For the last two months, our friend Nick Grandchamp of NICK GRANDCHAMP AND THE PEOPLE WATCHES and GET A GRIP have been playing guitar with the newly reformed, early 00s rock’n’roll infused punk rockers RIVER CITY REBELS (first 4 albums on Victory Records), and today we’re stoked to give you some more details on their comeback, including some insights behind their plans to play out and write a new record! We have teamed up with vocalist Dan O’Day for an interview on the revival of the band, the band’s history and the hopes for the future. Read the full interview below!
THE RIVER CITY REBELS 2019 are: Kevin Byers, Chris Jukosky, J.V McDonough, Kody Sanborn, Nick Grandchamp, Patty Bo, and Dan ‘Bopper’ O’Day.
Victory Records is synonymous with early 00s emotive post hardcore and thriving punk rock phenomenon and RIVER CITY REBELS were at the were center of that picture. What did that scene mean to you?
To start I wouldn’t say we were at the center of that picture. We had signed to Victory Records in 2000 right before the whole emo thing exploded. We were really excited to be label mates with Catch 22, Electric Frankenstein, Snapcase, and all the amazing hardcore bands that they had on the roster. I never felt connected to that emo punk scene. I had tons of respect for Thursday but felt like they pretty much opened the door to countless copycat bands. So that part of the scene meant nothing to us. Our Scene was Worthless United, Madcap, and The Phenomenauts. Really hardworking bands with great songs that I could relate to. Those bands pushed us to make better music and inspired us.
Oh, ok, so how do you remember the late 90s and early 00s era in punk music?
It was really exciting. In the late 90’s you had some much diversity in the scene. One night you could go see The Slackers, Big D, and The pilfers play. The next week you would have Dropkick, US Bombs and Agnostic Front. I was like a sponge soaking all these sounds in. It was about hanging out, skateboarding and going to shows. It felt super fresh and really alive. It helped that we had a ton of rad punk labels pumping out albums as well. I miss Go-Kart records, Moonska, and Elevator records.
Many of our younger readers may be curious about how bands from that 2000s era managed to find their audience without the arsenal of social media, streaming platforms and digital solutions we have today. Can you give us your thoughs on independent bands’ promotion back then?
Well if you were on a label they would print up sampler CD’s for your upcoming record and you would tour and hand them out. You had to sell yourself in 30 seconds as you handed someone a piece of plastic that might end up in there trash later that night. I would always looking for people with cool band t-shirts on. I would say “I love your Clash shirt they are my favorite band” It was the easiest way to connect and break the ice. We also had a mailing list that people would sign up for. It was a really basic thing. The more you toured the more you sold. The Label would also place adds in all the zines like punk Planet, Alernative press, and Flipside.
From a musician’s, but also a fan’s perspective, what are your recollections of that time? How do you see Vermont’s music scene changed and evolved since you initially established this project back in the late 90s?
The scene in my part of Vermont (White River Jct) didn’t really exist until 1998. We had a few bands before then but it was a very small circle. It seems like it took off after our first album on victory records in 2000. We would play some random small town and a month later a new band would form there. It was amazing to see. By 2001 we were on the road a bunch but had awesome bands like The Foodstamps and the Yarbles to keep the scene moving and growing. It stayed pretty strong until 2005. By then the scene started to shifted over to more of a new school hardcore thing. It really wasn’t my thing so I pretty much fell out of the loop. I’m really not sure whats going on now. The only thing I do know is That Rough Francis is killing it.. Great band great dudes.
How did you grow and mature as a person and a musician when RIVER CITY REBELS were on hiatus and out of the picture? What kept you busy?
RCR has been on hiatus for about 5 years. During that time I really learned how to work and get my life in order. I’m now 3 years sober. Prior to that I had a 10 year drunken binge that had me consuming 3 handles of vodka a week. I had to relearn how to live without alcohol. Its been a process but I’m back to normal. I went from 18 years of being a vegetarian to now a 2 year vegan. I also started a youtube show called Rebel Gaming Club. Its a show about collecting video games with a punk twist. We do music , skits, laugh a lot. I also have 2 cat and the best girlfriend so the last few years have been great.
Why did you decide to restart RIVER CITY REBELS now?
I feel good again. For the longest time I felt like trash. I didn’t feel I could do RCR justice by reforming it. I don’t feel that way anymore. I have more songs in me. The last 5 years of my life needs to be written about. So that is what I plan to do. I also struggle to find new bands or album I enjoy. I watch and listen to tons of new music and nothing moves me. I feel its my duty to get back in and fight for the rock and roll army, I have old and new members joining me that have the same fire.
What’s the biggest difference for you coming back and plotting new record and tours now as opposed to the last time you were fully active in mid-00s?
This time we all have jobs and lives outside of the band. Its not like the last time where we had 5 bands members live and sharing one bed room…..The band can’t be number 1 but that is ok. We are all seasoned vets so we know what it takes to make this thing happen.
Ok, so what can we expect from RIVER CITY REBELS in 2019?
The plan is to record a new album. I’m hoping late summer early Fall. No major touring plans but we do plan to make it to Boston, NYC, NJ and a few other spots this summer.