Downfall: Hunter Mowels on "Behind the Curtain" and High Energy Hardcore

(Photo credit: Kenny Savercool)

This past summer, Richmond hardcore band Downfall released their debut full length on DAZE and Triple-B Records, entitled Behind the Curtain. 

Clocking in at just under 20 minutes, the album sees Downfall reach maturity as a band. With an emphasis on the heavy that doesn’t leave out their faster, more punk-inclined influences, Downfall finds their niche somewhere right in the middle of both ends of the spectrum. 

Vocalist Hunter and I talked about the new record, as well as Richmond hardcore in general. Throw on Behind the Curtain and give this one a read.

(Photo credit: Kenny Savercool)

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

HM: I’m Hunter. I sing in the band. I run a lot.

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

HM: I saw Cruel Hand play some random show I was at. I had no idea who they were, but right before their set, a huge group of people, primarily in black shirts and baggy camo pants, came in and went nuts during their set. They moshed so much harder, piled on top of each other, and did perfect front flips off the stage. Everyone around me was bummed and freaked out, but I was in love. That level of intensity was what drew me in and has kept me in.

AA: There’s a lot of fast, punky bands coming out, as well as super heavy, hard ones - but it’s not often a band incorporates both heavy and fast parts as seamlessly as you guys do. What influences your sound as a band?

HM: I appreciate you saying that. We all have a lot of different influences and I think that spills into the music, specifically the LP. For instance, our main influences on this record were bands like Pantera, Hatebreed, Cold as Life, Dying Fetus. Our main goal is to be as fast and as heavy as possible, while still being a hardcore band, and not completely abandoning our original sound. High energy and aggression.

Album art

AA: You just released your first LP as a band, Behind the Curtain, via DAZE. What are some things that inspired you when writing for the album?

HM: We knew that for a full length we needed to step our game up and really dig deep to create something special. During the COVID era, we spent most of that time writing and evolving. The guitar players, Mark and Vlad, would just constantly push the bar on what was acceptable and worth keeping until we had something we were really proud of. Lyrically, I did the same. I couldn’t be more proud to have worked on it with such talented friends.

AA: The artwork for Behind the Curtain is dope - is there any meaning behind it?

HM: There was an original idea of “hell” that stuck with us throughout the course of writing, so we wanted the album art to match that. The intro (and outro) riff and noise was always imagined to be what you hear as you’re entering Hell. I think it was Vlad who came up with the idea for it to be a man standing in fire and chaos… And I sent some inspiration from some 90’s movie posters that I wanted to model it after. Ridge Rhine absolutely smoked it on the art.

AA: David Blom’s feature on “Scorn” is a perfect addition. What made you want to add him to the song?

HM: I imagined someone with a higher, harsher voice singing it when I was writing the lyrics. I love his vocals, and Blom is dope. It was a no-brainer. I hope we get to do it together live soon.

(Photo credit: Kenny Savercool)

AA: What’s the scene like in Richmond? How does being from the area affect you as a band?

HM: Richmond is great because it’s got good protection. If something or someone is disingenuous, the scene is pretty quick to toss it or turn away. Everyone knows everyone and has fun, but will let you know when you’re fucking up. So, to indirectly answer your question, there’s not really a specific Richmond sound, just more an attitude and rawness to it… Which is what gives us the power to be the band we are.

AA: If you could tell readers to check out one or two tracks from Behind the Curtain, which ones would you choose?

HM: “Broken Mind,” because that’s what we’re all about. 

(Photo credit: Barrett Doherty)

AA: If someone was coming to Richmond for the first time and asked for a few important spots to hit up - where would you tell them to go?

HM: Go to Rocketts Landing and/or Chimborazo Park. Best views in the city. 

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

HM: Announcing a short northeast run with my favorite new band soon... 

AA: Anything else you’d like to add?

HM: Never give up. Prove them wrong.

Thank you again to Hunter for doing this interview! You can find the band on social media below:

Instagram | Twitter

Use your next 17 minutes wisely and give Behind the Curtain a listen.


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