Oh Yea!!! It’s October!! Why all of the excitement? Well, October = Halloween and Halloween = office costume contest!! While we normally don’t get too excited about such a childish and menial event, rumor has it that Phyllis over in Accounting was so amped about the Misfits reunion a few months back that she has been working on a Glenn Danzig costume (ed: Oh god…is that what the fishnet tank top is for? Has HR been alerted?). Needless to say, there’s considerably more excitement around DyingScene HQ this year! If envisioning questionably attired, 62 year old accountants isn’t enough to get you stoked, it’s also time for this month’s installment of Hidden Gems of Bandcamp! This month, we’ve uncovered five fantastic bands that we’re betting aren’t on your radar yet. Check ‘em out below!
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 12:15 PM (PST) by AnarchoPunk
Toronto, Ontario’s Sparrows, released their sophomore album, Let the Silence Stay Where it Was on October 14th through New Damage Records, now available in both physical and digital format. In tandem with the album release, the boys are also putting together a few short ‘Making of’ documentary style videos, to show fans what went into the making of this ten track masterpiece. Episode Two (of four) is now up and this one focuses more on fellow Canadian emo rocker and producer Kenny Bridges of Moneen fame and the role he’s played in the band’s evolution through the years. You can catch up by watching the first episode before watching Episode Two below!
Monday, October 17, 2016 at 12:30 PM (PST) by jaystone
I’m going to abandon most rules of journalistic integrity for this particular review, because it’s about one of the most influential bands in the history of our scene and what can I say…I’m a bit of a fanboy. Given the somewhat part-time nature of the band since their third (forth??) reformation a few years back, I’ll honestly say that I was a bit more excited when I thought I’d be when news of their eighth studio album, Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph Records), broke earlier this year. Still, I was a tad reluctant to think that the band would A) hit the road with any regularity and B) would actually trek to the New England area for the first real time in close to two decades (save for a free, Converse-sponsored show they played in Cambridge last year).
And yet, just prior to Hypercaffium‘s release came news of a few dozen US tour dates that would find the legendary quartet taking up residence at the 1000 capacity Royale nightclub in Boston. It may be just urban legend, but it seems fairly accurate that once tickets when on sale, they sold out in mere minutes, a testament to just how important the band and its legacy remain as we have passed the 35 year mark since the inimitable Milo Aukerman joined up with Bill Stevenson, Frank Navetta and Tony Lombardo to lay the groundwork for one of the most influential sounds of the last two or three generations.
To say that the band lived up to the expectations bestowed upon them is more than an understatement. From the moment that the band took the stage and ripped in to the opening notes of “Everything Sux,” little doubt was left as to just why this event was such a big deal. Anchored by the lock tight rhythm section of Stevenson and Karl Alvarez, the band plowed full bore through a setlist that crammed twenty-nine songs into a main set that lasted a little more than an hour. If Stevenson and Alvarez function as the gas pedal that keeps the band charging forward, guitarist Stephen Egerton serves as its super-charged engine, his trademark Music Man Stingray providing the rapid-fire riff springboard. And there’s of course very little to say about Aukerman that hasn’t been said. While he took the stage imploring the audience to refrain from voting for a certain orange-faced Presidential candidate, he did little else in the way of between-song banter, letting the classic music speak for itself.
And speak for itself the music did. The eight songs Hypercaffium Spazzinate songs that appeared in the set (34 songs, including not one but two encores) not only fit right in alongside the half-dozen songs from Everything Sucks and Milo Goes To College, but they seemed to illicit just as energetic a response from the crowd that seemed to have three generations represented (including a totally awesome teal-haired seven-year-old who hung out in the photo pit and hung on every word). With any luck, it won’t take nearly two decades to convince one of the founding bands of this very scene to return to the area! (Editor’s note: yes, I know that’s just lame journalistic hyperbole, but whatever. Though, it would be cool to see them again in their early 70s, wouldn’t it?)
Beach Slang provided direct support on this particular night. The four-piece Philly act seemed mindful of the fact that the bulk of the crowd was biding their collective time, waiting for the guests of honor, to the extent that frontman James Alex pointed out that he was going to be much less talkative between songs than normal so that even he and his band could take in the Descendents. Boston has a pretty well-worn history of appreciating those who don’t take themselves too seriously and who are seen as playing with passion and conviction (and that’s true whether we’re talking music or sports), and Alex’s comments seemed to engage what could have been an understandably passive crowd. Beach Slang’s thirteen song set included a steady dose of songs from their latest release, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, which at least thematically accompanied some of the headliners’ earlier works. Fat Wreck Chords darlings Night Birds served as the evening’s opening act, though a traffic-related disaster resulted in yours truly (and I’d guess about half the eventually capacity crowd) from catching the vast majority of their set. Me culpa, boys…next time!
Check out our full photo gallery from the evening below!
Monday, October 17, 2016 at 12:00 PM (PST) by jaystone
Dying Scene is beyond stoked to bring you the premier of the upcoming 12-inch split from two of Boston’s sincerely raddest bands, Bundles and Dan Webb and the Spiders. On a totally personal level, I had the unique privilege of catching both of these bands live in support roles before I was familiar with their recorded music, and was legitimately blown away by both, so allow me to introduce you if you’re not familiar.
Bundles are a three-piece post-hardcore (I guess…) band who, as I wrote about when I first saw them, played with such earnestness and voracity that they had plowed full throttle through their setlist and damn near ran out of songs before they ran out of time. They were one of the first new bands in seemingly forever that made me stop and actively pay closer attention than normal because I hadn’t quite seen or heard something like them in a good long while.
Speaking of which… Dan Webb and the Spiders are a four-piece that grew out of a one-man project. I was admittedly a little behind the eight-ball on these guys, as there’s long been a lot of local buzz surrounding them from people in the know. They’re another one of those bands that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention, with a sound that owes more than a little bit of inspiration to the heyday of punk-infused ’90′s garage rock.
The 12-inch split is due out tomorrow (October 18th) on Gunner Records, and marks that label’s first-ever dedicated USA-based release. Stream the album in full below, and follow the link here to pre-order physical or digital copies! If you’re in the Boston area, come hang out at O’Brien’s in Allston tomorrow night for the record release show!
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 12:00 PM (PST) by jaystone
Last week in Santa Barbara, The Interrupters kicked off a lengthy US headlining tour — their first — that’ll keep them on the road for a total of seven-and-a-half weeks. This comes on the heels of the California-based four piece releasing their sophomore album, Say It Out Loud, earlier this summer; an album that, if you haven’t heard it, you should make sure you check out before you finish that “Best of 2016″ list. The band have breathed new life — infectiously fun life — into a scene that had become a bit stale by injecting a lock-tight brand of ska-punk that hasn’t been played this well in a decade-and-a-half.
Dying Scene caught up with Aimee “Interrupter” Allen and Kevin Bivona, the frontwoman and guitar player respectively, for an engaging conversation a couple days prior to leaving for tour. If you’re even peripherally familiar with The Interrupters body of work, you’re no doubt familiar with how prevalent the themes of family and unity are in their work. Look no further than tracks like “Family” and “A Friend Like Me” from their self-titled debut album or “By My Side,” the lead single from Say It Out Loud, for first-hand proof of that.
It doesn’t take much in the way of conversation with any of the band members to realize just how genuine those themes are. When Aimee joined up with the three Bivona brothers (twins Justin and Jesse man the bass and drums, respectively), to form the band, what could have been a tricky-to-navigate situation felt, in fact, pretty natural. “Kevin and I had already been writing music together for a year when the twins came in,” says Aimee, before confirming that the twins do, in fact, seem to have their own language (which is fairly apparent if you’ve had conversations with the two): “the twins definitely have their own communication and chemistry far beyond anything you can imagine and are pretty much a single unit when it comes to the drums and bass.”
The hard work that the band spent on the road, particularly over the last year, paid off when it came time to record the follow-up to the self-titled debut. Say It Out Loud is more cohesive, more energetic and more instantly enjoyable than even their first album was. “I think that just playing together live, going out there and playing songs and just being together and figuring out who we are as a band really helped us have a really strong foundation of what we were about,” says Allen. The infectious, high-energy feel is by design, continues Bivona, as the band used the input gained from crowd reactions at their live performances as a barometer when it came time to fine-tune tracks for Say It Out Loud. “With the second record, we would always be like “let’s try this background vocal” or “it would be great if we could get the crowd to sing this with us.” Just trying to keep it high-energy and fun.”
As you’re no doubt aware, the band holed up in the studio with Tim Armstrong (as Allen calls him the Fifth Interrupter) and made the most of what, in hindsight, seems a very brief amount of time to piece the new album together. “Top to bottom, we only spent like maybe six days (recording the music for Say It Out Loud),” explains Bivona, eventually sounding amazed at his own words. “We did vocals over the course of the next two weeks maybe, including background vocals. And we mixed in a month. When I say it out loud, it seems like a long time, but it wasn’t that long in terms of the actual hours put in!”
Armstrong not only lent his professional expertise to the process, inspiring life and impromtu jam sessions when ideas seemed to have become stagnant, but he was also the consummate professional when it came time to take advice from the band. Armstrong contributes vocals to the Say It Out Loud track “Phantom City,” a bit of a darker, mysteriously gritty sound than has been the band’s proverbial bread-and-butter. “Once it comes down to him singing on an Interrupters song,” says Bivona of the inimitable Armstrong, “he is totally willing to take as much input from us as we’re willing to give. Obviously, when Tim’s going to sing on one of your songs, you’re like “dude, do whatever you want!” But he’ll be like “lyrically, what do you think of how I’m doing it?” He wants it to be good and he wants us to be happy in the end.”
Armstrong’s involvement with the band has not only sparked a slew of “what’s it like to work with Tim” questions from reporters and fans not unlike myself, but has spawned a fairly noticeable number of people who write the band off as a project, or, as a follow up to the similarly composed Distillers of the late 1990s. Whether the band is mindful of that feedback (unfair feedback, in this writer’s opinion) depends on when you asked them about it. “I think that when we started out we paid more attention to it,” starts Bivona, before Allen quickly adds that she is not one to pay attention to the commentary. “I don’t know what the fuck anyone is saying about us, good or bad. I read the articles about us, but I don’t look at comments.” Instead, the band focus their energy on their family, which includes their ever-growing fanbase, seeking to keep the energy and the audience participation at live shows high, creating an immensely enjoyable experience for all parties involved.
As should be fairly apparent, it’s not just four (five??) Interrupters that compose the band’s family. Guest appearances abound in the band’s videos (see above), on its albums and at live shows. Less Than Jake, for example, appear almost in their entirety on a track on the new album, the by-product of a seemingly chance four-hour jam session inspired by last year’s It’s Not Dead Fest. As Bivona tells it, “Less Than Jake was staying at a hotel literally a mile-and-a-half away from our house and we were working on the record. I hung out with a couple of the guys the night before, and I said “hey, do you think we can put something together and maybe have you guys come over and give a listen and see if you like it?” And next thing you know, they’re all at our house, and we worked on “You’re Gonna Find A Way Out” all in a night’s work.”
The band also lent their skills to the upcoming full-length from Washington-based street punk band Noi!se, specifically on “The War Inside,” a heart-breaker of a song that tackles the all-too-real issue of soldiers returning home from foreign battlefields only to be faced with a much scarier and more prolonged war of their own: PTSD. While Allen herself is not a former soldier, the issue of PTSD is still all-too real, and lead to perhaps her most haunting vocal duties to date. “I have PTSD, so I get it,” says Allen rather matter-of-factly. ”I have all the love in the world for the United States military. Twenty-two soldiers kill themselves every day, and we’ve got to do something. Anything, really. We’ve got to help stop this shit, and the only tool that we have…or that I have…is music!”
The Interrupters tour kicked off last week in Santa Barbara and runs through November 26th in San Diego. Head here for the full rundown to see where you can catch them! In the meantime, check out our full three-person Q&A session below!
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 10:19 AM (PST) by milhouse
Los Angeles based punk label Crowd Control Media recently released the first volume of what is to be an ongoing series of compilations. “Oi! The Tape: vol. 1″ showcases 38 mostly unreleased tracks from 19 bands including The Young Idea, Wartribe, Seaside Rebels, and many more.
CCM has delivered the entire compilation, available to stream exclusively here on DyingScene. Have a listen to the entire work below, and find a new favorite band!
Releasing a compilation is always an exciting endeavor, but releasing on cassette tape is something pretty unique. In addition to a full digital download, those who purchase the release will receive a poster of the album artwork.
Friday, October 7, 2016 at 8:08 PM (PST) by jaystone
As you’re probably aware, particularly because we ran a brief story about it a little while ago, the inimitable Jon Snodgrass has a new digital 7-inch out today. As you can see from the fancy, iTunes-approved image above it’s called The Carpet Thief, and it features a couple tracks from the Snodgrass canon that had not, until now, been given proper release. The A-side is a track called “1-2-3-4,” and was written and recorded (at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado) shortly after beloved Teenage Bottlerocket drummer Brandon Carlisle passed away. It’s one of those “right in the feels” songs, for sure.
The B-side is a track called “Perfect Match,” and was originally written four or five years ago in support of Perfect Teeth, a graphic novel project spearheaded by Vinnie Fiorello (Less Than Jake, etc). While Snodgrass wrote the music and mans the “vocal duty” battle station on the track, the instrumentation is handled by Stephen Egerton (Descendents/ALL). We spoke with both Jon and Stephen about the unique story behind how the track came together.
Fiorello initially contacted Snodgrass to commission him for the project. “Vinnie always does different stuff,” says Snodgrass, “and he was doing this comic book, and he asked me to write a song for it.” In the initial back-and-forth, the two discussed the bones of an idea: a love song between two young vampires, not all that unlike a Twilight-style saga. This was good news to Snodgrass, who’d “always had this idea that if I was a young vampire, I’d go waaaay up to where more than half of the year is mostly night time. Then I’d go to the other side…instead of someone who’s bicoastal, I’d be someone that lived on both Poles.” Literally bipolar vampires. Seems like a good starting point for a love song. As Snodgrass says, “it’s not an unrequited love song, but a song about how you wish you could be together with this person all the time.”
From there, things developed quickly. Real quickly. Like…absurdly quickly. I’ll just let Snodgrass tell it, because to paraphrase wouldn’t do the story justice: “I literally hung up the phone and I was thinking about it — and thinking kinda cocky about it — and it was like I was riding the wave, like “let’s see how far I can take this!” … But I hung up the phone, hit “record” on my phone, and…I wish there was a way for me to have proof of it, but I texted it to Vinnie literally seven minutes later. He was like “holy shit, dude! You had this for a while!” and I said “no, dude! No!” I’m not trying to brag or make it sound like it’s a big deal…a lot of people can do that. Just cuz I can sit down and write a song in the time it takes to write a song doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good song. But this song? This song I like.”
You read that correctly. From start to finish, the musical bones of “Perfect Match” were written, recorded, and texted back to Fiorello in less than ten minutes. Egerton confirms that “that’s pretty much Jon’s style. He works really quickly…not always seven minutes quickly…but that’s Jon.” Fiorello and Snodgrass bounced around lyrics ideas, and Snodgrass entered Brandon Carlisle’s studio to record vocals. “That was kind of a fun, serendipitous thing,” says Egerton,”that the vocals to that song got recorded at Brandon’s place, and they’re on there with Jon’s song about Brandon.”
Upon completing the vocal takes, Snodgrass recorded a fuller demo and sent it to Egerton. “I sat down and recorded it into my tape machine, and I tried to play it as good as I could,” said Snodgrass, continuing that he “thought maybe some of (his) guitar would get on there.” As it turns out, Egerton got to work in fairly short order himself, first cutting the drums on his son’s drum kit at his house before moving quickly on to bass and drums. And, in typical Egerton fashion, he nailed the entirety of the instrumentation. “He played everything. I thought he would jut play drums and bass and maybe I’d get some guitar on there, but he just sent this thing back and it was awesome!” Snodgrass jokingly (or perhaps not jokingly) continues that he kidded with Egerton (with whom he’d previously worked on the latter’s Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton project) that they should collaborate that way more often, only with Stephen playing all the lyrics and the two bringing in better singers.
The Carpet Thief is available via all normal digital outlets today (October 7th), or you can get it straight from Drag The River’s site right here. If you’re in Europe and and can’t make it out to one of Snodgrass’s upcoming shows, but you still want to get your hands on a hard copy beginning in the middle of November, you can do so through Hometown Caravan right here. If you’re in the States and want to get your grubby little paws one one, you can send Snodgrass himself a message through his Facebook artist page right here.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 12:00 PM (PST) by jaystone
On the surface, it would seem that “Fat Mike” Burkett needs no introduction. He’s been the inimitable frontman of a highly influential punk band for three decades. He’s been founding co-owner of an even more influential record label for a quarter of a century. He’s produced (and continues to produce) more than a handful of important albums. He’s been a champion of progressive causes, both personal and political. He even co-wrote and co-produced an “unapologetic and catchy as hell” punk rock musical.
Though Fat Mike has long been considered a virtual open book, however, there seems to be a fair amount underneath that multi-colored mohawk that he has been slow to introduce. Bits and pieces increasingly trickled out over the years, but the floodgates opened when the SF-based quartet teamed up to publish their group autobiography, NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories (April 2016, Da Capo Press). Inspired in part by Mike having read the infamous Motley Crue tell-all (or tell-most, anyway) The Dirt, the band got brutally, uncomfortably honest in chronicling stories from their legendary career. “I said (to the rest of the band) that we should write a book. And everybody was like “really? Why?” Mike explains to me, continuing rather emphatically that “we know a lot of shit about each other, and if we tell about what actually happened and who we are, we’re going to write a book that’s better than (The Dirt).”
Getting honest…really, truly honest, would have to be the key in Mike’s mind. “I’ve read a few rock and roll books,” says Burkett, “and people don’t go that deep. They don’t want to say things that hurt, or might hurt their career.” When you’ve been one of the preeminent bands in the scene for more than two decades, however, the risk of hurting your career is probably comparatively minimal. Plus, this is punk rock, so the more debauchery is involved the better, especially knowing that the audience will call you out on even the faintest whiff of bullshit.
And so the stories started, though they did so without the band trading notes until the product was done. While Fat Mike may have been lauded for years for being honest and “telling it like it is,” much of that was related to Mike shining a mirror back on society; calling out institutional hypocrisy, championing the marginalized, at some level normalizing the abnormal. The book, and the resulting album writing sessions that followed, spawned First Ditch Effort, NOFX’s thirteenth studio album and, ultimately and unquestionably, its most darkly personal. While some of the album’s tracks (“Bye Bye Biopsy Girl,” “Sid And Nancy,” etc) might represent textbook NOFX tracks, roughly half of the album finds Mike turning the mirror on himself more than ever. I suppose it’s difficult to go back to writing songs about Tegan and Sara when you started your autobiography with a story about the first (not the only…) time you drank human urine.
One needs to look no further than the tracks “I Don’t Like Me Anymore” and “California Drought” for direct evidence as to the fundamental shift in Fat Mike’s lyrical process. The former is probably self-explanatory given the title, detailing, as Mike tells it, the after effects of “waking up in the morning after a bender and looking in the mirror and being like “oh fuck!” And really hardly recognizing yourself, and being like “what the fuck did I do last night? I said a bunch of things I shouldn’t have and was a total jerk.” The latter chronicles in somewhat brutal fashion coming to terms not just with what you did last night, but that you can’t keep doing it anymore and that it’s time for some changes. For Burkett, those changes were spawned by a bottoming out of sorts, though by his own admission it wasn’t a catastrophic rock bottom. “I slept too late for my daughter’s birthday party,” he explains, adding that he “didn’t miss it, I just was like “shit, that sucks…I’m late because I was doing drugs last night.”
And so, Burkett decided to make changes, but not before recording a new album. While the album is certainly more honest and personal and talks on numerous occasions about his drying out, he was not, in fact, sober during its writing or production. The ironic sad part, as he says, is that “this is the first album that I recorded while being drunk and on drugs every day.” The dark place that Burkett found himself in stemmed from a relatively recent addiction to prescription painkillers. While he began using recreationally, as was his history with myriad other drugs, the painkillers (Percocet, specifically) developed a physical dependency unlike any of the others. “I wasn’t doing that many,” says Burkett, clarifying that he “was doing about two Percocets a day, so it wasn’t a big problem. but it was enough of a problem that I couldn’t stop because I would get sick.”
A failed attempt at a doctor-assisted detoxification from Percocet, specifically by way of the medication Suboxone, lead Burkett to pen the track “Oxy Moronic,” the razor-sharp critique of the pharmaceutical industry that also resulted in the album’s lead video. ”I went to see a doctor, a specialist in getting off painkillers,” says Burkett in a seemingly rare admission of defeat, or at least of a need for help. He continues: “And he said “I want you to take this Suboxone.” I’d heard of Suboxone before. So I said “alright. Give me a week’s worth and I’ll get off it.” And he goes “no, you have to take it for three months.” And I said “I don’t want to take it for three months.” And he goes “well, if you want it, you’re going to have to take it for three months. That’s how we run this program.” Toward the end of that program, during which Burkett was drug tested and met with weekly, an encounter with the above-mentioned doctor made the lightbulb shine bright. Upon asking the doctor what the expected outcome was now that he was in the process of weaning off, the doctor gave a rather telling answer: ”his eyes kinda darted away like he’s about to tell a lie… And he said “well, most of them go back to opiates or stay on Suboxone.” And I’m like “you motherfucker! You just set me up to get addicted to this new drug!”
And go back to opiates Burkett did through the writing of the album and the book tour that followed, though he at least had a plan in place that included a chaperone on said tour, responsible for doling out his medication. It also involved what is now a rather note-worthy entry into a detox program and the first real attempts at true sobriety. All of this was chronicled of course, because this is 2016 and because Mike has been no stranger to attention, on Instagram. While some (myself included) may have assumed that it was another Cokie The Clown-style attempt at sick humor or a late April Fool’s Day joke (a story not unlike one I, myself, jokingly/clumsily wrote about Burkett a few years ago), the stay in detox was not only real but, as it turns out, widely appreciated. “What was surprising to me is how many people were so supportive,” says Burkett with more than a little bit of happiness and sincerity in his voice. “That really made me feel good. People I hadn’t talked to in a long time, strangers… Tim and Lars from Rancid both reached out if I needed anything. It was really sweet. And it really goes to show how the punk community is just the best community and really just an extended family.”
The Instagramming stopped at around the two month mark, and the sobriety came to a close after day 85, though it was never intended to be a lifelong change. While the use of prescription drugs, painkillers specifically seems over for good, Burkett reports to be “at peace with the fact that I’m not going to be a clean person my whole life. I don’t want to.” Playing shows while under the influence — at least a modest influence — will become the norm, but not necessarily the rule. “I don’t want to play punk shows sober,” he says, honest as ever, though he continues that in spite of that, he “did two shows (this past weekend) and I did the first one totally sober and it was really fun. The next one I had a couple beers and it was also really fun. That’s where I have to be. I’m just trying to get back to where I was in my thirties, when I partied on occasions. But I definitely got too deep last year.”
Partying too hard, and getting too deep, has been an unfortunate and all-to-common occurrence in the punk scene and in all too many scenes. Slowly but surely, Burkett started to examine his own behavior thanks (for lack of a better term) to the death of a close friend: Tony Sly. “It changed my life in many ways. It was the worst death of my life, and my drug habits and the time I spent with my kids kinda changed. I stopped mixing certain drugs and I stopped doing all-nighters. I didn’t stop using drugs, I just started using them more responsibly.” Though it would still be some time before he would develop, and overcome, an addiction to painkillers, Sly’s death resonated in ways that culminated, in part, with “I’m So Sorry, Tony,” First Ditch Effort’s penultimate track, and easily the most gut-wrenching, tear-jerking (I’m not afraid to say that) song in the Fat Mike canon. The song didn’t, necessarily, come naturally.
“I had to rewrite the lyrics six different times. The first version was really too graphic and told stuff that didn’t need to be told,” says Burkett. After submitting the original song and its numerous revisions to Sly’s widow, Brigitte, what resulted was a track that not only expresses regret as to how Tony died, but forces Mike to examine his own behavior and how it impacts his family. “The last stuff I wrote,” he says, “was “sometimes the weekends when our kids hang out together / Keira tells Darla that her dad’s songs are better.” Those lyrics are so sweet and sad and I wouldn’t have come up with those had I not kept on writing.”
A large part of the reason that Burkett had difficulty in not making things too graphic comes, as he says repeatedly in The Hepatitis Bathtub, that his “Weirdness Barometer” is faulty, that he lacks not only an ability to filter what he says but lacks an understanding as to why he should bother filtering himself in the first place. He also thinks he may, at the age of 49, have found a cause: “I’m just realizing that I’m somewhere on the spectrum of autism.” The genesis of this revelation, however, well, we’ll let him tell it. “I saw a play about an autistic kid on Broadway. The Curious Incident Of the Dog (In The Nighttime). It was really good. And my wife, Soma, every time the kid would do something, she’d look at me and I’d look at her like “shit, I do that.”(*laughs*) Like everything he does, I do!” Burkett says this with some amount of relief in his voice, and doesn’t come across as being provocative or mocking the diagnosis, and expresses an interest in actually undergoing testing to confirm his thoughts, albeit primarily for fun. Still, he believes that a lot of what has made him an honest and provocative songwriter over the years may come from his not really knowing “what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable. I’ve always done things that are weird.” And so perhaps it was luck but more probably it was destiny that he stumbled into the punk rock world. “When I found punk and I was 13 or 14 years old, I thought that I fit here. That I belong here. Because I could do anything and people don’t think it’s weird, they just call it punk.”
Over the course of a forty-five minute conversation, Burkett and I covered an awful lot of ground; what’s quoted above merely scratches the surface, though you could say that the full conversation itself may promote infinitely more questions. We touched on the recording of the album, including some technical (read as: geeky?) discussion about when to record what, and how certain sounds were achieved. We of course touch on his kid, who seems by all accounts to have her head squared securely on her shoulders. And, of course, we talk about Mike’s involvement in not only the BDSM world (where he and his wife, Soma, found themselves outcasts even amidst that taboo scene) but his recent forays into publicly cross-dressing. We think it’s pretty engaging and insightful, and we think you’ll do the same.
Head below to check it out! First Ditch Effort, as you probably know, is due out this Friday (October 7th) on Fat Wreck.
Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 12:00 PM (PST) by jaystone
Of all of the bands newly signed to Fat Wreck Chords over the last half-dozen-or-so years, San Francisco’s Get Dead probably come the closest to exemplifying a perfect combination of the sound that launched the label and the direction that the scene is hopefully headed in. Elements of skate punk, ska punk, folk punk, rap punk (is that a thing?) and more combine to create a sound that is fresh, tight, and uniquely Get Dead, like the illegitimately conceived lovechild of Swingin’ Utters and The Falcon. Frontman Sam King has the type of raw, gravelly voice that lends instant credibility to the songs of despair and depravity and the underbelly of society about which he sings.
The Get Dead boys are in the midst of a busy couple of months that will find them on the road throughout the States and Europe pretty much through early-December. The newly-married King was kind enough to take a few minutes out of the band’s recent drive East from Nebraska to Missouri to talk about the band’s phenomenal new album, Honesty Lives Elsewhere, among many other topics. Check out our interview below, and head here to see where you can catch Get Dead on the road through the end of the year, including an upcoming three-week run with Guttermouth! While you’re at it, you can read our review of Honesty Lives Elsewhere here.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 9:00 AM (PST) by Johnny X
Barcelona punk act Pennycocks released their latest album “Fake Gold and Broken Teeth” 2 weeks ago and to properly put it on your radar we’re stoked to premiere a music video for it’s single “C’mon Gipsy” below. Think Pop-Punk meets 77′punk mixed meets soul punk… or just watch the damn video!
“Fake Gold and Broken Teeth” was put out as a co-production between Contra Records (Germany), Bcore Disc (Spain) and Longshot Music (US).
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 12:45 PM (PST) by jaystone
God bless the City of Boston for continually trying to breath life, by way of art and music, into the embarrassingly decrepit portion of town that is City Hall Plaza. To paraphrase (read as: steal verbatime) myself from an older story about the Boston Calling Music Festival, City Hall Plaza is, for the non-New Englanders among us, a barren, steaming brick-and-concrete turd located adjacent to a number of otherwise vibrant areas, and has been criminally under-utilized over the years, a literal eyesore for the fifty years since it opened. Boston Calling brought more than a handful of acclaimed national and international performing artists, but it’s since shrunk from biannual to once a year, and has moved away from City Hall entirely. The same team that put it on, however, managed to lire the Copenhagen Beer Celebration to the States for the first time, and provided a pretty eclectic lineup of musical acts to go along with the even more eclectic lineup of microbreweries.
Unlike Boston Calling and other festivals in the past, the focus on the Copenhagen Beer Celebration was beer, not music. And so, in spite of the fact that the stage was located immediately inside the venue’s entrance, most people bypassed the musical festivities for most of the weekend (one session Friday night, two sessions Saturday, all different lineups at each) and opted to hang up the hill at the brewery and food tents. That all changed in time for Lucero, however. As we’ve acknowledged, Lucero are one of “those bands” for people, and engaging with a great number of people Saturday night revealed that the Venn diagram of “people there for the beer” and “people there for Lucero” was, for the most part, a largely concentric circle.
Though the scale might have been larger than most of Lucero’s shows (at least in this area) and because the setting involved the band being fairly separated from the crowd (and despite the fact that it was cold and windy by the end of the 85-minute set), the show still had the feel of a Lucero show. Operating as a five-piece (no horn section for the fly-in/fly-out gig) gave the bulk of the band’s setlist a more raw, stripped-down feel that, while it certainly falls in line with the bulk of the first half of Lucero’s history, has not necessarily been par for the course over the last half-dozen years. Age and the wisdom that comes from spending years as one of the hardest working bands in this or any genre have dulled some of the more intense partying, borderline trainwrecky nature of early Lucero shows, and that’s probably a good thing. I’ve always thought that Roy Berry and John Stubblefield composed one of the steadier and underrated rhythm sections out there, allowing Rick Steff (keys, accordion), Brian Venable (lead guitar) and, of course, frontman Ben Nichols the freedom to wander and take chances and stray pretty far, at times, into the sonic ether. The lack of horn section pushes that issue to more of a forefront, particularly on nights like this that were still peppered with occasional false starts and equipment failures (Venable was relegated to losing his guitar and, as fate would have it, his shirt by the end of the night due to a faulty amplifier).
It was fun to see the band a little bit outside their element for this part of the country, only to then realize that with a band as varied and influential as Lucero, there really isn’t any getting outside their element, as they seem to be their own element, having outlasted myriad bands across genres and carving out their own niche and their own sound.
Monday, September 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM (PST) by jaystone
We know it’s been a while since we last brought you a Dying Scene Session, but believe us when we say it’s been worth the wait!
Today, we’re stoked to bring you another excellent installment, this time featuring none other than British folk/punk singer-songwriter (and personal favorite) Louise Distras. At the end of last week, she released a brand new single, “Aileen.” Head below to check out her exclusive acoustic performance of that very track, filmed on Distras’ recent stop in California.
In case you were unaware, “Aileen” was written as a reaction to a documentary that focused on the case of Aileen Wuornos, the first American female serial killer (also dramatized in the Charlize Theron movie, Monster). You can head here to order the single in physical and digital formats. Distras’ full-length solo debut, Dreams From The Factory Floor, was released back in 2015 on Pirates Press Records in the US.
Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 12:06 PM (PST) by jaystone
The first handful of live shows after a band releases a new album can, by most accounts, be a bit nerve-wracking. Although times have certainly progressed to the point where all but the most casual of fans have heard a band’s new material in advance (sometimes well in advance) of its actual release, there can still be a bit of trepidation as to how those songs will not only translate live but how they’ll fit in to a set list that includes older material. Rest assured, Against Me! fans; Shape Shift With Me doesn’t just sound great in album form, it absolutely slays live.
A mere three days following the release of their above-mentioned seventh studio album, Against Me! brought the early stages of a two-week Eastern US tour into the familiar confines of Boston’s Royale nightclub. Over the course of a hair over an hour, the foursome’s main set drew heavily from the new album and its predecessor, 2014′s Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Case in point; the first four songs (“True Trans Soul Rebel,” “333,” “12:03″ and “Dead Friend”) found the band hitting hard and fast from the word “go.” And that makes sense, obviously. Though Against Me! has a long and storied history and has endured various member changes throughout the years, the current lineup of frontwoman Laura Jane Grace and long-time left hand man James Bowman on guitar, Atom Willard on drums and Inge Johansson on bass is far and away the band’s tightest and most fundamentally solid lineup.
In what has to be seen as a reassuring sign for the band, each of the half-dozen songs that the band ripped through from Shape Shift With Me was met with the same passion and intensity from the constant barrage of crowd surfers (which, by the way, when did the trend of people taking selfies while stage diving start? This really needs to stop. Like, yesterday.) who hung on and chanted every word regardless of which AM! era the song came from.
Direct support came from Potty Mouth, the three-piece (four, if you count the touring guitarist) outfit who cut their teeth in the western part of Massachusetts before just recently moving to California. For the uninitiated, they’re raw without being unhinged, and play a passionate form of grungy post-punk that would have fit in nicely in the 1995 indie music landscape, and yet still sounds new and fresh and interesting in 2016. And apologies to Frameworks, the Gainesville-based five-piece who served as show opener. The relatively early start time, coupled with traffic and “day job” responsibilities resulted in me walking in to the venue as they were walking off stage. Next time, gang.
Take a look at our photo gallery below!
With the passing of Awesome Fest and Riot Fest comes the departure of the long, hot, busy Summer. While a great deal of the country may be looking forward to the cooler months, with leaves of every imaginable autumnal hue rustling through the frigid evening breeze, the more nihilistic, Eeyorian (ed: …what the hell man? We talked about this.) among us are less optimistic about the coming weeks. With the arrival of Fall also comes a slight nudge, as we inch ever closer to our impending doom which is a certainty come early November. While our civilization’s waning hours may be a frightening prospect for some of us, there’s no reason why we all can’t enjoy these last few weeks of life as we know it with some radical tunes! This month’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp highlights six lesser known or new punk acts from an assortment of different genres! Something for everyone, guaranteed! Check out September’s sensational selections below and try to forget about all of the pain and suffering in your not so distant future!
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 at 2:57 PM (PST) by AnarchoPunk
The last time legendary SoCal hardcore act, Dead Fucking Last released new material, most of you were still in diapers. After releasing Grateful, way back in 1997, the boys went on hiatus and stayed there for nearly twenty years. When we heard that they were making a comeback a few years ago, we were giddy. So, when a request popped up in our inbox to interview them, we couldn’t turn it down! Unfortunately, the only available staffer was AnarchoPunk, so he was the lucky schmuck that got to meet up with founding member and guitarist, Monty Messex for a chat in the shadows of DTLA, in the Silver Lake neighborhood. Check out the full interview below!**
**If reading isn’t your thing, you can also listen to the full interview on this week’s episode of DyingScene Radio**