With new album ‘Dog Whistle’ catapulting them forwards into a whole new realm, the NYC hardcore trio return to the UK. We meet them where they’re at their best: on stage, in the pit, and inches from your eyeballs.
We meet Show Me The Body half way through a three-night stint in London. It’s the New York hardcore trio’s third trip to the capital. The trip starts with an in-store show at Rough Trade East, a gig that shakes the boundaries of what a (usually sedate) gig in the famous shop can be. The following night, they put on an impromptu show at a desolate Hackney Wick warehouse that a friend of bassist Harlan Steed lives in. It comes after their ‘proper’ show at the Moth Club sells out in advance.
“That wasn’t a side show,” vocalist Julian Cashwan-Pratt responds the next morning, surprised at any insinuation that the warehouse gig the trio have just woken up from was a warm-up for the main event tonight. “We wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to see us was able to,” he lays out simply.
“Everyone is able to do it this way, at any level,” Harlan adds, of the band’s fiercely DIY attitude. It’s backed up through their Corpus community; encompassing a series of underground artists in their native New York, there’s a TV channel, a record label and more. “You just have to make the decision to do things this way,” Julian affirms. “Obviously you have to be conscious of the space you’re going into, but anybody can do this, no matter how small or large. You just have to want to do it.”
Seeing them live, it’s clear to see that there’s no show hierarchy for Show Me The Body; no show more ‘official’ or legitimate than another. They throw themselves into the mess and debauchery of any crowd they’re put in front of, in whatever city, whatever venue. And they make it theirs. Moth Club is a former working men’s club given the glitter treatment, full of retro relics and with golden streamers adorning the back of the stage. Seconds into the band’s opening of ‘Camp Orchestra’ – a song inspired by a recent trip to the Auschwitz concentration camp and the furious opener to new album ‘Dog Whistle’ – it turns into a battleground. The golden backdrop is covered up by a bed sheet spray-painted with the band’s now-iconic three-coffins logo. The booths at the side of the venue, usually reserved for cocktail sippers, become launchpads for crowdsurfers ready to throw themselves into the chaos.
Nothing about Show Me The Body is traditional. Drummer Noah Cohen-Corbett is a beast of a sticks-man, every thud of bass drum sounding like a war chant. Steed, meanwhile, distorts the sound of his bass into other dimensions, as much a desk wizard as he is a bassist. His upright pedal board on a keyboard stand recalls the mind-bending noise of Aphex Twin far more than your usual hardcore band. Cashwan-Pratt plays the banjo, but don’t be fooled, this is no Mumford & Sons. He sends his instrument through a host of hellbound pedals, and wields it like a weapon. Their touring partners confirm Show Me The Body’s refusal to be categorised: the band have shared stages with everyone from King Krule to Denzel Curry.
The band’s disruptive, non-traditional outlook comes from their earliest days as under-21s. “When we were starting out, we couldn’t play most of the clubs that we do now,” Harlan explains. “We couldn’t get our friends there, we couldn’t book the shows. It was the first building blocks of what we do now, and it’s exciting to still be able to do that.” Speaking of DIY spaces in Nashville, Los Angeles and beyond – and government-funded basement shows in Europe – the band are taking their experiences on tour back to their hometown, a city plagued with the same rife gentrification as the British capital they currently sit in.
“It made us aware of how little there is [in New York],” Julian explains simply. “They don’t care about putting stuff like that on. It’s all privatised. It definitely invigorated us to have to figure something out.” Never guilty of failing to put their money and energy where their mouth is, the band regularly lend upcoming NYC artists studio and practice space in the city to hone their craft.
This same never-say-die attitude permeates every part of ‘Dog Whistle’. When Julian spits “when I meet someone that’s good I wanna die with them” on single ‘Madonna Rocket’, you hear and believe every gnarled syllable. After the band lay waste to Moth Club in a swift, sweaty 40-minute blow, the reaction from the crowd proves it beyond doubt: Show Me The Body are a band who mean life and death to a new generation of hardcore fans. They’re set to give back every ounce of devotion thrown their way.
‘Dog Whistle’ is out now via Loma Vista/Caroline International.