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 Dying Scene Album Review: Forever Unclean – “Best”

Let’s give some love to the Danish punk scene. For years, the scene has become more and more noticeable and we have a lot of bands to thank for that. In September ‘19, when I was going through an insomnia-filled three days, I decided to go on a deep dive and that’s when I discovered […]

Let’s give some love to the Danish punk scene. For years, the scene has become more and more noticeable and we have a lot of bands to thank for that. In September ‘19, when I was going through an insomnia-filled three days, I decided to go on a deep dive and that’s when I discovered this band, and that might have been the second best thing to happen to me in that year. But let’s get on with this review. Back in January of 2022, a Danish skate-indie-punk trio called Forever Unclean released their first full-length LP via Nasty Cut Records (EU), Disconnect Disconnect Records (UK), and Hidden Home Records (US), consisting of 11 tracks. If you’re already familiar with Forever Unclean, they are pretty known for their short and one-worded title tracks, which we were introduced to on their EP’s Float, Woof, and Shreds. And that, much to my joy, is still the case with Best.

With Best, I took a different approach than starting from the top with “Dream.” When I first heard the record I decided to put it on “Shuffle” like some daredevil. The first song I heard, was “Kold” sung in the band’s native language Danish, and it became a favorite from the first guitar riff before the vocals come in. While it could fool one and sound uplifting and energetic, the lyrics do put another spin on the song. “Jeg er ligeglad nu”, translated to English “I don’t care right now”.  I’ll admit, speaking Danish myself, I do think it’s nice to see the band dabble in Danish, knowing that it might only be appreciated by their Danish fans. But they took a chance and it definitely paid off.

Next up is Mandy, a cute love note to someone special. “I really need a break from reality with you, with you”, this song is unbelievably catchy from the first verse, and then picks up its pace around the 30-second mark, once again showing off how the three-piece work so well together, from the supporting vocals laying a good background to Lasse’s raw, impressive vocals. This could become a fan favorite in no time. I’ll even go as far as saying, this song should be pushed a lot more; send it to someone you love next Valentine’s Day or Anniversary.

“Smile” is the penultimate song on Best, and opens with Leo’s carefree and rapid drumming. I find this song might be where he shines through, yet the way Lasse and Troels complement the drumming, with their talents on the guitar and bass, gives me at best, ‘90s grunge vibes towards the end, probably why it deserves a mention. While I love punk, getting that hint of grunge from anyone has me hooked when I pick it up.

While I could give a track-by-track review of the record, I believe you need to check it out yourself and not get too influenced by a review. I’ll say this: the record packs punch after punch and you’ll only be glad you heard it. Even from listening to their previous material for three years, it’s very clear how these guys have grown into the band and with each other, the raw emotions transferred in the lyrics, while the instruments play some more uplifting music go with them. Throughout the record, you will are met with short songs, but they pack a lot and there’s no dropping the ball on this record. The trio does know how to properly mash genres, borrowing from the early ‘90s rock, and fast-paced pop-punk, and showing how not all indie music has to be quiet and can take a punch to it. The emotional display that we are met with on the album really benefits the band lyrical-wise, as a few bands before them haven’t been shy of showing a different emotional range on their records. Forever Unclean does it differently, with shorter and more packed songs with lyrics that make you reflect since I could ask them if they were doing a lot of self-reflecting while writing.

From the first listening, I knew this record was going to be on my top ten AoTY List, and I’m glad to say it still is even with all the releases that came this year.

If you want to catch them, they are supporting ALLDEEPENDS and Sewer Cats on selected dates, starting already Friday, November 18th in Copenhagen!

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Chicago. “Band of piss and vinegar with 80s Punk sensibilities and a touch of grunge.” 

DS Interview: Greg Norton on the legacy of Husker Du, surviving cancer, and his kickass new supergroup, UltraBomb

If ever there was a band that exemplified how the changes in the music business since the dawn of the Covid pandemic both giveth and taketh away, you could reasonably make the argument that that band is UltraBomb. Since the band is still in its relative infancy with a grand total of one live show […]

If ever there was a band that exemplified how the changes in the music business since the dawn of the Covid pandemic both giveth and taketh away, you could reasonably make the argument that that band is UltraBomb. Since the band is still in its relative infancy with a grand total of one live show and one album that is almost officially released in all the current formats of the day, we’ll give you the so-called twenty-five-cent version first.

UltraBomb is a three-piece international supergroup, and I know the term supergroup gets thrown around somewhat liberally from time to time, but this one checks whatever boxes you need it to check for that term to apply. The band consists of Dublin-by-way-of-Canada based Mahones frontman Finny McConnell on vocal and guitar duties, Jamie Oliver (the one from UK Subs and SNFU, not the chef, though they’re both based in the UK so you can’t be 100% sure of that I suppose) on the drums and none other than Minnesota icon Greg Norton of Husker Du fame holding down the low-end.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Norton for a super fun phone call about how the project came together, and the story is an interesting combination of a sign of the 21st century digital times and good, old-fashioned punk rock. After about a decade-and-a-half away from the music world altogether post-Husker Du, Norton dipped his toes in the water and eventually started playing in Minneapolis-based three piece band Porcupine. Eventually, Porcupine’s bandleader decided to change direction, leaving Norton again without an active band. Enter: the magic of Facebook. “Finny and I had been Facebook friends for quite a while. (He) is a huge Husker fan,” Norton explains. Once Finny saw that Norton was bandless, “he sent me a message and he’s like “well, I’ve got this idea. I know the greatest punk rock drummer on the planet, Jamie Oliver. He drums for the UK Subs, and I think we should put a band together.

As it turns out, this may have been news to none other than Jamie Oliver, save for a little behind-the-scenes finagling. “At the same time (he was messaging me,” Norton explains, “Finny messaged Jamie and said “hey, let’s put a band together with Greg Norton!” And Jamie’s like “I’m in!” With step one – the lineup – now set, the band got to work on the other important early band decisions. “We were trying to figure out a name for the band, and a friend of Jamie’s suggested UltraBomb.” Boom, step two: complete. “I had a photo of my daughter Coco with the lollipop and sunglasses, and a friend of mine locally here in Red Wing took that photo and put the atomic bomb in the background, and I’m like “holy crap, I’ve got the album cover!” I slapped “UltraBomb” on that picture and sent it over to Jamie and Finny and they’re like “That’s it!

With a band lineup and name and album cover all squared away in relatively short order in August 2021, there came the came somewhat superfluous next steps of A) actually meeting each other and B) actually working on music. Turns out, Finny had a plan for that too. The following month, the Mahones frontman was playing a series of solo shows in Europe, and just so happened to have some time booked at a studio in Berlin. Jamie, as fate would have it, was also going to be in Berlin. All they needed was Greg. As he tells it, “Finny mentions to me that he’s got four days booked in a studio, and all of a sudden it’s like “well, I should go to Berlin…” I had never met these guys. I book a flight, fly to Berlin, Jamie picks me up at the airport, and that’s the first time we meet face-to-face. The next morning, we’re in the studio getting set up, and Finny shows up, and that’s the first time we had ever met face to face too. It was the first time the three of us had been in a room together. We get set up, Finny had been writing riffs for the band, and that first day we wrote four songs. The second day we wrote the following six.”

The result of that whirlwind, four-day session, is Time To Burn. It’s ten originals plus a Norton-fronted cover of the Dead Boys’ classic “Sonic Reducer,” all banged out in less time than it took me to transcribe our conversation (below). It’s got a raw, throwback vibe, as you might expect from an album that was essentially written on the fly in the studio and grew out of a collection of basic riffs Finny had stored up and a volume of lyrics that Norton just happened to have with him that weren’t initially set to any real music. And while the band essentially got together over Facebook Messenger and the album essentially came together over the course of a long weekend, getting to the point where there was a physical album available for the general public to get its respective grubby little mitts on AND getting to the point where the multi-national trio could play shows together has been a grind of epic proportions.

There were tour dates canceled due to the waxes and wanes of Covid restrictions. There were production hold-ups because, as you might have heard, Adele and Taylor Swift and Beyonce released albums on vinyl and gummed up the works. And then, last summer, there was the most serious hold-up yet, when Norton was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Routine bloodwork revealed a possible diagnosis and a referral to a urologist, and from there, things escalated quickly. “They do an MRI, they do a biopsy, they kind of map out everything that they want to look at, and then you get on the surgery schedule,” says Norton. While the band did have to cancel a run of England tour dates as a result, they were able to squeeze in a one-off show – their first ever – in Minneapolis last July. Four days later, Norton was on the operating table. “I was in the hospital for one night,” Norton explains. “They want you to get up and walk around and be active and get back to your regular normal life as quick as possible.”

Norton is quick to point out that his follow-up appointments and his margins after the operation are all A-OK, so he can finally get back to that “regular normal life” of a touring musician. Not only are physical copies of the record FINALLY just about available (with a little help from DC-Jam Records) tonight, May 11th, UltraBomb will play not only their second-ever show when they hit the stage at the Turf Club in St. Paul, Minnesota, but it’ll mark the beginning of a tour that’ll keep them on the road for the rest of the month. They’re teaming up with Bar Stool Preachers for a run of eighteen shows in twenty days – the longest run Norton will have been on since the last real Husker run decades ago. It’s a run that Norton and the crew are excited to finally be undertaking. “I’m sure nostalgically I look back on those (lengthy van-based Husker Du tour) days and remember them fondly. But the reality is I’m sure we’ll be in the van and going like “how many more hours do we have to go? I have to pee!

The UltraBomb/Bar Stool Preachers “It’s Got Legs Tour” runs from May 11th in St. Paul to May 31st in Denver, making stops in places like Memphis and St. Louis and Phoenix and LA and, of course, Punk Rock Bowling, along the way. Check out the full rundown here! You can stream Time To Burn below on Spotify and, most importantly, scroll down for our full chat, complete with lots of goodies about the Husker Du days, his fourteen-year-absence from even touching a bass, his entries into the free jazz movement, and much more!

Oddly enough, yes, the following Q&A is condensed for clarity and content purposes.

Dying Scene (Jay Stone): Thanks for doing this! I consider this an honor and a privilege, man. As a fan for a long, long time, it’s really cool to be able to get to chat with you, so thanks!

Greg Norton: You bet! So you’re in Massachusetts?

Yeah, I live just north of Boston.

Ok! I loved playing Boston back in the day. Some epic, epic fun times.

So, I’m in my mid-40s and that makes me the right age to have not been old enough to see Husker Du live…where would Husker have played in Boston? I’m trying to think of what was around for venues back in the day…The Channel probably? Or The Rat?

We played The Rat several times, we played The Channel several times. I can’t recall the venue that we played there towards the end, after The Channel (Editor’s note: it was Paradise in 1986 with Soul Asylum opening or it was The Orpheum Theater in 1987 with The Feelies opening. I know, right? Here’s a link to a sweet Husker database I found after we spoke.) Boston was on our very first trip East, and I remember coming into town and we were thinking that we were going to have to rebuild a fanbase and grow it from the ground up like we did out West. And we got to Boston, and the show was packed, and it’s like “oh, there’s this thing called college radio now, and there’s a lot of colleges in Boston!” 

And a lot of music colleges specifically!

Right! For sure! Probably a year and a half after that (editor’s note: 3/22/84), REM called and asked us if we wanted to open for them at the Harvard Fieldhouse. We were like “hell yeah!” So we tacked on a couple extra shows and drove out there. Playing with Mission of Burma out there was great. A lot of really great memories of Boston.

As someone who was born at the very end of the 70…

So you were just a wee lad during the Husker years!

I know! I’ve been in and around the scene in this area for a long time now. I grew up in New Hampshire, but we were close enough to Boston that depending on the conversation, you could call yourself part of the Boston scene. But the scene was so different in the mid-80s than it was in the mid-90s and it’s almost unrecognizable now from either of those times, but that’s a scene that I wish I had been born a little bit earlier into. 

Yup, that was a great one.

So anyway, yeah, thanks for chatting about this new UltraBomb record. It’s super fun, and I have to say that when I first read the press release maybe a year-and-a-half ago now, during that initial announcement that you and Finny and Jamie were putting a band together, I remember thinking “wow, that seems like something born out of Quarantine.” Where you guys are all physically located and the way it came together, that just sounds like it would be a perfect project for a bunch of guys who had nothing to do for nine months or whatever so they put a band together. Is that at all close to accurate?

Well, the getting it together over the internet part is accurate. Finny and I had been Facebook friends for quite a while. Finny is a huge Husker fan. Mahones covered a Husker tune. I had been playing with a band in Minneapolis called Porcupine. That just didn’t ultimately work out. I loved playing with those guys, but the guy that was the band leader – it was his band and he decided he wanted to change directions, so then I was no longer playing with Porcupine. Finny saw that and sent me a message and he’s like “well, I’ve got this idea. I know the greatest punk rock drummer on the planet, Jamie Oliver. He drums for the UK Subs, and I think we should put a band together.” At the same time, he messaged Jamie and said “hey, let’s put a band together with Greg Norton!” (*both laugh*) And Jamie’s like “I’m in!” 

That’s awesome.

That’s really how UltraBomb became a thing. Then we were trying to figure out a name for the band, and a friend of Jamie’s suggested UltraBomb. I had a photo of my daughter Coco with the lollipop and sunglasses, and a friend of mine locally here in Red Wing, when that was first up as a family Facebook post, took that photo and put the atomic bomb in the background, and I’m like “holy crap, I’ve got the album cover!” I slapped “UltraBomb” on that picture and sent it over to Jamie and Finny and they’re like “That’s it!” This is all in August of 2021. Skip forward a month and Finny is in Berlin doing a solo tour and Jamie just happens to be in Berlin. Finny mentions to me that he’s got four days booked in a studio, and all of a sudden it’s like “well, I should go to Berlin…” I had never met these guys. I book a flight, fly to Berlin, Jamie picks me up at the airport, and that’s the first time we meet face-to-face. The next morning, we’re in the studio getting set up, and Finny shows up, and that’s the first time we had ever met face to face too. It was the first time the three of us had been in a room together. We get set up, Finny had been writing riffs for the band, and that first day we wrote four songs. The second day we wrote the following six…

So wait, you guys weren’t trading ideas over Zoom or whatever in this whole process? It was really like “pick the lineup and the name and the cover art and then go write a record in the studio?” That’s fascinating!

Yeah pretty much! We wrote in the studio. Finny would play us a riff and we’d be like “okay, let’s do that” and we’d hammer it into an arrangement. Once we were comfortable with it, we’d tell the engineer “hit record on this one!” Almost everything at that point was recorded either on the first or second take. Jamie had to leave the third day, because he had to play a gig, so that day, Finny and I were in the studio just cleaning up some guitar parts, adding rhythm guitar parts, stuff like that. And I said “well, I’ve got all these lyrics…” so I pulled out like 2000 sets of lyrics. Finny sits down and looks at them and he’s like “well, I’ve got the whole record figured out.” The next morning, Sunday morning, Jamie is back with us. Finny goes in and sings the entire record. We did some on-the-fly pencil edits on the lyrics just to make them flow a little bit better, but I was blown away with how well Finny took my lyrics – which weren’t written to his music – and made them fit perfectly.

That’s really wild. 

We got done and Finny’s like “there it is, bruvs. We created a masterpiece!” At dinner on the second night, we talked about covering something just for fun. We decided on “Sonic Reducer,” so at the end of recording all the vocals on Sunday, the three of us knocked out “Sonic Reducer.” It was the first time Finny and I had ever played “Sonic Reducer” with a band, and I sang it! That’s the one song that I sing on the record. It just turned out so fantastic. Jamie did the mix in London, and it just turned out so awesome. I love it.

I think that “Sonic Reducer” is the first song that I remember hearing as a kid that I identified as being a ‘punk rock’ song. Moreso than The Ramones – I mean, I knew who the Ramones were obviously as a kid, but there’s a different feel obviously about “Sonic Reducer,” there’s a different feel about Dead Boys than there is about the Ramones. That’s the first song I remember hearing and going “THAT’s a punk rock song. I need to know more about what this is!”

There’s a ferocity and an urgency to that song, right from the downbeat. 

It’s really sort of wild to me that, aside from meeting over Facebook and getting to know each other over social media, this is otherwise a throwback, “punk rock” record, and I mean that in like the most ideal way. That’s not necessarily what I was expecting because of the way that so many people were writing music over Zoom and trading song parts and files over Dropbox. It’s really sort of refreshing that even though the band came together on social media, the album was written with just three guys in the studio for four days. That doesn’t happen enough in this scene anymore.

Yeah, I would agree with that. It was written in the moment. It came together so naturally. It felt like the three of us had been playing together for years. Finny and Jamie are such great guys that I feel like they’ve been my best buds for decades. The engineer couldn’t believe that we were writing these on the spot, but it’s that urgent, in-the-moment feel. The record captures the feel of what went down in the studio and obviously, we all have our backgrounds in punk, and there is somewhat of a nostalgic feel to it, but it also is fresh and sounds like it’s made for today. 

Yeah, it doesn’t really sound like anything else. It’s a rock trio so it’s got that sort of “thing,” and it’s very raw. It sounds like you recorded it live and all in the same room together, which I like and appreciate, but it doesn’t really sound like anything else out there now. Did you guys even trade ideas about what direction you wanted or what kind of thing Finny had in mind or whatever, or was it really just “let’s put a band together”?

It’s funny, so when Finny first contacted me, he’s like “hey, you know, this will just be a lot of fun. Let’s play some Husker Du, let’s play some Mahones, we’ll through in some UK Subs, maybe some SNFU, and we’ll just get together and have a laugh, and maybe we’ll play some festivals. People will fuckn’ love it.” And then we were like “well, maybe we should write some of our own music too,” and then when it happened in the studio, it was like “holy crap, we just wrote an album!” We’re getting ready now to go out on this tour. Jamie is already here in Red Wing with me, Finny comes in Sunday (May 7th) and we’re getting ready. We want to start writing new material right away, and we might even try to get some recording done while we’re on the road. It’s kind of the nature of what UltraBomb is! 

You’ve got what, a grand total of one show together under your belts at this point?

Yeah, one gig! Last July, in Minneapolis, after another stumble to get the band out on the road, I got diagnosed with prostate cancer. We canceled dates in England, but we had this offer from the Hook + Ladder in Minneapolis to headline a summer festival that they do, so Finny and Jamie fly in for that, we play one show, it was a total blast – the crowd went wild, there were people losing their minds, there were people crying, it was so incredible. And then five days after that, I had my prostate removed. We took the rest of last year off so I could recover. My diagnosis is good, my margins are clean, and the doctors say I should be yammering on for a few more decades here. 

Hell yeah!

So that’s how we get to the It’s Got Legs tour, which starts Thursday (May 11th) in St. Paul. We’ve got eighteen shows through the end of May – we’re playing 18 shows in 21 days, and Punk Rock Bowling is the crowning moment of the tour. We’re doing two shows in Vegas, one club show where we’re going to open for The Dickies, which I’m really looking forward to. That’s a band that Husker absolutely loved back in the day. I’ve seen them numerous times. And then we’re on the main stage mid-afternoon on Monday, the last day. It’s us and then L7 and then Suicidal Tendencies and then Dropkick Murphys, so…

That’s all killer, no filler right there. 

Yeah, jumping right into the deep end! (*both laugh*) 

And you’re going out with Bar Stool Preachers on this run too, right?

Yup! They’re doing the entire tour with us up to Punk Rock Bowling. I think they’ve got their own shows set up for Punk Rock Bowling, and then the last tour of our run is in Denver on our way home. That’ll be without Bar Stool Preachers. Their new record is great by the way.

They’re such a fun band. They’re such a fun group to see live too. They put on a great show.

I’m looking forward to playing with them.

They can sort of play with a lot of different bands because they float between styles a little bit so they fit on a lot of different bills. I think I saw them with Bouncing Souls, and I feel like they were here with The Business and maybe Swingin Utters. Super fun band. Are you excited to get back out on the road finally?

Yeah, really excited! Porcupine did a few runs, usually just four or five shows. We did a support run with The Flesh Eaters, and that was great. Dave Alvin and John Doe and DJ Bonebrake. They were super nice guys, and it was great hanging with them for the week. We did a run of shows with Flipper with David Yow on vocals. And then Mudhoney and Built To Spill. Those were all short tours though, so this is my first full-blown tour probably since the last long Husker tour. 

That’s pretty wild. Do you miss that part of the music industry? Being in a van and hitting the road for weeks at a time?

Yeah! Well, I’m sure nostalgically I look back on those days and remember them fondly. But the reality is I’m sure we’ll be in the van and going like “how many more hours do we have to go? I have to pee!” (*both laugh*)

Did that happen before, where someone would just hit you up about starting a band or joining their project? Was that a common occurrence for someone in your situation? I ask because I was just listening to your spiel with Mike Watt the other day. I don’t always listen to other shows or podcasts or things, but I love Watt and I’ve been blessed to talk to him a few times, so I used that as part of my research for talking with you, but I know he gets sent music all the time by people saying “hey, can you write with us?” or “hey, can you put bass riffs down under these tracks?” and whatnot, so was that a common occurrence where people would hit you up and ask about playing, and this time it just worked out? And I suppose, if so, why now and why Finny, because on paper it sounds like an interesting match…

You know, I dove into the restaurant world and became a chef and ran a place in Red Wing for seven years before I started my own restaurant. I went fourteen years without even picking up the bass. I thought “Well, that phase of my life is in the past now” and I just concentrated on the restaurant. It was probably early 2000s, there’s a jazz trio called The Bad Plus. Two of them are from Minneapolis, and they were playing a show and they had just released a record on Sony, These Are The Vistas, and they did a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” A friend of mine who was a regular customer and a huge music guy gave me a copy of the CD and said “hey, you should listen to this, I think you’d like it.” Right after that, they did an interview in a Minneapolis paper where Dave (King) and Reid (Anderson) were asked what their influences were. These are jazz guys, and they were like “growing up, Husker Du was a big influence on us,” and I was like “wow! That’s crazy!” I went to see them and loved the show. I wanted to introduce myself and say “hey, I really dig what you guys are doing!” and Dave immediately says “I have an idea for a band and you’d be the perfect bass player for it. So that became The Gang Font, which took maybe three years before we actually got together to play, but that was the impetus for me to get a bass amp again. I didn’t have any gear, so I bought a bass. 

Had you gotten so far out of music that you even sold all your equipment?

I still had my electric basses that I played with Husker, but they hadn’t been played in a lot of years and they needed to be cleaned up and tuned up and all that. I bought a cheapy Fender ¾ acoustic bass to play on and actually that’s still a bass that I’ll take with me to go camping and stuff like that. It’s a beater bass, but it works. It sounds good. That’s what got me back into playing bass. The Gang Font is sort of a hard group to nail down as far as what we are…

That is entirely accurate. I’ve spent a little time with The Gang Font stuff on Spotify. It’s definitely tough to nail down.

We actually have another album that we recorded thirteen years ago, in 2010, and I just saw Dave a couple weeks ago and we’re FINALLY going to try to get that released. After that, Casey Virock calling up and asking if I wanted to take over the bass spot in Porcupine is the only other thing really. Although recently, I have been in the studio and recorded a long improv kind of piece with Charlie Parr. He’s on the Smithsonian label, and he is a national treasure. He’s an acoustic player, but he’s also a guy who I met and was like “oh yeah, Husker Du had a huge impact on me.” That was fun playing with Charlie too. 

He’s from your area, right? He’s a Minnesota guy.

Yeah, he’s originally from Duluth I believe. 

I don’t remember when the official album release date was, because it feels like a lot of that stuff has become sort of a moving target since Covid, between digital releases and then physical CD releases and then vinyl releases. It seems for a lot of bands like there are always different release dates…but does it feel different now than it did releasing a Husker album forty years ago?

Yeah, it does. And this has been frustrating. We put this record out ourselves. We ordered 500 or 600 copies, and it’s a small order. There are so many pressing plants that have closed over the last couple of decades that a small order is not a priority for a lot of plants. Then you get people like Adele putting out an album or Taylor Swift or Beyonce, and all of a sudden everybody gets put on hold so they can press up three million copies or whatever. There kept being all of these delays in getting the vinyl. The vinyl is now finally on its way to the distributor. Here in Red Wing, I just got the box of record sleeves for the pre-sale so that I can autograph them! Finny will sign them on Sunday, then we’ll get those back over to London with the guy that is collating everything together, and then he’ll get the pre-orders all shipped out. So if you pre-ordered the vinyl, it’s coming! (*both laugh*) Hold tight, I promise this is for real this time! That’s been frustrating, and then the other goofy thing is that we wanted to have the record available, so we did release it digitally last year, so now we’re trying to get people excited and press excited, and they’re like “well this record came out last year…” and we’re like “yeah but the vinyl is coming! And we’re going on our first tour!” Back in the day, when the record came out, it came out! There was a drop date and you hit it. Hopefully for our next record, things will go a lot smoother. We’re working with DC-Jam Records here in the States and they’ll put out our next album, and they’ll also be distributing this one when it finally arrives at the distributor. They also made some CDs for us, so the stuff is coming!

For a band that started, met each other and wrote and recorded an album in four days, for it to take a year-and-a-half to finally exist physically has got to be mind-numbing!

Yeah! It came together so quickly and then it was just all of these delays and it was like “oh man, this is killing us!” 

If everything got pushed back because people ordered two million pressings of that Adele record, you know that 1.5 million of those are just sitting in thrift stores or the shelves at Target or Wal-Mart at this point. That was the wrong target market. 


That drives me nuts…and I don’t have a physical product that I’m trying to release into the world. I just get mad for all of you people who are creating the art and doing the work. I really applaud people who still put out music and stick to it. 

Yeah, I mean we had a lot of people who paid money on the pre-sale, and they’re still waiting…it’s crazy. 

And plus, you had the whole cancer bomb dropped right in the middle of all that…

Makes for an interesting last couple of years, to say the least! (*both laugh*) 

How are you now health-wise? You said before that things are good, all clear?

Yeah! Things are good. When they removed the prostate, the doctors said that it appeared that everything was contained, all of my margins were clean, all of my tests since then have come back clean, and that’s good. Actually, going down that journey, all of a sudden you start meeting all of these people that you know who go “oh yeah, I had that procedure done” or “oh I know somebody” or “oh, my dad had it done twenty years ago.” Prostate cancer is the number two cancer killer, and only because people usually don’t know they have it until it’s too late. I was lucky that something popped up on a regular blood test and it was like “you should go see a urologist.” So go out and get your prostate checked, all you men out there! (*both laugh*) 

Seriously! Go to your doctor’s appointments, go to your physicals, get your bloodwork done…

Right! Get the finger stuck up your bum. It’s all good! (*both laugh*) It only takes just a couple of seconds!

For someone who hasn’t gone through that yet, how long a process is it between when something pops up in your bloodwork and when you’re on the operating table and they’re taking out your prostate?

You know, the diagnosis happened pretty quick. They do an MRI, they do a biopsy, they confirm that it’s there. They kind of map out everything that they want to look at. Getting on the surgery schedule, then, actually took some time. That was a longer wait, but then the procedure itself, I was in the hospital for one night. They want you to get up and walk around and be active and get back to your regular normal life as quick as possible.

That’s amazing. I’m glad you’re here, and I’m glad you got checked out because like you said, too many people don’t until it’s too late. 

Thank you!

Since putting UltraBomb together and writing in the studio, has that prompted you to keep writing, whether it’s lyrics or other music? Do you have a lot of ideas to flesh out once you get on the road and start working together?

Oh yeah, sure. I keep writing lyrics all the time. Finny has been writing riffs for UltraBomb, so there’s a good chance that we’ll be able to get a record out – or get one recorded at least – most likely by the Fall. We’re going to even track some stuff on the road. The idea is that we might have a new single ready by the end of the tour, which is fantastic. 

Well if you have twenty-one days together, that’s like a quadruple album based on the way Time To Burn came together…

Right, exactly! Jamie last night was like “what if, for each show, we came up with a new song? Then at the end of the tour, we’d have 18 songs, and that’s a double album! Let’s do it!”

That’s old school, Husker/Minutemen style!

Yeah, Watt and I were talking about Double Nickels (On The Dime)…that was going to be a single album. They had it ready to go, and then we dropped Zen Arcade and they’re like “oh, they did a double album! WE better do a double album!” (*both laugh*) They went into overdrive to write the rest of that record. Even Joe Carducci from SST wrote lyrics for that record. He wrote “Jesus & Tequila.” It was just a fun back-and-forth between us and The Minutemen. We love those guys. Miss you D. Boon!

When a guy like Watt says “we were inspired by your band to raise the bar” because Zen Arcade was obviously an iconic album and then it lead to Double Nickels… which is a legendary album…does that still feel cool to know that it was that sort of competition between you created something like that?

It is, yeah. The SST camp back then was us, the Meat Puppets, Minutemen, then Saccharine Trust and of course Black Flag. But Meat Puppets, Minutemen and Husker, the three of us, I think that was the nucleus of SST at the time and of the stamp that they left on the world. Meat Puppets are still out and playing and it’s great that Derrick (Bostrom) is back in the band. I’m excited to hopefully see them out on the road. They aren’t on the road right now – Curt (Kirkwood) lives in Austin, I think Chris and Elmo (Kirkwood) live in Phoenix – so I hope they all come out and check us out. I’d love to see those guys. And of course Watt never stops.

He’s unreal. He really kinda is. I don’t understand how he just keeps going. And he does that show all the time on top of making music, and he always puts like three hours of music on each show…

Oh yeah, yup. He said he’s been doing that show for twenty-two years. Man…that is awesome.

He’s one of a kind. They definitely broke the mold with that one. 

Yeah, when you talk about going on the road, he’s like “well when ya shoving off?” and “where are you dropping anchor?”

Yeah, you really have to pay attention when he talks because he’s got so many Wattisms that take a minute to process sometimes…

Oh yeah, he’s his own pirate! (*both laugh*)

Thanks for doing this! I don’t want to take up too much of your afternoon and I try to be mindful of folks’ time. I really appreciate getting the chance to pick your brain even a little bit. As someone who grew up wanting to be a bass player for a while – and has long-since put that aside – but it was guys like you and Watt leading into guys like Ament in the “grunge” era who sorta revitalized your era’s sound, that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I really enjoy getting to pick your brain!

Well thanks, I appreciate that!

And good luck on the road! I’m really excited for you guys to be able to be out there and I hope people show out for you. It’s a really good run, and a really good bill!

Yeah, I think they will! People are listening to it. If we’re coming through your town, go get your tickets! If we’re not coming through your town, follow us on Spotify or subscribe to our YouTube channel! We’re going to do a lot of content tor YouTube for this tour, maybe do some live streams, maybe do an UltraBomb travel log. Hopefully, the record will come out in stores while we’re on the road, and we’ll have copies of it on the road so people can come get it signed! 

It’s got to be a pretty cool thing still to have a physical copy of it when it finally shows up, yeah?

Oh I can’t wait to put it on the turntable! Being able to hold it is super exciting. 

Everybody go pick it up. Listen to UltraBomb. Like I said before, it is very much a quintessential “punk rock” record, and I mean that in the truest, most idealist sense of that term. My interest was piqued just by the original announcement…like “how are Greg Norton and Finny going to sound together…” It really does fit well. It’s really cool and really fun and hopefully you make your way to the Northeast some day. 

Oh yeah, definitely. We’re planning on a lot of US tours next year. East Coast, West Coast, all over. Finny got turned on to Husker Du when he was 18. He had just moved to London and he had just missed our show and he wanted to basically try to make his way in the London music scene, and then he heard Husker Du and he was like “oh shit, maybe Minneapolis is where it’s at!” The very first song that he sang (on this record) was “Time To Burn,” and it was funny, I had to tell him “Finny, stop trying to channel Bob (Mould). You’re not Bob. Just be Finny!” He couldn’t contain himself; it was like “oh man, here I am in a band with one of my childhood idols,” you know? He’s a great guy and a fantastic writer and musician and his sense of composition is awesome. And Jamie is just fucking amazing, that’s all I can say.

He’s playing with Mahones now too, right?

Yeah, he was just out with the Mahones in France, and he’ll be doing another tour in I think mid-June or July. He’s also drumming with Anti-Nowhere League right now, so he actually is going to fly home to London from Denver because he has Anti-Nowhere League stuff coming up that first weekend in June. I plan on coming home and relaxing a little bit, and he’s going to go home and go out on another punk rock tour. 

And yeah, speaking about Mahones covering “Makes No Sense At All” before, I could see that there are some hints of Husker on this record that I think people will enjoy. Not just because it’s a power rock trio, but there’s some of that feel.

It’s funny, I think a lot of that is just the way I play bass. Somebody commented after hearing it that it was like “wow, it’s cool hearing all those Husker basslines…” and it’s like, “well, no, those are Greg Norton basslines.” I play how I play, and I don’t really have a particular thing.

Did that change after fourteen years or whatever it was of not playing bass? Or was it just muscle memory when you went back to it? 

There was some muscle memory. I think Gang Font was a good project for me to get back into it, because Dave’s idea was to just let me play whatever I wanted to play, or to play however I heard the music. Erik Fratzke and Dave would write the music and a lot of times they would just start playing something and I would just start playing along however I felt like. I loved it. I’ve always been a big avant-garde jazz fan, so that was fun. 

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DS Interview: Meet your new favorite Danish punk band – USERS

Last May, at Nasty Cut Fest 2023, a band backed out. The band that ended up replacing the canceled band was a new band called USERS. They had only been playing together since January and hadn’t released anything. But we took a chance and gave them a slot at Nasty Cut Fest 2023. That might […]

Last May, at Nasty Cut Fest 2023, a band backed out. The band that ended up replacing the canceled band was a new band called USERS. They had only been playing together since January and hadn’t released anything. But we took a chance and gave them a slot at Nasty Cut Fest 2023.
That might have been one of the best things we did. Since I saw them play at Nasty Cut Fest 2023, I have had the pleasure of following them and getting to know each and every member of USERS. I’ll spare you the sappiness because I absolutely adore them and have the pleasure of interviewing for Dying Scene. It is my way of giving back to them for everything they do and continue to do for the Danish punk scene. So, friends, foes, and everything in between let us introduce you to USERS.

Introduce yourselves. Who are Users? Where are you from?

My name is Sean, but I feel that introducing myself and explaining who I am today will not necessarily reflect who I am tomorrow. It most likely will be similar, but not it’s not always the case. But a short introduction could be that I shout and write the lyrics in the band USERS. I grew up with an English dad and a Danish mum in a suburb outside Copenhagen. A working-class dad and a mum from academia itself. USERS are my heart and soul; it’s the creative outlet and the non-blood family I’ve always dreamed of. I grew up with a lot of English music in my household and take pride in growing up with punk music playing loudly in the living room. At the same time, my old man would do well basically anything.

My name is Sune, and I play bass. I’m 23 years old and originally from Esbjerg. I met Oskar and Esbjørn right before lockdown at a music folk high school. We didn’t play any music together there at the time or even become close friends, but we became acquainted. Then, last December, I was talking with Oskar at a party, and he told me he was starting a punk band with Esbjørn and a guy called Sean, and he asked if I wanted to join and play bass. I instantly said yes, even though the guitar is my main instrument.

My name is Esbjørn. I play guitar in the band. Until just a year ago, I thought I wanted to be a jazz musician. Then I went to see Idles at Roskilde Festival, only knowing one of their songs (Beachland Ballroom). I was completely blown away. From that day on, I had no question: I wanted to do what they did at Roskilde. A few weeks later, I met our lead singer, Sean; he came to see a concert I was playing with one of my friends’ singer/songwriter project. The first thing he ever said to me was, “We need to form a punk band. That energy and attitude need to be in a punk band, not a singer/songwriter”. I remember I was stoked and thinking I would never hear from him again, and I didn’t until we met randomly at a nightclub in Copenhagen half a year later. He said, “You still wanna do that punk band?”. We met for our first rehearsal just a week later, and the rest is history. For me, it was love at first sight. We just clicked musically and personally as well. I grew up in a small ecovillage in Jutland. I’ve been a victim of a lot of bullying throughout my life. Since the age of 17, I’ve dropped out of high school, been in and out of kontanthjælp, dealing with depression, and been struggling to find my place in this world filled with suffering. This band is almost the first time I really feel at home. For that, I’m thankful.

I’m Oskar, I’m a drummer, and I’m a USER. I come from the northern part of Germany, where  I have been trying to start bands all my pre-Denmark life. It’s a little village, so if you want to play any kind of music and are lucky, you find a pianist who knows one or two chords …but that doesn’t do it in the long run. Eventually, I moved to Denmark at 20, where I was lucky to meet the now lead-screaming Sean, with whom I went to school for a semester. The following semester, I was fortunate to meet Esbjørn and Sune too. After moving to Copenhagen, I started working as a Carpenter; not the best decision of my life, but I somehow kept stuck to it for some years because it still gives a steady income, which is super important if you want to live in the capital of Denmark where everything is absurdly overpriced. Sorry for the long sentence…

I have been playing many instruments through the years. Still, I have always wanted to play drums in a more aggressive sound setting, and when Sean and Esbjørn met at a party and started talking about playing punk, I was all ears. My connection to the post-punk genre isn’t the biggest, but since starting the project, my eyes and ears have been opened to the sound of it, which I really love.

What inspired the band?

Well, I used to play in a just-for-laugh punk band with Oskar back at højskole. I ended up at one of his concerts with a pop artist where, funny enough, Esbjørn played guitar as well! We talked about starting a punk band for laughs and got hammered. And six months later, I ran into Esbjørn, that lovely bastard, at a nightclub at like 4 in the morning and said, let’s do it. A week later, we had our first rehearsal. We started talking about direction and sound, and it just clicked. We share a lot of the same views and struggle with similar things. And it’s a way to get heard, so I believe this keeps us inspired and pushing hard!

I’ve played music for most of my life and have always had varied influences. Still, since I was a teenager and started playing guitar, I’ve always dreamed of playing dark, high-energy, and abrasive rock music. My first love was Nirvana; through that, I started getting into all kinds of punk rock, subgenres, and many different obscure bands.

It’s an endless rabbit hole that you just can get lost in. Growing up in Esbjerg, I couldn’t find anyone with the same taste I wanted to start a post-punk band with. In many ways, it feels like the universe has arranged all the right circumstances to make this happen. Like we’re finally allowed to freely and fully express ourselves.

What inspired the band also lies in the story about what inspired the name “USERS”

“We are all users of capitalism, the toxic system, social media, etc. Almost everything we do daily contributes to someone else’s suffering. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the gas and oil we use, etc. This breaks my heart every day. With an urge almost throughout my life to scream at people, trying to make them realize this, I came upon punk music. I discovered it’s the perfect way to scream all my frustrations out.:

I think musically, all four band members have been drawn to the more complex sounds of the grunge, punk, and rock genres since early in life. So, there has always been a pretty good basis for us to start this project purely musically.

Every one of us needed a place to show emotion and get rid of excess feelings. For me, there is no better way to do this than playing hard drums and screaming into a microphone about what makes us feel the way we do. When we do a rehearsal or a concert, you can see us showing emotion in how we play. Hence, the band somehow enables us to channel these emotions into a product that is relatable and exciting to witness live. For me, the emotions in play are desperation, powerlessness, and stress.

I think in the beginning, the band was inspired by us just wanting to play the genre of post-punk since some of us had just seen IDLES at Roskilde festival and came back to Copenhagen with lots of inspiration. Esbjørn and I have always been playing in many different band settings together, and we have always wanted to start a harder-sounding project after moving to Copenhagen. So when Sean (with whom I had played punk during our time at DRH) and Esbjørn randomly met each other in Copenhagen’s nightlife, they began moving things and setting up what is now called USERS.

You are a new band, but you haven’t slowed down. You played Nasty Cut Festival in May, had another show that night, and played Nordlys at the beginning of August. How does it feel to be able to do what you enjoy?

Strangely, it doesn’t feel different l, but to be fair, this band has swallowed me. It’s all I think about during the day and all I dream about at night. I feel very privileged that people enjoy what we create. You say,” You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” But I’ve realized I’ve always missed this in my life! If I look at it, I’ve never worked harder for something, but I’ve never had it so easy with what I do because it doesn’t feel like work! It’s like a gift from the universe that keeps giving, and I’m ever grateful.

To be frank, it feels amazing. We all love playing live, and it’s been a pleasure to see this project snowballing from the get-go. It’s all very exciting for us. We are all very committed to the band and playing as much as possible. We are always making new plans for the future, and constantly having upcoming gigs in our calendar helps motivate and keep us focused. It can be hard work, but we can tell that it pays off. We definitely have no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

I feel incredibly thankful and privileged. I can’t imagine or think of a time or place where I feel more comfortable and happy than when I’m on stage with what has become some of my absolute best friends in just half a year. I’m completely overwhelmed with gratitude for how lucky we’ve been with the support we’ve gotten and that people keep coming to our shows.

Pretty sick! The main thing that makes me enjoy USERS as much as I do is the feeling that this project means something to us and the folks around us. I have played in many constellations through the years and never felt the same excitement towards a band like this one. The band is filled to the brim with high hopes, engagement, and determination to make this project our life’s work. I enjoy being part of that and seeing myself do as well. I have always wanted to perform music as we do in USERS, so I hope we get to show it to everybody.

You have yet to release an album but are ready to release a live session. How does it feel to put some music out, and where can the listeners find it?

For me, it’s not the first time I have released music. And I’m sure you can find if you’re on par with Nardwuar type of digging. But I’m so stoked about this, as this is something I can be proud of! The blood, sweat, and tears we’ve put into these live sessions have been worth it!

You can find them on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook! If you fancy checking them out, I’ll definitely appreciate it!

We’ve only played since January, but even at our first band practice, we talked about releasing an album. So that’s always been in our plans, but we didn’t want to rush anything. Then we came up with the idea of making a live session, and it seemed like a good way to burst the bubble of releasing music. And to be honest, it turned out much better than any of us expected. So we’re all very excited to finally be releasing. I can’t wait to return to the studio and start recording again. The live session can be seen and heard on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. And for those who want the music, you can also listen to it on Bandcamp.

I honestly feel stressed about it. With everything happening so fast, we had to put something out ASAP. In some way, I would have liked our first release to be a proper studio recording with lots of time to experiment… Things have just been going so fast that we haven’t had the time, and it was about time we put something out there. I’m just looking forward to our coming studio sessions this fall.

We’ve decided to release the Live sessions from Hotel Cecil on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Bandcamp.

From following you, I know you are a pretty politically active band. Are you politically active in your spare time?

I want to think I have my thoughts about what’s happening, but as a political activist, I would not call myself. I have my thoughts and feelings about human ethics and how we treat each other. Believe the best and easiest way to find respect and love between people of different views, backgrounds, and cultures is to sit down eye to eye with no defense or prejudice. I have my ethics and political views, but I don’t believe that I am right by default. There’s nothing more amazing than meeting someone who can make you expand your point of view on the world. I hope that in the future, I can be seen as politically active by giving that gift to people through my lyrics or at least opening up the discussion between friends and friends!

Yes, I’ve always been aware of how much inequality there is, and I always felt an urge to discuss this. A few years ago, I got active in the climate movement Extinction Rebellion in Copenhagen, and it just made so much sense to me. Besides the band, this is one place I’ve felt at home. I was then very active for a year, doing civil disobedience in Denmark and Germany with different movements. I’ve been less active the past year because I’ve had some very uncomfortable experiences with the police, which I’ve had to digest. The people/activists I’ve met doing this are some of the most loving and caring people I’ve ever met. Undoubtedly, the concerts I enjoy playing the most are at demonstrations. It makes so much sense to me.

Not as much as I want to be. I have always been a part of protests and marches against climate change back in my days in Germany. Since I have come to Copenhagen, I have realized the matter to be even more pressing than ever before. Moving to Copenhagen has put me in a difficult financial situation, which I am often stressed out about. I find myself too stressed out or too exhausted to join marches and other political events I support. The system I want to demonstrate against is simultaneously the reason for my inability to do so.

The band is the best way for me to be political in many ways. I feel like I can change something by being part of the strong political messages that are the backbone of every USERS-lyric.

Do you have any goals for the rest of the year? Or maybe even next year?

I think career-wise, we’ve got loads of goals. We dream of playing Scandinavia’s most prominent festival, Roskilde, and start touring internationally. That’s always been a dream of mine, and I believe in it! But for my personal artistic side, I hope to get to explore more of my traumas and troubles through our music. And hope that I can make people feel seen like the small and fantastic crowd we’ve gathered has made them feel seen!

We have plenty of new exciting things planned. It’s almost hard to keep track of sometimes. We’re having a release party at Basement on the 28th of September, when the final live session is released, which we are all very excited about. We’ll do more recording this Autumn and then a few other shows in Copenhagen and possibly in Jylland and Fyn. Next year, we’ll get back in the studio. Then we plan to play as many concerts and festivals as possible and maybe even some shows abroad.

Of course! I’m looking forward to recording and releasing a full-length album, and we’ll do this within a year. That’s a massive milestone for me. Another goal is to play international shows, hopefully soon. We’re working towards playing a lot of festivals next year, and Roskilde Festival is probably my biggest goal/dream as a musician. It feels very surreal that this may be within reach. Besides all this, my biggest goal is to contribute to opening people’s minds and have them reflect upon their privileges.

We have a lot of goals for the near and far future. We have many plans for recording in the upcoming months until 2024. The first part of the plan was recording live sessions, which we had just finished. We recorded 3 songs, which will be released in the time up to our release party we have organized to celebrate our live-session release. The next step is to go to the studio we are currently setting up with some of the best people we know. We have lots of material, so we are discussing whether to record an EP or go for the full album. We will probably finance the recording since we don’t have a deal with a label yet, so we will see what will happen. November is going to be the first time USERS go on tour. At least, that is what we plan right now, and things are looking very promising. At some point, the studio records will be released, and we will start preparing for a wild festival season in 2024. We are currently getting everything ready for a promising 2024.

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DS Photo Gallery & Show Review: Punk Rock Tacos 33 / Surf Candy / Mulva / Of Wolves / x.Oracles.x / Radar Waves / Squared Off/ Downhill Runner / The Turdles / Nahuales Underground (Cemitas Poblanas – Villa Park, Il 8/12/2023)

Located in the Chicago ‘burb of Villa Park. Punk Rock Tacos provides a place for music. They expand themselves to friend venues at the core of the Chicago punk scene. After 2 years of putting on shows it became a record label. A website featuring all of the bands will be launching soon. On the […]

Mulva with Max the punk rock dog

Located in the Chicago ‘burb of Villa Park. Punk Rock Tacos provides a place for music. They expand themselves to friend venues at the core of the Chicago punk scene. After 2 years of putting on shows it became a record label. A website featuring all of the bands will be launching soon. On the site, each band has its own Big Cartel store where the band handles their own orders and money. “In these times, we need to fall somewhere between LABEL-DIY. It’s still nice to group up and have organization, but we are not a label that owns everyone’s music.” They continue to book top local and touring talent. Overall, a memorable experience was had with the bands and crowd. A great old-school punk show vibe. Very pleasant, courteous, and friendly staff, great food. Very accommodating and I highly suggest seeing shows at this venue.

The day at Punk Rock Tacos 33 kicked off with Surf Candy from the Chicago sub-burbs. Surf Candy is a three-piece Noisy Hard Rock band bringing a taste of Grunge and noise rock. Ian Young (guitar/vocals), Seb Schlau (bass) and Andy Hartmanowski (drums) brought a great sense of energy and played most of the songs off their debut E.P. Surf Candy. Check out more photos below!

Next up was the band Mulva from Milwaukee/Chicago. The band consists of Mike Muse (vocals/guitar), Justin Schenck (bass/vocals) and Jeff Coyl (drums). All veterans of the Midwest scene with punk pedigrees. They bring a strong sense of catchy hook-laden energy and humor to their live show. Their set consisted of songs off their E.P.s I Cant Wake Up/ The Prequel Trilogy. Check out more photos below!”

The tempo changed for the day when Of Wolves hit the stage with their blend of crusty punk, sludge, post-hardcore & gritty stoner doom. Steve Wolves (guitar/vocals), Ivan Wolves (bass/backing vocals) and Tom Wolves (drums/backing vocals) brought some thunder that day. Songs from their album Balance and a few others turned the volume to 11 and let it rip. Check out more photos below!

x.Oracles.x with their blend of Chicago-style Punk Rock/Blues brought a great vibe to the day. Members Ms. Lynch (vocals), Bonezz (drums), The Sausage King of Chicago (bass) and Rev. Dracula (guitar/vocals) played a great set with a definite nod towards First Wave New York punk/New Wave stripped down to the blues. Fresh off their new release on Punk Rock Tacos Records Gitcha, Gitcha and an incredible cover of “Psycho Killer” they made more than a few new fans that day. Check out more photos below!

From the Western Burbs, Radar Waves‘ Charlie Thornton (guitar/vocals), Rob Wash (bass/vocals), and Mikey Cervenka (drums) had a fun and upbeat set of Trash Rock with a wide variety of influences on display coming together to create a unique energy filled set filled with songs from their various releases including the latest “Everybody’s Bitchin'”.

Chicago Punk Rock veterans Squared Off brought a solid lineup of classic punk rock with an old-school working man’s vibe. Tony (guitars/vocals), Hoser (guitar/vocals), Nomi (bass/vocals) and Fabian (drums) ran through a set of new and familiar songs from their deep catalog. Their cover of “Safety Dance” was on point with a lot of crowd participation. Always a fun band to see.

Downhill Runner took the stage just as the sun was setting for the day and it was perfect timing for the Three-piece Punk/Alternative band on Punk Rock Tacos Records. Brian Matejk (drums), Jim Burchinal (guitar) and Daniel Fredrick played a great set of songs from their album Rebel Radio.

Next up was The Turdles from Elgin, Il. Josh Holbrook (vocals), Dave Cherek (bass), Dan Cuchiara (guitar), Brian Stream (drums) came on and rocked the stage with songs from their releases Just Another Turd In The Toilet (2023) and Party Pooper (2022). With their infectious dirty Punk/Boogie they brought they got the crowd moving. I look forward to seeing them again.

Closing out the night was Nahuales Underground a five-piece band that brought it with their brand of rock, punk, metal with their songs that are about social revolution, love and political ideas. Loco Dub (vocals/guitar), Ish Echeverria (bass), Chente Echeverria (lead guitar/vocals), Javi Pantoja (percussionist) and Memo Hernandez (drums) played an excellent infused set that had the crowd dancing along.

Head below to check out slideshows from each of the bands on the fun and eclectic lineup!

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DS Photo Gallery: Destroy Boys, Gully Boys, Jigsaw Youth & More! (Metro, Chicago, IL 7/22/23)

Destroy Boys just finished their tour opening for Blink-182 and Turnstile and quickly embarked on their own headlining tour soon after, including two dates of “DestroyFest” that featured even more killer bands. Chicago was blessed to be one of those cities (the other being NYC) and Dying Scene was there to get all photos you […]

Destroy Boys just finished their tour opening for Blink-182 and Turnstile and quickly embarked on their own headlining tour soon after, including two dates of “DestroyFest” that featured even more killer bands. Chicago was blessed to be one of those cities (the other being NYC) and Dying Scene was there to get all photos you will need to feel immersed into this night of punk rock.

If you have seen any of my previous photo galleries, you will know that my love for Destroy Boys and Jigsaw Youth is no secret, so every fiber of my being needed to be at this show to see them together again. In case you missed, it check out the photos from Destroy Boys at Riot Fest 2022 and Jigsaw Youth with Pinkshift at the Cobra Lounge.

I was also excited to see a few bands that were not previously on my radar (but definitely are now!)

Photo by Bethünni Schreiner

Based in Minneapolis, Bugsy is self-described as “an indie pop quartet with flowery flourishes and emo highlights.” Unfortunately, we missed the first half of their set to get some photos due to…reasons. But we will catch you all next time!

Photo by Bethünni Schreiner

Destructo Disk is a fun DIY punk band out of Winchester, Virginia. They also run their own independent record label Sockhead Records.

“That nitty gritty city shit” perfectly exemplifies Jigsaw Youth in every possible way. If I ever get to experience a rage room I would definitely be blasting their new EP The War Inside Me in the background.

Gully Boys is a grunge power-pop band from Minneapolis. They released their debut album Not So Brave in 2018 and has shared the stage with the likes of The Hold Steady and Third Eye Blind. Their song “Favorite Son” has been on repeat on my playlist. You can listen to their newest single “Optimist” here.

Destroy Boys is having a busy 2023 – touring the UK and Europe, releasing their singles “Beg For the Torture” and “Shadow (I’m Breaking Down)” via Hopeless Records, and the newly announced The Jaws of Life Tour where they will be joining Piece the Veil, L.S. Dunes and Dayseeker.

Check out the full gallery below!

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DS Photo Gallery: Pinkshift w/ Jigsaw Youth & Yasmin Nur – Cobra Lounge, Chicago, IL (10/26/2022)

The rapidly-rising pop punk trio Pinkshift stopped in Chicago for their headlining tour after releasing their debut album Love Me Forever. Accompanied by Jigsaw Youth and Yasmin Nur, the all-ages crowd at Cobra Lounge packed the house and left with an unforgettable night of female-fronted music. Wichita, Kansas native singer/songwriter Yasmin Nur opened the night […]

The rapidly-rising pop punk trio Pinkshift stopped in Chicago for their headlining tour after releasing their debut album Love Me Forever. Accompanied by Jigsaw Youth and Yasmin Nur, the all-ages crowd at Cobra Lounge packed the house and left with an unforgettable night of female-fronted music.

Wichita, Kansas native singer/songwriter Yasmin Nur opened the night with her band and brought along all the dreamy-yet-dark indie rock vibes you can ever ask for.

Jigsaw Youth quickly became one of my favorite bands after seeing them at Cobra Lounge in 2021 with Destroy Boys. The sludge-grunge queens of New York brought the same howling energy as they did last year and introduced the new single “Skin.”

Pinkshift released their debut album Love Me Forever on October 21, 2022 through Hopeless Records. The empowering and emotional album boasts several stellar hits including “i’m not crying you’re crying,” “nothing (in my head)” and “BURN THE WITCH.”

The new wave of pop punk is here and this album deserves to be a part of it!

Check out the full gallery below!

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DS Show Review & Gallery: Sincere Engineer, Fluorescents, Droughts, and Rodeo Boys (Chicago: 01.14.2023)

Sincere Engineer headlined a sold-out show at Bottom Lounge on Saturday, January 14, 2023. Supporting her on the bill were Fluorescents, Droughts, and Rodeo Boys. It was an electrifying night of music from the top of the bill to the bottom. This show was a milestone for Sincere Engineer, as Deanna Belos revealed to me: […]

Sincere Engineer headlined a sold-out show at Bottom Lounge on Saturday, January 14, 2023. Supporting her on the bill were Fluorescents, Droughts, and Rodeo Boys. It was an electrifying night of music from the top of the bill to the bottom.

This show was a milestone for Sincere Engineer, as Deanna Belos revealed to me:

“It was our first sold-out headliner that wasn’t a record release show. We actually haven’t played too many headliners here [Chicago]. I think a total of four. And two were record releases.”

Though it was sold out because of Belos aka Sincere Engineer, she still seemed taken aback that so many people showed up specifically for her. Throughout her performance, Belos kept repeating “this is crazy,” with what appeared to be a slightly nervous smile on her face. That humility, evident on stage and off, is surely another reason so many have become fans of her and why the merchandise line stretched so far across the venue floor. Belos, manning her own table, took a moment to interact with each person who approached.

This night was likely a standout not just for Belos as she was not the only one to feel the very warm embrace from the crowd. Whilst setting their gear up on stage, Adam Beck, Kyle Geib, and Nick Arvanitis surely could hear the fans shouting out their love for them. Some audience members could be heard loudly requesting the names of the trio.  

Belos’ first song of the set seemed to address the restive feelings right before taking the stage. From Bottle Lightning Twice

I got a brown paper bag

I’m breathing in and out in the back, you see?

And all the people are staring at me

Pull into the station it’s a fever dream

The crowd goes wild while I’m in the ring

Big open spaces, little train car seat

A lightweight tapped out, it seems

But I’ll be okay when I feel the electricity.

Belos’ voice, tinged with a bit of gravel, soared over the crowd. Beck’s muscular drumming in conjunction with Arvanitis’ powerful bass playing combined for a forceful rhythm section. Geib’s potent guitar playing and that of Belos’ completed the very tight quartet.

 The band also drove through “Let You Down,” “1K Rats,” “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7,” and “Dragged Across The Finish Line.”

On this chilly night, Belos lamented, in “Out of Reach,”

I watch the weather on tv.

I watch the green on the screen cover up this stupid fuckin’ city.

And now it’s like you won’t believe.

All the things I want and need

Just seems so fuckin’ out of reach for me.

It was special evening for Belos in another way as her parents were in the audience and her mentioning them prompted cheers from the crowd. Days later, Belos excitedly told me, “It was nice having them there!! They’ve only been to a few of our shows!”

Sincere Engineer was also celebrated in another way. Bottom Lounge added the very popular corn dogs to its menu. However, Belos is not likely to be ordering one for herself. Reminder as to how the convenience food became an important part of her first big hit, Belos told me,

And it was like a time when I moved out of my parents’ house and went grocery shopping on my own for the first time. I bought a box of frozen corn dogs, and they were horrible and sat in the back of the freezer for years lol.”

Following the show, Belos again confirmed her dislike of corn dogs. This was met with raised eyebrows and exclamations of surprise from fellow musicians on the bill, and from fans waiting to meet her. It also prompted a lively discussion of how to make corn dogs more palatable (pour syrup on them was one suggestion) or possible alternative snack-on-a-stick options (Pancake on a stick!). I must also add that while I am a fan of both dogs and corn, I too am not a corn dog fan.

For those lucky enough to score tickets to the show, it left them hungry for more. Belos is in the process of ensuring the fans get it, informing me that,

Up next is recording LP3 in February, Europe tour in May! That’s it’s so far, both have been announced already!!

Sincere Engineer has also been added as a special guest opener for the July 15-22 dates on this year’s Sad Summer Fest.

Chicago’s own Fluorescents came on as bright and animated as its name suggests. This was also, thus far, the biggest crowd, for which the group comprised of Bobby Guidi, Tyler Milka, Sasquel Roby Exum, and Alex Klump, has performed.

The band lit up the stage as they zoomed through “Locked Away,” “Vibe,” “Mood,” “T.A.S.T.,” and “Funeral.”

Fluorescents have cited the pop-punk of the early-aughts as a primary influence, along with the 2010’s easy-core trend. Joining ferocious performances with terrific songs, Fluorescents will surely find itself playing for ever-growing crowds.

Droughts are also from Chicago. They consist of Joe Klomes, Nick Spiese, Will Seals, and Will C. Klomes, the latter of whom expressed his apprehensiveness at speaking in front of crowds due not knowing what to say. But he did better than I suspect he thought he did. The group jammed through “Stay Behind” “Lose Light,” “Cutouts,” “Marionette,” and “Welcome Back.” It was a strong set and hopefully the band will grace more stages this year, at home and elsewhere.

Self-described in its Facebook profile as a “Just a queer as hell four piece rippin’ grunge tunes from Lansing, MI,” Rodeo Boys lit the fuse for a blasting cap of an evening. Tiff Hannay, Cody Lee, Taylor Dody, and Dandy Waltz were clearly having a great time with their music, their fans and each other. The lively and playful set included “Dog Leg,” Be Your Man,” “Pump 6,” “Queen Anne’s Lace,” and “Tidal Wave.” In the month prior to playing at the April 2023 Stoop Fest in its hometown, the band will be heading to a fest in a state famous for rodeos. Rodeo Boys will be featured in the Don Giovanni Records Showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2023.

Please see below for more photos from this show!

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DS Show Review and Gallery: Ruido Fest (Cypress Hill; Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Bruses, Cardiel)

Ruido Fest 2022 took place last month, August 19-21, in Chicago’s Union Park. The event is billed as the area’s largest Latin alternative music festival. The bands and performers came from the Windy City, across North America, and from all around the world. Amongst the forms of music presented are punk, post-punk, hip-hop, electronica, psychedelic, […]

Ruido Fest 2022 took place last month, August 19-21, in Chicago’s Union Park. The event is billed as the area’s largest Latin alternative music festival. The bands and performers came from the Windy City, across North America, and from all around the world. Amongst the forms of music presented are punk, post-punk, hip-hop, electronica, psychedelic, and more. All with a Latin American flavor. 

Whilst a few bands, such as Beach Goons, Siddhartha and Maldita Vecindad, had to drop out, the remaining lineup brought three days of fun and energy to large and enthusiastic crowds. Being that this was alternative music festival taking place in the US, it was not surprising that one of the most prevalent band shirts was that of grunge band Nirvana. Everywhere you looked, people of all ages wore shirts dominated with the band’s name, and often the iconic melancholy expression of the late Kurt Cobain.

Cypress Hill, the CA hip-hop legends might be characterized as punk adjacent. Singer Dr. Greenthumb aka B-Real and percussionist Bobo took the stage after about 30 minutes, give or take, introduction by DJ Lord. By that time, a thick wall of smoke connected the stage to the audience via smoke machine with a bit of thinning out above the photo pit. Some of that was the due to the smoke machine on stage. Of course the group’s advocacy for the use of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes, is a major theme in its songs. B-Real paced the stage with a rather long blunt in his left hand along with the microphone as he gestured with his right hand.  The group tore through its standards such as “Dr. Greenthumb”, “I Ain’t Going Out Like That”, “Hits From the Bong”, “How I Could Just Kill A Man”, and many others. By the time they got to what is arguably their biggest hit, Insane In the Membrane, Cypress Hill had complete control of the large crowd. Capping off its set was a rollicking cover of House of Pain’s most famous tune, Jump Around.  B-Real called for everybody “standing up to get down like this here” and advised that those with a Fitbit or Apple watch the this was going to fill up their activities category. Indeed the crowd, exponentially larger than any other set that weekend, with many members attending only for Cypress Hill, was jumping around almost completely in unison.

Bruses had a smaller crowd than Cypress Hill but the Tijuana native was no less enthralling. She was clad in a variation of a business suit. A black jacket covered with numerous hand painted looking designs in white, black raggedly cut off just below her knees and sporting on each leg two belts. Clunky black shoes, a black tie white shirt completed the outfit. Almost. Rising above, from behind, each shoulder blade were several, what I can only describe as, glittery black stuffed horns. Her hot pink hair, pale foundation accented with dark red lips, reddish pink eyelids ringed in black, created ethereal stage presence. Her music and movements throughout were bewitching and she had the crowd in a trancelike state.

Elis Paprika, another one of the numerous performers hailing from the USA’s North American neighbor to the south, is also a well know activist in her native Guadalajara. She rocketed off from the start of her set, never touching down until she was finished whipping up the crowd in to exhaustion. With hyper charm and perfectly complementing her strong voice and infectious songs, few would argue with the words on bright red t-shirt, an item of her own merchandise, exclaiming “Mexican Girl Power!”

Skate punk band Cardiel consists of two Valencia, Venezuela natives: Vocalist/Guitarist Miguel Fraíno and drummer Samantha Ambrosio. However, the founded their band in Mexico City in 2010. Little flash but lots of fury marked Cardiel’s set. They pummeled through song after song, hyping up the circle pit significantly.

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, the Buenos Aires ska legends, had the swelling crowd dancing as the night two headliners. The band ripped through “Manuel Santillán, El León”, “Saco Azul”, “Mal Bicho”, “Calaveras y Diablitos”, “Matador”, and “El Satánico Dr. Cadillac”. It was a fun way to end a Saturday night on a not too hot summer day. 

Other highlights from the weekend included sets from Sgt. Papers, El Mato, and Avantist.

See more photos below!

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Dying Scene Interview: Tristan and Hunter Martinez of Decent Criminal on Their Brand New Full-Length “There’s More To It Than Climbing”

There’s More To It Than Climbing, the much-anticipated, brand-spanking-new full-length from Southern California’s finest, Decent Criminal, is live on all streaming services now. I had the absolute pleasure of getting to chat with Tristan and Hunter Martinez, the duo responsible for making up 50% of the Decent Criminal gang, and got to question the minds […]

There’s More To It Than Climbing, the much-anticipated, brand-spanking-new full-length from Southern California’s finest, Decent Criminal, is live on all streaming services now. I had the absolute pleasure of getting to chat with Tristan and Hunter Martinez, the duo responsible for making up 50% of the Decent Criminal gang, and got to question the minds behind a record that is unlike anything the group has released previously.

My last encounter with these dudes came back in 2017 on a bill featuring Dwarves and The Queers (it’s actually been so long that the venue, Exit/In, has since closed and reopened its doors) and it was back in the days when I was still exploring the genre that I’ve now come to love so much. That tour was in support of their sophomore release, Bloom, a record that was described by PunkNews as having “much more oomph and power” than their debut. This was the Decent Criminal that I had obsessed over for a while, but later fell out of touch with until this current release.

Parts of this record allude to the Southern California brand of punk that served as my very introduction to Decent Criminal, while the remaining majority explores genres outside that which fans have previously experienced from the group. On more than one occasion, heavy shades of Sublime are present, with little sprinkles here and there of qualities that remind me of the glory days of Everclear and Sugar Ray (but in only the best ways).

You can tell these dudes let loose with this record and just had a good time making it and the end product is something that’s both riveting, yet easy listening at the same time. Tracklist construction is something I’ve paid more and more attention to as I conduct more interviews, and as we discuss during our chat, this record is extremely well-crafted in a way that guides you along a journey of where these guys are currently at. I very much encourage you to check this thing out below from start to finish because, although each track can stand alone in its own right, it truly is a journey in that each recording guides you along to the next until “Hold Me Down” serves as a worthy conclusion.

Due to the heavy emphasis on this record being more of a journey rather than merely a collection of tracks, conducting this interview in a track-by-track format seemed fitting. Catch the full interview below, and go catch these guys live because, with this release being unlike anything in their catalog, both Hunter and Tristan assured that their live shows will feature some changes.

(Editor’s note: The following has been edited and condensed for clarity’s sake because a good chunk of this interview was just four guys shooting the shit.)

Dying Scene (Nathan Kernell NastyNate): I appreciate you guys reaching out to do this interview. It was nice diving back into your music, I’d kind of fallen out of the loop with you guys since the last time I saw you. I caught you guys years ago here in Nashville I think during the Bloom tour, maybe with like Agent Orange or Dwarves or somebody. It was back at Exit/In before they shut down and reopened.

Tristan Martinez: Oh Dwarves, yeah man. We did that run with them and the Queers, that was one of our first tours.

That’s right, yeah. I get all those shows mixed up because Agent Orange and the Queers came through every other month pretty much, always at Exit/In. So where are you guys calling from?

Tristan: We’re in sunny Los Angeles, California, it’s pretty sweet. We just finished up tour yesterday so we’re back here in California.

It looks a hell of a lot better than it does here in Nashville right now *laughs*.  So I wanted to start out and see if I could get some background on the record, where it was recorded, how long you’ve been sitting on these songs. It’s due out in May, correct?

Hunter Martinez: Yeah it’s coming out May 19th, this first pressing is gonna be on our own label called Diissed Records. Then Gunner is out in Germany and they’re doing distribution out there and Best Life Records out of the UK is doing distribution there too.

Cool, have you guys been sitting on these songs a while or did you write these leading up to getting this recorded?

Hunter: Essentially we had like a record’s worth of material before the pandemic, and then that happened so we basically threw it all away except for one song, that’s on the record. Yeah so we just made like a whole ‘nother record.

Yeah that’s kind of been a common theme with a few of these interviews I’ve been doing. Guys will have stuff that they released right during COVID or they’ve got material, and then we’re starting to see now records that are released that were written during COVID. It kind of gives a different spin on some of these new releases.

Hunter: Yeah, it was like a period too where you didn’t really know what the hell was gonna happen.

Tristan: Some of it’s very dark, it’s almost like a reminder of why you even write or play music in the first place, it was kind of freeing for me.

So congrats on the record guys. What stood out to me, it seems like it kind of jumps around from genre to genre. There was a short bio at the top of the email I was sent that listed influences like Silversun Pickups and Dirty Nil, kind of a wide range of influences. But it made sense after listening to it.

Tristan: Yeah we dabble man, we listen to a lot of different kinds of stuff so I think it shows.

I mean I definitely heard some like old-school grunge in there, and then I heard some of what I was familiar with from seeing you guys back in like 2018 or 19. I heard some of that and then I heard some stuff that was kind of caught me off guard, completely different.  

With this record, would you say the variation in style is kind of the biggest difference from what you’ve released before or do you have something that comes to mind for what’s different about this release than what you guys have put out before?

Hunter: Yeah I mean check out the whole thing, I think it’s meant to be listened to in its entirety, everything’s intentional. I mean I think it’s gonna be obvious that there’s way different shit than we’ve done before and that’s cool.

Tristan: Very, very happy about this record, how everything came out is a good interpretation of where we are right now, we’re stoked to actually be out play and play it in full probably coming up here.

So “Outside” kicks off the brand new release. I’m gonna ask a super original question, can you tell me about it *laughs*?

Tristan: Yeah “Outside” is cool, it’s Brian’s tune, Brian starts it off pretty. It’s kind of like the whole record, in a way, it’s a good scope of like where things are at and where things are going. Brian’s no longer in the band and I think it sort of opens up that and you know where he’s at, where he’s going and where we’re going. So unfortunately we had to part ways.

Hunter: I think he wrote that after he did mushrooms with his wife and I think some of that he references in the song. He showed us that demo a long time ago and I was very much pushing him on recording it because it sounds so fuckin’ cool. I really, I love that song.

So “Driving“, that’s one of the singles, that was one that I was kind of referencing as what I’m familiar with as Decent Criminal. Did you plan that out with that kind of sounding like what you guys traditionally sound like, was there a plan behind releasing that one first?

Tristan: It was just kind of the first one that we thought like “Oh this could be our first single”.  As far as singles go, these first two kind of guide you along. Like “Smooth” almost takes you like a little bit further into where it’s going, so it all kind of leads you. So the first parts kind of familiar if you’re into our band, but then the next two are gonna be vastly different.

Was “Driving” the one you kept from that basically full length you had during COVID?

Hunter: No, that song is called “Wanna Be.”

Oh gotcha. So tell me a little bit about the meaning behind “Driving.

Tristan: Yeah “Driving,” essentially it’s kind of metaphorical in a way, like the car is myself, my body, my lifestyle. Driving my car is you know like living a different lifestyle than most people and kind of the toll it takes on your life being in a band and all that shit. I don’t know, I think it could be taken pretty literal and that’s chill too. So yeah that’s the actual meaning behind it.

Sweet. So then moving on to “Soothe,” that’s another single out, that’s probably my favorite. I like how simple it is and it kind of makes a lot of sense, you talking about that one taking the listener a little further to where this record is going. I thought it was more of like a traditional grunge sound.

Tristan: Yeah for sure, it just hits in certain places and it comes down other places. And yeah that was a cool song. Hunter and I were just jamming, I record everything we jam, so it’s a song where none of those parts were written alone, it just happened on the spot and we just like put it together over the course of a few weeks.

Is that common with you guys, just kind of writing like spur of the moment?

Hunter: Yeah. I mean moreso with the last couple records. This one, you know Tristan did a lot on his own, Brian, our other songwriter, had a couple songs that he brought to the table. But yeah moreso the last four records we were like in a room jamming together. This one was like every now and then we would have stuff on the spot, but most stuff came through Tristan working on songs at our apartment.

Tristan, are you kind of the primary songwriter or is it more of a collaborative thing?

Tristan: I mean two of the songs on the record are Brian’s, but yeah I’m the primary songwriter. And I mean we just, you know, hash it out together really. So I come up with basically most of it and kind of get it together.

So then “Same,” that one was kind of giving me like beach Sublime vibes. What I did really want to ask you guys was what kind of what influences of yours do you think show through in this record the most, because it’s kind of all over the place in terms of like genre?

Tristan: Well it’s kind of cool to just kind of write to a drum machine instead. So all I did was take like a loop, same as the first song I wrote during the pandemic.

Hunter: That one stayed pretty true to the demo, too, which is awesome man. And more like the home recording style I’d say, which is something that we always loved from other bands, which is why Sublime I guess is a perfect comparison *laughs*.  I mean they did that a lot.

Tristan: Yeah that song kind of reminds me of this Minutemen song, kind of has just a 90s vibe all together.

I mean love them or hate them, it was almost giving me Sugar Ray vibes. And I mean that in all the best ways, not the shitty ways *laughs*.

Hunter: I love Sugar Ray man, I don’t care what anyone says *laughs*.

Tristan: They’ve got some hits man, they write some great pop tunes.

So then “Blind,” that’s another hard-hitting one. So how I kind of see it, with this first half of the record, you’ve got “Driving” which is kind of what you’d expect, kind of the hard hitting one, and then “Soothe” you’re backing off a little bit, showing where the album’s heading. And then :Same,” kind of an unplugged vibe, but then “Blind” is another hard-hitting one. Was that done on purpose, I guess just with the flow of the record?

Hunter: Yeah just with the flow. I mean, I think putting “Blind” later in the record wouldn’t have made any sense. Because, I don’t know, the second-half of the record, I don’t wanna say I like it more, but I like the direction where it’s headed. “Blind,: it’s kind of just like a liberating song in a way, the lyrics are funny.

Tristan: That one’s also one where we jammed it out together in the garage, and I remember like working out “Blind” pretty well. I wrote that during the pandemic, at the very start of the pandemic and, yeah, I don’t know man, it’s just a cool song.

Yeah, so since I’ve been doing these interviews, with a few of them right as releases are coming out, I’m starting to pay more attention to how you construct a record, what order you put things in. And that’s kind of something that stood out to me with yours, it flows very well, it’s put together very well.

Tristan: The track listing is something we put a lot of emphasis on, we think about that a lot.

Well I mean that can make or break the record, like if you do it right it helps a lot. I was talking to Adrienne from Plasma Canvas out in Denver and they had a very cyclical approach to their record. It started off very soft with a piano hymn and then closed with another very soft song and it was done very well. And that immediately stood out about your release, how well it flows together.

Hunter: Cool, glad you feel that way. Thanks man. Yeah that definitely was important to us, to have flow.

So “You Dog” is another one where I think it demonstrates the variation in styles. Was that kind of a goal for you, having like a having a bunch of different styles, or did that just come naturally, were you just kind of writing whatever?

Tristan: Yeah it was just natural, you know just sitting around playing guitar, I came up with that riff on our couch. And I think that was one of the best parts about this record is it’s like not really trying anything, not really caring about it; more authentic and just feels more like ourselves and myself. So yeah this is one of those songs that sort of shows a different side.

So that’s the first half of the record, do you guys have any songs you’re particularly excited for people to hear, I know two of the songs on the first half are already released, but do you have any other ones you’re particularly excited for people to hear?

Tristan: I mean all of them really, we’re gonna make videos and basically every song’s gonna have like a video component. I’m excited for it dude, I’m excited to kind of let every song shine on its own.

Hunter: We’ve been playing a couple songs live on this last tour and coming up until the album comes out, we play the song called “Wanna Be” that’s been getting some good crowd reaction and I’m excited for that for one to finally drop. Also a later song, the last song on the record, “Hold Me Down”, is another great tune that we’ve been messing with live. It feels good to change it up a little bit, not just be that kind of like garage rock punk band that people have seen play live before, you know.

Coincidentally, that leads right in to “Wanna Be,” track 7. Tell me a little bit about that one, what the songwriting process looked like and kind of the meaning behind it.

Tristan: Yeah “Wanna Be” is just a song that, I guess it was a few years old at that point, and then I finally finished it. I was just like messing with the bridge and coming back into shit that I figured out during the pandemic. And yeah it’s just a love song really, that one felt really good in the studio early on when we were tracking the record.

Alright so then “Time,” that’s another one that kind of veered into it a different style I guess.

Hunter: Yeah “Time” was just another drum machine beat that Brian brought, it’s almost got a hip-hop vibe.

Yeah that’s another one that gave me Sublime vibes, but more of like the hip hop, Long Beach Dub All-Stars side. Sorry if this is getting a bit repetitive, I’m trying to keep from asking the same questions about each track.

“Each Time I’m Away,” that’s the next one. For like the last two tracks I didn’t really have many notes because they were both kind of different, not really what I was expecting from having last seen you guys years ago. I guess they kind of took me by surprise, I kind of saw the way the record was going, but wasn’t sure how you were gonna end, if you were going to have another hard-hitter or end softer. You guys were somewhere in the middle.

Tristan: Yeah “Each Time I’m Away” is the oldest song, like writing-wise. We played an acoustic show in Berlin in 2019, I had never played that song for any of the guys and I just like busted it out and they told me how much they liked it. So we made it into a song *laughs*. Yeah probably one of my favorite songs on the record.

Hunter: Yeah that song came together pretty quick, we didn’t really mess around with the structure at all, it didn’t really take much effort, it was just kind of there.

Tristan: Yeah even when I wrote it I think it was just kind of smooth sailing.

So then “Hold Me Down,” that concludes the new release. Was there any reason throwing that at the end, just thought it fit well?

Tristan: Yeah I just thought it sounded pretty at the end.

Hunter: And yeah it was the last two, we didn’t even actually do that in the studio yeah it was added on, Tristan and Brian put it together at Brian’s house in the garage and we really liked it. I think we jammed it during pre-production and I just fuckin’ always liked the tune, the melody was really good, but yeah these guys kicked it out.

Tristan: Yeah Brian and I recorded it in his garage and I was like back and forth kind of about recording it or even having it on the record, now it’s probably my favorite song on there, it just came out really pretty. Just, you know, a sweet song that I wrote in the studio by myself.

Yeah man so I think it’s cool, the whole groove of the record, it’s just a trip through everything that we’ve been doing and a lot of different music that we haven’t really represented on our other records.

Hunter: And during the pandemic we moved down to San Diego from Los Angeles too, and I feel like some of the songs are really just a reminder of that time of us being there together in that apartment in San Diego and the friends we had. The jam spot I feel is very crucial in writing and being together during all that.

Tristan: And this is like what we’re doing in our lives, there’s parts of it that are beautiful and parts of that are stressful. So I think between Hunter and I there’s all sorts of like natural intensity that comes and goes or whatever, we communicate with each other. So it’s all kind of there you know, it’s a trip to live your band.

Sweet yeah, so what’s to come after this, I know you guys just got back from tour, but do you have a record release show set up? Do you have a tour you’re looking at doing to promote this?

Tristan: Yeah we’re doing a tour next month with Direct Hit!, we have ten dates with them, it’s their 15th year anniversary so we’re doing a run of shows with them. We’re doing a split, we have some extra songs we recorded in a session in San Diego actually and it’s coming out a 7-inch on Dirtnap Records [OUT NOW!!!!]. And Direct Hit! made up a comic book for it as well, which is pretty cool.

Hunter: And then we’re doing Pouzza Fest in May out in Montreal, and then we’re going to Europe in June and July. Around June we’re planning a couple record release shows in California. Super excited about that, we’re planning to get together a bunch of friends for the record release show, so that should be fun.

Well that about wraps things up. Once again, congrats on this release, this thing’s killer!

Hunter: Yeah, thanks for doing this.

Tristan: Thanks dude.

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