haha. Shit, there was a point where I think it was easier to do things cross country than all of us living within 45 minutes of each other. At points, getting all of us together on a schedule was like pulling teeth. Lack of will brought a lack of work.  But, at one point, all of us were literally spread across the whole US, and practicing was done by way of writing, recording, getting an idea and then meeting up before touring. For a period there, we couldn’t play one off shows or do anything local to where I lived at the time cause it just wasn’t that feasible. But when Adam [Easterling, vocals in Orthodox] joined on drums for a bit, there it put some of us closer to each other, and some of the guys now in Chamber and Counterparts used to play with us so we could do short runs. We’d fly out Josh [Mata, guitar], or our old bass player Kitt [Kaufman], and go do 3-4-5 shows.

“I gotta say, with moving to NWI and having circumstances fall how they have, has made it so much easier. Me, Josh, Brian and Tito [Richmond, bass]  have been playing together for years now, believe it or not, and Collin came in without missing a stride. Now the 3 of us here can jam often, and Josh sends shit and we all have our collective input. We demo everything so we can pick it apart as we need. It’s so much easier now doing this band. We have a great support system of friends, so if we wanna do something small, we can, with those who would fill in for the dudes living out of state. It’s awesome, we all put in a lot of work and Tito and Josh pull their weight on their own. When we meet up now we get so much accomplished. Doing that cross country shit as a whole band was a fucking nightmare.”

(Photo credit: Kyle Bergfors)

As I alluded to in the earlier question, Purgatory has had a lot of member changes over the years. I asked Matt: how does the current lineup  feel to him at the moment?

Matt couldn’t say enough good things about their current crew. “The lineup now, with the exception of Collin, has been playing together and working together behind the scenes for a long time. A lot of people will come see us, and we have fill-ins on guitar or bass or both, and as much as we hate doing that, sometimes we just have to. We keep our circle as tight as we can, but it’s either that or we just don’t play, and I’m not doing that. But I can and will say with full confidence that the lineup we have is the most fluid and easy lineup we’ve ever had since starting. We’re all on the same page, and the talent level is bar none. Everyone is pitching in and pulling their weight and it’s fucking fantastic.”

However, keeping to his usual honesty, he follows with: “I’m not gonna lie and say every pre-existing member of Purgatory contributed something cause that’s just not true. We’ve had some members of this band who I guess aside from being able to tour or whatever didn’t really contribute shit and couldn’t stand on their own two feet. I don’t care if that’s offensive, cause when you have a role in the band... you fill that role. I’m not gonna play an instrument for you and wipe your ass at the same time too.”

Bringing it back to the current state of things, he reiterates, “Having 4 other dudes all putting in their worth is great. I love it. The music has gotten better and the dynamic is limitless, every single song and every release gets better and we’ve finally come into our own. These guys bring it in every type of way they can, and it’s really a blessing being able to be in a band with these fools. Also I have to, we have to, give a big shout out and thank you to our friends who do help fill in when needed. They play an important role in this band too and help us continue to do what we do.”

While their slated time in April has been postponed, Matt informed me that, as soon as they’re able to set it up again. Purgatory plans to hit the studio and record their new LP. It’ll be released on Unbeaten, and they’ll be working with Len Carmichael in New Jersey, whose most recent work includes Queensway, Dissent, and Shackled, as well as sound production for Hate5Six. “We’ve self released a lot of stuff and done 2 proper releases with Andy at Bricktop Studios [in Chicago], but we’re absolutely thrilled to work with Len. He’s a good friend and a fuckin’ great engineer. I’m excited to hear what he’s gonna bring to the table and I feel he’s gonna grab a sound out of us that’s true to style.”

On inspiration, musical and lyrical: “The music, the lyrics, it’s a growing progression from Section 219. There’s been some psychotic shit happening in the world, our friend group, our band, our lives. It all touches base on that. Look at who’s running our country, look at who’s in charge of keeping ‘order,’ and look at the people who just feed into it and swallow it whole with their eyes closed. It’s nuts.  The title of the record will embody who we are as individuals and as a band. We do whatever the fuck we want and that isn’t ever gonna change. I got no problem pissing people off, cause I am what I am, and we are what we are.

If Purgatory (and Matt) are who they are, then who are people that aren’t like them? Frustratedly, he expanded on this, as well as where he suspects it comes from. “There are a lot of wack ass people who do not practice what they preach, and would piss down their leg like a scared dog if they faced any real confrontation.  It’s fantasyland, and it sucks. The majority of people are the opposite of what I want in my life, I hate it,” he explained. “Social media lets you present yourself as someone you’re not to naive kids who can put you on a pedestal because you’re lacking and compensating for anything valid and real. People care a lot about gimmicks these days and fashion, having a certain sound to fit in or whatever, and that shit is stupid. There’s also this weird thing where people glorify having a drug problem or whatever and that’s so asinine. Weird shit.”

“I think some bands who are ‘big’ kind of suck, and I think some people in some of these bands also just kind of suck, and I want to put out music that bums them out, cause we are what they’ll never be. Talk all the shit you want, couldn’t care less. There are also bands who are ‘big’ who put in so much time and work and have humble, great people, and I couldn’t be happier for them. Buddy over at Unbeaten is a brother, and having him put out another record for us means the world. Stigmata embodies a lot of what we’re about so it just makes sense. You can say or think whatever you want, but that motherfucker gets it, and that motherfucker has done more for hardcore than most of us ever will. Being part of that team is a blessing, and we’re forever grateful.”

Well, that sounds like a much needed kick-in-the-ass of a message. “As for when you’re gonna hear it? Shit, I don’t know.”

(Photo credit: Christian Barker)

A rather polarizing part of Purgatory’s public image is something that has gone way further from being a song - D4M. Turning into more of a manifesto for what the band is about, D4M (down for mine) is a phrase that a lot of people in the Midwest wear very proudly on merch (or, in the case of some, even tattoos). However, merch is merch, and anyone can buy a shirt. I asked Matt to explain: what are some qualities do you think someone who claims to be D4M should embody?

“'D4M', as I’ve said in other things before, was the name of a song by our friends in Silverhammer. They wrote it in the past, and some shit was happening in our immediate scene between some Disneyland fantasy kids and our friend group. A line got crossed. On top of this, [it was] the dawn of cancel culture and straight bang society [hey, don't shoot the messenger - Ed], coupled with ‘I support PC women, please have sex with me’ dudes who couldn’t punch their way out of a wet paper bag trying their damndest to make sure us and No Victory never played a show again.

“So we wrote our version for us, and for the true Midwest. That song still stands for what it was intended to, because your stance shouldn’t ever waver. If you’re a fence-walking bitch who changes with the tide, then please do not utter a word from that song. If you turn on your friends to avoid controversy, not because they did some real shit, then you aren’t shit. Be down for yours. People getting tattoos and shit is wild and it’s cool, it ain’t a crew, so don’t treat it as such. But don’t get lyrics tattooed on you unless it means some real shit. Know what I mean? "D4M" is just a song about friends who got each other’s backs and recognizing that those who bark loud will phase out the fastest. That ain’t changing.”

Purgatory were scheduled to play The Rumble, a 2-day fest in Chicago, which was scheduled for early May. Unfortunately, between the time when I sent Matt these questions and when I edited them, The Rumble ended up getting postponed. I’m choosing to include his answer about his feelings on the fest regardless, because it truly is a badass thing for the Midwest, no matter when it ends up happening.

“The lineup for The Rumble this year is nuts. We’ve been hoping for a long time to be able to be a part of this, so when Jon Ortiz asked us, it was a no-brainer and a relief as well. That fest brings so much national attention to our neck of the woods, so it’s exciting and humbling to be a part of this. There are other fests that show attention to the Midwest and smaller bands as well, but this one is part of our area, so it’s nice to be able to have a hand in representing something we’ve supported and I have supported for so long now. Midwest hardcore,” Matt explains excitedly. “Kids should be excited for the national bands getting to play, and while we’re friends with and support the hell out of the bands from the coasts, it’s worth noting kids and bands should put on even harder for their local scenes and their bands. If you wanna be viewed like the legendary NY or LA or whatever scenes, then put on just as hard or harder and live like that is what you’re part of. Do it for the Midwest cause we can hang with the best of ‘em.”

(Photo credit: Christian Barker)

Purgatory have been playing a lot of shows on their home turf, mostly with locals - so I asked Matt who else they’d like to play with this year. Matt responded with an impressively comprehensive roster of some of the best heavy bands out right now. “I would love to play with Queensway again. I love that band and I love those guys. Simulakra, Section H8, Carried By Six, Hands Of God, Sanction, Chamber, there’s a lot. There’s also legacy bands we would love to tour with, but that doesn’t matter, haha. We’re working with Josh White at State Of Mind [Touring] so if you’re tryna play, hit ‘em up.”

As far as future plans, Matt said, “We have a couple things for this summer we haven’t announced yet. We’re concerned with the new record first and foremost and hoping for a couple other things. We’ll see.”

I finish all my interviews with one final question: anything else you’d like to say? This tends to go one of two ways - shoutouts or PSAs. Matt chose the latter.

“To wrap up a few things and keep it short and sweet: stop role playing in life if you’re a HC kid. It’s weird and uncalled for, just be yourself, and if you can’t back up what you say, just shut the fuck up. If somebody does something you don’t like and it bothers you enough to where you can’t let it go, then do something about it. That goes with anything, If you wanna change your world and make a dent, then take some action. Less internet shit and more confrontation. 

“Support your local scenes, support your local bands, support your local promoters. Give back. It seems like a lot of people lose sight on why we’re in this subculture to begin with, don’t normalize stupid shit. Normalize beating up actual racists, abusers of any type, and chill out on the flavor-of-the-week soap opera shit. Hit up the small shows and not just the big ones coming through. I can go on for days, but I won’t. Just don’t be a fuckin' herb. 

“Thanks for the support, thanks for doing this interview, thanks to my boys, thanks to our friends, fuck the rest.”

I’d like to thank Matt for doing this interview, as well as you, the reader, for checking it out. You can find the band via the links below:


No comments

Post a Comment