Cerce is a five-piece outfit hailing from the Northeast, drawing from influences of intense hardcore with brooding undertones. If you're not familiar with the band - don't worry, as I wasn't before hearing them get announced as part of Bledfest - consider this your introduction. I hit up bassist Zach Weeks via email to get a better idea of where the band is coming from - and where they're going.
For the record, could you state your name and tell us what you do in Cerce?
Hi, I'm Zach Weeks. I play the bass guitar and sometimes yell things.
Most people are just hearing about you with the release of your self-titled EP that came out in September. Tell us a little bit about the writing process for that EP – what kind of influences do you feel shaped the final product?
We wrote all of that in early 2012 and recorded it a few months later (April 2012). Usually, someone will come in with a specific idea or a complete song and we'll work on arranging it as a group and contributing more parts to it, which I'm sure is what most bands do as well. Rather than direct influence from other music, most of what shaped the final product was the excellent engineering skills of Alex Garcia-Rivera, who we recorded it with. We tracked the whole record live (aside from vocal overdubs, that is) to 2" 16-track tape without a single piece of digital gear in the chain, aside from guitar effect pedals. Recording in an all-analog fashion without a computer really helped us accomplish the feel we were looking for while retaining a sense of realism in the recordings.
How do you think it showcases the songwriting or musicianship growth this band has had in the few releases you have under your belt so far?
Well, as I mentioned before, we wrote all of that material almost a year ago now haha. When you finish a record, it's kind of like "Okay, that's that. Onto the next thing." It was definitely an accurate representation at the time, but we're still growing and musical growth never really has a limit.
One of the things listeners are sure to have stick out to them is the fact that you have a female vocalist. While certainly not unheard of for a hardcore band, her delivery and lyricism certainly bring a different degree to the music. Tell us a little bit how this lineup came together and how Becca came to be the vocalist.
We're all friends and of course, Becca is our friend and that's how our lineup came to be. That's really it haha. One issue I do have is that a lot of people view bands with a female vocalist in this genre as some kind of novelty act just because it's different from what's considered "normal" in the niche that is hardcore punk. Obviously, we don't view Becca any different because of her gender. We are all on the same level, so what makes our band any different than any other hardcore punk band? We would still be the same band regardless if our vocalist (or any other members) identified as female, male, queer, trans, or anything else. It should be commonsensical, whether it be within punk music or everyday life, that every human being should be treated and viewed equally regardless of what gender they identify with.
I hear a little bit of Code Orange Kids in the sound and dynamics of this EP. Do you feel like taking this route has given you a bit more leeway in terms of experimenting a bit even in the realm of hardcore?
The Kids are friends of mine. That being said, people compare our sound to theirs quite frequently and I'm not entirely sure why, aside from both of our bands play a style of heavy music that can be described as having "experimental" properties. We just write music that we like and that we're happy with, whether the time signature changes five times within the song or it's just a straightforward tune in 4/4, and try not to derive too much influence from what other bands are doing or have done.
You posted not too long ago that you’ve finished your side of your split with Stresscase. How would you compare the sound of what you’ve done on the split to your previous writings?
I guess it's different than our older stuff, naturally. If everything stays in the vain of old material, nothing ever progresses and that's no good, so we really try to bring something different to the table with everything we write as long as we're enjoying it. Ryan, who we recorded with, said it sounds like The Suicide File at some parts and I think that's pretty cool.
Speaking of releases, how did you folks first get hooked up with Mayfly?
Bob hit us up when we were on tour last summer and was interested in working together. We were very into the fact that he runs his label with a lot of D.I.Y. principles and really puts pride in releasing music by bands that he likes. This is also the case with every label we've worked with: shout outs to It's A Trap, Solidarity Recordings. Nowadays, I talk to Bob almost every everyday about subjects usually pertaining to dreampop bands or strange jokes.
Cerce has been picking up steam from touring, not only doing regular shows but smaller festivals as well - including the forthcoming edition of Bledfest in May. Your thoughts on being a part of this festival?
The only fest we've ever played in the past was the excellent Get Better Fest in Keene, NH in 2012 and I really like fests a lot. I had actually never heard of Bledfest and still don't really know a whole lot about it, which I guess says a lot about me because I book most of our shows, but it sounds like it will be a good time. Apparently Andrew WK is playing and that rules. We're also playing Smash It Dead Fest in Boston at the end of this March which is a benefit for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and a means of spreading awareness of sexual assault and rape culture. (check out the Smash It Dead collective at www.smashitdead.net) We're doing a few other fests this year in other parts of the country plus Canada.
What other touring are you hoping to do in 2013?
We're doing some touring in May and we are doing weekend in April, but we're mostly trying to focus on writing right now more than anything. Maybe some more out-of-town shows later in the year, who knows. We really like touring a lot, but all of us are in school for most of the year and then each of us spend the whole summer working full-time so touring is very difficult for us to pull off.
Are there any plans to start working on full-length?
That's what we're currently investing most of our time into.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Not much. Jason, thanks so much for the interview. Oh and, be sure to grab the Outlier 7" by Maura because it's gonna be one of the best records to come out this year.