My Walkout Song - Converge's Jacob Bannon

Fightland Blog

By Eugene Robinson

The walkout song is a time-honored tradition in MMA. It's also a delicate balancing act. The perfect song has to pump a fighter up while settling his/her nerves, appeal to the crowd without appearing to pander. "My Walkout Song" is where we ask MMA fans who also happen to be famous musicians what makes for great pre-fight music and what song they would choose to accompany their walk to the cage.


Jacob Bannon

Seems like there should be some sort of national agreement regarding what we all find surprising. Or, rather, surprise should be reserved for discoveries of infidelity that involve your parents, lottery tickets, and all of that cocaine in your trunk. Otherwise, save it. That Jacob Bannon, singer for proto-hardcore band Converge, has a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts for design, used to be a professor of the same, has been nominated for World's Sexiest Vegetarian three times by PETA, and is both trained in Muay Thai and a licensed MMA judge should really surprise no one. Until you remember that Cecil Peoples is still out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of acceptable human conduct. Like Col. Kurtz. But with judging. Then you might be surprised that Bannon is not actually judging more. But Converge is still very much an ongoing and happening concern, as is his design work and the Deathwish Inc. record label he still runs (and that sponsors UFC stars like Joe Lauzon and Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy).

And despite all of that? The man gave us a good 10 minutes of his time to cogitate on what he thinks would constitute the best MMA Walkout music of all time.

Nicely done, Mr. Bannon, sir. Nicely done.

Song: Also Sprach Zarathustra

Artist: Richard Strauss

(Or, anything by Obituary)

Fightland: Strauss or Obituary?
If you are gonna set a tone, set a damn tone. 

And if you had to craft the world's worst walkout music, what would it sound like?
It would sound like what exists now. Hey, 90 percent of what is out there is either garbage or too ironic to grab me in some way. I don't think it's the fighters' fault, though. After all, they are concerned with training and immersing themselves in that world. Music is definitely secondary to a lot of them in their regular lives. 

And if you were going to have Converge do some walkout music for a fighter who'd be your pick for a fighter who could use a musical leg up?
Any of the top-tier flyweights and lightweights right now in the UFC. They are all monsters.

When was the last fight you judged? And more importantly is judging as difficult as perennially bad judges try to make it seem/sound like?
I haven't judged in a while as I've been busy with Converge-related things for much of 2012. I think the last card I was a part of was in late 2011, just prior to entering the studio to record our latest album. I believe that judging assignment was for a Cage Titans card here in Massachusetts. They are one of the many regional organizations that are around the New England area. Before I started judging (before there was an Athletic Commission overseeing MMA in Massachusetts) I would be hired by organizations to "run the rooms" with one of my best friends. We would essentially do everything and anything that was needed to run a show on the night of an event. We would do this by applying the same guidelines that commissions elsewhere in the country were using (New Jersey, specifically). Our goal was to add a level of professionalism and organization to cards on the local level, in hopes of one day the sport being "legal" in our state. In a way, it wasn't much different or harder than stage managing a show or music festival, just with more specifics.

Since I am home from touring for a while, I plan on judging regionally more in 2013.

Where'd you develop an interest in fighting as a way to spend some time? Or better yet, when did you stop running and start fighting?
When I was a kid I was enamored by professional wrestling, kickboxing, and western boxing. As I got older, I casually gravitated toward boxing and kickboxing. In the late 80s and early 90s when VHS took hold, I rented tapes and experienced primitive MMA, traditional Muay Thai, and K-1 Kickboxing for the first time. Prior to that, combat sports were rarely televised where I lived aside from PPV, occasional boxing cards, and ISKA karate events on ESPN.

Personally I feel that combat as a form of competition is part of human nature. When you are a toddler you want to grapple as a form of play. As you get older that concept develops. Most team sports are simulated war in a way. I thought about wrestling in school, but I had an irrational hatred of teams and organized sports at the time. I suppose this helped me find more counter-culture sports like skateboarding and BMX, which ultimately led me to music.

When I stumbled upon punk rock and hardcore it had a physical aspect to it that I really enjoyed. That was a great outlet for me. Sometimes shows were out-of-control physical experiences and I loved it. Sometimes it felt like you had to fight your way through a show. In a way it had a lot of parallels to the mixed martial arts world now. 

Check out this original video on Noisey.com featuring Jacob Bannon ruminating on the creative process.

And check out these other installments of our "My Walkout Song" series:

Bobb Bruno

Jamie Stewart

Eugene Robinson

Harley Flanagan