YA talks with Tony, Mike, and Sean from SQRM.

From SQRM’s confrontational live sets, crude lyrics, and left-field cover songs, it seems clear the overall message is FUCK OFF. Why such hostility? What does an audience represent to you?

Mike: We’re in a time where people are more alienated than ever, i think it’s a logical reaction to that. Also it’s important when playing subversive music to challenge everything around you. Not just the obvious things, but also your friends, and even yourself. If your not challenging yourself and those around you what you’re doing can’t have much value as a subversive art form. For me the hostility is mostly just an embrace, or a celebration of carnality and an affinity for ignorance.


Photo by Dan Gonyea, www.future-breed.com

Tony: I agree with what Mike said. And I will add that I have a genuine distrust for anyone I don’t know, I don’t like going new places, meeting new people. I have a full time job and am part of a community, I don’t make music for other people. I am glad when people dig something Ive been a part of, especially when its a friend or someone I have respect for, but for the most part, for us this has never been about an audience. I like stirring the pot a little during live sets partly do to my anxiety and fear of being away from home, and partly to hopefully get some people angry to actually show some emotion. I am not trying to tell anyone to fuck off, but people are more than welcome to take it that way.

Sean: My message to the audience is not ‘Fuck Off’. It’s confessional; I feel hostility towards myself. Yeah, the audience absolves me of–whatever…


Art has been described as the residue of what one must settle for in life. What resistance do you endure in order to create something meaningful?

Mike: I completely disagree with that statement. The “resistance” we encounter is little to none. People may think the music is too sloppy or contrived but their opinions are valueless to us. If anything there has been much more acceptance than ever anticipated. This started as something we did to get off in Seans room fucked up on a Friday night, and since then has become something way more people than we thought would appreciate. This has always been a band of minimal effort. I’m surprised at the reaction we get considering that. Clearly people think we’re trying to be the transgressive “play what you don’t want to hear” kind of band. There are elements of that in the guitar tone, the vocals, the lyrics, and the metalcore drum fills, but it isn’t the main focus. Someone commented that our new record is us trying to sound like Pantera. For me that’s dead on. I’ve always wanted to be in a band that is that heavy. Our sound isn’t as contrived as some people might think, it’s more just doing what satisfies us, and if that irritates people then we think it’s funny. It is a selfish band in many respects. We don’t even have that much regard for what everyone in the band wants to do. We all sort of operate on our own level and I think that’s part of what makes it good. In short, there is really no resistance because people accept us in spite of how selfish it is.

Tony: As you can see from Mike’s idea of what the LP sounds like, what makes this band a thing, is three people with three different ideas about what’s going on, trying to keep it together without losing it completely. If you want to call that art, go ahead.


There seems to be a connect-the-dot fantasy life-structure projected onto the middle class of this country concerning the white male’s rise to power and escape from his social trappings. How does tradition play into the idea of SQRM playing music for the sake of entertainment?

Mike: At it’s face value i think it’s a subversion of that fantasy just as any hardcore band is or tries to be. For me, it’s an insatiable thirst for all things heavy, riffs/experiences/states of consciousness, and I pursue them vigilantly. The band itself isnt a conscious reaction against a certain lifestyle, it is it’s own lifestyle, for the few minutes it lasts, whenever we have time for it. If you want to get socio-political, how that fantasy plays into us playing the music is that we’re three privileged white kids who have the opportunity to play self-serving, self-depreciating music to others like us.

Tony: Humans have always conquested for power, no matter what tone they have in their skin. The white man is certainly responsible for a lot of evil doings throughout history and the present. Striving for dominance over nature and thinking he is better than it, because he has come up with ways to ignore and destroy it. I am disgusted by the human race, including myself. And as Mike said, I am not trying to downplay the priveleges I have had in my life, and I understand the hypocrisy of playing music while saying the things I say, it is part of the reason for a lot of the lyrical disgust, self hatred and mocking.


It was said we are now living in a post-Existentialist period where, as far as music is concerned, we no longer question why we are here but rather accept reality as invalid and use music solely as a mechanism for coping. Is SQRM a means of self-medication, is it an assault on the very notion of self-preservation, or is it something more?

Tony: For as much time I spend trying to embrace things outside of this reality, and trying to break through this reality, I find myself stuck inside it. In my own world I am constantly trying to construct my own reality, but I find myself trying to destroy it at the same time. I have never trusted cement, I believe in the power of Mother Earth, and the elements, and am awaiting the day when she takes back what is hers.

Mike: Anyone who accepts reality as invalid shouldn’t be in it. SQRM is one among many forms of self-preservation for me. The sheer release of playing is a survival skill in a world where your animal instincts are repressed. I think this is why we get along with rival mob so well. We’re trying to return a primordial form, at least for an hour or two. In Our Band Could be Your Life Michael Azzerad describes punk attitude as using self-abasement for survival, like when you’re fresh meat in prison. I think this is a good analogy for tony’s attitude in the band. His “I am shit” sentiment is refreshing being in a scene full of self-congratulatory morality divas, but it doesn’t have much to do with my conception of the band. For me it’s more of a celebration. I may have some negative views and practices, but overall I’m a celebrator of life and playing this music is a way of doing that to the fullest extent. It’s irrelevant whether or not reality is “valid”, you have nothing else to compare it to. Living it hard validates it. Experience is truth.


What does happiness mean to you? What purpose does happiness serve beyond how elegantly one can conceal tragedies?

Mike: Happiness is relative. It cant be defined easily or have absolute value. I don’t think it’s merely concealing tragedies that’s a really melodramatic perspective. It’s a basic human need and how you get there is up to you. While people use it to conceal things, it’s not false altogether.

Sean: Happiness? I’ll snap out of it… and start feeling guilty again.

Tony: The other night I went to the chorus concert at my High School, seeing the students up there killing it, made me feel happy. I am happy when I get to see my family, play, draw or make music with my nephews and nieces. I am happy when I watch my Dad coach, and hang with my Mother. I am happy when I eat pasta with my grandmother. I am not trying to use it to conceal anything, its when your brain releases lots of seratonin, then you are usually miserable afterwards.


Some might say nihilism is the self-defeatist philosophy of the aimless, while pessimism is actually a constructive attitude for critical thinking. Where do you fit? Is there a method of living for you that comes anywhere near “fulfillment” as you define it?

Tony: Its hypocritical to be alive, and most days just seems overwhelming. The way I live is pretty simple, no internet, no TV, no internet on my phone, but its because I find them to be major distractions and hinderances on my being. I would rather be out in the woods in my backyard watching the creek, and going to bed when it gets dark out. I just try to stay constantly productive and active, mentally and physically.

Mike: I’ve been influenced by nihilism, and do find negativity constructive. But I’m a man of balance. Having an absolutely positive or negative view of humanity is foolish. I laugh at downright nihilists as much as I do posi-core putz’s and cheery soccer moms. I definitely view the world in an extreme way, but not in a fixed way. Exercising what little free will you have, and having a high level of awareness of nature is the key.


We seem to live in a country where the actual purpose of the news and media is not to inspire fear, but rather to inspire the idea that as a whole we know best and that everyone apart from us is crazy. Do you take pleasure in the disappointments of others?

Mike: Ive found pleasure in other’s misfortunes. Ive found pleasure in my own misfortunes. Ive found pleasure in knowing that others have found pleasure in my misfortunes. Who has the will to power rules all.

Tony: The media means very little now that we have the internet, movies, TV, and smart phones to keep us distracted and connected at all times. And with everyone knowing everything about everything thanks to all that knowledge they get, no one has to tell us they know best, when each individual is an expert at whatever.

Sean: I grew up watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. Nonetheless, I’m always making arguments to defend all parties. Except for myself of course. I’m the only one who’s always guilty.


You have now released two tapes, a 7″, and an LP. Do you feel any sense of accomplishment knowing things you’ve created are out in the world and potentially enjoyed by people you despise?

Tony: I do not feel accomplished at all. I am grateful to those that recorded us, and those that thought it was worthwhile to put out. But aside from my friends, I could care less who hears it, especially considering how very few will actually listen to it. Most will just download it, even if they buy it, they download it, throw it on their device and listen to it in passing. Then they will go become an expert on our “influences” download all that listen to it in passing, pretend to be an expert on that so they can tell everyone that the stuff we recorded is pointless and horrible and “band x” is better, which is how I generally feel about it anyway. We are a live band anyways…

Mike: I don’t care who is appreciating it. If they do appreciate we probably have something in common if they like it for what it is. There are always fuckers who like things for stupid reasons, I’m not worried about them. I feel accomplished when I make something I enjoy, and others enjoy it on the same level. I did not like the tapes. I do like the EP and the LP.


Hardcore prides itself on self-preservation with the idea that a certain level of restriction must be maintained at all costs. What is your conception of the future? As time goes by and you change day to day, are things being redefined in you or do you find yourself fighting them?

Mike: You have a core being, and there is a crust around it made of superficial things. The soil may erode, become dry and barren, but there are times when it will be rich and bare great fruits. Regardless the core is always there full of the hot molten rock of essence. At this point in my life i find the indignant attitude and pretentiousness of hardcore boring, but the stubbornness and consistency will always be endearing to me. People of character must be consistent.

Tony: The Egyptians believed that you are in a constant state of becoming, even in the underworld, when you are dead, you are still becoming. Thats how I try to live my life, learning from the people I care about and respect, and teaching and learning from my students.



Demo CS (self-released, 75 copies sealed in trash bag. Original version contains only 4 songs)


Wild Wild West Cassette Comp CS (Song from leaked version of Demo not on original tape)


Fuck To Survive CS (Youth Attack, Winter 2009)

· 1st press purple tapes, Lim. 200

· 2nd press blue tapes, Lim. 100 (Winter 2010)


White Saints 7″ EP (Abscess, 300 Copies)


Rodeo LP (Youth Attack, Fall 2010)

· 1st press White 500,

· 2nd press Yellow 300 (Winter 2011)


SQRM “Dark Path” Mix Tape (Life Rot, 2011), Lim. 100