Q&A: Rising Hardcore Band, Itami
By August Edwards
Early on in the devastation of 2020, a new hardcore band formed: Itami. Their debut EP, In Our Time of Perpetual Sorrow, has a heart of resilience and artistic determination. Considering their pandemic-induced inception, Itami's creations have a distinct “now or never” air. If you’re looking to drown out absolutely everything that’s pissing you off, these three tracks will do you some good. It’s genuine hardcore love—short and sweet with freight train force.
Itami is sort of scrappy, but astute and structurally solid. Vocalist Noah Secatero and guitarist/bassist Carlos Jauregui are relatively emergent artists; however, Secatero, primarily driven by the positive impact of music in his life, has a mature and strong voice, and Jauregui lays down driving, soul-satisfying riffs. Seasoned drummer Tom Overholt brings knowledge and practiced skill to the table, cohering the band's gravitational draw. Itami is a perfect collision of passions and perseverance.
I had the chance to talk with Overholt and Secatero after the final recording session - I hope you'll read on below to check out what they're all about. Itami's EP is now on Bandcamp and will be released on all streaming services on 12/20/20.
ABQGR: What does this EP mean to you?
Secatero: This is my first time recording. And I’ve always wanted to record with a band, and I feel like this is a great accomplishment. The EP is gonna be heavy, it’s gonna be a lot of things I went through, and it’s gonna be basically me yelling behind a mic and just fuckin’ releasing my anger.
Overholt: I think it’s just a way for us to play what we enjoy. And not try to reinvent the wheel, but just be really good at it. Just have a lot of fun with music that we’ve wanted to create.
What do you think the listeners will gather from these three tracks?
Secatero: I hope they will relate to them lyrically. Especially the younger kids in hardcore. ‘Cause that’s what I’ve done here, as a hardcore fan myself, and with bands that are local here in Albuquerque. I relate to the lyrics, like, ‘oh yeah! I went through that shit.’
Overholt: If there’s an emotional response or a physical response—whatever comes from whatever we’ve created is amazing. You do it for yourself, and you wanna create something so cool and unique, but then you also realize that somebody else may think something completely different or gain something from it. I think it’ll just be a unique way to play the music we’ve wanted to play and if anyone’s excited on it, it means so much.
Noah, I love that you brought up what bands here have done for you. Do you think there’s anything unique or special about the hardcore scene that comes from Albuquerque or New Mexico in general?
Secatero: It is special to me ‘cause growing up in high school, I had nowhere to go. I never really participated in any high school activities. As far as what it means to me, I feel like it’s home. It’s pretty much my life right now. That’s the way I plan to live until I get very old.
Overholt: I think growing up in a town like this, you want a way to express yourself or feel that you’re a part of something. I think music like this allows other people to come together and gain a sense of community, a sense of trust, or a sense of acceptance. If heavy music does that for anyone, and we get to participate with it, that’s an amazing thing.
Is there anything that’s been particularly inspiring or motivating to you throughout the existence of the virus in our lives?
Secatero: This is inspiring to me as a musician to create something, to record something like we just did now. I believe with this virus, it allowed me to become more expanded as a musician myself.
Overholt: I think with everything shutting down, it’s—we all have those jokes and memes that are like, ‘I miss shows,’ or ‘where did concerts go?’ I think if anything, it’s really inspired individuals to create and push what they want to do. With something like a pandemic, it creates such a sense of real fear, of real dread. In that, if you don’t get a chance to create, what are you doing? It may never happen. Or you make an excuse, ‘Oh, I’ll make time another day.’ Instead of saying, hey, we have all the time in the world, we can create what we wanna do and really enjoy it. And whenever shows do come back, you would hope that we get a chance to play this live, or play it for people. That’s what inspired us to record this, was we have no other way to put this out for anyone to hear or be a part of it. It almost inspires you more to continue to create. We say, hey, we have three songs down, what’s three songs more? Or five more?
Secatero: Fuck it, we go for ten more.
Overholt: Yeah, I mean that’s a lot, but—right. When things come back, you have that sense of excitement to share that with other people. And I feel we’re really lucky to live in the state we live in, where people respect science a little more, et cetera. We’re staying safer. At the same time, it gives us a chance to interact with great people who create and help move this forward.
That being said, how was the process of writing and recording this EP? What was it like?
Overholt: I think for us, we write pretty organically. Carlos comes in with a riff, we kind of play along to it and we gain what we want to get out of it. It’s not something that we’re really putting a math or science to, it’s just ‘hey, let’s create what feels good and what we want to put out there.’ I don’t wanna speak for Noah and what he comes up with lyrically, but it’s allowed us to put everything together. And it’s so unique to have somebody like Nik [Vasko, sound engineer] to record it, because he ultimately doesn’t have a background in heavy music. But ultimately has an appreciation and love for this type of music. It has a lot of similarities that he enjoys, and it gives almost a complete third-party perspective of someone who’s never heard it before to say, ‘hey, this sounds good, but…’ or ‘hey, this is where we can dive deeper’ into something that only the three of us have heard before. If anything, it’s helped create better work upon finishing it.
Tom, you have quite the history here. What’s your journey been like and what’s been so fulfilling about it?
Overholt: I’ve been here close to ten years now, and getting the chance to take on to meet other individuals that play music or help learn the community or enjoy things with that, or create projects to play and be able to interact and meet these individuals—I’m just so humbled and excited by it. I wouldn’t know what else to say. I’ve been really blessed with the musical time that I’ve done to be in a band that ends up opening for a hero of you musically. I’ve been in other projects as well, and we’ve had the amazing blessing of playing at the Launchpad or Moonlight or Fly Honey.
No matter what, coming back to play a show and interact with anyone who wants to take the time to learn what you’ve done is the coolest thing to me. I could never, ever take it for granted. That’s really the best thing for me. It’s interesting moving here when you’ve lived in other, larger metropolitan areas. Coming here, the circles get smaller, but you still feel that sense of family and community. It’s important to network and get out and meet as many people as you can. Finding a cool place to eat or get a beer or go to a show is so meaningful, ‘cause that allows you to feel more like home.
Is hardcore universal?
Do you think there’s something in it for everybody who listens?
Secatero: Absolutely. I’ve been to shows out of New Mexico, too, and what I’ve experienced is hardcore is more accepting than other genres of music. What I mean by that—they don’t judge how you look, how you dress, the color of your skin. It’s all about community. I experienced that in Texas—Texas has a good hardcore scene. When I went out to a festival, they were very accepting, and it felt like I was at home there. Same way here, with Albuquerque. Other places might have a bigger population as far as attendees, but I feel like Albuquerque is still a good scene.
Overholt: I think it’s a type of music, or maybe a scene or community of people, that, it’s just about loving the music. It’s not about who you love or the color of your skin or anything. You enjoy what you do, and you have other people there to enjoy it with you. I would say yes to your question, it’s absolutely universal. I think other times, you know, certain things get a bad rap or certain things happen. But it’s about being a better example for those individuals to remain inclusive and community oriented.