About Me

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Detroit, Michigan, United States
I'm a punk rock guru from Detroit. Part skinhead, part crusty, part metalhead, part hardcore kid, part party kid, 100% punk rocker.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

xShallowbreathx interview

Shallow Breath interview


1. How did Shallow Breath come into formation? Did any members arrive from previous bands?

Zach- Josh and I had wanted to start a hardcore band for a long time, especially with Richard but he moved to Alabama/Chicago/Never Never Land. But when Richard moved back to Grand Rapids we got started right away. I suggested Steve to play drums since him and I were in a Blink 182 cover band together, so I knew he didn't fuck around. The original lineup was just us 4 with Josh playing bass. Eventually Kevin came in and took bass duty and Josh took up 2nd guitar. Kevin is and sort of still is in the band Hoodrat on the East side of the state.

Richard -Josh Zach and I had been talking about doing a hardcore band for a while, but I kinda freaked out and moved away from Michigan for a bit, pushing the project aside. Josh an Zach were playing in a shoegaze band at the time, and Steve was in a punk band called Protoculture. After coming back to town we were trying to track down a drummer who was both vegan and straight edge, which seems impossible, but alas, Steve was interested, so we picked a few covers to learn together and started from there. Originally we were going to be a youth crew style band, but contend and distressed came through town and blew Josh and mines minds, prompting us to go in a more metal direction, which while I love straight edge sing-a-longs, was probably a good idea.

2. Where did the name Shallow Breath originate? Does it have any subliminal or overt meaning?

R- For the longest time we were calling the band "posi stomp" as a joke until we found something. Josh pitched the name, I hated it at first but it's grown on me, especially since I was failing pretty hard at coming up with anything better.

3. How long did it take to write, record, and press/ compile your 4-song demo? Do you have any new tracks written or recorded?

z- Writing took about 2 months I guess. We formed around June of 2010 I believe and had a show booked for September 9th. Recording was just trips to beautiful Dor Michigan were we recorded at Anti-Talent Studios. We are currently taking at least a month off from shows to focus on writing.

r- We were spending a lot of time doing much of nothing so I booked us a show in September while we had no songs written. We managed to write 5 songs in 2 months and recorded immediately after, putting out the tape in November, so about 4 months? It was a pretty rushed project, as we were just trying to get something out there. As for new stuff, we've got a couple songs written and not recorded at the time, but we're working on writing some new stuff under a less pressured setting.

4. Your demo tape and the booklet you hand out with it are both titled ‘Dismantle Renew’. What connotation are you trying to convey with that title/ philosophy?

R - Honestly, I think I ripped the phrase off from Derrick Jensen's End Game (which everyone should read). For me it means taking a double sided approach to how we interact with this world. We should destroy the things we hate, that oppress us and others, but we also must work towards building the community and ultimately the world we wish to see. To me these can't exist without each other.

5. Why be straight-edge? What about cigarettes, alcohol and drugs (and the culture following with) is troublesome?

z- Straight edge to me was the doorway that opened my eyes to other aspects of life that I now am hugely involved with: animal rights, anarchism etc. I never was a part of the normal culture of drugs and alcohol, primarily because I never wanted to associate myself with men who saw chemical abuse as a form of manhood, and used that abuse to conquer sexual partners. Though straight edge is extremely important to me, my priorities go beyond the realm of abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

R- I tend to see being straight edge as a personal decision, but it also has some wider implications. We are taught as a culture to depend on things other than ourselves for just about everything, government for our well being, religion for our morality, drugs for our entertainment, doctors for our sanity, etc. Straight edge is a way to reclaim yourself. Not to mention that cigarette and alcohol companies are some of the worst there are, literally making their profits from destroying people’s lives.

6. What about veganism? What makes McDonalds so repulsive and lettuce so enticing? Is this philosophy stoic (duty-bound) or hedonistic (pleasure-bound)?

z- Veganism and animal rights are my primary focus in my life. To put it simply, I just sleep better knowing that no life had to directly suffer for something as simple as my taste. I use to hold a utilitarian approach when it came to animal rights, but I have expanded that view to believe that animals hold their own intrinsic value and I have chosen to respect that value.

R- Our relation with animals is deeply reflective of how we prescribe meaning to things in our world. As we further commodify our surroundings we have literally attached a price tag to a life with regards to its value to us as humans. Through this an animal loses its identity as a being and becomes another item for us to consume. This system of commodification is at the heart of what drives capitalism. Everything is for sale, and those who own are those who control. Because of this, animal liberation is tied up directly with human liberation and the destruction of capitalism as a whole. On a personal level I find the idea of eating a hunk of flesh pretty repulsive but I'm not so naive to think that everyone does or should feel the same way. Ultimately it comes down to what do I prioritize? My preference for a food or the understanding that this food is based on the suffering of millions of animals who have to die so I can eat a burger? Tolstoy wrapped it up pretty well saying: "A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral."

7. Why be proactive? Apathy is so tantalizing and ignorance is delightful!

R- I'm proactive because I want to live a different life from that which is forced upon us. In order to do so we must struggle against the world we live in. I don't care much for the savior mentality that we have a duty to save the world, but I do find it unsettling knowing that my way of life is built on the oppression of others. Not that we need to struggle for other peoples, but rather we need to recognize the things that oppress us, and the hidden ways we oppress others, and uproot them from our being. One of the great things about the world being such a fucked up place is there is literally infinite things to do.

8. Why mark X’s on your hands at a non-bar show? Do you do it to improve your chances at winning human tic-tac-toe games, or for another reason entirely?

z- I guess I don't think about it that much. It's an interesting sociological experience to interact with strangers when they realize you are committed to something such as straight edge. Usually they treat you without respect even is it is a reserved respect. But of course every now and then you get some shitheads you give you shit. I usually encounter this more with veganism. But fuck bar culture.

R- I do it as a sign of solidarity. The world isn't exactly a sober friendly place, however, seeing others who visibly share sobriety can make you feel a little less isolated and alone.

9. Do you feel that straight-edge is welcoming or isolating in its embrace of new members? What do you think it should be?

z-I find it very welcoming, thought plenty of "straight edge" people are fucking idiots. So it is difficult associating with those types of people at times. Wait, we're still talking about straight edge?

r- It depends on the scene. I've seen some really radical inclusive scenes pushing for change, and I've seen kids use straight edge as a means to push a conservative mentality, with some even going as far as to use it to further their racist agenda, for example, there used to be a nazi straight edge band called "total war" out here on the west side who used straight edge as a rallying point for their nazi views.

10. What are some of the band members’ main music influences? Philosophical/ lifestyle influences?

z- As far as hardcore: Tears of Gaia, Have Heart, Seven Generations, Gather, Earth Crisis and Champion. But Dillinger Escape Plan, Primus and Mogwai have made me who I am. I have been hugely influence by Friedrich Nietzsche, Nikola Tesla and George Carlin for my life philosophies.

r- For me I grew up listening to old punk bands like Crass, The Dead Kennedys, AFI, etc. Which influence me a lot growing up. For this band I've been drawing a lot on the likes of Refused, Seven Generations, and a little bit from 90s screamo bands like pg. 99 and Orchid.

Philosophically I identify as an anarchist of sorts. I grew up reading a lot of Crimethinc and Emma Goldman. I've been re-reading a lot of Derrick Jensen lately and some insurrectionary books and zines that have been coming out of Europe. All basically arguing that our society is fundamentally flawed and heading to its end and we can see this manifested all around us.

11. How long has the band been playing shows? Where/ when would you like to play more shows?

z-We have been playing a lot since September of last year. We are hoping to head to the East coast in early March.

We've been playing shows since September 2010, so not very long. We've been mainly playing in Grand Rapids, but made it out to Chicago to play a house party with some grindcore bands, and recently just played in Detroit. We're currently taking a little break from shows to write, but are planning to tour the east coast in early March.

12. What do you like about Grand Rapids and its hardcore scene? What can be done to make it better and more expansive?

z- Only recently has it gotten fucking cool in Grand Rapids. We played a show January 4th with Xtra Vomit, Positive Noise, Draize, Cloud Rat and Oily Menace and the whole night was fucking insane and practically no one was drinking. Just positive energy and the love of hardcore. We broke the ice with opening and having some friends battle with Nerf swords during our set.

r- Grand Rapids has an amazing music scene right now. I've seen it fall apart and be rebuilt over the past 7 years and what we have going on right now is pretty remarkable. It's almost an exclusively DIY scene, making it so much more inviting. There are a ton of great people in town doing really great things. One thing I would love to see is an all-ages sober house venue. Nothing can really duplicate a house show; however, houses in town putting on shows tend to fizzle out pretty fast.

13. What kind of publications do you distribute? Where can you get them/ order them? What makes these publishers worth supporting and reading?

r- I For the distro I've just been printing off zines I find interesting and relevant. A lot of it tends to be pretty basic stuff, intro to anarchism, animal rights stuff, anti-sexism zines directed at men, etc. As well as some theory that pretty clearly lays out what we believe. Most of the materials are printed for free at a local college which makes us able to give everything away for free.

14. How does the straight-edge philosophy view the drug war waged by the U.S. federal government? Is it a conflict of interests or is it an exception to the generally conservative views of the straight-edge majority?

z- I am only a Jr. Detective of straight edge. I do not hold this secret.

r- I don't know that there really is a unified straight edge voice on anything. I find it a bit silly that straight edge was coined by a band with very progressive/radical ideas, yet has been co-opted into a conservative fashion scene. As we're not really associated with what most folks consider the mainstream straight edge scene I can't really speak for it as a whole, but I can personally.

I have no delusions of a straight edge world or for everyone to be sober, to think so is absurd. The drug war is just another political ploy of the U.S. that has implications outside its expressed intensions. Criminalizing drugs does nothing to address the cultural and economical reasons people create and use them.

15. Anything you would like to add for readers?

r- Just be active, in whatever way you want. Start a band, destroy something that oppresses you, go to shows, just do something!

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