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.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Against the Grain 'Redline' EP review

ATG “Redline” EP
As music has progressed, bands have begun to lose some old-school rock influences. This is a double-edged sword, but the addition of these influences creates a new, fresh sound, especially when most punk rock takes different influences from more recent bands. Against the Grain, almost always referred to as ATG, is the perfect blend of this 70s rock style and modern punk rock. It is a truly refreshing sound upon one’s ears. The first official release by ATG is the “Redline” EP, available for free from both the band and the internet.
“The Legend of Johnny Rat (Ride Tonight)” sets the tone for the whole album. It is a song you can break a beer bottle and start a fight to, yet enough classic rock influence seeps in to keep the aging elitists at bay. This is the best song on the EP; however, this doesn’t mean the rest of it is bad, it merely means the best came first. “Suicide Steve” is an exceedingly fast song ideally heard on a DRI LP or a D.S.-13 CD. It’s incredibly energetic and highly enjoyable. “Empty Vein” is the catchiest song on the EP. The chorus just invades your brain and rapes it to the point of fist-pumping and screaming. “Same in the End” is a slightly (and I do mean slightly) slower track, yet its power is still pushed to the forefront with every power chord. “Redline”, the final track, speeds the tempo up for good and cranks the intensity all the way up to 11. This EP is worth whatever iTunes would charge for it. Luckily, it’s free, so pick up your complimentary copy today.
-Aunty Social

Explicit Bombers, Dick Hickey, Aggro or Die! show review, Premier Theatre, 5/21/10

Premier Concert Theatre, May 21st, 2010
Punk rock has evolved in an interesting way since the late 70s and early 80s. Instead of the scene being populated with angry young kids, some barely old enough to drive, the punk rock scene in Michigan stands primarily with guys in their 30s and sometimes 40s. This isn’t a bad thing, but it sure doesn’t speak well of my generation. It does give punk rock a bit of credibility, or durability, as the case may be. There are a few younger bands in the Michigan punk scene, and I saw one of them tonight.
The Explicit Bombers are the youngest such band I have seen as of late. A three-piece from the rural hell known as Howell, these guys play, hmm, just punk rock. It’s not hardcore, but it’s fast. It’s not pop punk, but there are some catchy chorus chants in their music. It’s not really ’77 style, because the music is modern. It’s just punk rock, without any (forgive the pun) explicit subgenres. Blasting through a good half hour set, these guys kept it pretty short and avoided stagnancy. This band has a whole lot of potential if they can get their sound heard, get a bit of a reputation, and jump on some bigger shows. I think that the potential for this band definitely outweighs what I saw; what I did see was good, and hopefully what I will see will be even better.
Next was Dick Hickey, bringing with them only a rapist van and their unique, snotty, reckneck-core persona. They have an upcoming EP that’s almost ready for sale, and despite the recent addition of these songs in their set list, they have nearly a full-length of brand new songs that they have performed, including ‘Destroying the World’ and the hit single ‘Jamie’s Song’, written for their former drummer. Despite being relatively young and dirt poor, Dick Hickey has established themselves as a bona-fide force for Michigan punk rock. They have truly pissed on the weeping willow in Punk Rock Forest. Look for Dick Hickey wherever bipolar nymphomaniacs and ironic humor are commonly found.
Last up was Aggro or Die!, another band that can only be described as punk rock, albeit for very different reasons. They have so many influences that the only pervasive element is skateboarding and J. Voltage’s unnecessary hootin’ and hollerin’. Actually, it’s very necessary, because the most notable thing about Aggro or Die! is the strong musicianship; guitarist Damien belted out more than his fair share of leads, drummer Eddie could be in a death metal band, and Beardsley and Bob are great at keeping rhythm (a highly underrated skill). In short, they can all play very well. Focusing mainly on nostalgia such as old video games, skateboarding, and inside jokes, Aggro or Die! are probably THE band you’d hear someone listening to skating down a bustling metropolis filled with snobby hipsters, tight-assed rich white businessmen, paranoid cops, and occasionally, your friendly neighborhood fellow skateboarder. These guys speak about keeping it (punk rock) a threat, and do they do that? They sure do. People are still disgusted at skateboarders, graffiti, a life not including a happy marriage with children, and open-mindedness. Punk rock is still a threat, so let’s keep it that way!
This show was rather short, but the quality was very high, even worth the staggering admission price. $8 for a local show is a bit much, especially in this kind of location. Start the basement and house show circuit again! DIY or die!
-Aunty Social

Cunt Saw/Total Hipster Crusher split tape review

Cunt Saw/Total Hipster Crusher split review
A strange obsession with drugs and almost totally incomprehensible vocals are paired with near blast-beat drums and equally fast guitar to make the Cunt Saw side of a split release. The name, cringing to some, is rather humorous much like the music. Grindcore, at least in my eyes, is ideally lo-fi and grimy, unlike a few bands who have tried to record with high quality equipment and make this genre something that it isn’t with a tired sound. At least Cunt Saw doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is indeed lo-fi, grimy and bordering on noise. It’s not a great release for what I listen to, but for the price and for those who like grindcore, it’s worth a look or the very minor investment.
The other side of the tape, with the band Total Hipster Crusher, is much like the first, but in a different way. The sound is, again, lo-fi, grimy and loud, but it speaks in a different language (figuratively), similar to what trailer trash from Hazel Park and what a hick from Mississippi look like paired next to each other. Different in many ways, but the same in basic appearance. This side was also not bad, but again, grindcore is not my ideal music.
Give the tape a listen if you enjoy grindcore, anarcho punk or lo-fi noise music; a $2 investment is good for a tape. If not, or if you don’t have something with a cassette player, you might want to pass.
-Aunty Social

Final Assault 'Under Boot' CD review

Final Assault ‘Under Boot’ review
Final Assault, with their ‘Under Boot’ album, has done what only one other band has been able to do: Make D-beat interesting. Also, to be fair, that other band is Discharge itself, making ‘Under Boot’ the turning point for Final Assault to be the flag-bearer of the D-beat movement. It is raw, gritty and fatalistic in every way. They have a prophecy that the top brass of the military essentially conspire to keep citizens afraid of a shapeless enemy, and to ‘protect’ us, they bring their death, destruction and chaos to foreign lands who want nothing of us. Well, that’s my hypothesis, at least. Whether it’s accurate or not, you’d have to ask the band, but I would assume so; this is the soundtrack to the apocalypse that will bring the world to its knees.
The most noticeable trait in this record would have to be Jason Outcast’s voice. His voice roars, a B-52 flying overhead as it carpet bombs its target. The Final Assault logo of a winged skull dropping is akin to Jason’s voice. The guitar is like a fucking chainsaw, ripping through the bass and drum beat (which, by the way, is also a supersonic beat) with furious vengeance. Being a military enthusiast, I fucking love the brutal anti-military, sort of revolutionary punk this record has to offer. It’s not easy to enjoy D-beat, but the addition of some thrash pushes Final Assault to the front of an international D-beat network (they just brought in a band from Finland) and another piece of Detroit punk is added to the figurative puzzle. Insanely fast, absolutely pummeling, and utterly hopeless, ‘Under Boot’ is a record you will be proud to have in your collection. Crank it up, unleash the terror that is Final Assault on the world, and free your mind from the control of the powers that be.
-Aunty Social

School Jerks, Amoebas, Kommie Kilpatrick, Plastic Boyz show review, Lager House, 5/12/10

PJ’s Lager House, May 12th, 2010: School Jerks, Kommie Kilpatrick, Amoebas, and the Plastic Boyz
Garage is generally considered a forerunner to punk rock; it started beforehand, it was made by the same demographic, and both genres are pretty simplistic. However, as punk rock has evolved with multiple subgenres and even more sub-subgenres, garage has become a different genre that can be effectively combined with punk, and being that Detroit has been an important hosting ground for both, it is only fitting that a few bands still fly the flag for both of these genres. Three local bands have done this well, and they shared the stage with a touring old school hardcore band from Toronto.
Opening were the Plastic Boyz from New Baltimore. Granted, I missed about half of the set because of work, but it wasn’t too big of a deal. Unfortunately they were not quite as spot on as they usually are. Singer Kelly was a tad bit inebriated and forgot some of the words, which led to everyone else messing up a bit and it didn’t quite mesh together well as a sound. However, the Plastic Boyz are still a serious hardcore force for Detroit punk rock if they keep their heads molded on straight.
Next were the Amoebas. Although they only have one 7” for sale, these guys have several songs written and laid out. It is also noteworthy to say that their 7” has the two songs that would fit right in on the radio after the Damned and before the Dead Boys in 1977. Their set is a strong garage sound with punk influences. It is very different from other garage and punk music, and although I can’t stretch it far enough to utter the word ‘unique’, it is a gem, a very rare, very valuable discovery nonetheless. The only complaint I can muster is that they are from Grand Rapids and not Detroit, which means fewer shows here.
Then, the School Jerks came onstage and truly shined. The guitar work is crazy, the drumming is manic, and the singer is a demented, Canadian hellspawn with a snotty, high-pitched voice. This band is hardcore punk incarnate. Let me restate this more clearly: This band is what hardcore punk became notable and beloved for, and they are probably one of the best bands to come out of this genre in the last decade. There are, of course, a few non-punk influences, but this is as 80s hardcore as you can possibly get. Buy their vinyl, spray paint their name on walls, ride a skateboard with their name written on it, do anything to support this band that involves any commitment short of quitting your job. That’s how good they are.
Last up was Kommie Kilpatrick, a humorously named garage out of Wayne State University in downtown Detroit. With their emphasis on short songs about city life, partying and sex, there isn’t a whole lot not to like. While their set was played in front of a handful of people and technical difficulties marred some of the guitar work, the band still did reasonably well. Kommie Kilpatrick has a unique sense of humor they inject into their songs and it is coupled well with simplistic garage punk in the vein of a cleaner version of Teengenerate.
This show was a sweet release from a boring day at work. Investigate the Toronto punk scene; it is really taking off, and with Molested Youth at its side, the School Jerks are the heads of this movement. Take a road trip and check it out!
-Aunty Social

Positive Strike 's/t' CD review

Positive Strike- s/t CD
I had never known Germany could pump out so many punk bands (Slapendehonden, Funeral March, The Spermbirds are among some of them). I came across one such band the other day by means of a Pennsylvania band’s distro box and they suggested I give this band a listen, since I had a Minor Threat back patch on my jacket, and they thought that they sounded a lot like them. I would disagree a bit, but there definitely is a resemblance.
Positive Strike is a pummeling power chord hardcore band, with the speed of Minor Threat with a different, much cleaner guitar. This record goes by very quickly; fifteen tracks in twenty-two minutes is more than enough to give the band the time to say (or scream, in this case) what they want to say. The singer sounds almost exactly like the dude from Municipal Waste with his scream-babbling like an Amtrak chugging along in the middle of the night. The guitar is mostly power chords, but it’s so fast that it doesn’t really matter; the guitar is not the force of most of the songs, the lyrics and vocals are. The rhythm section punches out some pretty fucking serious fury, and in the middle of all of this, is Positive Strike’s self-titled CD. If you see it, buy it; it’s worth a listen for anyone who likes Municipal Waste or some second 7” Minor Threat. Definitely worth at least a few bucks to buy.
-Aunty Social

The Burnouts Rxall Generation EP review

Rxall Generation EP, the Burnouts
I would best describe this EP as bipolar; there are elements of this that I love a lot, and there are some elements that piss me off in a bad way. Let me start off by saying the recording quality on this recording is astonishingly high for a punk band; whoever the engineer was for the EP should probably get their name out there a little more if they haven’t already. The drums, bass, guitar, and vocals are all crystal fucking clear. Not much else could have been done to make the quality of the recording itself higher.
All the songs fuse 80s hardcore punk with some straight-edge hardcore from the late 80s (think youth crew a little bit, at least in the breakdowns and drumming), and some decent singing. The music itself is pretty awesome; the guitars stop and go on a dime, the drumming follows with, and the bass is galloping right along with the music. If you enjoy hardcore punk, feel free to buy/download this EP. It is well worth the couple of bucks it costs, or the time it takes to download it.
The only area where I take some issue is with the vocals. Some of the screams in between the lyrics are reminiscent of a blend of screamo and death metal, and this is okay sometimes, but on a repeated basis begins to annoy the listener, especially in the short length of this recording. In lieu of screamo yelling, I would probably just not say anything. I’m not one to tell people how to play their music, but this is a pretty minor detriment to a pretty damn good band, and it could be solved in one quick fix if they wish. The lyrical content is pretty standard, but pretty standard for punk is above average for all music, so ultimately, I render this EP worth buying and listening to.
-Aunty Social

The Family 's/t' CD review

The Family ‘s/t’ CD review
A few select bands have crafted their own genre and crew of sorts here in Detroit. It is a group of guys from tattoo parlors and gyms (mostly, I can’t speak for all of them) who come together to play music. They all play similarly styled music, but it is a little different in each of its own ways. Bloody Knuckle Combat, H8 Inc., Dogz of War, and The Family are among this group. They are all family men with decent-paying jobs and still find the time to get together and create some very heavy, very angry music. Case in point: The Family’s self-titled ten-track CD that was recently released.
The music on this CD is pretty decent. Most of the time, the beat doesn’t exceed the 4/4 beat, and coming from someone who enjoys pulse-pounding 80s hardcore, this can be a bit of a drag. Still, the sound is very consistent, very clean, and the tempo does pick up at certain points. It does what it promises: It is loud, full of rage, and conveys these feelings to the listener in a very concise fashion. AS for the 4/4 criticisms, that’s what some people like. I myself enjoyed listening to the CD and it is worth the $10, but in the end, I’m a geek for fast, loud, and unintelligible. This band is worth checking out, however. Buy the CD, strike up a conversation, and maybe even go to a show! These guys were nice enough to sell me a CD before they even played after I was ejected from their CD release party for being underage, so they’ve got class, and they’ve got a 23-minute, ten track CD. Go out and support!
-Aunty Social

Interview with Garold Vallie

Garold Vallie interview
1. Who are you and what do you do now, for those who haven’t heard?
My name is Garold Scott Vallie. I am a professional skateboarder from Southgate, MI. I played drums in the hardcore band, Captain Feedback in the 90’s. I do a bunch of stuff, but currently I am shopping a TV pilot, do an internet radio show, skate, speak to schools, writing a book, produce art, skate….all trying to influence the younger generation to get off the couch, DIY, be yourself, follow your passion.
2. When and how did you get into punk rock? Did friends play a part or did you discover it on your own?
My cousin, Tim Tolley came to visit from California and brought the Dead Kennedys, Bed Time for Democracy with him. I was sold. I then started searching it out. At that time I was skating a vert ramp, Downriver, with some older guys…John had a big Mohawk and Bob had a shaved head, they were into a bunch of hardcore stuff. Those guys are who I wanted to be and so I wanted to listen to that music and follow what they did.
3. How do you feel skateboarding and punk rock continue to represent and relate to one another? Is it a corporate sponsorship connection (similar to how Vans is) or is it about something like similar ideals?
For me, skateboarding, punk rock, art…it’s all creativity and there are no rules. You can do it the way you want to. That is the connection. Punk rock has always been; DIY, do it your way, there is no uniform, structure, you really can’t do it wrong…its independence. Skateboarding is that same thing. Vans and the corporate thing, they helped me a lot with the Warped tour contest series, and have introduced a lot of great bands to a new generation, so in that sense they have helped punk get a wider audience. I am not all for the; go to the mall, buy the uniform, etc. Punk should be independent, do your thing….like I said, no rules.
4. What was playing in Captain Feedback like? Did you attract some decent crowds for shows? What was your favorite venue to play?
Playing in Captain Feedback was a great time in my life. I was skating a ton, working full time, and playing in a band….does it get any better? Eric and Jerry were the best bandmates and we had a lot of fun. We played some great shows at St. Andrews and the Miami. I liked the Miami a lot.
5. What was the Detroit punk scene like in the 1990s? Were there any particular up or down points that made a difference in its history?
For me, I thought the scene was real cool. It was still what I was excited about. Bands like the Clone Defects kept things true, and younger guys were killing it like the Scurvies. There were great bands and great friends. You know, even bands like Mudhoney and some of the Sub Pop stuff was still cool. People showed up, drank some beers, and danced. One of my most memorable shows was Stiff Little Fingers…that was freakin PUNK. They were dressed like dads. It was probably 95 (maybe) and they were not in any kind of; I wanna be 18, gear. They wailed and I was glad to see them.
6. Did you ever go to the original Blondies? If so, what was your opinion/feelings on it? Nope.
7. What was your favorite band of the old Detroit punk guard? Do you have a current favorite?
I liked a lot of Ska at that time as well. I really liked going to see Gangster Fun and the Exceptions; my favorite in the early 90’s was Hoarse. They were a little more poppy, but John Speck is a great guy and continues to produce quality music. I am a Suicide Machines fan (not sure if that is later)…Hellmouth is great by the way. I also like the A-Gang.
8. Why do you think people still look down on punk rock and skateboarding with a negative attitude, with a lot of unsupported assumptions? (Case in point, the Baltimore cop harassing the teenager a couple of years ago, video of it is on YouTube)
Well, I think it has changed. Skateboarding, if you play by the rules they put in place, is okay. Same with punk rock. If you go and buy the uniform at the mall and don’t go too far, you are okay. It’s when you push the envelope, take things to an uncomfortable limit…that’s when there’s friction. The real punks ask the questions and bring up issues that people just don’t want to address….that’s when trouble starts with anything.
9. Do you think any punk rock scene can be brought back up to the level of popularity it was at in the 80s? What do you think can be done, if anything?
I think shows like ‘Keep it a Threat’ are great. Zines like this are what the foundation of punk was built on. The Detroit scene is real cool and I think when you have economic and political unrest, Punk rock really gets some momentum. People who are really into Punk think for themselves and have a drive that few have. Why do you do a Zine, why does Transitions put on a concert, why do people screen shirts in there basement….the original ideals are still there. So much is handed to people now a days….people need to work for a cause, for what they want…it makes it 100 times better and worth it.
10. Does the advent of the World Wide Web, Photoshop, and the ease of use in technology help or hurt something like punk rock, which is more of a simplistic DIY lifestyle created without much technology?
No. It just gives a new avenue. You can reach so many people and do so much because of the ease. I have created a TV show, radio show, and continue to have ideas….look them up on the net….know that I can do anything and figure it out. I am not a TV person. Looked it up, figured it out, did it. That’s the DIY punk ethic…..get off your ass and do it….don’t talk about it. I don’t have to go to the library and read about screen printing. I can get it instantly and print tomorrow.
11. What kind of skateboards do you ride? Do you have a particular place you prefer to ride?
I have rode for several bigger companies and decided I didn’t really dig some of the stuff they did, so I joined with a partner and started a company in 2004. After 4 years and the company not doing what I was hoping, I decided to start my own company….PRPL HRT skateboards. We are 2 years deep, in 5 states, Canada….I do it. The graphics, the web, the team….I am not saying that for any kind of ego boost, I am saying that because….DO IT YOURSELF. PRPL HRT Has been built by word of mouth, being cool, showing up, skating, eating at peoples house, meeting new friends, sleeping on floors….I learned that by coming up the way I did.
12. Is it more fun to skate at a park on ramps or on the streets among other people? Why?
I like skating backyard ramps, pools and bowls. The new parks are great. Farmington Hills (Riley Park) is an amazing place. We didn’t have that growing up. I have friend that still rage the streets….break out generators and lights to skate a spot…that’s rad too. Skating…if its rolling done the street, doing a frontside grind or a switch tre, it doesn’t matter….it’s all good.
13. Why do you think kids don’t take as much of an interest in punk rock as before?
It’s different. They think that Punk rock is what you buy at Best Buy. There is some good music there, but the local scene…the actual people producing their own stuff…that’s what Punk was originally built on and kids don’t even know it exists. I brought a 12 year old with me to ‘Keep it a Threat’. It was my buddy’s son and he wanted to hang out and skate. That young person is a true punk fan and will chase it. He saw what the real deal is and wants a part of it. People like Bill Danforth, Duane Peters, John Broge, and Elmer Vallie….those are the guys I looked up to and I am trying to give the younger generation someone like that.
14. Anything you would like to add?
I want to thank you Dave for doing this. I wanna thank; PRPL HRT, VOX shoes, ATS skateshop, Indy, EFX, Global Vision, AGA, MID….I still what I do because people like that let me. THANKS.

Interview with J. Voltage from Aggro or Die!

Interview with J. Voltage from Aggro or Die!

1. What was your first introduction to punk rock? What was that like for you to experience?

Well I guess that would depend on your definition of "first experience". It's funny really but as a kid I had no idea the music I listened to was punk rock at all. Like most kids growing up I just listened to what my parents listened to. And children just like what they're parents like because we look up to them. But I had really cool parents and people in my life especially in my teenage years. My step father Gary was one of them. So in sorts you could say my first punk rock experience was seeing the Ramones play the Michigan State Fairgrounds. But I was way too young to fully wrap my head around that at the time.

So, I feel my first real punk rock experience was in high school. You see I got in a fight with some kids over this Black Flag shirt I wore to school that day. I stole this shirt from my step-dad’s closet before school that morning. Ya know, so I could be "cool" and wear a sweet ass punk shirt seeing as I had the attitude to match. And it back fired. All that day kids called me "Black Fag" until I just couldn't take it anymore. So I tried to kick their asses even though I failed they never called me "black fag" ever again. So I ran all the way home and as I approached my front door I realized that in the fight I had gotten blood and rips on his shirt. And I knew he'd be at the table next to the front door waiting for me to come home so we can shoot the shit.

SO I flipped it inside out. And as soon as I got the shirt back on he opened the front door. What was I thinking? How was I to hide a white shirt with black letters on the front now saying "galF kcalB" across my chest? And not to mention the fact that it was pretty much destroyed. He just stood in the door way looking down at me. He took off his ball cap, wiped the sweat from his fore head, twice, and smirked.

Hiding his laughter he said as stern as he could "dude, we need to talk". "SO you like that band?" he said. So I was like "umm yeah dude, they're pretty rad?" He knew I just wore it because he liked them, and talked about them all the time. And all the kids in my school had no idea about music unless it was on MTV and it would make the kids think I was cutting edge or something. Dude we all start off as posers, right? He thought this was like the opportunity of a lifetime. He said "Kid, have I got a surprise for you, Mr. punk rocker!" He brought out four huge ass crates of records, reels, and note books. You see, he used to book and interview bands back in the late 70's up to the mid 80's. The man had tons of cool shit and just gave to me. Most kids get into punk rock because their parents or society doesn’t understand them. But for me it was very different, like I said my parents were very cool.

And as for my first taste of a "real punk rock show". That next weekend my step dad was reading the local rag or ‘zine. He was laughing out loud as he said "tomorrow I'm taking you to a real punk rock show". "but I'll let you choose, seeing as you like punk bands based on the name of the band alone, so Butthole Surfers or Jack Kevorkian and the Suicide Machines, what’s it gonna be?" I chose the Suicide Machines. I can remember being there with my step dad and all the kids calling me a poser. And he told me we’re all posers at one time or another. He said "Fuck ‘em; none of these assholes have parents cool enough to get in the pit with them". And ya know, he was right. I jumped in the pit and never looked back.

2. What band were you in (including high school bands) before Aggro or Die! became your primary project?

Well I tried to start a band in high school. But a majority of kids I went to school with just did not get me at all. Well, With the exception of one dude I tried to make a band with. But he told all the kids we toured across country with Rancid, which never happened. That pretty much ruined my chances of starting anything serious while I was in high school. But in the summer of 98', I was asked by a friend of mine to start a "project of sorts" and after months of asking he finally lured me to his parents’ house to start Nuke and the Toxic Offenders. That band played its first show on Halloween night in 1999. We were a band until December 2002.

It started as a cure for our boredom and to have an excuse to get off the couch and do something on the weekends. We didn't really have a lot of friends, and weren't particularly cool or anything. We never really knew the potential of that band until that potential outgrew the band. We were also a bit naive as well, but that band would eventually be the driving force behind the things Nuke and I do today. To this day he is one of my closest friends.

3. When did A.O.D.! really begin to come to fruition?

You mean like how Aggro or Die! got started? Okay, well as I was saying in the last question, after Nuke and I had parted ways in 2002. I was devastated; I had basically locked myself up in my basement for almost two years. Yeah you could say I took it hard. I did. During that time I wrote some very angry music. At first I was just going to do The Toxic Offenders minus nuke with all new music. I was originally going to do the vocals for this band. But all in all, I just wanted to step away from the Toxic Offenders thing all together. In hindsight I felt too bitter, but didn't want it to show. And besides if I was to do a band like nuke at all I'd have to be able to compete with his vocals. No chance dude! I'm no singer for sure. So I dropped that all together. And besides as the two years went by, my anger towards Nuke was beginning to fade. So I proposed the idea on the guys.

At the time it was Dave Bones and "then" Mark Evil of the Toxic Offenders. I tried to sing for my first time and the boys suggested that we look for another singer. So, I took that as defeat and just gave in. But my brother Mike stepped in. Just as I threw in the towel he was right behind me to snap me right in the ass with it. He made me a bet that he could get some dudes that not only get my music, but won't give a shit about the Nuke stuff. Even though we had been trying various musicians for the last two years, they all ended in "You don't wanna sound like nuke?" to "Dude this shit is way too fast! You never played this fast in Nuke!" But that was my whole point! I didn't want to. I was trying to do something that said more about who I am. My brother Mike found Eddie later that week. Now, I had named Aggro or Die! long before this, I was just unsure on how to explain the name. So I just used the acronym. "A.O.D" and told everyone who ever tried out that the name is up for debate but "A.O.D" is not. I had a purpose with that but with new band mates coming in, I didn't wanna scare ‘em off with a name they might not get.

Eddie got his friend Eric to play bass and knew a guy named Matt who was interested in singing, which was good for me cus' I'm a bit of a chicken shit. Not soon after, I got with guys and had to explain "A.O.D". This bits a little on the personal side but I'll tell ya. Aggro or die! means many things. On one side, it's the name of a song by my favorite band, 7 Seconds. On the personal end it was my way of reminding me of where I came from. And while I may be able to many things with this life, to quit is not one of them. So the name Aggro or Die! is my analogy for how I live my life. It's like do or die to the very fullest of the term. Or simply shit or get off the pot.

They all had ideas for "A.O.D." but I just wanted to use Aggro or die! and since then I've yet to run into a kid that doesn't say "what is an Aggro or Die!?" and cus' I like to explain how I came up with the name. It feels personal to me. As well as to tell it. And I never get tired of it. After all, naming a band is supposed to be personal, it don't get more personal than that. And ironically enough, Aggro or Die! played its first show with Nuke and the Living Dead on January 21st of 2006. Aggro or Die! took four years to happen.

4. What was playing in Nuke and the Toxic Offenders like?

Ummm, a blur. I'm kidding. It was over way too fast though. I had some very cool moments being in Nuke and the Toxic Offenders. At first the scene for the kind of music we played hadn't really hit Detroit too hard yet. Plus I'm pretty sure we just wrote what we were capable of at first. We were no musicians at the time we started out. But as time went on we really pushed the whole "punk rock and roll thing" mixing up old style rock and roll with surf and punk. In the end I think we were very capable of crafting the sound we wanted. And before too long, bands were

following in our footsteps. I won't lie about it, it felt pretty cool. That band catapulted me into music so hard, it's all I known ever since.

Nuke had very strict practice and show routines. Nuke was a very well organized front man. I've learned a whole lot from him. The one thing about the Toxic Offenders I really liked most was not really having a scene to answer to. We kinda carved our own path. And we just did not take shit from anyone. The best part of being in the Toxic Offenders was living by our own rules. That and well, being offensive to those we thought were dicks anyway. Some highlights that I remember most are seeing great bands like the Koffin Kats, V8 Nightmare at first, playing many of their first shows with Nuke and the Toxic Offenders. Shit it's downright surreal having Vic Victor hold the Toxic Offenders as highly as he does. In many ways he has kept the spirit of my first band alive and well. Nuke and I poke around at the idea of doing a reunion show every so often. Who knows maybe we'll actually do it someday.

5. Does punk rock mean as much to you as it did when you were younger? Why?

I'd say more in every way possible. I mean while you’re a kid, punk is kinda a place of belonging or something different to get into that kinda separates you from the pack. But as I get older, I realize how much more than that it is. You begin to realize its potential as a vehicle for your generation’s voice. When I first got into punk all I cared about was going to shows or what band was playing and with whom, never really paying attention what went into getting bands into the shows and the kids into the music.

And now it seems as though the kids have become numb to music at all, or at least enough to feel it directly, in the scene that is. Scenes have pretty much dwindled away. And well, let’s face it, Michigan is broke and so are half the bars and clubs. So that plays a factor in lack of places for bands to play. And that causes a lack of interest in the kids. And I think if the kids don't see this as a huge problem. Punk as you and I know it will die. If we don't care enough to raise our voices, or think in radical ways, the music and scene we all say we love will vanish into obscurity. So yeah, it means way more now than it did then. I think I owe it myself as well as others to keep this thing going. Or at least give it my best shot.

6. Was it hard to adjust to doing vocals after Matt left?

I'd be a liar if I said no. Matt was a great singer and front man. As well as an amazing and dynamic personality for Aggro or Die!. When Matt announced his leaving Aggro, his last request as a member of Aggro or Die! was that he do a final record with us, and that I should pick up

after him as the bands lead singer, just as I should have when the band initially started. And his reasons were all valid. If I write most of the words and music, then having me sing them would make sense. If anything, I'd mean the words more than anyone else. And that's a huge part of Aggro or Die!. However, mixed feedback from friends, fans and family, having me sing and not play guitar just didn't seem like the thing for us.

And we've had great support in this transition. Jason (Hellmouth) had our back and suggested we try his friend Jeff out. And while Jeff was a perfect fit vocally, he was far too busy at that moment in his life, as well not wanting to support a record that he would not full be on. At that time we were still thinking having Matt on the record would not be a bad idea. In his words as well as our own, a singer should support and push a record if they plan to be on it. And well, that's a very true statement. So even though things did not work out with Jeff, he left a more than lasting impression on us. We then decided to lessen vocals for Matt on the up and coming record. Half Matt, half me. But unfortunately through poor communication, Matt didn't like the idea at all. And while I understand Matt's point of view, if Aggro or Die! were going to move in the forward direction, we should just start over.

So I took Jeff's advice and decided to front Aggro or Die! myself. And while it's been difficult to adjust to, my band mates have given positive feedback and are happy with this decision. No doubt it feels different not having a guitar do the talking for me. I am content on how things are coming along. Hell, I've never sung for anybody let alone front a band. But I like the feeling I get doing it.

7. Has Aggro or Die! changed its sound now that you’re singing?

I'm sure it may sound different on record. But that has always been a goal for us. Aggro or Die! really doesn't have a specific sound to be exact. Or at least, not in my opinion. We kinda just go with a general theme for the record side of things while focusing on live shows and maintaining our own sound for them. As for the vocals, that's up to the listener to judge. But I think things are a bit more fleshed out these days. We are very picky about things like that and so far the responses have been very positive and encouraging. So in a nutshell I'd say in some regards, yes. But in spirit, no. We didn't have to change musically to fit my voice into the mix. Instead I've worked my vocals around the music.

8. Do you listen to primarily punk rock from around the world, the U.S. or Detroit? Why?

I love music from all over the world dude. It's always cool to reach out and embrace music on a global scale. Be it punk, hardcore, ska, thrash etc. from all walks of life. We do heavily support Detroit and local music, mostly cus' we feel we are a part of it too. And I think it's easy to relate to because Detroit bands speak a common language that kids from Detroit see and feel on a daily basis. Because I live here, Detroit music is a soundtrack to my everyday life. But music is music, and wherever it comes from isn't so much a factor. I'm just happy knowing that kids everywhere are out there doing it. I'm always stoked to see young minds creating a voice through their music.

9. Have you played with any out-of-state bands? Who and when?

Yes, and I'd say too many to recall all of them. But there are a few that have stolen our hearts. Quarterlife Crisis is a band that we've grown very close to. They are from Long Beach, New York. If ya haven't heard of them yet, get to a computer quick and look ‘em up. We have been

friends since we first played with them in 2006 here in Detroit at the 2500 Club. We have taken two small tours with them, on the East Coast as well as the Midwest. Last summer was a great tour; short but powerful. We also played with great bands like the Alcoholocaust, Seasick, Iron

Minds, and the dudes from Thrashantos. Also keep in mind all the great out of state bands that come out to Keep it a Threat fest.

10. When did you conjure up the idea for the Keep It a Threat festival?

Well it's been a thought of mine for quite a while. Even in the first 7” that Aggro or Die! did, I mentioned keep it a threat at the end of my closing statement. That was more than a year from the first KIAT. But the KIAT we know as the fest was a collaboration between me and my friend, Dougie Tangent. He was playing with his band the Dewtons at Jamestowne Hall in Saginaw when we got together after he had played and talked a bit about the "good old days", when shit was D.I.Y. and you could go and see a shit ton of awesome bands from all over the place at one show, as well as find out about bands and how to start one as well. Nowadays, people horde info like that because they think that it's some kind of privileged information for them or their peers, like-minded as they are. And that they keep they're scene "poser" free by establishing a bullshit hierarchy. That they in turn feel like pillars of their scenes because they know "people". Fuck people like that! They are the reason the scene has dwindled down to just them.

The original idea was just to throw a big ass show that involved skateboarding, punk rock and its community. And throw a show in a place where kids could skate and thrash at the same time. And do it here in southeast Michigan, where we are from. All the good fests are never in Southeast Michigan anymore. So why not have one of our own, right? And a place to get kids into music as well as creating it. To me the "Threat" is how society views opinionated and socially aware young kids, and the impact they have on their structure. And if kids no longer express that threat, or stand up and voice themselves, then punk music or whatever it may be called in the future is pretty much doomed. The fest I remember that conveyed that message to me was Michigan fest.

Michigan fest was really cool back in the day. I remembered everything about it. The bands, the booths that all the D.I.Y. and local bands had showcasing the how-to's for copyrights, making your own merch, and even booking your own tours. And it was the first time I saw Los Crudos too! That show changed my life, and Dougie's too, cus' we shared countless stories about that same show. We just felt that was lacking today. So we just wanted to do our part in preserving something that gave us so much to look forward to and give it to kids who don't have that much to look forward to these days. On a personal end, to me, KIAT was also my way of keep up with my step dad Gary, who did plenty of shows in his time with bands like Negative Approach, Black Flag and countless others. Without him in my life KIAT would have never happened. He passed away just a few weeks before first taste of what it was like to walk in his shoes. I could totally see him out there, that "old dude" moshing with the kids. He would have loved it.

11. What bands do you have confirmed for the second annual festival? Where can people go to find more information about it as it approaches?

Well, Dave. I just can't spill all the beans just yet. But you can bet on Aggro or die! and D.A. to be there. As well as Iron Minds, A.T.G., and the A-Gang are all confirmed, and have been. But it's way too early to give any more details with how things go. The actual line up will no doubt change as it did last year right on up to the last minute. So not being a dude to write a check my ass can't cash, best way to stay informed is to check with the website. www.myspace.com/keepitathreat. We are always talking to bands from all over, as well as taking advice from bands and kids alike. We are doing this for all of us: young and old, hardcore and poser. Keep it a threat is about bringing music to kids of all kinds.

12. Do you feel the first Keep It a Threat festival was a success?

Absolutely; if you’re asking questions about it, or other kids are asking about it, then yes. There were lots of things I wish we could have done better. But we'll learn from it and carry that over in years to come. I'm having fun with it and that's what counts.

13. What is the primary message you want to communicate with this festival?

Stand up and do something! So many out there will bitch cus' they’ve got no place to play or see shows, or there aren’t any bands out there anymore and nobody does it like they used to. It's the same excuse, but really it's because people lack creativity and ingenuity. I say, start your own bands, make your own places to play! Fuck, kids did it in empty warehouses with generators hooked up to car batteries and shit, or in abandoned houses with kids pressing their own t-shirts and patches, or young aspiring journalists out there, putting in tons of hours at the local copy house making ‘zines. Fuck! Make your own labels for crying out loud! If you create it the only one that can kill it is you. With all that we have at our disposal these days, it's a shame that most kids don't even lift a finger. So, in short, the message I want to communicate is: Get off your ass today and make a history of your own! And while back in the day is great to remember, if our minds rest on yesterday, we won't have shit to look forward to tomorrow.

14. What your regular ‘adult’ lifestyle, do you still go to shows? How often?

Not nearly as often as I'd like too. But I do get out every once in a while. Aggro plays tons of shows, so in that light, I see plenty. But I do like see other bands, especially ones that don't play near me often, or bands that I hear about a lot. And with Aggro making a new record the last few months have been largely spent away from shows. And being a full time parent of a two and a half year old can slow down shows a bit. But all in all, as long as Aggro keeps playing shows, I'll always be able to catch shows. I just can't wait till my son is old enough to go to shows. I hope I don't embarrass him. I thought it was cool going to shows with my step dad.

15. What’s your favorite local band to watch/listen to?

I guess that depends on my mood. I love lots of local bands. But some of them really get my motor going at the end of the day. If I'm particularly in a shitty mood from work Hellmouth is an awesome stress reliever! The Hand-Me Downs have a way of making me feel good too. They are fun as hell to see. And if I'm feeling down, they are always there to pick me up. D.A. is an awesome band too. They rip it up fast as fuck and some of the best times I've spent at shows recently have been at theirs. D.A. was also the first band Aggro played with that made me turn to the dudes and say "We gotta tighten shit up dudes! These guys are way tight with each other!" I've been turned on to some other bands very recently that blew my mind. Trace the Veins are the shit; high energy dude. They came out of left field to me dude. They are like my new must see band. Them and Against the Grain, who are both amazing as hell to see. And of course all these bands are in my cars CD player, always!

16. What can others do to support their local punk rock scene? Is there something they shouldn’t do?

Well, dude. I think what you are doing is very cool. Writing about bands, music, and the scene is a very productive and lasting thing, especially if it comes from kids with a non biased agenda. Not talking about reviews or anything like that. That's important in putting your opinion of a band out there for kids to read about. But the thing I'm talking about is capturing the experience of what it’s like to be there. Not to mention that it’s important in creating the images or capturing

the memories that can be shared when were all dead and gone. If not for active kids like yourself, punk would have died long time ago. So thank you. What's not cool is pushing other kids away from it. Like I've stated before, we are all posers at one time or another. If we segregate other kids based on musical tastes, we thin out the scene, furthermore destroying what it means to be a punk. I think it's all of our responsibility to create a lasting impression on the youth. After all, they will be doing it way after we do and so on. If we are to survive, we have to get over ourselves.

People being assholes to kids for not being in the know will leave a nasty taste in my mouth; it's just not necessary to be that way. Also, being inventive as far as how we do shows or how we create or put out music is imperative to survival in this day and age. Seeing how things are here in Detroit with our economic situation, D.I.Y. is the way to do it. And the very most important thing of all is talk about it. Make the kids aware of it.

17. Is it a little bit ironic that punk rock, which is mostly liberal, is inhabited almost entirely by young white males? If that’s a bad thing, what can be done to change it?

I think..., Wow! Dave that's tough! Myself, I'd love to see all kinds of kids from every walk of life into what I do. But it's in what people have made it out to be. I think that girls don't come to shows too often because most kids aren't aware of them in mosh pits, or in the worst case scenario, are too aware of them. And take advantage of them not being able to defend themselves from grabby teenage hands. It's completely inappropriate but it happens all too often to girls.

As far as say, kids of other ethnic backgrounds, I'd say that's up to the individuals themselves. Again, it's in what people have made punk out to be. But if we continue to see it as black or white, boy or girl we are only walking in the wrong direction simply by acknowledging a difference between them. It is simple, a kid at a show is still a kid at a show regardless of race and gender. I think the right thing to do is create a positive and lasting experience for those around you regardless who it is, and if we continue to emphasize that type of mentality, we'll get

there. It takes all of us to make things like that happen. Communicate that and it will happen.

18. How is your new full-length coming along? When do you think it will be out?

As of this time, we're about 75 % done. But we want it to be perfect. So it's kinda like a "It'll be done when it's done" situation. We do everything D.I.Y. So money and getting shit recorded during shows and work schedules have played a role in the lengthy process of putting this thing together. But I'd say it should be out no later than late summer. We have a reason for that, but you'll have to wait to know exactly what I mean.

At this point only three tracks need vocals, art is being produced, and money has been saved up. So there's still hope of getting this thing done for Keep it a Threat fest. Fact is, we just want this record to be special. It's a huge turning point for us, and kids who listen to us deserve nothing but the best out of us. I can tell you I'm very proud of it thus far. And we hope you dig it too.

19. How much time and effort goes into managing a band?

Well, let's put it this way, you really gotta love it to do it. It can be enormously tough at times. And while it may be easier to have someone else do it for you, it always feels 10 times more rewarding when you do it yourself. Working with bands and venues can be stressful, cus' you

never want to step on toes, and someone almost always seems to feel screwed out of something at one point or another. But when you get things rolling in the right direction there's no better feeling on earth.

I'd also say that reaching out to a community of like minded people is a must. Nothing can truly be done alone. Things like word of mouth, advertising, and just getting kids into it. It takes everyone to do that. I'm sure you know that. Putting out a record or comp isn't all

peaches and pussy dude. But seeing it in a kids hand, or hearing about it through other kids is an awesome feeling.

20. Anything else we missed that you want people to be aware of?

Yes. Each other. And by that I mean in the pit or in other social settings. Kids don't get into punk or any other scene because they want to be disrespected, beaten at shows, or hurt by those they think are on their level. I speak from a lot of my own personal experiences. I know and very much remember what it feels like to be an outsider looking into something I thought I belonged to. Hate is just ignorant.

Interview with the Spears

The Spears interview

1. I know you guys are a bit of a supergroup, but how and when did The Spears itself form?
We started a few years ago. Hunter Oswald was our first drummer. We all pretty much knew each other.
2. How would you describe your sound?
We are just trying to do our own thing, whatever that is.
3. Has the band ever toured outside of Florida? If so, where?
We did a quick southeast run last October , but it was just a couple Florida shows and a couple Georgia shows. so far we've had limited time as everyone is in other bands or busy.
4. What is the Florida punk scene like, to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?
It's probably like any other scene anywhere else. Good bands and shitty bands.
5. Have you hosted touring bands? Who were the best of them, if any? Would you consider hosting bands now?
We've done that a couple of times, but it's only if they are good friends of ours.
6. Has anyone ever requested, or have you ever played, a cover from one of your old bands?
7. Do you have a particularly memorable show that you played? If you did, what made it so memorable?
(Pink Lincolns). We played with Screeching Weasel and the Queers so it was almost appropriate. It was a cool show.
8. What material have you released so far? Where can you buy it?
We have a 7" on choking hazzard recs, a cd (and limited vinyl) on jailhouse recs (it is called "shove"). We also have songs on a few comps.
9. What are the bands’ biggest influences, music or otherwise?
As far as music, I like a lot of stuff. the germs, descendents, Otis Redding, Bowie, Saccharine Trust, Black Flag, old Stones, Wire, Stooges, Gerardo Ortiz.
10. Are you on a record label or are you independent? Do you think that this predicament helps or hurts you? Why?
We put our 7" out on a small label in Canada, our CD is on a small label in Virginia. It's more realistic than trying to get RCA or Sony to think we can sell more CDs than Justin Timberlake.
11. Have you ever been banned from a venue? If so, which one and what happened?
Not as the Spears, not yet, but give us time. There's a place in Tampa and a place in St. Pete that won't book anything I'm in because of things in the past.
12. On a side note, what is the economy like down in Florida? Can a low-skilled, 20-something get a sustainable job?
Florida is a "right to work" state- i think it has something to do with minimum wage, or something. Yes, come on down- you don't need training or experience to be a doctor, lawyer, or animal trainer.
13. Is skateboarding popular in your area? Do you guys skateboard?
There are skate parks here, so it must be. I don't skate (I have a car).
14. What are your thoughts on the dilemma where a lot of hardcore originals (i.e. people who played in the 80s when it started) are still going at it?
I like how you call it a dilemma. My first thought would be that they look a little older nowadays.
15. Does any squatting take place in your area at all? If it does exist, how common is it?
I'm not sure how common squatting is here, but there's a lot of homeless people. Not sure where one stops and the other one starts.
16. Do The Spears have a logo? Can it be spray-painted?
We don't have an official logo , but our shirt has a jesus fish with a spear thru it. I think it's funny. Some people don't.
17. With a relatively unique sound, do you listen to a lot of different music or do you forego any music-based influences altogether?
We individually listen to a lot of different stuff. Most bands want to fit neatly into a category, or want to sound like other bands. We aren't that worried about that stuff.
18. Are there many venues to play in Florida? Where are they?
Yes. They are in buildings on streets.
19. Are there any record stores to go to in your area?
There is a store in St. Pete called Sound Exchange. New and used, and they have lots of cool stuff.
20. If anything, what else would you like to add?
Most people are liars.

Plastic Boyz interview

Plastic Boyz interview
1. How were the Plastic Boyz molded?
Kelly: The way most plastic is molded. Injection Style.
Mike: Welp, I met Kelly in ‘95 and he had a crass shirt in kindergarten and I had a Flux of pink Indians shirt, so we immediately bonded; love at first sight. Just 2 punx growin’ up on the tough streets of EASTPOINTE. Anyway, me and Kelly played way back in the 2000's. Finally caught our break in mid '09
2. Who did the recording on your first demo and on your EP? How do you feel those came out?
Kelly: The demo was all of us (mike, Kelly, skrat, Kyle) on Mike’s 4-track and the EP was recorded by Bry-man from ATG and his bud Nick for free. I liked it at first, but I think we’re going to try a little better quality next time.
Mike: Nick had model cars in his basement, dude. Shit was alright.
3. Do you feel you’ve made a lot of progress as a band, especially for one less than a year old?
Kelly: Not as much as Kommie Kilpatrick.
Mike: or Lies Unknown to name-drop a few.
4. What has been the best show you’ve played as of yet? Why?
Kelly: The March 26th bloodbath at the painted lady. State was playing and I sliced an artery. PONK.
Mike: Halloween W/ Human Eye, Heroes + Villains
5. Is there something specific that influences each member of the band (i.e. is there one simultaneous influence for every member, like a band or experience)?
Kelly: We have many influences, so I won’t name them.
Mike: Neil Young, Massey Hall 1971 Rock N’ Roll at its prime.
6. What’s the craziest moment you’ve had as a band so far?
Kelly: The Basement 414, I was very drunk and everyone hated us. That was cool. And the March 26 Painted Lady incident.
Mike: Muskrat’s little brother’s 9th birthday party, going shot for shot with a nine year old is pretty fuckin’ crazy.
7. How do you feel some of the Detroit-area clubs have treated you?
Kelly: Shitty for the most part. Fuck New York New York and Fuck TNT’s, The Basement 414 are a bunch of pussies; we got “Banned” because I said “faggot” and I made a joke about kids with trust funds. They called me a nazi. Most of the other places we’ve played have been alright but my top 3 are The Painted Lady, Now That’s Class in Cleveland, and Ground Zero in Milwaukee.
Mike: Painted lady; they are awesome to the bands, brah.
8. What’s the best band out there, both locally and nationally?
Kelly: You mean favorite? Locally: Human Eye, State, Amoebas, and Dick Hickey. Nationally: Black Flag, The Smiths
Mike: Local: The Human Eye, The Stooges, Question Mark & the Mysterians
Nat’l: Of Montreal, MGMT, Fontana…
9. Where did you go on tour and how was that experience? Any recommendations for other bands that might tour?
Kelly: Cleveland Rocks, Milwaukee Rolls, and Ann Arbor sucks.
Mike: You were there man! Why don’t you fuckin’ tell me!
10. What kind of bands would you like to see come through Michigan? Would you host a show for them?
Kelly: Good ones. Yes.
Mike: Anyone we played with on tour. I’d put them fuckers up real quick.
11. Do you have any upcoming plans (i.e. new songs, new merch, another tour, etc.)?
Kelly: We got 4 new songs; canned hate, and rock-n-roll wigger and then throbbin Williams and obliterators hands but we haven’t played those two yet. No current tour plans but we may be releasing a cassette and we will have new shirts for sale for $4 and buttons soon. Patches are $1 and the 2012 calories EP is $2. We are sold out of the original demos.
Mike: We may record in Minneapolis in June too.
12. Anything else you’d like readers to know?
Kelly: We hate punk; we just do it for the money and coke, and hoes.
Mike: single and looking. Ladies?