Photo by Andy DeLuca
Made Violent are gathered in the woods as the ominous sound of a chainsaw rings out. What the hell is going on? Are they in peril? Are we even going to see this through to an end? In truth, not quite. They’re actually at their cabin working on new material, and we’re guessing the chainsaw belongs to the local lumberjack who seems intent on disrupting our interview.
These are heady times for the raucous indie rockers from Buffalo, NY – a city synonymous with heavy snowfall, spectacular Super Bowl failures, and Bruce Almighty. This week sees them touch down on British soil for a super tour with the mighty Wolf Alice and Drenge, both of whom they’ve already played with back home in the States.
Just who are Made Violent, though?
Emerging through a jungle of curly hair is lead singer and bassist Joe White, the youngest member of the band at 21. Mad as a box of frogs half of the time, he possesses an eloquence that isn’t necessarily immediately apparent. If you want proof, look no further than his summary of Tame Impala’s Lonerism: “It’s like somebody trapped John Lennon’s voice in a jar and taught it to sing new songs.”
Then there’s 24-year-old drummer Justin Acee, whose hair is of ideal headbanging length even if it’s not quite the jungle Joe’s is. He appears to be in a state of perpetual coolness and composure, even if he does follow some rather questionable logic. “Justin’s smoking a 99 cent cigar,” Joe points out. “I’m trying to ween off cigs, dude,” Justin retorts. His methods may be unorthodox, but as Joe later concludes, “The healthy rock star is the desired rock star.”
Last, but my no means least, is guitarist Rob Romano, the only member who looks like he’s seen a barber recently. Also 24, he’s a man of few words, content to let Joe and Justin act as co-spokespeople for the group. It’s a good thing this is only his off stage persona, though, because on it he’s one heck of an axeman.
Since their last venture to the UK in July of last year, much has changed in the Made Violet camp. First and foremost, they’ve landed a record deal with Columbia imprint StarTime International – also home to Bully – putting out their self-titled debut EP on the label back in February. Whilst certain realities of reaching the big time have hit quite hard – the band bemoan the fact that it “doesn’t matter what [they] want any more” – there’s no denying that Made Violent are well and truly set. For now, though, they only have two main focuses. “The biggest things [are] we’re absolutely thrilled [about the tour] and just wanna make our next (and first full-length) record. Like, that’s it.”
We’re absolutely thrilled [about the tour] and just wanna make our next record. Like, that’s it.
Yet in spite of all this, their return to the UK hasn’t always been a dead certainty, as Justin explains. “You’re lucky. It was looking pretty bleak halfway through the year and then this popped up and it just worked out. Thank you to Wolf Alice; they really kept taking us under their wing.” Indeed, the two bands have built up quite a rapport. “Wolf Alice found their youth again through us,” jokes Joe. “They’re great people; they’re great everything.”
Made Violent could have done a lot worse than joining the best new act in the UK on their biggest tour to date, which includes the small matter of a sold-out night at Brixton Academy. “Yeah, I don’t know what to expect really,” says Joe. “We’re doing a live stream of the show.” They may say they don’t know what to expect, but they’re clearly not fazed by the prospect of performing at one of London’s most esteemed venues, or by the tour as a whole, as evidenced when the topic of rehearsals is raised. “Nooo,” scoffs Joe. “That doesn’t matter; we could play with our eyes closed,” Justin insists.
White is somewhat surprised to hear that he might not be able to get up to his usual antics at Brixton. “No stage diving?” he asks. You could try, mate, but if the Academy’s anti-crowd surfing stance extends to rock ‘n’ roll pros, you’re going to be diving into hot water. Undeterred, though, he’s adamant that he’s “gonna go for the gold.” Your medal’s ready and waiting, sir.
Whilst their exuberant frontman may be fond of a dive, Made Violent the band have only been rising, ever since debut single ‘Wasted Days’ surfaced pretty much out of the blue just over 18 months ago. They’ve penned that all-important record deal, released a belter of an EP, supported – in addition to Wolf Alice and Drenge – The Orwells, Jamie T and Frank Turner in the US, torn up SXSW, the list goes on and on. Now, with this tour imminent, they have the ultimate opportunity to crack the UK. It’s going to be a blast.
If you’re heading out to join the party, be sure to get down early to catch these young and hungry rock‘n’rollers tearing it up. Oh, and Mr White has one piece of advice: “Bring an extra pair of pants.”