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DS Exclusive: Luke O’Neil (no hope/no harm) on his debut book, “Welcome To Hell World: Dispatches From The American Dystopia”

It’s around about one in the afternoon on a warm-but-not-hot early summer Tuesday and Luke O’Neil and I are having coffee at an outdoor table in Harvard Square in right about the same spot that “good” Will Hunting sat explaining to his lovely British girlfriend, Skylar, about how in spite of his working class roots he’s actually wicked smaht and I’ve gone and embarrassed my conversation partner. Our table happened, randomly enough, to be located next to a couple of business types who it just so happens own a local bar that O’Neil worked at and got fired from. That’s not REALLY the embarrassing part, but there’s more on that later. O’Neil has spent years as the frontman of Boston-area bands like Good North and more recently No Hope/No Harm but is undoubtedly best known for his work as a predominantly freelance writer – “I guess somehow I’ve become like this notable freelancer, which, there’s a distinction between being a notable writer and a notable freelancer. It’s not that my work is that great, but it’s the fact that I’m freelancing, he notes, tongue firmly embedded in cheek – who’s been featured in places The Boston Globe and Esquire the Boston Phoenix (R.I.P.) and Huffington Post.

O’Neil’s been doing his own newsletter, Welcome To Hell World: Weekly Dispatches From The Pit Of Despair, for the better part of the last year. It’s must-read fare that’s equal parts horrifying and heart-warming and disturbingly humorous and soul-crushing and at times optimistic. All that work has culminated in the pending arrival of O’Neil’s first book, Welcome To Hell World: Dispatches From The American Dystopia, and, subsequently, in his getting to talk to schlubs like me not about things like labor disputes or immigration policy or the abhorrent state of the health care or criminal justice systems in his country, but about his own work. And that, as it turns out, makes O’Neil a little uncomfortable. “I’m embarrassed talking about it this much with you. Please make it clear that I find talking about myself to be weird. And I almost get embarrassed to say what I do, like when I went to talk to those guys over there and they said “hey, what are you up to?” a normal thing would be to say “oh, I’ve got a book coming out.” But I don’t say that…

Writing a book wasn’t entirely part of the original plan; or at least not the type of book that Welcome To Hell World eventually became. But let’s rewind the tape to the beginning. O’Neil was born in the late ’70’s and grew up in Kingston, Massachusetts, the small coastal town that’s about an hour south of Boston and an hour east of Providence, meaning he was equidistant to two vital underground music scenes at a pivotal time. After formative concert-going experiences involving Weird Al Yankovic and Rage Against The Machine – no, not on the same bill but can you imagine? – O’Neil had the opportunity to dive into two thriving underground music scenes at a vital time, as bands like Letters To Cleo and Dinosaur Jr. were blowing up. “(I would see them) and I would learn about all the bands that were opening for them. It becomes like a chain reaction – you go see a band and you find out who’s opening for them, and then you go see that band later and find out who’s opening for them, and I always really loved that about music,” O’Neil explains.

After Kingston came a trip an hour west of Boston to Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross and, following that, a stint in New York City inspired by a love for writing fiction. “I wanted to write fiction,” O’Neil remembers. “I wrote essays in fiction in college and won some stupid school awards, and that’s how I got my real first job. My real first job was I worked for Conde Nast. I moved to New York City – this was around 2000 – and magazines were just starting to have websites. Somehow, I don’t know how, I got a job just on the fact that I was a pretty good writer. I went and applied and interviewed for a normal job to be an editorial assistant and I somehow got it.”

A couple years in New York were followed by a return to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, specifically to an MFA program at Boston’s Emerson College, a degree that somehow, O’Neil never quite finished. Instead, he got a regular, paying gig at what was then called The Weekly Dig, a free, Boston-based alternative weekly newspaper, back in the waning days of those still being relatively viable thing. “I did two years at Emerson toward an MFA, and I somehow got the job at the Dig, and was like, “well, fuck it, I’m a professional writer now, I don’t need to finish this.” He continues: “I just had to do one more thing to write and defend my thesis. And I had it written, I don’t know why the fuck I didn’t do it. I just said “I don’t want to do it anymore.” And I started playing in my first band, and I thought I was hot shit. I was going to be a rock star! … I just kind of chafed against this program at Emerson, but I guess chafing against structure and discipline has always been a throughline for me…

That chafing against structure and discipline would eventually lead to O’Neil getting fired by the Dig.  As he tells it, in spite of the comparatively liberal office culture in place at the Dig, it wasn’t a fit for his personality in the long run. “Even at a place like that,” he explains, “I just didn’t like going to sit there all day and just being at a computer because the boss wanted you to be in the office.” O’Neil’s run at the Dig was followed by an editing job at free daily newspaper, The Metro (if you’ve ever taken an MBTA bus, it’s the one that’s usually open-faced on the empty seat next to you. This one would prove to be an even shorter run. “I went in the first day, and I remember everyone was so excited that there was pizza in the breakroom, and I just laughed and said “I don’t want to work at a place where people are excited that there’s pizza.” So I went back to waiting tables and freelancing when I could.”

Waiting tables and freelancing eventually lead to O’Neil’s former editor at the Dig, Joe Keohane, getting back in tough about a new opportunity a half-dozen years ago, this time on the pages of Esquire Magazine. “That obviously was a pretty big step for my career and I did lots of great work there, but then I sort of got fired, sort of quit from there? I still don’t really know.” It seems O’Neil’s penchant for what I think Oprah calls “speaking truth to power” but what essentially boils down to calling people on their respective shit had bit him in his own ass. This, you see, is a bit of a recurring theme in O’Neil’s writing career. “I tend to quit or get fired from almost everything I’ve ever done, because I have a very low tolerance for doing things just because that’s the way they’re done. I’m not afraid to speak up – I guess I’m just an impetuous teenage shit still!” As a freelancer writer, editors and websites and print publications (lol) will bring you on board because your words are hopefully going to generate eyes on their pages, sell ad space and/or subscriptions, etc. And if you’re generating content – and clicks – by pointing your spears at the power structure or class imbalance or whatever, that’s a good thing. But when you start to point those spears at the people you’re writing for, well, bad things happen. “I just started talking shit sometimes about how bad the (Esquire) site was getting while I was working there, and obviously the bosses didn’t like that, and we just sort of ghosted each other in a weird way.” O’Neil explains.

Though no longer at Esquire, O’Neil continued having his pieces picked up for publication in a variety of outlets like the Washington Post and the theoretically liberal bastion hometown newspaper that is the Boston Globe. In fact, a quick search on the Globe’s own website produces 364 results as of today. That changed earlier this year, however, in a rather notorious way, after the paper chose to pull a published O’Neil editorial amid fierce conservative backlash (O’Neil had opined – again tongue in cheek – that one of his regrets in life was not “seasoning” conservative pundit Bill Kristol’s salmon when waiting on him at a restaurant years prior). Rather than support their long-time contributor, they caved to pressure from the right-hand side of the aisle that doesn’t need to look hard to find myriad reasons to hate them anyway and instead, as O’Neil describes it, “slit (his) throat.

And so while starting a newsletter a year ago maybe wasn’t O’Neil’s idea from the start, it has given him a regular, unfiltered, seemingly stream-of-consciousness outlet to provide his unique blend of social and political and personal commentary. “In order to be one of the people now who keeps a job, who have to by your very nature be kind of a boot-licker or a fucking cop,” O’Neil opines. “I think that’s the problem with – and I hate the term mainstream media – but when you talk about the (Washington) Post or the (New York) Times or any New York magazine, in order to stay within the business and climb the ladder and get jobs and keep jobs, you definitely have to be willing to swallow a lot more shit than I certainly am willing to.” It also allows him to address issues like police brutality or throat-punching Nazis or the border crisis or people dying due to lack of affordable health care in a way that doesn’t have to address “both sides” of an issue in order to placate audiences or bosses. “A lot of times, I’ll talk to somebody who can’t pay their hospital bills,” he explains. “The journalistic thing to do is that you’re supposed to call the insurance company to get their side of it. It’s like, “fuck you, I don’t care what your side of it is. I KNOW what your side of it is. Your side of it is that you’re fucking this person over.” It’s pointless to me to ask. It’s like, if the cops shoot somebody, it’s pointless to call the cops and ask why they shot them. They’re going to lie to you…I feel like there’s too much of that now. There’s a lot of interviewing of the alt-right and neo-Nazis and stuff where they’re like “I’m going to show this guy’s words, and they’re going to seem so absurd that everyone’s going to laugh at him!” But I’m not interested in that.”

All of that brings us back to the Hell World book, which is due out next month through O/R Books. Much of it is comprised of pieces that’ve appeared in the Hell World newsletter, with a few companion pieces that appeared in other publications but seemed to fit the theme of the book, as well as a few new essays. It’s largely unedited from it’s original, unique format, which will probably please fans of O’Neil’s work and frustrate or confuse other people. “I think the book might be interesting and weird. I’ve certainly never read anything like it, which can be a bad thing. I can imagine people thinking it sucks, and maybe it does, I don’t know. But it’s like a weird mix of reporting on labor and health care nightmares and police violence and also commentary on other people’s reporting on that and also really a memoir of my own struggles with mental health and physical issues” he explains.“I think it’s a weird book, and it’s either going to be weird and people will really like it, or really weird and people will think “this is garbage.” All of that is just fine with the author, himself.

Pre-order your very own copy of Welcome To Hell World right here! In the meantime, check out our full sit-down with Luke O’Neil below. This was a fun one to get the opportunity to work on!



DS Exclusive: Harker release “Dead Ends” video

Photo by Rina Kim

We absolutely love Harker here at DS, and we’re stoked to present their brand new video for their recent single “Dead Ends” for your viewing pleasure.

The video was put together by the band and Claire James as an homage to b-movie horror – Harker vocalist and guitarist  Mark Boniface had the following to say about the clip:

‘We’re all influenced by horror films – something I’ve always wanted to be involved in since I was a teenager. This video we tried to encapsulate everything we love about them. Stretching to areas of spooky, gore, quirky, b-movie and downright entertaining. “

You can check out the video using the player below, alongside their forthcoming tour dates.

Listen to “Dead Ends” on Spotify by clicking here.



DS Photo Gallery: Motoblot 2019 – with The Tossers, 88 Fingers Louie, The Crombies and more

Vice Tricks

The 6th Annual Motoblot Motorcycle and Hot Rod Street Rally took place June 20th to June 23rd 2019 in Chicago. According to Larry Fletcher, the event’s owner and producer, “the weekend was Awesome. We broke attendance records on Friday and Saturday. Estimated 20K for the weekend. Over 1000 bikes over the weekend. If it had to rain… We were stoked it held off to Sunday. Attendees had a blast regardless of the weather. MOTOBLOT continues to grow every year and the feedback is universally positive. Attendees say it is their favorite weekend of the year!”

Due to passport issues, Sham 69 had to dropout of their scheduled appearance at the event. Guttermouth was to tour with Sham 69 on its swing through the States this summer so the California punks also backed out of Motoblot weekend as well. Two Chicago based bands stepped in at the last minute. The”Crombies and 88 Fingers were total gamers and happy to jump in to help us out,” said Fletcher. As The Crombies lead singer Mike Park was recovering from gall bladder surgery, the band brought a life size cutout of Park to accompany a rotating group of singers, including some who spontaneously jumped on to the stage.

The Crombies.

Along with The Tossers, The Crombies; and 88 Fingers Louie, the weekend’s lineup included among others: Vice Tricks, Aweful, Super Sonic Space Rebels, Julia Haltigan & The Hooligans, The Detroit Cobras, The Krank Daddies, The Evictions, Slutter (all female Kiss Tribute band); and London Calling (“The Only The Clash Cover Band That Matters.”)

Please check out the gallery below from some of the best moments at Motoblot 2019.

 



DS Photo Gallery: Smoking Popes with The Ataris and Donaher from Once Ballroom in Somerville, MA

For the first time since the release of last year’s Into The Agony, the Smoking Popes made their way to Boston – well, Somerville really – last Monday night, setting up shop at the unique, 300-capacity former function hall that is Once Ballroom for the evening. With support from the run of shows coming from The Ataris and with locals Donaher getting the early-arriving crowd engaged, it was an evening that evoked all the best of the power-pop glory days of an earlier decade.

Hailing from the great State of New Hampshire – yours truly’s birthplace – Donaher are a four piece band that sadly I’d not seen before. They might be on the newer side – the band’s debut album, I Swear My Love Is True, was released in late 2017 on Dodgeball Records – but their sound is classic: catchy, melodic power-pop songs of love and heartbreak. It’s like if This Year’s Model-era  Elvis Costello and Road To Ruin-era Ramones had a kid, and that kid grew up on a steady diet of the Lemonheads and Mr. T Experience. Is that specific enough a reference? We think so; check out their sound for yourself right here.

The Ataris, who’re essentially the Kris Roe Travelling All-Stars at this point, were up next, assuming the primary support role on the duration of this run. The benefit of that approach is that Roe can assemble a dynamite backing lineup, which at this time consists of Mike Doherty on guitar, Montreal music scene vet Danny LaFlamme on bass and Dustin Phillips on drums. The band powered through all the hits, with Roe taking on a few tracks solo in the process. His guitar playing has often gone underrated, and trends toward being more ethereal and experimental than his pop-punk pedigree would imply, although his near-constant switching on and off of various loops and pedals was a tad mind-numbing at times. The crowd, while not quite at capacity, was still noticeably vocal and engaged throughout The Ataris’ set (prompting Popes’ frontman Josh Caterer to remark with a smile during his own band’s set that “I know you’re all here to see The Ataris, but thanks for sticking around”). Also, they played under a static red LED light, which is waaaaay over the head of yours truly’s photo taking and editing skills, thus the relative few shots in the gallery below.

Still touring in support of their seventh studio album, last year’s phenomenal Into The Agony, Chicago’s Smoking Popes plowed through a seventy-five-ish minute headline set that spanned the course of their two decade career. Into The Agony, as most of you should know, marked the return of drummer Mike Felumlee to the fold for the first time since 1997’s Destination Failure, and his presence behind the kit has been a noteworthy shot in the arm. The Popes’ lineup was a little altered on this run – Felumlee’s The Bigger Empty bandmate Reuben Baird is filling in for Mike Caterer on bass – but seeing and hearing Felumlee manning the kit behind the remaining brothers Caterer just seems right. I’ve seen the Popes a handful of times over the last couple of years, and this might have been the tightest, most energetic set yet. Whether it was on newer favorites like “Summer Down” or “Amanda My Love,” or classic staples like “Rubella” and “I Know You Love Me,” the band sound as fresh and vital as ever. Josh Caterer’s dulcet crooning has probably been the most well-known individual instrument over the course of the Popes’ career, but make no mistake about it: Josh and Eli Caterer are dual guitar heavyweights. As a wannabe guitar dork, it fills me with great joy to watch the two trade licks on the former’s gorgeous Fender Coronado and the latter’s even more gorgeous Strack Woodworking Jazzmaster clone.

Head below to see the full photo gallery from this night.

 



DS Exclusive: Talking Tolstoy (and other subjects) with Adam Kreutzer of The Kreutzer Sonata

Leo Tolstoy was a punk rocker! Ok perhaps not. Tolstoy widely considered one of the greatest writers in history is the author of such works as “War and Peace”, “Anna Karenina”, and the first Tolstoy (ok only Tolstoy) I have yet to read, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich.” Tolstoy is the inspiration for for the band name The Kreutzer Sonata and its leader singer Adam Kreutzer’s stage surname.

Kreutzer explains, “I have read the novel [The Kreutzer Sonata by Tolstoy]/listened to the musical composition. Tolstoy’s novellas have inspired me for a while as a huge passion of mine is literature. There is a lot of literary inspiration/references in our music and Tolstoy’s ability to take dramatic and tragic events and write them into something moving and beautiful is a strategy that we’ve tried to use in the story telling of our songs.”


Kreutzer further describes to me how the musical composition and its creation mirrors his early life as a musician:

“On top of that the musical piece The Kreutzer Sonata, another beautiful piece of art was made in dedication to a prestigious violinist with the last name Kreutzer. He rejected the Sonata as garbage. And that’s something I can really relate too. I remember showing my music teacher my music in high school and he pulled me aside and told me what a waste of time my band was and how it wasn’t real music. A similar thing happened with my father after the first time I ever recorded a demo where he gave me the ultimatum between punk rock and Jesus Christ. For years TKS played to nobody but the sound guy and sometimes our girlfriends haha. We know rejection all too well, and sometimes still feel like we’re on the outside looking in.”

 

Nowadays. The Kreutzer Sonata draws far larger crowds and its schedule will be hectic for the next few months:
Per Kreutzer: “Right now we are in the process of releasing a new album “The Rosehill Gates” out June 28th. We’ve already dropped a few music videos for it, with more to come. This summer and Fall we have some pretty solid shows lined up and we have been talking about doing a decent sized tour early next year. Also, this October/November we will be in the studio at Million Yen in Chicago to record something we will be trying to shop around to labels.”

 

Kreutzer may be the only remaining original band member, but The Kreutzer Sonata is no solo act.
“We are all a bunch of jagoffs. We all take the band seriously but what makes that easier is how much we goof around with each other. Jack [Kreutzer] our bassist is a full-time truck driver. Patrick [Goray]. our guitarist works in a sign shop and Logan [Hoover] our drummer is a pet caretaker/walker. I work in the service industry. We all are pretty easy-going guys with a mutual love for music and they are a blast to play with.”

As for Kreutzer’s musical origins, he first played that first instrument so many of us played: “The first time I performed musically was probably playing the recorder in elementary school or singing (if you can call it that) in a school musical/graduation/even church.”

However, he first truly discovered music just after he hits his teens. Per Kreutzer, “I would say around 13 years old is when I started really getting into music. I will be 30 this October. Before that I only really knew what was on TV. Bands like Green Day and Blink-182 were as crazy as it got for me until about that age. I remember hearing “Rise Above” by Black Flag on a mix Cd my brother made and being really intrigued by it. Around that same time, I discovered The Unseen, and remember seeing Rancid videos on MTV as well. Me and an old friend also found Kurt Cobain’s top 100 records in Rolling Stone and took turns downloading different albums off that list off Napster or LimeWire or whatever people were using at the time.”

This was also when he realized music was his calling. “Before I got into music, I was big into sports and was very athletic. I remember my brother had this crappy guitar that he would never let me play. But when he was out of the house I would sneak into his room and play as much as I could.”
He continues, “once I got good enough to get a band together the high of playing live meant more to me than sports. The jock kids were all my bullies anyway. I started going to shows, setting up shows, playing as much as possible. People didn’t believe me at the time, but I had decided at that point that music was my life.”

Kreutzer describes how his musical career started, “With a band I first performed in this church basement that I would set up and run local shows in.”
Soon things got serious. Says Kreutzer, “shortly after that I played my first legitimate show opening up for The Unseen and The Ghouls. That was more of a punk/ rock band. We did some covers and had some softer songs on top of some faster ones.”

His long-held motto/mission statement as a musician has been “Carpe Diem.” The phrase, translated from Latin as “Seize the Day,” originates from book 1 of the Roman poet Horace’s work Odes (23 BC).

However, Kreutzer discovered it in a far more recent piece of art: Dead Poet’s Society, the 1989 acclaimed film in which a boarding school English teacher named John Keating (played Robin Williams) urges his students to “make their lives extraordinary.” It’s actually the motto Kreutzer, who will celebrate his 30th birthday this year, has held most of his life.
He explains, “I have had the luck and privilege to be able to tour playing music and continue playing music into my thirties. Granted I work my ass off. But the point is I’m thankful for every day I wake up and to me the best part of life is the opportunity at times to take control of your story, of your identity and follow your heart. The older I get the more I am dead set in doing whatever it is I feel I need to do to be happy. It’s the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done.”

I asked Kreutzer to memorable event in his career thus far.
“Touring Canada was fun. We witnessed a bar fight turn into a mini-riot in Montreal and the police were pepper spraying everyone. Then we drove through the night puking down the highway to the US border. That’s not really anything to do with music. But those wacky events wouldn’t have happened without music. We’ve gotten to open up for some cool bands and I’m very grateful for that. It’s always a highlight starting to see more and more people sing-along to the words at shows.”
The Kreutzer Sonata has played many different venues. As for particular venues, bandmembers find particularly great in which to perform, Adam Kreutzer offers up: “I love Liar’s Club, but I do also work there. The Fallout in Pilsen is fun as well as Reggie’s on State Street.”

As he notes above Kreutzer is in the employ of Liar’s Club. “I work as a door guy, bar back/bartender.”

Turning briefly to a subject that punk music has a rich history of addressing: Politics.

Kreutzer’s take: “I think on some level the current political climate resonates into all our daily lives. I also think a part of the storytelling of lyrics in music should be used almost like a personal history book to tell the stories of the times through your own perspective.”

The musician continues: “In that case I think it’s important for artists to speak out for what they think is right politically in this day and age. And there are a lot of bands doing it. Our President and many other leaders use misinformation and hysteria/phobias/hate to keep people ignorant and divided. If you can enlighten people with truth and knowledge you can give power to the common people which is exactly what politicians don’t want.”

Returning to Tolstoy, in a way. Literature has always provided inspiration as a human and as a musician. Among the works and writers, he considers most influential to him:
“ “A Season in Hell” by Arthur Rimbaud, “The Explorer” by Rudyard Kipling, “My Little War” by Louis Paul Boon, “My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy” by Robert Bly, Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, most books by New Directions Publishing and Dalkey Archive Press as well as the works of Flann O’Brien, and Louis Ferdinand Celine are a lot of my major influences.
Also, the book, “From the Darkness Right Under Our Feet” by Patrick Michael Finn, and other books by Black Lawrence Press. “

“As far as films, anything by Guy Maddin [from the director’s Internet Movie Database page: Maddin’s films often feature autobiographical elements, especially his “Me Trilogy” (of Cowards Bend the Knee, Brand Upon the Brain!, and My Winnipeg) of three films that feature a protagonist named “Guy Maddin”.)] or with Isabella Rossellini is alright with me. Also, Rumblefish.”

Of course, when it comes to punk rock, Adam Kreutzer has some recommendations for bands everybody should check out. “Brix n Mortar from Salem, Mass. Secret Spirit from Manchester, NH. Mickey Rickshaw from Boston. The Abductors from CT. Death of Self, Sawbuck, Shitizen, Butchered, Mystery Actions from Chicago. Radio Hate and The DUIs from Wisconsin and Stacked Deck from Detroit.”

When not performing or working, Kreutzer likes to stay busy.” I also go to Chicago Fire [Major League Soccer] Soccer Games with the Arson City Ultras. I’m a huge record collector and book collector. Also, a big drinker. You can find me around the city. I like to get out of the house haha.”

I ask Kreutzer if he has words of inspiration for Dying Scene readers about, well, anything? “Don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life or find happiness. I’ve learned that the hard way too many times. Also, some of the best inspiration for punk songs and lyrics has come from other genres and forms of media outside of punk for me. Don’t be afraid to keep an open mind to new things.”
Kreutzer final words for DS readers is both cheeky, tinged with truth as to readers of any and all publications for any genre of written word: “Pat yourself on the back if you made it to the end of this interview. Not many people read full articles hahaha.”



Dying Scene Radio – Episode 16

Hey there, kiddos! The boys over at Dying Scene Radio have put together another fine episode of our official podcast and we think you should listen to it…even if there is no interview this episode…..slackers! Not to worry though, dear listeners, to make up for their lack of production the lads are gonna be spinnin’ some extra tunes from new and emerging artists that you were probably too lazy to discover! They’re also going to give their shitty opinions of the most noteworthy scene news from the last few weeks that you were probably too lazy to read, so there’s that, too… All of that and more in Episode 16 of Dying Scene Radio! Check it all out, below!



DS Photo Gallery: Frank Iero And The Future Violents w/Reggie And The Full Effect, Boston, MA

I read an interview with Frank Iero the other day in which he talked about his musical career, and in the process of doing so he mentioned – and I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t find the original quote – that he enjoys the honeymoon period of a new project where you don’t really know what it’s going to turn out like and you’re nervous but excited because you get to figure that out together. When Iero brought his newest project, Frank Iero and the Future Violents, through Boston this past Sunday, barely 48 hours after the release of their debut album Barriers, the excitement was palpable and contagious for an obvious reason: Frank Iero and the Future Violents are a goddamn live freight train.

If you haven’t been keeping score at home, The Future Violents feature Iero and his frequent collaborator/guitarist/brother-in-law Evan Nestor joined by a few longtime scene heavyweights: Tucker Rule of Thursday and a bunch of other bands on drums, Murder By Death’s Matt Armstrong on bass and Kayleigh Goldsworthy of Dave Hause’s band The Mermaid and most importantly her own solo career on…well…just about every other instrument you can think of. Formed after the Iero and Nestor’s ill-fated and nearly fatal trip to Australia with their last project, Frank Iero and the Patience, a couple years ago, The Future Violents are rooted in Iero’s power punk songwriting core with some new sonic textures in the mix. In spite of having a comparatively few shows together under their collective belts, the Future Violents rhythm section of Rule and Armstrong is lock-tight and thunderous already. Rule hits hard and heavy, and is comparable maybe only to the great Atom Willard in terms of sheer live force, while Armstrong’s low end rattled SO low that I could quite literally feel my sinuses shaking. Iero and Nestor are simpatico from having played and performed so long together; they seem to have a knack for playing in support of one another without crowding each other’s sonic space. Goldsworthy’s parts, particularly the violin, seemed a little buried in the mix, though that might be just me projecting what I was seeing (with the stage set up, she was kinda buried behind the PA suspended from the ceiling in front of stage right) onto what I was hearing. That said, The Future Violents are hands-down Iero’s best project to date, and the near-capacity crowd seemed to cathartically, energetically eat up every word (well…except the poor kid who lost a tooth).

Support on this leg of Frank Iero and the Future Violents’ run comes from none other than James Dewees playing songs from his brainchild project, Reggie And The Full Effect. Dewees and Iero have been long time buds and collaborators – Iero did a stint in Reggie that coinicided with Dewees’ own stint alongside Iero in My Chemical Romance – and it makes an old emo kid like myself happy to see such longtime vets still supporting and playing with each other. Dewees’ set was essentially “Story Time with James,” as he told tangential tales of creating characters and his history with Iero and the early days of the Emo Night In Brooklyn movement, though he did manage to get to a few full or at least partial songs, accompanied by either a laptop or what I’m 95% sure was a pretty awesome British racing green version of Iero’s custom Epiphone Phant-O-Matic double cutaway guitars. While maybe not the most astute Reggie and the Full Effect fans, the bulk of the crowd was more than good-naturedly engaged with Dewees’ set, breaking out into full supportive chants on more than one occasion.

Head below for a bunch more pictures from the evening!

 



DS Interview and Photo Gallery: Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings III (w/The Hold Steady, Cory Branan, The Penske File and more)

The first of the four or five times that yours truly had the opportunity to chat with Frank Turner for a story here at Dying Scene was almost exactly five years ago. It was prior to his set at the 2014 installment of the Boston Calling Music Festival, and we found a “quiet” spot on the Brutalist concrete and brick steps on the Congress Street side of Boston City Hall to talk about what was, at the time, his 1567 show rise to “overnight” success. Toward the end of our conversation, Turner made a sincere comment about not taking any of his success for granted, because in five years’ time, “nobody is going to give a shit and I’ll be back playing in a pub again.” Flash forward to the Friday before last when Turner took a few minutes out of his scheduled pre-show preparation at a sold-out House of Blues in Boston to talk about some pretty monumental goings-on in his ever-expanding professional career.

Last Friday’s show was more than just a “regular” Frank Turner show, whatever that means at this point. It was more than “just” show #2341 and counting, all though that’s certainly noteworthy in its own right. But it also marked the second proper night of 2019’s installment of what Turner has dubbed Lost Evenings. If you’re not familiar, here’s a quick synopsis: started back in 2017, Lost Evenings is an annual multi-night festival curated by Turner and his team. While the idea of an artist playing multiple nights is certainly not foreign – here in Boston, our own Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Street Dogs and Dropkick Murphys do so on a yearly basis, and a quick check of my notes confirms a four-day run for The Hold Steady and a three-night run for Lucero coming up before the year’s end – Lost Evenings is not your traditional multi-night string of shows that happen to be in the same location. Sure there were the four main shows at the 2500-capacity House Of Blues on Lansdowne Street, each of which sold out months in advance. But there was also a fundraiser event at nearby tattoo shop, Stingray Body Art. There was a weeklong series of open mic events at neighboring Lansdowne Street bars, curated by Derek Zanetti (aka The Homeless Gospel Choir) which found any number of local and national artists popping in for a few impromptu jams. There were a series of panel discussions on everything from mental health awareness to how to build a career in the music industry to a book talk to active bystander training to, or course, a Frank Turner AMA session.

The first two Lost Evenings festivals took place at the Roundhouse Theatre in London. “We did the first one in Camden, in London, and the on the first one, we literally had no idea what we were doing,” explains Turner. “We were completely flying by the seat of our pants. I wasn’t completely sure what it was or how it worked or, indeed, how to put on a festival. We did it, and it was a Hail Mary pass, but it went incredibly well. We did the second one in Camden just to kind of learn the lessons from the first one, and to try to consolidate what we were doing.” 

With two successful runs on their home turf under their collective belts, 2019 brought with it the opportunity to bring the show on the road. If you’ve been paying attention either to Turner’s career or, at least, the early portion of this article it should come as no surprise that the natural first stop would take place across the pond in Boston, Massachusetts. “By design, (Lost Evenings is) a portable concept. In the very beginning, I always had a vision of bringing it around the world . The idea was always to move it, and to be honest, it was always going to be Boston, because that’s been the biggest city in the US in terms of my career and all the rest of it.”

While the individual show lineups for Lost Evenings’ I and II were impressive in their own right, taking the third installment to the States opened up Turner to a wider array of possible openers. “It’s a slightly odd thing trying to get an American band to come all the way to the UK to do a festival show. It can get pretty complicated.”To do so, as he explains it, Turner basically puts together a dream line-up of acts that he’d hope to have join him in some fashion. “I should leave the credit for the organizational logistics to my team. I tend to just come up with ideas that make more people’s lives more difficult!” he jokes. Difficult though it might be, this year, by all accounts, most of those dreams came true. “I’m insanely proud of the lineup this year,” says Turner. “If I had to pick my four favorite acts in the world, it might well come down to Loudon Wainwright, John K. Samson, The Hold Steady and Against Me! And here we are!” 

As we spoke on Friday afternoon, the giddiness in Turner’s voice as he recalled the previous night’s festivities that included not only Wainwright but Micah Schnabel and Jenny Owen Youngs and Hayley Thompson King, amongst others, was not only palpable but contagious. “We had Loudon Wainwright on stage, which is a thing that I never thought I’d be able to say out loud. Not only that, he’s one of my favorite songwriters of all time, and he completely burned the building down he was so good,” Turner exclaims. “I went to sleep content last night, and woke up this morning and remembered that The FUCKING Hold Steady and Cory Branan are playing today! And The Architects! And then when I go to bed tonight, I’m going to wake up tomorrow and think about John K. Motherfucking Samson and War On Women. And AJJ are playing tomorrow! Again, I threw names at my booking agent, but other people did the work to actually pull this together, and I’m extremely…I’m as happy as a pig in shit, and I’m kind of blown away that I get to sit in the middle of all of this!”

The City of Boston itself took note of how meaningful the Lost Evenings experience is, which may not come as a surprise given the ties that current Mayor Marty Walsh has with the local punk rock community. “Dude, I’m from suburban England, do you know what I mean? And I’m in Boston, which as far as my childhood self is concerned was a borderline fictional place. And here we are! The fucking mayor made yesterday Be More Kind Day in Boston. So much of my life is frankly ridiculous to me, in the best possible way. It’s like “wow…that happened?”

As stated above, to Turner, the ability to use his public position as a platform for some causes that are near and dear to his – and the community’s – part is vital. “So much of my career – so much of any musician’s career – involves standing on a stage shouting “please buy my new CD! Pay attention to me!” And that’s fine! That’s part of the fucking deal! But if you can find time within your busy day of shouting about yourself to shout about things that are objectively more important, than I think that’s a no-brainer, you know what I mean? You’ve got to do it.”

Yours truly got to the venue on Friday a little later than intended, but still arrived in plenty of time to watch The Architects kick off the main stage at House Of Blues. It was a meaningful opener for Turner, as both his band and the Kansas City rockers appeared as support for Flogging Molly on Turner’s first stop in Boston proper a handful of years ago. From there, the evening consisted of bouncing back and forth between the main stage and the “Nick Alexander Stage.” Named for the young man killed while working for Eagles of Death Metal during the terror attack at Bataclan in Paris several years back, the Nick Alexander stage was located at the complete opposite end of the venue, in a space normally reserved as the House Of Blues’ restaurant. This resulted in a series of energetic performances on the intimate stage, set no more than six inches off the ground. The immensely talented Kayleigh Goldsworthy was first up for me. After a few years of seeing her as a master-of-all-trades accompanying the likes of Dave Hause and Frank Iero, it was nice to see Goldsworthy solo playing her own powerful music.

It’s worth including that the main stage’s action was emceed all night, and all weekend, by Koo Koo Kangaroo. Turner’s labelmates and frequent tour partners led the crowd in a variety of different activities throughout the course of the night, from games to singalongs to Twinkie-eating contest between two members of The Architects (with the grand prize coming as a box of Target-brand fruit snacks). Next up in the big room was Cory Branan. I’ve been a fan of Branan for a long time and seen him close to a dozen times, but when he makes his way to the northeast, it’s almost exclusively as a solo act, never as leader of a band, but the latter is exactly how he appeared on this night. Trading in the acoustic that normally accompanies him on solo shows for a Telecaster, Branan led his three piece through a high-energy half-hour set that highlighted his guitar playing virtuosity while providing some different textures and tempos than he normally attempts solo.

Branan was followed by The Hold Steady. Like Turner said above, The Hold Steady have been on my very, very short list of favorite bands and songwriters for as long as I can remember. For a variety of reasons, they’re also a band that I’d never had the ability to shoot from the photo pit before. I’d also never seen them as a full-on six-piece band, the way they’ve been appearing since the inimitable Franz Nicolay rejoined the band a couple of years ago. Frontman Craig Finn led the three guitar attack (joined by Tad Kubler and Steve Selvidge, the latter of whom played with the above-mentioned Branan on his performance on Letterman well over a decade ago) with the rock-solid-as-ever rhythm section of Galen Polivka and Bobby Drake, who, unfortunately, didn’t actually appear in pictures. Trust me, he was there. Anyway, this was a pretty meaningful set for me – haven’t really gotten misty-eyed in a photo pit in a while – but I’ll let the pictures say the rest.

From there, it was back out to the front for the last Nick Alexander Stage set of the night, featuring none other than The Penske File. The Canadian trio burned through a blistering half-hour set that occurred, sadly, less than forty-eight hours before having their van and all of their gear stolen while in Montreal for Pouzza Fest. You can still kick in to their GoFundMe here, and really, you won’t find a trio of nicer, more deserving dudes to help out.

Last but obviously not least, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls took the main stage in the big room. This particular show was Poetry Of The Deed night, in honor of the pending tenth anniversary of Turner’s often-overlooked third studio album of the same name. Coincidentally, POTD was released on my thirtieth birthday, and so it doesn’t take an advanced mathematics degree to realize that means I’m turning forty in a few months, and so that’s got me feeling some type of way. Anyway, for an album that maybe doesn’t get the same kind of attention as Love, Ire and Song or certainly than the quartet of albums that have followed it, Poetry Of The Deed night was incredibly well-received, with trademark singalong after singalong after harmonica-playalong peppering the evening.

 

On more than one occasion, Turner seemed genuinely humbled by the scene playing out not just on this particular night, but over the course of the weekend in general. As he told me before the gig, “when I was a kid, the biggest fucking shows I ever went to were 2000-cap shows. I’m not trying to sound like a scene kid for saying that, but I’d never been to an arena show before I headlined one. You know? The thing is, I reached the point in my career a long time ago where somebody said “hey, do you want to play an arena show now? Because, you can.” And instead of tying myself up in punk rock purist knots about it, I decided to just laugh and say “fuck it, man, why not!” This shit is ridiculous, but yes, okay!

Plans for Lost Evenings IV were also announced during the course of this night’s set. In case you missed it, next year’s festivities will take place in Berlin, Germany. Oh, and they’re also, already sold out. But fret not, Turner faithful’ 2021 will mark the tenth anniversary of his breakthrough album England, Keep My Bones, and so you can guess what might serve as the centerpiece for Lost Evenings V!

Check out our full photo gallery from the evening’s festivities below.

 



Stanis (ffo: Propagandhi, Satanic Surfers) premiere video for new single, “Ready Reply”

Italian melodic HC/skate punk band, Stanis, recently announced their debut full-length, Tales From A Modern Society, to be self-released by the band on June 20. They previously wet everyone’s beaks with the first single “Society” (listen here), and today are premiering a new video for “Ready Reply”, the second teaser single off the upcoming release. It’s directed by the band’s own bass player Claudio Stanghelleni, who has done previous video work with such notable groups as Petrol Girls, Antillectual, Such Gold, Astpai, Darko and Strike Anywhere.

Stanis relates: “Ready Reply is about the discouragement you feel when you find the right words to say or the right things to do just when everything has already gone wrong… For this reason it kind of felt right to pick it as a topic for our first video! We love this production and we are proud of it especially because we created, directed and developed [it] all together, the three of us!”

Stream that fun and creative little video below, and look for Stanis on tour this coming summer with scheduled stops at both Punk Rock Holiday and Fest. Cheers!



DS Exclusive: Lovesick Bombs – “Breakfast Of Champions”

This one is a little out of the ordinary for the pages of Dying Scene, and I think that’s what makes it pretty cool. Allow us to draw your attention to a project called “Drawing Music.” It’s billed as a “unique art and music series that brings together a collection of visual artists and high spirited rock and roll musicians” toward the shared goal of creating a song and an art project that visually represents that song, resulting in a “fun listen and interesting look that combine to tell familiar stories to those who grew up pursuing rock n roll or art as their passion in live.”

The collective of contributors has been bestowed the name Lovesick Bombs by the project’s curator, John Redmond, himself a veteran of early 2000’s Bay Area skate punk band Secondshot. The third installment of the Lovesick Bombs project is available right here for the first time today. It’s called “Breakfast of Champions,” and it’s described by its creators as telling the story of “an attempt to patch things up with one’s significant other after drinking too much and saying all the wrong things. The partner in the dog house hopes that maybe the thing that caused the problem could also help be the solution. So a plea is made to have a “Breakfast of Champions” (booze brunch) together in order to have some laughs and get over last night’s train wreck behavior.”

Check out the video for Lovesick Bombs’ “Breakfast of Champions” below!



Dying Scene Radio – Episode 15 – Band Spotlight: Strung Out

The boys are back with Episode 15 of Dying Scene Radiooooo! In this installment, AP snags a whopper of an interview with legendary Simi Valley thrashers Strung Out down at Sabroso Craft Beer and Taco Fest as it rolled its way through Denver. If you’re excited about the seminal punk band’s upcoming album, you’re really going to want to give this one a listen as Jason and Chris spill the frijoles on the name of the upcoming LP! EXCLUSIVE NEWS! LOOK AT US! As always the lads are also gonna be spinnin’ a ton of music from new and emerging artists that you were probably too lazy to discover and giving their shitty opinions on some of the most noteworthy scene news from the last few weeks that you were probably too lazy to read. Check it all out below!



DS Exclusive: Give You Nothing stream upcoming self-titled full-length debut

Happy Monday, gang!

We’re pretty stoked to bring you a killer new album today. It’s the self-titled debut release from Santa Cruz’s Give You Nothing. The quintet cut their teeth playing in other bands like Downpresser, Uzi Suicide, At Risk, and No Truce in and around the Santa Cruz area, and formed came together as a sort of skate punk Voltron back in 2016. 

The band holed up at Oakland’s Sharkbite Studio recently, and the result is their kick-ass debut, self-titled full-length. It’s due out this Wednesday, May 1st, via Snubbed Records in the US and Umlaut Records in the UK, but you can check it out below right now! Astute listeners will notice the likes of the inimitable Russ Rankin on the track “Clean Slate,” and Fury 66’s Joe Clements on “An Unwritten Chapter.” Pretty rad way to get you back into your weekly grind. Check it out!

 



DS Exclusive: Assembly of Arsonists Releases Video For ‘What Lies in Ashes’

I wish I could say I “like” The Assembly of Arsonists new video for their track “What Lies In Ashes” but that would be far too simple of a statement for such a dense subject. The video, like its architect Travis James, is frightening, clever, original, disgusting, comical, theatrical, and above all intelligent.

“What Lies in Ashes” is the second single off of The Assembly of Arsonists upcoming LP The End is Dear due for release on May 24. The album’s first single “Learning At Both Ends” dropped on April 14,

Check out the video for “What Lies In Ashes” below.



Music Video Premiere: Project Revise (pop-punk) stream “Time Will Carry You”

Worchestershire punks, Project Revise are unveiling a new music video via Dying Scene today. “Time Will Carry You” is a goofball rendition of the timeless tale of man’s ambition gone mad, and playing God with punk rock forces we can’t even begin to comprehend… hell, I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on this hilarious new video. Whatever it is, we’re all pretty excited about it… like, jumping-up-and-down-and-flailing-our-hands-around excited.

Project Revise goes well with Goldfinger and New Found Glory, so long as they are “completely operational and all of [their] circuits are functioning perfectly.”

“Time Will Carry You” was originally released on their EP, Songs That Sound Like Songs, in December of 2017. Since that time, they’ve sold out of the original, put out a video for every track on the album and re-issued an extended edition. This band likes to be in front of the camera, and I’m sure there will be plenty more of this awesome wholesome goodness coming our way in the near future. So stay tuned – and don’t worry crusties, I’m not talking about your instruments.

This is a good video for pop-punk and sci-fi junkies alike. Stream “Time Will Carry You” below.



DS Exclusive: Harrington Saints debut title track from upcoming album, “1000 Pounds of Oi!”

Happy Friday, boys and girls! We’ve got a pretty cool debut to get you fired up for the weekend!

We’re stoked to bring you the new video from California street punks Harrington Saints. It’s for the track “1000 Pounds of Oi!” which also serves as the title track from their brand new full length, which is due out May 10th on Pirates Press. Here’s what the band’s frontman Darrel Wojick had to say about the song, and the video:

The song has to do with the early days when we first started playing shows, and then bigger shows. Many of the comments we like “they’re like as big as poison idea” or “Poison Idea plays Oi!” Also, we used to joke how the drummer could never see the crowd cause he said there was a wall of fuckers in front of him! That became thousand lbs. of motherfucker, then turned into thousand pounds of Oi!. We wanted to do a video with Forry’s 64 impala SS before he sold it. Thought it’d be fun driving it blasting the song with a Go-Pro. Luckily we all fit in it.

Check out the video below! You can pre-save 1000 Pounds of Oi! right here.

1000 Pounds of Oi! marks Harrington Saints’ first album since 2015’s Fish & Chips.