There are so many bands out there doing so many interesting things, it's hard to know where to turn. That's why we've created Crash Course, a recurring feature offering a concise introduction to a band or artist that we think slays, covering their origins, process and vision, as well as tour hijinks and crazy shows.
Our latest subject is Thirty Nights of Violence (yes, their name is taken from a Deftones lyric), a Nashville group hailing from the same metalcore scene as rising heavy-hitters Chamber and Orthodox. (They might also share a member with Code Orange, but we're confirming nothing.) Across its six tracks, their new, sophomore EP, You'll See Me Up There, combos elements of chaotic hardcore, shreddy metalcore and atmospheric metal into an emotive collage of heaviness to rule the pit. We caught up with vocalist Zach Wilbourn, guitarist Kelly Cook and drummer Ethan Young to discuss the Nineties/Aughts nu-metal that they grew up on, their serious Deftones fandom, those "mini freakouts" when staying in someone else's home on tour, and bringing an insane amount of socks on the road.
WHO IS THIRTY NIGHTS OF VIOLENCE? CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORY ON HOW YOU CAME TOGETHER?
ZACH WILBOURN Thirty Nights of Violence is a creative collective of people who really enjoy making music together. A lot of us were already playing in other bands together prior to this. We started demoing the first EP in 2018 as a passion project. It's very much evolved into something more substantial since then.
KELLY COOK The band initially started when Zach hit me up saying that we should write some metalcore songs together. Zach, Ethan and I were already playing in a grind band called Pinion at the time, so we all were buds and had played together for a bit at that point. I actually had a song lying around that fit the description of what Zach wanted to do, so we ran with that and started working on some more material. That first song was "To Die in Your Portrait." When we brainstormed who would be the other members, Jake, Ethan and James all came to mind. It just worked out perfectly. Ethan and I finished up the songs for the first EP not long after that and then we went to get them recorded with Tate Mercer, a good friend and amazing engineer-producer.
IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE YOUR BAND'S MISSION STATEMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
WILBOURN I think it varies depending on who you ask. For me, I use music as a way to foster connection with other people. I think more often than not finding common ground on something like music is the easiest way for me to connect with someone — or anything creative for that matter. Understanding one another and our experiences on a very human level is something I strive for on a daily basis. I think my band just so happens to allow me to do that.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO METAL AND HARDCORE — A FRIEND, PARENT OR SIBLING, A PARTICULAR SHOW OR ALBUM?
WILBOURN Both of my older brothers got me really into metal music around fifth grade. Specifically, Deftones and other nu-metal groups — Korn, Slipknot, Mudvayne. From there, I became really enthralled in all kinds of metal music. When I was 14, I started getting rides to local shows when possible. From there, I was introduced to metalcore and hardcore and have been involved ever since.
ETHAN YOUNG I've always leaned more towards rock music. I owe that to my parents. My dad bought my first iPod for me at 11 years old and loaded it up with Linkin Park songs. As far as hardcore and metal are concerned, my good friend Blake Casper introduced me to that world. Changed my life.
COOK I would say that getting into this style of music was a slow and transitional process. It all kind of started for me when I saw the music video for "In the End" by Linkin Park. I had never heard anything like that at that time and was totally sucked in. I played that CD for what felt like months and months and months until Meteora came out. Then I wore that CD out, too. [Laughs] From there, I found bands like Korn, Slipknot and System of a Down. On the hardcore side of things, I started listening to that genre of music when I got the soundtrack for Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. It had a bunch of current emo/post-hardcore bands covering punk and hardcore songs. You had Fall Out Boy covering Gorilla Biscuits, Senses Fail covering Suicidal Tendencies, MCR covering the Misfits. I was able to find bands like Minor Threat and Black Flag at the same time as a lot of the big bands that were popping in the mid 2000s.
BEING IN A BAND, WHAT'S THE HARDEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE COME ACROSS SO FAR, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
WILBOURN Right now, trying to navigate working from home and putting out a record in the midst of a pandemic has been tough. It definitely challenges you to be more creative in the way you promote yourself considering that live shows aren't a thing currently. That said, it's been really fun coming up with new ways to reach people and make content stand out.
YOUNG As an artist I struggle with equating my value to my output. If I'm not creating, then I am not worthy of the title. It's a battle I've had with myself for seven years now. But I'd rather make a few good records than loads of shitty ones.
WE'RE ALL MISSING LIVE SHOWS RIGHT NOW. BACK WHEN THAT WAS A THING, WHAT WAS YOUR PRESHOW RITUAL?
WILBOURN Generally, I warm up my voice about 45 minutes before the set, which gives me some time to be alone and prepare mentally. I stretch a lot. I'm prone to performance anxiety so I try to keep my breathing slow and be positive about what I'm going to do. At the end of the day, performing is fun and as long as I'm having fun, I'm good!
YOUNG It varies. One show is always different from the last. I guess anxiously chain smoke cigarettes has been my constant before I perform. Don't pick up the habit, kids — I feel like shit 95 percent of the time we're playing.
WHAT'S THE CRAZIEST THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED AT ONE OF YOUR SHOWS?
WILBOURN There have been fights. I've seen chairs get thrown at people, that kind of thing. Not my vibe at all, but some things just happen that way I suppose.
COOK This isn't super crazy, but we played Detroit on our first run of shows and some people knew the words and they moshed hard. I had never been to Detroit, but people moshing and singing along to songs from a band that they had never seen was very cool.
WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF BEING ON TOUR AND WHAT'S THE WORST PART OF BEING ON TOUR?
WILBOURN Best parts are definitely meeting people, performing, eating really good local food, good coffee spots, going anywhere new is always exciting. I think the worst part is probably falling out of taking care of yourself. Eating poorly, sitting for hours on end, no time for mindfulness or alone time. Being away from loved ones is also very taxing. Van troubles are the worst.
COOK Coolest part is obviously seeing new places and meeting new, cool people. I live for those moments. The worst part is being away from your family. I have a wife and daughter, so being away from them is tough, especially being away from my daughter. But it allows me to come back and be fully present.
WHAT'S THE WEIRDEST PLACE YOU EVER SLEPT ON TOUR?
WILBOURN When space has been limited, I've slept under the van benches.
YOUNG Our last tour, we shared a hotel room with our friends in Shame Spiral. One hotel room. Eleven of us in there. Chaos ensued.
COOK I'm always weirded out when I wake up in some person's house and I have that mini freakout wondering where the hell I am.
WHAT'S YOUR ESSENTIAL ITEMS THAT YOU HAVE TO BRING WITH YOU WHILE ON TOUR?
WILBOURN I try not to bring much and I definitely don't bring anything that I'd be fine with losing. I'd say headphones are probably my most used item on tour. Sometimes it's the only way you can be "alone." Having my own pillow is a must as well.
YOUNG So many socks. More than anyone would need.
COOK Clean underwear, socks, a pillow and a Nintendo Switch. I got one recently and can't wait to bring it out whenever we tour next.
WHAT BAND OR MUSICAL ARTIST ARE YOU A BIGGEST FAN OF? PROVE YOUR FANDOM.
WILBOURN This applies to two bands in particular: Grateful Dead and Deftones. Both are completely different, and I love them both for very different reasons. I got into each band at very impressionable ages. When I was maybe six years old, my dad introduced me to the Dead's music, and they inspired me to be involved in music in the first place. Deftones played an integral part in my journey into heavy music and will always be one of the best to ever do it. The fact that they've been able to stay this relevant and unique for so long is really a testament to their importance in heavy music. I have tattoos for both bands and have embarrassingly large collections of merchandise for the both of them. Plus, we're named after a Deftones lyric: "MX" from Around the Fur.
YOUNG I'm a Slipknot fanatic, as I'm sure most metal kids my age are. I have a goat tattooed on my stomach in their honor and several '99-'02-era tees that you see getting sold on Depop for $180 nowadays.
COOK My favorite band without question is Deftones. I can listen to that band and never grow tired of it. I always find something new and cool upon re-listens of the band. Steph [Carpenter] is one of my all-time favorite guitarists and I shamefully study his technique. I also bought an eight-string just so I could play songs from Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan.
IF YOU COULD ONLY PLAY ONE OF YOUR SONGS FOR SOMEONE TO INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR BAND, WHAT SONG WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
WILBOURN The second song on the new record is called "In Vein." It's a play on words about addiction and selfishness. I would choose this one considering I think it's the most sonically impressive and they're some of my favorite lyrics I've written so far. It's heavy in a very nonconventional way for our genre, which is why I gravitate to it a good bit.
YOUNG Our song "In Vein." it's also the closest representation of where we are headed sonically.
COOK I would probably show them either "In Vein" or "Marbled Regression." "In Vein," because it has all of the crucial Thirty Nights elements: mean-ass riffs, a cool chorus and really pretty guitar sections. "Marbled Regression" for the same thing but in a different way.