All posts by andy

The legalities and regulations in regards to opening a DIY venue in the UK (the JT SOAR model)

Joe Cee of Plaids / JT Soar / Subsequent Mastering / the internets wrote some things that you should know about running a DIY venue in the UK. Check it out…

Firstly, the JT SOAR model is:

  • Under 200 capacity
  • All Ages
  • No bar / alcohol sales
  • Can sell food once a month (regional laws may apply)
  • Shows end at 11pm

If a space used for music in the UK is under 200 capacity no music performance licence is required as of October 2012 : https://www.gov.uk/entertainment­licensing­changes­under­the­live­music-act

You CANNOT have music of any description after 11PM. Curfews are you main defence against any trouble. ( See above )

If there is no bar, there are no age restrictions and no ID check is required. Therefore “all ages”.

The space MUST conform to public safety laws and fire regulations, but this is REALLY easy.

https://www.gov.uk/workplace­fire­safety­your­responsibilities/who­is­responsible

Wilkos and Ebay can get you everything you need.

We have been cleared to prepare and sell food once a month with our local environmental office at the council. This may vary from regional council to council.

Once you have everything in place MAKE CONTACT with the council and fire department.

http://www.fireservice.co.uk/information/ukfrs

They can’t roll in and shut you down, and they are generally friendly people just doing their jobs. We organised meetings with both at the space and had a cup of tea and a chinwag. Everything was AOK.

BE AWARE of your surroundings, are they are legal restrictions to the surrounding streets/district? Can people drink on the streets? Make friends with your neighbours, like a good house party: don’t alienate anyone who might hear /f eel the effect of your events. Keep it above board, transparent and for god’s sake make sure people don’t urinate or leave trash outside your venue or on the way home!

Further questions: jtsoarspace@gmail.com ask for Joe or Phil

Live Review: Dads at the Kingston Fighting Cocks, 21/11/13

Shwin Bandari took this gig in, and came up with these words:

Ah sweaty basement shows, the deafening loud PA system, the longing for water and fresh air, the inability to move without being crushed against the tiny platform they call a stage, and the bruised elbows as a result of fending off stage divers. Nothing else like it eh?

Being the busy Uni student I am, I took some time out of my very busy schedule of self loathing and pity to see Dads at a venue 5 minutes away from my apartment block. While sadly I didn’t get there in time to watch Bluebird, I did get to see Hindsights, a four piece outfit from Berkshire with enough twangy guitar sections with distortion pedals and melancholy vocals to really hit you in the feels.  They played a variety of songs off of 12inch record that they released through Beach Community this year, and although the crowd reaction wasn’t anything special (other than a few obligatory nods) they left enough of an impact to warm things up and set the tone for the rest of the night.

Nai Harvest  for some reason are very popular with “hardcore kids” in the UK, which makes it somewhat amusing to see people wearing tough guy windbreakers and Breaking Point t-shirts angrily finger pointing along to fast paced and upbeat emo lyrics. They open with their title track off the latest release Whatever with everyone in the room courageously singing along without a care in the world, play 3 or 4 new songs that no one has a clue about yet, then finish with the classic ‘Distance Etc’. All in all a very enjoyable set.

And finally, Dads (9)  emerge, opening with their post-rock anthem My New Crass Patch, and then straight into Breakfast at Piffany’s,where a reasonably sized pit opens up behind me, and I fall onto Dads guitar pedal. Ouch. Not to worry though, they carried on regardless of my pain. Their drummer John Bradley comments on how the bartender did ‘the nicest thing ever’ by putting a lemon in his water, as well as the fact that their bass player George Bush wasn’t there at the show. Gosh darn it. Their guitarist didn’t speak much, but the noodly riffs encompassed in concluding tunes such as “Get To The Beach” and “Shit Twins” more than made up for the lack of on-stage banter.

Boilermaker interview

it’s almost 3 years now since Terrin passed away, and through the magic of the internet i am able to bring you this old interview from like 2001 or something that i did. it was a pretty weird afternoon, thinking back. Terrin and his wife were honeymooning in Europe and he called me up, asking if i wanted to meet up and do an interview. i had never spoken to him before, and being a terrible unsociable geek, was more than a little bit nervous about it. i shouldn’t have been, i had a tonne of fun, and i hope this interview goes some way to showing that. thanks to Terrin, you are missed.

this interview was conducted whilst sitting on a wooden bench on Elm Hill, Norwich. it gave us green butts. it was damn good fun, and i am very grateful for spending a couple of hours in the time of Terrin and his lovely wife Adrienne. they are the nicest folks, do ya hear! ok, here is what we talked about, i edited out a tonne of it because people don’t normally go around printing their conversations on the internet. so i just left in the stuff that i guess you could consider more ‘relevant’, and some of the fun bits that were almost relevant. whatever, it was all enjoyed. take it away…

terrin: (into dictaphone in cockney accident) brilliant

 

andy: right! ok, so introduce yourself and what you’re doing over here!

 

terrin: blahblahblah, this is Terrin from Boilermaker, i am on my honeymoon with my beautiful wife, Adrienne…

 

andy: who’s just disappeared off down the road somewhere

 

terrin: yeah, she’s just checking out the artists gallery

 

andy: the bear shop

 

terrin: and the stamp corner

 

andy: ok, we’re sitting down Elm Street here in norwich, a bit of old school Norwich to show the American tourists, and really impress them and let them see what England is all about

 

terrin: it looks like Disneyland (laughs)

 

andy: ok, we’ll start with the band… Boilermaker having just reformed… did you ever split up or was it on hiatus?

 

terrin: 2 years. it was a 2 year long tour where we didn’t play any shows, and we played for coming up 6 years, and we all went our seperate ways and started doing other things. our drummer moved up to san francisco, and i joined the Farewell Bend and was gone for a while, but that didn’t work out. so i came back, and then what basically got us back together again was that we got the rights to our old records back. we’d been waiting for about 6 years for that to happen, and i think we just went through periods of time in our lives where our music styles changed, and we had differences, though never any fights or anything like that. kind of all of us were going our seperate ways with music. and being away from it, it’s like we all went it routes of jobs and school, the guitar player went into school and had to drive 45 minutes to an hour to get to school for the last 2 or 3 years.

 

andy: just the kind of things that makes it hard for a band to get together.

 

terrin: yeah. besides all the other personal stuff in our lives, and doing music became the thing which we needed a break from.

 

andy: so is it all the same members back together?

 

terrin: yeah, all the same members, and a friend of ours called Mike who is sitting in and playing guitar with us at the moment, adding some stuff that we never had before into our shows. i don’t know, i think all of us being away from it, it made us all realise how much we liked playing music, and playing with other people, made us realise how much we liked playing with each other. we never really made any money, but it just worked. we felt that what we had always written together, even though we came from different aspects of music, that what made it work for us was the combination of these things coming together.

 

andy: were you still writing songs even when you were taking a break from things?

 

terrin: well, i was working probably between 10 – 13 hours a day, monday to friday for the last 3 years. and it was something that i thought about every day. not a day would go by where i wouldn’t think about writing new songs and thinking about music. i just never really found the time to put towards it. so after 3 years it was starting to get really frustrating, and i was itching to play music again. basically my job ended just at the exact same time that we were talking about making these 2 new songs, so it was perfect timing. we worked on the songs, and started writing them, and Tim (drummer) came down from San Francisco and then we got out our recording stuff, went to a friends house and recorded the drums. and then we had about a good month where we just would do the rest, working on vocals and adding everything. and we did it all at home, so it was the first time we really got to sit down and spend the time on each song, as far as what we wanted to add to it, rather than going and paying thousands of dollars for a couple of hours to record.

 

andy: where it’s more pressurised… so, do you think the music has kind of changed, or the same kind of direction that you were going in before?

 

terrin: these 2 new songs are pretty different, i think there’s, well, both of them are pretty slow. if you listen to like the old records, there’s some faster songs on them

 

andy: the records got slower from the first to the last…

 

terrin: yeah, but i that came from us getting older, so we’re all 27, 28 years old, when we started it was like 1992, and we were fresh out of high school, just getting out of our punk rock phase.

 

andy: (laughs) yeah, just make a noise…

 

terrin: yeah, we still had this noise, and not aggression, but we came from that punk rock…

 

andy: a bit more hardcore sounding…

 

terrin: yeah, even though i never considered us hardcore, or punk or anything like that. but we come from those roots.

 

andy: those were the kind of bands you were associated with, like you were on the Tree Records comp with all those other emo bands (Indian Summer, Embassy, Current…).

 

terrin: yeah, i mean that was maybe our 3rd or 4th song… so it was a natural progression that a lot of bands take as you start getting older. we don’t feel a need to play the hardest parts. it’s more about, i want to hear some music than i can relax to. i don’t want to feel that i am going crazy and on edge…. (pause) ….i don’t really know where i was going with that!

 

andy: that’s ok! you’ve played your first show back as a band, in San Diego?

 

terrin: actually, it was really really good. we played at this place called the Che Cafe in San Diego, and that was the place where i first started going to shows in high school. it didn’t even matter what bands were playing, we would just show up every friday night, ‘oh we gotta go to the che cafe’…

 

andy: just somewhere to hang out…

 

terrin: yeah, somewhere to hang out and see some bands we’ve never seen. so it was really comforting to come back and play our first show back in a place that we were really familiar with and a place that, for me, felt like it was my home. that was where i was seeing shows from day one. and it helped that it was a sold out show. people seemed really excited to see us again.

 

andy: it was encouraging that people still cared enough to come a long…

 

terrin: yeah, exactly.

 

andy: sorry! i just turned it off. (referring to the tape)

 

terrin: (into mic) unfortunately we went to starbucks. damn us! we try not to support corporate america.

 

andy: no! down with corporate america!

 

terrin: especially not a corporate america in europe!

 

andy: who don’t take your card.

 

terrin: exactly!

 

andy: we’ll go and fire bomb it later! (laughs) alright, so you’ve been over to europe with the Farewell Bend, very briefly. so how long were you over then?

 

terrin: we came over for a month.

 

andy: that’s quite a long time!

 

terrin: it wasn’t long enough!

 

andy: really? did you get to look around or just play, play, play?

 

terrin: it was pretty much like driving 8 hours from show to show. sit down and have dinner with people from the shows. when we first tried to come over we got stopped in dover, we didn’t have our working papers. and then finally they let us in. they sent us back from dover the first day – saying ‘no working papers, you’re kicked out of the country’. we paid something like $250 to get the ferry across. and then they sent us back and we spent the night in calais, france. and they put us in the holding cell for six hours in dover!

 

andy: like you’re an asylum seeker or something! (laughs)

 

terrin: we said to them, we’re not going to play any shows… but all of our places to stay are in the UK. so we can either go and sit in France for 6 days, or we can go and stay with the people we planned on staying with. so we lied, and played all the shows. and the only problem was, coming over to Europe this time. in my passport, it’s stamped that i’ve been denied.

 

andy: so you’re a marked man.

 

terrin: yeah, so the lady in customs was kinda giving us a hard time when we showed up.

 

andy: maybe she thought you were coming over to busk in the streets on your own.

 

terrin: yeah! she gave us the whole line of questionning on why we got kicked out before and she didn’t believe it! finally she gave Adrienne the 6 month stamp, and she looked at me, and, i don’t know, she wasn’t very nice… i don’t know where i am going with this story! (laughs) actually she asked if i had any friends in the UK, and i said, yeah, i have a friend in Norwich, but actually i pronounced it norwick. so she got mad! like ‘WHERE? WHERE DOES HE LIVE?”. i don’t know, Norwick, Norwich?

 

andy: yeah, it’s Norwich. it doesn’t look like it at all, a lot of people would say the same. it’s english names for you. (proceeds to talk about about Wymondham and Chichester)

 

terrin: ok, so i went to stonehenge yesterday, quite an amazing experience. we visited and saw all our hippy friends there (laughs)

 

andy: did they pass round any illicit substances for you?

 

terrin: oh, i wish! (laughs)

 

andy: dance around the stone circle…

 

terrin: oh yeah, pray to the druids. (there was then some random chat about these and woodhenge and seahenge too)

 

(terrin farts)

 

andy: i hope we got that! oh dear. erm, so are boilermaker going to start touring again?

 

terrin: i really want to. i think…

 

andy: (disgusted) that smells.

 

terrin: yeah, sorry about that. (laughs) we are actually supposed to do a US tour, and it seems like at the moment it’s not working out so we are kind of postponing that, and spending time making a new record. and i’m trying to work on getting something set up for europe. we’ve done the US like 4 or 5 times. i think touring over in europe with the Farewell Bend made me realise how awesome Europe is. it’s a different experience coming over to Europe. right next door you have people speaking different languages, and you can drive 2 or 3 hours to get to a different country. and it’s amazing coming over. today everythings so close because of the internet. but it’s just awesome to come over to different countries, and to have people who have heard of your music, whether it’s 1 person, 2 people, 20 or 100 people. it’s really a fantastic experience to know that somehow they’ve heard it. like we went to Prague, with Farewell Bend, and this kid who let us stay at his house… we were sitting there with nothing to do and i was flicking through his 7″ collection, to see what he was interested in. like what do kids in Prague listen to? and it was the weirdest thing, because i knew bands from every other record. like ‘i know that band’ and finally we got through and there was a Boilermaker 7″ in there. and i was ‘oh my god! how does this kind find this in czechoslavakia’ when there are kids 15 miles away from us who wouldn’t know about it. it’s amazing.

 

andy: cool. so you’re off to ireland, looking forward to that?

 

terrin: yeah, definitely. gonna go to dublin, go golfing! where it all originated.

 

andy: gonna get the big old trousers and funny hat.

 

terrin: yeah, Payne Stewart style.

 

andy: yeah, a bit of old school golf there.

 

terrin: we’re gonna go stay with Redneck Manifesto. give a shout out to Redneck Manifesto! bunch of great guys, fantastic band. they’re gonna put us up with a place to stay. stay a couple of days…

 

andy: sit in Irish bars? (laughs)

 

terrin: have some warm Guinness. (we then discuss beer)

 

andy: and then off to mainland Europe after that?

 

terrin: yeah, we’re gonna go pretty much all over. gonna stay with some people we met on the Farewell Bend tour. and we’ve rented a car and drive all round and sit in traffic.

 

andy: how do you find driving on the wrong side of the road over here? (laughs)

 

terrin: actually we weren’t planning on that! i think what made us rent the car was that we wanted to go see Stonehenge, rather than take a 6 hour bus ride. (we talk about driving and Terrin is proud he hasn’t driven the wrong way down any streets yet. then it all just goes all over the shop, talking about bowling alleys, and Toys R Us, Thunderbirds and Zippy from Rainbow, adverts before films, and it was all good fun but you probably don’t want to read this stuff!)

 

andy: so maybe you should start busking, put a hat down and people will come a long and pay you money. raise money for the rest of the tour

 

terrin: i thought about that. maybe that’s what boilermaker should do. a street tour.

 

andy: yeah! we get these guys coming over from Peru, dressed up in Peruvian gear with pan pipes and stuff!

 

terrin: would we need a permit for that?

 

andy: well it seems they let people in until it comes to the people who come to make money. there seems to be a kind of odd approach to it.

 

terrin: it’s because they want their cut. they don’t want people sneaking in and making money. (we then talk about VAT and taxes. woo woo! Terrin and Adrienne are pretty shocked at the 17.5% rate!)

 

terrin: screw the government!

 

andy: bring it down!

 

terrin: screw Starbucks, don’t eat at McDonalds, especially with all this mad cow going on. you just don’t wanna eat it.

 

andy: a bit of punk rock thrown in there.

 

terrin: 3 cheers for the punk rockers! (laughs)

 

andy: enjoyed norwich then?!

 

terrin: i loved norwich.

 

(terrin farts violently)

 

adrienne: eww.

 

andy: can’t take him anywhere. i hope your bed and breakfast room isn’t too small.

 

adrienne: we had seperate beds actually!

 

andy: did you request that? (laughs)

 

terrin: it’s all they had left.

 

andy: they didn’t give you the honeymoon suite? (laughs)

 

adrienne: no (laughs). the honeymooners have seperate beds (laughs)

 

andy: ok!

 

terrin: thank you very much!

 

andy: it’s been great!

 

terrin: thanks for showing us round norwich!

 

andy: awesome! (laughs)

an interview with What Price, Wonderland?

Interview w/ WHAT PRICE, WONDERLAND? was made 28 September 2009.

First published in JUST LIKE CAREBOO zine in January’ 2010.
Questions by Sergey and Anton.
Answers by Joe, Andy and James.

1/What is that “wonderland”? Tell us about it. How to get there and what is the price?

Joe – The wonderland doesn’t exist, the name infact was one of the many “hey that sounds kinda cool and as if it means something” type names bands have, it’s a chapter from a book. Andy will tell you more.
Andy – In all honesty, Joe summed it up pretty well. The name is a chapter from the book ‘Weaveworld’ by Cliver Barker, which is the same book the band On the Might of Princes stole their name from (their name is also a chapter in the book). Around the time we started the band, we were struggling for a name and i was reading the book, i saw the title of the chapter and thought… “hey, sounds good”. I suppose it has some kind of deeper meaning, but you can read what you want into it. I really and truly believe that half of the excitement in life comes from working those kinds of things out for yourself, even if your ‘interpretation’ isn’t the same as everyone elses.
James – Agreed in terms of what Andy was saying about interpreting the name for yourselves.  I mean, I’m sure we all have our own ideas about what it could mean – to me I like the ambiguity of it; of a so-called “wonderland” that people spend their time struggling towards, consuming and consuming, doing increasingly spurious and anti-social things.  It’s like, “what won’t some people do to get what they think they want?” – kinda like how I feel about the band name “To What End?”.  That’s what I take from it anyway, the idea I guess is to take from it whatever you want.
2/ Tell about your band. Your names, age, instruments you prefer… What are the other interests in your life except WPW? job, studying, your hobbies? And how did you get together?
Joe – Im Joe Caithness and I am a 22 year old who feels about 45. I play guitar, until recently I was a Youth Worker but I quit when becoming jaded/bullied from my job, and started Subsequent Mastering, a mastering house based in my home town of Nottingham, UK.
Andy – I’m andy hemming, i’m also 22. i play bass in the band and i just began training as a secondary school teacher (ages 11-18). life is pretty hectic with that right now as i am essentially a full-time student who also works in a school 8am-5pm every day also. it’s tough but really rewarding work. outside of that, i try to find as much time as possible for my girlfriend, drawing and to relax i’m a big video-game nerd. i still live at home with my parents, in a small village called studley.
Joe – How we got together is a long one, but basically me and Andy went to high school together and me and James were in a band when we were 11(!), me and James got chatting after years of not seeing eachother and realise we both liked At The Drive-In and Burning Airlines and started jamming. We must have been 14 or something, we’ve played under many different names: The Entropy Therapy, Boy With No Arms, The Snowman, (just) Snowman. Our first show was with The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Army of Flying Robots in Worcester, UK, we were dreadful!
Andy – but thankfully nobody watched us so no one remembers how bad we were!
Joe – I don’t think many people even want to remember their early teenage bands, we just happened to be really good mates so carried on playing, growing up and renaming ourselves bit by bit. It’s mostly because no one round our area liked good music, and the people who were “into” music were a bit pretentious for my liking.
James – That’s pretty much all the band stuff covered…I’m James Wright, I’m 22 and I play drums and shout at the back.  I recently finished a degree in History, focusing on West Africa.  I am currently looking for work, which is impeded by needing to do community service every Friday because the police hate me.  I am about 2/3s through 150 hours so far.  I used to be more involved with political activism, but since all of this police stuff, I have not been able to be involved recently – but  I also play drums occassionally with friends in London and I love reading and videogames.
2a/I know you’ve been together for a long time. What was your initial idea to get together? What kind of music you played at the beginning? Is what you are doing now a result of development of your music preferences or is it the music you always wanted to do?
Joe – I guess we got together out of boredom really, we’ve been going almost 7 or 8 years in some shape or form. Funnily enough the music we played to begin with is within the same “genre” we play in now, although we were REALLY trying to be Emo, not really influenced by any other music, whereas now I think our influences are more precise and at the same time more varied. What we are doing now just kinda “makes sense” to us I think, we learned how to make our instruments sound better, we worked out how to write better songs, and hopefully it shows. I REALLY don’t want to be in an “emo” band, to me the E word is a kinda wierd, it’s my favourite type of music, but people forget it’s a sub genre of a sub genre and it was a wave of music which has happened. I hate revivalism, and although I appreciated anyone liking our music, I hope too many people don’t think were trying to “bring anything back”. Andy Malcolm of Collective-zine hear our second LP (“it is true it is shakey”) for the first time and said “Whats up with all the “art-funk”?” and then a week or two later he said “nah I get it now”… I think that sums up what we’re going for! I find stuff like Desperate Bicycles, Scritti Polliti and Wire just as much an influence on WPW? as Mohinder, Assfactor4, Cap’n Jazz etc, which people seem to hear more. I love that raw, stripped down, dreamy but noisy punk. I don’t think we’re alone at seeing these two era of music as easily blended, just look at bands like Tubers, Reds and earlier on Calvary. Sorry, that’s a really long answer!
Andy – I think the music we’re making now is really a culmination of what all three of us have always wanted to do. When we were younger we argued a lot more about what should or shouldn’t go into a song stylistically and now I think we’re all a lot more comfortable and relaxed about making music so it flows a lot more nicely. The thing I absolutely enjoy the most about being in this band is that we constantly push each other to write better and more complex songs, it keeps things fresh and exciting. Not many bands of our style have stuck around for as long as we have, so I really see that as quite a huge achievement, it’s a testament to our commitment to making it work despite all our other commitments and the distances we live apart from each other. Frankly I suppose the very nature of the way the band exists (irregular practises and even more irregular shows) has contributed to that in a strange way, we haven’t had time to get sick and tired of it just yet.
James – Yeah, the distance and irregular practicing force us to push eachother to make music when we get together, but I think it also gives us time to stew in our own music tastes for long periods of time before we get back together.  Like Andy and Joe have said, practices used to be quite functional when we were teenagers – always about wanting to make a song that sounds like “x” band, or “x” style.  Now it is more like we appreciate that the roots of our band are in “emo”, but also not shutting out music, and embracing the wideness of it the older we’ve got and how our tastes have changed individually.  When we don’t get to play together much, the time is too short for us to just sit there and ‘force’ a song out in a deliberate way – nowadays the songs just kind of happen, and there’s enough of each of our own tastes in their to keep us all (mostly) happy with everything.  I also find it exciting to hear other bands’ take on things coming out of the moment, and really wanting to be involved in the interesting blends going on at the moment.  As Joe said, bands like Tubers and Reds, but also Brainworms, Dead Friends, Marc Antony…lots of bands who clearly like and listen to a lot of 90s emo, but have brought their own tastes down on top of it and have creative fun with it.
3/As far as I know your band is from Stratford-Upon-Avon. And you’ve got a song on your first LP devoted to the place where you speak rather unflatteringly about the town as far as I understood. Could you describe if there is really to much shit as you sing in the song? (“i walked through the shit / and it fucked my shoe”). Do you have any favorite places there? Do you want to move from there? And if you moved where would you live?

Joe – Well, the lyric in that song is actually about Nottingham, it’s a comparison, the song reads a direct comparison between my two “homes”, me justifying why I am leaving one for the other. Stratford is dead to me, it holds nothing for me now my parents have left it.
James – Me and Joe used to hang out and get drunk in Stratford a lot when we were younger – and I empathise with what he’s saying, in terms how the place holds nothing for us.  The “shit” is not so much physical – a lot of it is very pretty, and I would stress that the place has a lot of good memories for me – but we’re all just disconnected from it now.  It is more that it just represents to us a place where nothing “happened” – we tried to make stuff happen there, it didn’t work – it just felt like a place where if you stayed there any longer, you’d just vegetate and end up doing nothing, just being bored and getting drunk every Friday.  I guess lots of people have local towns like that – where you kinda feel like if you don’t leave now, you never ever will.
4/My favorite song from you record “Thirty With A Wink” is Staring At Shit Soldiers In A Shit Cave. At the beginning I did not distinguish that song until one of my friends translated the lyrics of it to me. Though I can’t understand the meaning of its title. What does it mean and what is it all about?
Joe – The song is another one of my lyrics. The lyrics was written in Derby, UK, where my girlfriend used to live, I was bored and walking into a Museum, which was free, then I realised how all this shit was paid for by our parents and past generations, and how they want us to know their past, and they have made it available to us and we should use it. It’s a very positive song.
Andy – shame you can’t play it without fucking up the intro!
James – LOL.  But yes, I agree – even in the most contrived monuments to our past, there’s real life there, there are questions to be raised and explored, and we should cherish what’s been left as something to examine and pose discussions, rather than just relics.
5/I have not translated the lyrics from your recent album. Can you describe what’s the difference between these records for you? In what conditions you’ve made both your first and second albums? What was your life background during the process of recording?

Joe – “Thirty with a Wink” was kind of the capturing of our youthfulness, it’s us trying to capture where we have got to until then. It’s a nice introuction, “Shakey” is more like: “ok well this is what we can do when we plan something from scratch”. Seperate people said we got “funkier”, “faster”, “slower”, “more hardcore, “less hardcore”… which I guess means we did something right on that record. I am really proud of it. It’s like 19 minutes long too! I guess “Shakey” had a little bit more “I want to do this kinda song..” from each member of the band, I think it’s a quite democratic record influences wise… almost all the vocals on Shakey are improvised too, which is how we do them now.
Andy – At least for me, Shakey was a lot more fun to record. There sort of came a point where we became infinitely more comfortable making music than we were when we recorded 30 With a Wink and I think that is really reflected in Shakey. The songs are kind of all over the place, but so are we as friends and as a band. So much of Shakey was more or less made up as we went along, we can’t play a lot of the songs anymore and one of the songs was even totally improvised from start to finish in the studio (Cacombs). It sounds like I’m saying that is a bad thing I guess but I absolutely feel the opposite way, I’m incredibly proud of that record as it really feels in some ways like we put a large part of ourselves onto the record without any pretentions or ulterior motives.
James – Definitely agree with both of you.  Like with Shakey as Joe pointed out, friends and people online and whatnot, would often be like “what’s with the change?” and all of this.  And its weird, because we can 100% say that none of us sat down and decided to make a different “sound” or force something new.  That LP is just the result of the three of us going off on our own, being busy, still loving music, coming back together as three friends when we could, and just seeing what happened – all of our lives were hectic and a bit messy, and I guess the inconsistency of the track styles reflect this.  Lyrically, there’s not a whole lot of difference.  We have always just written songs almost spur of the moment about something we’ve seen or thought about recently, or new feelings and changes in our lives.  I don’t think we have ever really tried to fit them to a “theme” of our the song worked musically – apart from maybe on the title track of Shakey, I guess – lyrically it is still just us venting on our own, and then desperately trying to separate those words into lines, and force them into the song structure.  I mean, there are a couple of tracks off Shakey, and other releases, that all stem from one long “song” I wrote when I was in a bad mood thinking about a lot of stuff, which we just cut about and used for different songs.
6/Do you like the band The Smashing Pumpkins? You music remains me of that band, it’s not about melodies but about some kind of spirit, the general mood. Do you listen to so-called main stream bands or you prefer only DIY-bands? What band was the main impression for you recently?

Joe – 1979 is a nice tune, other than that, don’t like em at all. Far from an influence to us. Oh man of course we listen to “main stream” music, I mean where is the dividing line even. “punk” is something we chose to operate with, it just makes sense, we havn’t conscripted to it, we don’t get a punk newsletter telling us what we can and can’t like. I like lots of pop songs, not so much albums, but I like that bat For Lashes song “Daniel”, it reminds me of Siouxsie and Kate Bush, two artists I admire. We all LOVE Alphabeat’s Fascination too, it makes me want to dance like a blonde Scandinavian indie girl.
Andy – I only really like the Smashing Pumpkin’s slow and dreary songs, which kind of sums up a lot of the music I like – miserable! I’m definitely with Joe on my ethos toward ‘punk’ music though, I enjoy a lot of it but I refuse to see it as some kind of rule-set to live my life. Not to say I don’t agree with and prescribe to many of the ideals shared by punks, but especially when it comes to music I tend to look much further for things to fill up my life. I can’t say enough about ‘Fascination’, what a song.
James – Definiely agree with Joe and Andy.  We all love punk and DIY – but to me “punk”, whilst acknowledging the musical connotations, is more than anything just a set of ideals, principles, ethics that all three of us broadly agree with and have a lot of time for.  I love the punk community and the sense of giving a shit, helping each-other out, not ripping each-other off and generally gearing our behaviour in a social-centric way when modern competitive society expects us all to accept a manufactured “dog-eat-dog” as some kind of definitive human nature or other bullshit.  Similarly to the other guys, whilst I listen to a lot of stuff within the broad “punk” scene, I certainly don’t limit my tastes to not liking the music of a band because they are not DIY – just because I might not like a band’s huge major label, doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t enjoy dancing to it.  And anyhow, with the internet, its not like you have to give them any of your money…
7/ On the covers of your LPs there are people without faces. On the first LP there is a man with a plate “product” instead of his eyes. And on the second LP there is a man with an octopus head. What does it mean? Is the cover design of your releases important for you? Who is the designer of your covers?

Joe – Andy will explain this best, although the octopus is a joke, we thought it would look hilarious but people might take it seriously. Pretty shakey shit eh?
Andy – The cover for 30 With a Wink was definitely one of those moments of artistic ‘happy accidents’, it was a doodle I did at Uni – Joe liked it, I brushed it up a little and ultimiately it became the cover for the record. When we were talking about the artwork for Shakey we talked about how it would be cool to keep a consistent ‘theme’ with our record covers and so the idea of having a ‘character’ on each record which obviously links to the artwork for 30 With a Wink. As far as the character itself, the whole record was kind of based on this semi-serious of idea of ‘shakiness’ which is to do with the way everything in the world is inherently shakey (electrons and all that good stuff), so we had the idea of some kind of crazy scientist. Joe said “can you make a dude with an octopus’ head, in a tweed suit going “HAROO!”?” and so I did. The real story behind the lack of human faces is mostly that I don’t like drawing faces unless I’m just drawing a face, so in any figurative work I have done in the past few years I’ve always used animal’s heads. There are definitely some elements of symbolism in there, but largely it is also just something I find aesthetically pleasing – not to mention I absolutely LOVE ‘Une Semaine de Bonté’ by Max Ernst.
8/Your band releases remain me of books by Jules Verne and Lovecraft (may be it comes from my association with octopus-head man). Did this authors influence you in any way? Do you like reading books and poems? What are your favorite authors?

Joe – I’ve never heard of them I’m afraid. I’ve probably read one and a half books in my life, I suffer from dislexia and find it impossible to read or write more than a page without getting angry and smashing stuff.. wierd eh…
Andy – I like reading, but I’m not much into fantasy writing so I haven’t read any Lovecraft to be honest. I also don’t read all that much, but I’d say my favourite authors are Haruki Murakami, Brett Easton Elis, Terry Pratchet and Charles Bukowski.
James – Similarly, I am not really into fantasy stuff…but am psyched on that massive MMORPG coming out soon inspired by the Lovecraft books if that helps…?  Probably not.  But I do love reading – I don’t read enough fiction or poetry, but there are people I like a lot – like DBC Pierre, Bukowski, Fante, Robert Frost, Salman Rushdie.  But in terms of the influence on the band’s stuff, the main influence I take to the band (bar just things which happen in my day to day life) are reactions and feelings I get to the stuff I read most – history/politics/philosophy/aesthetics.  I really enjoy authors who are pre-disposed towards uncovering the constructions that dominate the everyday patterns of life that we take for granted or passively resent – particular writers like Raoul Vaneigem and Hakim Bey.  I am also really inspired lyrically by the brave and trail-blazing writers in academia who break down the walls (WOAAAAAAH YEAHAHAHA) of “African” history, deconstructing the colonialist traits that have affected our knowledge of the continent for so long, and treating the subject matter and the people involved with respect and equality, and fundamentally, neutrality – particularly Inikori, Tom McCaskie, Basil Davidson…Sorry, this is going on for ages…I don’t think any of us deliberately read books for inspiration, but when something “clicks” its nice to have the band as an outlet for your opinion on what you’ve read, or what something’s meant to you.
9/How often do you take part in gigs? What cities and countries did you visit with shows? Do you communicate with the listeners after the shows with pleasure? Do grateful listeners buy you
beer?:)
Joe – Rarely, we all live in different cities, it’s nigh on impossible, we can write and record an LP in about two weeks though, so we mostly just do that! We did just do a sick mini tour with Leeds geek super heroes TWISTED, Jon from them writes some seriously sick tunes, you should check his old bands FACEL VEGA and STATE RUN too.
Andy – Not enough sadly. It is always nice to talk to people after we play, though it doesn’t happen that often – can’t say I blame anyone who doesn’t fancy talking to three sweaty guys though. I haven’t been bought a beer yet! Here’s hoping.
James – Haha, yeah, buy us beer if you don’t think we suck in your town!  In the rare times we get to play, we mainly play in northern England, but have been in Germany, France, Slovenia, Scotland, Belgium…touring in Europe was life-changing for all three of us – we had such a great time and I think we were stunned by just how friendly, helpful and well organised the shows were.  That’s not to say that that doesn’t exist in England, it does – its just weird for three friends to go all that way, to countries we have never been, and be treated as friends.  Up the punks.
10/Do you often get letters with some kind of feedback from kids who listened to your records? Do you take into consideration any criticism of other people? Or you prefer to create the music on your own absolutely intuitive according to the demands of you souls?

Joe – We get emails, yeah. We never take critism on our music, who does though? I produce our records so it’s not a matter of someone in that role picking the songs etc.
James – We don’t really get many explicit complaints or anything, but regardless – I think we’d be pretty unhappy people if we were just making music people told us to do.  What’s the point in being in a band if its not “yours”?
11/Can you describe your process of songwriting? Do you make lyrics and music separately?

Joe – We all write lyrics, often not together though. Songs generally start with an idea, and we improvise around it for a bit, argue about the time signature, then play it thru, deciede if it sounds shit, if it doesn’t we keep it and try it out live. We DONT have calculators for this…we’re not a “math band”. We were using a sheet of James’ lyrics for years, he can explain that one to you!
Andy – It’s generally a process of friendly, yet heated debate. An ultimately rewarding one though, since (at least for me) the thought process for writing and learning one of our songs is generally trying to get from “I ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT PLAY THIS SONG” to “I ABSOLUTELY LOVE PLAYING THIS SONG”.
James – That’s pretty much it, yeah.  As for that lyric sheet Joe mentioned, this was just this double side of A4 that I had scrawled all over upstairs when there was a house party in my old house.  I was in a bad mood for some reason, and wanted to write stuff down – that flowed over 2 pages, and not knowing what to do with them, decided they might be useful as lyrics, and typed all of it up.  To this day, as our songs are often only a few lines long, we still find stuff from that mass which we can use.
12/Thank you guys for the interview. Here you can say to the readers everything you want or to share with your latest news, anything you want.

Joe – Hopefully we’re writing our third LP now, we will see. We just recorded a split 7″ with TWISTED, it’s our fastest, shortest, most awkward sounding stuff to date. I want to make songs for people who like clever tunes to listen to drunk and bang their knees.
Andy – Hopefully once I settle into my teaching course we can practise again…
James – Excited for the TWISTED split, there stuff is sounding brilliant, and I am really happy with our stuff going onto it, so look out for that if you’re into that kind of thing.  I am mainly going to try and stay out of jail, and maybe try and get us to practice some time soon
From Anton: And the last: there is a video on youtube.com of you performing a “new song” as it is written there, its about 5mins. I really love it. What’s the title of it? Was it ever recorded or will it be? Could you please send me the lyrics.

Joe – That tune is called “Residence”, pretty sure it will never come out, it has a 8 minute plus outro.
Andy – I’m pretty sure that song is lost forever, but don’t tell James.
James – Pffff… IT SHALL RETURN.  Really glad you like the song Anton – I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find the lyrics though.  It is definitely called Residence though, and if I can find the lyrics/work them out, i’ll definitely e-mail them to you.  This is the problem with not being able to practice much..!

an interview with Mazes

it would not be over-exaggerating to say Mazes is one of my favourite UK bands at this moment in time. they are rather marvelous. they do DIY pop music of a sort. you can listen to them here if you like. and read about them below…

So, Mazes, who is lost within the friendly confines of Hampton Court?

We don’t seem to have settled on a line up really. The first things we recorded were just me, my girlfriend Claire, Jay and Jarin… then Jay left and Neil joined, Claire got too busy. And then now our friend Conan is gonna start playing second guitar…it’s transient I suppose, but that can be nice. I like to think we’ll hit on a formula soon.

How long have you been doing this music thing, is Mazes your first band that’s put a record out?

For all intents and purposes

Sex Is Disgusting is a clued up label, how did you wind up hooking up with those chaps?

Well we were based in Manchester initially and honestly there weren’t any like minded bands when we started or we didn’t really know any. A friend of ours Paul had a bizarre job ghostwriting a music blog for Alan McGee (true story) and he wrote about Mazes in a post about Wavves. I think James from Sex Is Disgusting stumbled upon it and liked what he heard. At that point we’d only recorded a handful of songs and we’d never played a show. They booked us to play with Wavves and Pens in Brighton and asked us to do a single…that was like 18 months ago.

Your latest 7″ is DIY / self released, why did you decide to put your own record out and are you hoping to release other bands music as well? How are you going about distributing it?

I’m fortunate enough to work for a really cool guy in Manchester who owns a place called The Deaf Institute… He was like ‘we should start a label’ so we did, the Mazes seven being the first release so I didn’t fuck up anyone else’s record. As far as distribution’s concerned I dunno…we just write people and see if they want it. We have sevens lined up for two Manchester bands called Former Bullies and Milk Maid and then a tape for Brown Brogues… there’s a vagues plan to do a Colleen Green seven which I’m psyched about.

You guys seem to be pretty out on a limb, I’m not sure there’s much around at the moment that you easily fit with. Which is a good thing! What other bands do you play shows with, is there a cross over with DIY punk and hardcore bands, or are you tending to get lumped in with the whole lo-fi indie thing?

We’ve got pretty picky with shows because we’ve played a load that have been promoted badly… we like playing with our friends bands but apart from that, we just need to not lose money and get enough beers to keep us happy.

What do you get out of being in a band, what keeps you going, and holds your interest?

Personally it’s become like a compulsion I spose and it just makes me really happy, most aspects anyway. We’ve had a couple of deals thrown our way and one in particular would’ve enabled us to do this a little more seriously… we’re not purist idiots but we pissed them off and they got sick of us. We had to have a big think about why we do it and what they could offer us just didn’t seem like something that’d make us happy… I mean we’re ambitious but not at the expense of certain things.

Trying hard to work out how to phrase this next one without coming across like a complete jerk – but it seems to me that whenever there’s a new trend in the US (i.e. Captured Tracks etc…) that a lot of bands can pop up in the UK doing kind of the same thing. Do you think that is a terrible blanket generalisation? Are UK bands a lot more autonomous than my gut instinct would suggest, or do bands trend hop?

Yeah maybe… but I think that’s the fault of the british music industry and the press…all that’s changing obviously and it’s getting to the point where we’re all on an even playing field. It’s just as easy for someone in London to hear a new LA band as it is for someone in LA. The DIY scene is the US has been around for years and now UK bands realise that that’s a good way of doing things…people are beginning to see that making music to ‘get signed’ is short sighted bullshit… and completely futile obviously.

This somewhat pointless penultimate question is a holdover from when I first did interviews on this website about 11 years ago… what is your favourite weather condition?

Muggy

What does the future hold for Mazes? Is there anything you’d like to add at this point? Thanks for dealing with this shit!

Gonna sort ourselves out…another seven soon, a 30 song tape album on Italian Beach Babes and then record an album proper over the summer.

an interview with Sauna Youth

sauna youth is a punk band, they have a 7″ out. they have a website. here is some words what i asked them and some words what they told me.

Sauna Youth. So, who’s sitting around in the steam with a towel on their lap?

We have Murphy, lounging back on a deep red number, thrown so carelessly around him as to barely conceal his dignity. Next to him Reza relaxes with an Azure shade wrapped around his waist, handling the coals, frequently and steadily keeping the temperature high and the steam strong. Lindsay, with his Aubergine towel, perched at the back keeps the conversation animated whilst sipping on an exquisitely constructed mojito cocktail. I, Richard, stand and sweat in white.

How did this come about? It would appear that several of you chaps did “time” in pop punk / melodic hardcore bands. How did you get from that to this, and why are you all bumming around in a DIY punk band, what keeps you doing this shit?

I once asked a man who had been working at CERN for the last 30 years how something like the Large Hadron Collider could ever be conceived, what is the starting point for something like that? and he replied, “2 people sitting around drinking coffee”. He also laughed in my face when I asked if anyone knew how it worked.  It’s all just different variations on pop songs really. I think the transition from what we were doing before was quite natural. With Sauna Youth we wanted to experiment more, not back ourselves into a corner with the music or lyrics, employ a more diverse range of things that actually influence us but it still be a punk band. Also, we really wanted to be in a band that sounded like the Undertones or The Ramones. I think we might be failing in this respect but i’m ok with that.  Why do we still do this? That is a very good question indeed! We’ve all done “time” in a number of other bands, I think there’s been a 2 week period of my life in 13 years when I haven’t been in a band. Often it can feel like bumming around for sure when you’re involved with DIY punk rock but it’s only when you peer outside it’s walls do you realise the freedom that exists within it. It’s good to feel like you’re a part of a network and community that can exist outside of the more conventional means.

The seven inch is based around the concept of youth. I want to ask you a bunch of questions about this! How old are the folk in the band and do you consider yourself youthful?

Ah, now that would be telling… I will say that ¾ of us are falling off the wrong end of our twenties though. I think we all still definitely consider ourselves youthful, the world still fascinates us and we all still collectively do something that we’ve been doing since we were teenagers.

Does one stop being youthful when they hit a certain age? How important do you think it is to maintain such an outlook? Can it conflict with growing up and is being mature a good thing? What if you’re like the Get Up Kids and still farting about in 10 years time, would the band name still be appropriate?

There’s that benjamin Franklin quote, “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing” I would stand by that wholeheartedly. My nan is 87 and still plays bowls, won her last 2 matches, and she works for her local meals on wheels delivering food to people that are 10-15 years younger than her. The conflict? I don’t necessarily think that there has to be one, maturity in my eyes is more to do with taking responsibility for yourself and learning that experience should come pretty early in life. It’s like if you’re a kid and you act like a dick and blame your behaviour on other people, your friends will eventually see through it and won’t want to play with you anymore. I think there’s a difference between that and running around and shouting just for the fun of it. If we’re about in 10 years time the band name would be wholly inappropriate but all the better for it.

I am fully behind the fact that you put your own record out. Was it a collective effort from all the band? How are you going about distributing it and how has the experience been?

Thanks. The whole thing has been pretty self-contained, down to recording, mixing, putting together & printing the artwork. We were going to scrape together the money ourselves but we played up in Cambridge for our friend and he heard about the record & said he would lend us the money to put it out, so that was great. It also has given us a good incentive to really work at selling them so we can pay him back. So far the experience has been great, especially as where I live, in Brighton, there are such a wealth of great record shops. Getting to wander about going into the Punker Bunker, Resident, Rounder and Edgeworld records hocking our gear and talking to the people that work there has been wonderful. It’s also good having distros and shops that we buy records from ourselves taking copies.

Good idea with the female backing vocals that feel wonderfully out of place. Who’s idea was this and was there any particular reason to add something that is perhaps not what people would expect to hear?

It’s either a very considered, well thought-out idea coming from a love of girl groups from the 50’s & 60’s with a view to eventually having a trio of singers on stage with us, or an off the cuff experiment in which an acquaintance was harangued into singing along to something she’d never heard before in her life. Or both. There are very particular reasons for adding unexpected elements to the music, we’re not attempting to introduce any new sub-sub-genres but we’d like to make things more interesting for ourselves. Also, eating peanut butter with celery AND/OR cheese and honey on toast.

Bizarre old question I used in a bunch of old interviews when the C was the most emo thing in the world: what is your favourite weather condition?

Sitting in the shade in a crisp sun-soaked park with a mild breeze flowing through.

Thanks for doing this. What next for Sauna Youth? Anything else you’d like to add? Stay youthful!

Thanks for the interview. We have a 3 song tape coming out on Suplex Cassettes in the next few months, called “MAD MIND”. After that there’s talk of doing a 7” with Sex is Digusting. We’re going to be recording our LP “DREAMLANDS” over summer and hopefully we’ll work out a way of putting that out soon after. Always!

An interview with Bafabegiya

COLLECTIVE: Greetings, Bafabegiya. Kindly let us know who you are, let us know what part you play in the band and anything else about yourselves that you think we may be interested to learn. How did the band start and how has it evolved over time?

B: Bafabegiya consists of Tim Osipenko on bass, Jawsh Hageman on drums, Justin Morales on guitar, and Joe Ferguson does the vocals. We are all very different and passionate individuals who have a lot of love for DIY culture. We have all been in and are a part of several other musical projects in the Reno DIY scene including Crucial Attack, Dog Assassin, Rad Times, Disconnect, This Computer Kills, Both Blind, No Gods No Girlfriends, and a handful of others. The band started about 3 or 4 years ago after This Computer Kills (Jawsh) broke up, and Crucial Attack (Joe) went on a long hiatus. I (Joe) asked Jawsh if he wanted to start a HC punk band and he was into it and he asked Justin if he wanted to play some tunes. We asked our friend James to play bass in the band, and he did so for the first few shows, and I think he may even be on the split demo tape with Dog Assassin that we did. James quit and we asked Tim (Dog Assassin) to join. That has been the lineup ever since. The sound I think has changed quite a bit since we began writing music. We started out playing some fairly straight forward HC punk tunes akin to Minor Threat or 7 Seconds, but we progressed quickly and started writing some more intricate and different stuff pretty soon thereafter.

COLLECTIVE: What the heck is a Bafabegiya? It sounds like something that might’ve crawled out of some Norse folktale or something…

B: Bafabegiya literally means “Those Who Die Dancing” in Xhosa, a language from South Africa. During the reign of white apartheid in South Africa, non-white folks and their supporters began to rebel in many significant ways. The main organization of resistance in South Africa during apartheid was the ANC (African National Congress), who continue to have significant political power there today. During the beginning of the resistance, there was a group of radicals who wanted to take a more direct-action style approach to dismantling the racist power structure that existed there at the time. They were called Bafabegiya, and they advocated for sabotage and bombings while the ANC staged boycotts and walk-outs. While both types of actions were important in taking out the racist regime (at least symbolically) in South Africa, it should be noted that the course of action that a person or group takes to rectify social injustice should be appropriate for the situation. Today I see a lot of people burning candles and singing songs in front of federal buildings to protest the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, or maybe once in a while they will march in the streets and make a symbolic gesture through art to “stop the war” or something of that nature. They take this course of action while literally thousands of innocent men and women and children are ravaged by the weapons of mass destruction that their tax dollars go to purchase. I unfortunately don’t see a lot of people taking real direct action to stop and injustices in the world. There are some, and they are those who die dancing.

COLLECTIVE: You guys have a somewhat odd sound (for this day and age, anyway…) that I always end up describing somewhat hamfistedly. There seems to be a crust influence at work but also something more akin to what a lot of early-to-mid 90s hardcore bands (like, say, Born Against or Iconoclast) were doing. Is there any particular “sound” you’re aiming for? How do you think the band fits in with the current hardcore topography?

B: As a band, I don’t think we have ever really tried to fit into any specific musical genre box or tried to categorize ourselves. We have never thought “hey lets try to sound like this or that.” We just write the music that we write, and it comes out however it does. We have a lot of very different musical interests and influences, and I think that our sound reflects a lot of that diversity. So, I would say that we are not trying to aim for any specific sound, per se, we are just a band playing heartfelt music with passion and drive. People have compared us to bands like Econochrist, Born Against, and even Tragedy, but I think we maintain a pretty unique sound. As for the current HC topography, I’m not really sure that we fit in at all. There aren’t many bands out there that sound like us, and we don’t really fit in, at least musically, to current HC trends, as far as I see it. We have played with a lot of different bands and in a lot of different scenes, and we get different reactions everywhere we go. It just depends. We like playing and touring with bands that we get along with, and we have toured with a lot of Spacement Records bands like Arabella, Disconnect, Greyskull, and Acts of Sedition. I think we get the best response in the more active and politically concerned scenes because we talk a lot about issues that our lyrics deal with. I like to talk in between songs about what the different songs are about and engage the crowd in discourse before and after we play. We always bring a zine distro and usually have books for sale in addition to the records and things that we sell. So, that is one thing about us that in a lot of ways, sets us apart from a lot of other bands touring in the DIY circuit, we always have info and are always willing to talk about things that are going on in our lives. It’s important to us to make sure that DIY HC punk is more than just music. It’s community building, communication, and friendship. Meeting kids, and making sure that we are supporting each other in our struggles.

COLLECTIVE: Like the music, Bafabegiya’s lyrics are smart and to the point. However, they tend to veer schizophrenically between notes on personal empowerment or making life better for oneself and more bitter tirades on politics or the various stupidities of humankind. How do you balance these two perspectives and not let one override the other? Does the type of song you write depend on what side of the bed you get out of in the morning?

B: The lyrics that I write usually deal with something that I have been thinking about recently or that I have been learning about or reading about or talking about in my daily life. I don’t come to practice with lyrics or anything like that or even decide what a song is going to be about ahead of time. I’ll usually listen to a song that the rest of the band is writing and practicing and then start thinking about what I want to write about based on how the music is making me feel and what I’ve been thinking about recently or what has been going on in my life. I have never really given much thought to balancing personal lyrics with more political lyrics or anything like that as the lyrics have always just sorta come based on the circumstances at the time. They’re all personal for me as they’re all topics that I feel are important and have direct relevance to my life. They are also political because those are usually just the things that I am thinking about and discussing with friends and family and colleagues. I think that in a lot of ways people here have really lost the ability to engage in civil discourse and communicate with one another. Our society is almost completely obsessed with the spectacle that the media has become and we’ve lost a lot of what makes us human. This goes across the board, from the corporate media convincing us that we should purchase unnecessary things through to kids spending all their time on Myspace worrying about how many virtual friends they have, rather than thinking about building real relationships with real people, be it within the scene, their communities or elsewhere. I think that if more of that discourse or those ideas come across through music in a DIY type environment, that we can begin to transform society into something that is a bit more conducive to a real community.

COLLECTIVE: The split with Acts of Sedition seems to be heavier than your previous releases – is this the kind of avenue you’ll be pursuing in the future or just the result of a weightier production? Also, what’s the deal with that Spanish-sounding arpeggio that ends one side of the 7” and kicks off your side of the LP?

B: The songs that we have written since the split with Acts of Sedition have been a bit heavier than our other releases, but the songs are also becoming longer, more complex, and stemming from even more diverse influences. We don’t have many solid future plans right now, but I would imagine that we will be looking for a better production with some of our new songs. We have never really focused on being a “heavy” band, but some of our newer songs definitely have heavier parts as well as more dynamic structures. As for that “Spanish-sounding arpeggio,” I think that we just really liked the outro from our “Those Who Die Dancing” EP and it fit well with the first song on our split with AOS, so we just put it there as well. We often play “Better Dead than Domestic” and “Molded” together live, so it makes for a pretty epic bridge between the two songs.

COLLECTIVE: All the releases I’ve seen from you folks thus far have this rather distinctive artwork going on that’s heavily stylized and also rather creepy (particularly, it has to be said, the split LP, what with its skull-faced-monk-thing billowing smoke and shot full of arrows…). How does it tie in with what you’re all about and why have you plumped for the imagery you have?

B: Our good friend Jeremy Forson (www.jeremyforson.com) has done all of our artwork. He grew up in the Reno scene and moved away to Oakland to go to art school at CCA (California College of Arts) to hone his skills, though he’s kept really involved in the Reno scene. Jeremy has done all of our record covers, inserts, t-shirts, stickers, buttons, etc. For the artwork, we send Jeremy the lyrics and music and he puts together the art based on how he feels the music should be depicted – we don’t give him any direction or tell him what we want, we pretty much just leave it up to him. Then we usually have the covers screened locally and put together the inserts and stuff ourselves. It’s a DIY fair all around with many members of the Reno scene contributing.

COLLECTIVE: Additionally, all the releases are super DIY and a whole lot of love seems to have gone into them. How important to is the concept of “DIY” to you as a band? What’s your take on the direction a lot of supposed hardcore bands/labels seem to be taking, almost tripping over themselves to affect a gloss of corporate schtick or at least employing similar tactics to the majors?

B: The DIY ethic is everything to this band. We started Spacement Records as a collectively run, band-centered label to put out ours and our friends records. We do as much as we can ourselves and have tried to make sure that our releases are more than just the music; we want them to be solid with artwork, lyrics, explanations, production, and plenty of contact info if kids want to get in touch and talk or ask questions. What we can’t do ourselves, we ask for help from friends and local businesses to give us a hand. We are very fortunate to live in an amazing community full of caring individuals who are willing to help each other out when the time comes. We want kids to grow and learn from the DIY experience that they have through attending our shows or picking up our records or whatever. We want to make sure that kids know that we are not any different than them and that they can start bands, write zines, start a record label, distro books that they like, put on shows, make a stencil, or do whatever their hearts desire. To us, DIY is what we do, there is no other way.

As for the direction that other HC bands / labels have been taking, in the way of creating a more mainstream audience, or going for a more glossy production, that’s fine for them. If their goal is to sell a bunch of records and have a booking agent and have six t-shirt designs and three hoodie designs, then that is fine with me. If they want to make their version of HC watered-down, unthreatening, and more “entertaining” in order to appeal to a wider audience, then that is great for them. It’s just not HC anymore though – it might be some good tunes, but that’s about all. They can sell their CDs at Best Buy or whatever other corporate chain that they want. It’s not for us. We want HC to be first and foremost, sincere, heartfelt, passionate, and a direct threat to the status quo. We will never compromise our ideals or our passion for the record industry or for capitalism. We make the music and art that we love, and if other people want to check it out, then that’s great. We never got into the DIY HC scene to become popular or to make money – we just want to stay true to what we believe and make music, art, friends, and have a good time doing it.

COLLECTIVE: Could you tell us a bit about the scene you move within? For some reason I get the impression that the Spacement bands and their associates must be part of some neat close-knit little family – is this the case or am I way off with my idealistic assumptions? Who do you recommend we keep our eyes peeled for in the future?

B: The Reno scene is a pretty unique place to have grown up in and to be in right now. There is a rich history of DIY HC punk starting back with bands from the early 80’s like Jack Shit and 7 Seconds. Bands that influenced us more directly were from the more recent line of local HC bands such like Gob, Fall Silent, and Iron Lung. So, as you can tell, the Reno scene has never really had a distinct sound or genre that it’s famous for or anything like that, but there has been a long tradition of really good bands that have come from this small town. Most recently, Reno has seen a lot of really good bands get together, write some great tunes and record a bit, maybe tour a bit, and then call it quits. There have just been so many bands start out strong and break up. I think that there are a lot of kids in this scene that aren’t really willing to work really hard to keep a band going for an extended period of time. It’s really unfortunate too, because there is really a lot of talent here. Most of the Spacement bands and people associated with the record label and venue make up a pretty close-knit family. Many of us work on the same projects in the community, attend shows together, host vegan potlucks, volunteer at Sound and Fury Records, go on tour together, help out with Food Not Bombs, and just try to keep the scene a positive place for all kinds of kids to become a part of. Really awesome stuff is happening in Reno right now, and a lot of kids in the scene have really stepped up and become involved in their community. Right now kids here are working on a lot of projects such as Holland Reno (www.hollandreno.blogspot.com), The Reno Bike Project (www.renobikeproject.blogspot.com/), Reno Food Not Bombs (www.fnb.spacementreno.com/), The Great Basin Community Food Co-Op (www.greatbasinfood.coop/), The Bridge Center (www.thebridgecenter.net), Rainshadow Community Charter High School (www.rainshadowcchs.org), Spacement Records (www.spacementreno.com), and Sound and Fury Records (www.soundandfuryreno.com). Some kids help out the scene in other ways by helping book shows, recording bands, hosting info nights or skillshares, silkscreening shirts and patches, writing zines, opening their homes for use as venues, etc. Of course, there are a lot of kids in the scene who don’t do much in the way of community activism or really become involved in the scene much at all aside from attending shows and the like. I think you’ll find that kind of thing in pretty much every scene that you come into contact with. As for who to watch for in the future, in the extended network of the Spacement family, I would say keep an eye on Acts of Sedition (Oakland, CA – www.actsofsedition.com), Greykull (Tacoma, WA – www.crimethinc.net/urbanpirates/bands/greyskull), and any bands that form from the breakup of Parallax (Provo, UT – www.goldenspikemusic.com). In Reno, it looks like Fatality (www.spacementreno.com/artists/index.php?ID=13) is really trying to get out there and tour a lot, X-Wing (www.spacementreno.com/artists/index.php?ID=17) is still hanging on even though members have relocated to Southern California, and various Bafabegiya member projects are forming. Members of Bafabegiya, Acts of Sedition, Greyskull, Burial Year (www.alonerecords.com), Bullets*In (www.bullets-in.tk), and The Coma Recovery (www.failedexperimentrecords.com) are currently starting a regional band that has a lot of potential. Who knows what the future holds?

COLLECTIVE: What plans does Bafabegiya have for the future? Do you have any specific goals or objectives for the band and, if so, how are you going to go about accomplishing them?

B: We have no concrete plans for the future. Things are pretty much up in the air right now. We have been on somewhat of a hiatus since we got back from our summer tour and haven’t done much in the way of future planning. In the past we have talked about touring in Europe and doing a lot more in the way of touring the world, but things have yet to unfold.

COLLECTIVE: Ok. I guess that’s it – thanks a heap for your time and patience! Please feel free to add any final words of wisdom in the blank space below…

B: I think I’d just like to end by encouraging anyone reading this interview to really think about making punk a threat to society by becoming involved in things that are going on in your local community. Instead of keeping our passion and our ideas locked up in basements and garage venues, let’s bring what we have taken from the HC punk scene and integrate it into our daily existence in the community. Talk to your friends and families who might not be associated with the punk scene about things that are important to you. Become informed, read books, zines, check out the news, see what’s going on in the world. Knowledge is power. Go!

Thanks for the interview. Feel free to get in touch with any further inquiries… bafabegiya
269 Wonder St.
Reno, NV 89502
bafabegiya@riseup.net

INterview by Alex Deller.

an interview with snuffy smile

alex deller interviews a very jaded seeming yoichi, several years ago…

Snuffy Smile is a great little punk label from Japan that’s been around for a good few years now and released records by bands like the Urchin, I Excuse, Minority Blues Band and plenty more besides. It’s run by Yoichi, who was kind enough to tap out some responses to a few questions I had about what keeps Snuffy Smile ticking…

C: Give us a brief history of the label – how long have you been running it and what made you start? What significant obstacles and difficulties have you faced, and how have you overcome them (starting to sound like a job interview there…). Do you still see running Snuffy Smile as a learning process, or is it all “second nature” to you now?

Y: I started the label in 1993 and I really can’t remember what I was thinking at the time. I just started it to release the bands I thought should have records out as there were no good labels to release stuff by the bands I loved. Before I started the label, I had many favourite labels like Rugger Bugger in the UK or Allied in the US and I wanted to do something like them, though they were still much better than mine.

I got a lot of backstabbing by many people about the things I did as a label, and I still don’t know why so many people seemed to hate me. I think Japanese people dislike those who do their own thing. I received a lot of help from the bands themselves, but basically made my own decisions and had my own opinions as to how things should be done. Some people didn’t like that and preferred useless negotiation. But all those people seem to have gone away and nobody pays me that much attention, so it seems like a waste of time to complain about them.

The label is everything to me and I’ve never done anything I like besides it, except for drinking, reading or travelling. I can’t say exactly what it is – it’s like a learning process but at the same time it’s all second nature to me too.

C: What advice would you give to anyone setting up their own label or putting out a record?

Y: I can’t see why anyone would want to start a punk rock label nowadays – nobody needs it anymore. I still am because I don’t have anything to do besides it. If you are enjoying your life in other ways I’d say don’t have any such a stupid ideas. You won’t get any new ideas for a punk rock label from me. It’s dying but I still love it.

C: What has been the most positive aspect of running Snuffy Smile? Is there anything about it that you don’t like?

Y: The most positive aspect is definitely meeting great people. I’m fuckin’ old but I still love to sleep anywhere and live in a way not many other people would want to. I can do it because I’m q guy involved in this punk scene and I’m proud of that. But it also makes me depressed – I’ve been losing friends along the way. There seem to be very few people who want to carry on the punk way of life for any length of time in Japan.

C: Let’s talk about the Snuffy Smile “sound” – often gruff, usually melodic, always punk. Do you go out of your way to seek these bands out, or do they gravitate towards you? Were there many bands like this in Japan already, or has the label itself led to more bands adopting a certain style?

Y: I don’t think about such a thing. All the bands are just ones I love and they’re playing the music I like. I listen to many kinds of music, but my favourite stuff is always like Leatherface, Jawbreaker, Stiff Little Fingers… so you know my taste.

I just meet the bands when I go to shows or when I’m touring. I’ve been doing the label for over 12 years, so some of the oldest bands influenced younger bands and they influenced other bands… and so on and on…

C: How do you feel about the term “pop punk”? Nowadays it seems almost synonymous with bad, vacuous Blink 182-type bands and Vans-sponsored tours – do you think this leads to a lot of good bands going unnoticed because of the stigma this genre has?

Y: I don’t care. I’m always doing my thing in the underground and I don’t know what’s going on in the “proper” music scene. Punk was pretty much dead a long time ago now it’s living a living death. The whole music business is of no concern to me anymore. All the good bands go unnoticed by ordinary people in Japan, but that’s okay because I’m not interested in mainstream culture at all. If someone doesn’t listen to the bands on my label because it’s “pop punk” then that’s not a problem – I don’t have any responsibility for saving people from being victims of media control or anything like that. In my opinion it’s better to build the wall and keep them out.

C: Boring question: which new bands would you recommend we check out?

Y: Blotto is definitely the best band in Japan at the moment. The Because are great too.

C: How has Snuffy Smile built its relationships with overseas bands? Do they contact you, or vice versa? Are you usually friends with them beforehand? Does the distance ever prove to be a problem?

Y: Once you get one friend in punk scene it’s just a beginning – soon enough you have a hundred friends. It’s easy. I always wrote letters to the bands I loved and asked them “hey, are you interested in doing a split 7inch?”.Basically I pretty much know who can do it and who can’t, though a few times it didn’t work so well.

C: What’s in the pipeline for the label – do you have any significant plans or schemes? Are there any bands you’d particularly like to work with?

Y: There are never any future plans for the label. I’m just doing what I want to do right now. But if the Tone get back together I’d want to release something with them again, for sure.

C: If you had the chance, which band would you most like to have put a record out by?

Y: Dillinger Four. I tried but it didn’t happen. Also, the Strike and Hellbender.

C: Any last words or requests?

Y: Life is a waste of time, so let’s waste the time on the things you enjoy. Thanks a lot for the interview.

An interview with Tubers

by alex deller. i interviewed 12 hour turn quite some time ago. here alex catches up with tubers. quite some time ago.

Another oldie. This one was pieced together sometime after that first awesome Tubers LP but before the second one. At least they’re still having at it…

Let’s put this in simple terms: Tubers are fucking great. A splendidly fluff-free punk rock act just kicking back and playing the kind of songs you’d kill to have written yourself. Bastards. Jeff and Rich were kind enough to answer a few of my questions via email, and for that I’m extremely grateful.

Collective: Hey there, Tubers. Herein you will kindly do the “standard” punk zine thing and tell us all just who you are and what you do. Unless, of course, you have any better suggestions for starting the interview?

Jeff: I’d say this is a fine way to start an interview. My interpretation is that we are three buds that like to play the rock-and-roll together. We all do many other things, however. I tend to serve food to people at a fancy restaurant in a fancy hotel, go to school, surf or kite-surf when I can (which is not often enough), and play the kicker in my living room. I also try to grow vegetables.

Rich: I’m a teacher for trainable mentally handicapped in the public school system of St Augustine, Bakery Outlet labeler, Tubers, Solid Pony and Verde bands, runner, gardener, perpetually learning “surfer.”

Collective: So, how was the (now not-so-recent) European tour? Any harrowing tales of woe or entertaining hi-jinx? Was it odd to be playing something like Trashfest with bands and in front of crowds who might not necessarily be kindred spirits musically? What / who are you particularly looking forward to on this year’s bill?

Jeff: The not-so-recent European tour was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life, and luckily not too heavy on the woe. Lenny head-butted me over a game of kicker. I almost did not get in to England because the officers did not like my ‘story,’ nor my lack of plane ticket back home, which resulted in a missed show in Brighton. Our big van breakdown occurred on our drive to London, resulting in interesting night sleeping five inside the van in a weird industrial part of some weird city, as well as a missed show and a quite misplaced 400 pounds (about 750 dollars for us). Lenny and I also got dick-milched right in the strasse, as Rich put it. Hi-jinx? Well, I’m pretty sure we played with Keanu Reeves’ band in Newcastle.

Rich: Europe was fantastic. I had been telling my bandmates how great it was to be there with my previous band 12 Hour Turn and Ingo (of The Company With the Golden Arm) who arranged tour. Ingo offered to set up a tour for Tubers / Solid Pony and it turned out to be all I remembered. How we would ideally like to tour DIY in a mostly organized fashion, meeting lovely people and seeing beautiful places. Receiving acts of generosity like meals and places to sleep and inspiring us to do the same at home. 12 Hour Turn played Trashfest and it was chaotic as was this time around… We were unfamiliar with it otherwise but had a great time and look forward to it this time also.

Collective: As I understand it at least one of you guys had already been over to Europe with other bands. What did you learn from your previous experiences, and did this familiarity help ease your passage? What do you like best about playing over here as opposed to playing gigs in the States?

Jeff: It was actually everyone except for Rich’s first time touring in Europe, though a couple of us had been over there before just to travel around. As to the second question, I can pretty well answer with a resounding “everything.” Show-goers and promoters are hospitable, enthusiastic, attentive, and just generally excited. Breakfast and dinner were the norm and not just the exception, as it usually works the other way around here. Delicious and nutritious to boot. It made me feel (whether it was true or not) that we were genuinely appreciated, musically and otherwise. That’s a nice feeling.

Rich: What I learned was that Ingo, our driver, their friends and the venues etc. really take care of us. It’s unreal how much generosity there is.

Collective: I think you may have explained this self-same issue at some of the UK shows, but as you weren’t able to make the London gig I couldn’t get to hear the tale for myself. Could shed some light on why you decided to call yourself “Tubers”?

Jeff: Our name was actually a difficult process – we all had other ideas but nothing that jumped out enough at all of us to the extent that we could agree on it. I put Tubers on the table, and it was actually a sort of settling, though of course now we are all very happy about it. The three main Tubers interpretations we encourage and usually explain include Tubers as rooted vegetables (potatoes, carrots, ginger, and the like); Tubers as those who float down rivers on inflatable inner-tubes, which we very much enjoy; and Tubers as those who get tubed in the ocean while they are surfing, otherwise known as getting “barrelled” or “shacked,” which is one of the heights of the surfing experience.

Collective: The LP has this really great sound to it that I just can’t stop harping on about. It seems really spacious and “booming” – was this a particular sound you were gunning for, or merely a happy coincidence? How was it achieved? This all kinda ties in with what I take to be a homespun and communal feel to the record – I don’t know if I’m being way off the mark here, but hey…

Jeff: I am the worst person to talk to about sound and the most aloof during the recording process. As far as the sound on that record, however, I guess I’d attribute it to Rob McGregor’s knowledge and expertise, as well as Rich’s meticulous and perfectionist nature. Rob has been recording bands in Gainesville for decades, including some of my favourite bands and records of all time.

Rich: It’s a sound I think we all like, but we just went to Rob McGregor since we’d all worked with him in the past and that is what came out without very much suggestion about it. Rob just did an amazing job with it and he’s always getting better and better. We’re all stoked on how it came out.

Collective: Some of your songs sound like they’re really aimed at specific individuals (e.g. the line “I’ve seen you age enough to know where I don’t want to be”) and the shadow of alcoholism looms over much of the album. At certain points it really seems like you’re letting all and sundry read your private mail. Was this not awkward for you at all?

Jeff: Rich wrote the lyrics for all but two songs on that record, so I must give recourse to however he answers the question.

Rich: Some of the lyrics are pretty vulnerable. I write songs at home where I don’t think about sharing them with anyone, so when they’re done there is no hiding. It’s nice this way I think, though sometimes maybe they’re melodramatic. Lyrics for me always start with a specific subject but hopefully can translate to more general terms. And yes, alcohol is something to cope with for me – you can’t escape its presence. It’s part of a destructive lifestyle our culture participates in with addictive fervor, but I can’t condemn it. Although I seldom do it anymore, I’ve definitely had some great times with it, and also taken some years off my life because of the trouble I’ve caused. I love many people who love the bottle.

Collective: There seem to have been a nice little crop of simpler, rootsier (for want of a better word…) bands popping up over the last few years (like, say, Reactionary 3 (RIP…), Tiny Hawks, Sinaloa…) playing a swell, no-nonsense brand of emoish punk rock, and I guess it’s convenient to bracket you guys in with them. Was there anything you wanted to sidestep, avoid or specifically achieve with Tubers? What were you initially aiming for with the band sound-wise? Are there any up-and-coming bands you’d like to recommend who follow a similar blueprint?

Jeff: I’m with you on the appreciation of the no-nonsense, simpler brand of punk rock, what with all the over-production and pretentiousness (both in sound and on-stage) that tends to abound these days. I’ll actually take it as quite a compliment to be bracketed with some of those bands. Not to drift, but I’d like to just say that my favourite bands have always been the bands my friends are in – or, at the very least, bands that you can go see without a stage and have real conversations with afterwards. Twelve Hour Turn (Rich’s old band) is actually still one of my favourites. I think if I just had to listen to bands from Richmond, Virginia and Gainesville for the rest of my life I’d be just fine. True North (and everything else those guys have been or are involved in) will always stand out, as will Stop It! and their new creations, like Brainworms and Pink Razors. I must also recommend Jacob’s other band, Environmental Youth Crunch, who will be touring with us the first two weeks when we return to Europe. Also, pretty much everything Rich puts out on Bakery Outlet will be most radical – I can guarantee that.

Rich: We didn’t have any specific agenda with Tubers – just to write what comes to us as a band. So far I think we’re all very happy with what comes out and I’d perhaps feel uncomfortable if we did aim for something else.
Bands. . .. hmmm. .. .well I’d have to say Bakery bands past releases and future (future = R3, Matty Pop Chart, Emperor X, Environmental Youth Crunch, Alligator [I hope], Twelve Hour Turn…) I’m elated that all these great people have wanted to work with me. They truly are my favourite recent / recently-deceased bands, along with other friends’ bands as Jeff has mentioned.

Collective: What’s on the horizon for Tubers? The LP seemed to arrive out of nowhere and it’s all been rather quiet since. Any new releases planned?

Jeff: We finally got our act together again and recorded a new album just a couple of months ago, and we should have copies of the CD when we come over. We did indeed have a lull, owing in part to separation but also a slight creative slump. I guess with all the other things going on in our lives – be it other bands, work or school – we tend not to be a “full-time” band. Although I believe we would love that, I don’t see it happening any time in the near future. Oh yeah, let’s go ahead and say we’re shooting for an Australia tour / surf trip summer 2008.

Rich: Well, we return to Europe in June / July, though unfortunately no UK this time around. Lenny (Solid Pony and Bakery Outlet partner) built a studio in his house a short time ago, and we recently finished recording the new Tubers album there, so the CD should be ready for tour. Bakery Outlet / The Company With the Golden Arm will release it. There’s also talk of a split something or other with Brainworms from Richmond, VA.

Collective: Anything else you’d like to add, say or recommend?

Jeff: Thank you very much for your interest. When I read interviews, the last thing I want to be is bored, so hopefully we’re not boring. I also recommend reading books and going outside as much as possible. That’s about it.

Rich: Thanks!

An interview with Tiny Hawks

This interview is from a long ol’  time back, roundabouts the time ‘Fingers Become Bridges’ came out. Lawks.

Collective: Generic introduction: herein you will give a brief, insightful run-down of the band that is Tiny Hawks – roles, reasons and rationale.

Gus: I’m Gus. I play the drum kit, and electric bass. Recordings have some upright bass on them. Art and I befriended about four years ago when I moved to Providence. Our interests in life, politics, and music brought us to the idea of playing together. At that point, it had been quite some time since I had played music with people, and it worked so well with just the two of us. Our differing personalities really bring us together. I think we compliment each other in our approaches to songwriting. I mean, we are both generally happy people, Art is a bit more outgoing than I am, which is most apparent at shows. We both have a genuine love of the music we make and the friendship therein. I appreciate the opportunity to do Tiny Hawks and hope it brings real inspiration to those who listen. It must be said, we are just a band. But music is the great motivator, and if it keeps motivating you, why stop?

Collective: Tiny Hawks have a pretty original sound, especially in a day and age where you’re pretty much guaranteed to come across a clutch of bands tilling the same soil. What would you say has helped shape the band’s sound? How has what you’ve done in the past shaped what you’re doing now? Did you set out to achieve any specific goals with this band?

Gus: Thanks! I think it’s kind of a bummer how marketed genres have become. Even in DIY/punk/hardcore, whatever you want to call it. There is an obvious divide. I mean, people like what they like., but when you start to feel uncomfortable and judged at a show or walking down the street because you don’t have a certain sound or aesthetic it’s a bit unsettling. I think back to stories I’ve heard from late 70s early 80s when punk had no real guidelines – it gave people the freedom to really voice what they were about, for better or worse. I think at first, we just wanted to rock out? Now, having so many influences and a couple of years behind us, it’s morphed what we are. We just write, musically, what feels satisfying to us and evokes what we are trying to get across. We are not trying to mimic a sound or appeal to any certain person. I wouldn’t say we have a clear direction as to where we are going as a band and I really enjoy that.

Art: In thinking about shaping sound, I think we bring similar inspirations and motivations from bands and music we’ve both loved and I think we try to play what comes naturally rather than try to mold songs into some formula or pattern. I haven’t really played in a formal band before this aside from a band in high school (albeit meaningful!), and I have been playing guitar alone for a long time, some songs that ended up being some of these songs. I think we pay attention to feel rather than approach, assessing what viscerally feels right rather than what sounds “good”.

Collective: Am I right in thinking one/some of you were in Spirit Assembly? What would you say have been the major changes in the emo/hardcore landscape since then? Which have been for the better, and which for the worse?

Gus: Yes, I used to play bass in that band and it still blows me away when it gets mentioned. It was an exciting time then, 93-95ish. A true movement that I was completely enamoured with. It shaped so much of who I am, but, I took what I experienced/learned from that and moved on. It’s real unhealthy to live in the past, to idealize those days as being better than what you have now. You have to push for growth and change. If you don’t, things get stagnant.

Collective: A lot of the folks who would’ve been your contemporaries in the 90s emo scene have either upped and left music entirely or moved onto less traditionally punk pastures – (e.g. country, indie, electronica…). What has made you stick with punk rock – what’s the lasting appeal? Could you see yourselves ever just jacking it all in and forgetting this particular piece of your past?

Art: Punk rock. The lasting appeal continues to be in how people stretch it, what we do with it when the song is over, and what those songs did to bring us to where we are. The connections and people I have met over the years through punk circles (zines, music, politics, fests etc.) continue to inspire and enrich my life and I feel very lucky to be a part of it all. Punk has made and ruined and confused a whole lot of people it seems. It’s a positive signifier as much as a way to alienate. I don’t really see myself losing the drive to be participating in or playing music that would be considered punk. There is a lot of hope left in it, a lot of fearlessness, and a lot of room for it to keep changing and keep it challenging.

Gus: Punk has an energy. That word alone has so much weight behind what it has stood for… and still does for a lot of us. We both listen to such a vast collection of styles of music, and all have had their little part in what we are. But the statement punk has made (of course, I’m not talking about big money “punk”) will have a lasting effect on my life’s decisions and philosophies.

Collective: Are you still as pissed off about things as you were when you first started making music, or have your focuses changed?

Art: Are we still pissed off? I think anger can be a pretty amazing force if used the right way. We’re pretty much overwhelmed with enough things in the world today to level us on a minute by minute schedule – so how to deal with it all, how to use the anger there or frustration to make something or be something more than that, to turn that adrenalin into something positive? Phil Ochs said, “you must protest, you must protest, it if your diamond duty, ah, but in such an ugly time, the true protest is beauty.” Sure, anger is there, but I think anger implies negative reactions. Remaining critical and open and responsive and resolute and with a certain amount of courage seem to be stronger impulses.

Gus: As you get older – I will be 30 this year – I think you find ways of bringing your ideals into everyday life, how you live it. Simple things like how I treat other people, knowing your neighbours, trying to stay informed on what the hell is going on. Yes. I am pissed off about the US occupation of Iraq, I am pissed off about South Dakota deeming abortion illegal! There are so many incredibly frightening actions by government and power figures… most of which are against what the people want. It’s all so overwhelming sometimes, you start to wonder if we can bring change. It’s an anger with hope that we need more of, and I say that as much for myself as much as I do others.

Collective: Tell us about your relationship with Moganono – how did it come about? It seems to be one of those reliable, understated labels standing out like a beacon in a sea of shit. Does the label guy cherrypick all these great bands (Anton Bordman, Kolya, Ettil Vrye…) or is he just lucky enough to have found himself sitting amongst a slew of neat acts with broadly similar ideas and ethics? What is the hardcore scene like where you hail from and what kind of bands do you generally play with?

Art: My personal relationship with Moganono goes back a long time to me being 14 and living in the Merrimack Valley and going to shows featuring bands whose members would later be in Moganono bands, and whose brother team were very open and friendly to me. I grew a lot through knowing Peter and Mike, through their examples in how they made genuine efforts in punk circles and their own lives. They used to book a fest every year as a breast cancer research benefit called “tin can full of dreams”, whose overarching value and richness was not wasted on me. It was a family thing, the Zetlans representing behind the refreshment table, the brothers making things work, and bands and people growing ever tighter over the years, finding each other at these events, and building relationships that would last. I am inspired by the memory and the people, and as a label, am always impressed. Peter keeps putting effort and love into bands of friends and releases that are timeless and hand done with care, and I feel so honoured to be a part of that history. He is a great person, and his friends and the music they create can speak to that fact. I don’t think I could generalize about the music scene here in Providence, there are many bands I love, who continue to push boundaries and experiment, and there is an earnest dedication to creating something personal and unique and honest that is awesome to see/hear. We’ve been lucky enough to play all different kinds of shows with bands playing all different kinds of music, so it’s nice to be a part of a community of music/art makers that continue to challenge us in that way – to not settle.

Gus: Pete is a wonderful, wonderful person. I met him through Art, when we started playing shows. He always struck me as genuine. He’s extremely dedicated and cares about what he is doing. It’s kind of like he’s the keystone in creating this little family of New England bands with similar views, for no other reason than a genuine interest. There is so much music going on in Providence. It’s a very diverse scene that has been through many hardships the past couple of years. Losing warehouse spaces (living and otherwise) and increasing rents are forcing people to keep things on the DL. There are now a handful of show/art spaces and only two or three are DIY. I think there is an underlying fear of those spaces being taken away.

Collective: Your lyrics are often kind of oblique, though can be picked apart for a sense of meaning. Is there anything in particular you’re looking to impart or are your songs more an opportunity to vent or try to understand particular situations for yourselves? Would you mind going into any detail as to what “Four Days After Ariel Was Shot” is about?

Gus: Not to discredit myself but Art is much better versed than I. He writes most of the lyrics where I write more straight forward words like “Daniel Striped Tiger”. I guess for me it’s a venting of sorts, trying to tell a story or put across and idea. That song, in particular, was at root a motivational. As is my part in “Whenzy”.

Art: The songs lyrics aren’t oblique on purpose, I think in the lyrics I write I just end up being a little indirect. Less venting, more trying to understand particular situations, think around things, pay attention. “Four Days…” was about living in Lawrence, Massachusetts after a killing had occurred in my neighbourhood and walking home from work through the park one night when a cop pulled up to me, not to arrest me, but to offer me a ride home because it wasn’t safe for me there. I think it was a critical moment in me thinking about privilege and whiteness, and the power of those things, their hidden meaning and weight. I loved my neighbourhood, met many of my neighbours and worked in a local charter school with kids living down the street from me, and was part of a small dysfunctional collective there. I felt part of a community and was not blind to certain aspects of it that made it “dangerous”, but tried to accept them as things that exist in a society that sets them up to be there in such a way. Killing or mugging or stealing were not exclusive events, like in most cities, and how you interpret or deal with those things ends up marking how you live within them. Are they constants or negotiable? Can you stop them? When does a neighbourhood start turning into a gated community? Many easy answers are found when someone can throw out “gang related” after a killing rather than looking at the root of these kinds of conflicts or issues. And I am no better prepared at handling those issues than anyone else, and so, the song is about that, being hit by all of it kind of profoundly and still coming up with not many answers. And no, I did not take the ride home.

Collective: What does the term “Fingers Become Bridges” mean to you? Why choose it for the name of your record?

Gus: I’ll let Art carry the torch on that one.

Art: “Fingers become bridges”. I like the thought of bridging things, finding connections and meaning and relatedness between disparate ideas and worlds, and personalizing it, seeing yourself as integrated, part of a web, connected and capable of building bridges, seems pretty empowering to me. You make what you want to see.

Collective: What are your plans for the band, both immediate and long-term? Is there much on the horizon by way of gigs, releases or grand schemes?

Gus: just want to play music and feel good about what we are doing. My hope for the band is that we keep progressing and stay true to ourselves… maybe inspire people outside of music too. We are planning a US tour in May/June to the West and back. Our new record “People Without End” will be out in May on Corleone records. We may be heading to Europe in the fall if all goes well and we can pull ourselves away from personal obligations to work we love.

Art: Plans include getting the new record out, going on an almost month long tour out to the west coast, hopefully going to Europe within the year, playing more guitar and bass songs, feeling less stressed out and more in control, recording a split with Fiya, figuring out how to use the fourtrack, having an updated and cohesive website, being better about lyric sheets, keeping it punctual when talking between songs, learning new ways to play music, trying trying trying.

Collective: Any last words or snappy closing comments? Use this space…

Art: Thank you very much for your thoughtful questions! I hope these weren’t too long winded for answers! Please write if you’d like: po box 1652/Providence/RI.02901. Thank you!

Gus: thanks so much for the opportunity and intelligent questions!

By Alex Deller