Concert Preview: Minority Threat keeps it brief, brutal on outward-looking Culture Control
Culture Control, the debut EP from Minority Threat, clocks in at barely seven minutes, yet it leaves a yawning crater in its wake.
Over the course of seven brief-but-intense tracks, the four-piece lashes out at everything from police brutality ("Protect and Serve") to issues of cultural appropriation on the caustic, cathartic "Whitewashed." "You want to steal our culture, but can't accept our skin," howls singer Jordan Byrd, who joined bandmate Winston Hightower (bass) for a late October interview at an Olde Towne East pizza shop (guitarist Darrell Chess and drummer Antonio Foushee complete the group's current lineup).
"Even though I've been in bands for so long, I wasn't talking about black subjects, and even when I did, most people didn't want to hear it," said Byrd, who will join his Minority Threat mates for an EP release show at Cafe Bourbon Street on Saturday, Nov. 7. "I feel like the majority of black people talking about these issues are talking about them in genres of music they're expected to talk about them in: jazz and hip-hop and stuff like that. But since we play a style of music that is predominantly white, I think it opens peoples' eyes a little more. We're more visible because we're different."
Though the group has been playing in its current incarnation for only a little more than half a year, its roots date back to the summer of 2014, when unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson, setting off a series of protests nationwide. "I remember watching a live webcast [of the protests] … and crying," Byrd said. Shortly thereafter, he and Chess made formal plans to revive the long-discussed project.
There's no time for mourning in the group's pulverizing assault, however, and songs, like Ronda Rousey fights, tend to be both brief and brutal, directly confronting the issues at hand.
"People will beat around the bush rather than fully addressing something as raw and fucked-up as a cop flipping a girl out of her chair and dragging her across the room," said Hightower, referencing a recent case in South Carolina where footage revealed an officer forcibly removing a teenage girl from her desk.
While Minority Threat's music has no such qualms, this outward focus is still new to the bandmates, particularly Byrd, who utilized previous projects to explore a host of personal issues, including his struggles with mental illness and depression.
"When you're caught in a deep depression … you feel like you're alone," he said. "But you take steps forward and you start to realize this isn't all about me, and I have to keep going because there are so many more important things than being sad and miserable. I'm going to have days like that again, but I'll take those if I have the chance to say what I want to say … and hopefully make some sort of change in the world, even if it's a small one."
Café Bourbon Street
8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7
2216 Summit St., Campus
ALSO PLAYING: The Mutant League, Skurt, Harvey Pekar, Bonehead