“I, Ben Crew, have formally decided to step away from the band. I figure now is the time to do so.”
So begins last December's farewell statement from the frontman and founding member of local hardcore favorites In Defence.
“Plus I want to eat pizza again," he adds. "The reign of the taco is over.”
With four full-lengths (including last year’s Don’t Fuck with the Dungeon Master), a dozen 7-inches, and tours across the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia, In Defence has been Crew’s longest-running project.
Of course, it was never as simple as the taco vs. pizza war his group has waged for 10 years. Inner-band relationships began to strain after years of hardcore revelry, and the group — which has included 20-30 different members — decided to forge ahead after Crew called it quits.
Saturday's show at Triple Rock, first booked as a farewell to Crew and an anniversary show, now appears as though it might not feature Crew at all.
“The last couple tours we’ve done it feels like the magic is gone,” Crew says, wistfully adding that the band started as a way to celebrate the hardcore/thrash crossover he’d loved as a teenager.
He also saw room for parody. Thus began In Defence's long-running fight for taco superiority and ridiculous songs about Star Wars, politics, bike thieves, and the joys of circle pits. While it was always a party onstage with Crew’s sarcastic presence leading the charge, it was getting to be less fun in the practice space and in the van.
“The last couple years of the band there’s been a lot of internal struggles,” Crew says, noting communication breakdowns and disagreements about the band’s persona. “I want to feel that everybody else is having fun too, that we’re all on the same page."
Saturday’s show was meant to be a final hurrah, one last over-the-top taco party circle pit to mark the end of an era.
“Before all the shit went sour it was going to be a fun way for me to go out on a high note,” Crew says. “But then, things that were boiling under the surface had to erupt.”
Crew's admin role was removed from In Defence’s Facebook page shortly after the announcement of his departure. That's when plans for the farewell show began to shift. The Facebook event page for the concert started out nostalgic but took an uglier turn, with threats to cancel the show. At this point, Crew is unsure whether he’ll make an appearance.
“It’s supposed to be about fun,” Crew says, adding that he’d rather avoid an awkward appearance that might kill the mood. Opening band Triple Crossed has a new tape to celebrate, and fellow openers Naïve Sense, Decomposer, and Bruise Violet are all bands he loves.
In Defence shows always depended on Crew’s mood that day: Would the confrontational singer joke with the crowd, provoke the audience, or stir up trouble? Saturday, he says, will continue that legacy.
“In Defence will still be playing,” he says. “Whether or not I show up to wrestle them or throw people off stage depends on how I’m feeling that day."
This much is sure: The show will feature some of the Twin Cities' finest hardcore bands and a lot of uncertainty.
“Maybe it’s a greater thing for me to cancel a farewell show than to play a farewell show, maybe that’s more punk rock,” Crew laughs, clearly exhausted with the topic. “It will still be a cool show. All those other bands are amazing. Maybe I’ll feel different on Saturday and I’ll show up and do something epic and ridiculous ... or possibly nothing at all.”
In Defence's farewell to Ben Crew + 10th anniversary
With: Triple Crossed, Naïve Sense, Decomposer, Bruise Violet
When: 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 13
Where: Triple Rock Social Club
Tickets: $10; more info here.