Finding a Sinister Purpose

Richmond punk band plays El Rocko

Richmond, Virginia’s Sinister Purpose plays a heady mix of classic D.C. hardcore punk, 70s-influenced punk rock, D-beat hardcore, and pure riff rock. The band has released a number of EPs and singles over the past several years, showcasing their impressionable approach to songwriting and their commitment to the genre.

The band will be making a stop at El Rocko Lounge on Sat., July 27, and we spoke with members Marcus, Paul, Roger, and Steven ahead of the gig.

Tell me about how you guys got together. Is punk pretty much the background for all of you?

Steven: Yeah, I think we’ve all played in other bands in some genre of punk. I’d say we all listen to rock and roll. We definitely have a lot of Thin Lizzy and Motorhead influence in what we do, it just leans more towards the hardcore element.

Paul: I was definitely raised on the D.C. hardcore sound, and it’s always played a role in my writing. I’ve always loved classic rock, and the past few years I’ve really gotten more into that side of music. Just listening to riffs, really. At the end of the day it’s all about the riff for me.

How long have you guys known each other? How did this band get together?

Marcus: We got together as a band towards the end of 2015, but most of us have known each other going back about 10+ plus.

Steven: We all grew up right outside of D.C., and were all in different bands but in the same scene.

Paul: Growing up, my best friend was close friends with Steven. So I’ve known Steven practically my whole life.

So everybody has known each other for a while, then. Does that make it easy to be in a band together?

Paul: It definitely made the starting phase of the band a lot more comfortable. There’s always that awkwardness of, like, what are we going for? What are we going to do and do we have anything to work on?

Steven: It was easy, too, because we weren’t in bands together before. We had no goals at the start other than to write some sweet tunes [laughs].

How long of a process was it, figuring out what you had and trying to land on something musically?

Paul: That probably happened when we started working on the Burn In Hell EP. Originally, the idea was to be more of a straight up D-beat hardcore punk band. It just didn't pan out, and this turned out to be more fun and interesting to write. After Scorched Earth, our demo tape, we noticed there was a rock and roll kind of feel. I was personally into it, and I feel like we got a lot of positive feedback. It felt unique.

Steven: [Richmond-based record store] Vinyl Conflict was a big help, too. Because they pressed Burn In Hell, and that made it all streamlined. We didn’t need a huge investment to progress.

Now that you’ve landed on what y’all do, is the writing process pretty seamless?

Paul: I do all of the writing, and what I like to do is figure out a riff, get a little recording, and throw it at the guys. Then I work it out to where I’ve got something that would pass as a complete song, and take it to practice. We make sure everyone’s got their say on their part, but I bring the skeleton to the table.

Roger: When we first started, Paul would have the song and it was very straightforward and we’d just kind of stuck to that. But starting with Burn In Hell, we moved more into everyone contributing towards finalizing the song.

I’ve interviewed a few different Richmond bands, and it seems like there’s a pretty robust and eclectic music community. What’s your experience been like as part of the scene?

Paul: It’s been awesome. We’ve all been in different bands in different genres, and had a great time in Richmond. I could’ve stayed up in D.C., personally, but Richmond music is just substantially better.

Marcus: It seems especially over the last five years or so, there’s definitely been a good amount of different scenes in Richmond. It’s kind of segmented, but each scene has its different bands that are thriving. There’s some mix between the scenes a little bit, but there are always so many new bands coming out of Richmond all the time.


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