Monday, November 17, 2008

Interview w/ Jeff of Run For Cover Records

Title Fight (photo by r. scheuerman)

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.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Interview w/ Jimmy from Polar Bear Club

photo by kimpossible

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, 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.

10. Did you win the free tacos?

Oh yeah

11. Any shout outs/things to add?

Get Awesome.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Interview w/ Adam of Tigers Jaw

Curtis Childress

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 (

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.

Any bands you think people should check out?

Kite Party (www. myspace. com/kiteparty) is definitely the biggest one that comes to mind. Our friends from Brooklyn, You Aren't My Mother (www. myspace. com/youarentmymother) are excellent as well.

Any last words?

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.