One week after the premiere of their new video “I Don’t Believe”, Washington, D.C.’s hardcore punks WALK THE PLANK are back to our pages with a full interview on their upcoming Euro tour (starting this week at Fluff Fest) differences between touring Europe and their local grounds, the evolution of D.C. punk scene and their recent album ‘Cemetery Vacation’ on Say-10 Records, 30 Kilo Fieber Records, and Puercords.
WALK THE PLANK are hitting European roads this week! The first show takes place this Friday, July 22nd, at Fluff Fest in Rokycany, Czech Republic.
Hi guys! Sooo, you’re hitting Europe really soon! Are you ready?
Tim: Born Ready!
Ian: Yep! ! It will be our second time visiting Europe so we look forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones! All I have to do is pack and I’ll be ready in a literal sense. We love to travel and play new places so I’d say we were born ready.
Alex: Yeah, we’re just scrambling a bit to get everything set before we leave. Overall though, we feel good and I think everyone is itching to get back out. We went out on a U.S. East Coast tour at the beginning of June but nothing since. We’ve also had a lineup change to the band recently, so we’ll have a little bit of a new look to our band. Our guitar player Aaron is starting a new chapter in his life and could no longer continue in the band. Our good friend John Crum, who filled in for us on our tour in Mexico last year, will be coming along with us to Europe this time. We’re stoked!
Tell me a bit about your first Euro trek and how you look forward to coming back here?
Ian: We played some awesome shows and people seemed to generally be into what we’re all about. This time around we are more ready than ever do it all again and this time we have some experience to help us out along the way. We have a new record and can’t wait to share it with everyone. Our previous tour was very cold so we are definitely looking forward to warm temperatures.
Alex: Last time we came out was a lot of fun. I wish we got to experience a little more sunlight, but that’s the price you pay for coming in the winter I guess! It was great though. We had some adventures indeed. We ended up being stranded for a few days in Budapest because our van broke down. Turned out to be quite the time. We ended up staying at a hostel for a few days and the people were really cool and let us play a show there as well. It was called “Instant Groove Party Hostel” and was on top of a night club that only got going at 1 am each night! So it was pretty crazy around those parts every night. A good time though. So from what we thought was a bad situation because we had to drop our show in Bratislava, turned into a positive one in the end. We also got to see the city which I found really beautiful.
One of my favorite things I noticed last time we came out was that after a lot of the shows, a lot of the venues switched to a dance party out of nowhere! Blasting all the best jams of the 90s. Spice Girls, Green Day, TLC… all the hits! I hope that its still the case this time around.
We’re looking forward to doing the tour in the summer this time. The weather I think will be just a tad better!
Ok, so you’re kicking off with a Fluff Fest appearance. Congratulations for joining the rest of the amazing line-up! Were you acquainted with Fluff before?
Ian: I, Ian Crocker, was not personally aware of Fluff Fest prior to this tour but from what I’ve heard it’s gonna be an awesome experience. We always hear about epic festivals that happen in the summertime in Europe and its quite surreal to finally be a part of one. We hope to make a great impression at Fluff and also check out some of our favorite bands before and after our set.
Tim: Our tour manager at the time Eva (she does our booking now), told us about Fluff Fest on our first European tour. She thought we would be a good fit. Then she managed to get us on it this year because she rules!
Alex: When we got booked on Fluff I was really excited. I had heard about it from friends and from people on our previous tour in Europe. Everyone said that was “THE” festival to be on for punk and hardcore bands. There are definitely some bands I’m looking forward to checking out like CHOKEHOLD, BURN, and VITAMIN X just to name a few.
Looking at the schedule, the majority of the stops will be in Germany. Weren’t you tempted to visit more countries?
Ian: Of course! but we plan on returning many more times so that will happen eventually.
Alex: Unfortunately, due to our scheduling constraints it made it harder to get to more countries. We only have 2 weeks this time, so hopefully we’ll be able to get to some more countries next time. We are planning to come back over again next year and plan on definitely going to the UK. With that said, we’ve been to Czech Republic and Germany already and are excited to be returning. We are actually playing a couple of the same venues we played last time. So it’s nice to be able to come back to some familiar territory. We also get to go to Poland this time around, which will be our first time.
Touring wise, how would you compare Europe with shows in the Washington DC area?
Ian: Promoters in Europe are very good at making sure bands are hosted properly and from an audience standpoint, people are much more animated and enthusiastic about punk and hardcore music it feels like. While we have been part of a bunch of great shows back home in DC, the sense of passion we’ve experienced in Europe is unmatched.
Alex: Yes, the hospitality we experience when we tour Europe is second to none. Another great thing about touring in Europe is how you are able to experience so many cultures. In the U.S. going from the state to state is largely the same culture-wise. In Europe you go from country to country, and each country has its own unique culture, which is fantastic.
In DC we have a good yet small scene. Everyone knows each other and really do try look out for one another. Which is great! A tight nit little family.
How has the scene changed over the years?
Ian: DC has always been very active with not only local bands but also as a destination for touring bands from all over to play. One of the cornerstones of the DC punk scene is the emphasis on all ages and DIY shows that are inclusive for everybody. Recently a lot of house and warehouse venues have been shut down which has definitely limited the options for local and touring bands to play. Hopefully the DIY spots will make a resurgence in our area.
Tim: The DC scene was huge when I was a teenager. Seeing bands like PG99, MAJORITY RULE, CRISPUS ATTUCKS. THE GOONS, and THE DAYCARE SWINDLERS almost every month playing for pretty large local crowds. Then it died off for a good 10 year stretch with much fewer bands and venues to play in. However, I feel like it starting to come back now. More and more bands keep popping up and doing shows around town. Damaged City Fest is a big deal now too. A big once a year festival some friends put on every year that attracts punks from all over.
Ok guys, so lastly, let’s touch on your latest record ‘Cemetery Vacation’. Can you talk about the impulses that motivated you to write it?
Ian: The album was a long time in the making both content-wise and stylistically. Our sound has definitely changed and evolved over the years. We’re always trying to keep our sound fresh without abandoning our punk/hardcore roots. This record was inspired by the pressures and emotions brought on by living in the city and the experiences therein. We all tried to translate our hopes and fears onto this record. This particular LP is definitely an expose’ on what has been on our minds and how we choose to express it in a positive way.
Tim: Pretty much just a reaction to our day-to-day stress. We all work too much, and pay too high rent, which leaves not a whole lot left over. Playing loud, aggressive music is our outlet. We also did put a lot of effort into writing good, catchy songs for this record. Rather than simply letting out our negative energy.
Would you say you’re a political band?
Ian: I would say so. I believe all art is political by nature. It’s ultimately our responsibility to provide perspective on events that affect all of us. While we aren’t overtly political in a hardline sense, our lyrical content definitely conveys a sense of awareness. We never set out to spout out repetitive and/or cliche political rhetoric. That being said we will be releasing some of our most outspoken political songs later this year.
Alex: The unfortunate result and events of the recent U.S. election is definitely part of the subject matter of our most recent recordings. Where we stand currently in the United States and the world for that matter, is a scary and uncertain place. Being in Washington DC it’s around us every day and part of our every day life. We absolutely had to voice our displeasure of what is going on in here and around the world. As Ian mentioned, they’ll probably be out later this year.
Alright, so thanks so much for the quick check-in! Good luck on the road and take care. The last words are yours. Cheers from Warsaw!
Ian: Thanks for taking the time to get to know us!
Alex: We’re excited to come back. Looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones!
Tim: Thanks Man!!!!! Cheers!