Jack Control of World Burns To Death

by | Jun 16, 2010 | MUSIC

There is a common saying within certain punk rock circles that Ronald Reagan inspired more hardcore songs in his day than any actual band did, suggesting that any movement based on protest or righteous indignation needs a perceived injustice as a jumping-off point. One might think that the world would have seen the same explosion of socially conscious hardcore over the past decade, but with a few notable exceptions, that chorus of dissent never materialized. Faced with the evisceration of our civil rights, the worst economy the country has seen in generations, and an escalation in the exploitative attitude often held towards the environment and our fellow man (often justified most vocally by those who would posit themselves as Reagan’s ideological and spiritual successors), hardcore responded by preening about sneakers, by collecting myspace friends, and by doing its damndest to rehash the most superficial characteristics of ’82, ’88, or some other dead and gone era.

But not everybody fell into that trap. Since 2000, Austin, Texas’s World Burns To Death have thrown down the gauntlet with each successive release, offering listeners one relentless blast after another. Eschewing the pre-packaged sloganeering and readymade ideology of so many ostensibly political bands, World Burns To Death offer a nuanced analysis of the world’s ills – one withering jeremiad after another, each steeped in history and philosophy without tempering the sledgehammer bluntness or indulging in didactic preaching. I got a few questions in with Jack Control, the band’s imposing frontman.

There is a common saying within certain punk rock circles that Ronald Reagan inspired more hardcore songs in his day than any actual band did, suggesting that any movement based on protest or righteous indignation needs a perceived injustice as a jumping-off point. One might think that the world would have seen the same explosion of socially conscious hardcore over the past decade, but with a few notable exceptions, that chorus of dissent never materialized. Faced with the evisceration of our civil rights, the worst economy the country has seen in generations, and an escalation in the exploitative attitude often held towards the environment and our fellow man (often justified most vocally by those who would posit themselves as Reagan’s ideological and spiritual successors), hardcore responded by preening about sneakers, by collecting myspace friends, and by doing its damndest to rehash the most superficial characteristics of ’82, ’88, or some other dead and gone era.

But not everybody fell into that trap. Since 2000, Austin, Texas’s World Burns To Death have thrown down the gauntlet with each successive release, offering listeners one relentless blast after another. Eschewing the pre-packaged sloganeering and readymade ideology of so many ostensibly political bands, World Burns To Death offer a nuanced analysis of the world’s ills – one withering jeremiad after another, each steeped in history and philosophy without tempering the sledgehammer bluntness or indulging in didactic preaching. I got a few questions in with Jack Control, the band’s imposing frontman.

RVA: When you were working on the concept for albums like Graveyard Of Utopia or the essays accompanying the lyrics to Sucking Of The Missile Cock, how much of the historical content was researched in advance?
JC: The subject matter of each song came from years of reading and research.

RVA: The lyrics to “Sucking Of The Missile Cock” dealt with the issue of conservatism in punk rock. Do you feel like there is an tendency to stick with tried-and-true formulas which, regardless of political orientation, becomes a sort of musical and aesthetic conservatism?
JC: absolutely. There is no room for the individual opinion within the political context of punk culture. What was once a truly creative, forward-thinking group of people seems to have devolved into little more than a religious cult, where straying from the party-line will leave you ostracized and a pariah. Truly one of the most conservative and reactionary forums for “politics” that exists. Not interested.

RVA: I was reading the other day about the battle being fought in your home state over the mandating of creationism in public schools and it seems like there’s a widespread perception of Texas politics as being fairly regressive and reactionary. Is this an outsiders misconception? And while your lyrics are unafraid to tackle large-scale subject matter, to what extent do you draw influence from more localized politics?
JC: I live in Austin… one of the most progressive cities in the U.S., So comparing Austin to the politics of the Hinterlands and backwaters is like comparing modern Denmark with dark ages Romania. To address subject matter on a localized scale would be trite and would not fit with the aesthetic of WB2D. It would also leave the song/lyrics immediately dated.

RVA: there seems to be a distinct split between the rawer, Scandinavian-style punk of the earlier albums to a cleaner-sounding more metallic approach on the last few records. Was that a conscious decision or a product of recording in studios like our house?
JC: Every record is different. We continue to evolve.

RVA: The earlier World Burns To Death albums had a very distinct visual aesthetic – stark black and white contrasts, apocalyptic cut-and-paste imagery – which seemed to hearken back to bands like crass or G.I.S.M. Who developed their own stylistic approach in both the music and the album art. Was that a conscious nod to that sort of approach?
JC: See above.

RVA: I also noticed that the most recent EPs have differed a bit in their design from earlier records. They’re still ominous, but are distinctly different from your earlier aesthetic. Was that the result of the label, or were you branching out visually?
JC: See above.

RVA: I think I can safely speak for a lot of your fans when I ask if there are any new records on the horizon.
JC: The future holds alot of mysteries…

World Burns To Death plays Plaza Bowl on June 16th with Slang, Wasted Time, Pollution, White Lung, Total Wreck, and Crooked Teeth. 6 PM, $12.

www.myspace.com/worldburnstodeathofficial

Interview by Graham Scala

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




more in music

The Only Richmond Juneteenth Bash You Need to Be At

This June 19, 2024, in observation of Juneteenth 2024, Cassidy Snider brings together and curates her third annual celebration concert. Sharing the stage with a wide range of Richmond music artists of color each bringing diverse musical styles from Songwriters, MC’s,...

Shagg Carpet: New Villains of Richmond Post Punk

Stopping in before a pre-tour practice, I talked with Richmond hotshots Shagg Carpet. The group formed in the sunny college days of 2022 when high school friends Laurel (guitar), Austyn (keys), and Brett (drums) saw Rook (vocals and mysterious masked figure) lounging...

Photos from the sold out Dale Watson show at Get Tight Lounge

Last week, Get Tight Lounge in Richmond was packed for a sold-out show featuring none other than Dale Watson, the torchbearer of classic honky-tonk. The atmosphere was electric, and the crowd was buzzing as photographer Ben Lahoussine captured an unforgettable...

Finding My Way to Tommy Stinson and Peter Jesperson

As any exciting story begins, it was a Monday night and my plans had just been canceled. With the news of my new availability, I decided to take up a friend on an offer. The scene takes me to a familiar spot, a beautiful home across the river with a small lit sign...

Wave That Flag! Richmond’s Pride 2024 Events Are Here to Slay

We are a little late on this but Virginia Pride has unveiled the schedule for its annual "Endless Summer of Pride" campaign, a celebration of the Richmond region's LGBTQ community. The campaign kicked off on May 31 with a pride flag-raising ceremony at City Hall,...

Mdou Moctar, Los Malcriados & Kendall Street Company: Sound Check

It's a busy time of year, with kids getting out school, vacations being planned who knows what else on the docket, but that doesn't mean you can't time for a little music in your life. All over the city all week long you can find it if you're looking, but let me give...

Topics: