Thursday, August 11, 2011

Drew Meier- (Focused X Minds)

What's does FxM have coming up?

Well we just finished up a bunch of touring. We did a month long east coast and southeast tour with our buddies in Bent Life, came home for a few weeks, then headed out west and back with Venia and Hardside. Both tours were amazing and beyond fun. Unfortunately we're home and doing real life stuff for a while. We're all pretty broke and had to get back to work and stuff.

We're starting to work on writing new stuff. Nothing is set in stone, but we're hoping to be doing a split in the Fall or Winter, maybe a full length sometime next year. As for touring, we'll be trying to hit the road again by late October and hopefully do some cool stuff through the rest of the year. We can't wait to get back on the road.

What is your mind focused on outside of the band?

Well me girlfriend, trying to stay out of debt, hanging out, video games, kickin it in Milwaukee. I try to stay up on certain vegan organizations, and world events and stuff. Everyone in the band is into a lot of different things. Collectively...well we all love Dungeons & Dragons and focus on that every Wednesday hahaha.

What is the story on you guys getting through a disaster on a weekend with Swamp Thing?

Hahahaha. What a wild time. Let's see...we flew out to California to do 4 days with Swamp Thing, Twitching Tongues, and Downpresser. Joey from 6131 rented a 15 passenger van to drive us and Swamp Thing around in all weekend. The second day we were there, we went to LAX to pick up Swamp Thing's 2nd guitar player. We got a few minutes outside the airport and Robert from Swamp Thing knocked some exposed wires with his foot beneath the passenger side dashboard area...we didn't know they were there. The wires sparked and started smoking bad so we pulled over and waited it out. The smoke went away and we thought we were fine to get on the highway. Two minutes down the road the van fills with the worst smelling smoke and we were all choking so we pulled over and piled out of the van.

There was 12 of us, plus merch and some gear, and by the time we were all out of the van the entire front was up in flames. We grabbed very little on the way out, assuming the cop on site with the damn fire extinguisher would help...of course he didn't. Idiot. A few guitars were saved, but a lot of clothes were lost, personal items, computers, drum stuff, and both bands merch...all burned. We just sat and watched as the van fully went up in flames and we held up traffic on one of the busiest highways in the US hahaha.

As much as it sucked it sure made the trip interesting, brought us all closer together in that group of 12, and, well, who else can say they held up tons of traffic right outside Los Angeles International Airport with an exploding van???

How has coming out of the Midwest been challenging?

We've been lucky enough to receive tons of support since we became a band, and it's been awesome. That doesn't mean we haven't worked and struggled to get where we are. We have tried to hit the road hard, DIY book tours, all that stuff.

In a general sense though, I believe the Midwest is definitely a harder area to come out of as far as hardcore goes. People have always loved giving all the attention to the coasts, and the Midwest is often forgotten about. Don't get me wrong, both coasts are constantly producing amazing bands. However, so is the Midwest. The lack of exposure combined with Midwest touring being rough to some bands makes getting noticed harder for Midwest bands than it seems on the coasts, at least from what I've noticed. It's cool though, because it seems to drive those here that really care about hardcore to really work hard to accomplish stuff for their bands or scenes, and show a lot pride in where they're from.

Midwest hardcore is steadily rising though, and it's amazing to see. Bigger bands like Expire, Venia, and Harm's Way are blowing up and it's so awesome to see. There are also a ton of newer bands putting out great music, and hopefully people outside the Midwest wise up and start listening. Check out Bent Life, Agress, Written Off, Relentless, Kicked In, War Hound, Big Mouth, Out of Time, Steppin Stone...MWHC.

It seems like there is a bit of a youth crew revival going on with Disengage, Mindset, Stick Together and you guys. Are you excited about where that's going?

I personally think it's awesome. I love heavy hardcore a lot, from old 90's stuff to cheesy beatdown bands, it's fun. The issue now is that every band that comes out seems to want to only play NYHC style, or rip on No Warning, or try to be Crown of Thornz. A lot of these bands are great, and are amazing at what they do. It just get's kinda old to see so many bands doing the same thing over and over.

Youth crew style hardcore isn't exactly inventive or original either, but it's really cool to see bands that want to play fast, or bands that care more about what they have to say lyrically than heavy mosh parts.

What band has had the most personal impact with you and why?

Well me personally, I would probably say AFI and Carry On. AFI has been my absolute favorite band since like 6th grade. "Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes" opened me up to hardcore. I found about straight edge and veganism through Davey Havok, and obviously that had a huge effect on my life. Everything about that band is great, never a bad record in my opinion.

Carry On was basically the first good hardcore band I got heavily into, and I'm forever bummed I never got to see them. I just always thought "A Life Less Plagued" was a perfect record, and they have always influenced me musically with any hardcore band I've been in.

What is something that's really been on your chest lately?

People need to stop complaining so much, and I'm just as guilty as anyone else on this. Hardcore is an amazing thing that should be full of aggression, shared views and ideas, and a sense of community. It seems like so many people have forgotten what hardcore should be about, and what's really important. So many would rather sit and bad mouth bands on the internet, complain about shows, and just generally offer nothing constructive at all. If you don't like something, make an effort to change it. Start booking your own shows, start your own band, start a zine, do anything but become a basement dwelling internet dork.

Also, remember to have fun. So many people seem to think acting hard is more important than having a good time. No one's impressed by how hard you pit or by your awesome shitty attitude. A lot of people need to get over themselves and remember to have fun, party, and not take everything so seriously. Life is short, why waste it being angry all the time.

Pay attention to your world. Local politics, global economy, worldwide issues, there's so many terrible things going on right now, stay informed. Get away from the TV and make an effort to educate yourself about what's happening in the world around you.

Listen to Expire, Bent Life, Out of Time, support 6131 Records, eat pizza, party. XXX

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Interview - Aaron Bedard(Bane)

Bane has been a little less active lately. What have you been doing with yourself?

Not a lot for the winter. I mean, it's been a slow, slow winter. We've done a total of two shows since our tour ended in November. So, that's longer than I've been home in a stretch for like three years. There's not a lot to report as far as what I've been doing. I've just been in Boston. It was a brutal winter up here and I kind of just got...I'd say even a dose of seasonal depression. I was locked in the house, my sleep schedule was all fucked up. I wasn't really DJing, I was losing a ton of money playing poker on line. It was kind of a dark winter but now that's starting to come to an end. Bane's got some stuff lined up and I'm going to do some DJing. The sun's coming out, my sleep schedule's not so bad. Hopefully things are going to get moving, I'm going to feel a little more inspired and energized, hopefully. This was a bad winter for sure.

What does Bane stand for in 2011?

I was wish I had some snappy answer for that one. It's hard for me to even put my finger on where Bane is at right now because everyone is off scattered in different places, in different directions. It's been real hard for us to get our line up real solid and it's been hard just to get everybody on the same page. I think it's a little bit of a result of last year being such a busy year for Bane. We did six tours last year, one of them was over two months long. It's not a secret that we're all getting a little bit older. Some of the guys have kids now, most of the guys are in serious relationships and have houses and things. They really tore themselves away from all of that for the better part of last year and a better part of 2009. So, once the last tour ended in November we knew that we were going to kind of walk away and see where we ended up after the winter. We're still sort of picking up the pieces and figuring it out right now. We don't seem, to me, as motivated as I would like us to be so I can't even lay out to you what are the goals for the next year of Bane. We've talked about a bunch of different things. Some of them are coming together slowly. Is there going to be another Bane record? Is there going to be ever another year, like we had last year, where we go real fucking hard? I just can’t say right now. I know that we're going to Krazy Fest in June. We're going to do a week out there. We're going to do some other fests. We're going to get to play This Is Hardcore. I hope we're going to get to go to Sound and Fury. Some Long Island Fest hollered at us, I think we're going to do that. But, if you asked me this question last year, I could have talked your ear off about all the things we had on tap. Now, things are a little blurry. I hope, at the minimum, by the end of this year we have a new 7” out and little bit of gas left in the tank. I'm just not sure.

What do people misperceive about Bane?

It's hard because people think a lot of different things about us. If there's one thing it's that we still sort of get lumped in with this whole “posi”, “youth crew”, people use the words “old school” a lot. There's a lot of those types of easy labels that I've never felt super comfortable with. I know that in the beginning we attached ourselves to Straight Edge and there were some X's on some of our stuff. I had some lyrics that mentioned Straight Edge and that has definitely followed us for years, even though by 1998 we had members that were no longer Straight Edge. We tried to move ourselves away from it. There's a lot of misconceptions about this band and it's kind of hard for me to address them all. One of the things is that people seem to think we have this one message This one vibe that they get from Bane. If you are really around us for long enough and you get to know us, you'll see it's really hard for even us to agree on anything, on any of our influences, on any of our attitudes. Some of us are very positive, some of us take things very hard. When a band exists as long as we have, you're not about one thing anymore. You're just about five guys just trying to make a band stay alive. I don't think you can do that if everybody stands for one thing. Another misconception is people are always asking us if this is the last tour. There's always been rumors for years and years about the ending of Bane which is something that, to be honest, is something that we talk about internally almost never. There's never been a talk about our last show or when we're going to break up. We're not there yet. A lot of people have talked to us saying “hey, I heard this is the end, this is the last time you're coming to this city. Blah, blah,blah.” It hasn't been true yet, that's a definite misconception is that people seem to think we're right on the verge of ending. I'm still ready, I still love it. Those are the first misconceptions that jump into my head but for sure there's a million more. It's hard to try to keep up with everybody's crazy fucking opinions nowadays. I try very hard not to get wrapped up in it. I don't read message boards, I've read the B9 maybe three times total. I pay very little attention to what the crowd has to say about our band or about hardcore in general. Most of it is negative and just pisses me off. I could give a fuck about what people think.

Since you wrote that song have you seen hardcore “start again”?

Yeah, probably six or seven different times. You've been around long enough to understand. It seems like things go in cycles. The young kids will grab onto something and it can be very beautiful. The turn around of these new movements or styles, a lot of that stuff changes within a matter of a few years. I would say probably even he last five or six years, I've had a really good feeling about hardcore, about how many good, young bands there are, about attitudes. Bands have had more things to say on stage. There seems to be people who put themselves out there a little more than in the early 2000s. I feel like it just keeps getting reborn in different ways. I wouldn't say that if I go back to where my head was at when I wrote that song, things haven't changed overall that drastically. We still have a lot of the same problems that we always had and a lot of the same beautiful aspects to the scene that have been there before I came along.

How do you look back on that record?

I think we did three 7”s that were all pretty safe. Musically, they were pretty standard charged hardcore. Then, we got Nick Branigan, he hadn't jammed on any of them. He came in right before our first tour and he was the guy who brought a lot of different musical tastes to the table. He was inspired. He was a very creative guy. I think we felt a little invincible based on how well received the first three 7”s were. Holding this moment definitely put us on the map and a lot of people were into it. So when it was time to write out first record, we were young and cocky. I think we kind of attacked it with this reckless abandon. When I look back on that record I can't believe how long the fucking songs are, how many parts there are. It's a very ambitious record for a bunch of dudes that had never made an LP before. It's funny because if you look at Give Blood, we scale everything back. We kind of realized that these songs aren't even really fun to play live. Let's make a more stripped down, easily manageable hardcore record. It All Comes Down to this is just to me young guys who felt no fear, who just did not care because we hadn't fucked up yet. We hadn't done anything that people hadn't completely celebrated. We went in thinking that whatever we did kids were going to love and it's my least favorite of the records for a bunch of different reasons but I always get siked when kids tell me that that record meant something to them. There are kids that probably that's their favorite Bane record. As much as I disagree, I think it's an awesome thing for kids to feel because we put a lot of ourselves into that record. We worked really hard on it, just didn’t know how execute it correctly.

Hardcore at that time was looking pretty dark, how do you think it started to turn around?

AN came along and gave the whole scene a good kick in the ass. They just timed it so perfectly. They were needed at that time so, so badly. Those bands that followed were great bands. They just upped the energy in hardcore, the creativity, the passion just got kicked up after they showed up. I think that even though they are celebrated they are still underrated on how important and how great they were.

What is going on with your DJing?

I've been into drum and bass quietly in my own room for years and years. Finally, just a few years ago, I started getting to DJ out. It didn't turn into anything big and steady. It's been really hard for me to get my foot into that scene. That scene is a lot more closed off and cliquey. It's sort of the opposite of everything that I've always loved about punk and hardcore. You're not accepted based on who you are or what's in your heart. It's way more about who you know. It's just really closed off, everybody's territorial. It's just not inviting, whereas in punk rock it's just an inviting thing. If people in the scene feel like you're there for the right reasons and want to contribute, they can't embrace you quick enough. They go out of their way to help you. Bane has always very much about that as far as kids or other band or whatever. We're all in this together. This scene is like they don't call you back, they don't give a shit how much you want to be out there doing things. They just don't care. They feel like everything that you do takes away from them. It's been hard for me and I don't really like to play that game so I've just been taking what I can, when I can. I can't really get out there and suck these guys dicks and try really hard to be a bigger name in the Boston electronic music scene. I don't want to be around them that much. For the most part it's something I do on my own, in my bedroom. I will make a mix everyonce in a while and give it to my friends or post it online. Every once in a while I'll get to do a gig. I'll actually get to spin in Providence this Saturday. It'll be the first time I've spun out in weeks, probably been two months now. It's definitely not looking like something I’ll be able to segue happily into after Bane is done because there's just so much attitude and ego. There are times when I think “fuck it”, I should take it to the next level and like just go over all of these people's heads and just start my own scene where it's about the attitude that's missing there. I should fill that void and find the young djs, the young kids that are as hyped about electronic music as I was about Youth of Today when I was a kid and give them a scene. Give them a place to come and dj and feel like they're a part of something that's energized, positive and happy as opposed to a bunch of drugged out, older dudes that are super territorial and suspicious, in it for reasons that have nothing to do with why I love the music. So, sometimes I think about that. Fuck man , I should just network, build the scene here in Boston that I want to exist. I want it to be about the music and the excitement of kids who are a siked on this as I was when I was getting into punk rock. Electronic music is huge right now. There's a style of music called dub step that is massive, killing it everywhere. College kids, high school kids are so siked on it. There's no 18+ night for that here in Boston? I've been thinking a little bit about that. We'll see what's going to happen with that.

Do you ever think about what you'd be doing instead of Bane, about what else you could have done?

That's the big question. There was a time when I just couldn't even envision it. I couldn't imagine what it would be like if I wasn't the singer of bane and didn't have that outlet. Bane has brought me all over the world. I've been able to meet so many good people and have so many strong friendships in far off places because of the band. There was a time where the thought of losing all that horrified me but now that we really are coming very, very close to the end I've had to try to answer that question. What am I going to do? What is it going to be like? I hope I'm just going to feel a little bit freed up. If I wanted to move to LA or I wanted to move to London or if I just got sick of being around here for whatever reason I could just take a bigger leap and sort of do whatever the hell I want. I can't get too caught up or dragged into something because Bane will always be the first priority and I've never been one to say no to shows or say “I need a break”. That's never been me. I've always wanted to be very available, even on very short notice to get in the van and go. With that obligation lifted I'd like to think I'll find something. I don't know what it's going to be, I really don't. I feel like I can think on my feet, I'm pretty creative, I've made a ton of good friends because of the band and hopefully I will find something that will keep me fulfilled creatively and keep me on the move. I don't want to just rot away in my apartment or get in some long term relationship that I can't get out of. I want to stay on the move the way I've been for fifteen years now. I don't know what that thing is going to be that's going to give me that same feeling that Bane has given me. I mean maybe I'll roadie for bands or tour manage or something, I don't know. I'm really not sure. Like I said, this year is starting to come together slowly and it looks like I don't have to face that question for at least another year. There's been mutterings of writing an LP. The only reason to do that is because we were going to stay a band for a while. I'm not trying to drop an LP and then break up. The reason I write songs is to play them live. That's the ultimate reason for me to make music. If we were going to do that it would be because we have a renewed commitment to things which I would love. It's just been so little move forward with anything lately, it's hard to imagine it'll happen. We'll see. There's no talk about Bane breaking up. I just recognize we're getting older. I don't want to be that band that doesn't recognize that they're up there way past their prime, that don't know how dumb they really look. I want to stay relevant, I want to still be able to bring it live. I just don't know how much longer we can really do that. We toured Europe in November and I can say with full confidence that we were killing it. We were playing some of the best shows that we've ever played. I still feel like for whatever fucking miracle of a reason, we can still do this as a hardcore band and still be explosive on stage. As long as we can maintain that, I'm ready to keep going. I don't want to be the band that has lost not a step but like fifty steps and just doesn't know it yet. I don't want to turn into an embarrassment. That worries me. I have a few different friends in a few different corners of the world, one of them lives in the room next to me, who has promised to tap me on the shoulder and tell me when it's done. “Alright, you look like a fucking fool up there, it's time to pull the plug.”

Do you ever consider starting another band?

Sometimes, I have, when there's been some lulls. I've just been like if I could just find some young kids that wanted to start a different band, that just have that full blown energy and go, go, go that Bane used to have. I feel I would have been happier in that situation with young kids. Even if it meant way less kids at shows. It would mean starting over but if with that came a new found energy for touring and playing shows and putting out songs. A lot of that stuff Bane doesn't do often enough in my opinion. I used to entertain the thought of doing that but it's hard. It's hard to find four or even three other dudes that are just real committed and serious about it. I wouldn't want to start just like some little side project that did shows everyone once in a while or whatever. I don't think I would want to do that. I'd love to get in a time machine and go back to the days where Bane was just hungry, ready to play any basement, anywhere for a hundred bucks. I would love to have that attitude back.

You are known for what you have to say on stage, have you ever regretted what you've said?

I tend to just ramble on and just shoot from the hip both on stage and in interviews. I never come with some stock answer prepared. I never give any thought to what I'm going to say on stage because it's just going to come out insincere. I always feel it's just like jumping off a cliff and hoping I'm going to land on my feet. There's many, many times when I have not done that. Years ago I did an interview at Hellfest for some Boston chick, I can't remember her name. She asked me what it felt like to be a part of the hardcore scene at that time when Ten Yard Fight, In My Eyes, Fastbreak and Floorpunch had this great scene up in the north east. Bane was very much a part of that scene. I told her that looking back on it I remember feeling a little bit disappointed at how little we were all really doing to change things. There were all these bands and there were so many kids that loved all of these bands. The shows in and around Boston, the highlight being Ten Yard Fight's last show. Thousands of kids showed up for a hardcore show. You could talk between songs and every kid would hang on your every word. A lot of the bands just didn't have much to say beyond the very generic, safe things that all of the bands in the late 80s had said before and all of those bands turned their back on what they were standing for. I wish that we could have taken it to a next level. It was at the time when there were a lot of bands that were just singing about suicide and about girls. It was just that time in hardcore when things were a little bit darker and it felt like there was a little less positive energy around. I was saying that I was young when I felt that way and now I'd do anything to go back to having even just the vibe of Straight Edge and positivity and brotherhood, no one even sings about that anymore. Really my answer was at the time, when those bands were around, I was wishing it was different but now I wish it was back to the way it was then because now is even worse. She somehow, whatever she did with the words, it came out like I was talking shit about In My Eyes, Ten Yard Fight- these bands that were made up of very good friends of mine and a lot of their feelings got really hurt. Some of those dudes came at me in e-mails saying “what the fuck, I thought you were my friend. How dare you say what my band meant to me.” It really rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and it caused me to write the first song on The Note. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda was about that whole thing, me having to realize that some times you say things and you have to really think about how they are going to effect people. I have to go back and explain to all of them that my words were kind of misconstrued and my intentions were not at all to be hurtful or judgmental At that time, when Bane was only 3 years old, I had never been involved in anything that meant so much to so many kids. I don't think that I should feel bad for wishing that all of us had upped the ante a little bit and tried to stand for a little more and not just so safely repeat what Youth of Today and Chain of Strength had done because all of those bands had failed. All of those bands just walked away from that. We could have found something that had deeper meaning to ourselves and to the scene at large instead of just singing about a bunch of stuff that all of those guys ultimately ended up walking away from anyway. They were all up their talking about Straight Edge and friendship and all of that stuff and there's so few of those kids that actually held onto those ideals. Maybe those aren't the ideals that we should be pushing on 2,000 kids inside some club on Lansdowne st. Kids that are young, excited and impressionable and are looking for something to feel impassioned about. When giving the answer it was maybe even five years down the line and now my answer is that I wish I could go back to those times. I'd rather be singing about sort of fleeting, childish ideals. I'd rather have it be about that then be about suicide and woe and “oh, this girl broke my heart so I can't go on and I’m going to burn this whole city down”. All of this stuff had become very, very common place at the time of doing the interview. That's one situation as I should have just kept my mouth shut as I ended up hurting a lot of my friends feelings. I've done that a lot in my time. I've done that in the van. I'm definitely know as someone who doesn't think very well before they speak. I just speak and don't pull any punches. If somebody is being a fuck up or somebody has an opinion that I think is very ignorant I tend to tell them. I'd rather be that way than be quiet. I’ll take all of that disappointment that I've given to people instead of being someone that just nodded their head and played by the rules.

You had something interesting to say on stage at the BBB records showcase, what was that about?

I was talking about what had happened the day before. I don't know what went down or what happened but there was some sort of idiot, somebody bumped into somebody on the dance floor and somebody got punched. It turned into a fight that quickly was broken up. This one young kid who couldn't believe that a fight had broken out was saying “what did I do?”. This big scary dude was telling him to “shut the fuck up”, like his opinion was not welcome here. It was shocking to me that there was this hierarchy suddenly in place. He didn't work for the club, he wasn't in a band, he was just a dancer who was obviously a part of the scene for a long time. He felt very safe and welcome here and with that comes some authority complex where he can tell a kid to shut the fuck up for ANYTHING? It was just so shocking and poisonous to me. We come here so we don't have to shut the fuck up. The reason that we choose this life is to not just have somebody tell how it's going to be. Do not shut the fuck up. I don’t care how scary they are. If they say to you “shut the fuck up” then every brick that punk rock has been built on gets knocked down. The whole point get washed away if we let this dude because he's scary or capable of physical violence silence you. It was mind blowing. Don't ever be afraid to speak out because something you saw go down at a show feels wrong to you. He was a young kid he's probably been to a handful of shows and his mind was blown after. Just as my my mind had been blown when I was 15 and you realize this sort of thing happens. All of these people who are your brothers and are sharing in this electrified moment of dancing and singing and going buck wild to a band are then suddenly hitting each other. This kid cried out to know the answer. This very scary dude just shut him up like “this is my thing and you are a guest here”. I don't remember the speech that I gave at all but I do remember the incident being so saddening to me. Please don't shut up.

Have you ever felt threatened for speaking up?

There's been plenty of times where things have gone crazy mindset during a Bane show. We did a full US tour with Hatebreed. There were some nights where the wrong ingredients mixed and we just stopped playing. I would have to give a speech about how we 're not going to stand for that kind of stuff and if you do it again we're going to walk off stage and we don't give a fuck. Sometimes I'd go even further and say that if you have a problem with that opinion come find me. Then you realize that there's a lot of crews, there's a lot of scary people out there who might be very eager to pick you up on that after. There was a night where there were Nazis seig heiling in Ventura Beach and we just stopped the show and called them out. We pointed them out to security and said that if they hurt another kid, that we were out of there. They were thrown out and we were told that they were going to get their friends. Sometimes, stuff like that I've said has been a little nerve racking. For as outspoken as I am, we've been pretty lucky as far as being a band that just walked between the rain drops. I think we had just enough respect out of the scariest people just because of who we are and how long we've been in the game for and that we do stick to our guns. I think that maybe they give us a pass a little bit. Maybe if we push the envelope a little too far they let us go because it's us. I've really had no one on one run ins where it felt like I shouldn't have said something on stage. That has not happen yet and I hope that it won't.

You mentioned that the band is no longer Straight Edge, was that a concious descision?

The way that it happened was that our drummer Nick who was kind of new to the band and was an awesome drummer and just fit in perfectly, he broke edge. It was something he did on his own. We just kept getting calls from certain scenester people who were just so judgmental and unhappy. Before we even had a chance to talk to him it felt like so many people had turned against him. It was so childish and high school like that it was very easy for me to just decide that I 'm going to side with Nick on this one. I don't want to be on the side of the gossipy, whisper behind your back people. It was easy for me. There were a couple of other dudes in the band who were very into being Straight Edge as I was and still am but it was easy for me to walk away from that as far what Bane was going to stand for. I love the idea of it freeing us up as far as some people not feeling so invited to be into Bane because that was what we were going to be associated with. With the loss of that maybe people would pay attention to us who otherwise wouldn't have if they thought we were just another Straight Edge band. I love Straight Edge and there will be times everyone once in a while where we will get out old bass player Pete back and Nick from Cruel Hand will fill in on drums and we'll say “oh shit, it's an all Straight Edge line up again”.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Interview - Anthony Herrera (Take Offense)

Where did Take Offense come from?

To be honest, I've been doing this band since I was like fourteen. We just recently started touring this year. We got signed to Reaper Records and they put out our first lp. The reason he signed us is that we weren't doing shit at home. All that we wanted to do was tour so now we're here. This is our third US tour. We're going to Europe right after Black and Blue. We're excited, this is all we want to do.

The first time I saw you play you said you aren't a skinhead band, a Straight Edge band or a religious band. Why did you throw that out there?

It's just not about labels. It's just what you feel from the heart, your soul. Hardcore should be pure. It's just what you feel. To live out what we truly feel, that's what hardcore should be.

Take Offense is an interesting name, what do you mean by it?

Have your beliefs and take a stand for them. If someone's fucking up- let them know how you feel. Take Offense, stand up for yourself.

What is something that you Take Offense to?

I take offense to ignorance, racism. People need to be educated. Basically, don't be prejudiced against shit that you don't understand. Open you mind. If you're not open minded, I take offense to that. You've just got to live, open your mind.

What is the meaning behind the song True Master?

It's a song about knowing who you are and having faith in things that you believe. Not just having faith but knowing who you are and living that out. Being a master of everything that you do, having confidence in yourself. Knowing that everything is going to be alright in the future, that you can only rely on yourself.

You said that Take Offense isn't a skinhead band but that seems to be a part of your imagery and there are some skin heads in the band. What is your connection to skins?

We have a couple skin heads in the band. I used to be that a while ago. Again, it became too much of a label for me. If you're a skin head, you're a skin head. Call yourself that but make sure you're a skinhead, it's not a dress. You better be working class. Call yourself what you want. We've got a couple of skinheads but whatever. They're skinheads. There's a bunch of skinheads in Chula Vista, San Diego area. For a while we've been into that. A bunch of people came up in that.

What's up with the Chula Vista scene?

There's always been a Chula Vista scene but no one's really recognized it. Everyone thinks that southern California hardcore stops at LA but there's San Diego. San Diego is pretty diverse. Everyone has always overlooked San Diego and Chula Vista. Chula Vista is in south San Diego and we've always been the same scene. Chula Vista is it's own city it's just in San Diego county. We're trying to really let people know that's where we're from. Hopefully shit's going to get bigger down there for us. That's what we're trying to do.

There's a spiritual bend to some of the lyrics, where is that coming from?

I don't believe in religion too much. I believe more in the spiritual side of it. Religion, again, people take it too much as a label. Everyone in the band has different beliefs. For me, I write the lyrics, everyone feels it. It's just about fuck the politics about it. Find yourself.

A lot of bands have been talking about America lately. Your album art represents that. What do you think of all of these bands talking about America in hardcore?

I love living in this country. I feel pretty free but the politics are always fucked up. I'm getting too much into that. I like being from America. I feel very fortunate, blessed, because other people don't have the type of freedom we do. As fucked as our government may be, they keep shit under wraps. Who knows what even goes on? At the same time, you've got to do what you've got to do. Have your own beliefs. We're not trying to hate on that. I like living in America. Thankfully, we can do what we're doing because of that. With that point, I like living in America.

You guys have started touring full time, is it what you expected?

We've toured since January. I've haven't been home for more than a couple weeks. I haven't even slept in my bed this whole year. I sorta of imagined it and it's pretty much what I thought. Actually it's even better than I thought. Back home, we know a lot of people who have been on tour a lot and they sort of gave us the negative side of it. We were expecting a lot of negative shit. I've been loving it. I like being in a new city everyday, seeing a bunch of kids that know your lyrics. It's taken like six years for kids where we're from to learn our lyrics. Go to a place, you've never even been there and kids know your lyrics, that's probably my favorite part of touring.

Any last words?

Look out for Chula Vista bands, there's a bunch coming up. Shout out to Trapped Under Ice, Terror. It's so cool because for the longest time Terror has been my favorite hardcore band. If you told me two years ago that we're going to be touring with Terror it would have blown my mind. Now we're here, some of my good friends. They've helped us out so much. I'd give them the world if I could but all we can do is hang out, have a good time.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

In the beginning...

This blog has been a couple of months in the making. We're finally here to talk to some solid bands that have had a strong influence on what hardcore has become and those hitting the road right now. The first batch features Youth of Today, Bitter End and Mindset. A huge shout out to Doug "Dougy Fresh" Aldritch for the logo design. Check out his other stuff here. One of the best artists working with bands right now. Thanks to Allison Dunham for some editing.

Check out these other awesome blogs holding it down-

ouble Cross

Hard Times

Stuck in the Past

New Noise Zine

How's Your Edge?

And if your girl looks beat tell her to start ripping off my friend Caitlin's fashion blog

Interview - Evan Wivell (Mindset)

What have you been up to lately?

Right now most of my time is consumed by grad school, as you can imagine. I’m pretty swamped by that. I’m trying get my masters in architecture and it’s pretty time consuming. I moved back to DC from Baltimore to go to school. Basically any free time I have is either devoted to Mindset or my girlfriend or my dog, so I’m stretched pretty thin.

What is your mindset?

I think my Mindset is T.C.O.B.- taking care of business. I feel like, especially now that I don’t have much leisure time, that I have to remain very focused in all my ventures. I try to keep my eye on the prize. What needs to be done I try and get done. I try to be efficient. I’m just trying to get things done.

Mindset seems to have been less active lately, what has the band been doing?

That’s pretty much my fault. With me going back to school, it kind of slowed down a bit. We haven’t been playing as many shows. We might play every other month now. We still practice regularly and we’re working on an lp. As of right now we’re about 6 or 7 songs deep into that. We’re trying to get about 10. It’s actually kind of nice. I really like the writing process, I like creating new music and that’s fun for me. I like going to practice and hearing new songs and I like writing lyrics. The whole process of new material coming together. It’s kind of been nice to take a break. When we practice we don’t have to necessarily work on tightening up our set or working on older material. We can really focus on the new stuff. What could have been kind of a negative situation with me taking a step back and turned it into something positive. I’m really happy with the result. As far as the intensity of the band- it’s definitely slowed down a lot but we plan on picking it back up once my time frees up a little bit.

When are you guys planning to become more active, how far are you trying to go with it?

We’ve never really been a full time touring band. We’ve always had other stuff going on. The band has always been that kind of like fun, emotional or physical release for us where we can together. We’re friends, we enjoy being together. We can get together and tour, play shows or write music or and hang out or design t-shirts or whatever. It’s always been at that hobby level. All of us have other things going on but as far as picking it up a little bit, I’ll graduate in December of next year. We’re talking about our first European tour and then hopefully the lp will be released and maybe some tours off of that. We’ve always been the weekend warrior type so even off of that we’ll try and get as far as we can in a 3 or 4 day weekend, fly out to the west coast a little bit. You’ll definitely be seeing more of us in about a year I would say.

What’s going on with the lp, who will be releasing it?

The lp will be released on React Records. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Our relationship with React Records has been fantastic. We all grew up in a very diy punk scene. The relationship with React has always been the sort of quintessential label relationship we always dreamed existed. There’s no contracts. Aram, who runs the label, is our friend. I guess this was like 2008 or late 2007 when he asked us to join the label he asked us to join the label. Mindset was on tour with The First Step and he was playing with The First Step at the time. I think our contract was like a hug, he’s just our good friend. He manages our royalties for t-shirts. I’ve never asked for an accounting statement, I don’t really care. If he gives us money then cool but if not, I trust him completely. He’s my friend. If he proves me wrong then I’ll take the hit and call it naiveté. So yeah, the lp will be out on React Records. We don’t have a name for it yet. We feel like REAL POWER and Time & Pressure were pretty good names for records so we’re trying to top that. In May, I actually just booked some recording time to demo out the lp. We’re going to record some demos first and see what we think. Just to be able to listen to the songs without actually playing them and hopefully record in August. We initially wanted it to be released at the React showcase which will be in September but we’re looking more towards probably about a year from now with how long it generally takes to get records out. I’ve been a part of a few records at this point and they never come out when you think they will. We’re not the most prolific band as far as writing is concerned. I feel as though we’ve always been focused on quality over quantity. If we don’t have an lp's worth of material by August then we’ll just keep writing. We’re not trying to force anything into place and I feel good about that.

What are you writing about in the new lyrics?

Lyrically, I’m really happy with what I’ve got going on. REAL POWER, I think the lyrics were a good first major effort for me. I’m happy with those lyrics but I don’t think it was anything ground breaking. It was very much in the youth crew vein of positive lyrics whereas Time & Pressure was slightly more negative. Not in a nihilistic sense but in a realistic sense. I balanced political idea, social ideas, and social awareness with some more personal topics. I feel like Time & Pressure was a little bit heavier than REAL POWER and it was exactly how I intended it to be. I think with the new lp I’ve gotten a little more introverted. Some of the lyrics I’ve written so far are the most honest that I’ve ever written. Some of the things that I’ve put on paper were hard for me to say. It was even hard for me to share with my friends at practice. I’m happy with what I have so far. Specifically what I’m dealing with is the economic turn in the United States and the recession. Not only myself but as a people, how we deal with it, it seems like a lot of people are…I don’t know if “giving up” are the right words but in a country that’s always had this pioneering spirit, it got pretty ugly for a while. I’m trying to deal with that. Another song that I’m really proud of that sort of lightly touches on ideas of religious fundamentalism that was actually inspired by the whole ground zero mosque situation. It turns the mirror on a lot of these sort of fanatical people and groups who kind of think they have a monopoly on truth when in reality we’re all lost souls looking for peace and everyone’s trying to find their place in the world. It’s difficult enough as it is, trying to find peace of mind, when there’s war at your front door. I think I wrote a pretty bad ass anthem song. I don’t feel like I’ve ever really had that. I’ve been trying to write a song like TFS- What We Know for a while and I think I’ve got a pretty cool song. The other songs are just kind of a little more personal about me trying to find peace in the chaos of my own mind. I feel like I’m happy with my output so far and I hope people…I don’t know if they find inspiration or not in my lyrics, if I can help people be a little more honest with themselves than that would be a minor victory for me.

You guys used to be in a band when you were younger called The Anti-Wasteoids, how did that band transition into Mindset?

We get asked this question all the time and I’m kind of surprised people still remember that band. When we were younger, like 2005, we started this very punk, thrashier, diy hardcore band called Anti-Wasteoids. We were pretty wild man, it was a good time. It was the time when we were balancing “ok, we really like Minor Threat, we really like Dead Kennedys and we really like Chain of Strength so how do we start a band that pulls all that together?” The only original Anti-Wasteoid still in Mindset is Mike who plays guitar and is the main writing force in that aspect. Between Anti-Wasteoids and Mindset we’ve probably had over 15 or 20 different members, so it’s not even really the same band at this point. I was the singer of Anti-Wasteoids for quite a while but no one else that’s in the band was actually in that band. It wasn’t an abrupt transition like we ended one band and started the other but I like to look at the REAL POWER ep as a demo for Mindset. Two different bands in my eyes but a lot of people could see it as a smooth transition with a name change. We changed the name for the same reason that Bold changed their name from Crippled Youth. It wasn’t serious enough. We were ready to take the band to another level and we didn’t feel like Anti-Wasteoids was fitting of our Mindset at the time, no pun intended. This dude Timothy that plays in this band deep sleep, he’s informed me that he plans on starting a Straight Edge band with all 14 year old members and he’s going to call it Anti-Wasteoids and I gave him my blessing so you might see another incarnation of Anti-Wasteoids in the future.

How’s hardcore in Baltimore doing right now?

Baltimore is awesome. I actually live in DC now but I plan on moving back to Baltimore when I get out of school. I grew up in a very small, rural town about an hour away from Baltimore, maybe an hour and half from DC and about an hour from the central PA area. I didn’t really have a very strong local scene when I was younger. We kind of found ourselves in these 3 cities from time to time and Baltimore is the place that really became our home and the home for the band. I think it’s a great scene. It’s diverse but everybody kind of gets along. There’s not a lot of division in the scene where “we’re a metal band” or “we’re a Straight Edge band” or “we’re a crust band”, whatever. You have all these types of bands, everyone kind of gets along and hangs out. If you go to a party you can see people from all these different bands, all kinds of different people just hanging out. There’s a lot of unity which is really nice to see. Mindset has always kind of been a band without a home but I’d say if we’re localized anywhere it’s Baltimore. Then you have bands like Praise that a couple guys from Mindset are in, Sacred Love that Dan from Mindset plays drums in, I used to play bass in that band. I think both of those bands are awesome. Then you have bands like Pulling Teeth, Trapped Under Ice…there’s a great metal scene. Baltimore’s a really cool town and really great people and I’m proud to call it my home base.

What’s the story on the various Mindset side projects?

We’re all really active in other projects. We’re a four piece right now. Mike, who plays guitar, also plays in Hands Tied with the old drummer from Anti-Wasteoids. He left Mindset between Real Power and Time & Pressure. We’re still in contact, we’re still friends and he actually just joined Hands Tied so I’m really excited about that. Mike also plays in a project called Peace that haven’t released any material but I think they’re recording soon actually. That’s with Stephen from The First Step, who’s actually my roommate and Dan from Mindset plays drums in Peace as well. Dan’s in a ton of projects. He plays in Turnstile, which is a new band on Reaper Records and he plays in Sacred Love which is a band that I used to be in that I think is a really, really cool band on Youngblood records. I wish I had time to be in the band but I just don’t. I left because they wanted to be a little more active than my schedule would allow and I felt like I was holding them back. Dan’s also in Praise with Chris who plays bass in Mindset. Chris always has some other weird shit going on. We’re all in quite a few bands. I’m probably forgetting some, I don’t even know. I’m only in Mindset right now; I’m trying to focus my efforts on Mindset.

Give me some good Mindset memories-

We can get a little wild. We’re might be tame compared to a lot of bands. I think the whole Mindset/True Colors US tour was just all around an incredible time. I feel like my whole life just got a lot better after that tour. If there’s a wild band that you want to hear wild stories from, they’re the guys to talk to. There’s nothing really better than a tour where everything kind of falls into place. We’ve never really had a negative tour experience anyway. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it’s all just really staying positive. Our van broke down in the middle of nowhere at like three in the morning in Michigan. We got towed but the rest of us had to walk like three miles along the interstate to some one stop light town. The tour could have been totaled, not that nobody cared, but what the worst that could happen? You’re on tour in a band with your friends. I feel like if you keep everything in perspective then you’ll always have a good time. This isn’t my job; this is something I love to do. We’re just hanging out with our friends, running around like idiots. What’s the worst that could possibly happen? You have to go home? Our lives at home are cool too, so whatever. It’s been awesome. We’ve toured fairly extensively in the United States. We haven’t done Europe yet. We don’t have a lot of wild stories. We have a lot of good times; it’s just kind of hard to explain. I just like being with people I respect, people I appreciate and appreciate me. I like traveling, I like going to different cities.


The all time best hardcore records-

We’re not in this Alone- Youth of Today, that’s probably my favorite hardcore record along with Break Down the Walls and Can’t Close My Eyes by Youth of Today.

Bringing it Down by Judge, you might notice a theme here.

I would say it’s hard to pick one Minor Threat ep, let’s just say the whole Minor Threat discography is pretty much flawless

It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn by Turning Point

Culture Shock by Four Walls Falling

I like the classics obviously, just good records.

True Till Death, that’s what I like

What are you listening to as far as current bands go?

Obviously all of the Mindset affiliated projects, not just because they’re my friends but I think Praise put out one of the best eps I’ve ever heard. I really like Rival Mob. I’d say Hardcore for Hardcore is legitimately one of the best hardcore records ever written. You can quote me on that. Which I’m sure you will because that’s the whole point of this interview. I’ve been listening to that new Take Offense lp a lot. I think that rips. I’m excited to see them at United Blood. We played with Take Offense in San Diego in 2008 on our first west coast tour and they were awesome then and they’re awesome now. There’s nothing cooler than a straight edge skin head. I feel like that’s what everybody wants to be. When I draw fliers it’s always straight edge skin heads and that’s what those dudes are. There’s nothing cooler than that. The new Sacred Love record that I played on is pretty bad ass. I don’t know if that’s self promotion or not but I’m not in the band anymore so that’s an honest, non-biased opinion. I just got the new Deep Sleep 12”, pretty cool. They’re on Grave Mistake. It’s like a punk band, they’re pretty cool. What else am I listening to lately? Face Reality, they’ve got a new record coming out on Youngblood records and I’m real excited for that. Police and Thieves, they’re also on Youngblood records. The Noose demo is awesome. Me and Stephen did a zine called Thinking Cap and we just did an issue on Noose. It’s like a one sheet- 11x17, folded, one interview free zine that we take to shows and you can download off the internet. We just did issue number six with Noose. That dude Bucky that sings for Noose, I don’t know if he has his doctorate yet but he’s a professor at University of Chicago and he’s the smartest dude I’ve ever met. I’ve never read a more well articulated essay on how straight edge and veganism relate to each other. It’s on the internet, you’ll find it. Yeah, I really like all of the React Records bands obviously. A lot of those guys are my friends but if they put out shitty records I wouldn’t claim otherwise. Get the Most has always been awesome, always looked up to them. The new Not Sorry record is pretty cool, that band Remission from Chile is awesome. I think Hardcore in 2011 is bad ass. I’m going to see Paint it Black tonight and Give, I’m pretty excited about that. I really like Paint it Black, they’ve been around for a while. I live with the singer of Give; I lived with him in Baltimore too. He’s one of my best friends and I think Give is a nice little added seasoning on the hardcore smorgasbord. I’m pretty excited about that band, so keep an eye out for them.

What are your favorite non hardcore records?

I’m a really huge Bruce Springsteen fan. My favorite Bruce Springsteen record right now is Darkness on the Edge of Town. For a while I was really into Greetings from Asbury Park. I’ve seen him in concert twice. If I’m not listening to hardcore I’m probably listening to Bruce Springsteen. I really like hardcore, that’s what I mostly listen to. I’m into Neil Young. I just downloaded, I stole this, I didn’t buy the record, I straight up stole it, this band The Black Keys. They’re like a popular band. I think Mike from Mindset makes fun of me for liking The Black Keys but I think that new Black Keys record is pretty tight and I like it. I’ve been trying to get into Jazz lately. That might sound pretentious but I think Jazz is cool. I just got a Mingus record and Out to Lunch by Eric Dolphy. I’ve always been really into Jazz album artwork, the blue note Jazz graphics. The Mindset – Liveset record was inspired by a lot of that. I just did a record cover for Police and Thieves that has a similar design. I’m into graphic design. I do a lot of art for bands. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of these records I really love for the artwork. It’s been cool. I’m trying to branch out into other shit. I didn’t grow up listening to a lot of music as a kid. My parents aren’t really into music but one of my first musical memories is my dad had John Cougar Mellencamp on an 8 track in his old pickup truck. So I have a nostalgic feeling for John Cougar Mellencamp. I grew up on a farm, I’m a straight up farm kid that’s into architecture, it’s kind of weird. I can pretty much sing by heart any country song written before like 2003 just from hearing it on the radio. I don’t really particularly enjoy it but if I’m in the right mood I can get down on some country.

What books have influenced you the most?

This actually became a heated, controversial issue on the React Records message board. I’m a big Ayn Rand fan. Specifically- The Fountain Head but also We the Living and Atlas Shrugged. I’m an unapologetic Ayn Rand fan; I don’t care what any of these kids think. I like Ayn Rand a lot. Some Ayn Rand quotes show up on the Time & Pressure record. That’s definitely something that influenced me. I’ve realized I don’t read a lot of fiction. A lot of what I read, whether it be for pleasure or for school, it’s all nonfiction. I’m real into anthropology. I’m reading a book right now about mole people in New York in the 80’s. A lot of my research for my thesis has a lot to do with the US/Mexico boarder and boarder relations. That’s a lot of the stuff I find myself being interested in. A lot of anthropology, Native American studies and things like that. I try and balance personal issues and social issues in my lyrics. All the better if I can bridge the gap between my personal life and the world at large. I read a lot but usually it’s more indirectly influencing my lyrics.

Last words-

One of my projects for school is a design/build project in Nepal. For pretty much all of June I’ll be traveling and building this kind of shrine in Nepal. Whenever I tell people that they think that I’m Buddhist, which I’m not. Buddhism is cool but I’m not Buddhist. I’m really interested in religion. I grew up Catholic but I’m not really Catholic anymore. Religion and spirituality fascinates me. I’m not really a spiritual person. I’ve been doing a lot of research on Buddhism and Hinduism from a sociological stand point. I’ve grown from as a kid going to church every Sunday with my parents, to being a very angry, anti-religious person. I feel like I’ve matured to where I can look at things like religion and obviously there are negative qualities to organized religion and fundamentalism but at this point I’ve been able to find a lot of beauty in these religions. Even on an individual level, I think it’s really powerful that people believe strongly in something. I think there are a lot of people that don’t really believe in anything. If there is anything positive you can put your heart and mind into, I think it’s worthwhile. Lately I’ve kind of been dabbling in a lot of different areas in regards to religion just to figure out what people have to say about life and living and humanity. Specifically, in regard to eastern religions because it relates to what I’m designing right now. Like I said before it carries back into some of the lyrical topics I’m working on. I feel like there’s so much hate between people that think differently. In reality I feel like we’re all in the same boat. Everybody is just as confused as everybody else, trying to make sense of a chaotic world. The last thing we need is war and violence. We’re all just lost souls looking for peace. I think, if anything, that’s something I’ve really been dwelling on lately. I feel like everyone in the world is, to some degree, scared and trying to figure out how to live their life as peacefully as possible. I think what we need is peace.