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Brooklyn Based Hardcore Act MAAFA Releases Track-By-Track Breakdown of Upcoming Debut Album “Because We Are”

NYC hardcore act MAAFA are releasing their debut full length album Because We Are this coming Juneteenth on Fuzz Therapy Records and to get you hyped for that impending release, the bad-ass Brooklynites sent over a track-by-track breakdown, giving insight into their writing process and the inspiration for each song. Read through this exclusive ‘peek […]

NYC hardcore act MAAFA are releasing their debut full length album Because We Are this coming Juneteenth on Fuzz Therapy Records and to get you hyped for that impending release, the bad-ass Brooklynites sent over a track-by-track breakdown, giving insight into their writing process and the inspiration for each song. Read through this exclusive ‘peek behind the curtain’ provided by lead vocalist and lyricist Flora Lucini whilst enjoying their latest Single ‘Welfare’ and remember to snag the LP on Tuesday!

1. “Origém (Intro) 

The word “origém” translates to “Origin” in Portuguese and it is also the name of my father, Leonardo Lucini’s (Bassist/Composer) Brazilian Jazz band which he shares with my Uncle Alejandro Lucini (Drums/Composer.) For their album, they used their grandmother, Dora Muniz’s, painting (she was a painter) as their album cover. She thankfully lived long enough for me to spend time and live with her before her passing when I was a kid. Every morning before school I would sit next to her while she painted at our breakfast table. So, the artwork in the album for the page dedicated to this song is of one of her original paintings. 

When I started MAAFA, I knew that I wanted to incorporate/reference these influences on the record and tribute my paternal family, but I also wanted to tribute my maternal family as well which leads to the music. 

Originally the song had a sample of this style of music called “Tambor De Crioula” from my mother’s hometown in the northeast of Brazil São Luis, Maranhão. Which both myself and all the women in my family grew up dancing and participating in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get permissions for that sample in time for this release. It was going to start with that sample from Brazil into the intro with Batá that you hear on the track now, to showcase the similarities and connection of the traditions through its African origins.  

The Batá drums and rhythm on this track reminds me of the instrumentation and even some of the drum patterns found in Tambor de crioula. It’s very similar in the sense that both traditions use 3 double headed drums, “small, medium and large” that are all assigned different functions and both traditions are African Traditions brought through “THE MAAFA” to Brazil and Cuba (then to other parts of the diaspora later) and used traditionally in African traditional religious ceremonies. This was one of the ways to incorporate a tribute to my mother’s hometown as well. All the references from the album art to the actual musical styles point to my “Origins” in some way. 

I also split playing the bass on this track with my Bassist Ray Russell. He plays the majority of the bass lines on the intro and I play the Tumbão Groove in the second half of the “Batá” section in the intro. 

2. Welfare

This was the first song I ever wrote specifically for MAAFA. The lyrics really embodied where I was/still am politically and in terms of what I wanted the message of this first record to convey. 

I wrote all the songs on this album on classical/acoustic guitar because I couldn’t afford an electric one at the time. I also just write everything on acoustic LOL. 

Welfare was not intended to be an “anthem” like song but it has definitely grown to that. I was trying moreso to mash up some of the more traditional styles of Hardcore and Punk into one song while the lyrics ushered in a perspective that called out a lot of the more problematic ideologies that plagued/continue to plague both our scene and our society, seeing as how music is a reflection of culture. 

3. Deficit

The intro to Deficit was written before the song was. I had this idea for the intro after being inspired by a call and response pattern I had heard in an African Drum and Dance class in 2008. I slowed it waaaay down and translated the inspo from it into a heavier style. I had always heard Kora in the intro too and am so glad it worked out where the professor of the class, Amadou Kouyaté, who is also my friend of almost 20 years and is one of the original members of MAAFA is playing Kora in the intro. He is also playing a series of drums such as 2 Djembes, Dudunba, Sangban, Segesege and more. This same Djembe pattern repeats in the outro and slows down even more as it transitions to a more typical “beatdown hardcore” feel which is when the gang vocals start screaming “Reclaiming my time.”

I wrote the lyrics after a frustrating experience with a former colleague who kept abusing their access to me by constantly bombarding me with requests to correct their problematic behavior, specifically around racism and homophobia. They never asked me, they demanded, they never offered to pay me for my intellectual labor, they never gave me credit for said labor and the entire interaction was transactional and unwarranted. Just kind of kept messaging me over and over again until finally I had to block them.

This led me to reflect on the history of QTBIPOC interactions with folks like that, especially sense this happned during the height of social unrest around the murdering of unarmed Black folk. It remonded me of how often we all are constantly being put in positions like this to do all this labor and are expected to do it for free. 

This song was written in 2017/2018, around the time that U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (a Black Woman)  went viral for standing up to her problematic colleagues in government by “Reclaiming Her Time” during a house committee meeting.  She was coined #AuntieMaxine shortly after. The visual of a Black Woman in power stating “I’m Reclaiming My Time” from problematic “colleagues” fit perfectly with the messaging of this song. It’s really about paying BIPOC for their labor, self-advocacy, boundaries and self-care.

3. Libation

There is a theme about water here: cleansing, ritual, baptism, sacrifice, rebirth, death, legacy, tribute and worship. Libation is a reflection on the legacy of what our ancestors have left for us and what we are responsible to build moving forward as the descendants/survivors of Chattel Slavery. It’s about ancestral worship, ancestral memory, a moment to reflect on our loved ones who have passed. 

It is part poem, part prayer, part ritual and of course, part call to action.   

I wanted to give myself space to write a song both musically and lyrically where I can depart from the typical lyrical styles and song structures we find in Hardcore but while still pulling from influences like Spoken word, Reggae and Hip-Hop influenced-Hardcore. For example, Lyrics like “Black is the river now. So much flesh in the waters, the waters have changed.” Was inspired by a statistic I read that said so many African bodies were thrown overboard into the Atlantic Ocean during the middle passages/ The Maafa, that it changed the temperature of the water forever. 

Naming the song “Libation” was inspired by the history of the Black American ritual that some of us do when one of our loved ones passes away i.e. “Pour one out for our homies” and the fact that some in the States who practice that and learned that from Hip-Hop didn’t or don’t know that pouring Libation is African Ancestral Memory, it can be traced back to many of our ancestral nations on the continent as an important ritual across many religions and cultures it is also not exclusive to Indigenous African Nations but also to Indigenous Nations in the West. It has been said that for many Africans & her descendants “Nothing important happens without Libation.

I am of Yoruba (Nigerian) descent, and a lot of the lyrics reference ritual/aesthetics still present throughout my family and that can be found in some African Traditional Religions (ATR’s for short) such as Black American Hoodoo/Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Lucumí/Lukumi etc. But also Black American Christianity/Southern Baptist + Pentecostal references. 

I wanted the overall feel to take the listener on a journey and for it to be like spoken word meets hip hop influenced hardcore in the verses then the Reggae part allows you to meditate then finally resolving on a metal/opera like ceremonial vibe that centers hope in the end. 

It was important to me to make a moment for meditation that musically centered the real, Black African tradition of Reggae. The whole song touches on the connection of the spiritual and the political being in balance for true resistance. Which we see in historical victories such as The Haitian revolution, for ex. Very rarely do I hear true stories about uprisings and revolts of enslaved Africans where we did not seek the guidance of our ancestors and the spirit world/our religions to see them through. 

All the way to the civil rights movement and how a lot of organizing happened in the church, (regardless if everyone was actually Christian or not.) So many of our diasporic African religions are practiced under the guise of Abrahamic Religions because we were forced to hide our practices during enslavement. Take the saints of Catholicism for example (i.e. where “santeria” came from and that many feel should not be the appropriate term to use) in order to avoid being murdered by slave owners because our religions were considered “savage, primitive and of the white Judeo-Christian Devil.” Our political resistance and our god(s) have always and to this day remain connected for many of us (with all due respect to our very powerful atheist siblings who fight very hard on the frontlines and some even while trying to heal from religious trauma) and this song sheds light on that. Which is what “Libation” is really about: how the spiritual and political are connected when it comes to our living, our afterlife and our fight here on earth against systemic oppression and religious (ATR) prosecution.

The breakdown pays tribute to the traditional Rastafari community I grew up around in D.C that are responsible for some of my earliest exposure to Pan-Africanism and Militant Black Liberation Politics very early on in life.

The end of the song is an extension of the meditative reggae break, but the vibe changes into a more metal influenced, almost operatic style to evoke the feeling of a ceremony/ritual chant for the hope of where we are headed as a people and that the deaths of our ancestors were not in vain, instead their legacies fuel our resistance and our “big dreams” to this day. One that factors in the entirety of our history and “The Legacy They Left Here for Us” (the very last line of the song) a lot of our traditions teach us that when we die we then are promoted to “ancestor” and have to begin our duties as an ancestors over our descendants that are still here on earth. The overall feel is about hope and how we must carry on to a better world, which is a great segue into the next song “A Luta Continua.”

5. A Luta Continua (Interlude)

“A Luta Continua” translates to “The fight goes on” in Portuguese. This interlude was an instrumental bass and percussion duet I wrote and am performing on. It is a duet featuring me playing the bass (everything you hear on this track that is not vocals or percussion is the bass. There are no guitars) and me singing/harmonizing with myself. The only other musical instruments are Traditional Brazilian percussion played by my friend Everton Isidoro who is also from Brasil. The style of music is a mix of Traditional Capoeira percussion & rhythm and the lead Bass lines were inspired by a style called Baião .

Overlayed is a sample of Councilwoman Marielle Franco’s speech (SPEECH HERE) at a hearing on violence against women in the Favelas, given about a week before she was assassinated. This interlude is to usher in the song “Filha Da Luta” that also features Afro-Brazilian Musical elements. 

6. Filha Da Luta

“Filha da luta” translates to “Daughter of the fight” in Portuguese and is a saying I saw become popular on protest signs during uprising against Bolsonaro’s election and when Marielle was assassinated. “Filha da luta” is a play on words for the insult “Filha da puta” (which translates to what in the U.S. we would say “son (Filho) of a bitch” but in this case it’s daughter(filha) of a bitch lol) activists changed it from the cuss word “Puta” to “Luta” which means fight. “Puta” is also a misogynistic slur in Portuguese for Slut/Whore. 

The song’s intro features a rhythm called “Samba-Reggae” that is very popular in Brazil during carnival especially in the northeast of Brazil so places like my mommy’s hometown and Bahia, considered the “Black state of Brazil” which has similarities we can find in some Afro-Caribbean cultures. 

My friend Everton recorded the Brazilian percussion for this song as well, he played a bunch of the traditional instruments that go along with this style like the surdo, agogo, pandeiro, atabaque and more. 

The choruses and the breakdown at the end features a rhythm that is very dear to my heart called “Afoxé”  (Here’s a video of my cover of that Afoxé song I arranged, choreographed and sang for Harry Belafonte at my Almer Mater, Berklee College of Music) which is an African-Brazilian Rhythm that my dad uses a lot in his songwriting and which has a long history with Black resistance and enslaved African uprising during the Maafa. It is also a rhythm that primarily is used in religious ceremonies and rituals in the ATR- candomblé. (Video of my uncle and friends back home in DC playing Afoxé)

I dedicate this song to Marielle every time we play it live and to all Black/Brown, Non-Cishet male activists globally that we’ve lost and whom are still here fighting and organizing. 

7. Not Your Exotic (CW: Sexual Assault) 

The inspiration for this song’s title and for some of its lyrics is the poem “Not your erotic, Not your exotic” by Palestenian-New Yorker poet, Suheir Hammad. She and I have become really good friends after I wrote this song when one of her homies happened to come to one of our shows and connected us. This poem changed my life and finally made me feel “seen” and most importantly she found the words I had such a hard time formulating over the years. It unlocked my voice about this issue, and I owe it all to her. 

The song is simple, straight to the point heavy punk rock. I wanted to write a groovy, still “Maafa” style punk song, that emphasized the lyrics more than anything else. 

The lyrics are about the violence that Women/Femme identified and presenting Black and Brown people like me face from being hypersexualized/fetishized/Other’ed etc. 

Hypersexualized for being a Black Woman, A Brazilian woman, lightskinned/mixed race presenting Woman/ for my body type etc. You name it! We’ve heard all the gross and highly offensive things “Spicy, Sassy, pretty for a Black girl, Pretty for a fat girl etc.” my darkskinned siblings have to then add colorism on top of that like “Pretty for a Darkskinned girl” or fetishized statements like “You’re the Only/first Black/Fat/Brazilian etc. Girl I’ve ever been with/liked” etc. or “why are you so Angry/Emotional/Hysterical/Crazy/Irrational/Sensitive/Moody” etc…AND the FAVORITE one they use for Black Women: “You have an attitude.”  

The album art for this song features the song title super imposed over a picture of one of the signs used to announce the auction/arrival of an enslaved Black Woman named Sarah Baartman aka Venus Hottentot who was enslaved and treated by her capturers as like a zoo animal they paraded around the world naked, on display like a circus freak show/side show so that white people can come and stare and violate at her “exotic” body. (This is a gross over simplification of her life and legacy, due to the sake of time.)

It’s wild to think this actually happened and that a body type that is extremely common amongst Black and some Brown folk (and that she and I both share similarities with) is somehow “exotic” and “freak-ish” “abnormal” or a “deformation/illness” that it needed to be literally caged and put on display. 

DISGUSTED is the first word that should come to mind, which is exactly how I feel and how many folks like me feel regularly. Sexual harassment is part of my everyday life. My safety is something I have to factor in when I get dressed, what time I leave my house, what kind of clothes I want to wear or go shopping for etc. Shopping is a lot of “Damn, I shouldn’t wear that, I COULD GET HURT.”  I have been assaulted more times than I can count, I haven’t taken the subway alone in 6 years because I was sexually assaulted on the train 3 times in broad daylight. 

I, like many BIPOC femmes, have survived sexual assault, being followed to my house, to my car, to public bathrooms, physically sexually assaulted at shows, cat-called on the street, etc.  My friends have to literally make sure I make it home all the way in the door when dropping me off in an Uber. I’m required to check in via messages with my homies as soon as I’m in the house just so they know I’m ok and they are also required to do the same. None of us drive off until everyone is inside their homes with the doors locked and accounted for in the group chat. If one of us forgets to check in, we can absolutely expect several missed calls the next morning. 

In fact some of my girlfriends and I have a group chat that we all send “I’m home” or “I’m on so and so street, with so and so, his/her/their license is…and I’m wearing…. etc.” even though we all live in different states. We all have access to our parent’s/spouses’ information, address, emergency contacts etc. and we all carry emergency contact and information cards with info like “I’m allergic to penicillin.”

Having to live like this since I was little which was taught to us by our mothers/sisters/elders/community and theirs to them and so on for survival, is absolutely normalized. And this song feels like a collective “exhale” for 2 minutes and some change that we can all take and scream all the pain and frustration we feel that is constantly being dismissed. 

NOTE: Most CisHet masculine Men and Boys NOT having to ever think about stuff like this is a type of privilege I speak about in “Welfare”: “To Inhabit your skin without fear (white privilege) / To inhabit your body without shame (Fatphobia/skinny privilege/Masculine body privilege) / To love who you want (Hetereosexual Privilege) /  TO WALK AT NIGHT ALONE (that part) / To be standing on the outside looking in / THAT’S PRIVILEGE!” 

8. For The Culture

My hometown here in the states is Washington, DC. And D.C. has its own original style of music called GO-GO that I grew up on. Go-Go and D.C. Hardcore have a lot of history together and sometimes , many many moons ago traditional Go-Go bands would play Hardcore shows.  

So this song musically is a love letter to my hometown. Go-Go, like Hardcore, has also evolved tremendously; for example, THIS is one example of what modern Go-Go can sound like with more rock influences. I love everything about Go-Go, especially all the obvious ancestral memory you see in every element, down to its own dance called “BEAT YA FEET.”

The artwork on the album for this song depicts the Bucket drummers that perform at the metro stations in DC that I also grew up listening and dancing to – also another example of ancestral memory. 

“For The Culture” is a phrase some Black folks use when we are acknowledging something that is being done strictly for the sake and the betterment of Black culture and Black people. 

The lyrics are calling out gentrification, posers and people that want to exploit how “trendy” being Black and “punk” or “alternative” is now a days all of a sudden. When most of us grew up getting beat up or harassed for listening to “White people music” and it was actually dangerous for us to “dress punk” back in the day. Oftentimes the violence came from our own people as well as racists that we faced at shows, so we caught it from both ends. But now a lot of those same people want to dress like us and study what we’re doing in our scenes cuz they think it’s “cool and trendy.”

The song was inspired from my rage against corporate “alternative music” festivals that exploit the word PUNK and the people in the community in order to chase “clout” and be trendy, when their festivals have absolutely nothing to do with our communities and do nothing but erase actual Black punks and Hardcore kids like Maafa and our sibling bands.

9. Dichotomy

This is my break up song, but you know I can’t do a break up song without making it political lol. Relationships bring out things in you in a way that only they can, because of the unique things it forces us to face when having to deal with other people in a romantic way, like during talks about the future, children, expectations etc. It will bring up your own traumas and sometimes your partner can treat you so badly that they become a trauma themselves that you’re forced to heal from. Which is in part what happened here as well: this was written after I got out of an abusive relationship.

Things like infidelity & betrayal trauma are also experiences that inspired this song. It’s my most vulnerable song & most personal.

Basically, the inspo for this song is how a break up was the catalyst to my journey with mental health that saved my life and how during that journey the issue of mental health in the Black community came up i.e. still not having a therapist or the right meds because they’re low income; how HR from Bad Brains is/was treated/talked about during his battle with mental health; and the stigma in the Black community around mental illness and seeking help, especially amongst Black men. 

My experience with depression and anxiety during this period felt like I was possessed by a demon or something really dark that had more control over me than I did so there are moments in the lyrics that reflect that down to the very last line that says, “Release Me, Please,” as if pleading with the demon to exorcise itself from my mind/body. But the song is also about healing and about taking control and responsibility for my healing which is how I reclaimed my power over the “demon.” Which is also reflected in the lyrics and in the aesthetic of the album art depicting items one would find in an apothecary to symbolize healing with medicine and healing with spiritual/religious ritual. 
My parents and I are best friends and my father is my guide post in all things “life.”  So to tribute him and how much he supported me during that time I made the song’s intro my interpretation of the intro and outro of my dad’s song “PEGA” – the sample is from the outro of the video in that link, so the Jazz sample at the end of the song is actually my dad and his band playing.

10. Blindspot 

White boys get to make angry chugga chugga music to “bitch” about the things they hate all the time and they get praised for it, even though 99.99999% of the time the things they sing about hating are people and ideas that are different than them. They also love to gatekeep Hardcore for white straight men who are hyper masculine and violent. Well, this is MY angry chugga chugga song about the things I hate the most which are problematic white boys who make chugga chugga Hardcore and are put in a position of power to control the entire narrative of who and what Hardcore is and looks like and then, being true to their nature, they cry victim and get defensive when someone calls them out on how they protect and perpetuate harmful ideologies and behaviours in our scene. Hence: DECOLONIZE HARDCORE. 

Now, I absolutely love and grew up on chugga chugga hardcore MUSIC* ( i.e. Beatdown Hardcore/ Traditional NYHC/ or my favorite as I like to call it “That Castle Heights shit” lol) so I’m not coming at the music, I’m critiquing SOME of the bands and their content, who are really the minority in the scene but because of privilege and supremacy are glamourized as not only the majority, when they’re not, but as the only “true” definition of Hardcore. As I often say, it’s “bullshiterious.” (I got that from a Black Feminist FB group) 

Decolonizing Hardcore is also about reminding Black people in our scene and those who are new to our scene that they should NEVER have to negate their Blackness to be here. Manipulate their appearnce or the way they “talk”  just to “assimilate.” That it’s about re-educating my own people about the Black history of Hardcore and Punk, that everything hardcore is and stands on comes from Black people who invented rock n roll, call and response, oral history keeping, communicating through dance without words, singalongs and pile-ups and spinkicks. 


This is a house our ancestors built for us too, we are not guests here, this is part of our birthright and if anything, like any other subculture, it’s usually the descendants of our colonizers and the ones who benefit from white privilege who are the “guests.” 

Decolonizing Hardcore is about centering the QTBIPOC presence visibly and loudly and unapologetically reclaiming not just our time but our rhythms, our dances, our styles, our languages, our lands, our spaces and our scene.

Batá Drums, Yoruba Tradition, Babalawo, Lucumi religion (aka Santeria, we do not Call it Santeria because that term is a colonial term and can be seen as offensive. The actual name of the tradition is called “Lucumi”or “Lukumi” Loo-koo-me)

The Batá drum is a double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass[1] with one end larger than the other. The percussion instrument is still used for its original purpose as it is one of the most important drums in the yoruba land and used for traditional and religious activities among the Yoruba.[2][3] Batá drums have been used in the religion known as Santería in Cuba since the 1800s, and in Puerto Rico and the United States since the 1950s.[4][5] Today, they are also used for semi-religious musical entertainment in Nigeria and in secular, popular music. The early function of the batá was as a drum of different gods, of royalty, of ancestors and a drum of politicians, impacting all spheres of life in Yoruba land.[6][7]

The drummers on Batá and Djembe for the intro song. One of them is Jabari Exum. He and our Friend Amadou Kouyate who is not only my former mentor but my former professor and one of my best friends and is an original and current member of MAAFA, he is on this album, they both were best friends with Chadwick Boseman from The Black Panther Movies (Wakanda Forever) so when it came time to make those movies Chadwick hired Jabari as choreographer, Lead Djembefola and to be his right hand man meaning every time he was on set, at a red carpet etc. Jabari, who is on this album, was playing Djembe next to Chadwick. Jabari was also in both movies in several Djembe scenes and as an extra in a few scenes in the second movie. 

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Civil War Rust

Civil War Rust are from Oakland.
Things they enjoy… Pop Punk from the 90’s, Burritos, Touring, Recording & Dive Bars from the 90’s

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 Interview: Sammy Kay on mental health, being a Jersey boy in Kentucky, his powerful new EP “Inanna” and more

When last we heard from Sammy Kay on the pages of Dying Scene, the world – both his and ours – looked very different. It was the back half of 2019. The original Dying Scene website hadn’t yet crashed, and Kay was releasing civil/WAR, his most recent full-length record. The record was funded primarily through […]

When last we heard from Sammy Kay on the pages of Dying Scene, the world – both his and ours – looked very different. It was the back half of 2019. The original Dying Scene website hadn’t yet crashed, and Kay was releasing civil/WAR, his most recent full-length record. The record was funded primarily through a Kickstarter campaign and, while it found him once-again recording with Pete Steinkopf at Little Eden Studio in his ancestral homeland of New Jersey as he had on 2017’s Untitled and 2014’s Fourth Street Singers, it represented a stylistic departure from the ska and roots-rock that had marked the earlier stages of his music career. Instead, civil/WAR found the gravelly-voiced Kay backed primarily by his own acoustic guitar, the subtle textures putting more emphasis on the weighty, at times heart-wrenching lyrical subject matter.

A fast-forward to the present day finds a Sammy Kay that is in very different places in both the literal and figurative senses. To wildly oversimplify things, there’s been a wedding and a move from Jersey to California and a divorce and a move to Raleigh and a move to Cincinnati and a global pandemic and a hiatus from and then return to sobriety and a better grip on some lifelong mental health concerns. Oh, and now, thankfully, there’s new music.

Kay signed with A-F Records for a full-length record that’s due out this fall. That’s a conversation for another day. In the very near future, however, there’s Inanna. It’s an EP that’s comprised of a few B-sides from the full-length sessions. There are reworked versions of a couple previously-revved up rock-and-roll songs from the earlier records. And then there’s a cover. But it’s not just any cover. It’s Kay’s funeral dirge-like take on The World/Inferno Friendship Society’s “My Ancestral Homeland, New Jersey,” a song that comes across both as an ode to that band’s recently-departed frontman Jack Terricloth, and a reflection on Kay’s own old stomping grounds. It’s haunting and forlorn and pitch-perfect enough that if you didn’t know it was a cover of a waltzy circus-punk tune, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a Sammy Kay original.

We caught up with Kay over Zoom a couple of Mondays ago, and in order to make the timeline work, Kay had to take an early exit from his normal Monday night online self-help meeting. (The writer in me was super appreciative; the friend and the person who’s worked in and around the recovery field for two decades in me said “NOOOO WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!”) One of the more positive things to have come out of the pandemic has been the new and creative ways that people have come up with to stay engaged with and connected to their life preservers. Online self-help meetings, FaceTime counseling sessions. Dropbox file-sharing songwriting sessions. Back-to-basics Nebraska-style bedroom four-track recordings. DIY artwork. TikTok. They’ve all allowed people to help overcome some of the boredom and isolation and monotony and separation that the pandemic created, and they were all put to use in positive ways by Kay as he has navigated whatever we’re calling the ‘new normal.’ Okay, maybe not TikTok, but still.

Read out chat below. It’s open and honest and raw and funny and so, so Jersey…even if Kay has started to establish a bit of a foundation (dare I say roots?) 640 miles from home. It’s a revealing look at a pretty intense and at times chaotic journey that has resulted in Kay seemingly in a more peaceful spot than we’ve seen from him. Oh, and pre-order Inanna here before its April 28th release, and stay tuned for more about the full-length this fall.

Dying Scene (Jay Stone): So yeah, let’s talk about the new record. When’s the official release day?

Sammy Kay: The 28th of April. Yeah. Inanna.

Are you excited? Do you still get excited after however many official records under your belt at this point?

There’s six. There’s six Sammy LPs, plus all the other bands growing up. It feels different. It’s a little weirder. Press is more of a thing now. When I was a kid, it was more like ‘I just hope people listen to it.’ And I still hope people listen to it, but also I hope there’s a good write-up about it. Because the internet is real, and you have to look cool on the internet. 

That is a thing, isn’t it? 

Oh it is a THING!!

Because as much as some of us want it to not be a thing – and I realize I say that as somebody who owns a website – but it really is a thing. You do have to pay attention to that shit, don’t you?

Yeah, and it’s weird because post-Covid, (song) premieres aren’t really a thing, and video premieres aren’t really a thing, and write-ups are kinda gone. There’s only a couple things that’ll happen. Some places do like a song-a-day, and it’s real cool and it’s a good little write-up, but because so many publications and websites are scaling back, the people that have always done stuff with me just don’t have time because everybody is trying to get to them. So it’s a little weird.

Yeah, and I feel like production of videos, at least the traditional way of making them, sort of shut down for a long time too. Some people were obviously making their own DIY things, but there weren’t really even videos to premiere anymore.

Yeah, and it feels like a lot of people went and learned how to do that during Covid. I am currently trying to learn how to TikTok and I am not having fun. (*both laugh*)

I will never learn how to TikTok. I kinda drew a line in the sand there. And I have a 15-year-old, so I kinda should know, but I just can’t…

Yeah, Morgan can do it! Buy her ice cream and let her do your TikToks. She’ll do it for you!

I don’t know, man. It’s a whole other world. And I get that there are people who are good at it, I just can’t wrap my head around it. 

Yeah, it’s one of those things that…I don’t obsess, but I study the algorithm and see what works, and right now, if there’s any sort of text in your image, it gets shadowbanned. And if you use the word “premiere” or “new song,” it fucking gets shadowbanned. “Come to my show” is like a shadowban term. I’ll watch my visibility drop to like a quarter of whatever it is if I say, like, “hey, we’ve got a new record coming out.” Just like that. Done. So it’s weird, and it’s a lot of sending notes like “hey, we’ve got a new record out, hope all is well. Love for you to give it a listen.”

Do you just have to flood the market with reminders that shit is coming out to make up for the fact that if you put one thing out there, maybe nobody will see it? I feel like you have to just be on top of it all the time.

Yeah. My visibility right now is a fifth of my followers, since we announced the record. And it’s not a lot. I’ll get like 250 views on a post, whereas the week before I posted something dumb about a cannoli and I got like 30,000 views, you know? (*both laugh*) I’ll look at the Reels or the TikToks or whatever and I’ll be like “Glenn Danzig is okay, and here’s a song about a breakup” and it’ll get 80,000 views or 120,000 views. Then the next thing is a song I actually wrote and it’s like 2,000 views, 4,000 views. The internet is a weird thing.

Do you obsess over it? 

Jay Stone, you know me pretty well. I obsess over everything! (*both laugh*) There’s no not obsessing!

Is there a healthy way to obsess over it, is maybe a better question to ask? I mean, I do the same thing on the website end.

No. I mean, I sit and I refresh and it’s like “why is there only 17 people listening to the song right now?” and it’s like “well, it’s 12:45 in the morning and the song just came out, what’s the problem here?” (*both laugh*) The problem is me. I’m the problem. (*both laugh*) But I’m stoked. The songs are cool. Do you know the secret about Inanna

I don’t feel like I do, but even if I did…remind me!

It’s the B-sides. I wrote with a sort of algorithm in mind. I was writing these twelve-line kinda sonnets…12 to 16 lines depending on if there’s a repeated tag or not. No repeating chorus. But as we were doing it, they were full-length songs with a chorus that hits two or three times, and a second or a third verse. And we had this cool little tape setup, this little Tascam that we kinda rigged to run but also ran as a pre-amp in the same vein as Nebraska, with just a cheap mic and a plate reverb. And we just kinda did this thing. Our buddy John Calvin Abney was sending us parts, so we recorded maybe thirty-five (songs). About 7 or 8 never left the acoustic guitar and scratch-singing floor. They’re there. They’re rough. The weird thing about a tape machine and minimal microphones is if it was fucking raining that day, there was just a buzz. We couldn’t get the buzz out, and we just said “fuck it, that song’s kinda done.” But you get gems. Like one song there’s a line about walking down the highway, and a fucking car lays on the horn outside and that gets picked up, right? Or there’s a real quiet part on “Couple Cardinals” on the EP and you hear the kids at the school across the street coming out for recess, and you hear them laughing and hollering and playing. It’s the perfect ghost.

So this tape machine was kind of a fickle beast, and we recorded probably about 28 or 29 that were done. That Misfits EP, the Bad Religion thing, those were all on this Tascam tape machine, this cassette portastudio 4-track. We kinda figured out the record, and then there were these songs that didn’t fit that twelve-line sonnet thing. There were a couple songs that we revisited, like “You Ought To Know,” I always had in my head like this quiet, delicate song, and when we did it with Pete (Steinkopf) ten years ago, it became this big rocker, and it partially became a big rocker because I didn’t know what “soft” or “delicate” meant. And in fact, I still don’t, but we were able to do a quieter, ‘after dark’ take. I think “Reservoir” always had a Greenwich Village folk feel in my head, and it came out as this big heartland rocker, and I love it, but I wanted to revisit it and see if we could do a quiet take of it. So there’s two old songs, three new songs, and then…I grew up seeing The World/Inferno Friendship Society, and I’m a big believer in that band and the cult that it is – and I use the word “cult” lovingly – the inclusivity and the welcoming-ness of the Infirnites. I always heard “Ancestral Homeland” as a song to be played at a funeral versus this waltzy, polka, punk thing, and being out here in Kentucky, I started fucking around with flat-picking, bluegrass picking, and we kinda turned it into this quieter, graveside song. And like with the Misfits thing, or throughout the years we’ve always done covers…I like to just take the chords and the words and forget everything else. Just the skeleton of the song. I was able to deconstruct it and turn it into this letter to Jack as a thank you and, if I was at the funeral, that’s what I would have done to pay my respects. Those lines “When I die, they’re going to bury me in Jersey” fucking resonate strong! 

That is a song that you can tell resonates strongly with you, and that’s without hearing your version of it. Obviously I’ve heard your version of it a bunch, and I think you did an amazing job with it. That’s a song that sounds like it could have been a Sammy Kay song. 

Yeah, “never trust a man who don’t drink’ my papa told me” … “The sun was shining the day I drove out of New Jersey and the girls all flashed me a smile.” It’s such a well-written song, in the sense of those great little descriptive lines. It just flows. And being from New Jersey – you know this being in Boston, the Southie kids and the Jersey boys, we’re not too far apart – out here there’s the good old boys. We’re all kinda cut from the same cloth. That hometown pride is strong.

When did you realize that you had it, though? Because that’s a thing that I’ve sort of been looking at a little bit differently the older I get, and the longer that I live in Massachusetts versus New Hampshire, where I grew up…and now having a kid who is growing up differently but in this part of the world still. When did you realize that you weren’t just from Jersey, you were FROM Jersey, and did it take leaving to realize it?

When I left…I left to go on tour young, and I was like “yeah, I’m from New Jersey, whatever, fuck you.” But when I moved to New York, I started saying “oh, I live in New York.” And then “Oh I’m in LA, I’m hanging out living in California.” I did New York, I did LA, I came back to Jersey, I did Texas for a minute…I jumped around. I’ve always been pretty nomadic. But I think once I got a job, even within music, where I had to bust my ass like my old man did. Once I realized I was saying the same shit my dad would say about the fucking day. Like “how’s your day going?” “It was a fuckin’ day, man.” You know? And also, I talk pretty, pretty, pretty Jersey…

Yeah, but you personally don’t know that until you get outside of Jersey!

Right, I didn’t know that at all! And it’s funny, I’m in Kentucky right now, right on the Ohio border, just outside of Cincinnati, just across the river, and these fucking people tell me I have the worst accent ever, and I’m like “what are you tawkin’ about?” (*both laugh*) You say “crick…” (*both laugh*) But starting to live south-ish, south adjacent – even Bakersfield too. A lot of the Bakersfield accent and the way people talk, the dialect, they’re Okies. They’re Oklahoma folk or Texarkana folk. Because when the Dust Bowl happened, a lot them emigrated to the Kern River Valley because of the sooil there. A lot of those Okieisms are pretty strong, and Okieisms and Jerseyisms are the same but different. I didn’t let the concept of “Jersey” …we’ll use the word “define.” Being from New Jersey, the pride I have for my state definitely defines a lot of who I am, from the working hard, to the history of art and growth in all facets of life. Like, the things that were developed in that state, from shit like the lightbulb to Einstein figuring out nuclear physics post-Manhattan Project at Princeton. I’m pretty sure fucking peanut butter is from New Jersey, you know? (*both laugh*) It’s just a cool thing, and gentrification aside, I can count the things I don’t like on one hand about that state. I mean, I can’t afford to live in New Jersey. I can’t be an artist while living there. There’s no way to go on tour, there’s no way to create, so I left New York City. 

Yeah, we see that up here in Boston, especially with the art community. I don’t know that the stuff that made Jersey Jersey for so long, particularly in an artistic sense, I don’t know that it exists anymore, just like I don’t know that it exists about Boston either. 

Yeah! I think…there’s glimmers in Jersey as well as in Boston and even in New York…like, I’m playing a show next week, and I am fully going to talk shit right now and I don’t give a FUCK because it’s real dumb…but I’m playing a show next week in a city that rhymes with Shmos Shmangeles and they are charging every band like $200 for a sound fee. It’s just like the New York City rooms, but it’s a room that you go and play. It’s a notorious room. But the amount of shit…like, we asked if we could get in and do a rehearsal and they were like “yeah, we need to get paid.” And it’s more money than we’ll make for the night, to be able to go in there for an hour before soundcheck to just practice acoustic.


Yeah. Like, fuck that. LA, New York…

Is that like the new version of pay-to-play, which maybe enough people have given places shit about that this kinda took over?

Yeah, it’s pretty prevalent in the folk/American world. Rockwood Music Hall is like that, all those Lower East Side rooms that used to be where alternative music bred, they’re like “you wanna play? It’s $200. We take the first $200, you get a portion of what’s left.” It’s pretty fucked that even those rooms that back in the day were rooms where a working musician could make a couple bucks don’t kinda exist anymore. With Jersey…god bless Mike Lawrence, who passed the torch down to Joe Polito (Asbury Lanes). House of Independents. Andy Diamond and Lee at Crossroads, which is great because it’s in the center of the state, but it’s not part of that Asbury Park community. Tina Kerekes and Danny Clinch are really the last of the holdouts. I heard The Saint closed. The (Stone) Pony isn’t booking locals. It happens once a year, that’s it. Bu the city of Asbury Park has been completely priced out of art. 

That’s sad. We really only started going there right at the beginning of all of that shit changing. We never saw the real old Asbury Park and we kinda missed most of the 90s/00s Asbury Park, and it’s different just since we started going down there maybe a decade ago.

Yeah, I went home in December and I did not know my city. But that’s how it goes. I left that city almost five years ago, and change is inevitable, especially in a gentrifying world. But yeah, even Allston by you…I would hang out there when I started touring with Westbound Train. Their practice space was there, and all the places that I used to go, almost 17-20 years ago, they’re gone. Like, the Sunset Grill is gone. That was a staple! I remember going there and seeing, like, a Bosstone at one table, and like Amy from Darkbuster at the bar, and it was just like “oh my god!” It was one of those places where you’d see all these people in bands and when those places start to go, that means the community is hurting. Same thing with the brewery in Asbury Park. That was a hub, especially in a post-Lanes world. 

Maybe that’s why there are pockets of places like Ohio, like Colorado, like maybe Chicago, places in Tennessee, where there are these pockets of people that maybe aren’t originally from there but they move there and then start another scene there because you can’t afford to do it on the coasts. 

Yeah! Like Ohio…I’m not trying to talk shit on Cincinnati because I genuinely love it here. The amount of phenomenal bands in this city that are gigging regularly, for the most part, and studios…DIY, home-built studios that are churning out amazing records. I’m a water guy, right? Everything good comes off the water. There’s definitely something beautiful here in the last ten years, from what I can tell. Like, we go see music five nights a week.

Is the scene made from locals or is it made from people like yourself who are transplants from other places?

90% of it are from Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Covington. There’s a couple Louisville kids, which is only 80 miles. Lexington’s only 80 miles. Indy is only 80 miles. There’s like one guy from England, this kid Jaime, who is in a bunch of bands that are really great. That band Vacation fucking rules. Anything Jerry (Westerkamp) touches is fucking amazing. Tweens. And then there’s DAAP, which is an art school, and there’s a bunch of kids. There’s a band called Willie And The Cigs that’s gigging a couple nights a week. And the hardcore scene, bands like Corker and Louise. Piss Flowers fucking rule. They’re one of those bands that, like Black Flag in ‘85, they start with their shirts on and then by the end of the gig the whole band is just shirts off. This guy John sings in it; he’s in a bunch of other bands. That’s the thing, everyone here is so fucking creative. John does folk stuff, he’s in a gnarly hardcore band, and he’s like a hell of a comedian too. Everybody is like…so and so is a hell of a painter, and this guy does photography as well as writing…the punks are fucking poets too. It’s fucking great. It seems like every other fucking person has a silk screen rig in their basement, or a dark room, and they’re creating. The fucking scene here is just beautiful.

Is that how you found it?

No, I just threw a dart at the map. I called Jonny Dopamine and told him I was looking for a job. I was supposed to move to Nashville, and the house I was supposed to move into got sold. And I was supposed to get a job some place, and the same thing happened. They announced they were closing like two days before I was supposed to leave, so I was like “I’m not going to go.” I called a friend of mine (in Cincinnati) who I knew had an apartment, and this is like twenty hours before I was supposed to move to Nashville. I called a buddy of mine and I was like “hey man, you still got that basement apartment? Can I crash there for a minute while I figure something out?” And he was like “yeah, yeah, yeah, you gotta find a job though.” I was like “hold on a second,” and I hung up the phone and I called Jonny because he owns the (Northside) Yacht Club too, which is like a rock and roll gastro pubby venue-ish, and I was like “yo man, let me get a job,” and he was like “you live here?” and I was like “if you give me a job I do!” (*both laugh*) And he said “when are you going to be here?” and I was like “tomorrow, I think, hold on a sec.” So I hung up the phone and I called my other buddy who I was going to stay with and I was like “yeah, I got a job, I’ll see you on Saturday!” and he was like “okay, cool, that was quick.” And then I called Jonny back and I was like “so I’ll start Tuesday yeah?” and here I am, eighteen months later in Cincinnati. 

That’s wild.

Yeah, but you know me, everything’s a little wild. Nothing’s easy. 

Through that whole time and in the lead-up to moving…it seems like you’ve been able to write a lot and produce a lot of music. Were you in a lull at all prior to moving there and did that sort of reignite you, or is it more of like ‘okay, now that I’m stable a little bit, I can start writing again’?

You know a little bit of my mental health. I have a really complicated brain that has some schizoaffective disorder in it, and some pretty extreme highs and lows and some pretty chronic anxiety and pretty chronic depression. At the time, post Civil/WAR, Covid happened and the world shut down. And I wasn’t doing well. I’m a social butterfly if I have the option, and so being trapped in a one-bedroom apartment is not my idea of a good time. I kinda lost it there for a little bit and I surrendered and said “I think it’s time to get some medicine and try this route.” The issue that we realized was that my personality and my creative side and everything that makes me me is the same part of my brain as the crazy, so the second we started medicating and trying to understand even the schizo thing, and the multiple personalities, we didn’t learn that until I was here.

So the second we started medicating, looking back, all the voices in my head, the chatter got really loud, and we just kept upping it and upping it, and this didn’t work so let’s try this, and up and up and up. I was just a fucking zombie. And that was the me side of life, the goofy, happy side. Like, I slept for four or five months straight. Through Covid. I just slept. I had to get up and work an hour on Zoom, and then I’d go back to bed. So when I lost my corporate, cushy job that I had, when I left California, I lost my insurance so I was just fucking raw-dogging life, and the second the meds left my system, I just vomited six songs. Everything I had been trying to say just came out. I was finishing stuff that I had as glimmers of ideas during Covid. I only really wrote four songs all of Covid. “Better/Worse,” “Methamphetamines,” “Waiting,” which just came out, and a song where I call the Proud Boys a bunch of assholes. That was it. Just four. I had glimmers of like a one-liner or like an idea for a chorus. At the time, we were working with Jon Graber and Reade Wolcott from We Are The Union. We were writing a lot together and working at Jon’s studio, and I didn’t have anything to present them. We never finished anything, because the lights were on but nobody was home. 

Or all the lights were on at the same time.

Haha, yes. We learned that I function better with all the lights on and everyone home. When I left California, I went to Raleigh, and the first song came out two days before I was leaving Raleigh, and it’s the last song on the full-length that’s coming out in the fall. And it was Cecillia’s voice, which was cool. She kind of came back and had this conversation with me again. I was kinda working on “no meds, therapy,” and we realized that Cecillia was actually one of the voices in my head. We went through all my songs, the whole catalog, and we realized that Cecillia shows up in “Secrets” on Untitled. That’s partially her voice and her story. That “I know your secrets…” that correlates to “Sweet Cecillia,” where it says “tell me about your life…” And she’s in the convenience store in “Silver Dollar” in the picture I painted in that world, because the character that “Silver Dollar” is about is another facet of my mind. I thought I wrote this record about characters but I really wrote it about all the unknowns in my head that are now still very unknown but we’re understanding them more. Then, “Better/Worse” I killed Cecillia off and that was the funeral in that song. But really, it was her sobering up in a nutshell. Her voice in my head is “it’s so damn hard to hide behind the scars/I just want a better way to breathe.” I was like “oh fuck!” It was cool, but it took twenty therapy sessions to realize that and understand it. 

When you say “we,” as in, “things that we’re working on…” and putting a name and a diagnosis to the things you were going through, the “we” refers to a therapist, yeah?

Multiple. Multiple therapists. (*both laugh*)

What got you to the point where you were ready to go to therapy? That’s obviously a big thing that especially guys – cis white males…

…with fuckin’ face tattoos!

Exactly! That’s not a thing that “we” do. So what got you into therapy and really diving into that piece?

It was just kinda time. I hate using a vague sentence like “it was time.” I was in therapy as a kid. My parents sent me because they didn’t know what was going on with me, and neither did I. So I went as a kid, and then I stopped and then I went back in high school because, you know, I lived the kind of life where a lot of my friends were dead by 15. Then as I got older, my mother still does not comprehend how many people that I know in my life are dead. At 33. So, childhood trauma, fucked up life, the road, a couple of really shitty toxic relationships. My ex-wife, when we talked about meds, she said “you should do therapy too.” At the time, I was also diving really heavy into Zoom AA because it was quarantine. Zoom AA is amazing. In fact, it’s what I was doing before this, my Monday group. It was like “alright, let’s find a guy, I’ve got good insurance.” I got a guy and we were talking and he was like “alright, this is what I think is wrong with you, and it is not my specialty, but this other guy can help.” 

Good for him for saying that, by the way.

Yeah! I still see him once a month. He’s just my general catch-up guy. I see him once a month and if I’m having a rough go of it, I go every other week. I have three therapists; I have the one that’s just a general catch-up guy, like if there’s anything I’m struggling with, we talk through it. I have one that I see about once a month that is an addiction specialist within the music industry. A buddy of mine in Nashville (connected me) and he sees people for free. He has his own practice and you get an hour a month. He’s real great and I bitch to him about the industry and the struggles that I have navigating it. And then I have one that’s for the heavier sides of my schizoaffective disorder and also disassociative identity disorder, which is essentially multiple personalities. That’s what they used to call it. So we work on that and the schizoaffective and the borderline personality disorder. It’s like bipolar disorder with the depression and the highs and lows and it’s very much a roller coaster. It’s like a light switch. 

Rapid cycling, yup.

Yeah, that’s what I’m looking for. I’ll be real stoked on life and then *finger snap* I’ll be in bed for two weeks or shut down, or I do reckless things like quit my job or yell at my boss. And then I have a therapist that I see that we kind of navigate the voices and the personalities in my head and figure out what their story within my mind is and how they correlate. Like, I turned to Sarah, my girlfriend, and I was like “what do you want for dinner?” and in my head I was like “I think we should have Chinese food? No, Thai food. Why do you want Thai food? Do you even like Thai food? Why are you saying Thai food, I don’t even like Thai food, leave me the fuck alone.” That’s what the voices in my head are saying. And then there’s one that says “why don’t you just go do heroin? You want junk food? I’ll give you junk…” So yeah, I have a therapist that I see for that. I haven’t seen him so much lately because we kinda said “alright, let’s give it a month and see how you do. We’ll do a check-in.” I think we’ve done two sessions in three months, compared to doing two a week. We kinda have it under control and I’ve been trying to eliminate as much stress as possible in my life. I’m very much a stress guy. Stress and Catholic guilt make me go crazy, so I kinda have this new rule where if I’m at work and you’re stressing me out more than you pay me hourly, I just leave. My boss gets it. I say “alright, I’m gonna split for the day.” I’ll go in early the next day and get the job done. I work at a print shop in the morning and I work at a bar at night. The bar is pretty easy, but the print shop…if they’re doing dumb shit, I’m like “I’m not getting paid enough to be here right now and to deal with this, so I will see you.”

It’s not an entitlement, I just can’t afford to have my mind go crazy and unleash over bullshit deadlines because you’re selling the company I work for. Like, yeah, sorry, you fired me. If you’re stressing me out, I’m out. I’ll roll with you to the end of the line, but I’m not going further with you. Don’t ask me to pick up a power tool, but I’ll print t-shirts for you. (*both laugh*) As long as I’m being creative, I’m getting better – and I hate saying this, but I’ve been cutting a lot of folks out of my life that I’ve known for a long time. It’s shitty. We’re having adult breakups, because they don’t understand or realize and do these things that like…”I love you, but that thing you do to me every time we talk about life sends me in a spiral for two weeks. I love you, I love your wife, I love your kid, but I’ll catch up with you in six months, bud.” You know? It’s been shitty but needed. I’m not saying that they were toxic or negative, it’s just like I love you but this isn’t healthy for me right now. Just like a relationship that isn’t going great or a band that’s breaking up. “I’ll talk to you in six months and we’ll figure it out. For right now…I’ll see you around.” It’s kind of taking inventory. I’m working on my Fourth and Fifth Step of the program now.

That’s a lot. 

Yeah, I told myself that when I finish the record, I need to do it again, so that’s real fun (*both laugh*)

The Fourth Step is a tough one. It’s not the First Step, but it’s a tough one and it’s one that people want to half-ass, or want to fast-forward to and then realize that they did a half-ass job on the first ones and then you set yourself back further.

Yeah. I’m in the process of a Fourth Step now, and it probably will end up back in heavier therapy to understand the conversations that need to be had but that at the end of the day will better myself and will better my relationships with my friends and my family and the people I love and we’ll grow. That’s it. We’re human beings. We need to grow and we need to become better people and work on what we need to work on. I’m seeing what my flaws are now for the last couple years and I’m trying to fix them. 

You seem like you’re in a good spot. Some of that comes from social media and obviously we’ve texted a bunch and stuff over the years, but you seem like you’re in a good spot. 

Yeah, who would have thought that Kentucky was the place where I’d thrive! (*both laugh*) Fucking Kentucky! I’m from New Jersey. It’s funny…it’s partially the money thing. It’s inexpensive to live here, whereas New York or LA or even Jersey, I was working a sixty-hour week. Like in New York, we were working sixty hours to be able to go drinking one night a week. We could afford like thirty dollars worth of PBRs, right? And we were working just to cover our asses to survive. LA was the same thing. We were working to be able to go out a couple nights a week if we wanted, or go to a show. Out here, it’s like…I’m not rich. I’m making the same money I was making, but the cost of living is so low. Even the cost of car insurance is a hundred dollars cheaper than New York or LA. Everything is substantially cheaper. What’s that Big D song…”will this check support this tour, or will this tour lose my job?” That “LAX” song is so great, that line or that bridge or whatever it is has always been in my head. 

Maybe when I don’t have a kid I have to steer through school. Once she graduates and we can go wherever, there’s been talk about where that wherever is.

She’s what, thirteen now?

Fifteen. So she’s in high school, and college is a-comin’. 

Yeah, you probably won’t be able to afford this part of the world then. I feel like I’ve got a year left before it’s like “fuck, okay, I didn’t buy a house…” Like, you can still buy a house in the hip neighborhoods for like $300,000. 

You can’t even buy a one-bedroom condo here for anything under $550,000. 

Yeah. I think Asbury Park, the going rate for a one-bedroom condo is like $800,000. Like, I could afford ot buy a house here as a fucking barback if I really figured it out. But I’m not. (*both laugh*) Roots don’t exist in my life. 

There was a thing I wanted to talk about, and I’m trying to think of how to even ask it.

Just dive in!

As you know, I tend to ramble, which is really just me processing the question as I’m asking it, but as we were talking before, you mentioned how Cecillia for sure and I’m sure it’s true of other characters too. I’ve always felt – and I think that I’ve told you this before – that you strike me as a very honest songwriter and a lot of your stuff sounds very personal. Except that when we’ve had conversations about this before, you’ve told me that some of the story, for example, of what Civil/WAR was about, and they sound like they could be your stories, but sometimes you’re just telling the stories of other people. Now that you have started to put a name to and work through some of the mental health stuff and created a better picture of what that is, does that change the way that you write and that even how you interpret some of your own songs?

It definitely has provided insight on songs. Civil/WAR also contained a bunch of weird foresight, deja vu shit. A lot of the themes that I was writing about, when I was writing and recording, with the massive changes and then more massive changes…that whole story of that record ended up happening over Covid. That chapter was very weird and amazing but terrible at the same time. Now, I wanted to write the new songs about myself, my thoughts on the world, and tell stories of my friends. So, by the time, this comes out, “Double Nicks” is going to be out. I took my friend Jen Cooley to see Jeff Rosenstock. That’s her band. She’d never seen them, but she loves Jeff and she loved Bomb (The Music Industry) and Antarctigo (Vespucci). And Catbite played. I call them family. I spent years in a van with them. They were playing. (Jen) Cooley drank a large Twisted Tea and she was like “I don’t know if I’m drunk, but this band” – referring to Catbite – “makes me feel like I’m an astronaut.” I was watching her disassociate in the moment. Her eyes went blank, and she was just taking this moment in, and she said “this band makes me feel like an astronaut” and I was like “what the fuck does that mean?” and she said “it means I’ve got the whole world in front of me.” That song is a revisit of something that me and Alex Levine and Tim (Brennan) from the Murphys did a long time ago. The only thing that stayed were the chords and the chorus. It’s the same concept – the chorus is just “let me go, you can find me by your memories.” And I was watching her in this moment and I couldn’t tell if she was disassociating or in love with this and taking it all in, and I started writing this song about that feeling, and relating it to when you’re sitting on your couch daydreaming with your wife or with your partner or whoever, and I was telling the story and that line kept resonating. This feeling that I have when I sit next to whoever I hold close at the time, and knowing they’re fully engulfed in TikTok. The verses are like “there’s bullet shells on the boulevard / I just called to say good night // Now you don’t play games with love no more / But I think about those nights.”

You think about those times when you’re daydreaming about your high school crushes or your Teen Beat, Tiger Beat crushes, whatever. “Those nights and days they seem like they’re impossible to breathe // Cuz she makes me feel like an astronaut with the world in front of me.” It rambles about the shit that goes through your head, and then it goes into “The secrets in these sidewalks…” that’s the bullshit of TikTok, right? And the internet, and disassociating ahead. “They say fear is just a false relief with hopes you just don’t know” that’s just me trying to sound cool. (*both laugh*) “You were tired of daydreaming and I was tired of letting you know,” that’s when you’re on the couch and you’re trying to watch The Last Of Us, don’t check out, right? “Just let me go / you can find me in your memories,” that’s like “alright, I’m gonna go do something else.”

A lot of that now is telling a story of that moment with Jen or…I got in a fight with a guy over the summer, and I’m not proud of it, but he was a racist piece of shit and I heard him running his mouth. I’m an anti-fascist pacifist that has no problem punching a Nazi in the face. Or a racist. Or a bigot. Whatever. We’ll use the blanket term “asshole.” Some dude was running his mouth and I smushed him and threw him to the ground. He was a 40-year-old man, it was his birthday. He said “I’m gonna call the cops” and I’m like “I ain’t afraid of going to jail. Fuck off.” And that turned into the line “I’m not afraid of dying.” I will stand up for my fellow human being. I would tell these stories. And some of them are dumb. Like there’s a line “I just want to get stoned and listen to “Love Song.” My boss was yelling about that he wanted to smoke a bong and listen to “Disintegration.” And he’s a sober guy! He’s like “I don’t know what to think, but I just want to get high and listen to The Cure.”

Some of them are bullshit. Some of them are always bullshit. But some of them, like “Couple Cardinals” on this record, a friend of mine, her grandparents passed, and she was telling me about this swing on their front porch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and she sent me this picture of it and I wrote what I saw. The second verse was her driving home from Tulsa to Kentucky. To Cincinnati. And the third verse is that she was telling me that at the funeral, two cardinals showed up. Some of them are just “this is the story. Thank you for telling me about your life, I want to tell the story with your permission.” That’s why the covers of the singles that are coming out are all photographs that I’ve taken of people who I know or moments that correlate to the songs, right? Like “Double Nicks” … I talked about Jamie before, he’s from England and he lives out here. I was on the corner trying to finish that song in my memos, and I was taking pictures to try to paint a picture without words, and I caught Jamie and his partner walking up the street. It all correlates because that was the same day that I really wrapped my head around that song. The imagery of him holding her close and that feeling – because I caught her at a moment where she was looking away – it was that feeling.

The next single is “The Reservoir” and I played at The Merc and there was this older woman sitting at the bar with her feet up drinking a Miller Lite with a straw, and there’s a flier on the wall that has something similar to a word in that song, and it fit. We’re just trying to tell the story of the last eighteen months and the people that I’ve met and the people that I’ve learned. They’re all these little hymns or sonnets and they’re short and sweet. The glory of these short songs is that you write a descriptive line. (*picks up guitar and it’s out of tune so he picks up a different guitar*) “I’ve seen it before a thousand times / the way you light the cigarette inside my mind.” That’s one line of this twelve-liner. “And I’m just hoping for this slim slim chance / that slim slim chance here that you’ll say yes.” Because they’re so short, you have to set it up and then fucking drop a line. There’s no filler. “Drinking coffee while the sun goes down / I said “black two sugars” you threw three dollars down.” “The hardest part about where you’re from / is trying to figure out how fast to run.” There’s no room to fuck around. It’s kind of like, I’m going to tell you this story and I would sit and elaborate and tell you, but the glory of being a folk singer, is only you know what’s real. Embellishing is like half the story. And I try not to embellish at all, to the extent that over the summer I went to a rodeo, just so I could straight up be honest when I said “this is not my first rodeo.” Like, I literally went and spent twenty dollars at the county rodeo just so I could not fucking lie when I said “this isn’t my first rodeo.” I’m a big believer in ‘say what you mean/mean what you say/don’t fuck around.” These songs, I wanted to tell the story of me and the shit going on in my life. Since the last record: marriage, divorce, three massive country moves, I completely wrecked my hand – cut the tendon and the muscle clean off my thumb – I started drinking again. I took a sabbatical, I went to therapy and I thought I was healed and I could have a beer. I am an alcoholic! I cannot have a beer. I went two weeks of ‘responsible drinking’ before I said “I am ready to start being a maniac again!” Went right back to the fucking program. All these things happened. I finally opened up my mind to starting to date again, and the second I started dating, boom, you’re going on tour, I’m done. Meeting people, closing doors, opening doors, it’s a lot.

There was a lot of life in the last eighteen months and I don’t want to write a song that had no meaning to me and that was just a story. That’s why this one is very much no holds. There’s no embellishments. If I mention a name on this record, that person is real. And I said “hey, I’m using your name in a song about something we did!” I finally got to write about my grandfather, which I’d been having trouble with for years. And my old man. I’m telling the story of my family, which I never really did. And where I came from and where I want to fucking go. I think I told you this about Civil/WAR, but I don’t know if there’s going to be another record! I might make one, I might not put it out, but at this point, I don’t fucking know. It’s expensive. It takes a lot of time. You have to go on tour to be able to pay for it and make record labels and everybody happy. I don’t know if I want to fucking do it again, so let’s do this one and see what happens! I write a song every other day, so if it works out, there’s songs! If it doesn’t, there’s going to be some one-minute TikToks with some cool dancing frogs and some light effects…

And that’s how you’ll make it! Twenty years of living in a van and you’ll get famous from TikTok after you quit music.

King Khan and BBQ Show, baby! I read something that he made more money off the one song that became a TikTok than he did his whole career playing music. 

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Dying Scene Record Radar: New punk vinyl releases & reissues (Against Me!, Frenzal Rhomb, NOFX & more)

Hello, and welcome to the latest installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar! If it’s your first time joining us, this is a weekly column where we cover all things punk rock vinyl. So kick off your shoes, grab a few beers, and break out those wallets, because it’s time to run through this week’s […]

Hello, and welcome to the latest installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar! If it’s your first time joining us, this is a weekly column where we cover all things punk rock vinyl. So kick off your shoes, grab a few beers, and break out those wallets, because it’s time to run through this week’s new releases and reissues. Let’s get into it!

Swedish punk veterans Millencolin have announced a new LP compiling their first two demo tapes from 1993. Due out in early September, Goofy & Melack will be limited to 500 copies on black vinyl, and 240 copies on red vinyl. Preorder through their webstore starts Thursday, August 4th at 10am Eastern.

Anti-Flag just announced their 13th full-length album Lies They Tell Our Children. It’s due out on January 6th, 2023, and you can pre-order it now here. The record will feature guest appearances from members of Rise Against, Bad Religion, and a bunch of other bands. The cover art’s some avant garde bullshit, which is cool if you’re into that kinda thing. Check out the music video for the first single below.

Asbestos Records has repressed the venerable Against Me!‘s 2007 New Wave LP for the first time in six years. This one’s limited to 1,000 copies on split black/yellow vinyl. Head to the label’s webstore to get yours.

Avail frontman Tim Barry has announced a new solo album titled Spring Hill. This is due out on August 12th, and it sounds like the LP will be available to order the on same day. The “red cloud” variant pictured will only be available at a show he’s playing in Richmond, VA on Friday, August 5th (more details on that here).

Fat Wreck Chords has repressed Frenzal Rhomb‘s incredible Smoko at the Pet Food Factory. Fat doesn’t reveal their colored variants usually, but my super official sources tell me this is what this pressing looks like. Grab your copy here.

British melodic punks Darko just announced a new EP titled Sparkle. It’s due out on October 21st, and you can preorder it here. The first single “Cruel to Be” is really good; check out the music video below!

Zia Records has a new exclusive variant of NOFX‘s Punk in Drublic, limited to to 500 copies on “Transparent Beer With Red Splatter” colored vinyl. Get it here.

New band alert! Bracket‘s Angelo Celli has a new project called Guilty Party and their debut 7″ Imposter Syndrome is coming out next month. Check out “Circling the Truth” below, and go here to get your preorder in. If you like Bracket, you will like this.

The Homeless Gospel Choir‘s 2020 album This Land Is Your Landfill just got repressed. There are two new variants, each limited to 250 copies. Go here to grab this one.

Rude Records is having a summer sale! Records, shirts, and more from bands like Less Than Jake, Guttermouth, and a bunch of others are discounted up to 25%. Head over to their webstore to check it out.

Now that all the cool stuff has been covered, here’s what I’ve been listening to… Saving money by not buying every new release has given me a chance to dig out some stuff I haven’t played in a while. First up this week was Much The Same‘s Quitters Never Win, a very underrated skate punk record that turns 20 years old next year. MxPx‘s The Ever Passing Moment from last year’s box set got some playing time, too. I also revisited one of my favorite Murderburgers records The 12 Habits of Highly Defective People, and Civil War Rust‘s fantastic debut LP The Fun & The Lonely.

That’s all, folks! Thanks as always for tuning in to the Dying Scene Record Radar. If there’s anything we missed (highly likely), or if you want to let everyone know about a new/upcoming vinyl release you’re excited about, send us a message on Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll look into it. Enjoy your weekend, don’t blow too much money on spinny discs. See ya next week!

Wanna catch up on all of our Record Radar posts? Type “Record Radar” in the search bar at the top of the page!

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Ten More Underrated Punk Bands You Need To Check Out Right Now

A few weeks ago, we presented you with a list of underrated punk bands you probably, maybe, potentially hadn’t heard of before. Well, it seemed like you people may have enjoyed that, so we thought to ourselves, “What the heck? Let’s do a part two!” So, without any further ado, Dying Scene presents: Ten MORE […]

A few weeks ago, we presented you with a list of underrated punk bands you probably, maybe, potentially hadn’t heard of before. Well, it seemed like you people may have enjoyed that, so we thought to ourselves, “What the heck? Let’s do a part two!” So, without any further ado, Dying Scene presents: Ten MORE underrated punk bands you need to check out right fuckin’ now!


Ottawa’s Riptides have spent 20+ years producing some of the best pop-punk to ever come out of Canada. These guys are right up there with Chixdiggit in my book. They’ve never put out a bad record, and their latest album Canadian Graffiti is pop-punk perfection. Every song on this thing is great, and it’s an absolute steal for $11 on vinyl.


San Jose’s Point of View has been around a while, and their sound has changed pretty drastically over the years. Their first album Sideshow Years is just awesome. It’s a blazing fast ska infused skate punk masterpiece that stayed in my car’s CD player for a few months when I first got it 10 years ago. Their new stuff is good, too, and is definitely worth checking out, but this is without a doubt Point of View’s magnum opus.


Hailing from Seattle, The Subjunctives are a pop-punk band fronted by Ean Hernandez from Sicko (speaking of underrated bands…). If you like The Mr. T Experience or old school pop-punk in general, you’ll like these guys. Check out their album Sunshine and Rainbows below. Grab it on vinyl from their Bandcamp page.


Kurt Baker makes fun power pop music with rock ‘n’ roll flair and punk rock energy. His 2012 album Brand New Beat reminds me a lot of my favorite Billy Joel record Glass Houses. This just got reissued with a bunch of bonus tracks for its 10th anniversary. Highly recommended listening for anyone who’s not too punk to admit they like pop.


There was a time when I was absolutely obsessed with The Murderburgers. I first stumbled upon the Scottish pop-punk band when they released How to Ruin Your Life, which quickly reeled in with fast, melodic songs about being an unemployed degenerate. I was devastated when they called it quits in 2019, but happy to hear frontman Fraser quickly started a new project called Wrong Life. He’s released two great EPs that match the more serious tone of the Murderburgers’ later output, and supposedly has a full-length album coming soon. Be on the lookout for that!


Anyone who’s read any of the bullshit I’ve posted since Dying Scene came back from the dead knows of my infatuation with Dutch pop-punk band Giant Eagles. The Windowsill is basically the same band (seriously, 3/4 of the members are in Giant Eagles) sans synthesizers. Their 2017 album Make Your Own Kind Of Music shows off their uncanny knack for writing some of the coolest, most laid back pop-punk tunes I’ve ever head. Crack open a beer and give this one a spin.


During my original stint with Dying Scene, one of my greatest discoveries was Civil War Rust. Death To False Hope Records used to have a shitload of music on their website that was free to download. That’s where I came across an EP from these East Bay punks. I loved it and I didn’t waste any time ordering their record The Fun & The Lonely that the songs on that free EP were pulled from. It’s been ten years, but I can still put this record on and enjoy it as much as my first listen. These guys are still making new music; they released a new single called “Heart of Gold” earlier this year. Civil War Rust deserves your attention.


If you’re in the mood for some unapologetically poppy punk, might I suggest The Yum Yums? This delightful Norwegian band has been churning out ultra catchy bubblegum punk for almost 30 years. Their 2020 record For Those About to Pop is some of their best work to date. Stop reading these words and listen to this awesome album already!


Denver’s Record Thieves, featuring members of Authority Zero and Allout Helter, released an excellent record in 2020. There was some other stuff going on at the time, so these guys seem to have flown under a lot of radars. If you like punk with melodic sensibility, this band is right up your alley. Listen to their full-length below, and grab it on vinyl here. Make sure to check out their brand new single “Fault Lines” as well.


When people say there’s no justice in this world, they ain’t lying! Dave Parasite rarely gets the recognition he’s due as one of 90’s pop-punk’s most clever songwriters. I’d challenge you to show me a bad song this man has written, but that’s an impossible task so I won’t waste your time. If you aren’t listening to the Parasites, what the fuck are you even doing? Start with Retro Pop Remasters – this record compiles the best of the band’s catalog. And be sure to grab the LP from here while you’re at it.

  1. Triple Deke… not on this list… should be on all lists.

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