For New York’s Show Me the Body, hardcore is less of a genre than it is a spirit, a place where you feel safe even though you might get stabbed. In fact, “there’s gotta be a little stabbing,” says frontperson/banjoist Julian Cashwan Pratt.
His band’s anti-scene scene, the CORPUS collective (a label, studio, youth initiative, music and non-hierarchical activist platform), rails against the “cool shit” and punk within the lines of industry-ready capitalist consumption. Which makes you wonder: Who is really making the “cool shit”? And should I know what it feels like to get stabbed?
On Sunday, July 10 in Queens, NY at the Knockdown Center and Saturday, July 16 in Los Angeles at the Belasco Theater, Show Me The Body is putting their wild punk community on full display, with a lineup that perfectly illustrates the eccelecticism of CORPUS, like the electro-industrial, digital hardcore of LUSTSICKPUPPY (in moments, she sounds like JPEGMAFIA with a bone to pick), Chicago hardcore party rockers BUGGIN, and CREEM favorites Soul Glo, the Philadelphia band behind your favorite non-hardcore dude’s favorite hardcore record of the year, Diaspora Problems.
For CREEM, Pratt spoke with Pierce Jordan, Soul Glo’s frontperson, about… well, some crazy ass shit.
Show Me The Body’s Julian Cashwan Pratt: Pierce, when was the first time we played a show together, bro?
Soul Glo’s Pierce Jordan: Probably at the Pharmacy in Philly. It was on some secret shit.
SMTB: You’re absolutely right. It was after Made In America, which is this ridiculous festival [put on by Jay-Z.] And we’re the punk band at the ridiculous festival, so no one’s gonna be there. But yeah, the Pharmacy…
SG: It was opened by this dude named Gary after he got hit by a UPS truck…he started it with the money he got.
SMTB: That’s fire. That show was mad funny.
CREEM: What drew you to each other’s music?
SMTB: Soul Glo is unhinged.
SG: I heard about Show Me The Body and CORPUS as an initiative. There were mad people from Philly and New York who I know—who aren’t even punk musicians—who were affiliated or had done some kind of something with them. So I was just like, oh, so y'all are interested in the same way of being musicians as us, which is just like, “if it slaps, that's it.” That's what matters. Fuck all this scene shit and all of these bands that sound similar playing with each other. [For us], if it's good, it's good, regardless of if it's a guitar, a DJ, a rapper…
SMTB: That’s dead correct. We fuck with the people that we fuck with because we fuck with them, not because they made a nice song. Like, obviously the music is beautiful and important, but what interests us in connecting with different artists, and what Pierce says: how people move, what they think is important, [and] what they spend their time doing outside of the show.
You're both leaders in this niche-ish punk scene. Can you talk about watching it grow over the years?
SG: I just know what I believe. I just like what I like and I don't want to be beholden to any one scene or one genre of music.
SMTB: And fuck the cool shit. No cool shit is actually cool. I think a lot of people are focused on doing something that is cool. And I think that's also why we connect as well. It's because, like, cool shit is out the window, as far as I'm concerned.
What kind of “cool shit”?
SMTB: Motherfuckers who only like music where it’s, like, “here’s the riff and now here’s the mosh part.” I think Show Me The Body and Soul Glo are antithetical to that kind of thinking around punk rock and hardcore. When we came up, a lot of people didn’t fuck with us, so we had to build our own scene of kids that did.
SG: The cool guy is a certain attitude some people have about what is and isn’t acceptable within punk and hardcore. I don’t want to have this attitude about myself like, “I’m a punk rocker I play worship revival-ass music.” I like to think about the elements of, like, what makes the music that I like, and then just apply those in my own way. But [in terms of punk scenes], people have peer groups that they want to be able to continue to relate to… so they end up falling into trends. It’s a nice way to exist, even though it’s simple. I’ve never been afforded that luxury. In Philadelphia, the lines between punk and hardcore, are very, very darkly drawn. Like, you just don't cross those lines. And if you do, you're not gonna be acknowledged. That's what Julian was saying about Show Me The Body having to build their own support system and peer group. I can relate to that for a lot of reasons. [Soul Glo] don’t fit neatly into punk and hardcore, how it exists in Philadelphia.
It’s a little bit silly… it fucks up the ability to link with people, different kinds of people, and have new experiences. And it fucks up their ability to really grow and have a more diverse audience, peer group, and make more money honestly. I can't tell you how many times a band has been on tour in Philadelphia, said we should play together, and it [doesn’t] happen. There are a lot of [bands] who have a very specific way of doing things and they don’t want that shit to mix.
SMTB: Corny motherfuckers are everywhere. [We exist to] circumvent that kind of thing. It’s not about playing fight riffs. It's about making music that makes people feel free, while making a scene that makes people feel good. [It’s] not some shit for cool guys to pat each other on the back. Real talk. The American hardcore scene is so fucking stuck. [Cro-Mags’] and Master Killer by Marauder makes motherfuckers stuck. And I think those are both great albums. But I really, truly believe that like so much hardcore is like, “Oh, if they don't sound like that like, it's wrong.” That can be said for so many things. That’s why punk music is fucking boring a lot of times. Motherfuckers are stuck on fucking Joy Division and shit like that.
Corny motherfuckers are everywhere
Speaking of different scenes and cities, you’re doing the In Broad Daylight festival in New York and L.A. Why those cities? And what’s your relationship with those scenes?
SMTB: New York, that’s our fuckin city. People who used to talk down on us are now asking to play shows with us. It's really about, at least in New York, cementing that, and being like, “Yo, this is what we do. We're the fucking best in the city. And if anybody disagrees, come and see, motherfucker.” In California, we’re blessed to have a huge following. It's something that I wasn't even aware of, but when we started [going] to California, all the people at our shows were predominantly Mexican kids. In New York, it was all young white kids, Puerto Ricans, and black kids. It’s crazy to be in another state and have a completely different group of people [love us.] It’s been so lovely. California has shown us so much love and support. Like, shoot, if the scene is big enough out there, let's do it in both places and show people what we can do, show the extent of the power of truth, rather than the power of reenactment.
SG: The power of reenactment, that's funny as hell. In cities like those, you have the option to go to a show every night. Because of that, people stop having as much of an appreciation [for live music]. But, you go play in a town that has to deal with scarcity in terms of music and cultural output or recognition, a place like Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a place like Birmingham, Alabama… people in those cities, those darkly drawn lines between genres, they don't matter as much. Or they don't exist at all, because they don't have that luxury. When people are performing [in those small scenes,] that’s the thing that you're doing because it doesn't happen every fucking night.
We went on tour in Europe in 2018, and mostly in Eastern Europe—we played two shows in Romania. It reminded me of a lot of shows in my hometown. I'm from a rural town in Maryland. No [bands tour] there. In Romania, they just drove fucking 200 miles for our show. Those perspectives are a lot more interesting, and [that’s] what pushes music forward. Because you're challenged to become creative and shit. Whereas here, you know, everybody always has something fucking better to do.
What are some of your favorite venues?
SMTB: In New York, when I was younger, the coolest place to play, hands down, was ABC No Rio. It's not around right now and the city's supposed to rebuild them a spot. That’s gonna happen, hopefully, and it's going to be really cool. It was a super ill haven for me when I was a kid, and for a lot of other kids. Any place where there are no rules and the kids are allowed to do what they do, is cool. And as long as no one's getting stabbed too much… there’s got to be a little stabbing…
People saying, "Oh, this scene has to be safe," fuck all that. I come from a very violent place. CORPUS is my crew and we're violent people. When we have to handle things, we don't mind getting into violence. That’s what a lot of people don't understand. That’s what rock 'n' roll is fuckin about. If you want to play it safe, stay home, play in a worship band, do some LARPing. But if you want to get after it, you're gonna get to some fucking situations.
People saying, ‘Oh, this scene has to be safe,’ fuck all that. I come from a very violent place.
SG: In New York, that venue Elsewhere is fucking crazy. It's like, it's like three warehouses on top of each other. Personally, I just like to be at the gig and have my little drink and smoke weed a lot.
SMTB: Any place where you can dance in between the sets and they don’t play hardcore or like other punk songs [rules.]
SG: I definitely agree with that. Like, I don't really want to hear punk songs between punk sets. There are other genres of music. There’s that video of people singing Whitney Houston at that Turnstile show, which low key made me want to cry. The venues though, they exist because of the people who make them what they are. It’s hard to keep shit fun interesting and keep people inspired. To be a promoter in a scene is a largely thankless job.
SMTB: It also plays into how people think about punk and hardcore as this brand that you can buy into. It makes no fucking sense. We’re defining ourselves with “I go to those shows and I don’t go to those shows. I bought a Ford and my friends drive Fords.” It’s a corny way to participate in capitalism that’s, unfortunately, in our everyday lives. To free your mind and live outside of that mentality is a worthwhile struggle. A lot of kids aren’t aware they don’t have to be dedicated to this capitalistic ideal of music and brand identification.
SG: And people look at you like you’re crazy when you don’t do that. I’m just showing a wider range of appreciation than what you’re used to seeing. That shit bums me out. People basing their personalities around an entity that doesn’t give a fuck about you.
SMTB: Two hunned, extremely depressing.
To free your mind and live outside of that mentality is a worthwhile struggle. A lot of kids aren’t aware they don’t have to be dedicated to this capitalistic ideal of music and brand identification.
What are your relationships with the other artists and bands on the festival lineup and what’s the common thread that links them?
SMTB: The thing I’m most proud of with Show Me The Body is how much and how hard we’ve toured, and the amount of true bonds and friendships we’ve established around the world. This festival is both an exposé of wonderful music and a short story of all the people we’ve connected with around the country. Some of them are punk and hardcore bands. Some of them are rappers. Some of them are DJs. But they’re all people who speak the truth and move the truth. We’ve built these connections around mutual respect and mutual safety. If someone messes with our people, we’re gonna do something about it. These are our brothers and sisters. We wanted to establish something that told the story of who we consider family.
Who are you most excited to see?
SG: It’s a tie between Zelooperz and Hook. My girlfriend is a big Zelooperz fan and I’ve been hearing about him so much.
SMTB: Zelooperz and the Bruiser gang always take care of us, shows us mad love, and look out for us. The Bruiser gang play with reality in a funny way, but not “funny ha-ha.” They toy with reality in a way that’s joyous and dangerous.
What has it been like returning to live shows?
SMTB: All of the goofies have stepped aside. The people who don’t need to be there aren’t there any more. The people who are super about it are still with it. People are realizing this shit is more ephemeral than we thought. Your friends are not gonna live forever. So if some shit is popping off, we finna be there. It reinforced immediacy and truth and love, as far as I’m concerned.
SG: A lot of people, me included, needed an attitude adjustment and got one. I love this shit and I love people and I just really want to show that appreciation. I want people to feel comfortable and safe. These settings have done more for me emotionally than anything else.
What’s been pissing you off lately?
SMTB: Eric Adams [is] a bitch. People forget that man was a whole police officer. But the reasons to spread love and grace and tenderness are always evolving.
SG: The punk scene and its potential pisses me off because there’s just so much possibility and it’s largely being unrealized. However, I feel really excited, because there are other people who realize this and are trying to do something. I think this decade is going to be defined by Black people and rock music and the reclamation of the genre. Motherfuckers saying “rock is dead” because a bunch of people drove it into the ground!