Always a wreck: an interview with Vanilla Poppers

Okay. What you have below is an interview with Christina Pap of the very excellent Vanilla Poppers.

The band play caustic-yet-catchy punk with a raw melodic edge, and they have releases out on labels like Lumpy, Feel It, Drunken Sailor, Negative Jazz and Christina’s own Blow Blood Records.

This chat was supposed to chime with the band’s European tour and that didn’t quite happen, and then it was supposed to coincide with the 7” that Drunken Sailor put out, but that didn’t quite happen either. Then I changed jobs, got sick a bunch of times, had some Life Upheaval and… somehow this thing stayed stuck in my inbox for the better part of two years.

In that time, the band has gone dormant – Christina has moved from the US to her native Melbourne, though the plan is for her to get back stateside at some point. In the meantime, she now plays in a band called SWAB, who you should most definitely check out.

That all makes this rather tardy, but the band’s records are still knocking around and Christina’s responses are thoughtful and interesting enough to be well worth a cup of tea’s worth of your time.

Please give us a quick Vanilla Poppers overview: who does what, how did the band get together, and what was the original motivation behind the band? 

Jo is on guitar, Steve on bass and I sing. Drew is the original drummer and still is but we’ve had a bunch of fill-ins over the duration of the band – to tour and also when we were based out of Australia for a half year in 2018. I moved to Cleveland for a few months in May 2015 and we started VP the day I moved there. Steve, Jo and Drew were already jamming for a one-off band participating in a fundraiser for Horrible Fest that year. Jo had some songs but I don’t think the original singer was keen on how mid-paced they were – they were more after what you’d expect when you think about Cleveland hardcore. I think everyone had their own personal motivations for wanting to the do the band but first and foremost we were all friends and got along and wanted to jam and hang out.

You have a couple of releases out now, so how would you say things have changed over time? 

I guess we’ve all gotten better or fine-tuned how we wanted to be or sound in the band; maybe not to a full extent. We’ve gotten tighter. I’d never sang before and didn’t know what I was doing (still don’t really). Jo was still fresh on guitar and was starting to write his own songs when we started. The only other band he’d being doing it in at that time I think was Perverts Again. Drew was used to a different sort of drumming so doing VP was a new style for him to adjust to. The whole thing has just been trying and learning and building. We’re still growing.

You’ve struck upon this really cool sound that’s both fresh and familiar. Did you genetically engineer the sound, or did things just come together by happenstance?

I don’t think anything was planned, Jo was experimenting and learning to write songs and so was Steve. It kinda just came what it became.

Am I right in thinking Vanilla Poppers is the first band you’ve fronted? Assuming so, how did you find stepping up to the mic? I’ve done it a couple of times and frankly found the whole experience terrifying…

Definitely terrifying, to the point I’d be nervous for weeks before the show. To the point I’d be black out drunk falling off stage, concussed, covered in scratches and bruises, not remembering the set…always a wreck. But I also just couldn’t give it up. As much as it made me so depressed to think that I wasn’t some perfect hot chick on stage and everyone was judging me or didn’t like the band because I didn’t look the part, or we didn’t fit the type of Cleveland hardcore, we weren’t fast enough or punk enough or cool enough. The thoughts would plague me and drag me down and I couldn’t cope but I was with my best friends and as much as it killed me it was still always the best time of my life.

How did/do you approach your vocals, and did anyone give you pointers in terms of style, technique or simply not shredding your voicebox? 

I shredded my voicebox a lot. Had to cut down on the cigs, try not to smoke before the gig and only have one after. Little rules you put in place for yourself to try work it out. Drink tea although I’d usually just drink coffee, which is bad because it dehydrates your vocal chords (or something like that). Don’t think anyone gave me any real pointers, I kinda just winged it and always wished I could be better.

There’s a real sense of desperation and ennui to the lyrics, as well as a darkly-comedic arched eyebrow when it comes to the punk scene and how people behave within it. What are you trying to get out of your system with your lyrics, and what kind of bugbears would you like to shine a light on? 

I don’t know if there’s any songs you’re thinking about in particular. ‘I Like Your Band’ was making fun of the Melbourne Punk Scene but also myself, because I did that shit too. My friends are party animals and speed is the drug of choice. The joke was that you spend all your time at the show in the bathroom doing drugs and then when you see your friend whose band played you lie and pretend you watched them and tell them how good they are. “I like your band”…

All the lyrics have come from something that’s been on my mind… problems I can’t shake that lead to self-oppression. Angry for not being able to move on in life, for not being better… also a lot of irrational and paranoid thoughts, reading into things or blowing things out or proportion. When you have those thoughts in real life you talk yourself out of it and know it’s in your head but with Vanilla Poppers I ran with it and became the crazy and paranoid I had to hide to try be a normal functioning person. I dunno, this shit is probably something I should be trying to work out in therapy more so than dissecting in an interview question.

How did you tackle the LP? Did you write it as ‘An Album’, or was it just a case of collecting songs you had and putting them into an order that worked? 

A bunch of songs we had, that we ordered the way we thought sounded best. The album is more just a snapshot of us in the year that we wrote it than writing it to be anything in particular.

How did the European tour go? What were the most memorable shows/events/aspects, and what kind of life-learns did you get out of the experience?

The Euro tour was a lot of things good and bad. The further in the past it becomes, the easier it is to forget the bad stuff and remember all the good things. It’s better to look back on it fondly than with resentment and annoyance, which is what I had a lot of after we had just finished it. There were six of us in the van – the four of us in the band and then the person driving and the person that booked the tour. None of us four had ever been to Europe before.

Obvious question that you’re probably been asked loads: how did you come to relocate, and why did you choose Cleveland, Ohio? 

I remember before I’d left, I would tell people that I was moving to Cleveland and their response was always the same – “Why??!!” or they’d point and laugh at me, hah…I had been to Cleveland a few times over the years and there was (still is) a place in my heart for that shitty city more so than any other place I’d been to. I was sick of the Melbourne punk scene at the time. Sick of dudes and their dumb boring crap in the scene. Sick of fighting to be a part of a scene that didn’t give a shit about me (or at least it felt like that at the time) so I got out. My plan was to stay in Cleveland for half a year and then move to Canada on a work holiday visa, which is what I did.

The first time I went to Cleveland was for Horrible Fest in 2011. It was the weirdest weekend I’d ever had at that point. I saw a car get smashed and flipped and set on fire (for fun). At the after party show, I couldn’t even watch the band playing because if I took my eyes of the bins being thrown across the room I was sure to get hit in the head by it.

Cleveland is crazy. It’s can also be super bleak. People ride on those stories about what Cleveland is about or used to be about. The fireworks, shows getting shut down, shit getting smashed, people getting beat up, whatever. They are really ignoring the other side of the coin – poverty, depression, being help up at gun point, having your house rolled constantly, drug and alcohol addiction… how would I know anyway, I was only there for half a year and I’m from Melbourne. But within that place and at the time, I found more acceptance in just being me than I’d ever felt in the Melbourne punk scene, a community I’d initially looked to find family, camaraderie, acceptance…

Upping sticks and moving to a new town (let alone a new country) can be pretty daunting, but I always think ‘the scene’ offers punx a semi safety net: it’s not entirely abnormal to contact strangers out of the blue (especially if they run a label or put on shows) and you find yourself meeting and knowing people by osmosis the more you go to gigs or schlep around record stores. How was moving cities, and how daunting/welcoming was getting involved with what was going on? 

 That’s definitely all true…I think I knew one person when I first went to the states in 2011 (Sam Richardson, who I knew from trading zines). Then I’d meet another, they’d recommend somewhere else to go or I’d go a place I knew no one and had to talk to people and make friends and suss stuff out for myself (Cleveland for example). By the time I moved to Cleveland in 2015 I knew a few people so it wasn’t a totally new experience. Plus I like being alone…I guess I didn’t really think about a lot of it, I just did it y’know. You do it and you work it out along the way. I couldn’t wait to leave Melbourne, doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard. I didn’t want to leave Cleveland, and it was some of the most heart wrenching shit I’ve been through. I remember going back for shows and on the bus back to Toronto I would cry for hours. Some of those people were my absolute family y’know, being forced to leave every time feels like something in me is dying over and over… maybe it sounds lame. I won’t ever forget it though. You learn to live. People over there were very welcoming and keen on what I was doing, doing the zine and later the label and generally trying to be active in some way in the scene and help out or hang out. It was more time than I felt anyone gave me in Australia at the time.


Unavoidable isolation: an interview with Dauðyflin

Dauðyflin is an intense and caustic hardcore band from Iceland with releases out on Iron Lung, Erste Theke Tonträger and Paradísarborgarplötur. In their short lifespan they’ve managed to make some of the most enjoyably difficult-to-listen-to music currently going, which is definitely something to applaud. All members of the band took the time out to answer some of my dub questions, for which I am infinitely grateful. The guilty parties are:

Alexandra (vocals)

Dísa (bass)

Fannar (drums)

Júlíana (guitar)

Okay, let’s start with the stock zine stuff: could you please tell us a bit about the band – how, where, when and why did the band get together? 

Júlíana: Me, Fannar and Alexandra had been in a couple of bands together before and we wanted to start another one so we brought in Dísa, who we knew was likeminded and could play bass.

What was the original thinking behind the band? Did you work out a specific game plan, or just start making noise and see how things turned out?

Fannar: I think the original idea was just make a band that people could mosh and pogo to, and to have anti-social, violent, tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

Dísa: Yes, we knew we wanted to play something kind of heavy and fast and then things just evolved from there. I don’t think we had a specific game plan in mind, we just wanted to play music together.

How (if at all) has the band’s outlook and approach to making music changed over the past couple of years? Have these been conscious shifts, or organic ones? 

Júlíana: I think the shifts have been mostly organic. They might have somewhat to do with us getting slightly better at playing together and me learning to play guitar.

There’s something weird about Dauðyflin’s music: there’s a lot going on and it all sounds crazed and thoroughly chaotic, but at the same time there seems to be a lot of focus. How do you go about constructing a song, and what would you say the essential ingredients of Dauðyflin’s sound are?

Fannar: We usually just start with a riff that someone brought to practice or stumbled on while just messing around between songs or whatever. Then we just kinda build on that. We’re not super focused on riffs being one way or the other, but we have a way of riffing and drumming and a sound that makes most of what we come up with fit into a sort of cohesive whole I guess.

Dísa: We usually just start out with a riff or two and then build the basic structure of the song from that. Then the layers get added on as we go until we think it sounds good and makes sense as a whole. The essential ingredients are basically just a lot of distortion and feedback, I think.

Fannar: Sometimes we’ll write riffs just by singing something that sounds like it’s from a 50s horror or sci-fi movie, like something that should be a cheesy organ or theremin line, and make a riff from that. Those are some of our best riffs.

To go with the wild music, I always think your artwork is brilliantly idiosyncratic: you use a lot of the punk tropes we might expect (Skulls! Knives! Vomit! Sigils!) but there’s a weird, sideways approach to them – like Nick Blinko designed it for the most warped children’s TV show imaginable. Who comes up with the artwork, and what’s the thinking behind it? Was it your aim to be different, and stand out from all the similar-looking punk records we flip through in the distro box? 

Fannar: Me and Júlíana collaborated on the first two releases and then I’ve done the last two. Personally, I just want the artwork to represent the music. I want people to be able to have a basic understanding of what’s on the record just by looking at the cover. It took a couple of releases to sort of figure out what that meant, but I think we got it with the LP and the ‘Dauþiflin’ EP.

Júlíana: The artwork reflects a lot of the aesthetic we are obsessed with, inspired by horror movies and weird cartoons. Me and Fannar can spend hours watching weird YouTube videos and cartoons.

Alexandra: We also wanted to have this juxtaposition of violent imagery and colours people associate with femininity.

What’s going on in Iceland at the moment? Are things healthy in terms of bands / venues / audiences? What kind of crowd do Dauðyflin bring in? 

Fannar: Things are pretty okay I guess. We have one small DIY venue downtown and a couple of bars that put on shows. There’s always a lot of music in Reykjavík and there’s a handful of hardcore bands. Almost everyone who is into hardcore in Iceland seems to come at it more from metal than punk, so we don’t really fit in anywhere. We’re maybe not really a heavy band but we’re still aggressive and fucked up. So I’m not really sure we bring in anybody, to be honest. But people seem to like us when we play.

I was lucky enough to go to Reykjavik a couple of years ago, and was struck by how utterly different the Icelandic landscape is – it’s like nowhere else I’ve been. Similarly, the sense of history is very vivid, the island is isolated and the language is very distinct (and very old – I seem to remember reading that the written language had remained largely the same, so that schoolchildren could effectively read the Eddas?). What I guess I’m winding up to here is me wondering whether this might create any sense of ‘apartness’ that you’re conscious of? The Icelandic music that comes my way (ROHT, Nornahetta, Bjork…) often seems pretty singular, but I don’t know if it’s just that I’m predisposed to digging out odd sounds…

Alexandra: I guess being a few hundred thousand people on a tiny island, the odds of finding music that’s different are higher than your average city. It’s easier to find something weird and special because it stands out.

Dísa: I think it’s unavoidable to have a sense of isolation when you live on a small island in the middle of the ocean, especially with such a small population. Of course it’s easier now to get in touch with people in other countries and hear new music through the internet but you have to make a conscious effort to do so. It’s not like in more populous places where something is going on all the time and you can just stumble on a show or something like that.

This is a far more crass, and a far less philosophical question: your country is insanely expensive, so how does the average Icelander (who, say, works in an office or a shoe shop or whatever) manage to survive? Does it mean you’re able to throw your money around like royalty when you visit other countries? 

Júlíana: I think most people just work A LOT. I myself have two jobs and usually not a lot of money left at the end of the month.

Alexandra: About throwing money around like royalty – it used to be like that. I remember being 17 in the US travelling with a friend and doing a lot of ridiculous shit and throwing money around like it was nothing. But the economic collapse in 2008 really changed things here.

You’ve toured the US and the UK – what were those tours like, and how (if at all) did the experiences change you as people or as a band? What, for better or for worse, were the most memorable moments on those tours? 

Júlíana: Well the first thing that comes to mind is that on the UK tour we rented a car that was wayyy to small. We were seven in a tiny car, us, the band ROHT and our driver Jake, all cramped together in a car about the size of a Yaris with two extra seats in the back, PLUS all our gear. We felt like we were in a clown car, it was difficult but probably brought us closer together.

Dísa: I think the best thing about touring was finding out that we could spend so much time together and still not end up hating each other by the end. Our U.S. tour was 31 days and most of them we spent about 7-11 hours in the van. It can be hard at times but I only wanted to kill someone a couple of times, which is probably a personal record for me.

Alexandra: We have some pretty weird stories from our US tour but the one that stands out for me is when this guy came to our show in Columbus, Ohio. He came because he thought he was my dad. He also thought he might Sadie’s (from G.L.O.S.S.) dad. He drove for five hours or something for this show but was kindly asked to leave, which he did but I was stressed and little bit scared the rest of our tour.

Fannar: There was so much weird shit that happened on that US tour. Some woman called the cops on us when we were trying to get gas and then chased after us in her car all the way to the next town where there were like three cop cars that seemed to be waiting for us. One of them followed us onto the highway and pulled us over for some bullshit reason. That tour was so much fun though. We played a show in a public park in the middle of the night in Denver after a Lumpy and the Dumpers / Warm Bodies show. All these people came out who seemed to be still pumped after the Lumpy set so, even though we played first, people just started dancing as soon as we started playing. We played this weird lot next to some train tracks in New Orleans, we played on a pedestrian bridge in Austin, a dog peed in my eye in Tucson. I was standing. With my big glasses on. It was fucked up.

Other than your first tape you’ve released records through non-domestic labels. How did you get involved with Iron Lung and Erste Theke Tonträger? 

Fannar: Erste Theke Tonträger got in touch almost as soon as we put out the demo. I’m not sure how Iron Lung found out about us, but they got in touch like six months later. It’s not easy getting heard when you live on a tiny island so we’re really grateful to both labels for helping us out.

What do you all do outside of the band? What kind of things do you do to fill your non-Dauðyflin time?

Alexandra: I’m on a tech and engineer pre-university course, play roller derby and have a part time job. When I actually have free time I usually lie on my couch in my underwear, watching sci-fi or playing video games.

Fannar: Me, Júlíana, and Alexandra also play in a post-punk band called Börn and I have a d-beat band, called D7Y, with both members of ROHT. I don’t have a job, I get disability benefits, but I do a little illustration work from time to time but most of my non-punk time is spent on animation.

Júlíana: I sell tickets at a theatre and work at a preschool. When I’m not working I like to drink beer or go swimming. And sleeping. I like sleeping.

Dísa: I also work at a preschool, it’s an integrated school but I mostly work with students who are on the autism spectrum. In my free time I like to watch Netflix, pet my cats and play video games. It might not sound very exciting but I’m only one baby away from completing the 100 baby challenge on the Sims 4 so at least I have that going for me.

What’s next for Dauðyflin? What do you have in the pipeline, and what would you ultimately like to achieve with the band? 

Dísa: Right now we’re writing songs for an EP we plan on releasing this year, hopefully in the summer. We are also playing Byllepest Hardcore Weekend in Oslo on June 20th-23rd. I don’t think we have any ultimate goals for the band besides just continue what we have been doing – writing songs, releasing records, playing shows and just having fun. Oh and also smashing the patriarchy.


After the sacrifice: an interview with Asschapel


Asschapel! A mighty band merging heavy metal thunder with roaring, crusty filth! They released a clutch of neat releases but were seemingly little-loved during their brief, explosive lifetime. Ad Fleet (who had the great fortune to see them live ‘back in the day’) and I frequently rue their passing, so when Southern Lord announced a discography it seemed like a fine time to get the lowdown on these Nashville smashers.

Questions are by Ad and Alex, all answers are courtesy of guitarist Dallas Thomas.

So, tell us how Asschapel came about: how did the band get together, what had you been doing beforehand and what was the initial aim?

Asschapel pretty much started when Erik [Holcombe, vocals]  and I were living together with a bunch of other dudes back in 1998. We a had list on our fridge of the worst fake band names anyone could think of and ‘Asschapel’ is the one that stuck and actually became a real band…

You hailed from Nashville, Tennessee: a place steeped in musical history and where brilliant musicians allegedly loiter on every given street corner. What (if any) kind of influence did your hometown have on the band or your playing?

Yes we were and yes it is… We all came up from the All Ages/DIY punk scene though, and I would say a collective influence of ours was a repulsion for the pop-country, nu metal and Christian metal that was common in Nashville at the time.

It was always struck me that there was a real fucking intensity to your music: it had this bold, invincible-making quality that makes me think of His Hero Is Gone playing ‘Ride The Lightning’ riffs. Where were you coming from as a band, and what did you want to be/sound like?

You pretty much nailed it. A fusion of crust punk and corporate rock/metal… ha! His Hero Is Gone and From Ashes Rise pretty much paved the way for us to get out of Tennessee. When we first hit the road we kind of got written off a little bit in that scene because of our name, which really pissed us off and looking back made us play more furious and harder as a band.

Despite being rooted in hardcore, the sound, imagery, song titles and lyrics were very metal-focused. I mean, you weren’t CROM or something, but they were still pretty ‘out there’. Was this a serious gambit, humorous/ironic, or were you using this aesthetic to mask something more serious?

Erik wrote all the lyrics so I can’t speak for him, but I feel it is/was all of the above… humorous/ironic/serious and then back again. But I will say it was always a cathartic release for us a band to poke fun at religion, violence and hate. However, when someone comes to you and say they just got back from a tour in Iraq and say that they were listening to Asschapel during a bombing raids it is a different pill to swallow…

Where did you feel Asschapel fit in while you were a going concern? You were your peers and allies?

We didnt really think about it we just went and did it on our own dime. Back in the day, we played shows with Mastodon, Baroness, Kylesa, Municipal Waste, and Black Tusk when they were all starting out. They all got pretty popular and we fell to shit but, hey, that’s the way it goes…

What kind of crowds did you draw? Were you conscious of any sort of dividing line between metalheads and punx?

At the time we were a band, we were half and half with both the punks and metalheads. But towards the end we also attracted people that didn’t like punk or metal.

Ad points out that, in later days, the merging of metal and punk would become pretty de rigueur with all the Japanese and MPDS stuff like GATES, Doraid etc. doing the rounds. Do you think you were maybe a bit ahead of the curve (as opposed to ‘born too late’)?

Yeah maybe. It’s hard to know… When people started finding out about us we were so broke and sick of each other that we broke up…

Who were the shittiest bands/people you had to deal with as a band?

You know I can’t really remember… We were probably the shittiest band and people that other bands had to deal with…Ha!

You covered ‘Raining Blood’ on your Satanation 7”. Bit of a bold move, that. How do you think it came off? Did you try your hand at any other thrash covers?

That was our only cover. It was always a crowd pleaser – here we are ten plus years talking about it!

What do you remember about your European tour? What were the high and low points for you and how were you received in the UK? What are your fondest – or weirdest – memories?

It was all a blur. We did two EU tours and the UK only once. Breaking down in the snow in north Sweden was not fun. Getting to play in Bosnia, Serbia, Macadonia, and Greece was a pretty surreal experience for sure.

What were reactions to you like in the punk press (MRR, Heartattack, Punk Planet, whoever) at the time?

If I remember correctly hit or miss, but usually we were kinda written off for our name and for being a non-political band. Like I said, that kinda pissed us off and made us a better band in the end.

Ad points out that you were touring at a point when it was still pretty common to have not heard a touring band before seeing them. While it was possible to be bowled over by an unheard-band, do you feel that this worked to your disadvantage? You obviously had the hook-up with German label Flowerviolence, but I’m not sure how well distributed you were this side of the pond before that?

Yeah, we were for sure in the last generation of bands to tour without cellphones and GPS! We never had any formidable backing, promo or distro while we were around. We just said fuck it and hit the road because that is what we all wanted to do at the time.

What put an end to Asschapel? Was it a slow death or quick and virtuous?

In my opinion, pretty much what made Asschapel great was what ultimately destroyed it. We didn’t start Asschapel as a business – we were just some pissed off friends from Nashville who wanted to play some catchy thrash-prog-punk. But when the money crunch comes in and everyone is broke and their personal lives start falling apart it’s hard to keep it fun and everyone on the same page… Looking back we would have been a band longer if we would have been little more business-minded and had better luck with vans – we broke down every tour…

What kind of a legacy do you think the band left behind? Is there anything that you would change, if you had your time again?

That’s hard to say so I won’t… But I think the legacy of Asschapel will now be solidified with Southern Lord releasing our discography to expose a new generation of pissed off kids to the Chapel of Ass…

How did the Southern Lord discography come about? Were you pals with Greg at the time, or did this only come about later by virtue of the Pelican connection? What kind of memories did putting the discog together dredge up? Were they all positive?

It’s kind of a long story… But, yeah, positive for the most part to look back 10+ years later with some objectivity and realize how much crazy stuff we pulled off and that people still talk about and care about Asschapel… About Two years ago, our original bass player JRob sent our first cassette demo to our old friend superfan Dan Emery at Black Matter Mastering to clean up which we put on Bandcamp. That really got us Assdudes all talking again. Fast forward about a year or so when Pelican toured, Goatsnake Greg from Southern Lord and I realised we had a mutual friend in Brad Boatright (From Ashes Rise/Audiosiege Mastering) and that, in a nutshell, is what ultimately led to Southern Lord Releasing the Asschapel discography.

What did you all go on to do after Asschapel? How would you say the band informed your latter endeavours, and did the experience ‘teach’ you anything?

Erik went on to play in the Nashville band Hans Condor. Chris the drummer plays in the Nashville band Tijuana Goat Ride. First bassist JRob plays in the Seattle Band Witch Ripper and Tom, the Moog/synth player, went on to play bass in a band called Ayebawl. Second bassist Nygard retired from music after Asschapel and started a family. I moved to Chicago in 2008 and started doing session work for Sanford Parker, started a band called The Swan King and then ended up playing guitar in Pelican around 2011.



Talking S.H.I.T.

S.H.I.T. is a raging hardcore band from Toronto, Ontario. In 2014 they put out three ripping 7”s for three estimable labels: Iron Lung, Lengua Armada and the UK’s own Static Shock. Greg (guitar) and Ryan (voice) were good enough to do an interview with us, and their answers are far better than my stupid, glib questions, so many thanks to them for their time, effort and intelligent responses. You can listen to the band’s music here and keep up to date with their goings-on here.

Tell us a bit about S.H.I.T. What brought you together, and what kind of a racket were you initially aiming for?

Ryan: The band started as a bad joke or some kind of challenge. Greg and I were sitting around drinking one night, probably reminiscing about the corny hardcore bands we were playing in around the early 2000s. Greg expressed his desire to play drums in a band, having no previous experience playing the drums. I told him that it was a terrible idea and he said that I should sing in the band. I joked that the band should be called SHIT, because that is most likely what we’d sound like. We decided it would be a great idea to recruit other friends that had little or no previous experience playing in bands and it was a fucking disaster. Our first couple jam sessions we had zero direction, Greg could barely keep a beat and we all lost interest pretty quickly. I think we sounded kind of like a bad Germs cover band. After a few weeks we decided we’d take another shot at it. This is basically how the current line-up formed. We took a simpler approach this time as a hardcore band and wrote the demo in about three jam sessions. We had all known each other and were friends through hardcore for about a decade. I think we created what we did as a result of this sense of familiarity but also the diverse music tastes/experiences of everyone involved. I don’t think any of us had a real idea of what the end result would sound like until we recorded the demo.

Ok. Much as I dislike asking the ‘band name’ question, what the fuck is going on with S.H.I.T? What’s the rationale? Did you want people not to buy your t-shirts? Were you just hoping to compete with GISM and the various PISSes in the bodily fluids stakes? 

Ryan: It can all mostly boil down to “the joke that went too far”. I think a lot of people hate the name and think it is incredibly stupid (a few of them are in the band). While I don’t disagree, I think that this reaction means that it was successful at provoking people to some degree. I think it was ridiculous to name the band SHIT and maybe that played some part in people’s curiosity with it. Making the name an acronym but never explicitly explaining it just furthered the provocation. From the beginning people seemed to love making up their own acronyms for the band, ranging from funny to not funny to completely absurd.

I think the name works and is appropriate as far as modern hardcore punk is concerned. To me, S.H.I.T. represents a place and time where absurdity and sensationalism meet the illusion of greater meaning. Mass media control, celebrated ignorance, self-obsession, a culture of violence and sexual exploitation all play into the illusion. This is life in the 21st century… it’s all just SHIT at the end of the day.

The ever-reliable internet informs us that S.H.I.T. occasionally stands for ‘Sexual Humans In Turmoil’. Ok then. Considering 94% of all music ever is about making the beast with two backs, hardcore, despite the connotations its name might imply, has been a curiously sexless genre. The last few years, however, have seen all manner of bands muttering about man muck and going on about bonking. Oftentimes these depictions are not ‘sexy’ but at least ‘sexual’. What do you think gives? Has hardcore finally hit a delayed pubescent hormone rush? 

Greg: See, I’d argue that. There’s been a long history of punk bands that at the very least questioned gender and gender roles. Without diving too far into it, I’d point at Limp Wrist. Martin’s lyrics in that band are incredibly smart and not just for their content but in what that band would do to a seemingly average hardcore audience. Case in point, in what social setting is it normal and widely accepted for people to get that close to each other, to jump and climb on each other, other than hardcore punk? Repressed sexuality abounds!

I have to admit, while I love the 7”s I thought the demo was merely ‘ok’. How do you think the band has grown and developed over time, was there any sort of ‘step change’ for the band and how has the writing/recording process changed for you

Ryan: When we wrote and recorded the demo I don’t think any one of us expected to have much of a positive response or even an intention to tour, we just wanted to do it – to make something. Since then we’ve tried to play as much as we possibly can, anywhere we can. Last year we did a West Coast tour and even got to play the UK. This year we’re doing a Texas tour with Power Trip and playing a festival in Mexico City. I can definitely say that travelling as a band and meeting like-minded individuals abroad has grown my perception and understanding of hardcore punk, DIY culture and how it all fits into the modern social/political/technological landscape. With respect to the writing and recording process, it has been an uphill battle. In 2014, we finally released all the material we had written and recorded the year prior. We have written and recorded ONE new song since. Currently, I think we might be the most unproductive band in existence considering how much we play.

What can you tell us about the three 7”s and the songs on them? Titles like ‘Collective Unconscious’ and ‘Feeding Time’ are weirdly, quietly sinister, so it’d be good to hear what’s going into it all…

Ryan: As I had mentioned before, all the material on the 7″s was written and recorded in 2013 as one session. We had originally toyed with the idea of putting it all out at once as an LP, but ended up breaking it up into three 7″s released on different labels throughout 2014. Regarding the lyrical content of the songs, I tried to take more of an abstract or existential approach to writing I guess. I feel like the human psyche serves as a modern battleground and I’ve always had a fascination with the subconscious, perception and our notions of reality. My intention was to focus on how systems of control affect our bodies and minds as well as how we perceive our environment, ourselves, and other people. I wanted to explore the metaphysical war that is waged on a society that is increasingly self-obsessed, yet lacking in real awareness and real action. We live in an age where the human experience is continually being assaulted and distorted, reality and fantasy becoming more and more indistinguishable to the masses. Nowadays, people seem to value their delusions more than real interaction or experience. I wanted to write lyrics that are relevant to existence in this day and age.

Let’s talk about those vocals. They’re horrible, and make me feel like a paint scraper is being used on the inside of my skull. What are you trying to do to people, and why use all that reverb?

Ryan: The vocal delay effect was added by Jonah when we recorded the demo. I think he decided to utilize it to fill out the spaces in the vocal patterns and create a kind of rhythmic, cerebral chaos. I think it has this kind of psychedelic element to it, which I think is cool.

While I love hardcore, a lot of it sounds the same. And that’s boring. S.H.I.T. doesn’t sound the same. And that’s good. Were you intentionally tried to sound a bit whacked out and ‘out there’, or is that just the way you roll?

Ryan: I think it has more to do with us trying to avoid emulation as a starting point. We never set out to sound exactly like any particular band from the get-go.

I read the interview you did with Suspect Device/Zonked and was really taken with you saying how averse you are to peoples’ fragmenting hardcore down into various micro-genres, as this is something that’s been seriously bugging me over the past few years. Much as I love many bands who effectively define/distil genres (Crossed Out, Discharge, Blitz, whoever…) I’m generally peeved by bands who slavishly try to ape a specific sound, style or point in time. After all, it seems almost silly to start at a band’s end point at the exclusion of all else, and when you slave away at emulating something you often lose some of your own energy along the way. At first I didn’t really know where I was going with this question, but I guess the nub of it is this: how do you go about making straightahead hardcore music which is distinct and different, considering the genre’s parameters and also all the music you’ve consumed yourselves? 

Greg: I’d simply say this – be creative. It’s a bit silly to give any more input than that. When you make something, people will like it or they will not. Some people are keen to like things that cohesively merge things they like. Others are keen to like things that sound exactly like something else that they like. There is no true answer. All I can say is that fragmentation of individuals with seemingly like minded concerns is dumb as shit to me. 

Toronto seems to have a brilliant and rather incestuous punk rock scene. It’s pretty great. How do you think that such a comparatively small city is capable of generating so much good punk?

Greg: We’re not exactly a small city by North American standards. We’re actually fourth largest. With that being the case, I’d say we produce a comparatively small number of good bands. That said, Toronto is on an upswing and I think, if not this year, within the next few, there will be a remarkable surge of meaningful punk music from here. The number of punk spaces is slowly multiplying. The scene is young and growing. It’s just a matter of keeping it moving forward now.

What can you tell us about S.H.I.B.G.B’s? Where’s the project at, and what was the motivation for it? 

Greg: S.H.I.B.G.B’s is essentially a concrete bunker under an industrial strip, in what was once a dejected but is now deemed “up and coming” part of town. If you didn’t know it was there, you probably wouldn’t be able to find it. With the rapid gentrification / condo-ification that’s gone on in the city over the last decade, not to mention the fact that “everyone’s a DJ”, most live venues that would host punk events have been shuttered. In that, we opened our own space. I do not know how long it will last. I do not know what it looks like even a year from now. For now, we’ve hosted a great number of shows and they are getting better and better. We’ll see what the future brings.

I realise this is old news, but I was enormously upset when my Canuck other half told me that Hits & Misses was no more. Where’s your top tip for TO punk vinyl these days? Rotate This?

Ryan: Hits was a great place to buy records and hang out and Pete is a legendary dude. It being gone leaves a pretty big hole as there are no real dedicated punk record stores in Toronto at the moment. Greg operates a small distro at SHIBGB’s and we have plans to hopefully expand that into a shop later this year.

Greg: Rotate This, absolutely. Incredible shop, incredible staff. Soundscapes is great for books. June Records has a nice staff. Other than that, there’s a couple decent used spots that I’ll keep to myself. Every other record store blows.

While many tr00 pvnx have long since turned their back on Fucked Up, I imagine they were a pretty important band for TO’s punk scene. Would you say their success/above-ground popularity has had an impact on people coming to gigs, getting involved, starting bands and all the rest of it? 

Greg: 10 years ago, absolutely. When they were coming up within hardcore, people would travel from all over just to see them. As they’ve changed, hardcore has also changed. First, people don’t seem to travel as much these days. And second, here, Fucked Up haven’t been a “hardcore” band for about 5 years now. That’s not to say that they are not involved any more, because some of them very much are. I just don’t think at this point people find their way to a gig at S.H.I.B.G.B’s say, because they just got into Fucked Up.

As well as the standard hardcore document that is the 7” single, you have a few tapes out. Why bother when you can whack shit (S.H.I.T?) up on bandcamp or whatever? Do these tapes represent some kind of totemic, time-and-a-place kind of thing or are they just a throwaway item that can be chucked out quickly and cheaply? 

Greg: I don’t know if they are totemic, but absolutely, when this world is a burnt up pile of garbage and aliens are digging through the rubble, we want them to find S.H.I.T. recordings. That’ll never happen with a bandcamp. And really, a band’s physical recordings are very much part of what forms their identity long term. That’s why it should be done. They are testament to effort, time and place. So, maybe they are totemic?

Also, in terms of format, is there any likelihood that there’ll be a S.H.I.T LP, or do you think the band works best in short, terse blasts? 

Ryan: I think the likelihood of an LP relies more on our productivity (or lack thereof) rather than a preference to any particular format.

Greg: Personally, I like the fact that the “industry” and dorks look down on you for not having a full length like it’s some sort of important goal to reach. People who are interested in what we do will find us.

What’s next for the band? What are your short-term goals and what, if anything, would you  ultimately like to achieve? 

Ryan: We have a Texas tour planned with Power Trip at the end of the month, we are playing a fest in Mexico city and have a gig in NYC just before New York’s Alright. We also have a new track being released as a part of a comp put together by Beach Impediment Records. Beyond that, we are going to focus on writing new material this year which will hopefully result in a new release of some sort.


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 ( 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 (, The Reno Bike Project (, Reno Food Not Bombs (, The Great Basin Community Food Co-Op (, The Bridge Center (, Rainshadow Community Charter High School (, Spacement Records (, and Sound and Fury Records ( 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 –, Greykull (Tacoma, WA –, and any bands that form from the breakup of Parallax (Provo, UT – In Reno, it looks like Fatality ( is really trying to get out there and tour a lot, X-Wing ( 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 (, Bullets*In (, and The Coma Recovery ( 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

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 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!