Hostage Life fight the system by confusing the system

Hostage Life at Edgefest By: Sheena Lyonnais
July 22, 2008

I fell in love with Hostage Life the first time I heard “This Song Was Written By A Committee” on the radio, which incidentally is highly ironic considering the old school punk rock attitudes of this Toronto band.  

That song in particular is a big fuck you to the corporate music industry, and introduces a roster of strongly backed opinions on relatively controversial topics.  Hostage Life sings about everything from euthanasia, fighting the system, drugs, and disbanding contemporary morals and ideals.  Their latest single “White Jesus” questions the apparent brainwashing of Western beliefs.

“We got a lot of backlash because we were talking about how we don’t believe there is a God,” guitarist Patrick Mathers said.  “It is important at a time like this because that’s something even politically we feel is kind of a threat to the whole freedom of people in general.  It is kind of this impending threat, especially with the way the States are going and the way the Middle East is going, how fascist Islam is taking over, its all very superstitious.  It’s frustrating for us because, no offence to anyone who is religious we respect your beliefs and that’s fine, but it is silly and infuriating for us.  We talk a lot about it on our new record because I know our singer Colin has a real chip on his shoulder for it.  All of us do, we all do.”

This is why Hostage Life is so baffling – they’re highly supported by the radio and MTV, two of punk rock’s greatest enemies and yet they receive backlash for what they sing about on a mainstream level.

Hostage Life - Photo Jesse Baumung“A lot of people think of us as a controversial band, but we’re no more controversial than any of the bands we’re influenced by as far as the punk rock scene goes.  But I guess it’s because we’re looked at by people outside of the punk rock scene, which is why we’re thought of as a controversial band,” Mathers said.

They’re also quickly deemed a political band, despite their best intentions.

“We never really thought of ourselves as a politically charged band, more as a socially charged band,” Mathers said.  “We don’t talk about issues on a global scale, but we do talk about things we find important to us.  I’m not the lyricist, but you have to write about something and there’s only so many songs you can talk about break-ups.”

Hostage Life will be releasing a split 7” with Calgary band Knucklehead via Longshot, a Brooklyn, NY based company that puts out exclusively Canadian punk bands.  This will be their first US release. 

HOSTAGE LIFE LIVE - PHOTO BY JESSE BAUMUNGIn terms of a follow up full-length to 2006’s Walking Papers, the band has been working on and tweaking almost 20 songs.  They are hoping it will be out for fall, but aren’t making any promises.

“We have a bad habit of saying something is going to come out and then it never does.  It’s hard for us because we’re not a full-time band; we just do it on the side.  We’ve all got full-time jobs and actually live in the city and don’t live in our parents basements and we don’t tour 8 months of a year and we don’t write songs about being on the road and touring,” Mathers said.

They will be working again with Steve Rizun who engineered their last album, but rather than following the traditional track method they’re going for a more life feel.

“This time around we got to do it in his new space, which gave us the opportunity to play live.  All of the instruments are live, it’s all of us playing together, me, Shamus and Hai in one room with our guitars, Paul in a booth with his drums and we could all see each other and we just played.  We didn’t play to a click track just played on the floor and I think it worked out really well. We didn’t do too many guitar tracks, just two basic guitar tracks to hold it together and popped in a lead or a solo, but other than that they’re really, really basic.  It translates better to the kind of music we play and we’re happy with that,” Mathers said.

Live Photo Hostage Life - Photo Jesse BaumungHaving just played Edgefest to a huge crown, Hostage Life have some more wicked shows coming up including a gig with Propaghandi and Brutal Knights at the Phoenix on July 27, the Cutting Edge Music Festival on August 3 and some soon to be announced dates with the Flatliners. 

For now check them out at

(All additional Photos by: Jesse Baumung)

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