Tag Archives: post-hardcore

An interview with The Last Crime’s Kevin Egan

The Last Crime were a short-lived band from Long Island, New York. As a going concern they released a four-song 10″ / five-song CDEP for boutique label The Omega and played gigs with the likes of Neurosis, Dystopia, Today Is The Day, Dahlia Seed, Garden Variety, Eucharist and Hail Mary.

CZ has long championed them as a taut and pained emo obscurity, but it turns out that vocalist/guitarist Kevin Egan wasn’t that way inclined at all. Live and learn, eh?

This interview comes about due to the surprise release of two unreleased songs, recorded by J. Robbins shortly before the band called it quits. They’re available digitally and as a limited-edition cassette via the newly-formed Sunken Temple imprint. Why not listen to them here while reading these words?

CZ: Ok, so can you set the scene for us a bit? How, when and why did The Last Crime get together?

Kevin Egan: I think it was the summer of 1994. I met Steve while he was going to Stony Brook University, which isn’t too far from where I grew up. We talked about doing a band for a while and then eventually we made it happen. He already had a drummer lined up (Rich) so it was really easy to just jump right into it. When it was time to add a bass player we asked Eric Svirda who was going to Stony Brook at the time.

What was the aim for the band? Did you have a set idea as to how you wanted The Last Crime to sound when you set out? 

We wanted it to be heavy and metal-ish. Also, a little trippy. We were really into Neurosis, Shellac, and Pink Floyd at the time. We hung out and listened to music together a lot, so eventually the band sounded like the music we listened to.

Kevin, you were in both Beyond and the 1.6 Band before The Last Crime. How did these experiences shape/inform what you’d do with The Last Crime, and how would you say your view of hardcore evolved/developed from band to band? 

The people in Beyond and 1.6 Band were all such great musicians; it was impossible not to learn an insane amount from them about music. They were my closest friends for a lot of years, so their influence on me is everlasting.

I think I took some of my vocal style from those bands and brought it to the Last Crime, though I was into different types of music with the Last Crime, so there were other influences as well.

I wasn’t listening to a lot of hardcore then. I was listening to metal bands and bands like Dinosaur Jr. I just wanted to try different things musically. There are limitations to hardcore if you view it in a very narrow way.

The classic (lazy?) view of New York hardcore tends to focus on stuff like Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front or, if you were weaned on Heartattack, Born Against and ABC No Rio. There was obviously a lot more going on, however, so it would be interesting to hear what your experiences of the scene were, and how you think The Last Crime fit in. 

We played with a lot of hardcore bands, but I don’t think we considered ourselves a hardcore band. Like I said we were into metal and bands like Shellac. We wanted to make things musical. It wasn’t about a political statement or even a personal statement, which usually is the case in hardcore.

That being said, I don’t think I ever stopped listening to the Cro-Mags’ ‘Age of Quarrel’. That is greatest hardcore record of all time.

To me the band pulled from the DC bands of the early/mid 90s, along with the darker, more groove-laden side of 90s emo (Shotmaker, Republic Of Freedom Fighters, Policy Of 3 etc.). Would these be accurate influences, or am I wide of the mark?

I’ve never heard of any of the bands you mentioned. There is some DC influence, but I would say Beyond and 1.6 Band was more influenced by DC. Like I said, we were really into Neurosis and Shellac.

Vin Novara from 1.6 Band wound up in The Crownhate Ruin – another post-hardcore band I think were criminally overlooked. I was wondering if you drew any influence from TCR, or whether there was any sense of friendly competition/rivalry with your old bandmate? 

We played with them once, but I don’t think I heard their record until after the Last Crime broke up. I don’t think we sounded anything like them. There was no competition. They lived in DC and we lived in New York.

Can you tell us what a typical Last Crime practice session was like? 

We burned through a lot of cases of Budweiser during Last Crime rehearsals. For most of the life of the band, we rehearsed in Rich’s bedroom in his parents’ house. It was tiny, and we had Marshall stacks up against the walls blasting our ears. I worried at the time about my hearing, but luckily, I didn’t do any damage.

I always liked emo/post-hardcore bands who managed to lock into that hypnotic, meandering groove – what was the motivation there, and what kind of headspace would you find yourselves in while the band was chugging away like that? 

We were really into trippy music. Pink Floyd especially. Their albums ‘Meddle’ and ‘Ummagumma’ were very influential on us.

I was thinking about the music. It was my job to help the bass player and drummer hold down the groove, so I locked into that.

Tell us a bit about the writing and recording of the 10” – how did the songs come about, what went into the lyrics and were you pleased with the final results? 

Steve wrote all the music. I wrote all the lyrics I sang, and he wrote his own lyrics as well. Again, the music was reflective of what we were listening to. I’d go to his dorm room and he’d have a song ready to show me and I’d take it home and write my vocal parts to it.

We recorded with Alap Momin out in New Jersey. Alap was a pro and a really nice guy. I think we banged it out in a weekend.

I wanted to write metal lyrics. I think that’s there on the record definitely. I also experienced a break-up with someone and that’s in there too. The first track on the record was written during a lightning storm in New Mexico. I was inspired to write as I was witnessing it. The rhythm of the vocals is influenced by Bob Dylan who I was also listening to a lot of the time.

I’m happy with the recording. We were a short-lived band, so I’m glad it was documented.

What was your relationship like with the label(s) who put the record out? The Omega only released a handful of things, but the ‘Ourselves’ comp had some interesting/important acts on it (Converge, Disembodied, Coalesce…) and the Khmer Rouge 7” was also pretty neat…

Ian Richter ran the Omega. He was a really nice guy who put up with a lot of bullshit from us. We were still children emotionally at the time and he was usually the only adult in the room.

How was the 10” received at the time? What were the reviews like, and did people ‘get’ you? 

People were into it. We would have decent sized audiences at our shows in New York and Long Island.

What were Last Crime shows like? I found it interesting that you played with bands like Neurosis and Dystopia, who were sonically very different indeed but nevertheless part of a wider underground scene of bands making odd, difficult, challenging music…

We played hard. We were definitely loud, but we also turned down at times because we knew it would work better in the room. Steve had a great ear for stuff like that.

What can you tell us about the two unreleased songs that Sunken Temple have exhumed? What kind of growth/development would you say they represented for The Last Crime, and how do you feel about the songs now?

I personally think they’re the two best songs we recorded. It was also our first attempt at writing songs in time signatures other than four/four. It’s challenging music to listen to. I still put those songs on and get excited. I just listened to them the other day. It’s really interesting music.

What was it like to be recording with J. Robbins at Inner Ear? 

I was excited because I grew up listening to Minor Threat and all those great DC bands that recorded there. J was very quiet and professional. Again, we were children emotionally, so he had to play the adult in the room.

What ultimately broke the band up, and how do you think things might have evolved if you managed to stick together? 

Steve was focusing on his career as an engineer. I don’t know what would’ve happened. I try not to think about stuff like that.

What were the best, worst and weirdest experiences you had while you were in the band?

The best moments were on stage when we were locked into each other. It was like magic.  The worst moments where when we were supposed to be on time for a show and couldn’t get there for whatever reason. As far as the weirdest, there’s a lotta stuff that happened that I could never talk about publicly. It was a wild ride for sure.

What did you take from the experience, and did your time with The Last Crime inform or inspire what you went on to do afterwards?

I learned to play guitar during the Last Crime. I could barely play when we first got together but Steve was very patient, and those guys were open to me learning as we went along. I’m a pretty good guitar player now and I definitely wouldn’t be if it hadn’t been for those guys.

Do any of you have any current projects or endeavours that we should be aware of?

I sing and play guitar in a band called the Lost Pilgrims of the Second Plateau, though I just started writing songs with someone else from another seminal Long Island band from the 90s. I’m not sure if he’d want me to mention his name. Anyway, we’re not sure where it’s going to lead, but I’m excited about that project also.

Rich plays in some sick bands The Third Kind , Vise Massacre and Gridfailure.

Is there anything you’d like to add, or anything I’ve missed?  

Thanks for taking the time to interview us!

An interview with ÆGES

ÆGES’ two LPs both knocked my socks off in very different ways. The first was a grand slice of 90s post-hardcore (think: Handsome, Quicksand, Hum…) while the follow-up took these influences, dosed them with a newfound knack for melodies and proggy noodling before kicking them out into orbit. Check the second one out here while reading guitarist/vocalist Kemble Walters’ answers to some questions. 

Ok, so please start by telling us the basic stuff: how, when and why did ÆGES get together? 

ÆGES as it is today came to be in 2014, just before we recorded ‘Above And Down Below’. The band started in 2012, but with member changes and what not, Tony Baumeister is the only remnant (aside from myself) from those days. The line-up now is Tony on bass, Cory on guitar/vox, Mike on drums and me Kemble on vox/guitar.

I know a bunch of you play/ed in some fairly well-known 90s bands, including Undertow, Shift and 16. Given that ÆGES give a very specific nod to 90s post-hardcore, I was wondering what the rationale was there? You lived and breathed that era, so do you see ÆGES as a nostalgic trip down memory lane, an attempt to revitalise it or something else entirely? 

We’ve all been in bands for quite a while, some more successful than others, but all of them have deeply influenced us in how we play and write. We’re not nostalgic nor do we wish to take a sonic trip down memory lane, we’re just making the music that naturally flows out of us. Since we all are big fans of the rock music that came out on the 90s, there’s definitely going to influence in our sound.

To me, ‘Above And Down Below’ sounds a lot more dynamic and ambitious, and much as I loved ‘The Bridge’, it’s almost like a whole ‘nother band. How would you say the band has changed between the first album and the second? What’s different, and what were you trying to achieve with the new one? 

I think the main reason it sounds like a different band is because it is. ‘Above And Down Below’ saw the addition of guitarist and addition vocalist Cory Clark and drummer Mike Land. The talent and sonic possibilities that came with these new additions opened the doors wide up. We could write whatever we wanted to and pull it off, so that’s what we did.

All we want to achieve with any of the records we make is to keep moving forward. The next record will be different than the last, and so on. I feel that when bands keep turning out the same album over and over, they aren’t letting themselves grow. The next record has a lot of fun vocal work between Cory and I as well as some sick riffs, beats, overall nasty jams.

Was this a conscious move on your part? Were there things you feel ‘The Bridge’ lacked, were you specifically aiming for a different/expanded sound or are you just more confident as a band now? 

I love ‘The Bridge’ and think it achieved exactly what we were going for then, but we’re past that now. Now we’ve got bigger hooks, more complex structures, more intricate guitar work, more complex rhythms, and as always, nasty bass.

What went into ‘Above And Down Below’ to make it the way it is? What inspired and drove it, and are there any broad themes or ideas running through it? 

The common theme throughout ‘Above And Down Below’ is life. Life is dark, life has struggle, life is religion, life is love, and everyone is different and interprets it in their own unique way but we all start and end the same. This record was recorded very sparsely, we wanted it to sound like we do live: two guitars, drums, bass and two vocals. We tried to keep all the overdubs to a minimum and used single takes as much as possible (most of the time).

You’ve had some line-up changes between albums. What happened, who’d you bring onboard and what would you say they brought to the table? 

Yes we have. We added Cory Clark and Mike Land to the fold and now the band is exactly what it was meant to be from the start. With the addition of these immense talents, Tony and I were able to fully let loose and and wrote with no holds barred.

What would you say are the main differences between playing this kind of music now and playing it 20 years ago? What’s changed for the better, and what’s changed for the worse? 

Well, that’s hard for me to say because although I was playing music 20 years ago, I definitely sucked and was just starting out. I wish I could have seen bands like Nirvana back in the day, but I never did. The main thing that I noticed is the transition from hair metal to 90s rock bands. It wasn’t about dudes putting make up on, stuffing their trousers and having weird names like “Ricki Rockett,” it was about the message and getting angst out. Kids could relate to that and saw that rock stars were people too. Don’t forget, Alice In Chains and Pantera had their glam phase as well.

One thing I’ve rather enjoyed about writing about the thin trickle of 90s-style post-hardcore bands currently doing the rounds is that I’ve been able to reference Handsome rather a lot – a band I think got a fairly raw deal at the time and are overdue some love. Can you recommend some bands and releases from ‘back in the day’ that maybe didn’t get the props they deserved and you think people should check out?  

Oh man, lemme think… Handsome is one of my all time favorite bands, they influenced me big time!

Quicksand

Molly McGuire

Seaweed

VAUX (2000)

Triple Fast Action

Remy Zero

How did you hook up with The Mylene Sheath

Our old drummer was in a record shop talking about our demos and a dude said “hey, I know a label that might be good for you”, and they were. I believe that’s how the story goes.

What’ve been the best, worst and weirdest things to have happened to you as ÆGES? 

I mean, aside from the obvious tour craziness like weather, getting drunk and playing to empty clubs, I’d say it was when we played with Camp Freddy in Hollywood for New Years. They’re basically an all-star cover band consisting of Matt Sorum, Courtney Love, Mark McGrath, Billy Morrison, Josh Freese and so many more. It was kinda rad, kinda weird, and all around a perfect night.

What next for ÆGES? What are your immediate plans, and what are your long-term goals? 

We are about to head into the studio for record three as we as getting our tour schedule lined up. The goals are to keep doing this as long as possible and tour as much as our fans will let us. We love this band, we love our fans, so we’re basically never gonna stop.

 Facebook.com/aegesband