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We post up to date goings on nearly every damn day at, because the natural print cycle of a physical, tangible magazine doesn’t lend itself well to the mile a minute nature of Internet news. But, we’re going to try anyway. Here’s a rundown of some of the biggest stories from the past month or so:

We knew Refused were trouble when they walked in…

I tell my sorrows to the stones…

No honor among Scumdogs…


Refused—maybe you’ve heard of them—have a new album out June 30 entitled Freedom. Frontman Dennis Lxyzén recently commented to Rolling Stone that it’s “another way to just fuck with people’s heads. Like, let’s take this song that’s one of the hardest songs on the record, and have a guy that’s worked with Taylor Swift and P!nk produce it. […] We’ve always been about saying, ‘Fuck what people expect of us.’” Could a Refused/T-Swift collaboration be in the cards? One thing’s for sure: they have at least one mutual friend on Facebook now.

GWAR went through an uncharacteristically public spat when firing new vocalist Kim Dylla—aka Vulvatron—alleging she failed to meet their expectations for the character and struggles with alcohol abuse. Dylla alleges to have found out she’d been fired via a Facebook post—isn’t 2015 great?—and responded as one does in such a situation: by exchanging Oderus-Urungus-level-ugly comments with Brent Purgason— aka guitarist Pustulus Maximus—who made the announcement. “Current and former GWAR members argue on Facebook” isn’t something I ever thought I’d have to write…

Drunk punks on the high seas…

In more on-brand news, Flogging Molly announced the 2016 edition of their Salty Dog Cruise. In addition to the founders, the lineup includes Rancid, Frank Turner, Fishbone, Street Dogs, and—according to the flyer—“Traditional Irish Players (playing about).” What does that mean, exactly? Will you be serenaded by a group of bodhrán players every morning as you foggily exit your cabin? Seriously though, this lineup looks fun…

Vote for the Party Party…

Glenn Beck—that frosty-eyed libertarian guy who your weird uncle used to watch on Fox News—gave purported partier Andrew W.K. a radio show on his own TheBlaze network. “America W.K.”’s inaugural episode didn’t delve into politics, thank goodness, but was more about Andrew’s “party” philosophy: partying as a conduit for the power of positive thinking. Don’t let the stench of Beck deter you from checking it out.

An Inconvenient Truth of the Camera Eye…

Titus Andronicus announced plans for a 29 track, 93 minute rock opera titled The Most Lamentable Tragedy, the concept of which stems from frontman Patrick Stickles’ own battles with manic depression. Heavy lyrics paired with triumphant music is what Titus do best, and based on that alone, this sounds like a return to form for the band who wowed us with 2010’s dense The Monitor. How will fans with short attention spans react? Time will tell.

The FEST re-launched their website and announced over 250 bands for this year’s event, set for Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 in Gainesville, Flo. Headliners so far include Lagwagon, Desaparecidos, mewithoutYou, The Menzingers, and more. Many Internet nerds presumably scratched their beards, dramatically removed their wayfarers, and stared at their mountain of FEST koozies, wondering where the “real headliners” were. Most of them will be at FEST anyway. Come say hi!

Here’s to the Powerbomb…

Billy Corgan—who wants to be called William now that he’s turned 48—joined TNA Wrestling’s creative department. Corgan’s been a pro graps fan for years; he was even in charge of his own federation, Resistance Pro Wrestling, for a bit, which was set to get its own show on AMC before the network scrapped it. Say what you will about Corgan, but if he approaches the work with the sort of vigor that defined The Smashing Pumpkins’ earlier work, it could be very, very good.


As rock docs go, one about the long, occasionally tumultuous history of Agnostic Front seems like a great idea. Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma agree, and filmmaker Ian McFarland has been working on “The Godfathers of Hardcore” for some time. Assuming the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the film should see a 2016 release. Not too many NYHC godfathers, if you will, are still out there recording and touring while dealing with jobs and family life. It’s an interesting dynamic that this film has a great chance to explore. Fund it!

Morrissey penned a letter to Al Gore and the organizers of the controversial Live Earth environmental awareness project, calling for the June 18 events to be animal cruelty-free. Morrissey, much to his credit, pointed out their hypocrisy, saying, “Serving meat and dairy products at an event to combat climate change is like selling pistols at a gun control rally. Your responsibility is to alert people to a crisis, not sell out to the vendors responsible for it.” Mic drop.




could soon be whizzing over to the big sandbox to “get some,” whether you agree with the policy that put your poor ass in harm’s way or not.


reetings! Anybody my age or older will get the joke there. It was how the U.S. Armed Forces let you know you had been chosen, based on your birth date, to drop everything and go downtown, unless you were some sort of unpatriotic weirdo who would do something like Mr. T. Nugent of Michigan: “…I ceased cleansing my body. No more brushing my teeth, no more washing my hair, no baths, no soap, no water. 30 days of debris build. I stopped shavin’ and I was 18, had a little scraggly beard, really looked like a hippie. I had long hair, and it started gettin’ kinky, matted up. Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer—stuff I never touched—buttered poop, little jars of Polish sausages, and I’d drink the syrup. I was this side of death. Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. Poop, piss, the whole shot. My pants got crusted up!” [Nugent later claimed to have fabricated this story. –NN]

unarmed he could find. All while making hundreds of times what a grunt in a foxhole getting shot at made.

You went down, took your physical, and happily served your country by going halfway around the world to kill people who had done nothing to you or to our country other than watch, for instance, as our own Navy warships—under command of George Stephen Morrison, father of Jim. Yes, that Jim—manufactured an international incident in order to be able to go to war with North Viet Nam for the military industrial complex. While you did this, guys like Mr. T. Nugent of Michigan went around the country playing guitar while wearing loincloths, shot flaming arrows at a skull on top of their amps, hosted phony guitar battles against Mike Pinera—who was easily miles better and a much more interesting guitarist than Mr. T. Nugent of Michigan; Hell, he wrote and sang “ Ride Captain Ride”—and indulged in sex with a bevy of underage girls when not shooting anything inhuman and

I’m not sure how many kids out there realize that, while the Draft does not exist at this time, the Selective Service does, and if you are over the age of 18, you have likely already registered. In a time of national emergency, like, say, oh, an invasion of Iran, it could be reinstated and your ass

It was called the Draft, and it scared the piss out of us who were turning 18 at the end of the Viet Nam War. Officially called the “Selective Training and Service Act,” it began in, oddly enough, 1940, and lasted through WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, until 1973. It began with a necessary war, then one called a “police action” (?), then one to stop “Communism” and the “Domino Theory,” which meant if we lost, the world was screwed and doomed to life under the yoke of “Communism.” We did indeed lose, btw, and it has not affected the U.S. one iota other than having to act like we won when we hadn’t. The only way out of the Draft was to be deferred, either through a college deferment, failing to meet the physical requirements due to a health issue, or as a conscientious objector.

I am not anti-military, or even antiwar. Our country needs to be defended, and we are fortunate to have enough patriotic young men and women willing to volunteer to fight. I respect anyone who has the bravery to put themself in a shitstorm so most of us don’t have to. Given a reason such as an invasion of North America by an army from, Hell, anywhere, I would even agree with the reinstatement of the Draft. But we also have a seemingly endless supply of cynical politicians, billionaires wanting to be trillionaires, chairborne commandos like Limbaugh, and just plain ornery psychopathic gun nuts filled with Neanderthal hatred of anything that is different or that they can’t understand. This includes four fifths of their countrymen, all other races or religions, all wildlife, and most words with multiple vowels or more than two syllables. You know, assholes who just like trouble and enjoy watching people get killed like it’s a football game, as long as someone else is on the field. You know, guys like Mr. T. Nugent of Michigan. I think defending our borders is of the utmost importance and I, myself, were any foreign force to invade the U.S., would happily—well, OK, not happily—pick up a gun and fight beside my countrymen, no uniform necessary. Hell, I’d even buy my own ammo! Wetre my son to want to enlist to defend our borders, I would be proud and scared shitless for him, and I would respect that decision, if it’s still his to make. Because the Draft can be reinstated with a flick of the pen… And, as we’ve seen lately,

some real assholes want to run this country and invade Iran. Would I have gone to fight in Iraq for the lies told by the criminals in power lying to us? No fucking way. Would I let my son be sent to fight for the folly of a demented father and son and their perverse, lying cronies, war billionaires all? No fucking way! I’d knock him out and drive his ass to Canada before that would happen. I’d shoot him in the foot. But first, I am making sure he knows exactly why he shouldn’t fight for men like that. I show him what fighting three wars for men like that has done to our once great nation— the turmoil it caused in the ‘60s and early ‘70s; the collateral damage to our country’s moral compass; the disrespect and lack of support and medical care for our returning veterans—and how believing everything you’re told only makes more things untrue, only spreads the evil and rot like cancer. I show him how it has played a large part in creating one of the most uneducated, willingly ignorant, greedy, and corrupt cultures built on fear, greed, and hate the earth has ever seen. And yet, even I would give my life to defend it if invaded by a foreign army. But they will not take my son to fight for lies. No fucking way. From my cold dead hands, motherfuckers! In part two, I plan to dig a little deeper into the subject of a war with Iran, our culture of war, and those who only respect men in uniforms with guns, be it military or police… and the men in suits making trillions from it. See ya next time, CC





Gloria, who is my wife. There is a uniqueness you get when playing with a family member. I can’t describe it… It’s very free flowing. It’s all about the energy. This record represents my vision of that concept. It’s my vision of the art that I’ve been doing for 30 years.” ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY HANNAH VERBEUREN

wanted to capture the energy without compressing that. Pretty much every song has a fast part, and Matt was killer about getting that into the recording.” As always, the band will include one of their far out instrumental tracks, this one being “Soulfly X.” This time, in order to push the boundaries, the band brought an Armenian duduk player into the studio. An ancient flute, the duduk has lent its creepy tone to many movies including “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “300,” and “Gladiator.” “The duduk almost stays in the same note though the whole song,” Cavalera says. “It is hypnotic, like a mantra. It might be my favorite instrumental so far.”

“The opener on the new album is called ‘We Sold Our Souls to Heavy Metal’ and it’s a pure thrash assault,” says Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera. “It will tear your face off.” Cavalera is speaking on the phone from his bus. He’s on tour with his other band, Cavalera Conspiracy, which also includes his brother Igor, but he can’t wait to get back to California to put the finishing touches on the new Soulfly album. The release is a sort of milestone for Cavalera. He was a founding member of seminal Brazilian thrash band Sepultura—also featuring Igor—before leaving after 12 years and forming Soulfly, a unique mixture of classic metal, tribal music, and avant-garde experimentation. Now composed of Cavalera, his son Zyon, Marc Rizzo, and Tony Campos, Soulfly is aiming to release their 10th(!) album in August. “The new record is going to be called Archangel,” Cavalera continues. “There is a lot of biblical stuff on this album. There’s a song about Sodom. The title track is about the war in Heaven. There’s a song called ‘Bethlehem’s Blood,’ which is about the killing of the infants in Bethlehem.” Despite the album’s biblical theme, Cavalera isn’t looking to push an agenda. Rather—as heavy metal has done since Ozzy cried out in fear at the sight of Satan on “Black Sabbath”—the new LP investigates these tales from an artistic and personal standpoint. Cavalera says, “I’m not here to preach to anybody to become Christian. That’s not what I’m here for at all. Everyone has different beliefs and I respect everyone. This album is meant to be a piece of art. I think that a lot of the Bible stories are




really hardcore to start with. The story of Sodom is actually really brutal about how God destroys the sodomites for all their sins. Then, you have the war in Heaven with all the archangels fighting the devil. I hope people get it.” For recording, the band hunkered down in a Van Nuys studio with producer Matt Hyde, who has worked with Slayer, Porno For Pyros, and even No Doubt. As the band laid down the instrumental tracks, Hyde took a strong hand in the album’s development. Cavalera says, “I listen to a lot of brutal stuff, like Aborted, Nails. I wanted this music to sound like what I listen to. Matt was really excited by that. My son, Zyon, drums with a lot of energy. Matt really

Also, as is his trademark, Cavalera brought in the rest of his family to contribute to one of the album’s tracks. “All of my kids sing on one song,” he says. “The song is called ‘Mother of Dragons’ and it’s about their mother,

3/19 The Wandering Goat Eugene, OR

In 1999, everyone was talking about anarchists hijacking the WTO protest in Seattle, and destroying Starbucks windows. They were from the Whiteacre, a part of Eugene where, at one time, cops were afraid to patrol. The Whiteacre today is essentially the hemp necklace of the criminal world—unlawful, but earth tone. When the coke dealer I was chatting with about metal received a complaint that his product smelled like old feet, he admitted he stored it in capsules that had previously held Va-

lerian root, a plant known for its anti-anxiety properties and its horrible smell. When he offered me a freebie, I declined, for multiple reasons. Breakfast took place in the same spot that the show happened the night before—The Wandering Goat. Keeping in line with the hippy-crime vibe, convicted eco-terrorist Jeff “Free” Luers—who did 10 years for arson—joined us for some vegan biscuits and gravy. In almost every town we visited, [banjo player] Caspian was able to find someone to play Southern style old-time music with, often near piles of mulch. 



About five years ago, I showed up in Olympia drunk and holding a sword. By the time I left town, I had quit drinking and the sword was nowhere to be found. I thought it was long gone, but when we showed up at the house we were staying at, there it was—in the fireplace! We played at Obsidian, a newish bar-pub-cafe thing that is co-owned by Nathan Weaver, the guitar player of Wolves In The Throne Room. It’s a really nice spot with good coffee, great service, and excellent sound. Yay.



I don’t often say a lot of good things about Portland, but I’ll mention a couple. There’re tons of excellent people here and the anarchist info shop, Anarres, has a kicker—or foosball—table. Also, there’s an affordable sushi place downtown that has all the sushi on a model freight train, so that’s nice. Our good friend and token hesher, Paul, found a VHS video camera and videographed our set. Also, I got to get in a chlorine-free hot tub and talk about magic. Magic is very popular in Portland right now.

3/20 Peter’s Room PORTLAND, OR

3/21 The charleston Bremerton, wa

punk venue—where we played—and kink club both right on the main drag. I’m not sure you could call it downtown, but there doesn’t seem to be much else. Also the venue—The Charleston—has a kicker table. Our washboard player, Joel, completely creamed these two bros at kicker all on his own—he staffs at Anarres— and I put a couple bros down myself. More than half of Washington is forest, so whenever we are up here, we go on as many hikes as possible. It is also the second largest lumber producer in the U.S., and there are a lot of very scenic clearcuts just off the main roads. Deforestation is no laughing matter, but when the joke is funny enough, even a mass tree grave can’t stop you.


Bremerton is a totally OK military town with an active PyratePunx scene. There are a lot of huge, I don’t know, probably Air Force boats out on the water that you can look at. Every time I see them, I imagine Pearl Harbor all over again. The raddest thing about this town is that there is a punk owned


We actually did two shows in Seattle. The first night was an all ages house show, and it was a complete wreck. We played well and everyone had a good time, but we had to buy toilet paper for the house before the show started! Get your shit together, guys! Turns out we have a thing for playing at bars owned by really 3/27 cellar door port townsend, wa

Before leaving Seattle for Port Townsend, we did the tourist thing and stopped at a couple record shops. We sold some vinyl to Georgetown Records, and then Caspian got kicked out of some unnamed shop on Capitol Hill for trying on hats without asking! The drive to Port Townsend is pretty scenic, and I did it on the back of a motorcycle, which was a treat for me, a van driver. Once in Port Townsend, Caspian played old-time music with Charles Espey, a really really amazing and well-known violin bow maker. The bows he makes are

friendly and rad metal dudes, so our legit Seattle show was at the Highline. The bar is co-owned by Dylan Desmond, formerly of Samothrace and currently of Bell Witch—two amazing doom bands—so if you haven’t heard them, check them out. After spending the day at Seward Park, we headed over to The Highline, where there was “punk comedy” happening. I didn’t totally get it, but I also have a really boring sense of humor, so I feel comfortable assuming it was totally cool. Once again, we played with a bunch of cool bands I’ve never heard of, and had a great time.


so well regarded that he doesn’t even play with one himself—they’re too expensive!



Furthermore, Hardy says Microwave’s “beloved drummer Tito is preparing to run for president in 2016. He will be the first President to have watched ‘Batman: The Dark Knight’ three times in one sitting.  Whereas, all the other candidates will be wearing hockey pads, Tito is not wearing hockey pads.”



Atlanta may be the hip hop and R&B capital of the South, but in basements and small clubs just about every night of the week, there are a handful of truly great local punk rock bands that rarely get the chance to be heard outside of the city limits. “With 2 Chainz planning to run for mayor of a neighboring city and the


ometimes musicians get started on one project, and don’t get to do their other project ideas until about five years later. That’s the case with Wolfnote, a band comprised of members of hardcore outfit Harm’s Way. “[Drummer] Chris [Mills], [bassist] Dave [Cronin] and I have all played music together for a long time, Chris and I since we were in High School,” vocalist and guitarist Bo Lueders says. “Chris and I had wanted to do a softer band for, like, the last five years, but never got around to it. There really wasn’t an official decision… It was just something we wanted to do and we knew that Dave would be the right addition. It was all pretty organic; we had songs and were excited about them, so we recorded them.” Wolfnote has been compared to Alkaline Trio, a clear illustration of their departure from the aggressive sound of Harm’s Way. As it goes with side projects, fans of the original band either love or hate the new




much larger audience. They played SXSW for the first time this year and are “headed back into the studio at the beginning of May,” says Hardy. “Then on May 15, we’re headed to the West Coast for a few weeks. We’re also playing the Wrecking Ball Fest in Atlanta in August. If you haven’t seen the lineup yet, make sure you have a change of underwear when you check it out.  We also have plans to tour in the fall and will be playing FEST in Gainesville, Flo., at the end of October.”

God of Trap, Gucci Mane, residing in our midst, Atlanta is rightfully best known for its hip hop [and] trap scene,” says vocalist and guitarist Nathan Hardy. “It also has an awesome scene for a somewhat unique blend of stoner metal, punk, and indie rock. For the most part, the people who make up the scene here are open to and supportive of a wide variety

of different music. You can destroy someone’s living room at a d-beat [or] crust show one night, then go to a hip hop or indie/pop punk show the next night and buy him or her an apologetic beer.”

material, but to Wolfnote, that’s not important. “Obviously, people might check out a song or the record because of our connection to Harm’s Way, but clearly it’s a departure,” Lueders says. “I get why people who might be Harm’s Way fans might not be into this project, but some are. Most importantly, we are.”


If their 2014 self-released debut, Stovall, is any indication, Microwave are destined to be heard by a much,

Hardy is stoked and thankful for the opportunity to do what he loves. “The Internet can be a treacherous place and it has been unusually kind to us,” he says. “We’re grateful for that and hope to be able to keep up momentum and get out on the road more in the coming months [and] years. There’s no better feeling than consuming alcohol in a parked vehicle. That’s why we do what we do.”


Whether the fans approve or not, Wolfnote will release their self-titled EP June 9 via Head2Wall Records. For the trio, the recording process was a fun change from their normal routine. “We are very excited about this new EP. It came out a lot better than I was honestly expecting,” Lueders exclaims. “The entire weekend was very laid back and just kind of new. […] I really liked it, and really want to do it again.”


Fans of Wolfnote should take advantage of any chance they get to see the band on stage, as Lueders says there probably won’t be any extensive touring. “Honestly, one of the best parts about Wolfnote is how open to stuff we can be… or not be,” he

explains. “We aren’t really that interested in playing everywhere and grinding it out on the road. That’s another example of this project being different than Harm’s Way: not everyone will get the chance to see us live, and maybe for this project, that’s a

good thing. I expect it to stay a smaller side project, because it’s how we want it to be. It really is a thing for us.”



he field of engineering takes on a whole new meaning with Author & Punisher. The one-man band of Tristan Shone is the epitome of an album perfectly engineered to obliterate the senses. Seriously, this album is engineered. His new record Melk En Honing will be available June 30 via producer Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records. Shone makes all of his own instruments, and both live and on record, you can find a “Linear Actuator, Rails, Rack & Pinion, Rotary Encoder, Throttles, Trachea Quad Mic, Headgear, Mute/Gate/Dither/Drone Masks, [and] piano.” Shone explains, “My sound is very bass heavy and dissonant electronic music with a strong organic nature. I make heavy industrial music that is all played live with no sequences. It is very noisy at times, but I also try to keep solid rhythms and themes going, albeit on instruments that often miss their mark pitch-wise, throwing you and myself off,” he laughs. Melk En Honing is the second Author & Punisher album. “The plan for this album was to be a bit more direct with heaviness,” Shone explains. “Specifically, the album

title is Dutch, and dates back to a trip in 2011 to the Netherlands where I toured with all my cases strapped together on the train, across cobblestones, up stairs, by myself. It was brutal and I almost lost it mentally, but it really forged a platform and mentality for Author & Punisher that I’m proud of. The performance, process, everything is hard and strenuous. It should be. It should not be ‘plastic box on the table’ for this type of music. It should ruin you, and that’s what I think my music does. That’s what the title means, the basic fluids and inside of your needs.” In case you couldn’t guess, live performances are especially challenging for Shone, who says playing live is “exhausting, especially now with the heavier instruments coming on tour with me. It’s a harsh load-in on stage since a few of the instruments are 200 and 300 pounds. The tables are steel welded; [they] bang your shins, cut your hands. The rotary encoder requires a steel pole and two people to do a funeral lift onto the base platform it spins on. After all this, I play for up to an hour. By the end, my voice is ruined, since I have been droning on the throat  and drone masks at every possible break.”





ocalist Seth Davey gives the most accurate possible explanation for Attalus’ sound: “I would say that if Thrice and Blindside got married and


sbury Park, NJ based four piece Hot Blood just released their latest EP: the pummeling hardcore punk drenched Overcome Part 1, available physically via Little Dickman Records and digitally via Basement Records. “We wanted to have something multifaceted,” guitarist Alex Rosen says, “where it comes with a poster of the artwork, we have the lyrics on it, we have this little insert that our buddy wrote for it, and it comes with the CD, so you can listen to it in your car. And it also comes on a flexi-disc. […] We just wanted something where you can listen to it, look at it, read it.” Overcome Part 1 includes four new tracks. “‘Class Warfare’ is a song I wrote at the very beginning of the band,” explains vocalist and guitarist Mat Kiley. “It’s one of the first songs we played live. We wanted to redo it and involve some friends on it this time. ‘Blood on My Hands,’ I was doing stupid labor work. […] It’s kind of a working class song. ‘Cop in a Tank,’ I wrote that around the time of Ferguson. And that was just a satirical look at the militarization of the police force. ‘Rust,’ I was watching a documentary about post-

had a musical child, and that child grew up and married Coldplay, and then the two of them had a musical child, that child would possibly sound like us.”

industrial wastelands, about Flint, Mich., in particular and it was eye opening.”



Seth is definitely on the right track here; Attalus is equally guitar, vocal, and piano driven in a way that emphasizes the power of passionate, beautiful music. This is progressive rock that dares to progress from song to song. What’s most impressive is how varied the band’s Facedown Records debut—released on June 2—comes across. Into the Sea is an impressive 16 song concept record that finds a way to paint with a very broad strokes throughout the record. So, what’s the album about? “Many authors and musicians have used the sea as a reference to God in some way,” Davey begins. “On this particular record, the sea represents two equally important aspects of the nature of God: His justice and mercy. Similar to the classic work of literature ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,’ this album plays out like an old sailor telling his story.” “The first seven songs depict his futile

attempt at saving himself,” he continues, “while the last half of the record chronicles his decision to leave the ship and accept the grace of God.” It’s takes great skill to make such a story feel natural and compelling, instead of preachy or provoking, but Davey’s lyrics are relatable, while still oozing personal passion. Into the Sea is just as intricate musically as it is lyrically. The rich balladry of “Step Out” segues into the angular progressive rock of “Albatross” and the lush spoken word post-hardcore of “The Breath Before the Plunge.” It’s a mighty feat to make all these seemingly disparate sounds feel this cohesive, but Attalus pulls it off swimmingly. This is a band to watch in 2015; they have seamlessly married personal passion and talent. For Attalus, tonight the sky is pink, to this sailor’s delight.



The band has recently been on tour in the Northeast and Canada. “We had the best time with our friends in Buffalo, [N.Y.],” recalls Kiley. “The shows are great; the crowds have been really, really good and responsive to our music, buying merch. We had some technical difficulties, but it happens.” “We’ve been playing the new record, and we’ve been playing stuff from No Kings and Overcome Part 1,” adds Rosen. “It’s four songs, so we’ve been playing that entire EP every night. And we’ve been road testing some songs from Overcome Part 2.” “We start recording Overcome Part 2 in May,” Kiley elaborates. “I think we’re doing all that with Pete Steinkopf from the Bouncing Souls, as well. So, we figure we might as well start practicing that stuff and try and get it pretty good live.”







INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST AND GUITARIST VINCE HERO BY NICHOLAS SENIOR One of the hallmarks of pop punk is to taking your music seriously, but not yourself. Southern California based band Fozzy’s Hero—probably a reference


n his first “official” interview, the ringleader of Grim Deeds—who goes by, well, Grim Deeds—declares he wants the band to be catchy pop punk with a darker, funnier side. “I wanna keep it dumb, but to offset the dumbness, there’s this deep quality,” Deeds says. “If you’re willing to dig in, there’s a lot there.” Though The Lillingtons’ Kody Templman and Alex Martel are a part of the project, it’s mostly just Deeds. “It’s mostly me recording in my bedroom or my car, and writing songs and showing them to my friends,” he says. “All the stuff I put out is very unofficial. When I started it, I’d already tried being in a band where I wanted to get people to like it and put a lot of money into it. I tried to book all the shows myself. I couldn’t deal with the amount of effort you put in to try to make a band work, plus the frequent disappointments you encounter.” “I was just like, ‘I’m gonna do music,

to everyone’s third favorite Muppet— understands this very well. The band started back in 2001 as a three piece, but took a hiatus in 2010 when vocalist and

because I love writing songs, and not really give a shit if it goes anywhere.” He continues, “That was the trick, because it got me to write songs that were a little more risky and funny, and people were more into that than when I was trying really hard to get people to like it.” Grim Deeds has a low-key approach, using Bandcamp to post new material. “I had this system of doing four songs, I’d get my friend to do some art for it, I’d get my other friend to help mix it and master, and then I’d throw it up there,” Deeds explains. “Then, people actually started buying the songs. I decided after the first four installments of EPs [that] I had enough songs. I’ve only got that one [selftitled] CD. Everything else [on the site] is whatever I record that weekend.”

guitarist Vince Hero started a family and moved to Georgia. The other members played in other bands for a few years, then Hero moved back to the area a couple years ago and ignited the old flame. “We decided to get the original Fozzy’s Hero members back for a few practice sessions,” Hero explains. “Nothing serious…” Fozzy’s Hero has a busy year ahead of them. “We have just tightened up our new 12 song album, Successfully Set for Failure, and are currently writing new music for our sophomore album with VLE Records,” Hero says. “It’s been over eight years since we have been in a recording studio, so of course, we were a little rusty at it. We seemed to have found the formula that fits our busy schedules and to accommodate our future projects.” By the sound of Successfully Set for Failure, Fozzy’s Hero has definitely figured out a successful—




was a show in Chicago where Kody and Alex played with me and Jacob [DeSersa] on drums.” Next up is a big show in May in Vegas with Dan Vapid, The Lillingtons,


stay emotionally stable. He pointed out [guitarist] Gaz [Jennings of Cathedral] to play in Lucifer.” Musically, Sadonis sees this as a “continuation. The core main influences remain, but The Oath was leaning to NWOBHM.” The other difference is the writing process. “[The Oath guitarist] Linnéa [Olsson] was raw, punky, Motörhead. Gaz is more Trouble. Of course, the similarities between both bands are Black Sabbath. Lucifer is not as metal. It is more diverse, has more depth while less aggressive.”


he biggest surprise of 2014 was a debut from The Oath. The look, the energy, and the hard driving, dark, psychedelic doom riffs captivated critics and fans. Disappointingly, as soon as the album dropped, the band was finished. Vocalist Johanna Sadonis was left examining the ashes. “It was a fiery relationship, good and bad. There was a lot of friction,” Sadonis laments. “I loved that band. I had big plans.” Among the shards, however, were reflections of light to guide the future. “That’s the twist of the story,” she says. “The




death of the Oath turned into something new. […] I would not hang my head in sorrow. I moved fast in forming Lucifer in my head.” Considering The Oath broke up in March 2014, and Lucifer was up by June, it was fast. Their first full-length Lucifer I is already available via Rise Above Records. Sadonis recruited bassist Dino Gollnick— who had been in talks with The Oath—and kept drummer Andy Prestidge—also of Angel Witch. “I was talking so much to Lee [Dorrian, owner of Rise Above Records] during The Oath break up,” she recalls. “Dorrian was encouraging and helped me

As far as future live shows, the band is hopeful. “We haven’t toured in a while, due to family and work,” says Hero. “We are hoping to get out to Florida this year for FEST; maybe catch a ride with a few local bands out there and cross tour with them.” Most importantly, Hero wants to remind everyone that, while the new music is serious—at least seriously good—the band doesn’t take itself too seriously. What does the future hold? “Fozzy’s Hero is hoping to quit our day jobs as Suge Knight’s auto insurance agents and become full time musicians.” Keep being you, Fozzy’s Hero.



So, where can you see Grim Deeds live? “I’ve only played two shows,” Deeds admits. “One was an acoustic show, and the other


pun intended—formula. The songs have a comfortable feeling to them, catchy and easily digestible.

Donning the moniker of evil incarnate is a bold declaration. “It is a powerful name,” Sadonis concedes. “It is a blunt move. I say Lucifer, not the devil. This is a misconception that they are interchangeable. […] He was a fallen angel, the brightest star in the sky. He was viewed as a positive figure. Then, Christianity misrepresented him due to his beauty and intelligence. Christianity used him to have people not be proud and labeled him a misfit.” The latter half of 2015 explodes with energy and activity for Lucifer. They just played Roadburn, with four warm-up gigs before that, “small shows in Germany, supporting Pentagram,” Sadonis says. Coming up is an American tour with High On Fire, Pallbearer, and Venomous Maximus.







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or being such a small landmass, Britain offers a great density of quality music, especially in the punk and hardcore scenes. The latest band

Mike IX Williams is best known as the nihilistic singer for the sludge soaked Southern metal monstrosity that is EyeHateGod, but this New Orleans local is also a member of several other extreme music bands. The newest is Williams’ noisy side project, the post-industrial The Guilt Of… The Guilt Of… is a two-man band made up of Williams and Ryan McKern, former member of Wolvhammer. This demented duo is serving Skinny Puppy on steroids, infused with blackened guitar, power electronics, and tortured punk vocals. Williams points to the band’s full-length vinyl LP Isolation Room on Last Hurrah Records to elaborate a bit about The Guilt Of…’s sound. “This LP in particular is a mix of electronics, punk, black metal, and noise,” he says. “We have a bunch of releases out and they all vary in sound from SPK—a seminal industrial band from Australia— Influenced, atmospheric experimental stuff to relentless, blackened power electronics.”

you need to hear before they head to the States is Crooks U.K. “[Crooks] is a reference to our desire to set ourselves goals and achieve them no matter what!” vo-

Williams explains that The Guilt Of…’s releases are hard to find, because “most of our stuff is [super] limited, [released in runs of 500 copies or less]. [Besides Isolation Room], we have a [12”] split with Merzbow, a [self-titled] 12”, a split 7” with Full Of Hell, a split 10” with Ivs Primae Noctis, and our Broken Glass anti-cassette is [long] out of print. The ‘Mike IX Williams’ 7” is me and Ryan. The Guilt Of… has many forms.” Williams is quick to give homage to his hometown for the music and lyrics he creates. “The atmosphere of New Orleans has certainly helped out with [our] sound, the depressed state of things. Always struggling to get by and general anxiety were both big influences,” opines Williams. “New Orleans is a beautiful city, but it’s the most backwards place I have ever lived, as far as big cities go. The whole economy thing is one problem. Jobs are nonexistent. The drinking thing also has a lot to do with it. Bars never close here. In the early days,


calist and guitarist Alex Pay states. The band’s brand of angular, emotional punk has found a U.S. audience with the smashing new single, “A Few Peaceful Days,” and an upcoming, as of yet untitled album from Equal Vision and Headphone Music. From both this single and the band’s previous work, Crooks’ passion is not only evident, it’s downright infectious. One of the best attributes of Crooks’ music is the relatability of the lyrics. Pay agrees, “Concepts for the songs are very personal to myself and [lead vocalist] Josh Rogers, so we tend to write lyrics about these subjects as loosely as we can, so that everyone can relate in their own way.” The new album appears to be coming along well, albeit not easily. “The writing, to start off with it, was quite stress-


he U.K.’s Louise Distras has been playing music for as long as she can remember, but it was the copy of Nirvana’s Bleach she was given on a mixtape at age 13 that changed everything for the punk musician. “That was the record that singlehandedly changed my life,” she says. “It resonated with me and it helped me to make sense of the world and my place in it. [It] also taught me that punk rock is freedom and that there is




a world out there full of people who feel the same way as me, so I didn’t really feel alone anymore. It also inspired me to pick up the guitar and start playing and writing songs.” Distras grew up in a poor, ex-mining town in the north of England, and says she grew up with no prospect of a better future. Her debut album Dreams From the Factory Floor—now available worldwide through Pirates Press Records—explores themes from her upbringing, like the hope for something better.

According to Pay, the wait for U.S. live shows hopefully won’t be too long. Pay explains, “We have a U.K. run with Transit and Such Gold in May and a few festivals in the summer. We have some stuff that should get us over to the States before the end of the year.” Get into this band now, so you can sing along live, wherever the show may be. Crooks U.K.’s music is heartfelt and hook-y, the absolute perfect release from life’s stress.



INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST MIKE IX WILLIAMS BY CHAD HENSLEY drinking was all I used to do.” When asked if having a family and raising a child has mellowed him out, Williams laughs and says, “[My daughter] calls She elaborates, “The concept and the title all boils down to one universal idea that regardless of our race, gender, class, or sexual orientation, or what country we’re living in or where we are in the world or what our background is, the one thing that we all have in common is that we all share the same hopes and the same dreams for a better life and a better future for ourselves and for our generations to come.” Most of the songs are acoustic giving the album an America circa 1960s protest song vibe. A primarily unplugged tracklist wasn’t intentional on Distras’ part. “At that time when the album was being written and recorded, it just so happened I was writing a lot on the acoustic guitar,” she explains. “I have played in bands in the past, but I found that I was able to learn and develop and grow as a songwriter in a much more positive way on my own.”


ful, trying to figure out what we wanted to do, but once we got into the swing of things, it was great,” Pay says. “We are the worst self critics, so writing new songs at the beginning was very tricky. The recording process was great; we are always up for experimentation with instruments and adding textures to songs. For example, I played a lead riff for a track on the album on a xylophone.” A punk riff on a xylophone? Yes, please!

Distras has been able to realize the theme of her album in her real life, as her music has allowed her to travel to the United Sates and tour this summer. Though Distras is excited for new opportunities, she still has her concerns about music in general. “I think there is a need for music that speaks to people instead of the plastic, homogenized crap that we hear on the airwaves,” she says. “I think there is a need for good music with a very positive message.”


me her EyeHateGod father. But no, not mellowed out at all, but more insightful of other people and the realization that more and more, this life is fragile and karma may very well be a real thing.”



e’re the deaths. We are Undead,” is how Necros describes Undead’s lineup. “We’re spectrum. It’s all you need to know about Undead.” The first album from these five dark hooded figures, False Prophecies, was released May 15 on Listenable Records. Their identities and country of origin are entirely mysterious. Necros simplifies, “The reason’s purely musical. I’m more interested of the feeling you get when you first listen to new music, as opposed to knowing everything about an artist. We try to preserve this feeling after several listens of a song. We came back from Hell to play death metal!” False Prophecies is a crushing album from these five shadows of secrecy and producer Lars Bragten. Arduous and finicky work is to thank for that. Necros explains the rigors. “It took us nine months to do production. We wanted to take some time at each step of the conception. It allowed us to go deeper with the arrangements, tempos, and harmonies. It gives some perspective

to the album. By experimenting with the sound of the guitar, I found the sound of False Prophecies. It stimulated me a lot to write the other tracks. It only took a week to write all the tracks, fluently. I had the structure in my mind and the riffs were coming quickly. It can explain the spontaneous side of the album. When we started with the arrangements, we tried to keep the spontaneity.” Heavy, fast, malicious, and pissed. Necros credits the legendary Death for fueling their sound. However, the impetus was not to ape older or current bands. “This is not about nostalgia,” Necros confirms. “We live in here and now, and we like it.” Their lyrics are classic death metal. Misanthropic and pessimistic, Undead use society’s self-destruction and greed as fodder. “Human beings exclude themselves from life,” King Oscuro says. “Our civilization becomes more and more selfish. The obscure evolution of humans on this planet does not seem to predicate positive things happening in our future.”






eginning in December of 2012, Belgian four piece Possession blazed through speakers and rose as formidable songwriters. Releasing two EPs, His Best Deceit and Anneliese, the band gained notoriety in the black metal scene.


U.K. native who moved to Australia, Laura Mardon maintains a DIY ethos that brings a strong sense of determination and authenticity to everything she does. Her installment of One Week Records’ ongoing series of self-titled releases is a thoroughly engaging album rife with lyrical nuance. Her song “It Rained When They Took Her Away” details the struggle of moving away from home. “When I first moved here, I felt completely lost,” she admits. “So many small cultural differences built





An unchanging lineup since their inception and two strong releases have fueled this monster. Vocalist Mestema reports, “The Belgian scene is boring. Period. To the exception

up and made me feel like an outsider; at the same time, I was watching friends, family, London going on without me through the rose tinted glasses of social media.”

INTERVIEW WITH NECROS AND KING OSCURO BY HUTCH He adds, “It’s actually the very picture of mankind’s evolution on this planet. Locked down through constant chaos, the one that cannot overcome his fears will perish. The one who is seeking the truth is somewhere else. The cynicism of our entire civilization, and the one who’s seeking for the light of

of a few bands, that bullshit scene is only populated by pathetic retards who only see metal as a reason to get piss drunk on the weekend, while praising a ridiculous brotherhood which is supposed to exist among people who listen to metal. I do not buy this shit. The only Belgian bands you should check are Emptiness, Slaughter Messiah, Maleficence, Gae Bolga and Horacle; also a new band called Pox.” Speaking on the concept of their newest release 1585–1646—available via Iron Bonehead and Invictus Productions on June 5—Mestema explains, “When we started to work on our upcoming mini-LP, I was reading a book about witchcraft in France during the Middle Ages. The story of Adrienne D’Heur is the one that fascinated me the most. I suggested to the band to work on a conceptual release, telling her story mixed with our own fantasies.”

redemption across this flood of vanished souls, this is what our inspiration is all about.”


nothing mandatory,” Mestema says. “Good things need time. A lot of time.” “Our writing process is not really intentional,” Mestema explains. “We let things flow, so that it’s more natural. Still, considering this EP is a conceptual release, we always tried to keep in mind what the song was supposed to tell, to make it fit.” Spitting this venomous record forth took only four days in a studio. Possession called on Phorgath of Enthroned and Emptiness to record. When asked about playing live, the frank vocalist responds, “Yes, we play live from time to time, but since this is not a priority to us, we are pretty picky with the shows we play. We will play some live shows later this year, and I guess we’ll start working on our next release. That’s it.”


Possession favors the EP format. “A lot of people expect us to release a full-length, but this is not priority to us and for sure


Ultimately the move was positive. “I was starting this whole other part of my life: a family.” Mardon explains. “I was a new mother, and part of me felt like there was this side of me—this chapter in my life—I had to bury, lay to rest, because it wasn’t what I wanted my daughter to recognize as normal or acceptable. I didn’t want to be that person anymore. That person was dead. It felt cathartic.” Mardon’s new record is not merely a backdrop for conversation or light reading. The songs are meticulously orchestrated and follow a complex narrative that will keep you on the lookout for recurring themes. “It’s something I was actually talking to [One Week Records’] Joey [Cape] about recently. We were discussing how we both write songs, and what comes first: the music or lyrics,” she begins. “For me, I write. It’s what I enjoy, and to me, it’s the most important part of a song. I’m that person who buys an album and

goes straight for the lyric sheet first. Everything else is just secondary until I read the words.” “Don’t get me wrong, the music is important and I love a catchy chorus,” Mardon continues, “but I never set out to write pop music. I’ve never had an ear for pop and how it’s constructed. I always loved punk: there’s no formality, no set rules or instructions as to how it should sound. It’s like, if you have something to say, here is your platform, say it. You don’t have to be good and you don’t have

INTERVIEW BY STEPHEN SIGL to have the best equipment, the best voice, just make the most of what you have.”


“I’ve always had a notepad, a pen, and four chords. I just tried to make the most of it.”







t’s been less than a year since D.C.’s Loud Boyz first formed and they’ve already opened for The Buzzcocks, Marky Ramone, and Typefighter, and are preparing to release a full-length… All in roughly the same timeframe it took Guns

N’ Roses to record the drums on Chinese Democracy. Their new record, Tough Love, Hard Feelings, is due out in July via Cricket Cemetery Records.

Despite a distinct indie rock and emo sound, Ireland’s The Winter Passing owe a lot to hardcore punk music. The band have recently signed to U.S. label 6131 Records and will release their debut A Different Space of Mind in mid September, but Flynn admits the band is still very much a DIY group.

any means!” he continues. “Definitely influenced by hardcore punk—both the bands and culture—but we don’t sound like that. […] We take influence from so many genres, I feel. Bands we play with and talk to can be really inspiring; it’s great to see the journey some are on. People with interesting outlooks on music inspire me a lot! I like bands from 40 years ago and bands that are six months old!”

“The hardcore scene in Dublin has a big part to play in this band’s existence, for sure,” Flynn elaborates. “We are pretty DIY; I don’t think we’ll ever not think or act this way, but we’ve had a lot of friends involved since the start, and we’d be nowhere without them. […] We are very happy to have our labels and associates involved in The Winter Passing now, it helps a lot and everyone is super nice and respects our views. We put the control of the band in these people[’s hands], because we believe in them and they believe in us. It’s a mutual act of respect.” “But, yeah, we’re not a hardcore band by

The band rose out of the demise of thrash

Rounding out the band are guitarist Jamie Collison, drummer John McMahon, bassist Neil Kirwan, and Rob’s covocalist and sister Kate Flynn, who plays the organ. While many musical siblings struggle to cooperate, the Flynns are an exception to the rule. “We get on really well for the most part, which makes it easy. We share a lot in common,” says Rob. “I’m very grateful that I get to share all these experiences and opportunities with my younger sister!”

band Warchild, but Loud Boyz has a much more straightforward punk sound. “It’s actually pretty crazy that we’ve only been together for a little more than a year,” says vocalist Kenny Brown. “Our first show was March 2014. […] We all just clicked the first time and it’s been smooth sailing since! Rory saw some graffiti here in D.C. that just said ‘LOUD BOYZ’ scribbled across a building, and that’s how we became what we are today.” Come summer, their full-length will only propel them further forward. “We’re really hyped on it!” Brown says of the record. “We recorded it with Ben Green of Fairweather who’s the homie, and I think it conveys exactly what we wanted it to. It has a good garage edge, and I feel towards the end of us writing it is when we really started to click as a band.” “Aside from the record, we have some great shows coming up in D.C., Baltimore, New York,” he continues. “Next week, we’re opening for Marky Ramone at Soundstage,




One thing is for sure: Loud Boyz’ star is definitely on the rise. “I was at happy hour with my coworkers a few weeks ago,” Brown recalls, “and some girl walks up to me and was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m having a fangirl moment right now,’ and I was like, ‘Uh, I’m literally drinking at the same bro bar you are.’”




After the U.S. release of A Different Space

of Mind, The Winter Passing will be “playing The FEST this year in Gainesville, Flo., on Halloween, along with more dates to follow on the East Coast. We’re really excited to play in America,” says Flynn.


and we recorded 10 days in a row in our good friend Kevin Ratterman’s studio.”

“All Things Considered.” Esposito is casual about their growing popularity, saying, “It’s pretty cool, man. We just really like playing shows, and shows are obviously a little more fun when more people come, so it’s really fun. We work with a lot of really great people and we’re really good friends with everyone at our label, management, and PR.”



In the meantime, Loud Boyz plan to stay busy. “We’re filming more music videos, writing new songs, and playing more shows,” Brown says. “We already started writing for the next LP, as we like to keep it moving and not get stale. We also are hyped on a festival that I don’t think I can talk about just yet…”


So, where does this insane melding of Motown and punk come from? “We really like a lot of older stuff, like Sam Cooke and The Shangri-Las. We also really like heavier stuff, like Accept and Judas Priest,” explains Esposito. “We don’t listen to a whole lot of new music, but every once in a while, one of us will find a new record we like, maybe something like Panda Bear, Ramona Lisa, Charli XCX, and other things like that.”

he Louisville, K.Y., quartet White Reaper have managed to cobble together a sound that owes just as much to ‘60s pop and classic garage rock as it does to modern day punk. The band—singer and guitarist Tony Esposito, keyboardist Ryan Hater, and twin brothers, bassist Sam and drummer Nick Wilkerson— put out a solid EP last year and have quickly followed it up with a remarkably strong full-length, White Reaper Does It Again, coming out July 17 on Polyvinyl.

which is very exciting. I’ve been meaning to pick up a jar of his signature Pasta Sauce. We are also hyped that Darkest Hour asked us to play their 20 year anniversary in July, which is pretty wild to me.”

“I suppose the full-length felt a bit different than the EP,” Esposito says of their creative process. “Some of the songs on the EP were songs that we had written together a while ago, like, before we even had the band; others were much better versions of songs that I recorded demos for. We recorded the EP in a total of maybe six to seven days…? Some songs were recorded in different places, too. This new record, though, the songs are much better versions of these demos I made over the past year or whatever,

Though the album hasn’t come out, it’s getting a lot of attention, with NPR recently featured a track on ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDY DE SANTIS

“Check us out on our socials to keep up to date with everything.”

To tide you over until White Reaper Does It Again officially drops, White Reaper have posted a preview track, “Make Me Wanna Die” on Bandcamp, or check out their cover of “Territorial Pissing” on the new Nirvana covers album Whatever Nevermind via Robotic Empire.



ome say rock ‘n’ roll is dead, but Detroit based hard rockers Wilson have something to say about that. They champion two things: the almighty riff and those who work their asses off for a better life. Wilson have a distinctly Midwestern ethos: work hard and party harder. With their June 30 Razor & Tie debut, Right To Rise, Wilson have distilled that essence into a fantastically potent mixture.

what we are able to do when we focus our energies.” What Wilson are focusing most of their energy on is being a straight up rock ‘n’ roll band. “We all grew up listening to—and still listen to—rock,” Nicefield says. “Rock ‘n’ roll does the same thing to me over and over again, and makes me feel like I should be living my life and having the best time ever. That’s the emotion we’re trying to convey with the record and with our band in general.”

“When we wrote [our debut] Full Blast Fuckery, it was written by myself and [guitarist] Jason Spencer, and we were like, ‘Here’re our songs; these are the ones we’re putting on the record, and it’s done,’” says vocalist Chad Nicefield. “Whereas, in this case, we were able to spend some more time. […] We were able to take that energy that we had found our stride in while playing Full Blast Fuckery live for two years.”

This purity is reflected in Right To Rise’s themes. “Throughout the record, there are themes like ‘This is me trying to fight in this world,’” Nicefield explains. “I’ve done a lot of things that are bad and a lot that are good, but I’ve enjoyed every single step along the way in order to achieve those good things and those bad things. That’s the identity of the record.”

“So, when we did this record, we sat down with everybody,” he continues. “I think Right To Rise is a good representation of



uitarist Justin Melkmann has a longstanding fascination with GG Allin. As a result, he started his own gritty punk band, World War IX, who revel in fun, aggressive, loud punk rock. He also loves drawing, but could never match the illustrations of his heroes in the Marvel Comics universe, coming closer to offbeat underground comics like Robert Crumb. It seems fitting that Melkmann has married his two passions, supplementing his albums with accompanying comics. “Combining the comics with our band World War IX, that goes back about seven years,” Melkmann explains. “I had just finished an autobiographical comic about my obsession with GG Allin—eloquently titled ‘Slap In the Face: My Obsession with GG Allin’—and well, I wanted to keep talking about myself. I figured there’re plenty of laughable disasters that happen in WWIX, so why not make those humiliating gems the focus of my comics. Playing a dismal show doesn’t just have to be demoralizing, it can also be fodder for a knee-slapping cartoon.” The latest example is the self-released autobiographical EP, If One of These Bottles Should Happen to Fall, detailing his decision to get sober.



“There’s this other theme going on: rock ‘n’ roll has this essence, like […] fire,” he continues. “That’s what we’re saying

throughout this record: just like Detroit is this beast of sorts that has been through so much bullshit, you have every capability and right of achieving everything you want to achieve if you walk through this fire, burn off your dead weight, and start to focus on your goals, all the while enjoying


creative breakthrough for the band that showcases their wide breadth of influences and multifaceted approach to songcraft.

of Echo And The Bunnymen’s ‘The Killing Moon’ for a Toxicbreed Compilation. During that process, we realized that it was the best thing we had ever done as band,” Kilker explains. “I think that had a huge influence on the new direction. We decided to write songs in a completely different formula than we had before, and then turn them into Tidemouth songs. Prior to this album, we had never really had a chorus or melodies whatsoever. We had always liked darkwave and deathrock stuff, but in a way, I think we felt like we couldn’t pull it off.” The music can be dark, but Kilker sees it as a positive force. “I have a tendency to compartmentalize my life,” he says. “I focus a lot of negativity into my writing, but  I’ve  never really felt like a negative person. I feel like if you focus it all into one place, it frees you up to not feel like that in others. Hopefully, when people listen to it, they will feel the same, like they got it out of their system.”

INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST MIKE KILKER BY STEPHEN SIGL ust one look at the marble face on the cover of Los Angeles band Tidemouth’s new album Velvet and Stone—out June 9 via Melotov Records—gives you an idea of the melancholy that lurks within the


ostensive rage of its 10 songs. Tidemouth’s ability to translate the intensity of these emotions is not only geared towards crescendos, but also revels in avant-garde static agitation. Velvet and Stone is a

“Why did I hang up my six-pack?” Melkmann asks rhetorically. “You know the phrase, ‘Check Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself ’? Well, I never checked myself, and suffice it to say, I wrecked shit out of myself! After two decades of nonstop ‘partying,’ I needed to stop. My life was starting to veer off into ‘unmanageable’ territory, and that’s no good. Also, the hangovers had gotten unbearable and unacceptable, in both severity and duration. I’d be cranky, and unable to accomplish even the most mundane of tasks. I used to say I was ‘incapable of joy’ on Mondays and Tuesdays, and for years, I thought that was funny. But then it wasn’t funny anymore… At all.” Now that the EP is out, “World War IX is about to go on our fourth U.S. tour, and we’ve already got a couple of new tunes in the works,” says Melkmann. “As far as my cartooning is concerned, the good people over at—that incredible Onion-esque punk humor site—have recently started publishing my comics, which rules to no end.” “And, I just started the official, no holds barred, warts and all, World War IX bio comic!” he concludes. “Our story must be

“We wanted to show that there can be beauty and comfort in the harder, colder parts of life,” says vocalist Mike Kilker of the album’s title. “We hoped our music would reflect similar ideals.” Tidemouth is difficult to classify. Kilker says, “We really wanted to create a diverse and dynamic album. I feel like the juxtaposition of soft and heavy parts can help facilitate that. Post-rock bands really love building their energy and creating an emotion, so in that vein, I could see similarities. Some influences [of ours] that might surprise people would be Moby, Danzig, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Doves.”   To circumvent traditional classification, the band has coined the genre “heavy Cure.” “A while back, we recorded a cover

Wilson will be touring with Nothing More in late May, early June, followed by a local record release, then a tour with Crobot before they play Heavy Montreal.




INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN MELKMANN BY JOHN B. MOORE told! All not kidding aside, it’s the tale of keeping the creative inspiration flowing long after the drugs and alcohol have worn off. It’s the story of following your dreams, even when those dreams turn out looking


wildly different than you had previously imagined.”







his four piece out of Bremerton, Wash., have cultivated their own brand of Northwest hardcore and show no signs of stopping anytime soon. They formed as a joke in 2008 during their senior year of high school, recording their songs in drummer Benn Silima’s car. “We didn’t plan on being a real band at all,” says Ricky Hansen, Power’s bassist. Since then, they have put out three self-released EPs and one full-length on Twelve


lack Fast began when Aaron Akin was 8 years old and he heard Metallica’s Master of Puppets for the first time. That was the moment he was hooked. “As a kid, I thought being able to play an instrument was impressive and a skill I had to learn to do,” he says. “I was just viscerally attracted to it. I heard Master of Puppets at like 7 or 8 or something, and that was it. In high school, I learned about a lot of great guitar players of all genres and got into theory and nerdy guitar technique stuff. I was very heavy into guitar in my teen years.” In early 2008, Akin began playing heavy metal with friends but didn’t form a solid band until 2010, when he was joined by Ryan Thompson on bass, Trevor Johanson on second guitar, and Ross Burnett on drums. During the last five years, Black Fast’s lineup has remained the same. “We all already knew each other and were friends, so it happened very easily,” Akin explains. “Trevor and I still live together, and the other dudes live minutes away. It’s been us four since the beginning, I think that’s kind of rare these days.”

Gauge Records called Bremerton Zoo. On July 10, they drop their fifth release—and second for Twelve Gauge—a six song EP titled Heavy Muscle, which flexes hard with some serious riffs and chaotic breakdowns. Power manages to tread the line between classic hardcore, power violence, and thrash. Hansen says that, growing up in Bremerton, there wasn’t much of a scene for hardcore. “When we were 13 or 14, there In 2013, the group released its first fulllength, Starving Out the Light. “That record, we are all very happy with, but it was just the first step,” Akin says. “It has a sentimental value to me now that I can be reflective of it; it just represents where we were as a group at that point in time, both musically and personally.”

Terms of Surrender is slated for a summer release via eOne Music, and the band will play the Full Terror Assault Open Air Festival in Illinois in September.




“I’ve just always happened to write songs in bunches,” he explains. “I had seven to nine




While touring, they’ve picked up shows with Madball, and always manage to grab an audience, no matter the size of the shadow they’re playing under. “We got to play with Biohazard with the OG lineup,” says Hansen. “It was a trip seeing Biohazard soundcheck with ‘Punishment’ with no one else in the building.” The Northwest hardcore scene is a large community of people who take care of each other. Rain Fest organizer and longtime friend Brian Skiffington was able to book a full U.S. and Canada tour for Power. They got involved with Twelve Gauge Records after meeting northern California band Sabertooth Zombie on one of their first tours, and have been a part of the label ever since. Hansen explains, “[Jihad M. Rabah of Twelve Gauge] hit us up and put out our second 7”, Death Haunts, and then

did Bremerton Zoo. Before that, we had a self-titled 7” that Slambo Rat Records from Sacramento helped us put out.” Heavy Muscle is six songs on a 7”, which holds over a lot of the intense aggression that is prevalent on their earlier releases. “It’s always been about being pissed.” Hansen says. “As I get older and the shitshow unfolds, there is more and more to be pissed about.” They tracked the record live—at Dangler in Seattle—for the first time, and it exhibits the strength of one of Power’s shows. Their live shows are intimate and intense, ignoring the stage altogether sometimes. “If it’s chest[-level] or higher, we’ll fuck with the floor. It’s more rowdy,” Hansen says. In typical hardcore fashion, the kids go absolutely nuts. Hansen says that, at Rain Fest, their sets are “bigger and rowdier every year. It’s definitely the best show we play every year. Having a standalone singer always helps to amp up the crowd interactions.” The band will be doing a two week West Coast tour in June, and plan on a full U.S. and Canada tour later this year.



Black Fast began recording their next studio effort, Terms of Surrender, in January with producer Erik Rutan. “I feel like Terms of Surrender is a much clearer representation of what the band set out to be,” Akin says. “It sounds like we’re coming into our sound, carving out an identity. I never had a doubt in my mind, but Erik really nailed it. I think he saw something in us from hearing our last album and our demos of the new stuff, like he knew what we were going for and he got really excited about trying to capture it.”


so Oso began as a side project called osoosooso that State Lines frontman Jade Lilitri started with a bundle of songs that he wasn’t sure what to do with. At the suggestion of a friend, he released them.

were nothing but drunk punk bands that never did anything, shitty indie bands, and church venues.” Over the years, the band has garnished quite the following and played with many hardcore heavy hitters. They’ve been on the Memorial Day weekend bill of Seattle’s Rain Fest for six years in a row now, and have graced the stage with the likes of 7 Seconds, Cro-Mags, and Andrew W.K., amongst others.

songs written that I felt were a different vibe than State Lines. I was talking to my friend Mike, and he was like, ‘Hey, I would love to put it out.’ I thought that sounded really cool, so eventually, we put out a seven song self-titled EP on Soft Speak Records as ‘osoosooso.’” Later on, Lilitri found himself with more

INTERVIEW WITH FRONTMAN AARON AKIN BY GABI CHEPURNY material he had intended to record for State Lines, but the band had become inactive. Instead, he simplified osoosooso’s name and recorded the album under Oso Oso. “I simplified the band name for the sake of ending the age old question, ‘How do you say osoosooso?’” he explains. “And protecting myself from the harsh vibes of the comments sections…” The band will release Real Stories of True People, Who Kind of Looked Like Monsters… June 9 via Soft Speak Records. “We intend to put this record out and tour everywhere and anywhere to make this music a part of [everyone’s] life,” says Lilitri. “We’re also playing FEST in October which is super exciting.” “It feels like a relatively new project, especially as it moves forward with new material and breaks away from the old,” he continues. “The whole process of writing, demoing, recording, [and] putting this record together was a very long process that required help from a bunch of different people on different ends. It was an experience I think I will always be fond of.

I’m super excited for people to hear what we made.” The band’s name may spark interest, as the word “oso” means “bear” in Spanish. When asked why he went with Oso Oso, Lilitri laughs, “I seriously love bears so much.”







iamond Youth are the type of band you didn’t know you needed in your life. After teasing listeners with a seemingly endless barrage of excellent EPs, they have finally released their debut LP Nothing Matters via Topshelf Records. “I guess the best word to describe the writing process was ‘thorough,’” says guitarist Sam Trapkin. “Maybe ‘exhaustive,’ if you will. Just a lot of quiet days and nights spent holed up in our rooms grinding it out. We write a lot of stuff, and probably like 75 percent gets thrown out. I guess we’re picky.” The band find a way to make rather disparate influences gel magically. You can hear shades of Muse, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Beach Boys, and Weezer. With the help of producer Davey Warshop at Hurley Studios in Costa Mesa, Calif., Diamond Youth made Nothing Matters eminently listenable and breezy, even when it turns

up the pace and volume. “I suppose the recording process wasn’t anything out of the ordinary; we didn’t record drums in the woods or something stupid,” laughs Trapkin. “It was a really wonderful experience. Some of the guys in the band hadn’t really experienced proper Mexican food at such a high volume, so they were pretty psyched. We probably gained a collective 20 pounds during that recording.” Trapkin says the band’s sound has evolved since their last release, Shake, came out in February 2014. “Right around the time we recorded Shake, I moved to California,” he explains. “I think the whole surf [and] desert thing rubbed off on me a little bit out here. The vibe of the LP is kind of surf-y.”









itter End made hardcore fans take

Bitter End reeled in an expert at melding

notice with their first 7”, Mind in

genres in stellar producer Nick Jett (Terror,

Chains, in 2006. Repping big labels

Piece By Piece). Even their rocking a

like Malfunction and Six Feet Under, they

guitar solos feels woven into the riffs like

then released a self-titled EP, and killed

a natural piece of the puzzle. “[Drummer]

at fests from Sound And Fury to This Is

Ethan [Mania], Nick Jett, and I took a lot

Hardcore to The Black ‘N Blue Bowl. Guilty

of thought in the structure of these songs,”

As Charged for Deathwish Inc. was their

Jacob says. “I didn’t want any of the leads

latest and best, but that was 2010. June

or guitar solos to seem forced. […] My

30, 2015, Deathwish unleashes Illusions of

guitar lead influences range from Integrity

Dominance and an angrier, fiercer, more

to Tom Petty; simple, memorable, effective,

focused Bitter End.

and catchy.”

Five years can raise some doubt, though.

Not that Bitter End was singing about

“We have been right here,” Jacob expresses

sunshine and rainbows before, but the

earnestly. “We have consistently been

lyrics feel starker and deeper on this album.

playing shows, fests, touring, and writing

The tracks on Illusions of Dominance look

a new album. It has been five years since

inward at our country, viciously damning

our last release, which in hardcore, can be


the equivalent of a lifetime. Many bands

Jacob laments the recent incendiary

have formed in that five year time frame.

examples. “Inequality, poverty, policing

In music, you have to constantly be putting

practices, extensive prison sentences,

out new material to keep that momentum.”

and discrimination are all contributing





factors,” he argues. “There needs to be a Illusions of Dominance is comprised of

national dialogue on how to correct these

truly brutal hardcore riffs with an infusion

problems. This notion of increasing a cities’

of metal. They made an effort to balance

revenue by issuing out tickets to people in

the vibes of each genre without suckling

a low income area only creates a cycle of

at a trendy teat. “Bitter End is, above all


else, a hardcore band. There might be some parts on the record that deviate from a

Examining the world’s struggle is stressful,

traditional hardcore sound, but I think

but Bitter End’s devastating music can be

that just makes the record sound more

a release to sweat it out and focus on the

interesting,” Jacob explains. “I think we

next day. “I feel blessed I am able to play

created a great blend of different sounds

music that people enjoy,” Jacob concludes.

for this record. We have some fast parts,

“I want to see people having a good time

mid-tempo upbeats, heavy parts, mellow

and I want them to drive home safe.”

acoustic parts.”






ukebox Romantics’ latest 7” Plot Points—available in late June, early July via Jailhouse Records—fits the New York based three piece’s aesthetic of “fun, heartfelt, sweaty punk rock.” Vocalist and guitarist Mike Terry updates us on their next LP and their upcoming touring plans—though the band has already impressively hit 48 states of the Union. You guys formed in 2008 or ‘09? Summer of 2008 we started. I was living on Long Island, and there was a band from Westchester called Johnny Giovanni And The Zombie Pit Crew, which is a real long, obnoxious name. That band and a couple of my old bands used to play together all the time in Westchester when there was a good music scene there in the mid 2000s. I always wanted to be in their band, because they were the best band in Westchester, sorta punk rock ‘n’ roll stuff. I was in Long Island going crazy; I wasn’t in a band anymore. I hit them up, like, “You guys wanna start a band?” with the idea of putting out records and touring. They were like, “Sure.” So it was that whole band plus me. Their old singer was acting now. I was going to school

on Long Island, and that’s where we found our singer at the time. We started playing Bouncing Souls and Against Me! covers. How’d you hook up with Pete [Steinkopf of Bouncing Souls] to record? I’ve seen the Bouncing Souls 37 times, so somewhere in the range of seeing [them], I talked to Pete and found out he was recording bands. He was gonna record our EP for Death To False Hope Records, but the Souls were busy. Then I hit him up again [and] we recorded with him at the end of 2013 at Kate Is Great’s—their manager—house studio, Little Eden. We were there for two weeks. He helped mold the songs a little bit. Not really change much, just put his flair on it. He sang on a couple songs. It was crazy, but at the same time, he’s just like one of us. He just does it because he loves punk rock and playing. It was one of the best experiences ever being in this band or ever in my life, recording music with him. The rest of the songs will be on a fulllength? One of the songs that’ll be on the fulllength, we just recorded a video for




hy Art is Murder are on a mission. After being scooped up by Nuclear Blast following the successful Hate LP, the Australian band’s upcoming third album doesn’t just prove their worth in the big leagues, it’s also one of the best deathcore releases in recent memory. Holy War—available June 26 via UNFD and Nuclear Blast—showcases a band who are taking advantage of their newfound status and refuses to rest on their laurels. What’s the concept behind Holy War? I know you’ve attacked organized religion previously, but this seems to be a multifront attack. Holy War just seemed to be an apt title for the record, and that drove the lyrics for the title track. Obviously, the general public

associates those words to the Islamic term “jihad,” but it is more than that for this record. This record was about our war on religion, a war on all that is “holy.” What do you think are the central issues facing the world? Are there solutions to turn it around, or are we too far gone? Trickle-down economics, and the blurring of the line between church and state. On this record, we really targeted religious censorship and were influenced a lot by religious leaders from various faiths abusing their power to carry out atrocities in the name of their lord, free from prosecution. This religious immunity needs to end in order to see a return to true humanism in these parts of the world. To be honest, with the way I see fanatical


INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST AND GUITARIST MIKE TERRY BY JANELLE JONES it, “Living with Sin,” we released it on BlankTV. That one’s coming out on a 7” called Plot Points in early summer. The full-length is called Transmissions Down and that’ll be out August 16. We got a full U.S. and Canada tour from July to

religions gaining ground around the world—particularly in the Americas and the Middle East—I do not see us returning from the path we’ve started down. Were you guys pushing yourselves while writing and recording? We certainly did push ourselves a lot on this one. [Guitarist] Sean [Delander] had a lot of riffs and song starts and even some completed songs when we came in to record. We took two months this time around—as opposed to one for Hate—in order for us to take a month beforehand to collect our ideas and work until the last minute to prepare more song ideas before we started preproduction with Will Putney. Ironically, the first two songs of the record—“Absolute Genocide” and “Holy War”—were completed by myself and Sean respectively, the night before the actual sessions with Will started. We were grinding to the last minute. Was it easier working with Will Putney the second time around? It was exactly the same. Will is a great friend to our band, as well as a great friend of mine personally as well as each member of the band. He really is the extra member of the band and none of us could imagine making a record with anyone else. He gets us as people, which is rare, and has a total understanding of our sound and what we aim to achieve with each of our songs musically and lyrically. We really hit it off the very first day we met.  Why record the record in “secret”? Were you trying to free yourselves from some of the pressure of your first official record with Nuclear Blast?

August. Then, we’re doing an East Coast tour in the fall, hopefully down to The FEST. And then, Europe in early 2016.


Not really. We had been pressured into making a new record twice before and time had been booked in, but being close friends with Will, we told him to cancel it both times. We just decided to not announce the record as we had no label in place yet and we had no idea on our plans to release. We were in a strange place as a band and had no distinct plan in place, so we tried to free ourselves of the expectation of the public. Had we announced that we recorded almost a year ago, I guess people would’ve been expecting a release late last year. So, we just kept it a tiny little secret. What are your thoughts being on the Rockstar Mayhem Fest this year? We are pumped. We’ve heard about the Mayhem summer festival for a number of years and always held it as our opportunity of doing a “warped” tour, as we always felt we were too heavy for the punk ethos of that festival. Best and worst part of U.S. tours? The best part of touring America is the food. The worst part of touring America is the food. What’s one issue you wish people cared more about? The environment. Better regulation of the treatment of animals, acceptance of global warming, and forward-thinking development to counter the horrible progress we’ve made in destroying our planet. If the earth dies, everything else is irrelevant.









hen The Early November broke up in 2007, fans were crushed that the Jersey band’s succinct blend of emo and alternative wouldn’t be around for much longer. Luckily for everyone, the Drive-Thru Records alums came back in 2011 for a reunion, and in 2012, released In Currents, reminding us all why we missed them. With their new album Imbue due out May 10, The Early November have managed to pull together each piece that made people fall in love with them, and blast it out in the loudest music they’ve ever written.


a Jolie is the self-proclaimed “baldest band in Philadelphia.” The three piece punk outfit began three years ago and solidified their lineup in 2014. With Mike Stoloski on guitar and vocals, Jeff Meyers on bass, and Frank Abruzzo on drums, the band is trying to ditch their alter egos as they grow as artists. “I guess I started all of that by inventing my alter ego ‘Kirk Malosh,’” Stoloski says. “I think we are all at the point where we want our real names attached to our work now.




Does the band mean anything different to you now than it did back in the mid 2000s? AE: We always tried to do it because we thought it was cool; our lame standard of what cool is and not anyone else’s. For me, writing, I always want to write what I can really believe in. It’s also something we started when we were teenagers, and to have something you did when you were a teenager and still do it when you’re much older, I’m so proud to have that thing, because we’re really lucky. It means the world to us.

From listening to Imbue, it feels incredibly ambitious in how “rock” it wants to be. What pushed you to put out a record that’s really anthemic? AE: I think the weird thing about how this record was written was it was all in pieces. I’d make a piece, and the other members would interpret it. I think we wanted to make it sound a lot angrier. I really have no idea, I think we made it to feel how we felt at the time. JM: It also stems from Ace’s favorite band of all time being Pearl Jam. It’s finally leaked its way into his music. AE: Also true [laughs]. Very proud about that. JM: Also, one of the things with this record is a lot of it was written how we’d do it back in 2003. Just like, “You got a part? Cool, I’ll do this over the top of it.” And that’s something we haven’t done a lot because of time. But that’s how we did a lot of the new record. How do you keep dipping into the well of creativity after all this time? AE: I think, for me at least, being an adult now, it’s the only thing I’ve done that I feel good about at all. So for the whole of us, we just get together and keep going. JM: Ace writes more songs than anyone I know. So, having his brain going all the time helps as a band member. Like, “Oh, you’ve written 30 songs? Let’s work on some of them and make a record.” The well of creativity is always full when it comes to Ace’s part. So, when the band comes together—and I don’t play music that much—I get excited to rip

Being from Philly also means that Ma Jolie employ a large amount of sarcastic humor in most of what they do, including the explanation of where the band’s name came from. “I wish we were intelligent

If you gave this record to someone who hadn’t heard you guys in a while, what do you hope they’d gain from it? AE: My gut says they’d come back, and just be like, “OK.” But I’d hope that they could tell we’ve been through it and care about this thing. JM: If they heard the band back in 2002 or 2003, but didn’t really pay attention to the band between 2005 and now, I’d hope where their music taste went, it would spark something in them to be like, “Oh yeah, I remember this time in my life when this band was new and fresh. And now they’re back 10 years later, they’re older and I’m older, and they’re talking about things that are important and can be applied elsewhere.” So, I hope they pick up on things that they can relate to in their new adult life, as opposed to when they were 16. I just want to be a band that can grow with people who listen to the band. There’s nothing worse than someone who’s 30-something singing about how tough it is to be in high school. [Laughs] AE: But it is tough to be in high school! JM: It is tough, but I’m sure we’d have no idea what it’s like now. I can’t imagine how much harder it is with Snapchatting. So, we’ll leave that for the next generation; we did our time and we hope we can write things people can still apply to their lives.



It’s odd how many people know Frank as ‘Frankie Fuzz’ or me by ‘Kirk.’” The band’s last release, 2013’s Polars, helped cultivate their sound and is a prime illustration of the Philly punk scene that they come from. “Polars was the first group of songs where we really took some time and tried to write something interesting,” Stoloski says. “In writing Polars, we started searching for what we wanted to sound like, but we weren’t really writing a record. I wanted to make sure Polars was labeled as a collection because of that reason. I am proud of the songs, but I wouldn’t call it a complete record.”

a guitar part over something he wrote, and then it just pours out of us.

INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL STOLOSKI & JEFF MEYERS BY GABI CHEPURNY and cultured enough to name a band after a famous painting,” Meyers explains. “Let’s be real here, we named it after a Bear Vs. Shark song. We are all aware of Picasso and the painting “Ma Jolie,” but we loved what Bear Vs. Shark stood for and how they performed, and named our band after one of their songs.” While Anti-Flag’s AF Records will release Ma Jolie’s Jetpack Mailman EP June 16, the band plans to continue treating this as more

of a creative outlet than pushing for further growth or notoriety. Stoloski elaborates, “I just want to write music, share it with people, see some of the world, and meet more people like those I’ve met through this already. The idea of ‘bigger’ is a little odd for us. I can’t imagine this being a full time thing, but if a million people want to buy our record, I’ll ask my friend Eric to make them.”







os Angeles’ Bad Cop/Bad Cop got together because each member caught the others’ eyes.

Guitarist Jennie Cotterill explains, “We were all playing in different bands in L.A. and kind of noticed each other, because there was sort of a mutual admiration going on. I met [drummer] Myra [Gallarza] at our first band practice, but I remember seeing her before and being like, ‘Oh my God, who is that?’” After the band began playing together, they had more fun than they would have ever expected. Everyone quit all of their other bands, and, after switching bass players in 2012, the Bad Cop/Bad Cop lineup was solidified: Cotterill, Gallarza, guitarist Stacey Dee, and bassist Linh Le, all of whom contribute vocals. “There kind of isn’t a lead singer and I love an equal chance, it’s just so much more fun to hear from everybody,” Cotterill says. “I know Stacey’s got a longer and more visible history than the rest of us in the scene that we’re in right now, so a lot of people think she is the lead singer, but the reality is that everybody is singing.” Bad Cop/Bad Cop began their discography with a 7” titled Boss Lady on April Fools Day in 2014. The four song recording includes their very true to life anthem, “My Life,” the hilarious video for which you should go watch right now. While trying to move the band forward, Dee asked punk giant and NOFX frontman Fat Mike—whom she knew previously—to check out Bad Cop/Bad Cop. He did, and the rest will become history. Bad Cop/Bad Cop got signed to Fat Wreck Chords, and Fat Mike

produced the band’s first full-length, Not Sorry, which comes out June 16. Cotterill describes working with Fat Mike in the studio as quick but “surreal,” as the multitalented producer always has a lot on his plate, but knows his way around a recording studio. When writing Not Sorry, the four piece used a collaborative method that seems to permeate throughout all areas of their dynamic. “We tried to kind of change our writing from the original formula,” says Cotterill. “For this record, we wanted to work together and involve one another from an earlier point, and we were so thrilled at the way that made everything so much stronger and easier to play.” Cotterill focuses on the positive when writing, since there’s no shortage of misery in today’s music. While she says she receives a lot of eye-rolls from her bandmates during the process, she feels it’s important to remain upbeat. “As far as subject matter goes, we try to stay positive and encouraging, and honest at the same time,” she elaborates. “We really wanted it to be positive more than anything else, because there’s so much music that glorifies negativity and self-abuse. People can really use [music] to hate themselves, or feel shitty and abuse their bodies. I just wanted [our songs] to be encouraging. In real life, there’s enough reasons to be upset, and if we’re given this one chance, we’re gonna do something at least fun with it.” 2015 is shaping up to be a big year for Bad Cop/Bad Cop, who can be seen alongside NOFX, Lagwagon, and Masked Intruder on the Fat Wrecked for 25 Years tour this August.



I N T E R V I E W W I T H VO CA L I ST A N D G U I TA R I ST J E S S E M AT T H E WS O N BY B R A N D O N R I N G O Though Manitoba natives KEN mode have been putting out killer albums for over a decade, it wasn’t until 2013’s Entrench— their first Season Of Mist release—that the band seemed to create a major name for themselves. Since then, they have done an impressive amount of touring, with an equally impressive pedigree of bands, which is the definition of success for most extreme metal bands in this day and age. After the overwhelming success of and subsequent tour cycle for Entrench, the band immediately set their sights on their new album, aptly titled Success, available June 15 via Season Of Mist. “The writing process for this album was more involved than we’ve allowed ourselves time-wise on the last few,” states vocalist and guitarist Jesse Matthewson. “Entrench was written in a couple of concentrated bursts, while Success we spread out over several writing sessions from March to August 2014, both in Winnipeg and Saskatoon, where our new bassist Skot [Hamilton] lives.” While the band’s lineup underwent a change with the addition of Hamilton, the band’s sound was in a transitional phase as well. “The shift in sound was really an organic change, though we did have to discuss it beforehand,” explains Matthewson. “Skot joined the band at the end of our tour with Russian Circles, and we viewed the opportunity as a clean slate to begin writing our new album on. [Drummer] Shane [Matthewson] and I had already shifted gears in how we wanted to approach the new album, relatively fed up with being pigeonholed in a community where we were largely misunderstood. [We] had no material written yet, so Skot had to adjust his expectations as we started jamming things out. He literally flew into Winnipeg the weekend after we got back from that tour to rehearse and start working, so we were ready to hit the ground running.” Sonically, Success sticks out like a sore, noise rock-blistered thumb in the band’s discography. This is partially due to the band’s choice of producer, as well as their back to basics approach to the album’s creation. “Both writing, and recordingwise, we very much wanted to return to our roots, to the music that influenced

us and made us want to make music in the first place when we were teenagers,” explains Matthewson. “We wanted to write from a place back before we got into metal and hardcore, the scenes we’ve largely been shuffled into over the past few years, [while] never really fitting in. Personally, I wanted to conjure the feeling that I got listening to Nirvana and Kittens in my parents’ basement—that optimistic enthusiasm—while filtering it through a very different perspective of the world— as a 33 year old man—and see what came out.” “We knew with this outlook in mind, that Steve Albini was really the only way to go in terms of capturing the aesthetic we desired,” he continues. “Raw; live; real. He has his own legacy that we grew up listening to, and recording with him was one of the last real goals I’d ever set out to do with this band. It just made sense.” Another of Success’s more interesting facets is Matthewson’s tongue in cheek lyrics. “Inspiration for the album from a conceptual context stemmed from western views of ‘Success,’” he explains. “Relationships, business, sex, religion, power, money, one’s legacy… The relativity of it all. Additionally, we wanted to pay tribute to the Canadian prairies, in our own not so subtle way. This region is a very strange artistic melting pot, with some truly inspirational output that’s not always seen [or] appreciated by the rest of the world.” For Matthewson, a lot of lyrical inspiration for the album came from a love of standup comedy, which helped his lyrics cultivate a bit of buoyancy. “Throughout the past couple years, I’ve been making observations, writing down notes of funny word combinations, entertaining concepts and phrases we’ve come across, many of which are ones that my bandmates come up with, and it was from this source material that much of the meat of the lyrics was constructed out of,” he admits. “I was able to string together a multitude of ridiculous inside jokes to form thought out songs with coherent summaries. As a result, I feel it’s a much more fun and lighthearted album, while still maintaining a good deal of the bite we’ve become known for.”










ll Out War are an institution. For 25 years, they took the breakdowns and spirit of NYHC, and injected the fury of German thrash. Now done with their four album deal with Victory Records, which traversed from the classic 1998’s For Those Who Were Crucified to 2010’s Into the Killing Fields, All Out War are back. After five years—and a return to the band’s 1998 lineup—vocalist Mike Score is peddling his pissed off hardcore again in the form of the Dead Gods EP on June 23 via Organized Crime Records.


eff Burke has been a verified—and unjustly unheralded—dark pop genius for almost a decade now. When Marked Men started in 2002, the band—vocalists and guitarists Burke and Jeff Ryan, bassist Joe Ayoub, and drummer Mike Throneberry—performed enjoyably competent, but nonetheless by the numbers power pop. It wasn’t until 2006’s Fix My Brain and more so 2009’s Ghosts that Marked Men treally became the powerhouse we know them as today, and in that time, Burke evolved from just a punk frontman to an admitted perfectionist, keen to spend as much time in the studio as possible—sometimes spread out over several years—to achieve an ideal hook or a flawlessly warm guitar tone. Marked Men slowed down considerably after the release of Ghosts, but none of the members rested on their laurels, including Burke. He moved to Japan and formed The Novice, whose initial songs were repurposed for parts of the first Radioactivity LP upon his return to the U.S. Though Radioactivity’s music upon initial, superficial exploration could be considered a logical follow up to Ghosts, there’s a new, dark undercurrent reverberating through their debut Radioactivity that rewards attentiveness and repeated listens. Its follow up Silent Kill—due out June 30 via


new.” To hone the focus of the old members, they toured Europe, played shows with Xibalba’s U.S. tour, and did some West Coast shows. “It felt fantastic. We are hitting it hard.” Then, Score and crew jumped into the studio. To round out the resurrection, All Out War grabbed …Crucified producer, Steve Evetts, as well. Score states, “It was great. Steve Evetts is a taskmaster. He pushes you; makes you work, bring it out of you. He is on top of his game and a great guy.”




“The …Crucified lineup drifted apart around 2003,” Score explains. “But, in 2013, Joe Hardcore asked us to play This Is Hardcore Fest. That other lineup was moving out of music. So, I asked the [… Crucified] line up. Here we are.” After a decade of separation, Score and bassist Eric Carrillo, the only other constant, report feeling energized by the reunion. “We didn’t want to be living off of what we did in the past,” he says. “We said that if we were doing shows, we want to do something

Dirtnap Records—impressively turns up both the nuance and the riffs for perhaps the most well rounded piece of the post Marked Men discography yet.

Dying Gods grew out of the desire to have a demo to shop. “It’s still the idea. Have people know that we are back and writing and on the road,” Score explains. “But we’d been friends with [Organized Crime Records’] Clint [Billington]. He worked at Victory and the Bulldog store. He said he would release it. We worked with him in past. He is a great friend.” Lauding Clint’s work ethic, Score describes him as “a hard worker. He puts out great releases. He pushed us to do a video teaser and promote. There was no doubt that it would be a great experience.” Score reflects, “With this lineup, it’s easy. The members know what we are about as a band. We all draw from similar influences. Leeway, Carnivore, Kreator, German thrash. There was a smooth transition in writing. There was no disconnect. This feels like being in a band when we started. No real pressure either, because we aren’t trying to do world tours or live off of it. We all have

day jobs and families. Dying Gods was a laid back vibe. We write stuff because we love it, like when we were kids. The process is natural, no pressure.” All Out War’s lyrics have always been violent and vivid. Apocalyptic visuals and fatalistic themes. War and pollution as byproducts of human greed and ignorance. These savage landscapes become more surprising when you learn that Score is a high school teacher. He has taught freshman and sophomore World History in Newburg, N.Y., for 13 years. The old adage of punk designating the problem and hardcore presenting the solution comes to life, as Score embodies that ethos in his teaching. “The apathy is unbelievable,” he laments. “It’s at an all time high. There have always been kids who don’t care, but now, it’s the majority.” Score explains that the title, Dying Gods, points to religion and celebrities and governments misleading their followers. His goal is to break these kids free of inherited adoration and blind allegiance. Score concludes, “It is a challenge. But, if you can provide a spark and get them to think about reality outside their world, you’ve accomplished something. You cannot dwell on the ones you cannot reach. If you dwell, it is depressing and misses the positive.”



Ryan, along with Bad Sports’ Daniel Fried and Gregory Rutherford, joined Burke on Silent Kill and it’s apparent the lineup cohesion has lent them laser focus. Burke admits that the creative process behind Silent Kill was “more open” than Radioactivity. “One thing that helped form this second album was more time playing with these guys,” he says. “The first album was more about the songs I [already] had— this one is more about feel, and how these songs felt when we played them as a group.” When Dirtnap initially announced Radioactivity as a two album project, it wasn’t necessarily untrue, but seemed to catch Burke by surprise. “At the time, I had just gotten back from Japan and had an idea of what I wanted to be on each record,” he says. “The first record didn’t change at all—it was released as I thought it would be. We actually started recording the second one about a month after we finished the first one. We recorded a bunch of songs and, [on] some of them, I didn’t like the mix that much, and other songs I just didn’t feel. It kind of evolved and took a little extra time. It turned out to be a

I N T E R V I E W W I T H VO CA L I ST A N D G U I TA R I ST J E F F B U R K E BY B RY N E YA N C E Y different record than I was expecting.” Though Silent Kill is packed with tightly wound, riff-forward rockers like “No Alarm” and “Silent,” it also contains some of Burke’s poppiest songs to date like the jangly slow burner “No Connection” and the mid-tempo, downbeat “Way Out.” “Part of the plan was to kind of make a different record, so people wouldn’t have a certain expectation of what this band

sounds like,” Burke explains. “But I don’t think the album ended up being that different. Content-wise it feels different to me, but when I say that to other people, they don’t [hear it].”









t’s been a few years since we’ve heard anything from Philly noise punk heroes Fight Amp, but this silence is about to be broken, as the band prepare to release Constantly Off through Brutal Panda on June 9. Around that time, they will also be hitting the road with Canadian noisemakers KEN mode. If you’ve missed them, get ready to be reacquainted in a major way. Constantly Off features six tracks of the band’s patented combination of noise rock, hardcore punk, and grunge, adding elements of doom and hard rock into their potent mix. They have taken special care to make sure there is a nice flow to the album. In addition, the vocals are very strong and up front. It’s their most concise and cohesive musical statement to date. It helps that the band had a solid lineup going into the recording process of this album. Drummer Dan Smith joined the band—alongside mainstays guitarist and vocalist Mike McGinnis and bassist and vocalist Jon DeHart—halfway through the recording of their last album, 2012’s Birth Control. He has brought stability to the band, which in turn helped with the songwriting process. “When someone comes on board, they’re injected into the writing process,” says McGinnis. “We don’t compose these songs and tell the other members what to play. There’s the original idea, maybe some structuring ahead of time, but we always get input and new ideas and takes on the songs we bring to the table from everyone involved. Constantly Off has so much subtle interplay between all three instruments, and I have to think that’s a product of allowing a chemistry to build.” Having a steady lineup for the writing and recording allowed the band to achieve their goals in the studio. McGinnis is totally stoked on the new album. “This album plays like it played in my head before we recorded




it,” he says. “Honestly, it exceeded my personal expectations, especially with the vocals. Even while writing, we talked a lot about cutting some time out of the sludgier songs and making them more anthem-like, focusing on hooks, both vocally and riffwise, and there was a huge emphasis on steering the lyrical content away from being accusatory [to be] more self-reflective. We achieved all of those things and then some.” With a killer new album about to drop and a tour with likeminded souls already booked, it looks like 2015 is going to be a much busier, and thankfully noisier, year for the Fight Amp. This burst of action will continue for the foreseeable future. “We plan on doing more touring,” confirms McGinnis. “We’re aiming for the fall, and hopefully a Euro tour next year. Still in the planning stages, of course. We’re just ready to do this Canadian [and] Northeast run with KEN mode to play a focused batch of awesome shows in our best cities with the new album in tow.” “And it’s never too early to start talking about another album,” he adds, “but that’s about all we’re doing now is talking. The riffs are starting to play in our heads and we’re starting to get them out, so once the floodgates open, we’ll start getting new songs written and take it from there.”





ome would argue it’s the wine, but, anyone with a good taste in music knows that quality bands have been Santa Barbara’s most valuable export over the last 20 years. Versus the World is one of those bands. I had the pleasure of VTW frontman, Donald Spence, crashing at my place in San Diego for a few days. He showed up from the train station at 10pm, with a half-drunken bottle of cabernet, leather jacket an acoustic guitar, and a big ol’ smile. Anyone who knows him will agree; he’s fun as hell and makes a new friends everywhere he goes.   Homesick Roadsick, which is set for release on June 23rd, courtesy of Kung Fu Records, is their third studio record to date. The Versus camp has always been more of a family than a band. Rehearsals are actually more like weekend retreats, as they practice in Spence’s custom built practice space in between BBQ and beers. The quality of production, songwriting and musicianship on this release speaks to their undeniable camaraderie. With the legendary Thom Flowers producing, and seasoned veterans Chris Flippin (Lagwagon) and Mike Davenport (The Ataris), Homesick/ Roadsick is a sonic, lyrical reflection of life experiences on tour, the realities of coming home and the cyclical process of it happening over and over again. Over a few shots of tequila and some Italian aperitif I can’t pronounce, we talked about the album… The new album is soooo good, man. What came first this time - a theme, words or music? We came up with a theme before we wrote anything. I think I was talking to Chuck Ragan about it at one point, the idea of being reminiscent and wanting to go home.. and the minute you get home, you start to get the itch to go back out again. So the whole homesick, roadsick thing, I got set on as a theme then Tony and I just started writing. It’s the most collaborative effort we’ve done, and as a result - the best 10 songs we’ve ever released. Did you take on a different process this time around? I’ve never written a record like this before, and I think it’s the new way. It used to be, one guy would write a song and then others would just learn it… I’ve never shared the songwriting responsibility like that before and it was fucking cool. To have someone you can bounce ideas off of, obviously

someone that you respect and you trust But I think Tony and I work super well together, and I can’t wait to write another record with him. Was Homesick Roadsick this the first time you did a record outside of Santa Barbara? Yeah, we chose different rooms to do everything. We did drums at Playback in Santa Barbara, really good drum room and everyone is right there. They we went to Infrasonic in LA for the bulk of it, and the rest back at Orange Whip for vocals, and the tasty guitar spice. Thom Flowers recording everything, he’s been on our team forever. What was your favorite part of the process? My favorite part of [of the recording] was the traveling. Going down in LA and staying for a week. We’ve always done all of our albums in Santa Barbara, and this was a time we could pack up our stuff and go. It helps you focus, because your gone. In Santa Barbara, we’re spoiled, because we have all the Angus Cookes and the Thom Flowers’, you have a lot of good guys to record you, so you don’t have to leave - we just kind of wanted to, and it really helped us to focus. The other half of that is that you are kind of on vacation. When you get out at night, you might be a little wilder than you would have been at home. I think we’re never going to find the balance, it’s between sober and absolute piece of shit drunk. Its a constant search, but we’re never gonna find it, we’re musicians, we’ll never find a balance. You’ll can’t always be home with your wife and family, you can’t always be on tour. It’s just a constant, ‘Fuck, we’re almost there’ type balance. What’s the tour schedule looking like? We are excited to do Europe with Strung Out, then Japan with Useless ID and that will be really fun. Yotam and I are really good friends, that band is really really fun to tour with. We have a lots of history with them, everybody has known each other for years and years, so every time we get together for tour, it’s just a bunch of old buddies hanging out. We’ll also be doing China, New Zealand I hope, and Australia for sure. Damn, I’d love to hang out with Yotam in Japan. Dude, I fucking love Japan. It’s one of my favorite places to tour. I’ve said it before, I fucking love that country. See I think.. well, I like food and booze, and I think they really like food and booze too.



n pulling together songs for their third full-length, More Faithful—available June 9 via the band’s mainstay label, Mexican Summer—Canadian shoegaze quartet No Joy didn’t see the point in going over well tread musical territory. “There’s no point in doing the same thing twice,” says guitarist Laura Lloyd. That’s not to say the band has turned their back on loud guitars and occasional glimpses of dreamy pop vocals—that’s all here—but there is also a definite departure from the band’s 2013 Wait to Please. This latest collection of songs finds the band paired up again with musician and producer Jorge Elbrecht. “He has a fundamental understanding of the band that makes overall production easier,” Lloyd says, but adds that that familiarity doesn’t make the process effortless. “He is a great friend, but easy to communicate with? …Not necessarily.” No Joy recorded the album in two disparate settings: a rural farmhouse in Costa Rica, and New York. The result is the band’s strongest record yet. “The reason we

Did the incongruent surroundings give the album a similarly incongruous sound? “Not in any way that would be noticeable to the listeners,” Lloyd assures. “Except for the song that features our housekeeper Rosa singing in Española.” When asked if the band has plans for summer, Lloyd exclaims, “Yeah, party! We’re touring America in June, then taking July and August off, and then a bunch of stuff in the fall. […] June tour, album release, and our own line of Fabergé eggs available in our e-store soon.”


Above all, Lloyd has one message for No Joy’s current and potential fans: “Please like us.”




attnet Viskar, New Hampshire’s favorite atmospheric metal champs, are back with a thought provoking and totally headbanging new album, Settler, coming June 16 on Century Media. The band continues to push new sonic boundaries with this record, painting with an ever-broadening palette of hooks and gloomy metal textures. The band’s black metal tinged origins are still felt throughout, but songs like “Yeam” are heavy on the postrock and drone elements. Album closer “Coldwar” has gorgeous guitar melodies, and heavy hitter “Impact” is straight bonkers extreme metal at its best.

little bit from the recording and the whole process around Sky Swallower, which gave us a much clearer mindset heading into this album. Generally, [guitarist] Chris [Alfieri] or I will start writing skeletons of songs, eventually bringing them to practice and changing them entirely. They all change pretty dramatically when [bassist] Casey [Aylward] and [drummer] Seamus [Menihane] add their parts and input, which is so great. There are parts I’ll hear one way in my head for months, only to have it immediately swept away by an awesome drum part that changes the thing entirely. I love it.

Your second full-length album Settler is upon us. Would you elaborate on the meaning of album’s title? Well, without going into specifics, the title track for the album is, without a doubt, the most personal song for me lyrically, and we just liked the ring of it for the album title. The biggest theme here, for me, is the massive ups and downs of life, with all of the hard unexpected turns along the way. Overall, much more of a personal album than Sky Swallower was, and I think you can feel that in the songs.

You’re playing Maryland Deathfest this year, which must rule. Do you have any other big touring plans or video projects lined up for the rest of the year? Yeah, we’re really excited about that one. It’s been rare for us to have this much time off between shows, so we’re all itching to get back out there. There are a couple of tours in the works right now. We just announced one with 1349 for June. Hopefully we will be very busy for the rest of 2015 and beyond. We’re in the very early stages of planning a video at the moment, but it’s shaping up to be a pretty cool project as well.

What was the songwriting process like for the new album? Does the band jam tunes out together or do members bring skeleton songs to the table? I’d like to think that we learned just a


ended up going to Costa Rica was because we had a farmhouse to stay in,” Lloyd explains, “and there were a lot of dogs on the property and we like dogs, so it made sense to finish the record there, you know? The first part—tracking and stuff—was done in New York at the same studio we’ve been working out of for a while, because our label owns it, so it’s easy.”






haos Delivery Machine—who grew from the ashes of ‘90s band 98 Mute— are a punk trio from Hermosa Beach, Calif. Their debut Manifesto dropped in 2005. In 2011, drummer and singer Justin Thirsk suffered a severe head injury. Once he was cleared to sit on the drum stool again, he got to work with guitarist and band cofounder Jason Page on their sophomore album, Burn Motherfucker Burn. These 20 blazing punk rock tracks are available May 5 via Hardline Entertainment. Pennywise bassist Fletcher Dragge rounds out the trio, also serving as co-vocalist and producer.

[…] We were practicing and had a lot of songs pretty much done around 2009, 2010. But in 2011, I fell and hit my head on some concrete stairs and had to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency craniotomy. […] So, because of that accident, I could not play drums for about a year or two. But I did write some new lyrics to replace the old lyrics for the songs we already had while  I  was stuck in the hospital and at my home on bed rest. I think those are some of the best lyrics  I  wrote on this record. After  I  could get back into the swing of things and play drums again, Jason and I found a new focus and we rewrote and changed a lot of songs. How did the band first get together?                      So, that is another reason why it took a The band started after my old band, 98 decade in between records. Mute, called it quits in 2002. Jason Page— who also founded 98 Mute with [bassist] Did you know what to expect having Fletcher Doug Weems and I—is also the guitar as a bandmate?           player and writes the music for Chaos Yes, we did. We have both been around Delivery Machine.  We wanted to keep on Fletch long enough to know what to expect. playing music, because we love it more He’s like any band member: sometimes he than anything. […] We wanted to go in a is totally funny and hilarious and great to different direction and play more of the old be around, and sometimes… Not so much. school vibe of the punk music that we grew [Laughs] But he is our friend more than our up on, but also try to add some other stuff band member [or] producer. So, we can yell to it.   and scream at each other and still laugh […] Then Fletcher wanted to be involved about it 10 minutes after.  with the project, because he really liked what he heard. So, when we had 20 or Do you think a third album is possible?       so songs ready, we went into Stall No. 2 Hard to really answer that. Jason and I will [Recording & Rehearsal Studios] to record. get together this summer and start writing Fletch produced it and played bass. and playing again.  But,  I  want to do something different again. So, who knows This follow-up has been almost 10 years in what the future holds? No plans right now. the making. Why did it take so long?                   I  guess you could say that life happened.








ver 30 years into their calling, German power metallers Helloween aren’t about to pack it in. My God-Given Right—the follow up to 2013’s highly praised Straight Out of Hell—will mark their 15th release, and be available May 29 via Nuclear Blast. The new material embodies the essence of Helloween classics, such as 1987’s Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I and 1988’s Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II. The band aren’t too concerned about what critics might say with regard to going back to their roots, using the characteristic hooks and choruses fans enjoy singing along to. To make music without the weight of trying to live up to certain expectations seems to be what the


piece Brooklyn based ruckus bringers Meek Is Murder are back in full force with a (half) new full-length entitled Onward / Into the Sun available now via Rising Pulse Records. It is a combination of a past EP, and a brand new EP, separated by both time and theme. What have you guys been up to since Everything is Awesome Nothing Matters? We lost a little momentum from touring when I broke my foot skating last summer. We also tend to have really busy schedules individually. Life gets in the way, you know? Regardless, we played some incredible shows since Everything came out. We played with Dillinger Escape Plan, Cult Leader, Black Cobra, Iron Reagan, and most recently with Candiria. Why didn’t you choose to go back to GodCity to record with Kurt Ballou? We have nothing but love for Kurt and GodCity and we’d love to return. That being said, we made a conscious decision a while back to always record EPs at different studios to keep things fresh. Alan Douches has mastered everything we’ve released as a band, though, which gives our catalog some amount of cohesion. What was it like working with Kevin

album title implies. “You’ve got the fuckin’ God-given damn right to do what you like to do,” bassist Markus Grosskopf affirms humorously. He and guitarist Michael “Weik” Weikath— who have been in the band since its inception—adhere to a method of making music that has stood the test of time. “If you do something for many years, you’ve got the right to do any kind of stuff you like,” Grosskopf continues. “You have the right to do and say anything, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody. When you make the choice to do whatever you’d like to do, you’ve got to do it with all of your heart. You’ve got to do it, but you’ve got to deal

Bernstein? Kevin Bernsten is a super nice dude with incredible ears. When we left Developing Nations, we gave him a balloon, which is not something we always do. What is the new EP about thematically? Onward is an EP about focus and movement. It’s about setting goals and fighting for them, even if you can’t make out exactly what they are yet, [and] hoping to one day connect the dots. The last track is a nod to one of the very first Meek songs, “Someday You Will Find the Red Horizon,” which I considered naming the band after. That song was inspired by a photograph I took the night I graduated college; it was supposedly some big victory, but more than ever, I had no idea where I was headed. That same photo was also the inspiration of the Onward cover art. Why combine an old EP with a new EP for a full-length? Into the Sun was supposed to be a 7”, but the release never happened. We had established that we were going to do something with Rising Pulse, but knew we wouldn’t have enough material for a fulllength as soon as we all wanted. Plus, this way, you can call the vinyl sides “Kevin A” for Kevin Antreassian, and “Kevin B” for

with the problems that come with it.”

off the road to homework.

“Today, we fool around more with arrangements,” he explains. “It’s a little more arranged, like what we did in the ‘80s or something. But the basic track is a basic Helloween track. If somebody writes a song and the other player plays his instrument to it, he knows exactly what he needs to do, almost without asking, to make it sound like Helloween sounds like. That’s the experience you get when you do something for so many years.”

The band just filmed a video for the album’s title track in an undisclosed factory that used to employ 8000 people. “It’s closed now,” Grosskopf reveals. “It has a very nice rotten look, like something very old.” As far as touring the U.S., Grosskopf seems doubtful, but European festival season kicks off in June and will extend to September. Over the summer, Helloween will share stages with some of metal’s biggest bands. Then, in October, the “Weenies” will play the Loudpark Festival in Japan with Slayer, Anthrax, Carcass, and Arch Enemy, to name a few.

After the previous tour supporting Straight Out of Hell, the band found themselves scattered all across Germany. “Everybody started writing individually and we had all the songs after a couple of months. We had all these songs. What can we do?” Grosskopf recalls. “We had the luxury problem again of having too many songs to choose from. Everybody wrote a lot of songs. We didn’t have a master plan to write, like, a concept or something. We just wrote what popped up in our minds— what’s coming right from the heart. It’s always like what’s coming out. If we like it, we work on it a little more, rehearse it a little more. Then, we chose what went on the record. It’s just as natural as it gets.”

Despite having a career that includes eight million records sold and countless shows played all around the world, Grosskopf is just as proud to be part of a band whose members really get along. “It’s nice. It gives you a kind of strength. Knowing you can solve a big problem [by] sitting together, talking about it,” he says. “You can be sure you can do it again. That keeps you kind of cool about what’s coming at you. I like that.”


No strangers to remote locations not trodden by heavy metal bands, Helloween was picked as a headline act to perform in the rainforest of Borneo, an island divided among the countries of Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. “The Sultan came to say hello and invited us for a meal,” Grosskopf reveals, laughing. “There’s a lot of stuff to do that makes it very interesting. After a tour is finished, you go home, have a little break. Then you start thinking, writing songs, and getting some ideas together.” Grosskopf likens the experience of being



INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST AND GUITARIST MIKE KELLER BY BEN KNUDTSON Kevin Bernsten, which is just adorable. We did a split music video with Tiger Flowers once, so you never know what we’ll combine next. Has it been a nice transition onto Rising Pulse? Working with Rising Pulse has been great. [Founder] John [LaMacchia]’s been coming to Meek shows for a long time, so we knew that he knew what we’re all

about. He’s a sick musician, and has been artistically involved in most, if not all of the Rising Pulse releases so far. When he expressed interest in putting something out for us, we were honored and beyond stoked.










n the skinhead subculture, a common

great lyrics. This is the band we want to

mantra is “no politics.” Hard Left throw

be in.”

that cordial oath aside and wear their beyond liberal flags on their sleeves.

Tim shares the elation in the layers and

“We’re both left wing,” vocalist Mike


expands. “Our political beliefs were not

“Would we want to see this? Yes. Let’s do it.





a big part [of our] prior bands. This time,

Marching in with drums and flags? Check.

we want to do more than have great songs

Fred Perrys? Check. Anthems? Check.”

and laughs. The message is important. We love this style of music, but the scene

This attitude forms one hell of a record,

is stridently apolitical or right wing. We

which is available now via Perfect Future

wanted to be up front about this.” This

Records. Tim pushes, “We kept it simple.

aspect has the potential to cause trouble.

The mixing principle was to make the toms

“I already got trolled on Facebook,” he

loud and add clapping. Make it anthemic.”

admits. Mike was called “oppressive” by a white power user, but Hard Left simply

Hard Left will play some record release

want to seize the opportunity. “I think it’s

shows soon. San Francisco, Los Angeles,

great if apolitical people want to listen. But

and Oakland are on the list. Stewart will

they will get a message.”

play those shows, but Hard Left will be on the search for a drummer who is available

Tim adds, “The apolitical aspect about fun

to play out of town. The band plan to visit

and style is tired for me. We want to put on

the East Coast and the Northwest in the

a different gloss. While not ‘skinheads,’ we

summer. They also want to go to Europe,

are steeped in the culture: the music, the

feeling they “would be well received,”

fashion.” Sham 69 and Oi! are the basis of

according to Tim.

the sound. “We are trying to unseat what it means to be working class. If you want fun

Even the coed status of Hard Left is a

and apolitical, you are missing content that

statement. Mike is uncompromising on

could be there.”

Donna’s pedigree. “She is an amazing bass player, powerful. It’s important, the idea of

Despite Mike citing that the left wing has

having a woman in the band.”

a long, strong history with British scenes, the hard kicking music should be heard

Tim appends any notions, saying, “Her

without being eclipsed by the political

being in the band is not contrived. But

stance of Hard Left. It is drenched in Mod

it’s great and goes with politics of self-

and Pub Rock style. Mike revels in their

empowerment in the band. Women having

intent. “We’re old, [we’ve] been in a bunch

a voice adds more diversity. If women

of bands. We wanted to be in a band with terrace rocking beats and ripping guitars


full of feedback and anthem songs with




aren’t free, none of us are free.”



orway’s Leprous have made a name for themselves writing excellent progressive rock/metal over the past 10 years, steadily showcasing how potent well written prog can be. With their latest record, The Congregation, due for release via InsideOut Music June 2, Leprous is taking the next great leap. Leprous has become of the best modern prog bands in existence. The Congregation is a dark yet varied release, elegantly highlighting humanity’s senseless demise with expertly technical musicianship so grand it’s easy to miss the potent themes.

that people follow blindly, without selfreflection. The album art represents the grotesque malformation of the world, while the majority of the world simply does not care about it.

Describe the writing process for The Congregation? When I started writing the initial sketches for the album, I started out with just one small plan, and that was I wanted everything to be very focused, very straight to the point. I know that no matter what kind of ideas you start out with in the beginning, the music kind of lives its own life, so no matter where you’re trying to steer it, it’s like, “Yeah, I’m planning this kind of album now,” [laughs]. Then, it ends up completely differently.

Several of the songs touch on those different branches of the congregation. Like the song “Rewind,” it’s actually about the use of drone mentality. It’s got a rather political theme to it.

What I did this time was just write a lot more than I ever have before for an album. We wrote 30 sketches for songs. I like forcing myself to have deadlines, because that’s when I work the best: when I have to write. Then, I have to force myself to do it even if I’m [un]inspired. I force myself to write, because you never know when the good stuff comes [laughs]. That really proves that hard work is the most important thing in order to get the album you want. What is “Within My Fence” about? It’s actually about general society and its flaws. It’s a short and quick song about always being within your own comfort zone and not caring what happens outside of it, or “my fence.” It’s one of the least subtle lyrics on the record. What are some of the album’s themes? What is this “congregation” you speak of? We mean those who follow blindly, not necessarily a religious context. While it includes that, it’s about all kinds of things

It’s interesting that you mention that song; you’re the first person to mention “Within My Fence.” I wanted to throw it away, because it was so different in mood and feel from the rest of the album, but it started growing on us. We felt it made the album richer, because it was so rude and to the point [laughs].

You’ve said that you don’t write many of the lyrics, because you’re so hard on yourself. Did you take on a bigger role lyrically with this album? Absolutely, I took it upon myself to write more this time around. I would say I wrote about 40 percent of the lyrics. What I learned is that I shouldn’t censor myself so much, that having something is better than nothing. Still, I would say it’s much more fun to write the music than to write the lyrics [laughs]. Was this release a lot of work? The Congregation was planned out to the smallest detail. When I started writing out all those sketches, we really evaluated and analyzed everything again and again and again [laughs], and changed things until the last minute before we entered the studio. When you’re writing out those initial sketches, it’s not very easy to have a plan, but we worked hard to do just that. Any U.S. touring plans coming up? Absolutely, it’s high on the priority list. Expect some news about that in not too long. I would expect it, but I cannot promise it yet.



he grindcore fiends in Maruta are back from the brink of extinction with a new and impressively pissed off album, Remain Dystopian, coming June 2 on Relapse Records. Picking up where their last record—2011’s mind-bendingly awesome Forward Into Regression—left off, Maruta return to the extreme metal scene with their musical chops and lyrical venom firmly intact. “We broke up for a while,” vocalist Mitchell Luna laments. “[Guitarist] Eduardo [Borja] was going through some personal stuff, and I guess it took its toll. We split amicably so he could focus on other aspects of his life.” Thankfully, their year of downtime came to a halt after fielding an offer to open for veteran noise mongers Today Is The Day in Miami. “We said fuck it, man,” Luna reveals, “let’s jam with Today Is The Day and have a good time. We realized that we missed playing fast music. Life may suck, but it sucks more when you’re not getting together with your friends and playing fast music. We got together and practiced, and Eduardo had some cool riffs and we thought, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to have to record that one! We can’t let that be lost throughout the void.’ One thing led to the next and we cranked out a new record over time.”

Remain Dystopian is a 27 minute decathlon of brutality. Tracks like “Hopesmasher,” “Stand in Defeat,” and the epic “Stride Endlessly through Scorched Earth” will give ADD grindcore kids and technical savvy death metal fans tingly sensations all over their bodies. As the album’s title would suggest, Remain Dystopian is a thoroughly bleak affair. “This is a record where I got way more personal with lyrics,” Luna reveals. “It deals with wanting to help someone or change something, and feeling completely and utterly hopeless and unable to do so. I have a close family member who is suffering from mental illness, and I have been putting all of my heart and soul into helping this person, but I can’t. I basically have to sit and watch them spiral out of control and there’s nothing I can do. I also apply that to the life we live in general and the state of the world. It’s kind of cliché for metal to be about the world going to shit, but I generally feel that way sometimes. It’s negative and angry, but I had fun with it.” “I handle all the lyrics and titles and all that. That’s my department,” Luna says, “and the dudes have free reign on the music. For this record, there were a few songs Eduardo wrote on his own, but for the most part, this record had the




or the last quarter century or so, Paradise Lost have been one of the most important and under-appreciated bands in the world of extreme metal. Never could this be more apparent than on their 14th and newest album The Plague Within, available June 2 via Century Media. Despite the distractions of other projects, as well as a heavy touring schedule, Plague is a pummeling return to form that is sure to win back even the most skeptical of fans. The Plague Within seems to be a lot heavier

than Tragic Idol. Is that something that you guys discussed prior to the writing and recording of the album? GM: We didn’t say we wanted to do a heavier album, necessarily. We just said that we didn’t want any boundaries. We wanted to be able to draw on all our influences from any point in time. The album could have ended up very differently. We kind of just went with the flow a song at a time and it took us down this path. NH: I suppose we decided to make a change, as the last few previous albums were in a


INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST MITCHELL LUNA BY JAMES ALVAREZ most collaboration between [bassist and guitarist] Mauro [Cordoba] and Eduardo. I’d say this record was 50/50. Usually the super hyper fast ones that don’t stop with the weird fucking timing, that’s Mo; he’s all about that shit!” tThe tempos rage, the doomy breakdowns linger, ang the tortured vocals and “holy shit” guest appearances from Pig

similar vein, however the biggest change is probably the vocals, which definitely adds another layer that we haven’t explored for some time. I really have enjoyed the challenge. Has the work you’ve done in more death metal-centric bands like Bloodbath and Vallenfyre had any sort of impact on the sound of The Plague Within? GM: I don’t think so. Vallenfyre have been active since 2010, so we could have brought those influences in at any point before now. We had already begun the writing for The Plague Within before Nick agreed to do the Bloodbath album. I had to persuade Nick to try out the gruff vocals on the newer material, and I do think that doing the Bloodbath record maybe gave him the confidence to do that. Also, the time just felt right to introduce those influences again. NH: For my part, I guess recording the Bloodbath album helped me prep the vocal style for the new Paradise Lost stuff, but I had already done that of sorts when we rerecorded two old songs, “Our Saviour” and “Gothic,” as extra tracks last year. I think all influences are pretty subconscious full stop with Paradise Lost. Did being busy with other projects make The Plague Within more difficult to create than past Paradise Lost albums? GM: I actually thought The Plague Within was easier to write than the last couple

Destroyer’s J.R. Hayes and At The Gates’ Tomas Lindberg echo throughout the album. Produced by Pig Destroyer/ Agoraphobic Nosebleed mastermind Scott Hull, Remain Dystopian is a basically an amped up, misanthropic wet dream of epic proportions.


of records, because we altered our way of writing. I would send Nick a piece of music and ask him to do varying styles and melodies over it, and then [he’d] send it back to me. Then, I would strip back the music and build the track using the various vocal parts like building blocks. It meant I could try out multiple ideas and styles in a short space of time, making the writing process much more intuitive. NH: Every album is a big challenge, and we are our own worst critics. I guess both of us working on extreme metal projects made the heavier edge a totally natural thing, thus revitalizing the whole writing process. What is it about Paradise Lost that keeps you coming back to the well? Are there facets of the band’s sound or message that you most enjoy when working on a new album? GM: We continue because we think that we can produce good music that is relevant and fills a void in the current metal scene. I think I like the fact that we always do our own thing, which keeps it exciting for us when making a new record. NH: I enjoy all aspects of being in a band—the writing, the recording, and live work—and after nearly 30 years, it’s pretty impossible to imagine doing anything else. I don’t think I would want to. Although, being an astronaut would be pretty cool!









ro-Pain sprung out of the ashes of the NYHC scene. 23 years ago, Gary Meskil came out of the legendary NYC crossover outfit, Crumbsuckers, taking his drummer, Dan Richardson, and starting Pro-Pain. They took a raw fusion of metal and hardcore and mixed it with divergent New York metal bands like Life Of Agony, Biohazard, Helmet, Prong, and Type O Negative, but these bands do not define Pro-Pain. As much as they have experimented with groove or melody, the last few albums have seen a return to heavy riffs and thunderous drums. Pro-Pain are now a taut machine of straight, no frills metal powered hardcore. Reinventing the focus of the group with fire and fury, Pro-Pain have eschewed experimenting. Spewing their harshest material on their 15th album, Voice of Rebellion—available June 23 via SPV’s Steamhammer—is a move deserving praise. Meskil admits, “We have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. We’ve always done things on an album by album [basis], never planning for the long term. But, here we are many years later. We feel that the band is as relevant now as when the genre was at its peak. Our live shows are as tight and as powerful as ever, too. It means a lot to me, personally, to have come this far.” Hands down, this is their best album, boasting an intense energy, certain cohesion, and scathing ferocity. Voice of Rebellion is reinvigorating. “The chemistry between band members is at an all time high,” says Meskil. “I think we’ve made some of our best albums in recent times.  There is a certain amount of guesswork and tension that goes into the making of each album. That’s one of the reasons that I find the creative process so exciting and rewarding. You never know if you’re going to fail or succeed. It’s a nice feeling when

you feel, at least in your own heart, that you’ve succeeded. Voice of Rebellion is a very strong Pro-Pain album. We worked very hard in order to be able to say that.” Pro-Pain worked with producer Corey Williams. Williams is young at 21, “but he has musical talent beyond his years,” attests Meskil. After the two recorded Meskil’s side project Salvation together, they “found that we had a good working chemistry in the studio and that we spoke the same language in terms of engineering and production. I’ve produced and coproduced many records in the past, so I naturally stepped in and put my producer’s hat on. The end result is as hard as nails,” Meskil says. “We wanted the cover concept to represent the album title and to speak well for ProPain in general.” Meskil is speaking of his screaming profile placed between a pair of dog tags and an American flag. The lyrics are angry here, but wrought with introspection. The rage is burdened by self-awareness. “Since our inception, we have written album after album offering up sociopolitical commentary du jour in lyrical format,” Meskil says. “Pro-Pain are a voice of the people. Although our concerns have become more universal with time, we are still an American band in the end.” Pro-Pain will push into high gear for the summer festival season. “It’s always a big thrill for us to play the bigger stages,” Meskil says.  “Full Force Festival is one of my personal favs. We’ve played there several times over the years.  We are also very excited to play E&L Rocknacht, Resurrection Fest, Bloodstock U.K., and others.” After returning to the U.S., Meskil is planning some shows for the East Coast.




n the realm of horror and gore soaked death metal, New York’s Skinless sit in the pantheon. One of the heaviest, fiercest, and ugliest death metal bands, they formed in the early 1990s and released a quick demo in 1994. Returning after a 10 year hiatus on June 2, 2015, with Until the Ruthless Remain, the band have not lost one iota of ferocity. The instruments are tuned low. Growling about war, death, and savagery, Skinless return to Relapse Records and spew their twisted imagery over gnarly crunching riffs and blistering drums. Since Skinless is known for the darkest, angriest death metal from the harsh environment of upstate New York, Webber’s sunny, jovial demeanor while wandering through Denver may seem shocking. Only the Ruthless Remain assures any doubters that neither geography nor time has impacted the treachery of Skinless. Webber relocated because he “needed a change of pace.” After playing Maryland Death Fest in 2011, Webber booked Skinless at Denver’s Black Sky and the idea sprouted to play more shows and even record again. “Everybody has kids and real jobs,” notes Webber. He checks his phone continuously as his wife is pregnant and the baby is “about to drop at any time.” Webber continues, “This record comes at a good time. It is definitely the most fun I ever had making an album. I flew back [to N.Y.] every couple of months. We sent digital files. It worked. They couldn’t get sick of me.” Due to Webber’s home studio, he could record at his own pace. “I was already familiar with the songs. We slammed a bunch of beers and knocked it out.” Tom Case recorded Only the Ruthless Remain at Edie Road Studio and Doomsday Bunker Studio, both in upstate New York. North of Albany, the real estate allows for what Webber describes as a “big, huge

drum room” at Edie Road, which “made it feel more organic.” You can hear it, too. The first track, “Serpenticide” oozes with the multiple layers of drums, all attended to in the mix. The toms feel like a separate entity than the snare and kicks. The cymbals are layered among the riffs, adding dimension. Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Primitive Man) tracked the vocals at Flatline Audio in Denver. Brad Boatright (Obituary, Nails, Integrity) mastered the tracks at Audiosiege in Portland, Ore. Webber dispels any iota of anxiety as he returns to the mic after a decade hiatus. “There was no trepidation,” he offers. “I have been doing this band since I was 16. These guys have an incredible work ethic. The vibe was like old times.” Skinless will be taking their new material and a bevy of classics to the many stages. Maryland Death Fest 2015 will be a stop. Hellfest in France will be a victim. Then, in the fall, the band will tour the East Coast. “We want to do as many shows as possible,” admits the riled Webber. “Beer and friends are so much fun, but our families are our priority. That makes the options unlimited, no pressure. We could not thank Relapse Records enough for their faith and patience.” Webber continues, “I hate to say ‘hobby,’ but this is not our full time gig anymore. We are a blue-collar band. We take care of business at home first. When you have limited time, you put in a heightened effort and quality. I hate to overstate how much effort goes into a death metal album. We do leave room for impulse, but this album is extremely focused.” Relentless in its execution, Only the Ruthless Remain exposes the band’s feral drive. That carnal instinct lends itself to the material. Webber explains he never wanted to “beat it to death and make it sterile. The material has to stay raw and animalistic.”










uring the mid ‘00s, when Senses Fail was at the height of their popularity, lead singer James “Buddy” Nielsen was at a personal low.

“I wasn’t in a good space when we were really big and really popular,” he recalls. “That was the most miserable time of my life; it was awful, it was terrible. I had a terrible time.”

I’m going to come out and say this, then I’m going to be an activist. For me, it was like, ‘What’s the point in saying it and identifying if I’m not going to then continue to stand up for that right and exercise it and educate people?’”

Almost a decade ago, when the band’s sophomore album Still Searching gave fans the anthem “Can’t Be Saved,” Nielsen was struggling with inner turmoil that he had never felt comfortable expressing. It would be almost 10 years before he publicly came out as a member of the LGBT (QIAP and the list goes on…) community, and began his fight for human rights.

Nielsen has also detailed his struggles with not only drug and alcohol addiction, but sexual addiction and childhood trauma as well. Though he officially came out, he identifies as queer, falling into a grey area that’s hard for many to understand. For those who are still unclear, Nielsen recently posted a thorough definition of “queer” on his website, explaining it, in part, as “a simple label to explain a complex set of sexual behaviors and desires. For example, a person who is attracted to multiple genders may identify as queer.”

“I’ve always been for people’s basic human rights,” says Nielsen, “but if

Those who have been involved with hardcore music during Senses Fail’s

career have seen the scene’s social climate changing. The tides have turned from the days of every-fanfor-themself, and a more politically and culturally aware crowd has emerged. This may partially explain why it took so long for Nielsen to come out, as a safer and more tolerant scene like today’s is easier to open up to. That being said, some fans have criticized the band—which includes guitarists Zach Roach and Matt Smith, bassist Jason Black, and drummer Dan Trapp—for becoming more vocal about human rights. “I guess they might be confused as to whether there has to be a difference,” Nielsen says. “I think people are slightly confused as to what the point of being in a band who’s considered a sub-genre of punk rock should be. I think that most people have come to think that bands should be quiet and just play music, which… I don’t think I’ve ever been quiet and just played music.” The reasoning behind Senses Fail’s new outlook comes from Nielsen’s acceptance of who he is. For the most part, fans have been encouraging of the singer, however there are a few who miss the old “fuck the world” attitude of Senses Fail, which Nielsen says made them a completely different band. “It’s a completely different band, re-

ally. There’s the band of the ‘00s, and then there’s gonna be the band of this decade,” he explains. “I’m telling a completely different story. The story of the last decade is one of sort of angst and coming to terms with being an adult, living with trauma and living with addiction, what it feels like to express your sexuality and not even know it, what it feels like to basically come at the world from a defensive standpoint. Then, this band is about waking up, coming to terms with who you are and softening to it.” The new version of Senses Fail will release their newest full-length, Pull the Thorns from Your Heart, June 30 via Pure Noise Records, and will also appear on the Vans Warped Tour. Overall, the goal, Nielsen says, is to give his fans what he has found for himself. “I want to give them a piece of what I’ve been able to find, which is safety and confidence and some level of truth. Maybe it’s not for everyone; not everybody’s gonna want that, not everybody needs that, not everybody wants to look that deeply at their life. But for the people who do, I want to give them what has been given to me.”






INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST AND GUITARIST PAT GRAHAM BY KAYLA GREET ince forming in 2008, Spraynard have helped put the Philadelphia punk scene on the map. “I saw a Modern Baseball shirt in the Hot Topic at the Exton Square mall. It was weird,” says singer and guitarist Pat Graham.

to do with getting Spraynard back together, somewhat coercing them to put out their compilation album The Mark, Tom, and Patrick Show. “Mike would hit me up every few months and be like, ‘Do a record. Are you guys friends?”’ Graham remembers.

Despite a hiatus in 2012 after touring for three months on their Asian Man debut full-length Funtitled, they were welcomed back in 2014 with even more vivaciousness than when they spilt up. They immediately played a sold out show in Philly. Asian Man founder Mike Park had a lot

Initially the band was started to foster the scene in their home of West Chester and they have since blossomed into an international touring act with several releases under their belts. On May 19, Spraynard released “Bench,” a two song 7” on Jade Tree Records, as a precursor to a new full-length out

later this year. The new full-length will include some of the last songs recorded with the band’s original lineup. Just before starting a tour with Iron Chic and The World Is A Beautiful Place…, the band announced that bass player Mark Dickinson had left to pursue being a full time teacher. Stating that they are all still best friends, Graham goes on to say, “It’s not like it was a really ugly and hurtful conversation, but it was definitely a difficult decision to make. All three of us are just doing what we think is right and I don’t think any of us fault each other for that.” Jake Guralnik of Crossed Eyes will be taking over bass.

While the majority of their shows are full of people who intensely love Spraynard, not everyone agrees with their ethos. At recent show at UMASS Amherst, Graham talked to the crowd about inclusiveness and communication, especially as it pertained to women. “A dude” in the audience cut him off, yelling, “‘Shut the fuck up!’” Graham responded directly, telling them not to go to shows unless they include everyone. “Shows are my place to feel safe away from the shitty outside world. I’d like women to feel the same way, and the only way to accomplish that is to communicate with each other,” Graham shares. After the record is released, the band plans to announce a large U.S. tour. Getting signed to Jade Tree Records was like a dream come true for Spraynard. Of the new record, Graham reveals, “We all like Taylor Swift a lot more than we did a few years back, so the songs definitely have a stronger pop sensibility.”







ooking back, the ‘90s were kind of an insane time of birth and death in the music industry. With a few simple guitar chords, Nirvana rendered hair metal obsolete, which also dulled the edge of thrash metal, which gave way to the birth of death metal. In August of 1996, it had been a little over two years since the passing of Kurt Cobain—and subsequently, grunge as well—but the nu metal genre was on the brink of explosion. It was during this time that a fairly little known band out of Los Angeles called Failure released Fantastic Planet, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll album of the decade. Featuring vocalist Ken Andrews splitting time on guitar and bass with co-founder Greg Edwards (Autolux), as well as drummer Kellii Scott, the band released a sprawling, progressive, titanic space/college rock album that has continued to influence countless bands in the rock and metal world. Sadly, a little over a year after the album’s release, the band broke up and was never to be seen or heard from again, aside from the release of the compilation album Golden in 2004. Then, as fate would have it, the band announced in November 2013 that they would be reuniting with their Fantastic Planet lineup to play their first reunion show at the El Rey theatre in Los Angeles. Ironically enough, it was birth itself that lit the spark that would ignite the band’s eventual rebirth. “I think it all really started about six years ago when Greg and I had our first kids within about six months of each other,” admits Andrews. “We had sort of rekindled our friendship about maybe a year prior to that, and we just ended up hanging out a lot more, doing play-dates as dads and stuff like that.” “So, we started talking about Failure and the idea of maybe working together again,” he continues. “We both decided early on that, if we were gonna do it, we didn’t wanna do, like, one or two nostalgia tours and that would be it. It was like, that just didn’t interest us. If we were gonna come back, we wanted to come back full on and be a fully functioning band making new music.” Following the band’s decision to make a full go of it again, the reunion took its next logical step toward what would eventually become their fourth full-length album. “We were like,




‘Well, we better see if we can make new music that we like, cause it’s been almost 20 years,’” says Andrews. “So, we went into my studio, and about six months later, we had four songs that we liked. Those four songs are on the record, actually. So, that was almost three years ago, really. Then, it became like, ‘Well, if we’re gonna keep going, what’s the live component going to be like?’ So we booked that show at the El Rey and it sold out in, like, a few minutes.”


During the band’s first show in 17 years, there were two things that stood out: the record time in which the show sold out, and the actual audience itself. “When we played the show, we could see the audience and tell that we had a new, younger audience that were in their 20s,” says Andrews. “That basically inspired us, because at that point, we were thinking, ‘Well, we’ll just put out maybe a four or five song EP and see where that goes,’ but then, after we played that show and we really understood the love for Fantastic Planet, that’s when we said, ‘You know, we just need to do a full album that is the natural follow up to Fantastic Planet, and here we are today.” After getting their first live show out of the way, as well as a few new songs under their belt, the band did some shows with Tool before embarking on their first headlining tour in 17 years. Once that tour was done, they immediately got to work on the next phase of their reunion plan. “When we finished that tour, we decided that we needed to buckle down and get a studio where we could really work and record,” states Andrews. “So, we moved into a studio in October of last year and that’s all we did. We’d come in here every day and write and record, and that’s where the bulk of the album came from, but we had those first few songs to be a starting off point that helped us to see where the album was gonna end up.” After putting in tons of work on the new album, the band is finally ready to give birth to The Heart Is a Monster. Despite the fact that the album is the long awaited follow up to their genre-defying masterpiece, it wasn’t too hard for them to pin down how they wanted it to sound. “We wanted it to feel like it was the next Failure record,” Andrews says plainly. “You would think that after 18 years off, or whatever, that it would be a whole


different band, but we kind of realized when we get in the studio together, that’s the sound that comes out: the Failure sound. So, it wasn’t too hard to just go, ‘You know, people like us because we do albums. We are not a single-oriented band; we are a long, sprawling, really dig into [an] album band.’ So that was definitely high on the priority list. It had to be meaty. It had to have a lot of content in it and not just be a few songs, and it had to flow. Other than that, we didn’t have too many prerequisites. Then, the songs just had to be good.” Naturally, when a band releases the follow up to a classic like Fantastic Planet, there is always going to be

pressure. “When you have a record that is so loved like Fantastic Planet was, we for sure felt the pressure of it,” admits Andrews. He concludes that the majority of this pressure was applied from within the band, rather than outside forces. “At the same time, we had just come off a tour where we played all those songs, so we felt like we had a real handle on what we were about. When you’re working on it, it’s hard to know if people are going to like it, but we just use our own barometers to see if we like it. If it’s cool to us, then we hope other people will like it.”




s weird as it may sound for fans of the band, Massachusetts’ Four Year Strong are now veterans of the punk rock scene, and as such, are now navigating the scary minefield many veterans tackle in their careers: the comeback. For Four Year Strong, this comeback is all about getting in touch with what made the band memorable in the first place and going from there. In 2011, Four Year Strong released In Some Way, Shape, or Form, an album that came at a pivotal time, as they began to feel the toil of over 10 years on the road, as well as other pressures. The album was poorly received by their loyal fan base, and caused them to be dropped from the Universal Music umbrella. “Just being on the road for so many years and not having a normal home life, that was finally catching up to everyone,” vocalist Alan Day explains. “All of us just wanted to be home and try that for once. It was completely necessary, but that time that we had to reflect on all of it made us want this even more.” The band committed to revisiting their initial reason for songwriting. “The only way we wrote songs when we first started, was that we were only thinking about the live show,” says




Day. “We were only making these songs in the studio because it was going to be fuckin’ awesome live.” The band carried this mindset into their EP Go Down In History last summer, which fans and critics alike considered a great step forward for the band. That fall, they entered the studio for the first of two sessions that would ultimately form their forthcoming album, available starting June 2 via Pure Noise Records. With their focus on what made the band great in the first place, there was only one logical title: Four Year Strong. Armed with a concrete vision of their identity, the band teamed up with producer Kurt Ballou, something Day really took joy in. “I’d been listening to [Converge] since I was a kid,” he says. “We were always fans of his recordings, because they’re just insane sounding. Very intense, very raw, and very cool.” That raw feel was something the band really honed in on in the recording process, as they set about trying to minimize the studio’s influence. “On pretty much every recording that people hear these days, guitars are super edited to the drums and everything is super duper tight,” Day postulates, “but we just played the songs until we got them really good. […] It was scary at first to commit to that and

to know that we weren’t going to let the computer fix our mistakes, but it actually made it a lot more rewarding in the end.”

The band signed to Pure Noise for their 2014 EP and the self-titled, a move that Day really felt at ease with. “The guys [at Pure Noise] are just fuckin’ on point,” he exclaims. “They’re dedicated and hardworking, but also really laidback and not in the ‘we don’t care’ way. If we have an idea, we just call up [owner] Jake [Round] and run it by him instead of being redirected to all this red tape.” This relationship is sure to benefit the band going forward, as it’s no secret the band’s relationship with Universal was strained to say the least. At first, everything seemed great when Four Year Strong teamed up with the Motown sub-label. They had champions in the office and knew their team intimately. After Motown folded in 2011, the band

saw the writing on the wall. “My theory,” hypothesizes Day, “was that they figured Universal money was already in this, so they might as well see it through in case it happens to sell five million records. If it doesn’t, they’ll just drop us. That’s exactly what happened, because we got dropped about two months after the record came out.” After their previous label troubles, Day kept reiterating that being on Pure Noise is “fuckin’ awesome.” It’d be easy for any band to be cautious after all this upheaval, but the Bay Staters are trying their best to shy away from that. “That’s not what making music or any type of art should be,” Day proclaims. “It should be real.” Still, the band clearly learned a lot in the past few years. “The new style has merged with the old style into this brand new version that’s been really exciting for us,” Day adds. With the way their EP was received last year, it’s a fair assessment that fans will be just as excited when the band’s identity is put on full display with Four Year Strong.



In fact, fighting the status quo runs through Ruiz’s blood. She says, “The reason that my great grandparents emigrated from Mexico to America is because they were getting paid to hide people out. They weren’t political; they were poor and just needed the money.” Both Ruiz and DeFrancesco are involved with community activism. Ruiz works to improve the treatment of bank tellers and call center workers, while DeFrancesco is part of a boycott to improve the treatment of workers at the Renaissance Providence Hotel. “I’m not that interested in transforming ‘punk’ into a better thing,” DeFrancesco explains. “What’s more interesting is when we can bring together all sorts of people who would be punk or people who like politics or people who like to dance, and they can get involved, even if they have asymmetrical hair or not.” IN TERVIEW W ITH VO CAL IST V ICTO R IA R U I Z A N D G U I TA R I ST J O E Y L . D E F R A N C E S C O BY J O H N G E N T I L E

Downtown Boys &

Malportado Kids

“There is no barrier between culture and politics,” Ruiz continues. “Our music is a means to an end. We’ll give up our ‘cool factor’ live so we can talk about racial profiling or minimum wage. We definitely want to use every moment that we can when we have people together.”


TWO HALVES OF THE SAME COIN Downtown Boys and Malportado Kids are sister bands, focusing on different aspects of a single central idea. Downtown Boys is a frantic, six piece punk band including vocalist Victoria Ruiz, guitarist Joey DeFrancesco, saxophonists Adrienne Berry and Emmett FitzGerald, drummer Norlan Olivo, and bassist Dan Schleifer that sings about social and racial issues. They also have killer sax. Meanwhile, Malportado Kids is an electronic duo composed of Ruiz and DeFrancesco. They are also very frantic and discuss social and racial issues, but tend to approach these topics from a more personal perspective.


alportado Kids is the hyperactive, ADD-jarred, erupting sister to Downtown Boys. An electronic duo composed of Ruiz and DeFrancesco, Malportado Kids base their music in Cumbia: a high energy, percussive, South American genre that mixes pre-Columbian music with pretty much everything else. “Malportado Kids is dirtier,” Ruiz says. “It’s not as ‘classic.’ The songs are mostly in Spanish and are meant to be strategically divisive to the status quo.”


owntown Boys are on the attack. They’re attacking the subpar treatment of minimum wage workers. They’re attacking the restrictive view of race in the States. Hell, they’re attacking money itself. Their upcoming album is called Full Communism…

“We’re not communists as per the strict definition of the word,” says guitarist Joey DeFrancesco. “When we say Full Communism, we mean a stateless utopian society. Our music is angry, but it’s also hopeful and we wanted to convey that. Maybe it’s an impossible idea, but we need to believe in it.” While the band’s lyrical concepts run akin to Crass, their live show is anything but the stiff lipped frown of traditional political punk. Live, Ruiz is a dynamo, flying around the room. As she sings, she’ll fly away from the beat, spitting out tangled, sharp lines about race relations and class structure, sometimes snapping back to the rhythm and sometimes abandoning it all together. Meanwhile, DeFrancesco stands just to her left, shouting out responses to Ruiz’ treatises, in a chaotic one-two punch. And during the whole thing, the band smashes along, sometimes using the three chord thrusting of punk rock and sometimes abandoning structure altogether in a wonderful, cacophonic mess. The saxophones in the band—which constantly blurt out nasty notes— only make the whole thing that much more unpredictable. Ruiz, who often sings in Spanish, focuses on the Latino identity in her music. “The Latino identity is super variable right now,” she says. “For example, neoliberalism has made it so that we ‘want’ to see Latinos in suits and ties. They ‘got out of the hood’ and no longer have an accent. Rather, the American identity must be seen as different because of the Latino population.”

“We’re talking to all sorts of people,” DeFrancesco continues. “By putting those songs in Spanish, there is a targeting of the Latino audience that has not been reached out into punk rock music. But, it’s also for everyone involved in the system. Everyone needs to address the currents system at work and how they are defined by it.” Ruiz adds, “Malportado Kids is for retaking and reclaiming ideas that have been used to describe the throwaways, the not-so-great ones, the misbehavers.” The group’s upcoming June 2 release, the Total Cultura 10” available via Dead Labour, makes this transformation of ideas its focus. In fact, one of the releases’ fundamental points is that culture—not politics, not economics—is what drives human behavior and change. “Culture determines everything that we think,” Ruiz says. “That’s why art is so powerful. It washes people’s minds, for better or for worse. Total Cultura, which is ‘total culture,’ means that everything that we want to be for and by the people, we must take through culture itself because culture determines everything.” One of Total Cultura’s most arresting moments comes when the band closes the release with a cover Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.” The band reclaims the central message by replacing the E Street Band’s blues based heft with a Kraftwerkian synth track. Then, the Boss’s gentle, dusty voice is tossed out in favor of Ruiz’ striking howl. “First off, we love Bruce Springsteen,” says DeFrancesco. “We are obsessed. We are very pro-Bruce.” While Malportado Kids seem to be having a bit of fun appropriating the New Jersey legend, the focus of Total Cultura comes from a more personal space. Ruiz explains, “In Downtown Boys, I feel an urgency with how we relate to oppression as groups of people. But, in Malportado Kids, it is much more a personal reaction to how I am treated by structures of supremacy.”






uck overthinking everything; we know what we’re doing,” says Terror vocalist Scott Vogel. “[We just wanted to] write a record of straight up hardcore that smashes people’s ear drums. That was the plan, and I think we accomplished it.” It’s a late Wednesday afternoon in April, but the excitement in Vogel’s voice makes it sound like the first Friday of summer. This is likely because earlier in the day, Vogel got his first chance to check out the mastered songs for Terror’s sixth studio album, The 25th Hour, available August 7 via Victory Records. Opting out of working with their usual producer, New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert, the band took a more old school, DIY approach to create the 14 track album, which is only 23 minutes long—for those keep score at home, that’s less than two minutes per song.

line: “Dirty deeds keep calling me/ The bad signs never kept me away.” Though the major ideas rooted in The 25th Hour extend far beyond the underground music world, Vogel still has a spot in his heart for commentary on the current state of hardcore. “Lyrically, a lot of the songs on this record are not about the hardcore scene, but [the upcoming track “No Time For Fools”] is. It’s just touching on all of the people, and labels and stuff, who don’t really give a shit about the community. They see it as a commodity. Every ounce of energy and passion that someone has, they just want to flip it into money they can make. I’ve been in those positions; I’ve been on

cord, Live By the Code, met with plenty of backlash after Vogel made comments against well-known metalcore outfit The Ghost Inside for not fitting his definition of hardcore. Having previously stated during a live show that The Ghost Inside were one of several “bullshit bands” in the scene, this attitude is something Vogel appears to have remedied with The 25th Hour. “I’ve got caught up before where I kind of thought I was the judge and the jury of who is hardcore and who isn’t,” he explains. “I’ve put myself out there and it is what it is, but I’m trying to be more open-minded.” Perhaps this open-minded outlook is the reason Terror’s first tour sup-

then you peel back the layers until you get to where it all really came from and you get the full picture, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing.” Due to mixing setbacks, The 25th Hour’s release date was forced back from early spring to mid summer. However, Terror have begun playing tracks like “No Time For Fools” at shows, and have a video ready for the upcoming track “The Solution,” which Vogel eagerly notes is “probably my favorite song on the record.” With six full-length records and 12 years of Terror, it’s refreshing to see an iconic band going back to their roots while still being open to the newer ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALAN SNODGRASS

“Everyone today is very caught up looking for a producer and a manager and a booking agent,” explains Vogel. “There’s this real business edge to the whole underground music world. And we kind of said to ourselves that we’re going to do this record without any producing… We’re going to strip this down and do it the way we did it when we started.” When it came to recording, the five piece once again worked alongside engineer Paul Miner to bring The 25th Hour to life. However, the theme of this upcoming record went in a new direction. “The last two Terror records, Keepers of the Faith and Live By the Code, were both these kind of uplifting, positive things,” Vogel says. “Both records obviously have some negativity to them, but the overall general feel was a positive message… [For The 25th Hour] it was in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be so positive about everything, and that was the general lyrical vibe.” Listeners get a taste of a broader, more inclusive message from the band this time around; a message that transcends the music world and focuses more on the overall struggles of life. “The whole idea of [The 25th Hour] is time is ticking,” explains Vogel, “pressure is building, life is trying to keep you alive, and at the moment of truth, are you going to be crushed or are you going to stand up and have control of your life?” “The Bad Signs,” which Vogel calls one of the most personal tracks on the album, comments on overarching ideas like repeatedly giving in to individual vices, despite all of the warnings in front of you. The track even opens with the very direct

labels that have done terrible things.” Terror is currently signed to Victory Records, the controversial label known for its lawsuits with big name bands like Hawthorne Heights and A Day To Remember, but Vogel is quick to add, “I’m in no way dogging out our labels. That song wasn’t pointed toward them. I feel like Terror’s kind of older and we knew what we wanted. It’s more [aimed] at what I’ve done in my past and seeing it happen to younger bands. It’s just kind of a sad, endless cycle.” Terror—and Vogel especially—have always been very vocal on the state of contemporary hardcore. The release of their Billboard charting 2013 re-

porting The 25th Hour is with pop punkers The Story So Far and Four Year Strong. “I really think The Story So Far has that awesome thing that all bands want to achieve: they draw all types of different kids,” explains Vogel. Though this lineup strays outside of the hardcore realm, Vogel insists he doesn’t believe it’s a strange bill for Terror to be on. “If I was 16 right now, and I was a hardcore kid,” he continues, “I may have a whole different outlook on things… I think The Story So Far, Title Fight, and maybe Stick To Your Guns somewhat, because they’re kind of a little more metal, they’ve created this whole younger hardcore scene. I feel like it’ll be awesome for us to play to these kids. You get into one layer of underground music, and

generation of hardcore. “A lot of people ask me, ‘Why are you still doing this?’” says Vogel. “Not even, like, why are you still in Terror, but why are you still going to shows that have 100 people and 99 percent of them are, like, half your age? And I know, that sounds a little creepy [laughs], but the bottom line is—and the only thing that really matters, because if this ever changed, it would end—that I still get that natural high. That feeling and those goose bumps when I get demos or see the right band on stage or Terror has the right show, it just keeps me going.” Hopefully, with the release of The 25th Hour, Terror’s momentum and passion will only increase.





fATWRECK 25 years of one big


Interview with label cofounders Fat Mike and Erin Kelly-Burkett by Mike Gaworecki

at Wreck Chords is 25 years old, and it’s not only still alive, it’s as vital as ever. This may come as a surprise, as it is difficult to make a living off of music these days, and Fat Wreck Chords did not go into business with a 25 year master plan. Far from it… When asked if he ever imagined the company would last a quarter century, cofounder, and NOFX singer and bassist, Fat Mike says, “I was hoping to get enough money to put out the next record. I didn’t really think about the future of anything.” “When we first started [the label], we had absolutely no idea what we were doing,” says Erin Kelly-Burkett, who launched Fat Wreck Chords with Fat Mike when they were both still in college—and, at the time, married. Mike majored in Social Science and was just starting NOFX, while Erin was a Creative Writing major and worked at a PR firm. “We had this brilliant idea to start a label so we could put out NOFX records ourselves, because no one else seemed to be interested. I didn’t think it would be that much work.” While NOFX was on tour, Erin worked at the PR firm by day and shipped Fat Wreck orders by night. When it became too much work for her to do both, she quit her day job. “I figured we’d probably starve to death or be homeless within the first year,” she says. “Yet here we still are, 25 years later.” Those two and a half decades—1990 to 2015—have seen a lot of changes in the wider world, but Fat Wreck Chords has remained e s s e nt i a l l y unchanged. “I like

to think that we are the punk label that’s the biggest stalwart in the business,” Mike says. “We have stayed true to punk rock for 25 years.” The lineup for this year’s Fat Wrecked for 25 Years Tour is a pretty good illustration of Mike’s point. It features NOFX, Lagwagon, Strung Out and Swingin’ Utters—who are all as old or older than Fat Wreck Chords itself—plus label mainstay The Flatliners, and three newer bands: Bad Cop/Bad Cop, toyGuitar, and Masked Intruder. Stacey Dee of Bad Cop/Bad

CD sales, which are way, way down, as they are across the entire music industry. The company adapted by closing a couple offices and shrinking its staff to a lean seven person team. “The label’s still doing good business and still healthy,” Mike assures. Still, the Internet era has not only brought declining CD sales, but an age of musical ubiquity that Mike thinks robs some of the mystery from punk rock. Growing up with the Internet means not knowing the thrill of discovering a new band at an underground show, or the sense of community built around trading mixtapes and rare 7”s with friends. “It’s nice that it’s easy to find music, but it takes away something that was very special about punk rock, that it was hard to find,” Mike says. “You had to be in the punk scene to find out about it.” Of course, that universal accessibility also has its benefits, Mike admits. Namely, it allows new generations of fans to discover Fat Wreck Chords bands. “We don’t sell records like we used to, but our crowds are just as big as they always were. So, there’s good sides to the Internet, too.”

Cop says signing with Fat Wreck was a pretty easy decision to make: “Being from San Francisco and being such a fan of everything Fat Wreck Chords put out, I had always wanted to be on the label. When given the chance, there was no question that our band wanted to be part of the Fat Wreck Family more than anything.” One of the biggest Fat Wreck constants through the years? When it comes to picking new bands to work with, Mike and Erin both insist there is not and never has been a secret formula they follow. They just put out music they like made by people they want to hang out with. “Musically, Fat Wreck Chords has pretty much stayed the same, it’s always been melodic punk,” Mike says. “Whether it’s [Dillinger Four] style, or Lagwagon, or Teenage Bottlerocket, it’s always stayed close to that genre.” That’s not to say they’ve been immune to change. Vinyl sales are up, Mike says, but not enough to make up for

The way Fat Wreck does business has arguably changed least of all. You get the sense that as long as the label can keep putting out that next record, Fat Mike is happy with how the business is going. Which is to say, long-term forecasts, growth projections, and trend hopping have never played into how Mike and Erin conduct business. They say they run the label more like a family than a business. For instance, Good Riddance—one of the bigger selling acts on Fat Wreck Chords’ roster—has never even had a contract with the label, according to Mike. “Who cares? It doesn’t make any fucking difference.” When a contract is called for, it’s important to Mike that it be as fair to the artist as possible. “Obviously, I don’t want to rip anybody off and I want to be fair to everybody, but it also pays off, because bands want to come to Fat Wreck Chords. So, that’s what has kept the label good and relevant.” Fat Wreck Chords never pressures a band into making an album. “It just sounds like you’re a businessman if you push bands to make a record,” Mike says. And if a band leaves Fat Wreck Chords, they’re always welcome back.

Mike does have some hard and fast rules about who he will sign. He would never sign a religious band, or an emo band. He recalls almost signing a band many years ago, “and this girl at Fat Wreck Chords said, ‘Uh, I don’t think we should sign them. They’re sexist, racist, and homophobic.’ I said, ‘You’re right.’ So, I called the band back and said, ‘I can’t sign you guys, I’m taking it back.’ And they said, ‘You can’t do a take back.’ I go, ‘Yeah, well, you guys are sexist, racist, and homophobic.’ And they said, ‘We’re not racist.’ That’s pretty funny. I didn’t sign them, either.” Mike attributes the label’s longevity to this integrity. “We’re a label you can trust,” he says. “You’re not going to get a fucking screamo, weird, religious band. You’re not going to be surprised by what you get, and you’re going to get something quality. And usually something political or meaningful.”

records. As new generations of kids grow up and become interested in punk rock, they need at least one release from NOFX, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, Propagandhi, Good Riddance, Strung Out, the list goes on.” She adds, “Of course, they also need Op Ivy, Bad Religion, The Misfits, The Adolescents… The classics will always remain classics.” Told you she was a fan! Ultimately, Erin says she feels lucky to have run Fat Wreck Chords for the past 25 years. “We met some great people in some amazing bands early on and we did our best to treat them like we would want to be treated,” she says. “They created great music, and we remained honest and supportive.

That plays a part, for sure, but it’s arguably the familial nature of Fat Wreck Chords that really sustains the business. Erin says her proudest achievement in all of Fat Wreck’s long history is the Tony Sly tribute album released after the No Use For A Name singer and guitarist passed away in 2012. “It was quite an undertaking to put out a record in his honor, and so important to make sure that it was something worthy of his immense talent,” she says. “It was overwhelming how many bands were willing to donate their time and their artistry in honor of Tony. The day that Brigitte Sly called me in tears after receiving her first royalty check and told me that the money will put her girls through college was the moment I felt most proud of my amazing [Fat Wreck Chords] family.” As you might expect, Erin is pretty proud of Fat Wreck’s releases, too. She clearly loves what she does, because she’s a fan as much as she is a label head. “I think there are certain records that need to be in your collection if you are going to call yourself a punk rocker,” she says. “We are lucky enough to have put out many of those

I know it sounds cliché, but we really are a family. The members of these bands are some of my best friends, and our children play together. When you run your business more like a family than a corporation, you build relationships that last a lifetime… or at least 25 years.”









y favorite Fat story is when Fat signed NOFX. I asked NOFX if I could put out our records on FAT and leave Epitaph. They asked me what kind of a better deal could NOFX get from FAT. I said nothin. I said I will give them the same exact deal Epitaph gave us. They asked me why should we switch to Fat when Epitaph was a great label. I told them that I would be making the profits off NOFX instead of Mr. Brett. I told them that I couldn’t give them a better deal, but that I would be stoked. The three other members had a meeting and said to me, “sure.” How fucking cool is my band?

STACEY DEe of bad cop/BAD COP


he Gorge in Washington, Warped Tour 2001. Everyone was watching Me First from the stage, the sunset was amazing as the stage looked over the Gorge. I climbed up on top of some sound equipment to get a better view of the show and crowd. He won’t remember, but Fat Mike turned around while playing and looked at me with a, “what the fuck are you doing, look”. I knew then that we would be friends one day.



y favorite Fat memory is seeing Mike in Vegas for Punk Rock bowling a few years back. We had just finished a really long grueling tour and hadn’t ¬¬spoken to Mike in a while. We were long overdue for a new album and weren’t quite sure where we stood with the label or even with each other. I think Mike could feel our uneasiness and after watching our whole set came back and told us how much we meant to him and the label. It was exactly what we needed to hear evidentially because it led to one of our best records in years, Transmission. Alpha .Delta. It also led to a renewed sense of family within our band and the label. I get this feeling every time I hear of a hard working band complain about their label situation and I am thankful.

happy 25th birthday, Fat! Here’s to 25 more!


roy, Mich.’s We Came As Romans practically never stop touring, which vocalist Dave Stephens says is something that just comes with the territory. “It’s just something that we all accept,” he shrugs. “It’s what we all signed up for, it’s what we’ve all wanted to do since day one, and you just have to find ways to manage relationships at home. The biggest thing is just keeping in contact with everybody at home, and sometimes it’s challenging, but you just have to put time aside every day to do that.”

The six piece, which includes second vocalist Kyle Pavone, guitarist Joshua Moore and Lou Cotton, bassist Andy Glass, and drummer Eric Choi, will continue their rigorous work schedule with their third stint on this summer’s Warped Tour, a place that Stephens says the band is excited to return to: “We’re kind of veterans of the tour at this point. Every day on Warped Tour is amazing because it’s just… You get up on stage and you’re like, ‘How could this get any better?’ and it’s amazing. Every day is the best show you can imagine.” INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST DAVE STEPHENS BY GABI CHEPURNY It may only be their third summer at Warped, but 2015 marks their 10th year as a band. There have been a few changes along the way—both personally and professionally—but Stephens attributes We Came As Romans’ longevity to the hard work and dedication the members have for their craft. “We’ve just been the type of band that’s never settled,” he explains. “If anything we have a problem stopping and smelling the roses, and appreciating what we have. We have to remind ourselves, like, this is amazing. If things ended right now, we should all be very proud.” Their hard work is evident not only in their live shows, but also in their recordings. The band’s last release—2013’s Tracing Back Roots— debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 chart. The band’s next release has already been a lot of work, according to Stephens. “We worked with producer David Bendeth, who kind of turns the studio into recording boot camp,” he recalls. “It’s a good thing, though; it’s not a bad thing. He knew that we could do better than what we were doing, and so he just kept pushing us to that level. That’s really what we


needed. We just didn’t [put] anything on this record that wasn’t amazing.” The band wrote more than 35 songs for their upcoming effort for Equal Vision Records. They then sliced their material down to a third and rewrote what was left before arriving at what fans will hear on the album. During that time, Stephens and most of his bandmates took music lessons to really hone their craft. We Came As Romans has yet to release the title of their latest fulllength, but Stephens says that fans can expect a different message this time around. “On this record, it’s a little bit of a different message. We’ve always been a really positive band and I wouldn’t say that that’s changed,” he assures, “but the way we view things is a little bit different now. We wrote a few songs about things that we’ve been really angry about or upset about. Instead of dwelling on it and being really upset about it, we’re just kind of letting it go, letting it become a thing of our past and moving forward. In that kind of sense, we’ve become a little bit more passive: things still make us mad, but there’s a lot of things that just aren’t worth holding onto.”







igh On Fire have spent the last 15 years carving a name for themselves across the vast heavy metal landscape. In a world of high speed blast beats, space age production techniques, and incalculable time changes, High On Fire have earned their keep playing good old fashioned— and oh so pummeling—heavy metal. Monster riffs, an absolutely booming rhythm section, and Matt Pike’s tortured but kind of catchy howl… This has been the band’s blueprint for success since they started dropping LP sized bombs back in 2000, and now, their new full-length, Luminiferous, will drop this June on eOne music. Records like Blessed Black Wings and Death Is this Communion have cemented the band’s legacy as perhaps the rockin’est metal band of the modern era. High On Fire’s last album—2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis—found the band harkening back to the rawer sound of their formative days, but their new record follows the same trajectory as its predecessor while leaping into the stratosphere with some wild new ragers, proving that after all this time, no one does legit heavy metal quite like these guys. “We’re not specifically trying to outdo the last one,” Des Kensel, High On Fire’s hard-hitting drummer and cofounder says of the band’s creative process, “but technically, we want to keep it interesting for ourselves. We’ve been a touring band for almost 20 years now. Me and [guitarist and vocalist] Matt [Pike] started in ’98, and we’ve come a long way since then: musically, our songwriting skills, how we play.” It seems that High On Fire now confront the dilemma all great, distinctive bands must face at one point or another. How do you continue to push the envelope while staying true to your roots? “We’re constantly trying to evolve,” Kensel reveals, “like me as a drummer and as a songwriter. High On Fire has a sound, and we’re trying to build off that without it being too different. We just sort of know what works for us, what tempos work, which key changes work, what works vocally for his range… Matt’s no Freddie Mercury, you know? [Laughs] We don’t want to alienate too many of our fans, but at the same time, you got to sort of reinvent yourself with every record.” That brings us to Luminiferous, which means “producing light,” and was inspired by an eye opening trip Pike made to Peru’s legendary Machu Pic-




chu. The trip and a ton of conspiracy theories proposed by authors like David Icke are responsible for the album’s title and running themes, meant to shed light on taboo subjects Big Brother doesn’t want you to know about! The title also works as a reference to High On Fire’s shining a light on the new sonic tricks up their sleeves they’ve unleashed on album number seven. Close your eyes and Luminiferous still sounds like classic High On Fire; their trademark Black Sabbath fighting Motörhead in dark alley vibe is in full swing. However, this record features a new level of aggression and kick in the band’s step. “On the last three or four records, things have gotten progressively faster,” Kensel explains. “During the writing process, we might come across some roadblocks. We have a lot of cool riffs and parts, and we try to piece them together. We start jamming on something: it’s fun and fast and boom it’s done. We got a song.”


“Slave the Hive” is one of those fast, cool jams Kensel mentioned, and is easily the fastest song of the band’s career. The tune’s thrashy riff twists and turns like a pedestrian on the freeway, its galloping d-beat becomes a full on double bass assault, and the barrage of shouted gang vocals sounds like a wild hessian choir. “‘Slave the Hive’ is definitely one of those songs that really just came together quick,” he says. “It wasn’t even going to be a song, it was just something we were fucking around with in the practice space, putting one part with another. We’re like, ‘Wow, we actually have a song here.’ After talking about trying to work on some cool, heavy slower stuff, we ended up writing the fastest song we’ve ever written.” Then there are groovy jams like “Carcosa” with rumbling basslines and hypnotic drum incantations that lure the listener in before they get bludgeoned by a sludgy guitar breakdown. The album’s title track is another freight train inspired monster designed to murder headphones on impact. “‘Luminiferous’ is definitely our muscle car song,” Kensel says proudly, “with spare parts lying around that are all killer, but we didn’t know if they would all fit until we got in the studio.” The studio he’s referring to is the legendary God City. Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou’s patented God City sound is known for being pristinely grimey and loud in all the right ways. Of course, this fits High On Fire’s trademark scorched riff sound to a T.

Ballou worked his gnarly, mad scientist magic on Luminiferous, helping to flesh out the heft in High On Fire’s thunderous sound, and capturing the furious energy of their live shows and the precision these road tested musicians place into their songs. That, and the album is heavy as shit. “Kurt gets a clear sound of distortion and the tone that we want,” Kensel gushes. It’s “clear chaos,” he says.

High On Fire are preparing to hit the road this summer to take their wonderfully chaotic new tunes on tour. Just don’t pressure them about choosing their setlist. “That’s been getting pretty hard actually,” Kensel admits. “We’re at seven records now, and some of our songs are like nine minutes long!”





an Francisco based progressive rock group I The Mighty writes smart, tight music that is also incredibly melodic. Their new record, Connector, which will be available June 2 via Equal Vision Records, is the culmination of the band realizing their potential and showcasing how powerful and impressive they can be. I The Mighty should be a mighty force—pun intended—this summer when they embark on their first headlining tour. How did you approach your sophomore release? We approached this record the same way we’ve approached every record. Essentially, we just write a bunch of music, and we pick what songs we like best. We never had a conversation about changing the sound or going more poppy or heavy. We went down to the studio with 20 skeletons of songs, and once we narrowed it down to 12 or 13 we liked the best, we focused on those. We wrote probably half of the music in the studio. Did you prefer writing in the studio? If I had to do it over again, I would be a little more prepared before. It’s

interesting, because for Satori, everything was done, including the lyrics, when we hit the studio. For Connector, I wrote eight of the songs’ lyrics while in the studio, which was a little intimidating [laughs]. It worked out, though. It’s an interesting way to do it, because you don’t have time to overanalyze things. A lot of the lead guitar work we wrote in the moment. It’s nerve-wracking because you’re marrying yourself to something in the moment, creatively. It’s cool, because it’s really organic. Is this album more personal than Satori? For the lyrics on this album, I think I went back to what I’ve always done as a songwriter prior to Satori, which is more of a storytelling format. For Satori, there was definitely a purging of emotions. For this record, I was intimidated a little bit, because I didn’t have this strong sense of inspiration going into the writing, so I let the music dictate the story of the song. There are still a couple breakup songs on this record, because I feel like, for whatever reason, the universe forces me to go through a breakup right before the writing process [laughs].

What is the story behind “The Hound and the Fox”? While we were in the studio, we were near the end of the record. We realized, “Dude, this record is a lot poppier than we expected [laughs].” We didn’t want to alienate our fan base, so we randomly decided to scrap this song we were working on and told our producer that we were going to write a song over the weekend. So, we wrote “The Hound and the Fox” in a day and brought it back to our producer, and he wasn’t super fond of the idea of starting over, but after hearing it, he liked it enough. The story of that song is about a dude who’s making homemade bombs in his house, and he’s threatening Fox News to out themselves for what a fake news program they are and how they fabricate everything. If they don’t out themselves, he’s going to walk into the studio with this bomb on his chest and blow it all up. Lyrically, that’s one of my favorites, because I’m partial to songs with good messages and to stories. Your music has always had political undertones and messages. Is that

something you want to expand on? Yeah, that’s always been a part of this band, because we do care and want to be aware. We’re not the type who will shape our entire career around it, but if you feel passionately about something, it’s going to organically come out in your writing. You’re going to write about whatever you’re influenced by. Is there an issue you’re particularly passionately about? Right now, I’m just following the racial and police accounts happening around the nation. This whole Baltimore thing is nuts. I’m always interested in how the media covers everything. It’s important for people to be aware of [media bias] and do some research themselves. It actually ties into “The Hound and the Fox.” You have to recognize that organized news programs are entertainment programs; their goal is to get ratings. As long as you’re aware of that, not taking everything they say as fact or the entire story, then you’re OK.





prepared in studio and hardly have to struggle to get great takes. The way we write our songs and melodies are exactly the way we intuitively play our songs, so we don’t aim for goals we can’t reach. I’m convinced that in studio—even though, of course, the aim should be to deliver the maximum take possible—it’s most important to maintain the fun and the joy you initially had when writing and playing the song in rehearsal room. That’s what counts more than the perfect take. Are power metal and dark horror imagery a natural combination? For us, the dark or philosophical edge to our sound and lyrics developed as a natural element, since as private persons, we all are very much into religious history and mythology in general, and most of these things deal with the darker side of things.



owerwolf. The name ought to say it all. Like Demon Lung or Death Angel, it sounds super metal and unstoppable. Fitting, as the band craft their art with feral focus every time. Their sixth release Blessed & Possessed will be available in July via Napalm Records. Germany has given so much to metal. The brotherhood and anthemic, classic quality of your songs retains these traditions. Did you want to make a major statement for Powerwolf in 2015? In fact, Blessed & Possessed is a strong statement. A statement manifesting that we don’t compromise or adapt after the big success of the predecessor Preachers of the Night. But I’d rather see the album in the tradition of our very own history,

not the history of German metal in general. I’m way too close to the project to judge that, and it was no explicit intention. On the other hand, you might be right seeing Powerwolf as one of the bands of a new generation of German metal that’s just emerging. We actually have a lot of very young, dedicated fans at our shows—our audience is much younger than [that] of Accept or Helloween, to name some of the traditional German metal bands—and this might be proof to say we kind of continue and help building a new generation of German melodic metal.

myself, there’s not much of a band approval, as the visions I have are known to all the band members, and I keep developing my visual elaborations on any new album already during the songwriting. [Blood of the Saints] was the first time I illustrated a scene in detail, whereas in the past, we used to have rather layout and symbol driven artworks. Therefore, that artwork also remains special to me. For Blessed & Possessed, I adapted the biblical scene of the banning of Lucifer from the heavens by archangel Michael. The wolf represents Michael in my adaption.

The Blessed & Possessed cover art is arresting. What does album art need to get band approval? Well, since I’m doing the artworks

In the studio, is it harder to get good takes of the vocals or the instruments? Since we always do a detailed preproduction, we are quite well

Did you know you had a special anthem when you wrote “Wolves Against the World” for Bible of the Beast? Yes and no. We knew the song was a “love it or hate it” kind of thing. Singing about yourself is a tricky thing to do, and it probably takes the right point of view to understand what we were intending with the song. The idea for the lyrics actually refers to one of our early tours when we were touring in an old camper that was about to fall apart. There were some of these days on tour when everything is going wrong, you miss a show, and feel like the world is against you. Well, we turned it the other way around, hence the title. We are around since more than 11 years with not one lineup change exempt for the drummer; we consider the band a family, a pack, and this is our way to express that Powerwolf is more to us than just playing music.







nymore, people often find new music through social media, and Chicago’s Knuckle Puck like to keep their profile bios simple. “We’re a band on Rise Records.” “We like music, so we play music.” “We play songs.” That last quote is the “Long Description” on their Facebook page, but guitarist Kevin Maida says the band like it that way. “I really think it is that simple,” he says. “That’s all we are I guess, when you get down to the brass tacks of it. We didn’t want to overcomplicate [the profiles] or put a definitive marker on our band.” While the band—which includes vocalist Joe Taylor, guitarist Nick Casasanto, bass player Ryan Rumchaks, and drummer John Siorek—keep their image simple, their work schedule is anything but. Knuckle Puck have only been a band since 2011, but they’ve released four EPs in that time, and have an as yet untitled full-length on deck. This time around, the five piece worked at Always Be Genius Recording Studio with good friend and producer Seth Henderson, who really knew what sound the band was aiming for.




“I think we would all agree that it was one of the more enjoyable writing processes that we’ve had,” Maida says. “I don’t know why, because it was just something we’ve never done before with writing that many songs at once, and we had to make sure everything was really cohesive and that every song made sense with each other.

And so, for the most part, it was really fun, especially recording because we recorded with Seth. He’s a very good friend of ours in general, and so it was really fun, because I think he really understands us and knows what we’re trying to go for sonically.” Maida explains that the band constantly has new material, which is why they release so much so quickly. Most of their material—new and old—can be heard at this year’s Warped Tour, which the band will be playing for the first time. “We’ve never played [Warped Tour] before,” explains Maida. “We’ve always gone to it since we were like 14 or 15, so we’re all really excited for it in a surreal way. It’s something that we’ve always thought about doing, and honestly dreamed of doing, and so now that it’s a reality, it’s pretty surreal. We’re all very excited for the summer.” Knuckle Puck comes from a thriving pop punk scene, which continues to expand. Maida attributes this growth to the welcoming atmosphere that the scene provides. “[Pop punk] is obviously currently thriving, and from the shows we play on the tour, with a lot of people, you can tell they just really care about it. Everyone has a really good time. There’s a really positive energy that I feel at a lot of the shows, which I think is important, because sometimes I get the feeling it’s a lot of these kids’ first time at a show in general, and I think it’s just a good thing for them to get into it. Maybe there’s not necessarily a positive message behind the lyrics, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a positive environment. I think this scene and this genre, it’s thriving because it’s welcoming to people.”


a five year relationship, and, well, the cliché has developed that “Matt Skiba writes his best music after a breakup.”



ait, ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ is a Stevie Wonder song?” asks Matt Skiba, over the phone. “Fuck! I thought it was a Lionel Richie song! I just lost a bet to my bandmates… Though, I guess I don’t really lose any punk cred if I don’t know the difference between Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder.” Skiba—who is best known as one of the main pillars of Alkaline Trio— is referring to his new song “I Just Killed To Say I Love You,” off the upcoming Matt Skiba And The Sekrets record Kuts. Recorded with AFI bassist Hunter Burgan and American Nightmare drummer Jarrod Alexander, Kuts is the first collection of music written specifically for The Sekrets, rather than leftover Alkaline Trio songs. Skiba’s Wonder vs. Richie mix up is particularly fitting, because the new record cultivated its influences by way of unconscious osmosis, as opposed to direct reference. “I wrote one song a day while was on tour with Alkaline Trio in Europe,” Skiba says. “I would get up early and go walk around whatever city we were in. I would wear headphones and listen to very European rock records: [David] Bowie’s Berlin period, Iggy [Pop]’s The Idiot, Gary Numan, Klaus Nomi. I figured that if I kept doing that, I would absorb the environment. I wasn’t intentionally trying to make the record sound any particular way,

but what’s going in your eyes, going through your ears, going up your nose… The surrounding will affect the feel of the record.” The new record even has a track named after a famous European city, “Vienna.” Propelled by a solemn piano and understated guitar, the song finds Skiba leaning on his goth tendencies. “Vienna is beautiful and dark,” he says. “It is replete with amazing art and artists. So much crazy shit went down there.” It’s actually the second time Skiba has referenced the city in his music.

He pauses when presented with the axiom before busting out into laughter, “Probably… That could be true. After a breakup, you don’t have to sugarcoat things any more. You don’t have to apologize for the true story.” “But, I didn’t want to come off as bitter or even misogynistic on this album,” he continues. “I am definitely writing about my past relationship, but I didn’t want there to be hard feelings… There may be hurt feelings. I do love and respect the person that these songs are influenced by. I was with her for five years and I’d never want to come off as scathing or hurtful. I know there are things that probably sting, but you don’t have to be an angry person about it.”

While Kuts formed from the fallout of a broken relationship—Hell, look at the title—it’s not a boo-hoo-hoo type of record. Perhaps Skiba is emulating the cold, distanced sound of those Eno-produced European records, approaching the material almost from a third person perspective, analyzing his wounds more than lamenting them. “I mean, I was going through a breakup, which was a change in my life,” Skiba says. “But it wasn’t a bad change; it was a weird change. Maybe even a positive change. There was pain involved, but I never want to write, ‘Oh, poor me!’ You can express things without sounding like a total pussy. I want to express a certain amount of strength. There has to be a little bit of light at the end of that dark tunnel.”


“When I think of Vienna,” he continues, “I think of Engelbert Dollfuss, who I’ve been reading about. He was the chancellor of Austria during the Third Reich. He had to put up this façade of fascism, and was just saying, ‘Austria already is a Germanic state and you don’t need to come in and kill anyone.’ He was trying to protect the Jews to an extent when Hitler was killing everyone. The Nazis ended up killing him. I think about him getting murdered by brown shirts in Vienna.” Kuts is interwoven with this type of metaphorical imagery, showing a renewed and refreshed Skiba. He seems to be in a good place. He’s been drafted into Blink-182 to fill the spot vacated by Tom DeLonge. He’s finished the first true Sekrets album. Or could Skiba’s renewed energy be the result of something else? He recently ended

WHAT’S MY BAND AGAIN? SKIBA DISHES ON JOINING BLINK-182 What was it like when you first went on stage with Blink-182? I can’t believe the reaction. It was insane. When they asked me to join, I thought they were crazy. I though to myself, “This isn’t going to work.” But, of course, I didn’t say that. I said, “Yes!” I thought I was going to get tomatoes thrown at me… If I was lucky. But, it went off without a hitch and the kids loved it. Are there plans for you to keep playing with the band? Right now, we don’t have any shows booked. But, we had a great time. I’ve been friends with Mark [Hoppus] and

Trav[is Barker] for, like, 15 years. They took Alkaline Trio on tour. They are great players and one of the biggest bands in the world. I’m honored to keep playing with them. We talked about touring and I’m waiting to hear what happens. Is it possible that you’ll write new material with Blink-182? We’ve discussed it. I’ve sent the demos and we talked about ideas. We’re taking steps. A lot of things have to happen first. But, we’re really excited to work with each other. All three of us have spoken the plan is to write and tour together. We’ll see what happens.





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What was your mindset going into writing and recording Get Lost, Find Yourself? We had a very fun time writing this record. We didn’t know exactly where we were going at first, and started writing all together for the first time instead of having one guy demoing a song by himself and showing it to the other guys. We also went to Los Angeles to work with some talented producers and did some co-writing for a couple of songs. These people helped us go in the right direction, but let us do what we wanted to do; definitely a great experience. Going into the studio and recording wasn’t as fun as writing; it was really exhausting and a lot of work. You track all day and don’t have time to do anything else. It’s more like sleeptrack-eat-track-sleep and repeat for a month. We learned a lot and are very happy with how it turned out, but studio time is definitely not the most exciting part of the whole process. “Playing Dead” is your first single. What made you want to release it first? We chose to release “Playing Dead” first because we felt that it sounded like a typical C!NCC! song. It has a great energy with some good riffs, a heavy bridge, and catchy vocals. We wanted to give people a little taste of our “new” sound without going too far [with] the changes.  What inspired you to name the album after the track “Get Lost, Find Yourself ”? This was actually the very last song we wrote. We recorded it at home, after

the studio. We already had the album title ready before finishing the song. We decided to write the lyrics on the “Get Lost, Find Yourself ” theme, and chose to use that title for the song; it just made sense. The album title is basically about trying different things to find your own way in the end. We really liked that opposition between the words “lost” and “find,” which makes the message stronger. If you don’t get lost trying different paths, you’ll never find who you are deep inside and what you really want in life. Was it your intention to go in a less heavy, more pop punk direction on this record? Not at all. We just wrote songs without thinking about the style of music we were playing. We didn’t try to write something softer or heavier, we just tried to write the best songs we could.


hunk! No, Captain Chunk! are growing up. The Paris based quintet hasn’t necessarily lost their signature pop punk meets post-hardcore sound, but instead, has matured along with it. Their third studio record, Get Lost, Find Yourself—released May 19 via Fearless Records—displays some of the most well written, sonically layered, and catchiest tracks the band has ever released. From the twisting guitar riffs of opening track “Playing Dead” to the get-on-your-feet jam— and the album’s anchor—“Every Moment,” Get Lost, Find Yourself is sure to become a staple of the popcore genre.

We got rid of all the things that we didn’t need in our sound anymore and focused more on the vocals and structures. There’s a bit less screaming and stupid breakdowns in this new album. We just felt like if something didn’t need to be there, then we didn’t have to put it in. The goal was to keep that particular Chunk sound [and] vibe with the heavy parts, catchy vocals, and crazy riffs, but make it a bit more “mature,” bringing some new elements to our sound. What are you planning to bring to your live shows on C!NCC!’s upcoming American tour? First of all, we’re really happy about the lineup for this tour. We’re bringing our friends In Her Own Words, To The Wind, Forever Came Calling, and Hit The Lights with us. That’s a solid lineup that makes a lot of sense, and I’m sure kids will have an awesome time every night watching all of these bands. On our side, we’re going to bring a lot of energy and fun, like always. We’re going be playing a bunch of new songs for the very first time, so it’s really exciting for us. Our shows are very energetic and entertaining; we just have fun on stage. You can see that we enjoy what we do. Plus, we always have these weird, stupid intros, too. The broken English and dirty accents make it very special [laughs].






t’s funny how a project done for fun can take on a life of its own and develop into something more than expected. Take Mutoid Man, for example…


Man, they released the Helium Head EP last year on Magic Bullet Records to universal acclaim, which led to the project becoming a more serious endeavor.

Originally, the project—then known as Narcoleptic Beagle—was a way for guitarist and vocalist Steve Brodsky (of Cave In) and drummer Ben Koller (of Converge) to blow off some steam and just record some songs with each other. There were no real expectations for the project, outside of a couple of old friends getting together and recording some songs.

In fact, Brodsky had an inkling that these songs were something special. “I do remember feeling really excited about our material right off the bat, so maybe the ridiculous name was just a way of keeping things light,” he says. “And I think the goal with any creative output is to see it form a life of its own, so I’m really grateful that seems to be happening with Mutoid Man.”

But that’s not exactly what happened. After changing their name to Mutoid

Since that first release, they added bassist Nick Cageao and became a




proper band. They played a bunch of shows and recorded a new album, Bleeder, which comes out June 30 on Sargent House. This time, the band decided to record in an actual studio, heading up to Salem, Mass., to record at Converge guitarist—and Koller’s bandmate— Kurt Ballou’s GodCity Studios for a variety of reasons. “Kurt’s become one of the modern go to peeps for recording heavy music,” says Brodsky. “Our musical friendship goes back to 1997, when I was a young hardcore kid, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, playing bass in Converge. Since then, Kurt and I have done a number of different bands and records together,

so bringing him into the Mutoid Man mix seemed like a no brainer.” The results are quite stunning. Bleeder is an excellent follow up to the EP. The songs are catchy, energetic, and full of grit. They also rock quite furiously, with Ballou’s production giving them the right amount of heft. “The band still sounds like Captain Beyond getting skullfucked by Sir Lord Baltimore,” laughs Brodsky, “but now, Nick is bringing his tasty neoclassical death metal thing into the fold. Some of his riffs give me brain bubbles.”


Trust him; it smokes.


things, too—[we] want to create a place where women can do something in a male-dominated scene and feel empowered, and able to do this and to do it well. I think that turned into us bringing on women.


f you’ve been to a wedding in the last 40 years, you’ve experienced the wedding DJ. Everyone knows the guy—and it’s almost always a guy: a middle aged dude with some atrociously outdated facial hair—we’re looking at you, soul patch—whose playlist consists of the “Chicken Dance” and “Celebration.” Allison Peck and Erica Schwanke are changing that. They run Heart Of Gold DJs, a San Francisco company known for its refreshing take on wedding music—their playlists included everything from SaltN-Pepa and Against Me! to Sam Cooke and Lou Reed—and the fact that it’s run by women. While they often hear the phrase, “I’ve never seen a woman DJ!” the real anomaly is their refusal to rely on the usual cheesy schtick associated with wedding DJs. “We’re not going to rely on ‘The Electric Slide’ or 15 Whitney Houston songs,” Schwanke says. “50 year old dudes aren’t going to understand that every now and then, a really intoxicated couple really needs to hear *NSYNC.” How did each of you start DJing? ES: I started in Minneapolis, just throwing parties here and there. When I moved to Chicago, I started in community radio and from there, doing it in bars, and was approached about DJing weddings there. AP: I went to school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and I had some friends freshman year who were getting into the radio station and got me to do it. I did college radio all four years, and that was pretty much my group of people. When I moved to Chicago, I didn’t really DJ a whole lot there. I met Erica through

some bike stuff, and she started working at this DJ company in Chicago. We started doing weddings and working together, and just really liked it. How did that turn into starting your own business? ES: I was ready to leave Chicago and had been eyeing San Francisco. Allison is originally from California, so we took a trip out to San Francisco, not with the intention of moving there, but at the end of that trip I was like, “Hey Allison, let’s move here in a year.” So, it seemed like a natural thing to move out there and start this company so that we could keep doing what we liked doing, but just do it somewhere else. When I think of the weddings I’ve been to, none had a female DJ. It’s always middle aged men playing “The Electric Slide.” ES: It’s really funny, because when I first was asked about being a wedding DJ, I had a strong negative response [laughs]. I kind of had to be talked into it. They were like, “You don’t have to be like that.” We like to help create this experience that’s really positive and reflects the couple. It’s a great thing, and it’s also a great thing to bring other women into. People are just like, “You’re a girl DJ, and you play noticeably good music. How weird.” And you’re like, “No, this should really just be how people do it.” Was it a conscious decision to hire other women? [Both Sami Fink, who sings for SF band Composite and works at Fat Wreck chords , and Meghan Pennie, former vocalist for Punch and current vocalist for Super Unison, DJ for Heart Of Gold.] ES: It is a really male-dominated industry, and—I think you can run into this in the punk community and other

AP: If someone really wanted to work with us, they were a great DJ, they happened to be male, and we thought they’d be great, it’s not like we’d be like, “Hell no.” But there is something about creating that space, having women come on and do it, and be like, “This isn’t something I thought I could do before, but I can really do it, and it’s awesome.”

AP: Any line dance. Like, I don’t want to lead anyone in a line dance. There are just better ways to get out there. ES: “We Are Family,” also. AP: That’s what I was going to say. I get why people like it as far as, “Yeah we’re family,” but come on. We know you’re all family. It’s OK. But no matter what kind of corny song it is, if it’s special to you and your family, I’ll play it. I’m not gonna be a total music asshole. It’s your wedding. What’s been the best wedding you’ve played? ES: I once had all the guests chant my name in the middle of a dance set. I think that was something that made me want to retire. “It’s never gonna be this good again.” AP: I had one wedding last year—it was a friend’s wedding—and they wanted their last song to be Against Me!’s “T.S.R. (This Shit Rules).” It was amazing. The groom went up in the air. I think three or four dudes took their shirts off. It was just like, “I don’t know if this is a wedding or a pop punk show,” [laughs]. That was definitely one I did where I was like, “This is great. My job rules.”

What is your favorite song to play at weddings? AP: One of my favorite slow dance songs I tend to play a lot is Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” because it’s classic; it’s really lovely. I also really like The Pretenders song “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” because it’s really fun and bouncy, but it also has a line that goes, “Don’t get me wrong/ If I’m acting so distracted/ I’m thinking about the fireworks/ ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY DUSTIN CANTRELL That go off when you smile.” How good of a line is that?


ES: “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” will always be one of my favorite songs, but I really think that “This Is How We Do It” is my favorite song to play at weddings, because people get so excited. AP: Especially if it’s a Friday wedding. People are like, “It is Friday night!” What songs should be retired from weddings for all eternity? ES: “The ChaCha Slide.”






n addition to being the owner of Southern Lord Records, Greg Anderson is a talented guitarist, lending his subharmonic six string to several bands including the ominous, ambient drone project Sunn 0))) and the throbbing, doom drenched coils of Goatsnake. On June 2, after over a decade of silence, Goatsnake will release their third full-length studio effort Black Age Blues on Southern Lord. The album features nine new songs, plus two more tracks exclusive to the vinyl. When asked why it has taken Goatsnake so long to put out a new record, Anderson’s response is monotone and matter of fact. “Because we hadn’t been playing together very much,” he admits. “Everyone’s got so much going on in their [personal] lives, whether it’s careers, families, kids, or other music that they are playing. We’re all really close friends, we all get along really well and we like playing together. It’s just been hard to actually get together.” “For better or worse, we’ve never made [Goatsnake] a priority,” divulges Anderson. “Honestly, I think that’s




maybe a good thing. That’s probably why we can do what we do and why it sounds the way it sounds. I think if we really focused on it, who knows? It might be great, but it might not be the same. It’s what works for us.” Anderson explains that being invited to the annual Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands was a catalyst for getting the band together. “Around 2010, we got invited to play the festival which was something that we all really wanted to be a part of,” he says. “At that point, we hadn’t played together in about five years. So, we would be playing the old material, obviously. Over the next couple of years, we continued to get some really nice opportunities and invites to play some really great festivals. We kept on playing the old songs. It was really interesting, because, from the beginning of the band in ‘97 to about 2001 when we had made the first two records, there was some interest in the band but it wasn’t wildly successful.” “But, all this time passes, we haven’t done anything, and there’s still this interest in our songs,” says Anderson proudly. “That was really inspiring. It was an honor to have people want to

hear those old songs. When we made those songs, it was the beginning of the band, but after about three years, I really didn’t want to keep on playing just the old songs.” “‘If this was going to be interesting to me and really to honor the fans that brought us back, I think it would be respectful to play some new music,’” he told his bandmates. Anderson says the new material began to come together “as soon as we started focusing. It was really inspiring, because it had never been like that before. All of our early material—those first two albums—took a really long time to write. There was, like, this creative flow that was happening and everyone was, like, ‘Wow, this is awesome!’” “[Vocalist] Pete [Stahl] really contributed a lot more than he had in the past. The other members contributed more as well,” Anderson continues. “Those first two albums, I basically wrote everything myself; the riffs and structures. Pete writes all the lyrics. There were definitely contributions from other members, but most of the songwriting fell on my shoulders as far as the music. So this time, everyone was excited about contributing

and that was cool. I like to collaborate with people and write together. I’m not the kind of guy who has this very narrow vision about how things should be. I like everyone to have input and, for me, that makes it more interesting, gives it more depth.” Anderson’ favorite song on Black Age Blues is the first track, “Another River To Cross.” “And I really like the last song, ‘A Killing Blues,’” he adds. “The first song has a Goatsnake sound, but it’s a lot shorter and a more concise song that gets in there and knocks you out, inspired by hardcore punk but with more heaviness. The second song has a middle section that is us trying something that we have not done before: writing some quiet parts that build up to a louder ending.” This summer, look for live Goatsnake appearances at Maryland Death Fest in Baltimore, followed by a short tour through Europe in early June starting with the Temples Festival in the U.K.



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ans of Portland, Ore., based punk/indie band Lee Corey Oswald have a new release to look forward to in summer 2015. Guitarist and vocalist Lee Ellis will debut his solo record, Me and this Army via No Sleep Records on June 23. It’s a collection of 13 songs, each written and recorded entirely by Ellis over the past few years, using primarily his laptop and iPhone. The result is a very personal, lo-fi project that explores raw musical styles and broad subject matter. “I’ve been in bands for awhile,” Ellis says, “and I’ve always enjoyed being the songwriter and the one who produces the music. On the album, I played everything, performed 99 percent of the instrumentation, and recorded everything except some songs my friend played bass on and some songs that my friends do guest vocals on. Besides that, it’s just me. I wanted to prove that I could make a whole album and make it consistent, with just myself as the only means of




creative output for everything.” Departing from the Lee Corey Oswald sound fans are familiar with, Me and this Army runs the gamut from bare bones acoustic songs to electronic inspired tracks. “I really got into sample beats and layering keyboards over that, and I wanted to do something with it,” Ellis explains. “So, I ended up doing that on the album. Just keys in general or piano, I wanted to get into because piano is my primary instrument.” Ellis says he’s not influenced by much of the stripped down acoustic punk that’s out there, admitting, “I don’t really listen to that kind of music, honestly.” Instead, he finds inspiration in Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, the solo project of indietronica musician Owen Ashworth. He explains, “I don’t think he does it anymore, but he just uses a little Casiotone keyboard and makes beats and songs on it, and I like it a lot.”

Ellis sees Me and this Army as having a punk approach, even if listeners might not identify it initially. “I wanted to make a statement that things don’t have to be produced; things can be natural. They don’t have to sound perfect or be perfect,” he asserts. “I was just going for that whole disassembly of even, like, the modern day use of the word ‘punk.’ It’s just not what it used to be. It should be lo-fi; it should be whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be perfect or polished or auto-tuned and sell a million records, or be on Billboard. It should just be what you want it to be without people hating on it. That’s the point I was trying to make with this record. It doesn’t sound perfect; there’s a lot of mistakes and stuff that I left, but I did it on purpose, because if I took any of that stuff out or changed it at all, then it wouldn’t be the same record and it wouldn’t make sense.” “Lee Corey Oswald’s manager, I sent it to him, and he says he hates it,” Ellis reveals with a laugh. “I hope that

people get it. I don’t want to say that I really care that much, but I hope that people aren’t like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ I hope they keep an open mind. I was trying to do something… I don’t want to say that it’s an art project, but I guess it kind of is that way. I want people to be like, ‘Whoa, why does this sound so shitty? Why is this on No Sleep Records? It sounds like shit.’ I want for them to understand that that’s my whole point.” “I’m stoked that No Sleep is behind it, too,” he continues. “I was worried they wouldn’t be, because they put out really polished bands. It’s like the opposite end of the punk spectrum from what I’m doing. I’m trying to see if I can make some sort of statement in that way, I guess. Even with Lee Corey Oswald, our recordings are more polished and everything. We’re a professional band, but we still try and do it as lo-fi as we can.”



odd Congelliere has been making and releasing music in one form or another for a quarter of a century, first with F.Y.P., then Toys That Kill and The Underground Railroad To Candyland, and occasionally under his own name or variations thereof. Dude’s got songs. His latest project is a new URTC album, The People are Home—out May 26 via his own Recess Records—and it has all the hallmarks: warm, jangly, lofi guitars; distortion-heavy, but hook-forward vocals; goofy synths and keys; and an inherent sense of loose fun and unpredictability. And though he’s promoting The People are Home, he’s already seemingly onto the next thing: a new Toys That Kill LP, and a summer tour in which both bands will be playing shows—occasionally together— with the TTK shows outnumbering the URTC shows two to one. Such is life for a guy whose creativity, until recently, didn’t appear to have an off switch. “The last six months, I’ve had writer’s block,” Congelliere starts, “which means, for me, I’m not making a song every single night. There was a while there where I’d pick up a guitar and something would come out. I’m not bragging about it. I’m doing weird things I can’t explain and I’m thankful for whoever sent me this gift, I don’t know who. I’m still making songs— we’re working on a new Toys That Kill record right now and we have more than enough material—but I feel like the last six months have been a dry spell, or maybe it’s because I’ve had all these songs and there’s something I don’t like about them—they’re not different.” It’s true that the hallmarks of Congelliere’s unique worldview are




all over The People Are Home, but the sound itself, while not different, is crisper and more energetic. The reasons are twofold: it was mastered by someone new, Dave Gardner at Magneto, and the band recorded a bunch of sessions in Congelliere’s garage and kept the most energetic takes. “It was kind of a weird fate thing that [Dave] got ahold of it,” he explains. “He did a Birthday Suits album I’m releasing on Recess. Long story short, I was trying to figure out mastering and I had a copy of the last Marked Men album, Ghosts, before it was mastered. So one night, while I was mixing for shits and giggles, I compared the unmastered Marked Men album with the mastered version and was like, ‘Whoa, whoever did this would probably be the man for the job.’ Not because [URTC is] similar, but it had qualities I want. So, I look him up and I’m like, ‘Whoa holy shit, I already work with this guy!’“ “[The record] has been done for a while,” he continues. “That was the main snag—I wanted to have someone new master it, because at one point, it sounded as good as I could possibly make it and someone else, without any frame of reference, could add some magic to it.” As for the multiple recordings, the sessions for The People Are Home weren’t as stressful as those for 2011’s Know Your Sins, an album that Congelliere admits was recorded “pretty much three times.” “Since the studio is in my garage,” Congelliere says, “it’s pretty easy to take our time, but the way we see it—especially with Candyland, we’re not as active as Toys That Kill—I guess it’s back to a side project for me in a weird sense, so we just took our time and didn’t


rush anything.” That approach yielded a bunch of sporadic sessions, and versions of songs from almost every session made the album. “We did do one big initial tracking session in August 2014, and a lot of the first versions of the songs had better energy. I don’t think I did a better job getting the drum sounds or anything like that, but the energy was there. Pretty much whatever had the best energy made the album.”e Regarding the unusual nature of that upcoming summer tour, Congelliere admits it’s somewhat new territory for him. “We’ve done something at Toys That Kill shows where we’ll do one short Candyland set or something, but we’ve never done it like this,” he says. “This originally was supposed to be just a Candyland tour, because we have a new record coming out. For some reason, we always have a scenario where TTK will have a new record out, and then Candyland will go on tour, and vice versa. It never makes any sense, but we just roll with it.

Plus, I’ve never been super strict in thinking, ‘We finished this record and now we have to tour on it for six months!’ We threw that out the

window a long time ago, because it doesn’t really matter.” “It sounds crazy,” Congelliere concludes, “but I feel like I’ve run a


10k after each set, so doing two sets in one night—on a handful of these shows—is gonna be pretty tough.”



reg Anderson specializes in ultra slow heavy metal. He is a member of Sunn 0))) and Goatsnake, and since 1998, his Southern Lord Records has unleashed a steady onslaught of classic doom, as well as underground metal and punk up and comers from around the world. Now, the label’s catalog has reached over 200 titles across various formats. “I was a kid who grew up on rock radio: Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Who, and Van Halen,” Anderson recalls. “There was a radio station in Seattle called KISW that I listened to as much as I possibly could. I grew up in the suburbs with a public library

recordings. Some of the songs I had helped write.” Guy Pinhas—Goatsnake’s bassist— liked the demos of these two bands so much that he volunteered to fund Southern Lord. He asked Anderson to pay him back in one year. “The aspirations in the beginning were just to get these records out,” admits Anderson. “There was very minimal interest in this kind of music back then.” Once the records were released, the feedback was so positive that Anderson decided to continue the label. “The first three releases were all family,” he explains. “Thorr’s Hammer, Burning Witch, and The Obsessed.

ANDERSON WITH WINO OF SAINT VITUS that had a killer selection of music on vinyl in the early ‘80s. The library had a copy of [Metallica’s] Kill ‘Em All. It was a life changer when I heard that record. I read the thank you list and decided to search out a lot of those bands. That led me to Motörhead and Venom… The faster, the better. And then that led me to hardcore.” Spring forward to the mid ‘90s. “I was living in Seattle, playing in a band called Thorr’s Hammer with Stephen O’Malley,” Anderson elaborates. “We played slowed down Celtic Frost riffs. Our singer was a Norwegian exchange student. She had to move back to Norway when the program was over and that was the end of the band. We played two shows and recorded a demo. Stephen and I wanted to keep playing music together, so we formed Burning Witch. Then, I moved to Los Angeles, and Burning Witch continued on without me and made some

The original Goatsnake rhythm section was the Obsessed’s rhythm section. After that, we started doing stuff with other bands. The fourth release was Electric Wizard, which happened as a result of Goatsnake touring the U.K. with them.” “I had no idea it would turn into a full time day job,” says Anderson. “I just thought we’d put out a few cool records. At the time, I was working for Caroline Distribution, a record distributor. That is where I learned a lot about how to distribute records. It was a great learning experience.” Interest in Southern Lord exploded with the release of Nick Oliveri’s solo project Mondo Generator’s album Cocaine Rodeo. “It sort of opened the doors and got us a lot more exposure,” says Anderson. “The Probot record with Dave Grohl also helped raise the profile of the label.”






andy Blythe is not one to mince words. He’s poured his heart into the lyric sheets of Lamb Of God’s mighty discography for years. In 2014’s “As the Palaces Burn” documentary, Blythe bared his soul on the big screen during the darkest chapter of his life. Now, one of the metal world’s most outspoken frontmen has flipped the tables and gone from provocateur to spectator. “D Randall Blythe: Show Me What You’re Made Of ” is the singer turned photographer’s first photo exhibition, running May 2 through June 30 at Sacred Gallery in New York City. Blythe’s collection of stunning street and landscape photography marks an exciting new chapter in his storied career, going beyond music and into something even more personal. As the lyricist for Lamb Of God and a soon to be published author, you’re primarily known for your words. How does it feel expressing yourself visually, through photos? For me, photography has become the default visual art outlet that I am not talented enough to have; I can’t paint or draw. I’ve always wanted to be able to do things visually, and I’m terrible with drawing, you know? So, for me it’s really, really cool to be able to express myself through photography and I’m super excited for it.






Can you recall when and how photography became one of your passions? When did you get the bug and decide to explore the art further than just a tinkering hobby? This is kind of a complex story. I decided that I was going to completely unplug from the Internet, social media, and cell phones for one year, right? I was going to write a book about it. When I was talking to my friend Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed about it, and I explained the whole thing about writing the book and what I was going to do, he goes, “Okay, forget a book, we’re gonna make a movie about this.” I was like, “Okay, good grief.” I got this Canon ELS 60D to video. I was videoing stuff for this thing I was going do and videoing some skateboarding stuff, because I like that. One day, I was in my kitchen and I was looking at my French Press coffee pot and I thought, “Well, let me try to use this camera for what it’s supposed to be used for… Actually taking a photo.” I put it on automatic, pointed it at the coffee pot, took a picture, then looked at it, and I was like, “Holy crap, that looks cool!” From that second on, I’ve just started shooting photos. That was about 4 years ago, I guess. I was standing in my kitchen taking pictures of my coffee pot. It was just super cool. What was the selection process for which photos to include in your exhibition? Any personal favorites come to mind? The theme of my photography show, there are two basic elements to it.

There’s landscapes, right, but the rest of the photos are all taken when either I or the subject or both of us were in some sort of heightened emotional state. I’m interested in photography that shows emotion, you know? One of my favorite photos, I think, out of that is from when I was in Chinatown in Philly, and there are these two Hispanic men and they’re drunk and they were fighting on the sidewalk in front of a Chinese restaurant. They were on the ground rolling around, and this woman is standing directly in front of them looking at the menu on the wall of the Chinese restaurant outside, not paying attention to them at all. […] So, it’s a powerful photo for me; that’s one of my favorites. The men were in a heightened emotional state and the woman was in a basically dead

emotional state. If you can ignore a fistfight right underneath your feet, you don’t feel much, I don’t think, and that’s kind of says something about the modern world, I believe. Is there anything you’d like people to take away from your exhibition when they walk out of Sacred Gallery? There are some very beautiful landscapes from exotic places and all that stuff, but there are also some shots of some everyday normal things that I tried to capture in a beautiful manner or tried to capture the beauty of. So, what I’d like people to take away from it is basically… When they leave, maybe they will try to exercise a bit more awareness of the everyday world around them and see the beauty in that.



n Sunday May 17th, the longstanding rule of 924 Gilman Street that no major label band can play there was lifted for one show – a not so secret ‘secret show’ that sold out in just a few minutes when tickets went on sale.

After openers Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits (with Op Ivy’s Dave Mello on drums) and a reunited Enemies (with Dave Edwardson of Neurosis on Bass), Green Day – for the first time in 21 years – took the stage that they helped make famous and played a benefit show for a fire in West Oakland that housed AK Press and 1984 Printing. Jello Biafra introduced the band and they tore through lots of early songs – from “Christie Road” to “Paper Lanterns” and were joined on stage by Tim Armstrong for a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge.” The venue was packed, everyone left covered in sweat with smiles plastered across their faces.

Welcome home, guys!


oncerts. Festivals. Reunions. Acoustic jamborees. If you’re devouring these pages, you probably love live music as much as we do. Here some of the premier shows going on this season, in your neck of the woods.


GOATWHORE with Ringworm, Black Breath, Theories

Goatwhore—the masters of blackened thrash metal—have assembled the grimiest tour of the summer! Legendary metalcore pioneers Ringworm, the riff hounds in Black Breath, and the upstart grinders in Theories will be supporting NOLA’s— and Satan’s—favorite hessians on the road beginning in June. A category five mosh pit warning has been issued.


with Modern Baseball, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Hard Girls

Say Anything are hitting the road with a full blown string quartet in tow, supporting their orchestral heavy 2014 album Hebrews. The band is going to mix things up playing old and new songs with guitars and strings alike! Oh yeah, and they’re taking emo kingpins Modern Baseball, indie rockers Cymbal Eats Guitars, and the frenetic punks in Hard Girls along for maximum shenanigans.



with DAVE HAUSE & CHRIS FARREN Seattle singer-songwriter and recent New Noise cover star Rocky Votolato is bringing his earnest brand of folk punk on the road this summer. Votolato will be joined by heartfelt crooners Dave Hause and Chris Farren as they zigzag the country in what promises to be the most singalong friendly tour of the season.



UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO CANDYLAND Todd Congelliere’s traveling punk rock bonanza kicks off this June. The Recess Records mainman will tour the States— and parts of Canada—with both of his bands on a double-duty toe-tapping trek of epic proportions. Toys That Kill and Underground Railroad will be swapping performances throughout the run, but will play back to back on select dates!






id you miss me? I dipped out of last issue because, well, I just couldn’t fit. But needn’t you worry; for I am back and with a vengeance! I’ve grabbed a bunch of records over the last 3 months, some of them super rad... others not so much. Keeping with tradition I’ll go ahead and give you all the killer, with minimal if any filler. One of these records I thought was a drab turd when I got it, but after opening it I was whisked away to a packaging lovers paradise, which I’ll get to at the end. For now let’s start with this little number...






Long Knives from Oakland came out of the ashes of a few bands of recent Bay Area legend. Released on Count Your Lucky Stars Records, this release is kind of close to my heart in a few ways. The man who designed this album was the man who taught me how to design when I was a broke college grad with no job or income, living off of all of my friend’s good will. I asked him for some advice one day about a shitty flyer I did and he gave me some pointers and basically set me on my path as a career graphic designer. It’s a little bittersweet when I look at this record as him and I are now estranged, but I’m glad to see he’s still doing awesome work. This record looks beautiful, and wherever the pressing was done, that company did a bang up job on matching the wax to the album art. I just look at it and go, “yeeeeeaaaahhhhhhh, that’s it.” Kind of like a dog being scratched behind the ear. As with most things in life, there was more than meets the eye. As the famous Shrek once said, “Ogres are like onions. They have layers.” Well, so does this album.





This record is classic DIY ingenuity and I love everything about it. When you slide off the white band containing the band name and illustration, there is another illustration of the same character without skin, revealing the musculature of her face. Pretty awesome! But it gets better. As a graphic designer, I judge books by their covers all the time. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve passed up good records because of their horrible album art *cough* Bouncing Souls *cough*. When I got the Spirits LP Discontent, I’ll be honest… I was kind of let down. I looked at the cover and thought, “… this isn’t as cool as I’d hoped,” and it sat on my desk for about a week. It’s not that the illustration on the cover isn’t rad. It is just a white record with some type treatment and an illo of a woman’s head. I resolved to look at it later and that was that. As it came time to write this column, I finally grabbed that Spirits record, released on State OF Mind Records, and pulled it out of it’s polybag. I couldn’t figure out how to open it at first, because my astigmatism makes contrast a fucking nightmare to look at. It seemed like it was child proofed. Finally, I noticed the banded paper surrounding the entire jacket. I pulled it off and immediately wanted to slap myself in the face for being a judgmental prick.




It fucking splits open diagonally to reveal an illustration of a skull printed on the sleeve the record is housed in. I’d never seen this type of cut made before, and it made me feel like a child on Christmas morning, back when I could still be genuinely surprised. It’s far more effective to witness this record’s glory than read about it, so while you check out the pictures, I’ll stop jibber jabbering about it like a broken Speak & Spell.


o, with a renewed faith in DIY record ingenuity, I leave you once again. I promise no more breaks; we’re in it for the long haul here. If you’ve got any questions, comments, or concerns please email and I will answer promptly… Or possibly ignore you for a while depending on how deep I am into “Witcher III: Wild Hunt.” Until we meet again, speakers up/needles down.

“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.” - Frank Zappa

30 minutes. There’s two of them.” Darrin slapped my knee. He heard it also. That made me feel good, because his Chinese was better than mine. The blinker started to get louder and louder, and the whole vibe in the cab shifted. him to hang out and drink with me. He preferred to sleep in the car.


une 2012, I arrived in China to consult a director for a Chinese TV show. I brought my DP from L.A., Darrin, out with me so I could have a confidant for a six month stint in Asia. We lived on location in a very remote farm town about an hour drive from the closest city, and after the first week, I was told I couldn’t go into town without a chaperone. Basically, I was to stay in the hotel seven nights a week. The producer’s issue was that we were in such a rural place in China that it wasn’t often Americans visited those areas. They were worried some desperate locals would kidnap me for a large ransom because I was a filmmaker. Naturally, I found this utterly ridiculous—because it was—and that night, I found an escape route over the large metal gates. From there, I would pay a local farmer 100¥— roughly 16 bucks—to drive me into town so I could hang out all night, and then, drive me back. I offered for




It was about four weeks into the show when I met Galhone. She was the mother of a child actress on the show. Galhone didn’t speak a lick of English and my Chinese was pathetic but I noticed that she would give me the eye once in a while. I also noticed her husband. Long story short, I hopped over the hotel fence every Thursday night, and she drove me into town. Most of our Thursdays consisted of getting wasted with her friends, eating bar snacks—chicken necks and feet—and singing KTV [Karaoke] till five in the morning. But this last Thursday, they wanted to go into the big city—a two hour drive—to go clubbing. The club scene in the south of China is a different story for a different time, but needless to say, we had an interesting night. Around 2 a.m., she put Darrin and I into a cab. She paid the cabbie in advance to make sure he wouldn’t cheat us at the end of the ride, and specifically told him to call her when he dropped us off two hours later. She kissed me and we were off. About a quarter of the way through the ride, D and I started to sober up and noticed that the cab driver was a real funny motherfucker. He kept making really short phone calls on his phone. I could only make out a couple words, but it was straight out of a movie. Saying things like, “About

He got off the highway and we started driving through weird neighborhoods on the seemingly forgotten edge of town. There were no more streetlamps. No more houses. Nobody. We reached a point where you could feel the gravel of a dirt road underneath the tires. I looked out the front window. It was pitch black, but I could see that we were actually driving off-road through a cornfield. My stomach dropped. This wasn’t right. I took out my passport and most of my money, and I tucked it all into my boots. I left 100¥ out in case I had to get out of a dark situation, and shoved it in my coat pocket. Darrin did the same. We were doing 50 mph through that bumpy road for what felt like the longest and most tense 20 minutes of my life. His phone rang again. It was a flip phone version of a Chinese opera song, and its silly jingle served as an eerie soundtrack to a tense situation. He answered: “Near. Five minutes.” Darrin turned to me. “He told them five minutes.” I don’t remember what exactly we said, because our adrenaline was going, but I remember it was something along the lines of, “We should get ready, because anything could happen right now.”

He started to slow the car and took a right, deeper into the cornfields. I vividly remember squeezing my fist into a ball while my mind flashed the different scenarios of what ill fate could be awaiting me once this funny fucker stopped the car. The road got bumpier and snapped me out of it. I could suddenly see a pair of oncoming headlights shine into the backseat. A car was stopped and waiting ahead. I watched every second of the cabbie’s eye movement through the rearview mirror as we inched closer. He flashed the high beams as we approached. The other car beeped the horn twice, and then we came to a stop. The cabbie lit up a cigarette. Darrin and I exchanged a look that read “shook.” The headlights started to approach us. We looked out the windshield in fear of who was approaching when the car moving towards us began to turn left. Then something strange happened. The cabbie pulled forward and the view from the backseat revealed the crops coming to an end. It was a rural highway. He took a right onto the highway and it revealed the entrance to our little village where the hotel was. It was like a miracle! We were home. Somehow, this cabbie knew a divine shortcut through someone’s farm that shaved a whole hour off of the journey. Our jaws dropped; we couldn’t believe what just happened. We tipped the man generously before scaling back over the fence for an hour of sleep before work. I woke up with a hangover and a message from Galhone. Of course, all of our correspondence took place through Google translator, so I was never 100 percent sure of what she was saying, but it was something along the lines of… “I was the person who kept calling the driver. I wanted to make sure you were getting home safe, because I found him to be a very strange man.” Too much TV? Too many drinks? Whatever it was, I felt like a dummy. The human imagination is a motherfucker.


New Noise Magazine - Issue #18  

Featuring: We Came As Romans, Terror, 25 Years of Fat Wreck Chords, Green Day Returns To Gilman, Four Year Strong, High On Fire, Knuckle Puc...

New Noise Magazine - Issue #18  

Featuring: We Came As Romans, Terror, 25 Years of Fat Wreck Chords, Green Day Returns To Gilman, Four Year Strong, High On Fire, Knuckle Puc...