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!