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Vatican takes on the national scene
A look at the Savannah hardcore band’s acclaimed new EP

Vatican, WVRM, Breaking Wheel, Momentum, DMP

The Space Station at Starlandia

Monday, August 14, 8 p.m.

$8, all-ages

A LOCAL SHOW from Savannah’s own Vatican is a rarity these days, but with good reason.

The straight-edge metallic hardcore band has been busy touring in support of a new EP, ‘Ache of Eternity,’ released this week via Sorrow Carrier Records. They head home on Monday to celebrate the release with friends WVRM, Breaking Wheel, Momentum, and DMP.

Bandmates Jonathan Mackey, Nolan Mobley, Tom Lovejoy, Jonathan Whittle, and Josian Soto-Ramos have been taking the hardcore world by storm, earning the praise of genre leaders like Alternative Press,, Metal Injection, and more.

“Slit of Creation,” a single from ‘Ache of Eternity,’ and its accompanying video have been gaining particular traction for its powerful anti-suicide message. We chatted with Mobley about writing and recording the new EP, what people get wrong about hardcore, and being straight-edge in a to-go cup town.

The band’s only been around since 2015—you’ve done some amazing work in just two years. Did everyone enter into the project ready to release and tour as much as you are now? 

Only two of us have been around since the inception of the band and I would say a lot has changed since we started. The lineup we have now was formed around spring of last year. We all ultimately have the same goal and that is to write and tour as much as we possibly can. The band is very passionate about the music we are making and just want to continue crafting and pushing our own sound.

How did coming up in Savannah’s scene influence your sound and style? 

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say our location has had much impact on us. I’ve lived here my entire life, so one beneficial thing that comes of that is that I’d rather be writing or practicing whenever I can, rather than suffering through the heat most days. It’s hard to play in Savannah anymore for various reasons, but we’re excited to get this show together and have all of our friends playing as well. 

Many might associate identifying as straight edge with Christianity—particularly when referencing a band from the Bible Belt—but Vatican is “fueled by faith and a lack thereof.” Can you talk a little about that? 

Funny enough, we have people ask all the time if we are Christian or religious, but I don’t think any of us practice any religion (though some of us enjoy studying them). Our vocalist definitely likes sprinkling in religious nuances throughout our songs, which is definitely part of our style. I think part of that is built off of loss of loved ones, which leaves us with so many questions about our own existence that just can’t be answered.

As for the straight edge aspect of things, that is the one thing that we all take very seriously. It’s almost ironic being a straight edge metal/hardcore band from Savannah, Georgia because of it being such a bar town, but we are firm believers that having a clear body means having a clear mind. Anyone else can live how they want without judgment and we will keep the X’s on our hands.

I understand “Slit of Creation” and “Boundless Image” were written while mourning a friend’s death. What was it like creating through grief? 

The songs were completed musically before the loss of a close friend. He actually filmed the first time we played them. We felt that it was necessary to speak on touchy subjects like suicide and dealing with depression because most of us have been there mentally at some point or another and the entire situation was a real eye-opener. Rather than work around it, we wanted to dedicate our work to our friend’s memory and also remind others that there is hope, even when it feels like there isn’t. Writing through the experience helped us all grieve in our own way and I’m proud that we can forever play and listen to these songs in his honor.

What was the recording process like for ‘Ache of Eternity?’

We worked with Kris Hilbert at Legitimate Business, which is located in Greenville, North Carolina. He’s incredibly professional and drove us to try everything we wanted to do. We ran the guitars through two different amps at the same time to get a unique tone, added piano to a song, and messed around with weird effects that added texture to the songs. The session took four days, allowing us enough time to make sure we were totally happy with the final product. Overall, we’re incredibly pleased with the results.

The Savannah scene has shifted a lot since the band’s formation; has that impacted Vatican and your local booking? 

It absolutely has. There aren’t any locals within our realm of music here, so shows are few and far between. When we do have hardcore shows, we either have no locals or have to bring bands in from surrounding areas to fill the bill. We aren’t punk enough to fit on house shows, not metal enough for some bars, not relaxed enough for other bars, and all of that makes it possible for us to play one or two shows a year in our own hometown.

I think people have a misconception that hardcore is violent or this or that, but it’s not. That’s not to say that people haven’t gotten hurt while having fun, but the same can be said for most hobbies. Rare incidents do occur. The hardcore community is what I’m passionate about though and hopefully people that come to the show can get familiar with all of the incredible people I’ve gotten to meet throughout the years.

What’s the rest of 2017 hold for the band? Any particular shows you’re looking forward to? 

We will be finishing out our east coast tour not long after playing Savannah. We were fortunate enough to play a This is Hardcore Fest pre-show with All Else Failed in Philadelphia to start things off.

We just released ‘Ache of Eternity’ on vinyl through Sorrow Carrier Records, which people seem to be having a great reaction to.

We will be playing some dates to Texas in late September for Hope For Shelter Fest and will continue writing for our LP not long after that (though we have no real time frame for when that will be recorded and released). Other than that, we are just grateful for any and all of the opportunities we are receiving and will receive.