Regional Justice Center’s Ian Shelton on the music that influenced new LP ‘Crime and Punishment’
Regional Justice Center's anticipated new album Crime and Punishment arrives this Friday (3/5) via Closed Casket Activities (pre-order), and ahead of its release, the band just put out the album's fourth single, "Dust Off." It's a gnarly metallic hardcore stomper that's keeping our hopes very high for this album, and you can listen alongside the three previous singles right here:
While we wait for the album to officially drop, we asked band leader Ian Shelton about the music that influenced this LP, and he made us a list that includes metal/punk legends like Black Flag and Napalm Death, non-metal/punk legends The Beatles, Massachusetts powerviolence band Wound Man (who RJC released a split with in 2019), a not-yet-released song by his friends Ingrown, and much more. Read on for Ian's picks and what he had to say about each one...
BLACK FLAG - "Modern Man” and "Nothing Left Inside"
Crime and Punishment started to form in my mind during a period where I was listening to a shit load of Black Flag. Loose Nut had been on repeat for a handful of days and every time I got to "Modern Man" I would stand in awe of how iconic the song is. Obviously fairly influenced by Black Sabbath but it is so heavy and catchy, I felt like I wanted to set out to make something like that. It crops up the most in the song “Conquest” on our record.
The second way in which Black Flag crops up in this record is in the vocals and lyrics. The vocal dynamics that Rollins brings to a record is basically unparalleled in punk music. There is a lot of modern bands who have set out to write “their version” of "Nothing Left Inside," but usually “their version” is LITERALLY just the exact riff. On our song “Inhuman Joy” I basically had the same goal but I wanted to make it a waltz that was dedicated too fucking. I hope it’s less obvious than a lot of other band’s “versions” but I don’t think that’s for me to say.
DYSTOPIA - "Hands That Mold"
Most hardcore bands’ vocal dynamics come from when the vocalist is running out of steam so they stop yelling and start half talking (easily one of the worst parts of hardcore) but when a singer understands dynamics and can go high and low where it sounds natural it takes a record to another level. A fellow drummer singer, Dino’s low mid range up to his agonizing high adds such urgency to all of their songs. He does it over slow parts to the best effect, such as the main part here on "Hands That Mold,” but the way that he accents up or down during mid tempo and fast parts adds that extra bit of catchiness to brutal parts that you hope to integrate into your own sound. This is also one of those bands I got into so young that it's a buried influence even when I'm not thinking about it.
ENDLESS BLOCKADE - PRIMITIVE LP
This is a record that came out during a formative time in my musical upbringing. I was grounded when they came through the Northwest with Hatred Surge so they feel like a mythical band even though I’m not sure how many people consider them at all in this musical moment. If I am making an LP I want to hold it to the standard of Primitive because I’ve been capable of listening to it on repeat so many times. Catchy rhythms, heavy riffs, awesome infusion of noise and even a brief Jello Biafra cameo. The thing this record showcases the most is what can be brought out through accents in the middle of blast parts, something I only do sparingly but when I do it’s probably stemming for Primitive.
NO COMMENT - "Push Down and Turn"
"Push Down and Turn" is nothing but onslaught and I think this chord interval is burned into my brain. Between this and Crossed Out’s “He-Man” it made me think about how most of the RJC songs are pretty straight forward blasts without fills (I think this song AND “He-Man" can also be heard heavy on our song “Aspirations"). To me this song also accents how an intense period of blasts/fills is best landed with a heavy part at the end (this song transitions into the closer “Curtains”) but the landing is stuck none the less.
THE BEATLES - "Something"
Abbey Road is a deep deep well of influence for me, whether it be the short songs that transition into each other on Side B, the heaviness of “She’s So Heavy”, the drum break on “The End” or the lyrics on “Carry That Weight." For the song “…And Punishment” I wanted to reference the drum part at 1:14, its this rolling heavy thing, under the beautiful parts above it the average listener might not think this part is heavy but to me it would always get me hyped so I thought I would reappropriate it and put it in a heavy song. That was basically the basis for the song and I took it all from there.
ASSÜCK - MISERY INDEX LP
I would say we don’t have very much sonic crossover with Assück at all, but this is one band where I turn on the record and it just inspires me. They find such interesting rhythms, awesome blast accents, the record just pummels and in the end so many songs have memorable catchy parts. Finding the ability to just assault the listener but then give them something they can hum at the end is 100% my goal. [Producer] Taylor [Young] also used this as a big production influence, it was definitely used to A-B mixes.
INGROWN - “Shell” (unreleased)
Ingrown are friends and had just finished writing their LP around the time I was writing our LP. The process of sharing demos back and forth with friends is inspiring to me so when I heard their amazing record (to be released in the coming months) it just fueled me to attempt to write something as good. I think their record will easily be one of the best hardcore records of 2021.
HATRED SURGE - BRUTAL SUPREMACY COMP TRACKS
Hatred Surge from the jump has been one of my favorite modern hardcore bands. I revisit the Brutal Supremacy tracks religiously whenever writing, the vocal dynamics of having Alex Hughes holding down the mid range yell then having Rahi from Insect Warfare popping in with highs and lows adds an incredible amount to each song. The first song “Brutal Tyranny” is the song I think about the most, it takes a simple riff and adds an accent in an interesting place and sets the song off, it always reminds me how much brutality you can achieve with simplicity.
NAPALM DEATH - HARMONY CORRUPTION
In the process of tracking vocals we would reference whether I should go more Dino (Dystopia) if I was going high or Barney (Napalm Death) if I was going low. Listening back now while writing this there’s no way “If The Truth Be Known” couldn’t have been a direct influence for “Absence” and “Inner Incineration” an influence on “Conquest." Taylor talks about Scott Burns a lot in regards to production (he produced this AND Misery Index by Assück so there’s no way he isn’t a huge influence on the RJC sound as a whole at this point).
WOUND MAN - “Rolled"
This is the song that influenced the start of RJC and continues to reinvigorate me as time goes by. I’ve probably talked about it 1000 times but I’ll put it in writing again. The three and a half minute PV epic was my introduction to Wound Man, an onslaught of blasts with what anyone would consider the classic power violence vocals followed by straight punk beat. A song that seems typical of the genre but then the part that hits at 1:00 is where you know you have something special. This part of the song going into the switch up at 1:12 paired with ascending notes could convince me to commit an act of violence. Truly amazing song writing using the trappings of a hyper traditional genre and making it something bigger. I will be listening to this song when I’m 70 trying to write something that compares.
Pre-order Crime and Punishment here and stream its four currently-released singles below.