I met the self-described “weird” hardcore-esque band Alliteration in Cincinnati last year–we played the same night at Urban Artifact brewery, which is a great and friendly tour stop you should look at if you’re looking for something in southern Ohio. Coincidentally, we went to the same high school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. That is how small the world of DIY is–you run into kids from your Northeast hometown in freaking Ohio.
The members of Alliteration are super friendly, hardworking, and really focused and professional–things you don’t often see in a band on the younger end of the DIY spectrum. I’m happy to share this interview (in which we discuss the Poughkeepsie music scene we both grew up in, among other topics) and their new video for their song “Spinn”–they recently made a deal that Xavier would dye his hair blonde if it got 5,000 views, and it did…so keep an eye out for updates on that.
DWP: You guys are pretty young! How did you ultimately decide to start taking your band very seriously? Was that a goal for all of you before you started or did you have to sit together and make a plan?
Xavier: Playing in a band has been my personal dream since I was about ten years old and to be honest, it’s the only thing I ever remotely tried to pursue. That being said, it also takes understanding partners that will work together and make compromises so that everyone can be happy in the situation that they are in. I’m pretty happy right now seeing as how I can play with some of my best friends. Almost every decision we try to make together and I feel it is a very important part our band.
Ryan: I honestly never really knew what I wanted to do growing up. Even in college now, like yeah, I’m going for biology and I’m almost done, but I don’t really have a thought-out plan. The one constant for me has always been music, though. I love going to shows and seeing bands on tour on stage commanding a crowd has always made me think, “I want to do that.” Music has always been there to fall back on for me and it’s always been a constant in my life. I desperately tried to do a metalcore band in high school, but we had like five lineup changes, never agreed on what musical direction to take, only practiced like 10 times in two years, wrote two songs, and never played a show. Alliteration is nothing like that. As Xavier said we all work together very well and everybody’s input is valued, and I think all of our individual creative influences shine through in our music despite being so different. We all vibe off of each other’s weirdness and it’s fantastic.
Mike: The very first time we jammed, I told them that all I wanted was to jam out from time to time. I quickly changed my mind by the second time we jammed. As time went on I got more and more serious about the band.
DWP: I am intimately familiar with Poughkeepsie/NYHC–I’m interested in your description of this scene as polarized. Can you elaborate on that?
Ryan: Back when I first started going to local shows in like 2013/2014, the majority of bands in our area were either pop punk or hardcore/metalcore. Not that this is a necessarily a bad thing – I love these genres and they both get the crowd hyped. We’ve also had some killer bands come out of Poughkeepsie during my time in the scene that got signed to major labels such as We Are The In Crowd and Meridian, and Tuck O’Leary joined Fit For A King (one of my favs). The polarization I had mentioned doesn’t come from any beef between genres or cliques, rather a lack of genre diversity. For a while it seemed as though you had to fall into one of those categories if you wanted to be popular. When we first started out, we had a bit of a hard time gaining momentum because we didn’t fit into either of those. It did help us to stand out though, and people remembered us for our weird songs and some of our hooks as well. Hardcore has always been big around here and that’s still thriving, but pop punk just kept growing and then seemingly disappeared, aside from a few bands, after Cross Check broke up, which was really unfortunate. In the past year or two bands have become a lot more diverse, even if things have slowed down. I just love going to shows and hearing a band do something that makes you say to yourself, “What the hell was that?! That was SICK!” Shout out to Alex Lord and Niki Militello for always booking us and having faith in our band even though we’re weird!
DWP: What shows did you grow up going to? What venues? Was there a local band you were very inspired by early on?
Xavier: When I started going to show I was friends with the pop punk kids even though my favorite band was the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I enjoyed most of the music that I heard and it really made me think about song structure. Now when I started getting into other bands like Take One Car, One Fell Swoop, and Forever Losing Sleep (not a local band but they created my Favorite album of all time “Lost Myself Again” and they just broke up and my soul hurts). I feel like my taste and everything that I knew about music changed for the weirder.
Ryan: I grew up going to mostly metalcore and hardcore shows, primarily at the Chance/the Loft; there’s just something about heavy music that gets me pumped. My favorite bands at the time were August Burns Red (still is), Of Mice & Men, and Stick To Your Guns (also still up there). A lot of my friends in high school were in pop punk bands and so I went to their shows. My good friends in Lakeside definitely inspired me to pursue music. We started our band during my second semester during my freshman year at college, and our first show was opening this local fest for St. Patrick’s Day. It was a pop punk show mostly, but this band Tribute (now Home Seeker) played and it blew me away. They were the only heavy band on the bill and that resonated with me. Xavier also showed me One Fell Swoop and I thought they were sick. It reminded me of if Comeback Kid started adding reggae and emo riffs to their songs. That EP definitely inspired us all to write whatever we wanted and write for the song itself rather than sticking to just one genre. I grew up listening to a lot of alternative rock on the radio, and Headmaster definitely reinvigorated my love for alternative/grunge/indie and made me want to incorporate that into our music as well.
Mike: My friends were always playing shows at the chance theater in Poughkeepsie. I’d go every chance I got. One of the bands that inspired me was Ourselves. The drummer especially. He hits harder than any drummer I’ve ever seen.
DWP: I notice you gigging a lot! Who does the booking and what’s your ideal show situation? What’s one of the best touring gigs you’ve had?
Xavier: I have been booking everything DIY style lately to try and save money and let me tell you something, it is a lot of work. But everyone does their part which does make my life a little easier, and hands down our best shows have been in Tennessee thanks to our freaking amazing friends Bad Idols! They made sure we got paid, gave us a place to stay and hooked us up with some high-energy crowds. Plus they are a dope band!
Ryan: I second that! Every time we play in Tennessee it is amazing, and I couldn’t be more grateful to our friends in Bad Idols. Playing in Virginia Beach with Boxford was great as well. There was a good draw, people got really into our music, AND it was at this venue/cafe that had some fantastic southern breakfast food. Honestly any time we play down south is amazing. We’ve made some great friends down there and they always make sure to get us on good shows.
Mike: Tennessee has been our favorite place to play so far. The crowd is always hype and the bands are always great. We’ve also made so many friends in Tennessee. Both Ryan and Xavier will definitely agree.