a hardcore band can be a little like taking vows in a medieval monastery. The
hardcore musician and monk alike commit to spending umpteen hours alongside
smelly, bearded dudes in dark, dank spaces, effectively forgoing the pleasures
of this world while consumed in an esoteric discipline.
As if on
a medieval pilgrimage, I trek out to the Eastside home of Jon Coleman,
guitarist for local hardcore super-group Chaotic Neutral. As I approach his
house, my eyes adjust to the darkness, and I start to make out four figures on
the lightless porch. They acknowledge me with calm, energy-conserving
greetings, having just concluded a practice in the sweaty confines of Coleman's
shadowed faces read like a hall-of-fame for Indianapolis hardcore. I first eye
Coleman and fellow guitarist Ian Phillips, who have collaborated together for
years - in local thrash act Wasteland D.C., hardcore band Slow Motion
Enslavement and, most recently, What Lurks, a pop-punk turned hardcore band.
another corner of the porch sits vocalist Micha
Jenkins, who once played with Chaotic Neutral bassist Bake Henry (absent from
the porch tonight) in the fast and heavy Critical Response Team. Drummer James Lyter, who put in time in Bolth
and Waxeater, reclines nearby.
year ago, all these guys were out of a gig. Fatherly duties forced Phillips to
leave What Lurks, which went on hiatus upon his departure. Critical Response
Team suffered a drawn-up demise, leaving Jenkins without a band and Henry
pursuing side projects without success. And both Bolth
and Waxeater came to an abrupt end within six months
of the other, leaving Lyter looking for a new
each member in free agency, it was only a matter of time before Chaotic Neutral
started to congeal. Coleman and Philips, always the collaborators, teamed up
with Jenkins and Henry and enlisted drummer Josh "Chubbs"
Shronz. Shronz, who had
served with distinction behind the kit in Slow Motion Enslavement, was known
throughout the city as the go-to drummer for local metal. But Shronz was only briefly with Chaotic Neutral before
departing to focus on his othernew
drummer Skyler Rowe filled in briefly, but the band
was on the lookout for a permanent replacement. "Then we realized that James,
who we knew from Bolth and Waxeater,
had moved back to Indianapolis and wasn't playing with anyone," Coleman says. "It
worked out perfectly," Phillips adds. "We couldn't believe that he wasn't
playing in any bands."
Lyter jumped into the band headfirst,
creating new drum parts for the songs they had written with Rowe and Shronz. With the line-up complete, the band got to work,
each band member building and expanding on previous experiences.
more straightforward hardcore than any of our other bands," Phillips says. "But
at the same time, we cover a lot more territory than we've done before."
initially just wanted to sound like [semi-legendary hardcore punk band] Blitz,"
Coleman says. "But we developed with a lot more diversity. I'm glad we didn't
just end up being a rip-off band. We include everything from rock 'n' roll to
crust and '90s hardcore riffs."
all really open with each other when it comes to incorporating different styles,"
Lyter says. "We're not really trying to create any
but the most trained ears, most hardcore bands can sound indistinguishable from
each other - chugging guitars, throbbing bass, volcanic drumming and
incomprehensible vocals are all fairly standard. Chaotic Neutral manages to add
a certain unknown je ne sais quoi to the mix. It has something to do with their
talent, for sure; this is undoubtedly the most experienced band on active duty
in the hardcore scene. And as their live show demonstrates, they not only play
well, but do so with an infectious energy.
the guys in Chaotic Neutral are taking anything for granted. Over the past two
years, each member has seen at least one band fall apart.
bunch of different people, and we're all leading different lives," Phillips
says. "Anything could happen, but we're not going to waste the time that we
have. We want to be as productive as possible with each other."
Neutral has stayed true to that doctrine of productivity by playing (seemingly)
every local hardcore show in the past year. They are also gearing up for some new
releases, in addition to a demo already for available for purchase at shows. A
seven-inch is due this summer, as well as a split seven-inch with Bloomington
crust/hardcore act Ratstorm.
bands in this city come and go so quickly that it can be difficult to keep
track. Some break up before working up a demo. The members of Chaotic Neutral,
however, are poised enough to buck that trend. The guys in the band, all true
believers, are more mature and dedicated to hardcore than most laymen on the