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DS Interview: Nick Woods (Direct Hit!) talks new Direct Hit! album, “Domesplitter” reissue, Galactic Cannibal, and more

In a wide, wide world of sick bands doing sick things, Direct Hit! is at the top of the heap, banging out killer albums like clockwork. I was lucky enough to catch up with frontman Nick Woods on all sorts of juicy subjects including plans for a new Direct Hit! album, the Domesplitter reissue, potential for a new Galactic Cannibal LP, lyrics, and our Dying Scene head honcho’s claims that he “discovered” Direct Hit!.

Read all about it and more in the interview below.

Domesplitter will hit the streets April, 14th courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords.



March’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp

Rats in the Wall

We’re keeping our intro short and sweet because we have got some certified rippers to introduce you to in this month’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp. Other than Festival season starting up, there’s not really much to talk about anyway (although the lineups for the club shows for this year’s PRB Vegas are looking rather nice)! Speaking of which, our selections this month may just be the best, all around lineup we’ve ever put together! So, without further delay, check out these six stunning bands, below!



DS Photo Gallery: Dropkick Murphys and The Interrupters at Agganis Arena (Boston, MA)

 

For the last fifteen-or-so years, Massachusetts-based Celtic punk icons Dropkick Murphys playing a string of hometown shows has become as synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day as their musical forebears Mighty Mighty Bosstones doing a similar thing has been with Christmastime. As the band’s popularity has increased, so too has the size of venues at these St. Patrick’s weekend shenanigans, and the last two years have featured dates at the Agganis Arena, the state-of-the-art, 7200-capacity hockey rink located on the campus of Boston University. For many bands, the tendency on such a large stage might be to play “just the hits” in order to cater to the casual fans, but Dropkick Murphys, as it turns out, are not one of those bands. Say what you will about their level of “Tessie”/”Shipping Up To Boston”- inspired fame, but Dropkick Murphys have long been conscious or remembering the fans that’ve been there since the days when the clubs they played would fit within the confines of the stage of the Agganis (case in point: yours truly first saw the Dropkicks in August 1997, when they played in between the Mr. Rogers Project and The Pietasters at the Living Room in Providence).

A confetti cannon (seen above) and the instrumental “Lonesome Boatman” from the Dropkicks’ latest release 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory (released January 6th on their own Born & Bred Records) introduced the band to the stage before they proceeded to launch into their 2007 hit “State Of Massachusetts.” If I can take a minute to inject myself into this story, here’s where I publicly apologize to Ken Casey & Company. I think it’s important to point out that I count myself as one of those hometown fans that’s been hypercritical (unfairly so) of the band over the last dozen post-“Tessie” years, though that’s strictly a musical critique; their tremendous fundraising and community work and their ongoing penchant for giving local bands a break is not only beyond reproach but is ultimately the stuff to which all bands should aspire. But I’ll tell you what…since the 90 minute set that began with the opening tenor banjo riff on “…Massachusetts,” yours truly has been not only back aboard the Good Ship Murphys, but more than a little embarrassed about having jumped off in the first place.

The setlist on this night, as on most nights, was pretty varied and all-encompassing. Sure 11 Short Stories… was well represented, but so too were earlier albums like Do Or Die, Blackout and The Warrior’s Code on songs like “Boys On The Docks,” “Time To Go,” and, of course, the latter album’s title track, which is a shoutout to local boxing legend “Irish” Micky Ward who was, of course, in attendance. What’s perhaps most impressive about a Dropkick Murphys set circa 2017, aside maybe from their ability to keep a crowd constantly fired up, is the level of sheer musicianship among the group’s core. Ken Casey is, by his own admission, not the world’s most astute bass player, but he’s also their unquestionable heart-and-soul. Drummer Matt Kelly and principle frontman Al Barr are about as quietly strong-up-the-middle as you’ll find. Like the band as a whole, the trio of Tim Brennan, Jeff DeRosa and Kevin Rheault (longtime tech who’s filling in for James Lynch on this run), however, don’t get nearly enough credit. At any given time, the three trade off between guitar, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, tin whistle and keyboard duties, rarely manning the same battle station for more than two or three songs in a row. The seamless nature that things seem to run in that regard is  really awesome, in the literal sense of the word.

Direct support on this night, as on the bulk of the month-long tour, came from The Interrupters. The ska punk quartet have been mighty busy over the last nine months or so since releasing their sophomore album, Say It Out Loud; since playing the duration of last year’s Warped Tour, they headlined full Europe and US tours of their own before heading back across the pond to open for Green Day immediately before this Dropkicks spot. It’s no secret that The Interrupters have been one of yours truly’s favorite bands to cover over the last few years, and performances like this particular one exemplify why, at least in part. The insanely talented (and yet somehow still wildly underrated) rhythm section of twin brothers Jesse (drums) and Justin (bass) Bivona keep the gas pedal floored, with Justin teaming with big brother Kevin (guitar, above) and frontwoman Aimee “Interrupter” as a three-headed ball of constant frenetic energy at the front of the stage. As Kevin mentioned when we caught up for an interview on these pages last year, the band are mindful that they’ve developed a sound product that definitely works, and if anything critical can be said of how they’ve made it work at the end of another long, successful tour run, it’s almost that they make it look TOO easy. (Oh, and they’re one of the only bands that can cover an Operation Ivy classic, “Sound System,” without sounding like a cheap, watered-down knockoff.)

Also opening this night (and most of the rest of the tour) was genuine Irish punk band Blood Or Whiskey. With all apologies to the Dublin-based sextet, a variety of communication mishaps between arena staff lead yours truly on a half-hour-long wild goose chase that resulted in me missing the entirety of their set, save for a song about frontman Dugs Mulhooly’s favorite pub back home closing down, only to be replaced by a coffee shop. Sorry lads…we’ll catch you next time around, we promise.

Head below for our full photo gallery from the Interrupters and Dropkick Murphys sets. And a special thanks to my much younger brother from another mother Nick Gold for the assist. Good on ya, bud.



DS Interview: John of Dead Bars talks new album, slice-of-life songwriting, and dreamin’ big

For years now, Seattle’s Dead Bars have been releasing killer music on a small scale. Now, the band is poised to release their first full-length on No Idea Records, joining a legacy that includes Radon, Against Me!, Hot Water Music, The Tim Version, and many, many more.

I was lucky enough to hear the new record and talk to chief songwriter and vocalist John Maiello via e-mail. Click here for the interview.



One Hidden Frame (skate-punk) release music video for “Exploding Head Syndrome”

Finnish shred-machine One Hidden Frame have a 9 song collection of riff-infused melodic punk coming out March 17th in the form of their new album, “Harmful Content”. To get you fired up for it we’re stoked to premiere a music video for the album’s first single “Exploding Head Syndrome” and you can tear your face off to it below.

“Harmful Content” is being put out by the good folks at Bird Attack Records and you can purchase the album right here.



DS Exclusive: Greg Attonito on the Bouncing Souls new single, “Battleground,” and maintaining a thirty-year music career

A little over a month ago and with little in the way of advanced fanfare, New Jersey punk icons The Bouncing Souls released a brand new single, “Battleground.” Included in the information distributed about the song at the time was a note that a portion of the proceeds from the single would be donated to the Indigenous Environmental Network, particularly surrounding that agency’s help in the fight in Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Inspired by the song and the corresponding video (watch it here), we caught up with the band’s frontman, Greg Attonito, for a chat about the unique song’s origin and message.

It’s important to mention rather prominently that “Battleground” was not a leftover track from the recording sessions for the band’s most recent album, last year’s Simplicity. It was, instead, inspired by much more recent events, and came from a source that should be familiar to most fans of the Souls, whether they realize the name Garrett Reppenhagen at first listen or not. “It all came about very quickly,” says Attonito. “It was December (2016), and a good friend of ours (Garrett Reppenhagen), was a sniper in the Iraq war and ended up becoming friends with the band…he was the person who provided lyrics to the song we wrote in 2006, “Letters From Iraq.” 

Reppenhagen has remained prominent in the activist community since returning from Iraq, and had launched a Kickstarted campaign to help raise money to buy supplies for a trip to Standing Rock. The band donated money to the cause, but it became apparent in relatively short order that they wanted to — and were able to — do more. “I was just thinking about how it would be cool to let the world know how we feel somehow, and literally the next day the lyrics came to me. I wrote them down and had a little guitar part. I texted to the guys, and right away they were like “this is a great idea.” 

From there, things moved quickly. The band were already set to get together to play a few shows in New York late last year, so Attonito and drummer George Rebelo changed their flights and the full Voltron that is the Bouncing Souls convened at guitarist Pete Steinkopf’s Asbury Park studio to flesh out the idea. We worked the song out in the early afternoon (of the first day back together). We set up the drums and started recording that night, and by the next afternoon, the song was recorded — vocals finished and everything.” 

The band enlisted the help of frequent collaborator Matt Gere to put together a video, and Gere decided to delve outside his normal comfort zone, making his first real foray into the process of animation. The result is a video that is unique in the Bouncing Souls canon, and syncs up well with the song’s overall message of standing together in the face of opposition. The finished product was actually ready for release early in January, but the band chose to table it’s release until just after the Presidential inauguration, for reasons that should be obvious. It’s a political song, it is not, for example, “Holiday In Cambodia.” Instead, it’s a quintessential Bouncing Souls, so it’s melodic and uplifting. Says Attonito, “the political songs for us have really been weird territory. Man, I love a good “Holiday In Cambodia” – those kinds of songs are just amazing, but we never could write songs like that. Not many people can.

Head below to read our full Q&A with Greg. We touch on a lot of material, but particularly focus on the changes in the band that occurred post-Comet, specifically once longtime drummer Michael McDermott parted ways with the band and their resulting — almost instantaneous — decision to recruit Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo into the fold.

The Souls kick off a ten-day run in the western US alongside with support from Get Dead and The Bombpops next week, and just announced that they’ll be opening half of the upcoming Rancid/Dropkick Murphys co-headlining dates this summer. Check out dates here.



DS Photo Gallery: Slingshot Dakota with Ratboys, Lilith and Pushflowers (Boston, MA)

Slingshot Dakota

The dynamic duo that is Slingshot Dakota have teamed up with Chicago’s Ratboys for a three-week-ish tour that’ll take the two bands to and from the annual SXSW festival in Austin. The second night of the aforementioned tour was a sold out (in advance!!) stop at Boston’s O’Brien’s Bar, where the Topshelf Records labelmates teamed up with local bands Lilith and Pushflowers for one of the more positive and musically diverse and inspiring bills that yours truly has had the good fortune to take in in quite some time.

Pushflowers

Pushflowers got things rolling on the evening, and while yours truly had not previously heard the four-piece, that was for good reason: this particular occasion marked their first ever show. In point of fact, knowing that it’s a band’s debut show can, at times, make showgoers almost as nervous as the actual band who’s playing said show. After a very brief first song false-start, any and all fears were quickly laid to rest, as co-front-women Rocio Del Mar and Justine DeFeo led the band through a groove-heavy half-hour danceable set of synth-pop-infused rock tunes. So groove-heavy and danceable, in fact, that crowd-members and fellow bands alike were left with the impression that the band were lying about it being their first show. Not your textbook Dying Scene band, for sure, but a hell of a lot of fun nonetheless.

Lilith

Allston-based three-piece Lilith were up next. Like Pushflowers, they’re also not your textbook Dying Scene band, but as I said a few paragraphs ago, this was a fun and diverse lineup. Lilith are raw and more than a little show-gazey in style and substance, with a slightly stripped-down version of a sound that would have been a perfect fit in the college radio scene in the Northeast or the Pacific Northwest two decades ago. Thankfully, we have them here now.

 

Ratboys

Ratboys are serving as direct support on this tour, though they could certainly be headlining venues like O’Brien’s in their own right. Ratboys are a garage band with serious chops (honestly — watch David Sagan play guitar for half a song and you’ll get it), who thankfully have a knack for seemingly not taking themselves too seriously (let’s just say there were Crocs involved). Frontwoman Julia Steiner has a bit of an unassuming presence about her yet she has a voice and a playing style that is truly captivating. Ratboys are one of the catchier bands that I’ve had come down the digital ‘pike in the last small handful of years, and their live sound is a few notches above their recorded sound, which is a wonderful, welcome sign.

 

Slingshot Dakota

And speaking of bands whose live presence blows the proverbial doors off their recorded sound…Slingshot Dakota turned in a next-level intense performance, the likes of which have become their trademark. I’ll state rather simply and directly that if you haven’t seen Slingshot Dakota live, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The wife-husband combo of vocalist/keyboardist Carly Comando and her partner-in-crime Tom Patterson are easily one of the more dynamic live bands going. Comando’s voice and playing show range as she quiets things down and forces you to pay attention before the duo drop the intensity hammer down and beat you into submission. Where some drummers in such a situation would be content to serve simply as the sonic backbone to the band, Patterson plays loud and heavy, and is a constant ball of percussive energy. You sometimes forget that you’re watching a two-piece band, until one of them pauses between songs to steal a playful kiss from the other. That the two of them have chemistry probably goes without saying, but they seem to continually be genuinely in awe of getting to play with and inspire each other personally and creatively.

Check out our full photo gallery below, and seriously, go here to find out where you can catch Slingshot Dakota and Ratboys in concert over the next couple weeks. It’ll be well worth the trip.



DS Photo Galley: Dave Hause and the Mermaid with Vapers and Rebuilder (Cambridge, MA)

In the handful of years since The Loved Ones went on their sort of indefinite hiatus (last year’s anniversary shows notwithstanding), Dave Hause hit the ground running as a solo artist, playing shows in the States and abroad as part of the Revival Tour or opening for acts like Alkaline Trio, Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly, etc. He added his younger brother, Tim, to the mix on guitar and keyboards when it came time to tour in support of his sophomore album, Devour, four years ago, and the two spent several years touring and eventually writing and recording together since.

For the release of his third album, Bury Me In Philly (February 3rd, Rise Records), Hause has assembled a full band, dubbed The Mermaid, consisting of his brother on (mostly) lead guitar, Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley’s son, Miles, on bass, fellow East-Coaster-turned-Californian Kevin Conroy on drums, and the infinitely talented Kayleigh Goldsworthy on keys and guitars and backing vocals. Prior to heading to Europe for their first official tour as a collective unit, Dave Hause and his newly formed backing band, The Mermaid, played a handful of bi-coastal US record release shows in support of his third solo album, Bury Me In Philly . The shows marked the first-ever time that Hause has performed with a full band since going it alone in the post-Loved Ones years, a very clear — yet potentially nerve-wracking — “next step” in his trajectory as a solo artist. If show #6 as a group is any sign of what’s to come, that trajectory is going to take a marked upturn in the very near future.

The quintet scorched through a sixteen-song set to a sold out crowd upstairs at the legendary Cambridge, Massachusetts, Middle East nightclub last Friday. While tracks from Bury Me In Philly took center stage in the set list, Hause’s first two solo albums were well represented in their own respective rights. It’s fair (and perhaps understated) to say that whether as a solo performer or as the leader of the family duo, the elder Hause has always taken full command of whatever stage he’s graced, engaging the crowd and performing as a full-on, band-leading frontman regardless of the setting or the size of the venue. Part of this ability stems obviously from his punk rock days, but part of it was out of necessity, as his engaging passion and honest intensity as a performer kept him from becoming a dime-a-dozen acoustic-wielding solo performer. And while Hause performing solo (or with only Tim as his accompaniment) will always be compelling, watching The Mermaid in action felt like it was meant to be.

The band gelled quickly, with no obvious signs that they’d been playing together in public for what amounts to less than a calendar week. Conroy and Bentley kept the ship steady and pushed the tempo and Goldsworthy, and accomplished musician in her own right, made her almost constantly changing duties come across almost effortless. The formation of the full band has allowed the younger Hause to take over a more prominent role, and he seems to be truly cherishing it. Tim’s immense talent and youthful energy seem not only increasingly natural on stage but inspirational to his frontman older brother, who appears to be relishing his roles as band leader and big brother in equal parts. Having a capable band at his back allows Hause to finally give older songs like “C’Mon Kid” and “Melanin” and personal favorite “Autism Vaccine Blues” the sort of the sort of full, pedal-down justice they deserve, and the five-piece genuinely seem to be having fun performing with each other in the process.

Direct support on this night (and the rest of the brief East Coast run) was provided by Vapers, a New York-based four piece (officially, though there were five on this night) outfit of semi-mysterious origin. Co-fronted by a couple of familiar faces, “Spanish Maria” Correonero and “Uncle Bernard” (the latter of whom looks eerily similar to Hause’s bud and fellow Loved One David Walsh) and backed by a couple of current and/or former members of Morning Glory, the band play a fun brand of poppy, garagey alternative punk that, at least from a sonic perspective, owes as much to the gritty, post-punk New York City (think Sonic Youth) of a decade ago as it does to the lo-fi hipster punk of present day Williamsburg. The sound is a little bit muddy and angular by design, keeping the band from sounding redundant or formulaic. Fun stuff; check them out.

 Local support on this night came from the mighty Rebuilder. I’m not entirely sure what else I can tell you about Rebuilder that I haven’t told you on these pages before, but they’re obviously my favorite band to come out of this part of the States in recent memory. While no doubt capable of commanding larger stages as will someday hopefully be the case, the five-piece certainly know what they’re doing in the role of local openers. The band got down to business quickly, ripping through eight songs with little downtime, perfectly filling their half-hour slot with a set tailored to the occasion. They ran through a couple of new songs from their upcoming EP, Songs From The Massachusetts Turnpike, that may be among the strongest songs they’ve written to date. Stay tuned for more on that…

…and head below for our full photo gallery from the sold-out, sweat-soaked evening!



February’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp

With the climate of Nationalism rising across the globe these days, it’s always good to step back, take a deep breath and refocus on the big picture. Remembering that although we may live in different areas of the world and have different cultures and beliefs, there are far more things that we have in common. For us specifically, one of those many things, is music! So, it’s with this in mind, that we forge ahead into February’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp. This month, in the spirit of Globalism and celebration of the diversity of cultures, we’ve chosen to feature bands from all corners of the Planet (ed: it’s round, you moron. there are no corners), ’cause, the only border we reckanize is the tropopause! Check ’em out, below!



Exclusive: Jason Cruz spills surprising details on new Strung Out EP “Black Out The Sky”

Last week word quickly spread through the interwebs that California punk legends Strung Out had begun working on a new album titled “Black Out The Sky”. Beyond that, details were largely nonexistent, but luckily for you DS readers we were able to get the full scoop directly from singer Jason Cruz himself.

What we learned is as exciting as it is unexpected. Basically, this isn’t going to be your standard Strung Out release. For one, it’s going to be acoustic. Yeah. Second, its apparently going to be some of the band’s “darkest” work to date. Intriguing! Here’s exactly what Cruz told us:

“Strung out is currently working on a 5-7 song EP entitled “Black Out The Sky” set to release early summer 2017 on Fat Wreck Chords. BOTS will be a collection of acoustic songs written with a loose theme to match the title. To simply call it an ‘acoustic album’ would not be doing it justice and it very well may be our darkest release yet.

Never writing same record twice – yet at the same time staying true to our fans has always been our priority as a band. We do not plan on abandoning our signature sound but with the way things are now, this record may be the perfect remedy in a world where everything is turned up to eleven. We are confident fans of Strung Out will not be disappointed.”

We’ll keep you posted as progress is made on the album and with any luck we’ll convince the band to let us premiere a song early for you guys. Stay tuned!

Strung Out’s last album Transmission.Alpha.Delta was released in early 2015 on Fat Wreck Chords.



DS Exclusive: Crusades premiere new song and video, plus interview with singer Dave Williams

Sweet news! Crusades have released a lyric video for “1713 (The Scorching Fevers)” off their upcoming This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End, out March 7th through Anxious & Angry (US) and Countless Altars (Canada/World).

Even better news! I was lucky enough to sit down (via e-mail) with Crusades singer and guitarist Dave Williams to talk about songwriting, heavy music, and cathartic art. Click here to check out the video and the interview!



DS Photo Gallery: Bryan McPherson, The Radiator Rattlers and Nick The Barbarian (Nashua, NH)

Hard-working protest punk troubadour Bryan McPherson spent the better part of December touring eastward from his adopted homeland of California to his original homeland of Boston, Massachusetts, and he’s spent the better part of the past few weeks headed back to the West Coast. Early on the post-inauguration leg of the tour, he rolled through The Thirsty Turtle in yours truly’s original hometown of Nashua, New Hampshire. It probably goes without saying that the present administration is going to require — and inspire — a great deal of fiery protest literature and music and art. McPherson has been a thorn in the side of the status quo for many years now (you may recall his being banned from performing at Disney-owned locations a couple years back while opening for Dropkick Murphys), though his words take on added gravity now.

On the morning of this particular show, women (and the men and children who love them) took to the streets in overwhelming numbers (including an estimated 175,000 in nearby Boston) to protest the policies of the sexist, racist Cheeto-In-Chief, making the firebrand McPherson’s performance a perfect bookend. With little fanfare amidst an intimate but attentive crowd, McPherson ripped through a set comprised mostly of tracks from his last couple full-length albums, 2015’s Wedgewood and 2012’s American Boy, American Girl.

The Radiator Rattlers

Direct support was provided on this night by The Radiator Rattlers, a “cow-punk rock and roll” band from Haverhill, Massachusetts. The raucous seven-piece wasted little time between songs, instead blazing through a high-energy set forty-five-ish minute set that closed with a rather spontaneous, crowd-inspired cover of the Fear classic “I Love Living In The City.”

Nick The Barbarian

Nashua-based tattoo-artist-turned-one-man-band Nick The Barbarian played his typical booze-fueled set of songs about songs about ass-kicking debauchery and murdering the Westboro Baptist Church. His set is a lot of fun, although there was roughly an hour between show-opener Berten Lee’s finger-picked folk punk set and that of the Barbarian, all-but killing whatever sort of momentum had been building for the five-act show (a Massachusetts-based acoustic duo called Hometown Eulogy also played, and though they’re enjoyable, they’re more along the lines of Woodstock-era folk and not included in this particular story), though the Rattlers and McPherson certainly brought the intensity back late in the evening.

Check out the full photo galley below.

 



DS Interview: Dave Hause Goes West and Gets Hopeful on “Bury Me In Philly”

This might be a bit of an abnormal way to start a lengthy feature piece about the pending release of an artist’s latest album, but in the interest of full disclosure, yours truly considers Dave Hause’s sophomore album, 2013’s Devour, to be the pinnacle of his personal list of ‘desert island’ albums. Very few, if any, albums have had the kind of immediate impact on me that that one did, and it’s only become more compelling — and more deeply personal — due to a variety of real-life issues that have transpired since its release. (Quick anecdote: the first time I heard Devour standout track “Autism Vaccine Blues” was live in concert when Hause opened for Flogging Molly in Boston, and I vividly recall my brother and I looking at each other when the track was over, each only able to mutter an awe-struck “Whoa…” — that’s the only time that’s ever happened in the many hundreds of band performances I’ve ever seen).

And yet, to paraphrase what a wise man once said, you don’t really exist as an artist until the release of album number three. And so it is that on February 3rd, Hause will release his third full-length album as a solo artist, a feat he has not accomplished with any prior musical endeavor (The Loved Ones went on indefinite hiatus after two albums. Paint It Black released three albums, but Hause appears only on the band’s 2003 debut, CVA). The idea that this is his third album with any one musical project seems to resonate especially loudly to the Philly-turned-Cali songwriter “It’s interesting to be hitting the point where I’ve had more releases and more time spent and more records sold and more shows played as a solo guy than I did in the Loved Ones,” he points out, adding that it would take twenty years for some of his musical peers who’ve undertaken similar solo endeavors  (Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry, Brian Fallon, etc) to accomplish.

To say that there was a chance that solo album number three never saw the light of day is not overstating the matter. “I struggled for a while to get the record done,” explains Hause, adding that he “struggled with, well, did I want to continue making music or go back to being a carpenter?” For all of its immense virtue, Devour tugs on some weighty, dark heartstrings, telling equally of the tale of the demise of Hause’s marriage and the realization that our generation was sold a bill of goods by our immediate predecessors. Following up the gravity of that subject matter represented tough, uphill sledding to say the least.

But a lot has happened for Hause since 2013, not the least of which are a new engagement, a cross-country move to the California coast, and a deepening personal and professional relationship with his kid brother, Tim. Ever the razor-sharp observational songwriter, it was only a matter of time before the creative juices got flowing, though the path may have been a little more circuitous than normal. “The producer that I was working with (in the early post-Devour days) was not hearing what I was hearing in any of the demos,” says Hause. “He was, like, unpleasable. So that part of it was really frustrating.”

So ho better to bring in when you’re feeling stuck and frustrated, then, than…your kid brother, Tim, who’s more than a decade your junior? For the unaware, Tim made his touring debut playing keyboards and guitar on the 2014 tour in initial support of Devour, and fulfilled the same role on the two-month nationwide tour that Hause did alongside Chris Farren in support of Rocky Votolato the following year. While it initially fell during that aforementioned period of songwriting frustration, the tour proved fruitful in more ways than one. “I was complaining on that tour,” says Hause, “and I was like ‘I don’t know about this whole Santa Barbara thing; I feel like I haven’t seen a black girl in twenty-eight days’ and (Tim) said ‘that’s what you need to be writing about!‘” As Farren astutely pointed out at the time, such stuck points in writing tend to be followed by a flood of ideas, and that proved to be the case here, albeit eventually.

I’ve always been pretty jealous of guys who have musical soulmates,” says Hause, explaining that while he felt lucky to have such counterparts in his earlier bands The Curse and Step Ahead, those partners were “lost to the crush of working class pressure!” (One owns a beer distributor outside Philly, the other is a teacher.) He found that Lennon/McCartney — or at least Steinkopf/Keinlen or Ragan/Wollard — connection again — hopefully once and for all — in his brother, Tim. “He has this really old soul,” says the elder Hause, a certain sense of wisdom that comes from having lived through the death of his mother when he was a child and his best friend in rather public fashion in more recent years. That wisdom “helps us relate on most matters,” says big brother, quickly continuing that “he’s also got this youthful energy that impacts on ways that I wouldn’t necessarily look at things…. He doesn’t have any punk rock guilt, he’s just fierce and he’s really creative.”

Once Hause brought his brother in the fold, a chance introduction to a childhood musical hero, Eric Bazilian of Philadelphia-based rock band The Hooters (best known for their 1985 radio staple “And We Danced,” and less well known for being the band that a then-seven-year-old Hause saw as his first concert) led to Hause’s renewed passion for songwriting. “I played the material I had for Eric and also for Dan Andriano and Pete Steinkopf, because I was driving myself crazy…and all of a sudden it became clear that I was just not working in the right environment.” Hause severed ties with the producer he’d been frustrated with, and Bazilian and William Wittman subsequently signed on to engineer and produce Hause’s third album. Collectively, Bazilian and Wittman have worked with a veritable “Who’s Who” of rock musicians who maintain melodic pop sensibilities: Cyndi Lauper, The Outfield, The Hold Steady, Scorpions, and on and on and on. While certainly not household names in the punk rock scene, they proved to be the ideal collaborators to pull on Hause’s strengths as a songwriter without shying away from Hause’s punk sensibilities. “They were very vigilant with the punk roots thing,” says Hause, explaining that he has “definitely heard over the course of making the first two solo records that ‘you really need to dial back your punk roots.’ Bill and Eric were not afraid of bands like The Clash or Green Day or The Buzzcocks as reference points in the studio.”

Once principle work with Bazilian began, things took shape quickly. “The biggest learning experience with this album is to trust your gut,” says Hause, “to do the work and not second-guess yourself. Some of those songs (that ended up on Bury Me…) are exactly the way they originally spilled out on the first try, so it’s a lesson you’ve got to keep learning I guess as a creative type.” What resulted was not only the end product that is Bury Me In Philly, Hause’s most wide-ranging album to date, but also a whole lot more. “I wrote a ton of songs,” he explains, “I have another whole record that’s already tracked, it just needs to be mixed.” There’s also another All Brights EP in the can and due for release this coming Spring, plus another EP worth of what Hause calls “post-Devour malaise,” and “what could end up being a new Loved Ones record.”

Moving to California and falling in love seem to have inspired our friend Dave in new directions, ways that he hasn’t been inspired in quite some time, and the lyrics on Bury Me In Philly reflect that bit of newfound optimism. “Sadness and frustration and all of the things that (Devour) was squeezing out give you a false sense of being more compelling than joy and happiness do,” reflects Hause. “I think I’ve learned that that is A) not true and B) (joy and happiness) pull on a different set of heartstrings.” On songs like “The Mermaid,” “Helluva Home,” and “Divine Lorraine,” Hause branches out, incorporating different sonic elements than we might be used to, while still maintaining those elements that make a Dave Hause song a textbook Dave Hause song. He explains: “I think there’s a thing that you would identify, if you were playing a Dave Hause song, whether it’s a Loved Ones song or a solo song, that’s my thing. That straight-up, “No Surrender” influenced punk rock thing that a lot of us in our genre are pretty good at. Whether it’s “Lean On Sheena” or whatever, we all do that thing. But I’m never all that interested in just cranking out ten of those. None of my favorite bands did that.”

There’s also a sense of gratitude that comes through on songs like “The Ride,” gratitude not only from his new relationship but fueled at least in part by Hause quitting booze and drugs. That latter decision came at the beginning of the aforementioned tour with Votolato and noted O’Douls connoisseur Farren, and has continued in the eighteen months that have followed. “Touring is grueling, and drinking heavily is grueling on your ability to get more than one thing done,” he states. “It’s just easier to get all kinds of things done when your goal is not to get to the party or to get fucked up, and then the next morning you’re sort of shaking that goal off and trying to get other things done…with that off the table, your plate starts to clear up a little.” 

Quintessentially Californian references to twelve-dollar juices aside, Hause’s newfound penchant for cleaner living doesn’t quite take center stage on Bury Me In Philly, and that’s by design. “There’s a handful of songs that I wrote that lyrically deal head on with that, and we didn’t put them on the record on purpose,” Hause explains, instead choosing to take his time letting that particular music see the light of day once it’s been aided by the context that only time can provide. “It’s such well-worn ground lyrically that I’ve got to figure out what the angle is on it that’s compelling to me.” Hause explains that while he’s not working a specific program of sobriety, he’s been inspired personally and professionally by the idea of taking things one day at a time. “The clarity that has come (from that mentality) allows me to compress in a different way, and I have a lot of gratitude for being able to do that…Instead of reaching for a bottle of Jameson when the thought of all that pressure comes on, it’s kind of like “okay, let’s just figure out the first problem and we’ll tackle the rest of it as it comes”.” 

With kid brother Tim by his side, Hause is gearing up to hit the road as a solo artist accompanied by a full band for the first time. Named The Mermaid, the band also features Miles Bentley on bass. If the last name sounds familiar, he’s the son of Bad Religion bass player and de facto manager Jay Bentley. Jay proved inspirational to the Hause brothers on their recent nationwide tour together (along with Against Me!), and it was Tim’s decision to carry that family feeling forward when it came time to put together a band. They’ll all combine to give the album its full due; tours of Europe, the States, Canada and Australia are in the works, and Hause seems fired up to get rolling, just like he was in his early, post-Loved Ones days as a solo artist. “I hustled, and that comes from my working-class background,” says Hause. After the economy collapsed a half-dozen years ago, Hause’s construction business dried up. “I couldn’t swing a hammer because there was no money left in it, so I said ‘well, I guess I’ll go strum’.”

That mentality continues to fuel Hause’s artistic fire. “I approach this record just like I approached (his debut solo album, Resolutions). I think that maintaining that sense that there’s a lot of great music out there and I’m not entitled to any of your ears (is vital),” meaning that if he found his way into your ears and, by extension, your hearts, he’s more than earned it. “I think that’s the way to go, because you can’t assume anything these days.” The full-band accompaniment raises the stakes for Hause, but he seems hellbent on doing the work it’ll take to succeed. It’s a little bit scary, but we’re gonna do the work that it takes to take on whatever comes next. In general, socially, I need to be thinking that way as an adult with the current political climate. Like I don’t know what’s next, but where’s the shovel, I’ll get digging!

Head below to read our admittedly lengthy interview. We cover quite a bit of the current political climate as you might imagine, all while extolling the wide-ranging virtues of Bad Religion, The Hold Steady, and 80’s radio gods Bryan Adams and Rick Springfield. There’s also a story about how Chuck Ragan, Brian Fallon and Dan Andriano are responsible for the lack of recent Loved Ones material, and how in spite of living in California, he may be more of a Philadelphian than ever. And as you might have guessed for an artist from the City of Brotherly Love, there’s plenty about Tim and his influence.

Bury Me In Philly is out February 3rd via Rise Records.

 



January’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp

The first installment of Hidden Gems for 2017 is hot off the press and the Orginal Content Team has continued their annual tradition of mediocrity. In celebration of another year of employment, they again mailed it in, offering up the least amount of featured artists since last January…way to go team… Luckily, we believe in quality over quantity and all five acts on the list this month are incredible! Even better though, we’re betting they’re not on your radar yet. So, let’s get ’em on there! Check ’em all out below!



DS Photo Gallery: Night 3 of The Lawrence Arms’ War on Christmas with The Copyrights & The Brokedowns (Chicago, IL)

Night 3

“I’m alive,” I thought to myself upon waking. “But how?” As I played the festivities (some would call it debauchery) of the last two nights through my mind, I came to the same conclusion that I do upon waking in the morning/afternoon on any festival’s third day – I am superhuman and my liver filters better than a Brita faucet. I rounded up the crew and we headed off to feed on tacos at nearby L’Patron. We parted ways mid-afternoon and I got ready for a dinner with friends. Dinner was accompanied by drinks which of course lead into post-dinner drinks at a bar down the street which lead to flashing forward and suddenly being inside the Double Door again with a drink in hand. I would have worried more about this ‘time traveling’ episode, except it pairs so nicely with the theme of the evening.

Night 3 – The Ghost of Christmas Future

This was the evening that I was most looking forward to witnessing. It was also the evening that I was the drunkest, mostly from bogarting a bottle of Prosecco at dinner. Everything was nicely coming together. Hometown heroes The Brokedowns opened the show. I feel like I’ve covered this band 50 times over the last five years and I still never properly express how much I appreciate them. Their last album, Life Is A Breeze (Red Scare Industries), is damn near perfection. Their stage presence is hard hitting and powerful and their stage banter always has me doubled over with laughter. The fact that they rarely ever tour and I get to brag to my faraway friends that am privileged enough to see The Brokedowns on a semi-regular basis is just frosting on the cake! One thing that always seems to differ per set is where the band writes out their set list for the night. I’ve seen Brokedowns set lists on anything from business cards to cereal box tops to a band member’s leg. Tonight, the list was written on a glass bottle of Tostitos salsa which accompanied chips that the members snacked on between songs. Another memorable set in the books and another set list written on a recyclable food package.

Closing out the openers for this trio of shows was Carbondale’s pop punk favorites, The Copyrights. Similar to The Brokedowns, I’ve covered this band countless times and I’ve never gotten bored. The other fans in the crowd seemed to feel the same way as they pogoed and pitted around. I actually saw three guys in matching Copyrights t-shirts interlocking arms, dancing together all while never spilling their beers. The band’s front man, Adam Fletcher, fearlessly lead the four-piece through countless favorites such as “Kids of the Blackhole”, “No Knocks”, “Worn Out Passport” and of course “Shit’s Fucked” as the audience shouted back every word. If The Brokedowns and The Copyrights are the future that Christmas is offering up, then I’m stoked. I’ve been living in this world for some time and it’s a hell of a lot better looking than how I pictured the next four or so years panning out. Perhaps a Brokedowns set list will run for president in 2020. But I digress…

Night 3

It was the bottom of the 9th. The bases were loaded. It was time to bring it on home. Does that sound right? I figured that since I’m from and writing about Chicago, I should throw in some sports shit for you guys. Go Cubs, etc. The Lawrence Arms took the stage one final time in 2016. They opened with “The Slowest Drink…” and, from where I was standing, it looked like the whole of the audience suddenly imploded. Then, there was a huge explosion of movement as crowd surfers came out of nowhere and semi-full beer cans were rocketed through the air. Now, dear reader, I could drone on about the set. I could talk about the humorous things Brendan rattled off between songs to entertain the crowd. I could talk about how the trio has been a band for over 15 years and no matter the physical distance between them, they cannot help but display their chemistry when onstage. I could even mention that the crowd started up the Hennessy chant one more time; every fucking show with that damn chant! Instead, check out the set list and let’s wrap this thing up. On Night 3, they played:

The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City

Cut It Up

Beyond the Embarrassing Style

Presenting: The Dancing Machine (The Robot with the Monkey Head)

The Raw and Searing Flesh

Recovering the Opposable Thumb

Light Breathing (Me and Martha Plimpton in a Fancy Elevator)

An Evening of Extraordinary Circumstance

Chapter 13: The Hero Appears

Boatless Booze Cruise Part 1

The North Side, the L&L, and Any Number of Crappy Apartments

Right as Rain, Part 2

Like A Record Player

ENCORE:

The Redness in the West

The Ramblin’ Boys of Pleasure

100 Resolutions

Night 3 left me with a feeling very similar to the awe that I felt during Night 1. It was a kind of (drunken) cheer for the season. That being said, there is no point in arguing that the world is complete shit right now. We’re on the brink of what will be a very tense and interesting few years. We’re basically living in a dark comedy where all of this may actually be funny if it was happening to someone else… or to no one at all. However, for three amazing nights, music did exactly what I have always believed it is supposed to do. It was an escape and made things (at least temporarily) seem better. The Bollweevils showed that, no matter their age, they are and always will be a force to be reckoned with. Dead to Me is back with Jack and they have returned stronger than ever before. Dowsing is making huge waves and is turning jaded listeners like me into surefire believers. Worriers are incredibly and powerfully spreading their message and their fan base is growing by the moment. The Brokedowns will continue to talk about space weed and read their set lists off disposable cutlery between songs. The Copyrights will continue to write, record and effortlessly perform songs that will be deemed pop punk classics for decades to come. And the Lawrence Arms? Well, them angels been talkin’ of a possible new album in the works somewhere far down the road. Other than that, the War on Christmas will hopefully remain a pre-holiday staple. It’s the perfect way of bringing together friends from across the country to spend a drunken weekend in Chicago during winter. And what soundtrack would one listen to throughout a drunken weekend in December in the most beautiful city in the world? The goddamn Lawrence Arms.

Make sure you also check out the coverage from Night 1 and Night 2 of the Second Annual War on Christmas!

Check out the gallery for Night Three below: