Botch: “It’s been so good to close things off properly, to write the ending to this story that we wanted to”

Finding a sweet spot between the fast and loose energy that won their reputation and putting on a show befitting the more mature individuals (and much bigger band) they’ve transformed into over that time away has been key. Reconnecting with these songs – and the feelings from which they sprung – in the live arena is a vital part of that.

“On several occasions I’ve felt this real euphoric juice,” enthuses Dave, “where I remember the reasons I wrote what I did and how it still works after all these years…”

But it’s also about seeing new audiences’ perspective.

“There’s been a lot of grappling with how we were never that band who played in bigger rock clubs, but that we’re coming back with so much more attention,” expands Brian. “A real challenge has been to keep the energy and spirit of Botch while still allowing people to actually see us. I remember going to see the band Assück at More Than Music Fest in Columbus, Ohio, in 1998. They were these grind legends who refused to even play on a stage. I think [the ethics of that are] so cool, but it’s less cool to think about the 1,000 people who showed up to see the set and how only like 30 actually could. It’s always about eliminating the boundary between artists and crowd. In hardcore, everyone is part of the show. But how do you do that in the age of barricades and insurance clauses? It’s been tricky. But I think we’ve presented this music in a way that stays true.”

It’s also been about trying to connect with and progress the genre around them. Questioned about the genre-busting state of hardcore today, they’re quick to remind us that by the time they left off in 2002, Botch were barely recognisable as a ‘hardcore band’, and far more interested in genuinely boundary-pushing outfits like Shellac or Don Caballero than a scene that had been enveloped by the glossy world of Hot Topic and Warped Tour. As much as they’ve enjoyed the sharing stages with old mates Converge and Cave In again, giving the rub to younger talent was more important.

“We didn’t want this just to be a nostalgia run,” stresses Brian. “I didn’t want to be the equivalent to the hair metal bands that would play the sad rock club on the edge of town at the end of the ’90s.

“We tried to follow the same sense of community and creative spirit that we’ve always been about, and to elevate those younger bands doing the same thing, whether that be Roman Candle and Negative Blast or others like FACS and Primitive Man, neither of whom you’d consider as hardcore, but who make music that’s challenging and exciting, dangerous and subversive. It’s about that hardcore feeling of music making you say, ‘Holy shit, what is this sound?!’ I’ll always choose the challenging over the formulaic. And if that’s ‘not hardcore’? So what? Hardcore is just a fucking word, anyway!”

“We’re not playing shows in churches or Denny’s,” shrugs Dave. “We’re not part of that hardcore scene. Those kids probably just see us as ‘Dudes that were popular back in the ’90s’, anyway.”