A Conversation with SPINE

If you are a fan of hardcore/power violence in the Kansas City area then you are surely aware of local legends SPINE. Over their decade long existence in the area they have played countless shows and have released over 5 full albums. KJHK In-Studio director, Jackson Goodrich, reached out to lead vocalist, Antonio Marquez, for an inside scoop on the group before the release of their 6th album “Raíces.” SPINE’s album release show will be at Recordbar on August 5th, along with a slew of other local acts, so dust of your Doc Marten’s and pop out to the show.

Q: Your most recent album “Raíces” came out at the end of last month. Being three years since your last release; How does this release compare to your other works and how has operating within the scene in the “post-covid” era changed your process as a band? 

A: I would say that “Raíces” compared to “L.O.V.” is way more personal than our previous release. And even more gratifying to see from concept to completion. I would say that our process hasn’t been affected coming out of COVID. At the time it was hard to write together and practice but I feel like we’ve settled back into our groove pre-COVID.

Q: Could you tell the readers more about the message behind this album and how it was written/recorded? 

A: Max Chaney (who wrote all the music) and I wanted to make a SPINE record by bringing in all the previous elements of the band. Make it faster, shorter, and more impactful. The lyrical content teeters on more poetic takes on how I see the world and myself with more poignant and direct takes on those very subjects.

“Raíces” in English means roots. I wanted to show a bit of who I am, what I’ve been through, and what’s made me who I am today. I wanted to make it a point to write a chunk of the music in Spanish, English and Spanglish because that’s who I am. I wanted to really stress those themes of identity in how I’m seen and how I see myself. A lot of what I talk about on this record revolves around different aspects of being a minority but never being fully accepted/never being enough on either spectrum. Being first generation (and just like most who have foreign born parents) there’s always a push pull on not being enough of this or that. True acceptance.

And then on top of that I wanted to tackle how those who do not look like us or come from where we come from, tend to try to tell our stories and our histories through their eyes. With no regard to our experiences and our truths. I’m generalizing but it’s typically white people who do this and It’s important to outline the role I believe they should play. Not all of course, but it’s why I included the lyrics “culture cleansing, anglo mission, when I stand, when I speak, it’s my cause, P.O.C.”. I’m a Cuban American but this applies to all minorities to feel comfortable and speak up and speak out for your truth.

Q: For readers who may not be familiar with your group; What is the story behind how the band was started and who are your influences?

A: The band was started in 2011 with John Hoffman and Jon Hofacker with the idea of starting a power violence band with s youth crew/traditional 80’s spin. I had played in a hardcore/punk band from Kansas City and both John and Jon lived in Chicago and were in Harm’s Way (John also was the singer of Weekend Nachos at the time). Both John and Jon wrote the demo and sent me the tracks to record vocals and that was released late summer of 2011. Since then we self released several records via John’s label, Bad Teeth Recordings until he no longer had the desire to release music. We then pivoted to Bridge Nine who released our second LP “Faith” and EP “L.O.V.” to now releasing our third LP with Convulse.

Q: Having been a band for more than a decade you have surely seen the scene in Kansas City change a lot. What are some of the most notable differences you’ve noticed since your inception?

A: Honestly, inclusion and general acceptance. When I was coming up it made a big difference where you lived. If you were north of the river, south, east, or west. As well as making efforts to be present and at shows. It was very clicky and high school-ish. I was fortunate to not have to have dealt with a lot of that and fit right in, in some ways (especially being someone who live up North). But I always vowed to never be like that towards anyone new that came around. Or rather, discourage people from coming around. I had more impacts on that when I was younger and booking shows more regularly and being active in bringing people into the fold. But now I feel like it’s the best it’s ever been. More diversity, younger kids, new bands.

Q: Are there any bands or DIY venues/clubs from KC past that you miss/wish you could bring back or were instrumental to your success as a band?

A: Honestly almost every local hardcore band from around 2004 to date has had an impact on me and the band. Especially peer bands as well. Playing shows with your friends that play in great bands is the move. Pushing each other to do things even better than before and supporting each other is great. Doing that alone isn’t as rewarding. But truly, I’d bring them all back for one night. From Sucked Dry to Blindside USA.

Q: You have had the opportunity to play with so many great performers, what are some of your favorite groups that you have gotten to play with?

A: It’s hard to say because so many are good friends of ours, playing any of those shows is always just fun and an excuse to kick it. I want to say the run we did with RJC, Sex Prisoner, and Harm Done out West was one of my favorites. As well as the Weekend Nachos run out East in 2013.

Q: What current groups in the local scene and beyond would you recommend for others to check out?

A: Nerver, Perfume, Make No Mistake, Foil, Sarin Reaper, Life Gets Taken, Madman, Doldrums, Total Sham, Sex Hater, Flooding, Ebony Tusks, Final Atomic Battle, Youth Pool, Siilk, Missouri Executive Order 44, Keef Mountain, Inner Alter, Remain Sedate, God Talk

Q: What is one question that you have always wanted to be asked?

A: Why after 20+ years are you still involved in local punk/hardcore?

Q: How does the scene in Kansas CIty relate to some of the other places you’ve played across the country?

A: I would say that KC and the Midwest in general seems to make every show feel like an event and special. We get a decent amount of shows but not as much as other parts of the country. So when it happens, it’s always an event.

Q: People can catch you on August 5th for your LP release show at Recordbar in Kansas City. What can people expect and what are your plans after this release/show?

A: It’ll be a solid night to celebrate KC hardcore/punk and see some of best locally and regionally. We’ll be playing several more times this year as well as more out of town gigs/fests. We’ll see how things play out with this record. We’ve been a band for 12 years now with several releases. Not sure what the future holds. But would say the LP release will be the most important show we’ve played to date.