Since the early 2000’s, the City of Richmond, Va. has built a reputation of being one of the best hardcore scenes in America, with an even more diverse music and arts scene than any of the surrounding cities. One of the hardcore bands that have quickly risen through the ranks of fresh faces in the scene are the men of BREAK AWAY, who recently released their latest EP, Face Aggression.

Since 2011, the bad has released music on some of the most respected music labels in the straight edge hardcore scene, including Solid Bond and Mindrot Records — both of which are also based in Richmond, Va., and REACT! Records, which is based in Seattle and Baltimore. We caught up with vocalist Ace Stallings to discuss the current state of hardcore and their thoughts on hardcore fests, United Blood 2015, and their upcoming Face Aggression Tour.

What does “hardcore” mean to you? Not just the music, but also the lifestyle and the values surrounding the scene.

Hardcore is an evolved state of punk rock music; it is a more intense form in speed and brevity. As for ethic, I think it depends on who you talk to. There [are] many different types of viewpoints on the spectrum of hardcore, especially in 2015.

In a Tumblr post on Oct. 30, 2014, your band said, “Hardcore as a whole is in a great place right now, but in this day and age there are many kids involved you can tell aren’t mad about anything.” What did you mean by that, and do you think it is still true?

I think it’s still true. When I was growing up coming to shows, I was surrounded by psychos and people that just didn’t click with regular society. The Internet wasn’t as big, so if you were legitimately into the music, you had to do research. Now, some random kid can look everything they need to know up online and buy a few shirts from a website, and they are part of the culture as more of a fashion statement, as opposed to a passion.

Your band is very open about claiming straight edge. When did you decide to make that personal commitment, and how has it affected your songwriting as a band?

I’ve technically been straight edge all my life, by default. I was a sheltered kid, so I was never exposed to drugs or alcohol. I started calling myself straight edge a couple years after I found out what it was because it just fit.

Has anyone ever labeled your band with the stigma of “hate edge?” What are your thoughts on that label?

That’s a pretty immature label. We have never put that stigma on ourselves as a band.

Since your band formed in 2011, you have played every United Blood festival, as well as several others, including Sound and Fury. In addition to giving your band exposure to a much broader audience, how important is playing festivals to your band?

Fests have given us the ability to play to a lot of people who normally won’t see us, but, at the same time, fests promote laziness. Kids are no longer interested in bettering where they are locally and wanting to bring in bands to their area because they feel they can just travel to a fest and see who they want to see.

In July 2015, your band is scheduled to perform at the annual This is Hardcore festival in Philadelphia. What are you most looking forward to about that show?

I’m most looking forward playing to new people and seeing ALL OUT WAR again.

For United Blood, you guys made a limited run of Ralph Lauren spoof shirts. Are you ever worried about copyright infringement when making merch designs?

We only made 25 of those. If a cease and desist was ordered on that, we would just say we wouldn’t make them again.

Next month [April], you will be touring in promotion of your new EP, Face Aggression. What can your fans expect from your performances on this tour?

We are going to tour a little along the coast, and the South and Midwest. People can expect a good show from us. All five of us are excited to play new places.

For more updates on BREAK AWAY, be sure to follow them on Twitter, Tumblr, and “like” their Facebook page.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.

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