"Who Is Jane Doe?"

by Thrash-head

I had an intro all planned out, but I scrapped it. It said something like "the band mixes many different styles and would be considered among the elite of the metalcore scene along with Isis, Neurosis, Dillinger Escape Plan, and yadda-yadda," but this I deemed inadequate for the interview, simply because you can call Converge a metalcore band, but it truly encompasses far more than that. Amidst the chaotic riffing and barbaric assault given by their recordings, all you need is for Jake¹s screaming to kick in and you realize there is far more to it than meets the eye. There is so much anguish in his vocal style that you can tell it¹s genuine and not simply manufactured for the sake of sounding cool. Look inside the booklet and see a myriad of images and graphics that lead you further to the truth. The truth that is hopefully expressed in the remainder of this interview... So therefore, that¹s what you get as far as an intro goes. The Interviewer (namely me) expresses he was wrong with first observations. The Interviewee (namely Jake Bannon) points out the flaws of my findings and forms avery convincing argument against it. I doubt he even knew that this is what he did, but folks, this man is intelligent, and don¹t try to bullshit him. He¹ll now give us the scoop, on Converge...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First off, can you give us a brief rundown on how the band formed and who is in the band now?

JAKE BANNON: Well the band¹s been together for just a huge amount of time, over ten years now; it¹s going on eleven years. We basically formed out of suburban boredom and being fans of music, just like any other band really, that¹s involved in contemporary aggressive music. We just wanted to emulate things that were around us and bands that we really appreciated and actually gave a shit about. We just started writing songs and playing together at that point, and that was founding members myself, and Curt our guitarist and head songwriter. We¹ve stuck together this long, and we¹ve had various members but right now we have probably our most productive and progressive and most solid lineup that we¹ve ever had, where you have myself in charge of vocals, lyric-writing, and visuals for the band, sorta the conceptual development for the band. You have Curt, very heavily involved in the creative process, the songwriting process, as well as Nate Newton, our bass player, who¹s been in the band for now, going on four years, a serious amount of time, and our most recent drummer Ben Kohler, who¹s been in the band for about two years now. And that¹s where we¹re at right now.

WC: So what happened to Aaron then?

JB: Aaron was in the band for about 7 years, and his wife is getting particularly heavy, particularly crazy, and he had a whole lot of responsibilities calling including this band. And via that, his play was suffering and his participation was starting to suffer. Rather than losing a friend, we asked him to step down, collectively. We thought this was the best decision for the morale of the band. Y¹know when you¹re in a band for that long you just don¹t want to lose a friend. We felt that if we were going to continue to play together on the level we were, [that meant] asking for a certain amount of dedication and responsibility to be shared, and he couldn¹t, then we were just gonna simply start hating each other in time and we didn¹t wanna do that. And so we said ³ok, let¹s take a breather and why don¹t you step down because you can¹t do the band full time. ²It was definitely a friendly parting, but it was still sad.

WC: Any plans to find a replacement?

JB: No, he never really was a member of the songwriting or creative process at all, he was mostly just a member of the band who... played live and that was really it. It didn¹t really affect us in the least as far as being a creative body.

WC: How would you categorize this music, because I had a hard time doing it and maybe you can give people an idea better than I could?

JB: I don¹t really categorize the music all that often. I¹m not really a fan of categorizing music into all these genres and sub-genres. I¹d just call it aggressive..it¹s aggressive music. It has a very high emotional level to it that pop and traditional rock and even traditional punk and hardcore don¹t really have. So it¹s an extension of a lot of those things but I would just call it aggressive emotional music. I don¹t really feel that bizarre little classifications do any bands justice. There¹s always subtle nuances that are usually the defining factors in the band and are always left out when you say a band¹s a ³metallic-hardcore² band or a heavy metal band or a punk rock band or whatever. You¹re sort of missing the personality of it.

WC: So when you don¹t categorize the music that leaves you open to incorporating several other different styles?

JB: I wouldn¹t say that.  We¹re a fairly progressive band and we don¹t put a leash on ourselves as far as what we do and what we don¹t do. We¹re our own creature. When you hear Converge, you experience Converge, it IS Converge. It¹s not anything else. And even if we do grow and throw in some more influences and progress in some way that we become better musicians or better songwriters, it¹s still very much us. We¹ve never done an about-face in these ten years, and we¹re not gonna do one now. We progress as a band, we have a certain way we work together, a certain style that we¹ve created together and that¹s what we are, this creature.

WC: Why is the album called Jane Doe?

JB: When the title came up, we were on tour in Europe. Nate, our bass player and myself were talking about some of the work I was doing at the time, a sort of nameless, faceless victim of circumstance. The loss of direction, the loss of identity, just the feeling of being lost emotionally. Just not really having a place or fitting a place. He was just talking about some names, and he was like ³y¹know what, what about "Jane Doe¹?² And it just sorta fit really well. It really sums of some of the things I was conveying metaphorically that I was conveying lyrically at the time.

The irony of all that is that any of the material I was writing at the time never actually made it onto the record. The name ³Jane Doe² took on a whole new meaning when I was going through a huge amount of emotional turmoil in my life when I was dealing with the loss and grieving of a relationship that just fell apart in five years, and the title just took on an entirely new meaning at that point.

WC: Does this have anything to also do with the visual aspect; the CD layout or the CD booklet?

JB: Sure. Rather than me creating something which would be the traditional take on album art with maybe a live photo or lyrical content next to it, I chose to do fine art collage pieces representative of the emotional content of each song. I went through the entire record and it took me a considerable amount of time to go through and handle it that way, and the record was a much more visual record than anything so I didn¹t feel like having a traditional booklet would do the album justice of trying to convey that emotional depth. And we¹re a very visual band, and I¹m a very artistic person, and it just really works well.

WC: I¹ve heard about plans for a DVD, what can you tell us about that?

JB: There¹s always a huge amount of live footage floating around, and we just saw a need to get it out to people, because there were people out there bootlegging it and making a significant profit off of what we did. We completely support people videotaping our shows and just being part of the community. It¹s amazing. There¹s been a huge amount of instances though, where we ask kids for videos, just one copy to see what they are selling. A lot of times we were met with huge amounts of ³Hey, this is mine, I videotaped this.² No real respect for the artist or the art itself. So we put out a huge call for submissions to kids who wanted to contribute to a project. We tried to collect all the footage we could and find some of our best moments throughout our years of playing out and put Œem all on one collection, one DVD, and that¹s all it is. It¹s more like a Metallica ³Cliff 'Em All² kinda piece, both high quality and low quality footage. We also wanna put it out with CD pricing and CD packaging so that it¹s fair and it¹s available at all traditional album retailers.

WC: What do you foresee in the future of Converge?

JB: Continue to tour, continue to write...

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