How Mindforce Became The “New Lords” Of Hardcore Thrash Crossover
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The life of Mindforce frontman Jay Peta unfolded like the plot of a gruesome coming-of-age movie: New York State high school football star turned hardcore fanatic, descends into drug hell before finding redemption in his family and a new life teaching public school by day – and taking on one of the game’s most dynamic hardcore acts by night.
“Brother, I never thought I would own a house,” says Peta, 42. Revolver of its unexpected trajectory. “I lived next to boilers under stairs in basements in Poughkeepsie.”
Peta’s story is inspiring and incredible – and hardcore has played a huge part in it from the start. When he was just a bright-eyed teenage athlete, an older friend told him about those things called hardcore shows that featured “the scariest, craziest, scariest, most violent and funniest in the world”. From that moment, he became addicted.
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“It became my religion,” Peta says of his devotion to hardcore while growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley, the area where he still lives. “To this day, when I’m making decisions in life, the lyrics ring in my head of silly hardcore songs that I love.”
Now there’s a whole new generation of fanatics using hardcore as their north star – and it’s Peta’s lyrics that guide them through life’s tribulations. Mindforce is currently a headliner in the genre, commanding explosive crowds at festivals like Sound and Fury and FYA, touring with Terror, and continuing their rise to dominance with their second album, New lords.
Renowned for their live showmanship and airtight playing, Mindforce’s clever breed of metal hardcore strikes a new balance between a myriad of heavy, thrash and peppy New York styles – as if Leeway was influenced by Merauder in the instead of the reverse.
The group rightly thrives. But for Peta, it took a long time to get here. For 20 years he worked in outfits that never broke outside of upstate New York. In 2016, Mindforce emerged as another humble beginning for the hardcore lifer, but this band shockingly took off. Much like owning a house, Peta’s gratitude and genuine disbelief is evident when he talks about the wild shows he can put on whenever Mindforce takes the stage.
“It literally looks like what we always dreamed of when the kids went to see Madball in [iconic Poughkeepsie venue] Luck, always wanting to be that,” enthuses Peta. “I pinch myself most of the time, man.”
He has more eyes on him now than ever before, but Peta has always been a memorable sight at the shows he’s attended. “I was dancing for every band, no matter the style. Every show.” Throughout his teenage years, he earned a reputation as a wild mosher and risky diver – and despite being knocked out at one of the first shows he attended, he maintained it until the end. ‘adulthood.
A promising football star as a teenager, he was close to graduating from high school and playing college, but chose hardcore instead. The music remained a constant, but its lack of direction in other areas of life led to several years of chaos and crime in his early twenties. “It’s not been the most productive, proudest time of my life,” he admits of the time when he and his friends lived in various homes in Poughkeepsie’s toughest neighborhoods.
“We were all selling drugs,” he said, lowering his voice. “People have died, friends have died from drug addiction. And unfortunately it took some dark times for me to turn around.”
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During this time he met his future wife and young daughter. Peta credits his happy family formation with pulling him out of a dangerous downward spiral. “She is the key to my success. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where I would be in life.”
In a noble rejection of his seedy past, Peta decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a teacher, a job he still does today at a public school in downtown Poughkeepsie. For Peta, her passions for inspiring a class of college students and a sweaty crowd of hardcore fans coexist perfectly. “I haven’t had a band since I was 16. I don’t know any other way.”
After his early 2010s band, Living Laser, fell apart, Peta and guitarist Mike Shaw decided to form a new, heavier band, drawing inspiration from their love of ’90s hardcore metal — especially bands. locals they saw like All Out War and Dissolve. . This new band – which they dubbed Mindforce – started out not expecting to be heard by anyone outside of their group of friends.
But they instantly connected with fans as part of the live and their debut EPs took off nationwide – their popularity exploding when Triple B Records released their stunning 2018 debut album, Excalibur.
“It blew my mind,” Peta says of the response that positioned them as one of hardcore’s hottest new bands. “I’ve had bands all my life where only 10 people don’t care.”
Right now, the ability to live out their wildest fantasies seems extraordinarily special – as on two occasions, Mindforce’s dreams briefly turned into nightmares. In the perspective of Excalibur, his hard life of moshing finally caught up with him when a friend dove from a monitor and landed on Peta’s back. The singer had already racked up his fair share of broken bones and injuries – including being thrown through a window, which nearly severed his arm – but this pain was different.
“It was bad, man,” he soberly recalls. “I couldn’t really walk for a few months. I couldn’t do anything. I went to a very dark mental place, and it was a year-long recovery.”
Video of Excalibur
A large number of ExcaliburPeta’s lyrics are about Peta overcoming this injury and being able to return to the stage, swinging her arms and leaping dizzily in her signature energetic style. (“I’m back stronger than ever bro,” he gushed from his current form.) Just as Mindforce regained their fighting form, the group suffered another devastating blow when Shaw was embroiled in a near-fatal head-on collision with a car. which resulted in broken ribs and severe fractures to his left leg.
“We thought Mindforce was over,” Peta recalls when doctors said Shaw would never be able to walk or play guitar again. “And that fucking maniac came back like an animal.” Mindforce miraculously returned to the stage just six months later and continued full steam ahead: playing bigger and better shows until the pandemic, then dropping the excellent Swingin’ Swords, Choppin’ Lords EP in 2020.
Ironically, while the band would have been devastated to meet a tragic end, Mindforce never really intended to stick around long enough to release a second album. “I can’t believe we’ve written another LP,” Peta says of New lords with a laugh. Even after the love they received from Excaliburhe says their plan from the start was to make an album, drop some seven inches and singles, and then fade away – preserving their impeccable catalog and rising to the top like many of the greatest hardcore bands before them.
But their perspective changed after the pandemic hit and snatched live broadcasts from them at the height of their powers. Peta and Co. had a revelation about taking nothing for granted and decided they had another feature film in them.
“The only word that comes to mind is gratitude,” Peta says of the band’s continued success and where it is in life. “I’m someone who believes in karma. And I’ve had a lot of bad karma for a while. I’m trying to build it up, and I think that may have helped Mindforce.”