There’s a real New York hardcore renaissance going on, and it’s almost impossible to discuss it without mentioning Warthog (or Chain Wallet, depending on your personal point of view). They’re personally and spiritually intertwined with labels like Katorga Works, Iron Lung and Toxic State, and are perhaps the most ‘classic’-sounding hardcore group in the bunch, reveling in the ferocity of Headcleaners and early Poison Idea with subtle nods to No Comment, Nine Shocks Terror and Hoax to name but a few. It’s all in there, and they deliver it in short blasts on stage and short blasts on vinyl, sticking with 7″ singles for the foreseeable future. I caught up with vocalist Chris Hansell and here’s what he had to say.

When did Warthog officially begin? Was it after you left The Men, or was it happening concurrently?
The Men and I parted ways at the tail end of 2011, and Warthog began in the early months of 2012. Mike (Gorup), Ryan (Naideau) and I were outside of a show at Tommy’s Tavern and discussed the idea of starting a band with the sole purpose being so that we could name it Chain Wallet. I originally was playing bass and the three of us wrote the five songs that would later become our demo tape. We needed a bass player, as I wanted to just do vocals, and we all agreed that we’d ask our friend Mateo (of Dawn of Humans, Long Pigs, Black Boot) to join. He obliged and shortly after that we asked another friend, Sully (Subclinix, Earthpig) to play second guitar. Then we changed the name to Warthog and recorded the demo.

Why did you change the name? Chain Wallet is a great name, but I could see it not being taken seriously… although who cares about being taken seriously.
I loved the name, I think everyone else except Mateo loved the name, he wanted to change it, also The Ramones rule so I was fine with naming the band Warthog. I’ve met people on tour who refuse to call us Warthog and only use the name Chain Wallet; glad it’s still in people’s minds. We played our first show as Chain Wallet.

Warthog is coming into its third year of existence soon… does it still feel like a new band, or has it become a familiar, somewhat normal presence in your life?
Damn, that is a pretty long time, though it actually does feel new still, somehow.
It’s definitely a normal presence in my life, if anything I wish it were more of a presence than it is, but everyone is really busy with their lives outside of the band as well so it has to take a backseat once in a while. We’ve taken it fairly easy this summer since our West Coast tour; we will be getting back to it soon I’d hope.

Could Warthog ever become a full-time thing? Would you even want that?
It’s a nice thought but just not possible.

Are there any specific influences, or inspiration, that went into Warthog that was outside the general pantheon of classic raging hardcore? Anything that might not be obvious to a listener?
Not necessarily. I do think the five of us all share a mutual love for Poison Idea and Cleveland hardcore.

How much thought have you put into being a hardcore frontman? Have you spent time thinking about the way you hold the microphone, and your physicality while performing, or is it more of an unconscious thing, where you just shut your brain off and scream?
I don’t find myself thinking about that much. Of course when I used to watch VHS tapes of hardcore bands in the ’80s as a kid I would think to myself “Damn, Jerry A looks cool as hell”, but as far as performing I tend to just shut off and do whatever, I’ve never quite figured out how to scream correctly or anything, I usually blow my voice out each set.

From what I can tell, Warthog are deeply enmeshed in the New York hardcore scene… are there any common misconceptions you’ve heard about current-day NYHC from people who live elsewhere?
Everyone in Warthog aside from Sully grew up in New York essentially. Ryan and I are from Long Island, Mike is from Westchester, and Mateo is from Jersey City. Sully grew up in Boston but has lived in New York City for a decent amount of time. We’ve all gone to the same shows and been friends for years. I’ve personally not heard or paid much attention to ‘gossip’ or peoples opinions of New York City who are not from here, but I’m sure there are really funny misconceptions, would love to hear some.

I’ve heard people bemoaning current NY hardcore for fetishizing ‘ignorant’ hardcore troupes, with transgression being more important than substance. Is that just one or two bands being mistaken for the whole scene, or completely off-base, or accurate?
I believe that people are using their time very poorly thinking about these things in terms of punk and hardcore in NYC. I’m interested in good music, transgressive or not, and I think that for the most part, the bands that catch that sort of flack are the bands that are writing way better music than the ones who are concerned.

Do you have any plans for an album, or are you just taking it as it goes at the moment?
We’re going to be writing a bunch this fall and do another 7″. The demo is being released as a 7″ which should be out really soon as well. The plan is to never do an LP, just 45s. I feel like punk and hardcore bands usually bomb when they finally do an LP, so we’re going to avoid that. That’s not to say there aren’t great contemporary punk and hardcore LPs, I just don’t think we’ll take that chance.

Why do you think that is? Why do you think so many bands with great hardcore singles stumble on their LPs? Do they just over-think it?
I think it has something to do with bands feeling pressured to write a big batch of songs for the sole purpose of doing a 12″. That format, to me, is clearly more aesthetically pleasing than a 7″ so I completely understand why. Though when bands do these LPs, there tends to be more filler involved, whereas on a good 7″ you get usually between 2-5 really great songs, no filler. It also may have something to do with the fact that some bands are more interesting in short bursts. There have been some great LPs put out in recent times though, can’t deny that.

With the cost of 7″s increasing pretty dramatically over the past few years, and the drastic shift to digital listening, do you think 7″s are becoming obsolete? I love them and would hate to see this happen. So few record stores even seem to carry 7″s anymore.
I’ve noticed that record stores are carrying less and less 7″s, though I don’t know that they’ll ever become totally obsolete – the costs have gone up so much that some 7″s can cost up to eight bucks now though, and that fucking sucks. The first Warthog record had a high wholesale price and it was a bummer, no one’s fault really, but we would have loved to be able to charge four to five bucks for a 7″ as opposed to six or seven. I love the format though and I hope it doesn’t fade any time soon.

Would you rather play at a slick club with a nice sound system, or a groady basement with an inaudible PA? Is there any preference there, or is a show just a show?
I love playing smaller shows, I prefer them to be honest, and it’s always nice when those smaller shows are equipped with a decent PA. Though I also think it is nice to play on a stage where everyone has room to breathe once in a while.

Is there room for experimentation in hardcore? Are there any stylistic elements that should never be introduced into the hardcore-punk aesthetic, or is anything game to be mixed? Not necessarily for Warthog, but generally speaking.
Personally speaking, I’m always keen on experimentation in punk and hardcore, it makes things way more interesting so long as you’re not being corny about it.

Supposing New York falls into the Atlantic (not entirely improbable) – where as a band does Warthog relocate? If you couldn’t live in New York, what other city or town do you think would suit your needs best?
Man, I have no idea. My opinions of different places rely on if there are good people that I like living there. So if were to go on that some place like Los Angeles or Austin would be nice maybe? I don’t know. I’ve been on tour so many times and seen so many U.S. cities and I’ve tried to compare anywhere to living here and it just doesn’t work, I’ve been here my whole life and have tried to picture myself living elsewhere countless times but I just don’t think I could. Would be interesting to see where I end up if I am forced out one day.

It’s pretty expensive, relatively speaking, to be a band in New York. Are you feeling that too, just from practice space and travel costs and whatever else, or is it actually not so bad?
I think we all feel it. I am blessed with a really great apartment situation thanks to my friend Jess (from Survival/Anasazi) where I live with some of my best buds and my rent is fairly cheap, but I still struggle to pay it each month. One of us does have a van and if need be we can get our gear around without paying for a taxi, and we get to use our drummers other band’s practice space so we lucked out with that. Living in New York is always going to be a financial struggle for me but as I said before I can’t picture myself living anywhere else.

What would be a worse outcome, in your opinion, for a Warthog show: the crowd stands with their hands in their pockets and politely claps, or a fight breaks out in the pit and your set is cut short?
As long as our banner doesn’t fall down, it’s a good Warthog show.