Based in Asheville, North Carolina, a hotspot for up ‘n’ coming alternative music outfits, this post-punk band (with an emphasis on punk) recently released their intense and visceral Burn My Body Clean EP via Florida record label Godless America.
The main lyrical drive of the EP is dealing with grief before healing can begin. The group’s singer, songwriter, and guitarist Lowell Hobbs lost his mother to cancer in 2019, and he grapples with the psychological fallout – pain, anger, depression, and more…
And while the songs’ lyrics may be bleak and questioning, the sound is aggressive and restless, leaning more towards defiant punk and raging hardcore than the traditional dispassionate or wiry post-punk style.
The tracks can also be interpreted in various ways to encompass loss and disconnection in any form – from death to the pandemic and the resulting restrictions to self-isolation from whatever the cause.
Tongues of Fire bass player Maddie Kendrick kindly took part in our ongoing Protest Interview series, staying positive, taking action, and encouraging others to do the same.
Hello! Please introduce yourself/yourselves and give a description of your sound/musical vision.
Hello! My name is Maddie Kendrick, and I play bass in Tongues of Fire. We’re a post-punk band [that’s also] composed of Lowell Hobbs on lead guitar, Eli Raymer on drums, and Brett J. Kent on rhythm guitar, as well as synth.
What is/are the main personal, national, and/or international issue(s) concerning you the most these days?
Personally, the climate crisis is always on my mind, as well as the crumbling political infrastructure we’re currently living through. In regards to the climate crisis, it’s particularly soul-crushing to watch. As individuals, we can take as much action as possible, but it still comes down to major corporations being willing to give up profits for literally saving humanity.
With our current political system, all of us are watching voter suppression take foot like it never has before, as well as watching dangerous political extremists take office. Misinformation is alive and well, and it’s terrifying to watch it take over the government as well as the mainstream in the way it has.
What song, video, or lyrics quote of yours best represents your current viewpoint on this/these important topic(s)?
Our most recent record Burn My Body Clean is about topics very close to Lowell. However, I personally feel like one of our most recent singles, “Room,” really exemplified the effect the pandemic had on most people’s mental health and state of the world.
What’s your favorite song, video, or lyrics quote by another act or artist that best exemplifies, or at least partly relates to, your current viewpoint?
Personally, the line “you tell me that I make no difference, at least I’m fucking trying” from the song “In My Eyes” by Minor Threat personifies how I’ve been feeling in regard to the world as of late. It’s so easy to get lost in the sheer amount of horrible things that are happening at any given moment, and I’ve personally been ridiculed and told that nothing I do makes any kind of difference. Giving in to burnout in terms of activism is a slippery slope, and you have to put forth concentrated effort not to.
What other forms of protest, besides through your music, are you involved with to get your message across?
I personally try to do grassroots activism work in my local community, be that emailing and calling representatives, attending protests, donating money/supplies to local organizations that need them, or simply spreading the word about what needs to be done. I try to live as close to a waste-free, carbon-neutral lifestyle as possible.
It’s easy to judge and criticize others, even with the recent sea change in the U.S. government. The residual effects of the past four years with a hateful and destructive president and his administration still linger. The fact remains that we need to work together to ensure that positive change occurs. Name an action to take, or an organization that would be worthwhile to contribute to, for your cause.
Go to protests if you’re comfortable. Call out your friends when they’re acting poorly. Take the time to do your own research and educate yourself so you can be a part of the solution.
There’s so many organizations working tirelessly to improve the world we live in. I’d personally like to encourage everyone to donate their time or money to either BeLoved Asheville, or The Sunrise Movement. (There are local chapters of The Sunrise Movement that you can also get involved with!)
What gives you hope for the future?
Seeing how much people in my age group care. I know so many people who have put so much of their time in organizing and taking action, and we’re slowly starting to see the effects in action. Everything is only a lost cause when people act like it, and I don’t think we’re anywhere near that point.
Where can we purchase/stream your music and find out more about you?
From our Bandcamp! https://tonguesofire.bandcamp.com/