Interview: Shackled's Dylan Wasesky and Jake Rubin on NJHC, Pizza, and More


(Photo credit: Olivia Bastone)

Shackled are an awesome 5-piece hardcore band from central New Jersey. Not trying too hard to fit under any specific subgenre, they describe their sound as “hard, not heavy." Inspired by a wide range of bands, the band combines their different musical backgrounds to create a well-rounded sound, blending equal parts metallic hardcore and traditional punk influences. Simply put - Shackled is a straight-up hardcore band, through and through.

Within the last year and a half, they dropped their debut EP, One Way Out, and managed to snag a spot on huge shows like This is Hardcore, the FYA 2020 aftershow, and more. To make a long story short - this band is going places, and it’s obvious why. Despite quarantine putting a stop on shows, they remain some of the most dedicated members of the hardcore community right now, and the conversation we had shows exactly how stoked they are to get back to it.

Even though this interview was for the zine, it was too fucking funny to keep it to myself. Read on to hear vocalist Dylan Wasesky and guitarist Jake Rubin talk about how Shackled came to be, New Jersey hardcore, where to get pizza in central Jersey (repeatedly), new music, and much more.

This interview was originally published in Issue 3 of Resonating Zine, alongside interviews from MH Chaos and Never Ending Game. 2 copies of the first press are left, pick one up here if you’re interested! Jake and Dylan both have one. Be like Jake and Dylan.

(Photo credit: Olivia Bastone)

AA: Introduce yourself with your name, what you do in Shackled, and a fact about yourself.

JR: I’m Jake, I play guitar, and I went on a bike ride today.

DW: I’m Dylan, I sing, and I ate at a Texas Roadhouse outside today.

AA: Who played the first hardcore show you attended? What impact did that have on keeping you involved?

DW: For me, my first hardcore show was Cro-Mags, Heavy Chains, Blind Justice, Manipulate, and Stag Party at Asbury Lanes - December 19th, 2013, I think. I remember that day, seeing people were jumping off the speakers into the ceiling and bringing ceiling tiles down. I remember that energy I had never seen at another show, and that was one of the main things that made me start becoming straight up obsessed with it.

JR: My first hardcore show was at the Middletown Church in New Jersey, and I was seeing the band Faith or Fury, which actually became Old Wounds years down the line. I went to school with the original drummer of Old Wounds, he just told me to come out to the show, and it was crazy. This other band played, The Perfect Gentlemen, which is a punk band, but it was just interesting to see all those old songs become Old Wounds songs later down the line. I mean, I’ve been to crazier shows after that, but it was a really cool kind of opening to the whole genre and the scene.

AA: How did Shackled come to be as a band?

DW: So basically, a couple years ago, I met Andrew [DiCamillo, guitar] through a couple mutual friends - which is weird still to this day, because Andrew is or was before he moved, basically my neighbor. And I had never met him, never heard of him, nothin’. And then like, a couple years ago, through a friend we were chillin’ with, I met him, and we just ended up staying in touch a little bit. We talked here and there every couple days, and we ended up talking about how we wanted to start a band, so he got Jake and Mike [Cucci, guitar] and our old drummer Kevin [Sardy] together one day, and they just jammed out the songs and sent them to me.

JR: [starts laughing]

(Photo credit: South Suburbia)

DW:  ... And, uh, that night I used, like, the voice record- [laughing]  ... I used the voice recorder on my phone, and I talked - so I had lyrics already written on my phone, from back when ... I always thought it’d be fun to be in a band, so I was writin’ lyrics. I already had a bunch of ‘em, so I just played the music off my computer, and I just talked the vocal melodies over it at 3 in the morning in my room and sent them to them, and they were like, alright, that's it, we’re gonna go record these now.

JR: It sounded like he was saying like a really quiet prayer. [laughs] The first time we all really hung out was kind of, like, because Andrew and Dylan connected, and we all officially met up at this show in Delaware. It was No Option and Drowse, Typecaste, and a few others, and from there on out, the band was formed.

AA: Fair enough! I mean, regarding talking the vocals, I think most musicians have used the voice recorder and hummed a riff quietly to themselves in public to remember, and then when you go to listen later, you’re like .... What the fuck was that??

DW: [laughs] I’ve never done that before, but they have. Talking melodies is my specialty.

AA: Very cool. You gotta re-release the songs but just with the talking parts.

JR: Oh, god. [laughs] Yeah. The demo of the demo. I just didn't even know Dylan yet, so Andrew was like, “Yeah, we got this dude Dylan to do vocals, check it out,” and it's just him whispering the lyrics over the songs we sent. I was just laughin’ so hard, but it’s becoming a running joke now, when we have new songs, Dylan will send them back to the chat whispering the lyrics over everything.

AA: What has changed over time, as far as influences, how/what you write about, etc.?

DW: When Andrew and I started the band ... There's a lot of heavy bands from New Jersey, and we just wanted to go into writing in a mindset where we focus on hard music, not necessarily being as heavy as you possibly can, you know what I mean? So, our whole thing is to make hard music - we all like mosh parts, clearly, if you’ve ever fuckin’ listened to it - so, one of our goals was to make music you can mosh to that’s a little more aggressive, but keep it hard, not heavy. I think that we still focus on that to this day when writing. I’m pretty sure that’s what influenced me and Andrew the most, at least.

JR: I would say, in the band, we’re all kind of music junkies. There’s obviously things that each of us like more than others, but we all listen to absolutely everything, so bringing into different influences is never the problem. I think what’s cool too is like, I grew up with Andrew, and growing up, we listened to, kind of a lot of ... You know, classic hardcore stuff, Black Flag, stuff like that, but then also he got me really into like Converge and bands like that, mathy stuff.  ... In terms of me and Andrew writing riffs, we definitely learned from each other in terms of ... I don’t know, I’ll kind of write more of thrashy, metallic stuff, and Andrew will write more traditional, kind of punk stuff, and we’ll sort of take pointers from each other [and] infuse the two together, and that’s where we’d get our sound. Then Dylan kind of brings in this more classic vocal style, which is cool.

DW: Yeah! In hardcore specifically, we all listen to all different types of hardcore too. We’re not just people that are like, “Okay, if there’s one fuckin’ breakdown in this song, you can’t listen to it.” We listen to a lot of different styles, so we try and pull from a lot of different places when we’re writing, I think.

(Photo credit: Douglass Dresher)

AA: New Jersey has a scene that I’ve always admired - the bands are good, and the people in videos of shows always look like they’re having fun. How would you guys describe your scene?

DW: Um, it's sick.  ... Currently, there’s not much going on because there can’t be, but one of the issues that we have is that there’s not many venues, or if there are, they’ll just go away for a while. The guys in Perth Amboy have been workin’ really hard and finding cool new places for shows to happen. Like, right before quarantine started, there was a Restraining Order show that happened somewhere pretty close to us, and it went the fuck off from what I could see. And, in January, we revived an 8-year-old dead venue for a memorial show for our friend that passed away last year. That show went really, really well too, so when there are shows that are happening, I think the response is generally really good. People are really receptive, and they’ll come out to a show.

JR: Yeah, I mean, the different sections of Jersey have sort of a niche for different scenes. I guess when you look at the Shore area or Asbury area, it’s a lot of punk bands. Like Dylan was saying, the Amboy scene will specifically host very much hardcore shows. Then, there’s a metalcore scene that kind of finds its way in, so I mean, I’m not saying the scene is divided in any way, but there’s just a lot of different things going on, which can be a blessing and a curse. It’s cool that a lot of different bands coming out of here. I say blessing and a curse, because there’s so many different types of things to come out of here ... But it can also make for less unified shows, I suppose. I’m still proud to be from here and have grown up in this scene. 

DW: Yeah. When everyone shows up to a show it ends up being really, really cool, like sick as fuck, and that happens a pretty good amount, but there are a lot of different areas that have their own thing going on, and sometimes, you know, I think that’s just how it happens in most places.

JR: Brick EMS too, there was a really cool scene going on there for a while.

DW: I don’t know if they’ll still do shows, but that was a place that was pretty consistent for a while a couple years ago, and that place always had an awesome show there.

(Photo credit: Olivia Bastone)

AA: What are some of your favorite bands from your area, past or present?

JR: Lifetime. I mean, you know, all of our buddies’ bands. I loved Fencecutter when they were a thing. That's another thing too, so many of my favorite bands, I'm sure yours too, change because I’m constantly digging up old bands I fall in love with, and I’m constantly finding new bands that I like, so I mean ... Dylan, what about you?

DW: Talking current bands, I’m gonna go for some that have recently broken up because it wasn’t that long ago - Misconduct just played their last show in January, they were sick, Fencecutter are our fuckin’ boys, that band was awesome, I love Blind Justice and Krust, I think those bands are sick, and then like, top bands for me, I always say my top 3 favorite New Jersey bands are E-Town Concrete, Floorpunch, and The Mongoloids. Really everything, in my opinion, is sick. Turning Point and Fury of Five, even though those are two bands that couldn’t be fuckin’ farther away from each other in sound - I love both of them, you know what I mean?

AA: You’re definitely lucky, because I’ve interviewed people from Georgia or whatever, and they’re like, “We don’t really have any cool bands anymore cause Foundation broke up,” and in New Jersey, another band could never start again and you could still be like, “yeah, but we had E-Town Concrete.” [laughs]

DW: Fucking Deadguy is from NJ, Get Real is sick, our friends in Roseblood, Prospect, For the Love Of, Saves the Day ... Bulldoze is basically a New Jersey band ... 

AA: That’s gonna start an argument if I print it ... 

JR: Dude, there’s so much good shit that has come from here. We’re definitely lucky.

(Photo credit: Julia Conner)

AA: What do you think is the coolest thing that’s come out in the last year? (music/movies/TV/video games/whatever)

DW: Seed of Pain record. I’ve listened to that a million times. The Charli XCX record, that End It EP.

JR: Burning Strong, Pain of Truth ... That Poor Choice single, “Elevate,” that was cool.

DW: Typecaste release was sick. Funnily enough, we were supposed to go on a full US tour with Typecaste in 4 days, which obviously we’re not doing. That would’ve been our first full US, and Joey [Chiaramonte, bass] is the man, Typecaste is sick, so I was excited, but ... No longer. [laughs]

AA: I know he streamed with Koyo the other day, just play a Zoom call show together or something!

DW: OH! Koyo! Koyo! There you go! That’s one of my favorite releases this year.

JR: Absolutely. That dude Orchin we’ve been listening to is pretty good.  ... Everyone makes fun of me for this, but I like The 1975’s new record.

AA: I’m not judging! Good shit.

DW: Nah, make fun of him. Dude, Jake, fuck you.

[We trail off and start talking about how our mutual friend Atilla Gulnar (Measured in Gray/LUCKYSEASON) showed me Shackled for the first time by telling myself and my aunt Holly to get in the car and listen to them. Jake proceeds to tell me Atilla has done this to multiple people, and Dylan affirms that he constantly forces him to listen to new music in the car, then takes him to get coffee. He doesn’t like coffee.]

JR: Oh! Dylan, we forgot an insane release that came out a month ago. Have a Good Season.

DW: Oh yeah! Have a Good Season. New Jersey hardcore. [laughs] “Shoulder Blades” is the song of a fuckin’ generation.

JR: [laughs] It’s like an emo band, but they absolutely snapped. That just stood out in my head when you mentioned Atilla.

AA: If a band came to your area and asked for one place to go - restaurant, coffee shop, a cool park, whatever - what would be your pick?

DW: Fuckin’ Bar A. [laughs]

JR: [laughing] Bar A. I mean yeah like it depends who ... If Hangman was comin’ through, we’d go to Bar A. They would love this place, it’s like, the hot spot on the Jersey Shore for new and old drinkers to go to.

DW: It’s fuckin’ huge. Honestly, this is a real answer - whenever people come here that haven't really been here before, I just take them to the beach, honestly. Where we live is so close to the shore, so I’ll just bring people to the boardwalk if they wanna go to the beach, there’s cool food spots there ... That's usually what I do. I’ve had some friends visit from different states, and when they do, I'll just take ‘em there, and it’s always fun.

JR: Yeah, let's go to the beach, and we’d go to Jersey Shore BBQ.

DW: No, bring ‘em to Romeo’s.

JR: Oh, alright, yeah, we could visit our friend Everett at Romeo’s. But, dude, on the shore - Jersey Shore BBQ. And for the vegans, Kaya’s Kitchen is really good. That's a good vegan spot in Belmar. General Store [in Colts Neck]. Good Karma Cafe in Redbank is also a fire vegan place.

DW: I don’t know, fuckin’ like ... what is cool? Where do I go all the time?

JR: Woolley's Fish Market. [laughs]

DW: [laughs] yeah, we’ll take ‘em to the Big Lobster at Wooley’s Fish Market, fuckin’ Romeo’s Pizza Express, Chapter House, just go between all of them. [laughs] What’s good about where we live - I mean, I don’t know if you give a fuck ... 

AA: [laughs] I give a fuck.

DW:  ... But what’s good about where we are is that we live in such a central place that anywhere cool in Jersey you wanna go to is so easy to get to. You can get there in 30 minutes or less. Basically. And you can go anywhere you want that has shows in less than 3 hours.

(Photo credit: Reality Filter)

AA: If you got to book a 5-6 band show after quarantine ends - with absolutely whoever you want, any genre, any time period, whatever - who would you put on it, and where would you hold it?

JR: The question is where. Coming up with bands isn’t too hard, but our dream spot ... Ooh. Prince of Peace. Let’s have a fest at the Prince of Peace.

DW: Probably something like the Stelton Church or Prince of Peace Church in New Jersey, just because I never got to see those shows, and I definitely would’ve loved them. I’d love to see The Mongoloids mid-2000’s or later, before 2010, something like that, when they were fuckin’ huge and people were going off for them.  ... I love No Warning, so I think that’d be sick, and I know Greg [The Mongoloids] loves No Warning, so that definitely could’ve happened.  ... American Nightmare is a band from that time that would’ve been sick... I don’t know, just anything that was at those churches in New Jersey back when there was crazy shows would be sick, I think.

JR: Alright, I got one. Prince of Peace is a venue that's been shut down for I’d say 10 years, right? Probably more? Alright so, I’ma say Bracewar, Cold World, E-Town, Converge, and My Chemical Romance. That’s the bill. You said anything, right?

DW: Alright, ignore everything I said and just put that on the record.

JR: All that and then a Juice Wrld secret set. But you don’t have to put that in the interview, that’s embarrassing. [laughs]

DW: [laughs] No, say that was my contribution and put me as seconding Jake’s because that’s a really good one.

JR: Dude, I feel like MCR would do that back in the day though. If it was like, 2004, and that lineup came to life, they may have headlined it. Secretly. 

Album art for the One Scene Unity Compilation by From Within Records

AA: Any plans you’d like to share, as far as new music, shows when this is all over, etc.?

DW: We’re releasing a song August 22nd [Overcome], and it’s gonna be on the From Within Records Comp. So far, we think it will be [on a future EP]. Besides that, we have demos for new songs for a new EP that we wanna do. Whenever Andrew gets enough motivation to leave Philadelphia, we’ll write.

AA: Do you think you’re gonna try to do that Typecaste tour later?

DW: Joey told me it’d be rescheduled, so as soon as it is, I don’t care what I’m doing, I will withdraw from every class I have and I’ll go on tour. I’ll literally do anything.

JR: Yeah, definitely, that is something we should do, but I wonder if it’s gonna be deep into 2021 or something.

DW: I plan on doing it whenever it gets rescheduled. I plan on doing whatever gets scheduled after this.

AA: That’s one thing that’s been interesting about the whole quarantine - I wonder who’s going to realize hardcore didn’t mean much to them and never come back to a show, or who’s gonna go, “Oh god, this has been terrible, I’m going to every show I can now.”

DW: Yeah! I think a lot of people and especially the types who will only go to certain shows depending who’s playing, when, that kind of BS - I don’t live my life that way at all. I try to go to any show, and I think the people who aren’t that way, who are very picky, will go to way more when this is over. When shows come back, I think it’ll be a really good era for hardcore, in my opinion. I don’t think people will be like, “I’m never gonna go to a show again,” because life is too miserably boring right now.

[we trail off talking about working in the pandemic]

JR: Doing daunting things like school and work is usually offset by going to or playing a show on the weekend. For people like us, it matters a lot, so I get what you’re saying for casual showgoers, but anyone loosely involved in the scene ... I think we’re all like fiending for a show right now, I know I am. It's the only thing I'd like to do right now.

DW: When this started, we were supposed to go on a weekend run with Raw Life and World Demise, and I straight up drove to Long Island, picked up the van from our friends in Silenus - shoutout Silenus, they’re putting out some new music soon and it sounds sick - anyway, so I got the van, came home. Next morning, the show got cancelled, and that afternoon, I drove the van back to Long Island, and I came home. 

AA: That sucks.

DW: That was the last time we were supposed to play a show before this all started, and it fuckin’ sucks.

(Photo credit: Olivia Bastone)

JR: I think it would’ve been less disappointing if someone had a grip on the whole COVID thing and made a formal announcement like, “Alright, everything from March onward is just cancelled,” but when the quarantine first started, it was like - alright, two weeks we’ll be in lockdown, then it was like, alright, most of April, then it just kept going and going, and like stuff was getting cancelled slowly and slowly, and it was so disappointing accumulating disappointment over time. I would've rather taken, like, one large disappointment. [laughs]

DW: I’ve always said I don’t wanna ever leave New Jersey for a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons is, being in the middle of so many hardcore scenes is perfect for the way I live my life, because you can ask Jake - I go to fucking every single show possible, so if I ever didn’t live here, I’d live a sad, miserable life of bullshit.

[we trail off about shows and get on the topic of those in other scenes who refuse to look visibly excited at shows]

DW: I’ve never understood that, I think it’s so corny. This is something that I’ve read in interviews ... Lennon from Ecostrike and Plead Your Case said there are hardcore kids that are ashamed of liking hardcore or being hardcore kids, and that is so fucking corny and I cannot stand seeing it. I hate seeing people at shows crossing their arms, acting like they hate everyone and hate being there, and are like, “I could be doing anything fuckin’ else.” If you dont wanna be there and you could be doing anything else with your time, like, go the fuck home, you know what I mean? You don’t need to be there at all if you’re blatantly pissed and ashamed that you’re there.

(Photo credit: Douglass Dresher)

AA: What was the last thing you went to before shows were cancelled?

DW: The week before everything happened, March 5th, we played with Terror, Magnitude, fucking Combust, and Kublai Khan, for some reason, and that was at a place called House of Independents in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It’s a new venue that’s really big, so it was really exciting. I want to play every single venue in New Jersey basically. so it was exciting to play there because we hadn’t yet. I don’t know if Jake came to this but I went to one show during quarantine - it was a No Option show like a week after quarantine started, and that was the last show I went to.

JR: I guess the last show I was at was the Measured in Gray set in Philly. That was March 7th.

DW: Yeah, what the fuck was I doing that day, why didn’t I go to that? Oh! I didn’t go because you kicked me out of the band.

JR: The band was a mess already at that point, but that was Sect and Hive and stuff, which was interesting. That may be the last Measured in Gray show.

DW: You should tell your readers not to support Measured in Gray because they’re disloyal and they don’t tell the truth.

AA: [laughing] What are they lying about?

JR: Dylan filled in for one show! Alright, you could explain it Dylan, tell your side.

(Photo credit: Julia Conner)

DW: I played a show, Atilla said I was in the band, and then I got kicked out by fucking Jake, and Kevin who used to be in Shackled, so fuck them.

JR: Dude, you didn’t get kicked out! We were just trying different things, like we couldn't have our original vocalist for - I don't know, extenuating circumstances that made it so he could not play, and 10 minutes before the set, [we decided] Dylan could play the set. It was fun, and then at that point, me, Atilla, and Kevin were like, figuring out what we were gonna try, so then I tried vocals, which I guess Dylan was mad about, and that was it.

AA: Jake, did you like doing vocals? Did he bully you out of it? [laughs]

JR: I like doing it, but the band just wasn’t how we originally wanted it to be. We couldn't keep the OG vocalist, and it was so hard getting people. cause the core people were me, Atilla, and Kevin, and we just couldn't maintain a solid band. But, I mean, quarantine happened anyway, so it all feels like a blur. I'm sorry Dylan, you can rejoin after quarantine.

DW: I'm sure it fuckin’ feels like a blur. I'm sure.

AA: I guess this is the official rejoining moment for you?

JR: [laughing] Yeah dude, you’re back in, Angie has inducted you back in.

AA: I’m gonna bring a foam sword and like, knight you into the band, whenever I end up meeting you.

[all laughing]

Shackled at TIHC 2019, filmed by Hate5Six

AA: Any last words?

JR: Thanks for havin’ us for the interview, we’re excited to be releasing that single, we’re excited to be on a new path, puttin’ out some stuff. I'm excited to put out what we’ve been writing, because that sound Dylan was talking about in the beginning was what we've always been trying to go for, and I feel like we finally found that with how we're recording it and writing and stuff. For anyone that liked the early stuff, not that we have that much out - we’re not veering off in a weird direction that would throw people off. I feel like this stuff sounds the most similar to the demo in the sense of that punchy energy. It'll be recorded in a better way. I’m excited for the reaction and tours and whatever, to follow hopefully, whenever that'll be.

DW: I'm excited to put it out! It’s one of our cooler songs, I'm excited for people to hear it, excited to do shows and tours that hopefully come, and ... I don’t know, shoutout to the New Jersey bands still going writing music right now, what else, Jake?

JR: Shoutout to the BLM movement, you know? It’s definitely bringing hardcore to life in a different way. Obviously, while shows are on standby, this really shows who really supports the ethos of it all.

At this point, I made the grave mistake of telling Shackled I would publish literally any shoutout they wanted me to put in the zine, no matter how weird. The next page, without further adieu, is Shackled’s Shoutout Page.

This is long enough as it is, so I’ll keep the outro short, but I want to thank Jake and Dylan once again for agreeing to do this. This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had doing an interview. I think they're insanely talented, and I'm stoked to see where they go as a band from here.

If you’re interested in keeping up with them on social media, you can check out the links below:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Bandcamp


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