About a year and a half ago, I always said I didn’t like “loud” music. I didn’t mind if the volume was turned up, but too much noise made me uncomfortable; I preferred lullaby music for the kids at all times of the day, or songs about fucking bitches and making money because who doesn’t like being brainwashed? Then I heard soul glow.
I’m not quite sure what made me change my mind – maybe the fact that they’re black, but then again, drummer TJ is white, so that can’t be the case. Perhaps this was because they allowed the listener enough time to breathe before the auditory skin was whipped again. (I listen to Diaspora problems Now, and no, that cannot be the case; The whole album freaks me out.) Most likely, it’s just because they’re really talented, and I feel lucky to have the chance to chat with them.
Before we get to the good stuff, let me introduce the band: There’s TJ, who I actually met. GG, guitarist, and Pierce on vocals.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
High Times: How did you guys meet?
TJ: I met GG a while ago. I met GG, over a decade ago.
GG: I met TJ at a show in New York City at 538 Johnson’s. I met Pierce through a band. Pierce actually booked my old band’s old show in Philadelphia.
Pierce: People were coming in and out. And basically, it’s TJ’s time and GG’s time just got into the band. I’ve been in this band since the beginning, but everyone else has gotten into it.
HT: So how does the song start, guys? What does it look like, going to the studio?
Pierce: Really depends. Usually someone comes up with an idea. An idea might be a whole song already ready. Or it may just require a few flavors from each of us. Or one of us will only have a few tracks, and then we just play things, play ideas over and over, and talk about how we want it to be. Or, sometimes for digital shit, GG will release beats and sometimes I’ll be there and have ideas that GG will then translate into songs.
HT: Are you getting into a topic?
GG: Musically, nah. i don’t think so.
TJ: Kinda happens a lot of the time.
Pierce: There were times when we would ask each other, What do we want this next nonsense to look like? one album i like it, I want this shit to sound like pain. And I feel like he did.
Hut: I feel like there’s some comedy in music videos. How do you feel about the music itself?
TJ: I was just a subject music video. The music video was really Pearce’s idea. I mean, it’s all about displaying minor themes in this band’s existence. Was my experience of joining the band where the drummer was being flogged on a rope? No, but it was painful. I got a call and it was like, do you want to play this festival with us in a week, and I was sure. Then we did group practice every day for a week, and I was like, I feel like I can somewhat Play this. And then I had to do it. It hits me in shape, in a sense.
HT: What role does cannabis play in your music?
GG: Jesus Christ.
TJ: Good I mean, you heard the beginning of the album right? I’ve been smoking weed daily, for example, for over a decade, so it has a part to play in almost everything I do.
Pierce: I think the way other people drink coffee is how I smoke weed. The way other people smoke cigarettes is the way I smoke weed. It really helped me manage Anxiety and depression In a way I needed to for many years before I really figured it out. Smoking cannabis as a teen for the first time, I didn’t know I could feel, like, so good. Little did I know I couldn’t have a permanent monologue completely driven by anxiety. Which is really underrated for someone like me. Obviously I want to be a more versatile person, so I have to find other things in life that do that for me as well; Herbs also helped me realize that that. All of them, GZA said, are planets orbiting the same sun. Music, herbs, and everything else I love are the things that keep me tied to this deadly coil.
GG: I smoked weed as a baby.
HT: As an infant?!
GG: To join this band, one of the requirements, well not a condition, but I was asked before I joined this band: Do you smoke weed? And I said every day. Now I don’t do it everyday anymore, due to a certain situation I was a part of, but I smoked weed last night and that shit was crazy.
HT: Do you smoke together, like in the studio?
Pierce: We are used to a lot, like Much much more.
HT: What caused the change?
GG: As for me, I was arrested. So it bothered me a little bit and I can’t do it all the time, because I’m so anxious right now.
HT: How do you feel about mass incarceration in relation to cannabis?
GG: It’s nonsense, far from the top.
TJ: Especially when you have places where legalization is issued. This is ridiculous. How can you get locked up for some shit that isn’t illegal anymore?
Pierce: It’s as if the Emancipation Proclamation was made and niggas were still slaves because no one told them. It’s like niggas will just steal your life, and not tell you.
HT: Why do you make music?
Pierce: I don’t really feel good at much shit, really. So when this stuck out for me as a kid, it stuck out. I mean, the easy answer is, I can’t skate.
GG: My dad is a percussionist and he gave me some drums because he thought it was a good idea and ha ha. He probably kicked himself in the ass a few times for doing this because of how I evolved as an individual. It’s just something I hold on to. Someone left a guitar in my bed and I just picked it up, and taught myself how to play it pistonthen you’re like, Brother, there are two more threads on it. Then I started teaching myself guitar shortly thereafter. I don’t know, I just felt like I had to keep doing it because it made me feel good as I progressed with the instrument. And over time I kept meeting cooler and cooler people, which made me feel a sense of belonging.
TJ: My father made me into a villain. It’s just something I’ve always been interested in and something people have encouraged me to do.
HT: Alright. Are you from a wealthy family? Punk music seems to be something that only wealthy parents give to their children. I don’t know why I feel this way.
TJ: Not broke, but not particularly wealthy. I think it’s just because my dad is young, relatively speaking, relative to other people my age. [He’s] still in [his] Mid 50’s now and I’ll be 30 next month. He was just in a bit of a crap and it helped. He just had this giant pile of CDs. That was or go to the library. I would take dirty things from the library and burn them. My mom worked in a bookstore.
Pierce: I’ve also been burning a lot of CDs, sure. Last night I was talking to someone about how I first listened to Metallica on a CD burn they made for me. It was Metallica Lightning ride On one side, then the archenemy Doomsday [Machine] On the other side. I was already listening to a lot of rock during that time… I was in middle school, so I was probably 12, 13 years old. My dad loved music too, but it was mostly jazz fusion, lots of pop weirdness. He doesn’t really listen to metal or anything at all; This was more of my character. But I feel like it definitely set me on the path to listening to very energetic, very busy music. Worked at the Census Bureau. My mom was in the military, so we were, like, middle class. We can go on vacation, not every year. And that was always through timeshares.
HT: How would you say separation affects the music and the bands that come out? Do you think if he comes from wealthy parents, they have a better chance of success?
Pierce: Yes, I think it can definitely make a difference. Like, my parents paid me to take lessons for a good seven years. And it honestly led to a mentor that changed my life and the way I look at music and everything. And GG certainly didn’t have that experience. So I feel like it doesn’t matter, but it can also help when it’s there.
GG: I feel it depends on your interests. Resources can certainly help, but if you practice what you do, you’ll do very well.
HT: How do you feel about the classification of black art? Like Afropunk, for example. Or go to a bookstore and see the African American section.
Pierce: Good, Afropunk is a damned near meaningless term. I feel like the conversation we’re going to have about Afropunk, just that term, and the festival it’s all about, is going to take more than ten minutes. [That term] It doesn’t really represent anything it was originally supposed to represent. I don’t know, that’s just what I have to say.
HT: Hereafter. do you exist
TJ: I feel like when you die, you’re done. I think that’s all we have.
Pierce: I feel like the afterlife can exist, like energy never destroys, it’s just some kind of blow transferred. Heaven to me is a rather selfish idea. We’ve already had a chance at paradise here, and we’re failing. But I think hell is real.
TJ: the curse.
Pierce: I think reincarnation is real. He. She could be realistic. You go back to the soil, and you bring out a whole new nigga.
HT: If I like you guys, who else should I listen to?
GG: Have you ever listened to : 3 colour?
Pierce: This shit will change your life. spelling. cheers. cloud rat. alpha. Tokisha. Tupac. Dancing with the Devil is a timeless technique. I was alone in the middle of the night when I first heard that song. I heard this shit and just looked at the computer screen and stared in silence after I played that shit. Like what the hell did I hear?!
Hut: What do you think the future of music looks like?
TJ: They will just start running the program to generate jingles and shit. It will be the world of artificial intelligence.
GG: We will be able to lower our minds.
Pierce: I think everything is going to be… Like, genres are going to become more blended together, and I think black music is going to be simply one genre where artists are doing different traditions at the same time within the same song.
HT: Will white people be able to make black music?
Pierce: They already are.