Interview: Gridiron's Will on Forming New PAHC-Inspired Band, Hardcore Essentials, and More


(Photo credit: Sam Rottschafer)

Made up of members of insanely good bands like Payback, Never Ending Game, Year of the Knife, and Simulakra, Michigan and Pennsylvania’s Gridiron are a certified hardcore supergroup. Taking influence from legends like Krutch and No Retreat, the result is an impossibly heavy love letter to PAHC - with the band’s own twist.

The band released their first EP, Loyalty at All Costs, on Triple B and Streets of Hate last fall. What started as relief from pandemic boredom quickly turned to some pretty fast-moving success, with the band putting out a split with Scotland’s Despize and getting asked to play the Unity BBQ in PA in July, as well as one of two hometown reunion shows for Chicago legends The Killer in August.

Will is a returning guest - speaking on his old band Detain in 2017, he was one of the first people I ever interviewed for the site, which you can read here. A few years later, he was cool enough to come back and talk Grid with me. Read on to hear about how Gridiron went from a pandemic project (spanning across multiple states) to a full-fledged band, Will’s hardcore essentials, his very strong McDonald’s opinions, and more.

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

WK: I’m Will, I play guitar in Never Ending Game and Gridiron, and the School of Rock and the ROCK STAR (starring Mark Wahlberg) soundtracks got me interested in playing guitar. 

AA: Important topics first - why do you feel, as you said in the NEG interview, that the McDouble is “worthless”?

WK: The McDouble is a pathetic sandwich. If you have 2 patties, you can’t have a single slice of cheese, you must have 2. The ratio will be off, and the mouthfeel will be subpar. To all those who order McDoubles; pony up the 80 cents, get a double cheeseburger…..

AA: How did Gridiron come together as a band?

WK: Gridiron was formed out of boredom during the pandemic. I was living in a coffin-sized studio apartment, my hours at work were slashed in half, and I was playing 12 hours of COD a day (and probably drinking more beers than that). Through our long hours playing video games, my buddy Matt Karll (vocals) and I talked about starting a band with some PA area dudes. I’ve always loved PAHC, especially No Retreat and KRUTCH, so the idea was to write a demo that would go for that sound. It’s progressed now into something I never imagined it would, but it’s been a fun, creative outlet for us. 

AA: When the project began, Gridiron was comprised of members of Never Ending Game, Payback, and Year of the Knife, spread across Pennsylvania and Michigan. how did writing and recording these songs go? Did you write and think of ideas together, or was it more sending parts back and forth then giving feedback, etc.?

WK: The 7” and the split were both done the same way - I’d write the songs and demo them out in Michigan, send them off to the dudes and see if they dig it, then send scratch guitar tracks to Mully (vocalist of YOTK, who drums in Grid), who would learn them. He’s an incredible drummer who hits hard and is creative, which is nice, because my demo drum tracks are usually pretty basic. For our next release, I just got back from Pennsylvania, where we spent a weekend trying out ideas I had and writing some new songs together as well. It was the first time we had jammed as a unit, so that was pretty cool.

When it came to recording, Karll and Mully would record the drums and vocals in PA, and I would record all the guitar and bass in MI. It was a process with a lot of back and forth, but it went about as smooth as it could have gone.

AA: Are there plans for Gridiron to be a more serious band that plays shows and releases more music in the future? Was this always the plan?

WK: While it wasn’t the plan originally, we are now writing for an LP. Like most Covid-born projects, I figured this would be something fun to do every once in a while, and it would eventually fizzle out. But we’ve now done a tape of the EP thru Streets of Hate, a 7” of the EP now on its second pressing with BBB, and a split on From Within. How this all happened so quickly, I’m not sure, but it’s been a crazy ride. Seems to be people are down with the vision. and I constantly need to be writing for my own sanity, so it’s a good match.

AA: How did you guys end up working with Despize on Worldwide Brotherhood?

WK: They hit up Mully, and he brought us the idea. I thought it’d be cool to work with some dudes I didn’t know from across the pond, and the tracks came together so well. Our sounds compliment each other a lot, and it was cool to have two Covid-born projects on one release together. Hopefully, we can play a few shows with them in the future. 

Images you can hear… Gridiron sounds exactly like this album cover

AA: Whether they’re influential to Gridiron or not, what are some things you’ve been listening to lately?

WK: I’ve been on a huge Big 4 kick lately - Megadeth and Anthrax in particular. I’ve always been a huge Metallica and Slayer fan, but never really gave the other two a fair shake. Rust in Peace by Megadeth has been on heavy rotation, as well as Persistence of Time by Anthrax. I’ve also been bumping Exhorder a ton too. As far as HC…. Been big on the All Due Respect EP that just dropped and that Pain of Truth split. Also - [the] Big Booty Mix Vol. 19 that my girlfriend plays incessantly.

AA: If a newer hardcore kid asked you for 5 records they absolutely needed to check out - doesn’t have to be your all time top 5 by any means, but some important ones - what would you suggest, and why?


-Cold as Life, Born to Land Hard - To understand one of the foundations of Detroit HC.

-Biohazard, Urban Discipline - The perfect combination of so many elements that make hard music great.

-Killing Time, Brightside - Incredible production and song structure.

-Agnostic Front, One Voice - Matt Henderson is god of HC riffing.

-Merauder, Master Killer - perfect blend of metal riffing with the street edge.

Gridiron's first show - the almighty Unity BBQ 2.5

AA: Hit me with your dream lineup for the first Gridiron show.

WK: Thankfully, we have our first show… UNITY BBQ in PA. But if I were to have a dream lineup, it would be Bolt Thrower, Death Threat, Mushmouth, Pain of Truth, and Gridiron.

AA: Any upcoming plans you’d like to mention?

WK: We are recording an LP this August at Bricktop Studios with the GOAT - Andy Nelson. We’re playing the Unity BBQ July 10, and I’m sure we’ll be playing more and more stuff over the next year.

AA: Anything else you’d like to add?

WK: Thanks for having me! To anyone who’s freeloading off the scene - start writing for a zine, writing music, taking pictures, drawing art, or doing literally anything productive. If you’re not adding anything, get the fuck out. Thx.

If you’re interested in keeping up with Gridiron, you can do so below:

Instagram | Bandcamp

Listen to Worldwide Brotherhood below:


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