The NYHC scene has always been home to some of the most ferociously uncompromising bands in global hardcore such as Madball, Agnostic Front and the Cro-Mags. Today, a new wave of bands are emulating the New York sound in a more contemporary context, and among them are NY locals Backtrack. With an EP titled ‘Deal With The Devil‘ out now on 6131 Records and an album set for release next year, Backtrack are shaping up to be one of the mainstays of the NYHC revival. Vocalist James Vitalo took some time to answer a couple of questions for us.
First up, tell us your name, what you do in Backtrack and your favourite place to eat?
My names James, I sing in Backtrack. My favorite place to eat is the pie, a local pizza spot in my town.
Last year you guys released a 7” titled ‘Deal With The Devil’, and since then you’ve played a bunch of festivals (Rainfest, United Blood, Sound and Fury, TIHC). Have you had much of a chance to write new material?
‘Deal With The Devil’ came out late october of 09′ and we have done a lot of touring off that record. So honestly, we have not had much time to write. Whenever we get home from a tour everyone scrambles to find a job or a way to make money for the next tour and we don’t get to write much. We have around two months off before we do a full U.S tour with Cruel Hand so we will working on the LP a lot, we have a few songs so far and they came out pretty cool but it’s still early in the writing process. Once we finish our next full U.S tour we are going to buckle down and finish the record.
When can we expect to hear new Backtrack? How do you think the band has progressed since the last release?
New Lp will be out hopefully in early 2011. I think the band has gotten tighter over the year that we have played off our 7". It’s still early to tell in the writing process but I feel a lot more comfortable vocally and lyrically so I’m excited to work on our new songs.
How do your songs come together? Is there a process that you follow for every song?
Someone will write a riff and we will build off it. They usually record a song at practice and I will be able to work on the vocal patterns when I’m not at practice.
The NYHC style is gaining a lot of popularity right now. Which bands influence you the most, and which band is your personal favourite?
Yea it seems that NYHC is "cool" again. It was all everyone cared about when I first got in to hardcore, it seemed like every band was influenced by New York bands. So its good to see that the New York foundation is in a lot of current bands styles. There was awhile where it seemed like every band tried to sound like Modern Life Is War or Integrity but I’m glad those days are over. Outburst and Breakdown influence me the most and those are my two favorite NYHC bands and bands in general.
Speaking of New York hardcore, who are some bands from your scene that we should keep an eye on?
Incendiary is the band from New York to keep an eye out for, they put out an Lp about a year ago and it’s amazing. Compound is a new straight edge band from Long Island that rules, singer is 7 foot tall thats a reason alone to check them out. Bottom Out too, thats a younger band from New York that’s fucking awesome. The new Maximum Pentalty record is awesome too, so glad I get to see that band on a regular basis. People take that shit for granted.
Were any of you in other bands before you started Backtrack? How did the band form?
Ricky and John were in a punk band called "The Fad", thats how they met. They both wanted to do a hardcore band as a side project so they started writing some songs. Then I met them and we started working on the demo, about a month later we played our first show and it went well. Their band broke up a few months into us playing shows so Backtrack became a priority.
You’ve shared the stage with a lot of bands that influence you such as Madball, Killing Time and Merauder. If you could pick a favourite out of these shows, what would it be?
We have been lucky enough to play most of these shows thanks to Black and Blue productions, they have hooked us up from the start. My favorite show that we have played with bands of that nature would have to be the superbowl of hardcore 09′, the show was with Killing Time, Terror Zone, Crown of Thornz it was an awesome line up. We played early but still had a fun set, it was a dream come true to play a superbowl of hardcore, as corny as that sounds.
Earlier this year you played a bunch of shows in Europe. Should we cross our fingers and hope we’ll see you in Australia any time soon?
I would honestly love to go to australia, that’s one of my goals with the band. If you think anyone would come and you know someone who could help us out, let me know!
What do you guys do outside of the band?
We have been on tour a lot this past year so the band is everyones number 1 priority. We have been home for about 3 weeks and I got a job telemarketing but I quit today because I knew they were going to fire me. Outside the band I have a girlfriend I’ve been dating for 4 years but other than that, backtrack and hardcore is my life. I like baseball and gambling too so that’s something I do outside the band.
You’ve got a new track on the America’s Hardcore Compilation. Do you know when that’s coming out?
I’m actually listening to the comp right now. Pre-orders are up now, the record release is October 3rd so I would assume it will be out by then. It’s an awesome comp, so if you’re reading this..pick it up.
If you could only listen to 5 albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
1.) Outburst- Miles To Go
2.) Madball- Demonstrating My Style
3.) Coldplay- X and Y
4.) Leeway- Desperate Measures
and for the 5th one it would have to be a breakdown mix cd, i can’t pick a release but there’s some songs on different records that I can’t live without.
Anything else you want to say, shouts outs?
Thanks a lot for the interview. I really want to make it over to australia someday. NYHC isn’t dead, don’t believe what you read on the internet. Check out Minus, they have a 7" comming out on triple B records. Don’t start gambling and fuck the Phillies!