Sullen Eyes – Swallowed by the Depths. San Diego HxC/MxC.

Sullen Eyes @ The Che Café – Photo by @korey_cramer

Noah Mercer (Vox): I f****** love goth and dark wave… All the different industrial genres. I’m always trying to listen to things that aren’t metalcore or hardcore. I feel like, in our genres, there are a lot of repeated tropes, but we all appreciate different music. Trying to pull inspiration from different genres keeps us away from a lot of stereotypes. But that hoodie (pictured above) is actually my partner’s and they’re a ginormous Siouxsie fan. I stole it for the show <haha>, but no, I love The Cure, Molchat Doma… Sometimes I draw influence from the bleakness that they they talk about in the music. But also the contrast of how you can turn something so dark into a love song. 

All photos by @korey_cramer

Michael Fechter (Drums): I write everything with guitar and drums at the same time. I don’t do one first and the other later, both kind of end up happening at the same time. I’ll come up with a riff but while I’m writing I already know what the drums are gonna be doing, or at least the direction I want them to be in. 

NM: San Diego has so much to offer in terms of bands, but we do lack venue variety. There’s a couple of all-ages spots, but most of the time gigs are 21 & up. There used to be a venue back in the day in Mira Mesa called Epicenter it was like a s***** little rec center, but it had some of the craziest lineups growing up.

My first-ever experience, there were people throwing trash cans across the room… They had a couch in there that people were ripping apart, throwing the frame around – it was the first time I had experienced that side of hardcore, just eye-opening.

MF: Hardcore is the heart of the scene out here, I would say. I don’t know what it is but everyone just bleeds it… I lived in LA for a few years in the Hollywood area, so I was able to check out that scene near The Whiskey, The Rainbow, stuff like that – it felt so scattered and just all over the place. I never really caught on to a definitive genre in that region. Moving back here and being able to compare, I can say that the community we have is really solid. 

NM: I definitely feel like there’s been a boom in hardcore recently – partly due to TikTok making anything and everything blow up. And with that, I’ve seen shows getting more & more expensive. I can’t say exactly what it is, I don’t book shows or know the logistics behind it, but I will say going to a show at 20 to 25 dollars can feel a little weird, especially in extremely DIY spaces… But yeah, I would say there are a lot more people in hardcore now because of social media. That’s when people only start seeing music as a monetary opportunity – when they know no matter what they charge, people will come to the shows. That’s a disservice. So many kids want to take part in their local scenes but can’t because they don’t have the money or it’s not all ages or something like that. 

MF: I want to say we don’t have a big metalcore scene, but compared to hardcore, it’s definitely the dominant genre here. Which is weird since we’re metalcore, but we kind of ride on the line. We definitely get billed with more hardcore bands.

I like to think that we can fit in with most things in metalcore and most things in hardcore leaving a nice middle ground that we can kind of bounce between. We’ll play DIY shows with Skitzoids, buriedbutstillbreathing, but we can also hit Brick by Brick to open for A Skylit Drive and it’s not too shocking of a difference. We’re definitely not like August Burns Red metalcore, but at the same time we would like to play with a band like that. It wouldn’t be uncomfortably different.

NM: But I would say my favorite shows are the ones that are on the more hardcore side of things. Those kids just get down different, you know?

I feel like San Diego is one of those cities that very much likes crowd-killing. But wherever you go, it’s gonna be a very divided topic. I could see both sides, I’ve been crowd-killed… Personally, I understand it’s a part of the genre, the culture. It’s bound to happen eventually. I’m standing right on the side, I shouldn’t be mad if someone hits me in the face. It’s like the splash zone at Sea World, you stand there at your own risk <haha>.

You don’t really see it at big venues like House of Blues or anything, that s*** doesn’t fly. You’ll get thrown out. But when there’s an opportunity, more often than not, people will take the opportunity to crowdkill. But usually, it’s just homies hitting homies in my experience. I’ve never seen someone beat the f*** out of a random person. There’s a lot of videos on the internet… <haha> People always get pissed off about crowd shots. I’m always like, Those guys probably dapped up after this.

MF: At the local level, a lot of people only go to shows for their friends; once their homies play, they peace out. I feel like it would be better for everyone if people just stuck around for the show. It’s probably my only beef with hardcore, but that goes for any scene, any genre. That was a big part of the old San Diego scene – before and into high school, people went to shows all the time just to go to shows. I used to go to Soma every weekend and sometimes I didn’t even know who was playing, but I knew I’d have or make friends there and just wanted to hear good music and have a good time.

MF: This is the first time where we’re not just jumping into a record drop, you know? We’re trying to be a little more meticulous about it. We haven’t dropped anything since 2021 but the past year has been us trying to fine-tune and make everything sound as perfect as possible. This coming year when everything drops, we wanna get it to as many people as we can, as best as we can, and really make that difference in how we get our stuff out. 

NM: We’ve been playing our new songs live to test & see if the crowd’s gonna f*** with it… I f****** love playing our new stuff and I’ve been seeing people react the same way. There’s more energy and it’s more well-rounded. That gap helped with writing a lot – we really haven’t played too many shows recently, so once we finally got our guys we started looking at this project & new music as a group effort. We’re writing in the background, really taking this time to get to ourselves.

To be featured in our December Issue – drops this Saturday at our release show. All proceeds go to bands.


By Hector Zaldivar

Professional magician. @hexzald