Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mike Clarke - MINDSET

Mike Bringin' It Down with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke

One of our goals here at DCXX for 2010 was to try and mix more current bands into our content, so why not kick it off with Maryland's own… Mindset. If you're active in today's hardcore scene, you're probably already familiar with Mindset because they've undoubtedly been busy making their mark. If you're not so active and come here more so to read the classic material, now's your chance to see what kind of impact the hardcore we all love is having on today's generation. Mindset's guitarist, Mike Clarke took some time out of his schedule to answer the following questions. Check it out. -Tim DCXX

Mike and Evan with Mindset at Champion Ship, Lemoyne, PA, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke

How did you get into straight edge hardcore and what made it leave such a powerful impact on your life?

Well, I enjoy when people ask me this because it's a fairly humorous story. I was definitely WAY into punk rock before I ever stumbled onto the core. Being from a very small town in rural Maryland, I didn't have anybody pointing me in the right direction so I had to really dig to find the type of tunes I was looking for.

As sheltered as I was, I knew enough to know that Minor Threat was (and is) the coolest band ever and that straightedge was fucking awesome. Now I know I promised some mild humor in this story so prepare yourself. I was flipping through the insert of Total Chaos' "Punk Invasion" Lp and noticed a skinhead with his arm around a clean cut looking dude with a Gorilla Biscuits shirt. Of course, GB is such a weird name that next time I was in a Record And Tape Traders, I picked up a copy of Start Today. I figured if skinheads were hanging out with fans of this band, they must be cool. My logic proved flawless.

From there it's the same kind of story...inserts, records, internet, Revelation Records and so on. I definitely have Total Chaos to thank for turning me onto the core though.

As far as the impact on my life? I mean, the edge is awesome. I think most readers of DCXX have heard it all but I will say, it's totally changed my life. I see substance abuse ruining lives all around me. I can't figure it out and I don't try too. I know what's right for me so I stick with it.

Mini Stigma and Chris with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke

How did Mindset get started and what were a few of your biggest goals?

I started MINDSET when I was 17. We've been around a long time but it's always been in different phases, and different levels of seriousness. We didn't really buckle down and get serious or do anything until 2006 or so. We got a serious line up, we developed our ideas and concepts as far as what we were all about.

Ev and I are the only original members, but it's always been him and I. We've been friends since 9th grade. We would just stay up all night talking about what mattered to us and why we wanted to do MINDSET. That was a super cool time for the band. Nobody gave a shit about us, we didn't have any merch, we only played Baltimore and Central PA. It was very fresh and felt so awesome.

I think our goals are pretty simple and the same now as they were then. Mostly we just want to have fun, be sincere, and really HAVE OUR SAY. Ev always jokes because he's not the most musically inclined dude in the world but hardcore is so awesome, he can be in a band and say what he needs to say and people listen.

I feel like when I was coming up around 2004 or 2005 and even now, straightedge is characterized as some kind of a corny joke or something. Kids don't X up anymore, even if they are straightedge. So I'd say another goal MINDSET has is to challenge that idea. We always X up at shows, whether we're playing or not, you know? Making a statement to younger kids is important to us. I mean shit, we're still young as hell too, so most of the people reading this are probably laughing that we're considered the older generation in hardcore right now.

That being said, our biggest goal right now is to make hardcore the best it can be for punks, cores, bangers and skins. The scene is splintered as shit right now but I don't think it has to be that way. Baltimore and DC are a great example of the way things should be all over. We play shows with Trapped Under Ice, Surroundings, Coke Bust, Warpriest, LOJ, Give, Pulling Teeth, Mob Mentality, Police And Thieves, and others. Everyone gets along, everyone comes out to shows and supports what's going on...that's the scene MINDSET is all about.

Air Clarke with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke

What's been the most memorable Mindset show that you've played so far and why?

So far there have been some totally awesome shows and tours that we've gotten to do. The first thing that popped into my head was playing the last TFS show. Those guys practically raised us as a band and we have a lot to thank them for. That was such an emotionally charged show and it was totally awesome to be apart of it. It was also the first time I did a dive with my guitar and that was bad ass.

Playing Gilman was awesome too. We also played Vancouver Island I believe, and we had to take a ferry there. We all hid under equipment and blankets in the van because it was like 20 bucks per person and we had 12 or so people in the van. The ferry ride was so beautiful, like some Alaskan wilderness type shit. The show was awesome too, kids went wild for us and it was just a great vibe all around.

Daniel with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke

What's been the most memorable show (non-Mindset show) you've been to and why?

Seeing Government Issue in DC a couple years back was the best. They are one of my favorite bands and I thought they played so well. There was a ton of younger kids there too and everyone was diving and having a killer time. The bouncers at the Rock And Roll Hotel were assholes and tried to put a stop to the fun, but needless to say, they were checked hard. I specifically remember a bouncer with long hair in a pony tail, a Nirvana shirt, and these black cut off gloves, like weight lifting gloves. Anyway, he was a real tool and became a favorite target for kids to launch off of. Some kid grabbed his pony tail and jumped in, giving him massive whiplash. GI rocked so hard.

Everyone wanted an encore but they didn't know any other songs so they played a couple of the same ones over. Stabb was live as shit, I was impressed.

Chris and Mike deliver it to the Champion Ship crowd, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke

List three hardcore bands of the past and present that have left a great impression on you and why?

1. The First Step - TFS were THE coolest dudes to us. From the first time we played with them they were so willing to help us out. We were huge fans of their band and to have them just totally take us under their wing, it felt good. They really helped us figure a lot of stuff out and really helped us shift from a local band to a more mid level band. They took us on tours and just treated us like peers and that felt really good. Of course, Aram is our main man with REACT! and he is just next level awesome. They've definitely had the largest impact on us, not just as a band but as people too. Steve roadies for us a lot and it's awesome to be able to kick it with him all the time still.

2. Corrupted Youth - I'm sure nobody has heard of this band or cares but they've had a major impact on me all the same. They were a punk band from my town in Maryland and I totally cut my teeth on punk rock with those guys. They have had a huge impact on me as a musician and as someone in a band. They were so DIY about everything and totally had their shit together and that left a major impression on me.

I remember my first band when I was 14, called 3 Over Par (I know, it's ridiculous) - we showed up to this basement show we put on and we had a bunch of cdr demos with no insert, or sleeve, or writing on them or anything. Corrupted Youth made fun of us, but then totally helped us out and told us to make inserts, what the best ways to do it were, etc. They also toured the US relentlessly with no support from anyone. They bought a van, booked their own shows, and just did it. That inspired the hell out of me and still does. MINDSET does just about everything ourselves and I credit CY for that.

3. Youth of Today - enough said.

Mike Clarke with some Mindset in your face, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke

What would you like kids today to take away from seeing and hearing Mindset?

Well like I said earlier, making a statement and setting an example for younger kids is really important to us. We want kids to see the traditional hardcore ethics that we espouse. I'm talking DIY, unity, community, change, sincerity and everything else I thought hardcore was supposed to be. We are a hardcore band because we all love hardcore and believe in what we're doing and that's what we want kids to take from us.

Mike, Chris and Daniel with Mindset, Photo courtesy of: Mike Clarke

What are your interests outside of hardcore?

Right now I'm finishing up my last semester of college and I couldn't be happier to get out of there. I'm an intern at Monocacy National Battlefield and that takes up a lot of my time but I'm so stoked on it. I'm a avid Civil War enthusiast which Steve and Aaron TFS think is hilarious. To be truthful, it is pretty funny. Between that stuff, the core and work, I really don't have time for much else.

Tell us about your up coming record and what we should expect from it?

TIME & PRESSURE is an ep coming out on REACT! Records in the next month or so. Pre-orders went up on Monday, January 25 and I couldn't be more excited. It's 6 songs in all and I think it's way better than our first seven inch. It's a little harder than the first seven inch, maybe in a Hard Stance sort of way. I don't really know what else to say without sounding like a giant douche plugging my own record but, I am very proud of it.

We mean everything we say, we believe in what we're doing and that being said, I think this record represents who we are as a band very well. I don't think hardcore and straightedge is kids stuff, I don't think it's a novelty or a joke, MINDSET is out to set the record straight on that.


Anonymous said...


Drug Free Mike C said...

Joke's on you, none of us are really edge, we just pretend to be...not so predictable now, eh?

Mike said...

This band is so good. Thanks for doing a piece on one of the bands is still keeping hardcore exciting.

Anonymous said...

the new Chain of Strength has arrived

just sayin said...

the problem with every young edge band over the past.... well, 20 years... is that they fly the flag for a few years, wear all the outfits and sing all their anthems...... and then they go emo, or go metal, or go to college..... and it's onto the next 'new breed'. it's give the edge scene zero credibility. that's why a band like mouthpiece will still stand out, because tim may have shouted all the slogans but he never moved onto the next fad. it's nothing against mindset, but it's like the boy who cried wolf ....... for every 50 loud edge kids, 49 wander off into the distance. kills any edge credibility.

William Patrick Wend said...

Kids don't X up anymore, even if they are straightedge

Why does it matter if people X up? That is a weird barometer.

Anonymous said...

i think the point is that with the younger crop of sxe kids, there's a general sense of lethargy in regards to being sxe. obv you dont have to x up to be sxe, but let's be honest, that's always been a loud and clear indicator of sxe you could at least count on from the young and enthusastic crowd....and it doesnt seem to be happening as much.

Anonymous said...

I love MOuthpiece as much as the next guy, and Yeah, Tim holds it down, but remember, a lot of people passed through that band. Some of them you wouldn't even recognize anymore. It's just an unfortunate part of human nature I guess. Kudos to people who aren't embarrassed of their past.

Anonymous said...

I just started a thread on Livewire about some of your feelings.

Here is what I wrote:

I just looked at the comments on the Mindset interview on DoubleCross and got a little sad. I wasnt familiar with them, so I just checked them out, sorta reminds me a lot of End To End.


Jeeze, how can peeps just diss a new band for being like.. new? Like "Oh well, they will just fade away..." or just hating a band because the members were born in the 90's. I feel like if I was 1a teen and just finding out about stuff, I would be stoked. I can't stand old jaded people!

Now for the other side!

That said... (and this is not a comment on Mindset) I do wish that there was somehow more progression in HC these days, like trying something weird, ie. Septic Death, Die Kreuzen or Big Boys, you, know, just taking risks with recording or weird outside influences (which, I know has often had bad results too). I Think the biggest problem for me is the recording process. It is almost too polished or something these days. I mean vintage Don Fury, or Spot, or Lou Giordano (Siege, SSD Get It Away, Jerry's Kids LP) just was so unique and specifically weird. I dig a new band like Sexvid because they just sound so sick. You can't really tell what era they are from, which is pretty awesome. I love how their band name was made up solely for the purpose of making them impossible to find on the internet! Now that's punk! Granted all these bands I just mentioned were not SXE. it just SXE bands that tend to be less adventurous? Honestly you could say a lot of the things I am saying about SXE bands from the late 80's, being sorta derivitive too. There was a fair amount of second rate youth crew.

The weird shift for most people my age was the 80's into 90's. Say what you will about a lot of 90's HC like Gravity and all that stuff, but at least a lot of those people tried to do something weird. I don't care for a lot of it, and I found some of the people pretty pompous, but credit where credit is due, they tried. The NYHC tuffy scene which influenced a lot of the 90's SXE bands, got all slow and rappy, which again, does not do it for me at all, but it wasn't derivitive (just totally not my thing). In the SXE world earlier Ressurection (7" and "Melting Away") was pretty exciting for me at the time. Then the mid 90's, was the sudden Youth Crew revival, which, no disrespect, but most of those bands (IMO) didn't hold up to the the orig youth crew bands. It seemed at the time to be like a reaction to the Gravity and Earth Crisis worlds. At the same time, Chicago bands like Charles Bronson and MK ULtra and Los Crudos were totally ruling.

Anyway... you know me, I am just curious!

Ben Edge said...

Just Sayin,

Ronny Little made the same point in his zine in the early 90s about the new kids passing through sxe like it's a fad, and he used Tim and Mouthpiece as an example! Oops.

It's ALWAYS been that way. And there will always be 0.00001% of the population who stick with it. Why not criticize the people who actually have moved on instead of people who are into it now? Or not.

Stephen St Germain said...

From my point of view i am interested in where a band like Mindset is NOW. Not in 10 years. They are doing great things, taking their time to write honest lyrics, writing great music etc.

Why worry about where kids will be in a couple years? Why not support what is happening now? Cause really NOW is all that matters. Bands can actually play and effect people NOW. The bands/kids who got me into sxe and HC years ago aren't "around" any more but shit if it wasn't for them and that introduction i wouldn't be where i am today.

Thorns said...

"the problem with every young edge band over the past.... well, 20 years... is that they fly the flag for a few years, wear all the outfits and sing all their anthems...... and then they go emo, or go metal, or go to college..... and it's onto the next 'new breed'."

20 years? You must mean since the beginning of "straightedge" since few and far between are the ones who are still playing hardcore or even actively involved it. Ian Mackaye went "emo". Cappo went pop-punk later on with Shelter. Pat Dubar went metal. Milo went to college. Oh wait, he wasn't edge. But you get the point. Accept a band for what they play now, not what they're going to play when they're in their late 30s. As for Mindset in particular, I've met Mike once or twice and he seemed like a sincere guy. Who am I, or anyone for that matter to judge his sincerity. And I've known Jon aka Mini Stigma a few years now and he's still active, still edge, and still playing the same style of hardcore more or less. Who cares? Have fun while you can, before becoming some jaded ebullition no-fun jerk off like half the washed up dipshits who post comments on this site. Your salad days are gone, have fun eating a salad at Panera with the rest of your coworkers from the IT dept.

Anonymous said...

This isn't really about straight edge or hardcore. It's just a viral marketing plan by Nike to keep kids buying vintage sneakers.

Drug Free Mike C said...

Thorns, I'd like to congratulate you on your magnificent BOOSH. Well played.

Carey said...

The guy should probably stop saying "the core." Good Lord . . .

Brett Hardware said...

Don't listen to all this bullshit. Keep on doing what you're doing and prove 'em wrong. Straight edge will never die.


Brett, I couldn't agree more. -Tim DCXX

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense to me why anyone would ever doubt straight edge. Yes there are some PEOPLE that went different directions, whether it be Ian Mackaye going softer or Al Barile goin metal, but for every person that goes a different direction there are 5 bands that stay exactly the same. YOT never changed, GB never changed (and if you consider the change from the s/t to Start Today a "change" well then they got better), Chain never changed, etc. Enjoy Mindset for a band, not the idea that they as people MIGHT change the direction of the music they want to play. I remember when this band in particular was under a different name YEARS ago, and it was still edge and still is. Make all the generalizations you want, but I know Mindset personally and Mike is one of my favorite dudes in hardcore AS A WHOLE these days and has been flying the flag of edge stronger AND longer than any of the here today gone tomorrow assholes that don't even matter. - Ace CCP

NOT SORRY said...

I wish I could say I was shocked by the shitty comments, but I'm not. Why worry about what could happen down the road because older bands did that? Mindset is an awesome straight edge band right now and for some younger kids who never saw YOT or even stuff like In My Eyes, they are very important and vital. I like that bands like Mindset exist in a world where shitty mosh metal passes for hardcore.

Great interview Mike!

Ben Edge said...

"This isn't really about straight edge or hardcore. It's just a viral marketing plan by Nike to keep kids buying vintage sneakers."

Haha. Unfortunately most sxe kids are already "branded" so there is no viral marketing required on Nike's part.

If anyone cares about that kind of stuff, there's a book called No Logo by Naomi Klein you should read. If you don't care about that kind of stuff, keep buying the same pair of $100+ shoes that cost a couple bucks to make, ad infinitum.

Anonymous said...

They sure do thank TFS a lot... maybe because someone helped them write songs? 80s-era Aerosmith of the '08-'09+ Revival? I think so...

Anonymous said...

^^ was that a joke post?

Anonymous said...

No, the Mindset interview was the joke post LOL

Onexlifexclevox said...

I think the problem with Mindset is the fact they are the Olsen twins of hardcore. They wrote an OK demo (which i got into) and scored some hype. Everyone saw their pretty little faces, (or demo for that matter) and decided to use them for the look. Now you've got React Records pumping capital into this band like no other. I've seen it too many times. Band get's a name, signed to a label, label pushes their name way to much that in a couple of months the band was way to promoted. It's marketing 101. I can see the future members doing some lame post-hardcore band after Mindset or just getting into coke. What is Mindset doing now? Well.......nothing. Nothing original, they don't even write their own songs, and they get up on stage and jump around looking like a failed nostalgic attempt at the 80's. I'm surprised Double Cross interviewed them. There are so many better bands doing more than these guys. Choices Made from Mississippi, Balance, True Colors, Justice from Europe, Face Reality from Michigan, the list could go on as far as talented bands actually doing something with the hardcore scene. IMO. Double Cross fanzine - thumbs up. This interview - thumbs down.


I've been friends with Mike and Evan from Mindset for a couple of years now and I can assure you, both guys couldn't be cooler. Mike recently sent me a rough mix copy of their new upcoming EP and I thought it was pretty damn good. Since Gordo and I have talked about making an effort to include more current bands into the mix, I felt like Mindset was an easy choice. Obviously their going to be a tough sell to the older, jaded crowd, but the reality is that HC is still alive and for us to ignore it would be a great disservice.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all of your opinions. -Tim DCXX

Drug Free Mike C said...

I'm already WAY into Coke, I drink 5-6 a day...atleast.

Anonymous said...

Straight Edge Tats + TFS Hoodies +Saucony's + Pooka Shells + Flat Tops=PREDICTABLE

William Patrick Wend said...

i think the point is that with the younger crop of sxe kids, there's a general sense of lethargy in regards to being sxe. obv you dont have to x up to be sxe, but let's be honest, that's always been a loud and clear indicator of sxe you could at least count on from the young and enthusastic crowd....and it doesnt seem to be happening as much.

OK, fair enough. I stopped Xing up pretty young (in fact, I can remember the date/show because I wrote an idiotic reflection on it for a fanzine later), but I certainly see that. Definitely a different generation/mentality than mine.


"Straight Edge Tats + TFS Hoodies +Saucony's + Pooka Shells + Flat Tops=PREDICTABLE"...

My question is who's not predictable? Everybody's going for something, it's all about whether or not you're into it or not.

There's a million bands out there that sound like Madball and Terror and the large majority of them look just like those bands. There are a ton of bands that sound like Municipal Waste, who sound like DRI and look like 1980's thrash, who wear sleeveless jean jackets, patches, tight jeans, pissed flapped high tops and flip hats. There's a new crop of bands that want to sound like Infest and most of them that I've seen dress the same and try to sound just like Infest.

Get my point? It's ALL predictable, it's ALL derivative of something else that's already existed. There might be a few bands that have something legit original going on, but for the most part, we've seen it and heard it all before. Again, it's just relative to what you're into that decides whether or not you're cool with it or if you want to talk shit on it.

So go ahead thinking you're original and groundbreaking and unpredictable and I guarantee there's a pile of people that will be laughing at you saying how unoriginal and predictable you are.

Just my two cents. - Tim DCXX

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about a lot of these comments is that clearly most of these people have not even checked Mindset out.

We do not all dress like "posi youth crew" dudes and our lyrics are not cheese ball straight edge anthems either. And believe it or not, I have never owned a pair of nikes!

We know we are not trying to recreate the wheel, we are just having fun playing music that we like.

Props to the people who have actually been INVOLVED in hardcore within the last 10 years and don't just bitch on the livewire board about how they are all grown up and their lives suck.


Drug Free Mike C said...

Chris, didn't you know? All of the old 80's bands LOVED the Varukers.

Anonymous said...

A lot of what I wanted to say has already been said, so I'll simply leave it at this: if you're ready to diss Mindset simply based on the fact that the dudes are young or "predictable" then you're just cheating yourself. They pump out some awesome hardcore, are fantastic live (I can attest to this), and are friendly, down-to-earth dudes without any ego problems ready to have some fun (I can attest to this as well). What more could you possibly want from the "new" generation representing the edge? Don't miss out!

- C. Murdoch

Anonymous said...

"down-to-earth dudes without any ego problems"


Anonymous said...

I checked them out and I was Blown away by there cheezyness man every song sounded like youth of todays Positive Outlook Bad ass for 1985 but come on!
I checked out the label website even worse cheesy ass pics of dudes checking out the Space Needle in Seattle(Brothrhood)all Xed up looking crucial these guys got the look down!
Why not start a SxE WAX Museum just a thought.

RMS said...

"Brett Hardware said...
Don't listen to all this bullshit. Keep on doing what you're doing and prove 'em wrong. Straight edge will never die."

Anonymous said...

i honestly think mindset is just fine, but i can't go anywhere on the web without seeing that cheesy "react" label and their incessant marketing campaign with all their retarded writing. total turn off.

Stephen St Germain said...

I think a couple people are using the anonymous feature of this blog to say things that they are to afraid to say face to face. If you have something you think is worth saying, then do it straight up.

And no one from TFS wrote anything for Mindset. What are you stupid? haha Those dudes can write a top notch tune on their own.

NOT SORRY said...


Emil said...

I don't know what's going on in these comments, but I just wanna say big ups to jamming Total Ch(A)os in high school.

Drug Free Mike C said...


Anonymous said...

Bottomfuckingline: You must do what you love. People will always hate and disagree, but if something truly matters to you, you will push on. That being said, keep it up Mindset!

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