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Resists “Bro” Culture

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Images retrieved from Roger Zubiate and the band Cloak's Facebook page.
Roger Zubiate Of Local Hardcore Band, Cloak, Reviews Their First Year And First Release As A Band, Discussing Musical And Lyrical Aspirations As Well As Where The Band Is Headed In 2015


By Clipper Arnold
Special for Modern Times Magazine

April 10, 2015 — Cloak is a drone, sludge, and doom influenced hardcore band based in Tempe, Arizona. They wield inventive, heavy riffs and compelling, dark lyricism. They also seek to break down a toxic paradigm that permeates much of contemporary hardcore. Meaning, they’re a bit more complex than their “bro-y” counterparts. Cloak is still trying to find a sound. They’ve already had a few major lineup changes in their first year out of the gates. That being said, they’ve still got a bit going for them. They recently played a show with Pharmakon (NY noise artist) and Marshstepper (members of Destruction Unit), and their name appears on a flier Nick Steinhardt (of Touche Amore, designed Deafheaven’s “Sunbather” album) designed. They’ve got some good music and plan on re-upping on momentum in 2015.

Following this interview, Cloak had a falling out with their now-former bass player regarding behavioural choices made in his personal life. Nick Quintana now plays bass. The following interview took place on January 31st, 2015:

Modern Times Magazine: How would you describe your music to an uninitiated listener?

Roger Zubiate: Very angry, very loud, very abrasive, heartfelt stuff. But it’s not very “bro” I wouldn’t say… maybe like skinny kid hardcore [laughs].

MTM: A lot of gender discourse in punk sort of deals with alternative representations of masculinity. Hardcore can sometimes be a very regressive area for gender politics. Would you say that you guys break that norm at all?

RZ: I’d say that we try to stray away from the normal idea of hardcore. Not, necessarily in that we think we’re above it, but in the way our band works and how we care about equal representation for people of color and women and the queer community. We’re beginning to write a lot more stuff that deals with those ideas. I kind of absorb a lot of that--not in the sense of being personally a part of any of those communities but in acknowledging my own humility, I think a lot of those ideas should be processed and brought to the forefront. I believe that Cloak won’t say anything new or profound about sociopolitical stances, but won’t hide and be a neutral band. We’re playing an anarchist festival pretty soon and there’s a lot of ally-ship there.

MTM: What sort of imagery does Cloak tend to evoke lyrically?

RZ: Lyrically? I’m not gonna say that I’m the most lyrically apt guy, the best writer or anything of that sort--but I try to just use my head to come up with things. Like, we have songs that talk about my own inner turmoils and things like that, sometimes they’re about people I know and my relationships with them. We have a song about cops and stuff like that. It kind of depends song-by-song.

MTM: How did the formation of Cloak occur? Like, Samad Agwani (former guitarist) played in Lilith before and a handful of other bands, right?

RZ: Well, we started to write together and gained a drummer. Then we had a couple of rotating unofficial members like bassists for a while, such as Ryan Gittelman from Kashyyyk. We started to lay the foundation of what we would start to write. We gained Alex Brown (guitar) and secured Elias Srouji (bass). Then we went to the studio. Then we finally became a 4-piece with Alex, Eli, myself, and Jack Finn (drums). That’s what the center is now, how we write and everything. It’s kind of developed to where we can write our own kind of sound. You can tell from the demo--which we all really love a lot--that it’s still a band trying to find a sound. I think we’re starting to become that and we’re all trying to strive forward.

MTM: Where were the demos recorded and how were they recorded?

RZ: They were recorded at Solar Signal in Fountain Hills. We recorded with Zach Rippy who has worked on a bunch of other stuff that’s coming out this year. He’s recorded pop, country, and pretty much anything, but he’s a hardcore kid at heart. It was up at his house, and was a really cool area. We had a really cool holistic experience where we stayed up there for a couple of days and just finished it all. It was about six songs, another one was more of an experimental song that was more or less improvised called “Sleeping Under the Mist.” It started as an idea where we wanted to do an interlude that wasn’t too over the top. He mixed and mastered everything and we’re really happy with how everything turned out.

MTM: Can you tell us more about your release show?

RZ: Yeah, we released the songs in October. We had the physical release at our last show with Drown, Axis, and Gatecreeper. All the demos have been self-released entirely.

MTM: How did the guy who did Deafheaven’s “Sunbather” album art end up doing a flier you guys are on?

RZ: So, that’s not necessarily our release, but it’s one that we’ll be having a lot of new music prepared for. Basically, Run With the Hunted is playing their last show. Eli and myself are really good friends with them. They’re a legendary hardcore band from here who left a huge impact on Tempe at large and myself--especially when I first started going to shows. They were a band that I thought was really cool and inspiring. Like, that’s the kind of stuff that makes you want to be in a band. You, know? Like seeing a band succeed so well at what they do. They’re playing their last show with a bunch of rad bands: Trial, Die Young (playing a reunion show), Seizures, La Bella, and Hollow Earth. But, yeah. The flier was done by Nick Steinhardt, who’s a member of Touche Amore and has done a lot of sort of pop art. He did the “Sunbather” album art which is somewhat remarkable and shows how much you can do with just some color and some type.

MTM: Do you feel like Cloak draws any musical or lyrical inspiration from Deafheaven?

RZ: I guess you pick parts and pieces from anything you’ve ever seen, heard or read. You’re starting to see more heavy music with a lot of emotion that’s really well-written. Deafheaven started doing that from the beginning, which is really rad. I remember seeing them back in 2011. They were a bunch of nobodies that toured with Touche Amore, and they just jumped on the show. There were like 10 kids, but it was still really cool. They’ve since gotten really huge. But, yeah, “Sunbather” has some awesome lyrics on it, so maybe there’s something in the back of my head that pulled something from that.

MTM: Insofar as being a hardcore band in a Phoenix or Tempe scene, what kind of shows do you find yourself playing most commonly? Is it usually Mantooth booked shows? Do you sometimes have to get creative and find alternatives?

RZ: I wouldn’t say we play all over. Unfortunately, a great space, Wall Street, just closed down before we started playing a lot of shows. That’s a legendary spot that’s been around for like 20 years. But there have been a few spots that have popped up. We’ve played 51West, we’ve played a few things over by Yucca Tap. We’ve played a few Mantooth booked shows and a few shows with Select. We want to try to get out of being pigeon-holed as a dark hardcore band. I want to play with a bunch of noise artists and punk bands. We’re playing a show with Pharmakon (female noise artist) through Select that’s also being done with Ascetic House and The Society of Musical Esotericism. It’s Pharmakon, Marshstepper (members of Destruction Unit), Lusitania (members of Gay Kiss), and A0N. So, it’s going to be a pretty interesting show. We’re not trying to be just a bro-y band or a dark hardcore kind of band.

MTM: As far as future releases, recordings or tours, what do you guys have planned?

RZ: I guess we’ll see where it takes us. 2015 should be a pretty big year. We’re trying to play some stuff out of state depending on the time and what we can do. We have a few things planned, but I don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch. We’ll have another EP out this year and hopefully a split.

You can catch Cloak play at Run With the Hunted’s farewell show on April 18th at the Nile Underground, 105 W. Main Street, Mesa.
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