2020 was on pace to be a banner year Philly’s hardcore juggernaut Jesus Piece. The band was nestled third on a national tour with Code Orange and Show Me The Body. It was the kind of bill that asserted their earned clout among the genre. It was without question was one of the most anticipated spring tours for fans and critics alike. Drummer Luis Aponte echoed the same sense of disappointment that everyone else had when live dates were scrapped due to Covid. “This was a big hit for us. We actually didn’t tour the U.S. after the record (ONLY SELF) so this was the ultimate big tour. We have played with Code O before but never a full tour.”
More than an opportunity to share the stage with friends and contemporaries, there seemed to be a sense of arrival packaged with this particular tour announcement. Arguably, these are some of the most in demand bands in heavy music. The billing seemed to reiterate that. What’s particularly impressive is how Jesus Piece has continued to build momentum based on the strength of their live show and a debut record that was released in 2018. “That record still feels new to us. We only toured for a year after we released it,” explained Aponte. As for how the band is able to keep the material feeling fresh, Aponte has a very definitive explanation. “Nothing will ever top us live.”
Therein lies at least part of Jesus Piece’s appeal. ONLY SELF, the band’s full length debut, dropped during the summer 2018 and though hardcore fans had already been championing the PA prospects, the release quickly permeated across genre divides. Their combustible live show became subcultural lore as videos from revered videographer hate5six fanned the flames. Jesus Piece was aggressive, antagonistic, and most important, authentic. “When we started working on our record we told Andy (Nelson/Producer) that this doesn’t need to be insanely polished. We wanted to capture what we do live. We were going for that raw energy,” detailed Aponte. The band would deliver the kind of broad introduction that baffled people. Critics were stuck trying to figure out how to classify the band or who best to compare them to, meanwhile, the shows continued to build the band’s reputation as fans of all backgrounds showed up to see the spectacle they had only seen online.
“You really can’t label us. We are hardcore kids through and through but we have toured with everyone from Havok to Ghostemane,” said Aponte. “People have definitely been confused by us but we’re not afraid to take risks. You can’t continue to play to same people. It’s important to stay true to who you are but if you want your scene to grow you have to let other people see you.” It’s that fearless approach that loans itself to Jesus Piece being so versatile. The band has been described with every classification of hardcore subgenera but the one constant always pertains to the kind of release that happens whenever they step out on the stage. Their brand of heavy sidesteps the scrutiny of the purists because of the unfiltered fury that happens at every one of their shows. Punk, metal, hardcore, all walks of life understand the translation happening when Jesus Piece are live. That experience has been converting fans since the band’s very beginning.
Satisfying that appetite for an intersection of authenticity and aggression, Jesus Piece didn’t need much time to iron out the wrinkles. Forming in 2015, the band spent three years touring on a strength of a demo, a split and an EP. That’s it. By the time their debut was ready, there was a receptive community of fans itching to get a fix. Aponte explains that the band’s trajectory still seems surreal at times. “It got overwhelming at one point. Sometimes, it still does,” confides Aponte. “ I didn’t have any long term plans, at first it was just, ‘it would be cool to go to California and play out there.’ Within months we did that. I mean, we got to go to Europe, Australia and Japan.” Aponte continued,”I’ve never been in involved in something where people gave a fuck about what I was doing. Now we have people coming up to us saying how they were influenced by something we did. That just makes us want to go harder.”
As for the current abrupt halt, it’s conceivable that the layoff will only add to the allure of the band. Jesus Piece’s stock can only climb in a climate were shelter in place will eventually be countered with let the fuck loose. While Aponte mentioned that the band is always tending to new music ideas, he mostly reiterated their desire to get back to wrecking stages as soon as they are safe to do so. That eagerness only reiterates an indisputable certainty; However you choose to classify Jesus Piece, the one thing they will never be, is boring. The band is a locomotive. When they resume, it's advised you either get a ticket or get the hell off the track.