We’ve been playing all the songs live for a while now and they’ve had such a great crowd reaction already, so I can't even imagine what it's going to be like when they really, really, know them!
New York’s ACHE play blistering hardcore the way it is meant to be played and have been waves with their exhilarating music for a few years now. The band will shortly be bringing out their new album Inner Dialogue, the follow up to their debut album Fade Away. Ahead of its release, Gavin Brown caught up with ACHE vocalist Ryan Bland, and he told us all about the new record and its creation as well as discussing the band’s recent live shows, memorable gigs, how he got into hardcore and much more including his love for Bad Brains, Leeway, Prince, Kool Keith and Black Flag.
E&D: Can you tell us about the status of the forthcoming ACHE album Inner Dialogue and when we can expect the album?
Ryan: Yeah, we’ve been working on this record for about two years and I want to say it was a painful process, because it was during the pandemic so we wanted to go to a really nice studio and get it done. We had all these studios in mind, and then the pandemic happened and we were like, how are we going to get this done, everything’s closed down, so we literally recorded everything ourselves in different spots and the end result, I can really say I is the best recording I’ve ever been a part of. I mean, it was a labour of love but it’s finally done. We finished mastering and the artwork is done. We’re looking at the spring and just trying to figure out this whole vinyl process, because timing that right is difficult. We’re trying to figure that out, but I’m really proud of it, man. We’ve been playing all the songs live for a while now and they’ve had such a great crowd reaction already, so I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when they really, really, know them! I’m looking forward to that, when people can know the song titles and know all the lyrics.
E&D: Do you feel that ACHE evolved with your sound since you last album Fade Away?
Ryan: Yeah, we have, we totally grew as a band. I feel like that when we first started this band, we listened to a lot of grindcore and a lot of crossover and I think that was a huge influence on that record. I think that’s how we came together as a band, our love for bands like Infest and we were writing in that vein, and I feel like you can hear that on Fade Away, but once we had been together for a few years, all these different influences and ideas came in from different genres. I come from the post hardcore past, my old hardcore band was called Home 33. I think that some of that influence came in on this record. With the pandemic times, I think that lyrically, the record got a lot darker. There’s a lot of metal influences on this record, but there’s still a lot of a lot of the elements, which made Fade Away.
E&D: How did you recent live shows with Leeway and Sub Zero go and what were the highlights of those shows?
Ryan: Oh, my God, man. I’m still on a high from that. Basically, what happened was we’re friends with the Boston band Neighborhood Shit, and they played a show in Brooklyn over the summer. I went to the show, and we were just, brainstorming me and Alex and I said we have so much love for you guys. You have so much love for us, let’s just do a weekend together. We wanted to do one show in Boston, and then the next night we want to do a show in Brooklyn. When we were trying to book the shows, I was trying to think of bands that either hasn’t played with in a long time. So Eddie Sutton came to mind because when when he first started performing Leeway material again, it was me who called him up out of the blue and convinced him to get on stage and play some leeway songs like eight or nine years ago, and he didn’t have a backing band at the time. So ACHE learned all the Leeway songs and then we opened up and he did his first ever Leeway NYC show with us. We haven’t played with him since he first came back all those years ago but I hit him up to find out he’s been sick with stage four cancer. He said, Ryan, then we got into a conversation. He said, I really appreciate the fact that you hit me up when you did and, and got got the ball rolling for me and my career rolling for me again, so he’s like, let’s do some shit together. I said Hey, I got these shows in Boston at the Middle East and in Brooklyn. He goes, Oh, that sounds cool, man and that’s kind of how he got involved We had such beautiful conversations, and I’m so inspired by him right now because during that weekend, you could tell that he’s going through some tough shit with chemo and stuff like that, but he he said something to me, I will never, ever forget. He said, I’m going to do these shows. I’m gonna do this weekend because I’ve got a tour coming up in April, and I want to see this weekend if I can keep my stamina up and do these shows. He’s like, but I’m gonna die doing what I love man. I don’t want sympathy, I want celebration. When he said that, I was like, I’m complaining about what? My problems didn’t seem so like anything compared to what this man is going through, and he has such a good attitude about it. The Boston show was packed out man. We just packed that room out man. It was a few 100 people there and all of our work paid off the next day in Brooklyn. It was just a good time man, all the bands slayed and I partied a little too hard and I lost my voice so I couldn’t talk for a few days but I’m still on the high from it and to me, that’s what that’s what this is all about man.
E&D: Did you play all all new songs or did you was it a bit of both?
Ryan: In the set, we play three songs from Fade Away and then the rest of the set is all the new stuff and like I said, we’ve been playing like these songs for a while and people sing some of the new songs. I’m like “how do you know to grab the mic during this bit!”
E&D: Have you got any shows planned for when the album comes out?
Ryan: Yeah, well we’re gonna do it. I haven’t started putting it together yet but we will definitely do some sort of big record release type show or something like that.
E&D: Go back to live show, you supported HR. last year and how much of an influence are Bad Brains on you and ACHE?
Ryan: In my apartment, I have a skateboard deck, on it that’s me stagediving at CBGBs! My last time at CBGBs and it was a Bad Brains show! My love of Bad Brains is next level! It was a great show, we got added last minute but, of course, who says no to playing with HR, no one! We jumped on and a lot of my friends came out last minute and it was a good turnout. It was pretty awesome. I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you that I don’t get nervous around HR because I do, you know what I mean! I’m a fucking fan around him, straight up! He was standing there and vibing with me. He played the stuff I wanted to hear from all of his solo early reggae albums. It was cool.
E&D: ACHE have played so many shows with everyone from Fishbone to Cro-Mags to Ringworm. Who have you loved playing with the most?
Ryan: Oh wow, well, I have to say that two two highlights for me, we played with the band Trap Them, and I think still to this day, I think that was the best crowd reaction we ever got. I’ve never seen a room go that nuts for us. It was just a crazy time and the singer from Trap Them, Ryan, he had broken both his feet on that tour, so he was in a wheelchair and he crawled to the stage and sang the whole set from his knees!
E&D: yeah, I saw Trap Them live in Birmingham not long after that happened and Ryan was in a wheelchair onstage but was still going crazy while screaming his heart out! It was so intense!
Ryan: That’s another dude. I’m just like, look, if he could sing from his knees like that! That would have to be my favourite show experience that we’ve had, and my second would be probably when we played with Fishbone because that was just like a dream come true. I got a little crazy that night, say the least. It was a big theatre and we don’t usually play places like that, so I was just climbing up stuff and jumping in the crowd as many times as I could, but you know, it was a Fishbone show and I had all access so I was taking advantage of that. While they were playing, I was constantly going backstage and coming back and diving off the stage and one time they didn’t catch me, I went headfirst into the concrete and got a concussion and had to go to the hospital! So I will say Trap Them and Fishbone, and then just the gigs that we play whenever La Armada came into town. I think those are my favourite shows.
E&D: ACHE did a show with Kool Keith as well. How did that go?
Ryan: Oh my god. Yeah, man. That was a great night! I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m just such a huge Dr. Octagon, Black Elvis fan, so when we got the offer, me and my drummer are like, “Oh my god, hell yeah!” because we’re both huge Kool Keith fans. I think they advertised it as hardcore versus hip hop and I really didn’t know what to expect, but his crowd loved us. That’s one thing I can say about ACHE, I’m really proud of this band in that sense that we’ve played with so many different types of bands from hip hop to emo to grindcore. Thrash bands, hardcore bands and I can’t think of a time when we got a bad reaction. We can just kind of jump around all these genres and do our thing and be appreciated. That night was a beautiful night, man, and I have to say, they bought up our merch like crazy, his fans, and then he was awesome. I was singing along in the front like crazy, then afterwards was the best part because after the show, he hung all night. I was downstairs in the basement area with him and Matty from Subzero, and we hung out with him all night and he’s a huge punk rock fan, which I should have known. He started talking about his favourite punk films, and we went through and talked about all these different movies. He told me about a movie called Green Room, which I hadn’t seen at the time, and he’s like, dude, that movies is punk as fuck, and it’s so fucked up. I finally watched it, and now that’s one of my favourite movies of all time. Kool Keith was the one who told me about the movie!
E&D: Are you a big hip hop head as well?
Ryan: I’m definitely all over the place, man. I would say that when I was growing up, I’m an old school hip hop head, you know what I mean? When I was growing up, I loved hip hop a lot, but I can’t say that I keep up with a lot of newer artists right now. I have friends that do, so I’m always learning, every week I’m hearing about something new, so I guess in a way I’m keeping up with it. Hip hop will always be something that I love, my first love is hardcore, and then my second love is darkwave type stuff which is kind of what I grew up on before I got into hardcore, and it still has an influence on my writing now.
E&D: How did you get into hardcore in the first place?
Ryan: Well, when I was a little kid in the 80s, like I said, I was like a darkwave, new wave guy, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Ministry, Joy Division, all that kind of stuff, but I’m a huge, huge Prince fan, so I was camping out for Prince concert tickets in the 80s. In the line for the tickets were a bunch of hardcore kids, and one of those hardcore kids was Israel, who later sang for Bad Brains. He had a leather jacket on, and on the back it had Bad Brains spraypainted on the back, and Cro-Mags and all this shit. I was just like, what is that? He befriended me in the line, we hung out and he’s like, I work at a record store and I went And then I started hanging around him and his friends and I just discovered hardcore. He gave me the Bad Brains ROIR cassette, and I put it on and my whole attitude changed, listening to that record. I was just like, I’m gonna do this for the rest of my life, and I’ve never looked back, but I credit Israel a lot with getting me into hardcore.
E&D: How healthy is the Hardcore scene in New York at the minute and is there still a big buzz about Brooklyn hardcore?
Ryan: I would say definitely. Drew Stone is doing cool shit in the city right now. He does these free matinees, at the Bowery Electric, and what’s cool about it is that they’re all ages. I see mostly young kids at those gigs, and it’s really, really cool to see. We played one over the summer last year, and it was us, Neighborhood Shit And 24-7 Spyz and the room was fucking packed out man. I want to say Drew is trying his hardest to have really cool hardcore events in the city, and I kind of feel like that’s where the city kind of falls into place. Everything else is definitely Brooklyn-centric, like 100% There’s shows at this place called the Brooklyn Monarch and I think the Black N Blue Bowl is going to be there this year. I’ve seen countless shows there and I saw Black Flag there recently. ACHE actually practices one block away from there, we haven’t played Brooklyn Monarch yet, but when we can, we just roll it around the corner, so I’m looking forward to it, man.
E&D: Cool, I saw Black Flag for the first time a while ago and it was awesome, a bucket list band for me!
Ryan: Dude, I have the bars tattooed on my arm. Those are my songs, man. I grew up on them, you know? They’re like life anthems to me. The way I think is Black Flag lyrics! I love going to those shows. I see people talking shit but to me, you just need to live and experience. You can’t live in the past. You have to live in the now so it’s like, This is what we get now. Cool. I’m happy Greg is still here to do it, so let’s go!
E&D: What are some of your favourite ever hardcore albums?
Ryan: Oh wow, well we’re just gonna exclude Bad Brains because i could just list every album they ever made! Obviously the staples from Bad Brains. I Against I, ROIR sessions, Quickness. Those are definitely my favourite hardcore albums of all time. As far as New York hardcore. My favourite hardcore albums are the Burn EP. That was a huge influence on me. I went to so many Burn shows in early 90s, and just the way they approach writing music, and still being a hardcore band still influences me to this day. I even roadied for Orange 9MM in the late 90s, I was such a fan. I mean, I’m a Chaka, Burn, Orange 9MM fan, that’s me man. I would have to say Leeway. Desperate Measures is one of my favourite hardcore albums of all time and I know it’s crossover. I love that record so much, I tried to find people who worked in studios they went to and recorded demos at studios they recorded their demos. I did all that kind of stuff because I love Leeway that much. Then there’s Sick Of It All records that I love. Just Look Around, Scratch The Surface. Then there’s bands like 108 who were a huge influence on me. Threefold Misery and Holyname and all those records. Those are my favourite hardcore records of all time.
E&D: What have been some of the best you’ve ever attended? Obviously the Bad Brains at CBs has got to be up there!
Ryan: Oh my god! Wow! So many! There was this venue that Jesse Malin had called Coney Island High and there was so many great shows there. The first time I saw Iggy Pop was there. I would say being up close at Iggy Pop and him jumping on my head was pretty freakin incredible! I’ve seen that man do some death defying stuff, and it still blows me away to this day that he was able to do that or still is doing that. Then I would have to say, at CBGBs the most memorable show was seeing the Icemen at CBGBs because that was my first hardcore matinee. It was the Icemen and it was packed. I remember going in there and being a little intimidated, a little scared. I was young at the time and I’ll never forget this dude, I wish I knew where he was. It was just a black skinhead dude with big, heavy boots on. He was wearing overalls with no shirt underneath, and he was just dancing so fucking hard and kicking in that pit. I was back by the soundboard, standing on the chair, just watching the pit and the show from a distance but I still got a busted lip from this kid! He kicked somebody and it was like a domino effect into me and I left that show with the most fucked up busted lip. The Icemen though! I still to this day, listen to that EP like crazy. That stands out in my mind and then also Burn at the Pyramid club back in the early 90s They were scary at the time. The way Gavin swung his guitar around was so intense. Those shows definitely stand out because they were dangerous.