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 BEST HARDCORE RECORDS-
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.
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.