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Album Premiere: Margins by Scary Hours

Ryan Struck of Scary Hours
27 November 2020

Ryan Struck of Scary Hours – Photo

North Jersey-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Struck, recording under the moniker Scary Hours, is unleashing his raging and socio-politically relevant album, Margins, today November 27th, a split label release between Pyrrhic Victory Recordings in the US and Engineer Records in the UK/EU.

Margins follows up first single “Live to Serve/Serve to Live,” which made our own *Jack Rabid’*s Big Takeover “Best of 2018” list, and debut album Live to Serve, that was released in early 2019 to a warm critical and fan reception.

Before that Struck had played in various punk and hardcore bands through his teen years and early 20s. He branched out as a solo artist, crafting songs that blend musical elements of pop, emo revival, and folk, while still propagating the confrontational lyrical spirit of punk and hardcore.

On Margins, he returns to his hardcore roots, perhaps with the intent that this genre is a better medium for addressing the political content he feels compelled to express and address.

The eight potent hardcore punk songs on the LP tackle tough issues head-on, from chronicling the abuse against those who are marginalized by society and who are trying to survive to the specific scourges of nationalism, capitalism, alcoholism, and oppression.

Big Takeover is stoked to host the premiere of Margins in its entirety on the day of its release. The record is a blistering hardcore punk attack that is full of anger and intensity, but also an acute awareness and articulation.

Struck details the reality that he, and that we all, live in, his disgust for many aspects of it, and his desire to be a voice of positive change. His powerful lyrical missives are matched by his incendiary hardcore punk music, with each song exploding with fierce and fiery truth bombs.

Struck’s frenetic, end-of-tether exclamations fly by in time with the rapid-fire drum strikes, clanging cymbals hits, scrambling and jagged guitar blaze, and low-end bass line grind on each track.

Some numbers plow through with an unrelentingly fast ‘n’ furious pace (careening “Worthwhile Victims” and “Cost of Living,” and a breakneck cover of Bad Brain’s “How Low Can a Punk Get”), while others go for a more melodic hardcore sound (“When E-Thugs Are About” and “Russian Cousins”).

Some songs alternate between full-bore hardcore and catchier punk sections, like the fervently roaring title track, galloping “Normal’s Not New,” and the album-ending detonation that is “Shell Beach.”

Earlier this year, Struck released the timely “Bullet Fairy,” a single that serves as a scathing rebuttal of right-wing political policy and police brutality. Margins is a continuation of Struck directly confronting what is messed-up and destructive in our society.

Struck goes into the meaning behind Margins, revealing, “With no shortage of things to write about, the record came together pretty quickly. I thought “Margins” was an appropriate title as marginalization is a heavy theme on this record. For the LBGTQ and BIPOC communities, minorities, and those who seek to speak out and denounce their systemic oppression, to merely exist is an act of rebellion. The sentiment is highlighted in the title track and carried through pretty much the whole record.”

PVRecordings · Scary Hours : Margins

Purchase Margins CD at Scary Hours’ Bandcamp

Pyrrhic Victory Recordings Website
Engineer Records Website
Scary Hours Bandcamp

Struck kindly provided the lyrics and informative explanations of each song on Margins:

“Song is about people who support imperial occupation of other countries under the guise of freedom and democracy, yet they back the brutal detainment of immigrants by ICE. The only common denominators are blatant xenophobia, toxic nationalism, and lack of human decency. The beginning is my favorite piece of music on this release.”

A worthwhile victim, investment in blood
Operation freedom, for god and for funds
Bible-thumping bigots, propaganda fueled rage
Asylum-seekers fucking rot in a cage

Democracy abroad brings out the donor in me
So plant a school and a church, and jail the insurgency
Hold the migrants at the border ‘til you see their ribs
Babies cry themselves to sleep in their newfound chain link cribs

“Song is kind of a tribute to people in marginalized communities who are out there fighting for change and not using victim status to garner sympathy or attention. Third precinct refers to the one they burned down after the pigs killed Floyd. I wrote this with specific friends and family in mind whose very existence is rebellious.”

Cannibals in uniform
Harvesting dead tissue for the rich man’s war
You’ve made it clear: no bounties left to forage here
This flesh: no longer fit for feeding

And if they want to take you, they’re going to have to take us all
No faux divinity, no false hearts
The third precinct looks a little parched
My hand is yours to hold
Can I hold yours?
Channel your rage through strength it gave you

And I just want you to know
That I’m so proud of you
Beautiful person you are
And everything that you will be in time
No longer a victim, but a vessel making waves
Deriving bravery from anger and pain
Wish I could change the world like you’ve changed mine
Your inspiration cannot be confined
These margins will not be contained
These margins will not be contained

“Capitalists count on crises, panics, and recessions to regulate the market. Oppression is written into the very documents that founded this country, and the oppressed are the ones who pay for these events both monetarily and emotionally. While we are all victims of this cycle, national pride keeps people defending the very authoritarian regimes that keep them working paycheck to paycheck, i.e. the “Stockholm mob.” There’s nothing new about this normal other than the changing circumstances by which we are controlled.”

Crisis, panic, recession
A new Philadelphian Convention
The only thing we own is our debt
Conning the limbs of our labor like a marionette
Pavlovian teeth on proletarian throats
If we swallow the poison we can kill the host
Plutocracy: a cause to settle for less
A proposition for life that must settle for death
And this Stockholm mob becomes the new oppressor
Unaware hostages, numbers in the same ledger

A new panic at home, a new Tonkin
A new crisis to hold the “free market”
A new recession imposed and imparted
And this normal’s not new, disregard it
A new panic at home, a new Tonkin
A new crisis to hold the “free market”
A new recession imposed and imparted
And this normal’s not new, disregard it

The normal’s not new, the normal is you

“A ditty about internet shit-talkers, referring to a specific falling-out with a former good friend. This was a particularly bizarre situation, as they wound up doing me a favor by demonstrating how fucking crazy they actually are.”

I’m not out here begging for your clemency
I endured my sentence long ago
You imposed this juncture with your tyranny
Overcompensating for incompetence in italic print as the elegance eludes you

No one is impressed by your faux humility
Your resentment only boasts your emotive atrophy
I’ve seen archaic scrawls with stronger prose

It’s evident you’ve failed to see the irony
Assertions made with the opposite intent
Boasting each indignity like a narcissistic parody
I wouldn’t venture saying that you condescended
You just pretended you’re some divine connection
No one is impressed by your faux humility
Your resentment only boasts your emotive atrophy
I’ve seen archaic scrawls with stronger prose
All you e-thugs, grab your heat
Run through your bogeymen and tweet one
With your tweet gun

“I love this Bad Brains song so much I wanted to be inside of it. I prefer the Black Dots version, but I like the speed of the Rock For Light version, so I tried to meet them in the middle and hopefully did it justice. It was SO HARD to sing this fast!”

“This was the first song written for this release. Pyrrhic Victory and I were all extremely stoked about it though, and since we had eyes on “Bullet Fairy,” we put this out as a single a couple months ago with a music video to accompany it. The short of it, this song is about Marx’s theory of capitalist alienation.”

I wear this skin to filter from the mirror the feigning of a grin
We are forebearers of malignity
We are the mortgagers of dignity
We are the singers of a passive song
You can use your own voice but you’ve gotta sing along
Commodify the dissident
Medicate the pestilent

This cost of living is more than monetary
Assigned to roles unsettling, involuntary
Our liberation cannot be bought with medication
Is it crazy to believe we might be happy if we live another way?

I tried to barter with the future
But the future’s been foreclosed
You’re as useful as a tumor
Your servitude is in your best interest so why can’t you be thankful?
Replace the pennies in my piggy bank
Targeted marketing, bullets are a surplus of fluoxetine
There’s an imbalance in your insolent brain
Let’s clear that conscience with some mental Lindane

This cost of living is more than monetary
Assigned to roles unsettling, involuntary
Our liberation cannot be bought with medication
Is it crazy to believe we might be happy if we live another way?

Pull a rabbit from your hat and a dove from your sleeve
Let the serotonin work as you try not to grieve

This cost of living is more than monetary
Assigned to roles unsettling, involuntary
Our liberation cannot be bought with medication
Is it so crazy to believe we might be happy if we live another way?

“Song is about adjusting to life without my Russian cousins: Majorska, Svedka, Smirnoff. Life is so fucking mundane, and sobriety has me feeling every second of every day. Quitting drinking is unquestionably one of the best things I did for myself, but there are some days that it feels like I traded one pain for another, and this song is about those days.”

If I don’t fall asleep before the sun comes up, will I enjoy the dawn the same way I did with you?
Day counts and pathologic
Grieving, “Just stamp me ‘new! improved!’”
Cold sweats and vertigo, we dwell in everlasting afterglow
Syndicated day-to-day of existential spite
The slow blade slips between my ribs with merciless delight
I grip this angst I coddle
Counting sheep and bottles again

“A reference to the movie Dark City, but it’s really about choosing ignorance as a way of life out of convenience. The theme of the last republican National convention was, “Vote in your best interest.” Which translated in my mind to, “Deny reality if it doesn’t apply to you; poverty, marginalization, and oppression: simply will them out of existence.” It reminded me of the protagonist’s struggle in the movie. He knows he is trapped in a maze which has no escape, so he has to will into existence a place where he can retreat from it.”

Waking up as the needle scratches under my skin
I’m paralyzed between my eyes
By the stranger in a human flesh disguise
Two minutes to midnight, queue the syringe
Justify the state I’m in, defy how fucking powerless I am
Intellectual numbness, limited process, primitive emotions, primal rage
Noting our pathology in traditions we maintain

Toxic breeze makes the windchimes sing
A jingle for the product to drown out the slaughtering

My standard palpitations to accompany fatigue
Stubbornly remind me I still have a heart that beats
I walk these streets like they belong to me
The subway stations fraught with fabricated photographic memories
And there’s a mural on my eyelids painted over weathered bricks
To avert my gaze from this narcotic cage to a beach I’ve never been

Toxic breeze makes the windchimes sing
A jingle for the product to drown out our sanctioned screams

Embrace distraction as reality frays
While the city sleeps, the structures change
And I don’t even know who I am
But I woke up with an imprint that I chose to defend

Toxic breeze makes the windchimes sing
When a spiral is the blueprint, there’s no way to escape
The breath is stripped away with our right to exist
Free thought is strapped into a gurney with a knee on its fucking neck
Content to travel in this circle where decay and devolution are confined
One hive, one mind

If knowledge was a pistol on my hip, I’d turn it against myself, myself
Education is indoctrination to a system that disarmed me just like everybody else
So I turn the stare inward, to a place that don’t exist
To the comfort I created from the mural on the bricks
It’s another warm day here on Shell Beach where the ignorant reign
Meandering waves drown out the sound
Of shotgun shell rain and tear gas filled clouds
It’s a holiday here on Shell Beach where the cocktails are chloroform to filter out the pain

The white spray of waves is the whitewash of our lives
And as a flock of birds sing, another victim’s family cries
And it’s another sunny day for the guests on Shell Beach
And the other sycophants who engage this lucid dream
Apprehension resigned, the willful dismissal of reality satisfies the hive