Tuesday 13 March 2018

***WHAT OF US exclusive interview***

GenresPunk / Hardcore / Screamo
Related artistsCapacities, You & I, The Assistant, This Ship Will Sink, In First Person, Black Kites, NYin64, Tasharah, Hundreds Of AU, Hell Mary, Less Life, The Saddest Landscape, Au Revoir, Never Better and Weather Lore.
CountryNew Jersey/New York U.S.A.
Years Active2015-present
Song: "Worker's Compensation"
Album: "Coma Regalia split"
Year: 2016
For fans ofCapacities, Breather ResistSeven Days Of Samsara, Orchid, Reversal of ManIn First Person, This Ship Will Sink, Rats Into Robots, Tasharah, Foxmoulder, Hundreds Of AUMy Lai, Ampere, Vaccine, Union of Uranus, Honeywell, Zeit, Takaru, Coma Regalia and The Book Of Dead Names aka PROPER SCREAMO.
Label(s): Middle Man Records / Time As A Color / Hydrogen Man Records / Forced Abandonment Records
This post's artist is from the February 2018 Mix. This is track #7.
You can download: the March 2018 Mix#3 right here or get the new April 2018 Mix#4 here.

I've been following WHAT OF US rabidly since their inception in 2015, because I follow every Tom Schlatter band as such. This one also includes some other notable and amazing individuals, including Eric M. (guitar/vox and ex-The Saddest Landscape and played in Capacities with Tom), Eric A. (guitar/vox and plays in Au Revoir) as well as my friend Ross (drums and ex-Weather Lore) to make it one of the best bands around today. They play supercharged and furious screamy hardcore all their own, but for the sake of making this a tad easier I'd throw names out like Breather Resist, Ampere, Seven Days Of Samsara, The Book Of Dead Names and Capacities. Tom and I have done an interview for this post in regards to WHAT OF US, their upcoming tour, his other bands such as Hundreds Of AU, politics and what he's been up to the last few years. Read it in full further down in this post.

On to the music! In 2015 they released a live recording that is no longer on bandcamp but I have uploaded it and you can grab it here. It housed live versions of "Landslide" and "Recognize" and got me fucking stoked on all future material. Both songs ended up on their next release and sound much better, so I understand why they've been taken down. Nevertheless, I think it's an important and interesting look into the band right after their inception.

The following year, 2016 to be exact, WHAT OF US released a full EP worth of material on the strangely overlooked split with Shawn Decker's Coma Regalia. The 'Coma Regalia split' 12"LP houses 8 songs of raging hardcore that serve as a testament to the members' knowledge and experience as these are fucking debut recordings! I mean, holy shit. "Recognize" finds its way from the demo recording to this release, and thank science, because it's a goddamn banger and still one of my favourite WHAT OF US songs to date. It's grooving, heavy and has Tom putting on a clinic of vocals from full on screams to passionate talking/yelling. "Worker's Compensation" is faaaaantastic and is also ridiculously heavy during the second half and my head nearly caves in at the end. "Narcissus" has some fucking silly hi-hat work by drummer Ross, dear lord he is a goddamned machine and a helluva nice guy, to boot. "Bury My Shell at Wounded Knee" is a sensational WHAT OF US song and was inspired by the Dakota Access pipeline debacle back in 2016. Closer "End Times" showcases more of Ross' ridiculousness as the opening 43 seconds absolutely shred. After this the song moves into apocalypse territory and brings on some serious chugs.

Recorded in the same session but not released until the following year, "Sunny For President", "Billion to One" and "The Long Road Home" show up on the split 7" with my friends in the Phoenix Bodies worship band Hive Mind. "Sunny For President" originally showed up on the 2016 Swamp Comp cassette as a previously unreleased track, but the other two are exclusive to this release. "Billion to One" has drums that have traveled to the fourth dimension and back, with a very cool fast/slow/fast midsection led by Tom's booming bass and screams and big-time finish. "The Long Road Home" features Eric Mauro on vocals, as he, Tom and Eric A. generally pass the mic stand around during sets and brings a screamier and harsher tone to the song, which, yet again, has Ross fucking laying waste to that drum kit.

In February of 2018, just a few weeks back, WHAT OF US unveiled their five new songs via the 'Sur L'eau split' cassette being released on Middle Man Records and I gotta say I'm in love. "Sunday Afternoon" is fucking heavy and bassy as shit, with the material bringing metal and hardcore together even more than earlier work. The mini-chugs and subsequent transition from 40 seconds onward is amazing, with the song climaxing right around one minute in screamo glory. "Award Show Highlights" is another excellent track with Tom on vocals that just passes the one-minute mark with passionate vocals at the end that ring out, "...that burns you down!". "Horse and Sparrow" has Eric Mauro's screams leading us down a treacherous but precise path through chaos. "Imaginary Lines" moves the mic to Eric Annicchiarico and his throaty scream, which almost reminds me of The Book Of Dead Names. Closer "45" is 2:30 in length (quite long for a WHAT OF US song) and is pretty sweet, but that push from 1:40 to the end is downright punishing.

I first saw WHAT OF US in 2016 when I was in the U.S. doing a "tour" with мятеж and our first show was with them, Coma Regalia, Van Hagar and Massa Nera...wowza! They blistered through their 18-minute set that became the most furious and intense thing I saw all tour. Check out the review and videos here. A few days later we met up at Swamp Fest 2016 and I saw them play again, apparently with no voices (they all had colds, I think), but you can't tell in the slightest. Check out that massive post here. Lastly, I asked the band if they were interested in playing my Zegema Beach Records Fest in the summer of 2017 in Toronto, to which they agreed. They were going to tour with my friends in Eyelet but guitarist/vocalist Tony passed away in the spring and only WHAT OF US could make the trek. They played third last on the last night, right before my final set with The World That Summer, actually, and it was wild. My drummer Jesse came up to me after their set and said, "Dave. What the fuck? How are we supposed to follow that?". Oh and how right he was. Check that bigass post out here.

WHAT OF US is on tour starting this week in Europe so be sure not to miss out. I can vouch that they are one of the most intense and amazing live bands out there right now. If ya sleep on it, ya stoopid.

March 15 Liberec/CZ - Azyl Pivni Bar

March 16 Hamburg/GER - FS115


March 18 Warsaw/POL - Studio Wieloślad w/ Barabbas Du Förtappade & We Watch Clouds

March 19 Krakow/POL - Warsztat

March 20 Prague/CZ - Eternia Smichov

March 21 Graz/AUS - SUB w/Mulham Abordan

March 22 Erlangen/GER - Zentrum Wiesengrund

March 23 Frankfurt/GER - Klapperfeld

March 24 Mülheim/GER - AZ "Fiducia Fest VI" w/ Drei Affen, Weak Ties and more


Dave: Hello friend! It's been quite some time since we last did an interview for this blog. In fact, I think you were one of the first people I ever interviewed. We mostly covered Capacities. What have you been up to in the last few years?

Tom: Since we last talked I had some life changes. Capacities took an indefinite hiatus. Eric and I started the band WHAT OF US. I've since moved to Albany, NY and also got married. I also started a band called Hundreds Of AU which has me going back to playing guitar.  Living in Albany and doing 2.5 hour commutes to band practice is tough. I'm trying to make a life up here, but it mostly just revolves around my job in public service and spending time with my wife. My social life, which is about 99% in music, is mostly still in New Jersey.

Dave: WHAT OF US is going on tour soon in Europe, are you not? What was the catalyst for that?

Tom: I had gone to Europe in 2011 when I was playing in a band called Black Kites. We played in Mulheim, Germany and met Jos Schro. Jos and I kept in touch. Eventually he and his wife came to the US on vacation and they stayed with me for about a week. After that Jos would hint at trying to bring one of my bands over to Europe for tour. Eventually WHAT OF US was in a position where we could all do the trip. We have a lot to thank Jos for, he's worked very hard helping us get over there.

Dave: Any places and bands you're excited to see when you go over? And how long is it for?

Tom: We're going for about two weeks. I'll be playing/seeing some cities I've never been to before which is always exciting. Poland and Austria will be new experiences for me. In the past I've had a great time in Germany and the Czech Republic so I'm looking forward to returning.  As far as bands; I'm very excited to see Drei Affen, Organa and Sur L'eau.

Dave: I caught Sur L'eau in Munich with Respire and Lᴏᴠᴇ/Lᴜsᴛ at the "pepper spray incident" show and they were great! I would kill to see Drei Affen. Good lordy.

Tom: Yes, I've been waiting to see them for a couple years now. That new split with Coma Regalia is amazing.

Dave: So, you also spoke of Hundreds Of AU, how did that band start? What led you back to guitar? And how was the recording/releasing process for the Demo different for you from other bands/releases?

Tom: After living in Albany for about a year I attempted to write some songs and recruit some musicians to start a band. I wrote the songs on guitar and it just seemed better to keep playing guitar rather than show someone else the songs.

Albany doesn't really have a scene for music like Hundreds Of AU. There's not much of a middle ground here. There's a huge tougher mosh scene and then there's a big indie/art scene. There's not much in the middle area where a band like Hundreds Of AU exists musically.

We recorded the demo in about 7 hours with Will at Dead Air. I put it up online that night. After the fact, Shawn from Middleman offered to do a cassette of it, which was very nice of him. I had pretty much decided at that point to stop doing vinyl releases because none of my bands were really touring enough to warrant it. That's pretty much how I operate now, just putting music up online for people to hear digitally. The physical format should be as low cost as possible, so cassettes/cds are enough for me in that regard. 

After recording the demo and playing a few shows, the drummer and bassist departed from the band to do other projects. I had some shows still booked so some friends from New Jersey offered to fill in for them. After those shows, my New Jersey friends wanted to keep doing the band and become permanent members. So that's where we're at now. I drive down to New Jersey about 2 or three times a month for practices and shows.

Dave: Oh wow I didn't know the band had changed members. Has this influenced the sound at all? Actually this also leads to my next question, which is - We’ve talked now about WHAT OF US and Hundreds Of AU, and I’m wondering how you would describe each band in sound and style? Which can be hard, describing your own bands, I know.

Tom: When Hundreds Of AU did the lineup change the sound became more focused. I think those first 5 songs were a good example of me getting used to playing guitar and doing vocals, as well as trying to communicate the genre to the original members who weren't totally familar with it.

The new lineup consists of people who I've been in bands with before and are well-versed in the genre of screamy hardcore. As a result the song writing is more focused on that genre and streamlined. We write songs fast, everyone seems to get it quick. We're recording 11 new songs in April.

If I had to describe each band I would probably use the "S" word and say they were screamo in the sense that I came from the late 90's era when the genre was getting on it's feet. Each band has its own flavor though and this is always a reflection of the individual style of each member's playing. For instance, Ross from WHAT OF US has a super distinct drum style that is definitely a huge distinguishing factor in the band. No one plays like him. Paul from Hundreds of AU has a voice unlike anyone else, so it's one of those things where it gives the band it's own personality while obviously still be classified into a genre.

For the new WHAT OF US stuff Eric definitely brought in some heavier riffs that emulate bands like Botch or Breather Resist. It's been great to write the new songs, I think we were all really excited to show that we'd done something new.

Dave: Are you still doing the instrumental screamo in NYin64?

Tom: Yes, I'm still doing NYin64.  We have 6 new songs just about done and we'll be recording them this fall for a new LP (which will probably be released digitally only). I think they are some of our best work and I'm excited to show them to friends.

Dave: Do you have anything else in the works or are you maxed in terms of band/music time? I feel like you would almost stop sleeping instead passing on a good band opportunity!

Tom: I play drums for a band in Albany called Scavengers. We don't play much because everyone has other bands or other family life happening. I also do some home recording with Shawn Decker once in a while.

Dave: Is Hell Mary still a thing? I loved playing with you in Albany, I think for the show when you and the regular guitarist switched instruments for the whole set. (part of show linked here)

Tom: Ah, that show was down in Warwick, NY.  Hell Mary is not really an active band at all right now. A combination of me living far away, everyone doing other bands, etc...it just doesn't get off the ground. Paul from Hell Mary now plays guitar for Hundreds Of AU, so it's great to still be in a band with him.

Dave: Sweet. You mentioned before that most of your social interaction is through music. You extended and shared your story about maintaining the friendship with Jos. What is it that creates this bond for you with people through music, and perhaps punk and hardcore more specifically?

Tom: I think with playing in DIY hardcore bands and being exposed to progressive politics you find you feel less alone in your thinking. When you find people that inspire you, that care, that you can count on, etc, you want to nurture those relationships and make life-long friends.

Dave: You've been doing this for a long time. I can't think of anyone at this point that has played screamy hardcore as long as you have, as consistently and with so many different bands. I hope you know that tons of people appreciate you and all the things you have done. I think I've currently got you ranked as screamo god.

Compliments aside, you recently agreed to start writing a review most months for this blog after doing three awesome ones in January. What made you want to start sharing music using this medium again?

Tom: Thanks so much for the kind words! When I was doing a blog pretty seriously a few years ago it was a great way to find out about new music. I really enjoyed it. When I moved up to Albany and changed jobs I just didn't have the time do it anymore. It's been fun to slowly get my feet back into it. I never wanted to stop doing it, it was just that lack of time do it since moving up here that sort of killed it.

Dave: So glad you are back in it, I loved One Path For Me.

Tom: Thanks!

Dave: Quite a bit has happened since we last talked on U.S. and global issues, is there anything you'd like to touch in there?

Tom: There's nothing I can say that hasn't been said already. We wake up everyday in America to a whole new playbook and it's totally unpredictable, irrational and downright scary.

Dave: That it is. What do you do to try and counteract that craziness?

Tom: I try to keep in mind that as someone who is white and male I am the least systematically affected by what's happening in terms of social and civil rights. Issues like foreign policy and environmental de-regulation will affect all of us. My career, working at a public library, an institution that provides neutral and unbiased information as a public service is something I feel very passionate given the current political climate.

Dave: Has the general scene shifted in any ways from your perspective in the last few years?

Tom: Being least affected is something that I'd like to think keeps me accountable.
I have to be held accountable for my privilege and for the potential ways in can be abused.
I think DIY hardcore gives me exposure to people outside of my identity and I'm fortunate to have people in my life who are willing to explain their perspectives.

Dave: Thank you so much, Tom!

You can read another interview with Tom back when he was in Capacities right here.



2015 - Live at Backroom Studios digitalEP (download here)

2016 - Coma Regalia split 12"LP (stream/donate/download here)
2016 - Split Sessions cassetteLP [combines 2016 & 2017 splits]
2016 - Swamp Comp 2016 cassette compilation [contributed the then unreleased "Sunny for President"]

2017 - Hive Mind split 7"EP (stream/donate/download here)

2018 - Sur L'eau split cassetteLP (stream/donate/download here)


(2018) WHAT OF US - "Sunday Afternoon" (from 'Sur L'eau' split)

(2018) WHAT OF US - "45" (from 'Sur L'eau' split)

(2017) WHAT OF US - "Recognize" live @ZBR Fest

(2017) WHAT OF US - "Billion to One" (from 'Hive Mind' split)

(2016) WHAT OF US - "Sunny for President" (from 'Swamp Comp')

(2016) WHAT OF US - "Bury My Shell at Wounded Knee" (from 'Coma Regalia' split)

(2016) WHAT OF US - "Worker's Compensation" (from 'Coma Regalia' split)

(2016) WHAT OF US - "End Times" (from 'Coma Regalia' split)

(2016) WHAT OF US - full set live in NJ

(2015) WHAT OF US - "Recognize" (from 'Live at Backroom Studios')


WHAT OF US additional links


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