Locals Only: Jukai

Hardcore is a wild concept that very few people rarely ever grasp. Typically, this genre’s viciously driven music and the general sentiments against reality is more than enough to stray the common listener. Who’s to blame though? Fuck, the first hardcore matinee I ever went to resulted in one’s fist fist sending my face well into next week. Oddly enough, that feeling was enjoyable in such a sadistic manner. Pain is but a gift of our humanity. Yes, torment and enduring misery may contest against that notion but without it, how could one ever feel joy, happiness, or love?

That four point blow only solidified my decision to keep pushing towards a selfless acceptance based on my own individualism while developing an understanding of what is often a mysterious and clouded genre. Respect, integrity, and free expression are common attributes within hardcore and because of those simple beliefs, it has housed generations of artists, musicians, writers, and people to openly express themselves. An expression that liberates the individual from the negative implication of one’s own existentialism. This is an outlet that allows both an escape and solution to much of our world’s problems.

For those that frequent dingy basements, commutative halls, and even the occasional theater or venue, this is a place where one can seek both asylum and peace from life’s woeful misery.

There is no age gap or requirement in order to be a part of such a community. As cliche the notion may be, a person’s gender, race, nationality, religion or political affiliation is of no concern within this impassioned taste of music. In fact, it acts genuinely as a haven or sanctuary for those that have a difficult time in accepting or conforming with society’s constantly depraving standards. So long of course, that an individual’s affiliations or character is not aligned with opinions of hate or indifference against others. The point here is this; there is no age restriction or prerequisite to get into hardcore so long as your interest and involvement is purely an honest attempt that only betters you and the ones around you. This is hardcore baby, and there ain’t no fucking winners here.

Take for example, the Long Island based hardcore unit, Jukai. A prominent act within the New York circuit that has toured extensively while developing a prodigious fan base through their sinister style. Each one of these members has to balance both the demanding aspects of their day to day life and a hardcore project that requires everything from their heart and soul.

These are but young men starting their adult lives as teachers, engineers, civil leaders, and hard working, boots and nails members of society. They are all dedicated to their professional roles and personal devotions that lead in prospering the community around them. At the same damn time, these gents sacrifice their spare time to write, record, and tour on the unremorsefully subsumed music better known as Jukai.

Devoid of Hope was their latest release and pays true testament to their influences of Long Island hardcore such as Cipher or Silent Majority. The darkened sensibility and nefariously gritty tone is what should stand out the most upon first listen. Jukai is in itself its own entity that plays as an easily identifiable sound that leaves very little room of confusing.

This is a band that knows how to perform a set that captivates the viewer in believing they are a goddamn train hell bent on ruination. Why not? Speaking that is of course the resentful anger inherent with any one person that sees humanity for what it is truly worth. War, famine, genocide, and the overall sense of destruction, death, and despair is the very evil nature of our species. Yes, we are all capable of producing communities based on morally sound and ethically well built ideologies. The only problem is that it seems we leave more of a stain on this world than we do cleaning it up. Shit, the fact that we are playing clean up verus maintaining or even preventing is beyond comprehension. These facets of humanity’s wicked presence is congenital within Jukai as their vocalized demeanor but only proclaims life’s tragedies towards its audience.

Right now you can stream or download their latest endeavor which is a split record with Recycled Earth that was dropped thanks to Reconsider Records, a L.I. based record label focused on hardcore, punk, and metal bangers from bands such as High Card and Separated have been dropped by this label. Anyway, we had the chance to grab a few words from Zach Barnett (frontman) on the nature, status, and overall future of Jukai in an intimate interview below. Check it out and be mindful of the stream of gigs they will be performing this summer.

Interview with Frontman, Zach Barnett

HW: Jukai has been on one hell of a run within the last year. Since Devoid of Hope was released, how has the project grown?

Zach Barnett: Since Devoid of Hope has dropped, we’ve been lucky enough to play many different places and some really cool fests. Thanks to Mass Movement and Reconsider Records, our music has been exposed to more people. It really baffles me that we get to play out more and experience new opportunities as a band. We’ve played with bands that I’ve never imagined playing with and have been to places I’ve never thought we’d go to as a band.

We started in 2012 just to play music and have fun. We’ve all been going to shows for probably ten or more years now so we never pictured being able to do any of this stuff. Being able to do all of this with your best friends is the most amazing feeling in the world. We’d love to tour more often, but unfortunately we all work a lot. I’m the only person who gets long breaks from work because I teach in NYC. Steve is in a labor union and always works nights, Fee is a social worker, Beshaw is a mechanic, and Ian works and goes to school doing some crazy engineering shit. I have no clue what he’s explaining to me half the time. He’s a superhuman. Kind of scary.

HW: On a personal level, the lyrical and musical pairment of One Life Not Wasted, a blistering track off of the Recycled Earth split, rings as an emotionally conquering jam. The lyrics upon a fan’s impression is that of comprehending loss and love. Death is but an uphill battle between hope and the will to continue on without. Would you care to explain this track’s meaning?

ZB: One Life Not Wasted is about Danny from Cipher, a Long Island hardcore band that’s been together since the late 90s. He was a karate instructor, surfer, and teacher. He was edge and a great role model. We both lived in Long Beach, NY, which is a city that is south of Nassau County towns on Long Island. He was my math teacher and growing up, I’ve always listened to Cipher.

He asked me to join the band in 2009 and we did a bunch of shows with a tour in 2010. He took me under his wing and was a real role model to me. Getting to the point, the song is about losing someone who had a real impact on the world. I think real wealth and happiness derives from being able to make the world a better place and influence others in a positive way. That’s something that Danny did. Amazing people die all the time, but somehow the shittiest of the shit people wind up living until they are 100 years old. So the song is a mixture of emotions. It’s an ode to him and a fuck you to all the garbage humans in the world.

HW: This Long Island based outfit has had the opportunity to grace various
festivals and scenes throughout the country. What has been one of the more memorable experiences for you while fronting Jukai?

ZB: There’s been so many amazing experiences we’ve had in such a short period time. It’s really difficult to choose one. We played FYA twice and it was amazing each time. Bob Wilson is the man for getting us down there. Being able to play with Indecision, Merauder, and Billy Club was insane.

Blistered took us on a tour last summer and every show was a blast. Playing in a 300 degree room on top of a tire shop in Miami with them and Drawing Last Breath was pretty memorable.

We just got back from UB and that was crazy. So we’re really grateful for that as well. I guess if I had to choose one experience that really struck me I’d say it would be going out to California to play. We got to play at the Program, which is a sick skate shop/record store. We also played For the Kids Fest, which was incredible. I think just the fact that we got to play on the other end of the country and people actually seemed to enjoy our music enough to watch us was memorable enough. We played a library in Ventura with Dead Heat, Vamachara, Iron Curtain, Hands of God, and Year of the Knife. It got pretty wild. I think that was the best gig we had out there!

HW: Long Island has consistently delivered phenomenal acts throughout nearly every range of music. What is it about your scene that just separates itself from other walks of life?

ZB: Three of us grew up in Long Beach, NY, which is a barrier island off the coast of Nassau County. There was nothing in our city, except for a really small punk scene. Other than Cipher, the only other hardcore band from Long Beach was Blood on the Horizon. In middle school we’d play in basements and firehouses with bands like The Ergs!, John Stamos Project, and Solidarity Pact.

When we first started going to shows, we didn’t really know anyone other than each other for the most part. I think that after going to shows for a while, people warm up to each other from seeing one another around all the time and knowing that they aren’t bullshit kids who attend shows for a year and then fall off the face of the earth. I think that Long Island has an amazing scene as it stemmed from bands that played years ago and kids have been carrying the torch ever since.

Huge bands like Brand New, Glassjaw, and Taking Back Sunday came from LI, but I think it’s all stems from hardcore. Bands that have been playing when I was still shitting my pants and watching Barney are responsible for making this place what it is today in terms of music. We’re blessed to have a rich history of musical acts like Gorilla Biscuits, VOD, and Kill Your Idols.

I’d say that the one band that really embodies Long Island is Silent Majority. They are my favorite band to ever come out of Long Island and one of my favorite bands ever. I was lucky enough to catch their reunions last summer that they did for Rob from Capital (another amazing Long Island band). I never thought I’d ever get to see them. I may be dramatic but I think it was nothing short of magical and anyone who attended would agree. But honestly, I think what the real underlying cause for Long Island having amazing bands is the water. New York has some of the best tap water in the United States.

HW: How would you say Jukai views humanity? Is this a negative or positive reflection upon our world?

ZB: I don’t think we all have one agreeable view of humanity. We can’t even agree on when to practice or what the set list will be without yelling at each other. We’re all best friends and I think that’s what makes it tough. The lyrical content varies in terms of experiences I’ve had and how I feel about certain issues. I guess our view of humanity would be more negative than anything.

HW: Where can people catch you this spring and summer? Plans to tour or just going to keep it local?

ZB: April 29th in Wallingford, Connecticut with Laid 2 Rest, Trail of Lies, Recycled Earth, Forced Out, and Mourned. That’s gonna be a wild show. Connecticut gets pretty crazy.

May 9th in Farmingdale at Theatre 294 with King Nine, Regulate, God’s Hate, and The Fight. It’s a pretty awesome, new venue that Paba was able to lock down.

May 20th: The Bowery Electric with CRO MAGS, Retaliation (a Carnivore tribute), Lion’s Cage, Egodestroys, and Sid Da Kid. It’s a pre show for BNB. We’re stoked.

May 27th: Wild Fest, a benefit for Rob from Capital’s family. It’s gonna be a blast. We get to play with Somerset Thrower, which is one of my favorite Long Island bands out right now.

July 28th: THIS IS HARDCORE at the Electric Factory. The whole day is packed with amazing bands like Racetraitor and Martyr AD. That whole weekend is going to be bananas. As friends, we’d travel to Philly during the summers to watch the bands and party. We never thought we’d have the chance to actually play this fest. It’s unreal and we’re beyond grateful to Joe and everyone who is putting it together.

Also, the Thursday of TIHC, catch the Cipher reunion and all of Long Island, Pittsburgh, Albany, and other random older gentlemen flipping their shit.

HW: Last words before we close this one up?

ZB: Shout out to Long Island Hardcore, pizza, bagels, that big ass Duck, Scanlon, Christopher Albin, and H8B

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