Music has always and will always function as a sounding board for people. It can be a cathartic release for both the artist and the listener.
It’s in line with that broad principle that the political tumult faced in 2018 and surrounding years by the United States found its way onto the new debut album from the heavy Chicago band Nequient, out on Nefarious Industries. No matter what exact position you hold, the anger and fury sowed by certain masters of divisiveness in 2018 America is obvious, and that anger and fury has found an expression on Nequient’s Wolves At The Door.
Vocalist and lyricist Jason Kolkey shares that rather than him attempting to co-opt his band’s music for depersonalized political messaging, the issues at play in modern American politics seriously get to him, personally. In that light, as a musician, he wants to share creations that matter to him and aren’t faked.
He explains the lead-up to including sociopolitical themes in his music by saying: “For me, the main thing is just that if I’m going to be screaming in front of people night after night, I need to be screaming about something that means something to me, so it tends to be that whatever I feel is the place where there’s injustice or stuff that I’m just getting real pissed off about — it’s going to make its way into it.”
Kolkey doesn’t scream in a vacuum, and he’s aware of the possible implications of him taking his sociopolitical concerns to the stage. Still, his aims are to work through his personal concerns as much as they are to “change the world.”
As he goes on to explain: “You’d like to think that if bands are singing about these kinds of things and being very explicit about their thoughts that it could maybe help someone out there who’s living in a very closed off, very conservative community start to find different perspectives, find their own voice. People who don’t live in that sort of place but still need a sense of solidarity and a sense of community — it helps those people as well. Idealistically, you hope that all that works out, but the most important thing for me personally is that it has to be something that holds meaning.”
For Kolkey, areas that concern him include rollbacks of protections for marginalized communities and the environment; he feels that there are developments on the latter front that “could be horribly catastrophic in the not too distant future.”
He’s certainly not alone in his viewpoints; it’s hardly as though actions he has in mind are widely supported. Present day leaders continue to be faulted for actions against a whole host of interests; some might have thought that the principles driving those actions had in large part died, but they haven’t.
Still, Kolkey — and others with him — remain committed to combating what he describes as dehumanization.
As he puts it: “Anything that is sort of dehumanizing — these are things that tend to particularly upset me. Any time you’re treating the other people, either in the country or outside of it, as simply symbols of fear or a means to an end, that’s always a sign that you’re moving in the wrong direction.”
Kolkey and his bandmates plan to continue moving in their own direction as time goes on. Although the lineup of Nequient has been rather fluid in recent years, it’s stabilized concurrent to the development of their debut album. Kolkey is now joined in Nequient by drummer Chris Avgerin — who was an original member — and Keenan Clifford and Patrick Conahan, who play bass and guitar respectively.
Patrick personally took care of a lot of the music development for Wolves At The Door, but going forward, Kolkey imagines that other band members will contribute to the writing process. There’s already been some new writing that Kolkey has observed that with, although he himself is less of a musician and more of a vocalist. In the development of his side of the band, he draws broad, general inspiration from artists like Napalm Death and Converge.
As he continues to progress as a musician, Kolkey doesn’t mind even calling out members of the metal scene that he himself is involved with. Occasionally, he finds, people exploit black and heavy metal communities to push disturbing behavior, and he’s not interested in going along with that. He’s got a whole song on Wolves At The Door that mocks people like that called “Blast Beats and Cocaine.”
He describes his thought process behind that song by saying: “As soon as [metal] starts being this way for people to become comfortable with these extreme nationalist ideologies, when it becomes a way that you can sort of treat women shittily, that’s where that it starts to get really disturbing for me.”
Going forward, you would certainly like to hope that the vision Kolkey and others share of a world that truly addresses our issues is realized.
Pick up Wolves At The Door on Bandcamp here.