show me the body

Show Me The Body is a New York City based ecClesiastical hardcore trio consisting of Julian Cashwan Pratt (founder; banjo and vocals), Harlan Steed (founder; bass), and Jackie McDermott (current drummer). The band has organized non-traditional, intentional DIY spaces for NYC youth since 2015, and since expanded that work to a global capacity through their urgent, ceremonial live shows, subterranean punk and hip-hop mixed tours, and their CORPUS NYC platform. Trouble the Water is the culmination of nearly a decade of barrelling against New York City’s structural ambivalence and indifference; an invocation to a like-minded global community to consider the alchemy of family-building, and of turning water to blood.

Trouble the Water both references and pays homage to the physical city, and the New York Sound: not one particular genre, but the people and subcultures that encapsulate it’s true foundation, style, and spirit; while expanding upon and reckoning with the hyperlocal territory of 2019’s Dog Whistle. With Pratt’s most encantatory, interrogative poetry to date, and Steed expanding the glitchy, caustic arena of his electronic experimentation, the band is feeling more like themselves than ever. The founding duo, who have worked together since 2009, used Trouble The Water to methodically inhabit one another’s forms; Pratt experimented recklessly with production and synths, while Steed challenged his own focus to include melodies and riffs.

Although the title invokes the ancient alchemy Moses wielded to free and unite Israelite peoples, Trouble The Water refuses nostalgia, or mimicry. Instead, it considers the sublime power of the unifying physical practices that can be enacted daily, to invoke immeasurable spiritual and collective reactions. Buoyed by moments of stinging stillness and compulsive, almost optimistic, malfunctioning rhythms, the work is literally a conjuration to dance, and move. If we are really living through the end of the world, maybe every movement we make, no matter how slight, is actually boundless and radical. How do we find freedom through rejecting time altogether, and existing only in communion, in space, and in the constellations we form as we choose our “blood” families? Or, as Pratt demands on Demeanor, “What’s better than when we come together? Fighting, dancing, fucking together.” Trouble the Water is at once a homily for those left behind or displaced, and a searing investigation of what survival looks like from within the borders of an aggressively policed city and state, that postures those unignorable calls for rage and migration to a world at war.

Bandmate and long-time music inspiration Jackie McDermott (Sediment Club, Urochromes), joined Show Me the Body in 2020 as drummer, and is featured on the project. Trouble The Water was recorded entirely at the band’s CORPUS Studios in Long Island City, with veteran metal producer Arthur Rizk, and co-engineered by studio co-founder Aidan Bradley.

Dog Whistle (2019) was produced by Chris Coady, Show Me The Body and Gabriel Millman. The heavy, honest project was in direct conversation with the oppressive, claustrophobic psychology of the city, and their most critically-acclaimed work to date, described by NME as “a dedication to the community, friends and family at the heart of Show Me The Body” coupled with “the jarring noise and harsh sonics that made [SMTB] one of punk’s most idiosyncratic voices.” Dog Whistle followed Show Me The Body’s now historic, genre-defying debut album Body War (2016).

Since 2015, Show Me the Body have expanded their international music community into an independent label, recording studio, and community organizing platform. The band recently completed their Half-A-USA tour with support from Soul Glo and WiFiGawd, which included their inaugural In Broad Daylight festivals in New York and Los Angeles. Through the intentional cultivation of their local and global chosen families, and a decade-long dedication to sustaining the New York Sound, Show Me the Body has solidified a legacy of confronting and permanently shifting the rigid limitations of the hardcore genre.

High Vis By Simon Wellington 02

High Vis

Though the band were all alumni of some of the UK hardcore scene’s most celebrated groups, High Vis’s 2019 debut, No Sense No Feeling, was a record that opened its viewfinder beyond the parameters of any genre or scene. Sure, the intensity and passion of hardcore were stoking the fires, but in its intense post-punk inspired textures and moods lay a sonic adventurousness which suggested the members of High Vis were never going to be confined by any notion of what they should or shouldn’t be playing.

“Hardcore is the best. When you’re young and you’re feeling pissed off, there’s a framework there where you think, ‘Fuck it, I’ll just do that…’ and it’s brilliant. You dive on each other’s heads and feel a part of something,” says frontman Graham Sayle. “Hardcore presents itself as this forward-thinking thing, but it’s fucking conservative. It can be like: ‘No! You can’t do that! That’s not like ’88 New York hardcore!”

The washes of chorus FX and spectral synths lines of 2020 EP Society Exists was further evidence that the group were never going to be easily pigeonholed or restrained, but High Vis’ second album Blended displays a musical and emotional scope that anyone who’d seen The Smear, Dirty Money, DiE or even Sayle and drummer Ed ‘Ski’ Harper’s pre-High Vis outfit Tremors back in the day could never have imagined.

From the anthemic sweep of opener Talk For Hours, through the title track’s psychedelic swirl and Fever Dream’s almost baggy groove, it’s an album that shows High Vis’s sound blossoming into something with an unlimited richness. The hazy drift of Shame or the melodic jangle of Trauma Bonds may take them until uncharted waters, but they still have all the power and bite that made No Sense No Feeling so remarkable.

“A lot of it is because Martin has come into the band,” says Harper of the role new guitarist Martin MacNamara has played. “Martin’s influences and mine weaved in together have created a whole new palette.”

“I loved the band before I even joined them,” adds MacNamara, “so if I had other influences it was always going to slot into what they were already playing.”

Knowing that MacNamara was already a dyed in the wool High Vis fan should assure anyone worrying at this point that the band might have thrown the punk baby out with the bathwater. It’s still recognizably them – see the way Rob Moss’ bass grinds and growls against MacNamara’s skyscraping guitar collage on Trauma Bonds or how Sayle snarls about the working class being “as good as dead” over the cement mixer churn of 0151

As the title might suggest, Blending is about bringing all these new strands and elements into what the band are about at their core to forge something entirely new.

“I really enjoyed getting back into music again when lockdown happened. Because there were no gigs and we had started writing tunes I was listening to things like Flock Of Seagulls and Echo And The Bunnymen and all the old Manchester stuff,” says Moss of the records the band were buzzing off as they made the album. “I started getting really excited because we were playing all this stuff like a punk band but it was this new sound, it was a blend of what we’re all into.”

Aside from just the music, lyrically the album represents another leap forward for High Vis. Much of Sayle’s MO as a writer has always addressed the downtrodden and discarded communities across Britain slipping below the waterline. He semi joked around the release of No Sense No Feeling that High Vis made “post-industrial Britain misery punk”. This time around, Sayle’s lost not of that social consciousness, but he’s looked at himself and his own emotional landscape more, and in the process created something that feels more universal, that reaches a hand out to people and ultimately gives a message of hope.

“For me, the lyrics are really personal. It’s really reflective. Through accepting my feeling are valid and not just thinking that I feel shit and everything’s fucked and that’s how it is, it’s definitely made it much more hopeful,” he says. “It’s less selfish. In the past, I couldn’t see past whatever was going on with me. It’s about accepting things and being open to conversations and learning to talk to people rather than just thinking that we’re all fucked.”

For Liverpool-born Sayle, Blending has a more specific meaning that links to his lyrics too.

“Blending is a scouse term. If you’re blending, you’re looking good. I started to think about what it means. It became about cloaking yourself in whatever you present to the world, but you’re not defined by that. Just because I wear a trackie, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t read a book. The message of the album is you’re not who you think you are,” he continues. “You’re not your class background. Whatever it is, you’re not that. Don’t resign yourself to thinking you can’t be this and you can’t be that.”

It’s an important message, and one that could be the motto for not only Blending, but for High Vis themselves.

Special Interest

Special Interest




Love, Peace, Poetry & Hardcore