Story and Photography by Meredith Goldberg Back on July 25th, La Armada kicked off a mini tour in Chicago at The Burlington in support of its most recent record, Anti-Colonial Vol. 2. I caught up with founding member, and guitarist, Paúl Rivera, after the show to discuss, influences, legacies, and what drives them musically and otherwise. La […]
Story and Photography by Meredith Goldberg
Back on July 25th, La Armada kicked off a mini tour in Chicago at The Burlington in support of its most recent record, Anti-Colonial Vol. 2. I caught up with founding member, and guitarist, Paúl Rivera, after the show to discuss, influences, legacies, and what drives them musically and otherwise.
La Armada was first formed in 2001 by grade school friends in the Dominican Republic: guitarist Jonathan Salazar, guitarist Paúl Rivera, bassist Mani Marte, and drummer Eric Urrea. Casper Torres has been on vocals for the group for a decade and is from Puerto Rico. “We have been going to play shows in Puerto Rico pretty much since we were 14 or 15 years old, so we all knew each other and grew up as friends,” says guitarist Paúl Rivera.
“We discovered punk, hardcore and metal pretty much in the mid 90’s when internet service became available in the Dominican Republic. Metal is more known in the DR, and we enjoyed it but never really identified with the lyrics and imagery.”
Rivera continues, “Punk came more natural because we were feeling a lot of the same discontent they would be singing about, especially because during that time we were on the tail end of a dictatorship state and on route to a Neo-liberal pseudo dictatorship.”
Growing up in the DR, the band members were exposed to music at very young ages. “Music is always around in the Caribbean. Our first form of musical love was what was around, merengue, salsa, and Bachata. But once we discovered Spanish punk, American metal, and so on that’s when it became an obsession. “
However, that obsession did not cause the band to entirely separate from the music of its native region. Rather, it fused the multiple genres to create its own unique sound.
“When you are young and on the island you kinda rebel against the music your parents listened to, when you grow up and become an immigrant there is a yearning for it and those are the rhythms we try and incorporate into the heavy genres we participate in.”
While La Armada has always had much to say with its music, Rivera notes the group has one strong, recurring theme, “Anti-Colonialism. Which we explain is just not in the historical context of large nations extracting the wealth of the global south. We also lump up what we call “neocolonialism” into this motto, which we define as all external forces that have an influence over masses of people, like news, information, social media, ads, product placements, etc.
Rivera adds: “A lot of these things are destroying our sense of worth, the environment and each other, but we consume it daily because it’s wrapped up as entertainment. It’s hard to know right now what is more dangerous, the physical or the digital sword.”
I also asked Rivera what are some of the bands and sounds most influential, to La Armada. “Musically it’s all over the place. Spanish Punk rock like La Polla, Escuela de Odio, and more. American Hardcore like Bad Brains and Sick of it All, the island music we grew up with like merengue and bachata. Canadian, melodic Punk like Propagandhi, classic metal bands. And on and on.”
Turning to the way the band operates, Rivera says, “As a band model, we take a lot from the DIY hip hop scene. Limited Merch drops, live sampling, owning your own masters, etc.”
From Burlington Bar’s stage, band members spoke repeatedly about pursuing your art and how artists need to really go after it. Rivera expanded on that post-show.
“We’re just at point where we’ve been doing this for so long and are now in our mid and late 30’s that anything other than being the absolute best version of the band wouldn’t be worth it.”
He also noted, “As a small, DIY band that literally carves out any traction or momentum against all odds, we have made our peace with just putting the work in and trusting that the rest will take care of itself.”
Rivera explains, “Basically, if we’re going to do something, we are really going to go for it. Otherwise, none of us really have time for hobbies. For example, our album roll out consisted of 6 singles, 5 music videos and different pieces of visual art. All made in collaboration with artists from the Caribbean diaspora across the world. That was a big effort, but that was the only way we were going to do it. All or nothing.”
Of course, La Armada found itself affected by the pandemic. Rivera addresses this:
“First off, we were lucky that everyone remained healthy, employed and nobody had immediate family affected by it. However, artistically it was rough. We were used to being on tour for 3 to 4 months out of the year and all of a sudden that was taken away from us. It felt like you lost your identity.”
He continues, “We were also planning on heading back out on some tours that coincided when COVID first hit so, we got left holding a bill for goods we had purchased for tour, which also completely sucked.”
Rivera recognizes that despite difficulties, the group members might have been luckier than many others.
“A lot of bands and artists went through the same and much worse situations. Somehow, we made it to the other side and are now able to look at things differently, as in, simply doing the work is the reward.”
That work includes the new La Armada record.
“Our new record is Anti-Colonial Vol. 2 – It is the follow up to 2017’s Vol. 1. We wrote it and recorded it during the pandemic in 3 different spurts at the studio because things kept getting canceled because of Covid protocols.”
Still, Rivera stresses the importance of remaining positive:
“It was a difficult time to do art, but it was the only way to keep the band going and maintain some sense of inspiration going.”
The band has played sporadically thus far in 2022. “This year we had our Chicago release show in February, a weekend in the Midwest in March and now are now touring again in longer spurts.”
The “longer spurts“ began with this particular night at Burlington Bar, where family, friends and fans wished them safe travels and hopes for a good time out on the road.
That road will take them across North America. “We are first doing the eastern US and Canada for 3 weeks during August, then we take a 3-week break and follow that up with 3 more weeks out west for shows with Propagandhi, Tørsö, and headliners of our own.”
A bit of news for our friends in Denmark and around Europe. European-based record label Nasty Cut Records, home to Forever Unclean and many more, is turning five next year and celebrating it with a three-day festival in Copenhagen from the 18th of May through the 20th of May 2023. In the meantime, you can […]
A bit of news for our friends in Denmark and around Europe.
European-based record label Nasty Cut Records, home to Forever Unclean and many more, is turning five next year and celebrating it with a three-day festival in Copenhagen from the 18th of May through the 20th of May 2023. In the meantime, you can check out their Facebook Event for more information! If you enjoy DIY concerts and festivals, here’s another opportunity to give your support to the scene.
We’ll keep you updated with further developments regarding the lineup, as they come in.
Happy Hump Day! And we are here with updates for last week’s announcement. Today Nasty Cut Records announced the first bands who will be joining the three-day festival and the first venues. First let us tell the venues, as these are important: The festival will be hosted in Underwerket and Valby Kulturhus, two venues that […]
Happy Hump Day! And we are here with updates for last week’s announcement. Today Nasty Cut Records announced the first bands who will be joining the three-day festival and the first venues. First let us tell the venues, as these are important:
The festival will be hosted in Underwerket and Valby Kulturhus, two venues that are conveniently placed next to each other on Copenhagen’s Toftegårds Plads. Nasty Cut Records’ hardworking employee, Andrew, provided the following statement in relation to the choice of venues: “Underwerket has been an important part of Nasty Cut’s history in Copenhagen since 2018. All of our shows have been housed there and it’s an important venue for the Copenhagen scene, if you ask me. The people behind the venue and its booking collective have always had our backs and supported us. Having the first edition of our festival take place in Underwerket, is our way to pay an homage to it, and of course involving its bigger brother, Valby Kulturhus, was the obvious way of extending the festival experience.”
The first round of bands is now announced, and it contains nonother than the following:
Hippie Trim (DE):
Back in 2019, right before the release of their debut album “Cult”, Hippie Trim sold out their first-ever show, toured with Drug Church, and scored various playlist placements with only having released one single! Impressive right? The band has recently released their second album “What Consumes Me” which further proves that heaviness and melody are not mutually exclusive.
Copenhagen’s own local punk heroes, once describe as “Denmark’s cutest band”. Having toured extensively around the world and with multiple notable releases in their discography, it only made sense they would play in the first ever festival their label organizes. Woof!
London’s regret punk pioneers are no strangers to any DIY scene, especially the one in Copenhagen. Known for their unique style and for being potentially the only band in the world who has released an EP bundled with an actual Beech tree instead of vinyl or cd, the Burnt Tapes are a band you don’t want to miss. Ask anyone who has seen them
Fresh post-hardcore trio hailing from Aalborg, DK. With only their recently released debut album “Moments, Movements” in their discography, Omsorg has already established their brand of hardcore. Their sound is hard, raw, honest, and evocative and it is a band everyone should have on their radar!
There we have it, the first bands to the line-up and if you want to check out the bands. Nasty Cut Records made a playlist where they will be updating as the line-up grows. Which you can check out below and give the bands a listen.
The Menzingers are on the road celebrating the 10th anniversary of their breakout album On The Impossible Past and they’ve brought both Touché Amoré and Screaming Females along for the ride. The tour officially kicked off last week in Asbury Park at the House of Independents with what turned into a 4-night run. I say […]
The Menzingers are on the road celebrating the 10th anniversary of their breakout album On The Impossible Past and they’ve brought both Touché Amoré and Screaming Females along for the ride. The tour officially kicked off last week in Asbury Park at the House of Independents with what turned into a 4-night run. I say “officially” only because the band did attend Fest 20 down in Gainsville, FL the previous weekend. But moving on, 10 years of water under the bridge can seem like a blink of an eye to some and an eternity to others. For The Menzingers, 2012 not only had them playing in dingey basements, and DIY skateparks, but huge sports arenas (as openers for A Day To Remember) as well as large concert halls (as openers for Taking Back Sunday). To put it further into perspective, 2012 was the year Barack Obama won his second term as President of The United States, Vladimir Putin also won election to his second go-round as President of Russia, Hurricane Sandy struck the northeast, the massacre at Sandy Hook took place and Washington State became the first state in the union to legalize marijuana for personal recreational use. 2012 was also the year “Linsanity” took the NBA by storm, Whitney Houston passed away and in the pop music world, it was the likes of Katy Perry and Adele crushing all competition with #1 song after #1 song. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that as far as the readers of Dying Scene are concerned, when it came to musical events, these paled in comparison to the release of On The Impossible Past by Philadelphia’s (by way of Scranton, PA) very own The Menzingers.
Released in February of 2012 on Epitaph Records, OTIP was a bit of a departure from 2010’s Chamberlain Waits. Where Chamberlain and their previous releases were straight-up punk, on Impossible Past, the band seemed to be making a concerted effort to be more melodic. This in turn allowed the stories in each of the songs to be more front and center. The move from punk to some kind of mix of melodic/pop punk isn’t always greeted by a band’s fan base, but in The Menzingers’s case, their loyal fans fell in love with the departure. The album, to this day, is often considered by many to be their finest work, this despite the subsequent release of some really stellar albums.
This brings me to last Thursday night in Asbury Park for the opening night of the tour. I wasn’t sure if they would be doing the album in chronological order or mixing it up and wasn’t totally sure which way I was leaning as far as a preference was concerned. Sometimes the track sequencing of an album doesn’t always translate into a proper flow for a live show but as I would soon find out, OTIP is one of those albums which works perfectly in a live setting from start to finish. Obviously, the opening lines of “I’ve been having a horrible time, pulling myself together” from opening track “Good Things” is a veritable microcosm of what many of us have been experiencing the last 10 years, and HOLY HELL, what a way to start off a set! And right from the get-go, we were off and running. Next up was of course “Burn After Writing” with its call and response line “Do my hands tell a story? Is it boring you?” Fuck no, thus far it was nothing even remotely close to boring.
Those who were familiar with the album already knew what was up next and by “those” I mean just about every sweaty body in The House. “Obituaries” started off with that spine-tingling chord strumming from Tom and before Eric and Joe could kick into their pounding rhythms, the entire room (or at least as far as I could see) was one large pulsing, jumping, screaming and slamming mosh pit.
The band appeared to be having an absolute blast on stage (even more so than usual). Tom was, as usual, a non-stop jumping machine, bouncing all over the stage mouthing each and every word (especially while Greg was singing lead into the mike). Following the album’s sequencing was working perfectly as everyone in the room knew what was next and was right on queue when each new song commenced. We did get a little back story from Greg regarding “Mexican Guitars” but all in all there really wasn’t all too much stage banter from the guys. In hindsight, this lack of Greg and Tom talking about the songs had me a little disappointed but then I thought that ehhhh, we can save that for the album’s 20th anniversary VH1 Behind The Music episode.
Upon conclusion of the album’s closer “Freedom Bridge” and its lines, “something happened on the way to hell”, Tom assured the crowd that things were far from over as the band kicked into “I Don’t Want To Be An Asshole Anymore” from Impossible Past‘s follow up album Rented World. With its chugging chords and anthemic chorus, the crowd again erupted into the frenzy that Menzinger fans have come to know and love about their shows. Needless to say, what remained was basically a best-of-the-rest set from the band. “House On Fire” to “Anna” to “In Remission” to “Lookers” to “Your Wild Years” and a close out of the evening with “After The Party”.
I for one was 100% satisfied with what the boys from Pennsylvania offered up to us. I was pretty much soaked in sweat from head to toe. I had a decent bruise on the side of my head from getting kicked in the noggin by a crowd surfer who I didn’t see coming as was too busy scoping the stage through my camera lens (something I know is risky in the front of a Menzingers pit, but sometimes you just need to do what you’ve got to do). And my throat was sore and raspy from shouting lyrics at the top of my lungs.
I would be remiss if I did not mention and/or share some words on the opening bands that are gracing the stage along with The Menzingers on this tour. First up was New Jersey’s own Screaming Females. I’ve seen this band numerous times over the years although not all that much in the last 5 or so. Anyway, I can honestly say that I have never seen them where I wasn’t completely blown away. Marissa Paternoster, in my humble opinion, is one of, if not the best, punk guitarists today. Her guitar chops are just completely unparalleled. I could listen and watch her shred on the guitar night in and night out and still experience something jaw-dropping each and every time.
With the unenviable task of not only having to follow The Screaming Females but also precede The Menzingers was Los Angeles’s own Touché Amoré. Familiar with the band in name only, I was not at all prepared for the onslaught and fury which singer Jeremy Bolm and the rest of the crew were about to unleash on myself and everyone in attendance. While their brand of post-hardcore punk isn’t something that I generally fancy, I have to admit that the energy, spirit and general ferocity of their set was eye-openingly inspiring.
All in all, I have to say that while “anniversary” tours can sometimes be nothing more than a cash grab, and oftentimes turn out to be somewhat cringe-worthy, this romp around the country by The Menzingers to celebrate On The impossible Past seems to be anything but. First and foremost, it helps that the band itself is at the top of their game. No, let me correct that, they are not at the top of their game at all, because they just seem to be getting better and better, they haven’t even reached the pinnacle just yet. Second, OTIP is such a stellar LP that paying homage to it, by playing it straight through is sheer pop-punk heaven. And lastly, the support acts of Screaming Females and Touché Amoré rock the fuck out of the crowd. They take things to a whole other level, to which even IF The Menzingers were inclined to mail it in, they could never because they’re being pushed so hard by these two openers.
This tour just started so by all means, check your local listings and if it’s passing through a town near you, do yourself a favor and go see the show,
Dying Scene is fired up to bring you another exclusive video premiere, and it comes to us straight outta Krakow! That’s right, Polish punks CF98 are back and they’ve got a video for the new track “Plot Twist.” The song is a ball of frenetic energy, and it is the latest single of the band’s […]
Dying Scene is fired up to bring you another exclusive video premiere, and it comes to us straight outta Krakow! That’s right, Polish punks CF98 are back and they’ve got a video for the new track “Plot Twist.” The song is a ball of frenetic energy, and it is the latest single of the band’s forthcoming album This Is Fine, which is due out next month on SBAM Records. Here’s what the band had to say about the clip:
“Plot Twist,” a second single out of upcoming This Is Fine’ album is a short, fast and energetic one minute song. Have you ever thought about dropping the pressure of being perfect and a good character for everyone in your life? Yep, For some reasons, for some other people we will never be perfect and that’s ok, that’s fine. Even if 10 people will tell the same story about you, you might be a villain in one, you could have done something better or in a different way. Sounds familiar? For us yes, that’s why there is no point in perfection. The video is totally DIY, recorded at home and produced by our guitar man Mati.“