In just a short two years time, Ohio's For Your Health emerged as a leading voice among a new generation of socially conscious artists that understood how to craft heavy music without pretense. From the get go, the band began to rack up live shows before ever getting to task on a recorded effort and the tactic paid dividends.
A frantic, frenzied, ferocious concoction of razor sharp wit and organized chaos from an instrumental standpoint, they asserted influences ranging from emo to noise punk with the kind of fluidity that commanded the attention of an audience that is always seeking something fresh.
Successfully releasing a 2019 split with the band Shin Guard, the plan for 2020 was to tour the hell out of the country and continue to the strategy of sharpening that skill set onstage in a different city every night. When the pandemic had plans otherwise, For Your Health was left with no other option but to reassess how they would work out that energy and translate it properly into a record, if not onstage.
The pivot proved resoundingly successful with the finished product of the band's full length debut, In Spite Of. The collection of tongue-in-cheek slight, deliberately spazzy instrumentation and dynamic songwriting asserts a breath of fresh air into a community of aggressive music that can run the risk of occasionally growing stale.
Humor, haste, and heft anchor the band's sound and a conversation with the band's frontman in Hayden Rodriguez clearly showcases why For Your Health is deserving of the hype.
2020 was a hell of a year to write an aggressive record. How unique to 2020 is In Spite Of… could a record like this have been written if not for the chaos that seemed to happen daily?
Rodriguez - 2020 definitely informed our writing process for In Spite Of, but not in a way one might expect. Being poor, brown, punk musicians means being drenched in chaos constantly. If anything we exchanged chaos for constant; that constant being having to sit still. So to answer the question, this record wouldn't have happened without be forced to sit still and think about what we were doing and where we were going.
There is some hefty social commentary in the subtext of this album, specifically with regards to police brutality. However, the music doesn’t translate as one of those records that feels like a socio-political soapbox. Is that balance deliberate?
Rodriguez - No one needs another "orange man bad" song. We aren't saying anything political that hasn't been said before. This band is political but at the end of the day the band is about us. Our ideas and politics bleed through because that's who we are as people.
The band get the screamo label a bunch. Do you feel like that pigeonholes you?
Rodriguez - We are definitely inspired by screamo but we've got a wide range of influences and I feel that fact is readily apparent to anyone that's seen us play or listened to our music. At our first shows we covered bands like Ceremony, Title Fight, and My Chemical Romance. We just do whatever we want and labels have never influenced any of our endeavors or creative decisions.
Has the absence of being able to flesh out ideas in a live setting changed the dynamic of the band? For Your Health feels like a band that thrives reactively but with no shows and no touring, everything now has to be proactive.
Rodriguez -It's definitely a challenge. In Spite Of at it's core is a release of the kinetic energy we accrued from being a fairly new band that spent all of our time and energy on the road. We formed in late August 2018 and started playing as many shows as we could before we even had an EP. In 2019 we hit the ground running and played a hundred shows, hitting every region in the US and even a couple shows in Canada. In 2020 we were more or less planning to live on the road. Going from that lifestyle to being cooped indefinitely made us feel really lost but we tried to compensate by putting everything we had into creating a piece of art that we could be proud of.
There has been mention that For Your Health is influenced equally by bands like Fall Out Boy and Daughters. Does that spectrum make it difficult to find your niche?
Rodriguez - Every facet of for your health has been realized very organically. I think our niche found us rather than the other way around, because we weren't really searching. We are just making the music that comes most naturally to us. This project is a vessel and an extension of our personalities and ideas. Every detail about this band whether it be a song, piece of merch, performance, etc. is like a diary entry or an MRI.
There is a ton of clever wordplay and turn of phrase throughout In Spite Of - how important is substance in relation to style for the band?
Rodriguez - Our substance and style are one and the same so there's intentionality and meaning in everything that I write. If In Spite Of is our gift to the world why would we send it out underdressed?
In Spite Of from For Your Health arrives February 12th via Twelve Gauge Records.
Watch the premiere for the Stone Fenk-helmed video for "save your breath, you're gonna need it to blow my head off" below.