Winnipeg band mixes styles in upcoming EP
Local quartet on mathcore, politics and producing an EP during COVID-19

Image provided by hopscotchbattlescars.

Since the early days of the internet, the web has been the birthplace of great bands and musicians. One of the latest is hopscotchbattlescars, a local four-piece mathcore band that isn’t afraid to mix politics and humour in heavy tunes. The Manitoban sat down with the members of hopscotchbattlescars to discuss their origins as well as their debut EP and upcoming show.

In September 2020, just before Manitoba’s second wave of COVID-19 sent the city into quarantine, hopscotchbattlescars began with just two members — Wyatt King on drums and co-lead vocals and Simone on guitar and co-lead vocals.

Despite being stuck in lockdown, King and Simone didn’t let distance keep them from writing and recording music. Similar to bands creating music in DIY scenes in the early 2000s who used the internet to share their music, hopscotchbattlescars used new social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube to write music and further their reach.

“We developed the project by writing, recording and releasing songs from our respective homes, sending audio files and voice memos back and forth in order to put songs together,” King said.

“The process of writing over Facebook Messenger is strange. It’s kind of like each of us have half of a different puzzle and we are forcing them together into one.”

The band released three singles this way and recruited two new members in 2021: Jude Zeglinski on guitar and Erik Stokes on bass guitar and backing vocals.

With musical influences such as SeeYouSpaceCowboy, Kaonashi, the Callous Daoboys, MouthBreather, Protest the Hero and Ed Gein, the band’s music is fueled by an eclectic set of interests and is best described by the metal subgenre mathcore.

“Mathcore is a genre that blends elements and sounds of hardcore and metalcore with the mindset of free jazz,” King explained.

What this leaves listeners with is a heavy sound that incorporates a variety of vocal, drum and guitar styles from many genres. Mathcore is also inherently juxtapositional and is often characterized by contrasting sections of technical precision and chaos, which hopscotchbattlescars layers into their music with skill.

“We each are pulling from such a vast pool of influences,” King said.

“I don’t always want the changes between sections to be logical. I love the jarring nature of starting a song with an intense black metal-esque blast beat with shrieking vocals and wailing tremolo guitars and then immediately switching into a disco beat with sass vocals and syncopated panic chords.”

Another impact on the band’s sound has been their experience as an “internet band.”

“We are honestly all too young to have any real nostalgia for [the] Myspace age, but we all have a lot of love for those bands,” King said.

“We are also really into this new crop of bands that are bringing back these ‘Myspace sounds’ […] because of how they are working these flavours into more modern styles of mathcore and noise.”

The band employs juxtaposition in terms of lyrical content as well. Although they are an explicitly political band, they often use humour as a way to get their message across.

“In our lyrics we are often covering heavy topics such as homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, corruption, climate issues, class issues [and] race issues,” King said.

“For me, it’s about striking that balance, where I am talking about serious subject matter, but adding in some silly stuff so it isn’t just full-out depressing.”

The band is set to release its debut EP first name hopscotch, last name battlescars on Oct. 15. The EP consists of four brand-new tracks which discuss broad topics such as cancel culture, commercial fishing and anonymous hate, to name just a few.

The day following the EP release, Oct. 16, hopscotchbattlescars will be playing a show at Bulldog Pizza alongside other emerging local musicians GLADLY, Lowlife, Poodle Paddle and SLEECH.

“It’s not for people who are genre-elitist or close-minded,” King said.

“It’s just kind of a showcase of what Winnipeg has been doing in the last two years.”