Strength for a Reason vocalist Karl Kivler talks NEPA hardcore and 19 years of SfaR
Strength comes in many forms — power, endurance, influence.
For Nanticoke hardcore band Strength for a Reason, their definition of the word should be persistence. A lot can happen in 19 years, but SfaR’s five members still keep a place in their lives for the band among almost two decades of growth and change.
“Sometimes I think we’re going to stop and then other times when we don’t play for awhile we realize how much we miss it,” vocalist Karl Kivler said. “Even though we have our families we do it now as a hobby for fun because it’s in us. We love it.”
One the the band’s founding principles was a dedication to the straight edge lifestyle. Developed in response to the die-young punk rock scene, straight edge promoted clean living without drugs and alcohol. Kivler was introduced to the tenets of straight edge through hardcore bands like Youth of Today, who the vocalist cites as an early influence on his musical pedigree.
“I grew up on New York hardcore, there was always a message to it,” Kivler said. “I still like getting CDs because I like reading the lyrics, I like to see the message that people are putting in their music. If somebody went through a hard time and can put it down on paper, I love that.”
New York and Washington, D.C. have storied hardcore histories, but Kivler said Northeastern Pennsylvania is forcing its way into the worldwide hardcore conversation. During the handful of European tours SfaR embarked on, the vocalist found genre fans across the Atlantic held NEPA hardcore in high regard, thanks to Kivler’s band and other local groups like Wilkes-Barre’s Cold World.
“It’s crazy when you’re in Germany or Holland or Paris and people are talking about bands from your hometown that they know,” Kivler said. “It’s really crazy … you have bands from the area that are even next level like Title Fight. They’re playing punk music but they’re still a hardcore band because they have that hardcore message.”
For SfaR, that message is family. Kivler said he trusts his friends made through music because he knows what they stand for — at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 19, the band will play for friends new and old at Wilkes-Barre’s The Other Side during a rare hometown show. Virginia bands Paper Trail and Dead and Dreaming join Strength for a Reason on the bill, along with New York’s Vice and Newfoundland, Pennsylvania band Maniac.
Whether their strength is in persistence, music or message, SfaR chose wisely when they decided on a moniker 19 years ago. To keep track of what the band has planned for its 20th anniversary, follow them at Facebook.com/StrengthforaReason.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts