URIAH THOMAS (Dead End Path)
Name: Uriah Thomas, @uurriiaahh
Aliases: "Bumpo" (not a nick name by choice)
Location: Wilkes-Barre, PA
The beginning of it all. How did Hardcore enter your life and why, so many years later, are you still involved? What sort of a personal impact do you feel it has made on you as a person?
I've always been really into music. Since I was like 7 years old, I got really into skateboarding and with skateboarding came punk music. I got "Dookie" on cassette, a boombox and my first real skateboard the Christmas of 1995. I remember it like it was yesterday, it was such a huge moment for me. Every skate video I loved back then had the coolest soundtrack, of course it wasn't until years later I really fell in love with all those bands. Andy MacDonald skating to Farside in the Union Video, Simon Woodstock skating to Chain Of Strength in One Louder. I felt the energy of those bands when I would watch the videos. Fast forward a couple years later and after discovering Metal. Hatebreed was on the Tattoo The Earth tour with Slipknot, Slayer and Sepultura and I fell in love with them instantly. Something about that band was just heavier to me personally than those other bands. I don't know if it was just the realness of the lyrics or what, but after that I was hooked. Hatebreed ended up being my first "real" Hardcore show in 2001. They played a place called Homebase in Wilkes-Barre under a fake name. Frostbite, Horrorshow, Dead Wrong, Ensign and Strength For A Reason all played. It was the first time I really saw the energy of Hardcore in a live setting, I can't even describe that feeling. Terrifying but at the same time incredibly gratifying. Hardcore has been my life ever since. It's cliche to say but I honestly have no fucking idea where I would be if it wasn't for Hardcore. It's scary even thinking about it because I could have gone in so many terrible directions. It guided me, in a way it was sort of like a father figure to me.
Dead End Path is a band that I first started noticing in/around 2009. Give a brief history on the band — how it came about, how the demo came to be written and recorded and what's led up to the bands existence to date.
We started in the summer of 2009. Foose (our bass player) and I wanted to start a NYHC influenced band. I'm not gonna front and say it was a completely original idea, I mean every band at the time was doing the "heavy" and "hard" thing but we knew exactly what wanted to do. We wanted to mix Death Threat with Breakdown and Outburst. Death Threat was actually the one band we originally based DEP off. That was before Ryan joined the band, he kind of had other things in mind for our sound. A more metallic edge, but at the same time more melody. I went on tour for a couple weeks and while I was gone Foose got everyone together and started jamming and by the time I got back, we practiced once or twice and the demo was written. We recorded our demo September 1st, 2009 and played our first show September 24th with Foundation. We played a bunch of shows, did our first tour that winter with Backtrack, Downpresser and Swamp Thing. That's when we met Sam BBB and he asked us to be a part of BBB. We played a ton of shows, recorded our 7" in March 2010, toured some more then recorded our first LP March 2011 and I'm so proud of it. We did a spring tour with Title Fight and now we're just taking things as they come. It's been an incredible experience thus far.
What really drew me to the band initially were the lyrics. You dwell a lot on the loss and malfunction of a relationship you had with your father — a subject that I know a lot of people in the Hardcore scene can relate to, myself included. What is the intent of the lyrics you write about him?
I grew up never knowing my Dad, never knowing anything about him and kind of thinking it was normal. Like that's how a "normal" family was. Just my Mom, my brother and I. It wasn't until I got older than I realized that's not really how it was and hard it was for my Mom to raise us by herself. That's also about the time when I started getting angry about it. I wanted answers, I wanted his love and approval, I wanted to punch him in the face. I didn't want to live in the trailer park anymore, I didn't want to get picked on every day anymore. I guess the selfish part of me blames him for that, like it was HIS fault that we lived there and it was HIS fault that I got picked on. Being that young and having those feelings and emotions was very hard and confusing for me. I never acted out though, I'm the type of person who just keeps things bottled up. It wasn't until I joined Dead End Path when I finally had a good, positive outlet for all these feelings I've been feeling for a long time. I know my father will never read my lyrics but maybe someone will and it might give them hope.
There is a line in "Only Begotten Son" that especially hits home for me being a new father myself that says, "I'll do what he didn't do and I'll be the better man". How has your past affected the person you are today? How you taken examples from your childhood that you hated and applied them in a positive manner to your life now?
Great question. A lot of my lyrics are focused on my past and how it has affected me. Whether it be in a positive or negative way. Growing up around people who were completely complacent in their dull day to day lives bored the shit out of me. I never wanted to be like those people. I knew I wanted to do something more but at the same time not having the resources or guidance to do it made me frustrated. This might sound stupid but I felt like a caged bird, living in a trailer park surrounded by people who I had nothing in common with and wanting to break out but not knowing how at the time was really defeating. Luckily my Mom moved us out of there while we were still young enough but I carried that shame for a long time. Looking back though, and seeing those experiences, they really did make me a stronger and better person. I shouldn't have been ashamed of where I lived, it was the best my Mom could do at the time. I see that now and I guess thinking about it, it kind of makes me feel guilty having had those feelings. I have always felt that the good and bad, the "normal" and not normal experiences you have in your life, shape it and make you a smarter and stronger person.
What prompted you to start and be the front man for a band? What sort of message, if any, are you trying to convey through your ability to reach so many people being a front man and lyricist?
It's weird because I never would have thought in a million years that I would have fronting a band. I'm kind of a shy, introverted person with incredible stage fright and public speaking fears. I guess it was just something I felt I had to do at the time. It's cool knowing I can get on stage and people are going to listen to the things I have to say. It's a really positive thing I have in my life actually. When we first started the band, everything I wrote about what centered around me and my life experience. It still is in a sense, but I feel like now not only do I have the freedom to talk about things that directly and indirectly affect my life like homophobia and sexism in Hardcore but also a responsibility to do so. Yeah sure, I could get on stage and say nothing about anything remotely "important" but I don't want to waste your money or my time. All of my favorite bands had something to say and that's why they're my favorite bands. I'm young, I'm angry and I have shit to say too, and I have the perfect opportunity to do so why not?
Dead End Path is soon to be releasing an incredible debut full length entitled "Blind Faith". I've been fortunate enough to have heard the record as it was developing from demo tracks to completion and I think it came together incredibly. Give us a little insight on the process of making that record. How do you feel it came out in the end?
Thanks man that really means a lot. The whole process was really fucking cool actually. From realizing we were going to write an LP, to writing an LP to recording it and putting it out... it's been a blast. Super stressful at times but I feel like the stress is completely worth the end result. I'm really proud of the record, I honestly couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. We all knew we wanted to take "our" sound and play with it and retool it a little bit. It's obviously still us, but it's the most aggressive, heavy and angry thing we've done up to this point. It's subtle though, some people might listen and say "it's a lot faster than the other stuff they've done" or "it's gotten more melodic", both are true but I don't think either of those take away from the emotion or aggression of the record. If anything I think it adds to it. It's darker, the subject matter is more serious. The people that have heard it seem to be really into it and that is an incredible feeling. I'm really proud of "Blind Faith", I speak for everyone in the band when I say that. I haven't really read too many "bad" reviews, maybe a few but I welcome all input. I just want people to be honest with their opinions, it helps make better records in the future.
The topic on this newest record revolves around faith. I think every song actually incorporates the word faith which I thought was very clever. Was this a conceptual idea you had for the record or did it just happen that way?
The whole idea of "faith" on the record is something I've been thinking about for a long time. Having faith in something and losing it. Having faith in friends/family/God and being let down by all. Finding faith in new things, people, places, humanity. Every song is about something different but it all gets tied in with this word, this idea. "Blind Faith" really sums up the concept of the record perfectly. You go into things blindly not entirely sure how they're going to turn out and having faith, whether it be shaky or completely that things are going to turn out in your favor. It can be a great feeling or a really defeating and shitty feeling. Every song deals with that in some way. Whether it be positive or negative, everyone has faith in something.
Name your top 3 lyricists, a line of your favorite lyric(s) by them and how it equates to you on a personal level.
Fuck dude, such a hard question. Chaka from Burn is probably my number one. Taking things like animal rights and writing about them in a such a way that even a meat loving fat dude from the pizza capital of the world can relate to. Seriously though, he spoke about important things in such a smart and reverent way that it really makes you open your eyes and kind of relate even when in some situations you really can't. His delivery, his urgency, everything about his lyrics are great. Chuck Schuldiner from Death is another one. He was this crazy metal dude and if you read his lyrics he isn't talking about Satan or killing people — he actually had shit to say. I'm no lyrical analysts but when I read his lyrics I sense compassion for life and human beings. The music is so heavy but the lyrics are incredibly deep and meaningful. Just read the lyrics to "Mentally Blind" or "The Philosopher", that shit is deep. Basically saying fuck stereotypes, this is who I am and fuck you if you can't accept it. Last but not least would be Ned from Title Fight. I guess it's kind of a weird answer but that band seriously means more to me than anyone could imagine. There are a lot of little references in those lyrics that I can relate to on many levels. I relate perfectly to those lyrics, they helped me out a lot.
Honorable mentions: Jules from Side By Side/Alone In A Crowd, not just typical youth crew type finger pointing in his lyrics but alot of genuine thought. Skip from Turning Point/Godspeed/Memorial Day, same thing as Jules. A lot more going on than you'd expect from a singer in a Hardcore band, especially the late era stuff. I think you see a great progression of a kid who is really angry to a young adult who is really angry and as he got older, the lyrics got more introspective and cloudy. Very vague but very straight to the point as well. George Hirsch (Blacklisted), great lyricist overall. Not afraid to take a look at himself in a less than flattering way and that to me is fucking awesome.
Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire?
Haha! Great question! Well, I've been off the sauce for almost 8 months but to answer this question - there is nothing better than a Tanqueray and tonic. It's the drink of a true gentlemen and I thank you for turning me on to those. It's like Christmas in a cup.
Thank you very much for letting me do this interview. Shout out to United Youth singer Dana Tackas who just got his jaw unwired. Shout out to BNB for always showing us love. Check out "Blind Faith". Download it, buy it, steal it off a friend, steal it off me — I don't give a fuck, just check it out!