About Me

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Detroit, Michigan, United States
I'm a punk rock guru from Detroit. Part skinhead, part crusty, part metalhead, part hardcore kid, part party kid, 100% punk rocker.
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Against the Grain interview

1. How did Against the Grain formulate, music-wise and name wise?
Well, my brother Chris (singer/bassist) and I have been playing in bands together for 11 years. Nick was the last guitarist in our latest band, “No Regrets”, who broke up when our singer moved to Idaho. We jammed here and there for about 2 years just messing around, but we had no desire to start a band. When I started working in a different department at work with Bryan, we were connecting over music, and decided to jam one day. My brother was upstairs and heard us jamming, and decided to jam with us. It just clicked so well that we started jamming more, and began writing songs. It was a really natural thing; it was never like “Let’s start a band!” The name came from when we were writing songs, we felt it was punk, but definitely something a little different. So the name, style and lyrical content kinda go hand in hand.
2. How long have Against the Grain members been active in the Detroit music scene?
Chris and I have been playing for almost 11 years. Our first show was at the Wired Frog. Chris was 9 years old, and I was 12. We were called “Circus Midget”, then “Say Uncle”, “Butternikles” and then No Regrets for about the last 5 years. Nick was in No Regrets for the last year. Bryan has always jammed with people for well over 10 years, but nothing too serious.
3. What made you decide to add elements of 70s hard rock to your style of punk rock?
We listen to a lot of different music. I actually feel it has a lot of blues in it rather than rock, but sped up I guess that’s how it comes across. We really just write what we feel like, and that’s how it came out.
To Quote Jello Biafra:
“Punk's not dead
It just deserves to die
When it becomes another stale cartoon
A close-minded, self-centered social club
Ideas don't matter, it's who you know
If the music's gotten boring
It's because of the people
Who want everyone to sound the same
Who drive bright people out
Of our so-called scene
'Til all that's left Is just a meaningless fad”
That’s kinda how I’ve always felt about punk.
4. Who did you record your first demo (the Redline EP) with? What was that experience like?
That was recorded with Mick from Zoinga. It was fast and awesome. Took 3 days total. No Regrets recorded out last EP with Mick, so we already knew him and were totally comfortable with him. He has an ear for producing, and is always helpful. We did it incredibly fast, a lot of first and second takes. We’re gonna go back and do a bunch more with him soon.
5. What are your thoughts about free/pirated music? Is it positive or negative?
For bands starting off and trying to get their music out there, it’s fantastic. We give our EP away for free because we just want people to hear it. (Plug: www.mediafire.com/atgtheband) But I can see when you’re to the point of trying to make a living off your music, and you’re struggling, it could definitely hurt you. I think the point in which bands are affected by it is when it becomes something you’re trying to make a living off of, and you can’t because everyone’s downloading your stuff.
6. What’s the best local band to go and see play? Why?
Oh shit, ha-ha. There are a lot of great ones. We always love seeing our friends in The A-Gang. St Thomas Boys always promise a great show. Hellmouth, of course. D.A. should be exploding soon. Core Rotten are awesome. And a lot of the new ones like The Plastic Boyz, Assault Squad, Koffin Kats, Fisherking, Superbums, DPR, Live to Kill, Downtown Brown, Aggro or Die, D.I.E., and Snakewing are bands people should definitely check out.
7. A little off-topic, what are your thoughts on so-called Crack Rock Steady music? Is it a serious genre or is it just a negative stereotype of punk rockers?
I take that whole scene with a grain of salt. I personally never got that into it, but I know a lot of people base their lives around that scene. I just never took the lyrics of LOC to heart, really. I don’t respect STZA, but I do love the music.
8. What are your opinions on 21+ and 18+ shows and why?
I love all-ages shows. We rarely get to play those because the all-ages venues have it rough because kids are generally so in and out with trends, so they can’t rely on bands for too long to bring a flow of people, and they’re not making money selling alcohol. Plus, underage kids sneaking alcohol in screws with their liquor licenses.
9. Does Against the Grain have any out-of-Detroit plans in the future? If so, where and when?
Yes, we plan on taking this as far as people would like to see us, or let us. We’re going to do (hopefully 2) 15 day tours the summer of 2011. Until then, we’re trying to spread around MI, IL, and anywhere in the Midwest.
10. Do you think the popularity of skate punk has made it trendy or watered it down? Why?
The skate punk scene is where my heart is. Never deny your roots. NOFX, Bad Religion, Pennywise, Guttermouth… that’s all what got me into punk, and their still my favorite bands.
11. I heard you’ve been shut down a few times by soundmen. What happened there? Do you think that reputation helped or hurt you?
Well first off, fuck TNTs. They promised us all kinds of shit and said people could mosh there because they saw we brought a lot of people to a different show, so they wanted to use us to make money. We get there and they say, oh no moshing. So we encouraged the crowd to have fun, because we were used. When we explain the situation, a lot of people understand, but when people or clubs hear that we have some out of control fans, I think it ultimately hurts us. Oh well.
12. How do you feel about some of your fans? You know what I’m talking about.
We hate some of the disrespect that was shown at some of our first shows. We’re trying to build a community with bands we play with, and when people only show us respect, then leave, it makes us look bad.
13. Would you ever consider hosting out-of-state bands for your shows? What kinds of bands would you host, if so?
Absolutely! Any punk band that needs to come through MI we’d love to hook up. Setting up tours is hard! We love Voice of Addiction from Chicago and just played with them. Check them out.
14. What’s the best place to get quality local music?
Record time is great with that. Flipside Records. Or the local shows. It feels great when someone buys your album directly from you after you just played.
15. What’s each of your favorite bands?
This is a tough one, so we’re just gonna say a few favorites.
Rob – NOFX, Bad Religion, Zeke
Chris – Zeke, Motorhead, Agent Orange
Bryan – Clutch, Slayer, Fu Manchu, all real blues
Nick – Ricky Martin.

16. What’s the best place to play a show and why?
Pretty much every venue we’ve played at other than TNTs has showed us respect. My personal favorite place to play is Macs. Lansing kids rule and I love playing out of town.
17. Any big upcoming projects you’re working on currently?
Writing a bunch of new songs and spreading our free CD; recording 6 new songs in the fall to make a full length. Bryans getting married in October, so we’ll be having a fill-in guitarist for a lot of shows coming. Keep It a Threat 2, June 12th! We’re excited as shit for that!
18. Anything else you’d like to add for readers?
Support local music.
-Rob

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