Hardcore knows no geographical boundaries: You don't need to conjugate a breakdown, and DIY does not require translation.
South-of-the-border bands like Tijuana's Days of Struggle have taken in the lessons of their gringo neighbors and are in the process of selling them back to us, courtesy of the melodic hardcore quartet's new Goodbye, Old Me EP.
"Hardcore bands don't really go down to Mexico that often, so the people that are into hardcore really appreciate it and live up to the values," says guitarist Jaime Lynn. "It's not just songs. It's not just music. It's a whole culture. People here really value that brotherhood, love, and friendship. It's really important, whereas in some other places it's more just a scene."
Coming together through mutual friends as teens almost six years ago, the group has steadily upped the ante. They followed their first Mexican tour in 2010 with their full-length debut Ideas a year later. Currently in the midst of their debut U.S. tour, Days of Struggle celebrated their immersion in Americana with a photo op next to Philadelphia's Rocky Balboa statue.
Goodbye, Old Me showcases the band's growth over the last three years with a taut, tuneful rumble that's much more focused and dynamic than the unbridled, free-swinging fury of Ideas.
The droning bittersweet melodic power chords that open the title track recall Hüsker Dü, and the nearly five-minute closer, "Bad News Bearers," echoes the dark prickly distortion of Sonic Youth's "Death Valley 69."
Singer Christopher Rios based the five-song EP on a song-cycle he'd written several years earlier. "You always hear people talking about girlfriends and love not working out, or maybe social injustice and politics. I'm into all that, but I tried to do something different."
In Goodbye, Old Me, Rios and his bandmates relate the story of an angry young kid who lost his legs in a car accident, and whose alcoholic father disappeared into the same fateful night. The child bastes in bitterness: "Lived the closest thing to being a slave," he sings. "Strapped to a wheelchair and told I was saved."
Rios was inspired to write the story by witnessing the courage and stoicism of those who had less than him, and struggled more. He also feels the story matured as he revised and refined it.
"I wrote this when I was 19-20 years old, and I'm 24 now. It gave me some time to have different views on life and whatnot," he says. "I see people that — physically or mentally — just weren't favored. But you see them succeed over anything. I'm always thinking life is hard on me, and it helps put things in perspective."
Days of Struggle's music has evolved as well, becoming much less wed to hardcore's lock-step grooves and cacophonous, always-to-11 intensity.
"The band is always changing, but at the same time we're still the same," says Rios. "I just hope we get more opportunities like this, because it's what we've always wanted to do."