It’s 4 in the morning in Benton, Pennsylvania, normal people are asleep, preparing to go to the 9 to 5 grind the next day. Meanwhile, 20 year old Dustin Schumacher sits in front of his computer and messages with fans from across the globe. The connection is important to him, and this mysterious insomniac is just trying to push his band to a new level. What band is this you ask? Inner Temple, one of the most promising new groups from Pennsylvania, a state whose music scene is simply incredible right now. Schumacher is simply trying to find a place for grunge in this brave new world, and it seems like he’s starting to succeed.
Why grunge though? Isn’t the genre dead, now only filled out by Nirvana imitators? Well, if you look at it, there’s actually a lot of strange parallels between new Pennsylvania scene and the old Seattle Sound. The spread out nature of the scene and the lower class pride it’s members have are dominant ideas from both scenes. On top of that, independent labels, like the Paris based Contorted Records are starting to take an interest in bands from the region. Grunge is, as Schumacher puts it “The bastard child of metal and punk.” In Pennsylvania right now, both the metal and punk scenes are taking off, so maybe it makes sense for grunge to be starting to spread its wings, trying to find it’s own solution to our culture spanning disillusionment.
This cultural sadness is really what Inner Temple are trying to speak to us about. In a recent interview, Schumacher said “I don’t think anyone is truly happy anymore.” This starts to get at the beauty of Inner Temple as a band. They are willing to face the harsh truths that make our everyday lives so difficult, and oftentimes bleak. Schumacher is depressed because the world around him is depressed, and the only way out might just be, in his words, “coming together as one and stop fighting each other because that gets you nowhere.” Benton, Pennsylvania might not seem like the ideal place to come into Buddhist ideologies, but it certainly has worked for Dustin.
After a critically mixed self titled debut EP it seemed that Inner Temple was really starting to get somewhere. While a lot of critics seemed to pan the record based on the vocals, others thought that it represented the heart and soul of the band. The fans loved it, the band has garnered a dedicated international fanbase which is crucial when coming from a scene as small as theirs. While dealing with criticism has discouraged them, Inner Temple aren’t taking any shit, they simply want to evolve their sound to a point that they can get the respect and acclaim that they so richly deserve. The problem is simply that they are too far removed from a lot of their peers.
Here’s the thing, Inner Temple do their best to distance themselves from accusations of Nirvana worship. These guys are trying to find their own path rather than follow the modern ‘soft grunge’ trend. One only needs to listen to some of the simply sick roars that Dustin unleashes upon his public in songs like Red or Father. While there is clearly a very marketable side to grunge music, Inner Temple are not especially trying to take advantage of that. While Schumacher does feel the youth need an icon to look up to, he’s not trying to be Kurt Cobain, but simply Dustin Schumacher. Or as he said “Trying to be Nirvana is sad. To that I say Fuck off. I’m not Kurt Cobain, I don’t want to be Kurt Cobain. My drummer is not Dave Grohl, he doesn’t want to be Dave Grohl. My bassist is not Kris Novoselic, he doesn’t want to be Kris Novoselic. We’re Inner Temple, we’re not Nirvana and we don’t want to be Nirvana.” This creates a certain sense of honesty which I personally feel we don’t get in a lot of new grunge music, and if grunge isn’t honest, it’s kind of pointless. Instead of conforming to rules on how you are supposed to sound and look, Inner Temple feels free to innovate and explore. In fact, Dustin’s so sick of Nirvana connections he actually has difficulty listening to the band.
As for the future, things seem a bit weird right now. Schumacher has entertained the notion of moving out to Seattle, but also appreciates the beauty of his Pennsylvania heritage. There was a proposed summer tour, but even that seems to be falling apart in front of him. Yet, we get the sense that the band will live on, crafting their own distinct path. Their first full length is set to drop in just a few months and acoustic demos have been made for all the songs. Inner Temple are now at a point in their career where it’s do or die. If they fail to deliver with their debut record, they have a lot to lose. But if they meet the potential shown on their EP, well, these guys might just take over the world.
In the end, we have to sit here and simply appreciate the strange triumph of this band. They’ve broken all of the rules, they’re riding a step ahead of disaster, bodies flying and balls out. These guys have gotten fans from Brazil to India, and demands to play shows across the globe. Now as they try to find the money to meet these demands, and simply record, we find the group at a strange position. Big enough to have the love of hundreds of die hard fans, but small enough to not be able to profit off of it, this is the moment where we see a separation of boys from men. Can Schumacher lead his grunge stalwarts to victory? Well, if you want to see the revolution that popular music so desperately needs, you should certainly hope so!