Search Results for "Interview"

Inside All Silk Mastering House With Ed Hall (Egos At The Door): Interview, Live Session Premiere

We spend a lot of time covering music here at Dying Scene and not so much looking at the people behind the sounds. Today, we’re going to buck that trend with an interview with mastering engineer and owner of the All Silk Mastering House, Ed Hall.

Ed has spent most of his life in and around the DIY punk scene in the north of England. He’s probably best known as guitarist with the recently disbanded, hugely underrated techcore proggers, Egos At The Door. With Egos, Ed has travelled across Europe and America, allowing him to build a strong network of contacts from the international punk scene.

His latest venture involved the creation of a sonic fantasy lab in an undisclosed location in Colne, Lancashire in the north of the UK. Ed was kind enough to share his experiences setting up the All Silk Mastering House, which has been a complete DIY effort. From construction and decorating, through to fitting the space out with all the necessary gear and, of course, the mastering itself, Ed handles the entire process. He’s an inspiration to all those who long to cast off the shackles of the daily grind and chase their dreams but lack the gusto to take that initial plunge.

Below, you’ll find an interview with Ed, as well as an exclusive look at his latest project – a regular live session from the All Silk Mastering House floor itself. We’ve also thrown in an example of Ed’s recent work with UK garage punks SWEARS’s latest single, Space Invaders.



Interview: David Green (Moonraker) Gives Us a Track by Track Breakdown of The New LP “Lanterns”

Southern California punks Moonraker released their sophomore record Lanterns back in September of this year via Tiny Dragon Music and after having a few months to listen to and digest the album, we wanted to know more about it. So we called up drummer/vocalist David Green and asked all of the questions that were eating away at us! All eleven tracks, dissected and explained by the man himself! If you haven’t heard the album yet, go download it and listen while you read through. If you’re already a fan, listen to it again while you read through, below!



The Offspring apparently still working on new album

The Offspring guitarist Noodles recently gave Junkee an update on the band’s long-awaited new album. He’s quoted as saying:

“Yeah, we’ve been spending a bit of time in the studio with Bob Rock, who worked on our last two albums as well. He’s great, man — we get along with him really well. We’ve got a bunch of new songs that we’re preparing to go in and record right now.

I think there’s a record’s worth in there, but we’re thinking that maybe the songs are just a little too different. We know there’s a song or two on every record that comes out of left-field for us, but it’s more than just a couple this time. Right now, we’re entertaining the idea of doing two records — one where we can put all of these, and another of straight-up Offspring songs.”

The follow-up to 2012’s Days Go By is reportedly set for release next year, and Noodles said a while ago that they were working on two albums, though it’s not clear if it will result in separate or double album(s).



Hub City Stompers Reverend T. Sinister talks about his life in the Hardcore/Ska/Skinhead scene

I recently had the opportunity to share some words with The Reverend T. Sinister of New Jersey’s premiere Ska-Punk band Hub City Stompers and below is what he had to say about his life and coming up in the New Jersey and New York Hardcore/Ska/Skinhead Scene.



Kyle Trocolla of Kyle Trocolla And The Strangers talks about his new album The Moon USA

Let it be known I am a big fan of Kyle Trocolla‘s work, I have every Two Fisted Law album and have seen TFL at least 8 times. When he came out with his solo album The Stranger in 2016 I thought it was one of the finest acoustic albums I have ever heard and this week I was totally stoked to catch up with him to chat about his most recent album The Moon USA.

Read what he had to say below.



Riverside Odds R.W. Hellborn Talks Speed Punk and their Roots

I first saw Riverside Odds in March of 2018 opening up for The Split Seconds at little punk venue called Connie’s Ric Rac in Philadelphia and they tore the stage apart with their fast aggressive sound. The self dubbed it “Speed-Punk Rock & Roll”, and they deliver it fast hard and without mercy to their adoring fans.

Below are a few words I was recently able to share with front man R.W.Hellborn.



The Offspring working on two new albums?

The Offspring guitarist Noodles guitarist recently talked to Music Feeds about the band’s long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s Days Go By, which will be released late this year or next year.

On the status of the record and working with Bob Rock, who is producing it, Noodles said, “Yeah, we’ve been working with Bob on and off on this record for five years, really. But we had a real productive string this year, in the earlier part of the year, we had probably five or six songs that we did just right then and it started to feel like ‘maybe this is the direction we should be going with this record? A little bit more straightforward Offspring stuff’. So we have a whole record or more worth of stuff here — I think we’re looking at making two records out of it — you know, like, splitting ’em up and coming out with a pretty straightforward punk and rock record that sounds like us, and then maybe saving some of the crazier stuff for another record.”

When asked about the “crazier stuff” and what it sounds like, Noodles said, “Well there’s always a song that we do [on each album] — because it’s just fun for us to experiment in the studio where we take different sounds — so sometimes we’ll try some piano or keyboard kind of sound… We have a song that has a lot of horns in it, like a full-on horn section in it, and we’ve been working on that song for a long time. I think that one might be the the one kind of wacky one that we keep on this record, well at least I hope it is! Like, we love this song, it’s such a fun song. It’s a risk to put it out there, but at some point you’ve just gotta say ‘screw it’ man and just go with what you’re feeling and let the chips fall where they may. So I think we’re gonna do that.”

And finally Noodles was asked if there are plans to release new music this year. His response was, “I don’t know, we were hoping to — we were hoping to have something, maybe like a record deal in place this Fall [that’s Spring in Australia], but we don’t have anything — you know, any deals — going. We’ve been talking with a bunch of different labels and distributors, but so far nothing’s really stuck. So we’re not sure how we’re gonna do this. I mean at this point, the way things are distributed, we’re thinking we could even maybe do it ourselves?”



Bad Religion to enter the studio in October?

Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley apparently revealed to the Croatian website Muzika that the band will enter the studio in October to start recording their long-awaited new album for a spring 2019 release.

Jay also stated in the same interview that the band’s recently-released new song “The Kids Are Alt-Right” and that the new album will sound different than that song. Translated by Dying Scene, Jay said, “This is probably different from what I’ve ever heard of this collective. I mean, we only recorded two songs, one that everyone heard and one that does not sound like it.”

The follow-up to 2013’s True North will be Bad Religion’s first studio album with Mike Dimkich (replacing Greg Hetson) on guitar and Jamie Miller (replacing Brooks Wackerman) on drums.



DS Exclusive: Johnny Bonnel and Jack Dalrymple talk Swingin’ Utters talk “Peace And Love”

(L-R: Dalrymple, Bonnel, Koski, Ray and Teixeira)

As I write these words, we’re less than thirty-six hours away from the release of Peace And Love, yet another killer release from seminal Bay Area punk band Swingin’ Utters. The album is due out this Friday (August 31st) on Fat Wreck Chords – naturally – and as is par for the course with the Utters, there are an awful lot of modifiers we can use to describe the album: the ninth studio album in the band’s thirty-plus year career; their first album in four years; the first album since the departures of both bassist Miles Peck and founding drummer Greg McEntee; the most overtly-political album in the Swingin’ Utters library; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Perhaps the most appropriate descriptor, though, is that the album is really, really great.

We caught up over the phone with both frontman Johnny Bonnel and guitarist/occasional vocalist Jack Dalrymple to discuss all things Peace And Love, and what was readily apparent from the outset of both conversations is just how excited the band and its members are to have people hear the new material. “This was a really fun one,” says Dalrymple. “Every album I’ve done with those guys has been a weird process, but this was a fun one, man.” Bonnel, for his part, is even more emphatic. “This is probably the most excited I’ve been about a record by the Swingin’ Utters,” he explains, that excitement clearly evident in his voice.

Now, it’s a given that most band members are going to be excited about new material, particularly in the promotional run-up to an album’s debut; that’s the whole point, obviously. But the Utters – Bonnel specifically but more on that later – have a lot to be proud of this time up. As alluded to above, there are a handful of new faces among the ranks of the Swingin’ Utters. Greg McEntee departed from the bands ranks after the release of Fistful of Hollow and was replaced by Luke Ray, probably best known here from his days playing drums for Cobra Skulls. Miles Peck, who himself took over for longtime bassist Spike Slawson in 2012 and had taken on a more active songwriting role recently left last year. Peck was replaced by Tony Teixeira, Ray’s rhythm section sidekick in Cobra Skulls and, more recently, Sciatic Nerve.

While they didn’t factor into the meat of the songwriting process, Ray and Teixeira’s presences are very much an integral part of the sound of Peace And Love. “I think they’re amazing musicians and they’re great dudes, so we’re super stoked on that,” explains Bonnel, who himself is no stranger to having a long-time partner in the music-making process as he and Utters’ guitarist Darius Koski are nearing the three-decade mark as a team. Dalrymple elaborates, relating the connection between Ray and Teixeira to his own connection with Peck (whom he also appears in toyGuitar with): “They’re awesome! They’ve been playing together since they were kids, dude. Me and Miles were kind of locked in, because Miles is my buddy, and you get to this weird spot where you’re in each other’s heads. I know what he’s playing and what he’s thinking and what he’s going to do, and that’s the same way with Tony and Luke. They make this solid rhythm section, man.”

If you put your Swingin’ Utters discography playlist on “shuffle,” you don’t have to wait too long to encounter a few songs that sound nothing like the songs that come before or after them in the queue. That’s readily apparent on Peace And Love of course — see the Koski-penned Ramones ode “ECT,” or the surf-goth-Beatles-esque “Seeds Of Satisfaction” for proof — though more than in the recent past, some of those new directions and sounds come from Bonnel himself. While he’s always been an idea man, Bonnel wrote more on guitar than he has in the past. “I like that he’s WRITING writing now,” says Dalrymple. “It’s awesome, man. He comes in and he’s got these crazy, weird guitar riffs and we kinda work around those. It’s so awesome, man. (The Bonnel-penned “Louise And Her Spider”) is my favorite song by the Swingin’ Utters in a long time.

Hearing his songs in their end form on the album is a source of pride for Bonnel, leading to his greater-than-normal sense of excitement leading up to Peace And Love‘s release. “A lot of the songs I wrote are all me,” he explains. “I didn’t collaborate as much on the writing process necessarily; I played them for the band and then the band took off with them. So yeah, (that excitement is) probably because it was more of a solo writing process for me.” That increased focus on solo songwriting from Bonnel also brought with it some nervous moments, especially when it came time to bring some of his more atypical ideas – see the appropriately-titled “Dubstep” – to the group. “I thought they’d think they were stupid,” says Bonnel half-jokingly. “Your brain kinda goes crazy worrying about that stuff, but as soon as I showed it to them and explained that I wanted (“Dubstep”) to be fairly tribal and dance-able on the drums and bass.” All the anxiety was, of course, for not. “They went for it. I really love what they did. They changed the songs from what I thought they would be and escalated them to something that I thought would never happen. I’m super pleased with the end product, and Luke and Tony had a lot to do with that.” Dalrymple, who shares co-writing credits with Bonnel on a few of the album’s tracks for the first time, glows about his partner’s input. “He’s the most artistic out of everybody. That dude is a real artist in all senses of the word. He’s quick, and he’s got this weird awesome vision that’s just different, man.”

Dalrymple, for his part, not only sings lead vocals but also has solo writing credit’s on Peace And Love‘s closing track, “H.L.S.” As you might imagine given the title, the song shares an influence with another Dalrymple-fronted track, albeit by a different project: toyGuitar’s “Turn It Around.” That, of course, is the 2015 passing of Dalrymple’s former One Man Army bandmate Heiko Schrepel. Dalrymple was gun-shy about including the song. “I think I was kinda nervous, man,” he explains, with some hesitation apparent. “It felt too raw, and maybe like it was too much. I didn’t really want to release it.” After playing an early version of the track for a few people, it was Koski who convinced him to give it a go. “He was like “I’ve got this idea. Hear me out! Hear me out!” And I didn’t even want to fucking do the song. In my world, that song would have been like after the record ended and two minutes of silence go by, then maybe that song starts. And Darius was like “no, fuck that, we gotta do it this way!”

The end result is a sweet, haunting, largely acoustic track, that provides a poignant, meaningful endnote to an album that’s pretty important album both within the band’s ranks and in the scene in general. Not only were Bonnel, Koski and Dalrymple able to overcome the loss of a few important contributors inside and outside the band, they were able to do so in a way that’s as charged-up and inspired as ever. In penning a few of their most outspokenly political songs to date in “Yes I Hope He Dies” and “Imitation Of Silence,” the Utters also plant their flag firmly in the camp that’s emphatically critical of what’s going on in the White House and at large. “Racism in the White House is a pretty serious thing,” states Bonnel. “I mean, racism is a thing that’s gone on since the beginning of time, but it’s at the point where something needs to be said. Things need to change, and we’re not the only ones doing this, for sure. It’s got to be a group effort.”

Head below to check out our conversations with both Bonnel and Dalrymple. Make sure you pick up Peace And Love on Friday!



DS Exclusive: Rob Taxpayer (The Taxpayers) premieres new video and talks Song of the Week Club anniversary!

Rob Taxpayer is an artist’s artist. This is a man who continuously creates. Whether it be the many exciting, volatile, and ambitious records he’s made with The Taxpayers, or the accompanying novel to God Forgive These Bastards: Songs From the Forgotten Life of Henry Turner, Rob Taxpayer is constantly busy making something. He’s punk in the most classical sense—an individual with a developed perspective and DIY to the bone—following his muse in and out of the strict boundaries punk sets for itself, and redrawing the borders as he sees fit.

Rob’s latest project is the Song of the Week Club, in which he releases a new song every week. August 20th, today, is the anniversary of this insane, impressive project. To commemorate this event, we’re premiering the video for “Gary, Indiana”—a song about Janus, the Roman God of Change “taking Gary, Indiana into her car and carrying the city towards whatever new birth is coming for the post-industrial midwestern city.” 

As an added bonus, Rob sat down with us to talk about the Song of the Week Club, songwriting, his new video, and everything else he’s doing. Check below to see the video and read what Rob has to say about all the cool stuff he’s working on these days.



DS Exclusive: Lucero’s Ben Nichols talks “Among The Ghosts” and the band’s twenty-year legacy

“My life would have been so much easier if I had just played punk rock songs at punk rock shows, or played country songs at country shows. But for some reason, there’s something in me that has got to play punk rock songs at country shows and country songs at punk rock shows.” – Ben Nichols (Lucero)

It’s an interesting phenomenon to have been a band long enough to have something resembling an arc or a trajectory to your career, thanks in no small part to the amount of “figuring you out” that fans and industry people and pretend music journalists like yours truly will try to do. If you’ve followed the path of Memphis’ Lucero, who’ve now crossed the twenty year mark as a band, you’ll know that it’s one marked by a series of genre-busting left-hand turns; depending where you jumped on the train as it careened down the track, you found yourself a fan of a band that was performing markedly different music – and was composed of markedly different members – than somebody who hopped aboard five years in either direction. 

The early part of 2018 brought with it the 20th anniversary of the band’s first show (celebrated in a barn-burner of a block party in their collective hometown back in April), and also found the band putting the finishing touches on its soon-to-be-released ninth studio album, Among The Ghosts. Due out August 3rd on a new label home (Thirty Tigers) the album finds the quintet taking a hard left once again. Gone is the quintessentially Memphis boogie-woogie sound that had been a focal point of the last three Ted Hutt-produced albums. Instead, Among The Ghosts finds the band producing some of the fullest sounds and most complex textures of the band’s two-decade-old catalog: Nichols’ lyrics and vocals are more earnest, the bass grooves are punchier, the time-keeping pocket is deeper, the guitar leads are soaring and more angular, the keys and strings and horns lead to a fuller and more cinematic quality than we’ve heard the band commit to record. In many ways, it’s years different from a lot of what we’ve heard from Lucero in recent memory; in other ways, it’s the most “Lucero” album yet.

We caught up with Lucero frontman Ben Nichols via telephone from his house, and it became instantly apparent that it’s not only the band’s musical direction that have changed since the release of their last album, 2015’s All A Man Should Do. An hour before our conversation, Lucero announced a slew of US tour dates that’ll keep them busy for the bulk of this coming fall. For a band that long-ago earned its Road Warrior badge of honor, that should not come as much of a surprise. However this Lucero circa 2018, not 2008. Nichols, who spent the formative years of his songwriting career penning some of the most soul-crushing songs of whiskey-soaked heartbreak and unrequited love of the last generation, has not only gotten married but has become a father for the first time (his not-quite-two year-old daughter Izzy is the whirling-dervish focal point to the band’s limited-release seven-inch that hit shelves a month ago).

If Nichols and company weren’t so immensely proud of the new record – and with good reason – the remainder of this calendar year might look radically different. “I’m really excited about the new record,” Nichols states rather emphatically. Now, it is obviously standard operating procedure for bands to publicly pronounce that their new music is more satisfying than anything they’ve produced to date, especially when it’s fresh. Nichols is nothing if not tangibly genuine in his appreciation for the new material, perhaps because it is, legitimately, so damn good. “I really love these new songs, and I love playing them every night…it hurts a little more to leave town, but I’m just so proud of the record, so it’s totally worth saying goodbye for a little bit and going out on the road.”

When it came time to write material for the first post-fatherhood album for two of the band’s members (drummer Roy Berry’s own daughter is just shy of two as well), the band opted not to team up with Ted Hutt again, as had been their recent pattern, and instead stuck with the theme of keeping things different this time out. Where the Hutt-era albums involved a lot of pre-production and a concentrated editing effort geared at cutting things up and making them fit in the best way possible, the Among The Ghosts sessions started the band back toward their earlier influences. “For the last three records,” Nichols states, “I wanted to go for that more Memphis sound, with the horn section and the boogie-woogie piano parts. It was fun to explore that. But with this record, I decided to go back to our roots.”

Those roots, as should be probably apparent given Nichols’ age and place in the music scene, involved traditional country music and late-80s alternative rock, run through a bit of a punk rock filter. Sort of. “When I started the band, it was kind of a rejection of the punk rock scene. I wanted to play sort of traditional country music, which we quickly found out we were unable to play,” explains Nichols. “I started off playing at 14, 15 years old, learning Cure covers and REM covers. That kind of ‘120 Minutes‘ era stuff. That’s what I grew up listening to in high school and those are the first songs that I learned how to play when I picked up a guitar. That stuff, whether I wanted it to be or not, was actually more of a presence in that early Lucero stuff than I thought it was.”

When searching for musical inspiration, looking toward one’s roots can be a questionable decision if not handled appropriately. But with the right approach, and with twenty years more knowledge, skill and ability in the ol’ tool belt, it can bear productive fruit. Armed with little more than four or five basic guitar lines to work with, the band gathered in early 2017 at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording studio in Memphis with a new locally-based producer, Matt Ross-Spang, who has a few Grammys to his credit from work with the likes of Jason Isbell, combined his attitude with the studio knowledge they obtained through the Hutt years, and took their time crafting a new record. The band set up on the floor in the studio and experimented, capturing new sounds and directions in real time, and allowing the product to build slowly and organically toward its eventual direction in real time. The Civil War letter home-inspired cadence and march of “To My Dearest Wife” came together fairly quickly, as did the album’s title track, an intense, angular rock song that also ranks as probably the most on-the-nose personal song on the album if not in the entire Nichols catalog. “Family ended up being a much bigger influence on the record than I thought it was going to be at first,” Nichols explains. “With Izzy and being married and having a house and a family (editor’s note: Nichols’ wife has two daughters from a prior relationship), those themes are obviously at the front of my mind, and those are songs that I feel like singing because that’s kind of what I’m going through at the moment.”

The album contains its fair share of running themes, many of which revolve around the protagonist not only having a battle to fight, literally or metaphorically, but a reason – in the shape of another person – to keep fighting for. Title track aside, Nichols explains that he was “intentionally trying to write more in a storytelling way, where the narrator isn’t necessarily Ben Nichols, and trying to work on the craft of songwriting, although that sounds pretentious.” Filled with straight forward mid-tempo tracks like “Everything Has Changed” and “To My Dearest Wife,” frantic, jagged rockers like the title track and “Cover Me” and tender ballads like “Always Been You” and “Loving,” the latter of which was also used in the closing credits of Nichols’ brother, Jeff’s award-winning 2016 movie of the same title, many of the images captured on Among The Ghosts are certainly inspired by very real events and historical tales, but they’re written in a way that makes the message translatable to the modern listener. “I wanted (them) to be applicable to whatever battle anyone’s fighting in their life. Whatever goals you have and whatever you’re fighting for, I wanted it to be able to apply to that.”

At this point, the bulk of Among The Ghosts has been played live over the course of the last half-year, with Nichols playing some of the tracks solo and acoustic in a one-off New Jersey date earlier this year, and the band playing a handful of tracks at springtime tour dates. Then, of course, came arguable the most traditionally “punk rock” decision any band will make this year, which found Lucero taking their 45 minute direct support slot on Frank Turner’s recent full US tour, sandwiched in between The Menzingers and Turner himself, and to using it to play 90% of the new album, months before its release. “It was a Frank Turner show, so we only had 45 minutes,” explains Nichols somewhat sheepishly. “Really when it comes down to it, I had so much fun playing those songs, and I’m away from my family and a lot of these songs are about missing my family, so I really just did it for myself! I think it worked!

The one song that didn’t make it into that set, for reasons that’ll be obvious to the listener once they hear it, is “Back To The Night,” a track that’s jarring to listen to the first time out, as it contains a lengthy spoken-word element performed by Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Nocturnal Animals, Take Shelter, Mud, etc, etc, etc), who’ll also star in the band’s upcoming video for “Long Way Back Home. The band found themselves with the bulk of the track’s dark, haunting music completed, and Nichols had a surplus of lines that had been cut out of other songs that he didn’t want to necessarily discard. Inspired by the early-90s trend in which bands would insert movie or television dialog into their songs, what Nicholas also had was an idea. He explains: “I pieced together lines that I’d written that didn’t get used. A lot of them were from “Everything Has Changed,” some of them were from “Back To The Night,” some of them were from other things..that weren’t being used and were on the cutting room floor, but that I didn’t really want to get rid of. So I sent it to my brother, Jeff, and said “man, if you can just have Mike (Shannon) call us and leave a voice memo…” He was nice enough, within twenty-four hours, to recite those lines in a voice memo, and it was the coolest thing ever to get that voice memo.”

After a period of three-or-so weeks in the studio, stretched out over the course of most of 2017, Lucero completed work on Among The Ghosts. Though each of the track’s ten tracks are different, sometimes radically, it still ranks as perhaps the most complete and cohesive collection of stories in the band’s lexicon. “I think I’m pretty good at taking a step back and evaluating where the band is, at least for the last three records and how this new record fits into that arc,” Nichols affirms matter-of-factly. “I think we’re right where we want to be… (Among The Ghosts) ended up sounding exactly like the kind of music I was in the mood to hear right now.”

Head below to check out our full, extensive chat with Nichols. It ranks as one of our favorite conversations to appear on the pages of Dying Scene to date. While you’re at it, you can still pre-order Among The Ghosts here before it’s too late.

 



Up-and-coming skate punk band Noogy hits the road, talks the biz

DFW skate-punk band Noogy is touring the East Coast on the heels of their second EP release this year, “Pessimistic”. If you get the chance, this is for-sure, for-sure a band you are going to want to check out live. These boys have been pretty busy tearing up the southwest, from Texas to Cali, hanging out with MDC and otherwise running amok. They’ve made a pretty noticeable impression on their worthy followers of youthful hoodrats and miscreants as well. Check em out!

I caught up with Andre at the kick-off party, and scheduled a time for him to give me a call… He hit me up, and we talked road life, Dead Kennedy’s, Steve-O and more. Check out their tour schedule and read that conversation below.



Bad Religion to hit the studio this fall or late summer

Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz recently offered LA Weekly an update on the band’s long-awaited new album, which is expected to be released soon. While talking about their recently-released new single “The Kids Are Alt-Right“, Brett stated:

“It’s a scathing indictment of the conservative youth movement, and we have a brilliant lyrics video done by a young Spanish artist named Antoni Sendra (aka Podenco) — he’s a phenomenal visual artist. We’re writing for a new album, recording this fall or late summer. No release date announced yet, but we should have an album’s worth of ‘Fuck Trump’ songs pretty soon. It’s exactly what we need.”

The follow-up to 2013’s True North will be Bad Religion’s first studio album with Mike Dimkich (replacing Greg Hetson) on guitar and Jamie Miller (replacing Brooks Wackerman) on drums.



DS Exclusive: Fighting The Good Fight with Kevin and Aimee of The Interrupters

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you were a band that had achieved some modicum of success in a relatively brief period of time. For argument’s sake, our definition of “success” here includes the following parameters: signed to one of the most successful independent labels in the music game; put out not one or two but three albums on that label, all of whom were produced by one of the bigger and most recognizable personalities in the the punk music scene; headlined a couple of your own successful cross-country club tours; played the main stage at a handful of wildly successful punk rock festivals; toured several continents with one of the last quarter-century’s largest rock bands on the planet; got added to regular rotation at your hometown (Los Angeles) rock radio station which, in spite of prevailing trends, remains a taste-making force in the game. Oh, and let’s also say that all of these accomplishments – and more – happened within your first half-dozen years as a band. It would be natural, maybe even expected, if some of that love and those accomplishments went to your head, and you maybe started to take some things for granted, right?

Not if you’re The Interrupters.

We caught up with Aimee and Kevin from the band over the phone the Friday before last, which happened to coincide with the release date for their third – and best – studio album, Fight The Good Fight (Hellcat/Epitaph). Amidst the hustle and bustle that an album release date can entail, and after exchanging our usual pleasantries, we got interrupted (pun largely intended) by the duo receiving an incoming call that they couldn’t ignore, as it was from none other than Tim Armstrong. Armstrong is not just one of the godfather’s of the last three decades of punk rock, he’s been a constant big brotherly presence in The Interrupters’ career, signing them to his Hellcat label imprint right out of the gate, producing and appearing on all three of their albums to date, imparting his unique wisdom on the quartet along the way. For more than just the obvious reasons, The Interrupters are a band that considers itself and its crew a family, and Armstrong is as big a part of that family as anybody. And so the sheepish excitement in Kevin Bivona’s voice when we returned to our call and explained why they had to break standard informal phone-interview protocol and put me on hold was not only palpable, it was downright refreshing.

It would certainly not be the last time that our conversation would trend into events that were notably surreal. Any fan of the Interrupters knows that they spent a great deal of time touring Australia, Europe and South America as direct support for Green Day over the last year. It found the band not only getting to play their upbeat blend of punk and third-wave ska to a large number of new ears, it also created a situation where a different high-profile Armstrong, Green Day’s inimitable Billie Joe, ended up with writing credits on a song (“Broken World”) on the newest Interrupters album. Here’s how Kevin Bivona explains it: “We were in Santiago, Chile, and we played a show, and there were a couple of hours before we had to go to the airport, so we were hanging out with Green Day and their families. It was an amazing experience. And (Billie Joe) goes “hey, I have an idea for a song that I think could be a really cool Interrupters song.” And he grabbed a guitar, and he kinda pulled Aimee and I aside and he played it for us, and he said “I don’t know, I think this would just be a kind of cool thing for you.” And he played it for us and we said “Yes! We love it!” Upon returning to the States, the band got to work on filling out the remainder of the song, and doing so in a manner that would do right by the Green Day frontman.  “I wanted him to be proud, because he thought enough of us to give us this riff that he could have obviously turned into an amazing song for any one of his bands. We sent the song back to him right when we were done with it, and he texted us back that night and he was so excited about it and happy to be a part of it. It’s so surreal, too, to have a song with a riff written by Billie Joe Armstrong and produced by Tim Armstrong…”

If you’ve had a chance to dig in to Fight The Good Fight yet, you’re probably aware that Billie Joe’s involvement wasn’t the only surreal part of the album-making process. While Tim Armstrong has lent his iconic vocal stylings to a track on each of the first two Interrupters albums, FTGF’s “Got Each Other” finds each of Rancid’s members chipping in, an idea that came from Armstrong himself. “Matt and Lars are in the Bay Area, and Branden lives in Utah,” explains Bivona. “When it came time to get the actual recording done, we were kind of down to the wire, so we actually had Jesse and Justin get in our tour van, drive up to San Francisco, and set up a mobile studio to record Matt and Lars’ verses and run them back down. Simultaneously, I’m on the phone with Branden in Utah, and he has a studio in his house…He sang on the choruses with us, and he sent it to us to mix that night. It was really down to the wire.”

The result of the last-minute collaboration is textbook Interrupters: an infectiously danceable, high energy rallying cry preaching the timeless notions of friendship and unity. “I cried my eyes out when I heard all of Rancid singing with us on that song,” says Aimee. “The first time I ever heard Rancid in my life, when I was in high school, I cried when I heard “…And Out Come The Wolves.” I felt like I wasn’t alone in the world, and that other people understood me. We brought that message on “Got Each Other,” and to hear all of Rancid sing that message not just to me but through my speakers with me…”We don’t have much, but we’ve got each other”…I was so happy and so grateful, and I can’t really describe how full circle and surreal that moment was.

While many of the tracks on Fight The Good Fight deal with themes that we’ve come to know and love from The Interrupters circa 2018, we also find the band digging a little deeper, turning their mirror inward in ways that were missing on the first two albums. Tracks like “Gave You Everything,” “Room With A View,” and “So Wrong” resonate as the band’s most personal – and arguably most compelling – tracks to date. Says Aimee: “I feel like when you write a song that moves you and touches you, and you’re going through an authentic experience and writing your truth, a lot of times for me that’s therapy. I’m writing to get things out and I need to process this stuff and this anxiety that’s happening in my heart and my mind. When I process that and put that into lyrics, if that helps me and gets me through it, then hopefully that can help somebody else. That’s what this is all about…loving people and helping people and connecting with people through your music.”

The band’s quest to bring their music and their positive energy to as many people as possible has generated numerous unforgettable experiences. As they get set to head out on the last leg of the final installment of the Warped Tour this coming weekend, they’re sure to add a few more to the list. “Just when we think we’ve checked everything off the bucket list, some new opportunity presents itself and we are blown away with gratitude,” says Bivona, the sincerity palpable in his voice. “Even doing the Amoeba Records in-store performance a couple nights ago was surreal. Getting added to our local radio station, KROQ, which is what we all grew up listening to, is surreal. There’s never going to be a time where there isn’t an amazing opportunity that we will be thrilled with.

Head below to check out our full Q&A with Kevin and Aimee, and stay tuned for upcoming tour announcements in the very near future!



Exclusive: Long lost PEARS Interview with Brian Pretus from early post-“Green Star” golden days

Oh my God. Did I really get wasted while running the merch booth for Pears?

What was I thinking? Those guys are the most amazing people ever. They paid me seventy bucks to spill beer all over their merchandise. I was supposed to be slangin’ the goods!

In my defence, it was somewhat overwhelming. Pears is loaded! I hope I didn’t accidentally embezzle too many funds. I vaguely remember commenting on Zach Quinn’s Ugg Boots.

I am such an asshole.

I’m also irresponsible. Dude, Pears is fucking loaded!

…a few months before all that (over a year or so, now, and long before I was a writer at DyingScene) I had a very pleasant chat with Brian Pretus, Pears’ guitar player at Three Links over a couple large glasses of Horchata. Read through that conversation below.