If I Die First modernize Y2K-era heavy with a fresh take on a familiar scream
The collective of Lil Zubin, Lil Lotus, Nedarb, and Travis Ritcher and now Derek Bloom of From First to Last almost instantly piqued an interest when they announced their formation as If I Die First. While the supergroup label quickly permeated throughout the stories that followed, the reality was that the crew was an congregation of like-minded creatives that converged one their love of early 2000's heft - far from the strategic ego stroke of doing anything in the vein of a supergroup.
Having cultivated a passionate following as accomplished artists and producers individually, the assembly of artists that comprised the newly formed band unleashed an especially DIY introduction with 'My Poison Arms' and quickly asserted that this endeavor was far from any gimmick. The producers, rappers, and veterans musicians managed to tap into that turn of the century aggression that anchored a scene that added a completely different dynamic to the landscape of heavy music. Screamo, scenecore, whatever subcategory the sound may have best fallen under, the result was a new take on what heavy music could be and the fired burned bright, albeit it brief.
Armed with the instant notoriety a previous body of work and affirmed by an emphatic introduction as a unit, If I Die First then faced the stigma of being regarded as revivalists - romantics pining over a sound that had fizzled all too quickly and who were now indulging in a bit of nostalgia. The reality however was more about making a modernized version of the music each of the contributors grew up on rather than rehash a familiar formula. The intent for If I Die First was always about penning the next chapter, building upon the impression each took from that formative era of music and making their own contemporary contribution to the sound.
Teaming with cohorts SeeYouSpaceCowboy, If I Die First set out to reiterate that you can't call it a revival, if the love for the sound never went away. Accomplished producer and guitarist for the band Nedarb best explains that while the labels and buzzwords all come with the territory, the core of If I Die First remains relishing in their influences rather than leading any revival.
The narrative when it comes to IIDF revolves around this idea of revival. Do you feel like that’s accurate? Is the band intended to be a revival or more of a new take on something a familiar sound?
I don't think it's accurate but I can see why people say that. Obviously our influences are clear through the music but we didn't start the band with the idea of "let's bring back this sound." We're just making the music we wanna make.
In a relatively short amount of time IIDF has really gained some traction. Do you think that suggests the appetite for that early 2000s era aggression is coming back around or never really left?
It could mean that! Maybe people just think it's good music. Either is fine with me.
On paper, the parallels between emo trap/Soundcloud rap and the more aggressive post-hardcore/scremo might be tough to connect but there seems to be an obvious common denominator. What made this transition natural for you guys apart from being fans?
I don't really think there was a transition. Lotus, Zubin, and I were all in "scene" type bands growing up. We just came back to it as another way to put out music. Another medium. We've also been meaning to start this band even prior to 2020, we just had other things going on.
We are glazing over the fact that the band has managed to find some real success in a pandemic. A historic pandemic. What do you attribute that kind of love to?
I'm not sure. I think people just really enjoy the music. I don't think our little success so far has anything to do with the pandemic. Maybe people needed something to connect to in these trying times.
IIDF dropped My Poison Arms as a DIY EP and immediately, the groundwork was laid. What prompted you guys to team with SYSC for the second round?
Well, we already finished our second EP before working on the split with SeeYouSpaceCowboy. It's in the mixing process. But as far as the split, we are just close friends with SYSC so we figured why not make music together and put together a split? They all live in San Diego and we live in LA. We're neighbors so it was easy to link up and make things happen.
Does the nostalgia thing bother you at all? Do you feel like it diminishes the originality in what the band is doing?
Same with the revival thing, it makes sense why it's tied to nostalgia. We sound like a band from 2004 to a lot of people. I get it. But we're just making the music we wanna make and putting a fresh touch onto the things we are influenced by. I'd like to think people can see the originality beyond the nostalgia. At the same time, a lot of younger kids haven't even gotten into bands of this sound before, because there haven't been too many post hardcore bands in the past 10 years. So far it seems like our fans are mainly above the age of 23 so that's why we keep getting "nostalgia" or "revival" attached to our name but if you're talking to someone younger they probably won't know what people mean by that.
Is the aim to keep with frequent model of EPs? Is th full length album model dead an old way of thinking for such a progressive band?
We have an EP coming out, then we are working on a full-length that I have already started writing songs for. I dont think it's a dead model but I do enjoy EPs a lot.
'A Sure Disaster' from SeeYouSpaceCowboy and If I Die First is currently available via Pure Noise Records. Order the split - HERE