As we near the end of 2022, music critics, publications, and fans alike are busy putting together their year-end lists. Did your favorite band put out a new project that you love? Did you discover a new artist altogether? Whatever tops your list will surely fill you with a sense of nostalgia for the music year that was. Sometimes, however, some truly excellent projects need to be revisited. Before The Dying Scene contributors put out any year-end list, some projects we did not cover throughout the year deserve some love! Without further ado, here are five punk/punk-adjacent albums released in 2022 that you may have missed.
The Chats: Get Fucked
Ironically, the first artist covered in this collection is one many readers have likely already checked out. That’s okay, though, because the only criteria we’re going off of is whether Dying Scene covered their 2022 release. And we didn’t.
The Chats are a garage punk-y band from Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. The band has made a name for themselves in their short career with a viral hit in their pocket; their 2017 single “Smoko.” The song and its accompanying music video have been listened to and viewed millions of times, making it a track with mainstream success that few new punk bands have experienced now in recent times. They’ve built on this acclaim and continued their string of releasing solid material with their 2022 release, Get Fucked.
Get Fucked continues in the style the Chats have made their trademark early in their career. The hallmarks of this style include sneering, bratty vocals, straightforward garage guitar riffs, and simple yet catchy songwriting that harkens back to early British punk bands while still not sounding dated. Clocking in at under 30 minutes, this is no-nonsense pub rock/garage punk that makes for a fun listen. If you haven’t already checked out Get Fucked, start with the single 6L GTR.
Chat Pile: God’s Country
While the Chats’ Get Fucked oozes fun and charisma, God’s Country by Chat Pile (not to be confused with The Chats) switches gears into abrasive and disgusting cacophony (This is a compliment of the highest order).
Chat Pile, hailing from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is a self-described noise rock outfit that some music media lumps into the sludge metal category. Whatever you want to call it, Chat Pile burst onto the scene in 2022 with the release of their debut album God’s Country. While the band formed in 2019 and released EPs after that, their 2022 debut served as a real coming-out party. God’s Country was met with critical acclaim, currently at 87% approval on Metacritic.
Don’t trust the critics; take this record on a spin yourself. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but for anyone that enjoys noisy, unvarnished, and brutal rock music, this record may be for you.
While the instrumentation provides much of the mood, and truthfully this record would still be enjoyable if you only treated the vocals as sonic texture, a dive into the songwriting serves as horror itself. The vocalist of Chat Pile, under the pseudonym Raygun Busch, described the themes in God’s Country as ranging from homelessness to a 1974 mass murder of six restaurant employees in Oklahoma City. If you missed God’s Country and are intrigued, check out the opening track for the record “Slaughterhouse.”
Fresh: Raise Hell
In July of 2022, Brighton emo/indie/pop punk rockers Fresh released their new record, Raise Hell. Before the release of Raise Hell, Fresh was perhaps best known for their 2021 single “Girl Clout,” an anthemic indie rock track about disingenuous performative feminism in the punk and overall music community. The star in this track is the simultaneously emotionally vulnerable and biting songwriting and vocal performance of Kathryn Woods.
Raise Hell is a natural follow-up to the path set forth on that 2021 single as Fresh comes through with an 11-track suite of melodic emo/pop punk/indie rock tracks. (Full disclosure, this is not my favorite style of music, but Raise Hell has proven to be something that continues to draw attention and re-listens.)
Each track comes with at least a few moments of clever songwriting, a fun riff, or something in the overall composition that seems to transport you to the emotional place the song is trying to evoke. This means that even if one song is not one’s favorite on the album, something still makes it stand out. Check out their single “Why Do I,” and if you’re into it, consider giving the record a listen!
Petrol Girls: Baby
Throughout punk rock history, much of the excellent material is born out of anger, anxiety, or isolation from society. It’s unfortunate that the genre often reaps its most memorable moments from the unjust actions of society, but that is something that comes with the territory. Baby, the new full-length record by UK/Austria-based hardcore band Petrol Girls, is now a vital part of this tradition.
Hardcore/Post-Hardcore/Riot Grrrl act Petrol Girls have always been incredibly politically active, specifically on feminist issues. Still, the developments around women’s reproductive rights over the last couple of years seemed to light an even greater fire for the band. Baby is the band’s rawest, most vitriol-filled, and angriest project. While the disdain is palpable, the songwriting is always well-crafted, with much thought put into it. On many songs, albums, or pieces of media that deal with political or social issues, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being ham-fisted. This trap never reveals itself on Baby as the issues at hand are of grave importance and are treated as such.
The music matches the message, too, as, in a similar way to the aforementioned God’s Country, this record is not necessarily a pleasant listen. The math-rock and post-hardcore influences that have always been present in their work show up in even greater abundance. The texture is like sandpaper on many songs, providing a perfect backdrop to the vocal performance and lyrics, which take center stage. A short-form review like this can’t do justice to this project’s depth and gravity. If you missed out on Baby, do yourself a favor, acquaint yourself with the single “Preachers,” and listen to the whole album.
Soul Glo: Diaspora Problems
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the term “rap-rock” used to be cause for apprehension. There are, of course, some stand-out successes, but for the most part, you knew you were in for something that was likely tacky, aesthetic over substance, and not a great listening experience. This trend has recently changed with several artists, such as Show Me the Body, Slowthai, and City Morgue, producing a much more palatable and harmonious fusion of the genres. Another such artist at the forefront of this effort is Soul Glo, who released an excellent project, Diaspora Problems, in 2022.
Soul Glo is a trio from Philadelphia that has quickly risen to be one of the punk landscape’s most exciting and unique voices. They are simultaneously a hardcore band and a rap outfit. They deal with serious themes like racism and consumerism but also love to inject absurdist humor.
Soul Glo has built a lot of momentum since their formation in 2014, and Diaspora Problems feels like the culmination and crowning achievement of this moment in their career. As their first release on Epitaph Records, this is likely the most prominent platform the band has ever had. The record is abrasive, hardcore, and at times features production reminiscent of a classic east-coast hip hop (think Public Enemy’s classic It Takes a Nation of Millions…) style but updated and outfitted to the unmistakably punk leanings of the group.
Much like Baby from Petrol Girls, the songwriting themes on this record are too nuanced and in-depth to cover in this kind of short format, but do yourself a favor and check out Diaspora Problems, along with their single “Driponomics (Featuring Mother Maryrose).”
Wrapping Up 2022
We hope you discovered some new bands or excellent projects released in 2022 through this collection. Obviously, there are far more than just these five albums that may have slipped through the cracks for some people. Let us know your favorite albums from 2022 that may have yet to get the press or hype they deserve!
While this was just a quick summary of some of these projects, it is impossible in this format to give them the in-depth analysis they deserve, so please consider checking out the ones that intrigue you.
For the first time, Team Dying Scene had two photographers on the ground and in the pits in Chicago for the annual 3-Day Riot Fest. It was a blast to have another great photographer documenting RF. We both have our own perspectives. This is mine for day 1, Friday, September 16, 2022. On the […]
For the first time, Team Dying Scene had two photographers on the ground and in the pits in Chicago for the annual 3-Day Riot Fest. It was a blast to have another great photographer documenting RF. We both have our own perspectives. This is mine for day 1, Friday, September 16, 2022.
On the day 1 train rides to Riot Fest, I queried those headed to Douglass Park about whom they were most looking forward to seeing play. It would have taken several pairs of hands to count how many attendees on the nearly full CTA train cars of the red and pink lines responded with Sincere Engineer. Chicago area’s Deanna Belos, performing under the stage name of Sincere Engineer, has been on a rocket ship to national stardom these past several years. It’s not hard to see why. Sincere Engineer combines infectiously great tunes with a self-effacing wit and an utterly charming stage presence. This was not her Riot Fest debut, but it was her first on one of the event’s main stages. She blasted out a set list including “Trust Me,” “Bottle Lightning Twice,” “Dragged Across The Finish Line” and of course, “Corn Dog Sonnet No.7.” That last song was the inspiration for the “Corn Dog Mosh Pit,” in which participants held up corn dogs as they slammed into each other. Back to those fans on the morning “L” rides headed to Riot Fest? Eager as they headed to Douglass Park and left Riot Fest satisfied. If Belos ever asked “what am I supposed to do now?” I think a good response would be “pretty much whatever you want.”
Please look for an upcoming DS special feature on Sincere Engineer.
Carolsdaughter, aka Thea Taylor, from Temecula, CA, is just a couple of months shy of her 18th birthday. However, has already witnessed her song “Violent” featured in over a quarter-million TikToks. Taylor, as Carolsdaughter, has also amassed 882.7K followers on her own TikTok channel. That’s in addition to the 183K followers on her Youtube channel. But the musician/comedian demonstrated that she is no flash-in-the-pan influencer too many often assume of young people with such large social media fan bases. Her performance at Riot Fest proved this. With an appearance recalling Gwen Stefani in her No Doubt days, Carolsdaughter utilized the entire stage, running from one corner to the next, with a few pogo jumps sprinkled in whilst belting out haunting lyrics. This included the aforementioned “Violent”: “don’t make me get violent, I want my ring back, baby, that’s a diamond, You don’t listen anyways, I’ll be quiet I don’t really feel like fighting” was quite captivating.
As accomplished as she is at such a young age, it will be fun keeping an eye out for her future projects. We will be listening.
Boston Manor was founded in March 2013, in Blackpool, Lancashire, England. “Datura,” the band’s latest album is scheduled to be released on October 14, 2022, to critical acclaim. The record has thus far generated three singles, “Foxglove,” “Passenger,” and “Inertia.” As with the past Boston Manor releases, its sound is a fusion of punk, emo, dance, and electronica. The band’s Riot Fest set was intense as demonstrated through “Foxglove,” one of the above-mentioned recently released singles.
There was also a nice touch by guitar player Mikey Cunniff. Cunniff appeared on stage with a sports car yellow guitar emblazoned with Topo Chico branding and wearing a Placebo t-shirt. Placebo, one of the top billed Riot Fest 2022 artists, was forced to pull out of the festival, according to a statement the band put out, “…due to unprecedented visa and logistical issues beyond our control.”
Taking Back Sunday, from my native land of Long Island, was back at Riot Fest after performing at the event in 2021. The band played a solid set much to the appreciation of many fans in the crowd. Those fans eagerly sang along as TBS ran through “Set Phasers to Stun,” “Timberwolves at New Jersey,” “You’re So Last Summer,” and “Flicker, Fader’.”
Taking Back Sunday, a Riot Fest semi-regular, was yet again a reliable part of the event and I’m sure this will be far from its last performance there.
The legendary Descendents kicked off their set with “Everything Sux.” Considering that the festival’s long-time slogan is “Riot Fest Sucks,” this was a great choice. Through nearly 30 songs, the Californians held their fans in sway as crowd surfing fans continually made it to the barricades before being pulled to safety by security personnel. In addition to the opening tune, Descendents also jammed through “I’m Not A Punk,” “I’m the One,” “Coffee Mug,” “When I Get Old,” “Merican,” “My Dad Sucks,” and “I Don’t’ Want to Grow Up.”
Descendents may sing about everything sucking but the band itself has never earned such a description.
San Diego’s Rocket From The Crypt has long been a fan favorite. With all members dressed in matching black attire with white trimmings, the group brought to mind a Mariachi band. Rocket From The Crypt had a common Riot Fest musical assignment: Playing one of its best albums in full, from start to finish. In this case, it was the band’s penultimate album, 2001’s Group Sounds which features the very popular “Savoir Faire,” and also includes “Straight American Slave,” “S.O.S,” “Carne Voodoo.” RFTC also performed “Sturdy Wrists”, “Glazed” and “Don’t Darlene “ from its second album Circa: Now!
Rocket From The Crypt members Speedo, Petey X, ND, Apollo 9, JC 2000, and Ruby Mars provided die-hard fans what they were looking for and it’s hard to imagine they didn’t pick up more than a few new fans in the process.
Yet another great band from California played, Goleta’s Lagwagon. The band’s walk-on music was Theme from “The Warriors” (composed by Barry De Vorzon) and its set sprinkled with humor as frontman Joey Cape led Lagwagon through a set which included “After You My Friend”, “Falling Apart,” “Wind in Your Sail,” “Island of Shame,” “Razor Burn.”
Many fans at the very front wore Lagwagon attire and appeared ecstatic that their time waiting, often crushed up against the metal barricades, paid off with an experience they’ll remember for years.
Chicago’s own Alkaline Trio matched Lagwagon and perhaps even superseded them with choice of walk-on music. This time it was a tune that had stage and security personnel, the fans, and yes even us photographer singing in hearty unison. The tune which provoked this sunshiny moment in the darkness of just past the gloaming? One of the biggest hits by the legends (and Riot Fest alums) from just 85 miles west-northwest past Chicago. Of course the tune was “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. It was glorious.
Once on stage Alkaline Trio blazed through a set which included “Time to Waste,” “Calling all Skeletons,” “Sadie,” “Fatally Yours,” “Bleeder,” and “Radio.”
Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano and Derek Grant also had a couple of dedications to gift.
“How about a love song? How about a love song for Chicago? Tonight. Another one” proposed guitarist/vocalist Skiba as he introduced “Every Thugs Needs a Lady,” on which bassist/vocalist Andriano took the lead vocals. The conclusion of the song led to this delightful (partial) exchange between Skiba and Andriano as drummer Derek Grant sat back took it in:
Skiba “That, that was a 9 and a half.”
Andriano “Thanks buddy… see I’m getting better.”
Skiba: “I would have given you a ten I just don’t want you getting cocky on me right?”
Andriano: “I can’t be reading my clippings” …”…I get a little confidence boost though with that, thank you Matt”
Skiba: “…No problem bro.”
This was immediately followed by Skiba declaring “This song’s for the Descendents, it’s called “Mercy Me.”
Alkaline Trio capped an enjoyable day 1 for Dying Scene correspondents.
Coverage of days 2 and 3 coming soon. See below for more day 1 photos.
Day 3 of the Riot Fest took place in Chicago’s Douglass Park on September 18, 2022, with some of the most influential all-women or women led bands dominating the stages. Jawbox, the Washington D.C, iconic band founded in 1989, whose original run lasted until 1997, was welcomed back during its midday set. The bright sun […]
Day 3 of the Riot Fest took place in Chicago’s Douglass Park on September 18, 2022, with some of the most influential all-women or women led bands dominating the stages.
Jawbox, the Washington D.C, iconic band founded in 1989, whose original run lasted until 1997, was welcomed back during its midday set. The bright sun beating down on most of the band members’ faces did not cause a step lost as Jawbox gave the crowd a forceful performance. The set included “Mirrorful,” “Motorist,” ”Cooling Card,” “Static,” “Cutoff,” and “Savory.” The band members J. Robbins, Bill Barbot, Kim Coletta, and Zach Barocas also solidly covered “Lowdown” by Wire, and “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos. A hot set made the hot sun more bearable for the Sunday attendees.
Concrete Castles hit the Rebel Stage with the Ferris Wheel and other carnival rides in the sightline of many in the crowd. Vocalist Audra Miller, guitarist Matthew Yost, and drummer Sam Gilman held their fans’ attention with an effervescent set which included “Wish I Missed U,” “Half Awake,” “Sting,” “Just a Friend,” “Lucky,” and “You Won’t See Me Again.” The Erie, PA band started out as the very popular cover band First to Eleven in 2009 before forming Concrete Castles in 2021. Young though the members may be – all three are in their early 20s they all perform with the maturity of confident musical veterans. That’s what they are, combined with a bright and hopefully long future creating terrific music.
Zola Jesus‘ bewitching performance immediately brought to mind Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, not just because of her flowing garments. The Merrill WI performer, known offstage as Nika Roza Danilova, has an ethereal stage presence, and her set including “Lost,” “Soak,” “Exhumed,” “The Fall,” “Sewn,” and “Undertow” made for as intriguing a performance as her stage name.
Lunachicks kicked off their set with some seriously iconic music, Bill Conti’s inspiring Oscar-nominated theme from Rocky “Gonna Fly Now.” This was the perfect walk-on song as the band appeared, as they always do, ready to fight (for issues in which they believe. Not physically. Though I’m guessing they can hold their own in that manner as well). Band members Theo Kogan, Gina Volpe, Sidney “Squid” Silver, and Chip English didn’t wear their hearts on their sleeves, they wore them on their jumpsuits, dresses and shirts. “Not Government Property,” “Roe Rage Riot,” and “Our Bodies, Our Choice,” were among the messages displayed prominently during a year in which The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe V. Wade. Of course, feminist activism is engrained in the DNA of the band. The NYC band’s 2021 memoir “Fallopian Rhapsody” was met with critical acclaim. Lunachicks exhibited their signature power as they ripped through an extensive set including “Bad Ass Bitch,” “Say What You Mean,” “Jerk of All Trades,” “The Day Squid’s Gerbil Died,” “Luxury Problem,” and “Less Teeth More Tits.” A prodigious set indeed by voices perhaps more relevant than ever. Heroes we deserve? Probably not. Heroes we need? Most definitely.
One of Sleater-Kinney‘s first rehearsal spaces was located on Sleater-Kinney Road in Lacey Washington, nearby to Olympia, where the band was founded. The road from that road has been as long one for the now legendary Sleater-Kinney. Its set at Riot Fest 2022 once again proved why Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein continue to be so compelling, both as a band and as individuals. Among other tunes, the band performed “High in the Grass,” “Jumpers,” “All Hands on the Bad One,” “Bury Our Friends,” “Modern Girl,” and “The Center Won’t Hold.” Sleater-Kinney delivered a dynamic performance, one that makes us hope we won’t have to wait long before catching them again. Maybe at Riot Fest 2023?
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O.’s signature black bowl hairstyle was partially obscured at the start of the band’s set by the topper of an elaborate bright, multi-colored outfit. The first sight of the outfit elicited wows from the crowd and other observers. Her bandmates, Nick Zinner and Brian Chase, clad in clothing nearly matching the night sky, and positioned further away from the spotlight focused on O. were partially obscured themselves. In any case, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s stood out as a shining example of what a great band can accomplish during a crowded festival weekend. The band performed “Spitting Off The Edge of the World,” and “Burning,” from its new album “Cool it Down.” The well-received album, its first new one since 2013’s “Mosquito,” was released just under two weeks post-Riot Fest, on September 30, 2022. The set also included “Zero,” “Wolf,” “Soft Shock,” “Cheated Hearts,” and “Under the Earth.” It was a fun set to watch and Yeah Yeah Yeahs are enjoyable to shoot photos of as well.
As Riot Fest was born in Chicago, it was fitting that the band with the latest scheduled set start time, by a mere 15 minutes, was from Chicago as well. Nine Inch Nails might have been presented as the Sunday night headliner but The Academy Is… did a pretty good job of drawing many members of the hometown crowd, as well as visitors too, away from Trent Reznor and his bandmates. The band returned to active status seven years after its farewell tour in 2015 and for those fans, seeing them again or for the first time, could not contain their enthusiasm. Band members William Beckett, Adam T. Siska, Mike Carden Andy “The Butcher” Mrotek rewarded their wait with an energetic set, performing “The Phrase That Pays,” “LAX to O’Hare,” “Bulls In Brooklyn,” “Black Mamba,” “We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands,” “Checkmarks,” and “After the Last Midtown Show.” The Academy Is…also paid tribute to Material Issue, the immensely popular Chicago band active from the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s, by covering the latter band’s song, “Very First Lie.” There was a special surprise for fans. Original band members Michael Del Principe and AJ LaTrace joined the others on stage to perform “Attention” off their debut album, “Almost Here. “
Riot Fest 2022 was an exhausting and hot weekend full of great tunes and good times. As coverage of this year’s event winds down, we’re finding it difficult to take a full break from the event. After all, there’s Riot Fest 2023 in the works.
More photos from the final day of Riot Fest 2022 below!
Fire Sale can serve as the very definition for the term ‘supergroup’. Matt Riddle has cemented himself as a household name among even novice punk fans thanks to being a founding member of Face to Face, as well as playing with No Use for a Name, Implants, Pulley and 22 Jacks. Chris Swinney most notably […]
Fire Sale can serve as the very definition for the term ‘supergroup’. Matt Riddle has cemented himself as a household name among even novice punk fans thanks to being a founding member of Face to Face, as well as playing with No Use for a Name, Implants, Pulley and 22 Jacks. Chris Swinney most notably played guitar in The Ataris for close to 3 years, but also formed a band I happened across years ago called Chronic Chaos. Lead singer Pedro Aida (who as of writing this is on tour in Europe with Nathan Gray and the Iron Roses) currently plays with Ann Beretta and formerly played with Fun Size. And drummer Matt Morris has become well-known in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for his time playing with Darlington and Weaver Street. Not to mention cover art was done by Mark DeSalvo (NOFX‘s Heavy Petting Zoo, NUFAN’s Making Friends, Lagwagon’s Let’s Talk About Feelings, etc.) and recording was done at The Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore. So basically, that extremely lengthy and unnecessarily long opening paragraph was all to emphasize the lengthy resumes these guys have built and just how much talent this band has.
And although, Swinney and Riddle are all for embracing the ‘supergroup’ title, as we later discuss, I think these guys have something that most groups, no matter members’ past resumes, struggle to find. These guys have a unique chemistry and one-of-a-kind sound that makes me ecstatic as to where these guys are headed.
In talking with Swinney and Riddle, it quickly emerged to me how complementary each member was to the other three during the songwriting process. Swinney and Riddle each brought they’re own brands of songwriting expertise, Swinney with a very technical grasp on songwriting and performing through going to school for music theory, while Riddle described having a more sloppy, punk rock-esque playing and writing style. Then add in the more pop-punk influenced Aida who writes perfectly melodic vocals, and Morris whose able to tie everything in with his hard-hitting yet perfectly executed percussion, and you have a band that should be given far more thought and consideration than the shallow term ‘supergroup’ often entails.
After talking with these guys, I can’t wait to hear what releases and show announcements come next (hint: we talk about that). It was an absolute pleasure talking to two guys who were members of bands that significantly shaped my childhood. Check out their newest EP A Fool’s Errand and keep up with these guys for soon-to-be-announced show dates and more new music.
(Editor’s note: The following has been edited and condensed for clarity’s sakebecause a good chunk of this interview was just three guys shooting the shit.)
Dying Scene (Nathan Kernell NastyNate): I really appreciate you guys sitting down with me. Where are you guys calling from?
Chris Swinney: I am in Muncie, Indiana, and if you ask enough questions you’ll realize that we started this during the pandemic. We all live in different states so we do things a little differently than everybody else.
Matt Riddle: Yeah has band-demic already been used?
Swinney: I think I’ve seen it tag on Instagram.
Riddle: I’m not original anymore. There’s too many people.
Swinney: Yeah Muncie, Indiana and Moore, Oklahoma.
DS:So I wanted to start off with like how you guys originated. I know you said it was during Covid and I was reading an interview, Matt, you did with Punknormal Activity where you talk about you hadn’t met any of the guys. So I wanted to see how Fire Sale kind of came about?
Swinney: I’ll let you take that one Matt, I wanna hear your take on it.
Riddle: Oh, it was actually because I haven’t been really doing much musically after Tony [Sly] passed. I kind of dropped out of the scene a little bit or a lot. I didn’t wanna do it anymore, I was just kind of over it. I got sick too you know, so like touring is really hard for me and all that but I really like recording at home. So Chris got ahold of me and asked if I wanna be a guest on [That One Time On Tour Podcast]. I’m like sure, so we talked for like an hour, it’s really a good time and we didn’t really talk about much what I’m doing now musically, which is, at the time, nothing. I just had some songs I recorded you know through my Mac and I’m super like, budget when it comes to recording stuff, I don’t really care about it. And this guy Mikey, you know Mikey and his Uke, he asked me to do a NOFX song with, uh, oh God it was Roger from Less Than Jake. Yeah it was really good and then Chris [Swinney] wrote me not long after and said ‘dude, I didn’t know you were still playing’ and I’m like ‘well I kind of don’t’. He’s like ‘would you mind playing bass on some stuff’.
Swinney: Well, what I said was, I said ‘I’m gonna send you a couple songs’. I’ve haven’t written any songs in like 10 years. ‘I’m gonna send you a couple of songs and if you like them let me know what you think’ and then you’re like ‘dude, I’m gonna play on these fuckin’ songs!’
Riddle: Oh yeah.
Swinney: …and it blew my mind because, even though we’ve become like friends, you’re [Matt] like my favorite bass player ever; so well it blew me away because they were just like little shit songs that I wrote in my bedroom and I sent them to you and then all of a sudden now I have to start a band because Matt Riddle played on my fuckin’ songs. Yeah that was the catalyst for me because I was bored in the pandemic, I hadn’t worked for like however many months, and Matt and I had become decent friends. We met back in the late 90s on the road but he doesn’t remember that; I remember because I love what you do on the bass, I was just the fifth guitarist for The Ataris. You probably had no idea who I was; so now like in my mind when I was trying to find people from the podcast I was like ‘well I don’t really know Matt but I have friends that know Matt I can get his information’. Yeah once he was on the podcast we just got to be really good friends and we were like texting, and then I sent him the songs, and he played on the songs, and then in my mind I’m like ‘I haven’t done anything for so long because of the pandemic, how cool would it be if we started like a real band … and not like just doing covers and shit, but like really do it.’ So when Fire Sale kicked off, you know, we got our singer Pedro, who I’d worked with in the past. Tim, from Protest The Hero, was initially a big part of it, but when Protest started kicking back up, it had to take a back seat and it kind of made more sense anyway because the rest of us were kind of gelling and writing songs, and Tim was a big part of that at the beginning. But then he just didn’t have the time. We had a hard time finding a drummer, but when we finally found Matt Morris it took off there.
DS:So then, where did your guys’ name come from, Fire Sale?
Swinney: So, *laughs* I don’t think Matt’s ever really liked it, and that’s cool, I mean I don’t think it’s like the best name ever.
Riddle: Wasn’t it originally Southern Gothic or something?
Swinney: Yeah Pedro and I had done a collaboration, the song that we have online right now called “Long Overdue”, that was a song that I wrote and I programmed the drums, and it was just like this goofy thing I was doing on the podcast and Pedro sang on that. That’s how Pedro and I came to be close and we needed a song for a compilation after we released our first two songs and we didn’t have time to like write something and get it going. So I was like, you know, let’s just use that and I’ll have Matt play bass on it, Pedro could redo the vocals because he wasn’t happy with the first take, and then we’ll have Tim play on it too and that song, the project was called Southern Gothic. But I didn’t wanna use that because I’d already kind of used it for a goofy side project, so we’ve actually got a song called Southern Gothic that’s still not done yet; it’s a little bit more poppier kind of, that should come out at some point. But yeah, the name Fire Sale. I got to be fairly close with Sam King from Get Dead, he’s been on the program a few times. The night I was trying to think of names, I had like nine, ten names written on a piece of paper; like the band was kind of gelling, we were figuring out what we were gonna do and they [Get Dead] had just dropped their new video for their song called ‘Fire Sale’. And I was watching, I saw something on some punk site about it and I was checking it out, the songs really cool and I was like ‘Fire Sale, that’s a cool name I wonder if there’s any bands named Fire Sale.’ And there was one band from like 2008 that played one show somewhere in Kansas, they were like teenagers and they hadn’t done anything in forever; so I’m like ‘fuck it, I’m picking that name’ and I told everybody and it’s not the best name but no band name is. You [Matt] were in a band called No Use for a Name.
Riddle: …and Pulley
Swinney: I mean Face to Face is a cool ass name man.
Riddle: That was actually from our guitar player at the time, Mark, he came up with it. He said like ‘vis a vis’ which I think is a rough translation.
Swinney: But that was the thing with the name, I mean on some of the like press when we first came out it talked about that and yeah I’m not gonna say it had much to do with Get Dead, it’s just the fact that I was watching their video and I’m kind of friends with Sam. And I was like ‘well that’s a cool name’, so that night I got all the socials for @firesaleisaband, because fire sale’s like a clothing company so you can’t just have @firesale.
Riddle: Isn’t a fire sale like everything must go kind of thing?
Swinney: Yeah it’s like if you’re going out of business and you need to get rid of everything, they call it a fire sale.
Riddle: I only know fire sale from Davis Cross from Arrested Development, *laughs*.
Swinney: So yeah, I just thought it was kind of cool because my favorite names, they mean a couple different things, like if nobody knows what fire sale actually is, it sounds kind of dark or ominous. But it’s not dark or ominous, and I remember Matt at one point, he had this picture of a burning ship. He wanted it to be like Fire Sail, and for a while we were thinking about that.
Riddle: Yeah for a while we were thinking about even changing the name but I kind of dig it and its grown on me. I don’t know, it’s hard to pick a name man, I mean in this day and age it’s just it’s really fuckin’ hard.
DS:It was funny actually this week I’m in this band, we actually have a group message and one of the guys has been sending you guys’ singles I hadn’t heard you guys. Then I saw he posted something where it’s like ‘super group’ and I’m like ‘oh damn, I gotta start listening these guys’.
Swinney: We’ve been leaning pretty hard into that, like I felt weird about it at first, but the label that we’re with now, which I’m sure we’ll talk about, he was kinda like, we had this meeting and he’s like ‘well listen you, guys have all been in bigger bands, you know you guys should lean into what’s gonna get people to check you out, your past resumes.’ That’s why we decided to go with Mark DeSalvo and the artwork.
DS:So, it sounds like you’re kind of embracing the term ‘super group’ because I’ve kind of seen that label thrown around quite a bit with you guys.
Swinney: We don’t claim to be a supergroup, but I don’t mind people saying it because it gets people in the door you know.
DS:Yeah so moving on kind of to songwriting, is there one main songwriter or with all of you guys coming in from different groups and different backgrounds, is everybody kind of contributing?
Swinney: We’ll kind of both take that one. I’ll give my thoughts and I’ll let Matt speak on it. The first couple songs, it was like I would just send complete songs to Matt and Pedro and it would go that way. Now it’s got to be a lot more collaborative, like I’ll still send full songs that I write, but Matt’s sending full songs that he writes and then I’ll redo the guitars and maybe have an idea here or there. Like that solo on “A Fool’s Errand’,”I kind of mimicked what you did with the horns on there. But it’s become a real collaborative thing, writing with Matt and kind of going through and really producing it you know, just talking over Zoom or FaceTime. There was one part on the second verse of “A Fool’s Errand” we just couldn’t figure out the sound that we wanted because the first verse just has big chords and then the second verse we wanted this like 70s drony kind of sound. There was a single note and then they flew on top and, I swear to God, it was like a month or two before we finally got it.
Riddle: It was one of those things where, so you know the bassline that is pretty gnarly, it’s like a banjo. Well I kept that through like both verses all the time and I wanted the second verse to be brought way back but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. And me and Chris went back and forth for like a month like what the fuck are we doing wrong?
Swinney: I recorded literally like 40 guitar parts over that verse.
Riddle: Yeah it ended up all we needed to do is let the bass just stay on one note the whole time, the guitars stay the same and that’s exactly what we needed. It’s so stupid, it’s so simple.
Swinney: But see the songwriting thing you were asking about, yeah I’ve always had a collaborator, no matter what. Like when I was in the Ataris some of the songs we did Roe and I would mess with stuff. In any band I’ve ever been in, I’ve never been the guy like ‘here’s all the stuff’. It’s always been like back and forth. At the beginning, I felt like it was like ‘hey Matt, here’s something I wrote, play whatever you want on it.’ And it’s still sometimes it’s like that because we all have ideas. But working with Matt and tearing these songs apart and figuring out everything, it’s been a really really good experience and I’ve felt like the songs are stronger because we’ve collaborated so much and then we send it to Pedro and then he tears it apart.
Riddle: That’s one thing that I like is if Chris comes up with something, I’ll get it and then he’s like do that ‘classic Matt Riddle’ that a lot of bands don’t know how to do. So I do that which I basically learned how to do, something like playing Steve Harris songs, Iron Maiden. But I learned that style, so he’s like put that stuff on it. So I do that and then it gets sent to Pedro and Pedro’s like ‘you know what, I think this should be a verse, this should be a chorus’ and he’ll change things up, send it back and it immediately sounds like pretty much done.
Swinney: And it’s great because like I don’t think we think a lot about vocals when we’re writing, we think about parts, like here’s a verse, here’s a chorus, and because we all live on opposite sides of the country, we played to a click track and as long as we do that we can kind of puzzle piece everything together. So when Pedro gets it and he writes the lyrics and the melodies and the harmonies, he’ll be like ‘hey your verse is a better chorus, maybe that chorus doesn’t need to be done two times, it needs to be done one time’ and he’ll cut it up and send it back and then I can manipulate my master session to what he wants. It always comes out better. He’s a vocalist and you know we just think about this is gonna be a cool guitar or bass part right and everybody’s got input. Like even the new guy, Matt Morris, when he was cutting the drums for these new songs, coming up with fill ideas. And like there’s that part on the second verse of “A Fools Errand” where he goes into the floor tom thing. Like we want it to be a band, we don’t want it to be one person.
Riddle: Right yeah, like him asking what to do on drums on the songs, I told him, I go ‘you know what dude, be you, just do you on all these songs’ and he came up with some really rad stuff. And then we would go over it, make sure it all fit right in the song. And so it’s rad, we’re all inputting now as far as the songs go.
Swinney: We’ve all been in situations too where we’ve kind of been a team player with a guy who’s like ‘the guy’. And I don’t want that to be the case because when this first started, a lot of people were like ‘are you writing all the songs’. I’m like well they’re not songs until everybody gets them because the songs that I do won’t be right if Matt doesn’t play the Matt thing on the song. It’s not a Fire Sale song if Pedro doesn’t put it together the way he wants for his vocals. Like I love the fact that everything is equal, even down to the royalties and everything is equal. Like I don’t want this to ever become anything other than fun. Like yeah everybody’s equal and I love the guys I’m making music with and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
DS:Right, so there’s been a lot of ‘super groups’ that I’ve listened to where you can obviously tell who’s writing the songs. It’s just a carryover from whatever other band, they sound the same. With you guys I kind of have trouble pinpointing, like you can’t tell who wrote what, probably because like you said it’s kind of a collaborative effort.
Swinney: Here put this in your article, that me and Matt are the Lennon and McCartney of punk rock, *laughs*.
DS:Damn right, *laughs*.
Swinney: Yeah somebody said that in a review when we released dark hearts I thought it was hilarious
Riddle: Really funny, Lennon McCartney, that’s funny. Chris wrote like most of everything on all the songs and we’ve put our stuff into it but I’ve had songs from back in the day that I brought over and actually “A Fool’s Errand” is one of those songs. I wrote that a long time ago when I was kind of relearning how to play bass after I got sick. I was having a hard time playing and that’s why the riff is so gnarly in that song, because it was more of just for practicing. But I got done, I’m like ‘oh that could be a song’ and I just wrote it and its been 10 years and I send it to Chris, he redid the guitar, reprogrammed some drums before matt joined and so then I redid the bass on it and it was an amazing melody. I’m like ‘dude this is a song, what the hell just happened.’
One thing funny is that Chris you know likes my playing style. So one night my wife is out of town, went out to some party thing, and Chris had wrote me and he’s like ‘hey dude I don’t know if you’re in a songwriting mood or what, but how about one of those those Matt bass intro. So I was like playing like playing Elden Ring or something, I was gaming. So I got my bass, I’m sitting there messing around and I came up with this riff and went to the computer put in the click track, play the riff and next thing I knew, I had a whole song written, remember that.
Swinney: Are you talking about “Albatross”?
Riddle: “Albatross,” yeah really really fast, but the riff is killer. I think I just came up with it and then I ended up writing the entire song around that riff, sent it to Chris and then he changed parts here and there, put the guitars on it.
Swinney: I stayed up till 6:00 in the morning redoing all guitar parts and everything.
Riddle: Yeah because I can’t play guitar so I just kind of ripped through it and said ‘here’s something like this’ and then he put the guitar line. I think that’s great.
Swinney: That’s gonna be one for the next couple that are coming out. We literally on our SoundCloud page and in our Google Drive, we have like 14, 15 more songs and they’re gonna like, I mean I know you haven’t asked yet, but I’ll go ahead and say like the plan now, we wanted to do a full length but it’s hard working the way that we work. Everybody’s got different things going on and our label, the idea from Negative Progression was like hey, let’s put out a series of two-song EP’s and then eventually we’ll release a full vinyl like 12 inch. So in the next few months we’ll probably have two more come out and then in the next couple months a couple more. We’re gonna keep leaking out singles.
DS:I know Matt you talked about “A Fool’s Errand,” the writing behind that. I wanted to talk to Chris, with “We Dance for Sorrow,” that’s your song, right?
Swinney: Yeah, the first verse, the thing I really really liked, it’s got that kind of clean, single note thing on the verse with Matt’s bass too. I always kind of thought that sounded like one of the darker Blink 182 songs, but not like cheesy. I had that forever, I think I might have even sent you [Matt] like a voice memo of it at some point and you’re like ‘yeah that’s cool’. I finally one day was able to kind of figure out how that song fit together and even like the intro part, a couple people said it reminds them of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” which it’s similar it’s not the same thing.
Riddle: It used to sound more like it and you changed one thing.
Swinney: I changed it yeah, things like one or two notes from the last little piece and now it doesn’t sound like “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” That one of those songs where once I figured out the direction of what was gonna happen, it just came out. And people talk about inspiration, people talk about you know the hit songs they write or the best songs they write take 5 minutes. Once I figured out what that verse was that I’d written two years ago or whatever, that song did just kind of fly out. And I sent it to Pedro and the only thing he did I think he shortened one of the choruses or something like it was very much the way I sent it was the way it came back. And so I just felt really good about that and I don’t look at it as Matt wrote “A Fools Errand” and I wrote that because we all put our stuff on it. I kind of feel connected to that song. I don’t know, I love both songs, I love every song we’ve ever done, but that song, I feel real connected to it just because of how it came together.
DS:Right and it was those two in particular, I just I really couldn’t pinpoint who wrote them, and it took me reading some interview with you guys that said Matt you kind of wrote this, one Chris you wrote this one. But I was listening to them, I really couldn’t tell so that’s why I asked you earlier about if it’s kind of collaborative.
Riddle: Well you know what it is I think that makes it indistinguishable is Pedro’s vocals. Like he sings what he wants to sing and that’s what makes the songs sound like us immediately. Like he writes these really great melodies, I never would have came up with that melody for “A Fools Errand,” no way. Like I can write the music all day, but that’s how it was when I was in Face To Face and that’s why that song probably sounds kind of reminiscent of early Face To Face, because when I would write like with Trever, those are the kind of songs we wrote, real quick, fast, painless, done. And Pedro comes up with these melodies that makes it sound like a Fire Sale song instead which I think is super killer, you know.
Swinney: I’ll also say, working with Matt, the thing that’s really been beneficial for me is that, like I was in The Ataris, but I’ve also been in a bunch of like metal bands and like hardcore bands, so I’m not a good editor. I try to make things like hard, I try to like ‘oh I’m gonna throw 4 harmonies on this’ and ‘I’m gonna shred’ and ‘I’m gonna do 64th notes’ and ‘I’m gonna tap’ and I don’t need to do that because I feel like my whole life I’ve been trying to show off for other musicians instead of just write good songs. And so working with Matt, sometimes I’ll send him something and he’s like ‘just do something simple, it’s like you don’t have to do Propagandi shit on everything’.
Riddle: I’ll like crack up because you’ll do these things. I’m like ‘dude like just play sloppier on “Albatross”.’ There’s these chord changes he does and I’m like ‘dude that sounds like a robot’. That’s how Dave Nassie was.
Swinney: That’s the thing that I think Dave and I have in common. Because when I was in The Ataris, Chris Roe would always be like ‘dude you play like you’re a computer, you need to chill and just like slop it up a little bit’. Like man when I was growing up and I was learning guitar, I would sit in my bedroom after school for four or five hours and play scales to a metronome. So it’s hard for me to do that. But there are some parts and songs that haven’t come out yet where Matt kind of said that to me and I did loosen up and it was better like if it breathed more and it had more soul.
Riddle: I just like the songs to sound real.
Swinney: Yeah I mean I do too, I just didn’t know how to do that.
Riddle: It’s funny because it is real, like when you play, it is real, but it’s just that you play like I said, so meticulous and so tight and he still, to this day will sit down and just over and over like he’s so good. And that’s how you play, like real clean and right to the point and I like sloppy metal, I like sloppy punk, I like sloppy. I like real musicians doing real stuff
Swinney: The thing I love about Matt’s playing is that like when I’ll get the stuff back and I’ll try to like edit or quantize stuff, if I fix anything wrong with Matt’s playing, it doesn’t sound like Matt Riddle, you know what I mean. Like we talked to Jason at the Blasting Room, I’m like ‘you know, make sure it lines up, edit it the way you wanna edit it, but if you do too much it’s gonna take away the cool factor.’ I’m starting to kind of feel the same way with my playing, like yeah, maybe I didn’t hit it exactly on the grid, maybe I could be a little left or right of center. I think he’s right, I think it does make you sound a little bit more like humans are playing it you know.
DS:How’s the reception been so far for you guys’ releases?
Riddle: I don’t know, I don’t know how that works. Chris?
Swinney: It was really really good. We first came out with the first two singles last year, but I am astonished at the amount of feedback we’re getting on these two new songs. It’s crazy man like the amount of people that are emailing and commenting on the socials. I’ve had texts from people I haven’t talked to in 10 years that someone sent them the song, like it’s been crazy. And I don’t know what good streaming is and what bad streaming is but we’ve done, you know, a couple thousand in less than two days so for a small band like us it’s pretty good. I’m really really excited that people seem to be connecting with it as much as we did when we were writing it.
Riddle: I kind of drop out of conversations sometimes, like there’s a whole group text that went on, but I was driving, it was a 19-hour drive to get out here to Oklahoma. So I couldn’t really write anybody back, but they were sending the stream numbers and all that and I’m like ‘damn that seems pretty rad for something I recorded in my bedroom’.
Swinney: *laughs*, something we recorded in our bedroom, but then Jason [Livermore] and Bill [Stevenson] took it to the Blasting Room and made it sound really good.
Riddle: I was nervous, I didn’t know how that was gonna go over because you’re producing our stuff and I was like that sounds good and then when Jason got hold of it I couldn’t believe what we got back, I was like that’s really fuckin amazing.
Swinney: And I had a couple of conversations with Jason about like making sure that the original spirit of the demo I produced was still there, but it just sounded really really good so he kind of knew what we were going for.
DS:Yeah, next thing, let’s talk about like future. So you guys said you had a completed record, well basically a completed record worth of material, right?
Swinney: Yeah the thing is, it’s expensive, like we could mix and master and we could put it out and people would probably like it, but now that we’ve gotten that taste of working with Jason and Bill, man I don’t wanna go down in quality.
Riddle: Right yeah, they kind of next leveled it.
Swinney: Yeah and with the label we’re working with, Seth, the guy that owns Negative Progression, he’s been amazing ever since we signed and you know if we need funds for something, he makes them available. And I don’t know how financially good of a decision that is on his part, but he’s doing it, we’re gonna put these out, wait awhile, put some more out. And there are gonna be physicals for everything we release, there’s gonna be a 7-inch colored vinyl for these two songs [A Fool’s Errand] and then we’re also gonna have CD singles and cassette singles, which I think are kind of fun. And we’re just gonna keep going that way. As far as the future, uh, we’re in talks with a couple booking agents, and they know that we all have jobs and families and we’re not gonna be on the road all the time, but there’s been a lot of talk of festivals and there’s some overseas stuff that’s been spoken about. Nothing’s concrete yet but there’s definitely gonna be some shows in our future, just probably no crazy tours.
Riddle: For me, it’s a little bit hard to tour after I got sick, like trying to keep up with my medication and stuff on the road is really really hard to do, it’s hard for insulin and all my pills. Like I run out of stuff. I got really sick doing that, and then I got sick again because we had shows with NOFX just through California, right by my home. Still my sugar would drop, and I’m not good at the diabetes thing at all, it’s like type one, it’s really bad.
Swinney: I think the thing that we’re gonna do is we wanna do things that’re gonna be beneficial for the band. So you know Pedro lives on the East Coast, Matt lives on the West Coast, the other Matt lives in Texas, I live in the Midwest. So there’s been talks about you know doing five or six days on the West Coast and maybe five or six days on the East Coast, playing markets that make sense for the band. And then like maybe like Riot Fest or Punk Rock Bowling, like things that are not super taxing, like just the weekend away, play a gig, go home back to normal life, kids, wife, whatever. And then the overseas stuff, I mean it’s been talked about and there’s some good opportunities, but it’s gonna have to work for everyone in the band. I’ve got a 6-year-old and a 5-year-old and I can’t be gone for more than a week or two. I love playing live and I miss being on the road because we used to do it all like 24/7, but I would much rather sit and watch Peppa Pig with my daughter than be in Germany playing some shitty club that’s freezing.
Riddle: Yeah we end up in Germany at some shitty club, those kids are gonna know that you don’t wanna be there, *laughs*.
Swinney: So ok I’ll take that back, I’ll go play a shitty freezing club in Germany as long as a week or two later I can come see my kids.
Riddle: Yeah I love shitty clubs in Germany.
Swinney: Germans love us, look at our Spotify numbers. We’re gonna probably end up there at some point next year.
DS:Okay so how would you describe your music style? Kind of how would you describe it and where your influences lie? Like I know with Matt, if you write a song you’ve got your personal influences, but more as a whole do you guys have influences and just how you would describe your music as a whole?
Swinney: Well I will say, I’m gonna let Matt give his, there are a lot of differences between Matt and I, but there is kind of a Venn diagram of things we agree on. I am a little bit younger than Matt.
Riddle: Hey *laughs*…
Swinney: So like when I was growing up, it was all the 90s punk stuff that Matt was involved in. Like he’s 55, I just turned 44, so my thing is like when I first started hanging out talking to Matt, I thought ‘oh we’re gonna have all this stuff in common, we’re gonna talk about Pennywise and blah blah blah’ and it wasn’t like that. But then I realized that I’m also a metal head, so I didn’t realize how deep into some of the metal stuff Matt went. So I think we’ve bonded a little bit more over Maiden and some of the weird kind of Scandinavian stuff than we have over punk rock. But when I’m writing, the influences that I’m drawing from are 90s skate punk and 80s thrash metal. That’s me and then Matt’s a little bit different I think.
Riddle: It’s actually kind of weird. I’m not really influenced musically by bands as much as I am influenced by what they did. How do I explain this, like it doesn’t make me write a certain way, I write how I write. I can’t help that, that happened with Trever in Face to Face, it’s just what it was. But what I listened to, yeah my picking style is reminiscent of a lot of like Steve Harris and that kind of stuff. I’m very metal that way as well, but I don’t write like that. I write my own stuff. Like when I first got into punk rock, it wasn’t any of that stuff, it wasn’t 90’s stuff. I got into like Rudimentary Peni, Antisect, all this like real dark, weird shit that wasn’t really even hard. It was hard to find, but I just loved how dark and weird it was. I grew up on Maiden, that was my thing, but like when I got into punk rock, I started to drift into the darker side of music altogether. There’s of course like the Cure and Joy Division and stuff like that, but then my metal taste got into like Mayhem. And I like the Viking side of it, I like the black metal stuff. I like a lot of that kind of like weird stuff.
Swinney: He likes the bands that burn down churches, *laughs*… and that has been a thing that Matt and I thought, because I’m a music theory geek, like I went to college for theory and performance guitar. And we’ll start talking about a song and I’ll be like ‘yeah that augmented 4th blah blah blah’, and he’s like ‘it’s an A I don’t know.’
Riddle: Yeah I don’t know what I played.
Swinney: But I love that because sometimes having the theory knowledge hinders me. I won’t try something that might be outside of the box because theoretically it shouldn’t work and it could be this really cool dissonant thing. So I like the push and pull between Matt and I with our influences and with how we both play and how I’m a little bit more robotic or whatever, by the book, and he’s a little not so. When that pushes and like rubs together I think it’s better musically for what we’re putting out.
Riddle: Yeah it took me a little bit of time to subscribe to that like when it comes to actually writing. I kind of had to fall into that place because, again, I’m more loose and whatever and I’m not really used to like major minor and all that kind of stuff because what I listen to is so different than that. But I also do know that when something sounds cool, it sounds cool. Like if it’s sonically correct, that’s killer. And if it’s not, well it sounds good to my ears.
Swinney: That’s why it’s called a theory because it’s not a proof.
Riddle: *laughs* but yeah I think you can be influenced by anything, doesn’t have to be like music. Like I never thought to myself ‘oh I wanna play a song that sounds like that,’ like that was never my thing. It was what just came out.
Swinney: No that makes total sense because like I guess I don’t like base a reference point when I’m writing this song. Like the way that the stuff comes out that I send you [Matt] that I’m writing, it’s just off the top of my head. And then I put it together the way that I think it should go together. But for me growing up and being like obsessed with two bands you [Matt] were in, those bands kind of inspired me. And I’ll start playing a song and I’ll be like ‘Oh, well what if on this part, I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do, what if I did this thing that Tony did or what if I did this thing that Trever did.’ That’s a theory kind of thing, maybe they didn’t know it was a theory thing. The Maiden influence, I’ve always been a Maiden guy. But then NOFX and No Use, Good Riddance and Strung Out and Propagandhi and 88 Fingers Louie and like these bands from when I was in junior high and high school that if I didn’t have them, I don’t think I would be doing this right now. And Matt was a big part of that. Yeah, even though we’re buddies and we’re in the same band together, but thank you for helping mold my shit you know.
Riddle: But I mean like I know how to get from point a to point b, but I’m again not a theory guy. I learned how to play bass, learning how to tune my bass by listening to records. I didn’t have tuner. I put a record on and I just hit a note and go ‘that doesn’t sound right’ and turn my tuning peg until my string makes sense. That’s how I learned how to tune. Yeah it’s ridiculous, I practiced everything you know like Maiden, Fleetwood Mac, like I’m all over the place. And nowadays I just practice the bands like Mayhem and stuff like that because I like to be really really fast. But I mean I’m not that loose when it comes to writing, but I guess I’m a lot less structured.
Swinney: And I would like to be less structured than I am because it hinders me sometimes.
Riddle: Yeah many times I’ve sent something to Chris and you’ll change something and go ‘how about this’ and I’ll go ‘Oh my God dude, I never would have thought of that’ and then Pedro comes up with this vocal line where I’m like ‘well fuck that, finish that song.’ It’s weird, it’s kind of a weird thing.
Swinney: I’m just really really happy. I mean I’ll tie this up by just saying that we all have different people, like influences. Pedro’s get a lot more pop punk type stuff. Like I was more skate punky whatever, metal whatever. And Pedro, he does listen to a lot I think more pop type stuff that informs what he does. I mean I’m not saying like he has a reference like I said earlier, but I think it informs his style and you know it’s very melodic. The one thing that a lot of people have said to me since we’ve released this is just how are there these like mid tempo or fast punk songs. They’re so melodic and there’s actually like pretty parts. And I think a lot of that comes from his influences and what informs that is the pop stuff he listens to, the pop punk stuff. I don’t know, I look at this band and everything we’re doing. We’re all in our 40s or 50s and we’re putting out new music that people really seem to connect to and like and I think that is a rare thing to be able to do. I’m just so grateful that people are giving us a chance man.
Riddle: Yeah that’s really cool, kind of dusted off the cobwebs for me.
Swinney: I hadn’t done anything in 10 years man. And I mean like Matt was kind of in that same boat almost. And I wrote a couple songs, sent them to Matt and shit started kicking off. And now it’s a real thing. Yeah, ideally we want people to like it, but also it’s just been such a good, fun experience to write songs with these guys that I really respect and admire like it’s a bonus.
DS:It seems like everybody’s kind of complimenting each other. Where you [Chris] said you’re very mechanical whereas Matt, a little looser. It seems like that kind of complements each other, and then with Pedro tying everything in at the end.
Swinney: Matt Morris, I don’t wanna leave out Matt Morris. The band has been doing stuff and been writing and been an entity since the pandemic started almost, when we locked in Matt Morris, this band turned a corner. Now it’s me, Matt and Matt and Pedro and it’s a band and it feels better than it’s felt ever.
Riddle: It’s cool because I know he was a fan of mine and yours Chris and so for him to do this, he’s totally digging it. It was cool because he sent that text like ‘well what about this, what about this, and that’s when I told him ‘no dude, just be you and do what you want’ and he did. Yeah he’s really solid, a really really good drummer.
Swinney: I feel really really good about the lineup of guys we have. I mean we’re all busy, Pedro’s in a bunch of bands, he’s getting ready to go to Europe with Nathan Gray and Iron Roses. So I mean that’s the thing, like of course when we do tour, when we do play shows, it’s a logistical thing figuring out how to get everybody somewhere. But I mean a lot of festivals are fly-in dates and stuff like that, I mean it’s gonna happen and everybody’s on board 100%. It just feels really really good now that we have this core unit of guys that everybody cares about the band, everybody wants it to happen. The band’s been this kind of slithering weird like project up until Morris got in and now it’s like ‘ok the four of us are Fire Sale and we’re gonna kick everyone’s ass.’ *laughs* that’s how I feel.
DS:That’s awesome man. Yeah I really appreciate you guys talking. When I saw you guys were interested in an interview, I jumped on it immediately because both of you guys were in bands that were very influential to me as a kid with The Ataris and then yeah Face to Face and No Use for a Name. Yeah all three of those were hugely influential for me growing up. It’s really cool getting to talk to you guys now so I really appreciate you taking the time.
Swinney: Yeah we appreciate you too man because, like I said you know, I was the 5th guitarist in The Ataris, like that moniker works and helps get some people in the door, but it’s the fact of like Matt Riddle is one of my favorite bass players in the entire world, but he’s I think maybe felt like I felt in my past bands where I was always a supporting cast member for somebody else. And in this band I don’t want there to be any supporting cast members, we’re all equal in the same and we all do interviews. Fire Sale is the most inclusive band you can find.
Riddle: Don’t let me be your favorite bass player, that title should go to Scott Shiflett because that should be everybody’s favorite bass player.
Swinney: Well my favorite bass player is Cliff Burton then you and Scott Shiflett right in there too.
DS:Yeah I’ll try not to take anymore your guys time, I appreciate talking to you. It was really cool meeting you guys.
Deanna Belos’ nom de plume et scène is Sincere Engineer, but sincere is also a great way to describe the human behind the guitar and voice. I recently did a photo shoot with the multi-hyphenate Midwesterner (singer, songwriter, guitar player and fun provider) as we rode Chicago’s Red and Green Lines, and took over parts […]
Deanna Belos’ nom de plume et scène is Sincere Engineer, but sincere is also a great way to describe the human behind the guitar and voice.
I recently did a photo shoot with the multi-hyphenate Midwesterner (singer, songwriter, guitar player and fun provider) as we rode Chicago’s Red and Green Lines, and took over parts of some CTA train platforms post-Riot Fest. This happened just days before Sincere Engineer embarked on a European tour. We later followed up with an interview in which she describes, among other things, the experience of being on stage, her creative process, and fun. That last word serves as a sort of mission statement for the Chicago native.
Deanna Belos starting playing the guitar at age 12. Her foray into music was due to the work of those who stood out to her when she was just a kid. She tells me,
“The bands I watched while I was growing up inspired me a lot.”
Belos soon discovered her favorite band, the Lawrence Arms, by way of Alkaline Trio, which she also loves. Belos is proudly from the Windy City and this is reflected through her affection for the hometown punk scene and the musicians borne out of it. So many of those who inspired her have become good friends, including the lead singers of the aforementioned bands.
The year 2022 saw Sincere Engineer promoted to one of the Riot Fest main stages. She looks as comfortable on it as she does on smaller stages in smaller venues. Her band, composed of guitarist Kyle Geib, bass player Nick Arvanitis, and Adam Beck on drums, also seems right at home on the expansive stage.
I asked her how conscious she is of the crowd and her surroundings as she performs. Belos tells me,
“I’m usually amped by the time we get on stage. But leading up to it I’m always nervous and pacing.”
Her strategy for relieving that case of nervousness?
“I always try to look at the crowd and make sure everyone’s having fun…” adding, “but I always try to look straight ahead and focus on playing.”
There was no doubt the Riot Fest crowd was having fun as evidenced by how many partook in a Corndog Circle Pit [Video by Pray AFK]. This particular circle pit was an homage to the opening track, “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7” off of Sincere Engineer’s debut album Rhombithian. Belos joyfully relates her reaction when she noticed it happening,
“I was able to see it from the stage, yes! It was super cool. I almost teared up at it. A fan started a Facebook event to coordinate the corn dog pit and it kinda took off from there.”
“Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7” is an infectious tune but it also showcases her signature “Raw, Lonely Punk.” I am not quoting Belos there but rather a certain late legendary, comedian whose visage is inked on her leg.
It was in 2017, after Belos replied to a user called @braverygravy “Lol, maybe @NormMacDonald will listen to it.” The one-time Saturday Night Live cast member and comedy icon tweeted back: “I have. What’s not to love. Raw, Lonely Punk.”
To this day, Belos uses a screenshot of that interaction as her Facebook cover image.
It’s not hard to see why her songs and especially “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7” hits so many, famous or not, in the heart so strongly, and somewhat painfully:
“What am I supposed to do now? What am I supposed to do now? When you’re still not around And you’re all I think about“
When it comes to writing songs, it’s a melding of creative methods which works best for Belos.
“I continually write lyrics just in a document, but typically I’ll play guitar and just riff til something comes to me. If nothing comes to me I’ll use some previously written lyrics and try to puzzle them together to make a song.”
Belos’ humor is often in the form of self-deprecation, and she seems about as humble as any musician I’ve met. When pressed to list some of the qualities which help make her a great musician, this is about as boastful as she gets:
“I think I can write a relatable song and that helps!“
As to other parts of the life of a working professional musician, Belos returns to the same three-letter word so important to her.
“Favorite [part] is watching people have fun at our shows.”
With every favorite of that life, there are challenges as well.
“Hardest…touring probably. It’s fun and rewarding but it’s a hard endurance test haha.”
When it comes to Chicago venues at the top of her list, she has two.
“Metro is my favorite venue to play in Chicago! And Empty Bottle is my favorite to see a show at.”
Belos is grateful for the experiences she has had as Sincere Engineer.
“We have been so fortunate to get to play with some of our favorite bands. Playing Metro with Alkaline Trio was surreal. Riot Fest too. Hometown shows are always the most fun.”
But she is also keenly aware that not all shows are equally great. She maintains a pretty positive outlook even after such shows.
“I try not to beat myself up too much about it, but make sure to try harder next time.”
Belos, asked which musicians inspire her, returns again to two of her long-time faves with whom she is now friends.
While it seems, from her current success and increasing stardom as Sincere Engineer, that it must have been a foregone conclusion Belos would become a professional musician. However, she once considered going into the medical field. “Overbite” from Rhombithian describes how she disabused herself of that notion.
“I wanna give up I wanna give up I don’t wanna try no more I wanna stop all these pathetic attempts and saving this shipwreck Swim right out the door Before it sinks with a fraction of what’s left of my dignity I swept so many failed tests under carpets Deep down I knew this is not what I wanted (not what I wanted)”
Sincere Engineer’s fan base is growing exponentially and no doubt many members of it are glad Belos abandoned attempts to place the initials D.D.S. after her name.
There is one part her life Belos did felt harder to abandon.
“I was an animal care technician for laboratory animals. It was a tough decision and I’m still getting used to it. It still makes me nervous!”
Returning to the subject of the tour from which Sincere Engineer just returned, Belos happily indicates, it was a success and tells me
“The tour went really well! It was super fun to visit and play in a bunch of new places.”
“It started in Ireland and ended in Germany. There were stops in England, Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria along the way.”
Such a whirlwind tour left little time for anything more than playing a set at one venue and traveling to the next city or town to perform there. She informs me,
“We did get a little time to sightsee. Not a ton. We went to the Guinness Factory in Ireland, saw the Berlin Wall stuff in Germany. The rest was mostly just doing stuff around the venues we played at.”
On this particular tour, someone especially close to Belos’ heart stepped in to help her out when one of the band members sadly had to stay back in the States. Per Belos,
“My drummer Adam [Beck] couldn’t do the tour because of work. It was nice having Jeremy [Hansen, her long-time boyfriend] there and made me feel less homesick, and he’s such a great drummer and it was an honor to play with him. He played in the band Tricky Dick in the ’90’s.”
Belos was not the only member of the band thankful Hansen could help out. Kyle Geib describes him this way,
“Jeremy was such a great candidate to step in on the European tour! We all love Jeremy.”
For Hansen, it was a blast as well. He tells me,
“It was lovely! Lots of fun. Shows were good. Hangs were good. Got to do some sightseeing. Doing it together was special.”
That’s the thing about Sincere Engineer. While it may be described as a solo project, Belos’ love and admiration for her friends, who double as her band members, is obvious, as is their love for her. This all adds up to…you guessed it…fun.
Belos now has a little breathing room to just kick back and relax at home. After an exciting and seemingly exhausting year, hopefully Belos will be able to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Once 2023 hits though, she will be back onstage. First up, headlining at Bottom Lounge on January 14. Belos reports there are a couple of other events already inked on her 2023 calendar.
“And we’re doing Slam Dunk in the UK again and SBAM festival in Austria next May/June!”
Should be fun.
In what little time off from Sincere Engineer-related activities, Deanna Belos lists her favorite activities as “Bike riding, kayaking, plants.”
Please see below for images from my recent photoshoot with Deanna Belos, on September 23, 2022, and from her set at Riot Fest on September 16, 2022 in Chicago IL.
I have a confession to make. Although I am greatly ashamed, and I’m probably going to be shunned by all of the Dying Scene faithful, I must admit that this was my first time seeing Frank Turner. I know, I know, the guy tours nonstop and frequents Nashville and the surrounding cities. Not to mention […]
I have a confession to make. Although I am greatly ashamed, and I’m probably going to be shunned by all of the Dying Scene faithful, I must admit that this was my first time seeing Frank Turner. I know, I know, the guy tours nonstop and frequents Nashville and the surrounding cities. Not to mention that I have been knowingly committing punk rock sacrilege by not having attended at least once, but, excuses aside, I finally made it. And man did it live up to all the hype.
Pet Needs, traveling from across the pond to the US for the first time, was a phenomenal opener. The Bronx reminded me why they might very well be my favorite live band. And Frank Turner was, well… Frank Turner. The dude was a true professional and was as classy and entertaining as I had heard.
Like I said, Pet Needs was enjoying their first trip to the states, and as soon as they started their set, they made me a fan. They’ve got some catchy tunes, most notably ‘Tracey Emin’s Bed’ and ‘Punk Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Up for Sale’, and guitarist George Marriott can down-right shred. In a way, they reminded me of some of the early English punk acts that made their way over to the states: the Buzzcocks, The Clash, etc. After seeing them live, I could not have thought of a better opener for the king himself.
I’ve seen The Bronx a number of times and my love for them grows with every performance. These guys are about as professional as it gets and they throw one hell of a party. What made their set even more exciting for me was when I realized former Offspring and current Against Me drummer Adam ‘Atom’ Willard was behind the kit tearing things up, all with an ear-to-ear grin for the set’s entirety.
Seeing my favorite drummer absolutely kill it was just icing on the cake. Seeing the Bronx is always a treat, but this most recent show was long overdue.
There’s not a whole lot that I could write here that would be new to anybody reading this. This was Frank Turner‘s 26th show in the last 26 days (on the road to 50 shows in 50 days – editors note: you can see our coverage of the New Jersey show here and listen to our interview with Frank from just before tour was announced here) and show number 2653.
I haven’t been at this whole concert photography thing for too long, but I’m gonna go ahead and label Frank and the rest of The Sleeping Souls as the most photogenic group in punk. It was hard to get a bad picture of these guys, and that’s saying something for a guy who takes photos that are normally 90% complete shit. Thanks to these dudes, this was the most fun I’ve had watching a show in a long time
Down below is the full gallery from all three bands. Had a lot of fun with this one and it would be much appreciated if you took the time to check these out. Until next time, Cheers!
Voice of Addiction, Torch The Hive, and The Last Great Riot took over Reggie’s Music Joint on Saturday, December 18, 2022. Whilst the stage was small, none of the trio of performances could be described as the same. Ian Tomele, founder, bass player, and vocalist for Voice of Addiction, could be known as “The Shoeless […]
Voice of Addiction, Torch The Hive, and The Last Great Riot took over Reggie’s Music Joint on Saturday, December 18, 2022. Whilst the stage was small, none of the trio of performances could be described as the same.
Ian Tomele, founder, bass player, and vocalist for Voice of Addiction, could be known as “The Shoeless Singer.” He’s been performing sans footwear since he was a teenager. The 6’2″ self-described “slouch” told me,
“I hurt myself a lot especially when performing haha so I think it started as a way to feel the stage and my surroundings better (so I would stop hitting my head!)“
This show was the band’s last set in what has been its comeback year. Tomele explained,
“We had not played since we were on a month-long southern tour in early 2020 when the pandemic hit. It was super surreal pulling into Chicago from tour as the sun was rising and the mayor was giving the stay-at-home order over the radio. Since we were already together we felt it was safe to still get together for rehearsals and started working on the new album Divided States. To coincide with this release we started playing a couple shows this summer as well as a Northeast run in August. Mainly to test the waters and see what was possible for future shows and tours.” [The band’s second show of the year was at the Dying Scene Chicago Resurrection Party. Tomele thankfully helped with the logistics of the event).
Tomele’s bandmates Tyler Miller on guitar and brand new drummer Kevin Amaro, closed out the year with zest. Amaro’s drum kit continuously lit up in a variety of colors adding a festive touch to the stage. The rip-roaring set included, “Unity,” “Modern Day,” “Shinigami,” “Rustbelt,” and “Wrecking Ball.” That last song also bears the name of Tomele’s booking and promotion company, Wrecking Ball Productions.
As 2022 closed out, Tomele was optimistic about the band’s plans for 2023. He told me,
“In my opinion winter is for writing. I have a handful of new songs to show the guys including one I wrote with the new drummer Kevin. We are back at Reggie’s on January 12th. And then we get back at it in March and April with our southern tour. Spreading the new full length all over the damn place!“
Looking forward to it!
I’ve covered Torch the Hive twice this year and it has been 2 for 2 in terms of fun. The highly energetic trio makes quick work of engaging the crowd. This night was one of a flurry of shows the band played as the year wound down. It blasted through its set which included “Copaganda,” “F.E.A.,” “Deku,” “Burn Me Out,” “Shame On You,” and “Molotov Trail.” Mike Fruel, on vocals and guitar, Tyler Sanders on bass, and vocals, and drummer Sergio Apanco put on a provocative show in both song and movement. Fruel played his guitar above his head, behind his back, sitting on the floor, lying on the floor, and of course in traditional stance. Sanders was such a whirlwind on stage, with frenzied head shaking. So frenzied that his mop of red hair and beard (which perfectly complemented his bass) caused him to appear in flames on top. Apanco looked ready to explode from behind his drum kit.
Post-show Mike Fruel reflected on the year that was and the year to come:
“This was a good year for us, we’ve played sold out shows at SubT and Reggie’s and made a ton of new friends in the DIY scene. We also released one new single this year ‘Seeds,’ and plan to release a bunch more music in 2023. Next year we’ll be on the road hitting the south reaching New Orleans and the west coast late next year.“
Hopefully the band members can catch their breath at the start of the new year so they can keep that excitement strong over the course of 2023.
The Last Great Riot, comprised of vocalist/guitarist John A. Beavers, bassist Mario Mazzone, and drummer Scott Durand, closed out the evening by pumping it up. As in Elvis; the capper of its potent set was “Pump It Up“by Elvis Costello & The Attractions. The rest of its set was dedicated to original tunes by the band including two new ones, “Immortal 30” and “Fluid Ounces,” in addition to “Happy When (Bad) People Die, and “Neighborhood Legend” from 2021’s Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Rough.
Beavers looked back on the year just concluded and revealed some of the band’s plans for 2023,
“As far as ’22, we just played shows. Finally hit Milwaukee for a show, a few at Burlington and Reggie’s and some other spots. For ’23 we’re starting the year on a “new baby break,” so nothing book[ed] so far. Just finishing up mixes at Squeezebox Recording Studio on two singles, be releasing this late winter or spring.”
Best of luck guys!
Please see below for photos from the show. Have a happy and safe new year everyone and thank you for joining us on the ride that was 2022!
Hello, and welcome to this week’s installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar! This is a weekly round up of all things punk rock vinyl, highlighting new releases and all those ultra limited reissues that get the collector nerds’ hearts racing. So, let’s get into it… Now that all the new and upcoming releases have […]
Hello, and welcome to this week’s installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar! This is a weekly round up of all things punk rock vinyl, highlighting new releases and all those ultra limited reissues that get the collector nerds’ hearts racing. So, let’s get into it…
Wake up, sleepy heads! 1-2-3-4 Go! Records has a new exclusive pressing of an East Bay punk classic going up Friday, July 8th (that’s today!) at 8am PST/11am EST. Limited to 500 hand numbered copies on fiery red vinyl, it’s Jawbreaker‘s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy! Make sure to join their mailing list to be notified when this goes up.
Save the date! The Mr. T Experience is finally reissuing their 1997 LP Revenge Is Sweet, And So Are You. Preorders for this one start Monday, July 11th at Noon Eastern time. To gain access to the preorder, you need to join this mailing list. This pop-punk classic has been out of print since its initial release on Lookout! Records 25 years ago. Don’t miss out!
Epitaph Records is reissuing Down By Law‘s 1994 LP Punkrockacademyfightsong on purple vinyl. This is another one that’s limited to 500 copies. US preorders are already sold out, but the label’s European store still has some in stock if you can stomach the extra shipping cost. Or hey, maybe you live in Europe!
Canadian punks Trashed Ambulance just put out a new album called Future Considerations. It’s available to stream right now, but Thousand Islands Records doesn’t expect the LPs to be in hand for a few months. Listen to the album on the below, and preorder it here (North America) or here (UK).
Attention, all skate punk fans! I implore you to check out the new record from Australia’s No Quarter. If you like fast, melodic punk in the vein of Satanic Surfers, you’ll like these guys. You can listen to Fear and Loathing on the Pacific Highway below, and order the LP here.
Feeling nostalgic for the days when you played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater late into the night, chugging Mountain Dew and getting Cheeto dust on your Mad Catz controller? Then maybe these vinyl bootlegs of the THPS 1 and 2 soundtracks will interest you. If so, you’ll wanna hurry up and grab one here, because these have nearly sold out in just two days.
People of Punk Rock Records will be giving two Rufioalbums their first-ever vinyl releases. Head to their website Monday, July 11th at 11am Eastern to get your hands on these beautiful new pressings of MCMLXXXV and The Comfort of Home.
Garageland has exclusive reissues of three – count ’em, three! – Agnostic Front records. Something’s Gotta Give, Riot Riot Upstart, and Dead Yuppies are all available on limited splatter colored vinyl. Head over to their store and get ’em while the gettin’s good.
European friends! If you’re looking for a deal on some great punk records, I suggest you head over to SBÄM Records‘ webstore, where you can save 25% on everything through July 29th. Just enter the code “SBAMFEST” at checkout and you’re ready to roll. They have a bunch of good shit from Pulley, Frenzal Rhomb, Chaser, Guttermouth, and many more. You name it, they’ve probably got it!
Now that all the new and upcoming releases have been covered, I thought I’d show you the records I picked up this week, because I’m sure you really care! Anywho, I was in Ocala, FL visiting my parents for the 4th of July and I decided to stop by the only local record store in town, which is appropriately named Vinyl Oasis. I was very happy to find the Ramones‘ It’s Alive II, a 2020 Record Store Day title that I had been in search of for the last two years, and I was even happier it was only $30 (suck it, resellers!). I also snatched up a brand new 3xLP copy of The Clash‘s notoriously bloated Sandinista (I like it!), and a few CDs including the very interesting Misfits / Nutley Brass crossover album Fiend Club Lounge.
Well, it’s getting late, so I’ll wrap things up there. If you’re still reading this for some reason, thank you again for tuning in to this week’s edition of the Dying Scene Record Radar! Is there a new record you think should be highlighted in next week’s column? Suggestions are always welcome – send us a message on Facebook or Instagram and we’ll look into it!
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