For those hardcore/punk fans looking at this summer’s slate of shows and worrying about how you’re going to get to all of them: get used to it. Routine post-decision dissonance is becoming a reality for underground music fans in Jersey because, simply put, there’s a ridiculous wealth of legit hardcore/punk music coming out of the state right now. While this isn’t exactly a revelation, considering the state has produced so many well-regarded bands over the past few decades, the current wave of talent is pretty staggering: Gel, School Drugs, Ides, A.M.M.O., Never Again/Cutdown, OC Rippers… the list goes on and on.
In mid-June, yet another NJ hardcore band (they might have actually formed in Ridgewood, Queens, but we’re claiming them), Hard 2 Kill, announced their arrival in the ever-expanding scene with the drop of a five-song demo. In true underground fashion, NJ Indy was alerted to this release in the most unlikely of ways: an Instagram story from Cats Luck Vegan’s account with a picture of the H2K demo cover that read, “LISTEN. TO. THIS. NOW.” Giving credit where it’s due, Cats Luck’s “call to action” was on point: hardcore fans, particularly those with an affinity for that direct, stripped-down sound of the late ’80s and ’90s (that’s our jam), really should give this demo a spin and add Hard 2 Kill to the list of bands you need to see live this year—ideally in the packed, sweaty basement of a punk house (looking at you, New Brunswick).
I love demos for a bunch of reasons, the most important being: 1) We always need more good music to fill up drive-time on the Parkway and 2) It’s a far more entertaining way to be introduced to what a band is all about than reading their bio. In roughly nine minutes of music, we learned that inclusion, acceptance and fun are central to Hard 2 Kill’s identity and that if this is just the first, brief glimpse of what’s to come, we are very high on the band’s future.
This week, I chatted with Hard 2 Kill vocalist Andrew Moreski about forming the band, writing/recording the demo and what’s on H2K’s horizon.
How did Hard 2 Kill come about? How long have you been playing together?
Hard 2 Kill, as a collective, officially started in 2019. It was me and Sammy (guitar)—he asked me if I wanted to start a hardcore band and I said, “Sure!” When I was like 19 or 20 I was playing in hardcore bands but that was a long time ago. We were playing with two other friends [initially]: one who moved to Detroit right after the pandemic and another who had a lot of other commitments that were keeping her from the band, so she had to leave. Our current lineup had come through sometime in the summer of 2020—we had stopped playing for a while but it was never a break up, it was just on pause. Sammy had left for a short time, too, but me and Oneg (drums) were continuing on. Earlier this year, Sammy came back and we got our bassist, Zach, who is a big sweetie, and we all just vibed. We all got along. But, yeah, we’ve been working really hard on these songs for the last couple of years now.
Where did you record?
We recorded at Artifact Audio in Ridgewood [Queens] with Sasha Stroud. We really like a lot of the work she had done with Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, Warthog and Dollhouse and all of those really cool New York punk bands. Oneg, he’s in another punk band called High Cost and I think Sasha had mastered something for them so he knew her. He was like, “Hey, she’d do this for us.” And I definitely wanted that to happen because I’m a big fan of her work. We had such a great time with her, she was so professional, she was great about everything; it was all really easy. We recorded our whole demo in about eight hours on one day.
What are some of the recurring themes in your songs?
We really like to focus a lot on mental health, that’s a big thing that we all struggle with and we all feel really strongly about. We discuss a lot of queer and gay issues as well; things that I’ve struggled with a lot my whole life as well. Then we discuss self-worth/value, empowerment and feeling good/encouraged. We want to make people feel like they’re not so alone going through these struggles.
Biggest musical influence on the band?
I guess some of the bigger influences that we are all driven by would be: Tear it Up, Suicide File, Ceremony, GLOSS; all of that stuff, you know? Stuff that feels very heavy at times but also can be very fun.
Does everyone contribute to the writing?
Yeah, the writing is actually all four of us. The lyrics, I guess, would be a lot of my stuff but the music we all have a hand in; we all write. Every practice we go in and bounce ideas off each other and see what we can come up with. It’s like a real collective, we are all part of this team.
So you’ve listed Hard 2 Kill as an NY/NJ band; who is where?
Some of our members are originally from New Jersey, but we collectively came together in New York … in a part of Queens that’s essentially like what Bushwick is to Brooklyn.
Haven’t seen any dates listed yet, are you looking to play a show soon?
It’s still a little vague at the moment; we’re putting our feelers out there, contacting bands we want to play shows with and be around. We’re hoping to have a show by the end of August in Asbury Park; we’d like for Asbury to be our first show. Everybody in the band adores Asbury Park, the area and the scene. Nothing to pinpoint at the moment, though, just talking to promoters and trying to work out this first gig.
Desire to share a bill with any bands in particular? Who do you think your sound fits with?
Honestly, we love School Drugs; everyone in School Drugs is a homie. We would love to share a stage with them soon. Gel as well, everyone in Gel is great. Then there’s other local bands like Without Peace, we love Rupa (vocals).
Any ambitions for a full-length?
We haven’t really thought about much after the demo. We have a total of nine songs, four that haven’t been released yet and then we do one cover; so we were thinking about doing a split with another band and releasing two of those tracks on that or maybe doing an actual EP. A full-length, though, it’s in our mind but won’t happen for a while.