Truth And Its Burden: Your Hardcore Connection from South Africa

The very best of melodic hardcore could surface from anywhere in the world.  Truth And Its Burden is based out of Johannesburg, South Africa, a place which seems worlds away from most of the other noted bands in the genre.  Dedication and perseverance has paid off for the band in a big and glorious way.  After inviting Southern California’s own The Ghost Inside to tour South Africa with them, Truth And Its Burden found themselves being signed to Rite Of Passage / Mediaskare Records (the former home to TGI prior to moving on to Epitaph).

Truth And Its Burden’s debut album for Rite Of Passage is entitled Choices, a stunning collection of songs whose introspective yet hard hitting lyrics and powerful music will surely intrigue listeners from all across the globe.  We recently interviewed front man Ashley De Beer to find out more about this compelling new entity.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Truth And Its Burden, and how long the band has been together.
Hi, my name is Ashley; I write lyrics and am the vocalist for TAIB. I’d say we’ve been around since early/mid 2008.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
We are based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Here in SA the scene is extremely small in comparison to the rest of the world. Kids over here are still very new to hardcore in general and it’s still a very grey area for most. Shows are generally small in terms of turnout but I do think that due to its size, the kids here are not maybe that critical as kids overseas may be. I guess this may be mainly related to the fact that they really do want the scene to grow. I have been around a long time though, in the punk, metal, alternative, hardcore scenes enough to have seen the ups and downs over here and at the moment, the harder music scenes are suffering a huge loss of attendance to more popular genres of music.

People here in South Africa sometimes struggle to stay interested in scenes / sub cultures for long enough because there is no real touring circuit to keep people’s interest in tact. Venues in SA are also few and far between which naturally contributes towards many of the issues we have over here.

Our bands are really good though, but opportunities for us are almost non-existent and in many parts of the global music scene, people don’t care to recognize that bands might even come from a place like South Africa.

We’ve got some great bands I would honestly highly recommend to anyone, I’ll list a few that spring to mind immediately; Fuzigish (Ska-Punk), The Poverty Of Ideals (Progressive Instrumental Metal), The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me (Fans of Converge / Isis).

Being based out of South Africa, how did your cooperation with Mediaskare / Rite Of Passage come about?
I used to run a small local booking agency / record label called Hope Haven Records, which also happened to be where we released our debut album “Sending The Hope Home” through. It was through Hope Haven that I got in touch with Jonathan Vigil from The Ghost Inside to actually ask them to tour South Africa. Being a fan of their lyrical message, I felt it was something kids SHOULD hear in South Africa.

Jonathan put me onto MDSKR and we began talks on booking their SA tour, which ended up getting confirmed late 2010. It was Christmas Day when I got in touch with Mediaskare about them possibly helping TAIB with contacts for touring USA for my own band, at which point Id attached a press kit to give him the idea behind our band as to who he may suggest to help us.

One thing led to another and over a couple of e-mails Mediaskare offered to put out our new album on their then brand new subsidiary label Rite Of Of Passage Records; which at that time was still to be recorded. He really enjoyed our vibe musically and our relationship has built up over time since then.

Is there any story or concept behind the Choices title?
Choices is broadly based around making choices for yourself that reflect where you want to be in your life, as opposed to where others may want you to be. It’s about weighing up these choices, hence the artwork on the cover. For most of us, some choices can be so overwhelming that it nearly kills us. For me personally, it was the choice to leave my job and follow my own heart in design, band and just having a good time with life as opposed to working a steady “real” job. It’s just about being honest enough with yourself to put your own heart first.

Select two songs from Choices and what inspired the lyrics.
Building A Better Me:
For a long time in my life I was this very abrasive person, some would even call me “Angry Ash”. I was this fowl mouthed abrasive guy who thought the world of himself basically. I just had a very heavy personality now that I look back at things. It cost me friendships and my previous relationship. In a nutshell I don’t think I was a very nice person. It’s just a funny thing how we’re never all that able to see this for ourselves.

It was my then new girlfriend who actually sat me down and opened up in an honest way and expressed her feelings about how she saw me and how other people saw me. It was a hard knock to me ego, but after I sat down and thought about it all, it hit me harder and then began damage control. I got in touch with old friends and made an immediate effort to change my bad ways and really just strived to be a better person in life. What’s weird though is that I wrote the lyrics as a point of reminder to stay focused on change in my life, and somewhere during all that, I heard Shelter’s version of a similar nature called “I know so little”, and it’s funny because I love Shelter, but when you are the “subject” of someone’s lyrical representation in a way that is negative to how you see yourself, you don’t pick up the lyrics for what they may truly be. If that makes sense at all.

Since Day One:
This song was the very last song to be written for the album, but I wanted to write a song that put into perspective what I felt music was for our band. We’ve been a message driven band since the beginning and it’s something that few bands concentrate on. I find a lot of people look purely at how many bass drops you throw in your mix or who produced it, or who guest featured on the album, or who shred the hell outta guitars or drums. It’s more just a point I’m trying to make that the message has always been our bands main objective. To me it’s what kept me interested in hardcore and helped me fall in love with punk and hardcore the way I did. I felt a connection with the content the bands spoke about. I think newer bands tend to forget this, and though we are new to the global stage, we’re not new to the old school ethics of the culture.

Who produced Choices and what was it like working with them?
My old band member Mike Stott produced it. We used to play together in a band called Unwritten Friday. Working with Mike was actually really cool for us, it was a good feeling to physically work in a band environment with an old band member and have his input on my new band. In South Africa there are huge limitations to working in proper recording studios with huge budgets and we were honestly very fortunate to work with Mike who really helped us out in many aspects of the recording process, he just really wanted to have a hand on our band in some way, and it was a great experience overall.

What could one expect from a live Truth And Its Burden show?
Good question haha! Hard to explain when you’re on stage taking part in whats going on, but yeah we do try our best to give a good performance with loads of energy and movement. We do focus a lot on in between song and speech though, something we’ve always been about. I guess when I get a mic in my hand its kinda hard not to share something that’s on my mind or share what the song was all about. We’re a message driven band, so we do feel the music and message should come together in some way during our performance.

Some folks enjoy that part of the show, others not so much, but for the most part, if someone e-mails you about something that was said onstage and how it changed their mind or just their immediate mood, you gotta think to yourself, its worth keeping as part of your bands vibe you know. But yeah energy combined with heartfelt, sincere speech directed at uplifting those watching our band, is what we aim for.

Has Truth And Its Burden ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
Absolutely! We’ve not been fortunate enough yet to tour the US, but our hearts are set for USA literally as soon as someone can help setup a tour, which we’re hoping would be really soon. We’ve worked hard on gearing up towards touring, so we’re dead keen on doing this as soon as humanly possible. Stay tuned though, if our persistent hearts have anything to do with it, you’ll see us well before the year is over!

Any strange or scary stories from the road you could share?
No real terrifying stuff there hey, but on our current tour, we had the trailer hitch break off, causing the trailer to drop to the ground. Nothing hectic I guess, but it happened while driving over a speed bump on a main road late at night… The only problem is that is happened in the worst place in South Africa, Transkie, which to be honest is not a place you wanna be stranded at in the middle of the night. The roads are super bad out that side and its just a nasty place in general for a band like us to get stuck. We ended up staying the night in that town, and never slept a wink.

On our SA tour with Have Heart and Shipwreck AD, I was driving late at night on the way back to Johannesburg from Durban, it’s a good 6/7 hour drive after the show. Anyway, we kept getting flashed by oncoming traffic for bright lights, however my brights weren’t on. So anyway, I started fiddling with the adjustment button while driving and all I hear is Pat Flynn in my back seat saying “Ash, Ash, Ash ASHHHH”, we were heading straight for an oncoming truck and missed it by a few meters. Was pretty hectic for everyone involved.

What was it like touring with The Ghost Inside and were they cool to hang out with?
Ah, easily the BEST time of my life. That tour was beyond epic for us. So many great things happened on that tour, it was a really special tour for the guys I think. They loved SA totally. What was really awesome though is that at no point were they concerned with money and making good money on tour etc, they just wanted to hang out and enjoy the experience of the whole tour. They were excited all the time.

It was the perfect band to bring out to South Africa. As dudes though, you’d go far to meet a better band I think, such genuine people, honest and sincere. I really only have good words to say about each and every one of the guys. We all connected with the guys over that tour and its cool to still chat and personally bond with dudes. I hope the opportunity comes again in this lifetime.

Is there any story behind the band name?
The band name is a play on The Hope Conspiracy’syouth and its burden” track. We changed the youth to truth and ended up with a really nice name we all liked. “Youth and its burden” also happens to be one of the greatest hardcore songs ever written.

I guess what we derive though from our concoction is just the feeling that gets weighted on ones shoulders when you’re being dishonest and all, it’s a heavy feeling to walk around with. Funnily enough it’s something that personally sits on our consciences often.

What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the first time?
Id love for people to hear our musical ideas and writing skills come across. It would be great for folks to have the lyrics at hand while giving it a first listen too, although that’s hardly ever the case unless we’re living in a perfect world, right?

We’ve just always hoped people could consider the entire idea behind our band and not just take things at face value, to look a bit deeper underneath the screaming vocals or breakdowns and hear our ideas as growing musicians.

The Majority of our songs don’t really have repeating parts like choruses and repeat verses, and it’s a harder lesser chosen path to tread for bands; Id hope people would listen to these writing qualities and stay interested enough to keep spinning our album.

Any final words of wisdom?
Coming from a place like South Africa, having worked for every grain of rice ever received, there is certainly an understanding for hard work, dedication, patience and appreciation that came to me over the last few years.

For everything I believed I deserved sooner it became very apparent why it was not given to me on my time. There are certain hard roads we all have to travel to reach a level of fulfillment, and the main key to reaching any goal or dream is to be patient with yourself and those around you. Keeping in mind that you have to channel your energy correctly into your art and work hard at it, but also to just be aware that opportunity is something that chooses the right time for you, not the other way around.

I see a lot of people grabbing any opportunity they can get their hands on, without considering those they may hurt in the process, and using the mentality of “only the strong survive” to excuse their actions. In essence what I’m getting at, is for each of us to be ethical and principle based about how we live our lives; to have integrity in how we deal with things and be thoughtful. If your dreams are real and you’ve put in the man hours, what’s due to you will come your way in time.

Truth And Its Burden is:
Ashley De Beer – Vocals
Calvin Clayden – Guitar
Dale Keegan – Drums
Niekie Van Niekerk – Bass

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

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