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Truck Violence Are All Revved Up 

Introducing your new favourite progressive hardcore band — cheeky, self-aware, and here to help you channel some of that excess rage and disillusionment. 

by Myles Tiessen

Photos by SCUM

Growing up in the oppressive shadow of the Athabasca tar sands, the experimental hardcore band Truck Violence’s rhapsodic frontman Karsyn Henderson has an unusually close understanding of humanity’s expansive and consumptive nature. 

Known as the heart of Canada’s petroleum production, the area’s resource extraction makes the economy as thick as the boreal forest that surrounds Northeast Alberta. In tandem, however, it shatters that environment with a lethal level of self-induced pollution. For Henderson, that strange and eternally mystifying part of the world almost exists outside civilization.

It was in this context that Henderson met a friend in Truck Violence’s eventual guitarist, Paul Lecours. Lecours moved to Alberta from Ontario at a young age, and the two bonded over a mutual love of hardcore, noise, and anything that would stimulate their young minds. The duo relocated to Montréal immediately after graduating high school to pursue music, finally arriving at a new debut full-length, Violence, which contains their most impressive work to date. 

Violence is abrasive, overwhelmingly volatile, and as heavy as a black hole. It shakes the Earth with the power of a volcanic eruption and buckles any speakers that dare play it. For Henderson, it’s a direct response to what he witnessed while moving from small-town Alberta to big-city Québec. “A lot of things that you’d see [in Montréal] can be quite shocking,” he says. “Things like human ingenuity or whether that’s just feeling like a drop in the bucket, whether that’s experiencing what this epidemic of homelessness really looks like up close and personal.”

“I think when I first moved here, I trusted in the goodness of people. Not just people, but in the goodness of culture, and in organizations, and communities, and I think I’ve had a lot of disillusionment with the goodness of people.”

All these things contribute to the bitterness felt in Violence. Henderson growls through the album with complete contempt, asking, “Is anything ever truly going to be good?” on “The gash.” At moments, he screams so loud his voice sounds ready to burn up at any second, and at others – particularly during the acoustic “Guns buried in the front yard” – he pensively mumbles. 

Regardless, his energy always matches the electricity of the musicians around him, who play with the careful juvenility of a young band and the technical wizardry of venerable masters. With Ryan Klima annihilating the kit, understated yet demented bass lines from Chris Clegg, and Lecour’s searing metallic guitar, the whole collective is pissed off and working at the top of their game. 

It’s clear through the quality of production that the band holds a high standard for themselves, and “Lecture” literally shows their hunger for excellence as Henderson unravels and builds his lyrics on the spot. “From the lecture to confessional / Agh, that doesn’t sound good,” he screams, irritated. Then, later in the song, trying to find the right words: “It’s gotta be around here somewhere.”

“I think of myself more as a writer than I am a musician in a lot of ways,” Henderson says. “I really like artists and writers who don’t take language too seriously or play around with it like you play around with an instrument.”  

 

 

“I really like artists and writers who don’t take language too seriously or play around with it like you play around with an instrument.”  

Karsyn Henderson (Truck Violence)

 

Henderson’s writing is metaphorically dense and reliant on symbols and allegories to help contextualize themes, which he says “gives a little bit more life and longevity” to the tracks. Inspired by 19th-century Russian romantic poetry and the works of writers like Marina Tsvetaeva or Maximilian Voloshin, Henderson says the idea of legacy looms over much of Violence.

In the album’s opening track, “Undressed you layn’t before,” he plays with the idea of vanity and vulnerability, whispering, “When I read my favourite books I can’t help but feel inadequate / Like, I’ll never be interesting enough to have a collection of prose written about me / And ultimately that’s my goal / To be written about.”  

In response to those lines, which he admits are rather humorous, he expresses an equally severe response: “What’s my legacy going to be, or what am I working towards? What are we collectively working towards? What kind of presence am I going to have after I drop off?”

He says these thoughts collide with recent feelings of being drawn back to his home – a place where the beauty of the land and the hospitality of a hamlet filled with family stand in stark contrast to the violence and extraction that sustains the oil sands. “I’m not at all detached from where I live or my experiences, but my experiences are not at all detached from me,” reflects Henderson. In that, Violence is a devotion to the collision of rural isolation and the assault of the city.