Friday, September 26, 2014


There's something to be said about Denton, Texas. It is a place I made home for a number of years while going through school. Denton bears strong ties to the hardcore punk community. It has often been cut down as the "Little Austin" or the "Dollar Store Portland." The fact about Denton is that it is a town 45 minutes northwest of Dallas where the kids made the best they could with what they had. In the process Denton has made a pretty remarkable go of things. They've fashioned themselves into one of the premier destinations for hardcore punk in Texas. Most of the bands who played Chaos In Tejas end up in Denton either before or after the fest to much more intimate settings. The bands in Denton know what they're doing. Denton, Texas has given us two of the better bands of the last few years and been linked to so many other great projects. One of the acts is The Marked Men (don't get it twisted, they started in Denton and they don't forget this fact seeing how to this day they make it a point to play Denton at least once a year). The other act is Wiccans.

Wiccans featured a motley crew of personnel. Guys who, at one point or another, participated heavily in the hardcore scene but with the passage of time found themselves in other worlds. Members of Wiccans are versed in noise, classic rock, heavy metal, hardcore, rock, and other genres. Wiccans used this to their advantage and elevated their sound. I've heard a lot of ways you could describe Wiccans but my personal description is imagine Fucked Up if Fucked Up just kept doing what they were doing on Epics In Minutes but with more 70s rock influence (a lot of Blue Oyster Cult which the guitar players swore by). Wiccans' presence live was also a sight to behold. Vocalist Adam Cahoon was a madman, all over the place, engaging the crowd, whether they cared or not. This is a trope common in hardcore, but there's something to be said for it. It isn't something someone can work at either, you're either good at it or not. By that token, one could say Adam excelled at this point. The guitar players in the band's heyday were Payton Green & Daniel Ziegler (Daniel has since left and replaced by NTXHC mainstay Shea Brooks; Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts fame also featured in the band's earliest days). Payton & Daniel are both incredible guitarists and watching perform against each other at every show was a rare sight in hardcore. Every show you would watch Payton & Daniel go at it for string supremacy. They were conscious of the other's performance, watching the other work, and made the most of their opportunities to one up the other. However it wasn't like a boxing match where the two tried to kill each other, but rather a footrace where the two simply stepped it up to be that much better. Bass player Harpal Assi would look lost as he played through their sets. Not lost like doing a bad job, but lost like he had lost himself in the course of playing. This is another trope common in hardcore but when you watched Harpal do it, you could really see he wasn't there. Right until the music stopped and he was back to business. On drums is Denton treasure Greg Rutherford. Greg has built a reputation for being in a lot of projects and excelling.

Wiccans helped to influence and shape the "NWOTHC" (New Wave of Texas Hardcore) in both North Texas & Austin. After Wiccans you saw the likes of The Sentenced, Sin Motivo, Glue, Blotter, Breakout, Recide, Iron Youth, and others. The band never stopped being a hardcore band but also never stopped compromising what they personally wanted to do. As much as there is something to be said for Denton, Texas, there is just as much that can be said for Wiccans. The band blended their influences into hardcore and made something excellent. A lot of bands try this, very few succeed. Included here is their two albums, their EP and their demo.

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