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BULLY SQUAD are a new band out of Sydney who dropped an impressive demo this year through New Ethic Records. Bolstering a lineup of three guitars of familiar faces, the riffs are heavy and hard with vocals to match.

Robert Fitzsimmons caught up with singer Jesse for the lowdown. All photos by Aidan X Griff


Now this isn’t your first rodeo having done The Hollow for a minute, are there any other familiar faces in the band?

Yeah, I did vocals for a band called Hollow (Metallic hc in the vein of Integrity and Deathwish inc bands for those unaware). I have some really great memories, some really bad, and that band set me up with an understanding of what a good cohesive band should be like. Though I don’t imagine many people would remember that band. We split up ten or more years ago now and we were never that popular.

Cunno (1st guitar) Has been in a tonne of stuff. Though most relevant to HC that they played in has been Break Through, drummed for Blood On My Hands and for Algor Mortis for a short while. And currently other than guitar in Bully Squad they play drums in Rule On You.

Rhys (2nd guitar) also plays in Hell On Earth, Brodie (3rd guitar/sometimes bass) does vocals for Honest Crooks. Our Drummer, Hamish, plays drums in Greenwood (think Title Fight kinda stuff) as well.

Having done a band many years ago and now being back at it, what do you see as the biggest differences either good or bad?

In terms of the act of being in a band or being a hardcore band specifically? I feel the level of “professionalism” is probably a lot more refined now, but at the same time the individuals seem to take themselves less seriously and some of the insane wannabe rockstar egos have disappeared, at least from most bands/people.

In so many ways there seems to be more of a “lateral hierarchy” which is how HC should always be but I do still see some people trying to enforce the top down hierarchy shit. But again hard for me to quantify exactly how good or bad any of it is as I tend to try and treat everyone equally so anyone who doesn’t like that approach doesn’t tend to be in my hemisphere.

There’s obviously still stuff to be cynical of, the usual circle jerk behaviour that has always plagued hardcore in this country, and I feel that in terms of bands getting a real push, there’s probably less diversity of style and sound than previously, but that could be coz what’s de rigueur at the moment isn’t one of my preferred styles. I also wish there was more huge personalities like back in the day, bands with good lore, you know what I mean? But you take the good with the bad, and it’s definitely far more good than bad.

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I know you’ve been working on this for a while, walk us through how the band got together and a brief history?

Pretty standard stuff for how a band formed: I made friends with Cunno over social media when I was still living in Melbourne, we really hit it off coz of our nerd like obsession with all kinds of music. Eventually they and a few others hit me up to do a band coz they knew I was moving back to NSW. I think I was meant to be on bass originally. After shifting the lineup around and people coming in an out the rest of them asked me to be on vocals. Demonstration of Style was written by Cunno, I contributed song structure ideas and pushing for more traditional HC elements as well as writing all the lyrics. We had some drummer issues and eventually found Hamish. It was recorded by Cunno at Burial Sound, with just the 3 of us: Cunno doing guitars and bass, Hamish drumming and I doing vocals.

At the time I was thinking it would be a good idea to get a 2nd guitarist and it turns out the others thought the same, and had already decided that Rhys and I were going to get along like long lost brothers and we HAD to be in a band together. At the same time Brodie had been talking about wanting to play guitar in a band and we figured, why not just have 3 guitarists? Things with our original bass player weren’t working out with his work and other life commitments so having a 6th member kinda allowed us to have someone jump into the bass position at any point, which did come in handy upon his eventual departure.

Basically everything had been recorded a year prior to release, we just had to sort life things out and get organised. I did the design side of things for the physical release, (hit me up for art and design and shit, I wanna quit my day job) I think that time and care was ultimately a good thing, as I’m 100% happy and proud with what we’ve released. I think putting your best foot forward from day one really helps set the standard for the band, hopefully that’s evident with the final product and the few shows we’ve played so far. Feedback seems to be pretty glowing.

The name, we’ve gotta talk about it. Run us through where it came from and what it means?

Hahha, I just thought it was a funny and catchy name. Like it plays up to the aggressive nature of the music but still being presented with a sly wink, figuratively. Plus I think the nature of this band comprising of some extra large personalities (as well as shirt sizes) and some of Sydneys hardest pitters (We do, prove me wrong) the name is fitting. People remember it, and most people that know us or have half an idea of us as people get a laugh out of it.

You put out a killer debut earlier in the year on the fresh Melbourne label New Ethic records, how’d that partnership come about? And what’s the response been like?

You like it? Thank you, its humbling to hear. I think Jimmy New Ethic and I had just started talking and the band came up. He offered to put it out straight away without even listening to the music based on who was in the band. I was a little hesitant at first but I think its been pretty mutually beneficial, and the reception we had to the Demo was beyond what even we anticipated. Younger people seem to be into it coz of the mosh parts, older heads listen and understand where were coming from musically (Hatebreed and Death Threat, duh!) so it seems to be interest across 2 generations at least. People seem to be naturally resonating with it, which is nice to see.

It’s cool and exciting to work with a label who’s really passionate about putting out and supporting all styles of HC. Putting out things he genuinely likes and not limiting the label to one specific style. Its helped foster a level of comradery across all the bands that are under the New Ethic banner. We’re already talking with each other and starting to organise shows in our respective cities with each other. It’s cool to see and be part of, really embodying some of the important cultural and community aspects of hardcore.

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You recently came down to Melbourne, opening Melbourne Massacre curated by CC from Algor Mortis, how is it traveling in a band again and will we get the full three guitar experience next time you’re down?

The show was insane. The whole night was amazing and I was so humbled to see people I don’t even know dancing hard and singing along to our songs. I don’t think anyone in BxS was expecting such an amazing response.

Im sure as you and a lot of people know, most of the time being in a band playing out of your hometown is travelling, so you have to learn to love road trips (I do) and learn to love the 4-5 other people you’re stuck in a car or van with for that time. I think we all naturally click as people, we can go from jokes and writing each other off to genuine deep and meaningful conversations or life advice/emotional support for each other when its needed. I’m proud as fuck to be able to call these people my dear friends as much as I am proud to be doing music with them.

You and I have had a lot of conversations over the years about hardcore and where it’s at and how it’s traveling. Where do you think it’s at now and what’s next?

I realised recently im just on 20 years listening and involved in hardcore. How wild is that? Sure theres been times where ive been far less active and maybe gone to only a handful of shows a year, and theres been times ive been jaded and cynical, but from the day I found it, it always was and always will be a huge part of my life. The periods where ive been less involved have always been the worst times in my adult life.

Anyways I think its mostly positive. Theres been points over the last few years in its upward trajectory that ive been worried, but some of those fears have been put to rest. Do I think there could be more diversity of sounds and styles getting pushed? Do I think monopolies on the scene in any way should be dismantled for the overall health of the culture and the people involved? Do I feel more large personalities should be able to flourish? Hell yeah I do. But I think that shit is slowly changing for the better.

Seeing shows fill up again and plenty of new faces and old ones still around is cool and inspiring. Its cool seeing people from more diverse backgrounds being actively involved. I’ve always argued that hardcore is for anyone but they cant expect red carpet treatment, they have to go out carve a niche and stake their claim to their bit of dirt and not be treated any different if theyre really genuine about it. And I think people are doing that more so now. Instead of crying about how there isn’t XYZ enough in hardcore, theyre embodying the change a bit more.

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Going back to Bully Squad, what’s coming up for the band? Surely a new release soon.

As I write this Im laying on the couch at Burial Sound whilst Cunno and I work on some new tracks. Looking at releasing a 7” sometime next year, maybe a split, play a decent amount of good shows, book our own, hopefully get some internationals under our belt. The important part though is making new friends with other bands and fostering a community that we can be proud of. We aren’t reinventing the wheel in any capacity, so just making memories together and earning respect as a band is probably the most important thing.

Personally, Id really like to branch out and start looking at playing around SE Asia and Japan. There seems to be some really cool local scenes there, and it’s a shame there isn’t more (some but not as much as there should be) of an exchange with bands seeing as they’re our literal neighbours. Probably that will come with time, I think Burning Hammer are fostering some relationships with some bands so hopefully a bit more of that will get the ball rolling. 

Finally, what bands should people be checking out and what’s the best length of gym shorts?

In Aus? I could go on about that in its own interview. I will implore anyone who hasn’t looked backward into our rich history of hardcore in this country do so. Sometimes you gotta look to the past to know where you should be heading.

New Ethics entire roster: Wetwork, Threshold, Chrome Cage, Horsepower, FTP, JOY, Winnerz Circle. Burning Hammers entire roster.

Missing Link from NY. Their TIHC set was insane. One of the scariest pits I’ve ever been in, which was a new feeling for me, haha. Everyone should get hard into them in Australia so they can tour and I can make a nuisance of myself every night.

And gym shorts? Depends on your day. Lower body? The shorter and stretchier the better. Upper body day, you can get along with slightly longer, but you always, ALWAYS have to have something above the knee and showing off at least some quad definition.


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