Nine years into a run that’s seen as much success as any act around these parts, Ironclad/Metal Blade recording artists The Classic Struggle still face the classic struggles of making original music in Myrtle Beach.
“2010 was a rough year for us,” said guitarist Brandon Collins. “We played a few shows, but it was pretty slow and we didn’t do much at all, which wasn’t necessarily by choice.”
Aside from internal factors such as trying to break in new members and tighten up its playing, the band says a lack of support for hardcore bands locally added to the slow down.
“Honestly, there’s just nowhere to play right now,” said drummer TJ Bailey. “People just can’t handle it and a lot of venues will get sketched out about the whole hardcore vibe.”
Check it out
Featuring The Classic Struggle, Jerk & Destroy, Flick-It, Prowler, Take Cover and Us & Them
- When | Friday 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
- Where | Island Bar & Grill Surfside, 2272 Glenns Bay Rd.
- How much | $5
- Details on Facebook
But with a pair of albums, a half dozen former members and numerous national tours under their belts, it’s going to take a lot more than an off year to break these hard-as-nails thrashers.
Instead, TCS has taken the time to regroup, adding young talent in Bailey (drums) and Nick Sloan (bass) to accompany original members Collins and Tim Zlinksy (vocals) and veteran guitarist Chris Grant who joined in 2006.
Having been together for a little more than a year, the current lineup is now focused on writing new material and aiming toward the future.
“We’re working a new album, with new members and it’s even more intense thrash now,” said Zlinsky.
While the album remains aways off, the band’s immediate future holds a performance at the Friday the 13th Massacre at the Island Bar & Grill in Surfside on Friday. TCS will headline a show — it’s first live gig in eight months — featuring some of the area’s best heavy acts including veteran players Jerk & Destroy, rap rockers Flick It, horror-influenced metalheads Prowler, punk songsters Take Cover and Baltimore’s Us & Them.
“Our last show was Aug. 13 last year, which was Friday the 13th,” said Collins. “We haven’t missed Friday the 13th in Myrtle Beach in more than 4 years.”
According the band, TCS plans will do its best to put on a live show that lives up to the day’s chaotic nature.
“Yeah, it should be a good time. Thing usually get pretty out of hand,” said Zlinsky. “The main thing we want to get everybody into it and out there sweating as hard as we are.”
Myrtle Beach Music: From left, TJ Bailey, Nick Sloan, Brandon Collins and Tim Zlinsky of The Classic Struggle practice at Garden City Self Storage on Tuesday, May 3.
Start of the struggle
Originally forming in 2002, The Classic Struggle came together through a shared love of the scene and a bit of happen stance.
“We were just a bunch of friends who all went to the same shows together and eventually it was just ‘Hey dude, we need an extra guitar player, want to come practice?’ and it just progressed from there,” said Collins.
The original bunch consisted of Collins and Zlinsky, Justin Blakely (bass),Tyler Solonosky (drums) and Austin Floyd (guitar).
As the band polished up its skills and began to play venues such as the Lazy I and the Limelight, the market for heavy music began to expand locally.
“The Limelight is pretty much what started the local metal scene and it really spread there because it was a bigger place. That was great for what we were doing,” said Zlinsky.
Within a fairly short amount of time TCS began to stand out from the scene with its unique blend of metal, hardcore and thrash.
“There wasn’t really a band like us then,” said Collins.
“There’s still not really a band like us around here,” added Zlinsky.
Though acts such as Aftermath, Hundredth, Massacre, Half Mast, Lost In Spectrum and others delved into similar hardcore territory, the band’s members say they have always strived to set themselves apart from their contemporaries with a heavier-edged style.
“We’re more just straightforward and in-your-face,” Collins said.
Myrtle Beach Music: Tim Zlinsky of The Classic Struggle growls during practice at Garden City Self Storage on Tuesday, May 3.
Getting a deal
The band began to expand its regional reach playing numerous shows with bigger-name acts before catching on to tour with bands such as Unearthed, As I Lay Dying and Dillinger Escape Plan.
“It was pretty much DIY. We just worked our asses off at restaurants saving up money and when we could catch on with somebody we’d go out and do our thing,” said Zlinsky.
After a 2004 spent touring, TCS gained enough clout to sign with Metal Blade Records, recording its first album in North Carolina and releasing “Feel Like Hell” in 2005.
“It was a dream come true,” said Zlinsky. “I had just turned 21 and to be on the label and put out an album was just like ‘Holy Shit!’”
Despite a few lineup adjustments, the band continued to tour and ride the modest success of making an album until being forced to go on hiatus in 2007 when Solonosky suffered a coma-inducing injury in a fall from a tree.
“When he came out of it and got back here he sat down at that drumset, he knew what he had to do, but he just couldn’t do it,” said Zlinsky.
Still, in the midst of the hiatus the band managed to release its second album, 2008’s “Bring Back The Glory.”
After 17 months of practice and often frustrating attempts Solonosky eventually relearned his craft on a scaled-down drumset and played with the band again for a short period before deciding to leave in 2009 to raise a child.
“After that, we moved a drummer down here who kinda screwed us over and that was a major setback,”said Zlinsky. “We were dealing with people that weren’t as involved and committed and that can be tough.”
Myrtle Beach Music: Chris Grant of The Classic Struggle practices at Garden City Self Storage on Tuesday, May 3.But with the addition of its current members TCS once again appears to be on a path to recovery.
“We’ve had this group for over a year and I think things are moving in the right direction again,” said Zlinsky.
Coming full circle
Despite the stresses of relearning, releasing and regrouping, the members of TCS know that all the ups and downs contribute to the overall satisfaction of playing in the band.
“I joined late, but with being a fan before I started and then being a part of this was such a personal satisfaction for every one of us that it was overbearing. It still is in a lot of ways,” said Grant.
And though he and the other 30-something members of the group admit its not as easy to make music as it was when they started nearly a decade ago, that won’t stop The Classic Struggle from doing their best to stay loud for as long as they can.
“We all still have the same love for this and the drive as we did when we were 20 years old,” says Collins.
“We’re just going to keep going until it absolutely fucking shuts itself down,” said Zlinsky.