It was a pretty crazy Latin America tour for The Casualties. Not many bands can say they incited a riot but these dudes can now, not that it’s necessarily a good thing. Upon their return to the States, I caught up with Casualties drummer, Meggers, to discuss the tour, the Costa Rica riot incident, and their newest album We Are All We Have.
Click here to read the full interview and get a glimpse of what it’s like to be the drummer in one of the most influential hardcore punk bands of our generation.
DS: First off, man…welcome back stateside. How’d your tour through Latin America and Mexico go?
Meggers: Thanks man. Tour went really well, despite a few things, we had a blast. Ventured into some new territory, played some great shows and met some really cool people.
DS: A full-on riot broke out at your show in Costa Rica. What the hell happened? Rioting is what you’d expect from a politician’s visit, or some sort of a protest… but a punk rock show?
Meggers: Yeah, have never seen it before in South America, and it just doesn’t make sense and bummed us out. So apparently this is what happened. We started playing, venue was packed, and us and the kids inside were stoked. There were a bunch of kids outside who either didn’t want to, or couldn’t afford or get into the show but wanted to see the band. Someone outside smashed one of the windows. They then cut out the PA. We couldn’t stop playing and the amps were still on, so we played about 3 more songs. They then shut off all the power and they made us leave the venue. Kids, some who paid, and others who were outside were pissed off. They then smashed up the entire club. I mean nothing was left after an hour. Every piece of equipment, bottle of booze, windows..the place was leveled. They should have just let the kids outside in for free, we could have finished our set and everyone would have been happy. That wasn’t the case. Riot police showed up and cleared out the streets but all the damage had already been done. It’s a shame and I wanted to finish, but we were not allowed to.
DS: You said that you want to go back to Costa Rica and play a complete set, make it up to those that got their show disrupted. Is that something you guys will actively pursue or are you guys just open to the idea of playing there again?
Meggers: The tour went really well, so yes, we definitely want to come back. We met a lot of the fans that day, and all the promoters and such were super cool and treated us well. So I really hope we can go back sometime this year.
DS: Ok, lets talk about your role in the band… You’ve been in The Casualties since 95, taking over for Yureesh and then Shawn. Were you friends with the rest of the guys before, or what, and how’d you land that gig?
Meggers: I did know them a for awhile before joining the band. I was in a band called the Rivits with the original bass player of The Casualties, Mark, and at the time Jorge’s girlfriend Rachel. They both lived with Jorge and we practiced at the same spot, so I became friends with the band. One day outside of the Wetlands at a Descendants, Swingin’ Utters, Blanks 77 show, Jorge and I were talking and drinking. He said they were thinking about getting a new drummer and asked if I would be interested? I was friends with Shawn at the time, so it was a little weird. I said if they did need a drummer, yeah I’d fully be into it. And so it began..
DS: Lets talk about the new album, We Are All We Have. It came out in August of last year and was produced by Bill Stevenson, the drummer for The Descendents and who also produced Propagandhi’s Supporting Caste as well as NOFX’s latest. What was it like working with him?
Meggers: As always, it was an experience. It was our 3rd record working with Bill and Jason and the rest of The Blasting Room crew. We have grown to love those guys and they truly do bring out the best in us. I HATE recording. Im sick of the songs before the mixing even starts. But I also love having accomplished another record that I am proud of. Bill and Jason work us like race horses and will not let us slack off. The first time I met Bill I was so nervous playing in front of him I actually lost sleep cause of it. The guy was in The Descendants, Black Flag and ALL for chrissake. But one of the guys at Side One Dummy, was like, look at it like this. “He’s going to make you guys sound better then any other record you have done, and you will become a better drummer out of it”. He was right and I still learn so much from those guys every time we go back there. Great dudes, and a fun little town (Fort Collins, Co.) to be stuck in for a few weeks, even when your girlfriend dumps you while you’re there.
DS: Ouch. That sucks… You said that the album is definitely your most diverse. How was it different recording and writing for this album compared to your others? I really like the introduction to Apocalypse Today, especially the contrast between the female vocals and then Jorge’s. Great track!
Meggers: We spent a lot of time writing this one. After Under Attack, we were like fuck, how are we going to do another one as good as this. So we toured a ton on that, and just didn’t rush it. We also are all into so many different types of music these days, we thought it was time for a little bit of that to shine through, with still keeping true to the Casualties sound. Yeah there are bits of thrash metal in there, reggae, oi, rock ‘n roll, and of course the hardcore punk rock that we will always stay true to. Yeah, I was stoked with the way Apocalypse Today came out. The first version of For the Punx had female vocals for an intro, so we said lets take it back to that and see what we come up with. Happened to find a really cool girl in Fort Collins who was down to do it, we all liked the way it went and we kept it. Now do we bring a girl on tour, so we can do that live? Hmmmm……
DS: Haha, handle it! My favorite track is probably In The Tombs. The way it starts off with the guitar playing on the upbeats and then it’s totally balls out
Meggers: Jorge always wanted to do a reggae song, so finally we were all open to the idea, put it all together and it worked out great I think. So far it is not the crowd pleaser we were hoping for though. It seems to be a love or hate song with the fans. Either way I’m psyched on it and really like playing it live. Gives me a tiny break from the rest of the high speed set.
DS: What are your favorite tracks from the album?
Meggers: I really love “We Are All We Have”. It has a classic unity theme and great sing a long backing vocals that makes for such good energy at the live shows. “Looking Through Bloodshot Eyes” as well. I like playing the 2 different tempos, and Jorge’s lyrics show that drinking is not always a fun time for people. It takes a more serious note about depression and daily struggles. “War is Business” is another one I love. Total thrashy guitars, and quick heavy drumming. We all listened to metal while we were growing up, and still do, and wanted to write something mixing thrash and punk.
DS: You guys are doing the full warped tour this summer. Pretty stoked for that. Was that something you guys wanted to do or did you have some hesitation?
Meggers: I’m stoked for the warped tour. It really helps keep this band going. We get to play in front of new eager kids who see us and go… “whoa, that’s what its supposed to sound like”, and we then become the gateway band for these kids to start looking and listening to more underground punk and hardcore music. We are the “weed” of punk rock and I’m fine with that. These new kids, well at least a few I hope, will come see us the next time we’re around on our own tour and get to see more great bands that we bring out with us. Plus, it’s fucking fun. Half hour sets, free beer and food, and a lot of good people that we have become friends with over the years.
DS: When you’re on the road, what are some of your favorite cities/venues to play at?
Meggers: Think my all time favorite place to play, eat and drink, is the Triple Rock in Minneapolis Minnesota. LA has always been good to us, we love it there, Red 7’s in Austin Texas. We’ve met so many good people and made so many close friends because of touring.
DS: So what can we expect from the band in the future?
Meggers: Touring touring and more touring. Can’t let people forget about us, so we will continue touring and writing music as long as we can and as long as it’s fun. And with all the support, new and old, we have been able to do this for a long time already. So cheers to all of you for your support and making this possible.