WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON
“I will always be a hardcore kid at heart,” Andres Hernandez tells us, bass/vocals with Tampa, FL three-piece Madtown. “I love everything about it, from the music itself to the energy at shows, sense of community, message behind the lyrics and everything in between. There is absolutely nothing else like it in the world and that is really what makes it special to me.”
The trio have been tearing up their local scene since way back in 2013 although it took until 2018 for them to grow into their “final form” – with Andres on bass, Trey Gonzalez on drums, John Bruno on guitar and the three of them all pitching in with the vocals. They had been friends long before that with Andres and John having been “consistently playing music together for the past 8 or 9 years” after John taught Andres how to play bass way back when he was 12 and John was 14. With a shared passion for hardcore, the direction of the band seemed obvious.
“There are things that we can do as a hardcore band that wouldn’t be possible if we were playing a different type of music,” John explained. “The amount of DIY tours, small shows, and fests…With a community that is so close-knit and supportive of their favorite bands, there is a definitive connection that we as band members share with our friends and fans that wouldn’t be the same if we were playing more mainstream music.”
“What I love about hardcore so much is how taboo it really is,” added drummer Trey. “I mean, at the end of the day, everyone’s slinging their bodies and screaming so I certainly wouldn’t call it easy listening (or viewing in some instances), but I think that’s what makes everyone in a hardcore scene so close…we all just get it.”
“if you want future generations to continue to be inspired, then you need to be part of that inspiration”
But with the genre being on the rise recently it’s probably less ‘taboo’ than its ever been as wider audiences are being exposed to the music and the scene. “I think the genre is in the best place it’s ever been,” said Andres. “It seems to be growing more and more as bands like Knocked Loose, Turnstile, and Code Orange are crossing into territories that no other hardcore bands have before.”
“With the rise of technology and the media, I think the genre is becoming more and more normalized and understood,” Trey agreed. “People that usually jam mainstream media now have the opportunity to discover a band like us and think, “Wow I vibe with this too.” To me, it is awesome that we get to be a part of that middle ground.”
But that doesn’t mean us punk kids can just sit back, relax and assume hardcore’s going to take over the world all by itself. We still have a job to do and it’s more important than ever to get out there and support our local music scenes. “It may seem strangely unimportant to some groups when they get bigger, but everyone starts small,” said Trey. “And if you want future generations to continue to be inspired, then you need to be part of that inspiration.”
“The Tampa scene is where we started and where we have built our family of supporters and peers so I want to make sure that we represent Tampa no matter where we go,” added Andres before telling us about some other local heavy bands we should be checking out – Control System, Malice Strikes, Prison, Nomvdic, Dead Wing and Losing Vision.
“The hardcore scene in Tampa is pretty large compared to other cities I’ve been to,” Trey told us. “A lot of good music has come out of this city, and I think that is what keeps the fuel in the tank for a lot of our bands. Everyone is always trying to lift everyone and, to me, that is where the success starts.”
“By inspiring positive change through music we can help make an impact on individuals and communities worldwide”
Recently, however, the band have been focusing less on playing shows as part of their local scene and more on recording, having smashed out and released full length album ‘True Colors’ at the beginning of September. “Crafting dynamic and interesting songs was at the forefront of our minds during the writing process,” guitarist John explained. “We wanted them to have their own movement and different feeling parts as the song progressed.”
“We like to take all of the very different influences that inspire us and blend them into one sound that we think is unique. Each song we write is different from the next but they all have the Madtown sound that glues them together,” added Andres.
They began working on the album in 2018 while still getting used to being a three piece. “For some time Madtown was a five-piece band but our old vocalist and guitarist had children so they had to take a step back from the band,” Andres explained. “But once we got in the studio with Austin we started to find our sound and become more comfortable. It was about a 4 month process where we finished writing, demoing, and recording all of True Colors.”
Some of the songs, however, started life as far back as 2018 as Trey told us. “The opening verse of the title track True Colors was written and saved by me and our old guitarist Eric George in October of 2017. Vengeance came shortly after or maybe a bit before that, and Fully Evolved was the first song we started as a three piece in December of 2017.”
And like all good punks, the band occasionally write about topics and issues they see in the world around us. “Punks in the modern world need to not only be shouting but having real conversations about all the issues that we are struggling with as individuals and as the human race,” Andres spoke passionately on the subject. “Whether it is mental health, equal rights, the political climate, abuse or any other topic that is affecting punks and non punks directly I think it all needs to be talked about. By inspiring positive change through music we can help make an impact on individuals and communities worldwide.”
” I want to continue to push the bounds of heavy music”
“Although songs like Lucid Vision and Beyond Good and Evil are more conceptual, every song on the rest of the album was all written are around these same issues mentioned,” added Trey. “They’re not only about how they’ve impacted us directly but also about how we choose to perceive life because of them… Writing from our past experiences is a form of expression we all share.”
“The lyrics reflect a lot of issues that we are dealing with as individuals and that we want to see change in the world around us,”agreed Andres. “The music itself is also therapeutic and helps me release a lot of built up anger or stress that comes from the above issues.”
There’s been a good reception to the album so far, with the band stating it’s been “awesome online and in person” and now that the record is finally out there in the world the trio plan to “continue to push it online, play some shows around Florida and the south east, and finalize our plans for the new year.” And while these guys don’t have any fixed long term goals set in stone, they’re still eager and keen to take this as far as they can. “I want to travel the world playing music and making a positive impact on as many people as possible. I want to continue to push the bounds of heavy music and evolve the band into a sonic beast that is recognized around the world while still keeping our hardcore roots,” enthused Andres, with Trey agreeing, “I’d love Madtown to be carried on into the future in anyway shape or form.”
With such a good start to their career and such a positive, passionate outlook on hardcore, the music scene and life in general, it’s not an unreasonable expectation. Madtown will be in your town soon.