From: Newcastle NSW, Australia
Genre: Punk Rock/Skate Punk
Seeing Hack The Mainframe live, you wouldn’t think they had played only a handful of shows. The energy and stage presence of the quintet carries tightness and professionalism with a sharply honed punk rock sound not too dissimilar to that of some lesser known, but now legendary bands on the underground skate punk scene in the late 1990’s. Undeclinable Ambuscade champoined this kind of melodic hardcore out of The Netherlands, whilst Adhesive were flying the flag in Sweden. More recent resurgents in the form of Belgium’s F.O.D. and Bandage from Greece are drawing on the genre and although there was never really anyone down-under to represent the scene, this group of Newcastle’s finest are about to fill that void.
In fact, Heath Rowley (vocals), Nick Oberg (guitar, vocals), Paddy Demps (bass), Leroy Markwell (guitar, vocals) and Zac Thomas (drums) have been jamming together for quite some time and with past experience in local bands Pants Optional and the excellent melodic Wiseheimer, as well as influence from former drummer and Local Resident Failure member Kye Smith of 5-minute drum chronology notoriety, they wasted no time and opened for Unwritten Law on their Australian tour earlier this year in what was just their second gig.
With a fast punk rock-infused set, partiality for fancy dress and occasional nudity, it was last week that we finally got a studio recording from the band, in the form of EP Trapped Online.
Opening with the title track we get a taster as to what HTMF are all about, at least in terms of their social concerns, as the lyrics serve as a wake up call to the youth buried in a world of technology on the path to transhumanism, where it is becoming harder and harder to unplug from the network; quite literally “Trapped Online”. By no means a message exclusive to the younger generation as amongst the fast pumping beat and vocal harmonies it is acclaimed “I know I’m guilty, how about you?”, humbly acknowledging that sure they’re aware of it, but still suckers nonetheless.
“No Escape” follows with just over 2 1/2 minutes of classic punk rock riffs and NOFX-style harmonies, coupled with the socio-political edge of Propagandhi and revolving around the control and oppression brought forth by religion. Heath Rowley’s vocals really cut through in a distinctive way on the record, which is always a sign of a great band. When you hear Joey Cape‘s voice, you know who it is and how he made his mark with that slight deviation from the rest of the pack.
Next up and with another dig at society’s ignorance we have the somewhat sarcastic “Cause For Alarm”, starting off slowly and passively channeling dashes of the band’s more hardcore influences. Hitting hard in the vein of Lagwagon the track picks up quickly and maintans pace right through to the end. It’s classic punk rock.
“May St” then moves away from the seriousness to a more light hearted ode to the good old days, reminiscing of local partys and shenanigans. This tune was recently picked up by Pee Records (home of The Decline, Dan Cribb, Hightime) on their sampler and although it took a bit of adjusting to the chorus being sung lower on record, it stands out with it’s Offspring-esque bassline intro and epic harmonic outro. One thing about Australian punk rock is the often cheesey references to drinking and general stupidity, which may appeal to some but to others just falls flat in shallowness. No one wants a record loaded with politics either though, so the art, as with everything, is finding that balance. When Hack The Mainframe weigh up their sillier themes they coat them with heavy energy and take their nuggets from the bowl of hardcore as opposed to the bowl of pop and it works like a charm. It’s all in the delivery. Keep an ear out for their song on the repulsiveness of coriander too; not on this EP but an amusing yet passionate account of their hatred of the herb.
Finishing up in style with final track “Leroy’s on a Bender” it’s another fun one surrounding the joys of getting totalled, with “The sun comes up, he’s got a face full of sand” being one of the best lines on the record (of which this tune has a few). Two minutes of great punk rock again for fans of all the aforementioned bands .
It’s an awesome debut release and a sneak peak into what to expect down the line. They recorded a video for each of the individual tracks, produced by Kye Smith, and are releasing them periodically over the month of December. Here’s the video for May St and check below for links to support the band and buy the EP!
Searching for Hack The Mainframe may result in a lot of links to actually hacking mainframes (there are a surprising number)! So use these to get you in the right place: