In what is a bit of an atypical move, The Old Firm Casuals made their album, Holger Danske, available for streaming on February 18th, close to a month before said album’s official physical release date of March 15th. The album marks a few firsts for the band, most notably the fact that it’s their first full-length as a four-piece and simultaneously their first full-length on Pirates Press Records. But more importantly, Holger Danske finds The Old Firm Casuals officially unleashing what can fairly and accurately be called a whole new sonic experience to the masses; a dozen songs that merge balls-out 70’s AC/DC-style rock, blistering early-80’s Metallica style thrash and their trademark Oi!/street punk sound and bellow it through a centuries-old Viking Gjallarhorn.
We called the band’s well-known frontman, Lars Frederiksen, at his home last week, to discuss Holger Danske and all that went in to the making of this unique and widely well-received album. To say that we found Frederiksen’s personality and storytelling to be any less unique, compelling, and wide-ranging than the album we set out to discuss would be to wildly inaccurate. And while Holger Dankse may not be comprised of autobiographical material referencing his friends or his family or his upbringing, it may well be the most personal album from start-to-finish in Frederiksen’s three decades in the music business. But fear not, punk fans. Lest you were afraid that approaching the age of fifty, being a husband for more than a decade and a father to eleven-year-old and seven-year-old sons, Wolfgang and Soren, would have softened some of Lars Frederiksen’s trademark rougher edges, you clearly don’t know Lars Frederiksen. “Since I’ve become a father,” he points out, “I’ve gotten a lot more pissed off. There’s a lot more responsibility and there’s a lot more being accountable and taking responsibility for my actions or seeing the world as it is.” Still, fatherhood has allowed Frederiksen some rather important insight into his own history and behavior. “When I was eleven years old,” he explains, “I went to juvie for possession of PCP, breaking and entering and mayhem, because the guy who I broke into the house with, I took his eyeball out of his skull (when I hit him) with a piece of racing track because he was giving me a bad trip. That’s what I got busted for. And to juxtapose that, my eleven year old loves Magic: The Gathering, right? Plays soccer. Can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under ten seconds. Does Rubik’s Cube tournaments, okay? He reads himself to sleep every night.”
The fact that Frederiksen reports that both of his boys are musical may not necessarily be much of a surprise to most readers. What may be a surprise, however, is the role that his youngest son had in shaping some of the album’s sound. “My seven year old is a drummer,” he explains with a palpable level of pride oozing from his voice. “(Soren) thinks punk is cool, but (he) wants to listen to Slayer and Lamb Of God and Testament and Kreator and Manowar. KISS is too puss for (him) right now. So, when I have a new riff, most of the time, he’ll go down and jam them with me. He’s a really good drummer, he can keep a beat. That’s how “Thunderbolt” came about. We were sitting down there, and he’s like “Dad, you gotta play some hardcore. I’ve got this beat and I want to play it but it’s got to be to hardcore!” So I went downstairs and we started playing around and that’s when I came up with that riff. So there’s really a few songs on that record that he sort of helped come into fruition!” But the familial input didn’t stop there. Far from it, in fact.
To have been aware of Lars Frederiksen in any number of his projects, from Rancid to Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards to Oxley’s Midnight Runners to Stomper 98 to The Old Firm Casuals to others that I’m probably forgetting to mention now is to have been aware of how outwardly proud he is of his Danish heritage; Lars’ mom moved to the States from Denmark with little in the way of money, contacts, or knowledge of the English language and eventually brought Frederiksen and his older brother back to her homeland for a time after divorcing the boys’ father. While Holger Danske owes a great deal of its inspiration and imagery to the Frederiksen family’s *ahem* “motherland,” that wasn’t initially the case. “The whole thing about this record is that, and I hate to use this word, but it’s a little be auspicious in a sense,” he explains. You see, during the writing process, the band had initially planned on calling the album Zombies, a title derived from the song of the same name that closes Holger Danske but that was really a hold-over from the sessions that went into A Butcher’s Banquet a few years back. The album’s artwork, while not completed, would have essentially consisted of zombie-fied, cartoon-like depictions of the band’s four members. As the writing process continued, however, a change of direction began to take shape, simultaneously inspired by Frederiksen’s connection to his mother’s native Denmark, and his own growing anger at the current sociopolitical climate at home.
“My mom was raised in Nazi-occupied Denmark in World War II, and she saw a lot of things that no kid between the ages of four and eight should ever see,” says Frederiksen. “Growing up in that environment as a kid, she comes from a Socialist country that’s very accepting and very tolerant, whether it be sex, race, religion, whatever it is. From her own experiences in dealing with fascism, she’s obviously got a very strong hatred toward that kind of thinking. I think that was installed in me and my brother.” Enter: Holger Danske, the legendary Danish folk hero who fought as one of the Knights Of Charlemagne. According to legend, Holger Danske is still alive centuries later, albeit in a deep sleep in an off-limits corner of a castle basement in Denmark. As Frederiksen describes it, “the story is that every Christmas an angel comes and whispers in his ear, and either he can stay asleep or he has to rise up and defend Denmark against his enemies.“
It was during a visit from his Danish cousin to the States last year that Frederiksen began to take notice of the Holger Danske iconography that was depicted on the front of the Danish Men’s National Team’s jerseys during the World Cup. From there, the wheels started in motion, but in a stroke of serendipity, the decision to change the album’s name and direction came from a perhaps unlikely source. “What really sealed the fucking deal on that,” he explains, “is that me and my mom were talking, and she’s like “oh, you’re making a new record!…what are you going to call it?” And I said, “actually, I was thinking about calling it Holger Danske.” And she goes “Oh, that’s a great idea!! Did you know that your uncle Viggo, in World War II was part of the Danish resistance against the Nazis, and his unit was called ‘Holger Danske’?” And I was like “no, I was never told that, mother, because you don’t want to talk about the war and what happened and how you saw body parts and your family getting killed for their farm and shit like that.” So, I was like “this is it!”
As you might imagine, Frederiksen took a look at the current sociopolitical climate in the world – not just in the States – and thought that now might be as good a time as any for Holger Danske to awaken and get shit back on track. “Holger Danske was kind of a metaphor in a way where I’m talking about fighting fascism…That’s what this record is kind of about; it’s about fighting fascism from both the left and the right.” One need not look very far for examples of the types of fascism Frederiksen is referring to. Racism. Sexism. Homophobia. Lack of clearly defined boundaries between church and state. Political correctness. All of the above and on both sides of the political spectrum draw the ire of Frederiksen and crew on Holger Danske. “I don’t care who the current administration is — well, I DO — but you’re going to get fucking shots fired at you either way. You’re going to take more shots than Karl Malone, to borrow a phrase from my buddies over in The Transplants. To me, politics is bullshit…Once you start telling people how they can act, what they can say, what they can not say, how they can dress, how they can not dress, what they can call themselves or what they can’t call themselves, that’s fascism…And that’s one of the things with Holger Danske. Now’s the time for this motherfucker to rise up and defend us again. Obviously I’m from a long line of fighting fascism, so I have to continue the family tradition!”
Assuming you haven’t done so, give Holger Danske a listen right here. You’ve still got time to pre-order before the March 15th street date here through Pirates Press as well. But most importantly today, you can check out our exclusive chat with the inimitable Frederiksen. We covered an awful lot of ground; being working class poor, the origin of “casual rock and roll,” Metallica’s Kirk Hammett’s opinion of The Old Firm Casuals’ new lead guitar player (Gabe Gavriloff), parenthood, the Kardashians, gerrymandering, the separation of church and state, and watermelon farmers in Alabama are but a few of the many topics touched on. Check out the full exchange below!
Editor’s note: The following has been condensed – yes, really – for the sake of content and clarity.
Dying Scene (Jay Stone): I was talking briefly to a local friend and longtime punk scene veteran (shoutout to Mark Lind), and I’m paraphrasing but he said something like he’s been around a long time, and (Holger Danske) is like a whole new frontier of Oi! for him. There are a lot of different influences on this album, so I wonder if we could start by talking about some of that; if that’s a conscious decision to stray away from more straight-forward street punk music and bring in some broader influences, or did it just kinda happen?
Lars Frederiksen: Well, it’s kinda like a snapshot to my record collection, really. At the end of the day, yeah we’re a punk band, yeah we’re a street punk band, yeah we’re an Oi! band, but basically what we are and always have been – and I think any punk rock band is, and I’ve said this for as long as somebody wanted to talk to me – it’s all just rock and roll, you know what I mean? When I was a kid, the first band I ever heard was KISS, in like 1975. Then when my mom and dad split up and we went to Denmark, I got introduced to like Mabel and The Walkers and Slade from my older cousin. And The Sweet and David Bowie and T. Rex, shit like that. I think that any of that kinda of bopper, glammy rock and roll kind of stuff, that backbeat and that rhythm drove me anyway. Then later on discovering Cheap Trick and The Ramones and AC/DC — when I discovered The Ramones, it was game on from there.
What I’m going to say that we are now is a “casual rock and roll band.” (*both laugh*) That’s the sound! Fuck yeah, I’m coining a phrase right now, but that’s kind of what I feel like we are. Everybody in this band has been in other bands. Casey and Paul were in hardcore bands – Never Healed, Look Back And Laugh, Yaphet Kotto. Casey plays bass with the Cro-Mags. They come from this whole hardcore background. Gabe’s been around the scene and played in bands over the last thirty years. One of his bands was on Black Flag’s label — Greg Ginn’s label — SST.
Oh man. I know of him through Sydney Ducks, but I didn’t realize he was around that far back.
Yeah, he’s been around doing that shit too. (The Old Firm Casuals) were a three-piece forever. When we would write songs, I was writing them as a three-piece, then you have to fill in a lot of the gaps. You approach writing songs in a completely different way (than we do now)… The worst thing that you can do is get in the way of writing your own songs. You don’t want to write it for anybody in particular or to write with any sort of limitations. The way that the songwriting was going (for This Means War), we needed to fill in that other element. We needed another guitar player.
We played a few shows with the Sydney Ducks, and I knew that if there was anybody that was going to join this band as a second guitar player — Paul and Casey both wanted to get somebody about a year-and-a-half before because they thought the sound could be fuller, and I was like “well, it’s really easy to travel this way. It’s really easy to do this thing. We all know each other.” And I think a part of us needed to have those years of just being the three of us and the way that we locked in and started getting to know each other. They were coming at this style of music and the songs that I was writing and that Paul was writing and Casey was contributing from a completely different perspective. They were coming at it from a hardcore perspective, but they also understood those other elements. They understood who Slade was, who The Last Resort was, who AC/DC is. So I knew that once This Means War happened, there was no way we could go out and do those songs justice without having another guitar player.
Before that record even came out, we had a tour planned for Europe, and I was like “okay, it’s time to get another guitar player. There’s only one guy that I can think of, and that’s Gabe from the Sydney Ducks.” Casey and Gabe had known each other here and there, and obviously everybody knew that he had been around for a long time, so he just kinda molded right in. He’s an amazingly gifted guitar player; he’s mind-boggling and he can do a lot of things that I can’t do…that most people can’t do. And I remember talking to Kirk Hammett about it, and he’s like “Gabe is one of those types of guitar players that’s got a very unique and very cool style.” And I thought to myself “if Kirk fucking Hammett thinks that you’ve got a unique and cool style…” And I didn’t know that Gabe knew Kirk and how close they were. When we were on tour in South America, because Rancid had done some stuff with Metallica down there, Kirk brought it up and said “I heard Gabe’s playing with you in Old Firm!” And I said “yeah, wait, you know Gabe?” I wouldn’t even have fucking known. Gabe’s so humble and does his own thing. So when Kirk Hammett is saying that shit about your guitar player, fuckin’ A, he’s absolutely the right guy.
How would they know each other, just from being around the Bay Area?
Yeah, San Francisco! That’s the thing with the Bay Area scene. We had the whole thrash metal thing happen. We had a lot of the most influential punk bands come out of here. The Bay Area has always been a hotbed for the punk scene in general, whether it’s the South, North, East Bay or West Bay. San Francisco had its bands. Berkeley had its bands. Oakland had its bands. San Jose and Campbell had their bands. You got all of these different little pockets in the Bay Area, almost like their own little countries in a way. And then you’ve got the thrash metal thing, who got their thing from punk rock. All you have to do is look an an early-80s Metallica poster where they’re head-to-toe in GBH and The Exploited and Misfits stuff to know where they got their shit from. Also, a lot of those bands in the mid-80s started to cross over, so you had bands like D.R.I. and Excel and even Suicidal Tendencies. You could see Exodus playing with Broken Bones or whatever it was. We all played the same clubs or went to see shows at Ruthie’s Inn, where you could see Exodus and Testament and Slayer or whatever. I remember seeing Metallica in the early 80’s at a club down in San Jose. You would just run into these things, so the scenes became closely connected.
Now, if you had too many punks and skinheads in the same place with too many metalheads, of course you had a brawl. But it was also a different time. Down where I was from, in Campbell and San Jose, we hung out with longhairs – we called them “dirtheads” at the time, because they were the ones that smoked cigarettes and we’d call a cigarette “a dirt,” so they were the “dirtheads.” (*both laugh*) Anyway, you always kinda crossed paths, you just made sure you didn’t really hang out too long together. But now it’s like a whole different thing. I loved some of the thrash metal bands as much as I loved GBH and Motorhead, you know what I mean?
So to answer your original question, we’re like a Bay Area rock-and-roll band, in essence. You can call us a street punk band or an Oi! band or a punk rock band, but we’re a casual rock and roll band. What we are is influenced by so many different things. If people want to call it Oi! that’s fine. If you go back through Oi! music, the original shit from England, The Business didn’t sound like The Last Resort who never sounded like Sham who never sounded like Cockney Rejects who never sounded like Infa Riot who never sounded like Blitz…the list can go on and on. They all had different elements, you know what I mean? And they even would even do covers. “Get Out Of My House,” The Business song, wasn’t actually their song, but it turned into a big song for them. I don’t know how many bands I heard do “Cum On Feel The Noize” before Quiet Riot, but Quiet Riot definitely wasn’t the first one, you know what I mean? Then look at bands like Rose Tattoo and AC/DC, and you can’t get more street rock and roll than those bands. They invented it fucking for Christ’s sake.
Do you think it’s easier to get away with putting out an album now that has all those different influences than it was back in the day, because yeah people might call a band an “Oi! band” or a “street punk” band but I feel like we’re in a place where nobody really cares what the labels are anymore. So is it easier to put out an album that touches AC/DC and early Metallica and thrash and Viking shit now?
See, that’s the thing. Honestly, I didn’t know if it would be easier or harder, I just didn’t give a fuck. I really, honestly could give a fuck if you like it or not. I don’t care. For me, it’s the same way I approach any band I’m in. I’m going to make music that feels right with the people I’m making it with, you know what I’m saying? It never crossed my mind if it was going to make an easier record to make, I was just like “fuck it, let’s do it.” These songs, like “Casual Rock And Roll” and “Zombies” and “Motherland” and fucking “Nation On Fire,” most of the songs on the record, we went in there and just did them. We didn’t really think about how they were going to be accepted.
We were touching on that shit on “A Butcher’s Banquet.” I wrote that song for the Anti-Nowhere League a long time ago. We used to play that song at soundcheck for Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards, and I knew that I couldn’t sing over that riff. I always had it in my back pocket, and one day I was talking to Nick from the Anti-Nowhere League. By then, I had written some of the lyrics for it, and I thought some of the lyrical content was very much up the Anti-Nowhere League’s alley, and so I called Nick up and I played him the song acoustically over the phone, and I said “if you want to do this song, it’s yours. Here you go.” And he’s like “I fucking love it! We’re gonna do it! Can you sent me a voice memo of it?” They were doing a new record, I think it was Road To Rampton, at the time, and so I did that. And then Road To Rampton comes out and that song’s not on it, so I said “you know what? Fuck it. I’m gonna do it!” Because now I’ve got Casey Watson, who’s got a gnarly motherfucking hardcore voice, he just spits the lyric, and that song was written for him if anybody. He did that song so much justice. I never could have done a job like him, he’s such a unique vocalist and he’s got such a different style, and also sharing lead vocal duties with me, I love the way our two voices work together. So we had that element back then.
And even doing a song like “Noddy Holder,” where we had more of that ‘70s boot boy kind of shit. Then you listen to “Wartime Rock N Roll” or “Hell’s A Lot Better” and those are straight-up, good, solid, melancholic rock and roll for lack of a better term. The category of it all is always going to be punk. It’s always going to be Oi!. It’s me! (*both laugh*) This is what I’ve been doing for over three-quarters of my life. I became a skinhead when I was fucking ten years old for the first time. My brother was one of the first skinheads in the Bay Area. This is my culture. This is my shit. I’m always going to have that. But I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, and if it feels good in a musical sense, I’m going to do it. I’m not going to overthink it, we’re just going to go in there and play, you know?
You mention not really giving a fuck who likes it necessarily aside from the people that you’re making it with, but there’s been a lot of really good press (for Holger Danske) already. I know the physical album doesn’t come out for a couple weeks but people have heard either advance copies or the digital stream; there’s a lot of really good feedback out there from people that I know in the scene and whose opinion I respect. Does that feel good or validating, or does that not really even factor into it for you?
Well, it’s nice always to have accolades. I’m just thankful that there wasn’t a Facebook or an Instagram around …And Out Come The Wolves you know? (*both laugh*) I can’t imagine the shit talk! I cannot fucking imagine! (*both laugh*) To me, there’s always going to be people on the downside of things that don’t like what you do just simply because of who you are, or because they can’t do what you do. And that’s the thing. In my experience, I’m 47-years-old now, and I got into this shit when I was 10. That’s thirty-seven years of my life that I’ve been listening to this music, participating in this music, going to shows, doing whatever I’ve been doing. And this community has changed so much, because now you have the Internet and people can have an opinion that shouldn’t have one! (*both laugh*) They shouldn’t, I’m sorry!
So I don’t really care, though. None of that stuff really bothers me either way. Accolades are nice, and I appreciate it, yes. I’m glad something is resonating about something that we’re doing. Of course that makes me happy and it’s gratifying to a certain degree. But for me, I’ve been in situations in my past – in my twenties – where you would get negative feedback or positive feedback and I wasn’t maybe mature enough to handle that, you know? Now I’m a father. I’ve experienced a shit-ton in my life. I’ve accomplished a lot of the things I’ve always wanted to do. For me, today, I’m a dad. That’s my most important gig. So for me, being validated or having any kind of accolades or negative feedback on my parenting is way more important to me than someone taking inventory on my music. Does that make sense?
Oh for sure it does.
Sure I’m happy. Of course. But at the same time, it’s not the biggest thing in my life. Does that make sense? I’m not trying to sound ungrateful or dismissive, I’m really not. I’m just saying that what’s more valuable to me is the relationship I have with my kids.
Yeah, in the grand scheme of things! And no, you don’t come across as though you’re ungrateful, just that that’s not why you do what you do. Like it’s a cool side effect of putting out cool music, but that’s not the point of the whole thing.
Yeah. I mean, I got into juvenile hall for the first time when I was eleven years old, for a violent crime and possession of illegal substances and breaking and entering. For me, music was this way to get out of the project housing. I was working poor before there was a fucking term for it. I’m always going to be working class, I don’t care how far I climb up the socioeconomic ladder. And contrary to popular belief, I’m not a fucking millionaire. (*both laugh*) There was a divorce and there’s kids. I love how there’s fucking internet accountants out there… But my point is, I’m always going to be that guy that grew up in that situation and that environment. I’m always going to have those experiences with me until the day that I die, and I’ll take them with me, obviously, because that’s part of who I am. But at the same time, a lot of the survival mechanisms I used to use don’t benefit me now, right? (*both laugh*) A lot of this record is also about facing your own immortality, so to speak. There’s so much involved in the record for me emotionally, you know? Every song is kind of like…I don’t know how to explain it without sounding like a fucking complete asshole, so I’ll just stop! (*both laugh*)
Well it sounds like it could be a personal album, but it’s not necessarily explicitly personal. You’re not necessarily writing songs specifically about your wife or your kids or divorce or whatever. But it’s an album that is obviously pretty personal to you. I like the Denmark theme that’s been woven in through the album. It’s been a thing you’ve worn on your sleeve for a long time, but maybe it hasn’t been overtly there as cohesively, from the album artwork on down to like half of the songs, really. So that seems personal, but in a different sort of way.
You know, my mom was raised in Nazi occupied Denmark in World War II, and she saw a lot of things that no kid between the ages of four and eight should ever see. A lot of that stuff she always kept from me and my brother, God rest his soul. The whole thing about this record is that, and I hate to use this word, but it’s a little be auspicious in a sense. I don’t like that word, generally (*both laugh*), but it’s the only word that can sum up what I’m trying to fucking say. I’m sure you probably figured out who Holger Danske is and the statue of him in Helsignor Castle.
I did, it’s fascinating!
Yeah, the story is that he’s in the basement, and every Christmas an angel comes and whispers in his ear and either he can stay asleep or he has to rise up and defend Denmark against his enemies. That kind of triggered something for me. My mom’s straight off the boat from Denmark, right? So, growing up in that environment as a kid, she comes from a Socialist country that’s very accepting and very tolerant, whether it be sex, race, religion, whatever it is. And obviously, from her own experiences in dealing with fascism, she’s obviously got a very strong hatred toward that kind of thinking. I think that was installed in me and my brother. So I think I never really saw race until I got older. I never saw religion until I got older. So a lot of these things that people hold on to, whether it be race or religion or sexuality or all these things, I never really saw any difference until I was a teenager. I grew up with blacks and Mexicans and Vietnamese who came over when Jimmy Carter opened up the borders for them. These were all my friends…Fu Chow and Toine and Anthony Gonzalez…these were my homies. I didn’t think they were different, right? That was part of my upbringing.
Where I will correct you is that there are some songs on here for my kids and about my kids in some essence. Since I’ve become a father, I’ve gotten a lot more pissed off. There’s a lot more responsibility and there’s a lot more being accountable and taking responsibility for my actions or seeing the world as it is. This whole Holger Danske thing started to come in to play for me when my cousin was over here from Denmark. My oldest, who’s now eleven, he loves soccer, right? And on the Danish national jersey for the World Cup team, they have Holger Danske on the front. And I was like “fuck, that’s actually really cool. That story is pretty rad.” So I started getting ideas spun from that.
We were making the record, and we were going to initially call the record Zombies, after the last song on the record, because that was one of the first songs we had written. We had written that back around A Butcher’s Banquet, but we negated putting that on that record for some reason, because it just didn’t feel right. And then we negated putting it on War Time, because we put “War Time Rock N Roll” on instead of “Zombies.” But that was going to be the theme of this one. We were going to call it Zombies, and we were going to do this whole cover for it, and we were getting all these ideas and so on and so forth. And then, as we started making the record, it was starting to take a different shape, and it was like “why are we going to put cartoon versions of ourselves on a record cover when this is taking a more serious tone,” you know what I mean? And then the Holger Danske thing started coming into play, and what really sealed the fucking deal on that is that me and my mom were talking, and she’s like “oh, you’re making a new record!” And I was like “yeah” and she said “What band?” And I said “The Old Firm Casuals” and she said “is that the one with Casey and Paul?” “Yes, mom, that’s the one with Casey and Paul.”
That’s fucking awesome.
And then she said “what are you going to call it?” And I said, “actually, I was thinking about calling it Holger Danske.” And she goes “Oh, that’s a great idea!! Did you know that your uncle Viggo, in World War II, was part of the Danish resistance against the Nazis, and his unit was called ‘Holger Danske’?”
And I was like “no, I was never told that, mother, because you don’t want to talk about the war and what happened and how you saw body parts and your family getting killed for their farm and shit like that, right?” So, I was like “this is it!.” Holger Danske was kind of a metaphor in a way where I’m talking about fighting fascism. So that’s why in a way I say it’s auspicious in that sense, because it all started coming together, and I was like “oh, this is the focus, this is what it’s going to be.” Getting that story about my uncle Viggo, I thought it was perfect, because (Lars’s oldest son) Wolfgang, when we were talking about naming him, one of the runners for it was Viggo after my uncle Viggo. And then my wife really likes Viggo Mortensen…who doesn’t, right? Who’s wife doesn’t like Viggo Mortensen, right? (*both laugh*) So it just kinda started happening. That’s what this record is kind of about; it’s about fighting fascism from both the left and the right.
Once you start telling people how they can act, what they can say, what they can not say, how they can dress, how they can not dress, what they can call themselves or what they can’t call themselves, that’s fascism. For me, racism is not a political thing, it’s the difference between right and wrong, you know what I mean? Judging somebody on who they want to fuck is not a political topic, it’s the difference between right and wrong. Whatever fucking God you want to pray to is not a political issue like our country makes it. Our country makes it very political. There’s no separation between church and state.
But then again, when you think about this country and the way it was founded, it was founded by religious zealots who were kicked out of England. That’s the real story, let’s be fucking honest. They were too religious even for the English, so the English said “here’s a boat, get the fuck out of here!” (*both laugh*) And then to perpetuate a fucking lie about the discovery of America; the Vikings were here hundreds of years before your Catholic guy was. And you’re bunch of fucking pedophiles anyway who can’t get your shit together. In all these religions for so many years, child fucking was acceptable. I never was a subscriber to religion anyway. For me, my pagan roots and the stuff that I was brought up with was more or less about acceptance. It wasn’t about “you’re not good enough” or “you’re not right enough.”
So when you see the culture that we have now, where you celebrate a fucking Kardashian as opposed to a scientist? Like, what did you do…you fucked on film so you got a fucking clothing line? Is that all you’ve really got to do? And then you’ve got these stupid fucking shows like American Idol…I don’t even know if that’s still a TV show, or all these fucking bullshit shows that are brainwashing society into thinking you can do something stupid and pointless and become completely famous for it and get paid for it. Like, my kids watch other kids on YouTube play Fortnite. What the fuck?!? (*both laugh*) What the fuck is that?!? But that’s part of the deal. They get two hours a week to watch screens – I’m not THAT as liberal as a father. But the thing is, this whole culture and the whole way is going…I used to think George Bush and Ronald Reagan were fucking the devil. My perspective is blown out of the water. My mind just went (*mimics explosion sound*) since we got Donald Trump. And I’m not saying that I back any political party, because I don’t. I’m actually, if anything, down the middle on a lot of things. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, but I also believe in the death penalty in a fair and just criminal system, but our criminal justice system is fucking broken, you know? If you fuck a little kid, you should die! Sorry!
Well, right. And part of the problem is that a lot of those issues that aren’t political issues, like you said, we’ve made them political issues.
Correct. That’s the root of it. Like… I want motherfuckers to talk about how racist they are. I want motherfuckers to talk about grabbing pussies and shit so I know who the fuck my enemy is! Here’s the other thing that I need to point out. I believe in freedom of speech. I believe that you can say whatever the fuck you want to say… BUT…that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get punched in the face for it! That’s fair. You want to spout some racist shit, be expecting me to punch you in the face. I want motherfuckers to say that shit, because I want to know who my enemy is. Why would I say “oh that’s hate speech, you can’t say that.” What the fuck does that mean? That is some teacup, college bullshit. That is some helicopter parent gone wild, you know what I mean? A bunch of fragile teacups. How in this world, when we have South Park and The Simpsons and fucking Family Guy did we get so many sensitive little bitches in this world? I don’t get it. I just don’t fucking get it. So this record is fueled by a lot of things. I’m as left-wing as they fucking come. I’ve been outspoken about that shit for YEARS. If you don’t know that about me by now, then I don’t even need to engage in the conversation. But once you start telling people how to live their fucking lives, that’s fascism! Look at Webster’s Dictionary. Look at the definition. Look what fascism means. You’ll find out what I’m talking about. It’s not that hard. And that’s one of the things with Holger Danske. Now’s the time for this motherfucker to rise up and defend us again. Obviously I’m from a long line of fighting fascism, so I have to continue the family tradition! (*laughs*)
I’ve obviously known a lot of what your politics are for a long time and that’s part of the reason that I’ve been a fan of your music for a long time. But with the current climate, did you feel any sense of obligation to write songs like those that are on the Holger Danske record? Did you feel like this is a thing that you can’t sit out, especially if you’ve been talking about political shit in one way or another for twenty-five years.
You know, I never make a conscious decision. I was writing anti-government songs whether it was Obama or Clinton or whatever. I’m always going to be conscious of my personal politics. Like you said, part of the reason why you might have enjoyed my music in the past is that the bands I’ve been in have talked about these issues. I don’t care who the current administration is — well, I DO — but you’re going to get fucking shots fired at you either way. You’re going to take more shots than Karl Malone, to borrow a phrase from my buddies over in The Transplants. To me, politics is bullshit. What I see, honestly, (with) what’s happening in the world right now, is a battle between the elite. It has nothing to do with working-class people. It has nothing to do with middle-class people. It doesn’t have to do with race or religion. It has everything to do with who’s going to have the most money. Look who’s fighting: rich-ass Nancy Pelosi against rich-ass Donald Trump against rich-ass Gavin Newsom…look at all these people. Where did they come from? Do the investigation! They’re all rich kids! They’re all fucking from old-ass money! Don’t tell me that this is not a great big battle between the elite and where they fit in with each other. And it’s happening on the world stage, you know what I mean? So you look at who’s not part of the World Bank Organization: North Korea and Iran?!? Hmmm. Who are we always at odds with? And how can you believe in a political system that still has the Electoral College, that was based on fucking slaves? (*both laugh*) You get what I mean? And gerrymandering! There’s nothing fair in it. And I’m not saying don’t go out and vote your peace, because I vote. You can change it, but you have to get out there and force it. You can’t just be a hipster on a ten-speed and Mickey Mouse it, you irresponsible fuckface, you know?
Listen, I live just north of Boston, Massachusetts, which is quite literally the birthplace of gerrymandering, so I know that one pretty well!
That came from the schools right?
Well, it actually came before…and we pronounce it wrong, it should really be pronounced GARYmandering because it was named after the governor who’s last name was spelled “gerry” but pronounced “Gary.” But yeah, it was about power, and it came from literally right here – so we’re kind of the birthplace of American democracy and the birthplace of fucking with American democracy from day one!
Oh wow, yeah, it is hundreds of years old, and I didn’t know it originated in Massachusetts. I need to go back and hit the books! I think with this political climate, and what’s been happening in this world, you see so many more right-wing leaders and political parties taking power…look at Brazil. This guy hates gay people, but he got elected on a platform of basically stopping crime. For some reason, stopping crime is a right-wing fucking talking point. I don’t understand that one. Immigration is a left-wing talking point, unless it’s negative, then it’s a right-wing talking point. What do you think this country was fucking built on you fucking morons.
Remember your governor in Alabama a couple years ago who said that no illegal immigrants could work in the watermelon crops or whatever. Basically, what happened is the watermelon crops died up because something like 80% of the workforce didn’t show up the next week, or something like that. Because white people are too lazy! (*both laugh*) That’s what it boiled down to. White people are too above those jobs. Like, that’s what some writer was saying, that we’re so fucking lazy that even if we wanted to get rid of all of the immigrants, we’re too fucking lazy to do the actual job! That was the whole irony about it. They fucked themselves!
So yeah, the political climate is always going to have something to do with the lyrical content, because I try to stay – and I say that with this caveat, that I don’t believe half of what I hear or read anyway, and sometimes I’ll believe what I see, you know what I mean? I’m not trying to get all French philosophical and question everything, you know — but I feel like I need to stay in touch, so I read a lot. You get influenced by that. You get influenced by books, you get influenced by stories that you read in the newspaper or where ever you get your information. Look at how easy it was for Russia to steal an election. They fucked shit up on Facebook. That’s where people get their information! I don’t know how many times — like, this is the first time in a while that I’ve done a lot of interviews, right? And I swear to God, I’ve done maybe 15 or 20 interviews this time out, and I think in about 80 percent of the interviews, somebody will quote something from Facebook. They’ll say “oh, I read on Facebook that blah-blah-blah…” and I’ll say “why the fuck are you looking at Facebook? What about that are you saying to me is legitimate?” Once you quote some fucking Facebook shit, you’ve lost me, because anybody can say whatever they want and have an equal opinion. It’s like Wikipedia. I think my name was Lars Everett Dapello on there for years? I’m like “Everett? Who names their kid Everett?”
An old Massachusetts family, that’s who! (*both laugh*)
I’m not an Everett, I’m an Eric. I’m a Lars Eric Frederiksen. But anyway, yes, I am influenced by political things, for sure.
You mentioned that your oldest is eleven. My daughter is eleven too, and you mentioned as sort of an aside earlier that the first time you entered juvenile hall is when you were eleven years old. It’s kind of a mindfuck to look at your kid now and transpose the behavior that we had as kids on to them now…they watch YouTube videos of people unpacking toys or whatever,
But do you ever just stop and think about that?
I was literally just texting with Mike Muir (Suicidal Tendencies) today because we’re going out and doing that tour with Rancid coming up, right? And we were talking about our kids, because he’s got three boys, and I literally sent a text today that said, like…when I was eleven years old, I went to juvie for possession of PCP, breaking and entering and mayhem, because the guy who I broke into the house with, I took his eyeball out of his skull (when I hit him) with a piece of racing track because he was giving me a bad trip? That’s what I got busted for. And to juxtapose that…if I’m using that word correctly so that I can look smarter than I am…is my eleven year old, who loves Magic: The Gathering, right? Plays soccer. Can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under ten seconds. Does Rubik’s Cube tournaments, okay? He reads himself to sleep every night. He’s one of the best kids; I mean, both of my kids are very musical too. My wife plays an instrument called a harmonium. It’s an Indian instrument, it’s like a piano mixed with an accordion. So I’m walking through the house one day, and I’m hearing (starts humming a chord progression) and I’m like “that sounds really familiar, what the fuck is that? Wolfgang, can you play that again?” So he does, and I’m like, “oh, right, that’s the lead to “Holger Danske,” the song.” And I’m like, “Oh, whoa, how did you learn that?” And he goes “I don’t know, I just figured it out.” He figured it out on a completely different instrument.
And my seven year old is a drummer. They’re in a band at school, but they’re metalheads. They think punk is cool, but they want to listen to Slayer and Lamb Of God and Testament and Kreator and Manowar. KISS is too puss for them right now. The hard shit is their jam. It’s really cool. And my seven-year-old, so, when I have a new riff, most of the time, he’ll come home and I’ll say “hey I have a few new riffs!” and he’ll go down and jam them with me. He’s a really good drummer, he can keep a beat. That’s how “Thunderbolt,” that song on the record, came about. We were sitting down there, and he’s like “Dad, you gotta play some hardcore. I’ve got this beat and I want to play it but it’s got to be to hardcore!” Their first show they ever saw was Madball in London at The Underground. Soren was about five, so Wolfgang would have been nine at the time. Wolfgang had been to other shows, but that was Soren’s first show. And I remember the impression that it made on him, because we got back home at night. Rancid were on tour with Green Day at the time and we had like a week off so my wife came out with the kids, and he’s on the bed circle pitting and going “hardcore! Hardcore!” Obviously it made an impression on him.
So I went downstairs and we started playing around and that’s when I came up with that riff. So there’s really a few songs on that record that he sort of helped come into fruition. That’s become the thing. So now, he’ll say “let’s do a few made-up songs, let’s play “Breaking The Law,” then we’ll play some other songs. So yeah, the juxtaposition from their life to mine is COMPLETELY different. For me, I was in gangs and growing up in project housing. These kids get to be in bands in school, and have their dad around. IT’s definitely a different upbringing for them, and I’m stoked that I can be here and give them something like that, you know what I mean? They’ll make their mistakes, as most kids do, but hopefully you can be there when they fall and sort of brush them off and encourage them to get back on the horse, you know?
Do they get shit for listening to metal and hardcore in elementary and middle school now? Where I am, my daughter’s in fifth grade which is middle school, and there is NOBODY listening to punk or hardcore or metal at that age in my little corner of the suburbs. I could imagine kids still getting shit on for that nowadays, just like they used to.
The good thing about the school that they both go to is that it’s very liberal. It’s a Quaker school, so it’s very open. And the music teacher is like a rock and roll fan. He encourages it. They played “Enter Sandman” last year. And he’s got his good buddies that listen to Metallica and whatever. He started picking up on that music when he played hockey, and there was an older kid named Alex who’s dad was into more aggressive music, and he was the one parent that I sort of gravitated to, because he was wearing an Oakland Raiders hat and an Iron Maiden t-shirt, and I was like “ah, I’ve got something in common with this guy.” So, we became really good buddies, and it turns out he’s a fire department captain here in town, and his kid, they’d take him to a lot of shows. The hardest thing that he was listening to at the time before (Wolfgang) met his buddy in hockey was Motorhead, which isn’t bad at all. That graduated to Lamb Of God, more Metallica shit, Slayer. Wolfgang went and saw Slayer when he was like nine. So they were kind of on par with me in going to the shows, because I went to my first show when I was like ten. I saw DOA and Black Flag, which, albeit, is totally different that a big arena show. It’s definitely a different trip.
You’ve got the big record release show at Thee Parkside in San Francisco in a couple weeks, but after that, are there any plans to bring Old Firm out through the States?
Yeah, I mean, today has actually been one of those days where we’re sort of trying to plan out and get things going. For us, we’ve been sort of of a “sometimes slowly” kind of band…
Casual rock and roll, right?
Right. But I’m grateful for that in some sense. Like when Paul broke his arm, we were down for about a year-and-a-half, where we couldn’t really do anything. We’re not the kind of band to just grab a guy just so we can do something. The people in the band are more important than the band. So, we’re putting feelers out now and trying to figure things out. Casey does shows with the CroMags, I obviously am busy playing in a few other bands. Paul’s got a job and Gabe’s got a job, so organizing everybody’s schedules so we can get out and make the time to do it has been the hard part. But we’re finding the time to get out there. Hopefully we’re going to be out there within the next six months. We’re going to try to do a little east coast run. New York, Boston, Philly maybe. That general area. I don’t think we’ve been out there since maybe 2011. It’s been Europe, the UK and the west coast are all we’ve really been able to do when we’ve been able to do something longer. You want to go do it in a place that you maybe don’t get to so often, but now those places that we don’t get to often are in America! So now, realizing that, it’s like “oh, shit, maybe we’ve gotta do some more stuff here.”
Is that just a market thing? Is it easier for a band with a sound like yours to tour in the UK or in Europe than it is here.
For the style of music that we were playing over the years, the first place we went to was the UK. You could book a lot of places and the travel wasn’t so gnarly. That was the first place that we went to. And then just this last time we went over there, the shows were either sold out or like ten tickets away from selling out, like on a Tuesday night. So you can obviously see the growth just there. So we’ve been to the UK probably more than anywhere else. But rock music in general, unless you’re somebody who’s been established for some time, it’s sorta harder to get gigs here. That’s what we came across in a lot of ways. To get in the van and tour for a month-and-a-half, no one is really able to do that, so we have to just do what we can do. But I can say as of this point, I can’t say the band is getting more serious, but we are just trying to do more. We realize that it’s super fun to do it together, and I’ve got no other way to explain it than that.
One of the things that I’ve always respected about your career specifically is that obviously you’re “Lars from Rancid,” and it would be really easy for some people to rest on those laurels and to employ the Rancid machine for whatever other project, but you haven’t done that, and I’ve always admired that about your approach, either for Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards or Oxleys or this or whatever. Not to blow smoke up your ass because I don’t think you care (*both laugh*)…
Right now, I’m in a place where I care, so keep going!
I’ve just always really admired and respected that part of what you’re doing, and that you don’t necessarily go out and ride the Rancid coattails, but you’re out there doing it and working your ass off as its own thing.
Well thanks, and I appreciate that. It’s nice to be noticed for that. For me, everything I’ve ever gotten in my life, I’ve worked really hard for, you know? I’ve sacrificed a bunch, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Maybe it’s a page out of my mom’s book, but I never took a handout from anybody. Maybe when I got divorced, I had to borrow some money then, because I was left with $3.98 left to my name. And that was the thing. For me, I’m in this mind frame of, if it’s gonna be good, you’ve gotta work for it. That’s the one thing I hope I instill in my kids. If you work for something, there’s more gratification from doing things without leaning on anyone else at the end of the day than there is if you take the handouts, you know? There’s other bands and there’s other people that lean on their own stuff, and that’s cool, it’s all good. I’m not a hater at all. But for me personally, I always wanted to do something from the ground up. I feel like you get more gratification from it at the end of the day.
And Paul and Casey and Gabe are not (Frederiksen’s Rancid bandmates) Tim, Matt and Branden, you know? You can write a really great song, right? But it’s the players that are behind you that make that song great. It’s straight-up the chemistry that you have within the people that you’re playing music with that makes the song great. If I took “Roots Radicals” and brought it to The Old Firm Casuals, it’d be a totally different song and a totally different feel. It took a long time before I started seeing people wearing Rancid shirts at Old Firm Casuals shows. It was kinda strange in that sense, and then I realized that I wasn’t really using the Rancid thing. I always did that purposely in a way, because I figured that if this band was going to have any merit, it needed to stand on its own. And plus, these guys, Paul, Gabe and Casey, they deserve the credit. They worked their asses off on this record. I’ve played with some pretty incredible drummers in my lifetime; a lot of incredible drummers. And Branden Steineckert and Paul Rivas are the two best drummers I’ve played with in my entire life, and I can say that right now. Hands down. And I’ve played in front of or with a lot of amazing players. Well, I’ll say Marky Ramone too because he’s Marky Ramone. I mean, come on.
But you know what I’m saying. And a guy like Casey Watson who sounds like a freight-train vocally, and plays bass and approaches it in such a different way and is so tasteful. And Gabe is this incredible, virtuoso guitar player. I’m in league with a bunch of guys who have their own unique thing happening. Luckily for me, in the “band world,” I’ve experienced it in Rancid, I experienced it in Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards, and now I’m experiencing it with The Old Firm Casuals. Like, how many times can a person say they’ve had lightning strike more than once? I’m pretty lucky in that sense, because I’ve had these or am currently in these great fucking bands. And I don’t mean great as in the accolades from outside, I mean great like from the fact that I feel great when I play.
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