Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Focus On The Light: True Colors U.S. Tour

In a matter of days a bunch of Belgians will land on U.S. soil to play a bunch of anthemic, high energy hardcore songs of the straight edge variety. True Colors is the name of their band and I suggest you go see them if you have the chance. They zill be touring with none other than Cruel Hand. Here are their tourdates:

10/03 : Lemoyne, PA @ Championship
10/04 : Lakewood, OH @ Hi Fi
10/05 : Romeo, MI @ Static Age
10/06 : Toronto, ONT @ Studio BLR
10/07 : Montreal, QC @ INFO COMING SOON!!
10/08 : Chicotimi, QC @ La Marina
10/09 : Haverhill, MA @ Anchors Up
10/10 : Brooklyn, NY @ Stolen Sleeves
10/11 : Edison, NJ @ Stelton Church

Due to logistic reasons I can't spice this up with a sweet live pic but let the words do the talking here. I asked my friend Wim "Hingie" De Backer a couple of questions. He plays bass in True Colors. BUST!

In a couple of days from now, True Colors will be in the United States. How did this happen? Who made it happen? How excited are you?

We've been talking about touring the US for a while now, but I don't think any of us really believed that it would ever happen. We all kinda knew that we were capable of doing it if we would just get to it, but the idea of True Colors touring in America was always quite absurd to us... I don't even know how it all finally happened, but I assume our drummer Peers just got in touch with Andy Rice from Deathwish (probably through Dave Sausage), and he just booked our tour. And I am pretty excited about it! See next question...

None of you have ever been there, so how wild do you expect the U.S. to be? Do you think the female population over there is ready for the coming of L.L. Cool P. (Ladies Love Cool Peers)?

I try to have no expections at all, but I'm sure everything is going to be mega exciting! I cannot wait for the moment we're walking out of the airport, all in America for the first time, on tour with our band, figuring out what we'll be doing first and how exactly. And it all looks like we don't have too many really long drives and we're going to be able to hang out in some cool cities, so that's just perfect. Far out, far fucking out as the dude would say...
And I personally believe that no female population anywhere can ever be ready for the coming of Peers. Mothers, lock up your daughters! I'm not even joking...

Please give me a list of 10 things you absolutely want to do while you are on tour there...

One thing I learned playing in a touring band is never plan too much stuff in advance, cause I always get a little bummed out if things don't work out the way I want them to, wich is pretty often. BUT, 10 things I definitly want to do this time around include:
Play at least one good show
Get into Canada
Hang out with Spoiler08
Eat non vegan things with Spoiler08
Eat donuts daily
Get a strawberry/banana smoothie (yo Stief!)
Try all the Ben&Jerrys flavours that arent available in Europe
Buy a new iPod (cheap)
Buy lots of other stuff (cheap)
Hang out in New York City

True Colors has been known to bust some Youth Of Today covers on the regular... What Youth Of Today songs have you covered so far and do you have any others planned for the future?

So far we did Honesty, Break Down The Walls, I Have Faith, Slow Down, Put It Aside, A Time We'll Remember and Wake Up And Live. We did Disengage at rehearsals but we were not quite ready for that song yet. We're not really sure what our next Youth Of Today cover will be, but I definitly still want to do the following: Positive Outlook, Youth Of Today, Disengage, Together, Understand and a bunch more...

Please explain your fixation on this seminal Straight Edge Band. If you could go back in time and be in Youth Of Today playing bass, what era of Youth Of Today would you go back to?

Youth Of Today just makes perfect sense to me, in every possible way... to me, they hit home like no other band does. Their songs are fast and super aggresive, their lyrics inspiring yet simple, their live shows energetic and impressive, their records and their layouts completly flawless... Just exaclty what I was looking for when I discovered them at age 17. I was still a fattie back then, and looking at the pictures of Ray and Porcell always made me want to work out and get in shape. They definitely had a big influence on me growing up...
I wouldn't even dare to think of me replacing Walter Schreifels or Craig Setari as a bassplayer in Youth Of Today, so I'd go back to 1985 and play in YOT in their Can't Close My Eyes days if I had to. I love every Youth Of Today record and all eras so it's all good anyway. Though my absolute favourite one is the We're Not In This Alone era, that record, most energy captured on a record ever! And best hardcore record of all time, hands down...
This question made me listen to all four Youth Of Today releases in a row this morning, it made my day.

Favourite Geert Hollanders quote?

"I think I'm going to get some dessert..."

Monday, September 15, 2008

God Can't Touch Us Now, We're Out Of His Jurisdiction

The Melvins and Big Business played Ghent last Friday. I watched the Melvins from up on the balcony, something I had to do to preserve my sanity. I wanted to see Big Business from up close but found myself surrounded by idiots. Out of the 10 people around me, 11 were either yelling in their dumb friends ears trying make conversation, or poking me in the back while bringing their dumb friends some more beer. Regardless though, Big Business were good, the only bummer is that it's almost as if they're not a real band when supporting the Melvins. What I mean is that it would be cool if they would have their own set up, with both Jared and Coady frontstage in the spotlights, shredding. On to the Melvins. While they were playing I thought of the following way to describe their set: Perfection Through Precision. Holy shit. So fucking heavy. Super tight set, with an emphasis on material off their last two albums and a few old ragers and surprises thrown in there. Apparently they covered The Who's "My Generation", but I didn't recognize that one. I did catch the a-capella version of "The Star Spangled Banner"! It is mind boggling how a band with two drummers can be this tight. It was also awesome to see how into it King Buzzo still is, rocking that weirdo robe and the grey afro. The man's a legend. You won't find me filming bands with my cellphone so you'll have to make do with this footage of Beavis & Butthead watching "Hooch"...

On a totally unrelated note, I was made aware of some awesome live footage of Hateverge. So bummed I didn't get to see this when it happened, because come on, how awesome is the idea of seeing Converge bang out classic Hatebreed tracks with Jamey singing? As Vince accurately put it a few days ago... "Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire" is to hardcore what "Nevermind" is to grunge/alt rock/whatever. Nothing but hits on that album. I can still remember the excitement that was in the air when Hatebreed first played Europe, they'd cancelled a few tours here in the late 90's, rumor had it that Jamey had a severe case of B.A. Baracus (flying anxiety) and that Hatebreed would never make it out here. But obviously, the non-believers were proven wrong in 2001. They toured Europe with Sepultura and did a few headline shows of their own, I went and saw a few and they were wild, to say the least. Anyway, check out the Hateverge footage below, it is what I would show someone when trying to explain the meaning of "sheer insanity". Some sick diving going on during "Before Dishonor". What's up Lord Ezec, just chillin' on stage rocking a sleeveless lambskin coat?

Possibly even more unrelated to the Melvins, but a little more Hatebreed related is the next YouTube gem. Hand me that late pass if you want, but I was unaware of the existence of this video until a few weeks ago. Thank you Jeffrey. I was never quite sure what to make of Fury Of Five, I was into their first 7" and remember digging their first album but afterwards they kinda disappeared off my radar. I don't think I ever saw them live either. I definitely wasn't at the legendary Belgian show where James Ismean kindly asked the P.A. dude if he "knew how to spell beatdown?", which is a bummer. But anyway, check out this video for "Do Or Die", it's pretty hard. The highlight defintely is James Ismean stickmanning , starting at 1:37. I'm into the added commentary too.

I have been listening to the new Have Heart album excessively during the last few weeks. Definitely one of my favourite records to come out this year, everything about it makes a lot of sense to me. If you're old fashioned like me and still value good lyrics, check the ones Pat Flynn wrote for this album. Some of that stuff blew my mind. I'll probably review the whole record up here soon. In the meantime, here's some more YouTube footage... Have Heart at Ieper Fest in Belgium. See me doing a sweet dive at 0:09 and get crushed a few seconds later. I'm a survivor though.

Another record I have been really into as of late is Paint It Black's "New Lexicon". After seeing them play one of the most inspiring and energetic sets at this year's Sound And Fury, I have been listening to this album a whole lot more and it's awesome. They are currently touring Europe with Trash Talk so go see them if you can. These are the tour dates:

Sep 15 2008: Cassiopeia/Skatehalle / Berlin, Germany
Sep 16 2008: 007 / Prague, Czech Republic
Sep 17 2008: Arena / Vienna, Austria
Sep 18 2008: Exhaus / Trier, Germany
Sep 19 2008: Juha West / Stuttgart, Germany
Sep 20 2008: Parkhaus Meiderich / Duisburg, Germany
Sep 20 2008: ZXZW Festival / Tilburg, Holland
Sep 21 2008: Le Klub / Paris, France
Sep 22 2008: The Fighting Cocks / London, U.K.
Sep 23 2008: Le Pub / Newport, U.K.
Sep 24 2008: Star & Garter / Manchester, U.K.
Sep 25 2008: Trash / Leeds, U.K.
Sep 26 2008: The Engine Room / Brighton, U.K.
Sep 27 2008: Ill Blood Fest / Izegem, Belgium

My good friends in Blacklisted and Rhythm To The Madness are also still on tour through Europe, make sure you don't miss out on that either. Both bands played a blazing set at Rhythm To The Madness' record release show. More on "Weltschmerz" later on.

09/15: Mannheim, Germany @ JUZ
09/15: Karlsruhe, Germany @ Jubez
09/16: Munster, Germany @ Sputnik Cafe
09/17: Paris, France @ Le Klub
09/18: Trier, Germany @ Exhaus
09/19: Tilburg, Holland @ ZXZW
09/20: Duisburg, Germany @ Parkhaus Duisburg-Meiderich
09/21: Genk, Belgium @ JH Rondpunt

More interviews, reviews and what not coming soon. Peace.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bang The Drum Slowly: Part II

The cool thing about interviewing drummers is how fast most of 'em would reply to my emails. I guess drummers don't get interviewed all that often. I've had the following two interviews in my inbox for a while, I wanted to wait until I got some more answers in but I guess the closer you live to people, the longer it takes them to answer. It's all good though. Here's Bang The Drum Slowly Part II featuring two drummers that I love watching and listening to... Reed DeAngelis and Nick Woj.

I first met Reed when Iron Age first toured Europe. We didn't actually hang until Rise And Fall toured the U.S. with Iron Age in March/April '07 though. Reed rode with us for most of the tour, didn't talk all that much but seemed happy enough listening to a bunch of Belgians talk shit in a language he didn't understand. If you've seen Reed at work then you know what his deal is: small dude, hard hitter, good style. Check out his new band FEED while you're at it.

Please give me your name and age, list the bands you've drummed for and tell me how long you have been doing that thing you do...
Reed DeAngelis - 21 years of age. I have drummed for Iron Age, Bitter End, and a million other random Texas Hardcore/Punk bands but am currently drumming for FEED and Antic Hay. I've been officially drumming since the ripe age of 11 years.

What made you decide to become a drummer? Was there one particular drummer that inspired you to pick up those sticks?
Randomly, Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac was the one who inspired me to drum. I remember watching a live performance of them on TV with my mom when I was around 8 and started drumming on pillows along with their set. Him and Tre Cool of Green Day!

What was your first drumset? When did you get it? How did you pay for it?
Technically, my first drumset was bought for me when I was 3 years old. It was a toy Mickey Mouse drumkit and I couldn't get enough of that piece of shit. But when I turned 11 and took my first drum lesson, my mom took me out to a local music shop and bought me a Yamaha DP series drumset for $400 (I don't think they make them anymore, they suck). I had that kit for about 5 years until I 'upgraded' to a Tama Rockstar ($800) and then finally, a couple years ago I got a 1979-81(?) Rogers kit for about $350.

As a drummer, how big do you think your influence is on the sound of a band? When you write songs with your band(s), is your role limited to providing the beat or do you also hum riffs or base songs around drum patterns/beats?
I'm a firm believer in selfless drumming. Do what's best for the song and know when to shut the fuck up. I hate watching drummers who think it's necessary to throw in a million cymbal 'accents' and conclude every 4 measures of a beat with a ridiculous fill. Also, I HATE unneccessary double-bass. In fact, I'm not much of a fan of double bass at all - I believe it should've been kept in Jazz where it's actually used with some class. As far as riff-writing, I definitely give my 2 cents... I like to take riffs that my guitarists write and change the time signatures and accents to kinda spice it up a little more. I think that's a big part of how a drummer should contribute to his band.

Do you feel like people often forget how crucial a good drummer is to a good band? I know a drummer that told me that no matter how good you are, you'll always be overshadowed by the guitarist and the singer... Is that so according to you?
The drummer is like the goalie. The entire team (as well as the crowd) knows that without him the entire game would fall apart, but unfortunately he doesn't get as much recognition as the power forwards because they're the ones on the frontline scoring all the points.

Out of all the records you've drummed on, which one are you most proud of? Why? Does that also make it the best record you're on, or not?
Hmmm...well, Iron Age's 'Constant Struggle' was definitely a milestone for me as it was my first full-length record. But I have a much stronger sense of pride for the FEED demos because obviously not only did we write all the music but we were also responsible for the recording and pressing of the demos. It feels much better to do the entire thing yourself.

What makes a gig awesome for a drummer? Is it playing tight as fuck and not missing a beat? Is it the overall vibe? Is it crowd response and energy?
Great question. Yo, I HATE mosh. I think it looks absolutely absurd. I would much rather have everyone headbang and/or sing along. For me, playing tight as hell is the most rewarding aspect of a live show. Nothing beats getting off the stage knowing that you nailed your songs. It boils down to the following question: are you playing your songs for yourself or for the crowd?

What are some of your favourite drummers ever? What sets those dudes apart from everyone else out there? How about current drummers, who's good? Who's got the chops?
The first solo drummer I ever got into was Billy Cobham. I would recommend him to any drummer I know... he is phenomenal. Also, the drummer for the Spin Doctors has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. Good drummers nowadays - the drummer for Vedera (I forgot his name), Champ of Foundation, JP of Rise And Fall fame, Ely of Bitter End, that new jack drummer of Bad Religion is insane, so on and so forth.

We all know guitarists sometimes "borrow" riffs from other bands... Do drummers sometimes "borrow" drumbeats or drumfills? Have you? What exactly did you "borrow" and where can we hear the result?
Listen to the drum intro of 'Butcher's Bill' on Iron Age's "Constant Struggle". Now, listen to the drum break in 'Don't Look Back' by Boston.

That's it. Thank you. Any closing comments or shout outs?
For all touring and recording drummers - don't be zealots! Do what's best for your band and stop trying to put yourself in the spotlight.

Although you probably won't see Nick behind the kit for most of Cold World's shows nowadays, he still is the silent mastermind behind the band. From artwork, to lyrics, to vocal patterns, to riffs, Nick's input is huge. When I first met him he was wearing a Darkthrone shirt. Check out Cold World's awesome new album called "Dedicated To Babies Who Came Feet First". It rules.

Please give me your name and age, list the bands you've drummed for and tell me how long you have been doing that thing you do...
Nick Woj, I just turned 27. Like anybody I did a couple early bands that were mostly just messin' around but my first real band was called Magnus. Alex and Dan from Cold world were also in it. it was like a youth crew band. I was also in a 90's style screamo type band called Our Time with Posi-Fest creator Bobb Mac. I had a little stint in Horror Show and was supposed to be in Blacklisted but I couldn't commit to their rigorous tour schedule at the time. I did play a show with them though. I've been drumming in bands since i was like 14.

What made you decide to become a drummer? Was there one particular drummer that inspired you to pick up those sticks?
I started drums because my uncle Jason played and I was always around him so I'd get behind his kit. So I guess he was the drummer who inspired me first. After that, my drum idol became Lars Ulrich.

What was your first drumset? When did you get it? How did you pay for it?
I was eventually handed down my uncle's set. It was one of those clear (blue) Ludwig sets. I wish I still had it! It was pretty beat up though. After that I had a couple okay sets and then my grandfather bought me a Tama rockstar set which I believe is in my friend Phil Leone's garage right now.

As a drummer, how big do you think your influence is on the sound of a band? When you write songs with your band(s), is your role limited to providing the beat or do you also hum riffs or base songs around drum patterns/beats?
I've been one of the major song-witers in every band I've been in. I can play guitar a little bit so I usually get down the basic chords for a song or riff and if there's something more complicated I hum it out to the guitar player.

Do you feel like people often forget how crucial a good drummer is to a good band? I know a drummer that told me that no matter how good you are, you'll always be overshadowed by the guitarist and the singer... Is that so according to you?
I think sometimes it depends on the style of music, but I think the person that told you that is mostly right. With hardcore, I always noticed that the bands with the crazy-good drummers usually suck. Or at least I don't like them. I feel like someone's technical ability shouldn't be the focus in a popular form of music, it should be the songs. You can have an amazing drummer in a mediocre band, but the only people who are going to appreciate the drummer are the musicians and that's not good for the band. Drummers of my favorite bands just play the right things at the right time with a bit of style.

Out of all the records you've drummed on, which one are you most proud of? Why? Does that also make it the best record you're on, or not?
Probably Cold World's "Ice Grillz". That was the second record we did with Don Fury and I know he wasn't happy with the outcome of the first time, so he really had us dial the parts in. I think it is probably the best record I've played on but not because of the drumming. I just think it's a solid EP.

What makes a gig awesome for a drummer? Is it playing tight as fuck and not missing a beat? Is it the overall vibe? Is it crowd response and energy?
It really depends on how you feel at the time. Some gigs I would have so much fun because me and Alex would just be feeling it and play really well together, even if it's not a packed gig. Especially if the place has a nice sound system. But there's been gigs that we didn't play particularly tight but everybody was going off and it felt great so it made up for it. I know it's cliche to say, but it's particularly true in a hardcore band, that you feed off the crowd's energy. If you're in a metal or rock band, I'm sure you can tell if the crowd's feeling it or not but it's not as interactive as kids killing each other and getting on stage to mosh, dive or sing along. Personally though, I usually feel the best if I play well. If there's at least a moderate amount of crowd participation and I played well, I'm the most happy with the gig.

Do you singalong a lot while playing live? What's your favourite song to sing along to?
Nah. Maybe a little, but that's not really my style. I remember in the 90's when I first got into hardcore and bands were all emotional and shit, I thought that was cool but not really now.

What are some of your favourite drummers ever? What sets those dudes apart from everyone else out there? How about current drummers, who's good? Who's got the chops?
My favorite hardcore drummers are Mackie (the obvious choice, everybody says him but c'mon... u gotta), Sammy (I feel like everybody overlooks this dude. Listen to the last Youth Of Today EP and tell me you would've thought to play those songs the way he did), and Rene Natzel from World Collapse and True Blue. People probably think that's a weird answer but his drum style and sound is ridiculous and he's a great song-writer. Kingshot from Floorpunch's drums made a big impression on me too. Non-hardcore standouts are Reni of Stone Roses, Lars Ulrich, ?uestlove, and a few others. I think that drummers of my favorite bands just kind of play the right thing, and that really makes me appreciate them. Like Mike Joyce of The Smiths and Colm of My Bloody Valentine. And last but not least FENRIZ OF DARKTHRONE!!!

We all know guitarists sometimes "borrow" riffs from other bands... Do drummers sometimes "borrow" drumbeats or drumfills? Have you? What exactly did you "borrow" and where can we hear the result?
Oh man, I borrow shit all day. Most of it's subconciously from hip-hop but I think if you listen to our new album when it comes out you can pick up a lot of influence from Goat of Merauder. Especially the "5 Deadly Venoms"-era.

That's it. Thank you. Any closing comments or shout outs?
What's up to all the drummers that I love giggin' with. Shawn Foley, DFJ, Mook, Riffset, etc. You know who you are. Thanks to the following for enough instrumental inspiration to last a life time - Showbiz, Buckwild, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Just Blaze, Q Tip & Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Madlib, Oh No, J Dilla, Paul C, Marley Marl, Biz Markie, Scott La Rock, The Bomb Squad, Eric Sermon, Prince Paul and the RZA.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Don't Be Surprised About The Life That She Breeds

Why not treat ourselves to a wonderful gem? You may have seen this before but I sure hadn't. Here's a video Leeway once did for "Foot The Bill", the opening track of their 1995 album "Open Mouth Kiss". I love Leeway and I love that record. Often overlooked because obviously it ain't no "Born To Expire" or "Desperate Measures" (I don't even need to - or feel like I can begin to - explain how brilliant those albums are), but in my opinion that's what makes it such a great record. It's insane how talented Leeway was (and still is), seeing how they could pull off albums like those and then come up with something as different and mind blowing as "Open Mouth Kiss". Post hardcore in the true sense of the word, 'cause in my book you can do only do post hardcore right if you've really done hardcore right as well. The video is a little blurry, hazy and artsy at times but you gotta love Eddie's outfit.

A couple of days ago I drove down to CCR Studios, where Rhythm To The Madness was busy recording "Weltschmerz". Going down there is always fun, Rise And Fall has recorded nearly everything we've done there so seeing Kris again always is a good time. Getting a chance to hear what Stief, Klaas, Daan and Cedric have been cooking up is obviously exciting too and that ofcourse was why I dropped by anyway. Rhythm To The Madness definitely still is a band for fans of solos, "Best Wishes", "Alpha - Omega", wild ideas, harsh riffs and insightful lyrics. That much I can tell you. Look out for the album to drop on September 6th, the release show in Berchem (Belgium) will be one of the first shows of their European tour with Blacklisted.

Last weekend I saw Dinosaur Jr for the second time in my life. Besides the fact that they were awesome, loud and up there playing some of the best indie/guitar rock ever I was really fascinated by J. Mascis outfit. I know that's weird but what can I say? I guess I'm weird too. He was wearing a pair of Levi's jeans, I was a little too far to be able to tell if they were 505's or 501's (yo, it's crazy what a job will do to you) but they were definitely cool and an Adidas running jacket. Plus you know the dude loves old hardcore so you could say we have a lot in common? I dunno. I wish I could see Dinosaur Jr every weekend.

If anyone out there is kind of a nerd like me and has wondered about whatever happened to Jimmy Yu, of Judge and Death Before Dishonor fame, definitely check out the Double Cross Blog/Zine. Those dudes managed to track the man down and did an extensive interview with him, of which part 4 is online now. It's a great read, with plenty of good stories and anecdotes by one of the more mysterious characters of the late 80's New York Hardcore scene. Double Cross is linked in the "Recommended Reading" section on the right. You'll find plenty more to read up there as well, Tim and his posse post updates nearly everyday. It may not always be my cup of tea but I've definitely read and seen some awesome things there.

Last of all, Rise And Fall will be heading to the States next week to play Sound And Fury and do some touring up and down the West Coast. If anyone wants to chill, come find me at the nearest In-N-Out Burger. Here are the tourdates...

07/25: Santa Barbara, CA @ Earl Warren Showgrounds SOUND AND FURY
07/26: Santa Barbara, CA @ Earl Warren Showgrounds SOUND AND FURY
07/27: Santa Barbara, CA @ Earl Warren Showgrounds SOUND AND FURY
07/28: Newhall, CA @ American Legion Hall w/ Blacklisted, Shipwreck, Alpha And Omega
07/29: Orangevale, CA @ Orangevale VFW w/ Blacklisted, Shipwreck, Alpha And Omega
07/30: Portland, OR @ Backspace w/ Alpha And Omega, Black Breath
07/31: Tacoma, WA @ Viaduct w/ Alpha And Omega, Black Breath
08/01: San Francisco, CA @ Balazo Gallery w/ Alpha And Omega, Black Breath, Skin Like Iron
08/02: San Diego, CA @ Che Cafe w/ Alpha And Omega, Black Breath, Skin Like Iron
08/03: Riverside, CA @ Pharos Den w/ Alpha And Omega, Black Breath, Skin Like Iron

Friday, July 4, 2008

Union Town: Self Titled / Review

I guess sometimes things just click. When I first heard about Union Town and the individuals that made up the band, it seemed like an odd mix of people, but an interesting one at least. Bassist Miriam was in Malkovich for a long time, a band I never really quite understood, but still she provided them with some style and grace so that's cool. Drummer Dorus was in No Turning Back around the time they put out "Rise From The Ashes", yet it never really seemed like that band was his "thing". Then there was Johan Vogels, their guitarist who (to Vince and me) will forever and always be the dude that appeared to know every word to every One Life Crew song off "Crime Ridden Society" in a discussion whether or not that band was acceptable or not. That was back in '98 though so I guess I'm drifting off here. When the band found the perfect singer in Hein (who for a really short time played bass in Justice and put out a bunch of awesome demos on his tape label The Decline) and recorded their demo, things definitely must've clicked. When I heard it, I was floored, almost instantly. Obviously I wasn't the only one and despite the fact that Union Town hadn't really played much outside the Holland/Belgium area, the demo did real well and got pressed onto vinyl by Powered Records.

Where the demo mainly was an up tempo deal, with well written songs that carried a huge mid to late 80's DC vibe (Rites Of Spring, Embrace, Dag Nasty), this self titled debut album is a much more varied record. The bands that influenced Union Town when they wrote their demo are still an influence now, but as it goes when bands find their own sound, the influence is less obvious. Yet, their sound is still firmly rooted in the same soil, if that makes any sense? The variety in their songs, the maturity in their songwriting (you can really tell that you are dealing with experienced songwriters here) and most of all, the soul and spirit in their songs make it so that Union Town sounds like Union Town. There's room for experiment, slower parts and a few new things and ofcourse that can only be applauded. Some examples would be the guitar work in "The Observer" (the 5th song on the album) that has a weird Wipers vibe to it or even something as simple as the additional vocals by Miriam on the album's opening track "Regenerated". I'm a huge fan of those. That only goes to show Union Town has grown as a band.

One of the demo songs got re-recorded ("Resentment") and I guess one could always criticise that, but I don't think it's a song that's out of place on this album. The other 8 songs are all brand new and pretty much all of them rock. Rhythmically, I feel like they all have a good flow to them, with little details, breaks, drum fills and stop-start parts to keep things interesting. There are two things I'm particularly impressed by: the first is how warm and soulful this record sounds. As dumb as it may sound, you can hear the love and care that went into these songs. The second thing is Hein's vocals and lyrics. He sounds more confident than ever, with hardly any trace of an accent (well, if you ask me.. I am a Euro though) and I've gotta say that he has a voice that really carries the songs, both by the way he sings and obviously also by what he's singing. Which brings me to the lyrics... I would advise you to read them yourself actually. I found them to be real well written, spiritful and recognisable as well. Maybe it's because I'm only a few years older than Hein, but I could relate to a lot of the words I read. "Building a future from despair of the past, 'cause all is gone when you thought it would last". Especially that part. Such a great line.

Some of my favorite tracks here are, as mentioned before, the opening track "Regenerated" and "The Observer". The latter is an angrier, rougher song with a lot of drive. The song just before it, "Halfway There", is another winner, it starts off kinda like a Billy Idol song (this could very well be my imagination though) and then quickly takes a turn onto Fugazi territory. The melancholic guitars and vocals work real well together here. Other favourites are "Don't Give Up" and "Punch And Bleed". "Don't Give Up" was the first MP3 that was released off this record so I'm guessing it's one of the band's favourites too. "Punch And Bleed" is a perfect closer, as it builds up and then climaxes to its "But punch us, we will bleed" mantra.

I guess a lot of you have probably not seen or heard much about this band, but it would be a shame to miss out on an album this good, or to miss out on Union Town live, which in my case has always been a great experience. Anyone with a love for hardcore that is somewhat more melodic and soulful, that digs the bands mentioned before and/or can hang with bands like Husker Du, The Replacements and Hot Water Music should look into this. Another great record courtesy of my boys at Powered HQ.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bang The Drum Slowly: Part I

What makes them tick? I don't know. No idea. Drummers have always intrigued me, I guess partly due to the fact that they do something I never ever could. It's like I watch them and I feel like whatever they're doing can't be that hard, but then whenever I'm handed two sticks and sit behind that drumkit I realize I have absolutely no clue what to do next. I mean, what do you hit first? How hard? How many times? What's that pedal for? How do you tell cymbals apart? I don't know. Still, I love watching a good drummer at work, I love listening to Burn and I think Mackie might be the coolest human being that has ever walked this earth. So in order to gain some more insight into the mind of the drummer, I asked a bunch of questions to a bunch of awesome drummers.

First up is one of my favourite human beings on the other side of the big pond: the one and only Shawn Foley. I love Shawn's style, dude goes all out. Doesn't matter whether he's drumming, getting stoked on Down in a live setting or drinking Red Bull. Blacklisted put out on incredible album called "Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God" a few months back and are currently touring Australia.

Please give me your name and age, list the bands you've drummed for and tell me how long you have been doing that thing you do...
Shawn Foley. 26. Decomposed (First band I played in while I was in High School). Punishment. Blacklisted! I've been playing drums since I was 15.

What made you decide to become a drummer? Was there one particular drummer that inspired you to pick up those sticks?
Dave Grohl, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Tre Cool. Those drummers made me want to be a drummer. My mom played a big part in it too. She asked me when I was around 14 or so; "What do you wanna do with yourself, you should have a hobby or something"... So I told her that I wanted to play drums. Around 15 is when it became a serious obsession.

What was your first drumset? When did you get it? How did you pay for it?
My first drumset was actually practice pads that I duct-taped to big cans, that was when I started gettin' the chops down, the first real kit (non-practice pads) was a put together kit that I had. It consisted of: one kick drum, one floor tom, a snare and like one hi-hat and a cymbal. I don't know how I paid for it, I think everything was trash picked! Haha.

As a drummer, how big do you think your influence is on the sound of a band? When you write songs with your band(s), is your role limited to providing the beat or do you also hum riffs or base songs around drum patterns/beats?
I like to do more than just "provide a beat". Sometimes I hang back and just lay down a solid pattern, other times I feel as though the drums should be as important as the guitar, vocals etc. Every drummer that has inspired me has played a huge role in his band, so I like to think that I do the same. There is a certain way I feel as though I play and that if you threw someone else in the mix it would be easy to hear and say "That's not Shawn playing". I have drum parts that I create and I hear in my head how the rest of the music (especially the guitar) should play along with that. So I do hum some riffs sometimes and make the guitar player feel out a riff from listening to my drum pattern.

Do you feel like people often forget how crucial a good drummer is to a good band? I know a drummer that told me that no matter how good you are, you'll always be overshadowed by the guitarist and the singer... Is that so according to you?
No, not at all. In every great band, every member stands out in his own way. You gotta make a name for yourself as a drummer because while it's true that the drummer can get forgotten about, it's only true if that drummer lets himself be forgotten about. Hit hard, play tight, make it look so easy that anyone thinks they can do it, but the truth is it's an illusion. Not everyone can do it. Zeppelin broke up because they knew that they could NEVER replace Bonham. Not every Zep song is hard but it's the way he played them that makes it hard and ultimately makes him impossible to replace.

Out of all the records you've drummed on, which one are you most proud of? Why? Does that also make it the best record you're on, or not?
I'm most proud of "Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God". Not because it was a stand out record for me on drums but because it showed (to me at least) that a drummer could be an important part in writing a good song. I feel like a lot of them drum parts on that record went beyond being good drum parts but stepped into the area of being important to that actual song. Even if it was just the way I played a kick drum pattern and how it matched the vocal line, it's all relative.

Standing up on your drumstool midset... Is that something you've ever done or would do?
Done it, did it - whatever. Sound And Fury 2006, the lights came on and I was on top of the drum throne then I jumped down off the throne and we kicked into "Eye For An Eye". It's documented on the Sound And Fury 2006 DVD. That's my Tommy Lee / Vinny Paul influence shining through there. Haha.

What makes a gig awesome for a drummer? Is it playing tight as fuck and not missing a beat? Is it the overall vibe? Is it crowd response and energy?
Just being on stage and playing the kit as hard as I possibly can does it for me. It's the vibe too, if I'm feeling really loose and good and I'm executing great fills and rolls then I feel like I'm on fire and nothing can stop me. Also a big part is acoustics. If the drum set sounds like shit on stage then I tend to hit harder for some reason in hopes that doing that will make them sound better? I dunno. All that does is make me tired way faster! Haha. If the kit sounds great on stage and I can hear my kick and snare loudly and proudly then I feel fuckin' great and probably play way better!

Do you singalong a lot while playing live? What's your favourite song to sing along to?
"Canonized". I sing along a lot to certain parts, not every part, but a lot of times I sing to myself but "Canonized" is my jam that I always sing along to.

What are some of your favourite drummers ever? What sets those dudes apart from everyone else out there? How about current drummers, who's good? Who's got the chops?
Dave Grohl will always be my favorite drummer ever and people that know me know that fact about me. His drumming is so easy to pick out, you know it's him from his drum sound to his beats. His drumming on Queens Of The Stone Age's "Songs For The Deaf" was a huge influence on me when writing "Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God". Tommy Lee has also been a big influence on me in the sense that he puts on a show man! He flips his sticks and snaps them off the snare and they fly up into the air (a trick that I just perfected on this last tour) and then he catches them when they come back down. I just seen that band Torche a week back and I really like their drummer. He hits hard, is solid and his kit sounds great! Three wishes for any drummer!

We all know guitarists sometimes "borrow" riffs from other bands... Do drummers sometimes "borrow" drumbeats or drumfills? Have you? What exactly did you "borrow" and where can we hear the result?
Hahahaha, ahhhh Bjorn you're trying to get me to reveal my secrets huh? All I'm gonna say, and I stated this above, is "Songs For The Deaf" by Queens Of The Stone Age was a huge influence on me while writing and recording "Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God".

That's it. Thank you. Any closing comments or shout outs?
Thank you dude. Play hard, play loud, play with confidence. Care about your gear, take pride in what you play. Shout outs to you Bjorn for letting me talk about my most favorite thing in the world for a little while. Peace.

Ries Doms, the octopus from Holland, has been in a huge amount of bands and is one of those drummers that you can watch throughout the whole set without even looking at the rest of the band. I met Ries in '00 when my old band crashed at his house in Tilburg, Holland. All I remember was that his shower didn't have a curtain. Now he has his own website. Life's crazy like that. Hooghwater recently put out an awesome CDEP, a review will be up here soon.

Please give me your name and age, list the bands you've drummed for and tell me how long you have been doing that thing you do...
Hey, my name is Ries Doms and I’m 28 years old. I played for numorous bands over the past 10 years such as Reaching Forward, The Uncontrollable, The Spades, Bars, Powervice and I am currently playing for The Hydromatics, Hooghwater and Betonfraktion. It all brought me some interesting experiences and to some interesting places to say the least!

What made you decide to become a drummer? Was there one particular drummer that inspired you to pick up those sticks?
I got my first toydrum when I was about 3 years old, I ruined it within’ a few hours and my dad figured he had to come up with something more professional to get things going. So for my 4th birthday I got a snaredrum. Then over the years I got an additional drum every birthday to end up with a complete set of drums when I turned 7. I went to music school from that age until I was about 18 years old. When I was about 7 years old my dad took me to see Dutch jazz drummer Han Bennink live. He played very free and very energetic and it made a huge impression on me. What I didn’t know was, that he was way ahead of his time playing this free and improvised music. So eventually I figured there was no way I would see anything like that any time soon. Also the recorded live version of "Get Ready" by The Rare Earth made a huge impression on me, together with the Woodstock and Santana records that I found around the house.
But getting in my teens I turned into this little angry boy, I got interested in heavy metal and eventually into hardcore and punkrock. I wanted my music loud and bought my first record: Deep Purple – "Live In Japan" when I was about 12. I didn’t have any "heroes" at the time, because I was just captured by the force and energy of the music. I didn’t care who played it, I just wanted to listen to bands. Then when you get older you kinda morph into a more open minded person, and from there I really started to learn from music and got more indept with it. Funny thing that happened to me was when I rediscovered The Who. When I was a little kid I knew The Who was this band that kicked over all their gear at shows, and then my dad bought the “Tommy” album and I couldn’t believe this band was supposed to be one of the wildest bands ever. That was a bummer! Then years later my friend Erik T. (Erik "Tilburg" Van Hest, Dutch hardcore/punk style icon, ex-Justice riffer and composer of "Light In The Dark" - ed.) figured out that Black Flag stole a couple of riffs from The Who and it turned out that they were the greatest rock'n'roll band that ever existed.

As a drummer, how big do you think your influence is on the sound of a band? When you write songs with your band(s), is your role limited to providing the beat or do you also hum riffs or base songs around drum patterns/beats?
I think that people aren’t aware of the influence a drummer has on a band. Mostly because it’s not a melodic instrument, but also because it’s locked into a rhythm section. Drums are the backbone of a song and therefore I really believe in the idea of "less is more". A drummer doesn’t need to show all his chops in every song. A good rhythm track is the secret to the vibe a song has, it’s all about energy and drive. As a drummer you need to feel the music more than any member in the band. If you let it slide the whole band will sound sloppy or even worse: static. My role in the band usually depends on which group I’m playing with. I sure am the kinda guy who remembers the riffage from the day/rehearsal before which the guitarist couldn’t remember anymore. That’s where the humming comes in haha. I’m a fan of writing songs outta jams, first I just keep things simple and let the other members explore their parts and from there I’ll fit more stuff into it and make the drums more outstanding. But on the other hand, I was also in bands where all the songs and structures were written and I just had to add a beat to it.

Do you feel like people often forget how crucial a good drummer is to a good band? I know a drummer that told me that no matter how good you are, you'll always be overshadowed by the guitarist and the singer... Is that so according to you?
It’s definitely a fact that drummers are usually overshadowed by singers and guitarists. The only thing that will get you in the spotlights is charisma. From the moment you get on stage, you gotta be in charge of the band and you got to show it to the people you’re playing with. The other members can go as wild as they want to go, but the drummer is the one who decides whether the band takes it up a notch or a notch down. By taking that upon yourself you don’t have to be a showoff to get the recognition you deserve.

Out of all the records you've drummed on, which one are you most proud of? Why? Does that also make it the best record you're on, or not?
I’m proud of most of my recordings, unfortunately not all of them made it to the record stores (two of my bands broke up in the studio leaving an unfinished product). I think there was always something to it worth remembering. Eithter the people that I’ve worked with or how a specific record came together... I think my best drumming can be heard on the latest Hydromatics record, but due to the fact that we wrote the whole thing in one week and recorded it the next week, the record could have been way more balanced out. Another cool thing about this recording session was the fact that we played the whole record live in one single recording room and on top of that it was mostly done in one or two takes. With most recording sessions, drums are recorded first. I did about five sessions with nobody else in the room. No guide tracks, just all memory, imagination and a click track. I somehow managed to get some groovy drumtracks on tape this way. I kinda like it that way, you’re just totally focussed on the backbone of record. And you also don’t have to play songs more times than needed, just because somebody else fucked up haha.....
But I think that I still get better and better every time I record. It’s just the experience of being in more and more different studios. Too bad that the best sounding drumsets are recorded on the unreleased records. It’s a fact that some of those drums were sampled afterwards by that studio for other bands, because they couldn’t get their sound right.

Standing up on your drumstool midset... Is that something you've ever done or would do?

What makes a gig awesome for a drummer? Is it playing tight as fuck and not missing a beat? Is it the overall vibe? Is it crowd response and energy?
I mostly enjoy the energy that’s released during a live set. I love the point where I get sucked into the music and I just go without thinking. I can really enjoy listening to the others, usually during guitarsolos or regular jams. Ofcourse I enjoy the response of the audience, although I usually miss most of it because I’m totally concentrated on the music.

Do you singalong a lot while playing live? What's your favourite song to sing along to?
No, I do make weird noises while I play though. Sometimes you can hear 'em through the overheads while listening back to my takes in the studio. It sounds like there is a dwarf in the mixingboard.... But I think drummers should not sing at all, unless they listen to the name Buddy Miles or Don Brewer!!!

What are some of your favourite drummers ever? What sets those dudes apart from everyone else out there? How about current drummers, who's good? Who's got the chops?
My list of favourite drummers needs to kick off with Han Bennink. He’s one of the most influental musicians on the European avant garde jazz scene. It’s impossible to describe the power and energy of this guy. He has it all! Buddy Rich is a classic big band drummer and overall a great bandleader. His chops and rolls are just unreal, I regularly study from his book with snaredrum rudiment exercises. From the same era I really dig Max Roach, especially his solo record "Drums Unlimited", the first song on the record "The Drum Also Walses" was the blueprint for John Bonham’s solo in "Moby Dick". John Bonham, you can’t get around that guy. He’s just a powerhouse and never needed to show off during songs. You can definately hear he had a jazz background though. From that same era Keith Moon is definitely my favourite drummer. People remember him as that lunatic drummer who just wanted all the attention of the world, but people never really figured that he is actually playing along with vocal lines. That’s what makes him the most original rockdrummer of all time. A drummer not to be forgotten is Buddy Miles, he played with Jimi Hendrix and his Band Of Gypsys. He brought the soul into Jimi and is just a powerhouse. On top of that he’s one of the few drummers who’s allowed to sing! Another drummer in my “"to be forgotten" list is Jack DeJohnette. He playes on Miles Davis’ "Bitches Brew" record. Through him I found out about a whole new genre called chamber jazz and ECM records. He plays very messy, but somehow it all sounds really relaxed and it just gives me energy. For hardcore drummers, it should be clear to anyone that Mackie Jayson and Earl Hudson are my favorites. Current drummers I like are that bloke from Mastodon, the new drummer in The Mars Volta and for sure Alex Garcia-Rivera from Bloodhorse!

We all know guitarists sometimes "borrow" riffs from other bands... Do drummers sometimes "borrow" drumbeats or drumfills? Have you? What exactly did you "borrow" and where can we hear the result?
It’s no secret that most of the beats are already brought to the surface. That’s why it’s a rhythmic instrument, because rhythms are there to accompany the music. But I always try to hide a Motown pick-up in every recording session I do.

That's it. Thank you. Any closing comments or shout outs?
Not really, I just listened to about 12 amazing records while answering these questions. Be good!

A musical prodigy and chilled out entertainer (copyright Ricky Gervais), Shawn Costa is the real deal, yet he moves in mysterious ways. Dude goes on month long tours with a bag the size of a large apple and still looks fresh and clean every day. Both Verse and Have Heart have new albums out right about now, so check those out. What!?

Please give me your name and age, list the bands you've drummed for and tell me how long you have been doing that thing you do...
What up g's. Shawn Costa. Age 23. Bands I've drummed in: Have Heart (05-present), Verse ('05-present), Learn ('04-'05), Meltdown ('05-'06). I've been drumming since July '99.

What made you decide to become a drummer? Was there one particular drummer that inspired you to pick up those sticks?
As a youngster I always had a fascination with music. I began my musical "career" by strumming the old geeeetar (at 9 years of age), but always wanted to one day rock a drum set. As a kid I thought Tre Cool (of Green Day, if you didnt know...duh) was sick on the ol' kit. Probably my first inspiration to play.

What was your first drumset? When did you get it? How did you pay for it?
My first kit was a Tama Rockstar, silverish. Very decent kit to start off with, I aquired this gem in the summer of '99. I was 15 at the time, and pretty much all I did that summer was play drums, probably like 22 and a half hours a day ha. My dad bought me the drum set as a gift for my b-day. Had some wild times with this kit.

As a drummer, how big do you think your influence is on the sound of a band? When you write songs with your band(s), is your role limited to providing the beat or do you also hum riffs or base songs around drum patterns/beats?
I think the drummer is a HUGE influence on the sound of a band. A great drummer can make a very mediocre band sound only a little mediocre. Now speaking from a personal standpoint, I also play guitar, and bass, so my role isn't very limited. I've written songs for just about every band I've drummed in (some more than others).

Do you feel like people often forget how crucial a good drummer is to a good band? I know a drummer that told me that no matter how good you are, you'll always be overshadowed by the guitarist and the singer... Is that so according to you?
Personally, I don't really care/or focus on being overshadowed. It's a pretty natural thing, guitarists, and the singer are front and center(ish). Drummers are hidden in the back, so all in all it makes sense. I just chill in the back, and then hold the band together. No big whoop...ha.

Out of all the records you've drummed on, which one are you most proud of? Why? Does that also make it the best record you're on, or not?
Interesting question. I'm gonna actually give 2 records. Verse "Aggression", and Have Heart "Songs To Scream At The Sun". I feel like both my performance, and also the sound of the kits on these records are far and above any of my previous work. Both records were fun to write, and track, and I really wanted to make sure I got to convey some interesting drum work. I feel I accomplished that. Also both records were recorded/mixed naturally, so no fancy triggering, just little ol' me rocking the kit. I also believe that both of these record are the best records I've ever been a part of. So, uh, Bam!

Standing up on your drumstool midset... Is that something you've ever done or would do?
No, and no. I'm not hating on it, just not something I would do.

What makes a gig awesome for a drummer? Is it playing tight as fuck and not missing a beat? Is it the overall vibe? Is it crowd response and energy?
I'd say a combo of all 3 of those things, but for me personally, I'm more focused on my performance. There are times where one of my bands will have a crazy set, and maybe it wasn't my best overall performance, and that will hinder my take on the show a bit.

Do you singalong a lot while playing live? What's your favourite song to sing along to?
I used to sing along to a few Verse songs when I first joined. Haven't done that in years though. I think the song I most commonly sung along to for Verse was "Saying Goodbye"...had a cool groove in the middle, and it was one of my fav songs to play. What can I say, I got caught up in the moment!

What are some of your favourite drummers ever? What sets those dudes apart from everyone else out there? How about current drummers, who's good? Who's got the chops?
Tough question. There are sooooo many great drummers that have inspired me. I'll keep it semi-simple though. Dennis Chambers (funk fusion MASTER), Chad Smith (say what you want about the Chili Peppers, homeboy shreds the kit) and Abe Cunningham (some of the most interesting, intricate drum work). Those dudes just kill it on drums, impeccable timing, they have the speed, but more importantly they have finesse, just great all around drummers. From a hardcore standpoint: Mackie, dude is just unbelievable, makes it all look easy, great chops. He's a legend. There are currently a sizeable amount of awesome drummers in hardcore bands, but I'll just keep the list simple, and only mention Mackie by name, ha.

We all know guitarists sometimes "borrow" riffs from other bands... Do drummers sometimes "borrow" drumbeats or drumfills? Have you? What exactly did you "borrow" and where can we hear the result?
Well I can't really speak for other drummers, but I have personally been inspired by beats, or fills, but I always try to make sure that I incorporate some of my own flavor into it. I guess the most "blatant" example would be in Verse's "Old Guards, New Methods"... There's a kind of odd time snare/kick fill I do in the bridge before the end, inspired by an Abe Cunningham fill on "Lifter" by Deftones. Like I said though, it shouldnt be indistinguishable, I make sure to add my own touch to it.

That's it. Thank you. Any closing comments or shout outs?
Thank you, Bjorn. Glad that you wanted my input for this. I appreciate it. Hang outs this summer, what! That about does it. Later.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Separate The Unreal From The Real And The Untrue From The True

I've been slacking on the blog a little in the last few weeks, it kinda sucks but I promise I'll make it up to you soon. Don't worry too much though, it's only internet anyway. But as always I'm working on a few ideas so keep checking back. One of them is a special on drummers, which is going to be pretty cool. Another thing I'm working on is a project with a few good friends, more info in due time but I am real excited about it, kinda like a 4 year old in a candy shop. Or Geert Hollanders in a WWII museum! There's been a whole bunch of awesome releases, shows and tours recently and even more to come so summer looks like it's going to be awesome...

One of the most exciting bands in hardcore these days is definitely Trapped Under Ice. That band is so ill. They are currently wrapping up their European tour and I would definitely advise you to go see them if you can. After that they have a full U.S. tour coming up with Terror. Talk about an awesome package. Their most recent EP on Reaper Records called "Stay Cold" is filled with well crafted, hard and sincere hardcore with a lot of groove. Crown Of Thornz and Breakdown are definitely references, yet it doesn't quite stop there. There's more to their sound and whatever it is, it's got a lot of people hooked. I love how a lot of older heads are super stoked on this band. I feel like this is one of those bands that could bring a lot of different types of hardcore kids to shows, in the same way that a band like American Nightmare did a few years ago. Either way, both lyrically and musically this band soars high, I hope to see more of them in the future.

Another awesome record that just came out is the debut album of Holland's Union Town, on Powered Records. Look out for an in depth review here soon. Such a good record. Soulful, energetic and anthemic songs with a lot of late 80's DC vibes. Listen to their recird here:

Bitter End seems to have done real well on their European tour with Meltdown and 50 Lions, and rightfully so because they always kill it live. Hard band. I was/am really into "Climate Of Fear" but it seems like they're going to be taking things up a notch with their new upcoming EP... Listen to "Purgatory", a song off that EP here:

What else? Well, Rhythm To The Madness is currently writing songs for their first full length to be titled "Weltschmerz", which will be out in September on Powered Records, in time for a European tour with Blacklisted. I saw Rhythm To The Madness last week in a huge venue that can hold close to a thousand people (and held around 350 for that show) and it was awesome. Two longhaired freaks on the left side of the stage, Stief rippin' it up on the other side and Klaas wearing a black wifebeater. They covered "Unexpected" at this show. You cannot not move when that song's being played. Unless you're deaf, I guess.

Other than that, I need to see The Reactionaries again soon.



P.S. Shout outs to my man Murph who is getting married next weekend, my man Stefan who is going to be a dad within the next 2 weeks and my man Packo who became a father last week.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jordan Posner / Interview Part II

So while Part I of this interview mainly focused on "Ill Blood" and how No Warning got to writing an album of such proportions, Part II mainly deals with the controversial follow up to that album, called "Suffer, Survive". I love it personally but I know there's a lot of haters out there too. I guess I can kind of see where they come from as well. Also Jordan tells a little more about his current band Millenial Reign, featuring Damian of Fucked Up fame on vocals along with fellow ex-No Warning members Ryan and Jesse. Good stuff.

"Suffer, Survive"... I hated it when I first heard it and loved it 3 days later. Do you think a lot of people responded to that record the same way I did?
Oh for sure. No denying it. We obviously knew people were gonna freak out, but all we wanted was for them to give it a chance. We told people to expect a big change in our sound.

How do you look back on that record now? Was it the only possible record you could write after "Ill Blood" or do you think certain things could or should have been different?
I'm proud of it. Not all of it. There's some songs/parts on it that make me shake my head, but there's also songs that I think are just as good as anything off "Ill Blood". I don't think it was the "only possible" record we could've made after "Ill Blood", it was what we were writing at that time in our lives. One thing I really didn't like was when we started to tune down for a few songs. I never wanted to be that band. I always prided ourselves on staying a heavy band while not having to use any drop tunings and shit, but we had to tune lower on some songs to meet Ben's vocal range. Ringworm once played Toronto and after they finished a song, Human Furnace said "Not bad for a band that don't tune down huh?", he was right. If a song like "Dirtier Than The Next" was in our usual tuning, I would've liked that song a lot more.

What were some of the bands that inspired the change in sound? I'd guess Motorhead definitely was one of them?
Yah you could say Motorhead was one. I don't know if that actually came out much in those songs, but cool that you hear it. We'd always jam Motorhead songs at practice. What made writing that album a lot of fun was the fact we all went back to a lot of influences that we listened to as kids, before hardcore and punk, and mixed that with our sound. Bands like Nirvana, Pantera, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica. There were no limits, which made it the album it is I guess.

Exactly how big was the role of the producer you worked with on that record? Who exactly was he and how did you hook up with him?
Matt Hyde. He has worked with everyone from Slayer, Strung Out, to No Doubt, Porno For Pyros and Cypress Hill. Him along with Slayer's guitar tech Dan Druff were easily 2 of the coolest dudes I've had the pleasure of meeting and working with. We just listened to countless Slayer stories. We first hooked up with Matt in 2002 in Toronto. He was producing our old managers band. A few of us were hanging at the studio one day, and he walks in and is like "You guys are a hardcore band? You like Hatebreed? I just produced their new album. Wanna hear it?". That day we heard "Perseverance" for the first time, and were going nuts.

After "Suffer, Survive" dropped you did an insane amount of touring with a lot of bands... From Hatebreed to Papa Roach to Snoop Dogg... Exactly how many tours did you do and who with? Was it always fun or sometimes just plain weird? Which one was your favourite tour?
We were on the road for about a year and half straight, so alot of it became a blur, but most of those tours were all fun as fuck. We did some shows with Sevendust and that was pretty weird. I had no idea why so many people were coming out to see Sevendust. They were fucking horrible. Their crew hated us.

How, when and why did No Warning break up?
The story behind it all was very weird and unexpected (for me). We were a band whose members seemed to grow as people, going their different paths, quicker than recognizing what we were building as a band itself. We started out as a bunch of 15-16 year old kids who loved hardcore. It was a hobby for us and we never expected to make what we made out of it. Whatever popularity we gained along the way, just inspired us to make better songs and be a better band. I'm not gonna bother to defend/prove myself and the rest of the band as to why we made the crazy choices we made so soon after we started to make a name for ourselves in the scene. We were still pretty young kids new to a lot of things, but we were confident enough with our talents as musicians to accept the opportunities that were presented to us. In the end, did it work out? We know the answer to that one, but you live and learn I guess. We had the time of our lives and got to do shit we never imagined was possible. Just like many good/shitty bands do, we broke up cuz of shitty "artistic/creative differences". The whole whirwind we had been on the past couple years came to a head, and fast. The No Warning wikipedia site was hilarious (whoever censored and changed it can DIE!!). No Warning played our last show on September 11th 2005 in Quebec City.

One thing No Warning never got to do is a European tour... Which fucking sucks. What's the deal, did you never get any offers, or why is it that it never happened?
That's still a mystery I guess. Haha. That's definitely one thing I regret, cuz I always hear nothing but good things about the shows over there. I guess it wasn't in the cards for us unfortunately. Maybe one day we'll do a Euro-tour, haha. But it would probably be with Mike "The Rat" Dolloff on vocals. Haha.

Machine Shop... What was that label all about? Who ran it? How did things work between them and No Warning? Did you get the impression they "got" what you were doing?
Haha, fuck, a lot can be said about them, but I'll try to limit it. It was a label owned by Linkin Park and we were the first band signed to them. The label was run by a bunch of characters who could've easily fit into the whole cliché of that world. We got along with people for the most part, but they certainly never "got" us or the background where we came from. They tried to though. We didn't really care and just did our thing. We liked that they didn't understand us. Haha. In reality, we just assumed that Linkin Park being the biggest band on earth, we'd be their proteges à la Eminem/50 cent. Hahha.
We used to joke, with us being their first band on the label, how their staff afforded to live, cuz our A&R guy made the biggest effort to never let us see his car, or give us a lift anywhere whenever we were out in L.A. I guess he wanted to give off the impression that he was this big shot label guy, but he really drove a shitbox or took the bus. Haha. He was waiting for No Warning to make it huge so he could finally buy a car. Nah, he was an alright dude and good company.

If you would have to play 3 No Warning songs as an introduction to a young and excited coreman that hasn't ever heard the band, what songs would you pick and why?
"Short Fuse", "Modern Eyes", and "My World" I guess? One from each album. Let him hear our "weird" shit later and decide. Haha.

How serious a band is Millenial Reign? Do you have a steady line up? How many shows has Millenial Reign played so far... How were those?
We're pretty much a side project. I wish we could do more, but we're all a little older now and it's tougher to do so... Damian is busy a lot with Fucked Up, and is married. Jesse and Ryan both work at a music shop, and Bart has a full time job. This is the line-up we've had so far, we've only played a couple shows, and they were fun. Considering we don't practice much, I'd say we were pretty tight, I have a good chemistry with Jesse and Ryan after playing with them for so long. As for out of town shows, it will probably be scab line-ups for now if it happens.

You have a 7" coming out around the dawn of the new apocalypse on 1917... How soon do you think that'll be? What else can you tell us about it?
It's the 2 demo songs re-recorded and 2 new ones. The demo songs sound wayyyyyyy better. It's still coming out, I promise. We've just had some setbacks regarding the artwork for the vinyl. Fuck, we recorded it last summer already. I was telling Riley that I don't care if the cover is a giant x'd up fist, as long as it comes out. Haha.

Top 5 NYHC records ever... Go wild!
In no order...

Obviously. No explanation needed.

Not only one of the best NYHC records, but one of my favourite albums ever!! Everything about this album is perfect... The songs, the riffs, the vocals, the production. With an album like this, they should've been huge. I once saw them in Buffalo in 2000, to like 60 people, they opened up with "Master Killer", like went right into it. It was magical. They also played "Downfall Of Christ", which they've left off their setlist the past couple times I've seen them.

Another example of a band not having to tune down and completely blow out most other heavy bands who do. This album was my bible, and I'm not religious at all. A lot of people called No Warning "Mini Madball" and that's cuz of this album. That, and us actually being miniture people compared to Madball.

The perfect NYHC band to play someone who doesn't know what the hell NYHC is. I tell a lot of my friends who listen to hip hop about Breakdown, cuz since both NYHC and hip hop came around the same time in the 80's, a band like Breakdown incorporated the perfect vibe of hip hop into their sound. That NY groove. "Jail Of Depression", "Sick People", "Blacklisted"; all perfect examples.

Same boat as Breakdown. This album has such good songs. I love the production on it. The vocals are untouchable. So angry. The riffs are very unique, I love how they have an 80's rock touch to them, while still being hard as shit.

Last of all, what have you been listening to lately? What are some of the bands and/or records you are excited about?
I listen to a lot of blues, soul, classic rock, Sabbath, Obituary, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Turbonegro, shit like that. I'm a little out of the loop on current hardcore bands, but I back Iron Age and Trapped Under Ice. Those dudes have something good going.

That's it... Thanks so much for your time. If you have any final words or shout outs you want to do... Go ahead!
Thanks to you Bjorn for the interview. It was fun. Thanks to anyone who No Warning made go off, and everyone who helped and supported us right from the start to the very end. PEACE.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jordan Posner / Interview Part I

In the summer of 2001 I was hanging out at the seaside with a bunch of friends in an apartment when my man Geert Hollanders (Powered Records, Line Of Defense Fanzine, fireworks fanatic) pulled a new 7" out of his bag. He'd just gotten back from the States where he'd seen this ill new band called No Warning... and they had a 7" out. We listened the damn thing on repeat for the next few days. Heads were banging, fists were pumping and couches were damn near destroyed. We were hooked. Later on that same band released one of the best (if not the best) New York hardcore albums of the last decade, even if they were from Toronto. "Ill Blood" had the songs, the riffs, the lyrics, the attitude and then some. No matter what you think of whatever the band did after that, you're lying to yourself if you say that record doesn't make you want to stomp some holes in the floor. I exchanged a few emails with one of the best riffers of our generation; Jordan Posner.

What's up Jordan... Please briefly tell me some more about yourself... Where do you live? How old are you? What are you into?
I dont really know what to say about myself... I'm 25, from Toronto, Canada. I guess I'm into music, guitar, writing songs, weed, alchohol, shit like that. Haha.

What age were you when you got into hardcore? How did that happen? What were some of the first shows you saw?
I was around 14 years old. Like many, I got into hardcore through punk rock, and the metal bands who thanked hardcore bands in their albums. I would always check out every band I'd see in thank you lists. This was before the internet really took off, so you had to do your research. Plus, the Revelation/Very catalogs helped a lot the more I got into it. I don't recall my first actual hardcore show, but one of 'em was Sick Of It All/Strife in 1997. I also remember seeing Buried Alive like every month, cuz they were from Buffalo which was only an hour away.

Was As We Once Were your first band? How did you meet everyone else in the band? Aside from the drummer everyone in As We Once Were was also in the og. No Warning line up, right?
Yah first band. 16 years old. I was introduced to Ben and Matt throught an old friend called Adam Gill (the hardedge). Gill was the biggest youth crew fanatic, and he told me about this band As We Once Were, who were the only youth crew band in Toronto at the time, along with Walls Around Us (members of Fucked Up).

I have a handnumbered copy of the As We Once Were demo... It has an x'd up posman with a Bold shirt and Nikes on the cover. Were you guys all straight edge at the time? What bands that you listened to back then are you still really into now?
Hahha, fuck, I can't believe people still own that thing. You know your shit Bjorn. I was never straight edge. As We Once Were was an edge band until I joined. I showed up to my first practice with a smoke in my mouth. Haha. I haven't listened to much youth crew in a while. Floorpunch, that's about it.

At what point did you guys decide to quit that band and change the name to No Warning? What did you set out to achieve with No Warning?
Around late 1999 we decided to make the change. We played our first show as No Warning in early 2000 with Good Clean Fun I think haha? Or maybe it was when we played some fest outside Toronto. We covered the Cro-Mags and Vogel moshed. We were stoked.

Did people pick up quickly on No Warning? What was the response to the early shows like? Were shows crazy from the start? I seem to remember hearing you guys had a hard time getting noticed, being Canadian and all, until the 7" dropped... Is that true? When did you first think "Wow... People are really into us"?
Actually no. We were pretty much hated around Toronto the first year or so. We had our friends and people who were into us and we made our shows fun. It was a little tough getting our name known outside of Canada, but we just did our thing anyways. For some reason, once we started to get known in the States, that's when our own hometown started to boom. The first time I recall people actually being into us, was when we played this fest in Worcester, Mass. with Converge, American Nightmare , The Hope Conspiracy and a bunch of emo bands who went on to sell millions of records. That show was off the hook. By the time we played the next year's Posi Numbers fest, we had like 5 times the amount of people watching us then the year prior.

How do you think No Warning's background influenced the way the band worked and sounded... How important were factors like being from Toronto, being real young and not having ex-members of more established bands?
It didn't really. We didn't care about that shit. We just kept doing our own thing, writing songs, playing shows. I'm sure if we were from the States, we would've played a lot more shows.

What would you say were the main inspirations for that first 7"? Besides the more obvious NYHC bands I always seemed to pick up on a certain Integrity influence... Was that band one of your lesser known influences?
The main inspirations for the 7" were old Blood For Blood (demo, "Soulless", "Spit My Last Breath"), Death Threat, Floorpunch, Madball, Ringworm and OLC. Good call on the Clevo influence. Haha. I was the Clevo freak in the band.

How would you describe No Warning's mindset at the time?
To write the best songs we possibly could, and have people go off for them like they did at the final mosh.

Besides Bridge Nine, were there any other labels that wanted to sign you? I would imagine there were? What made you decide to work with them?
There wasn't actually. We released the 7" on Martyr Records, and just kept playing shows not really thinking about anything next. We were super excited when Chris Wrenn and B9 showed interest and wanted to re-release the 7".

"Ill Blood" is one of the most highly acclaimed hardcore records of the last decade for sure. How do you look back on that album now? What do you like and dislike about it? Is there anything you would change if given the chance to?
I'm very appreciative that people think the record is that good. That album is very special to us all, no matter what kind of shit the other members are into these days. I like all the songs, but I hate how the 2nd half of the album is mixed. We had to rush with mixing and that is the result. People say they don't mind it, but it still bugs me. Also, listen closely to the feedback at the end of the album.

What are some of your favourite songs off that record and why? Who wrote what? You wrote the majority of the riffs, right?
I love 'em all but "Short Fuse", "Ill Blood" and "No Time For You" are my faves. The vibes we got when first putting them together and hearing them in the studio... I pretty much wrote the whole album, but Matty D wrote "Ill Blood". He pulled that one outta nowhere. Definitely his finest moment.

You recorded the album with Dean Baltounis at Atomic... Whose idea was that? How was working on your first full length album with a dude that was in Eye For An Eye?
I think it was Chris Wrenn's idea. Dean had done a lot of sick albums that sounded great, plus we were stoked to go to NYC. Dean was the coolest of cool. Very laid back and a good dude. I didn't know he was in Eye For An Eye, but I knew he was in 454 Big Block. Little did we know, that Atomic was also owned by Mike Dijan (Breakdown), as well as Dean and Matt Henderson. We pulled up and started to load our gear in, when Dijan comes out, starts helping us load and is like " yo I'm gonna be helping you record your album". We were a bunch of excited 19 year olds.

A funny story, I was doing guitar tracks for "Short Fuse" and Dijan walks in. I started getting all paro and shit cuz parts of that song were "borrowed" from Breakdown's "Sick People". I'm thinking he's gonna recognize it and like hurt me. So at first, he's not really paying attention, then he pauses, listens to the song for a couple seconds, starts bopping his head to it and says "yahh, this one's good". Haha. I needed a smoke after that one. At one point, we had Dijan, Henderson and Porter all in the studio. We were saying to eachother OK, Madball, Breakdown and Floopunch are all helping with our record"... we were tripping.

How much input did he have? What was Matt Henderson's input on "Ill Blood", besides the solos?
Not much. He was in and out of the studio. It was mostly Dean. Henderson played the solo on "All New Low" (aka "My World 2") and Dean the solos on the outro of "Ill Blood". Matt and I couldn't solo for shit back then, so thank god Henderson came in and ripped one. Dude is a sick player.

Were the songs all done and written when you entered the studio or did you make any last minute changes or write any riffs last minute?
All the songs were written before hand. We practiced for about 2 months just jamming them out. We orginally had like 13 or 14 songs, but some had to be scrapped cuz they sounded too much like Madball's "New York City". Haha.

As soon as "Ill Blood" came out (and even before it did), a lot of bands with an obvious No Warning influence popped up... How did that make you feel? Weird? Awesome?
Like I said, I really appreciate that some people held us in that high regard, but it was a little weird at times as well. We were just a band doing the same thing with the bands that we loved. I always say how it's one thing to emulate your influences, but it's key to do it your own way.

You did a decent amount of touring after "Ill Blood" dropped... Obviously those Cro-Mags dates must've been a trip... How did those shows go? Did you turn a lot of the older, sketchy Cro-Magnons into No Warning fans? How intense is chilling with Harley and JJ at the same time?
Harley wasn't on that tour. It was JJ, AJ Novello, G-Man and Francis. I think Harley left shortly before the tour. It was still an incredible time in our lives. John and the Mags were the nicest/funniest dudes, as were the Hope Con dudes (BEEF AIN'T OVER RECORDS!!). The last show of that tour was at CBGB's and it was bar none, one of the best shows we ever played. We redeemed ourselves after the first time we played there, which was actually our worst show ever. Seriously, it was that bad .

Posi Numbers, Murphy's Law cover... Exactly what happened there? How funny did you think all the talk about it afterwards was?
We did "Panty Raid" with Porter on vocals, and I guess a few of our NY friends did the whole drench the first row with beer and whatnot. They also tackled our drummer so there wasn't any drums for like half a minute until Alex Russin grabbed some sticks and finished the song on his knees. Haha. I really don't remember what happened afterwards, people saying the straigt edge members of the band broke edge on stage?? Something stupid like that. I think Ben was using a beer bottle for a mic and that bummed people out. Haha.

Friday, May 9, 2008

So Don't Despair, This Day Will Be Their Damnedest Day

Thursday May 8th, 2008. Saw Portishead live for the first time that day. No big deal. Just one of the most intense and overpowering concerts (I really said concerts?) I've ever witnessed, by a band I have been wanting to see since I was 14 or 15. I'm not sure if anything I write will capture how fuckin' ill this show was but I might as well give it a shot.

I got to know Portishead when I was in my third year of highschool. This was around the time when I was fully discovering hardcore, while listening to some hip hop on the side. My musical taste at the time was pretty limited, life was so much simpler back then: if it wasn't Sick Of It All, Madball, Life Of Agony or Wu-Tang, it was lame to me. There was this weirdo chick in my class though, who was kinda cool. I dug that she was really into music as well. From what I can remember, she was heavily into 3 bands: Nine Inch Nails, Tool and well... Portishead. She played me one of their songs (must've been "Glory Box") in class and I was shocked. I mumbled something along the lines of "this ain't so bad" but somehow what I'd just heard had hit me hard and my 15 year old brain was confused. I needed to hear more. So long story short, I got their record from the local library a couple of weeks later and copied it onto a cassette that I wore thin during the years to follow, until I bought the actual CD.

With Portishead disappearing off the radar around 1998 however, I never got to see them live... Until a few days ago. What I did get to see a couple of years ago though, were 2 insane shows on the tour that Beth Gibbons did with Rustin Mann for the increcible record they'd created together called "Out Of Season". My man Steven Tuffin knows how good those shows were. Still, it wasn't Portishead, so I was still craving more. Now, Vorst Nationaal in Brussels may be a huge, concrete monster with the reputation of having utterly horrible acoustics, but when Portishead played that shit didn't even matter. They sounded spot on. Opened with "Silence" (including the intro), the opening track of "Third" and then went straight into "Hunter". Even if both songs are off the new album, meaning the level of nostalgia is lower, it was epic. If I'm not mistaken "Mysterons" was the first "older" song they played. I felt all weird but in a cool way. Cold sweat, goosebumps... the works you know. Their setlist seemed to consist of a nearly equal amount of songs off each album, which was fine by me. It is cool and a little frustrating at the same time that they played that many new songs... It's cool 'cause the new record rules and I love it when bands just play what they feel like playing and I respect them for that, but at the same time obviously I didn't get to hear a whole bunch of older songs I would've loved to hear live. I also felt like maybe their set was a little short, but then again it could never be long enough so what am I on about? I guess an hour and a half is a good deal.

I cannot get over how amazing Beth Gibbons' vocals are. Truly bone chilling. She's still as weird as she always was, still seems to have a hard time to face the crowd and she still mumbles things inbetween songs that could've been in Russian for all I know. While it's hard to not look at her, it's got to be said that our boy Adrian Utley (now 51 years old) was holding it down on guitar... Dude looks so cool. A few of my personal highlights of the set were "Cowboys", "Mysterons", "All Mine" and "Glory Box", though I definitely loved all of their set, except for maybe "Machine Gun". I don't know how I feel about that song. It kind of annoyed me. During "We Carry On", the last song, we did witness something crazy. Beth Gibbons coming down off stage to shake hands with (and embrace) people in the front rows. Don't know what got into her, but it was quite a sight to behold. Seemed like the little lady was nearly swallowed whole by the overenthusiastic crowd at times. Perfect way to end a nearly perfect show.

After the show, while walking back to our car I was still so high on Portishead that I bought a bootleg poster off some sketchy dude on the street. Well worth my 2 euro though. Shout outs to Jonas and Stefan. More Portishead road trips, please!