Hummer have released their final full length, Time To Pack Up, via Horn & Hoof Records, the album is now available as a…
Scarboro - Shi Heng Shi
- December 2024
Back in 2018 up and coming NYHC outfit Scarboro released the sublime Wolves On The Radio EP, that built on the foundations laid with their 2017 debut full length Here Comes The Hangover. Scarboro were making a name for themselves and they were getting ready to tour Europe… and then nothing until the end of 2023, I catch up with Scarboro and and try to explore their past, present and future.
Scarboro have been around for about a decade now, how did the band form and what were your influences.
“Scarboro was born from the vestiges of a band my old college friend asked me to play in. In its earliest iteration, it was the first time I had played in a few years after focusing on being a new dad at 24, living in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens with my wife and son.”
“The influences in the very early years ranged from the Ramones, The Descendants, Bad Religion, and Sick of it All to name a few. I grew up on West Coast bands from Epitaph/Nitro/Fat Wreck, and New York Hardcore.”
“Our name is representative of living a scarred life. Our bassist, Jack Counce and I have been writing together for the past decade, while we’ve had each other’s back through immense loss and struggle.”
The band released the “Rubber Tracks” demos and “The Safeword is Yes” EP in 2013 / 2014 respectively, tell me about the early years of Scarboro
“The early years were more of a party vibe. The songs I was writing at the time were reflective of trying to write punk songs I liked, rather than putting myself in the songs”
“The Safeword is Yes was the most important recording we did in the early years, but not for the reasons one would think. One night after playing a show we were approached by Francisco Botero, who asked to record us. I kind of brushed him off thinking it was a scam. What I didn’t know at the time was that this “random dude” would go on to produce the next few Scarboro records at Studio G in Brooklyn, and would become one of my best friends.”
“When we were recording ‘Safeword’, Francisco introduced us to Jack, who was an intern assisting with the session. Not long after that E.P. our bassist moved to Florida and, Francisco floated having Jack try out.”
“As a born and raised New Yorker I was naturally suspicious of out of staters, but it took one practice to learn I had just found the backbone of Scarboro in the quiet intern from Indiana.”
Then there was gap of three years, was the band active at this time?
“Boy were we! That recording gap is where we really threw ourselves into writing a bunch of new material and playing as many shows as possible, anywhere we could. Scarboro found its voice and sound in this period, and wrote most of the songs on Here Comes the Hangover.”
“Jack had joined Fat Heaven the same week he joined Scarboro, and at the time they all lived in the same house providing a guaranteed venue in the Moffat House. Those shows were some of the most fun we played; a sweaty, packed basement with bands from all over the punk and hardcore spectrum in the city. When you were there, you were alive. That’s when Gayla Brooks joined the band, keeping us going through transitions. She’s a good friend and a beast behind the kit, drumming for Fat Heaven, Slugwater, and occasionally subbing for Thick.”
Then came “Here Comes The Hangover” in 2017 that made an impact and was the first time that many would have heard the band, what influenced the album and what was going on with the band at the time as whilst it’s hardcore punk, it wasn’t by any means by the numbers.
“Thanks for saying it made an impact. To this day we still get messages from folks saying they’re still listening to it and that it meant something to them, or got them through a rough patch, and that’s incredibly humbling. “
“Trauma was the main ingredient of the album, with a sprinkle of finding hope in good times with your people. “
“In the years it was written in, I was struggling with being an adult in a suit by day supporting a family, who didn’t want to lose grasp of the punk kid raised in a one bedroom with his mom and grandma in gritty 80s and 90s New York City. That tension plays out in songs like Watch Ya Back and Bury it. At the time I was also engaging in unhealthy behaviors, coping with a lot of deaths, and finally coming to terms with mental illness, the record tells that story.”
“We definitely don’t do it by the numbers and that’s what I love about this band. We write what feels true and have the music reflect the spirit of a song. Whether it’s a sixty second blaster or a string arrangement and some piano, we write what we feel. That’s why I love a band like Scowl who can write a floor punching hardcore beast like “Four Walls” and then turn around and have you bopping around to the Veruca Salt-esque “Opening Night””.
Things stepped up the year after with “Wolves On The Radio” EP, everything was a bit sharper and on point and it was one of these Punk Site’s top 20 from releases from that year, things seemed to be moving forward, what was going on at that time?
“Firstly, thank you for the love thePunksIte gave our music, it meant a lot. When we released Wolves on the Radio we were riding the high from the reception we got for the Hangover. We threw ourselves into playing as many shows as we could to build and keep the momentum going.”
“We were balancing recording Wolves on the Radio, rolling out the record, keeping ourselves sharp on the stage and sketching out getting to Europe. We were hungry and grateful to be out there doing our thing. Right as we were getting ready to release the E.P. our drummer at that time Eric Dean found out he was going to be a new dad so we had to recalibrate.”
Then came radio silence for 5 years, until the end of 2023, what brought on the hiatus just as momentum seemed to be building?
“We had a perfect storm of events that led to our hiatus. The first blow came from a situation where an important relationship we had cultivated to support our efforts in Europe was sabotaged and I’ll leave it at that. Honestly, it set us back and really knocked the wind out of our sails. We had worked hard to get to that point, and then something out of our control came and undid it. It was hard.”
“We were really frustrated because external life events kept forcing us to revisit the lineup while pushing an EP, booking our own shows, and trying to salvage the European tour we had been working towards. It felt like an impossible situation.”
“The world also felt like it was falling apart, and I started to re-engage in my activism, ultimately leading to a decision to run for elected office as an anti-war challenge from the left.”
“COVID came and turned everything everywhere upside down, and I fell deeper into political work, which ultimately led to an even deeper mental health situation and a long fight to get back on stable ground. I got a late in life autism and ADHD diagnosis, which made a lot of my suffering make sense. I stepped away from politics, am getting the help I need, and am slowly taking masks off as I learn to be exactly who I am. Part of that process to find myself has been writing new songs again. Healing is brutal at times, and writing music allows me to explore and express myself in ways that I can’t otherwise.”
That brings us up to date and Scarboro are back and you have plans for two singles in the new year, tell us what we can expect and is it still the same line up?
“We’ll start with the second part because we are so excited to have Radhika George join us on drums. She’s a phenomenal talent and we can’t wait for folks to hear the fire she brings.”
“We are putting the finishing touches on two new singles we hope to get released at the start of the new year. Jack recorded them at Studio G, and we can’t wait to share them. I think folks can expect the same fast and hard delivery. The songs may be personal at times but relatable to anyone who’s been alive the past few years.”
What’s on the cards beyond the singles for Scarboro in 2024?
“Our plans are to go back to what we know and work our butts off to make up for lost time! Once the fog lifted I immediately got back to writing new songs, the skeletons of which I’ve brought to the band to start working out as we prep the next full-length.”
“We’re working on a full-length, booking shows, and working to get back to touring in the U.S. and hopefully sort out our long overdue Europe run. I’m excited about our dynamic and the talent that I get to play with. Radhika is a jazz drummer, and she brings something really unique to the punk and hardcore sound of Scarboro.”
Its good to have you back, have their been any particular high or low points from the last decade that you want to share?
“The biggest high in the last decade was opening for Kill Your Idols and Fireburn in 2018. When Francisco and I went to see Negative Approach and Bloodclot the year before, I shot a timid “hey man, great set” to Todd Youth (RIP) as Bloodclot was packing up their van. He goes “hey, Scarboro right?”. I was completely taken aback by being recognized by an all-time great of NYHC. He said he loved the Hangover LP and that we should play a show soon. I thought he was just being polite, but messaged him our info the next day and didn’t think much of it outside of being super humbled by the gesture.”
“Fast forward to January of 2018 I get an email from Vinnie Value (RIP) saying Kill Your Idols is doing a few dates in April with Fireburn, and Todd Youth and him wanted us on the bill if we were free. It meant the world to me that Todd remembered us and came through on his offer. That show will always be special to me, because these guys that were literal NYHC legends were the most down to earth dudes willing to help a band like us out. To get to see a mini-Warzone reunion from the side of the stage and get treated so kindly by everyone was literally a once in a lifetime experience.”
Scarboro will be releasing new material in the coming months and will be appearing at the Skid Row Garage in York, PA on February 3rd.