The raucous duo Josh Scogin demurely undersells as “rock n’ roll with a kick in the pants” is named ’68, after the Camaro the Atlanta, Georgia native grew up working on with his dad. Already a young hardcore scene vet with a handful of influential albums under his belt by his twenties, Scogin introduced ’68 to the world in 2013, barreling forth into the unknown with noisy, bluesy abandon.
’68 is a ride for everyone on both sides of the speakers as the hurricane swirls around the frenzied duo. The obstacle is the goal. Inventive, disruptive, frantic, even at their quietest, ’68 is urgent.
The provocative, impulsive, controlled chaos unleashed by ’68 is a musical conversation between artist and audience. Armed with his guitar, copious pedals, and percussive partner-in-crime Nikko Yamada, the former frontman for The Chariot conjures a spirited sound of ambitious raw nerve. The Midnight EP (2013), In Humor and Sadness (2014), and Two Parts Viper (2017) began an inviting catalog of confessional angst and combustible energy. Kerrang! described Give One Take One (2021) as “an album dense with tunes, meaning, desperation, and danceability.”
The kinetic conversation continues with the appropriately titled Yes, and…, a densely packed and diverse indie rock romp in which Scogin and Yamada crib cues from improvisational ideology. ’68 fills album number four with howling exposition, tangential dirges, and unbridled honesty.
Grammy-winning producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush, Code Orange) became a believer after just a few songs of a ’68 set and captured ‘68’s high-intensity bombast on Give One Take One and once again on Yes, and…, a new chapter in an unstoppably exciting exploration of energy.
“This is undoubtedly our heaviest record so far. And that wasn’t planned,” Scogin explains. “When I wrote the first record for ’68, it was a blank slate. Do I make it chill? Aggressive? I didn’t want to overthink anything, so I just wrote songs. If it sounded good, I kept it. That mentality is the same.”
One thing that is by design is that no two ’68 performances are ever the same. “Our live shows are very much ‘winging it.’ We don’t know exactly what songs we’re going to play. Every night is different. We don’t say ‘no.’ If my drummer does something, I’m just like, ‘Yes, and…’ and onward.”
Often splitting up exhaustive van drives between them, ’68 brings their traveling carnival worldwide, from Moscow to Tel Aviv. The duo triumphs in intimate club environments and is no less explosive on giant festival stages or the road, supporting their friends and contemporaries in Bring Me The Horizon, Korn, Staind, Stone Sour, Beartooth, Thrice, Avatar, August Burns Red, The Amity Affliction, Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada, and Every Time I Die, among others.
Scogin formed the band that became Norma Jean as a teenager, exiting shortly after the release of their monumental debut, Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child, leaving an undeniable mark upon the burgeoning 2000s metalcore sound. Recorded live in the studio, overdub-free and unmastered, The Chariot’s first album set the tone for a decade of disruption. Scogin led the unconventional Noisecore band across a dense catalog of clever, sharp, and incendiary missives.
In Humor and Sadness, the first album by ’68, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard New Artist Chart, on the heels of a self-released EP that sold through its initial press in a few hours. Bluesy, postpunk ferocity rampaged across that brief initial outburst, captured with imperfect from-the-gut intensity over just a sparse couple of days, with producer Matt Goldman (The Chariot, Anberlin, Underoath).
Sophomore set Two Parts Viper followed. “[‘68] bring the noise in the most righteous ways, caring less about the scene they came up through, the bloodless drivel that passes as ‘indie’ and the boring earnestness currently permeating ‘punk,’” declared Alternative Press. “Two Parts Viper is the best record of the year. Throw a copy in my casket because I’ll never be done listening to it.”
Grammy-winning producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush, Code Orange) became a believer after just a few songs of a ’68 set and captured ‘68’s high-intensity bombast on Give One Take One. “Scogin and Yamada display their boldest songwriting yet, laden with hooks without losing any of their raw, in-your-face approach,” wrote IDIOTEQ. “Give One Take One is built on pure energy.”
‘68’s core principles remain on Yes, and…, sharpening the musical axe with expanding proficiency. “I can do something that dips its toes into The Chariot, and I can do something I’ve never done,” Scogin marvels. “I love the idea that a bluesy, dirty track fits just as well as an aggressive one.”
While it didn’t surface until 2021, Give One Take One was written before the Covid-19 lockdowns. Several of the songs turned out to be oddly prescient, but Yes, and… cracks the pressure valve wide open. “This record was the pendulum swinging from sitting around for two years, you know? It has all of that balled into it. It’s very stir-crazy,” says Scogin. “So, it was bound to be this heavy.”
Scogin challenged himself to finish the lyrics in a matter of days, and that energy crackles throughout the recording. “Lyrics are vastly important to me. Every word had to land. There’s no filler. It was important to figure out how to say the most with the fewest number of words.”
“The whole enjoyment of doing a two-piece band is figuring out how to make more with less,” he adds. “Initially, I wasn’t even sure if what I wanted to do could be done exactly how I wanted to. At this point, I’m good to go. In one song, I wrote a simple guitar riff that I can play with one hand and play the theremin live. Nikko is a beast on the drums with a minimal kit. We always figure out how to add texture, live, without ever resorting to the laziness of a computer full of tracks.”
If there’s one constant in Scogin’s career, it’s his familiarity with the unfamiliar and the satisfaction he feels expressing dissatisfaction. With a spirit of scrappy minimalism, ’68 forwards the pure rock traditions of audacity and disruption. Scogin gives everything to the microphone as if singing to redeem his soul. He wields his guitar and vocals like blunt objects, stripping away every layer of dry rot till all that remains is the burning heart of rock n’ roll. It’s about the riff and the kick. Sweaty catharsis, playful nods, cutting missives, all surrendered by ’68 as if the world depended on them.
The year Yes, and… arrives marks ten since ’68 emerged. “I was in high school in Norma Jean, and everything was a blur. The Chariot broke up after ten years,” Scogin ponders. “It’s so crazy because when I think about ’68, it feels like I’m still figuring it out. In fact, I’m just getting started.”