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Angel Du$t

Angel Dust (stylized as Angel Du$t) is an American rock supergroup formed in Baltimore, Maryland in 2013, made up of members of Turnstile and Trapped Under Ice.

Be Well – “A Tap I Can’t Turn Off”

"A Tap I Can't Turn Off" - Be Well

Release Date: May 03, 2024 Record Label: Equal Vision Records Release Type: SingleBandcamp Link: Listen on Bandcamp

Are we calling Be Well a supergroup? I feel like we should be. If we aren’t, allow me to be the first. Baltimore-based melodic hardcore supergroup Be Well are back with a couple new songs, just in time to kick off their run on the Hot Water Music /Quicksand tour that starts this coming week.

The new tracks are “A Tap I Can’t Turn Off” and “Without A Compass,” and they appear as a limited vinyl and digital release on Equal Vision Records. You can check out the video for “A Tap I Can’t Turn Off” below, and you can stream the track at all the usual spots but it’s Bandcamp Friday so maybe go there first?

Dan Andriano

Daniel Michael Andriano (born June 27, 1977) is an American singer and musician. He is best known as the co-lead vocalist and bassist of the punk rock band Alkaline Trio, with whom he has recorded nine studio albums to date.

Andriano also records solo material under the name Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room and has released two solo albums to date, Hurricane Season (2011) and Party Adjacent (2015). Since February 2019, he has played bass with the rock supergroup The Damned Things.

Dead Cross

Dead Cross are an American hardcore punk supergroup formed in Southern California. The band consists of guitarist Michael Crain (Retox), bassist Justin Pearson (the Locust, Head Wound City and Retox), drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Mr. Bungle and Fantômas) and vocalist Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and Fantômas).

Doki Doki

Punk supergroup featuring members of Dog Party, Grumpster, The Moore Family Band, and Small Crush

DS Exclusive: Check out The Phase Problem’s new music video for “Shadow of Me”

Hot on the heels of their long awaited 2023 self-titled debut, pop-punk supergroup The Phase Problem is back with their sophomore effort The Power of Positive Thinking, out now on Lavasocks Records (US), Brassneck Records (UK), and Stardumb Records (EU). It’s a bad ass record and we’re quite excited to be bringing you the exclusive premiere of this music video […]

Hot on the heels of their long awaited 2023 self-titled debut, pop-punk supergroup The Phase Problem is back with their sophomore effort The Power of Positive Thinking, out now on Lavasocks Records (US), Brassneck Records (UK), and Stardumb Records (EU). It’s a bad ass record and we’re quite excited to be bringing you the exclusive premiere of this music video for one of the tracks – “Shadow of Me”, to be specific. Check that shit out below and go here to buy the record.

I referred to The Phase Problem as a “pop-punk supergroup” in the previous paragraph; allow me to justify that statement. In addition to being fronted by Squirtgun‘s Flav Giorgini, the band also features Fraser Murderburger (The Murderburgers, Wrong Life, etc.) on guitar, drummer Alex Keane (Roach Squad, The Murderburgers, City Mouse), and bassist John Bonnar (Haiver, Piss Bath, Paws). What’s more, The Power of Positive Thinking includes guest appearances from Heather Tabor of the Teen Idols and original Squirtgun frontman Matt Hart, among others.

This premiere is brought to you in part by Punk Rock Radar. If you’d like your band’s music video to be premiered by Dying Scene and Punk Rock Radar, go here and follow these instructions. You’ll be on your way to previously unimagined levels of fame and fortune in no time!

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DS Exclusive: Versus The World (Lagwagon, Good Riddance, etc.) premiere new song “The Miserable” from upcoming album “The Bastards Live Forever”

California punk supergroup Versus The World have a new record coming out this Friday on SBÄM Records, and guess what?! We’re premiering the album’s final single “The Miserable”, right now! Check it out below, along with details on the band’s upcoming tour dates. Here’s what singer Donald Spence had to say about “The Miserables”, which […]

California punk supergroup Versus The World have a new record coming out this Friday on SBÄM Records, and guess what?! We’re premiering the album’s final single “The Miserable”, right now! Check it out below, along with details on the band’s upcoming tour dates.

Here’s what singer Donald Spence had to say about “The Miserables”, which features guest vocals from Brenna Red of The Last Gang:

“The Miserable was the last thing we did for the record and it felt like a good way to book-end everything.  The lyrics were inspired by the way I had felt about the 14 month lockdown in California.  It starts frantic and dark – the minor chords give a bit of an ominous feeling – but by the last chorus it’s much bigger and brighter.  I took inspiration from Les Miserables, which I have been lucky enough to see a few times, to make the ending feel the way it does.  It was a blast to put all these weird ideas together.”

For the uninitiated, Versus The World’s lineup includes names like Lagwagon guitarist Chris Flippin and Good Riddance drummer Sean Sellers, among others. The band’s new album The Bastards Live Forever releases Friday, May 26th.

2023 US tour dates:

16.06. Long Beach @ Supply and Demand w/ Mercy Music and Love Equals Death
17.06. LA @ Permanent Records Roadhouse w/ Mercy Music and Love Equals Death
07.07. Portland @ Dante’s w/ Diesel Boy
08.07. Seattle @ El Corazon w/ Diesel Boy

2023 European tour dates:

28.07. Berlin @ Wild At Heart
29.07. Hohenstaufen @ Vert Rock w/ Urethane
01.08. Erfurt @ Tiko w/ Urethane 
02.08. Brussels @ Le Lac
03.08. Wermelskirchen @ AJZ w/ Authority Zero & Cigar
05.08. Duffel, B @ Brakrock 
06.08. Düsseldorf, D @ Pitcher w/ Diesel Boy 
07.08. TBC 
08.08. Stuttgart @ Im Wizemann w/ Pennywise 
09.08. Vienna, AUT @ Rhiz w/ Diesel Boy 
10.08. Tolmin, SLO @ Punkrock Holiday 
12.08. Rimini, ITA @ Bayfest

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DS Festival Recap: Riot Fest Day One – Part Two (9/16/22) w/ L.S. Dunes’ Live Debut, Destroy Boys & More!

Did you miss Riot Fest this year? Or want to relive those last days of summer seeing your favorite bands? Good news! Fellow Dying Scene contributor Meredith Goldberg and I have all the photos you’ll need of the three-day music festival held in Chicago from September 16-18th, 2022. We are recapping some of the bands […]

Did you miss Riot Fest this year? Or want to relive those last days of summer seeing your favorite bands? Good news! Fellow Dying Scene contributor Meredith Goldberg and I have all the photos you’ll need of the three-day music festival held in Chicago from September 16-18th, 2022.


We are recapping some of the bands from day one here with the live premiere of supergroup L.S. Dunes, one of my personal favorites Destroy Boys, along with Foxy Shazam, Bob Vylan, Boston Manor and Pale Waves.


The day kicked off with UK pop punk/synth pop band Pale Waves who released their third studio album Unwanted about a month prior. They were the first of several bands that travelled to the fest from the UK. Pretty cool!


Boston Manor is next coming from (you guessed it) the UK (Blackpool, England to be exact). This pop punk/post-hardcore band was featured on Punk Goes Pop Vol. 7 in 2017 for their rendition of Twenty One Pilots’ “Heathens”.


One of the beautiful things about music festivals is discovering new bands you may have never otherwise heard of. The two-piece English band Bob Vylan is exactly that; I never knew I needed them in my life until I saw them at Riot Fest. This gritty-abrasive rap punk duo blew me away with their energy and unapologetic outcries against government oppression and xenophobia. The pair is vocalist Bobby Vylan and drummer Bobbie Vylan, together becoming Bob Vylan!


Glam rock stars Foxy Shazam dominated the fest with their dazzling performance (and attire) and quickly became a crowd favorite. There was so much happening on stage, one minute you see keyboardist Schuyler White jumping into the crowd WITH his keyboard, and the next there’s guitarist Devon Williams balancing his guitar in the air with his mouth. Absolute insanity.


Next up is a band I’ve been digging for the last year. I first saw Destroy Boys in December 2021 at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago and was excited to see they were on the line up for Riot Fest this year. Definitely listen to “Locker Room Bully” and “Crybaby” when you get the chance.


Finally, we have L.S. Dunes! They are the post-hardcore supergroup fronted by Circa Survive and Saosin vocalist Anthony Green, with My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero, Coheed and Cambria guitarist Travis Stever, and Thursday bassist Tim Payne and drummer Tucker Rule. They made their live debut at Riot Fest with heavy riffs and aggressive energy, certainly living up to the hype we were all hoping for. Be sure to check out their album Past Lives when it drops on November 11, 2022.


Check out the rest of the photos below and stay tuned for day two!

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DS Interview: Fire Sale’s Matt Riddle & Chris Swinney on Band Chemistry, Recording During the Pandemic & a Whole Lot More

Fire Sale can serve as the very definition for the term ‘supergroup’. Matt Riddle has cemented himself as a household name among even novice punk fans thanks to being a founding member of Face to Face, as well as playing with No Use for a Name, Implants, Pulley and 22 Jacks. Chris Swinney most notably […]

Fire Sale can serve as the very definition for the term ‘supergroup’. Matt Riddle has cemented himself as a household name among even novice punk fans thanks to being a founding member of Face to Face, as well as playing with No Use for a Name, Implants, Pulley and 22 Jacks. Chris Swinney most notably played guitar in The Ataris for close to 3 years, but also formed a band I happened across years ago called Chronic Chaos. Lead singer Pedro Aida (who as of writing this is on tour in Europe with Nathan Gray and the Iron Roses) currently plays with Ann Beretta and formerly played with Fun Size. And drummer Matt Morris has become well-known in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for his time playing with Darlington and Weaver Street. Not to mention cover art was done by Mark DeSalvo (NOFX‘s Heavy Petting Zoo, NUFAN’s Making Friends, Lagwagon’s Let’s Talk About Feelings, etc.) and recording was done at The Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore. So basically, that extremely lengthy and unnecessarily long opening paragraph was all to emphasize the lengthy resumes these guys have built and just how much talent this band has.

And although, Swinney and Riddle are all for embracing the ‘supergroup’ title, as we later discuss, I think these guys have something that most groups, no matter members’ past resumes, struggle to find. These guys have a unique chemistry and one-of-a-kind sound that makes me ecstatic as to where these guys are headed.

In talking with Swinney and Riddle, it quickly emerged to me how complementary each member was to the other three during the songwriting process. Swinney and Riddle each brought they’re own brands of songwriting expertise, Swinney with a very technical grasp on songwriting and performing through going to school for music theory, while Riddle described having a more sloppy, punk rock-esque playing and writing style. Then add in the more pop-punk influenced Aida who writes perfectly melodic vocals, and Morris whose able to tie everything in with his hard-hitting yet perfectly executed percussion, and you have a band that should be given far more thought and consideration than the shallow term ‘supergroup’ often entails.

After talking with these guys, I can’t wait to hear what releases and show announcements come next (hint: we talk about that). It was an absolute pleasure talking to two guys who were members of bands that significantly shaped my childhood. Check out their newest EP A Fool’s Errand and keep up with these guys for soon-to-be-announced show dates and more new music.

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

Dying Scene (Nathan Kernell NastyNate): I really appreciate you guys sitting down with me. Where are you guys calling from?

Chris Swinney: I am in Muncie, Indiana, and if you ask enough questions you’ll realize that we started this during the pandemic. We all live in different states so we do things a little differently than everybody else.

Matt Riddle: Yeah has band-demic already been used?

Swinney: I think I’ve seen it tag on Instagram.

Riddle: I’m not original anymore. There’s too many people.

Swinney: Yeah Muncie, Indiana and Moore, Oklahoma.

DS: So I wanted to start off with like how you guys originated. I know you said it was during Covid and I was reading an interview, Matt, you did with Punknormal Activity where you talk about you hadn’t met any of the guys. So I wanted to see how Fire Sale kind of came about?

Swinney: I’ll let you take that one Matt, I wanna hear your take on it.

Riddle: Oh, it was actually because I haven’t been really doing much musically after Tony [Sly] passed. I kind of dropped out of the scene a little bit or a lot. I didn’t wanna do it anymore, I was just kind of over it. I got sick too you know, so like touring is really hard for me and all that but I really like recording at home. So Chris got ahold of me and asked if I wanna be a guest on [That One Time On Tour Podcast]. I’m like sure, so we talked for like an hour, it’s really a good time and we didn’t really talk about much what I’m doing now musically, which is, at the time, nothing. I just had some songs I recorded you know through my Mac and I’m super like, budget when it comes to recording stuff, I don’t really care about it. And this guy Mikey, you know Mikey and his Uke, he asked me to do a NOFX song with, uh, oh God it was Roger from Less Than Jake. Yeah it was really good and then Chris [Swinney] wrote me not long after and said ‘dude, I didn’t know you were still playing’ and I’m like ‘well I kind of don’t’. He’s like ‘would you mind playing bass on some stuff’.

Swinney: Well, what I said was, I said ‘I’m gonna send you a couple songs’. I’ve haven’t written any songs in like 10 years. ‘I’m gonna send you a couple of songs and if you like them let me know what you think’ and then you’re like ‘dude, I’m gonna play on these fuckin’ songs!’

Riddle: Oh yeah.

Swinney: …and it blew my mind because, even though we’ve become like friends, you’re [Matt] like my favorite bass player ever; so well it blew me away because they were just like little shit songs that I wrote in my bedroom and I sent them to you and then all of a sudden now I have to start a band because Matt Riddle played on my fuckin’ songs. Yeah that was the catalyst for me because I was bored in the pandemic, I hadn’t worked for like however many months, and Matt and I had become decent friends. We met back in the late 90s on the road but he doesn’t remember that; I remember because I love what you do on the bass, I was just the fifth guitarist for The Ataris. You probably had no idea who I was; so now like in my mind when I was trying to find people from the podcast I was like ‘well I don’t really know Matt but I have friends that know Matt I can get his information’. Yeah once he was on the podcast we just got to be really good friends and we were like texting, and then I sent him the songs, and he played on the songs, and then in my mind I’m like ‘I haven’t done anything for so long because of the pandemic, how cool would it be if we started like a real band … and not like just doing covers and shit, but like really do it.’ So when Fire Sale kicked off, you know, we got our singer Pedro, who I’d worked with in the past. Tim, from Protest The Hero, was initially a big part of it, but when Protest started kicking back up, it had to take a back seat and it kind of made more sense anyway because the rest of us were kind of gelling and writing songs, and Tim was a big part of that at the beginning. But then he just didn’t have the time. We had a hard time finding a drummer, but when we finally found Matt Morris it took off there.

DS: So then, where did your guys’ name come from, Fire Sale?

Swinney: So, *laughs* I don’t think Matt’s ever really liked it, and that’s cool, I mean I don’t think it’s like the best name ever.

Riddle: Wasn’t it originally Southern Gothic or something?

Swinney: Yeah Pedro and I had done a collaboration, the song that we have online right now called “Long Overdue”, that was a song that I wrote and I programmed the drums, and it was just like this goofy thing I was doing on the podcast and Pedro sang on that. That’s how Pedro and I came to be close and we needed a song for a compilation after we released our first two songs and we didn’t have time to like write something and get it going. So I was like, you know, let’s just use that and I’ll have Matt play bass on it, Pedro could redo the vocals because he wasn’t happy with the first take, and then we’ll have Tim play on it too and that song, the project was called Southern Gothic. But I didn’t wanna use that because I’d already kind of used it for a goofy side project, so we’ve actually got a song called Southern Gothic that’s still not done yet; it’s a little bit more poppier kind of, that should come out at some point. But yeah, the name Fire Sale. I got to be fairly close with Sam King from Get Dead, he’s been on the program a few times. The night I was trying to think of names, I had like nine, ten names written on a piece of paper; like the band was kind of gelling, we were figuring out what we were gonna do and they [Get Dead] had just dropped their new video for their song called ‘Fire Sale’. And I was watching, I saw something on some punk site about it and I was checking it out, the songs really cool and I was like ‘Fire Sale, that’s a cool name I wonder if there’s any bands named Fire Sale.’ And there was one band from like 2008 that played one show somewhere in Kansas, they were like teenagers and they hadn’t done anything in forever; so I’m like ‘fuck it, I’m picking that name’ and I told everybody and it’s not the best name but no band name is. You [Matt] were in a band called No Use for a Name.

Riddle: …and Pulley

Swinney: I mean Face to Face is a cool ass name man.

Riddle: That was actually from our guitar player at the time, Mark, he came up with it. He said like ‘vis a vis’ which I think is a rough translation.

Swinney: But that was the thing with the name, I mean on some of the like press when we first came out it talked about that and yeah I’m not gonna say it had much to do with Get Dead, it’s just the fact that I was watching their video and I’m kind of friends with Sam. And I was like ‘well that’s a cool name’, so that night I got all the socials for @firesaleisaband, because fire sale’s like a clothing company so you can’t just have @firesale.

Riddle: Isn’t a fire sale like everything must go kind of thing?

Swinney: Yeah it’s like if you’re going out of business and you need to get rid of everything, they call it a fire sale.

Riddle: I only know fire sale from Davis Cross from Arrested Development, *laughs*.

Swinney: So yeah, I just thought it was kind of cool because my favorite names, they mean a couple different things, like if nobody knows what fire sale actually is, it sounds kind of dark or ominous. But it’s not dark or ominous, and I remember Matt at one point, he had this picture of a burning ship. He wanted it to be like Fire Sail, and for a while we were thinking about that.

Riddle: Yeah for a while we were thinking about even changing the name but I kind of dig it and its grown on me. I don’t know, it’s hard to pick a name man, I mean in this day and age it’s just it’s really fuckin’ hard.

DS: It was funny actually this week I’m in this band, we actually have a group message and one of the guys has been sending you guys’ singles I hadn’t heard you guys. Then I saw he posted something where it’s like ‘super group’ and I’m like ‘oh damn, I gotta start listening these guys’.

Swinney: We’ve been leaning pretty hard into that, like I felt weird about it at first, but the label that we’re with now, which I’m sure we’ll talk about, he was kinda like, we had this meeting and he’s like ‘well listen you, guys have all been in bigger bands, you know you guys should lean into what’s gonna get people to check you out, your past resumes.’ That’s why we decided to go with Mark DeSalvo and the artwork.

DS: So, it sounds like you’re kind of embracing the term ‘super group’ because I’ve kind of seen that label thrown around quite a bit with you guys.

Swinney: We don’t claim to be a supergroup, but I don’t mind people saying it because it gets people in the door you know.

DS: Yeah so moving on kind of to songwriting, is there one main songwriter or with all of you guys coming in from different groups and different backgrounds, is everybody kind of contributing?

Swinney: We’ll kind of both take that one. I’ll give my thoughts and I’ll let Matt speak on it. The first couple songs, it was like I would just send complete songs to Matt and Pedro and it would go that way. Now it’s got to be a lot more collaborative, like I’ll still send full songs that I write, but Matt’s sending full songs that he writes and then I’ll redo the guitars and maybe have an idea here or there. Like that solo on “A Fool’s Errand’,”I kind of mimicked what you did with the horns on there. But it’s become a real collaborative thing, writing with Matt and kind of going through and really producing it you know, just talking over Zoom or FaceTime. There was one part on the second verse of “A Fool’s Errand” we just couldn’t figure out the sound that we wanted because the first verse just has big chords and then the second verse we wanted this like 70s drony kind of sound. There was a single note and then they flew on top and, I swear to God, it was like a month or two before we finally got it.

Riddle: It was one of those things where, so you know the bassline that is pretty gnarly, it’s like a banjo. Well I kept that through like both verses all the time and I wanted the second verse to be brought way back but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. And me and Chris went back and forth for like a month like what the fuck are we doing wrong?

Swinney: I recorded literally like 40 guitar parts over that verse.

Riddle: Yeah it ended up all we needed to do is let the bass just stay on one note the whole time, the guitars stay the same and that’s exactly what we needed. It’s so stupid, it’s so simple.

Swinney: But see the songwriting thing you were asking about, yeah I’ve always had a collaborator, no matter what. Like when I was in the Ataris some of the songs we did Roe and I would mess with stuff. In any band I’ve ever been in, I’ve never been the guy like ‘here’s all the stuff’. It’s always been like back and forth. At the beginning, I felt like it was like ‘hey Matt, here’s something I wrote, play whatever you want on it.’ And it’s still sometimes it’s like that because we all have ideas. But working with Matt and tearing these songs apart and figuring out everything, it’s been a really really good experience and I’ve felt like the songs are stronger because we’ve collaborated so much and then we send it to Pedro and then he tears it apart.

Riddle: That’s one thing that I like is if Chris comes up with something, I’ll get it and then he’s like do that ‘classic Matt Riddle’ that a lot of bands don’t know how to do. So I do that which I basically learned how to do, something like playing Steve Harris songs, Iron Maiden. But I learned that style, so he’s like put that stuff on it. So I do that and then it gets sent to Pedro and Pedro’s like ‘you know what, I think this should be a verse, this should be a chorus’ and he’ll change things up, send it back and it immediately sounds like pretty much done.

Swinney: And it’s great because like I don’t think we think a lot about vocals when we’re writing, we think about parts, like here’s a verse, here’s a chorus, and because we all live on opposite sides of the country, we played to a click track and as long as we do that we can kind of puzzle piece everything together. So when Pedro gets it and he writes the lyrics and the melodies and the harmonies, he’ll be like ‘hey your verse is a better chorus, maybe that chorus doesn’t need to be done two times, it needs to be done one time’ and he’ll cut it up and send it back and then I can manipulate my master session to what he wants. It always comes out better. He’s a vocalist and you know we just think about this is gonna be a cool guitar or bass part right and everybody’s got input. Like even the new guy, Matt Morris, when he was cutting the drums for these new songs, coming up with fill ideas. And like there’s that part on the second verse of “A Fools Errand” where he goes into the floor tom thing. Like we want it to be a band, we don’t want it to be one person.

Riddle: Right yeah, like him asking what to do on drums on the songs, I told him, I go ‘you know what dude, be you, just do you on all these songs’ and he came up with some really rad stuff. And then we would go over it, make sure it all fit right in the song. And so it’s rad, we’re all inputting now as far as the songs go.

Swinney: We’ve all been in situations too where we’ve kind of been a team player with a guy who’s like ‘the guy’. And I don’t want that to be the case because when this first started, a lot of people were like ‘are you writing all the songs’. I’m like well they’re not songs until everybody gets them because the songs that I do won’t be right if Matt doesn’t play the Matt thing on the song. It’s not a Fire Sale song if Pedro doesn’t put it together the way he wants for his vocals. Like I love the fact that everything is equal, even down to the royalties and everything is equal. Like I don’t want this to ever become anything other than fun. Like yeah everybody’s equal and I love the guys I’m making music with and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

DS: Right, so there’s been a lot of ‘super groups’ that I’ve listened to where you can obviously tell who’s writing the songs. It’s just a carryover from whatever other band, they sound the same. With you guys I kind of have trouble pinpointing, like you can’t tell who wrote what, probably because like you said it’s kind of a collaborative effort.

Swinney: Here put this in your article, that me and Matt are the Lennon and McCartney of punk rock, *laughs*.

DS: Damn right, *laughs*.

Swinney: Yeah somebody said that in a review when we released dark hearts I thought it was hilarious

Riddle: Really funny, Lennon McCartney, that’s funny. Chris wrote like most of everything on all the songs and we’ve put our stuff into it but I’ve had songs from back in the day that I brought over and actually “A Fool’s Errand” is one of those songs. I wrote that a long time ago when I was kind of relearning how to play bass after I got sick. I was having a hard time playing and that’s why the riff is so gnarly in that song, because it was more of just for practicing. But I got done, I’m like ‘oh that could be a song’ and I just wrote it and its been 10 years and I send it to Chris, he redid the guitar, reprogrammed some drums before matt joined and so then I redid the bass on it and it was an amazing melody. I’m like ‘dude this is a song, what the hell just happened.’

One thing funny is that Chris you know likes my playing style. So one night my wife is out of town, went out to some party thing, and Chris had wrote me and he’s like ‘hey dude I don’t know if you’re in a songwriting mood or what, but how about one of those those Matt bass intro. So I was like playing like playing Elden Ring or something, I was gaming. So I got my bass, I’m sitting there messing around and I came up with this riff and went to the computer put in the click track, play the riff and next thing I knew, I had a whole song written, remember that.

Swinney: Are you talking about “Albatross”?

Riddle: “Albatross,” yeah really really fast, but the riff is killer. I think I just came up with it and then I ended up writing the entire song around that riff, sent it to Chris and then he changed parts here and there, put the guitars on it.

Swinney: I stayed up till 6:00 in the morning redoing all guitar parts and everything.

Riddle: Yeah because I can’t play guitar so I just kind of ripped through it and said ‘here’s something like this’ and then he put the guitar line. I think that’s great.

Swinney: That’s gonna be one for the next couple that are coming out. We literally on our SoundCloud page and in our Google Drive, we have like 14, 15 more songs and they’re gonna like, I mean I know you haven’t asked yet, but I’ll go ahead and say like the plan now, we wanted to do a full length but it’s hard working the way that we work. Everybody’s got different things going on and our label, the idea from Negative Progression was like hey, let’s put out a series of two-song EP’s and then eventually we’ll release a full vinyl like 12 inch. So in the next few months we’ll probably have two more come out and then in the next couple months a couple more. We’re gonna keep leaking out singles.

DS: I know Matt you talked about “A Fool’s Errand,” the writing behind that. I wanted to talk to Chris, with “We Dance for Sorrow,” that’s your song, right?

Swinney: Yeah, the first verse, the thing I really really liked, it’s got that kind of clean, single note thing on the verse with Matt’s bass too. I always kind of thought that sounded like one of the darker Blink 182 songs, but not like cheesy. I had that forever, I think I might have even sent you [Matt] like a voice memo of it at some point and you’re like ‘yeah that’s cool’. I finally one day was able to kind of figure out how that song fit together and even like the intro part, a couple people said it reminds them of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” which it’s similar it’s not the same thing.

Riddle: It used to sound more like it and you changed one thing.

Swinney: I changed it yeah, things like one or two notes from the last little piece and now it doesn’t sound like “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” That one of those songs where once I figured out the direction of what was gonna happen, it just came out. And people talk about inspiration, people talk about you know the hit songs they write or the best songs they write take 5 minutes. Once I figured out what that verse was that I’d written two years ago or whatever, that song did just kind of fly out. And I sent it to Pedro and the only thing he did I think he shortened one of the choruses or something like it was very much the way I sent it was the way it came back. And so I just felt really good about that and I don’t look at it as Matt wrote “A Fools Errand” and I wrote that because we all put our stuff on it. I kind of feel connected to that song. I don’t know, I love both songs, I love every song we’ve ever done, but that song, I feel real connected to it just because of how it came together.

DS: Right and it was those two in particular, I just I really couldn’t pinpoint who wrote them, and it took me reading some interview with you guys that said Matt you kind of wrote this, one Chris you wrote this one. But I was listening to them, I really couldn’t tell so that’s why I asked you earlier about if it’s kind of collaborative.

Riddle: Well you know what it is I think that makes it indistinguishable is Pedro’s vocals. Like he sings what he wants to sing and that’s what makes the songs sound like us immediately. Like he writes these really great melodies, I never would have came up with that melody for “A Fools Errand,” no way. Like I can write the music all day, but that’s how it was when I was in Face To Face and that’s why that song probably sounds kind of reminiscent of early Face To Face, because when I would write like with Trever, those are the kind of songs we wrote, real quick, fast, painless, done. And Pedro comes up with these melodies that makes it sound like a Fire Sale song instead which I think is super killer, you know.

Swinney: I’ll also say, working with Matt, the thing that’s really been beneficial for me is that, like I was in The Ataris, but I’ve also been in a bunch of like metal bands and like hardcore bands, so I’m not a good editor. I try to make things like hard, I try to like ‘oh I’m gonna throw 4 harmonies on this’ and ‘I’m gonna shred’ and ‘I’m gonna do 64th notes’ and ‘I’m gonna tap’ and I don’t need to do that because I feel like my whole life I’ve been trying to show off for other musicians instead of just write good songs. And so working with Matt, sometimes I’ll send him something and he’s like ‘just do something simple, it’s like you don’t have to do Propagandi shit on everything’.

Riddle: I’ll like crack up because you’ll do these things. I’m like ‘dude like just play sloppier on “Albatross”.’ There’s these chord changes he does and I’m like ‘dude that sounds like a robot’. That’s how Dave Nassie was.

Swinney: That’s the thing that I think Dave and I have in common. Because when I was in The Ataris, Chris Roe would always be like ‘dude you play like you’re a computer, you need to chill and just like slop it up a little bit’. Like man when I was growing up and I was learning guitar, I would sit in my bedroom after school for four or five hours and play scales to a metronome. So it’s hard for me to do that. But there are some parts and songs that haven’t come out yet where Matt kind of said that to me and I did loosen up and it was better like if it breathed more and it had more soul.

Riddle: I just like the songs to sound real.

Swinney: Yeah I mean I do too, I just didn’t know how to do that.

Riddle: It’s funny because it is real, like when you play, it is real, but it’s just that you play like I said, so meticulous and so tight and he still, to this day will sit down and just over and over like he’s so good. And that’s how you play, like real clean and right to the point and I like sloppy metal, I like sloppy punk, I like sloppy. I like real musicians doing real stuff

Swinney: The thing I love about Matt’s playing is that like when I’ll get the stuff back and I’ll try to like edit or quantize stuff, if I fix anything wrong with Matt’s playing, it doesn’t sound like Matt Riddle, you know what I mean. Like we talked to Jason at the Blasting Room, I’m like ‘you know, make sure it lines up, edit it the way you wanna edit it, but if you do too much it’s gonna take away the cool factor.’ I’m starting to kind of feel the same way with my playing, like yeah, maybe I didn’t hit it exactly on the grid, maybe I could be a little left or right of center. I think he’s right, I think it does make you sound a little bit more like humans are playing it you know.

DS: How’s the reception been so far for you guys’ releases?

Riddle: I don’t know, I don’t know how that works. Chris?

Swinney: It was really really good. We first came out with the first two singles last year, but I am astonished at the amount of feedback we’re getting on these two new songs. It’s crazy man like the amount of people that are emailing and commenting on the socials. I’ve had texts from people I haven’t talked to in 10 years that someone sent them the song, like it’s been crazy. And I don’t know what good streaming is and what bad streaming is but we’ve done, you know, a couple thousand in less than two days so for a small band like us it’s pretty good. I’m really really excited that people seem to be connecting with it as much as we did when we were writing it.

Riddle: I kind of drop out of conversations sometimes, like there’s a whole group text that went on, but I was driving, it was a 19-hour drive to get out here to Oklahoma. So I couldn’t really write anybody back, but they were sending the stream numbers and all that and I’m like ‘damn that seems pretty rad for something I recorded in my bedroom’.

Swinney: *laughs*, something we recorded in our bedroom, but then Jason [Livermore] and Bill [Stevenson] took it to the Blasting Room and made it sound really good.

Riddle: I was nervous, I didn’t know how that was gonna go over because you’re producing our stuff and I was like that sounds good and then when Jason got hold of it I couldn’t believe what we got back, I was like that’s really fuckin amazing.

Swinney: And I had a couple of conversations with Jason about like making sure that the original spirit of the demo I produced was still there, but it just sounded really really good so he kind of knew what we were going for.

DS: Yeah, next thing, let’s talk about like future. So you guys said you had a completed record, well basically a completed record worth of material, right?

Swinney: Yeah the thing is, it’s expensive, like we could mix and master and we could put it out and people would probably like it, but now that we’ve gotten that taste of working with Jason and Bill, man I don’t wanna go down in quality.

Riddle: Right yeah, they kind of next leveled it.

Swinney: Yeah and with the label we’re working with, Seth, the guy that owns Negative Progression, he’s been amazing ever since we signed and you know if we need funds for something, he makes them available. And I don’t know how financially good of a decision that is on his part, but he’s doing it, we’re gonna put these out, wait awhile, put some more out. And there are gonna be physicals for everything we release, there’s gonna be a 7-inch colored vinyl for these two songs [A Fool’s Errand] and then we’re also gonna have CD singles and cassette singles, which I think are kind of fun. And we’re just gonna keep going that way. As far as the future, uh, we’re in talks with a couple booking agents, and they know that we all have jobs and families and we’re not gonna be on the road all the time, but there’s been a lot of talk of festivals and there’s some overseas stuff that’s been spoken about. Nothing’s concrete yet but there’s definitely gonna be some shows in our future, just probably no crazy tours.

Riddle: For me, it’s a little bit hard to tour after I got sick, like trying to keep up with my medication and stuff on the road is really really hard to do, it’s hard for insulin and all my pills. Like I run out of stuff. I got really sick doing that, and then I got sick again because we had shows with NOFX just through California, right by my home. Still my sugar would drop, and I’m not good at the diabetes thing at all, it’s like type one, it’s really bad.

Swinney: I think the thing that we’re gonna do is we wanna do things that’re gonna be beneficial for the band. So you know Pedro lives on the East Coast, Matt lives on the West Coast, the other Matt lives in Texas, I live in the Midwest. So there’s been talks about you know doing five or six days on the West Coast and maybe five or six days on the East Coast, playing markets that make sense for the band. And then like maybe like Riot Fest or Punk Rock Bowling, like things that are not super taxing, like just the weekend away, play a gig, go home back to normal life, kids, wife, whatever. And then the overseas stuff, I mean it’s been talked about and there’s some good opportunities, but it’s gonna have to work for everyone in the band. I’ve got a 6-year-old and a 5-year-old and I can’t be gone for more than a week or two. I love playing live and I miss being on the road because we used to do it all like 24/7, but I would much rather sit and watch Peppa Pig with my daughter than be in Germany playing some shitty club that’s freezing.

Riddle: Yeah we end up in Germany at some shitty club, those kids are gonna know that you don’t wanna be there, *laughs*.

Swinney: So ok I’ll take that back, I’ll go play a shitty freezing club in Germany as long as a week or two later I can come see my kids.

Riddle: Yeah I love shitty clubs in Germany.

Swinney: Germans love us, look at our Spotify numbers. We’re gonna probably end up there at some point next year.

DS: Okay so how would you describe your music style? Kind of how would you describe it and where your influences lie? Like I know with Matt, if you write a song you’ve got your personal influences, but more as a whole do you guys have influences and just how you would describe your music as a whole?

Swinney: Well I will say, I’m gonna let Matt give his, there are a lot of differences between Matt and I, but there is kind of a Venn diagram of things we agree on. I am a little bit younger than Matt.

Riddle: Hey *laughs*…

Swinney: So like when I was growing up, it was all the 90s punk stuff that Matt was involved in. Like he’s 55, I just turned 44, so my thing is like when I first started hanging out talking to Matt, I thought ‘oh we’re gonna have all this stuff in common, we’re gonna talk about Pennywise and blah blah blah’ and it wasn’t like that. But then I realized that I’m also a metal head, so I didn’t realize how deep into some of the metal stuff Matt went. So I think we’ve bonded a little bit more over Maiden and some of the weird kind of Scandinavian stuff than we have over punk rock. But when I’m writing, the influences that I’m drawing from are 90s skate punk and 80s thrash metal. That’s me and then Matt’s a little bit different I think.

Riddle: It’s actually kind of weird. I’m not really influenced musically by bands as much as I am influenced by what they did. How do I explain this, like it doesn’t make me write a certain way, I write how I write. I can’t help that, that happened with Trever in Face to Face, it’s just what it was. But what I listened to, yeah my picking style is reminiscent of a lot of like Steve Harris and that kind of stuff. I’m very metal that way as well, but I don’t write like that. I write my own stuff. Like when I first got into punk rock, it wasn’t any of that stuff, it wasn’t 90’s stuff. I got into like Rudimentary Peni, Antisect, all this like real dark, weird shit that wasn’t really even hard. It was hard to find, but I just loved how dark and weird it was. I grew up on Maiden, that was my thing, but like when I got into punk rock, I started to drift into the darker side of music altogether. There’s of course like the Cure and Joy Division and stuff like that, but then my metal taste got into like Mayhem. And I like the Viking side of it, I like the black metal stuff. I like a lot of that kind of like weird stuff.

Swinney: He likes the bands that burn down churches, *laughs*… and that has been a thing that Matt and I thought, because I’m a music theory geek, like I went to college for theory and performance guitar. And we’ll start talking about a song and I’ll be like ‘yeah that augmented 4th blah blah blah’, and he’s like ‘it’s an A I don’t know.’

Riddle: Yeah I don’t know what I played.

Swinney: But I love that because sometimes having the theory knowledge hinders me. I won’t try something that might be outside of the box because theoretically it shouldn’t work and it could be this really cool dissonant thing. So I like the push and pull between Matt and I with our influences and with how we both play and how I’m a little bit more robotic or whatever, by the book, and he’s a little not so. When that pushes and like rubs together I think it’s better musically for what we’re putting out.

Riddle: Yeah it took me a little bit of time to subscribe to that like when it comes to actually writing. I kind of had to fall into that place because, again, I’m more loose and whatever and I’m not really used to like major minor and all that kind of stuff because what I listen to is so different than that. But I also do know that when something sounds cool, it sounds cool. Like if it’s sonically correct, that’s killer. And if it’s not, well it sounds good to my ears.

Swinney: That’s why it’s called a theory because it’s not a proof.

Riddle: *laughs* but yeah I think you can be influenced by anything, doesn’t have to be like music. Like I never thought to myself ‘oh I wanna play a song that sounds like that,’ like that was never my thing. It was what just came out.

Swinney: No that makes total sense because like I guess I don’t like base a reference point when I’m writing this song. Like the way that the stuff comes out that I send you [Matt] that I’m writing, it’s just off the top of my head. And then I put it together the way that I think it should go together. But for me growing up and being like obsessed with two bands you [Matt] were in, those bands kind of inspired me. And I’ll start playing a song and I’ll be like ‘Oh, well what if on this part, I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do, what if I did this thing that Tony did or what if I did this thing that Trever did.’ That’s a theory kind of thing, maybe they didn’t know it was a theory thing. The Maiden influence, I’ve always been a Maiden guy. But then NOFX and No Use, Good Riddance and Strung Out and Propagandhi and 88 Fingers Louie and like these bands from when I was in junior high and high school that if I didn’t have them, I don’t think I would be doing this right now. And Matt was a big part of that. Yeah, even though we’re buddies and we’re in the same band together, but thank you for helping mold my shit you know.

Riddle: But I mean like I know how to get from point a to point b, but I’m again not a theory guy. I learned how to play bass, learning how to tune my bass by listening to records. I didn’t have tuner. I put a record on and I just hit a note and go ‘that doesn’t sound right’ and turn my tuning peg until my string makes sense. That’s how I learned how to tune. Yeah it’s ridiculous, I practiced everything you know like Maiden, Fleetwood Mac, like I’m all over the place. And nowadays I just practice the bands like Mayhem and stuff like that because I like to be really really fast. But I mean I’m not that loose when it comes to writing, but I guess I’m a lot less structured.

Swinney: And I would like to be less structured than I am because it hinders me sometimes.

Riddle: Yeah many times I’ve sent something to Chris and you’ll change something and go ‘how about this’ and I’ll go ‘Oh my God dude, I never would have thought of that’ and then Pedro comes up with this vocal line where I’m like ‘well fuck that, finish that song.’ It’s weird, it’s kind of a weird thing.

Swinney: I’m just really really happy. I mean I’ll tie this up by just saying that we all have different people, like influences. Pedro’s get a lot more pop punk type stuff. Like I was more skate punky whatever, metal whatever. And Pedro, he does listen to a lot I think more pop type stuff that informs what he does. I mean I’m not saying like he has a reference like I said earlier, but I think it informs his style and you know it’s very melodic. The one thing that a lot of people have said to me since we’ve released this is just how are there these like mid tempo or fast punk songs. They’re so melodic and there’s actually like pretty parts. And I think a lot of that comes from his influences and what informs that is the pop stuff he listens to, the pop punk stuff. I don’t know, I look at this band and everything we’re doing. We’re all in our 40s or 50s and we’re putting out new music that people really seem to connect to and like and I think that is a rare thing to be able to do. I’m just so grateful that people are giving us a chance man.

Riddle: Yeah that’s really cool, kind of dusted off the cobwebs for me.

Swinney: I hadn’t done anything in 10 years man. And I mean like Matt was kind of in that same boat almost. And I wrote a couple songs, sent them to Matt and shit started kicking off. And now it’s a real thing. Yeah, ideally we want people to like it, but also it’s just been such a good, fun experience to write songs with these guys that I really respect and admire like it’s a bonus.

DS: It seems like everybody’s kind of complimenting each other. Where you [Chris] said you’re very mechanical whereas Matt, a little looser. It seems like that kind of complements each other, and then with Pedro tying everything in at the end.

Swinney: Matt Morris, I don’t wanna leave out Matt Morris. The band has been doing stuff and been writing and been an entity since the pandemic started almost, when we locked in Matt Morris, this band turned a corner. Now it’s me, Matt and Matt and Pedro and it’s a band and it feels better than it’s felt ever.

Riddle: It’s cool because I know he was a fan of mine and yours Chris and so for him to do this, he’s totally digging it. It was cool because he sent that text like ‘well what about this, what about this, and that’s when I told him ‘no dude, just be you and do what you want’ and he did. Yeah he’s really solid, a really really good drummer.

Swinney: I feel really really good about the lineup of guys we have. I mean we’re all busy, Pedro’s in a bunch of bands, he’s getting ready to go to Europe with Nathan Gray and Iron Roses. So I mean that’s the thing, like of course when we do tour, when we do play shows, it’s a logistical thing figuring out how to get everybody somewhere. But I mean a lot of festivals are fly-in dates and stuff like that, I mean it’s gonna happen and everybody’s on board 100%. It just feels really really good now that we have this core unit of guys that everybody cares about the band, everybody wants it to happen. The band’s been this kind of slithering weird like project up until Morris got in and now it’s like ‘ok the four of us are Fire Sale and we’re gonna kick everyone’s ass.’ *laughs* that’s how I feel.

DS: That’s awesome man. Yeah I really appreciate you guys talking. When I saw you guys were interested in an interview, I jumped on it immediately because both of you guys were in bands that were very influential to me as a kid with The Ataris and then yeah Face to Face and No Use for a Name. Yeah all three of those were hugely influential for me growing up. It’s really cool getting to talk to you guys now so I really appreciate you taking the time.

Swinney: Yeah we appreciate you too man because, like I said you know, I was the 5th guitarist in The Ataris, like that moniker works and helps get some people in the door, but it’s the fact of like Matt Riddle is one of my favorite bass players in the entire world, but he’s I think maybe felt like I felt in my past bands where I was always a supporting cast member for somebody else. And in this band I don’t want there to be any supporting cast members, we’re all equal in the same and we all do interviews. Fire Sale is the most inclusive band you can find.

Riddle: Don’t let me be your favorite bass player, that title should go to Scott Shiflett because that should be everybody’s favorite bass player.

Swinney: Well my favorite bass player is Cliff Burton then you and Scott Shiflett right in there too.

DS: Yeah I’ll try not to take anymore your guys time, I appreciate talking to you. It was really cool meeting you guys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Yeah, I live just north of Boston.

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

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

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

And a lot of music colleges specifically!

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

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

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

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

Yup, that was a great one.

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

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

That’s awesome.

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

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

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

That’s really wild. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hell yeah!

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

That’s all killer, no filler right there. 

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

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

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

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

I’m looking forward to playing with them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, he’s originally from Duluth I believe. 

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

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

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

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

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

That’s old school, Husker/Minutemen style!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well thanks, I appreciate that!

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s playing with Mahones now too, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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