10 reasons why you need Soul Glo in your life

Hardcore is having a lovely time at the moment. With last year’s Diaspora Problems album, Soul Glo are only adding fuel to the engine. If you’re not on board yet, vocalist Pierce Jordan explains why you need to get in on their Glo-up…

10 reasons why you need Soul Glo in your life
Mischa Pearlman
Header photo:
Todd Cooper
Live photos:
Nat Wood

If you haven’t yet heard Soul Glo’s stunning 2022 album Diaspora Problems, then you should remedy that right now. It’s a brutally intense and uncompromising piece of work from one of the best and most important bands in modern hardcore.

That would be the case regardless, but the fact that the band’s members are predominantly Black in a scene dominated by white people makes what they’re doing even more significant. Add the fact that they’re unrelenting in their approach – they refuse to modify their lyrics or album titles, even though you can’t say most of them on the radio – and it means they’re truly shaking up everything around them.

Yet it’s not just for the shock factor. Soul Glo address problems of systemic racial and economic inequality with as much intelligence as they do seething, righteous anger. Oh, and some of the most visceral fun you could ever hope to have. If you still need convincing, here are 10 reasons to throw yourself into the centre of the glorious mosh-pits their music inspires.

1They’re part of an important movement of people of colour in heavy music

Alongside bands like Ho99o9, FEVER 333 and Pinkshift, Soul Glo are part of an increasingly diverse number of bands in a scene that has for all too long been dominated by white men.

Pierce Jordan (vocals): “I’m definitely aware of, and have seen the change in, the scene. I predicted the change before it happened, because I saw a lot of the influence already making its way into the mainstream. If Lil Uzi [Vert] is wearing Tripp pants to the GRAMMYs, dressing like how my older sibling used to dress when they were in high school, then some of these trends are due for a comeback – but they’re going to be championed by people who look like me. It’s weird when people are able to have and maintain hyper-curated social groups of people who are just like them. To me, that takes a lot more work. And then I get asked what it’s like to have such a diverse experience, and I’m like, ‘Well, why don’t you have one?’ We live on the same planet, we walk a lot of the time in the same cities, we go to the same shows, so how are we having such different experiences?”

2They truly believe in the power of community

When it comes down to it, it’s that sense of community and solidarity that draws so many people to alternative music. Soul Glo are well aware of the power that can have.

Pierce: “It’s our culture and our communities that really govern us. Our society would be a lot more vibrant and a lot richer if it was governed by all the different cultures that make it up, as opposed to the politics and enforcement of a single agenda. All of these marginalised people fighting for their own existence are people who are not driven by politics, they’re driven by the power of their culture and their sense of belonging in the world that they directly experience around them.”

3They know our political systems are a farce

As much as they might pretend, the self-serving politicians of the capitalist class are never going to do anything that truly benefits the people. It’s probably not a shock that such an outspoken band think voting is essentially a pointless exercise – especially in the USA…

Pierce: “I don’t look for the change I want to see in society from politics, because it’s never going to come from there. Ever. They’re not going to let us vote their power away. It’s like an illusion. It’s not going to change. I can’t say what I was just thinking because this is [going in a magazine], but there are people standing in the way and they are not going to move. There’s so many people who feel betrayed by political parties, or by people within the party who the party supported over the people it’s meant to represent. That’s what has happened with a lot of political candidates in the United States and I feel like it’s a common thing when you’re in a two-party system. I feel like they’re both the same and it’s just an illusion of choice.”

4…but they nevertheless maintain and offer a great sense of hope

It’s easy to give up, but hopeless is precisely what the powers that be want you to feel. Soul Glo aren’t about to do that, and they have two very good methods for maintaining resistance.

Pierce: “Music and weed is what makes me want to continue living – seeing how other people express their experiences and themselves, and seeing how I relate to it and how it drives me forward down the road of my life toward its inevitable end. I continue to learn about myself through my desire to express my own stories and other people’s desire to express theirs.”

5DIY culture is tightly woven into their DNA

They’ve now signed to Epitaph – one of the biggest and most successful independent labels in the world – but Soul Glo remain a staunchly DIY band with an attitude to match. It’s a crucial and defining part of their identity.

Pierce: “The DIY scene means everything to me, because that’s where I came from. I learned about DIY [by] accident, and it was mostly out of boredom because of where I lived. It gave me a reason to feel good about myself and to feel like I finally had something that was mine and something that I thought that I was good at. So while this band is no longer DIY, it’s not like I’m never going to be in another DIY band again. It’s still very much a part of who I am, and you can still see me in the basement at somebody else’s gig. It’s deeply important. There’s just no substitute for it.”

6They mix a bunch of different genres to devastating effect. In doing so, they’re helping reinvent hardcore

A crushing mix of hardcore punk, screamo, trap metal, industrial hip-hop and more, Soul Glo’s music pays no heed to convention. But there’s no plan to deliberately shake things up – they just do what they want to do.

Pierce: “A lot of the things that we do are not without precedent, it’s just sometimes they don’t have a precedent in the genre of punk. There are a lot of things that I see in music that I enjoy that don’t happen in punk, or haven’t happened in punk. I don’t necessarily want to do things because I haven’t seen them happen in punk or hardcore yet, but more because I just enjoyed it when I saw it and I thought it would be interesting to bring in to punk.”

7They’re massively inspired by System Of A Down

They may not sound anything alike, but it was System Of A Down that first made Pierce aware of how profound heavy music could be. He never looked back.

Pierce: “I’d heard other rock bands – Nickelback were doing their thing at that time, and my older sibling was really into that. But when I heard System Of A Down that really changed everything for me, because of everything Serj [Tankian, vocals] was saying in the songs, and because of how heavy the songs were. At this point it’s been a 20-year journey, but the older I got and the more I came to understand myself emotionally, the more I realised that what I wanted to hear wasn’t just riffs, either. I needed to hear intention and I needed to feel that I believed what someone was saying.”

8They know that being heavy is more than just playing heavy

Yes, Soul Glo play some of the most coruscating and intense music around at the moment. But it’s always layered with nuance and passion, which makes it all the more powerful.

Pierce: “I really enjoy fast and heavy music in general. So when I heard about extreme alternative rock music, I realised that there was a constant quest amongst all of its players to just be the heaviest and to just try to keep pushing that sonic boundary. I was like, ‘Okay, I fuck with that,’ and it’s been a gift that keeps on giving. But when I learned and realised that heaviness doesn’t just come from playing fast and playing loudly, my worldview expanded even more. I understood that heaviness can come from how something is designed to hit you emotionally.”

9They offer an unrivalled sense of catharsis

In person, Pierce is a calm, slow and considered speaker. But when he plays music, he transforms into a whole other beast.

Pierce: “I think that most musicians, especially when they play super-aggressive music, are usually very mild-mannered people. There’s definitely a lot to be said for being able to leave it all out there, or feeling like you can. I don’t always feel like I do that, and sometimes I wonder if instead of leaving it all there, sometimes I’m taking it all with me by performing it constantly.”

10They see music as a means for deeper exploration of themselves personally

Never judge a book by its cover.

Pierce: “There’s never going to be a way to fully know who I am just from listening to my music. I think maybe it’s possible with some people, but I don’t think it’s possible with me. Like, you can know a lot about my feelings and my thoughts and my intentions, and a lot about what makes me who I am, but until you actually truly know me and speak to me, it’s just not possible. There’s no substitute for just knowing somebody and talking to them and meeting them, but I also really want to use writing as a tool to further understand myself and my feelings. But what makes it onto the record is not what happens in my head.”

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