Incendiary View Long Island Hardcore With a ‘Thousand Mile Stare’
On Tuesday at 8AM, Brian Audley and Brendan Garrone are dressed in their business casual outfits, either walking the dog around tree-lined Greenpoint or already on the train and headed to their respective Midtown Manhattan office jobs. It was less than 48 hours ago that they were onstage at Groezrock in Belgium, alongside names like Deftones, Cock Sparrer and Deafheaven, amongst dozens of others. The guys are tired, but coffee is a good friend and their careers don’t stop just because of a “rock star weekend.”
Audley and Garrone are, respectively, the guitarist and vocalist for Incendiary. Formed in 2007, the Long Island-based band formed worshipping at the altar of '90s metalcore, mixing in the teachings of Snapcase, Indecision and many more to concoct 2009’s Crusade, and eventually their landmark LP, 2013's Cost of Living. And though their day-to-day responsibilities often keep them off the road, Incendiary love it like that — criss-crossing the globe and doing precision strikes in places like Japan and Europe, sometimes over a weekend. Despite full-time jobs and touring to faraway places, the quintet has somehow squeezed out the new and highly anticipated Thousand Mile Stare. Due May 5 via Closed Casket Activities, you can stream it in full below for the first time.
How do the puzzle pieces possibly fit together? It all comes down to old-school work ethic.
It all started — like it did for most bands — in the suburbs. Incendiary proudly fly their Long Island flag, playing a massive annual benefit show and name-dropping the influence of bands like Silent Majority and Mind Over Matter in every interview they can. Garrone is quick to point out that Long Island, if it were its own state, “would be the 13th largest in America.” It’s that mentality — and hyper-localized scene — that gave birth to the band, forging roots that they will never (nor will they let you ever) forget.
“When someone from Long Island moves to the city, people from Long Island are salty,” Audley comments. “I was one of those people too — ‘big timers going to the city.’ You just assume that person has turned their back on it and, in a lot of ways, I know plenty who have. So, I kind of pride myself and our band on the fact that, yeah, we live in Brooklyn, but we know where we’re from.”
None of the Above Records was the store that changed the course of underground music for many clueless middle school kids on Long Island. Audley recalls walking into the store for the first time: “It was in Centereach, like walking distance from my parents’ house … the sign just said, ‘alternative music.’ I was like, ‘Cool, I like Green Day and Nirvana, I’ll check this out.’ I walked in there and I’d never seen one thing I had ever heard of at that time.”
“I remember I was in seventh grade, and I bought a Strife T-shirt before I had even heard them because it had a sick live shot,” Garrone recalls fondly. “Then I remember being like, ‘I better check this band out, because that’s a pretty poser move.’ You had to figure stuff out any way you could. I didn’t go to school with people who listened to hardcore. I had no point of reference.”
The pre-internet era encouraged wild experimentation and patience with new records, and the pair’s removal from the hustle and hype of the city provided “blissful fucking ignorance” and a world all its own. Audley says that reference points — in regards to style and genre — were null. “I just liked anything that was fucking heavy guitar and screaming. Earth Crisis, [Vision of Disorder], Korn — it was all the same to me. I didn’t realize these dudes were different styles or levels … a hardcore band playing DIY spots, or that Pantera was this massive arena band. I thought that any band that had a CD was huge.” For many, it was Roadrunner’s signing of Vision of Disorder that made a true connection as far as a band and its limitations — or lack thereof — while living in the suburbs. “I remember thinking, ‘They’re, like, from one town over,’” Audley continues. “It’s possible for normal-ass people from here to be able to do that.” Clearly, a seed was planted with the band, as well as names like Glassjaw, the Movielife, This Is Hell and more.
Garrone recalls Vision of Disorder’s insane crowds and hype on Long Island as such: “They would draw 2,000 people at a local DIY show. They weren’t just a big Long Island hardcore band; they were just a big band. You can talk to regular shitheads that are now between the ages of 30 and 40 that went to see them having no context for hardcore at all. In fact, my cousins liked VOD, and they aren’t into hardcore.” Though VOD would eventually slow down, their impact left a lot of kids with hope.
“For me, New York hardcore was very intimidating,” Audley admits. “I was drawn to Madball musically, but found it difficult to relate to the hardened urban subject matter. Realizing there was a band like VOD from the same suburbs as me made being in a hardcore band seem more attainable. VOD gave us something to strive towards.”
When Incendiary started to become a band, the apex of Long Island hardcore had faded. “VOD, Silent Majority, Glassjaw — that era was kind of winding down as we were becoming old enough to be participants in hardcore,” says Audley. “I went to the last Silent Majority show, and Indecision a handful of times. They were winding down, and when we began participating in hardcore, it was at a much different, smaller scale, but still hyper-local.” Concerts in the city were influential, yet few and far between. “I wasn’t taking the train to CB's,” he adds. “I went to L’Amour one single time, to see Superjoint Ritual. I was more into what was going on around us.”
According to Audley, Incendiary was born in the late ’00s out of a group of several guys from varying roles in the Long Island scene. “We had all been more full-time bands in other capacities,” he says. “I used to tour full-time with This Is Hell, like roadie-ing and merch and whatever. Our drummer toured full-time with some other bands. Matt, our bass player, toured full-time with Crime in Stereo and got to travel with them. This was the band that, when it started, we were collectively like, ‘Okay, we’ve got to chill with that and get our lives together. Move out of our fucking parents’ house.’”
The road was long and hard, as Garrone clarifies: “We were extremely not popular for the first five years, and there wasn’t a big call to action about, ‘You guys got to tour, man!’ No, we just played on weekends, and it was all right. We just did it because it’s fun. But we started the band later, too, so as we were getting more popular, things in reality were getting more serious.”
Even though the boys approached the band as a part-time thing, they very much took it seriously. “We didn’t have a mentality of just being a local band,” Audley stresses. “We knew we’d get offered shit out of state, slightly beyond our means or our doable radius. Is there a way we could play fucking Boston on a Sunday night? Yeah, we’ll just go to work tired the next day. That radius of possibility just got a little larger and larger.” Still, the band’s mentality of being a “full-time part-time band” shows in their work ethic, whether it's a weekend in Europe or trying to fit in as much as possible in the smallest amount of time. Audley recalls a particularly wild tour, and making it by the skin of their teeth.
“We got offered a Canadian tour with Madball, Figure Four, Suburban Scum and Expire,” he says. “It’s like, Madball — any time they ask you to do stuff, you take that seriously. The other half of the bill was our friends’ bands. So, we thought, ‘This is cool, how could we do it?’ We got to do, like, four or five shows wherever we could do [them]. It ended in Ottawa on a Sunday night.
“Our drummer Dan [Lomeli] then had work at his office in Bethpage, Long Island, on Monday morning. We drove immediately after our set in Ottawa, like no fun / end of tour party; we got to get the fuck out of here. Packed up, drove overnight, literally got into New York City just in time for rush hour traffic after driving, like, eight hours. I hit rush hour morning traffic, we literally got Dan to his office at 9AM to work, as in pulled up to his office in the van. He was asleep, throws on a shitty shirt and runs in like, ‘All right, see you later!’”
Chalk that attitude up to drive with a touch of “thick-headed stubbornness,” according to Garrone. “It’s like five asshole dads: ‘You do it because you have to and life is not easy!’ You know what I mean? ‘We play the show in Connecticut on a Sunday because life is not fair! [Laughs] This is suffering.’ ”
That blend of determination mixed with selflessness has led the band to this moment, the recording of their highly anticipated Thousand Mile Stare. Four years in the making, the LP is the follow-up to their fan-favorite monster Cost of Living, which hit via Closed Casket Activities and caused an immediate bang in the hardcore community. The band’s goals for the LP, recorded by Will Putney, were simple, for the most part — stay between the lines and ignore the pressure.
On evolving influences, Garrone has a strong opinion: “There are so many bands where you can tell they just heard Depeche Mode or Slowdive. There is something to be said for building and crafting what your band is, rather than being like, ‘Now we’re going to add keyboards.’ To me, that’s, like, so stupid. You have no control over who likes your music; you only have control over the music you put out. So, hone your craft a little bit. It’s okay that people don’t know that I love ’90s emo. And just because I love it doesn’t mean Incendiary has to sound like Texas Is the Reason. It’s okay that we still sound like a hardcore band.”
“Regular hardcore bands, you’ll read the interview: ‘What does the new stuff sound like?’ ‘It sounds a lot like Helmet and Depeche Mode and Swervedriver or whatever.’ Then you hear the record and you’re like, ‘No, it still sounds like your dumbass heavy hardcore band!’” insists Audley. “Just because you were listening to a lot of that doesn’t mean it’s injected into the music.”
Garrone’s love for Putney was as simple as his approach at leaving it be. “[Putney] wasn’t trying to take us to ‘the next level.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I know what you guys sound like. I know what you’re trying to be like.’ I didn’t want a big master plan. I feel like a lot of recordings are almost tied to a marketing strategy, where it’s like, ‘For this one, I really feel like we need to bring …’ I don’t want to hear about that. I felt like he got it. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. We’re trying to hone in and craft what we’ve been working on.”
Following up Cost of Living was no easy task either. Audley recalls the days before and after the LP, versus now. “Incendiary pre- and post- that record are two different things. There was no expectation for Cost. We were working on these songs; we didn’t share them with anybody before word came out because, again, no one fucking cared that we had a record. No one expected the response that the record got. That kind of really established us and got us some way bigger opportunities. It was just night and day before that record. But going into that, there was no expectation. There was nothing to live up to. So, going into this, it was like, ‘Oh fuck, everybody liked our last one.’ This is the first time ever that I felt like I had something that I had to live up to, let alone top.”
And though the band admits to hating recording, it was the live element that really drove them in the studio. After four years of playing shows around the globe, the boys were simply ready to move on to new music. “I don’t know how it is for other bands, but for me, the live aspect, I feel like I am forcing these people to listen to this crap that everybody has heard a million times,” says Garrone about playing the Cost of Living material four years later. “I feel an obligation to put out new music. Now it feels like, ‘Here it is, here’s this one again. Taking care of business again.’”
Audley agrees: “You lose the thrill a little bit. You almost feel bad — how many times have I played this same shit for people and expect them to care? I do think that the fact that we don’t tour, and the record still had enough mileage on it, [meant] that we probably could have still kept milking it for a couple of years, but the material was coming together and it was time to get it done.”
But recording was far from an easy task considering the band’s location across NYC and Long Island, as well as their busy day jobs and life in general. Nights and weekends were utilized to the maximum, and Putney’s locale of Jersey City was ideal. But locale wasn’t the only reason for his selection; according to Audley, it had more with his role behind the scenes. “At first I thought, ‘Man, if this guy is going to come in and try and tell me this and that … ’ But the first three ideas that [Putney] came up with were hands-down way better ideas. So, he got our trust right away, and we felt he was coming from a genuine place.”
The end result is something that Garrone feels like he could listen to, in stark contrast to his previous LPs: “I was never happy with the first record vocally. Cost of Living is fine, but this … I would show this to people.” And Incendiary are about to show it to the entire world.
But they’ll do it on their own terms. “People assume that I’m walking around with my Madball hoodie, pissed off all day,” Garrone says. “It’s so funny — the perception versus reality. I have a wife and a great job, and I love my life here in Brooklyn, but I love the band and I love the places it has taken me and the people I have met from it.”
Audley has a specific example of how to live, and it's derived from Indecision: “I would say that my favorite hardcore band is Indecision. Musically, lyrically, ethically, philosophically — everything about that band was and is fucking perfect to me. I grew up idolizing them. When Tom Sheehan, their singer, first came to an Incendiary show in Brooklyn [that] we played somewhere in 2008 or 2009, I was a straight-up fanboy. Now, Tom Sheehan is one of my good friends. We talk every day online, and I am very aware that this guy is my peer and a friend. And he’s got his own life outside of the music.”
Garrone’s view on the band is the same — he treats it with a special reverence in that every single move counts. “I don’t want to play wack shit, and we don’t have to worry about that,” he notes. “We’d rather be shot than play a bad tour, not because I’m a cool guy, but because it looks miserable. So, we don’t have to worry about anything like that. The things that we do are 100 percent sincere. We got no dog in the race, man. The great irony of doing it in this way is, I think, things have been cool. We’ve been very lucky, but I do think there’s been some sort of head tilt about, ‘You’re weekend warriors.’ It’s like, really? Because to me, how much we put into doing this, even with all the other shit we have going on — that’s real.”
Still, when will reality creep up? “It’s getting harder and harder to do the band, without a doubt,” Garrone admits. “I think the second we stop holding onto the professionalism of trying to do this is when it will go [by] the wayside. It’s the hardest it’s ever been to keep doing things. I just have to be psychotically organized and busy about the things that we do.” The vocalist also recognizes the world in which they live, one that introduces a million new bands and a million new styles every single day. “Literally every day, you see bands just get erased from history. It’s that fickle. So, I’m always waiting for … is this the show? Literally, every time we play Long Island, is this the show where people stop caring? Fingers crossed, it hasn’t been there yet.”
So, considering how long it took to make the record, their confession about not liking recording, their preference toward playing live and the growing complexity of everyday life, what’s the likelihood that Incendiary will make another record in the future? Audley assures us, “There will be more Incendiary music in the future, for sure. What shape that will take … I’m not sure. Who knows if that will happen as an LP? But yeah, it definitely is the complexity of life that kept us away from the studio this long, and might impede us later, too.”
Even though this part-time full-time band is a machine of sorts, the most important part is keeping it fun. It’s all about family for Garrone: “I’ve had situations in my personal life where people close to me are trying to meet people and new friends. In my head, I’m like, ‘I have never had that problem in my life!’ I know so many goddamn people through music, it’s insane. That fact, maybe for some people within our social circle, is taken for granted. It’s kind of a no-shit kind of thing, but the older I get, it’s incredible. Being in this band makes me appreciate the friend circle that I have here exponentially more. It has radically shifted for me to a place where it’s very social.”
Audley agrees. “I think that kind of ties it back now to why we still value and identify strongly with hardcore. I still like hardcore. Our peer bands, a lot of them are younger, but I don’t care. These people understand me and our world. This is one of the most formative things in my life, and I still identify that way.”