War and Peace
Founders of the hardcore rock band Stalin’s War, lead singer Moana Strom and guitarist Matt Cleaver, are both practicing Buddhists. An article in the Paniscus Revue describes their sound as a “brand of existential hardcore . that draws from both old school punk and modern metalcore.”
Moana and Matt also work for Liberation Prison Project in San Francisco, California, under the direction of Ven. Robina Courtin. They have been together for eight years after meeting in a high school band class. Associate Editor Sara Blumenthal recently spoke with them
Q: Moana and Matt, the hardcore music scene is stereotyped as valorizing negative attitudes and behaviors. Do you find this stereotype to be true?
Matt: A stereotype is exactly what that is, and an inaccurate one at that. The majority of bands, people, and fans that we associate with are positive-minded individuals. We are all seeking happiness, and the choices that we make can set us up for success or failure. For this reason, it is very important to us that we create a sense of community when we play a show, to generate an atmosphere where kids feel comfortable and safe. Such a community would not valorize negative attitudes or behaviors
Moana: Often, our worst decisions are made at times when we feel the most uncomfortable or when we feel as if we do not fit in. The larger part of our fan base, being under the age of eighteen, is experiencing the confusion, pain, and pressure of teenage drama, at home, at school, etc. Our music, our lyrics, our attitude, and our performance are all the products of (and where our lyrics are concerned, an emotional retelling of) our lives, our experiences, and our own pain and confusion.
Matt: Growing up, we went to shows to feel something larger than life that was still accessible to anyone. That is what we want to give back. We deal with all that life has to offer without the hindrance of chemical dependencies, even when those dependencies are more social in nature. Those who come to see us perform and relate to our music can clearly see that you do not have to fit any specific social mold in order to achieve.
Q: You mention chemical dependencies . how did you come to the decision not to drink or do drugs?
Moana: You know, I have never felt the need or desire to drink or do drugs . just my past karmic imprints. I think this life is too precious to spend living under those devices and there is too much that I want to accomplish. It would just get in the way..
This article is an excerpt of the full article printed in Mandala