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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

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