The May 4th Massacre: Apocalyptic Hardcore

Although the membership of The May 4th Massacre may be young, they certainly inject a good deal of passion and social consciousness into the compositions.  All Guilty on Morse Code Recordings is a slamming debut that is sure to gain the group a good deal of attention.  And while they may be classified as a hardcore entities, the band is adventurous enough to add all kinds of musical influences, coming up with a truly spiraling sound.  The May 4th Massacre consists of Jonah Latshaw on vocals, Joshua Dowlin on drums, Kyle James on bass, Simon Gray on guitar, and Alex Insley on guitar. Latshaw and Gray are the sons of Josh Latshaw and Nathan Gray of the 90′s post-hardcore outfit Boysetfire.  Says Papa Latshaw, “Years ago Nathan and I started BoySetsFire. We played some shows, put out some records, had a good time. We had kids around the same time, they were best friends, we used to joke that someday they would have a band together. Well guess what? They did. Or they do.”

We recently spoke with one of the May 4th Massacre members to find out more about this amazing new collective ready to share their music to a whole generation of fans.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in The May 4th Massacre, and how long the band has been together.
Hi. I’m Jonah Latshaw. I sing in The May 4th Massacre. The band started in early 2008 but we try to forget about the first year. We went through multiple line up changes and didn’t really do anything good until about late 2009. We’re very happy with the line up we have now though.

Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there?
The band is based out of Delaware. The scene here’s decent. It’s not amazing, but it’s certainly gotten a lot better within the last year, and it just keeps growing. We’ve got an awesome place called The Harmony Grange that gets local bands the chance to play with national bands. And the local talent has really been stepping it up. Some notable bands in our scene include A Journey Back Home, Born With Open Eyes, Ages, and Hollovera. Just to name a few.

Where did you get the band name The May 4th Massacre and what made you decide to go by that moniker?
We got the name from an event that happened in our countries history. It’s also referred to as the Kent State Massacre. College students were holding a protest at Kent state university in Ohio on may 4th and our own national guard open fired on the protesters. We chose the name because well for one, we thought it was catchy, and it holds some meaning since some of our lyrics tend to deal with politics and war.

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title All Guilty?
The concept of All Guilty is based upon my own views of humanity and society. The story portrays humanities downfall brought upon by humanity itself through greed, and malevolence. The record serves as a warning of what could happen. I got the idea when I was sitting in environmental science class watching a video about all the pollution and things environmental hazards threatening our world. He said, “people don’t seem to understand. When we say the worlds going to end, we don’t mean the world is going to end. We mean we are. The world will live on. We’re the ones who are going to die out.”

Tell us about the song Slayerfest 2012 and who is the band is the biggest Slayer fanatic?
Slayerfest 2012 is the first actual song on the record. It’s the beginning and it’s basically just about the apocalypse. The title actually has nothing to do with the band Slayer. We all enjoy Slayer but I don’t think any of us are any more fanatics than the rest of us. The title is a reference to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I have a bit of an obsession with it.

Where do you get your ideas for some of the other song lyrics? Please cite two songs from All Guilty and what inspired you to write the lyrics.
Most of our lyrical subject matter can be broken down into two categories. Sometimes I write songs about my personal life. Sometimes I write songs about my political and social values, and things I believe in. Forever Isn’t Always is one of those personal life songs that I don’t think is hard to figure out what it’s about at all. It’s very obviously just a break up song, but I’ve had so many people tell me they relate to that song and that it even helped them through their own personal hardships. There’s no feeling like when someone tells you that. What aspect of being in a band is more important than helping people?

The song Flags Of Separation is about the physical and metaphorical flags that divide us. I believe we should think more worldly and less regional. We should make decisions with the world in mind instead of selfishly. And the metaphorical flags are things like social stigmas, racism, sexism, and things like that. People talk about racism like it’s a thing of the past but its still very much alive and it’s disgusting and it separates us all.

Have you ever played in the Los Angeles/Orange County area or plan to do so in the future?
We have not but we hope to. Right now, we’re trying to play out as much as possible and we’re actively looking for a booking agent.

How did your record release show go and what could one expect from a live The May 4th Massacre show?
It was a pretty decent show. Played really well. Kids were hype. Sold a good amount of merch. When you come see us live you’re gonna see energy, and passion, and an all out release. That stage is where I take everything I have that’s been bothering me and let it all out. It’s a sort of therapy for all of us. And you should expect a bit of chaos.

With two of the members having fathers in Boysetsfire, how influential have they been when it comes to you all being in a band? And what did they think when they discovered their sons wanted to be musicians?
Very very influential. It’s the reason I got into music at such a young age and why I wanted to be in a band. They’ve always been very supportive. My dad produced both of our records. My uncle (also in BoySetsFire) helped us record our first EP and allows us to use his studio constantly. And Simon’s father has always been very supportive and offered help and was featured on our first EP.

How did you wind up on Morse Code Recordings?
Derek Morse found us online searching for a way to get a hold of BoySetsFire actually. He wanted to book em a show in Jersey. We basically just kept in contact from then on and things kinda steam rolled and it just happened and we’ve been very pleased for the stuff they’ve been doing for us. Great label.

Your Flags Of Separation video in intense! How long did it take to film and who directed it?
It was intense! We were all very tired because the day before that we shot a video for our song “Traitors.” The video took a day. We did it at a place called The Pudding Factory Film Studio in New Jersey. It was directed by Derek Morse. Derek also owns MorseCode Productions a music video production company www.MorseCodeProductions.com

What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the very first time?
I’m not really sure but I think the reason I want people to hear our music is because I want them to relate to it. Whether it’s spreading social awareness, or relating to the personal things I’ve written about, I think relation is the most important part of making music.

Any final words of wisdom?
When listening to us, don’t expect one certain sound from us. We have a lot of different influences and our music has a wide array of sounds. Some of it’s super heavy. Some of it’s super melodic. And some of it’s even acoustic. We’re a diverse group of individuals and the music reflects that.

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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