Here’s another set of amazing stories by musicians from all over the world! This time I’m taking you along for a ride through the city of Detroit, a mecca for its music and the automobile industry, a city that incurred many great losses in its history. Our narrator is Eric Scobie, who has just started Dropping Bombs, a new label to help his friends from a band called SPIT SPEWING SNAKES release a new 7”! Eric is also a drummer for GREAT REVERSALS, a modern hardcore band from the Metro Detroit. We successfully managed to secure a very informative interview and I’d like to say thanks again to Eric for being such a good and knowledgeable storyteller. Eric, I’m sorry for not asking you about the new Robocop! I totally forgot!!! ;)
Check out a brief introduction for just 2 out of hundreds of bands mentioned in this article :) and scroll down to read the full story!
Having been among the churning local Detroit D.I.Y. punk and hardcore scene for several years now, SPIT SPEWING SNAKES are poised to unleash a proper physical release of their new EP “Steady Sinking Stones”. This release finds the band honing their craft and integrating everything from LEFT FOR DEAD and CHARLES BRONSON to SICK OF IT ALL and AN into their sonic attack. Featuring four original ragers and an AFI cover, the band will be joining forces with upstart label Dropping Bombs to issue the release on vinyl later this Spring!
When it comes to GREAT REVERSALS, the band has just put out a split with SUNLIGHT ASCENDING from Clawson, Michigan. Additionally, they have another new 7″ entitled “Natural Burial” coming out around April, to be released via Protagonist Music, How Soon is Now, and Hydrogen Man records. A lot more exciting stuff is coming up. Read the interview below to learn all of it.
Hey Eric! What’s up man! How are you? Please shoot us an introduction to your project and tell us about how you went about setting this new label up!
Hey, I’m great! The label thing has really been the culmination of three different experiences coming together. First off, this past summer for my blog I did a little series where I talked to 13 of my favorite small-scale d.i.y. labels, mostly just because I love them, but also because I was kind of doing my research and wanted to get a look at the nuts & bolts of running things. I’ve been kicking around the idea of starting something for quite a while so that was a little boost.
Secondly, my band just released a split 7″ with some local friends and I got to handle the logistics of dealing with the pressing plant. There’s a plant like 20 minutes from my house so it was fun to see the process first hand by going to drop off the masters, pick up tests and ultimately go get the records when they were done. It was a pretty gratifying experience for me and I decided I wanted to do it again.
Lastly, back in January the dudes in SPIT SPEWING SNAKES posted their new e.p. up online and I was blown away by it; it gave me the chills, which at this point is a rare thing for me. I sort of knew those guys a little bit, my band has played with them a couple times but we weren’t necessarily good friends or anything. However, they are some of the most hard-working guys in Detroit, they’ve been booking d.i.y. shows for the last several years so they’ve definitely had my respect for a long time and have been on my radar. That said, I’ve become increasingly jaded with the stuff that’s been getting popular among hardcore kids in Detroit lately, so I just sort of said “Screw it, why be bitter about stuff you don’t like when you can offer an alternative that you think is better?”.
Cool, so it’s a kind of a self-service solution, I see. But I guess you’ll be also home for other artists, won’t you?
To be completely honest I’m not really sure. I’d certainly love to be able to put out more stuff, but my personal situation is that I’m married with 4 little boys at home so the vast majority of my resources are going towards paying rent and buying groceries, not releasing vinyl. So we’ll see how it goes.
I certainly have a bunch of ideas in mind for stuff I’d love to do; there’s a comp 7″ idea I have that I’ve already mentioned to a couple bands and have gotten some preliminary interest for so if that happened I’d be stoked. There’s another Detroit band called THARSIS THEY who are sitting on a 7″ worth of material that I’d love to put out, they have a late 90’s/early 00’s Hydra Head Records vibe going on, they absolutely destroy. They’re a criminally under-appreciated band, people should go download their stuff right now (it’s free) at http://tharsisthey.bandcamp.com.
But right now the priority is to get the SSS record out and try to push that as hard as I can. Hopefully some kids pick it up and I can put whatever momentum is generated by that into the next project. I tend to be a dreamer and get really excited about stuff, so I’m trying to just be pragmatic and modest in my expectations.
Nice! I’m a happy father of a 2,5 month old daughter, so I guess my busiest days are still ahead of me, haha! :)
Ok Eric, about pushing as hard you can, how exactly would you do that? With the power of the Web, online marketing, social networking and digital downloads, where do DIY ethics stand?
The band I’m in has always released our own stuff, so we’ve had to basically just try to hook up distro trades, get people to take releases on consignment and all that stuff. Beyond that, trying to play out as much as possible, get record shops to carry the release, send it our to the few remaining physical zines to get reviews, etc.
When it comes to the digital realm, I think just doing what I’m doing right now in terms of sending the release info to as many websites as possible to try to get the band and the label some exposure. Obviously for every awesome site like you guys that actually takes the time to check out the release and then goes one step further to reach out and give it some press, there will be many more who just delete the email or whatever, and that’s life, oh well. But beyond news sites there’s all the blogs and all those places who are trying to spread stuff around. So I intend to capitalize on all those things, as well as use social media for what it’s worth.
I’m obviously a newbie with all this, but once it comes closer to release time I’ll definitely be seeking out the counsel of some label friends (the ones I mentioned that I had interviewed and some others) to see what they do in terms of p.r. and getting the word out about their projects.
Alright, let’s go back to SPIT SPEWING SNAKES – “Steady Sinking Stones is truly amazing, I’ll give you that. Can you provide a brief introduction to the band?
Well, prior to doing SSS, Nate (vocals) and Ryan (bass) had been playing in another local band called BEARFOOT for a couple of years. That fizzled out and eventually they grabbed this younger kid Aaron to play guitar and another new kid to play drums. About 6 months or a year ago they replaced that guy and got Jeremiah to play drums. They self-recorded/released an e.p. called “Self-Serving Saviors” last Spring and then quickly followed it up by recording the “Steady Sinking Stones” e.p. themselves as well. Hoewever, they decided to re-record those songs with a local friend Chris Trestain who plays bass in that band THARSIS THEY I mentioned earlier as well as playing guitar for BUILD & DESTROY. Chris is an awesome engineer and records tons of local punk and hardcore bands, he did a great job of re-capturing the intensity of the songs.
the Bearcave and also help organize a big show every year called Best Friends Fest which features a lot of local Detroit bands, but usually a few out of towners as well.
Once again, what made them a good fit for Dropping Bombs? Also, are you putting it out on vinyl only?
In terms of why I wanted to work with them, like I said before, I just really like the music and lyrics. I’ve always felt like the best punk and hardcore bands are those that offer some sort of sociopolitical or economic critique, and while I don’t know that SSS has any particular agendas or flags that they’re waving, the general feel of the lyrics definitely resonated with me when I first read them, particularly the song “The Death of Debt”.
Musically, to be totally honest my personal interests generally lie more with 90’s influenced hardcore and screamy stuff as opposed to the somewhat thrashier style that SSS plays, but I just feel like they pull it off really well, both recorded and in a live setting.
Beyond that, they’re hard-working kids, they don’t have some too-cool-for school attitude, they GET IT, and that’s probably more important to me than what it sounds like. This community to me is about relationships, it’s about trying to build something bigger than ourselves or just pushing your own band; it’s about connecting with others who are discontented and have something to say. So for me, while the music is certainly important, the people are way more important. I could really like a band’s music, but if they’re shitheads or if I feel like they’re here for the wrong reasons, I’m not particularly interested.
As far as the vinyl thing, I like all formats of music whether it’s tapes, cd’s or digital, but I have come to prefer vinyl. The expanded format gives more space for visuals, lyrics, etc. which is cool, and quite frankly, very few people are buying any form of physical music these days, but it seems like NOBODY (at least nobody in hc & punk) is buying cd’s any more.
Some Europeans still dig it, haha! :D
Besides this classy record, what can we expect from the band in the coming months?
SSS will be working with me to get the release all prepped. Their singer Nate is a graphic designer by trade so he is making up all kinds of cool extras to throw in the records….posters, pins, stickers, etc. So we will be getting all that squared away. Otherwise, they’re just gonna be playing out as much as possible, next weekend they’re doing a weekend that will take them to Chicago and Kalamazoo, and they have a few local shows coming up as well. They also have a new batch of songs in the works, so definitely no slowing down for them any time soon.
Alright Eric, let’s find out more about your foundations :) Who were some of your favorite artists growing up? How did you get involved with punk music?
I was in high school when the Seattle/grunge phenomenon hit and in 1993 my cousin asked me if I wanted to go see QUICKSAND and SEAWEED with him. Neither of us knew anything about the punk and hardcore roots of those bands at the time, we just kinda thought they were more NIRVANA type bands, so that was my first taste of the underground. From there, to be honest I saw SICK OF IT ALL’s video for “Step Down” on MTV which turned me onto them, and then one day while reading an issue of Metal Maniacs magazine I saw a spot in their “zine scene” section on a little NYHC zine called In Effect. That zine had another SOIA interview so I ordered it through the mail and the guy who ran it was named Chris Wynne and Chris would write me letters with lists of all kinds of stuff I should check out. I became an avid reader of In Effect and discovered all my favorite NYHC bands there; H20, CIV, SHELTER, MURPHY’S LAW, etc. He was covering all those bands right as they were breaking and getting some mainstream exposure so I was able to go see them all live when they would come through on a regular basis. At that point I just got infatuated with hardcore and was digging as much as I could into all kinds of bands.
I’m actually a Christian kid so a year or two after all that I went to go see STRONGARM and OVERCOME and OVERCOME had this kid Cori Hale with them who was their roadie. Cori wrote a zine called Heuristic at the time and that zine really opened up a different side of hardcore from just the NYHC stuff I had been listening to. His zine had a lot more political and animal rights based content and the bands were much more d.i.y. In that zine I read about UNBROKEN, GROUNDWORK, a lot of those kinds of bands.
From there I went to college, started traveling out of state for shows every weekend, started booking shows, started a small label with some local friends, and I’ve just never looked back.
How did you get involved in GREAT REVERSALS? How did this idea for the band come about? Can you shoot us a brief introduction to the band, how it formed and evolved?
GREAT REVERSALS started like a lot of bands I would assume. Aaron & I have been life-long friends, as were Alex & Sam. Steve was sort of the glue that brought us together. I met him in what must have been 06′ at a VERSE/HAVE HEART/SHIPWRECK show. I had just gotten done with grad school and was feeling like maybe the time was right to get a band going again, and his band at that time was looking for a drummer. That venture ultimately didn’t work out for me, but Steve and I stayed friends so after they broke up, we went to see ANOTHER BREATH together one night and on the way home he pitched the idea of starting something. We tried out Aaron on vocals because he had sang in my last band and then Steve knew Alex & Sam from going to shows so he brought those guys into the fold.
From the start we wanted to play 90’s style hardcore with a sense of honesty and passion. While we aren’t necessarily a super political band or anything, we’re all drawn to that sense of idealism a lot of 90’s bands drew on. We’re all straight edge dudes but we don’t really address is lyrically, it’s more of a deeply ingrained thing for all of us rather than a flag we feel the need to fly. Plus so much of sXe these days has become entwined with violent imagery which we want nothing to do with. Aaron’s lyrics tend be more philosophical and grabble with broad questions of life, death, and meaning.
Musically we’ve tried to incorporate more post-rock type elements into our music since we’re all really drawn to that type of stuff as well. Our anchor will always be in heavy 90’s style hardcore, but we’ve tried to diversify and branch out a little bit too.
Ha! So that’s why you’re not called GREATxREVERSALS ;)
Eric, how do you see the evolution in your local music scene since you started until now?
Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but I’ve been going to punk and hardcore shows in Michigan (Detroit specifically) for 20 years now, and as much as there have always been bands and trends that I wasn’t interested in, I’d say there’s always been tons of cool activity going on in our scene. We’ve always had a solid mixture of d.i.y. venues that supported smaller, more underground bands, and then more stable, bigger venues for the national and international touring acts to come through. People come and go, trends come and go, but there’s always a core holding it down, as well as a crop of new people that come and fill the void.
Right now the two most consistent d.i.y. venues illustrate this nicely. On the one hand there is a spot called Refuge Skateshop which is run by this guy Eric Z.; he’s a total lifer, been booking shows longer than I’ve been going, and continues to open up his business for unknown bands to come make racket in. On the other hand is this guy Maxwell, he’s been booking shows at the couple houses he’s lived at in Detroit for the last few years since moving here. He’s a total grind head, but is supportive of the broad spectrum of punk and hardcore and has hosted literally hundreds of shows in the couple years he has been here. He also runs a label and is putting stuff out at a dizzying pace.
I would say that things unfortunately tend to be pretty compartmentalized (crusty kids going to shows over here, emo kids over there), but overall I’d say on any given week there are 3 or 4 shows that are worth going to, which is probably more than can be said for a lot of places.
How much truth is there really to this “legend” about the most dangerous city in the country? Do you have to be a tough guy to live there? ;)
Undoubtedly Detroit is a very tough place. I think I heard last year it was the third most violent city in the U.S. (2nd was Flint which is an hour north of us). I grew up in the city and lived there until 4th grade (I was 8 or 9) when my parents moved us out to the suburbs; primarily out of concern for my sister and I’s education. So I spent some time in the city itself as a kid but most of my experiences in the city came when I was a teacher there in the public schools from 2002 to 2010.
Rather than focusing on how tough it is, to me the more dominant narrative of the city is tragedy. You’re probably familiar with the rampant corruption that has devastated the city… right now there is an emergency financial manager and a new mayor who are trying to turns things around, but the undertaking is massive. A few weeks ago I was at my buddy Maxwell’s who I mentioned earlier for a show, he lives in the city and his street literally didn’t look like it had been plowed all winter, and this has been the most brutal winter in memory. There were tire tracks in the street for cars to pass through and between the tire tracks there was probably an 8 inch block of ice in the middle of the road that probably hadn’t been salted all winter. This is Detroit; a major American city with upwards of 700,000 residents and it hasn’t been plowed or salted at all!
When I taught in the city the desperation was often palpable. Obviously the schools are under-resourced, so the kids are in no way getting an equal shot. The school district is incredibly mismanaged, kids often go an entire school year with a series of substitute teachers rather than someone who is certified. In the 8 years I taught there I was placed at 5 different buildings, so I never really had the chance to make authentic connections with my students or their families; it was frustrating. There are serious gang issues in pockets of the city, children are familiar with death. In any given classroom if you asked the kids how many of them had lost a loved one to violence upwards of half the class would raise their hands. It’s a harrowing situation.
Rather than focus massive investment on the schools and city services, it seems like decisions have been made to enhance the downtown area which features a lot of entertainment and sports facilities. I recently heard the Red Wings are looking to build a stadium and supposedly a good chunk of it will be subsidized with taxpayer funds. Obviously the sports teams provide jobs and are a source of economic impact, but why are we spending public money on a private enterprise when the streets aren’t getting plowed, the schools are in disarray, and the neighborhoods are left to suffer?
To add to that, there is a fairly strong sense of an urban/suburban divide. Many people in the suburbs are too terrified to even go into the city, let alone feel any sort of responsibility or desire to build the type of partnerships that might begin to lift the city out of the rubble. Unfortunately there is no doubt an undercurrent of racial tension that fuels this, which only adds to the sense that suburbanites can just wash their hands of the city and its problems.
Have you ever considered moving somewhere else?
No, I never have. I went to school in Grand Rapids on the other side of the state, but I knew I’d come back after I got my degree; the Detroit area always has and always will be home. My entire family lives here, I could never leave.
I feel like it’s a pretty big cliché at this point, but Detroiters are resilient. As much as I talked about how bad things are in a lot of ways, there are always cool things popping up and people doing good things. That fear I talked about earlier can be crippling; but it shouldn’t be. The more people allow those stereotypes and fears of the city to keep them out of it, the more isolated we become from each other.
I got a gig teaching in the suburbs a few years ago but one of the things we have going is that in my Sociology classes we have a partnership with an elementary school where the kids get a pen pal and we exchange letters, my students get to do some mentoring of some younger kids in Detroit. We always go visit at the end of the semester to go meet the kids and hang out. What’s most important about those trips in my mind is the drive there and back. I want my students to really see what it’s like in the city; to realize that they can drive 30 minutes and be in a totally different world. My most idealistic hope would be that it would spark something in them; an outrage against the type of segregation and injustice that exists essentially right in their back yard. At 16 or 17 I’m sure most of them can’t even begin to conceptualize a response to these problems (hell, at 35 I’m still not sure), but I hope it can at least plant some seeds that this notion of equality that we always talk about here in America isn’t always what it seems, that we should question everything.
What made you want to work with kids?
I think I’ve always been drawn to the energy of kids; their excitement, their idealism. I think so many adults have just settled into what they think their life is and can be; young people still have a sense that many trajectories are possible, that there’s still a lot left that’s unknown. I’ve always found that to be refreshing.
That probably has a lot to do with why I’m still inspired by hardcore. Why go hang out and drink at a bar on Saturday night with a bunch of people who have given up and are miserable when I could be in a room full of people screaming about changing the world? It’s naïve, and I get that, but it’s still a lot more exciting.
Sounds logical :)
So Eric, let’s sum it up before we say goodbye. What’s coming from GREAT REVERSALS and your other ventures the next months?
Well, for GREAT REVERSALS, we have a new 7″ coming out next month called “Natural Burial”. It’s 3 songs and we feel like it’s a cool progression for the band….heavier, darker. It’s being released by 3 really awesome d.i.y. labels that are run by some of the best people. Our friend Chris from How Soon is Now also plays in an amazing screamo band called COMA REGALIA, Andrew from Hydrogen Man Records does a sick band called DYING, and Brenden and Bill from Protagonist Music continue to build one of the most diverse labels around (Brenden used to be in GROUNDWORK and BURY ME STANDING as well, which is insane). So we feel really honored to have such a solid cast of people supporting us.
We’re looking at doing a weekend out to Philly and back at the beginning of May when the record comes out, and after that playing out locally as much as we can. In the Fall we might do a little weekend with CLOUD RAT, they mentioned it to us a little while ago and that would be sick if it panned out because that band is so good. Given that a couple of us have families and careers we can’t go too crazy but we will do what we can. Our guitar player Steve sings for HOLLOW EARTH, they just recorded an LP that is absolutely gonna floor people. They’ll be n the road a lot this year so that’s another limitation on us. So while he’s gone the rest of us will just do what we’ve always done which is slowly work on the outlines for new songs. We’ve been talking about maybe shooting for an LP since we’ve basically covered all the other formats, so we’ll see where that takes us.
As for the label, just getting the SSS out and seeing what happens with it. I’m super excited to be working with those guys and hope I can give them the push they deserve.
And then on the blog front just continuing to reach out to people who are making music that speaks to me.
Lastly, booking some shows here and there. I have AXIS from Florida coming through next month which I’m really excited for. I personally think they are the best current band in hardcore, people need to wake up on how awesome they are. Then in August I’m doing a show for JUNGBLUTH on their little run with CALLOW. I’ve never booked a show for an international band before so that’ll be special and exciting. Hopefully some other stuff will present itself between now and then as well.
Great! Have you checked out my recent interview with CALLOW and JUNGBLUTH? Did you know JUNGBLUTH before realizing they’re doing that split with your American mates?
I did read your CALLOW/JUNGBLUTH feature but I knew about JUNGBLUTH prior to that. I know Cory from Halo of Flies who handled the US release of “Part Ache” so I picked a copy of that up last year when it was released.
I’m really excited to meet those guys and see them play live.
Are there any other European bands you think we should keep my eye on?
Oh man, I feel like I should be asking you about European hardcore.
I guess I feel relatively uneducated about it as a whole. I know CLOUD RAT did Europe last year and spent time with both RESURRECTIONISTS and REPUBLIC OF DREAMS and came home raving about both bands.
I used to love ZANN so I feel like most everything Adagio does is interesting/awesome. Robert told me he has a new band in the works so I’m excited for that. Throatruiner and Denavoli always seem to put out amazing stuff.
I reeeeally like that band THE TIDAL SLEEP. My friend Mel was gonna re-issue their stuff in the U.S. but if fell through for whatever reason, I was super bummed. I like that band AMBER a lot….they did a record for Protagonist/Halo of Flies last year that rules, and I’m excited to hear their new split 7″ with LOCKTENDER.
Otherwise, I was really disappointed when RITUAL and MIDNIGHT SOULS broke up. I thought both of their final LP’s were great and they seemed to be reaching a level where maybe they might tour the U.S. so I was sad I’d never get to see them.
And lastly, RISE & FALL. I was never a big fan but I feel like “Faith” is such an incredible record. I wish they’d get back together and do more stuff like that.
So you tell me, what else should I be checking out in terms of European stuff?
Oh man, it’s impossible to tell ;) Recently I’m heavily into metallic, blackened hardcore stuff, band that blend post hardcore/screamo or heavy hardcore with metal influences. Some of the bands definitely worth your check are WE CAME OUT LIKE TIGERS, THIS GIFT IS A CURSE and TOTEM SKIN.
Some bands that really amazed me recently are from different areas, both geographically and stylistically. Make sure to check out such DIY artists as GHOSTCHANT, LEFT IN RUINS, FORESEEN or NINE ELEVEN!
Crust and d-beat hardcore has been and always will be the driving force in the motivation to create passionate anti-movements and politically aware bands. You should take a minute to meet Contraszt! Records, DROPPING BOMBS, DRIP OF LIES, GUANTANAMO PARTY PROGRAM.
One of my beloved subgenre is emotive, instrumental-driven post hardcore / screamo, which has been always a domain of many amazing European bands like RAEIN, SUIS LA LUNE, AUSSITOT MORT (MORT MORT MORT), SED NON SATIATA (which are about to release a split with CARRION SPRING), SUGARTOWN CABARET, AMANDA WOODWARD, LA QUIETE, DAITRO, ENOCH ARDON and newer acts including emo / post hardcore / grunge influences like THE WAY THEY RUN, NAI HARVEST, NIBIRU, GRAND DETOUR, NEW ALASKA or PASTEL.
The real screamo meets post metal is something you’ll find at Moment Of Collapse Records’ headquarters and there are dozens of amazing bands that can easily amaze you. Watch out for the newest split release from Moscow’s REKA and the newest tunes from OAKEN.
Ok, but let’s not forget about dozens of amazing hardcore punk bands like BACK DOWN, WAR CHARGE (also make sure to check out other acts connected to Purgatory Records), RITUAL (RIP), GONE TO WASTE, WOLFxDOWN, DOGFIGHT, DOGCHAINS and a lot more!
It would be stupid of me not to mention the bigger names like NO TURNING BACK, JUSTICE, TRUE COLORS, ANCHOR, TO KILL, STRENGTH APPROACH, HITMAN, THE BRIDGE and a lot more! I’m deeply sorry for not mentioning al the rest of them that I really respect!
One of my favorite melodic hardcore bands is Norway’s DEATH IS NOT GLAMOROUS, a band that is absolutely essential if you’re into tunes in the vein of SHOOK ONES. Also, MELEEH and SEQUOIA are still one of my dearest melodic / emotive hardcore / emocore bands out there, definitely worth a check.
Europe has been home for many amazing straight edge and vegan bands. Besides the aforementioned ANCHOR, you can take a listen to IRON, everything from Refuse Records, VIOLENT REACTION, CLEAN BREAK, GUTS OUT, SECTARIAN VIOLENCE or STAY HUNGRY.
It wouldn’t be wise of me to forget about many Polish bands that represent different styles and whose work is of a very high standard! Please be sure to take a listen to THE LOWEST, the legendary ZLODZIEJE ROWEROW, CALM THE FIRE, PAIN RUNS DEEP, SLIP, INHERIT (UK hardcore with Polish roots :)), BLOODSTAINED, CASTET, CZERN, THE DOG, TORN SHORE, OREIRO, APRIL, POISON HEART, LAST DAYZ, IRON TO GOLD, THE FIGHT, REGRES, REALITY CHECK, DEATH ROW, DESPERATE TIMES, STONE HEART, HARD TO BREATHE, EYE FOR AN EYE, IDENTITY, CYMEON X, MINORITY, SCHIZMA, THUGxLIFE, INCITEMENT and a whole bunch more!
Besides the bands, festivals are an amazing and unique way to learn about tons of exciting records. Fluff Fest, Cry Me A River Fest, Outbreak Fest, Off Festival and New Noise Fest are some of the names you should be following.
A bunch of decent DIY labels are still going strong. Keep your eyes peeled for Carry The Weight Records, Commitment Records, Reflections Records, Throatruiner Records, Salad Days Records, Straight And Alert Records, Learn To Trust Records, Reality Records, Elephant Skin Records, The Essence, Let it Burn Records, Dog Knights Productions, Adagio830, Beatdown Hardwear, Farewell Records, Goodwill Records and dozens more! Damn, I should build a solid data base of everything punk and hardcore related ;) Seriously, there are legions of people worth mentioning and I feel really bad for not placing them here. Promoters, zines, booking crews, more bands, more artists, more labels, more festivals! Punk is alive and kickin’!
There are loads of interesting bands and labels out there and so little time to manage. Take a look at the full listing of my interviews – you might find something interesting there. I will update this list asap. Meanwhile, every single chat is available at this location. WOLVES LIKE US, ASH IS A ROBOT, damn, there are way too many cool rock and punk bands to name ’em all.
Ooofff… I won’t ask you back about the whole country, but please be so kind and tell me… What bands should foreign visitors make sure they see at your local grounds?
As far as local Michigan bands go, I would say SSS obviously, HOLLOW EARTH who my guitar player Steve sings for; they just recorded a new LP which will be out later this year on Panic Records, LEFT OF THE DIAL, CLOUD RAT, OLD SOUL (they will be touring Europe this summer), BONESHAKER, RETRIBUTION, NOT OK, DEAD CHURCH, BREAKING WHEEL, THARSIS THEY, REST IN SHIT, and many others. As far as somewhat smaller U.S. bands that people across the pond might not know about/should check out, some of my favorites are AXIS, DIVIDER, CAPACITIES, DYING, COMA REGALIA, RUN WITH THE HUNTED, YOUNG TURKS, BETWEEN EARTH & SKY, etc.
Have you had a chance to talk to Greg Bennick face-to-face? What do you think defines such personality?
Yeah, I have gotten to know Greg a little bit over the past couple years. I was actually fortunate to book TRIAL in November of 2012 when they did a little Midwest/East Coast run. I saw TRIAL twice back in the 90’s but both times were prior to the release of their legendary “Are These Our Lives?”. That record is among my top 10 hardcore records of all time, so to say I was excited to see them play those songs live is quite an understatement. Anyway, there was a great turnout for that show, it was everything I’d imagined and more.
Since then I’ve worked a little bit with Greg in support of his organization One Hundred for Haiti which does medical relief in post-earthquake Haiti. I serve as the advisor to the Model United Nations club at the high school where I teach and last year we raised a small sum of money in support of OHFH. This year we are going to try to raise enough to help purchase a water purification tank which will provide access to clean drinking water for a couple hundred families; hopefully we’re able to achieve that goal.
In terms of what makes up that kind of a person, I really don’t know and I honestly cannot speak for Greg (although he’s definitely someone I want to interview for my blog). I guess I would just say I wish more people in hardcore (and the world in general) had his level of passion and commitment for bettering the world we all have to share.
Can hardcore punk be considered just music, without any message or identifying a certain set of ethics?
I guess technically, yes; but to me what makes hardcore different and special is the fact that there is something of substance to it. If I wanted to pay $20 for t-shirts and listen to something simply because it was heavy I’d go check out SLIPKNOT or PANTERA or something, haha.
It was interesting this past summer when I interviewed Brendan from INCENDIARY. When I asked about their original influences he mentioned bands like 108, INDECISION, SNAPCASE; bands that were very issue-oriented and to me represent what hardcore is truly about. A little later in in the interview I asked him about THE ACACIA STRAIN because they were doing a weekend together, and my question referenced the fact that I think their lyrics in many cases are complete nonsense. His response was ” I could care less about ACACIA STRAIN’s lyrical content. They’ve been a band for 12 years and do what they do, killing it all over the world.” I don’t mention this to shit-talk Brendan or INCENDIARY, they are one of my absolute favorite bands and “Cost of Living” was in my opinion the best hardcore record of last year, but I was definitely a little bummed out by that answer. A band’s lyrics should always matter, and while they’ve been doing it for a long time and are probably “good dudes” or whatever, to me it doesn’t show in their lyrics. Because of that, I’m simply not interested in that band, regardless of how heavy they are or how sick their breakdowns are.
So yeah, there are tons of bands classified as punk or hardcore who don’t seem to have any message or set of ethics, but the bands who have always resonated the most deeply with me are those who do.
Yeah, I’m with you Eric, but paradoxically nonsense or rather fun-oriented lyrics have a meaning, too. I mean, you can argue about their importance in comparison with serious issues, but turning a blind eye on every band not entirely dedicated to important stuff may be misleading, don’t you think? You have to have pure fun sometimes after all, right? ;)
Well sure, I don’t want come off as being anti-fun, not at all, haha. One of my favorite bands ever was GOOD CLEAN FUN, and one of the reasons I always loved them so much is because while they were silly and tongue in cheek, they STILL had some serious messages to portray. The same can be said for a band like H20, or lesser known bands like REINFORCE or SOOPHIE NUN SQUAD.
So having fun and giving off a positive message are not mutually exclusive in any way, shape or form. But when your band seems to having nothing to say at all or is more interested in looking tough or being fashionable then I’m simply going to pass on you.
Haha, fair enough! :) Ok Eric. What else? Are you ready to close it up? What message do you want to give kids out there that think they’re too young or too old or too tied to pursue their dreams? :)
I would just encourage people to try and do something honest and positive whether that’s running a label, doing a zine, playing in a band or whatever. Don’t pay attention to trends or hype because the stuff that’s considered cool today is often forgotten in 6 months or a year. Try to do something with integrity that you can look back on in 5 or 10 years and still be proud of and satisfied with.
As far as a direct answer to the question, I think it’s best to quote THROWDOWN here, haha: “Never too old, never too young, for moshing it up, and singing along.”
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me.
Thank YOU, Eric! It was really interesting to get insights into how your story came about. Cheers from Poland! :)