Interviews with band


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Band Info

Founded:   1990
Ended: Active
City: Salem
State: MA
Country: US



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Ask Kurt Ballou from veteran Massachusetts bruisers Converge about the band's early days and you can almost feel the wince of embarrassment down the phone line. Forming the group as a teenager in the early 90s with vocalist Jake Bannon, they performed Minor Threat and Suicidal Tendencies covers before eventually mustering enough gumption to pen their own material, songs perhaps better left unwritten, according to Ballou.

Kurt Ballou:
"We started writing our own songs which were God-awful," laughs the guitarist-producer, convalescing at his home in Salem having just completed a US amphitheatre tour with The Bronx. "We went through a lot of different styles and if anyone out there ever gets hold of our first 7", it's the worst piece of shit ever made! Haha!

Kurt Ballou:
"We spent a long time trying find ourselves and we went through a lot of different members. There wasn't really much of a sense of purpose to the band back then other than just beating the crap out of our instruments after school. We were angry at stuff but we weren't sure what, haha, so it was born out of a lot of teen angst.

Kurt Ballou:
"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the first 7 or 8 years of the band we were God-awful. I wasn't really proud of our records until Jane Doe in 2001. I think there were some good songs and ideas prior to that but it was the one record I'm totally proud of. Having the new drummer helped a lot in giving the band some focus and there are other factors as well."

In the days before metal-core became a buzz word for today's disaffected youth, Converge's pioneering hardcore on indie label Equal Vision carved itself a lasting niche now revered by the band's cult fan base and beyond. Not a bad effort for a bunch of mid-teen misfits who never could quite perfect those Slayer riffs.

Kurt Ballou:
"We've kind of always done everything by ourselves and figured out everything on our own which is great because we've developed our own identity," says Ballou on behalf of Bannon, bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller. "But everything takes a lot longer that way and you don't benefit from learning from the mistakes of others, you just make all those mistakes yourself."

Kurt Ballou:
"I think we developed pretty independently. Even the other bands that do influence us, I think it's hard to get a direct influence from them because I've always been really bad at mimicking things. Like when we do covers, I'm bad at nailing the vibe of a cover. I sort of have to do my own thing, which is a blessing."

Not surprisingly, a hallmark of Converge's latest album No Heroes, the quartet's second release for Californian label Epitaph, is an original blend of high-adrenalin metal and pre-dawn hardcore.

Kurt Ballou:
"When I set out to make a record I don't set out to achieve anything in particular other than something that satisfies me musically and artistically," says Ballou, who produced the album at his own God City studios using a mix of Pro Tools and an old school desk console. "On this record I was just trying to continue the path of writing songs that are both aggressive and innovative and trying to keep it within the confines of Converge. I wanted it to sound like a Converge record but it also needed to be new and exciting and that's really what I'm in music for - to be excited."

Kurt Ballou:
"We recorded it pretty quickly in a professional recording studio and there wasn't much of a differentiation between the writing of the songs and the recording of them. We didn't really practice them, we just wrote them and recorded them. There was no extended period of time of getting to know the songs or play them out. We just went for it and that's what we've always aspired to be - a raw honest band."



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