Sup everybody, thanks to anyone who checked out that last post. That was the best feedback i’ve ever received from anything I have posted. I recently have been writing down my goals and one of them was to get up to 1000 views on here. I achieved that in about 3 months. It foreal means the world to me that you guys actually check this out, share these posts, show friends, etc, thank you so much foreal. This week I decided to sit and speak with my favorite vocalist in the hardcore scene, Jon Ortiz. I’ve known Jon for some years now due to being in the local hardcore/punk music scene. I was first introduced to Jon when he was the vocalist of my favorite hardcore band at the time WARHOUND. My favorite thing about Jon is his vocal flow and patterns. Jon has a very distinct style from many other vocalists, he has a hip-hop/rap vocal pattern that makes any band he’s in stand out. Once traveling the world with WARHOUND, Jon is now doing a great job with bringing his new band Mal Intent to be one of the biggest Chicago hardcore bands & he’s doing a great job of growing and bringing positivity to the hardcore scene. Check out the interview with him below!
Yo what’s going man, introduce yourself & what you do?
Yo! My name is Jon Ortiz, I book shows under the name The Current State and sing for Mal Intent.
Lets take it back, when did you first start getting into hardcore?
I got into Hardcore when I was a sophomore in high school (25 now). I had a very tight group of friends in school that started getting into it themselves. I didn’t know shit about it and got invited to go see Champion and I didn’t go haha I decided to check out bands like Champion, Death before dishonor, Terror etc after school one day and got hooked. I always watched Headbangers Ball back in the day and was into the metal shit like Shadows Fall, Chimara, Lamb of god, Slipknot etc. I still listen to those bands but Hardcore was the breath of fresh air I needed.
What gravitated you towards hardcore?
I would say how much I was able to connect with the lyrics and the energy of it all. Each band had a different identity and it didn’t seem like they were trying to have the most badass solo on a record or the most lyrics of how they were going to murder someone and play with their guts. It was all Real life shit that I could relate to. Positively & negative in one style and I loved it.
What was the first show you attended & thought to yourself, I want to do this for the rest of my life?
The first Hardcore show I ever attended was 100 Demons, Madball, Terror and Have Heart at the Logan Square Auditorium. It was insane to me, everyone jumping off stage, singing along, seeing people getting punched in the face, the barricade not lasting at all haha it was perfect. I wanted to start a band like that real bad, but that unfortunately didn’t end up happening till a few years later.
How would you describe hardcore, or the hardcore scene for those who don’t know?
Hardcore is different for everyone, there’s no way to be like this is what hardcore is this is what hardcore isn’t. You make of it what you want. What hardcore to me is is the ability to help someone in need, to give back even if you’ve dealt with stupid bullshit in life. To me it’s knowing that a show can change my life again and again and again. It is a way of life and honestly it isn’t for everyone. I’ve seen people leave the scene and never come back but a lot of people I grew with in the scene are still here, still booking shows, still attending, still play in bands everything. It’s for people who want to let everything out. An excuse to scream at the top of your lungs, move around in the pit like an animal, to feel accepted around a crowd of people who feel the same way you do.
So lets talk about Warhound, was there anyone who ever helped you guys out, or shed knowledge for you guys, when you were starting to becoming a touring band?
To be honest, no. But we did have people like Shane Merrill show us the way early on we always talked about his memories at shows the shows he booked who he saw back in the day and we were always in awe. We pretty much saw what was around us and decided what was wrong and what was right by ourselves. Being from the Midwest it’s a lot harder to get your name out so touring was the only option.
That’s what’s up, Shane is definitely a good guy. You’ve been able to travel to many cool places, tell us where has been your favorite place you’ve been on tour?
Japan. By far. The hardcore scene is incredible, the culture is amazing, the scenery is beautiful. I loved it over there.
You’re now the second person i’ve interviewed who has said Japan culture is super sweet haha. You’re currently the vocalist of Mal Intent, but you’ve been in plenty of past bands as well. What did you take away from those bands and exposure and put into Mal Intent?
Just to have as much fun as possible. To give everything I have while I’m singing because you never know when it could all stop.
For anyone who has heard your vocal patterns, whether it was war hound, or mal intent, you’ve always had a hip hop/rap vocal pattern. Was your pattern always like that, or did you grow up on hip hop and see the comparisons from hip hop to hardcore?
I did grow up on rap and SOME hip hop. My style was actually Nico Lacorcias and Ronnie Vinals idea. I was always into just yelling haha they really helped me mold my voice into what it is now. In the studio they were always like “try this” “try that” and it really pushed my style. Gotta really thank them for that.
That’s tight, because you have one of the most distinct styles in the scene. Describe your writing process? How do you go about writing, and what do you tend to write about? Where do you draw your influences from?
It’s probably no different than anybody else but I just wait till a certain part of a song is done and I write to it. There’s always things I hate so I go back and change the patterns till I really like them and don’t think they sound like anything else I’ve done. As far as the topics go it’s usually what’s going on around me. Whether feeling alone at times, struggling to grasp the concept of life and death, politics all that boring shit haha
You’ve been going to shows for years now, what do you think has changed in the chicago hardcore scene, good or bad. How’s the scene currently? Do you feel chicago has it’s own style?
It’s had its waves for sure. Right now it’s in such a solid place that it always gets me stoked about the next show that happens. I feel that Chicago has its own thing and it always has. It’s not something that you can pinpoint it’s just how I feel about the Chicago scene.
Do you like seeing hardcore become a bit more popular? Back in the day it tended to be a more underground thing, but now-a-days, you see a whole NEW ton of kids out and attending these shows. Do you believe these newer kids should go back and do their history on how hardcore started and grew?
To me it’s cool as fuck when someone new comes to a show. I always make it a point to introduce myself to them. I want them to keep coming back because like I said before shows can change your life over and over again, I want other people to feel what I feel. I definitely think people should know there history. The deeper you dig into the history the more you will fall in love with it all.
Over the years do you think hardcore has evolved into other genres? Now-a-days you tend to see the word hardcore get thrown around very loosely?
Absolutely, but it’s cool because you can definitely be like “oh shit that riff sounds like Madball or something biohazard would’ve played” it’s cool as fuck to see people push the boundaries.
For the past couple of years you’ve been booking shows under the name “The Current State” Where did the name come from, and what made you want to contribute back to the scene?
Im always excited about new bands coming out and hearing what bands have to bring to the table. The Current State came from me just wanting to see the health of the scene continue to thrive and get better as the years go on. Booking current bands,throwing benefits is what it’s all about. Giving bands a chance to play in front of a new crowd and helping someone in need is all I wanted to do with this. Hardcore gave me a lot when my dad passed on, most of all peace of mind. The Current State of hardcore is beautiful and will always be if you want it to be. Do what you can to contribute to the current state of the scene.
What have you been able to take away from hardcore? What life lessons have you learned that you have applied to your everyday life?
That not everything is what it seems, to speak out if you have an issue with something, to give back and continue giving. It taught me to be grateful for everything I have and to never forget where I came from.
What’s next for The Current State & Mal Intent?
The Current State will be booking a ton of shows next year, continue to bring new bands out and continue to help those who are in need. For Mal Intent we’re currently writing and going to be releasing some new music beginning of next year we are also talking about possibly hitting the East and West coast sometime next year.
Any shoutouts you would like to give?
I want to give a shoutout to Shane Merrill for all that he continues to do for the Chicago scene. He inspired me to be doing what I’m doing today. All my homies from Chicago/ Indiana. NO VICTORY, BLACKWATER, BITTER THOUGHTS, BODYBAG, CROSS ME, THE KILLER, BLOOD IN BLOOD OUT, PRESENCE OF FEAR, DETAIN, INFERNO, LOWERED AD, WARHOUND, WEEKEND NACHO, SPINE, SHORT FUSE, THROUGH AND THROUGH, VICE NY, YOUTH CRISIS. And you Nico, thank you.
Thank you Jon for taking the time to do this. Check out some live pictures from Jon throughout the years below, also his contact information, and band links!
The Current State Booking –
Mal Intent – https://www.facebook.com/MALINTENTCHI?fref=ts