Saturday, March 31, 2012

Johatsu - Demolition

I'm not exactly sure what's going on but with more and more tape releases popping up I'm beginning to think there is some diabolical plan being devised to trick us into re-investing our hard earned cash in outdated technology. Lucky for me, only a few days after receiving this archeological gem in the mail. I was lucky enough to haggle my way towards an old school turntable/tape deck stereo at a flea market down by Asbury Park. Upon listening to this, my twenty dollar investment made me feel like a Wall Street wiz.

Johatsu, which is Japanese for "Evaporated people" or "One who abandons life in society". (Ask my wife, she's from Tokyo.) Johatsu features Rich and Aaron, best known for their work in NYHC bands All For One (Recently added to the New Breed Tape Compilation) and Hell No. Both bands that kicked around before a lot of you had pubes.
With all respect to those bands, Johatsu's rookie release "Demolition" is a different beast altogether. After hearing some early demos I was intrigued but wasn't really sure the project would ever get the wings it needed to take flight. Here they deliver ten songs that immediately leave a mark. This was the first time my blog partner Dave and Me actually sat down together to listened to a new submission. I couldn't help but feel that overall, the tape really exceeded my already heightened expectations. Seeing Dave's ears perk as he looked over at me inquisitively was a little surprising being that we don't always share the same taste in music. Think New York Hardcore meets Amphetamine Reptile Records and gets stuck in the mud on the way to a Metal show.
The sound is heavy, ferocious and relentless. Mix that with some muddy production that may or may not be intentional but definitely works as a benefit to the songs. Are Johatsu covering Joe Jacksons "Biology" or mutilating it for their own consumption? It's hard to tell. You make the decision. So, is this a demo? An LP wrapped in a cassette, wrapped in a riddle? I'm not sure. Regardless, I'd like to see this one get the vinyl treatment. I also eager to hear more. James Damion

Wardance Records Order it Here
Johatsu  Facebook Page

Friday, March 30, 2012

The N.Y. Hoods 1986 demos

I was out doing a little record shopping today with James, my blog partner here on United By Rocket Science, and we were discussing the fact that if you read this blog regularly you could easily get the impression that we are a couple of kiss-asses who seem to like every record that we have ever heard, however the truth of the matter is that we have intentionally been blogging about and promoting bands that we enjoy, and simply do not put any energy into posting about records that just didn't move us in anyway.

That being said, my intention while writing the above intro. was to have it lead into my first negative review here on United By Rocket Science after being unimpressed with the
"NY Hoods 1986 demo tape 7" upon initial listen…  And now for the rub, while I was comprising this post I let the record play for a second time just to help confirm my dislike for the N.Y. Hoods and I'll be damned if I didn't find myself liking this record after all.

Maybe I went into this record with my expectations a little too high, and with my sense of nostalgia a little too low initially, but now I am hearing clearly and I like the N.Y. Hoods simple straight forward style of there you have first almost negative review on UBRS...Dave G.

Purchase United Riot Records

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Looking Back; An Interview with Iann Robinson

In early 2012 I decided that it might be time to shut the doors on Unite Fanzine/Webzine. Originally a print fanzine that saw its birth in my senior year of high school in 1988. It gained new life as an internet presence in 2007. Since that time I focused on taking my interviews to a new and much more personal level. My goal was to go deeper than the band, their record and the chicks. I wanted to really get to know the people who made the music and art that influenced me and had a lasting effect on me. 
It's been almost a year since I stopped working on Unite and teamed up with my buddy Dave to form United By Rocket Science. I've found new life and inspiration doing this blog and with so many other blogs and sites focusing on Hardcore and it's glorious past, it seemed a good time to call it a day.
With this said I plan to post some of the more intriguing and personal interviews I did in my Unite days. I decided to take the easy route and title these posts "Looking Back". I'll be posting these here and there as I choose. So look out. James Damion

Most of you know Iann from his days as an MTV News nipple twister; while many others know his as a writer for Chord magazine or the creator and writer for Crave Online. If you're an old NYC cable access geek like myself you might have gotten to know him as the crazy man from Monkey Butt Sex who would follow his reviews of shitty Metal Core releases by destroying the CD to help save the ears of unknowing listeners. Regardless, he's always been an honest and inspiring writer in my eyes. Someone I wanted to get to know a lot better. This interview first appeared on in August of 2010. I consider it one of the better interviews I've ever done. JD

James: I'll never forget the first time I came home and turned on my TV set to see Monkey Butt Sex. My initial response was "What an Asshole." Yet, from that point on I found myself racing home from whatever bar I was at to catch it week after week. I loved your brutally honest reviews of the music and the kind of laid back interviews you were doing on the show. How did the idea for the show come about and what was it that drew you into Hardcore music in general?

Iann: My interest in hardcore was a bizarre one. I was raised in upper Manhattan so my first exposure to music was really hip-hop. I used to hang with the uptown kids and every so often we'd venture downtown. I ended up seeing Murphy's Law at a show and I became kind of enchanted by the power and rebellion in what they did. A friend of mine gave me Black Flag and it was like something had touched deep into my soul. Somebody had figured out what I was feeling and was singing it back to me.

From there I just immersed myself into it and stayed mainly with the bands that spoke to me. Minor Threat, Black Flag, The Minutemen, Cro-Mags, AF, Negative Approach, VOID, anything I could relate to or felt rebellious. As I got older I got into more of the MC5, Stooges world and the eclectic No Wave scene and so forth. Before hardcore became about basketball jerseys and tough guys it was a universal acceptance of the counter culture. Through hardcore and the people I met I found the counter culture and who I wanted to be.

If you look at the music and people involved in the early punk scene through the No Wave scene and into hardcore and then all the music exploding out of that it's so varied. I want to find like-minded people who create art that touches me not corral what I like into the sensibility of pre-fabricated scene.

As for Monkey Butt Sex, I actually owe the kid from Squirt TV a debt of gratitude.
He had a  access show and I hated it, hated him and knew I could do better. I marched down to Manhattan Neighborhood Network; signed some papers and they gave me a time when the show would air. The name came about because I wanted something when people saw it on the preview guide they would have to at least check it out. At first the show was going to be all skits but that didn't really work out and suddenly I was alone with a name, an airtime and no show.

I decided to just review albums on tape the way I had always written and talked about them. I set up a VHS camera on my desk, sat in front of it and went to town. At first nobody cared but then suddenly people were stopping me in the street telling me how funny the show was. The "break" came when Pete from Sick Of It All came up to me at a show and said he loved Monkey Butt Sex. I asked him if SOIA would do an interview and he agreed.

From there bands and labels suddenly were interested in working with the show. I interviewed tons of bands, reviewed records; it was a really cool time. I think doing all of that is what made me so comfortable with the camera, which helped get me the MTV job. I did the show for several years before deciding to go out on top and calling it a day.

Monkey Butt Sex provided everything for me. I got into directing music videos from it for bands like Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Hedpe, Napalm Death, H20, Warzone and a few others. I used that to start my own business, which is still around today though without my involvement. I also got the MTV job from Monkey Butt Sex. It was a major turning point in my life.

James: I know from personal experience that giving a bad review in the Hardcore scene can get you into trouble with certain people. Some of your bad reviews went way over the top. Were there many instances where you were kind of looking over your shoulder or peeking inside your mailbox to see if there was a letter bomb about to explode in your face?

Iann: To be honest it never occurred to me because my feeling was always if you put a record out then you had to expect opinions good or bad. I learned quickly that isn't the truth at all. When you review music made by people with limited mental facilities and the review is negative, violence becomes their only recourse and you're pretty much screwed. I sat in the backstage area of a few shows knowing some muscle bound roid rage victim was going to thrash me because I said his band sucked. I remember ripping apart 25 Ta Life and people telling me I was going to die. I didn't die but there were some tense times

I decided when I started writing professionally that if what I wrote was to mean anything I would have to take what came with it. I've been fired, punched, screamed at, all sorts of things based on what I've written but I incited those reactions so I have to deal with them. When people ask me why I put up with it or why I don't just write in a less brazen way I say to them "seven years".

Lets be honest here, I have the opportunities I have because of my time on MTV but seven years after leaving that station people still, for whatever reason, want to hear my opinion on things. It might be to cheer it might be to plan my murder but they all come to check it out. If I had backed down or changed things nobody would have given me a second look and I would be nowhere now.

I have to face myself, my fiancée Sara and the few friends I truly respect. Outside of that I could give a flying fuck what anybody thinks of me or how I live my life or what I say. As long as I can look those people in the eye then I'll deal with whatever comes.

James: Predating the show I also noticed we were going to Kingsborough Community College at the same time. Pretty sweet for a community college if ask me. Were you majoring in journalism?

Iann: No I was majoring in fucking up. I had been kicked out of Hunter College because like an idiot I got married at 20 to a girl who was kind of insane and I couldn't hold down everything and go to school. After my divorce I entered Kingsborough to try and get my act together and did really well. I also discovered the girls there who were hot and not hard to talk into bed. It was a pretty glorious time until my dad's sickness kicked in.

He had AIDS and started going downhill quickly and then passed away. I left before my second year was over to deal with that and get my head together. From there things started happening for me and I never went back to school. I'm going back to school now to study either Social Work or Human Resources. Shockingly enough I spent the last few years counseling troubled youth and found I really want to focus on helping people in my life.

I also have always felt that journalism is a dead thing. Not because the skills aren't viable but because so much of the media is corporatized that being able to dig the truth out in a story doesn't matter anyway. Add that to the bloggers who are now trusted "journalists" and we see how far we've fallen. People call me a music journalist and I correct them I tell them I'm a music fan who happens to know how to write.

James: At one point or another most of us have have to go through the pain of seeing their parents pass. But being so much younger and having someone go through such a painful and even misunderstood disease had to be very painful. How did that effect and even shape you and your general outlook?

Iann: You have to understand my father in order to understand my answer. My father was a beautiful human being, flawed like all of us, but still shined brighter than any other person I have ever met. He was generous, brilliant, kind and one of the few people who didn't think compassion was a character flaw. My relationship with my mother at that time was strained to say the very least and my father was one of the only people that made me feel like anybody gave a shit if I lived or died.

When somebody that wonderful is struck down by such a horrific disease and is forced to suffer more than any one person should it destroys pretty much any ideas you have on justice or fairness in the world. You spend a lot of time hating God or whatever benevolent deity is up there handing out death sentences. I watched as people who were just the absolute scum of the earth, fathers who were bastards, lived and prospered while I buried mine. I was an angry person to begin with but that pushed me into a dark arena I almost never got out of.

I'm not a big fan of talking about how my dad's death affected me because he was the one who suffered unbearably. I watched him take his last breath on Earth and I can honestly say some of the good in me died with him. I know he'd hate to hear that but it's true. My cynicism, bitterness and general disdain of everything sharpened that day.

I carried on that way, with that kind of rage inside me and that desperate need to feel like somebody cared, for years and it destroyed many friendships, relationships and had no small part in what cost me my MTV job. Over the last few years I've sunk myself into therapy, tried to recognize my issues and deal with them. I'm better now, not cured because I don't think you can be but I am better. I still slip into old patterns but I identify them quicker and try to overcome them without destroying everything in my path. I'm still a hard person to be around at times but I am trying, I can promise you that.

James: Were you always this Piss & Vinegar kinda guy?

Iann: I don't know, how do you answer that? I mean yeah my childhood sucked but not as bad as others, up until about 5 years ago I was fat so I was picked on a lot but I also never had a problem getting laid. I've always had a girlfriend but up until Sara I never found one that worked. There's a lot of my life I wouldn't wish on anybody and the unfairness of a lot of it has made me volatile and ill tempered but who isn't?

I think the biggest misconception about me is that I hate everything or I'm always negative. That just isn't true, I have a great deal of love for many things but I also call bullshit when I see it. If I had to analyze it I think people don't know what to do with me because I don't have an agenda. So many people factor their agenda into what they write and when you don't folks have no mechanism to deal with that so you're labeled a hater.

For instance I don't have to be friends with a band but I'm not opposed to it. I like free stuff just like anybody but I don't need it. I'd love for DC comics and Marvel to fly me around to movie sets and so on but I don't write in hopes of that. I don't hate or love anything so much that I won't look at it justly. I review things based on what the thing I'm reviewing actually is and for some reason that's an oddity. The game is played based on favors and who washes who's back. I don't play that way so I spend a lot of time alone.

I remember reviewing the last Mastodon album and saying I didn't like it. People kept saying "But dude it's Mastodon" and my response was "So what?" Factoring in who a band is or what they've done before into what their recently offering makes no sense. If it's all reputation then we end up with an industry of design instead of artistic merit. I gave a bad review to the new Slayer album because I honestly didn't like it and their publicist banned me from talking to any of her bands ever again. Really? That's where we've fallen to? If you don't love what I say love then we'll take our ball and go home. That sucks.

People get on me because I don't care for Phil Anselmo. They always site who he is and how important Pantera was and my response is still who cares. Phil has said and done some ridiculous things (Dimebag for instance)  and to me it puts him in a negative light. I don't care if he can heal cancer with one touch; if he acts like a douche I'm going to point it out.

Same with the recent Avenged Sevenfold album I reviewed. I have always hated that band but I gave their new album a decent listen and found it to be terrible. I also found their constant updates on how the death of their drummer pushed them into making this album to be in poor taste. These tween kids all thought I went in hating the album and so I was labeled a biased asshole.

First of all that isn't true but secondly if I had been wearing an Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt and saying they were so good I wish they made cookies to eat these same tweens would've been amped on how cool I am. I doubt any of them would have said, "Well it's a good review but Iann is a big fan so that's biased". Again, that's their agenda; I have no agenda so people get mad.

When you do things as honestly as you can it hurts people's feelings, it gives the business itself nothing to figure you by and usually it will put you at odds with everyone. Do that long enough and suddenly you're super negative and an asshole and so forth and so on. It's fine with me, I'm not here to make friends or get backstage passes. I won't turn them down but I certainly won't jump through hoops for them.

Some ask who the fuck I think I am to believe my opinion is so great. Well, I don't think my opinion is so great but I'm not going to change it to become buds with people or bands or anybody else. If you think I'm a talentless hack then don't read my work. Nobody can please everybody so all you can do is create work that pleases you. People who love it, I'm honored that you read it, people who don't that's totally your right. However don't expect me to follow those politics when I'm writing something. I don't owe anybody anything at all, period.

James: Did you always want to be a writer?

Iann: Yep, as far back as I can remember. When I was seven or eight I would trace comic book pages and leave the balloons blank to write my own stories. That all comes from my father, he was the most incredible writer and person I have ever known. Having him pushing me to always write got me to never quit no matter what was going on. I write as much as I can all the time, just to write. I'm a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, Kerouac, the beats  and HP Lovecraft. All of those people loved to write and would write just to do it.

My style came from that and my need to get across how I really felt about things in a visual way using words. As I got older I got better and discovered my own voice. I feel like I'm better now than I ever was because of Craveonline. They let me write what I want; they're very open minded, supportive and have allowed me to grow as a writer. Everybody needs a niche; a place to write and feel safe and craveonline has been that for me.

I write because I have to, that's the best way to describe it. I have short stories that nobody has seen, a couple of scripts, even a stupid blog just to blurt out opinions all because if I don't write I'll snap my cork and then it's green hair, white face paint, red lips nutty Iann time. For those like me writing is as much a compulsion as music, collecting records or comics or even drugs. You have to do it you have no choice.

James: As a kid I was really into comic books. I was and still am a big Marvel fan (always thought DC heroes were lame and suggestively homosexual, Hey, I was a kid) What were some of your favorites?

Iann: That's funny because I'm much more of a DC person than a Marvel guy, I just find the stories to be better. Marvel is so steeped in keeping their heroes "real" that they forget these are heroes, bigger than life people we need to believe in and they don't always have to have incredibly depressing private lives. I still read some Marvel stuff but not like DC.

I started with Peanuts and Archie books. My grandfather worked in a distribution house so he'd load me up with those paperback Peanuts books and Archie digests. One day I ducked into a store to avoid kids who were picking on me and I looked in the spinning rack of comics. I was about seven or so and I found a book about the death of Batman, with all the villains standing over his grave saying "I killed him". It shocked me because at that age I only knew of Batman through the Superfriends and the 60s TV show reruns. This seemed so serious for Batman. I bought the book and was instantly hooked; he became my number one hero.

So thirty two years later I still read Batman along with tons of other stuff. My main reads right now are all the Batman books (of which there are six or seven), the Green Lantern titles, Walking Dead, Wolverine, Spider-Man, The Flash, JSA, Superman, Daredevil, and the occasional indie comic that my friend and Book Report cohost Joey Esposito tells me about. I'm also a huge fan of old mystery, western and war comics plus any of the Creepy stuff.

Though I love modern comics my main love is the old school stuff, before it all got so cross over heavy and serious. Anything Jack Kirby was a part of or Ditko or any of the true pioneers. I could do a whole separate interview on this topic it consumes me like music does.

James: While we're on the subject of comics Can you tell me about Isolation Disorder Press. How did this originate and what's your role. How did you meet Brian?

Iann: I met Brian Smith through one my best friends David Monogahan. My first introduction to Brian was Dave telling me about the performance art band he had called 4 Way Anal Touchfight which consisted of Brian and another friend Guy dressing up in choir robes colored like the Denmark Flag with masks of the same design and pretending to be two guys from Denmark singing about Touchfighting, though they never explained exactly what that was. It's hard to describe the genius of it, I'd have to play it for you or you'd have to see it live.

When I first met Brian it turned out he was the same type of comic freak I was. I don't mean we both liked comics I mean we both connected to them in the same way. We would have three or four hour phone conversations about why Jimmy Olsen was referred to as Superman's "pal" or how awesome it was the way Galactus spoke. Brian is also the funniest motherfucker alive and very few people can make me laugh at all.

When I moved to Boston we just got closer, I'd spend most of my weekends with him and his amazing family just talking comics and driving around drinking iced coffee. Brian became and remains one of if not my best friend in the world. He's also much like me, angry, belligerent, volatile, so it works. We had talked about doing a comic book together with me writing it and him drawing. Come to find out doing a press run can be like $2000 and you have a minimum of five hundred copies, which is bullshit.

So we decided to pool our money and buy a copier, write the books and literally build them in Brian's basement. We named the company by combining two Joy Division songs being that we both worship that band. The first thing we collaborated one was A Fist Fight With God about a man who loses his wife to a drunk driver and that rage leads him to a physical confrontation with God. It's clear something I wrote about my anger towards my father's death.

Then Brian started doing his continuing series called Recur, which is amazing but hard to explain. I worked on a science fiction western titled The Drifter with another artist as well as book called Some Agoraphobic Girl. Brian and I collaborated again on a book called Imagine If Bon Scott Was The Herald Of Galaxus. It was basically making Bon Scott the Silver Surfer to Galactus only he wanted to be a rock singer not a herald.

We've done some conventions, our stuff is in local stores but we're not really looking to become the next big thing. We're working on new stuff but it comes out whenever it comes out, that's how we work. People can check the stuff out on our Facebook page and at

Looking Back; With Iann Robinson Part II

(Iann Robinson interview from Unite Fanzine continued .)

James: Fast forward a couple of years after Monkey Butt Sex and "oh shit, that dude from MBS is on MTV. I couldn't help but wonder "What the fuck was he thinking?" "What the fuck was MTV thinking?" How did the job come about?

Iann: This guy Ocean Macadams used to watch Monkey Butt Sex with his friends and when he became a big wig at MTV he remembered me. Originally they were casting for some countdown show and wanted a metal guy, pop girl, hip hop guy and techno fan to report the news for various scenes. He found me and asked if I would come in and read. I did a camera test and then didn't hear back from them.

A few months later Ocean called and asked if I could do a fake set up in a bar pretending it was a news segment. I did that and then a few months past until I was called again. I went to a Powerman 5000 show and did am entire news segment as if it was live. Suddenly there was silence, I mean almost six months of it. My old band Puny Human was playing a show so I emailed the MTV people I'd met and invited them to come down. I got an email back from a producer telling me I couldn't play a show that weekend because I was going to cover the Metallica/System Of A Down show for them. It was a shock to me, nobody had told me anything about it.

I did that and then was told that I wasn't being hired because MTV decided to go for a girl due to the original show not happening and MTV only having a need one news reporter. I said fine and went back to MBS Productions. About four months later I was called and told they wanted to offer me a job on air. Apparently my test tape went out and had the highest rating of anything ever tested for MTV.

James: Did they try to change your abrasive style or perhaps polish it up a bit?

Iann: Oh yeah, they had to. I was way too rugged for TV just in the normal sense of I cursed too much and gave too many offensive statements. I didn't mind that but when they started trying to change me into this "metal guy" character and tone down who I was it got ugly. See I'm one of those assholes who needs things explained to him or at least for it to make sense or I fight it. MTV never explained anything they just said, "do it" and right there I was armed for a battle.

I also have no truck with hypocrisy and MTV is as hypocritical as you can get. They would pull news stories because labels asked them to, run segments on performers because they wanted the label to be happy, etc and so on. Then they'd tell me I couldn't have an opinion because it would hurt the credibility of MTV news. Let's keep it real here folks; MTV News has no credibility because it's entertainment. That kind of hypocrisy sets me off so we were fighting all the time.

You can see the reality coming to light now as MTV News has, much like music, disappeared almost completely from the channel. Looking back I didn't realize what I was fighting or how to fight it. I just swung my arms and kicked and screamed, which was the wrong move. In 2000 when I started MTV was just beginning to change from a music channel to the reality TV, pyramid of cowards channel it is now. If I had realized that I would've held on for the ride and laughed as it crumbled. Instead I made so many people angry they opted to get rid of me.

James: You kind of gave the channel a short lived sense of street cred. Here was this guy from the Hardcore scene perhaps trying to show that there are alternatives to the garbage that was out there.

Iann: The term "street cred" always makes me shudder because it's a goofy term. I didn't bring the ills of street life into MTV or anything but I did bring a sense of reality. Everybody on MTV is so polished, so worked out and put together nobody can really relate to them. Even when MTV goes for a "normal" look it's usually a pretty boy dressed down. There I was fat, bald, tattooed and in t-shirts not something chosen for me by wardrobe. I looked like your buddy or a guy you worked with plus I knew what I was talking about. Combine those two and you get a sense of honesty that MTV lacks and people felt I brought that to the channel.

It goes back to the hypocrisy thing. MTV is forever trying to pull the wool over their viewer's eyes whether trying to sell some hugely backed major label artist as an "underground" artist or shilling their news reporters as people they just happened upon when in reality it was a long exhausting search. I cut through all that so people trusted me plus I had actually been in the music scene for a long time.

Lastly I delivered the news differently than anybody else ever had. I talked to people not at them, I was weird and random and made stupid jokes. I wanted people to always know I knew how dumb this all was and how ridiculous it was I was getting paid to do it. It was like when George Reeves would make a joke about Superman and wink to the crowd, it's a unsaid thing we all respond to. People liked that about me so they responded to it. MTV still tries to get their news people to mimic it with varied results.

James: Were there a lot of instances where you were interviewing or covering a band that you absolutely hated or thought were complete garbage?
Moments where you had to kind of bite your tongue and just kind of suck it up?

Iann: Of course, it was a job and just like any job you have to do things you don't want to do. I interviewed bands all the time I had no interest in and just sucked it up. The funny thing was it wasn't who you'd think I'd hate interviewing. I enjoyed sitting down with Britney Spears a whole lot more than Korn or talking to Eminem was way cooler than dealing with Godsmack.

I never bit my tongue when a band would ask me what I thought of them but I didn't march into an interview ready to start bitching. The worst of the lot was Limp Bizkit because I completely hated them. Not only was their music garbage but Fred Durst was a cunt, a bully and an all around piece of shit. I couldn't hide how much I hated him and at that point he was MTV's darling. We had a few run ins, the worst was when we nearly came to blows at Metallica Icon. 

Fred boasted a lot of threats and gestured a lot and blew off steam but nothing happened. I think Fred thought that when he "stepped" to me I was going to cower and cry for mercy. When I just stood there looking at him like the joke he was he had no plan B. So after ten minutes or so of him priming like thirteen-year-old girl he just walked away. Later Fred called a truce and I nearly pissed myself laughing. What are we in the third grade?

James: Any experiences that really stick out or left a mark? (Good or Bad)

Iann: Oh lots of good ones, it's easy to make MTV seem all bad but it wasn't. I got to go to Lucas Ranch and meet George Lucas, of course that was before I realized how badly he'd raped my childhood. I got to meet Black Sabbath, Lemmy, Megadeth, Dave Grohl, etc. The main thing was I got to bring exposure to bands I felt needed it and get press to shine on those I felt deserved it. I also got to travel and do things few ever get to do.

There's no one experience that really jumps out, it's all an amalgam of things that happened to me there. It's also been seven years since I was on MTV so it all tends to blur. Touring with Slipknot was fun, hanging with all the big rap dudes at the NBA thing in Atlanta was cool to. As for bad experiences that came more with the day-to-day of working there.

MTV isn't set up as a community or a place that creates an atmosphere of compromise or creativity. You are told what to do and either you play the game or go home. MTV big wigs are really into acting like parents and scolding their workers like children. They also like to mess with people's livelihoods by hiring everybody as "permalance", which means you're always there but still considered freelance. Then they can fire you with impunity, which they do often. Letting people stress their jobs is how they maintain control and that makes the place hard to work.

James: I'm not a science fiction fan in the least but I'm a complete and total Star Wars nerd. (I've got an unopened Sand People action figure on the shelf next to my desk.) But you hit the nail right on the head when you mention "having your childhood raped." (Eluding to the prequels) If you had met him after their release and had an opportunity to engage him honestly. What would you say?

Iann: At this point I'd just ask him why. Why did he let his ego destroy something so precious to all of us? Why did he make Anakin's turn so anti-climactic, why include Sam Jackson, why do any of it. I guess the biggest question is why make Jar Jar Binks an annoying loser who sounded like a Jamaican talking underwater? Why make the bad guys in the first one Asian?  The biggest question was why not let people who can write and direct do these stories? Write the treatments, tell the tale and then let people who are actually good at this take it from there.

Lucas has no sense of dialog, pacing, structure, timing or character development. One second Anakin is saying "Oh God what have I done" when he kills Mace Windu and then five minutes later he's killing children? What the fuck Lucas? The movies should have started when he was a teen and shown his gradual turn, plus it should have involved the Clone Wars more. Amedalla or whatever her name was dying of a broken heart? Are you fucking kidding me?

I would want to point out every problem with all three movies and have George explain it to me. Not with excuses but with actual reasons why he made these three movies so ungodly bad. I'm just as big a Star Wars geek as anybody, I have an entire forearm of tattoos dedicated to those movies and I just can't watch them anymore. Even the ones I grew up with are tainted for me. It's like this giant part of my childhood has been ripped away thanks to Lucas making what amounts to a reverse Roger Rabbit movie with humans in a cartoon world.

James: One of my favorite memories of your time on MTV was the episode of MTV Cribs that featured you. Here was a really badly scripted show that was a bad copy of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" The people seemed fake, the comments always sounded scripted and the cars always seemed strategically placed. The episode that featured you was the only one that actually made me laugh. How did that come about and were you completely taking a piss out of the show?

Iann: They actually came to me about it because of my massive toy collection. Part of my self-medicating when I was miserable besides eating was buying toys and collectables of all kinds. It was out of control and I literally had a huge two bedroom apartment overflowing with toys and pop culture items. I wasn't trying to take the piss out of the show itself but I was taking some swipes at the rich folks and their whole "player" thing.

The funniest part of all of it was I made some innocuous joke about Lars Ulrich and he lost his shit. He called MTV, tried to get me thrown off the Metallica Icon show, was a prick to me, anything you could do he did it. I just laughed that he was such a little bitch over a joke but he pitched his tantrum and then it went away. Since then I've sold everything I ever owned in that show, all of it. I got into some rough times and needed the money plus slowly I was getting out of the whole impulse buying thing. Now I just kick myself because if I had all that money I could buy a fucking home.

James: One of the funniest things about watching the early "Real World" episodes is there was always a musician or a guy in a band who made a point of pimping his music on the show. It always turned out to be a really shitty band or dime a dozen soul act. None of these bands ever went anywhere. Maybe they put out a record or two but they always went right into the cut out bin or better yet the good old circular file. At the time you were working for MTV you were also playing drums for Puny Human. (A very good, heavy fucking band) There you were working for the biggest Music network on the planet yet you never talked about. In retrospect that seems like a very wise choice.

Iann: I never thought about bringing Puny Human into MTV because it was my one chance to live away from the channel. In the circles we toured in my being on MTV had no bearing at all people didn't care. I could just be me and hang, play shows and exist. The other thing was in that circle it was about the merit of your band, if we'd rang bells and sung songs announcing my thing on MTV we'd have been sunk, people would have seen us as a joke band or not respected us.
You also have to remember I was the drummer, as far from the front man lead guy as you could be. I always hated when photographers tried to put me in front of a picture or started asking me all the questions at interviews, I felt like it would be incredibly super douche to take on the front man roll just because of my job, Fearing that I made a conscious effort to stay in the background so we didn't become stonerrock's answer to No Doubt.

James: I got to see the band a few times and still listen to "It's not the heat..." and "revenge is easy" Can you tell me a little bit about the band?

Iann: Puny Human started from the ashes of a band called Grey and the fact that I wanted to play drums with Josh (guitar) and Jason (bass), two brothers who at the time were my best friends that I respected as musicians. Originally we were going to be called Master Blaster but we were being big fans of the band Deadguy who had a song called Puny Human as well as comic geeks we settled on that name. We had a singer at first whose name I forget and he sucked. He sounded very Brett Michaels and jumped around on stage like it was an arena GnR show. After firing him the band kind of went nowhere and stalled.

A few years later we were thinking of enlisting our friend Brian who sang in Crawlpappy to be our frontman but he lived too far away. He suggested this guy Jim Starace who we instantly clicked with and loved his voice. From there we banged out songs and recorded our first album Revenge Is Easy, which is still my favorite. We toured some, played shows, did normal band things and it was great. My two best friends and I with this new awesome dude making music we loved, I couldn't have asked for more.

Things started getting hinky during the writing for our second album. Josh and Jason were amazing players but they had one Achilles heel, this weird fear of not being seen as consummate musicians. Our songs became more complicated, we veered away from the straight groovy stuff we were doing and it ran some tensions high. We also called in J. Yuenger from White Zombie to produce our second album It's Not The Heat It's The Humanity and while he is a kick ass producer and an amazing human being we didn't need that many bells and whistles.

I'm very proud of It's Not The Heat It's The Humanity but it was really where the cracks started. After I left MTV and moved to Boston we had a terrible falling out that resulted in myself and Josh and JAson losing a fifteen year friendship and my relationship with Jim becoming strained. The whole thing ended badly, with really bad moves and harsh words from both sides. None of us handled it correctly and I think it was part of a bigger issue that had been breeding in our friendship for a while.

Somehow I was labeled the bad guy in all of this, which I don't think is one hundred percent fair. Right when the fallout happened I had moved to a new city, I was broke, getting divorced for a second time, dealing with the MTV loss and all these other things. I was a terrible mess but not without reason. My reactions to things were way off and incredibly harsh and I regret that but it was during a dark, dark time for me.

It was sad that people were quick to believe the worst about me and a great deal of people I had helped turned their backs on me and that hurt, still does. I tried to patch things up but it became out of sight, out of mind. I wasn't invited to the party anymore and since I wasn't there nobody thought about me.

It's been five years since all of that and we're all different people now. Everybody who was in the band has a kid except me and while Puny Human did release an album without me on drums I think it's pretty much defunct now. It's too bad it all went down how it did and I hold a bit of hope that one day we'll all be in the same room and maybe work it out but if not it's so far removed from my life now that I can't really be too upset about it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Breed Tape Compilation - CD/Vinyl Re-issue

Sometimes it takes a little time to really allow the epic nature of a release wash over you before putting your two cents in .         The New Breed Compilation is without a doubt the best example I can site. The fact that I've been friends with the comps creator since grade school and was present when some of the bands excitedly submitted their tracks and artwork when the original project in 1989 started taking shape didn't allow for much of a bipartisan review. The truth of the matter is this long over due re-issue has more than lived up to the excitement that it's resurfacing had created.

Originally released to in 1989. The New Breed Tape Compilations legend far overshadowed the scant 700 copies that were released. At the time New York Hardcore seemed to be arriving at its Mount Everest of creativity. Freddy Alva and Chaka Malik (Burn, Orange 9mm) were able to coral the NYHC's  best and brightest names along with some of it's most promising prospects. When comparing to the many to the recorded documents of NYHC at the time, New Breed fits nicely between Revelation Records "The Way it is" and Blackout's "Where the Wild Things Are". Pretty good company if you ask me.

After more than twenty years of bootlegs, reminiscing and talk the original cassette compilation has been officially resurrected and remastered on both CD digi pack and Vinyl for the first time. 
Highlighted by tracks from Absolution, Beyond, Breakdown, Life's Blood, Outburst and Raw Deal. The comp also features upstarts such as Collapse, (one of my favorites) Discipline and Fit of Anger.
Available as a CD digipac and vinyl. Bonus tracks from All for One and Life's Blood (live) and an almost haunting sound bite from CBGB's Dennis the Bouncer. (A man who once banned me from CBGB's for excessive stage diving.) This is a piece of our history. If you were there you were very lucky to be a part of something unique. If you weren't but still love Hardcore music this is a chance to see how us old men used to dish it out. I was lucky enough to be personally handed #1 of 200 limited edition airbrushed "Wild Style" Vinyl version. It was a moment I will not soon forget. James Damion

Wardance Records  Buy it Here

Monday, March 26, 2012

N.Y. Hoods - "Neutral Demo" 7 inch Re-Issue

Classic NYHC demo from 1986 finally gets a very deserving and long over due vinyl treatment from Urban Riot Records.
The vinyl version features
N.Y. Hoods - Neutral demo in all its glory. The six song demo has been remixed and remastered for great sound quality. 100 pressed on
white vinyl, 100 pressed on splatter vinyl and 300 on traditional black. The NY Hoods were one of many excellent bands that occupied the NYHC scene of the mid eighties.
The Queens band were contemporaries of classic NYHC bands such as
Gorilla Biscuits, Token Entry, Krakdown. The N.Y Hoods also featured bassist
Gavin Van Vlack who would go on to help form and play with Side By Side, Absolution and Burn. (Just to name a few) Needless to say this is an important document of a pivotal time in New York's colorful music history.
Slap this on your turntable and you'll be singing the chorus to "Mirrors of Reality" and
"Poor Girl" in no time. James Damion

United Riot Records/Big Cartel  Order Here

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sean Favre on his Departure from Meet Pause

Sean Favre's announcement he was leaving Meet Pause came as a shock to many. I was honestly saddened to hear of the announcement, mainly due the fact that Meet Pause was a band I felt I was just beginning thoroughly appreciate and enjoy. Having seen them perform at Clifton's Dingbatz just a few weeks prior I couldn't help but feel a chemistry between the band. It didn't hurt one bit that Sean seemed so sharp and focused at the time. So on the eve of his last show with the band I reached out to Sean to get some answers and insight on the reasons for his departure, his fond memories of his time with the band and what the future holds for this very talented and very likable mainstay on the New Jersey music scene. James Damion

James: You've been the trusted bass player for Meet Pause for some time now. Why the sudden departure?

Sean: I felt that, for myself, it was time for me to move on. I haven't given the band 100% for a while now. It just didn't seem fair to me or to the other guys in Meet Pause for me to continue. It has been a hard decision to fully make but I feel like it was the right one and it's what I felt was, and still is, in my best interest. I hope everyone can respect my choice.
I always tried to look at this band as a small business, which it is, but the other half is that this band is a hobby. After awhile, this hobby wasn't fun anymore . Don't get me wrong, I'm still looking forward to playing music privately and publicly. Just for now, it will not no longer be with Meet Pause.
I feel that anyone in Tiny Giant can agree that this lifestyle of playing shows and making original music doesn't bring in the paychecks. We play because we love it, and it drives us. Without that drive the train loses its steam.

James: How did the rest of the band react to your decision?

Sean: The guys in the band were very gentlemanly about it all. No name-calling or any of that petty garbage. They still remain supportive of my decision and show the utmost respect for me.
I wrote up a message that I felt was as professional as I could be for such a delicate subject and action on my part. I posted it to a private group page we use on Facebook so they would all be able to read it one spot. One of my main points to them was that just because I'm leaving this band, doesn't mean I'm leaving our friendships.

James: What made you decide to leave the band through a Facebook message? Wouldn't it have been better to just jump from the van en route to a show?

Sean: I had spoken to Keith beforehand the previous day on the phone about it. I had a lengthy conversation the week prior after one of my shows with Keith and Graeme about a lot of the things going on too. Maybe some may think it's cowardly to send a Facebook message, but I felt it was the best choice so I could take my time with writing what I wanted to exactly say in one go, rather than calling each of them up individually and saying a paraphrased version to all three bandmates at three separate times. Plus, I wanted to get it out there rather than sit on my decision because I wasn't going to see those guys for another 4 to 5 days. I included in the message that if they wanted to call me to talk about it, then I would gladly fill them in on the details.
The "Van tuck-and-roll" was definitely an option, but it may have turned into an extended hospital stay...for Scott. (Evil laugh echoes in the night)

James: Did you get your FB message signed by a Notary Public to make it strictly legit?

Sean: The Notary Public wouldn't get back to me in time. I'm trying to have a break-up/suicide note published as an ebook exclusively on Kindle through Amazon. Just waiting on the details due to copyright and publishing restrictions.

James: Where are you heading from here?

Sean: There willy always be different directions I'll be go in. This isn't the last time anyone is going to be hearing from me, "The ole' mighty Sean Favre!". Not many people know that I'm actually a guitar player, as well as a drummer and bass player. I've wanted to play guitar more in a band for some time now and this is my opportunity to write and perform the music that I've wanted to express from my own creativity.

I know how to play guitar, bass, drums, I want to see what I can do with recording all parts with my own vocals over top. Maybe I'll take the Everymen approach having a bunch of my friends be revolving members to play shows with. Maybe I'll find some other musicians/friends to play full-time with. Who knows just yet? I have plenty of time to put things in order, keep contributing to Tiny Giant, and have a good time otherwise.

I'm not fully set on what genre I'm looking at, but I'm sure it will incorporate something with my musical taste in rockabilly, folk, punk, and maybe some of the instrumental side of playing I love. Maybe I'll finally get that one-man Tom Waits tribute band off the ground like I've always dreamed of. (wink,wink)

James: What's the fondest memory of your time in Meet Pause?

Sean: My fondest memory with Meet Pause was when we played the basement of Lucky Cheng's in the city, which is a drag queen bar, and having an almost 7 foot tall drag queen that looked like Lady Gaga walk in.

James: So what transpired when the Drag Queen walked in? Was it love at first sight?

Sean: I was very joyful. It seriously made the night! It's a moment that made time stop. Any lovebird knows that feeling like that moment will last forever, or when he takes the wig off and goes back to being a beautiful man.

James: If you had a choice in the matter who would you like your replacement to be?

Sean: For a replacement, I would hope the ghost of John Candy would fill my spot in Meet Pause. If that's not possible, then I would gladly like to see Adam Copeland (Black Water/Warface) in there so he could say he's in three bands now.
(I couldn't bare to tell him John Candy is dead. Mums the word on that one…)

James: In ten words or less, Keith Hotpockets is a ......

Sean: "…pleasure to have in class, a true delight."

James: Being that we're finalizing this after your last show. What do you think you came away with? Was it an emotional night?

Sean: I think I came away with a great foundation for future projects and some enduring friendships, not only with Keith, Graeme and Scott, but with all the people that I know in the audience. It wasn't too emotional, even though I must admit right before doing "Hybrid Moments" my heart was racing a bit and I even added an extra two lines in the chorus because I couldn't remember the first line of the next verse.

I think it was a good send-off for me with the guys in Meet Pause. Like anything that ends, there is always the oppurtunity for something else that comes along the way. I'm at a point where I can do anything I want musically, or maybe I'll take a break for a few months to finish up my schooling and analyze Nirvana songs to figure out how to write the perfect pop song. Anything could happen!

I didn't pop a kidney because then I would've only been down to one. I didn't like the idea of being a freak living with one kidney. I know people wouldn't be able to see it, but it's the emotional hurt I couldn't stand, knowing one of my organs is missing from my body.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pusrad - Smart Trams 7" Just 4 Fun records 2012

Pusrad is comprised of two founding members of Sweden's Raped Teenagers , and these guys definitely still have the magic touch based on the greatness of this their debut 7".

On this 7" Pusrad deliver Excellent fast paced hardcore punk that goes by in the blink of an eye. Honestly, it feels like these 7 songs go by in 7 seconds. My only complaint is that I wish they had made this a one sided record so my lazy ass could spend an extra 30 seconds on the couch before having to get up to flip the record over...DaveG.

P.S. I believe this is a limited 1 time pressing so you know what you have to do...Buy Buy Buy

Pusrad Bandcamp
Just 4 Fun Records

The Nervous - s/t 7" - Nervous Records 2012

I've always been a sucker for female fronted punk rock bands, and The Nervous are right up my alley. The music is driving yet catchy and memorable with jangly guitars galore and an excellent vocalist who infuses just enough anger into her melodic vocal approach.

I understand that the band self released this record in a very limited quantity so I'd suggest you grab a coppy before they are gone...Dave G.

The Nervous

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Balance - European Hardcore Music Book Review

"‘Balance: European Hardcore’, by Tom Barry and photographer Sophia Schorr-Kon, documents he modern European hardcore scene and the people behind it. The book features striking photography of shows and portraits of influential musicians. Alongside these images, the authors provide insights into the informal rules that give order to the international movement—for example, all lyrics are written and performed in English—allowing readers an insider’s perspective on the enduring but underdocumented music scene."

In all honesty I was very unimpressed with the book overall. I have plenty of respect and fondness for the bands and the genre overall but forty dollars (suggested retail price) for what is basically a photo essay with catch phrases on how "Hardcore is my life" is a bit ridiculous. The photo on the cover is the best of the entire book and that really isn't saying  much. The photos from live shows don't seem to capture the energy, emotion or fire of a thriving scene. The candid photos fail to evoke the character of the subjects or provide any insight to the viewer.
People involved with that particular scene might have a different outlook having been involved with the music. However, as an outsider I didn't very compelled to investigate it further.
If you think this is something you might be interested in. I'd recommend going to your local punk record store or place that sells independent releases and take a good look for yourself. To order this online or to walk out of the store with a sealed copy under your arms  would seem fool hearty and something you might end up regretting. In my very humble opinion this isn't worth the admission to a local VFW show.  James Damion
Buy it here

Friday, March 16, 2012

Front Line - Basic Training e.p. 1982

Front Line unload 10 blasts of hardcore/punk fury on this demo tape from 1982 that has finally seen the light of day as 7" in 2012 thanks to Beach Impediment Records. If you are a fan of old school punk / Hardcore then this record is an absolute must.

Here's some more specific details about this release straight from the record label:

After having been in limbo for the better part of 30 years, we are proud to bring you the long lost "BASIC TRAINING" E.P. by Norfolk, VA's FRONT LINE. Commonly known as the "Second Demo" by tape traders over the years, this was recorded in October of 1982 shortly before the band imploded, leading to the formation of BONESAW and eventually GOD'S WILL. "BASIC TRAINING" features 10 tracks of primal and vicious USHC not unlike fellow Virginians WHITE CROSS with whom they shared the stage many times over their brief existence. Select tracks from this session would go on to be featured on compilations like THE MASTER TAPE VOL. 2 on Paul Mahern's Affirmation Records (along side bands like MECHT MENSCH, ZERO BOYS, NO LABELS, and many more) and the legendary all Virginia TARANTULA ON MY COCK tape that guitarist Jeff Clites would release in 1983, but this is the first time all of these songs have officially appeared together the way they were meant to. Raging Southern Hardcore at it's finest.

Basic Training e.p. Soundcloud
Beach Impediment Records Purchase

Pure Scum - Demo Tape 2012 Sorry State Records

Pure Scum are a bunch of 15 and 16 year old miscreants from Raleigh NC who have managed to lay down a demo of unrelenting hardcore that is just spilling over with youthful exuberance and total hardcore goodness.

Sorry State records compares Pure Scum to Negative Approach and SOA, and that comparison works perfectly for me...good stuff...listen/buy, and keep your eyes peeled for future releases...Dave G.

Pure Scum Bandcamp
Sorry State Records.

Stripmines - Crimes of Dispassion 2012 Sorry State Records

Pissed off Crust influenced hardcore that brings bands like Infest, Negative Approach and maybe even Sick of It All and the Cro-mags to mind. Now before you tell me I'm crazy for hearing the Cro-mags in Stripemines full on brutal assault just check out the mid song break in "Politcal Correction" and tell me you can't hear the Cro-mags "Hard Times" coming through.

Anyway, regardless of Stripmines influences, Crimes of Dispassion definitely stands on it's own as an excellent slab of full on pummeling Hardcore that will definitely get your adrenaline pumping...Dave G.

Sorry State Records


Thursday, March 15, 2012

An Interview with The Sun The Moon The Stars

Every now and then I accidentally come across a band whose live set just simply blows my fucking mind. On one particular February night  I was standing in the slim corridor of Maxwells when I asked Adam Bird of Those Mockingbirds if he knew much about the bands they were playing with that night. Without pause he cocked back his head and said, "You absolutely have to check out The Sun The Moon The Stars". "The band is fucking amazing live." Heeding his words I made my way through the revolving doors. That night I learned a couple of things. 1. Adam Bird tells no lies. 2. The Sun The Moon The Stars were a band I wanted to get to know better. That night I spoke briefly with Matthew and  took home the bands record Mind Reader. Upon listening to Mind Reader the hooks sunk deeper and deeper moving me to contact their bearded, barefoot, singer/guitarist to learn more about the band and what they were all about. James Damion

James: I was really sorry to have missed your record release show at The Clash Bar the other night. I heard you guys brought some much-needed energy to the place. How did everything go?

Matthew: Magical. We couldn't have asked for a better night. The support from our friends and family was absurd. Truly one of the best nights of music I've had in my life. It's a really cool little bar. I hope they will get a solid promoter and get some good music coming through.

James: Tell us a little about the new record "Mind Reader". How does it differ from "We are Swine"?

Matthew: "We are the Swine" was written mostly by me over the course of a year. I intended on making something for myself to find musicians and hopefully garnish some interest locally. At the time of recording "We are the Swine" I had already played with about ten different people, none of which really fit the mold besides Joe--and he barely fits into anything. Adam from Those Mockingbirds was living with me at the time and knew what I was looking for drum wise, so he stepped up and helped on drum duty for those demos.

"Mind Reader" came after Joe and Ian so we all worked on some of the songs together rather than it being a one-man show. Vocally I started to find where I am more comfortable. There is just a lot more dynamics to the songs. A lot more time went into recording/writing. Way more polished overall. The truth is we recorded Mind Reader a pretty long time ago. We just got smashed with delays. To see it finally materialize is a blessing.

James: How did your signing with Black Numbers come about?

Matthew: I've known Dave since back when I was in The Oval Portrait. We've been buds forever. Once "Mind Reader" was done and needed a home I showed him the songs and it just sort of worked out. Black Numbers is a more punk centric label, but both Phil and Dave were excited to put out something heavy and I've always loved the DIY approach they have. It's been an adventure so far.  

James: So you're in really good company. Have you played any shows with artists on the label?

Matthew: Not yet! We do have something lined up with Kill Wealthy Dowager. Banquets have been super busy as of late. The dudes in Luther love metal, so we really need to get down to Philly and party in a basement with those guys.

James: Are you planning on touring on the record?

Matthew: Regionally, yes. It's just not feasible for us to be on the road for 2-3 months at a time right now. This summer we are planning to do some dates with our buddies in Sydbarret and then some more with the riffs of Changes. Hopefully we can make it to a few fests later on in the year and maybe to Europe next year.

James: You guys are all over the Metal radar mixing a lot of different styles and blending all that aggression with a lot of harmony. It really makes you stand out. When you were forming the band and when you're writing songs now, is there a certain vibe or sound you're going for?

Matthew: We just like making loud heavy music you can bang your head and raise your fist too. Have fun, drink a beer, smoke a joint, be free and get loose--whatever gets you off. I've never been a "singer" before. This whole thing is new to me, but I just had some things I wanted to say and it all just worked out. So it goes.  

James: The Sun The Moon The Stars is a pretty all-encompassing name. I get somewhat of a spiritual vibe from it. What does it mean to you personally?

Matthew: Honestly this came right from Black Sabbath's NIB. That's not to say it didn't manifest itself into other meanings. Sometimes I'll name something or write something and later on it will hit me and I'll think, "Holy shit that’s what that meant." The unconscious mind is outstandingly powerfully. Sometimes I just trust what it's giving me and run with it.

James: You've had two Birds in the band one past in Adam and one present in Evan. Besides their instruments of choice. How would you describe the personalities, similarities and differences? Do you think they could ever co-exist in a band?

Matthew: Oddly enough Adam is not a drummer and Evan is not a bass player. The instruments they play in TSTMTS aren't their primary weapons. Even when we look at Joe, he's been a drummer in most of the bands he's played in. Ian and I mostly bass. Everything got all jumbled up. It keeps us honest and allows us to work harder. But Evan and Adam--like Adam and Eve/black and white. These dudes came from the same gene pool but are super different. Even the way they learn songs--Evan doesn't want anyone to show him, he just wants a copy in his email so he can figure it out. Adam is more hands on. He wants to sit down, learn it with someone, and then writes it down to take home.
Who knows if they could. I doubt it. It would be fucking incredible, though, and I would love to be part of it.

James: Tell me a little bit about the rest of the band, their personalities and backgrounds in music.

Matthew: Joe is a fuck. Dude picks up an instrument and it's like he's been practicing for fifteen years. I have to bust my ass to try and keep up with the dude. His comic book collection is unreal.
Ian is a fuck too. He's got the higher gamer score than Joe. I don't know where he finds the time to write music between watching reruns of Wrestlemania and playing retro console games, but dudes got volumes of music written. The two of them are compulsive collectors. And i hate collecting. And I'm no good at video games. Rehearsal is always interesting. We've all been playing in punk/hardcore bands since we were kids. I can rattle off tons of bands we played with but most important is here, now. Each of us have super distinct tastes in music that the other one wouldn't be caught dead listening to yet our roots are all the same. Somehow it works.

James: We talked a bit earlier about Buddhism. What was it that initially drew you to the philosophy? How much of it do you apply to your everyday life?

Matthew: Eastern philosophy has always attracted me mainly because it's so different from what I was taught when I was younger. I was looking for something new that I could relate too. All these esoteric ideas really caught my attention. But the more I study it's all very much the same. Look for the good stuff, weed the bad stuff out. Or weed the bad people out. I like using theological ideas, stories and characters and sliding them into songs. We talked about the song Mara//Traitor on We are the Swine which is heavily influenced by the Buddhist demon. And then on Sire it's a fabrication of Ganesha's story. On Mind Reader's Sand and Stone Methuselah from the Hebrew Bible shows up and gives us some advice. 

James: How long have you been growing the beard?

Matthew: Turns five in July. That's a long time not to see my face.

James: I bet you get a lot of attention at airports and such? Any stories you can share?

Matthew: Ya know the only place that ever gives me a problem is when I am flying back into the US. My cousin and I were coming back from traveling through Costa Rica and we were "randomly" stopped and searched. Not that good of a story really. They just want to find drugs on us. We smoked it all man!

James: That brings me to the feet. Is playing on stage in bare feet just an invitation to disaster? When did you start this practice and why?

Matthew: Story of my life. Really though, if I could I would never wear anything on my feet. I picked up the habit back when The Oval Portrait was on tour. Sometimes I would just feel constricted so I would kick off my shoes. Now it happens pretty much all of the time. It's like being able to stretch out your fingers--feel the freedom. Plus it feels more connected to where I am. The worst thing that’s ever happen is I get really bad cramps in my arches when it's super cold.

TSTMTS Facebook Page
Black Numbers Page

Olde Ghost's Derrick Hachey

Derrick Hachey and I have shared an online friendship since the days when My Space was a relevant internet presence. Over the years we've stayed connected through both mutual friends and a love for Hardcore Music.  So when he contacted me and asked if I could give his band "Olde Ghost's" upcoming EP a listen and possible review I was more than happy to oblige. After giving "If We Ever Get Out of This Alive" a fair share of listens I was rather impressed. So with about a month left before the records release I decided to hold off on the review and send over some questions about the band, the record and the state that seems to have cornered the market on rain. Washington's Olde Ghost are set to release their debut EP  04/14/12 via 1,000 Knives/ Hardcore Maniacs. Be sure to get yourself a copy.
James Damion

Olde Ghost is:
Sara Russert- Vocals
Chris LaPointe - Vocals
Kirby Charles Johnson - Guitar
Derrick Hachey - Bass
Ego - Drums

James: The bands been together for a good two years now. Why did it take this long to release an EP?

Derrick: The truth of it is that we are all pretty busy… Sara teaches vegan cooking classes and caters; Chris has a demanding job with Earthcorps; Kirby is a fulltime student and also runs a company with his partner, Anika; Ego is a tattooer and artist; and I have a consulting company. So while we love making Olde Ghost music, it seems to take us longer than most bands to do so.

James: How are you planning to support the release? Will you be touring or just playing locally?

Derrick: Mostly we’ll be playing around locally and regionally in the Pacific Northwest. If there is an opportunity to go out and play some shows with friends beyond that, we would consider it if it fit into our schedules. As a band, we aren’t under too much pressure to ‘move units’ or whatever, which gives us the freedom to kind of do what we want. Mostly we just want to play fun shows with our friends.

James: Tell me about the title. "If We Ever Get Out of this Alive…". It's pretty dark to say the least.

Derrick: It’s a line from a song on the record called ‘For’, which primarily talks about animal liberation activists faced with the loss of personal freedom and imprisonment. The second part of that line, which makes it perhaps a little less dark is “I’d do it all again”, but for the sake of a title for the record we left it off, leaving the interpretation up to the individual in a ‘what If I got a second chance’ sort of way.

James: I just recently became a vegetarian. I'm curious about your status as a vegan. How long have you been vegan and was there an evolution of sorts from  meat eater to vegetarian to vegan?
My reasons for become a vegetarian came from more of a health standpoint. What were yours?

Derrick: I've been vegan for about five years or so, and was vegetarian for about twenty years before that. I'm sort of the newby in the band in that regard, the rest of the band has all been vegan for fifteen years or more. For me, basically, I made the transition from vegetarianism to veganism because I just felt I could do more to alleviate the suffering of living beings. I don't want to contribute to that suffering, and really didn't want to literally injest suffering and more. The transition was pretty easy, and Seattle is a pretty easy city to be vegan in, there are a lot of vegans here, and finding food in restaurants and grocery stores is pretty easy.

James: Over the years I've known a lot of people who were met with a lot of anger, aggression and prejudice over there chioce. More so than any choice over drugs and alcohol regardless pro or con. What was your experience like?

Derrick: I have witnessed and experienced the hostility from non-vegans towards vegans, however. I'm not sure what it stems from...why would anyone care if I, or anyone, don't eat animal products? Does it go against what most people were brought up to believe, in terms of what animal's perpose is? I guess. Most people are taught that cows, pigs, chicken and fish are for eating, dogs and cats are for pets, and so on. When that is challenged, I guess people become uncomfortable and lash out. Maybe it's born of guilt in their own dietary choices. I really don't know, but i do know that there is nothing anybody can do or say to get me to eat or use animal products.

James: When you decided to form the band what were you looking to accomplish? Was there a particular message or mission statement you wanted to put out there?

Derrick: Honestly, we weren’t (aren’t) trying to accomplish anything. The reason we started the band was because we are all friends, and wanted to make music that we love with none of the pretense that normally goes along with being in a band, like we all did in high school. No drama, no trying to ‘make it’.
As far as a message is concerned, we believe in total liberation for all sentient beings. No humyn or non-humyn animal should be oppressed or forced to live in servitude to anything or anybody. Racism, sexism, speciesism, homophobia…they are antiquated concepts that have no place in any society.

James: I really like the vibe of the male/female vocals. They definitely compliment each other. What went into the decision to go with two singers?

Derrick: Chris and Sara have sung together in previous bands, but not in a co-frontperson sort of way. We thought the dynamic and duality of it really added to our songs, and would allow us to have this whole different layer we wouldn’t have otherwise.

James: Was the male/female decision a conscious one or did it just happen naturally?

Derrick: It was really just a natural thing. We had a song early on that we thought would be better if Sara sung some back-ups on, which she did. It sounded great, so it just sort of happened…she was our friend, and feels the same way about political issues as we do. Plus, she has an amazing voice.

James: Listening to the EP I got an immediate 90's vibe. i can't quite put my finger on it but it brought me back to a time when there was a lot more going on than just a band writing Hardcore breakdowns. I felt a certain urgency about it. What are some of the influences musically and personally?

Derrick: That’s great to hear! You know, we’re all a little older, and came up in a time when it seemed hardcore was more than hitting the pit, so that type of influence can be heard through most of our songs. Bands like Swiz, Verbal Assault, Soulside, Embrace and Black Flag are a huge influence on us, along with revolution summer era DC bands, and newer bands like All Teeth, A Better Hope Foundation, and Run With the Hunted.

James: You always hear about how depressing and shitty the weather is in Washington. Yet, anyone I've known that has lived or travelled there loved it and considered it a very special time in their lives. What's your take on that? I heard it rains twelve hours a day. The other twelve are devoted to fog.

Derrick: Haha! We just tell people that so they won’t move here. Seriously, I moved here from the East coast about 15 years ago, and instantly fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is such a special place…so clean and beautiful. All the rain just makes the sunny days that much better.  That said, as I type this it is pouring out…I’m ready for some Spring.

James: Olde Ghost does a lot of work in its community. What are some of the project and causes you're involved with?

Derrick: There’s a few things we do, either through playing benefit shows or volunteering time. We’ve helped out organizations like Precious Life Animal Sanctuary, which was founded in September 1999 by Ralph & Caryl Turner, who have been actively involved in local, state and national animal protection issues their entire adult lives. We’ve also helped out The CAIR (Community Abortion Information & Resource) Project, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit social service organization dedicated to removing barriers to abortion access, and many others. We also play benefit shows to support Pasado’s Safe Have, One Hundred For Haiti, as well as the work our friends our doing at the DIY music space Black Lodge here in Seattle.

James: What's the Washington music scene like?

Derrick: Well, without sounding too much like a history lesson, The Pacific Northwest has always enjoyed an extremely vibrant underground music scene. Going back to bands like Brotherhood, Christ on a Crutch, and The Accused, through bands like Undertow, Champion and Trial, up to the present with bands like Cowardice, Erode, Cynarae, Outlook, Dead Weight, and so many others. We’re really fortunate that so many people make the choice to play music and support bands and venues. Because of all that, so many national bands find it worthwhile to make the trek up here to play. Even if they didn’t, it really wouldn’t matter…we can make our own fun.

James: I always talk about leaving things better than you found them. Leave a positive footprint on the places you've walked. Something that seems to be a constant uphill battle where I'm from. Do you think bands/musicians have a responsibility to their community? I mean, "Your just a fucking band.".

Derrick: Bands have no responsibility to anyone or to do anything. They are free to do whatever they choose. Whether it’s to write songs with pit calls and breakdowns or songs about animal liberation, or if they want to wear bear suits, or whatever…their choices and responsibilities are only to themselves , because yeah…it’s just a fucking band.

James: What are you looking to accomplish with Olde Ghost?

Derrick: Really, I just want to have fun and make music I love with my friends…play some shows, and maybe get people to think about how they treat other people and animals, and the planet we all inhabit.