2008 has been a wild year. Much has been accomplished over the last couple months with this blog. Both Matt and I and lily have worked really hard, and I am excited to do a ton of more interviews in the upcoming 2009 year. Thanks for all the support.
The last W-B Early Birds show will take place Thursday, January 10th at the Black Lodge in Kingston. Force Fed, Cold Snap and Aneurysm Rats are also playing. $5 dollars.
also, make sure you peep the new Bad Seed track, www.myspace.com/badseedpa
1. How did Run For Cover records come about? What other labels did you model RFC after?
I grew up ordering stuff from Bridge9, Deathwish, Revelation, and Dead By 23 as much as I could. It never bothered me that it literally took months for my Dead By 23 stuff to come because whenever it did those records became my new favorite records each time. Not that it was even that long ago, but it was still before paypal, high tech webstores, etc, and I never had a credit card at that age, so I would just send whatever cash I had at the time and hope for the best. I was blown away by so many records I received around the ages of 14 to 16 in the early 2000’s. The Dedication 7”, Horror Show – Our Design, the Frostbite 7”, American Nightmare – Self Titled, all that stuff blew my mind, and because of it grew my fascination with records and record labels.
I had a friend from California named Alex who played in a band called These Days. They wanted to record an EP so I told them I would put it out, and everything went from there. Although that These Days EP will always hold a special spot in my heart as it was the first Run For Cover release, and subsequently the first tour I went on (These Days / Lifelong Tragedy tour 2004), things didn’t really get rolling strong with Run for Cover until the This Is Hell EP came out about 6 months later. We got 200 pre-orders, gave the band a good chunk of them, sold a bunch through Revelation and Interpunk, and before I knew it two months had gone by and we were pretty much sold out of 500 records. That is what made me stop and think, “I wonder if I can keep doing this.”
2. You just recently signed two highly respected up and coming bands, Title Fight from Wilkes-Barre Pa and Transit from Massachusetts. How has it been working with those two bands soo far? What are you looking at in the way of releases from those two bands?
Both Title Fight and Transit are bands I had known about long before I thought about seriously working with them. I first saw Title Fight a few years ago while on tour with Fireworks and Set Your Goals. Title Fight played the Wilkes-Barre show and for days we listened to their side of the split CD they gave us on repeat, and talked about how good they were and how young they were. Fireworks’ friend/roadie Justin literally played the Title Fight songs over and over every time he was driving and would incessantly tell me I needed to sign them. Almost exactly two years later that happened. In December Title Fight will be making their way here to record with Jay Maas at Getaway Studios. If you don’t know Jay Maas he is the best dude ever and records a bunch of awesome records. They will be recording a few songs for new 7” release, which will also be seeing the light of day on CD coupled with their last two releases; Kingston and split with The Erection Kids.
Transit is a band that I had heard, but never really paid a whole lot of attention to. It was obvious to me and many other people that they had a ton of potential, but nothing really grabbed my attention until their full length was released on Barrett Records last year, which is when we started talking. I had no idea they were as young as they were, and I had no idea how good they were going to get. They are a music writing machine, which is great, because that’s how bands get better, and they know that. They recorded a 7 song CDep, also with Jay Maas, called Stay Home this past summer and it will be out in January. It is nothing short of incredible. A huge plus to having them on RFC is that they are the first local band to the label, which makes a lot of things easier. We all hang out pretty frequently and it’s cool to have that sort of relationship and catch their shows.
3. What other fun things does Run For Cover have planned for the new year? Is 2009 the year RFC goes mainstream?
Although we have only put out two records this year, it will be four by the end of the year with the This Is Hell / Nightmare of You split 7” and Agent – Awake in Their World 7”/Digital EP officially being out and in stores by December. As for 2009, January will see the release of Transit - Stay Home CD/Digital EP, as well as our first real full-length release, Death is Not Glamorous – Soft Clicks. I couldn’t be more excited for that record and am glad to have it as our first full length. It only took 13 or so releases. Also the first quarter of 2009 will see the new Title Fight 7”/CD as well as more than one Fireworks release which we will have more news on soon.
Is this the year we go mainstream? I guess it depends on what you mean, but the answer is probably “no” either way. Although we have slightly changed paths from the solely hardcore records that make up our first four releases, we will never be releasing shitty makeup wearing, Christian mall rock. It is apparent to me, and anyone that has ever met the dudes in Fireworks / This Time Next Year that they are closer to your average punk/hardcore in mentality, appearance and performance than they are to shitty Warped Tour bands with girl hair, dance moves, and huge sunglasses. If you can’t see the difference between Fireworks and All Time Low, you just don’t get it, and that’s fine.
4. RFC has put out some pretty stellar releases so far, including releases by bands like the Agent and more well known bands like Crime In Stereo, This Is Hell and Nightmare Of You. Was is it your idea from the get go to keep Run For Cover as diverse as possible while maintaining the best roster you possibly could?
It’s funny you mention diversity because for the past few years I have thought the exact opposite. I think if someone likes Crime in Stereo or Fireworks they are pretty much guaranteed to like Title Fight, Agent, and Transit. I think most of our bands appeal to a very specific audience and that’s fine with me. I hope kids check out our new bands and releases simply because they like our old ones.
Back to the idea of diversity, I do see why you would say that. As a whole we have put out a lot of different sounding stuff. What’s funny is that arguably the two most different sounding bands we have worked with are now on a split 7” together. Weird, but awesome.
5. Is there any band that you could have had the chance to work with, but slipped away? Is there any band past or present you would kill to work with?
I think Lie and Wait from TX is one of the best hardcore bands going. I would love to work with them. Lucky for them they have a bunch of releases on my friend Sam’s awesome label, Triple B.
I am happy to say that there aren’t really any bands I have talked to and regretted not working with. It’s awesome to not be kicking myself over anything like that. I have learned that if I am not 100% sold on working with a band, to not do it. Sure I have talked to some bands that ended up doing fairly well and could have been good for the label, but it didn’t feel right at the time.
If I could pick one band to put out a record for, it would probably be Lifetime…or Pantera.
6. Top 5 essential RFC outputs. Your personal top 5 records.
I am going to assume are referring to records we have released. That’s sort of hard because we only have 15 or so releases, but I will give you a top 3.
1. Fireworks – We are Everywhere: The budget for recording and production of this record was about five times more than any other record we had done. Fireworks were a very new band at the time and it was definitely risky to put pretty much all the money I had at the time into them. I was there throughout the recording of the record and the following tours, and it was just cool to see something grow that all of us (the band and I) obviously believed in. I would guess this will always remain as our #1 important record. 2. These Days – Death Sentence 7”: Like I explained earlier this record is infinitely important for many reasons, from the friendships made to the learning experience of putting out my first record, this is where it started. 3. This Is Hell – S/T 7”: This record did better than I ever could have imagined at the time (even if it only sold 500 copies at first), and made me excited to keep putting out records.
7. It seems like there is a pop punk trend going around in the hardcore scene, with what seems like hundreds of new "pop punk" bands springing up everyday. With that being said, it's no secret that RFC has the biggest and best pop punk/melodic hardcore bands going right now. Do you get a lot of bands that want to put stuff out on your label? Has there been any bands that you've heard and just said "fuck i NEED to sign this band"? How do you let the not-so-good bands down?
We get demos in the mail everyday. It sucks because it says on our website “Please do not send us demos,” so people are just wasting their time, and I feel bad. A lot of bands are young and just don’t understand how it works. Tons of bands just send demos to either every label they know of, or the ones that have bands they like. I hate to discourage young kids, but we really don’t listen to the demos we get, and I know a lot of labels would say the same. Even if the demo was incredible, that isn’t good enough reason for me to drop thousands of dollars of my own money into it. There is a ton of other factors that go into a decision like that, and I am not talking about what they look like or how marketable they are. If you want your band to be heard, have good recordings and tour.
8. I know RFC is fairly new label, but has illegal downloading affected you at all? What about the current economic crisis? We are a new label, but even when we first started in 2004, you couldn’t google search the name of a record and download it immediately, or find literally every new release on Waffles or Oink or whatever as soon as it is released. So in that regard things have changed for the worse in the last few years. We are definitely affected by it. How much, I am not sure. I try not to think about it, or get too caught up in it. The current “economic crisis’ on the other hand is hitting as hard as everyone else. Postage costs suck. United Record Pressing are adding 12% surcharges to every order now. It’s ridiculous.
9. Are there any advantages to being the dude behind the band instead of the dude IN the band? I am pretty sure there isn’t.
10. Shout Outs? Thank you for asking me to do an interview.
1. What is your name, and what do you do in Polar Bear Club?
My name is Jimmy and I sing.
2.There is something I have always speculated about, but i just want to set the record straight. Everyone knows that "Polar Bear Club" by Silent Majority is the best melodic hardcore song ever, so...is that in fact where you guys came up with the moniker, and if so, how has a band like Silent Majority paved the way for bands like yourselves?
We did in fact get our name from the SM song. That band set the bar high for punk and hardcore bands. For me, it's all about the singer, Tommy. His voice is ideal. A perfect, natural mix of singing and screaming. The vocals aren't black and white and it's a lot more interesting to me.
3. You guys played Fest this past weekend. How was that experience? Is this your first time playing the Fest and if not, how does the response compare to last year?
This was our first time playing the fest and it was the absolute highlight of this tour. Most places we travel to there are at least a couple people there who are really pumped to see us. The fest was a culmination of all those people across the U.S. and even England and Japan. Our show was packed and everyone was really happy to see us. You can't ask for better.
4. It's no secret that you guys tour the fuck out, and it doesn't look like it's going to let up until at least a little bit in January, then back out in February and March. How do you guys sustain so long on the road? Is it liberating being able to jam on a bunch of songs, new and old, as opposed to just an ep's worth of songs?
I am not sure how we sustain on the road. You just make yourself do it I guess. But yeah, it's really nice to have a set that is pretty evenly made up of EP songs and full length songs. Kids seem to be responding to both.
5. I was reading in the Polar Bear blog and there was an entry about when you played Wilkes-Barre (my home town) that the kids were reacting more toward the new songs, which you said was a first for the tour. Have you found that as you've been touring more and more, that that seems to be the case? What's the craziest show you've played this touring cycle. Any duds?
Yeah. Like I said, the response for ep and full length songs has been pretty equal. If anything, kids seem to go off more for the EP songs but they aren't mute for the full length songs. The Fest was definitely the craziest show we played. Columbus, Albany, San Fransisco and Phoenix stick out also as awesome shows. And yes there have been plenty of duds. A lot of the shows leading up to the Fest were duds but even those shows had some people there excited to see us. They may not have been losing their minds but they were happy to be listening to us play and that is awesome.
6. Speaking of your latest record, Sometimes Things Just Disappear, kids and critics alike having being going apeshit over it, some even calling it the "most important" melodic hardcore record of the last decade. Was it your intention to write a classic hardcore record? What do you think the major differences between your Ep (The Redder The Better) and the full length are?
It wasn't our intention to write a classic hardcore record but It was our intention to write an album that we were into. We really just wanted to make something we were proud of. I'm not sure if it is a classic hardcore record or not but I am proud of it. I think the major differences from EP to full length is in the members. We changed drummers and guitarist going into STJD and that had a huge impact on things.
7. Has the PREVIOUS (finally) political administration played any part in the maturing of the sound from ep to album? What else has influenced the sound on the record? Any recording plans for the new year?
I don't think politics has much to do with our sound. We're influenced by music. Not just music though. Movies, books and plays influence me a lot. We are really hoping to record our next full length in April but it is all super tentative so it will probably change.
8. What got you guys into punk and hardcore? How is the scene in Rochester now/how was it growing up? What bands made you realize that you punk and hardcore would be in your life for a long time? Any bands you're currently siked on?
Some of the first bands that got me into punk were like Pennywise, Less Than Jake, NOFX ya know, pretty standard shit. But the scene in Rochester when I was like 15 and 16 was thriving and me making music has so much to do with the local punk bands in Rochester. Just the mere discovery that there were awesome, aggressive DIY bands in my city blew me away. I am really siked on Attack in Black right now and Able Baker Fox. We are playing shows with A Wilhelm Scream right now and holy fuck they're good. Also The Swellers and Broadway Calls and Crime in Stereo.
9. if one day you woke up and Polar Bear Club had never existed, what would you be doing with yourself?
I probably would be Acting. I know that sounds super lame but I am really into theatre so there.
When i started this i planned on doing only hardcore bands but this band put out probably my favorite record of 2008 so i thought id make an acception. Check them out (myspace.com/tigersjaw)
First, what is your name and what do you do in the band? How did you get into punk music?
Adam McIlwee, and I play guitar and sing. I got into punk music in sixth grade after going to my middle school's talent show and seeing a band (which Tom May from the Menzingers was in) cover "Roots Radicals" by Rancid. Later, I started going to the library and taking out dozens of CDs at a time, which exposed me to music that wasn't the same punk rock to which everyone else was listening. How did the band start?
I had met Ben a few months before we started tigers jaw, but the band actually started around the Winter of 2005. I played one of the last Conor-run Test Pattern shows with the Minor White, and Ben was there for that. A few days later, we began recording with Ben playing drums, and me singing and playing guitar. After a few quick lineup changes, Brianna joined, making tigers jaw a three-piece. We played a show with Three Man Cannon at Dennis's house before he was in the band, and shortly after that Dennis joined the band. Mike May drummed for us a bit before Pat joined last year, and we've kept the same lineup since. What are some of your guys influences? both lyrically and musically?
We've been heavily influenced by local music ever since we started, particularly those on Prison Jazz Records at the time, which included Okay Paddy, The Sw!ms, and The Green Chair. We also love Mount Eerie, Sonic Youth, Eric's Trip, Dinosaur Jr., and Archers of Loaf, although I don't know how much that comes through in our own songs. I can't speak for Ben, but I know that it's hard for me to try and write lyrics or sing like any particular artist, so I guess I gave up on that and attempted (and still attempt) to avoid trying to sound like or write like anyone else. You guys just put out a record on Prison Jazz, how has the reaction been? Do you have any other upcoming plans(records/tour)?
We haven't played too many shows since we released the CD, but so far the reaction has been positive. We are currently working on a 10" split with Rainbow Crow that Embassy Vinyl is putting out, as well as a possible 7", although we don't have anybody lined up to release that yet.
If you could play any show with any band past or present what would it be?
We have played with them before, but being able to do another show with Okay Paddy would be great, if only for the fact that it would mean being able to see them one more time.
What is your favorite show you have played so far?
This is a tough one, and I had to call Ben for help. We agreed that every show at Dennis's house was incredible. We played a ton of awesome shows at Test Pattern, but we can't really remember any specifics. The Paul D. Benefit at Mark's house was really great, as was our CD release show. Also, early on we played a show at Test Pattern with The Sw!ms, Okay Paddy, and The Explorers Club that was incredible.
Top 3 records/books?
I'm only going to speak for myself, but...
Favorite Records (ever) 1. "The Glow Pt. 2" by The Microphones 2. "Hunk" by Okay Paddy 3. "...and Out Come the Wolves" by Rancid
Favorite Records (current) 1. "Crystal Castles" by Crystal Castles 2. "New Cornucopia" by And The Moneynotes 3. "Blood Loss" by These Elk Forever
Election day is on Tuesday, what are your thoughts on the election?
Again, I can't speak for the rest of the band, but I personally will be voting for Barack Obama, and I have a hard time understanding any young person that isn't.
We'll be playing in Philadelphia for the first time on November 22nd at Titan House, and in Doylestown for the first time on December 5th at The Moose Lodge. For more information, check out www. myspace. com/titanhouse and www. myspace. com/swphiladelphia respectively. Oh, and thanks for the interview. You're the best.
First, What is your name and what do you do in Cloak/Dagger?
I am Jason Mazzola and I scream for the Dagger.
You guys have been a band for a couple years now, how have the bands personal influences changed since the start of the band? How has the punk and hardcore scene changed (in your opinion) since the start of the band?
When we first started we were big on Circle Jerks, D.I., Black Flag without Henry and some garage rock. Now I'm big into The Stooges and Black Flag with Henry. Punk and the Core is at a real good time right now where people don't follow the rules of being "punk" or "hardcore" as much. There are a lot of bands just playing what they want to play and drawing from a bunch of different influences that don't worry about fitting into a category. I am proud to say we are a part of that.
It's not every day you come across punk and hardcore bands getting comparisons to bands like Hot Snakes, was it the bands intention to write songs that didn't fit the usual hardcore mold?
Not at all. We just decided to do a faster more traditional hardcore band and the songs just turned out the way they did. We all like a lot of different bands and I think that combined things just ended up the way they did. Me and Collin Barth love Hot Snakes and you can hear a bit of their influence in his guitar playing but you can also hear Greg Ginn and obscure jazz musicians I don't know that he plays in the van in his playing.
Your debut record, We Are was released on September 11th 2007, was that intentional or coincidence? Do you guys consider yourselves a political band? What are your views on the current state of America?
We just happened to be released on 9/11. It was a high terror alert. I don't know if I would call us a political band because the lyrics we have aren't over the top political but we have played a war protest show in DC and a free show to get people to register to vote here in Richmond. I think that world wide the U.S. does not have a good reputation right now and that if all goes well the next president can turn that around. People need a different face to associate with the U.S. Bush is not doing anything for them.
Do you think the Reagan era is comparable to the Bush era? Does it seem that people, more specifically people in punk/hardcore, are caring less about their political environment?
Definitely. Bush is the new Reagan, 10 years from now when we look at fliers with W. on them it's going to be the same as seeing Black Flag fliers with Ronnie on them. I think people involved in this music are still political and it shows. I just think people choose a time and a place for it and not every show has to have that underlying theme there. Sometimes people just want to go to shows and hang out. Hardcore doesn't seem as political as it was in the 90's to me but I am also older and different view points on politics don't seem so extreme to me. The first time I heard a band speak against the government I was shocked.
Cloak/Dagger has a couple shows coming up in Europe, is this the bands first time to Europe? Any cool stories? What are the bands plans after you return from Europe?
This is our 2nd time going over but this time it's just to the UK. Last time we were there I broke my foot on stage and had to finish the 2 and a half weeks of the tour with a plaster cast. It was awful, the food was good, we lost a lot of money but we can't wait to go back. We have 9 new songs written and keep writing more. We are releasing a 2 song 7" on Jade Tree that is in the works now.
Speaking of shows, you guys are also playing the Fest in Gainsville this year. Is this the first time playing the Fest? What bands are you siked to see?
This is going to be our 3rd year playing The Fest and it's always a good show to be on and to go to. I'm looking forward to seeing Paint It Black, Municipal Waste and New Mexican Disaster Squad's last show. Sad to say there's no Marked Men this year.
Is punk/hardcore a young mans game?
Definitely. The older you get the harder it is to go on tour and come back home to bills and debt. It is also hard to drive hours to a show and not even make gas money back after playing. All that aside I love it but it takes it's toll on you when you get older. Rent and gas add up.
Finish the sentence: If I wasn't in a hardcore band, I would be...
How did seasick start? How have your influences changed from the bandsstart to your latest record?
Mark: When seasick began there was no permanent drummer. There was one dude who played on the very first demo to help out, then another dude who played one show which I had attended at 120 Hamilton st in New Brunswick. I believe I went to the show with Beneath the Street who were also playing. A few months later I saw Nick and Matt at another BTS show and asked them about seasick, they told me they needed a drummer. At the time I was trying to learn but didn't own a kit, but that didn't seem to matter and we had our first practice with me on drums a few weeks later. At the time we were really into pretty much straight up thrash and old hardcore, which is reflected on our split with Don't Wake Up, with influences like DS 13, Limp Wrist, Das Oath, Tear It Up, Down in Flames, Kamikaze and of course Negative Approach, Black flag, Ramones, Minor Threat Etc. After that record and tour I switched over to guitar and our style began to develop, our Bad Brains, Bl'ast and Infest influences began to come out. We have always tried to develop and push ourselves forward, maybe because we get bored playing the same old thing really fast. We still play fast hardcore but now we are much more open to developing our own thing outside of some preconceived established sound. We hope the LP we are currently writing reflects all of our interests, from Inside Out to Lungfish to Spazz to Sun Ra, in a cohesive but heavy and brutal manor.
Nick: I think our progression as a band is fairly typical, in that our sound is heavily influenced by whatever we're predominately listening to. Since our musical interests aren't static, neither is the music we produce. In other words, ROIR..
Finish the sentence: America has fucked me because...
Mark: Of capitalist and state interest over that of the autonomy of people and their desires, needs and ability to think.
Nick: ...it has convinced the vast majority of my contemporaries that civilization, as it is organized today, represents the apex of human progress. As such, no one gives a fuck about anything beyond their parochial, bastardized ideas of the good life. Though, of course, America is not the sole proprietor of this particular form of "fucking."
Matt: I've been spoiled by great savings everyday at Wal-Mart! Now when I go into a normal department store, say Macy's, I am disappointed by the lack of low prices. - Hide quoted text -
Do you think current hardcore lacks responsibility? Do you think thathardcore kids have more of a responsibility to be open minded?
Mark: I think in a lot of ways yes. Some kids just don't get that when there is a mic in your hand or you are playing your set the things you say and the way you conduct yourself have different if not greater influence on those around them. Years and years of "big business" ethics in hardcore have driven the scene to a point of complete apathy and sometimes it can be easy to be dragged down with it. Hardcore is something that is not a business and will thrive or fail based on the choices we make, therefore collectively the scene is what we make of it and our responsibility. Holding exclusive attitudes like ones that are overly chauvinistic or spitting out homophobic language is damaging to all of us because these actions limit us to a narrow white hetero male stereotype that I got into this music to get away from. Hardcore is not a locker room or a football field but in some places it can be hard tell the difference.
Nick: This question is a can of worms. There is both a descriptive and normative aspect to this question, but I take it you're more interested in the later, which is whether hardcore SHOULD be responsible, not whether it currently is or not. The answer to this question depends on whether you think hardcore is more than a mere music sub-genre. Since I view hardcore as a collection of values antithetical to those predominately espoused in mainstream culture, which includes the value of compassion (as opposed to that of competition), my answer is yes, hardcore should be responsible. Snotty self-destruction, macho-jock posturing, and excessive edge pretentiousness are all fucking lame selfish tendencies that don't belong in hardcore.
Matt: A middleground must be found where one can both "up the punx," but do so in a manner that is sensitive to social political problems.
What was your first memory of someone elses artistic ventures changingyour life?
Mark: Probably when I was a baby or young toddler, I can't remember the exact age or an exact moment, when my father would play me the Beatles, Stones, Supremes, Cream, Hendrix, James Brown, Springsteen… Even though I could hardly understand what it was as soon as I heard music I was never the same, and hearing it is probably one of my first ever feelings.
Nick: No clue. I don't think I've experienced an artistic epiphany, or what have you.
Matt: Mark your answer is lame. Answer: Age - 12 Album - Significant Other Band - Limp Bizkit. Response: I didn't know bands could play this fast, and to this day I have yet to hear a band that could.
What is your favorite era of hardcore/past hardcore trend?
Mark: Being that I am a giant nerd Im into lots of "eras" and regions of hardcore. Its almost funny to think of it in that way, maybe because sometimes harecore can be so cheesey and awesome at the same time. You could also look at the different "eras" of hardcore and see how hardcore is always changing and evolving just like any other art form, and there can be a great deal of significance in regional difference. I really like "two thousand era thrash" aka the thrash revival, the youth crew (and post youth crew) era, early DC, early SoCal and of course New York Hardcore. But whats most important to me and my favorite era is whats going on right now and the bands and people involved currently, because that's whos really doing something. The past is done, retro is poison. Also my favorite hardcore trend is vegan straight edge kids wearing Jnco's, earth crisis jerseys and jester hats. And don't forget devil sticks. MOSH.
Nick: Favorite era, like every other hardcore kid, is probably early 80s hardcore. I can't pick a specific region though, because between 81 - 85 America was producing incredible bands that were all insanely diverse. What I like most about that era is bands like the Big Boys, Minutemen, Husker Du, played really weird shit and it was still considered hardcore. Today, hardcore is defined much more narrowly.
Matt: My favorite trend is the acceptance of Jocks and Nikes.
Do you find it, as you get old, harder to balance hardcore and adulthood?
Mark: Well Im 23 years old now and it seems that most drop out around the age of 22, so at this point I guess Im starting to be a bit of an older dude at local shows which I have never encountered before. Going to work early totally sucks when you have to drive an hour to see a show and get home really late, but I still get the feeling when I see an awesome band that Im really living my life and it makes me not care that I will be tired and shitty all day at work, and fuck that place anyway. I guess when I was a bit younger some would say hardcore and DIY is just a phase but to me this is my lifestyle and Im still having fun, probably more than ever because of how great it is here in New Brunswick. HCHC!
Nick: Not really. I'm 23 years old and more involved now than I ever was. I know hardcore is generally a youth oriented genre, but I actually think it's getting more fun as I get older, because I'm no longer some awkward 16 year old.
Matt: Not really, even with band, I still find the time to browse myspace for hours, which after talking to most of my friends with office jobs is pretty much all the adult world is anyway.
You guys are from New Jersey, is it a blessing or a curse to be from astate with a long and highly respected list of awesome bands?
Mark: I think its great that we are known for having so many good bands. I tend to think that there are even more incredible bands than more people know about or give credit to. Also, Dramarama (you know, that "anything, anything" song) is from NJ, so think about that.
Nick: I don't think it matters either way. What is important though, is that we currently have more incredible bands than any other state. There is no better place to play than "America", New Brunswick on a Saturday night.
Matt: Well, it certainly isn't a blessing, because regardless of how many bands come out of this state, people still think it's a shithole.
Your new record, "Ouroboros" is out now on Soulrebel Records. What wasit like writing and recording the record?
Mark: The writing of the record was very meticulous. We wrote probably about eleven songs and dropped many of them completely and re wrote several of them at least five times. There is lots of pre writing, discussion and arguing that goes into our writing process because when we write that's really all we care about. We try to make each record better than the last and Im very happy with how Ouroboros turned out. The actual recording session was great. It was recorded in our old shed that we threw shows in called Fuck Mountain in New Brunswick. Our engineer was, as usual, Ryan Jones who is responsible for our "sound" and he was great like always. Craig from Soulrebel was there for a lot of the session to show his support and insight, and lots of our friends came and did guest vocals (or guest violin in Erin's case). When we finally got the vinyl and it looked great it was such a relief because of all of the hard work, and now we are back in that mode writing our first LP.
Nick: We are by no means a prolific band. We release very few songs, because we put a lot of time into each one of them.
Matt: Writing and recording for Seasick is pretty much like pulling teeth for months, only to have a record that our drummer hates about 6 months later. - Hide quoted text -
What was the coolest show you guys have played to date?
Mark: This summer at the house in New Brunswick called "America" we played a show with Reproach, ANS, Killin It and Thriller and it was the most fun ever. There were about 200 kids at that basement show, which is probably some kind of record for New Brunswick basements because no one around here can remember a basement show bigger than that. Everyone seemed to have a great time, too. No fights, no cops, great bands, no bullshit. The first time we played Seattle was awesome too. We played with Said Radio, Sunset Riders, Ceremony and Shipwreck and it was really positive vibes all night, and a lot of great literature was there too. We covered Cro Mags and the kids threw Nick around like the 50 pound twig he is and it was hilarious and totally sweet.Also any show we ever played at the Treehouse (RIP) in Georgia was great. It sucks that it had to be closed down, it was a really cool place. The kids who went there and put the shows on really gave all of themselves to that place, especially Spanish Nick. It will be missed.
Nick: Those that Mark mentioned were all great. Two more come to my mind. We play Rochester fairly regularly, but one time we played at this bar with The State and Dead Tired. Rochester kids are crazy about hardcore, and the show was absolutely nuts. When we played the HCHC fest a few months back it was wild.
Given the opportunity, what show line up would you like to be apart of?
Mark: Even though I doubt they would care that much and it really doesn't have to do anything with DIY, I would LOVE for us to play with the Bad Brains at least once. Playing with Propagandhi would be totally rad too. So I guess my dream show is Bad Brains, Propagandhi, Seasick, and lets throw Killin' It on the show and have a fuckin party.
Nick: Seasick, Tragedy, and Propa-fucking-gandhi. Good call on that one.
Matt: I would like to be apart of one of those sweet heavenly jam sessions I've heard so much about. You know, where like Hendrix and Janis Joplin are playing and shit. It would be even sweeter now because most of the Ramones are dead and could get like Keith Moon or John Bonham to fill in.
Anything you want to add/shoutouts?
Nick: Hub City Hardcore. If you're not from NJ and you get the HCHC skull and cross bones tattoo I will pay you and buy you a fat sandwich.
Matt: My band. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to, once again, embarrass myself.
First off, the stock interview question, What got you into hardcore. What was your first memory of hardcore changing your life?
-My brother. I don't think it has. Stock answer for a stock question, sorry man.
How have your feelings on hardcore changed as you've gotten older and wiser?
-I mean, yeah, they have changed as a result of aging. I used to get really worked up about trivial shit, as we all do when we're young, and looking back it seems laughable. Some of those feeling are still there, but for the most part it's just a matter of putting things in perspective, and not to sound like a hack, but when you care less you tend to enjoy it a bit more. Then again, letting things irritate you more than they should tends to be what puts the hard back in this core, so who knows. Also: getting laid.
Hardcore goes in and out of several phases. What was the worst and the best in your opinion?
-Shit...I would say without a doubt that the best show-attending experiences of my life - and by that I mean being adamantly into just about every band on a bill, moshing for everything, being there weekly and all that shit - were gigs at the Elks Lodge in Cambridge circa 2003. Regular bills from this period: the A-team, Think I Care, So Be It, Mental, Say Goodbye, XfilesX and so forth. That was my Woodstock I guess. I won't comment specifically on the worst, but I think there's been a fair amount to not give a fuck about since.
What influences your writing, both musically and lyrically? How do outside influences (books, media, location) affect the writing process?
-Since I don't write the lyrics, I'll give you a largely one-sided answer. NYHC of yore influences my songwriting a bit. I don't care much for outside influences, but rats off to anyone who can pull it off halfway earnestly.
What is being in a hardcore band from boston like? Do you think it is easier to be from a place where hardcore is more accessible than say a place with a not so well known or respected hardcore scene? Are there any downsides to boston hardcore as a whole?
-Boston used to be a city with a scene that had three clearly identifiable parts: an in-crowd, those on the margins of that crowd that wished they were more to the center, and those who didn't give a fuck. That's the Boston I grew up with, and I had as many beefs with it as I was into it. Ever since Lockin' Out - sort of the last bastion of that scene - fell from favor, bands from outside the city like Have Heart and Guns Up took the reigns and made BHC a lot less insular and more of a state-wide type thing, relatively speaking. Even though most of those dudes now reside in the city, I never really associate(d) them with Boston. They were doing their own thing and that became big, and they got what they earned, but most of that shit went on outside of the city and it never had the feel that other eras of BHC did. What we've got now in the city proper is a little thing called the "new scene" (nu scene is also acceptable). Gig and followers are few and far between, but I'm into it. I'm also not into knocking the bigger bands and gigs. I'd like to think the Mob kinda straddles the two.
Ultimately Boston is a college town, and hardcore being a fleeting expression of youth, you're getting a lot of assholes from exotic locales like New Jersey and California moving here, getting into Allston, then getting over the core and shitting on it. Looking beyond that shit, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Why do you think there is a such a division with kids who like different styles of hardcore and punk?
-Because rivalry is king. Fuck anyone who thinks HC is anything different than what you make of it.
If you weren't involved in punk or hardcore, what direction do you think your life would have taken. A turn for the better/worse/indifferent?
-I don't think it would have. A life where I'm not attracted to extreme music is one I don't understand.
I understand it's a straight to the point question without a simple answer, but what are you feelings about the current state of America?
-You just gotta smile.
Anything you'd like to add? Shout-outs?
-Shouts outs to Rampage, New Lows, Have Heart, Step Forward, Scapegoat, Waste Management, Sam & Gil, the 29 and the (ever dwindling) Boston straight edge.
How did you get into punk/hardcore music? First Show? Best Show? - The first show I attended was Warzone with One King Down opening. Raybeez wore oversized work gloves and was drenched in sweat. I don’t know what about that appealed to my 15 year old mind, but it made an impression. I remember he said, “this is better than drugs” really softly into the mic after a song and it spoke to me for some reason.
Is it different now then when you first got into it? - Difficult question. It often feels different to me, but then I take a minute and look at it under the microscope and it seems very much the same. For example, I don’t relate at all to what kids are into right now. Death metal with hardcore parts is really gross to my ears. So I am one of those old haters who can’t understand the kids. But when I was a kid listening to 108 constantly, there was definitely older dudes who had been into Sick of it All or Youth of Today who couldn’t understand where I was coming from. So ultimately that part is the same. I would argue that 108 had as much or more substance than much of what came before it, but a 16 year old may feel that way about whatever nonsense they are listening to. In the world of “real hardcore” I think a major change has been the growing abundance of junior hardcore historians. When I was a kid there wasn’t this bizarre fixation with the past. Don’t get me wrong, it’s only natural to research the origins of your interests, but I’m amazed at the proliferation of internet blogs celebrating the obscure and rightfully forgotten music of earlier eras. Everyone in North America should own the Negative Approach discography, but does everyone really need the Parliament Kids 7” from 1983?
Anyone who listens to End Of A Year will notice right off the bat that you guys aren't your typical punk/hardcore band. What are the bands influences as a whole? What inspirers the music/lyric writing process? -Tough question because we have wildly disparate listening habits. Our music always seems to have an anxious feeling to it. That may be our common influence- anxiety. For myself, major influences are Lungfish, Elvis Costello, the 90’s hardcore music I grew up in, and Philip Jose Farmer. Distance from things I want. That’s what most music is probably about at the end of the day. Aside from pop punk; I don’t know what that music is about.
You guys have had a pretty big year so far including a European tour, an American tour, a new record label and a slew of split 7", how has that been? Any crazy tour stories? How are you guys handling the pressure of everything that is coming your way? - We can’t always tour as often as we “should,” so to remind people we’re alive we have gotten really into 7”’s. We’ve been blown away by the amount of offers we get for those and it feels wrong to pass them up when they come from good labels, people, or bands. Finding a label to invest in you fully and commit to a relationship is a different sort of thing. We feel lucky to have formed this connection with Deathwish. 7”’s are like anonymous sex or sex with friends. A full-length and the associated promotion of it is like a marriage. A little more serious. We are the anti-crazy story tour band. Some bands are magnets for that sort of thing, but we are really military in our approach to travel. We arrive, play our music, fall asleep on the cleanest floor we can find. If I thought about it I could probably cite a million incidents of the US or Europe being weird as hell and giving us something strange to look at but almost none of those stories would involve us intentionally putting ourselves in that situation.
As mentioned before you guys signed to, what is arguably the biggest label in punk and hardcore today, Deathwish Inc. How did that come about? What exactly is going to be released on Deathwish? What is it like working with a bigger label? - Around the time our relationship with Revelation was dissolving, I shot Tre at Deathwish an Email and told him what we were about and what we were looking for. I didn’t think about it again for a couple months until I found out Tre had been poking around, asking questions about us. So I hit him with another Email and said, “listen man, I know you like us.” At this point we engaged in a multi-month conversation, got to know each other, determined we don’t hate each other, and from there it was a go. Right now we are recording for a 7” Deathwish will be releasing this autumn. After that we’ve got a 7” and a 10” we owe Hex Records and Red Leader Records respectively, and hopefully by summer we’ll be seeing a full-length on Deathwish. Working with Deathwish has been a bit of mindfuck in a way. We’re used to doing everything ourselves and coming out of pocket for certain stuff. Deathwish doesn’t pay our rents or buy our girls new shoes, but they’ve been quick to offer if they thought we needed something. That is a crazy idea, to me at least. So far I’m really happy with our relationship with Deathwish. It seems to be the best of both worlds. If I want to talk to the dudes who run Deathwish, I’ll call. So in that respect, it’s a very small label. But there is also a small staff there who can take on different responsibilities for us and take some work off my shoulders and in that respect it’s like a larger label.
How did you decide which bands you wanted to do split releases with? - Mostly, bands approach us in a friendly way and we appreciate them asking and it turns into a conversation. If we get along well and we can fit it into our recording schedule, we’ll make it work. We don’t get caught up on who is en vogue right now or any of that nonsense. If you are a band making good music that is full of cool dudes, we’re open to it.
Maybe it's just me, but i definitely fell as if the songs on Disappear Here are a little bit more rough and jaged sounding, as opposed to Sincerely, which seems to have a bit more of a melodic side, was this intentional (or am i completely off)? - I think I’ve gotten better as a singer (however slightly), the other guys have gotten better at their instruments, and the band has gotten better as a unit. With us, nothing is intentional. We try to set a course or parameters for ourselves, but it never takes. We just get together and bang’m out. Songs are just whatever comes out.
Besides the bands that are on the splits, are there any bands that you are currently siked on? - Mistletoe from Syracuse is a current favorite of mine. Helms Alee; Coke Bust; Bill Callahan; Engineer; some of the stuff I’m personally into.
What do you think about the current state of the punk/hardcore scene? Any current bands you think people should know about? - Every time I get bummed on punk and hardcore I’m pulled out of it for a moment by good bands playing in those scenes or styles. Right now I am most into Mistletoe from Syracuse and Helms Alee from the Northwest, though that is probably considered metal.
Top 3 Records Ever? Hardcore/Non Hardcore - It’s probably subject to change, but these have been consistently important to me: - Lungfish – Talking Songs for Walking - Earth Crisis – Destroy the Machines - Elvis Costello – Armed Forces
Top 3 Books? - Also subject to change: - Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis - To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer - A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming election? - I’ve been to 45 states and I can say with confidence that the US is chock full of hicks, hillbillies, rednecks, hayseeds, yokals, and rubes. Intelligent people are hostages here. I’m sure whichever of these tickets win: my needs will not be met. I’m young and have a brain in my head so I won’t be voting McCain, but I’m also not terribly impressed with Obama. The nation is split in half and I don’t see any man capable of uniting it. When I here politicians call for non-partisanship I have to laugh. There are fundamental ideological differences between the voters, how can anyone hope that the people who represent them will come together? I’ll likely find some oddball weirdo to vote for.
Any last words? - Thank you for the interview and thank you to anyone who reads it.
(The song "Mykonos" off the "Sun Giant E.P.", The line "It aint often that you'll ever find a friend". Being in Blacklisted has given me the opportunity to go places that the social class I grew up in would never afford me. I've been places I can barely even point out on a map. It has been an experience to say the least. But being on tour and meeting other bands it seems like I have never really met any new "friends". I've mostly kept to myself, Showed up, Played and left. It is what I was/am here to do. However, when I am swimming inside my head thinking about things, I get a little depressed thinking that I've been to more countries or even states than I have actual friends in my life. Touring so much I've come back to every one of the friends I thought I had at home, Living a normal life, Growing up, quickly falling in to the comfort of what they are going to be for the rest of their lives(And I am proud of them and rooting for them). Meanwhile I am 26, I have not a penny to my name, All my belongings are in plastic target bins in the corner of an apartment and I am waiting to go to Japan. Somehow through that all that line ("It aint often that you'll ever find a friend") gives me a small feeling of comfort).
2.) Great Lake Swimmers-Ongiara.
( The song "Back Stage With The Modern Dancers," The line, "like roses growing their thorns, Getting ready to perform, With bare feet and painted faces they took their places, On shivering legs beneath," In a way I feel like I wrote that line. I have always felt that making music was this really beautiful thing. Its creation in a pure form. Its you bringing to the table what you have artistically and trying to make it mesh with what is, in my case 3-4 other people. With "Heavier Than Heaven" there was a lot more people involved than just the musicians. We wanted it to really be stunning on every level it could be, Packaging, Sound, etc , etc. Melissa Farley, Jake Bannon and Kurt Ballou all were part of it. So in the process all these people helped in its creation. And I think as a whole it came out really beautiful and at the same time really different from everything that is out or has came out in recent times. So in that respect it is a "Rose". But, once that was all over and we had to tour on it on our own just the 4 of us. None of those people would be there to help us really convey what we were trying to get across. We were completely stripped down and alone. It would be just us and the music, and it became a really volatile and violent thing. A good amount of backlash came and a good amount of praise came. A lot of emotion went into that album and in Blacklisted's own strange way, us playing live was our way of "Growing our thorns" in order to "Get ready to perform". The rest, Well you can decipher yourself. )
3.) Bon Iver-For Emma, Forever Ago.
(The album as a whole is great. It's a really solitary lonely album. The song "The Wolves[Act I & II"), The line "What might have been lost, Don't bother me". Through all the trials and tribulations Blacklisted has gone through I OFTEN think of quitting. But there is something in it that keeps me going, Some Un-seeable force. Probably the same force that keeps Hope Conspiracy making albums whenever they want. I recently did an interview with Norm Arenas of Texas Is The Reason and I asked him why he moved to Chicago and San Francisco after TITR The reason I asked him was because recently I have really been thinking of walking away from Blacklisted and more specifically they are the two places I would move. His answer was really inspiring. Part of it was after T.I.T.R was over people kept asking him about it. I don't want that to happen. I have never wanted the "fame" that has come with being in a band. A lot of people are mislead thinking Blacklisted is some huge phenomenon but the fact is we are not. But we are what I always wanted to be with a band, I've never compromised anything artistically to be what I wanted this band to be. So when Justin Vernon sings the line "What might have been lost, Don't bother me" it hits home. Because when I do walk away from Blacklisted, I want it to just go away. Like all the people who have quit the band over the years. Like when we first started, 4 kids unknown to the hardcore scene just making music.)
4.) PJ Harvey-White Chalk.
(PJ Harvey's best work. An extremely dark album. The song "When Under Ether," there is a specific line "Conscious of nothing but the will to survive". One of the hardest lines in music history. Hardcore/Punk bands can only wish they could write something as powerful as that. Every time I hear that line it kills me. It sums up how I feel as a human. As depressed as I may get the bottom line is exactly what she says "survive" and to advance in life whether it be anything from a plumber to a musician, You have to dedicate yourself to it. 110%.)
(Justin Broadrick, One of the most talented musicians in "Independent Music". The song "We All Falter," Will break your heart. However, there is another song "Friends Are Evil" with the line "And all the stones you've thrown, They come from your highest throne, Pass them on to me below, They remind me nothing lasts". When you are in a band your main function is to create/make music. Recently it feels though, that in the hardcore scene there is much more you have to do. You have to be "cool," fit the mold, say the right things, know the right people. Its fickleness makes it a very difficult thing to function in. One minute you are being praised, the next you are being ripped down and defamed. You cant trust anyone in it. Through all the emotions that you have thinking about it, whether it be Anger, Frustration, Etc Etc, The truth is, It's really just Lonely. Its sad to know that nothing lasts. Its sad to see something you create get destroyed because it's not "Cool," but at the same time knowing that the people destroying it have never given anything positive in their life. They have never given a piece of themselves for the world to have. They just sit at home and cast judgement on something they are to afraid to even really be a part of. Its sad to see the place you've come to to feel comfortable is now a place where you somehow feel the most outcasted.)
2. What were you listening to in ninth grade?
Hmm, I was in 9th grade in 1996. I got into hardcore the summer before 9th grade and it became my main focus musically. I tried to listen to as many albums as possible and see as many shows as I could. Locally I really liked Ink & Dagger. Ink & Dagger was probably one of the best bands I have ever seen artistically. Sean had a zine called "Dead By 23" Which in a weird way is responsible for a lot of the music that I am into today(Non-Hardcore related). He had a very eclectic taste and was always looking for new sounds. R.I.P.
3. What records get the most play when you're touring? What gets played in the van?
Everyone has a different thing they listen to. It varies everyday. Sometimes we are all psyched on one thing, Sometimes we cant even decide what to listen to. When we want to just choose something that no one will have any qualms about we will put on Dinosaur Jr or Nirvana.
4. So I think every single person who has heard Heavier than heaven has established that it's a perfect record. It's so well rounded, so many different elements. What odd records did you listen to a lot while you recording it and while writing it?
Specifically an odd album that comes off the top of my head that was listened to would be Neutral Milk Hotel-On Avery Island. There is so much stuff surrounding the second album "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" but "On Avery Island" is just as good. The sounds on it are great. His voice and lyrics are great. The album is just a completely punk album. It's amazing. Listen to the song "April 8th" It will make you a believer.
5. Would you rather be an Indian or a Cowboy?
A very difficult question. One I have pondered many times. Along with the other classic, "Would you rather be a wizard or a warrior?". Native Americans have many great qualities. Being a Hunter/Gatherer, It doesn't get any more agro-male then that, You get to kill buffalo with a fucking bow and arrow, How cool is that? Being one with the land. Native American music and art is really amazing. Scalping enemies, Thats a true mans work. Wearing their teeth and ears around your neck. A true warrior.
A Cowboy is equally as cool. Working on a farm. Herding cattle. Riding horses. If you choose to be an "Outlaw," Robbing trains, Stagecoaches and Banks. Having shootouts and saloon brawls. Billy the Kid was a great example of a "cool" cowboy. Died at 21 and killed 21 people in his life, One for every year he was alive. Doc Holiday was great, at least the way they depicted him in Tombstone. For someone that wasn't real, Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name, Epitome of western cool. I don't know what I would pick its too hard of a decision.
6. If you could handpick a lineup to play with, who would it be?
Bands to play with? Or people to play in my band? Id love to play with Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. And Id love for any member of any of those bands to play in a band with me. Haha.
7. Since I know you've seen Cat Power tons of times, what was your most memorable time seeing them?
When I was 16 I snuck into this club and as I was walking up the steps she was running down looking upset, she breezed right by me. I guess she had a fit on stage and left. I didn't get to see her actually play but it was one of the best shows I ever saw. Another time I saw her perform with just her and a guitar and then her at a piano. She had some back up musicians playing guitar but not like she does now. She played for close to 2 hours it was great. She was at her best that night. The new version that sounds like an old Tennessee blues band, Im into but it doesn't grab me as much as her early albums. One thing I love to do is put Moonpix on a playlist with Smog's "Knock, Knock" and play it on random. Both albums were written around the same time with what seems like a lot of similar topics, Her and Bill Callahan broke up before those records were recorded/released. They go really good together. The Smog song "Left With Only Love," Will destroy your whole life. "When I lost you I lost my family, You did what was right to do, And I hope you find your husband and a father to your children."
8. When was the time/band/show where you knew Blacklisted was going to become, ultimately, your life?
I don't know that there was a time. I just started the band and never stopped. I kept going and going. I also don't know if Blacklisted is really much of a life. Its more of an outlet I suppose. I think it's the process of making music that keeps me here. Just being able to create music and have that outlet.
9. What are some of the most memorable shows/concerts you've ever attended?
One that sticks out that I saw in the last year or so is Down at the electric factory. It was so loud. Every member was in top form. Before they played they had a screen that they played music videos on. They played Cro Mags, Bad Brains, Crowbar, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and a bunch of others. It was great. A true rock experience. Another is Leeway who played Cbgbs a few years ago with Maximum Penalty. Me and Shawn the drummer of Blacklisted went out to see it. Maximum Penalty(One of the most underrated New York Hardcore bands) Got on stage and destroyed it. "Yo we are only playing old stuff, Strictly the demo and first 7" and they did. Then Leeway got up there and played perfect, They even included "Foot The Bill" off of "Open Mouth Kiss," Another highly underrated piece of New York Hardcore history. Anytime I saw Burn was amazing. Especially the first reunions they did in the 90s at the YWCA in Philadelphia. It was perfect. Chaka showcasing what it is to be one of the best frontmen ever. Gavin, Need I say more?
10. What is your recommended reading list?
Paul Auster wrote a book called "The Book Of Illusions" that I read in the last year, It's a really good book. Raymond Carver wrote a book of short stories called "Cathedral," A lot of the stories are a little longer then what he had been known to write. The story "Chef's House" particularly is a really good read. I read a biography on Houdini recently, One of the most interesting characters in our Worlds History. I don't really have a specific taste when it comes to books. Ill read most anything as long as it captures me in the first few lines or paragraphs.
11. Current hardcore bands your into?
Let Down. I think they work extremely hard and just go for it. A true example of what punk/hardcore should be. Plus they are straight edge which is always a bonus. Ceremony. Trying a lot of different things on their newest record, All of which worked perfectly within the realm of what they already sounded like. Rhythm To The Madness. True Musicians. From Belgium, Playing hardcore better then almost any band from America. Cold World. The new record is one of the most catchy albums in a long time without compromising what they already set out to do. Nick Woj and Alex are 2 of the best songwriters in hardcore right now. Alex's guitar playing and vocals on that album alone are worth listening to the album at least once a day.
12. What should we look out for from Blacklisted in 2009 and beyond?
Im not sure. Lets see if we get through the year first. But if it happens, A new record that will further remove us from modern punk/hardcore and further catapult us to the top of the mountain known as "obscure" or "this record will be appreciated in 10 years"
How did you get into punk/hardcore music? First Show? Best Show?
Dave- I got into Punk through metal. I got into metal when I was like 7 so it was just the natural progression. The first hardcore band I saw was Agnostic Front in 1992 opening for Obituary as I was still into Metal. I started going to local shows around 1993-94. The first show I ever saw featured the Bristles and Hodge Podge. (local band). Ressurection cancelled. Best show? Impossible to answer. Some shows are musically awesome while others are just fun. Bands that I've had the most fun seeing: Cro Mags, Casualties, Dustheads, Fit For Abuse, Circle Jerks, and Government Warning.
Is it different now then when you first got into it?
Dave: Very! Punk has gone through so many stages. When I first got into it Green Day / Rancid mainstream popularity filtered in a lot of bullshit bands and people. That faded it was more people with genuine interest. Now, because of the huge emo/poppunk radio bands there is a lot of band and people inspired by that. I also just think shows have a lot more people who are trying to flaunt material possessions like fancy sneakers or designer hoodies which I think is stupid. I also think that shows are getting more and more violent every year.
What Inspires you lyrically?
Dave: Idiots I see everyday. Whether its people from shows, people I see at my job, or the idiot I see staring back at me in the mirror.
Is there any upcoming plans for Splitting Headache.New Releases? Tours?
Dave: Splitting Headache has nothing going on. Mike (guitar) is the proud father of a baby boy. We are going to start practicing again soon and hopefully play a few shows in December before we mostlikely will break up. I am probably moving to Tulsa, OK in January and if that happens, we will call it quits.
What do you think about the current state of the hardcore scene? Any current bands you think people should know about?
Dave: The bands I like, I really like but I'm not into nearly as much current hardcore as I've been in the past. I feel like a lot of current Hardcore has gotten too metal and moshy. I was never into that stuff in the early 90s and that era is what a lot of bands are trying to rehash. I like Government Warning, Direct Control, Career Suicide, and bands like that. I would recommend Psyched to Die to people into those bands. They are a newer band featuring members of the Ergs, Splitting Headache, Fast Times, and Hunchback.
Top 3 Records Ever? Hardcore/Non Hardcore
Dave: Another tough one. In no order- Agnostic Front - Victim in Pain. Corrosion of Conformity - Eye for an Eye. Circle Jerks - Group Sex. Non Hardcore. Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Metallica - Kill Em All. Neil Young - Harvest.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming election?
Dave: This is the first election I've registered to vote for. That said, I'm still not floored by anyone. I am not a fan of big government and I really don't to pick anymore fights with other nations. There is too much red tape for any major changes to ever really take place in this country. But, I'm still gonna cast my vote for change if you know what I mean.
If you could see any band any line up past or present who would it be?
Dave: Black Flag. 1982 tour.
If you werent in a band what would you be doing with your life?
Dave: Well, my current band is a step away from not being in a band so it's easy. I work full time at an animal hospital. I also date a girl in Boston so I spend a lot of time with her when I'm not working. If I never did any bands ever, I have no idea where I'd be now. Probably living a productive lifestyle with a wife, children, and money in the bank.
Any last words ?
Dave: start your own band. Play what you want to play and if it's good people will like it regardless of what everyone else sounds like. And if they don't, atleast you did what you wanted to do.
How did you get into punk hardcore? What was the deciding factor? Alex: Maybe in the 6th grade, my parents got me a copy of Metallica’s Kill Em All and than after that I kind of figured out about punk and stuff on my own, just finding out other bands and stuff. I guess in 8th grade, that was when Napster and all that stuff was really big, we were all about downloading MP3s and finding new and weird shit. That was when I found out about the Misfits and that’s kind of how it all started. So an important question..is Kill Em All the best Metallica record? Absolutely not. Ride the Lightening is the best Metallica record. One hundred and ten percent. So let’s talk about War Hungry. You guys are definitely different than any other band in hardcore right now. Where do your personal influences come from? I’ve kind of just been, and you can ask Kevin this, I’m probably just in the band to have long hair and look cool. I would like to think that we’re trying to go in a different direction because we feel like everything sounds the same nowadays. Kevin and I have a lot of similar musical interests so we’re trying to put a lot of those into our stuff. Anything from Alice in Chains to White Zombie, just weird stuff like that…stuff you don’t usually hear in hardcore today.
If you could personally pick a show to play with any band ever, dead members aside, who would it be? I don’t know if I could speak for the band. But personally I’d want to play with Metallica, but right after Master of Puppets before Cliff died. (RIP) Definitely Pantera circa Vulgar Displays of Power. Definitely the Misfits because they were the first punk band I was ever into. I would also love to play, even though I’ve seen an incarnation of them, with the Cro-Mags because they are amazing, probably one of the most important bands as far this is concerned. Although I don’t even really listen to hardcore.
What current hardcore bands do you like? I think Violation is the best hardcore band out right now. They kind of get it in the sense that they are doing something similar to what we’re trying to accomplish in that every band out there, they don’t have to sound like Age of Quarrel, you can do something different. When you talk to Gary and Chris and those dudes they’re into so much different shit, and you can tell they love Slayer and stuff like that. And it really comes through in their music and that’s important to make it an eclectic mix of different things. I love seeing that band live, I think they’re great.
What about your last tour with Let Down and Swamp Thing? What were some highlights of that tour? Well, the shows were interesting. We had a good time in the sense that War Hungry hasn’t been out with a serious line up in a long time and I think that if you talk to Kevin and Hoodrack they were really happy with that, that they actually have a real band for the first time in a long time. And we al get along really well, it meshed well. Playing with Let Down is always interesting, so that was kind of cool.
Did you think you guys got a good reaction? Some of the shows were weird. There were places that we never played before so that was different. That was also my first tour out of the east coast with the band, so it’s kind of hard for me to gauge. I thought Sound and Fury we did really great, I thought that we got a cool reaction there and so did every other band, it was kind of hard for kids to not go crazy. The shows we played afterwards were great too, we played a bunch of dates in California with Violation. Kids in California love that band and go crazy for them so it was really fun to see that.
What’s your favorite show that you’ve been to so far this year? Favorite show that I’ve been to so far this year was without a doubt Iron Maiden. That’s not really a show though that’s more of an experience.
Would you like to share a experience from the show? My friend Greg Daly, shout out to him and the World Inferno society crew, Greg drives them around and he’s a good buddy of mine and we work together at the church. He has this little invention during the summertime called Greg’s hard lemonade which is Simply Lemonade and Jameson. And when you drink a lot of those in the parking lot before the Iron Maiden show you get really, really drunk. And than you go to the Iron Maiden show and you throw up everywhere and black out. And than you go to the Iron Maiden show and get carted out by security to the health tent where you proceed to wake up from the blackout and say “Where the fuck am I??”. And than a dude asks you if you’ve been drinking and you go “Yeeaah I’ve been drinking.” And than Iron Maiden starts to play “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and you somehow stumble back to your seat and enjoy the rest of the show.
What about your first hardcore show? What I remember about my younger years was seeing Blacklisted in its original form and being completely blown away by the kind of thing that they were doing at the time. And they were compared to, at that point in time, American Nightmare and all that shit and I was just like “Yeah, its not really like that at all”. Especially now, knowing those dudes pretty well, and hanging out with them and playing shows with them and seeing what they’ve turned into, its kind of amazing.
One of the things that I think are similar with Blacklisted and War Hungry is that you guys both don’t take all of your interests from just one genre. How do you feel about that? Yeah I think that’s really important because if you do that, shit just starts to sound the same all the time. I mean, you can’t play the same breakdowns all the time. You gotta go somewhere else. I think that Blacklisted is one of those bands, they have a solid line up now and they know what they want to do and they’re doing it really well and its obviously showing because they’re playing huge shows and going overseas and doing huge stuff.
So what five records would you like to be buried with? Metallica, it wouldn’t even matter. As long as one of those records were in my grave I’d be fine. I’m really into death metal so I would have to have a couple of those records in there with me. I would definitely have to have Death-Scream Bloody Gore and Sleep’s Holy Mountain, not that its death metal. That’s one of my favorite records ever, I listen to it all the time as much as I can. I would definitely have to have Misfits-Static Age cause I love that early raw sound, that stuff is great.
What do you foresee in the future for War Hungry? And what about the current lineup? Right now its me Mook, Hoodrack, and Alex (Russin) has been playing with us a lot and Ian which is cool. I think he’s in the band now, from what I’ve heard. It’s a good line up, I like it a lot. I think we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, play some shows here and there just to see our friends, hang out, and play with some cool bands. We got some shows coming up at the end of October with Trash Talk, Bracewar, and Alpha and Omega so those should be a lot of fun. As far as that’s concerned just look out in 2009 because we’re having a new record come out. Actually it’s our first LP and I think that should be a pretty exciting time for us. We’re looking forward to getting that done, finally.
Any final shoutouts? Shout out to De, my new roommate Nick Woj, all those other WB dudes that I don’t get to see very often. And also shout out to Paint it Black. I hope they get home from Europe safe. Also, if you see me at the Church say what’s up, we’ll talk for a minute.
I got into major label punk bands like Green Day and Nirvana through seeing their videos on MTV when my family first got cable in the summer of '94. The speed and volume of the music hooked me pretty much instantaneously. I’m sure anyone reading this can relate to that feeling. From there, I went through the time-honored tradition of buying all the bands in their "Thank You" lists and anyone who sounded like they had a "punk" name, which led me to Bikini Kill, Fugazi, Rancid, Operation Ivy, Dead Kennedys, Germs, Black Flag, etc. However, what really got me into the underground music scene was seeing Fugazi play my desolate little hometown of Clinton, MA. I honestly could not believe that Fugazi (who I pictured, being that I was 12, to be these rock gods) would play my garbage-dump of a town and that the older kids who hung-out at the skate shop down the street from my apartment had a band that was opening for them.
What inspires you lyrically and musically?
You could say our lyrics are political in some sense, which to me really just means that I'm inspired by the myriad of disgusting systems that human beings have designed to hurt and exploit each other. I've never really been a fan of most political bands per se because I hate simplification and lack of personal connection in punk lyrics. I find it hard to relate to some kid from suburban New York screaming about such-and-such terrible event that happened in a South African township before he or she was ever born. So, keeping that in mind, I try to infuse the personal in the political, which is best done I find by writing about your own fears, hatreds, disappointments, opinions, in the context of the world at large.
I'm also a book nerd so aside from my life and my opinions, you could say my lyrics are inspired in some sense by the writings of Guy Debord, John Berryman, Georges Bataille, T.S. Eliot, Albert Camus, Bukowski, Artaud, Derrick Jensen and bunch of other people.
Musically, we take equal influence from the Massachusetts hardcore bands that we loved growing up (Panic, The Suicide File, Orchid, American Nightmare, etc.) and the raw attitude of the early punk bands such as The Stooges, Joy Division, The Germs, Black Flag, etc.
What do you think about the current state of hardcore? Any bands you think people should check out.
The current state of hardcore is better than it has been in a while in my opinion. There was a time about 4 years ago when I really lost interest in what most bands in hardcore (at least in Massachusetts) were doing, which was basically trying to ape either Guns Up, Have Heart, or Death Before Dishonor. In the past two years though, I've been really into Pissed Jeans, Ceremony, Cursed (RIP), Das Oath, Some Girls (RIP), Paint It Black, Tragedy, Fucked Up, Trash Talk, and Sex/Vid.
Also good bands and good friends: Bad Habit, I Rise, Seasick, Frogball, Brick, Debaser, Youthviolence and Pitfall.
How do you feel about the upcoming election?
That it is kind of like arguing about who's going to play captain on a sinking ship. Or at least that's how I feel in my darker moments. I live in Massachusetts so my vote matters even less than usual because Obama will win this state regardless. If I lived in a swing state, I would consider voting Democratic but I feel like the “lesser of two evils” philosophy is a real debasement of the concept of democracy. Which is not to say that I think Obama is some evil corporate stooge, I think the fact that he is even the nominee is progress in some sense. It’s just unfortunate that to have any political influence within the system, all politicians are forced to align themselves with the interests of the ruling class. However, if McCain does gets elected after eight years of Bush than the American people deserve the shitstorm in store for them.
Top 3 records? Hardcore/not Hardcore
I'm making this question my own way.
1. American Nightmare - Background Music 2. Converge - Jane Doe 3. Minor Threat - Discography
1. The Stooges - Funhouse 2. Germs - GI 3. Joy Division - Substance
1. Nirvana - In Utero 2. Radiohead - OK Computer 3. Neutral Milk Hotel - In An Aeroplane Over The Sea
If you could see any band with any line up who would it be?
GG Allen fronting Panic at the Disco.
You guys recently did a tour, any good stories? what was your favorite show?
Too many good stories. Highlights include Andrew shoplifting every meal for two and a half weeks, partying in the James River in downtown Richmond on a Tuesday afternoon, MIA "Paper Planes", waking up in the woods of East Long Island without knowing how I got there, hitching rides up the East Coast with no equipment to our remaining shows after our van broke down, and getting physically kicked out of our own show at Rocks, the worst bar in Richmond.
The best shows were at America! in New Brunswick, NJ w/ Seasick, the Corpse Fortress in Silver Spring, MD w/ Bad Habit, and at the Charm City Art Space w/ Ceremony.
Any last words?
Hardcore without punk isn't music, it's a genre of porn.
And punk isn't a genre of music, it’s a thought process.