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.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Interview with Rob of Taozins

Interview with Rob Bates of Taozins

1. What was your first punk rock album? Do you still listen to it?

The album that got me listening to punk rock was the Punk-o-rama 2.1 comp. It came with a pair of Airwalk shoes I bought when I was in the 7th or 8th grade. That comp exposed me to NOFX, Bad Religion, Descendents, Pennywise, and Millencolin. I still listen to a lot of the bands on that compilation.

2. You mentioned to me that you played football in high school. How did you resist embodying the jock-like personality prevalent in football players? Did you face any personal discrimination for being “too punk”?

I played football since I was in the 4th grade and was good at it. I didn’t want to stop just because it didn’t fit in with being “punk”. The closest thing to discrimination or being made fun of was in freshman year, I was wearing NOFX hat and one of the upperclassmen asked me why I was wearing that “rat hat”? The jocks called the punk kids rats in Howell haha. That was about as bad as it got. I was as good as or better than most kids I played with so I they never bothered me. I never really bought into the meat head jock personality. I was friends with most everybody in school. I sang in the choir, listened to punk, and played football. My life in high school didn’t make much sense.

3. When did you join Downtown Brown? How long did you stay in the band?

I joined DTB in Jan 2005 and played with them till summer 2008.

4. What made you leave? Was it amicable or was there a disagreement between you and Neil (Downtown Brown guitarist and singer)?

It ran its course. It started with us getting kicked off the 07 Warped Tour after 6 days (we had 2 more to go) I stayed on for another year, but I was getting more depressed with the situation as that year went on. I had told them I was maybe going to leave after our summer 08 tour. When we got back they let me go. That was understandable why would want to be in a band with someone who was maybe going to stay. I don’t think I would have been able to quit, I put so much into that band and didn’t want to let it go. I just kept finding reasons to stay even though I had to put up with ALOT of bullshit.

Other than that musically me and Neil never really wrote well together. We put one 8 song studio album in three years, which is no way to maintain a fan base. It worked on the road because we only played there every few months but, when you play a similar set for 2 years people locally get tired of it. Looking back, I just wanted to tour tour tour. We should’ve been writing more. The fact that I lived an hour away from our rehearsal space didn’t help either.

So basically, we couldn’t function musically, everyone was way too drunk, I wanted to hit the road hard, like be gone 7-9 months out of the year, and the rest of the guys didn’t. In the end it worked out better for everyone. Since I’ve left we’ve all reconciled. You spend 3 years in a van with the same dudes, you bond. Check out their new record Grabbleton’s Beach on DJ Jam records.

5. Have you done any touring? If so, who with and where?

DTB did 4 national DIY booked tours, a few 2 week tours, and numerous regional weekend trips. I think we played shows in 44 of the 50 states. Touring was so much fun, I miss it big time. I would have loved to see what it was like to be on a package tour booked by an agent. It always seemed like we were working so hard to put our tours together.

6. What made you pick up the bass? Why do you still enjoy it?

I started playing the bass in the 7th grade. The main reason I picked it up was my father was a bass player. I loved watching his bands play when I was younger. I enjoy coming up with creative, borderline strange bass parts. I also have a great time learning new techniques like tapping, pinch harmonics, and slapping. Finding different ways to make new noises with my bass is the best.

7. What’s the biggest band you’ve opened for? Did you get to meet them? If you did, what was the experience like?

The biggest band, to me at least was when we opened for was Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies. I got to meet Fat Mike and Joey Cape for a second. It was nice to talk to people that had such a huge influence on me musically, even if it was very brief.

8. Do you write lyrics, music, both or do you just play? If you write, do you have a particular style that you follow?

We collaborate a lot. The songs where Nick and I mixed parts or lyrics we had to create a song turned out the best. Songs like 3 ½, Sloppy, or Drink Ourselves to Shore were created when we brought together riffs and lyrics we had.

9. How did you come across and join Taozins?

We’ve all known each other since middle school. Dave and I have been playing in random bands since we were 12 or 13. The Petaflyers broke up shortly I got out of DTB. It just made sense to form Taozins. Those guys are my best friends and I love being in band with them.

10. Is it at least mildly irritating to have your band incorrectly called The Taozins?

Yes. Haha. It’s expected; we picked a stupid name that’s what we get. This is the story behind the name: the father of our old drummer in DTB was a professional body builder, strait out of Poland. He used to give him pep talks when he was 10 or so and say things like “Tommy, I have been with over a Tousand vimen!” We would refer to things in tousands as a running joke in DTB. When we needed a band name it sounded funny and powerful, so we went with it. When Dave was drawing up our first logo he misspelled it because that’s how he thought it was spelled. We liked the way it looked so we went with it. Turns out a Taozin is some obscure Star Wars character we’d never heard of. Our next sticker is going to say “Taozins, we fucking hate Star Wars and were not Taoist”

11. How often do you get customers for your screen-printing business? Do you specialize in a given style of art?

Printing has gotten consistent enough to get by. The flow of jobs has been getting better lately but I could always use more. I can do up to a 4 color print. Usually just spot color art but I have done halftones pictures in the past.

12. Do you have any information about your screen-printing gig you’d like to discuss?

You can see some of my prints at myspace.com/ggprinting. I’ve been trying to setup a Facebook page for it, but they won’t let me for some reason, so I may have to change the business name. I’ve been printing since 2004 and have done work for Against the Grain, Downtown Brown, The Swellers, Screaming Mechanical Brain CBJ, the Yellow Sign, Bermuda Mohawk Productions, and many more.

13. What makes you release your music for free? Do you have the intention of releasing any vinyl or CD albums with Taozins or otherwise?

CD’s are dead. We will never release an actually pressed CD unless were not paying for it. Their have been loose talks about doing a split 7” with Against The Grain in the future. I really hope that split works out. I love vinyl.

14. Do you believe the Detroit punk scene is united or fragmented? What makes you believe that?

I think it’s starting to come together. The Hellmouth Cd release and the weeknight Garden Bowl show we did with ATG were good examples of how good it can and will be. The fact that this zine exists and you’re interviewing me is proof that the scene is unifying. I feel like I’m new to the Detroit punk scene. I’m all the way out in Livingston county, so I don’t get to see as many Detroit shows as I would like to. When I was in DTB, most of the other punk bands didn’t like us. We didn’t play with a lot of other local bands in Detroit. It’s different and awesome being a part of the growing Detroit scene.

15. Were you guys joking or serious when you offered a spot for vocalist in your band?

Dead Serious. Neither of us have a passion for writing lyrics. If it was acceptable, I’d just write instrumentals. I have a passion for creating interesting melodies and musical arrangements. If we didn’t have to sing I could see the musical parts of our band getting really off the wall and crazy. Plus, I get out of breath singing, I’d rather rock out the whole time. If we were to add a front man or woman, it would have to be someone out of his or her mind who writes great lyrics. My perfect mix would be someone with the raw energy of HR of the Bad Brains, the strangeness and showmanship of Eric Nally of Foxy Shazam, and the lyrics of Craig Finn from the Hold Steady all rolled into one person. If your that’s you, get a hold of us! Haha

16. Who, in your opinion, is the best established local band and the best up-and-coming band, respectively?

Best established band is Hellmouth for obvious reasons. The best up-and-comer is Against the Grain for obvious reasons.

17. Anything you’d like to say that we didn’t go over?

Thanks for the interview! You can download all of Taozins recordings at mediafire.com/taozins If your band needs shirts or buttons email ggscreenprinting@gmail.com

Interview with Screams of Christ

Interview with Screams of Christ

1. When did you start playing music?

I started playing guitar around 1999. I was able to get an acoustic guitar and I would sit around the house fiddling around with it until about 2 years later I got an electric guitar and that’s when I really started loving the sounds I could make with a guitar.

2. What band/artist do you hold as your primary influence now? When you got started?

I’m not too sure I have a primary influence, but as for other musicians that inspire me right now a short, (very short) list would be Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg, Crass, Omega Tribe and Tragedy off the top of my head right now. As for when I first got started playing music I listened to a lot of Hardcore Punk like The Casualties, Rancid, Funeral Dress, Riot/Clone and Destroy as well as tons of Anarcho Punk and anything else I could get my hands on.

3. What do you write about when it comes to lyrics? Why?

It seems now I’m writing about everything under the sun, I write a lot about personal struggle, the struggles of others I see, politics, religion, the never ending war, love, peace, hate, the things I see, the things I don’t want to see (it goes on and on). Most of my writing starts with a poem I write or just hearing words in my head that I can let out in a song.

4. What music experience do you have? (i.e. how long have you sang, played guitar, what bands have you been in, etc.)?

I think I’m going on a little over 10 years now of playing music, My first band I started in early 2002 call The Imp Villains where I played guitar/vocals. We played our last show in late 2009 after I decided to leave. That band was a mix of down tuned, fast, hardcore punk with melody thrown in here and there. It was like a big punk rock orchestra. I loved it. Around 2006 I was in a band called Hellghast (which fell apart after about a year). It was a thrashy punk band. The most recent band I was in is Live to Kill, which I had to leave for personal reasons. Even though I’m not playing with them anymore we remain great friends and I’ll jump on stage to do a song here and there with them. I love those guys.

5. Have you had any experience squatting or living on the road? If you did, What was is like and why did you do it?

Not so much with squatting (though I believe housing is a right). I’ve been lucky enough to have a place I can lay my head for now. I’ve had my times though where I’ve been out on the road having to sleep in my car and busking for cash. I’ve been forced to do it when I had nowhere else to go, but I’ve also done it by choice as well. Sometimes those 4 walls don’t look so pretty and you just gotta go!

6. Why stay in Detroit or Michigan?

I think there are tons of Michigan kids that say they want to leave but never do (I was one of them). I do plan on traveling and seeing what there is to see out there, but I could never ignore the fact that this place, no matter how bad it might be sometimes, will always hold a place in my heart. I think if we’ve got things to complain about here, then we are the ones who have to fix it and I got faith that we can do it. This place belongs to us, don’t forget that!

7. Is there any deeper meaning to the name ‘Screams of Christ’ or does it just sound cool?

I came up with the name while in the process of recording my first album. My older songs I would scream all of my lyrics while playing an acoustic guitar. With my first name being Chris I just blended the two together and came up with “Screams of Christ”. I didn’t think it was a name that was going to stick, but it did. The only thing is a lot of people have thought I was a christian folk singer which is funny, but confuses a lot of people. I’m glad the name stuck and I think it fits me well. Plus it sounds cool. (haha)

8. Do you have any particular experiences that drove you to write music? If so, what are they?

I have many things in my life that drove me to start writing music. I’m not gonna go into a lot of details but I think I started playing music because It was something I could actually feel inside me when I did it. You know, the goose bumps you get when you hear a certain song? Or the ones you get while playing one? It is the most expressive outlet I have and I’m so grateful to have discovered it at a young age. Music and punk rock has saved my life, and I say that with my whole heart.

9. Do you favor an individual based world or do you favor a community based world? Why?

That’s a good question. I favor both, and I believe that they go hand in hand with each other. I think that a good community will create a better individual, just as a good individual will create a better community. If people came together in harmony, peace and understanding, I think it would be a better place to live.

10. Anything you’d like to add?
Thanks for having me be a part of this! I think what you’re doing is great for the punk/alternative community. To everyone reading this, don’t give up! Always follow your dreams!
-Screams of Christ

Interview with Ben Wixson

Interview with Ben Wixson of the A-Gang and Frank White

1. When did you get your start in music?

I started playing the guitar around at 11 or 12, so I guess you could say that was the beginning for me in music. The first few songs I wrote and recorded were Industrial sounding, which is a genre I still enjoy today. The few songs I did record were under the name "Teknologikal". How original? Haha...they weren't very good. My start in "punk" came in high school with my first band ever, Things About Nothing. We're actually playing a reunion show Dec 26th at Hatchy's in Utica. I can't promise it will be any good, but it will be a lot of fun.

2. What were your first punk rock albums? Are they still influential to you today?

My first punk rock albums were Shut Your Mouth Open Your Eyes by AFI, Let It Happen by MXPX, the self-titled Unwritten Law record, London Calling, Live Fast Diarrhea by The Vandals and one of the 90's Bad Religion albums. Now, I understand these aren't very elite by any means, but you have to understand my coming of age was in like 1998. I still listen to all those bands, so the answer would have to be yes.

3. How did Frank White come to form?

The formation of Frank White was rather odd. We actually had a drummer named Jake Salk for about 2 practices, who I knew from playing shows with my old band. He also knew Jesse and Jeff from their years with Before I Go (who I liked a lot). One day he called me and asked if I wanted to play bass in a band that sounded like Rancid. I said "Hell yeah!" I don't really remember what happened to Mr. Salk after that, but when he was gone I called up Jake Brusokas to play with us. I remember at the first or second practice someone coming up with a rule along the lines of "you can only write choruses while taking a shit".

4. What made a Frank White show so legendary to go to? Punk, hardcore kids, crusties, pop punk kids, everyone came out for Frank White.

Don't forget about the ska kids! They probably just wanted to see 4 guys in their 20's make fools of themselves. Really, it was all about the music for us. That's why we played music that hadn't been relevant since 1995. Hopefully it was because it was fun to hear and see live. It was fast, but it had melody.

5. What material did you release while the band was together? Would you ever consider re-releasing it as a CD or an LP, given proper time and funds?

We released a 5 song EP, a 6 song EP, and 5 songs that were online exclusives. I would love to see this all pressed on a 12" record. There is so much unreleased material that we just haven't had time to put out. One day though...

6. What made the stage banter so prevalent at live shows?

Alcohol, and the love for baseball and cheap action movies.

7. Why did Frank White go on hiatus? Will Detroit ever see a semi-permanent return to the stage for them?

Well, at the end of 2008 we were starting to lose steam because everyone was so busy with other things. I think sometime in the near-ish future you'll see more of Frank White. We definitely need to get some new material out first, but I think a lot of the things that have been holding us back for the past few years are starting to go away. We played a few shows in 2010 that were a lot of fun. We might have a proper "return" show some time in 2011.

8. What prompted the A-Gang to come about? What common bands did the initial band members bond over?

I have no Idea what caused this band to form. The A-Gang had many member come and go before I was actually in it. Jesse (of Frank White) was one of these members. There was actually a show played with Drew Podgorski (of Just Ask) on vocals about a year before I was even in it. The band didn't do much of anything during that period, and there wasn't really anything recorded. Actually, the drums to the EP we have out were recorded before I was really even in the band. Rich just called me one day asking if I knew anyone that sang, and I told him I would be interested. I'm not sure there are even all that many common bands the band bonds over which is why we sound the way we do (not that we sound all that unique). We all like 80's punk and hardcore... but who doesn't?

9. When did the first set of songs get written? When did they finally get recorded, mastered and released?

I couldn't tell you when the first songs were written. Probably a year and a half before I was in the band if I had to guess. The first recording came in the form of our self-titled EP. The recording of the record took place from Oct 2008 to like Oct 2009. Too long if you ask me. It was finally released in December of 2009.

10. Who have the A-Gang opened for since their inception?

These are all from memory so I might miss something significant - No Use For A Name, The Germs, Anti-Flag, The Menzingers, Telegraph, Swingin' Utters, Only Crime, Cancer Bats.

11. Is the name of the band a play on the 1980s television show the A-Team? Or is there another meaning behind the name?

Is far as I know there is no meaning behind the name. I always thought the "A" stood for assholes.

12. Does the band have any new tracks in the works?

Yes! We have about 6 songs we've been kicking around. We have plans to release a full length and a 7" sometime in 2011. The process of recording these will be MUCH faster than the last EP. So far the new songs are awesome.

13. What does the future hold for the A-Gang?

I have no idea. Hopefully some shows on the East and West coast. I would love to play in Europe, or South America, but those are just dreams! We'll keep playing as long as our hands and throats still work.

14. Is there any chance of an A-Gang/ Frank White split, a la Skolars/ Telegraph?

I would say probably not. That would require an immense undertaking by me and right now I don't think there is any way I could commit that much time to a project like that and have it sound halfway decent.

15. Anything additional you would like to say?

Playing music for a living is not an easy thing to do, and it's not something I've ever done. Some friends of mine play in the groups We Are The Union and the Swellers. These aren't just fly-by-night-let's-get-big-and-make-crazy-money kinds of dudes. These are people that do what they do because they truly love playing to people. Now, say what you will about either of these bands. My point is this: If it weren't for people like this making sacrifices to help keep the scenes in our cities alive, we wouldn't have the great music we have. Please support musicians when ever possible and keep the culture alive.

Interview with Jimmy Lawson of Deathskin Razors

Jimmy Lawson interview

1. When did Deathskin Razors form? What are some of the bands you collaborated on with the rest of the band?

Deathskin Razors was formed in summer of 2007. We have had mixed members of many bands. Those bands include, All Hype, Shades Of Red, Cheapshow, Face Reality, TV Suicides, Schizo Gerkin, and probably 1000 others.

2. When did you get some of the songs for your 7” written?

Me and our drummer, Nate Davis, have been friends for a long time, and have kind of written some of the songs before Deathskin was actually formed. The 7" consists of songs that were written before Deathskin was a band, and a few songs written in early 2008.

3. What was the inspiration for some of the lyrical content and imagery?

Our singer Jon Carpus is the one who is in charge of the lyrics. Whatever he feels he wants to write about is all coming from his brain. I know he just writes about whatever he is feeling at the time.

The imagery is a mix of everyone in the band. We like having a more "dark" imagery now. When we started out, it was more of a fun / party feel to it.

4. What does the name ‘Deathskin Razors’ mean?

"Deathskin Razors" came from the Sega Genesis game Mutant League Football. We chose it because we are a bunch of nerds who liked sega genesis. It is much better than the original name…. "cobra" yuck.

5. Where did you play some of your first shows?

Our first show just so happened to be at the best michigan venue….. The Hayloft. (note sarcasm) It was a shitty battle of the bands that was offered to us. Surprisingly we took 3rd place and a good amount of people showed up. I believe there are youtube videos of it.

Other venues included the 2500 Club, The Pink Birdhouse, The Painted Lady, Marshments Basement, The Trumbullplex, and random houses and basements.

6. What bands have you come to collaborate with and enjoy locally? Nationally?

We have played with so many bands in the past few years. Some local favorites would have to be the Bill Bondsmen, and Hellmouth.

Nationally we have opened for many touring bands. We basically will play any style show, with many bands. The list goes on and on.

7. How did the summer tour go for the band? Any memorable moments from the tour that you can recall?

In my opinion, the tour went great. We played an awesome fest called Screaming for Change fest in Bristol, VT. Play lots of basements, and houses. We met a lot of awesome people and bands. We had to borrow DJ Liden "Junior D" from Under Anchor to play drums for us on tour. He did an awesome job, and he helped us out so much by doing that.

8. How soon is the split 7” set to come out? What’s the band who will be on the other side? How did you come to discover and decide to collaborate with them?

The split 7" will hopefully be coming out in the early 2011. The 2nd band is called Prophet, Said I from New Jersey. In February, 2010 I had a basement show in a house i was living in. They just so happened to need a show that day on their tour, and i invited them to play it. It worked out great, and we became great friends. We hooked up with them on tour, and decided it would be fun to do a split together.

9. How has the Michigan hardcore scene changed since you first started the band? What have you done to change it?

Thats a hard question to answer. I feel like many other cities, venues have come and gone, bands have broken up, and new bands have started. I feel its just an endless cycle of the whole scene.

I don't feel i've done anything to "change it". I have done my best in helping out with shows, booking my own shows, giving bands places to stay, and so on. I feel it is a huge group effort, and I do what i can to help any touring band, local band, venue, local business, and person in the progress of this scene.

10. How did you come to be involved with Refuge Skateshop? What made you decide to get involved with the benefit show?

I cant say im involved with Refuge at all. I just see it as a help me help you situation. Eric Z has put out tons of records and booked many shows in his day. What he does is great for the Hardcore and Skateboarding community.

I decided to help with the benefit because he has done so much for everyone else, why not give back. He deserves it.

11. How and when did you get Shades of Red together? What’s the future for that group?

Shades Of Red has been an ongoing project for a long time coming. Rob Mansel wrote the songs, and asked a few of us if we were interested. We just found a singer, and hopefully everything starts rolling with it soon.

Who knows what the future holds.

12. Do you feel there’s a disconnect between two hardcore scenes in Michigan? If so, what should be done to bridge the gap?

I definitely feel that there are two hardcore scenes. I hope we can book more shows that have a varying lineup. I feel its the easiest way. I think the Fight Like Hell shows have been doing a great job of that.

13. Is there a decent place to get a reliable source of shows? If so, where?

I feel that depends on the promoter. But, most shows get listed on the MIHC board site, and the MIHC Facebook.



14. What does the future hold for Deathskin Razors? Any other releases, weekend tours, or notable local shows coming up?

As of right now, we are getting everything together for the Split 7". There will most likely be a tour with Prophet, Said I to promote it. We have no shows booked at the moment, and would love to change that.

15. What’s the best place to see a good local show? Why?

Well, that really all depends. MY favorite local venue would have to be the Trumbullplex. Everything about that place is great. You can always catch good shows in local basements, The Magic Stick, Smalls, Static Age. It just depends on what your wanting to see.

16. Do you write most of the music, the lyrics, or both (for Deathskin Razors and Shades of Red)? If not, who in the band does?

In Deathskin Razors, the music is written by Me, Nick and Nate. The lyrics are all Jon Carpus.

In Shades of Red, Rob Mansel has written most of the music. We started having more frequent practices, where we all get our hand in it. Steve Muczynski is in charge of the lyrics.

17. Anything else you wish to add?

All of Deathskin Razors releases are self released on me and Jon's label, Splattercat Records.

Add our Facebook page! It has all our releases up for download!


Hawk I- 4 song demo review

Hawk I- 4-song 2008 demo review

When I hear that a band plays a newer style of hardcore music, I always approach with caution; newer hardcore has a plethora of shit in its catalog. Jawbreaker and Hatebreed were probably the two worst things to happen to hardcore. However, a few bands in this collection of soil fertilizer rise above the masses of cattle crap and put out some damn fine music. This is one such band.

Hawk I puts the fast-paced energy and breakdown-laden song pieces together to make some chant-able anthems to simultaneously sing and mosh to. “Mirror Image” is a track with a long intro and a strong finish; the singer clearly echoes his words, communicating his anger and frustrations clearly and bluntly, not to mention the pounding the drummer gives in the background. “F.T.W.” is a slightly slower track that emphasizes the sing-along part of hardcore prevalent today. Different here is that the lyrics don’t suck and the breakdowns are divided better, so that it’s not the only part of the guitar-drums sound in the background below the singer’s voice. “R.I.P.” moves further towards the new hardcore sound, using the breakdown method a bit too much. A double-time part in the middle of the song with some thrashing drums and a crispy guitar riff would’ve really made this song. It’s still not bad, it’s just not worth pining over. The last track, the improperly spelled “sorealitlooksfake” makes the use of the breakdown actually work. The chorus of the song fucking kills with the singer’s chants marching in time with the beat in the background. This song is an example of how new hardcore can actually be good.

Although it’s a bit heavy on the breakdowns, this demo is a fantastic masterpiece of work and coming from an 80s hardcore pupil, I really liked this EP. Get it, sooner rather than later.

-Aunty Social

The Amoebas- Gimme A Fix b/w No Emotion 45 review

The Amoebas ‘Gimme a Fix’ b/w ‘No Emotion’ 7” review

Garage punk didn’t die with Teengenerate, at least permanently. The Amoebas, with their first release, are the spearheads to bring it back in style. It’s only two songs long, and although that’s far too short for me, these are two of the best, most fun, sing-able songs I’ve heard in a very, very long time.

The track “Gimme A Fix” is a tune about doing drugs, even kinds you’ve never heard of; not an original idea, but very original in sound. Singer/guitarist Brian May’s voice is something I can’t compare anything to. It’s not like Iggy Pop, it’s not like Johnny Rotten, only a little like Stiv Bators, and it’s just fucking cool. It’s also worth noting that this song is very danceable. This is a song you do want to get stuck in your head. Just fucking mind-blowing. The second track, “No Emotion”, is about sociopaths, and it too is a danceable tune to “put your hands in the air” for. If Travis Bickle had theme music, this is the primary song on his soundtrack. As a genuine appreciator of psychopathology and sociopathy, this song was cool enough. The song itself is a garage masterpiece, and a punk piece of gold. It’s short, but the goodness of an LP is crammed into these two songs. Goddamn it, this is good shit.

From Gimme Gimme Records, this 45 is worth its weight in gold, so to speak. These are two of the best tunes I’ve heard off of a 45 in an extraordinarily long time. This piece of plastic, if you can find it, is well worth whatever you paid for it. Get this 45 and get it now.

-Aunty Social

Common Enemy- Living the Dream? review

Common Enemy- ‘Living the Dream?’ album review

Did the Casualties suddenly go skate punk? Did they speed their shit up and suddenly start writing mildly optimistic anthems to skate to? Nope, not yet at least. Instead, Pennsylvania natives Common Enemy released their full-length ‘Living the Dream?’. The album is absolutely immersed in 80s skater imagery and early 2000s bandana thrash, and it’s definitely a motorhead’s masterpiece; the album really should come with an eight-ball. Although I do intend to poke a considerable amount of fun at this album, it is absolutely enjoyable regardless.

For the most part, this is a partier’s album; not too much politics or sociological criticisms here, and rightly so. Positive Noise and Limp Wrist cover potential bandana thrash well enough, so a party mentality is a welcome fresh breath for me. This record is definitely typical skater bandana thrash, but it’s still worth the money. The singer sounds like Jorge from the Casualties with his sometimes indecipherable, Ritalin-laced screaming. This is the norm for this genre, however, and he manages to keep it interesting. The guitar shreds as any good thrashy band’s guitar should, grinding to the tune of the skateboards the band rides. The rhythm section is top-notch, as the bass and drums are on perfect synchronization with the rest of the band. There’s not a lot to complain about or get mega-excited about. Are these guys the next big national act to look out for and plan your week around? Probably not, but if they’re in town, they put on a hell of a show. This is a highly enjoyable album to be primarily enjoyed on a board or a bike. Much like the Casualties, it’s a bit rough to listen to the album all the way through more than twice or so, but still, there lies many a gem on this album and that’s what makes it worth getting. The artwork alone is enough to make the album worth it. Keep your eyes peeled for a pretty apeshit circle pit when these guys come to town.

-Aunty Social

Hub City Stompers- Ska Ska Black Sheep review

Hub City Stompers- Ska Ska Black Sheep album review

With a heavy background in Oi! (Steel Toe Solution) and third wave ska (Inspecter 7), the frontman for Hub City Stompers is enough of a force to catch my attention. On top of that, Hub City Stompers have a strong following and two previous albums to stand on. The band had walked the walk before; could they pull it off again with a decent third album? This is where ska tends to differ from punk; ska can stay fresh and flavorful up to and beyond a third album, and punk has a harder time with that (harder, not impossible). I would soon see if these guys could muster something good out of an old and aging genre…

The majority of this album is not at all disappointing; there’s an Oi!-mixed-with-traditional 2-Tone feel to most of the songs, playing the reggae origins of ska up more than the punk origins. The lyrics are interestingly down-to-earth; most third wave isn’t at all relatable or it’s not relevant at all. This album is a working-class production, without a doubt. “New Tattoo”, “Tip Your Bartender”, and “Chatterdub” all deal with real proletariat, lower-class swine problems. There’s no replacement for genuine lyrics, not even Yakety Sax or anything off of the second side of “Family Man”. The singer sounds like he looks, a Jamaican-voiced, shaved-headed, mean-looking motherfucker with a real singing voice. The rhythm section is pretty good; it’s excellent to hear a band return to 2-Tone and make it listenable. Ska doesn’t have to be fast to be good, in other words. The only horn, a saxophone, cruises along to the rhythm, bouncing its baritone beats to the tune of working-class ska, standing alone and proud, working its sole-horn status very much to its advantage.

If you like 2-Tone, Oi!, or have a moderately respectable taste in music, you will at least appreciate this album, even if you don’t enjoy it (I don’t know why you wouldn’t!). You might also like it and look at it as a trend-setter of sorts, because the rise and fall of the third wave is just about complete. At least two good things have come out of New Jersey now; I’m sure it’s hospitable for travel, in between all the guidos.

-Aunty Social

St. Thomas Boys Academy- Homecoming review

St. Thomas Boys Academy ‘Homecoming’ album review

Undoubtedly, St. Thomas Boys Academy have the power any good band should at their live shows; their balanced hybrid of Oi!-based punk and traditional third wave ska makes for a very evened-out set list and a powerfully energetic performance. In addition, the first album ‘Welcome to the Academy’ had a really excellent output of tracks. Naturally, upon hearing of a new release by this band, I got excited, attended the CD release show, and picked up this 20-minute long album to see what the boys of the academy could do with Marky Shift as another guitarist and four more years of experience of playing out. Needless to say, the additional guitarist and additional experience created a vastly different sound.

The first song, ‘Motorhead’, is an angry love song that has no actual connections to the famous proto-crossover thrash band, but still starts the band off with the energy that they are remembered for. I still can’t connect the song title to the lyrics, unless if cocaine is anthropomorphic or something to that effect. The next song is technically a cover of guitarist Marky Shift’s old band The Red Shift’s song ‘Circle Pit’, although it’s much faster and now has a horn line for the chorus. This track is a great improvement on the Red Shift track and is a real show-starter for the band. Next is ‘Just Believe’, a cry for the working family to be returned to its glory days. It’s a plea for a man to be able to support himself and his family, for his company to not abandon him and outsource labor, forcing a painful economic regression. It’s a very somber track, but it is hopeful and energetic nonetheless. After this is ‘Staring at the Sun’, which is a greater emphasis on the Oi!/ street punk influences of the band. It’s a decent track, but I’ve noticed the live version is a lot more powerful, the chorus is much louder, and the horn lines more influential. Still solid Detroit ska, however. Following is the title track of the album, which is the best track of the entire album. It has the bouncy third wave feel to the verses and the powerful street punk feel to its chorus. This is probably the highlight of the band; this track is one of the best tracks to come out of the Detroit ska scene in the past decade. After the title track is the song ‘Is This the Point?’, which was, at least to me, a bit of a filler track; it was okay, but it just didn’t grab me in the same way the rest of the tracks had as of yet. Next was ‘Greyhound’, the song which brought the album back to greatness; this track was a true narratie announcing what the band truly felt, speaking loud and clear. Wrapping up the album was ‘Poor Should Unify’, which pushed the family man-centered, working-class oriented philosophy of St. Thomas Boys Academy to the breaking point, driving their points home, calling for the Detroit proletariat to unite and call for a sustainable future in the greater Detroit area. The riff is particularly memorable and the vocals are absolutely stunning.

This album has set the bar for this recent wave of Detroit ska to equal. Since Treehouse Rivals never released anything beyond a 5-song EP, these guys are the best of the best for Detroit ska with this album. If there was ever a successful fusion of the origins of 2-Tone ska and the punk-ska hybrid of the third wave, this is fucking it. It doesn’t hurt to throw in some brutal Detroit grit into the blender to concoct a smoothie of an album to be consumed as soon as possible. Considering the price of this album, it is WELL-worth the investment. Get this whenever you can, however you can, as soon as you can.

-Aunty Social

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Refuge Skateshop Benefit show review, November 13, 2010

Refuge Skateshop Benefit show, Trumbullplex, November 13, 2010

I’m generally unfamiliar with the situation regarding Refuge Skateshop, outside of general money troubles. However, the shop undoubtedly draws a strongly supportive crowd of punk rockers, old, young and in-between. When word had gotten out that the shop had some issues with cash flow, Hawk I frontman Ian Courtney gathered his resources and was able to get an eleven-band bill together to help raise money for the ailing establishment. While it was originally booked at the Bohemian National House, unforeseen problems (power was shut off) occurred and the show was swiftly moved to the Trumbullplex, without a hitch I might add. The show opened its doors at 6 with the bands kicking the event off at 6:30. A raffle for cool punk shit, an eleven-band bill for a killer price, and a majority of these bands being ones I had not heard before made me think, “What could possibly go wrong?” Nothing, it seemed, could.

The first band to roll off the street and onto the stage was Down N Out, who came in with a newer hardcore sound. “Oh boy, another Agnostic Front and Cold as Life wanna-be”, I thought to myself. The band continued on and eventually ended with a few good songs. The speed was kicked up a notch, and the band showed how they were a bit more than just a rip-off of a played-out, generic trend. They actually had something worthwhile about them. That energy, that personal drive, that speed, was what drove this band to be a damn fine opener. I’ll be looking out for these guys.

With a swift change-over, Build & Destroy was on next. With a couple of mic issues, the sound cut in and out vocals-wise. However, despite the relatively unique vocal style employed by the singer, I was not won over by this set. The sound used by the band seemed to lift the style used by most new-age hardcore bands a little too much; breakdowns were the center of this band’s sound as opposed to one of many techniques used to express themselves. Build & Destroy has some capability to be a strong local act, but breakdowns aren’t so much a focal point as they are a single point to be used ad hoc.

Next was Louder Than Bombs, who were one of the two bands I had actually seen before. This rock-infused set of punk wasn’t quite as impressive as when I saw them last at the Garden Bowl in December of last year, but it was still decent. With a variety of influences, they set themselves apart and with that comes a difference in perception for me. The music was good rock and decent punk, and regardless of genre, it really IS motherfucking loud.

After Louder Than Bombs was interim band Shades of Red, who only played about 7-8 minutes of music, but made it impressive still. They didn’t use breakdowns as the main point of reference for their music; they kept up their speed and did not let up. I saw a band with some real potential here; hopefully I can see a demo in the near future. Hardcore youth, keep your eyes and ears peeled. Jimmy Lawson may well have the golden touch.

Face Reality was up now; the first thing I noticed was that the singer had a varsity jacket with Michigan Straight Edge on the back and a giant X on the front. I have a bit of an axe to grind with the straight edge mentality as a whole, so I didn’t know if I was going to see a genuinely awesome set of punk or if I was going to be at a sermon for the United Church of Straight Edge. Upon starting the show, the frontman came full-force with his youthful energy and passionate punk rock drive as his band thrashed behind him. Using breakdown and thrash techniques sparingly, these kids were the highlight of the night; I was really blown away by how fucking good they were. These guys are definitely one of the best straight edge bands in the state, and earned a spot as one of my new favorite local bands. Check. This. Shit. Out.

Hawk I, with a play on a popular Marvel Comics character for a name, took center stage next. The vocalist, Ian Courtney, was the mastermind behind this entire show, and his hard work did not dilute his performance energy, as the band put forth a really powerful show. The singer put so much energy into his performance that all that was necessary was for the band to keep time and push the energy onwards and upwards. Needless to say, they did and it showed. The heart was what drove this set into being as good as it was. I underestimated these guys; get a demo, go to a show, experience this sheer force that is Hawk I.

Following was From Hell, who had been playing a decent amount of shows in the area lately, although I had yet to catch them. Finally I did, and I saw what I had been missing. The loud factor in punk rock can only work so much before it is overextended, and that was the downfall of this set. The singer screeched and the band itself took the “wall of sound” theory of song-writing a bit too far. I see a band that could do something with themselves, but hinder their chances of being better by beefing up their distortion and speed to the point of where it’s indiscernible. If the sound got toned down a bit and the screeching singing was less forceful, this band could be something big.

The second band I had seen previously, Nightbringer, was next. Although making a few annoying comments regarding paying electricity bills, the singer and the rest of the band pushed out a fucking lively, Luciferian set. It’s been a bit since a band got me so goddamned pumped, and these guys did it. From songs off of their recently released 7” record and a few new tracks currently in the works, they crafted a dark energy that will positively haunt the Detroit punk scene for some time. Every member is an indiscernible, irreplaceable piece of this killer act. I think after I get tired of personal favorites Black Flag, SFA, and E.T.A., I’ll listen to these guys when I get pissed off. What a force this band is to reckon with.

After Nightbringer left the stage, the Detroit Birds united on stage for the first time in four years, and it was obvious that they had been yearning to get out there. They set the crowd off in a spectacular way, and having never even heard of them before, they put on a killer show and played some good tunes; whatever their reputation was, I’m sure it is well-deserved if this set was anything close to what these fuckers once were. I know I’ll be seeking some shit out by these guys soon. It was thoroughly impressive and well-deserving of the name Detroit.

Playing second-to-last was oddly named band Razzle Dazzle, or Rzl Dzl for short. I’d read a bit about the band and it seemed like they were a powerful force like the bands who played this night. I was not really disappointed or impressed with these party animals. The band clearly had sway over the crowd, but I didn’t really “get” it. It was a little out there and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t for me. Maybe a compilation track that differed from what the set I saw had to offer would change my mind.

Closing the set was the band Fireworks. I only stayed for two songs, but from what I gathered, the band was slightly pop-ish punk, sort of like the Buzzcocks, but without the enjoyably cheesy love songs. I did like what I heard, however. I would definitely check these guys out if you haven’t already. I’m sure I will.

The Skateshop took in $1400+ from this show, and hopefully it brings some life and luxury to the shop/ venue. Without a doubt, it brought out how united hardcore fans can be for the right cause. I also rediscovered why I dislike Vans shoes and still dislike the straight edge mentality. I had a pleasant experience checking out these bands, and this show won me over as a Refuge supporter.

-Aunty Social

Negative Lifestyle/ School Jerks split tape review

Negative Lifestyle/ School Jerks split cassette review

Cassettes are fading, unfortunately. With the advent of better technology and the lack of nostalgic value, cassettes don’t really have much going for them. They function as a good source for homemade demos and an underground source for 4-track music, but outside of these things, they aren’t terribly useful for much else other than perhaps hiding illicit narcotics. Still, this small sect of underground cassette music yields a surprising amount of really good punk rock. This tape is one such example.

Negative Lifestyle is the first band on this cassette. Hailing from Eastern Europe, the sound on their side is a tad removed from American hardcore, being much more lo-fidelity and much more ominous. These songs are fucking dark; color me surprised. They sound like Ian MacKaye stole the mic from John Brannon and fronted Negative Approach, with a minor nod to UK thrashcore greats Voorhees. The stinger’s angry, but doesn’t really growl like Brannon and Rollins did. He’s more of a yeller, and it really suits the music much better. Three tracks with a youth crew-like vocalist and a quick, fast-paced, ominous vibe. Gnarly. The second side to the tape was Toronto sons the School Jerks. They came roaring back with three bratty, classic 80s hardcore tunes that sound like a kindergarten class screaming to a well-written, sophisticated rant, complete with groovy power chords and well-timed drums. Everything this band puts out fucking rules, even if it only trickles out three or four tracks at a time. I’m waiting for more.

Cassettes aren’t coming back, but if more bands release shit like this split tape, the judgment day for cassettes will be far delayed, and I hope it is. Solid, stellar, and short.

-Aunty Social

Live to Kill- 4 Track Attack tape review

Live to Kill “4-Track Attack” cassette review

This recording is, by far, the most unequivocally raw recording I’ve ever heard comprised. This mix of crusty, grinding thrash possesses a lot of rage and political disgust. However, the band may have benefitted from a more refined, cleaner sound. This is not to say the songs are shit (I’ll get to my opinion of them in the next paragraph), but there is indeed a reason this is called “4-Track Attack”. A cleaner re-recording of these songs would undoubtedly help this strong band receive more positive attention from fans and critics alike.

The first song, “The Human Condition”, is a speedy, lengthy burst of fury with a heavy, hopeless cry for help by means of a unique guitar riff that was rather memorable. The next tracks kicked the speed up and threw the proverbial gloves off, attacking with more raw fury. Live to Kill specializes in grinding crust with high-pitched shrieks that are actually decipherable; this is where they stand apart from over-the-top crust and lifeless grind. The third and fourth tracks carry the torch only further, pushing for a very lo-fi, low bass, screeching sound that pushes further towards thrash than crust, and this approach only gives the band more of a demographic and a better sound. Rounding out the tape is a cover of Aus Rotten’s “They Ignore Peaceful Protest”, a crusty track that fits the band well, albeit the track is not Aus Rotten’s best or most coverable (Fuck Nazi Sympathy and Perverted Patriotism are my personal favorites). The band does the song justice as the session runs out as the tape continues.

For raw, thrashy crust punk, this tape is worth a listen. The band could, however, benefit from a re-recording of these tracks to bring a more leveled, stronger, and deeper sound to this music. The tracks are not worth overlooking and the best possible justice deserves to be done to them.

-Aunty Social

BUS 125 Collective- Release #1 review

BUS 125 Collective zine & tape review “Crook by the Book”

Upon being in the local music scene for about a year, I noticed around March or April of this year (2010) that no one really had any locally produced fanzines and the thriving local scene we had was going unnoticed and undocumented. So I started my own personal zine, which I’ve put out three issues of so far, since compiling and releasing various work I’ve written/done from March 2010 onward. For a while, I noticed I essentially had a monopoly on this zine market. At least, until now. I was excited to see another local zine putting out something, especially when it consists of both a print zine and a cassette.

First, the cassette. It’s a compilation tape with four local acts. The first track is from a band called End Trails, and I heard something new, yet something old was there. It was new hardcore, playing a very tired style of it. Not a terrible song in and of itself, but melodic, breakdown-based hardcore doesn’t impress me much. The next track was from Build & Destroy, and it opened with a sample sounding like old-school hip-hop. Eventually, the song kicked into a hardcore track and that played out okay. I’ve been told these guys use a lot of hip-hop influence in their music. I didn’t see it so much here, but it was at least a good intro. More hip-hop, please. The third track is from Louder Than Bombs, who play rock with a heavy punk vibe, close to melodic hardcore. The track was pretty good, but definitely a newer sound I haven’t heard much of before. A worthy compilation track, to say the least.

After this, the tape turned over and the band Face Reality came upon the airwaves. Within seconds, I was taken by force by the furious, angry vibe of the band. Think Vitamin X, but local and a little better. Scratch that, a LOT better. Next was another track from Build & Destroy. This track was much stronger than their first one, bearing a more hardcore sound to it. Loud and angry, but no hip-hop influence here; a worthy endeavor/outing nonetheless. After this was a second track from Louder Than Bombs. This, too, was a more punk-ish track than the first one, and it was much stronger. With screaming melodic singing, the track stood out both vocally and musically. Perhaps good melodic hardcore does exist somewhere that hasn’t been sucked in by a black hole already. Closing the cassette another ripper from Face Reality. With even greater fury, the band ripped every throat out on the way to the top of the Michigan straight-edge scene. This band has so much potential and could retire now and still be one of the strongest bands I’ve heard as of recent locally.

Next, the zine. The zine itself is obviously a throwback to low-fi, raw production of old-school zines, and sometimes computer software just can’t beat literally copying, pasting, and slapping something cool together with one’s own two hands. This zine also has what mine generally doesn’t: a wide variety of different kinds of material, like a recipe, a comic, a how-to guide, and a greater presence of pictures. That’s mostly because BUS 125 is a collective with multiple different minds and insights, and I’m a one-man operation. Despite the differences between my product and theirs, I really enjoyed this zine and tape. Get involved, support local publications, do something to support one another. Don’t sit by and be inactive, wasting your life thinking everything is beyond reach; it isn’t. The world is generally composed of two kinds of people: those who do and those who do not. The only way to make any difference is to make decisions individually, and take action by one’s own will. The world caters to them, not you inactive hermits.

-Aunty Social

Death Crisis tour in Grand Rapids show review

Death Crisis tour show at the Cage, Grand Rapids, October 18, 2010

There are approximately 150 miles of road in between Michigan’s two most populous cities, Grand Rapids and Detroit. It comes out to being about a 2 to 2.5 hour drive from the east coast of the mitten to the west coast. However, that isn’t the only divide between the two cities. Within each city is a thriving punk rock scene, and yet there remains a wall of division higher than the one between punk rock and polka. Grand Rapids bands are a rare sight to see in Detroit, and bands in Detroit are of little more assistance, largely ignoring western Michigan altogether. This is a tragic occurrence on both fronts; both sides of the state have significant contributions to offer the all-encompassing hardcore scene. I have experienced the Detroit scene, and until this show, I hadn’t seen exactly what the Grand Rapids scene had to offer. So off I went to see what I saw as the perfect show to investigate what western Michigan was all about, punk rock wise.

The Oiley Menace, from Muskegon, was the first to take the stage at this small little warehouse in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Grinding away short, loud songs of a grindcore nature, this three-piece was an intense band, but I have not and probably will not understand grindcore outside of its inherent ridiculousness and the hilarious song titles that arouse my morbid, misanthropic, politically incorrect, and insensitive sense of humor. The band itself was okay, but I didn’t see anything particularly outlandish. This band is very new though, so I won’t count them out yet. Good for grindcore, not so much for a guy who admittedly fails to understand it.

Next up was touring band Death Crisis, from San Diego. These guys came around Detroit or possibly Lansing earlier this year, maybe late last year (hint: my memory isn’t so good), and I did not happen to catch them then, so I was overjoyed to catch them this time around. Having never heard this band before, I did not know what to expect. What I got was the intense, thrash-filled style of 80s hardcore I love, with a very heavy slap on the back to Los Crudos, incorporating some Spanish lyrics into their venom-spewing tracks of pissed-off hardcore. This band was a fresh perspective for me, a group of multi-cultural punk rockers from the other side of the continent, perceivably feeling the same anger and rage I do. The differences between our respective communities are not so large after all.

Following them was Positive Noise, fronted by Punks Before Profits headmaster Ryan Cappelletti. I had only heard one track and did not notice anything unusually unique, so I didn’t know which way this set would go. What Ryan and Co. delivered far exceeded my expectations; Youth of Today mixed with RAMBO and a healthy dose of organic cocaine and communal awareness is what drives this band. The outward frustration channeled into positivity was represented in the lyrics and that really set the band apart from 625-ish thrashcore. This was the band that proved Grand Rapids is not to be ignored, by Michigan locals or by touring acts.

Wrapping up the show were anarcho-punk locals Attention Span. Cage owner Trent took the mic and raged his street punk influenced anarchist noise to the crowd to much avail. The snotty anger and raspy rants engrained what is good about anarcho-punk. Dark sounds, a quick beat, and a pissed-off vocalist with a lot to say displayed that Attention Span is a force to be reckoned with on every lake shore in the state.

After delivering my zines to the crowd, I visited a local friend and afterwards left to deconstruct the wall of division between these two scenes.

-Aunty Social

Death Invades Earth Interview from April 2010

Death Invades Earth interview:

1. So, how has death invaded earth? (i.e. how’d the band arise?)

D.I.E. started out as a 5 piece, and after a couple of practices we chose to be a 3 piece. 5 was too many for simple music. So we have me (Tony) on drums and vocals, Rob, bass and vocals, and Alan, guitars and back vocals.

2. What is the Flint music scene like now? Has it changed for better or worse since the days of Dissonance and others?

My first show I saw was Soul Side, with about 200 people at the show, it changed my life; I wanted to play drums. The scene went downhill due to violence. With past bands we were lucky to see 30 people. With D.I.E. lately, our shows have been doing good seeing around 60 to a 100 people in our hometown, and not too bad out of town.

3. Who recorded your first full-length? How do you feel it came out?

Spring Records in Fenton Mi. did our recording. Our 5 song EP has been selling very well; our full length should be out soon.

4. Have you guys had much success playing outside your hometown? If so, where?

Not too bad, we played a show in Battle Creek at Planet Rock and we felt very welcome. We sold a lot of shirts ad CDs at the show, that’s always good. Also the Double OO in Redford seems to do good for us.

5. Is it difficult to both play the drums and sing at the same time?

That’s the question I get asked most. Not really, I’ve been doing it for most of my drumming days (20 years) give or take a couple of bands.

6. What is your biggest influence as a band and why?

Like I said, Soul Side changed my life. Suicidal Tendencies help me through my teens. I think I try to put that in our music in hopes someone will feel that way about us.

7. I hear you have been involved with the Hood Core Music Alliance. Tell us a little about that.

J.J. of Grog has done a great job with Hood Core; Lots of good bands and good people. As long as we work together, it should do well for a lot of people.

8. Is it easy being both a hardcore punk band and being an otherwise socially responsible member of society (i.e. husband, father, laborer, etc.)?

I (Tony) have 6 kids and a wife of 15 years, Alan has one kid and a girlfriend, and Rob has a wife of 12 years. Our families are very supportive of the band. We try to take off one week a month for the family, but it’s hard, because we love to play out also.

9. What, do you feel, is the best way to get involved in and contribute to the local music scene?

We’ve started a monthly show at Cameron’s (our local spot) called, Saturday Night Hardcore. We’re trying to bring out of town acts to support our scene, and pick them up some more fans.

10. Have you been in any other bands before Death Invades Earth? If so, what were they?

Somewhat Slack was my other band that did well. Rob, was in a band called M.F.S. from the Flint area. Alan and myself were both in Empty Arms before D.I.E.

11. Do your wives, girlfriends, and kids enjoy your music (if they listen to it)?

Rob’s wife has missed 1 show since we’ve been a band. Alan’s girlfriend has been to a couple of shows and supports him mostly. My (Tony) wife has been to a few shows, and my kids love us and make every all ages shows we play.

12. How often does Death Invades Earth practice? Would you like to see more practice or do you think you can get by with less?

We practice one day a week, and I wish we could get one more day in, but one is better than none.

13. Is hardcore punk only good as a standalone genre or can metal, rockabilly or other elements be added without reducing the quality?

Myself, I think as long as the band is good, there shouldn’t be a problem. I just like to see a good tight band no matter what style.

14. Have you opened up for any particularly famous bands? If so, who were they?

The 80’s metal Detroit band, Halloween, is the biggest name we’ve open for, and it was a letdown.

15. What future plans do you guys have as a band?

Working on new songs, and doing what we do.

16. Do you guys harbor as bleak views on life as you do in some of your music?

The bleak part of our music is to get your attention; I guess the real message is between the lines. I try to be positive in a negative world, it’s tough, but I have to keep my head up for my kids.

17. Is it tough to get the ability to play shows in Detroit with its distance from Flint?

I think if we try harder, which we plan to, I think it will be easier. We just have to get our foot in the door.

18. Anything else you’d like to throw in?

We would like to thank all the clubs, bars, bands, and people we’ve meet so far, for the support you’ve given us. We hope to see you all again soon. And thank you for your time David; we appreciate what you’re doing.

Hellmouth interview from March 2010

Interview with Hellmouth, March 2010

1. Who is Hellmouth, members wise, and what history do you have?

Jeff: The line up since the beginning has been Jay, Alex, Justin and myself. The band is basically a collective of 4 people who have a like-minded theory about life, people, music and presentation. We’ve all been in numerous bands over the years and our history is deep-rooted in the Detroit hardcore, punk and metal scene.

2. What is Hellmouth? How did you arrive at the name?

Jeff: A hellmouth is basically a gateway to hell. There are many artistic portrayals of the “hellmouth” as a huge, demonic mouth eating people. I just thought it was a cool sounding name for a band. It fits us.

Alex: If Bosch or Bruegel were painting a Hellmouth, it was an image borne of Catholic dogma in the 16th century. It lives in a different context circa 2010. Now I think Hellmouth is Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Now I think Hellmouth is inside the minds of Jeff, Jay, Justin and me. To be honest, Bosch's Hellmouth was imaginary, and ours is anything but. So I think the real Hellmouth is right here, right now.

3. What kind of philosophy does Hellmouth espouse?

Alex: If Hellmouth espoused a philosophy then it wouldn't be dogmatic. It is what it is. Hellmouth is routed in reality and Hellmouth is routed in the present. The past and future are literally figments of our imagination. Hellmouth is freedom. Fuck fatalism. Do what thou wilt shall be the law of the land.

4. With your recent jet in local popularity, do you look at Hellmouth as more of a frame of mind rather than just four guys playing music?

Jay: The people who embrace us have the same ideals and are no different than us. So yes a frame of mind; the music is secondary. D.E.W.N.

Alex: I hope it’s more than music. If people can feel what we feel or get a glimpse into where we're coming from then I think a connection is being made. I think it's bigger than 4 old fuckers thrashing around on stage.

5. What are your inspirations musically and personally?

Jeff: I like music that moves me emotionally and makes me want to be creative. Personally, my own anger and disdain with so many things in the world inspire me to write and play.

Alex: Hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, sensing something for the first time is inspirational.

Jay: I'm very content to know other people feel the same disgust, anger, frustration etc.. about the state of the world and humanity. At this moment, now, I'm driven by the people. D.E.W.N.

6. How long did it take you to write and record your first demo?

Jeff: Not very long at all. I don’t remember the specific time, but it really felt like we went in to record soon after the band was formed.

Jay: I had some songs for a few years and this vision, but couldn’t find anybody like minded. When the 4 of us finally formed it was an explosion. The Order D.E.W.N.

7. How did that recording make its way to Ferret?

Jeff: Oddly enough, we owe credit to Myspace. Within 2 weeks of posting our page and the demo songs, someone in the Ferret office stumbled onto us and passed it along to the owner Carl. He contacted us and told us that we played the type of music he grew up listening to. The rest is history. We have nothing but great things to say about the label and the people involved.

8. Around when did “Destroy Everything” make its way to being released?

Jeff: January of 2009.

9. Who does most of the art/design work for Hellmouth?

Alex: I try and execute the majority of the visuals. We've collaborated with a couple artists and illustrators we identify with for some work, but I try to be the glue that holds the identity together. Hellmouth isn't music to me, it's holistic art.

10. What current projects are you undertaking at the moment? I’ve heard talk of a few splits.

Alex: We recorded for a split with Explode and Make Up (from Chicago). The cover art has been printed but I don't know when the vinyl's gonna be done. We recorded for a split with Embrace the Kill, In Defence and Mouth Sewn Shut. I'm working on the art for that right now. We also recorded some covers for a split with Wreak Havoc but the harddrive crashed so I don't know if those songs are going to be salvaged. We have a bunch of shit in the hopper, but it's all at the mercy of the labels.

Jay: A very dear and close friend of mine, Jeff Dean, is in the band Explode And Make Up from Chicago with Dennis who sang for 88 Fingers Louie. It's SICK! Jeff is one of my best friends we thought it would be cool to do a split together. How cool is that! D.E.W.N.

11. When would you anticipate seeing your next full-length released?

Alex: Late summer. Andrei Bouzikov is already painting the cover.

12. How do you feel about some of the crowds at your shows?

Jeff: For being the size band we are (which isn’t very big) we have some of the most dedicated and crazy people that come out and destroy with us.

Alex: Hellmouth shows are getting pretty fucking gnarly. Lansing loses their shit every time. Detroit never lets us down. Never. We have some real dedicated cult members. True blood.

13. What do you think about the current Detroit punk scene? How do you think you’ve helped/changed it?

Jay: I really feel the efforts of this band, as far as putting shows on and trying to be the glue and foundation for Detroit, are working. Jeff putting out records, us bringing in out of state bands, us trying to set up a network and introducing people to each other has payed off. I see so much potential in the Detroit scene that it almost warms my heart. Almost. D.E.W.N.

Jeff: To me it felt like the punk, hardcore and metal as a community disappeared for a while. There really hasn’t been a unified scene since the mid 90s. I think a resurgence is starting. I’m starting to see good bands, reliable record labels and venues, and new media outlets (zines, websites). It’s these things that are bringing people back and bringing new kids in.

14. How do you feel the scene has “gone soft”? What can be done to change this mentality?

Jay: You have to survive the Detroit scene. If you do and you still want to be a part? You must love it and want to live it. No fly by night, halfsteppers wanted here, just lifers. D.E.W.N.

Jeff: When I said it has “gone soft,” I’m comparing the scene to back when I started to see shows in the mid 80s. When I went to see shows, it felt like all hell could have broken loose at any time. It was like a test of guts to be involved in the action. That’s the feeling we want to create with our live shows. It doesn’t mean we want people fighting or any of that bullshit…in fact, if you start a fight at one of our shows, you’re going to have to deal with us because we won’t put up with it. We have an old school mentality. We want circle pits, stage dives, arm in arm sing-alongs, head banging, front of the stage pile-ons….none of this pansy ass Warped Tour crowd surfing, hi-fiving the band garbage. I want a kid who is timid about being involved at a show to join all the other lunatics in front and after the show think to himself, “Wow….I survived and had a great time! I want to do that again!”

Alex: Jeff summed it up. It needs an air of violence. A feeling of “holy fuck, I just managed to survive. How did a riot NOT break out? Fuck!” And sometimes a riot does break out. We want everyone to go home in one piece, but to feel like for 30 minutes it was a fine line between safety and a prison riot.

15. Any favorite active band in the area other than yourselves?

Alex: I fucking love the Nightbringer recording. Beast in the Field are so goddamn heavy live. YOTP are almost TOO heavy live. Those guys make everyone else sound like pussies after they play. Devastating. I dig Easy Action.

Jeff: I’m just gonna name my top five right now…Year Of The Pig, U.D.I., No Grave Like The Sea, Nightbringer, and Beast In The Field.

16. What do you think was your best (or worst) show and why?

Alex: All our Lansing shows have been exceptional. Mayhem show was awesome. Casualties show at the 'Stick was almost sold out and that was fucking unreal. We've slayed some sick shows out of state, too, but our best reception is always on home soil.

Jeff: We’ve been lucky to have very few of what we’d consider bad shows.

17. Where can you pick up Hellmouth merch?

Alex: Merchnow, our myspace site has links. At shows. At Flipside Records in Clawson and Record Time In Roseville.

18. Are there any good sources of information about Detroit hardcore? If so, what are they?

Jeff: Detroit Area Hardcore Blog, MI Hardcore Myspace, Bottom of the Barrel radio show, Detroit Punk Preservation Myspace.

Alex: http://detroithc.blogspot.com/

19. What would you say/do with someone with a passing interest in punk rock to get to participate more?

Jay: Get to know your local scene, people, places, bands, collectives, houses etc... once you do you will know where to go from there. D.E.W.N.

Alex: They shouldn't need prodding. You're either in or you're out.

20. Anything you want the hardcore public to know that we didn’t cover?

Jay: I don't consider us a hardcore band. I love HC but we mix everything up and it's more than a band or music. It's a Cult. D.E.W.N.

Jeff: We hate a lot of things, but we probably don’t hate you, so people shouldn’t feel intimidated to come up and talk to us at shows. We’re no different from the people in the audience.