I had the pleasure of conducting my very first Dying Scene interview with Los Angeles based political punk rock band, DC Fallout back in June of 2010. Since then the band has grown a lot. They recently released their newest EP “Serfs Up” and will be flying the flag of political punk rock at this year’s Warped Tour.
Now we’re back with DC Fallout interview número dos. This time around we discuss their new “Serfs Up” EP, music scenes, presidential elections, the death of Osama Bin Laden, the Zombieacalypse and more. Check it out here! Oh, and while you’re reading you can listen to the “Serfs Up” EP in it’s glorious entirety exclusively on “The Grind” right here.
DS: Last time we did interview together it was back in July of 2010. How do you think you’ve grown as a band?
Earl: We’ve spent a great deal of time around each other in the last year doing band things, as well as non band things. The more time you spend with people you get to know how they will react to certain situations so it has helped us know each other’s strengths, and weaknesses, just that much more. We know who the best person is to handle each different situation and everyone kind of knows their role in the band and how to interact with each other in the most productive way. Though, we also know the flip side of that coin as well!
Mike: Honestly, from a musical perspective I feel like 2010 was 5 years ago in terms of how much we’ve grown as a band. Since then we’ve all really matured as musicians, performers, and people. Our songs are better and I really think we’ve caught our stride as a cohesive band. I think we’re all more excited than we’ve ever been about our music and where we’re going as a band.
DS: You’ve had a few line-up changes recently how do you think that’s affected your band?
Earl: I think it has helped tremendously. Sometimes ya gotta play things out until you find the right balance and stability. I feel a lot of stability with our core members and I have no doubt all of us will answer whatever calls there may be and make the sacrifices needed to take the next step.
DS: What was the recording process and song-writing like for the new EP Serf’s UP? Do you thinking have a line-up change and more recording experience changed the end result?
Earl: I have a hard time listening to our previous full length for reasons I won’t get into. But this E.P I think turned out very well and for me Ricardo had a lot to do with it. These songs I feel were more of a group effort than the last album. Not to say the last album wasn’t a group effort, but this one is more so. Pretty much an idea, or a more complete song, would be brought in and we would rework it and retool as we saw fit until we were all happy with it. Everyone one of us can probably look at lots of different moments and see our personal stamp/flavor. We all worked together and kept our minds and ears open and when we went into the studio we executed.
Mike: I think all of us are proud of Retreat! but overall it was a bit raw, frantic, and rushed. Thankfully we learned a shitload from that process and I think it really shows in Serfs Up. We were lucky enough to have Paul Miner from BuzzBomb Sound Labs mix and master our album and we think it turned out great. The new EP sounds a lot more polished, natural, and complete than Retreat! Every time we go into the studio we learn from it, so I think the quality of our records will keep improving.
DS: You guys are going to be featured on this year’s Warped Tour. How does that feel? Do you think you’ll be out of place being surrounded by the new trend of Sceamo / Metalcore acts? What do you think caused this new wave of metalcore popularity?
Earl: I’m a pretty even tempered kind of guy, except when I’m watching sports, then I can get a bit volatile. Armchair quarterback, point guard, center, short stop..whatever. But I’m definitely excited about this run on the Vans Warped Tour. It still hasn’t really sunk in, and probably wont until we are there. But I’m trying to stay calm and not let the angst and anxiety get to me or I’ll be a scatter brain and will probably be quite tense on stage! As far as being out of place, who knows. The tour was built on punk so hopefully some of the core fans will show up and enjoy the music. But in the end we are still people holding ideals and living our lives against the grain (I hope!) So being out of place is probably feels more natural than being in place. I could go on and on about that.
Mike: It’s been a childhood dream to play the Vans Warped Tour so naturally I’m excited, anxious, and ready to rip! We’ll definitely stick out like a sore thumb, but we’re a bit used to that. Plus I’m a pretty weird dude, I am out of place in most social surroundings. My awkwardness aside, I really hate the metalcore/screamo genre, but I’m envious of how great their hair and makeup look! OMG! SO HAWT!
DS: In punk there seems to a rise of 90’s skate punk inspired bands like yourself. Do you think that makes it easier to find like-minded bands?
Earl: Ha, no.
Mike: While I listen to a lot of awesome skate punk, I don’t really think we’re a perfect fit in the genre. I also don’t think there are a lot of bands out there that are playing melodic punk rock with social/political lyrics on a local/regional level, especially in the US. Of course many awesome bands exist that are, but I think the new music trend in punk is the Gainsville influenced pop-punk sound. I’m not big on it, but to each their own. I’d say it’s fairly rare when we run into bands that play our style on tour. Bands we’ve played with that come to mind would be Random Orbits, Allout Helter, Samuel Caldwell’s Revenge, and Sic Waiting. All awesome.
DS: In your previous interview you mentioned being kind of let down by the LA scene after moving out there from the midwest. How that changed?
Earl: I moved here from Northern California and the L.A. scene disappointed me as well, and still continues to do so. However, the reason I moved here was to find like minded people who were willing to make sacrifices and step out of their comfort zone to chase their dreams, and in that aspect L.A has not let me down. I figured with 10+ million people I’d be able to find what I looking for. I found 3 guys and here we are. Though, the people who don’t care still are the overwhelming majority. This is another subject I could go on and on about in regards to mentality of natives and transplants that fill this city.
Mike: I am still not a fan of the LA music scene. It’s predatory, self-serving, and just overall crap. Promoters and venues here only care about how much money you can make them regardless of whether you’re a new band or not. Of course this happens everywhere, but I think it’s worse here. Starting out we had to beg just to get on any show and very few bands would book us because we didn’t bring massive crowds. When we started it was more of an issue because we wanted to play shows and weren’t touring, but now that we’ve been on the road I really have little desire to play LA consistently. If we get treated 1000x times better on the road who cares about LA? I am probably a bit jaded and spiteful , but it’s been a frustrating scene to be a part of. The Pacific North West is where its at.
DS: What city has the best scene and what do you think it’ll take to improve the others?
Mike: When we’re on tour It’s hard to know what scenes are great because we’re not there all the time, but I’d say we’re biased towards the Pacific NW. Scenes are easy to build if all the local bands are sincerely supporting each other. Unfortunately we’ve met a lot of bands that think it’s a zero-sum competition and fail to realize that if we all helped each other we’d all play more shows, better shows, and have a hell of lot more fun. Thankfully there’s a lot of bands and people out there that are doing a damn good job keeping their local and regional punk scenes alive and well.
Earl: Portland and Seattle have been awesome. People up there still care.
DS: Can fans expect another full-length anytime soon?
Earl: We’ve got a few new recordings on the horizon, some more stable than others. But I guess it depends on what your definition of soon is? Sooner rather than later though.
DS: What are some new bands or albums should people give a listen?
Mike: Atlas Losing Grip “State of Unrest” is a really awesome album, Frank Turner “England Keep My Bones”, Dave Hause, Mute, Forus, This Is a Standoff, Larry and His Flask, Iron Chic, Samuel Caldwell’s Revenge, Protagonist, Doesitmatter. This list goes on and on and on…
Earl: Steely Dan! They’re probably old enough that they’re new to most. Haha
DS: More importantly though if a Zombieacalypse does occur in 2012, what is the game plan for an exit strategy and what would your personal playlist sound like while you hid from the people of Walmart? ( Partial Joke reference here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvxNgdFeWqM)
Earl: My strategy is hope the zombies are the slow brainless ones and wing it! Pray to Cod and hope for the best. I would be listening to Steely Dan’s song Don’t Take Me Alive. Zombie Prescription by Snapcase sounds like it could be a fitting song in title. Though I doubt it is about zombies in that sense.
Mike: I live in LA County which has a population of roughly 18 million people so my likelihood of survival would be very low if there was a zombie outbreak; especially if we’re talking Dawn of the Dead (re-make) and 28 Weeks later zombies. I’ve accepted that fact and have moved away from creating a detailed and specific Zombie Survival Plan, but I do have a ridiculous amount of canned food in my pantry. As for a personal ZA Day playlist, I’d probably be jamming Ace of Base, Rick Astley, Paula Abdul, Justin Bieber, DEM POWDA BOYZ…the list goes on and on and on.
DS: Speaking of exit strategy and 2012, the next presidential is around the corner. What are your feeling regarding that?
Mike: This one time this guy ran for president and said he was going to change everything. He promised to end oversea wars, rebuild infrastructure, improve public transportation, maintain social security, provide healthcare, increase education, regulate wall street, lower taxes, eliminate corruption, and legislate marriage equality. Instead he war-mongered, cut education, destroyed unions, courted Wall Street, subsidized criminal institutions, ignored public transportation, neglected infrastructure, bankrupt social security, privatized healthcare and so forth. His name was Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy…Get where I’m going with this? Don’t be afraid to think global, but act and vote local.
DS: How did you feel about the death of Bin Laden? Do you think that will change anything?
Mike: Great question! Ultimately a beast killed another beast. In the end there’s one less person on this Earth that is motivated to kill a bunch of innocent civilians to further their cause. I saw a lot of self-righteous posts on Facebook saying that someone’s death is never a good thing and that honestly is just a bunch of overly idealistic bullshit. Many people used that event as their personal opportunity to demonstrate their false sense of moral superiority and it was just ridiculous. Fake Martin Luther King Jr. quotes anyone? Of course I wanted Bin Laden arrested, to face trial, and sit in isolation for the rest of his days, but if the choice is Bin Laden free or Bin Laden dead then it’s quite clear what the pragmatic, potentially life saving, answer is. Ultimately the US’s foreign policy abroad is abhorrent, inhumane, and more than willing to accept the deaths of hundreds of thousands innocents under the guise of collateral damage whilst trying to establish greater geo-political advantage. Neither side is right and both sides are inherently evil, unfortunately one man’s death won’t change that. People are talking about the wrong issues. Let’s have a debate about US foreign policy and the use of torture tactics to obtain intelligence and not obsess about silly conspiracy theories and black/white moral situations. Sorry to get heavy on you, but this is an important issue people are ignoring.
Here’s a stupid video game question that only brothers of your high caliber could answer for me: If you were the Mario Brothers instead of the Hallquist which of you would be which and why? Is it a bad sign that I know you well enough to feel comfortable asking that?
Earl: Scott is taller, he’s Luigi. Mike will then be Mario. I will be Toad. I will spring out of treasure chests and give them helpful things like guitar cables, electric tape, and utility tools. No soldering irons though…Also of note, Mike is married so I think it would be a more likely scenario that he would be trying to rescue that damsel in distress. Ricardo is Donkey Kong. Cause he came out with a percussion game of course…Donkey Konga.
Mike: We really need to get a soldering iron…
Any last words, shout outs, complaints, face melting solo etc?
Mike: Thanks for having us again Lauren and thanks to Dying Scene for being continually supportive and awesome! I’d like to insert a face melting solo here, but right now I can only make faces lukewarm.
Earl: Don’t fill dead people with Worcestershire Sauce and we will be fine in 2012!