Converge: "We're trying to expel the darkness from our lives"
Converge might have grown up over the last two decades, but their abrasive hardcore shows no signs of abating. New album The Dusk In Us sees them channelling their most intense emotions yet
In conversation with Converge frontman Jacob Bannon, one word comes up again and again: abrasive.
The Boston hardcore pioneers have long been known for their coarse, grinding sound, and on ninth album The Dusk In Us, the destruction and despair glints through like broken glass. Today, we call Kurt and Jacob at home, a few days after their show supporting Gojira at Brooklyn Steel in New York. At this point in their career, Converge headline most dates they play, so opening for a more ‘accessible’ band can present some challenges.
“When you play within that kind of environment, you’re playing to people who aren’t familiar with the animal that you are – we’re the zebra and they’re the horses,” laughs Jacob. “It’s cool to show people there are different kinds of aggressive music. The first time I saw Slayer, they were opening for Judas Priest when I was a kid, and that was a completely different animal to anything I was expecting. It’s cool for us as artists to be that challenging thing, and for other artists to be the gateway.”
That’s another word that comes up a lot: artist. Jacob suggests that personal art is the only kind worth doing – presenting your truth to the world without barriers. It’s a tradition he’s followed since Converge’s 1994 debut, Halo In A Haystack.
“If you don’t have that honesty and you’re not true to yourself, then you’re just playing dress-up,” he says. “It’s a really powerful thing to get something psychologically out of creating art and music. We write personal songs about the subtle nuances and complexities of our lives – things that we go through every day. You’re going out there trying to expel a lot of that darkness from your life in music, and if you’re not honest in that process then you get nothing from it.”
A lot has happened to Jacob and his bandmates over the past five years, in what he simply describes as “a whole lot of highs and a whole lot of lows”, but it’s all been poured into The Dusk In Us. Each member became a parent during this period, and opening track A Single Tear is about Jacob’s relationship with his son. He makes himself vulnerable, screaming the line, ‘When I held you for the first time, I knew I had to survive.’