Ithaca: ‘We mentioned: “Cease supporting racist bands”. Our Fb web page was flooded with Nazis’

She might not be as violent in individual as in lyrics comparable to “And wash your blood down the sink, trigger we don’t hold souvenirs,” however Djamila Boden Azzouz, the singer with UK metalcore ragers Ithaca, is however taking no prisoners. “This report reveals such a stage of creativity and finesse that lots of people who make the type of music that we make are simply not on our stage,” declares the singer on a video name from her Berlin house. “A truth’s a truth.”

And certainly, she has each proper to boast. Ithaca launched their first album, The Language of Damage, in 2019, and acquired approval for the way in which they peppered jagged hardcore with crooning melodies. They Worry Us is a juggernaut of a follow-up, essentially the most bold and charismatic punk/metallic album of the yr up to now, which provides near-shoegaze ranges of luminescence to the combo with out compromising the band’s heaviness and angle.

It’s no shock that Boden Azzouz’s lyrics seethe with anger: previous the band’s debut have been seven years of toil, and being on the receiving finish of sexism and racism. Ithaca shaped in late 2012, when guitarist Sam Chetan-Welsh wrote on a message board that he was beginning a hardcore group impressed by American punks the Chariot and in search of a vocalist. Boden Azzouz was searching the location, albeit for various causes. “She was trolling Eagles cowl acts from Derby,” the soft-spoken Chetan-Welsh remembers with a smile, becoming a member of the identical video name from London.

“It was a unique time!” Boden Azzouz laughs. “There was no TikTok; YouTube was round, however not in the way in which that it’s now. So, the place else are you gonna snigger at individuals?”

The UK metalcore scene was a drastically totally different place then from what it’s now. Bands that in the present day lead the cost – comparable to Employed to Serve, Svalbard and Rolo Tomassi – have been all children, so Ithaca as a substitute discovered themselves sharing levels with bullish grindcore and death-metal acts. “Quite a lot of the black metallic and hardcore bands have been actually welcoming,” Boden Azzouz says. “And we didn’t actually know what our sound was, so we slotted into so many various lineups with no downside. That was actually helpful to us.”

Though many friends have been receptive to Ithaca, there was bigotry in opposition to the band from promoters and concertgoers. Chetan-Welsh, who’s of Indian heritage, remembers getting “known as a racial slur in a pub by somebody that was placing on the gig”. In the meantime Boden Azzouz, a bisexual British-Algerian girl, asks “How lengthy is a bit of string?” when attempting to recall what number of situations of prejudice she has confronted.

She affords up an instance: “I wore a T-shirt at a present that mentioned ‘Cease supporting racist bands’ on it. Then our Fb web page was flooded by precise, real-life Nazis, who have been like: ‘We’re gonna come and kill you.’

“Even ensuring bands at one in all our reveals had a various lineup with a minimum of one non-male was such a vastly controversial factor,” she continues. “Folks took actual subject with that: ‘Oh, you’re making {that a} factor?’ Yeah, we’re!”

Even among the many band members themselves, the lead-up to The Language of Damage was a nightmare. Ithaca started writing the album in 2016 and, only a month earlier than they have been on account of report it the next yr, Chetan-Welsh’s mum died. “She handed away after a full-year journey – I don’t actually love the phrase ‘battle’ – with a mind tumour,” he says. “Quite a lot of uncooked emotion went into that final report: a number of real-life upheaval and my life being turned the other way up.”

On the similar time, Boden Azzouz was dealing with what she describes as “intense psychological struggles”. “It was most likely one of many lowest factors of my life. It felt like we had such dangerous luck again and again, in our private lives and the band as effectively. It constructed up up to now the place it was like: ‘When will one thing go proper for us?’”

Fortunes modified when The Language of Damage was launched in February 2019 and over the next yr, they performed gigs with everyone from metallic aggressors Bleeding By way of to folk-rockers Huge Thief. However then Covid occurred, and in September 2020, the top of their label Holy Roar, Alex Fitzpatrick, was accused of sexual misconduct by a number of girls (he denies the allegations). Ithaca have been among the many first bands to reply publicly, leaving the roster and tweeting: “Holy Roar Data is lifeless.” Boden Azzouz says: “In case you’re a rapist and I see you in public, I’ll batter you. No query.”

‘A lot of people who make the kind of music that we make are just not on our level’ … Djamila Boden Azzouz.
‘Lots of people who make the type of music that we make are simply not on our stage’ … Djamila Boden Azzouz. {Photograph}: Martyna Bannister

On They Worry Us, Ithaca weaponise the unfairness and trauma they’ve endured over the previous 10 years. After these chastisements for wanting gender variety in metalcore lineups, the album’s artwork counterattacks by placing Boden Azzouz on a throne, wearing vibrant orange whereas Ithaca’s male members seem pale and subservient. The lyrics equally hoist the singer on to a pedestal, all whereas verbally eviscerating the world’s bigots and naysayers.

“There’s a variety of influences that went into the look of the album, from 70s retro to queer style,” Chetan-Welsh explains. “The target was to be disruptive and make individuals go: ‘That’s a metallic band?!’”

The idea of Djamila on a pedestal hyperlinks again to the ability of the divine female; the title monitor has a pattern from an Indian ritual that beckons the mom goddess and is all about divine feminine energy. “There are individuals who come from different cultures or have one thing to say in heavy music and have thought: ‘Is that this for me? I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that,’” he continues. “I would like these individuals to say: ‘I’ve by no means seen a band that appears like Ithaca; I’m gonna go and try this.’”

Boden Azzouz provides: “Over the previous couple of years, we’ve all grown as individuals. Once we wrote Language, I used to be very a lot a sufferer. This time round, it felt so pure for They Worry Us to be the title of the album as a result of there’s a lot extra empowerment in it. It’s a very totally different album and it’s so far more triumphant.”

  • They Worry Us is out on 29 July by way of Problem. Ithaca tour the UK in August.

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