SMOKE & MIRRORS (feat. ex-members of SHOCKWAVE, PROBLEM SOLVER REVOLVER, SEVEN STITCHES and more) is an Erie, Pennsylvania hardcore punk band that creates a nice blend of old school and new school hardcore by mixing heavy, powerful, groovy and melodic riffs.
After releasing their debut EP called “Flash Thunder”, they are back with the brand new album.
Scroll down to learn more about the band, this sweet new release and several random things I asked them.
Hey! Thanks for taking this interview, guys. Tell us why has the DIY media been so quiet about you lately?
2012 was a crazy year for S&M. Although things may have been quiet on the shows / releases front we were very busy behind the scenes. The band went through a lineup change in late 2011 just as we were starting to put songs together for a full length record. Instead of working on a new record we spent the first half of 2012 transitioning with a new bass player and playing a few local area shows here and there just to get the feel of things again after a brief layoff. With the lineup once again solidified we began work on the record again, dedicating all of September through January to the writing and recording of the record.
So, the new album comes out sometime in February 2013. Tell us more about the outing, its message, etc.How are you feeling about that record at the moment?
The new record is titled Flagship. The concept behind the record title and title track is rooted in the history of Lake Effect Hardcore and our hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. The LXE scene has had a long and strong life dating back to the late 80’s and early 90’s. During that time Erie, Pa earned its place on the hardcore map, becoming a routine stop for all of the premier hardcore bands and fronting top of the line bands itself like BROTHER’S KEEPERS, DISCIPLE, SHOCKWAVE, and ABNEGATION just to name a few. What I have been a part of over the past 23 years has included many highs and lows, but what has been consistent and long standing is the passion and pride that is behind the Erie Hardcore / Punk Rock music scene. Many bands and people have come and gone over the years and there has been talk and statements made in the past few years that Erie Hardcore is dead, that it needed saved, that it needed put back on the map. This sentiment is what inspired Flagship. In my eyes the scene here is as strong as it ever has been, it just looks different. But as much as the scene my look different the more it has stayed the same. There are so many people and amazing bands putting out all types of creative music, zines, record labels, all ages and over 21 venues that to say the scene is dead and needs rescued is a slap in the face to all of those hardworking, dedicated, and creative people. Erie, Pa is still a Flagship in my eyes….a leader, a creative front runner in the underground hardcore punk scene. As the scene goes so does S&M, highs and lows, ups and downs, but still standing, going strong, and living on, ready to raise the flag of Lake Effect Hardcore and proudly represent Erie, Pa.
My hope is that the new record represents Erie well and shows how very proud we are to be a part of the Erie music scene. We are really excited about the new record and getting it out there for people to hear all around the world. As a band I think we can all say that this record is the best project that any of us have been a part of over the years. We put an intense amount of time and energy into the record and I think that people will feel that energy when they listen to the record.
What can you tell us about the artwork of the new outing?
The artwork ties the concept of the record and history of Erie, Pa together. The cover art depicts a flag flying with the emblem of a lion on it. To me the flag represent S&M representing Erie, Pa and the lion symbolizes that pride that we have for our band and our city. This inside artwork consists of a fleet of historic looking fleet of naval ships with the flagship up front sailing through dark and stormy weather, representing the deep history of naval battles and ships like the Battle of Lake Erie and the Flagship Niagara. As a band we love to tie our music and our town together as one and the artwork of the record is just another means to do that.
Ok, let me rant about the delay for a while [smiles]. Was it hard to put it together? I remember you teased for it back in April! Why did it take so long to reveal new tunes?
Like I said earlier we has some setbacks at the beginning of the year with a lineup change and on top of that two of us in the band added new additions to our families which slowed down our progress as well. But all that aside it really does take a lot of time and work to put a full length record together. We literally spent all of our time as a band for 5 months of 2012 writing and recording the record. It also may have taken a bit longer just because we are all somewhat picky and tend to over analyze everything we do….but it is worth it because I think that end product is awesome.
Except the natural evolution, how is it different from you first full length released 3 years ago? What brought upon the stylistic changes in your sound?
I don’t know that the style of our sound has changed over the years rather its evolved into the S&M sound that we have today. We have been a band for five years now with only one lineup change, myself and Pat Bolla (Drums) have been playing in bands together for over 10 years, and Pat, Jon, and Dustin have been friends and playing in bands together for longer than that. All of that time together, consistency, and cohesion as a band make for the evolution and improvement of a bands sound. Plus I just like playing in the band with all those jerks….the whole point of this is to have fun and promote a positive message with powerful music!
What labels are involved in this project? Is Down for Anything the only one to distribute it?
Right now DFA is the only label we are working with, but we are definitely hoping that some other labels will want to pick the record up and help us get it out worldwide!
Any plans to support it live?
We will definitely be playing out as much as we can in 2013 to support the record. For the most part we are weekend warriors, but we make the most of those weekends!
What’s the chance to see you guys in Europe sometime soon?
Let’s make it happen! We would love to get the record heard all over Europe and come play for the amazingly passionate hardcore fans overseas! I bet those would be some awesome shows.
The new album is the first one with your relatively new bassist Dustin Wilkinson. What line-up changes have you guys been through?
The lineup change at bass with adding Dustin is the only lineup change we have gone through in the five year existence of the band. I just can’t enough of all those jerks. And although going through any lineup change is never fun the transition with Dustin couldn’t have gone better. Dustin fit right in with the band instantly and it feels like we never missed a beat.
You’ve been playing in SHOCKWAVE and more hardcore veteran bands. Has past band experience helped out?
Over the years we have played in a lot of different bands such as SHOCKWAVE, DIGRESSION, PROBLEM SOLVER REVOLVER and several others. I have definitely learned a lot over the years of playing in bands, but it’s not so much what you learn but it is the experience that you have being a part of the hardcore/punk music scene. I have met so many amazing people, played with so many great bands, and have traveled to places and experienced thing that I would have never had the opportunity to do without hardcore. There truly is no underground scene in the world that can match the worldwide underground hardcore punk scene.
Do you run other bands in the same breath these days?
Playing in S&M is truly a full time job to do it and do it right, so there really isn’t time to do any other projects. Our guitar player Joe plays in a Jazz band off and on and in an Irish band every March and our drummer Pat jams with some punk bands here and there, but S&M is truly our one and only focus.
Living your life, having families, etc., how much time do you spend running and developing SMOKE AND MIRRORS?
For me S&M is my hobby. It is what I do with my spare time and with my weekends. Some people play sports, work out, travel….I play in a hardcore band. As we have gotten older it definitely has become harder and harder to make the time needed to keep a band going, but we manage to do it. Three of us have kids and all of us have full time jobs and families to support, so with age comes responsibility, but it doesn’t change that passion or desire that I have to play hardcore punk music….it just something that is in your blood, it doesn’t go away if it truly is you passion.
After all these years, if you could name one band or artist that has influenced your current work, what would that be?
It is so hard to pick out that one band because there have been so many that have influenced me over the years in different ways. There are those that I always come back to like SICK OF IT ALL, MADBALL, and MINOR THREAT. Those bands don’t necessarily influence the music of the band, but they have influenced me through their longevity, passion and impact that they had on the hardcore punk music scene. When a band has those attributes it shines through in their music, and I can only hope that even the smallest percent of what those bands had in passion for hardcore punk music shines through in S&M and the lyrics that I write.
What does the next year look like for Smoke and Mirrors?
The Flagship full length record will be available in February 2013 and we plan on supporting the record throughout the year, hopefully hitting up the US East Coast a good bit this summer. Hit up SMOKE AND MIRRORS and Down For Anything Records, pick up the new record or just drop us a line and say hi! Thanks so much for checking us out and supporting S&M!
Here’s some images and videos of the recording process of “Flagship”: