Search Results for "DS Exclusive"

DS Interview – Bad Cop/Bad Cop On “Warriors,” The First Great Punk Album Of Trump’s America

In the wake of the disastrous results of last year’s presidential election in the United States, there were more than a handful of people who took solace in the fact that at least having a sexist, xenophobic, probably racist, certainly narcissistic megalomaniac at the helm of our nation would make for some good, old-fashioned angry protest punk rock. Now that we’re at about six months P.E. (post election), we’re starting to see the musical fruits of that fateful national decision and learning that that solace was not hollow by any stretch of the imagination. With the recent release of the their sophomore album, Warriors, Bad Cop / Bad Cop are among the first out of the gate in the punk rock Trump era and have set the bar incredibly high for those that will follow in their footsteps.

The California-based four-piece all-female “freight train of ‘fuck yeah!’” that is otherwise known as Bad Cop / Bad Cop were on a nationwide tour with The Interrupters in the lead up to, and immediate aftermath from, the aforementioned election. Knowing that they were due to head into the studio immediately upon completion of tour, it became obvious pretty quickly exactly what direction the new album would take. Says Jennie Cotterill, one of the band’s two guitarists/lead vocalists and principal songwriters, We kind of made a conscious decision to make this more meaningful than fun — not that there’s anything wrong with fun — but we wanted to really talk about issues that were important to everybody.”

If the question of what to say was pretty apparent from the beginning, the question of how to say it was a little trickier. While the pull for a punk rock band might be to attack an administration in a relentlessly in-your-face manner, the Bad Cop / Bad Cop crew opted to try to pull people in toward at least having conversations, rather than just pushing them away. Says Cotterill: “the reaction to this extreme situation is extreme. But then, when you go extreme, you lose people in the middle.” While the punk scene was still in its infancy forty years ago when Joey Ramone poked some tongue-in-cheek fun at the certain faction within this little world that seems hell-bent on simply being against everything, though that element still remains. “We talked about…how are we going to do this and what are we going to say, because we don’t want to alienate people,” says Cotterill. “Having productive conversation is more important than just saying “I’m against you!” Once there’s a physical line, that’s where people stop listening, and I really don’t care to do that.”

And let’s face it; we’ve all got friends (or parents, or friends’ parents, or at least that one uncle) whose beliefs remain about as diametrically opposed to our own as possible, in spite of what should be overwhelming commonality.  “(As we were writing) I kept thinking about this one friend that I have that is real right thinking,” explains Cotterill’s co-frontwoman and partner-in-crime, Stacey Dee. “We grew up together, and I won’t give up on this guy because at the end of the day, I know we get along. We’re coming from the same fucking place in life. I know that his search is one of health and positivity and happiness, so at the end of the day, you can’t be fucking hateful when you’re positive and happy.” And while a more in-your-face approach might be appropriate for some — Bad Cop / Bad Cop favorites and co-Warped Tourmates War On Women for example — there’s room at the table for different approaches. Says Cotterill: “War On Women is great if you’re woke, but there’ a lot of people that aren’t woke… I think that our platform is hoping to rope the unsuspecting listener into a conversation.”

With that in mind, the band recruited their frequent producer Davey Warsop (Dave Hause, Foo Fighters), took a little creative input from their label boss, the one-and-only Fat Mike Burkett, and put out the first truly defining album of the Trump presidency. While’s it’s got an obvious progressive bent to it, to call it a political album is a bit of a mistake. “No one political belief will sum up who you are as a human being on this planet,” says Dee. Like her fellow sisters-in-arms, Dee takes seriously her role as a conduit for change and for building bridges. “The truth is, entertainment is going to be the way to reach across the aisle, because people on the other side that are going to be racist or whatever are going to see something in somebody, whether it be an actor or a musician or whatever, and they’re going to say “fuck, I can’t deny that. I like that person.”

Cotterill and Dee alike have seen the tide shift at its most basic level, taking note of positive changes even though they might be slow to come to pass. Cotterill remembers a sense of bewilderment when marriage equality first came on the ballot in California in 2008.  “(At first) I was like ‘of course it’s going to pass because people aren’t that awful.’ And then it didn’t pass and I was crushed. But then Iowa passed it (the following year)…And we think we’re the ones that are so progressive.” By the time the California Supreme Court finally overturned Proposition 8 five years later, the tide had long-since turned and a clear majority of California voters were in favor of same-sex marriage protections. “Really conservative people felt that it was a victory (the first time around),” says Cotterill, quickly pointing out that “everybody else was like “I never thought about it until right now.”

While the bulk of Warriors consists of material aimed not only at the current political system but the overarching nature of American society circa 2017 as well, there are still a handful of moments that are not merely a little more personal, but that are personal in a way that is stomach-punchingly honest and raw and without any shred of pretense. Album closer “Brain Is for Lovers,” for example, deals head on with Cotterill’s feelings surrounding the suicide of a longtime friend and former band mate. The chorus of “Brain…” relays a sentiment that’s not overly common in songs that are ultimately about grief and loss and remembrance. “(That song) was about someone who was a really good friend of mine and committed suicide about a year ago and I was so worked up about that song that I couldn’t even talk about it,” explains Cotterill. Dee, herself the author of another of the album’s more powerful and personal tracks, “Retrograde,” (more on that in a minute) sounds particularly proud of her Cotterill’s work on “Brain Is For Lovers”: “It was gnarly! But where we got to in the end, and the way that Jennie pushed through, her voice is fucking killer! She was pissed that she had to do it, but it came out fucking great. Sometimes you have to see the forest through the trees!”

Oh, so about the above-mentioned track, “Retrograde.” Frequent readers of these pages may recall last year’s in-depth sit-down we had with Dee in which she opened up about her battles with drug addiction and her subsequent journey out of that particularly dark era of her life. This made for a notoriously difficult experience when it came time to write music after finding sobriety: “As I got older and as I got sober over the last couple years, my writing hasn’t been like it used to be. I was predominantly negative, and negative stuff comes out when you’re negative.” Album-opener “Retrograde” reclaims Dee’s place as a songwriting powerhouse, telling the story of a woman grappling her own demons in kick-ass, unapologetic fashion. It’s also a song that Fat Wreck co-founder Erin Burkett is particularly fond of: “To me, it’s about finding your inner strength, and re-inventing yourself.  Stacey wrote this about her battle with drugs and alcohol; however, addiction takes on all forms. Sometimes being addicted to behaviors or people can be just as damaging, and the only way to overcome any of it is to realize, that all the power is yours.  No one else is going to fix you.”

Fat Wreck Chords, the label founded by Burkett and her now-ex-husband Fat Mike more than a quarter century ago remains a pillar of the independent music community in large part because of the family environment that they’ve created and fostered over that period of time. As all too many people know, it can be devastatingly painful to watch a family member struggle their way through an active addiction. Burkett elaborates on this particular situation: “I have to say that I am so proud of Stacey. She was in a very dark place on our FAT 25 year anniversary tour, and the band ended up having to leave the tour, possibly breaking up for good. Over the years, we have put a lot of band members through rehab, but it’s up the individual to do the work. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Looking yourself in the mirror and not liking what you see is a very hard thing to overcome. Stacey has come back better and stronger and pissed off and ready to change the world. These four woman have really gelled as a band, and found their voice together. It’s awesome.”

The tide may be turning in a more positive and encouraging direction both for the band and for society as a whole again, but as the Bad Cop/Bad Cop ladies note, it won’t do so without education and hard work. That we’re at a point where a group of four women who are not, as Cotterill states it, “twenty-anythings,” is a bit of a light in the darkness in and of itself. “For people to like us as women in our thirties and forties is fucking killer,” explains Dee. “We definitely have something to say and stand by, and I think we have to lead this revolution!”

Warriors was obviously released last Friday (June 16th) on Fat Wreck. Bad Cop / Bad Cop are playing the duration of this year’s Warped Tour, which also kicked off last Friday in Seattle; head here for info on your local stop!

Head below to check out our email exchange with the one-and-only Erin Burkett and the text of our far-reaching and in-depth chat with Dee and Cotterill below!

 



Day Three: Punk Rock Bowling 2017 (Vegas)

The day before ended in Bad Religion, one of the greatest bands the scene has to offer, continuously kicking it until they kick the bucket. And Day Three was the end of it all, the final day for the punks to don their denims and get out into the sun, to dance and sing and hug their new friends. Day Three felt like a long farewell– a little less hectic, a bit more casual, and still a helluva lot of fun.

Press and VIP lines were a breeze and I got in with no problem at all. To give the new venue credit, each day steadily improved. This is also fair time to mention everything that was happening at the fest that weren’t people with guitars, bass, and drums. Vendors packed the left side of the venue with shirts, hats, records, CDs, tote bags, wallets, necklaces, patches, stickers, with a dozen etceteras. Always a sick reminder that there is not only a cool world out there of punk stuff, but there are also people out there creating it. Doc Martens might have had the most inspired festival booth, featuring big piles of deflated beach balls up for the grabbing. By the end of the night, there were over twenty being pushed around in the pit. I’m not a big fan of Doc’s, mostly because they don’t fit my feet, but even I could admit it was a pretty sly move.

Onto the music! The first band of the day was The Quitters. I was actually pretty stoked to hear them based on the recommendation of DS lens-jockey Cricket Fox. They played first, so there was nowhere near a big crowd (and also, the festival starts a bit earlier on the last day, so you know, folks might be sleeping or something like that), but they rocked it. They played an old school kind of punk rock, stuff that is snotty and fun without being pop punk, and loud and shouty without being hardcore. Its the sort of music that if you wanted to create the original ink drop from which all of punk bled out of (ruining some fine parchment in the process), this would be at the tip of the fountain pen. A real cool blended sound of forty years of music, from Descendents to Refused. Their beats were surprisingly danceable too, as even the security guards were breaking characters and nodding along. The Quitters are awesome, check ‘em out when you get a chance.

Roadside Bombs played next. I would describe their sound as a sort of a throwback thing, like a ‘77 punk amalgam with a bit of classic rock thrown in there. It wasn’t too bad, not really my thing, but I thought they performed well. The next band, Wolfpack might get the award for most interesting bio of the weekend. I was watching them intently, mystified by what I read in the pamphlet: they’re a Melbourne not-for-profit band. Crazy, right? Looking at their bandcamp page, they say they’ve raised $26,000 for charity. Even weirder, and maybe cooler, depending on your predilections, is that the band is led from the back by the drummer. Aside from their tax status, they were pretty dope, playing a pretty riffy style of metal-infused hardcore punk.

Day Three was all about Oi! though. Cocksparrer was headlining and they wouldn’t be the only working class punks to grace the PRB stage. This was the year of street punk and oi. Lion’s Law was the first band to start playing the style in earnest and got my attention for being from one of the least oi places I can think of– France. I thought it was pretty cool, and strangely, a natural fit for the naturally surly French accent. It also made me think about how French punk has been getting more and more attention lately with the likes of Lion’s Law, Guerilla Poubelle, and Not Scientists.

And then, in a weird sort of double feature, we had another oi band playing. This was England’s Booze & Glory, and a lot of folks were here for them. I hadn’t heard of them before the festival, but street punk and oi aren’t styles I follow very closely. I’m also not afraid to admit I’m in the minority though, because from day one I saw tons of punks rocking Booze & Glory shirts. I was starting to get the vibe that these guys were the next big thing in their scene. As far as their sound goes, I mean, I’m not sure what there is to describe. They sound like a band that wears suspenders and throws back pints of lager. The real test of mettle for a band like this is in their songwriting, what they can communicate that all the other hooligans with guitars haven’t been able to do before, or to do it now in a way that’ll communicate it to a new generation. Judging from the crowd, Booze & Glory are a torchbearer for their sound. My only issue is with the placement of these two bands on the bill, while I’m sure their audience dug ‘em a lot, it all bled together for me.

As any dude who likes melodic punk bands, the occasional Dan Yemin hardcore project, and folk punk; I also inexplicably love Tragedy, His Hero Is Gone, and anything else that is crusty and patches well on flannel. And that is why I was stoked to see Discharge. The originators of D-beat, true harcore pioneers, and one of the major influences to a lot of my favorite modern hardcore. For such an old fucking band, they killed it. They had tons of energy and ran through a set that felt like a machine gun peppering of shredded solos and barked declaratives. Of all the acts of Day Three, Discharge might have been the most intense to witness.

I was warned about the Adicts before I got to Vegas. I didn’t have a lot to go on, y’ know? I was told they were great live, but I never really listened to them. I mean, I’m not a big face paint guy, bands with a huge visual presence always felt weird to me, same with bands in costume. I don’t know, it’s one of those things that never really felt right. I mean, I don’t even like the Misfits– what do the Adicts have to offer?

It’s nice to be wrong.

When the confetti cleared, the Adicts were my favorite act of Day Three. This isn’t just punk rock, it’s spectacle. While watching them play and dance; throw cards, balloons, and streamers into the audience, I experienced, what I can only assume, is pure joy. My initial worry was of a band that takes themselves too seriously, who take the imagery from A Clockwork Orange and use it as a way to secure some false sense of danger, when its really just adolescent pageantry. The Adicts know exactly what they are, they embrace the silliness– and most of all– they want you to have fun. They’re a fun band that puts on a fun show. Why else would you wear a cape made of mirrors? It’s ridiculous fun. And their music works with the show they’ve crafted. It’s singalong ‘77 style punk, the kind of stuff that got me singing along without ever hearing a word before. The Adicts are amazing, a punk rock treasure that needs to be seen to be believed.

The light was waning after the Adicts wrapped up and I was left in a bit of a state of awe. I mean, what band can really follow that up?

A lot of people have mixed feelings about Pennywise, and I guess I’d count myself in that lot. I like a couple of songs, but mostly see them as the lesser of the 90s melodic hardcore bands to make it big. A little to bro-ey for me, I guess. They have a knack for songwriting though, “Fuck Authority” is ultimately a kind of dumb, almost ritual reduction of one of punk rock’s core tenets, but even I have to admit it strikes a chord. I mean, you could also say punk rock is just a dumb, almost ritual reduction of rock ‘n roll, right? They played a handful of covers in a row, “Wild in the Streets” by Circle Jerks, “Do What You Want” by Bad Religion, in which Fat Mike jumped on stage to help with vocals, and “Minor Threat” by Minor Threat. As is the expectation, they ended their set with “Bro-Hymn” and I got to hear a couple thousand woahs all in unison. Even if Pennywise wasn’t my thing, that was just a little magic.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a punk festival without a little politics mixed with catharsis. Fat Mike appeared on stage before the final set with a statue of a nude Donald Trump. He reaffirmed his beliefs that punk rock and politics are intertwined and not to be unraveled, allowing one of the Stern daughters to be the first to take a swing at the presidential effigy. The bat was shared by various band members as each broke the statue down with more and more nasty blows, batting the president’s dick off, until finally Fat Mike beheaded him. It was a fun, albeit violent sideshow in between the musical sets and a reminder of where PRB’s heart is.

The final act of the mainstage was the exclamation mark in Oi!– scene veterans Cock Sparrer took up their instruments as the air cooled and the festival marched into night. That’s one thing that bears mentioning: at night, Vegas is beautiful. The air is tolerable and the neon gives the city an otherworldly glow. At Punk Rock Bowling, it is a signal for the second half of the day for some, but for everyone in the crowd, it is an invitation to come closer. Cock Sparrer played one of the best sets I’d seen that weekend for devotees and casuals alike. The age old band came out to play old favorites and stuff off their new record Forever. As cliche as it is, they seemed like the kinda guys you’d wanna have a beer with– funny, humble, and talented old school punks. They played a host of tracks that I couldn’t help but singalong to on my first time. If I discovered anything at this Punk Rock Bowling, it might have been a new appreciation of what the best working class punk can do, bring people together and bind them in less than three minutes.

Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was because we were at the end, but this was when I started getting sentimental. I saw a crowd full of people, ages five to sixty-five, and they were singing along and dancing, smiling and laughing. I watched the song “Because You’re Young” become an affirmative anthem for generations of punks, young and old, as they looked back at the road they took in life and let their smiles broaden together. When the set ended, I was smiling too. All the denim, ink, and piercings unloaded into the streets and I saw a community. There was chatter about what they just saw, who they’re seeing next, and when they’ll fly out. Folks threw handshakes and hugs and promised to see each other next year.

A punk show, a party, a community– built from the ground up to rumble every year, to bring old and new together, to close distances– that was Punk Rock Bowling 2017.

Full slide-show below.



Day Two: Punk Rock Bowling 2017 (Vegas)

Well, it was Day Two, and I was already worn the fuck out. Menzingers played the night before and because of my inane sleep schedule, I got home at three am, then woke up at eight-thirty. Just my luck. But, whatever your level of sobriety or awakeness, Punk Rock Bowling waits for no man.

And besides, this was the big day of the festival for me. My OG heroes, Bad Religion, were headlining. Back when I was still wet behind the mohawk, Bad Religion were the ones who shepherded me into the club– there is no missing Bad Religion, so sleep be damned, I was out in the door.

As for the logistics, Day Two was a step in the right direction for all of us press folks. Most of yesterday’s issues were ironed out and we were ready to party. Security was a little harsher than I remember last year, but only a week after the Manchester attack, it’d have been hard to believe there wouldn’t be changes. Too many of those little things though, and it also starts becoming harder and harder to believe that anything really can be punk rock. It’s a reminder that music and subculture are powerless, no matter how dressed up and resilient it pretends to be in the wake of tragedy. A debate for another day– on to the music.

The Venomous Pinks opened the day with some fast, woah-oh filled punk rock. Kinda hardcore, kinda poppy– like an all female version of Night Birds without the horror and surf lyrical focus. With a little research, I found out that they are apart of the same SquidHat Records family as The Quitters who opened on Day Three. The more you know. Following up The Venomous Pinks were another smaller act, (this is the portion of the day where bands no one’s heard of play, and folks skip for gambling or drinking– which is a shame, because for me, punk rock is absolutely about these young bands injecting new blood into the genre) Ten Can Riot hail from Dallas with a lead singer who doesn’t sound Texan in the least. It’s fast epifat-style jams with some aussie-fied vocals. The crowd wasn’t big, but the folks who were there were receptive to the set and I thought they conducted themselves well enough to keep an eye on in the future.

Lost In Society were a pretty big surprise for me. I had heard a little about them before the festival, I’d heard some good things about their last album, but as is usually the case, I hadn’t actually listened to them before. Seeing them on the stage, I got the lowkey hype surrounding them. They are a tight young band with some big hooks who know how to work the crowd. They brought in everyone who might have just been nodding along with their finale– playing the song “Not Afraid” and teaching the audience its call and response chorus of “Nice to meet you/ FUCK YOU TOO!” Fists were raised and words were sung, it was an awesome end to the set.

I’ll be honest here. I fucking hate celtic punk. It’s corny as hell roleplay for guys who want desperately to belong to a different culture, or it’s corny as hell roleplay for guys who want to engage in a caricature of their own culture. Basically, it’s almost never cool. So, you can probably say The Real Mckenzies aren’t my thing– they have the celtic schtick with the tempering measure of being from Nova Scotia.. It’s almost never cool, but fuck it, I can say it was at least fun. The Real Mckenzies had a sense of humor and looked to be having as much fun as the audience was. They brought things down and gave a surprising (for me, at least) ode to the recently deceased Chris Cornell. It’s nice to see these old guys rocking hard and having a good time while being conscientious of what happens outside of the insular world of punk rock.

The Dickies are one of those old school bands that sound like the Ramones, kinda like the Spits from the days before. They hail back from the early days where punk and garage rock were almost synonymous. Catchy, but not really my thing again. Crowd dug it, but I can’t be into everything, you know? They played their set and I nodded along and let the kids who were into have at it. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

Now, The Bouncing Souls. For me, the Souls were the first big band of the night, and the crowd supported that observation. Everyone was up front for the Jersey boys. I’m a rare breed it seems– there’s an interesting phenomenon with this band, there are the people who don’t care for them, and then there’s the folks that are die-hards (and there are a lot of die-hards)– I’m just a casual fan of the band, not a know-every-word fan. I always wonder what it is about the Souls that bring people together in such an intense way. Maybe it’s that bouncy mix of carefree fun and occasional insight that can take the right psyche and turn one into a True Believer. Either way, of the one other time I’d seen them, this was definitely them at their best. Singer Greg Attonito was genuinely animated and engaged with the set. The energy was good and they ripped through a setlist of singalongs for an adoring audience.

Choking Victim was one of the reasons I made Punk Rock Bowling an unmissable event. One could argue, if you’ve seen Leftover Crack a handful of times, you’ve basically seen Choking Victim. And to be fair, every time I’ve seen Leftover Crack, they’ve made sure to play “500 Channels,” so there is some truth there. But, c’mon. It’s Choking Victim. If you even like them just a little bit, you wanna be able to say you saw them. I was happy to see they got just as strong, if not stronger response than the Bouncing Souls. There was a moment when I looked around and saw all the punks shuffling back and forth, excited as Stza and co. walked on stage and realized: everyone is here for Choking Victim. The front of the stage was packed with punks, for a moment the entire festival ground became part of the crowd. There was no disappointment, they instigated and antagonized with their music (and made sure I got to hear “500 Channels” for a fourth time), with Stza introducing a song dedicated to the police at the venue, about killing cops. It’s not Punk Rock Bowling, and it’s definitely not Choking Victim without a little authority baiting.

The weirdest part of the day wasn’t so much a disappointment as just a bum note. What the fuck was up with Fidlar? They’re fine folks, I’m sure. They play some garage rock/hardcore/ surfy indie rock amalgam, and I know some of the younger kids are into them. They have a little bit of inherited pedigree as one of the members is the son of a member of TSOL. But, no matter what they take from the sounds of punk rock, there is something off about them. It’s like an impression of punk rock rather than an honest interpretation. The crowd agreed too. It was weird seeing so many open spaces in the pit, people looking around, bored and confused at what these rich kids in costume were peddling. Yeah, they had all the moves– they rolled on the stage to play solos and they screamed into mics, but it never felt right. This is punk for kids who go to Coachella. It felt out of place at Punk Rock Bowling.

But, even the weirdness of Fidlar couldn’t really quell the energy of the evening. Bad Religion was going to play. The one band everyone has in common. The gateway band that survives the initial waves of growing taste. Bad Religion are a hard band to grow out of. The crowd moved in a rush toward the stage as the opening notes of “American Jesus” rang out. There was a lot of discussion over what they would open with at Punk Rock Bowling, among the guesses were “True North,” “Against the Grain,” and “Do What You Want” (mine), but Meredith (photographer extraordinaire) and Jeff (friend of Dying Scene, and all around chill dude) nailed the selection. What could me more iconic and rousing to bring the punks together for a headliner? When I’d seen Bad Religion before, they played pretty solid ninety minute sets, so it was actually kind of nice to see a shorter, crisper stage headlining set, about fifteen minutes shorter with a more casual sense of kinship and fun. For Bad Religion, it felt like their thousandth victory lap, and they’re still smiling past the finish line. The set had one extremely notable moment, when NOFX singer/bassist Fat Mike ran on stage in a dress and high-jacked Jay Bentley’s bass to play with the band on “We’re Only Gonna Die.” That’s why you go to Punk Rock Bowling, folks. It’s those kind of moments that you can’t get anywhere else.

They closed with “Fuck Armageddon… This is Hell” as per usual, a song that has become their own “Bro Hymn” over the years. The great thing about Bad Religion though is that they have so much good material to work with, that whatever comes before that is sure to be great. To list all the songs they played would be a challenge (and fucking boring), but you got hits like “Supersonic,” “Generator,” “Los Angeles is Burning,” “Do What You Want,” “Suffer”: whatever they play, it’s gonna be good.

The fest was a-raging that night and despite the weird misstep with Fidlar– who should’ve traded spots with the Bouncing Souls and played earlier in the night– I had to admit it was one of the best lineups of PRB I had ever seen. Choking Victim, Bouncing Souls, and Bad Religion are three pretty huge bands, and I managed to see ‘em all in an evening. That’s killer.

Check out what happened in the photo gallery below and stay tuned for our final installment in our drunken recollections of the beauty and madness that is Punk Rock Bowling!



Pre-fest and Day One: Punk Rock Bowling 2017

The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound.

“A Horse With No Name,” America

Last year, I was a novice. I didn’t understand what Punk Rock Bowling would ask of me. This isn’t just another three day festival– it’s a party. It’s an excuse to get together with your punk friends, old and new. There’s beers, there’s all your favorite bands, and then there’s a couple thousand punks to see you through it. Punk Rock Bowling is a party that rages across Memorial Day Weekend, and having been broken-in last year, I finally understood.

You have to know the basics. Vegas is a city built in a desert– you’re gonna be hot. Vegas is dry, because it’s built in a desert– drink water. Vegas is at its hottest when the festival starts– wear shorts. There’s also the issue of scheduling. Last year, I went all in and went to more club shows than I cared to see. There were too many nights of me nodding along to bands I only kinda-sorta liked and then yawning my way out the door. This year, I knew what it was gonna take. When Punk Rock Bowling is laid out before you, there is enough to do without adding to it. I picked two club shows, ones of bands I loved, and then I stuck to that. This is my vacation after all, and I took it on my own terms– with that new level of focus and experience, I was ready to tackle the behemoth that is the 19th Annual Punk Rock Bowling, and I’m happy to say I had a blast.

The basics of the festival are simple. Three days of bands at the main festival, culminating in a big headlining act each night. After the festival, but often times with a fair amount of overlap (this is one of the more unfortunate things about the festival– if you want to see the openers at your club shows, you generally have to leave a song or two into the festival headliner) there are club shows featuring stacked and varied lineups. Street punk, skate punk, acoustic, hardcore, classic, sad melodic stuff– it’s all there in walking distance from Fremont Street. Which is, I would say, the festival’s greatest coup, eliminating the need of DDs or even really any sense of vehicular self preservation. It’s all right there.

Besides the festival and club shows, there were also pool parties with stellar lineups in their own right, flash tattoos from Bouncing Soul Bryan Kienlen, a comedy show sponsored by The Hard Times, punk documentary screenings, and of course, everything else Las Vegas has to offer on its own. You get the idea. Punk Rock Bowling isn’t just catching a show or two– it’s a 24-hour, three-day job, where the workforce is tattooed and hellbent on fun.

I arrived to Vegas two days early, so I had plenty of time to settle in. My first PRB extracurricular was the aforementioned comedy show. It took place at the Gold Nugget with a lineup of punk comics, headlined by Sideonedummy founder Joe Sib. We all filtered in, not sure what we were in for, and as one would imagine, the front seats were the last to be taken. Goodrich Gevaart, Hard Times writer and comedian, encouraged folks to take the front seats, promising that “it wasn’t that sort of show,” and that no one would fuck with them “in a way that wasn’t fun.” I’d never seen any live stand-up before, but I’d watched a fair amount from the comfort of my home. I was happy to say that all the comedians present were hilarious, poking good natured fun at the punks and themselves, sharing stories about their punk past. My favorite bit was when John Michael Bond brought an audience member on stage to play the game Sad Man or Bad Man, where we had to guess whether the lyrics on the screen were those of a pop punk band or a mass murderer. Good times were had by all. I hope this is a tradition continued by next year’s Punk Rock Bowling.

The stand up ended just in time to start another bar tab and then head off to the first show of the weekend, a set of acoustic performances by Off With Their Heads, Brendan Kelly, Steve Soto (of the Adolescents), and locals No Red Alice. The Beauty Bar is one of my favorite venues in Vegas, and usually has the best deals in town ($6 PBR and a shot is the equivalent of holding up a liquor store in other cities– straight up robbery). It’s a smaller space with an outdoor stage, but intimate, and therefore perfect for the sort of show this was going to be.

No Red Alice started the show with a pretty breezy set with lots of asides and jokes. At a couple points the vocalist even started strumming and singing Off With Their Heads’ “Clear the Air.” They played some acoustic punk that reminded me of Chuck Ragan’s more punk-driven solo stuff. I was nervous for Steve Soto, as the last time I saw an old school punk-rocker-gone-solo was in a similar setting last year didn’t go nearly as well (looking at you, belligerent Grant Hart). Soto was humble and a pro, playing countrified acoustic songs with writing chops to spare. He gave the audience fair warning that he wasn’t going to do any Adolescents’ songs, because, “they’d sound like shit” on acoustic. Brendan Kelly came up next and played a pretty straightforward set of mostly Lawrence Arms songs. I was joined by Dying Scene head honcho Dave Buck around this time (who, in infinite kindness and wisdom, made sure I kept a drink in my hand for the rest of my night). Dave’s a big fan of Brendan Kelly’s solo stuff, and was disappointed by the lack of I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever tunes, as for me, I’m always good with some Larry Arms. Off With Their Heads ended the night with a set of tunes that translated a lot better to the acoustic setting than I would’ve thought. Folks were screaming along and holding beers to the night sky. All in all, a pretty great way to end the night.

The next day, we woke up, probably way too early and wandered around Fremont for a while, drinking beers, meeting people, and getting stoked for the fest. It stands to say, that a couple things did change this year at PRB. The location was moved, and with that comes some good and some bad. Maybe this was the new venues fault, or just general disorganization, but the press and VIP folks had a helluva time getting in the first day. So long was the wait, in fact, that we missed the entirety of New Trends and part of Mobina Galore. When I did get in though, I went straight to the stage to see the latter in action. Of all the early openers I saw in Vegas that weekend, Mobina Galore stands as the best. They sounded loud and full for a two-piece, with gravel-throated vocals and hearty melodies. It’s like a stripped down version of the Reinventing Axl Rose version of Against Me!, and for me, they were easily one of the highlights of the fest.

Drug Church were one of the few post-hardcore acts of the fest, and as expected, provided a different feel from the rest of the lineup. This is the sort of stuff that goes with cold winters and black T-shirts, and accordingly, it felt a little dissonant for a sunny afternoon in Vegas. Still, I was impressed with their composition as well as their intensity. The other band who could perhaps lay claim to a similar genre was Plague Vendor, who played next. The crowd grew substantially for the Epitaph post/garage/psych band, and they threw down a set of performances that were a little bit Iggy and a little bit At the Drive-In. At this point in the day, the stage was christened with a thrown bra, and I got to roll my eyes as singer Brandon Blaine located the admirer and asked her to prove it was hers. It was a kind of dumb, rockstar misstep in banter that marred an otherwise good set.

I’d never seen the Interrupters before, but man, they were one of the other biggest surprises of Day One. I’m not a huge ska guy, but I was humming along and smiling throughout their set. They brought a lot of fun to the festival and I could tell a large part of the attendees were smitten by their upbeat ska-punk tunes. Their cover of “Sound System” by Operation Ivy was a huge hit, and probably the best version of it I’ve heard aside from the original. The Spits played next, and were fine, but not really my taste. Just some pretty solid, three-chord punk rock in the vein of the Ramones.

OFF! was the next band on the Day One lineup that I wanted to see. I’d seen them before, and I’d see them again. There’s something about OFF!’s unhinged throwback hardcore. It’s music from another time, performed by one of its originators, given new life with the help of a new generation. Keith Morris is as vital as ever on stage, going off about politics (as one could guess, a post-Trump PRB is going to have a fair amount of politics, a theme that would run through every day of the festival), moving across the stage like a caged animal, spitting words like poison seeds. This is also a good point to mention that one of the upgrades in the new festival grounds were two large screens where folks who weren’t up close could see the action in crystal-clear high definition– although the venue seemed lackadaisical about making sure it was showing what was going on on stage for the entire set, rather than show sponsor commercials, or even more dull, the Punk Rock Bowling logo on a black screen.

I won’t bury the lead here. There were a lot of punks who were there to see Iggy, and probably a lot more who wanted to see Discharge, Pennywise, Cock Sparrer, The Dickies, The Adicts, Fidlar, and a lot of others throughout the weekend, but for me, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes were my most anticipated act. Yeah, it’s true: I have a soft spot for oldies and Fat Wreck– if you grew up with NOFX and parents with a radio, you probably do too. They didn’t disappoint in the least. Singer Spike Slawson oozed greasy charisma as he crooned out pop standards, introducing many with an obligatory, “This next one’s a cover.” As I was watching them play, I could only think that if any band represented Vegas, it was them. They were as happily gauche as neon, slots, and floral prints and a lot more entertaining.

Iggy Pop was up next, but I had places to go. Yep, that’s right, club show. I stayed through the first couple of songs, and as soon as the Godfather came on stage, hordes rushed up toward the stage, going crazy for “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Passenger.” I got to see a little glimpse of that famous stage presence before I left, but alas, I had to bounce. Iggy Pop is cool and all, but I didn’t grow up with him and I’ve never been much for my hobbies becoming obligations. There were tons of punks going wild for him though, so I didn’t feel too bad leaving him to his fans. That’s part of PRB, you gotta do it on your own terms.

What I left for were two of my favorite bands playing on the same ticket. It was Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Toys That Kill, The Lawrence Arms, and the Menzingers. Stacked lineup. I left Iggy in time to see about half of Bad Cop/ Bad Cop’s set. Their harmonies were tight and they played some songs off their upcoming album, including “Amputations.” New songs are usually a bit of a hard sell in the live setting, but from what I heard at the show, Warriors is gonna be a killer album.

The Bunkhouse is set up uniquely, it’s an outdoor venue (mostly)– similar to the Beauty Bar– but much larger. It’s a big dirt lot with an outdoor bar and a dead pickup in the middle for our most brazen to sit. Connected to it is a small indoor venue. They did a pretty cool thing at this show, by alternating the opening bands playing inside and outside, to make set-up easier and keep things moving along. So, Toys That Kill played next in the indoor venue, and I listened and nodded along from outside with a PBR. I’m honestly not that familiar with the band, despite seeing them before, so I used that time to chat with my other Dying Scene peeps about the events of the day.

The last time I saw the Ramblin’ Boys was a brief encore in Portland, where the Falcon went into the crowd as a conga line and came back as the Lawrence Arms. So, technically, I only saw them for two songs. Seeing them for a full set was one of my white whales. We all have bands we want to mark off our bucket list– The Lawrence Arms are one of mine. They came on with all the bravado and swagger inherent in their reputation, promising to “rock the dicks off” everyone who came before them. They played a lot of tracks off Oh Calcutta!, including my absolute favorite, “Recovering the Opposable Thumb,” and ending with “Are you there Margaret? It’s Me, God.”  It was an awesome set with a whole lot of energy, but as great as it was, The Lawrence Arms were only my second favorite band playing that show. The next was going to be something.

I’m a pretty reserved guy most of the time. Sometimes I’m in the pit, but most of the time I’m sipping a beer and singing along in the back. I don’t mind. The days of feeling guilty if I don’t knock elbows during my favorite song are long behind me. I’m there to listen and hang. All of that nonchalance leaves when I see the Menzingers. My favorite bands come and go, but the Menzingers are one of those that I couldn’t shake if I tried. Chamberlain Waits, On the Impossible Past, and their most recent, After the Party will be spinning for a long time coming for me. Some bands write the score to your life, the Menzingers are my Hans Zimmer. So, I went nuts. I was screaming along, I was hugging new friends, we were closing our eyes and beating our chests, howling out slice-of-life vignettes that have been internalized to a heartbeat. The Menzingers played a fantastic mix of old and new, opening with “Tellin’ Lies” and ending with “In Remission.” One of the biggest surprises of the set was a Rancid cover. They rocked “Roots Radical” and we rocked with them, the booze and the fervor even encouraging my usually reserved self to start a circle of drunken skankers.

Day One ended with a big bang, and our lives were started anew in a baptism of nebulas and catharsis, reborn and re-energized– blah, blah, blah. We were tired. We slept and we rested up for the insanity that would be Day Two.

Check out the gallery below and stay tuned for our follow-up articles detailing the continued debauchery that is Punk Rock Bowling!



DS Interview: Mark Stern on putting together nineteen years of Punk Rock Bowling

In a lot of ways, Punk Rock Bowling has become the little festival that could. What started as a small, festival and scratch bowling tourney between labels and scene friends has grown to over a thousand bowlers and seemingly as many bands spread across venues of all shapes and sizes in three different states on back-to-back-to-back weekends. Steering the shop the whole time has been the same dynamic duo, brothers Shawn and Mark Stern (pictured above), whom you probably know are also the longtime core members of seminal punk band Youth Brigade and co-founders of BYO Records.

The 2017 edition ranks as probably the biggest yet, with Iggy Pop headlining Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend, The Vandals and Face To Face taking over Denver last weekend, and NOFX and the Specials and a handful of club shows this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Asbury Park, New Jersey. We caught up with Mark Stern to discuss just what goes in to such a mammoth undertaking, some highlights from Punk Rock Bowlings past, and maybe a hint at what’s in store for the big 20th installment of PRB next year. Check it out below!



10 “Up And Comers” You Don’t Want To Miss at Punk Rock Bowling 2017 – Vegas

It’s that time of year again. Time for the premiere fest in the west. Time for eighty-proof venom and sweat-soaked denim. Power chords for the rowdy hordes. Memorial day is almost upon us, and so is Punk Rock Bowling.

This year, like any other, a weekend of debauchery, booze, and punk rock opens its sweet-smelling and slightly sticky arms to the loyalists of all that is loud and fast. It’s a weekend long party that doesn’t stop, taking over the whole of downtown Las Vegas. Huge headliners lead the party forward with support from lesser known bands, right on the cusp of explosion and renown. All of this on the main stage, the small stage; indoor club shows and outdoor festival alike.

We know all the big names, and we know how they earned their bigness. Cocksparrer transformed punk from art school subversion to working class expression. Bad Religion gave the world Suffer, and changed the game forever. And without Iggy Pop, who’s to say our beloved genre would even exist in the first place?

But this isn’t about them. This is for the little guys, the upstarts who rock under the radar, who keep the veins of punk flush with fresh blood. Click here for the acts you might not have heard of, but will definitely want to catch at PRB 2017.



7 Things To Do At Punk Rock Bowling That Don’t Involve Moshing

Punk Rock Bowling is right around the corner, and it’s not just shows stacked on top of more shows. It’s a whole three day weekend of punk related events. If you’re going to Vegas this year but fear a severe case of pit fatigue between the main stage lineups and late night club shows, give your eardrums a break and check out our list of “7 Things To Do At Punk Rock Bowling That Don’t Involve Moshing” below



DS Interview: Trever Keith opens up on “Protection,” rejoining Fat Wreck, and Face To Face’s Econo-Live ’17 tour

As I write this, the East Coast leg of Face To Face‘s Econo-Live ’17 tour had just came to a close, and the band will have a little over a week off before round two kicks off in Salt Lake City (dates here). The tour marks their first lengthy string of dates in the US in the more than fourteen months since the release of their latest album, Protection, which itself marked the band’s triumphant release to their former label home, Fat Wreck Chords. We’ve caught up with Face To Face’s founding frontman Trever Keith on numerous occasions throughout the years, but last week in Boston (well, Somerville, but close enough) marked the first time we sat down for an in-depth, face-to-face (pun obviously intended) chat about the current state of things in the legendary SoCal punk rocker’s camp. Suffice it to say, we had a lot to talk about.

If you’re not familiar with the Econo-Live ’17 tour, allow us to catch you up to speed. If we rewind the tape Face To Face Band History tape a couple of decades, we’ll come to their initial Econo-Live tour in 1996, a quick run of shows in which the band packed into a van and played a handful of smaller clubs around the country. The project was recorded at various stops along the way and turned into the now highly-sought-after Econo-Live EP. Given that we just rounded the corner on twenty years since the original, it seemed to Keith to be a good time to dust off those particular cobwebs and try it again in a way that seems equal parts fresh and familiar. “When you’re a kid,” says Keith with more than a little youthful exuberance still in his voice, “you’re just like “I just want to play shows! I don’t care! I’ll play every night!” After you’ve been doing it for a while –  we want to play shows that matter.” Between the increased amount of entertainment options and the increasing responsibilities that come along with being a forty-something punk rock fan (never mind bandmate), it’s an understatement to note that the live music scene circa 2017 is a bit of a different animal than it was in 1992. “We want to be more strategic about when and where we play and make sure that it’s something that is going to be an event that will get 40-somethings off the couch! (*both laugh*) I’m guilty of the same thing for bands I love. You’ve got to do something that’s a little bit above and beyond, so if you don’t have the package, you do something like we did here.

The package he’s referring to is a VIP experience that more and more bands have been incorporating in recent years. Specifically in this case, the tour combines some of the ideas that were represented by a few limited-run Face To Face tours over the last couple of years that a majority of their fan base clamored for a chance to experience: their acoustic Ignorance Is Bliss set, and their “Triple Crown” shows that highlighted the band’s immensely popular first three studio albums. In addition to a meet-and-greet and autograph session, each of these shows finds the four-piece playing an eight- or nine-song acoustic pre-set before doors open to the general public. The results have been positive, particularly among the band’s dedicated fanbase, which maintains an ever-growing online presence through a closed Facebook group maintained by a small handful of hardcore, longtime fans and collectors. That’s an amazing thing,” Keith comments, with genuine appreciation in his tone. “It’s totally taken on a life of its own, no credit to us. We’re thrilled that there’s such a supportive, tight-knit community of Face To Face fans and collectors. Jack (Cohenour) has been great, and some of the other people like Jessica (Sakolinsky, who also co-runs the Mable Syndrome podcast) are people that run that thing day-to-day and organize events. It’s really, really cool.”

“Really, really cool” also seems to sum up the general consensus concerning not only the band’s latest album, Protection, but their return to Fat Wreck Chords after an extended period of time bouncing between labels of various shapes and sizes. Being on a label — almost any label — in 2017 doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing that it used two a quarter-century ago when Face To Face first appeared on Fat. So what does their return mean now? “It means one thing and one thing only: it means community,” says an emphatic Keith. “That’s something that we missed by hopping around from label to label.” Going the “major label” route could have spelled the kiss of death for the band in the long-term, though their seemingly never-ending label purgatory seems admirable in hindsight, as it kept the band playing by their own, internal set of rules. “All the old punk rockers said “don’t go to a major label! You’re going to sell out! They’re going to fuck you!” explains Keith, quickly adding “I had to learn that for myself. I wasn’t going to listen to anybody and take their word for it!

As you might imagine, the band changed their own way of doing things yet again on Protection. Due to Keith residing in Nashville at the time that writing was taking place, he and Shiflett wrote and demoed largely on their own, the latter from his Los Angeles home, before coming together briefly to put ideas together. If you’ve spent any time with Keith and Shiflett, together or independently, you’re probably familiar with how their personalities differ. Those differences, of course, balance out the songwriting process: “(Shiflett) will write a seven-minute song, and I’ll write like a one-and-a-half minute song. We’re kind of opposites that way. I need him to come in on my ideas a lot and write a middle eight or a bridge or even flesh out a pre-chorus or a chorus more. I’m like, super economical to a fault, where the songs can be a little too boring, and Scott comes in and adds a little bit of that sauce and some of that flavor and a little bit more depth. And with him sometimes, he’ll just demo with no filter. I think he wrote maybe twenty-eight or thirty songs for Protection!

For years, Keith and bassist Scott Shiflett were not only the primary writing team, but manned the lion’s share of production duties as well. On Protection, they took a different route, choosing to work with Descendents’ drummer and long-time punk rock producer extraordinaire Bill Stevenson at his Blasting Room studio in Fort Collins, Colorado, for the first time. “Bill is super talented,” says Keith with noted reverence for the backbone of one of his own long-time favorite bands. “He just hears these pop melodies and pop arrangements, and it’s good to have someone outside the band who can trim the fat.”

Keith and I (and, at times, Shiflett) covered a lot of ground during our chat, including some fascinating “Inside Baseball” type information surrounding the record labels they bounced between in the first half of their career as a band. Head below to check out our full discussion!

 



DS Photo Gallery: Clutch’s “Psychic Warfare” Tour Steamrolls Providence (w/Lucero)

There are some bands that you might not be otherwise familiar yet, but then you see them live and you totally get what all the fuss is about, and that said performances just kinda stick with you forever. Clutch, for me is one of those bands. We’re rounding the corner of two decades since the very first time I saw the Maryland-based quartet (at the 1997 HempFest in Boston alongside Tree and Sam Black Church, if you’re interested), and the second they took the stage at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, I was immediately transported right back to that place in time.

Now a lot has obviously changed over the twenty years since (not the least of which are hair color and waistlines, and I’m specifically referencing myself). Clutch’s sound has evolved to become a little dirtier and swampier; they’ve always been a solid live band, but now they’re downright explosive.  were a solid live band back then; they now qualify as a premier live act. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster serves as the anchor to the whole ship. Gaster plays loud, explosive style but has achieved a certain level of transcendence at his craft that he almost looks effortless; like Lebron James toying with Serge Ibaka and the Raptors in the last round of the NBA Playoffs. Tim Sult (lead guitar) and Dan Maines (bass) stay rooted to their respective sides of the stage, leaving supremely dynamic frontman Neil Fallon to roam the stage like an animal stalking his prey. Fallon is a frontman’s frontman and plays the role brilliantly, at times oscillating in performance appearance from motivational speaker to manic cult leader to all out banshee. The band launched into their sixteen song main set with “Crucial Velocity” from 2012’s Earth Rocker, while the bulk of the remainder of the main set drew primarily from their most recent album, Psychic Warfare. Longtime crowd favorite “Electric Worry” (you know, the “vamonos, vamonos” song) kicked off the two-song encore in frenzy-like fashion.

Lucero provide direct support on this leg of the Psychic Warfare tour, a bit of a change of pace sandwiched in between Clutch and “warlock rock” openers The Sword (whom I admittedly didn’t shoot or catch much of). As a longtime fan, this marked the first time I’d caught the Memphis-based quintet in an opening role after having seen them headline venues equal to (or even somewhat larger than) Lupo’s. The abbreviated (50 minutes) set in front of a Clutch crowd (and let’s be honest…Clutch fans are CLUTCH FANS) meant that Ben Nichols and the boys eschewed the acoustic portion that’s crept increasingly into their sets in recent years and focused mostly on uptempo tracks. “Can’t You Hear Them Howl,” the lead single to the band’s last album (2015’s All A Man Should Do), kicked off the set, and from that point forward the band forged ahead in all business style, covering such live staples as “On MY Way Downtown,” “Nights Like These,” “I Can Get Us Out Of Here Tonight” and “Here At The Starlite” in the process. A personal highlight was Nichols’ unaccompanied (unless you count a double shot of whiskey as an accompaniment, which I guess you could), a cappella rendition of his track “Last Pale Light In The West,” from his solo EP of the same name. Nichols joked that tracks like those that he based on Cormac McCarthy’s historical novel Blood Meridian were about all he could come up with for lullabies for his soon-to-be year-old daughter. Nichols was then rejoined by the rest of the band (Brian Venable on lead guitar, Roy Berry on drums, a particularly unanimated John Stubblefield on bass, and the inimitable Rick Steff on keys/accordion) for a rousing version of show-closing staple “The Last Song.” I mentioned before that Clutch fans are “CLUTCH FANS,” and that can ultimately be said for Lucero fans as well. They may have been largely outnumbered in this near-capacity crowd of around a thousandish, but they (we) were certainly a vocal minority.

Check out our full photo gallery below!

 



DS Photo Galley: Face To Face and Lost In Society (Somerville, MA)

On a personal note, the release Face To Face‘s last album was a bit of a big deal. Not only did it mark the seminal SoCal punk band’s triumphant return to their previous label home, Fat Wreck Chords, but as we all know, new albums are typically followed by new tours, and Face To Face have long been one of the premier live bands in the business. It may have taken a little bit longer than was initially hoped, but May 2017 finally brought us the Econolive 2017 tour, which featured the band pulling double duty; an acoustic set for VIP ticket-holders in the early evening, followed by the normal fully plugged-n main set that has been the band’s bread and butter over the decades. We caught the show at the Once Ballroom in Somerville, Massachusetts, last Friday, and we’re pretty sure it’ll rank as one of the best shows we catch in any venue this year.

In many ways, the VIP pre-set is a tip-of-the-cap to the fans who missed out on the acoustic Ignorance Is Bliss shows that Face To Face’s Trever Keith and Scott Shiflett put on five years ago. The duo didn’t play too many dates on those small runs, leaving a large number of long-time fans clamoring for a chance to catch the increasingly respected album played in such a stripped down format. For the Econolive ’17 dates, Keith and Shiflett are joined by their bandmates Danny Thompson (drums) and Dennis Hill (guitar) for a more filled-out performance that included not only songs from Ignorance… but a handful of reworked tracks that might otherwise appear in the band’s main set on a normal night. Longtime crowd favorites “Don’t Turn Away” and “1000x” made appearances in the stripped down set, alongside a varied collection from fairly deep in the catalog, like “Everyone Hates A No It All,” Protection track “Keep Your Chin Up,” and INXS’s “Don’t Change,” a track that Face To Face originally covered on their 1999 album Standards & Practices. This portion of the evening was open to a couple dozen people who dropped extra money for the VIP experience, and it the intimate nature and unique song selection genuinely equated to a special experience.

Doors opened to the main show shortly after the completion of the acoustic set, and not long before Lost In Society took the stage. The Jersey-based band jumped on the Face To Face tour for four northeast dates before heading west on a three-week US tour of their own. The typically three-piece punk band are aggressive, at times even ferocious, playing a raw style that hearkens back to the early 90’s alternative movement; Mudhoney or Nirvana or Screaming Trees are fair comparisons from a sonic perspective. They were joined on stage by The Scandals’ Jared Hart on second guitar for the last half of the set, further filling out the sound and allowing frontman Zack Moyle to perform the last couple songs on vocals only, baring more than a passing resemblance to Strung Out’s Jason Cruz’s level of intensity. (The band have a new, Pete Steinkopf-produced EP available here.)

Face To Face’s main set was among the best, most energetic I’ve seen them play in the greater Boston area in a solid decade. The Boston market can be a bit of a rapidly-cycling bipolar one at times, resulting in a weird phenomenon in which the same band can receive categorically opposite reactions on consecutive times through the area. Perhaps due to the fact that it had been almost four years since their last appearance in the greater Boston area (no, Providence doesn’t count), perhaps due to the fact that Protection has been the band’s best-received album probably since 2002’s How To Ruin Anything (if not even earlier), the old punks were out in full-force on this rainy, unseasonably cool Friday Boston evening.

The band kicked off their headline, fully plugged-in set with “You Lied,” met by an eager response from a fired-up crowd. From that point forward, band and crowd performed in perfectly symbiotic fashion, each seeming to provide the fuel for the other’s engine. Like the acoustic set before it, the main set was a pretty representative cross-section of the band’s discography, with only the band’s 2013 album Three Chords And A Half Truth serving as the only album not featured on the evening. The sixteen song main set was effectively broken down into four-song quarters, each featuring a track from Protection nestled in amongst tracks from the more classic catalog, particularly those from the “Triple Crown” albums (Don’t Turn Away, Big Choice and the self-titled 1996 full-length). Tracks like “Double Crossed,” “Say What You Want” and “I Won’t Say I’m Sorry” seemed right at home alongside long-time crowd favorites like “Pastel” and “Ordinary” and “Blind.”

The band took the makeshift stage in the ballroom for a two song encore that consisted of their cover of the Descendents’ track “Bikeage” and, of course, their biggest single, “Disconnected.” Like the remainder of the band’s set, the last two songs found the venue’s dance floor (not unlike that found at your local wedding banquet hall) converted into the closest thing you’ll find to a circle pit in the New England region, and it legitimately seemed like both the quartet and the crowd were energized enough to continue well into the early hours of the morning with no signs of slowing down. It can sometimes take a lot for the old timey punks to step away from the couch and the Netflix to head to a show nowadays (more on that in our upcoming sit-down with F2F front man Trever Keith in the next couple of days), but if the Econolive ’17 tour is any indication, it’s well worth the effort.

Check out our full photo gallery below!



DS Exclusive: Manic Pixi premieres music video, offer free download, for new single “Bad Blood”

We’ve teamed up with Brooklyn pop punk act Manic Pixi and today we’re bringing you an exclusive first look and listen of the band’s new single, “Bad Blood.”

If the song’s title sounds familiar to you, then you’ve probably already figured out that the song is a cover of the Taylor Swift single. Rather than playing a straightforward cover, Manic Pixi infuses heavy riffing with the song’s already upbeat pop hooks.

You can either stream the song or watch the video, which was recorded by Phil Duke and Josh Ridley at Continental Studios, below. You can also get a free download of the single here.

Manic Pixi self-released their second album, Iron Heart, on July 22, 2016.



DS Exclusive: Phil Marcade (The Senders) on The Ramones, Nancy Spungen and the cast of characters on “Punk Avenue”

 

If we were running down a list of the most famous, and infamous, figures from the epicenter of the fledgling punk rock scene in New York City’s Lower East Side in the mid-1970’s, we’d have to scroll pretty deep into the annals to find the name Phillipe Marcade. Marcade fronted the high-energy blues punk band The Senders that were staples at such legendary venues as CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City for the bulk of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and yet neither the man nor the band really got the credit that they deserved outside a twelve-block radius.

Yet Marcade was every bit as entrenched in the 1970s Lower East Side as any of the Ramones or Debbie Harry or Johnny Thunders or Legs McNeil or any of the others whose names come more easily to mind. In fact, to hear one-and-only McNeil tell it in the Foreward to Marcade’s brand-new book, Punk Avenue: Inside The New York City Underground 1972 – 1982, Marcade, “while not a household name, was friends with everyone at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, and a bona fide member, in good-standing of the New York Punk Rock Scene.”

We caught up with Marcade over the phone from his home in Italy to discuss Punk Avenue and the early NYC punk scene in more detail. Still the purveyor of a heavy Parisian accent, Marcade is equal parts humble and engaging. That he ended up with this particular story to tell is the result of a series of profoundly fascinating circumstances. A native of France, Marcade took a trip to Amsterdam as a teenager that led to a chance encounter with a American traveler named Bruce, which, in turn, eventually resulted in Marcade spending several decades in the Lower East Side, but not before stopovers in Boston, a longer stay in Amsterdam, a hog farm in New Mexico, and…his eighteenth birthday “party” in a Federal Penitentiary in Florence, Arizona. It seems that even in the 1970s, the feds frowned on shipping large quantities of straight hash across state lines…

Marcade might have ended up in the gritty, tough-as-nails Lower East Side in the early 1970s by happy accident, and yet that’s not an entirely bad way to describe the foundation of the scene itself. Given the transient, underground nature of the close-knit, artistic community that found itself magnetically pulled to that neighborhood at that time, it’s not a stretch to say that punk music as we came to know and love it would not — could not — have started anywhere else and come out the same. The thing about living and thriving in the geographical center of a once-in-a-generation social and cultural and artistic movement is that you don’t realize you’re there until you’re gone and the moment has passed. That’s especially true when you’re viewing said geographic center from the wide eyes of an outsider. “I thought it was so magical and exciting,” says Marcade, quickly adding on that he “thought that was probably because I was new in New York, and to everybody else I thought it had always been like that. Only years later did I realize that no, that was a true revolution going on at the time!

While perhaps unaware of the importance of the movement that he was a direct witness to at the time, Marcade did, at least, recognize sheer talent when he saw it. “I think that the first very important band of the movement, without being in the movement really, was Dr. Feelgood in England. They really changed things around.” Once the music moved toward this side of the pond, the cream quickly rose to the top. Says Marcade: “The Ramones and the Heartbreakers and The Cramps were just amazing groups. I’m so glad I got to see them.” And see them, he did. Especially The Ramones, whom he estimates he saw roughly “a hundred times.” When asked of his insider’s perspective on whether or not Ramones were, indeed, worthy of what’s become iconic, almost mythological status, Marcade answers an emphatic yes. “They were just amazing! They were so good. I never went to a Ramones show and left thinking “eh, that wasn’t that great.” They never ceased to amaze me!”

On the other hand, perhaps not as worthy of her iconic, mythologized status was Nancy Spungen. Marcade knew knew Spungen prior to, and in fact had a hand in encouraging, her fateful 1976 move to London. “I always thought Nancy was kind of a sad soul, a lonely girl,” says Marcade with a hint of sadness present in his voice for the first time in our conversation. “Everybody was so fucking mean to her,” a fact that led to her leaving her heroin-addicted cat (“Oh, that fucking cat!”) with Marcade and heading to London, where she’d eventually, infamously, cross stars with the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious. “I think a lot of people misjudged her because of the way she carried herself, and because of the whole heroin thing. But knowing her before, she was a sweet girl. She was as much a victim as Sid. She was not that “evil woman” that turned poor Sid Vicious on to drugs… I don’t subscribe to that theory!”

There are no shortage of memorable characters and stories and moments peppered throughout Punk Avenue. Truth be told, the four-page glossary of supporting characters is almost overwhelming (and would probably better serve the reader if it appeared as a reference index to refer back to). That Marcade can recall such a large volume of names and faces and coincidences is no small feat in and of itself. “It’s funny,” says Marcade, “because I seem to have a very, very good visual memory, and when I think back to an anecdote like that, I can really remember it well.” As the project neared completion, he fact-checked and cross-referenced some of the stories and their corresponding dates with some of his surviving companions, though most stories required only little tweaks.

Yet the real noteworthy feat is not simply remembering stories, but weaving them together in a way that is fun and funny and sad and personal and gripping, whether you’re a fan of early the early NYC punk scene or not. Marcade not only does exactly that in expert fashion with Punk Avenue, but he does it in a language that’s not his first. It is perhaps that wide-eyed outsider’s perspective that keeps everything fresh and exciting and new and real to the reader, especially when the stories involve such Herculean figures. Aside, maybe, from Please Kill Me, it’s hands-down the best read about the Who, What, When, Where, Why and, especially, the How of the origins of the punk rock scene as we know it. Punk Avenue is out now, and you can pick it up at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Target but hopefully at an independent bookseller near you!

Head below to read the text of our full half-hour conversation with Marcade. Aside from what’s touched on above, we cover a lot of ground, including the changes (read as: gentrification) in the Lower East Side in the forty years since the dawn of punk civilization, which bands from the scene got unfortunately overlooked, and which more recent bands have carried the torch most surprisingly. The results may surprise you!



Video Premiere: Casual Friday (pop-punk) – “Weekend Forever”

Dying Scene is proud to bring you the exclusive premiere of Corona, California-based pop-punk band Casual Friday‘s new music video, “Weekend Forever.”

You can view the video below.

The music video is a tribute to Thrasher Magazine’s “King of the Road” video series and the song is off of an upcoming LP to be released this year. Fans of The Ataris and Alkaline Trio will eat this song up.

Casual Friday was just announced to play The Fest in Gainesville.



DS Exclusive: Odd Robot premiere new video for “Knife and a Cigarette”

Southern California pop-punk band Odd Robot have premiered a new video for their song, “Knife and a Cigarette.”

The band has signed to Wiretap Records, and will be reissuing their newest album, “A Late Night Panic,” on the label this spring.

I can definitely hear the Descendents and Alkaline Trio influences. I’ll be grabbing the LP. If you can’t wait til the reissue, you can check out the album at bandcamp.

You can check out the new video below.



The Wet Bandits (melodic-punk) announce new EP “I Hope You Hear This” and tour dates

Canadian punk act “The Wet Bandits” have announced the release of a new 7 song EP “I Hope You Hear This”. The album serves as a follow up to the bands April 2016 release “Sound Waves”.

The band will embark on a tour in support of the new release. You can find the dates below .