BrokeNCYDE: The Decline Of Western Civilization Part Three?

Mark Eglinton
Originally published on June 24, 2009 on TheQuietus.com

We sent the pitbull Mark Eglinton to take BrokeNCYDE to task on a recent UK tour; he came back wearing a crunkcore T-shirt

With a negative PR rap-sheet that no spin-doctor on earth could salvage, BrokeNCYDE represent in theory the kind of life-forms that would be slimed onto the net that was used to drag the depths of the nastiest, most depressing shopping mall in all of Middle America. Worse than that, they appear to make absolutely no apology for any of it and if anything appear to revel in their role as the most despised new act on the planet.

New and inventive forms of music should always be recognised — there's always a place for new ideas — but let’s make it very clear right away: BrokeNCYDE are not the Sex Pistols; neither are they Jerry Lee Lewis. What they are is a group of kids from Albuquerque, New Mexico playing a mixture of crunk beats and screamo under the banner of something they’ve called “crunkcore”. The problem is that, although they've pioneered a new musical genre, it happens to be pure and unadulterated agony to listen to — surely a road-block to any kind of longevity.

BrokeNCYDE doesn't refer to the act of having a penis put in your ear, as the Urban Dictionary suggests, but rather the state of being broken inside, an emo concept if ever there was one. However, the quartet are more part of the post-emo phenomenon, hence their occupation with outrageous, parent-baiting behaviour rather than solipsistic whingeing. Their ranks comprise: Se7en (crisp productions, crunk screams, gangster raps); MIKL (hype man, Latin flava, robot vocals); Phat J (synths, back up raps, back up screams); and Antz (hype man, fog machine, lights). As well as a full-time member in charge of the smoke machine, their secondary rank also includes a large man in a pig costume. This is their crunk mascot, Bree.

If you're not even sure what crunk and screamo are, this excellent pie chart could help in breaking down the constituent parts of BrokeNCYDE for you. Or you could just immerse yourself into the terrifying world of 'FreaXX':

Much of the fuss that’s surrounded the band has centred on accusations of an unhealthy lack of respect for the female of the species, and a general disregard for all things politically correct — traits which haven’t been lost on a music press simply queuing up to bitch-slap them. [Nice choice of words Mark . . . Ed] But it’s easy to get carried along with all of that, and in cases such as this hype and rumour often disguise the truth. Suggestions that the band encourage female fans to send in nude photos which appear in an internet forum charmingly titled the “Slut-Pit“ are hard to substantiate; the accusations that they show a tendency toward racial prejudice seem to be even more flimsy.

No matter how appalling it is (and it is appalling), their debut album I’m Not A Fan . . . But The Kids Like It is a unique pop album, which gives it some intrinsic worth at least.

Almost all the press I’ve seen is utterly horrendous, why is this?

Mikl: “I know it is and we don’t actually mind.”

Se7en: “Yeah, it used to bother us but it really doesn’t anymore.”

Why not? Isn’t it discouraging?

Mikl: “It used to be but now we just ignore it. If anything it makes us want to do even better at what we do.”

Antz: ”Yeah man, that’s it”

M: “We use all the negativity as a positive and try harder. They’re actually doing us a favour by helping us create a totally new genre.”

Your sound is admittedly unique. Exactly what genre are you trying to invent then?

A: “We call it crunkcore.”

M: ”We have never said we are anything. All we ever wanted to do was just be true to ourselves and do something completely different and we’re doing that.”

Maybe you have but it seems that no rock or hip-hop fan’s going to take you remotely seriously

M: ”We really don’t mind.”

S: ”As long as our fans like what we do, that’s all that matters. We do this for them and not for money and to be famous.”

What sort of stuff do you listen to in order to conceive this sound? Proper hip-hop etc?

M: “We listen to everything but we don’t try and sound like anyone else so it’s not important. I like to listen to as many different vocal styles as I can ‘cos I never know when I might need them. For example I’m a fan of Jared Leto, Matt Bellamy and Amy Lea of Evanescence.”

S: “I’m loving Portishead at the moment man.”

So when you started with this, where did it think it would take you?

M: ”We never thought about it and we always take it one day at a time anyway. We all have bad days and shows that aren’t so good but as long as there is love at our shows we’re happy.”

A: “Yeah man, as long as there’s love.”

Why did Buddy Neilson of Senses Fail choose to slaughter you guys onstage on a nightly basis when you toured with them?

S: “We don’t really know why.”

A: “We laughed about it anyway . . . .”

M: ”Yeah we tried to approach him about it but he said that he was only joking but after the tour ended we were told he meant it all. I think he didn’t like that we weren’t real in his opinion and that we weren’t a band etc, but we never at any point said we were a band. We just do what we do for our fans.”

A: “It just makes them look retarded and helps us create the genre.”

S: “Yeah we appreciate it all. Thanks!.”

One definition of to be “Brokencyded” I heard was to have a penis inserted in ones ear?!

S: “I’ve never heard that one!”

A: “What was it?”

M: “Well I never heard that and that’s definitely not what it means for us. We came up with the name between us when we were younger and having a few problems with girlfriends and relationships etc. All it means is that when things aren’t going so great we’re broken inside. That’s where the name came from.”

S: “Yeah there were a lot of break-ups at that time.”

That’s a relief. Some of your lyrics are pretty unpleasant at times though aren’t they. '2 Drunk 2 Drive' obviously refers to the somewhat devious act of using excess alcohol as a means of pursuing umm . . . carnal gratification with your unsuspecting hostess?”

A: “It’s real life though and we’re just saying it like it is. '2 Drunk 2 Drive' is the kind of thing that happens everywhere. Guys are saying it, girls are saying it and and we just happen to be singing about it when no one else will. It’s probably even happened to you!”

Mmm . . .

A: [laughs]“Seriously though it’s how things are in neighbourhoods everywhere.”

M: “People and particularly parents who don’t like it need to realise this is just how life is. It sucks, but it's real life.”

A: “Yeah when you go to a party these kind of things happen all the time.”

What about the accusations that your racists and misogynists then?

S: “It’s all lies, and we’ve been called fags too.”

A: “Yeah we’re not racists. We’ve had black guys playing in our band too.”

M: “We’re Hispanic anyway.”

”The Slut-Pit” . . . what’s that all about?

M: “None of its true. It’s all made up.”

S: “Yeah it was that website that started all that. ‘Mothers against Brokencyde’ it was called.”

M: “It’s all totally made up but all power to them; they are helping us out with a bit of publicity and we don’t worry about it. Anyway I think this may well end up coming back to these people.”

In what way? Legally?

M: “No. Karma. I definitely believe that what comes around goes around and this will happen to them.”

If I’m honest, I came here expecting to meet horrible, arrogant twats. You seem to be the complete opposite

S: “Yeah we’re just regular people. We get this rep for being white suburban delinquents but that’s not us.”

M: “We’re human beings. We have hearts and feelings and just like anyone else, don’t want to be hated.”

S: “Yeah man, everyone’s hating on us. Metal magazines hate on us but I have absolutely no idea why ‘cos we’re nothing to do with metal. We like metal sure, but we’re not a metal band.”

Not only are you not metal; you’re not radical and not extreme in any way. In fact you’re a modern day New Kids On the Block.

S: “That’s fine with us.”

M: “Yeah, if we’re as successful as those guys that would be great. We’d just like to make enough to pay our bills. That’s all we want. I mean at the moment, we drive ourselves, unload all our own stuff and everything and we do that for our fans.”

A: “As long as we have love. We all hate to be hated.”

You’re from Albuquerque, New Mexico. What kind of upbringing did you have? Is it a really depressing place?

M: “It’s not particularly depressing but no matter where you are, life can be tough. Me and Antz are related so we grew up together. Our household was a supportive one although we never had a lot of money. At times we would have no light in the house and there would be little food, but no matter what, our parents were there for us. Our cars aren’t that great though and sometimes they are held together with tape but at least we had a car.”

What would you have done if you weren’t doing this?

A: “Probably dealing drugs or in jail or something.”

M: “My dad wanted me to work in construction.”

S: “. . . and now you’re a Gangsta Rappa, right?"[laughs]

M: “I guess . . . [laughs] No, he wanted me to run his company but that’s not something I wanted to do. I was quiet at school and did well; mostly A and B type grades."

S: “I was the class clown, but I was always into music so that’s what I wanted to do.”

How have the audiences in the UK treated you?

A: “They have been great, crazy and very respectful actually. Particularly the girls. The girls in the States aren’t like that, they want to sleep with you all the time. Obviously we don’t do that though ‘cos we have respect for ourselves. I was talking to a girl at the bar at a show the other day and she just kept saying that she hated everything American.”

Were you hitting on her at the time?

A: [laughs] “I guess I was a little but it didn’t matter anyway ‘cos she hated me, Americans, American music and everything. So I had no chance.”

Ok, so finally, now that you’re creating this genre. Have you got any competition out there?

M: “No.”

S: “I don’t think so. Nobody is doing what we do.”

A: “There was a band who tried, I can’t remember who they are but it all came out sounding really weird.”

M: “If there’s anyone out there doing what we do, I don’t know who they are. In any case we don’t care what anyone else does.”