Shackled: Dylan Wasesky and Nick DeFabritus Find Release Through New Album, "Doubt Surrounds All"


(Photo credit: Matt Viel)

It’s been a while since Resonating readers last heard from central New Jersey’s Shackled - this time, they’re back, and they’re not returning empty-handed. The release of their debut record is finally here.

Yesterday, November 12th, the band released Doubt Surrounds All on From Within Records. The record follows their 2019 EP, One Way Out. Despite the band staying true to their original sound and goal - straight-up hardcore that doesn’t lean too far into any particular subgenre - the record is a step up in every way. The band experiments with different sounds and riffs, the drums are more complicated, the vocals hit harder, and the lyrics dive deeper. As a listener, you can tell the amount of care that went into it. Like drummer Nick says in the interview below - “It’s just all the good parts, that’s it. No filler.”

Dylan and Nick are both returning guests - Dylan did an interview about Shackled with Resonating last summer, which you can read here, while Nick spoke to us about his shoegaze project, All Under Heaven, which you can find here. They’re both some of my favorite people to interview, mainly because of how willing they are to discuss whatever I throw at them at length. I can always count on either of them for an interesting answer.

We covered topics that include Doubt Surrounds All, how Dylan uses his lyrics to reflect and cope with tough times, musical inspirations on the new record, touring and the cool stuff they’ve been able to see around the country, hardcore labels, making shows scary again, and so much more. 

Grab a drink, settle in, and give it a read.

AA: Introduce yourself with your name, what you do in Shackled, and, if you can think of another one... A random fact about yourself.

ND: Alright, I mean - I’ve got more facts. I guess. I think I’m more interesting now.

DW: [laughs] You’re always interesting.

ND: Alright… My name’s Nick, I play drums, and I’ve eaten a Wawa Gobbler probably every day the last two weeks, no exaggeration. Every single day.

DW: [laughing] Actually Nick, I tried one the other day ‘cause you were saying how good they were, and I thought it was just… What do you get? I got the one with the cranberry sauce…

ND: I get the bowl. I wanna eat like Thanksgiving every day.

DW: Angie, you’re fucked. You’re fucked.

AA: [laughs] Why am I fucked?

DW: [laughs] You’re going to be transcribing us talking about a Wawa Gobbler.

AA: [laughs] I’m assuming it’s a Thanksgiving sandwich or something?

ND: Well, I get the bowls, but I get the sandwich occasionally.

DW: Yeah. For all the Wawa haters out there, Wawa Gobbler is their version of Thanksgiving food, so there’s like, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, turkey, cranberry sauce, and you can get sandwiches or bowls with that, in the fall.

AA: That sounds good. I’ve been to a Wawa… One time.

DW: Sick. It’s good!

DW: Hi, I’m Dylan, I sing, and… I have more homework to do today.

AA: Fair enough. [laughs]

DW: Yep, that’s about it.

Album art

AA: What kind of things inspired you, musically and lyrically, on Doubt Surrounds All?

DW: I was just listening to a lot of Glassjaw, Fall Out Boy, a lot of shit like that, where it’s, I guess, a lot of emo stuff, but… I don’t know, I was listening to [stuff] like Grimlock, and I loved the lyrics... It was a lot of music, in general, across genres, that was... I don’t wanna say depressing, but definitely not happy. Everything was a little darker, and I tried, on this record, to experiment a little more with metaphors, and not being so straightforward with stuff. I don’t know if I did a really good job of that, but, I think, with the last record, I was trying a little too hard with that. [On] this record, it came more naturally. And I think it’s part of all the stuff I was listening to. I was listening to a lot of depressing stuff, I don’t really know where it came from. 

And it also came from things that were happening in my life, whether it be friendships, relationships, Covid, work, school, shit like that, all piling on, and like… I think Jake and I talked about this last year when we did it. [In quarantine], you had nothing to look forward to. Anchit [Chhabra, MH Chaos] talked about this in his interview - you go to school, you go to work, but you have a show at the end of the week, and that makes it all worth it. Not even a show, like, fucking anything. Just hanging out or something. And you didn’t have that for a really long time. I think a lot of these songs are me just venting about that, and how I was feeling. Some of the songs are things I’ve wanted to say for years, and I just never found the words for it. “When Time Stops” is one of those songs, but we’ll get into that later. 

ND: So, yeah, musically, I guess, just was trying to go off a little bit more, drumming-wise. I don’t know. That’s basically… I wasn’t really trying to pull anything specifically, but I knew I just wanted to make the drumming on the record more complicated than the last record. And I think I did that! I think I made it more interesting.

DW: I think, on this record, we also, sound-wise, we leaned more into the darker side of things, I guess? I don’t even wanna call it dark, ‘cause that’s wack. But...

ND: Definitely heavier.

DW: It’s a little heavier, a little more bleak, some of the songs. I feel like a lot of our other tracks were a little more upbeat, these are a little more… You know what I mean? 

ND: Yeah, I mean, we also tried to pull more, I guess… Not risky stuff, but like, we definitely added shit we’ve never done. We added a little tambourine part, we added a guitar solo on the record, you know. Just different shit, just trying to push our sound more. Overall, just more serious with everything.

DW: Yeah! I mean, it has some of the hardest parts we’ve ever wrote on it. I think also another thing we did is we really focused on the track listing and what would make the most sense and keep the flow of the record going, ‘cause… I don’t know. I think that a big part of a record is how it flows. The hardest song is the first one, you open with that, you know what I mean? We figured we’d do cool little things like that. I mean, I hope people notice that. 

ND: Yeah, it doesn’t overstay its welcome either. It’s pretty short. And I think we made a point to do that. It’s just all the good parts, that’s it. No filler.

DW: Yeah. All the songs are 2 minutes or less, besides two of them.

(Photo credit: Kyle Bergfors)

AA: Pick 2-3 songs on the album and explain their meanings, a little more in-depth.

DW: “When Time Stops” - I’ll do that one first, because we just talked about it. It was a song that I actually wrote a while ago, and the title is kind of literal. It’s, like, I wrote this song at a point, it was New Years’ Day 2018, and I remember another year had passed, and in my mind, I had done nothing. Nothing I ever wanted to do had happened, I felt stuck, and I felt like I was just trapped where I was, in how I was feeling, and I was longing for things that already happened, or had not, and, it seemed to me, would not happen. I was just buggin’ out about that one day. The title of it literally means time stopped for me at that moment, and I had a chance to think about all of this, and I wrote it all down. I didn’t even have a band, I just wrote it down because I used to just write lyrics because I wanted to be in a band, and it just made me feel better when I did it. And when I was writing lyrics to [the album], I was like, “Ahh, I really wanna write a song about this,” [then] I was like - “Fuck, I already have one!” So I went back and I revised it a little bit. 

I’m really happy the song is on the record too, because this is something that has fucked with me for a long time, and I’m happy that I finally have it out there, where I’m venting and getting it off my chest and talking about it, because it does actually make me feel a little better that that’s out there. The words really do capture… Sometimes you write lyrics, and you’re like, “Ahh, I didn’t really say all I wanted to say there. I could’ve said this better. I could’ve included this.” But this song, I feel, really encapsulates how I feel about that, and how I felt at that moment. Literally, this song, it’s a moment trapped in time. 

“All I Feared” is literally depressing as fuck. Like, it’s a miserable song to read about, if you know what I’m saying, it’s a miserable song to hear… But, over the past year… It was something that I felt for a really long time. Another one where I just felt fucking trapped in this fucking bullshit way I was feeling, and, it’s like… It’s me realizing that a lot of my problems come from me, and even though things don’t help that out lately, like, people or conditions may not help the way I feel… It’s important for me to understand that I can fix that. I don’t know. It isn’t really explored in the song, the song was just the feeling of being, I don’t know, depressed, really. That’s the best way to say it. Like, just being fucking sad, and not knowing who to talk to, not thinking of anyone to talk to - you know what I mean? I don’t know. That one’s a really depressing song. I almost didn’t put it on the record because I thought it was too fuckin’ much, but everyone was like, “No, it’s genuine, so you should put it on.” You know what I mean?

(Photo credit: Matt Viel)

AA: I mean, I’m glad that you did. This is probably not even a good thing to hear, but that was the most relatable one… For… Me? [laughing] I liked it, it’s one of my favorites.

DW: [laughing] Yeah! I mean, musically, that song is my favorite. Actually, lyrically and musically, that song, all-around, is my favorite on the record, I think. I think it’s such a cool fuckin’ song. And, you know, in the song, I talk about how this won’t get the best of me, I say it won’t, and even if it might get the best of me sometimes, I’m still gonna fuckin’ be here and just fuckin’ deal with it. Even if I think about, “Oh, fuck this, I don’t wanna deal with it anymore, no one would give a fuck,” it’s just not happening, if that makes sense. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain! It really is.

AA: No, it definitely is.

DW: It’s just… Fearing yourself in a lot of different ways. I don’t know if anyone will understand what that means, but if you do, then this song’s for you.

DW: [laughs] Alright. Last one… I’ll talk about “Our Home” a little bit. So, actually, something I didn’t mention that I probably should’ve mentioned last question - a lot of these songs also call back to previous songs, if you noticed that.

AA: I did! [laughs] And then I felt like a nerd.

DW: Nahhh. [laughs] “Nothing Ever Came” calls back to “Force of Habit,” it’s a continuation of that, basically. It’s me experiencing a similar event, which was… Heartbreak, I guess you could call it, and talking about it more after having more experience with it. “When Time Stops” is like a prelude to “Mind’s Eye,” kind of. “Our Home” is a continuation of “Our Stance.” “Doubt Surrounds All” is a continuation of “DSA,” from the EP. There’s a lot of continuity between songs. And a lot of lyrics call back to other lyrics and shit. 

On “Our Home” - I was trying to talk specifically about people who undermine the band, undermine hardcore…

AA: And it’s taking more of a tone of defending that, maybe?

DW: Yeah! And it’s like, you don’t have what it takes to be here, like… Fuckin’ do what you want, nobody will pay you mind, fuck you, but for everyone else out here, who actually care, this is our spot, this is our home, and all of us, like I say in the song, will take this to our fucking graves. You know what I mean? Like, if you’re down for it, you’re down for it. And all these fuckin’ stupid fucks that come around, not for the right reasons, tourists and shit like that, who just come and fuck things up... It’s more about people who aren’t really involved, but like to say they are. Two-faced, kind of. “Our Stance” is more people who are involved, who have just lost touch with it, if that makes sense. It’s two different sides, but a similar core message. 

Carter [Holmes] is in Payback, “one scene” is their whole gimmick - which I agree with - so I had Carter on it, because he’s a really good friend, and he’s putting our fuckin’ record out. And I love Cradle to Grave, I love Payback, so I just said, “Yo, sing on this, because I know you agree with me.” He feels the same way, so I figured he’d be a good person to have sing on it.

AA: As most people have probably picked up by now - “DSA” is a repeated phrase through a lot of what you guys do. Can you explain the significance for anyone who’s unaware?

DW: It’s their thing, we’re all part of it, it’s just… You know. I’ll say, as vague as it is, it’s just our group. Basically. But at its core, it’s Mike, Andrew, and it was Eric. But that’s all we’ll do, because that’s definitely a Mike answer right there. 

Mike’s answer:

MC: DSA was started as a group of degenerates with my brother and best friend, Eric Antico, and some other close homies. When Eric passed away, I wanted to continue to rep it with Shackled, and also in general. We ended up having the song “Dead Soon Anyway” on our first EP. When we were writing the LP and discussing possible titles, I wanted to try to think of a DSA acronym to go along with it. The first one I thought of was “doubt surrounds all.” I felt like it was a good fit with the songs and lyrical content as well. DSA is one of the most important things to me, and I will rep it ‘till I die. It’s about brotherhood, and loyalty, and love. Eric Antico forever. Don’t Suffer Alone.

AA: Aside from the official meaning of DSA - what does the title Doubt Surrounds All mean to you?

DW: Doubt Surrounds All, to me - and this is just me, because DSA means a lot of things - but the three words, “Doubt Surrounds All,” to me, means this. [With] everything in life, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Everything could be given to you, or taken away from you, at any fucking point. A lot of these songs are about not knowing where to go, not knowing how you got to the point you are, not knowing why you feel like this, not knowing why these fucking people are coming to a space you love and trying to fucking take that away from you, not understanding why people online are dying on these insane hills, when they could just fucking mind their business, or, like, look into the issues they defend more deeply, and it’s just… That doubt, of not understanding those people, those people not understanding themselves, not knowing what’s going to happen. That’s everywhere, you cannot escape it. 

Even if you think that something is set in stone or you “know” that this is how it is - nothing is like that. I think that, like I said, all these songs are about that, and about the doubt that surrounds me, with how I feel every fucking day about the things I love. Shit was taken away from us for a year and a half, and we didn’t know if it was gonna come back. Like, sure, we thought it was, but who the fuck knew? That’s what Doubt Surrounds All is. Honestly, the only thing on fucking earth that makes me not feel that way, and feel like I should be here, I should be doing this, this is what I wanna do, the only thing that makes me not focus on uncertainty - is going to shows, playing in a band, writing these lyrics, doing the record, like… All that kind of shit, music and hardcore, the friends I’ve made. That’s what helps me not fucking think about that all the time. You know what I mean? Because who the fuck knows what’s going to happen with anything.

AA: What’s your favorite song off Doubt Surrounds All and why? (Feel free to pick a few if you need to)

ND: “All I Feared” is my favorite. What’s the third song’s real name?

DW: “Doubt Surrounds All.”

ND: “Cheeseburger” - what’s that one called? That one’s “Doubt Surrounds All?”

DW: [laughs] Yeah. “Cheeseburger” is “Doubt Surrounds All.”

ND: Those two are my favorite. “All I Feared” is my favorite because there’s a hook in it, it repeats the words, so it’s kind of like a singalong. The drums are cool, the riff is cool, the breakdown’s cool. I think it’s our best song we’ve ever made, to be honest. 

DW: I do agree with you.

ND: And then, “Doubt Surrounds All,” I like, because it’s got the Dan feature, which is sick, the riff is sick - it’s got a cool structure. I like the beats, the tempo changes. I like those two the best, those are definitely gonna be so fun to play live, and just fun to go off on, live.

DW: I agree, “All I Feared” is the best song we’ve written, and it’s also the most - I don’t wanna say experimental, but… What’s the word I’m looking for, Nick?

ND: I think it’s just the catchiest song.

DW: It’s catchy, it doesn’t sound like anything we’ve written before, I think. Besides that, I won’t use what Nick said, I’ll say the two that mean the most to me besides that are “Nothing Ever Came,” and “When Time Stops,” I think. And besides it meaning a lot, like I explained before, I think my vocals sound the best on that one. So I think I’m really confident in that. Yeah - “All I Feared,” “Nothing Ever Came,” and “When Time Stops.” But I don’t think there’s a bad song on it. 

(Photo credit: Kyle Bergfors)

AA: DSA has two guest features on it, one from Dan Schultz, who does vocals in Worn, and one from Carter Holmes, who runs From Within Records - how did you go about getting those together?

ND: Dan asked us, right?

DW: Yeah, Dan was in the city, and was like, “Yo…”

ND: Yeah, it was really last minute. Which, honestly, I’m glad he’s on it, because that shit’s sick. And Carter, I think Dylan asked him.

DW: Yeah! I had more ideas, I was gonna ask Josh from Life’s Question, and Jack Zabinski from Hesitate. But Jack was playing a show that day, and Josh was in fucking Boston or something, I don’t know. So Dan was around, and I was like, “Yeah, that’d be sick as fuck.” And we did that. Also - I need to say one think that I forgot to say before - Nick actually wrote a lyric on this record.

ND: Oh, I did?

DW: On “Our Home.” He said something about “keep your distance and keep your head down,” and I was like, “That’s fucking perfect. That’s exactly how I feel.”

ND: Yeah!

DW: So thank you, Nick, I appreciate that. And on “Our Home,” as well - honestly, it’s fitting that “Our Home” had a bunch of people help with the writing of it - when we were listening to the record, when we were done recording, Dan was still there, and we realized that we had missed a section of the song and there was no lyrics there. ‘Cause, I wrote “Our Home” in the studio. And I was like, “What the fuck do I write there?” And he goes, “Don’t say you were ever my friend.” And I was like, “You’re absolutely right.” And that was the one line he wrote on the record, I wrote his part on “Doubt Surrounds All,” but he wrote a line on “Our Home”, and that’s the last line that was recorded for the entire record. So when you listen - “don’t say you were ever my friend” was the last thing recorded vocally.

ND: Honestly, the whole record was really collaborative. It was really fun for me, recording with Wyatt is awesome. Shoutout Wyatt.

DW: Mmhmm. Shoutout Wyatt, he’s fucking awesome. He had ideas for us, then we all had ideas for everyone. We all had ideas for drums, we all had ideas for guitar parts, we all had ideas for different bass parts, we all had the tambourine idea, we all decided Dan would be a cool guest part, people helped me with lyrics - not ideas, but how to restructure sentences to fit better and shit. So, it went well!

But yeah, Carter - I asked him to do it, and he did it. That’s really all that was. [laughs]

AA: You’ve told me a few times you want to be a “hard, not heavy” band - did your influences change up at all on this record, or did you stay true to that?

 ND: I think we stayed true to it.

DW: Definitely. We have heavy parts, but it’s not, like, downtuned metalcore - which, I like metalcore, I don’t care, I don’t mean to talk shit, I like all kinds of shit - but that’s not the band we’re in.

ND: Shoutout to the E-standard, E-flat bands.

AA: Shoutout I Set My Friends On Fire.

[all laughing]

ND: Nah, tuned-down bands are sick.

DW: Yeah, I love shit like that - but, with this band, we wanna keep it more true to hardcore, influenced by punk and hardcore shit, but also keep it… We all love mosh parts. No matter what style of hardcore, we all love mosh parts. So, obviously we’re gonna make a band that has mosh parts, but no chugging stuff, or whatever.

ND: Yeah, no chugga-chuggas.

DW: I’m not talking shit, ‘cause I love that kind of stuff - but, you know, that’s not the band we’re in, that’s not what we wanna play, and I think we did stay true to it.

(Photo credit: Carl Gunhouse)

AA: The beatdown “dun dun dun,” play-it-slower parts... I think that’s what you’re talking about. [laughs]

DW: And I love that. 

AA: Oh, same.

DW: I love fast stuff, I love hard stuff, but... I think this band is just a straight-up hardcore band. Do we have heavier parts? Yes, but we’re a hardcore band.

AA: We’ve had a lot of conversations about music - you and the other members of Shackled listen to just about everything. Are there any non-hardcore artists you took inspiration from, or found yourself listening to a lot, while making this record?

ND: I mean, just my drumming on the record… I don’t know. I know that I was listening to a lot of death metal… But I don’t even use a double kick pedal, so I can’t say that I do death metal drumming. [laughs]

DW: We love Blink-182, Box Car Racer, shit like that, which, first of all, influences the music, through Nick and Jake. And, also, shit like that affects my lyrics too, [stuff in] that kind of realm. Senses Fail, Taking Back Sunday, Glassjaw - shit like that all helps me approach how I put lyrics to songs, and also what I feel like I can write without being too corny, if that makes sense. 

AA: True. Although Glassjaw wrote some things I don’t think people could get away with now. [laughs]

ND: Whoever plays drums in that Sanguisugabogg band, that guy’s mad good. I’ve been listening to his drumming a lot. I don’t know if I could use him as an influence on that record, but I know I was listening to that band a lot when I was playing. I don’t know.

DW: Yeah. We all like a lot of metal stuff, a lot of emo stuff, a lot of, like, hip hop stuff… I don’t know if anything specifically or outright influences us, but with the amount we listen to, there’s no doubt some of it kind of makes its way in there.

ND: Yeah! Yeah. I listen to a lot of music, I make a lot of stuff, I listen to other stuff, but I don’t know. Lately I’ve just been listening to freakin’ Bon Jovi and crap, ‘cause of work [he’s a music teacher - Ed], but I wouldn’t say I put that stuff on the record. [laughs] No “Livin’ On a Prayer.”

AA: Do you ever take inspiration from other pieces of media - movies, video games, TV shows, etc.?

DW: For me, I never have, but I’ve always wanted to make a band with… I love fantasy shit, like video games and movies. I don’t really watch a lot of movies or TV shows, at all, but I do play video games. I love that shit, and I love songs that use, like, fantasy imagery and stuff like that. I’ve always wanted to do something like that, I haven’t yet. Maybe one day.

AA: Seed of Pain does that really well.

DW: Yes!

ND: The only video game I gotta credit is Rock Band. [laughs] With, like, literally making me a drummer. Shoutout to that game. That game is super influential on me. Any rhythm game, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

DW: Rhythm Heaven… Really good.

ND: Yeah! Rhythm Heaven. Fire. All those games are a big influence on me. Every Guitar Hero, everything.

AA: I think that’s how a lot of our generation found rock music.

ND: Yeah! Guitar Hero, you know, got me into Avenged Sevenfold, Rage Against the Machine, a lot of bands like that. And Tony Hawk Underground too, for sure. And Grand Theft Auto - the radio on that game.

Flyer for the Doubt Surrounds All Tour

AA: Shackled immediately hit the road pretty hard with a handful of tours when shows came back - what are some of your favorite places you’ve played so far, and what are some places you’d like to hit up in the future?

ND: My favorite shows, on the last tour we played, were probably the first one and the last one. Akron was so sick because it was in a backyard, some Goonies shit, it was awesome. The last one was in Tennessee, I think it was Chattanooga. Our first time in Tennessee, it wasn’t bad, but it was okay - and this second time was crazy. Like, mad people were there. That was a huge surprise, and really cool. But I wanna go to the West Coast and Texas, I wanna go to California. I’ve never been farther West than, like, the Midwest, so I just want to see the actual West. Or anywhere outside the country, too, would be sick.

DW: Yeah, I think my favorite place to play so far, outside of our little bubble over here, like Philly, New York, New Jersey - I would say that Chattanooga was awesome. It was really fucking fun. And, yeah, I agree with Nick. I don’t think Ohio will ever be my favorite place to play, whatever happened at that Akron show can probably never happen again there, but…

ND: Yeah, that’s like a one-time thing. Like, I don’t know if Akron is a poppin’ scene, but that show was sick.

DW: I like playing Louisville, just because they have a good scene, I have a lot of friends there… It’s cool. I really wanna go to California, like Nick said, the West Coast. I wanna do that so fucking badly… Texas… I just wanna see it all. And then different countries, hopefully we can get to Europe, or Japan, or Mexico, or something like that. All those would be so fucking cool.

ND: Yeah, I’d love to go to any Asian country, Japan would be so fucking cool.

DW: Yeah. So, we’re gonna keep grinding until we get there.

AA: You guys have made time to see local stuff in each place you’ve played in the last few months - what’s one of the coolest things you’ve run into so far?

DW: First of all, I think that any band on tour should do that. It’s easier, yeah, to sit in the van all day, but I think that we got the most out of the last tour, going to all these places and seeing shit that we never would’ve seen, you know what I mean? You just get more out of it. It’s more fun, cool experiences that you’ll remember. I’m trying to do that every time that we go out, until we get sick of it, or until we’ve seen it already.

In Springfield, IL, we saw - well, I saw, no one came with me except Stephen - but I went to the Abraham Lincoln Museum, the library, and the governor’s mansion. We went to the Lincoln Tomb and shit, which I thought was so fuckin’ cool. We all went to the arch in St. Louis… You never really think of … Like, you know that exists, but you never think of it, then you get there, and you’re like, “Oh, shit.” The whole park is fucking huge, I thought that was really cool. I’m excited for when we go back to Louisville, because I didn’t get to see the Louisville Slugger, the big baseball bat, so I hope that I can see it this time. Oh, and in Gary, IN, we went to a Lake Michigan beach, that was really cool.

AA: For sure. Weird beach, but still a cool one.

DW: Yeah, it’s weird, but… You know, it’s a beach! Fuck it, it was awesome. And I have places to go for the next tour, too, just because I feel like that shit’s so fun. I don’t know if anyone agrees with me, but I think they do.

ND: I mean, I like going to places. I like every time - we’ve been to Buffalo a few times, but every time we go there, we go to Niagara Falls, and that’s always sick. Like, I’d never been - well, I’d actually been once prior - but now I’ve been, like, five times, or four times… [laughs] And it’s pretty cool.

DW: Yeah, I’m excited to go again this time. I fuckin’ love it there. It’s cool every single time. It doesn’t really get old, in my opinion.

ND: Yeah! And then… I mean, Clearwater Beach when we went to FYA the first time was sick. That was in, like, January, so that was so sick.

DW: Yeah. Hopefully we’ll be back.

ND: Kentucky was cool… I’m trying to think, what else did we see that I was like, “Oh, fuck.”

DW: Oh! Nick! Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!

ND: Oh yeah! Duh. [laughs] That was so sick. We got in for free, so that was cool.

DW: I think I only paid, like, $5 for the Lincoln Museum.

ND: Yeah, we did good on money.

AA: Alright, I’m gonna make Dylan rant again. What’s something you’d like to see more of in hardcore in general?

ND: I’d like to see more drummers not use a double kick pedal, because no one else does it. I feel like I’m the only one. [laughs] Nah, there’s definitely more people who don’t. Not that anyone who doesn’t use it is bad, it’s just used a lot. Maybe you don’t have to use it! And it could still sound cool!

Also, I feel like it’s not as scary to go to shows. I wanna be scared more. I feel like I’m safe at a show, and that’s kind of a weird feeling. But yeah. Make it a little more violent. Those are my only two gripes.

DW: Two things. One - I want to see people go to more shows, and shows that have nothing to do with them, or their friends, or their group, or whatever. I just think, with the amount of people that do go to shows, every single show should be fuckin’ popping off, and people need to start going out, stop fucking caring about, like, I don’t know - who’s in the band, why you should go - and just enjoy some fuckin’ music. It’s not that hard, it’s fun, you like the fucking music and the community, so just go.

Second, with new people in hardcore - people have been talking about this - someone needs to go online, look at a show from… It doesn’t even need to be from 1997. Look at a show from 5 years ago, or 10 years ago, and look at the people moshing there… And just develop some sort of style, instead of push pitting. That’s cool for a little bit, but we need more people to mosh well, you know? And that goes back to Nick’s violent thing. We need better moshers.

ND: Yeah. It’s, like, weird. Hardcore got more popular, but almost only on the internet.

(Photo credit: Matt Viel)

AA: Yeah, I absolutely agree with you.

DW: You’re right. People need to go to more shows. Start looking at new shit. And… I think we need to see more things that aren’t bands, too. More zines, more fuckin’ hardcore podcasts, I don’t think there are many - just more shit like that. Not in a corny way, but, you know, I think there’s a way that you can do all that shit where it’s better. I think there’s a lot of bands, but not a lot of other shit. Maybe I’m wrong.

AA: No, I agree. It sucks, because zine culture is kind of a dying thing, which, it’s very much like me to pick something up that’s dying and try to bring it back to life… [laughing] No, but, for real - it’s cool and everything, but I wish there was more people that understood the importance.

DW: [laughs] I agree. And, on top of that, there needs to be more - and this is a tall order to ask - more labels doing records, not just tapes. I think there’s not enough labels. Not tape labels, there’s a million tape labels, but cool hardcore labels that are putting out tapes, CDs, records, all of that. More From Within-style labels.

AA: Yeah. Well, it’s hard, because a lot of people start on From Within-style labels, and they don’t stay and grow with the label anymore.

DW: Yeah. You need to have more medium or small labels that also have connections like those labels do, so there’s more bands coming out on different labels. I think. Will I do it? No, I don’t have money to make fuckin’ records. But someone out there fuckin’ does!

What else? ... I think more bands need to tour more. I think touring not being a big thing anymore is kind of wack, and bands need to tour more. Not just weekends, it needs to be longer tours. And I think that also goes back to [the fact that] people need to be willing to spend a little bit more on a show or on a shirt, so bands can tour more. 

AA: For sure. And I think too, personally - I don’t know, you guys are one of the only touring bands that’s, like, made time to come out here, but I do wish the bands who do weekenders would maybe do them a little further out from where they live. A lot of bands don’t attempt to go new places and get new fans. Obviously, because of cost… Maybe because they don’t wanna deal with the smaller crowds or whatever... I don’t know.

DW: I like grinding the band. Here’s the thing, a lot of those people already have connections to do whatever they want - we don’t. So, in a way, we have to do it, but also, it’s fun, and I like hanging out with my band, and I love the people that play music with me. But I want to hang out with other bands. I want to do tours. I want to see shit with my friends. You know what I mean? It just comes down to that. Right, Nick?

ND: Yeah! It’s a grind, but it’s an escape, too. Nice to get away.

(Photo credit: Kyle Bergfors)

AA: If someone who was new to hardcore came to you and asked for 5 bands or records to listen to, what would you recommend?

ND: I mean, I always try to show my students hardcore a little bit. I’ve never gotten someone to bite full-on, like going to shows, really get into it, but I’ve had a few people get put onto bands. I’ll always show people, straight-up, whatever the most popular shit is, just because I don’t want to give them some random-ass, obscure band, and then they’re like, “What’s this?” I want what most people are liking or are into, so that they can kind of, like, step their foot in the door, at least. Whatever [creates] the most likely chance for them to get hooked on it is usually what I show them. That’s usually just the more popular stuff - the newest stuff. I have a list - I know I’ve written down bands like Turnstile, Knocked Loose, Drain… Or Power Trip is dope…

DW: I would say just go to that girl on TikTok’s TikTok and just try what she says to listen to. [laughs] That was a joke, but it might actually help.

ND: No, seriously. Because these kids are, like, 13-14, you know? They don’t wanna listen to Bulldoze as their intro. I’m not trying to show them every side of it. I don’t know. I just like to give people what the most popular shit is, if they’re gonna get into it.

DW: That’s what I was saying to Angie before you got on, it’s like… I have some bands I would show them, but when you’re young and you’re first getting into it, just listen to the most popular shit that people are going off for. And that’ll get you into it. 

Angie, like I said, when I was young, to my detriment, I didn’t really care about older bands for like a year or two, until I finally got to them. Like, I liked certain ones, like Cro-Mags, because that was my first show ever, Madball… But, besides that, I didn’t fucking care, I wanna listen to what’s going on right now. 

AA: Well, yeah. You wanna listen to something that you could go to a show for, something you could see right now.

DW: Yeah, exactly. But it didn’t take very long - as I got into it, I got into the older stuff. So, if I was giving a person 5 bands, I’d literally go to the FYA lineup and be like, “Listen to this shit.” There’s Age of Apocalypse... As a band that you could just go see, Age of Apocalypse is the main one. I think they’re one of the best out right now. Pain of Truth, Year of the Knife, there’s fuckin’ Despize is amazing, I love them, if you want a European one… Here’s all these popular-ass bands playing, check them out, and if you like that, I’ll have more for you later. Let me know which ones you don’t like, which ones you like,” and I’ll have more for them at that point, you know? 

AA: Yeah. Everyone’s got their own taste, give them an opportunity to find it.

DW: Which is a really annoying way to respond to that question, but it’s also something that’s important.

AA: No! It’s good, it’s important context.

DW: Like, I would tell a younger person to listen to all of that, because they’d probably like it, because that’s what everyone likes right now, you know? For good reason, ‘cause they’re really good. I’m clearly forgetting a lot of shit, so sorry to whoever reads this, for forgetting you. … Nick, what are your five records? Or bands?

ND: Alright, so - I would show Step 2 Rhythm by Turnstile, Cost of Living by Incendiary, probably How the Gods Chill by Cold World, I’m just trying to think of some of the first ones I listened to… Darker Half by Backtrack

DW: I was thinking of Backtrack too.

ND: And then Big Kiss Goodnight by Trapped Under Ice.

AA: That’s a good one.

DW: If I’m thinking about, in high school, what I loved, it’d be Trapped Under Ice, Backtrack, Forced Order, Turnstile, and… Uh… What else did I really like… It’s hard to think about that, it’s been a while. 

The last Life and Death Tour - from 2017

AA: Pretty much anything that was on a Life & Death Tour.

ND: Oh yeah! Life & Death Tour!

DW: Yeah, yeah! Life & Death Tour was huge! Every year, it was like… I would be like, holy shit. Especially when it was at Gamechanger, which is right next to my house... 

ND: Dude, those were the days. Straight up, if it weren’t for Gamechanger World, I would not be into hardcore. I give credit to that place, 100%. Which is a shame, because that place is gone. I talk about that place with my students, and it’s, like, mysterious. I’m like, “You guys don’t even know.” [laughs]

DW: If Shackled played Gamechanger, we’d bring their fuckin’ roof down. 

ND: Yeahhh. That was, like, the fucking place, man. The place. I didn’t get to go, but I remember that show that was with Turnstile The winter one?

DW: The winter one?

ND: Yeah, the Winter Jam, or whatever. 

DW: I was there! So, that show, Angie, was Turnstile, Incendiary was supposed to play, but they dropped, and Adventures played, Freedom… I think Down to Nothing... Xibalba and Rude Awakening did a secret split set... Holy fuck, who else played, I’ve gotta look it up.

AA: I feel like I’ve seen the flyer now that you’re saying this. It looked dope.

DW: [muffled gaming keyboard noises] … It was in 2015...

ND: Yeah, I remember being really sad, because there was a massive snowstorm that night, and I wanted to go so bad, and my mom didn’t let me. [laughs] I was so pissed.

DW: I’m trying to find the, uh… Can you hear me typing?

AA: Little bit. Do you have a gamer keyboard? [laughs]

DW: I do.

AA: There you go.

DW: Uh… [continued keyboard noises] Hold on, I have to fuckin’ find this. Here it is! Found it. So, it was Stick Together, Freedom, True Love, Adventures, Superheaven, Down to Nothing, Turnstile, and Xibalba and Rude Awakening played too.

ND: Just nuts.

DW: And that was two weeks after I started at Walgreens - where I still work - it was when I first started working there, and I walked in… I had work that night, and I said, “I cannot work tonight, you need to put me on in the morning, or I’m calling out.” And I worked the morning, and then I went straight to the show after in a huge snowstorm. It was called the Winter Classic, by the way. Not the Winter Jam. We were wrong.

ND: Yeah. Dude, I just remember seeing the flyer and hearing about that.  That was definitely when I was really getting into hardcore, around that time.

DW: Yeah. I was already a couple years in at that point, personally - and it was one of the craziest things I’d seen up until that point. Ever.

AA: I feel like a lot of the first shows you go to are some of the craziest lineups, and you don’t appreciate it.

DW: Oh, absolutely.

AA: So, like, some of my first couple shows, off the top of my head… My second hardcore show ever was Foundation’s last Chicago show. [laughs].

ND: Damn. [laughs]

AA: The next one was Blind Justice and Regulate playing in a basement, which was really fucking cool, in some Illinois suburb… And then… Uhh… Everybody Gets Hurt, Jukai, and Blistered. At SubT Downstairs, which, Dylan, I know you’ve been to.

DW: That’s crazy.

AA: Any upcoming plans you’d like to talk about?

DW: We’ve got a tour this January, and we’re also playing FYA. Besides that, a release show in March… That’s it, but that’s not announced yet. Anything else you can think of, Nick?

ND: Nah, I mean… Playing shows and shit. Tourin’.

DW: We’re just gonna keep grinding it out.

AA: [whispering] You’ve got a record coming out…

DW: Yeah! The record’s coming out, we’re gonna tour off that for the next few months. We’re gonna do West Coast, I think. And then a full US over the summer, something like that. So… We got shit coming up. I don’t know when, but it is coming up.

AA: The golden question… Any last words or shoutouts?

DW: Honestly, when I thought about this question, I was like, “Maybe we should do it again,” but this time, maybe we should just keep it short. What do you think?

ND: Keep it short.

AA: Gotta talk about Romeo’s again, at least.

DW: I’ll shoutout Everett and Romeo’s, shoutout Zack Dresher, Cassidy Wilcox... Gage Lanza, he’s been helping us out with shows… Finn, he helped us out with the tour over the summer… Carter, Joey Chiaramonte, Kyle Niland, Jamie Ineptitude, Stephen, Brody… Bob Wilson and Joe.

ND: And shoutout Aaron Brenner, too, for filling in on bass that one time.

DW: Yes! Aaron and Kevin Sardy both helped fill in for a little, too. 

ND: Shoutout Sunny, Hate5Six.

DW: Yeah, shoutout Sunny, he’s been catching a lot of our shit... End It, Ineptitude, Final Rite, Year of the Knife. I don’t even know, just everyone who’s been helping us out. All the shoutouts are in our record! You can go read that if you preorder it.

AA: Marketing!

DW: Exactly. 

AA: Big brain activities.

DW: [laughs] Shoutout to new MH Chaos record… I would do more, but I’m getting to the point where I can barely talk because I’m so congested. Shoutout Taber and Scrutinize, they just played a show, that was sick. Life’s Question. Never Again and Cutdown. I’ll keep it at that. Keep it simple. New Jersey is back. We got some cool bands coming out. Cutdown, Raw Life. Yeah! Just everyone that’s been helping us out recently and, you know, been in our corner for this shit. That’s really it. 

Thank you again to Dylan and Nick for doing this interview. No bullshit, I am blown away by this new record, and it was awesome to set aside a couple hours to learn a little more about it.

If you happen to be from my area - the band is returning to Gary, Indiana, on November 18th, which is next week! You can check out the Facebook event here. Otherwise, make sure you scroll up a bit to see if their tour is coming closer to you!

Check out the links below if you want to keep up with Shackled:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Bandcamp | Record preorders

Last but definitely not least, listen to the new record, Doubt Surrounds All, on Spotify below.


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