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The members of Self-Neglect stand in front of their truck. Photo courtesy of Self-Neglect.

Local band neglects no inspiration in search of inclusive music-making

Self-Neglect, a band formed by University of New Mexico alumni Matt Rogers (guitarist) and Alex Denbaars (vocalist), along with Leon Arnold (drummer) and Derrick Moore (bassist),  finds inspiration to create music through their environment.

The band was formed in 2015 on Rogers’ birthday, which also happens to be New Year's Eve. He and Denbaars, old friends from a Magic: The Gathering group, decided to make music together after Denbaars’ old band broke up.

The band struggled to choose a name when they first started until a friend of Arnold’s, who is a nurse, wrote up a list of “gory medical-sounding stuff,” which included “passive self-neglect.” The name stuck, acording to the band members.

“One of the ones on my list was passive self-neglect, which apparently is a medical thing that I didn't look into very much,” Arnold said. “But we just dropped the passive and made Self-Neglect.”

Denbaars compared the experience of hearing Self-Neglect as a band name for the first time to finding a meme on social media that “devestates you because it’s so painfully accurate.” 

In terms of sound, Denbaars described the band’s music as post-hardcore, but noted that the band’s music spans multiple genres and influences.

“The longer we've played together, we've made an effort to blend different styles of music into what we do. The most accurate description of what we are would probably be post-hardcore as an umbrella term,” Denbaars said. “But, we play aggressive music. It blends some metal; it blends some punk. It blends some various subgenres thereof.”

Moore, who joined the band just 5 months ago, discussed how he finds inspiration from their environment and the people around them.

“Everyone around us is sad, poor and depressed ... We're probably a little sad and depressed. Aggressive music is the way that we get that out. And also have people have something relatable,” Moore said. “That's kind of what got me into aggressive music, in general, was having something relatable in my life when stuff was not going well.”

Rogers said he derives inspiration from music he would like to hear from other artists. 

“I come up with really weird parts (of songs) that don't make a lot of sense. But they always are very open-minded about making sure that they work well. And our songs turn out to be pretty good,” Rogers said. “I like to think that we write music that we'd like to hear from others, like music that we would like to listen to. That's kind of where my inspiration comes from.”

The music and playing for an audience, no matter how small, is what keeps Arnold motivated, he said.

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“What keeps me going is playing music; (it) just makes me feel good. That's the most boiled-down version of it, just playing the drums for 10 minutes at home by myself makes me feel better … But I always feel like despite being straight edge, I always feel like a really wonderful high after playing a show,” Arnold said

Denbaars’ inspiration and motivation comes from the band's audiences and being able to create a space for “irredeemable, degenerate, weird fucking people” who go against the norms of society.

“It's like the normal rules of society are temporarily on pause, and weird people congregate. And there's a lot of beauty in that,” Denbaars said.  “Because I think the way our society is, is often so hostile to people that are different, either by birth or by choice. I like making space for those of us who are like that.

Elizabeth Secor is a senior staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @esecor2003

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