Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dunebuggy - 1990's Collection - Little Black Cloud Records 2012

Dunebuggy were a 90's indie rock band who hailed from Hoboken NJ and featured one future Dahlia Seed member Jon Procopio on guitar and vocals and also featured some guest vocals from Tracy Wilson who would later join Dahlia Seed as their full time vocalist.

Dunebuggy play quirky yet infection indie pop with hooks that will get stuck in your head for days, just give the albums opening track "Humdinger" a listen and I promise that you will have the chorus stuck in your head all day long. If you are a fan of the Lemonheads, Pavement or Archers of Loaf etc then I would urge you to give this record a listen and buy one before they are gone as they're limited to a meager run of 100 copies on white vinyl...Dave G.

Insound: Purchase  

Dunebuggy Bandcamp


Born of suburban boredom, the D.I.Y. aesthetic of skateboarding, and an obsessive appreciation for well-crafted pop tunes, Dunebuggy had the great fortune of being part of the inspiring New York City music scene of the mid 90's. What started as a duo of friends (Keith Renna and Jon-Michael) butchering cover tunes by their favorite punk bands, evolved into an original power trio with the addition of bass player Michael Reilly, and was occasionally complimented by vocalist Tracy Wilson (Dahlia Seed).

Drawing a heavy influence from both the Boston music scene(Lemonheads, Pixies, and Blake Babies) as well as inspiration from legendary bands such as the Replacements, Sonic Youth, Minutemen, and the Pretenders, the band focused on becoming a tightly knit unit intent on creating clever indie rock with pop hooks.

Dunebuggy's sound is punctuated by quirky phrasing, angular guitars, and imaginative lyrics. The bands goal was always to put the songs first, doing what was best for the them as a whole, and attempting to craft short works of pop perfection with a healthy dose of experimentation. Hard hitting, inventive drumming grounds the entangled and intertwining bass and guitar work. Indie pop, heart on the sleeve songs are shrouded in lyrical intricacies and cryptic prose.

Impalers 2010 Demo 7" - No Way Records / Beach Impediment Records 2012

The Impalers from Austin Tx deliver hardcore songs with metallic undertones but the Impalers are in no way a Metallic Hardcore band. The vocals on this 2010 demo tape that has finally been pressed to final by the good people at No Way Records and Beach Impediment Records  are delivered in a brutal growl, however the music itself contains a nice big heaping of Motorhead, which could never be a bad thing in my opinion.  In fact there is just enough melody hiding in the background of these tracks to create the perfect juxtaposition of beauty and brutality....Definitely a record worthy of your hard earned cash... Dave G.  

Impalers Bandcamp

Big Eyes - Back From The Moon 7" - Grave Nistake Records 2012

On "Back From The Moon" Big Eyes deliver a nice uptempo blast of pure power pop with enough hooks to last a lifetime and excellent female lead vocals. If you like what you hear on this 7" then you should also check out the bands previous full length Lp "Hard Life"  for more of the same excellent catchy power pop...Dave G.

Stream the title track "Back From The Moon" Here
Purchase the 7" from Grave Mistake Records Here
Big Eyes Bandcamp

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bloody Gears - Frozen Rain 7" Grave Mistake Records 2012

The Bloody Gears deliver an impressive dose of dark brooding punk rock with an equally impressive dose of  melodic flair on this 3 song ep from their forthcoming LP, "Landscapes of Disease", due out in May 2012 on Deranged Records.
The 3 songs on this 7" definitely have a dark feel to them that most reminds me of the Lp "Over The Edge" by the Wipers.  The mixture of melody and the dark atmospheric tone of this ep is really something that touches me to the core and keeps me coming back for repeated listens, and with each repeated listen the songs seem to open up and reveal more and more melody and feeling. I am definitely looking forward to the bands full length Lp "Landscapes of Disease", I  think I just  might wear this 7" out in anticipation of the Lp...Dave G.

Bloody Gears
Deranged Records

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Scenes From a New Brunswick Basement Show; Starring Deep Sleep

When I caught wind that Baltimore's Deep Sleep were playing a show in New Brunswick NJ, I almost immediately shot a text over to my partner in crime Dave to see if I could will him off the couch to go see one of our favorite, current HardCore bands. Though Dave is always up for a drive to the moon to dig for records, it's a rare occasion when I can get him to drag himself to a show.

As we arrived at the non de-script house in any street New Brunswick, we noticed a small gathering of Punks and HXC kids gathered outside. It brought us both back to the days when house shows were more prevalent and it felt as if every New Jersey basement was filled with kids, a roster of bands who were to later become legends and a table with records that were sold slightly below price.

As we opened the cellar doors and walked down into the cold concrete fortress we felt an immediately good vibe.
Absent were the pertinacious nature that goes along with a lot of shows these days.
Pushing past the mattress that served as both a door and noise insulation were we caught Radio Exile in mid set.

The set was sharp and the attending crowd seemed to enjoy every note. As the band finished up and the crowd dispersed in different directions the space opened up to a merch area and some couches next to a spray painted wall that read "R.I.P. Court Tavern" a stark reminder of the clubs recent closing. Dave and I headed over to the table which was manned by Deep Sleeps frontman Tony.

We were all settled in by the time Real Cops started there set. I made my way to the front of the crowd to get an up close look. The band tore through a ripping set of Hardcore that had both me and Dave grinning from ear to ear. There was a certain loose dissonance about their sound that we both found appealing. Thoroughly enjoyable on all levels.
They really brought me back to some of the things I loved about HardCore in the 90's. After their set Dave almost immediately headed back to the table to grab a copy of the bands demo. You can check out his review right Here, Later that night I spoke to their guitarist and singer and found out they were located nearby in Jersey City. I definitely look forward to seeing them again.

When I asked the host about the following band he told me they were a thrash outfit and that they'd probably play about fifty songs during their ten minute set. Looking back,
I think he was right.    
Attitude Era took about five times longer to set up than they did to actually play. Once they did play it was total chaos with the singer and guitarist throwing rolls of oversized toilet paper and launching into the crowd repeatedly. It was hard to contain their energy or noise in the small space. Within a few minutes of screaming, jumping and pouncing, it was all over. Once again we thought, "In the time they set up and broke down they could have toured on that set.

I think it's needless to say we were really there to see Deep Sleep. I first heard the band about a year ago through Dave on one of record store recons to Allentown and have been catching up since.
The Baltimore based band has become one of if not our favorite Hardcore act playing today. Knowing that they were finally coming to the area created quite a bit of excitement for these old men.

As the band was plugging in I gave the bands guitarist Nick some well deserved praise on his awesome Mega City Four shirt. It seemed to really make his day that someone just might like the band as much as he did. Here I am standing there waiting for this band to put me in to orbit and instead of worrying about his tunage or feedback he's having his day made by some dude who shares his love for things like MC4 and the Doughboys. Unreal!!! Suddenly it all came to that moment. Tony had fixed the issues he was having with his mic and it was blast off.  I was in fucking orbit. Lately I've really been letting the music completely wash over me and not let any shyness or rhythmic issues stop me from rocking the fuck out and having one of my favorite bands go nuts less than a foot away from me brought on the possession.

Deep Sleep have an amazing energy and made a quick and lasting impression on the crowd. HardCore can often get way too serious with it's subject matter, testosterone driven sound and tough guy image but this was a band that were there to have fun and they looked as if they had a ton of it.
The huge Descendents influence didn't hurt one bit.  Everybody was on point on this particular night and we felt lucky to be a part.

As we were about to leave we loaded up on records and tour posters. Before I could head out Nick grabbed me with a smile and said his proper goodbyes while handing me some tapes from his side project Kent State. I'm going to go listen to them now and let you know what I think. Until then, check out some Deep Sleep  Here .
James Damion

Real Cops - 2012 Demo Tape

 I actually got off my lazy old ass and went to see one of my current favorite punk/hardcore bands Deep Sleep last night in a tiny basement somewhere in the nether regions of New Jersey, and not only did Deep Sleep kick some serious ass but as an added bonus I was more than pleasantly surprised by opening act Real Cops from Jersey City NJ.

The real cops brought down the house  with a ripping set of loose angry hardcore that had me catching myself with a smile on my face on more than one occasion. After the bands set I quickly made a dash for their merch table and grabbed a copy of their 2012 demo tape, slid it in my pocket and found myself wondering over the next 24 hours if the tape could possibly capture with my ears what I had just witnessed with my eyes.

For the most part the demo tape delivered on the promise of the bands live set...the music is fast yet punishing with excellent angry vocals and plenty of energy to go around, on the downside the cassette format holds back the sound quality a bit or at least on my tape it does, and the loose  feel of the live performance has been tightened up as you would expect, however part of me sort of hoped that the recorded songs held onto at least a little bit of the looseness in the guitars that was demonstrated in the live setting. Overall the positives well outweigh the couple of negatives I mentioned, also if I had not seen the band live prior to hearing them then I would have gone into this tape with no preconceived notions and would be all together raving about it...that being said please email the band , buy a demo tape and support them will not be disappointed...Dave G.

P.S. Just discovered the Real Cops bandcamp page where you can download the demo for free...the quality of the band camp files is excellent and it clears up my complaint about the quality of the cassette format. The more I listen to this demo the more I like it... 

Bandcamp: listen to the demo

Those Mockingbirds Debut New Single and get Unplugged for Record Store Day.

This Saturday Those Mockingbirds assembled at Hoboken's Tunes to play an acoustic set in conjunction with Record Store Day. I stopped in to say hello and listen in before heading to the city. I really enjoyed the intimacy of the set and the surrounding happy faces. The band has a brand spanking new single which you can listen to right here. Click below to download. James Damion

Outlook - Our Time is Now

After witnessing Olympia Washington's Outlook pour every ounce of energy and sweat into two amazing sets last week. There was no way 
I was going to head home without 'Our Time is Now' snuggly fit under my arm. 
It's not often that I catch a touring band on one night and drop any prior plans to see them a few days later. I guess that's just the power of music. It has and always been the great communicator.

Outlook's 'Our Time is Now', the bands first full length features all the great elements of the bands live performance. 
Driving guitars, pummeling bass and frantic drumming meet fast and unrelenting vocals. Being that I'm such a lyric whore I found Outlooks to be particularly inspiring. 
"Loud Fast Rules" Hardcore Punk that really grabs your attention.

The record is self released and features ten songs. The breakdowns on 'Gilded Cage' are amazing. While I couldn't get enough of the weird angles that 'Our Choice' offer. 
Overall this is a great record that really captures the energy and spirit of Punk and Hardcore. It also goes a long way towards capturing what they deliver live. The band also has a 
self titled 7 inch out there. I highly recommend you pick it up along with LP. 
James Damion

Monday, April 23, 2012

Natural Child - For the Love of the Game

Sometimes a band or a record comes along that just doesn't resonate with you. It could be a genre thing, a regional thing or just about anything.
The actual fact of the matter is,  you know that what your hearing just doesn't sound right to your ears. You've heard all the hype and praise you can stand before you find yourself  shoveling your way out of a PR quagmire of  comparisons, double speak and estimations that THIS is going to be the next BIG THING. Thus is my issue with Natural Child's
'For the Love of the Game'.

On 'For the Love for the Game' Nashville Tennessee's Natural Child dragged me through the mud wilth ten songs of Country/Blues musings that honestly had me reaching for a shotgun solution. I write this fully understanding that I am but one opinionated asshole amongst many. But judging from all the poop I heard about how great this band that mixed Country, Blues and a bit of Black Sabbath in a drive to unseat the Rolling Stones from they're thoroughly shitted throne, I have to say, "Nice Ass, but I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid bro".  James Damion

Buy it Here  If you Dare

Minority Unit - C.M.F. EP

Minority Unit take a step forward on their first release since their demo 7 inch. On these six songs they play a good mix of Punk and Hardcore that fast and furious with it's share of breaks and mosh parts. Although the band is straight edge their lyrics tend to have a more ominous and dark feel to them. Not as flat out dark as bands like Negative Approach but certainly no way near as positive as most bands of the genre. With lyrics like,   "I was pushed aside and left to die" you know you're not listening to the headliner of this years Posi-Fest. The vibe on this release is much like that of their demo, which is real and honest.             

I really love it when a band destroys any preconceived notions I may have had coming in. Minority Unit has done that to me and just may have opened my eyes up to what current Hardcore music has to offer. 
The record comes in four colors. Be sure to add each of them to your rainbow of vinyl goodness. James Damion

Current - Peace, Love EP

Current's seven song EP 'Peace, Love' is an excellent mix of mid to fast paced Hardcore with intelligent lyrics and some impressive guitar shredding. The band  fires through seven songs in under fourteen minutes with good results. The lyrical content is intelligent and is carried by some tight vocals.  The band hails from Syracuse, NY which has been a hot bed for Straightedge Hardcore since Earth Crisis decided to walk the plank with their Metallically influenced take on things.
I got a serious Bane vibe on these tracks which is pretty awesome considering how much I love that band. Upon further listen I  began to get a John Joseph a la his Both Worlds output.

Though Current is a relatively new band they feature former and current members of Meltdown, Forfeit, Unholy and Supreme. Regardless, they seem to have a bright future ahead of them. James Damion

Buy it Here

Stick Together - Surviving the Times

This 7 inch came to me along with a dozen or so items from Grave Mistake Records/Mailorder the other day. I was loading up on records from the labels amazing distro when I decided came across Stick Together's 'Surviving the Times'. Though I had no prior knowledge to the band I decided to add it to my cart for good measure. Many is the time I've picked up a record because of it's interesting cover art or photo. What grabbed me on this particular day was the guitarists Chain of Strength shirt. Not only did that band release one of the seminal records of my youth, they just happened to camp out on my living room floor during their first East Coast visit.

Upon purchasing this i knew full well what I was most likely getting. Most likely a bunch of kids rehashing the past and wearing their devoted hearts on their sleeves. Idealistic and thoroughly unaware of what debauchery becoming an adult might bring to their dedication.

One 'Surviving the Times' Wilkes Barre's Stick Together return with six songs of excellent Hardcore that plays homage to late 80's straightedge hardcore while sounding original.
The EP offers a lot of highlights and leaves a lasting impression. The record opens with 'View of One' which carries somewhat of a Youth of Today 'Break Down the Walls' vibe.
The B side blasts off with the records title 'Surviving the Times', which has a a sludgy feel that most likely turns any pit into a chaotic free for all. Each of the six songs left a lasting impression on this listener. Though Stick Together may not be the most original band out there, they are by no means to be considered generic. James Damion

Buy it Here

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Down To Nothing - All My Sons

Richmond's Down To Nothing have been a favorite of mine since first hearing their album 'The Most' on Revelation Records in 2007. The band has always struck me as somewhat of a blueprint for the what I love most about Hardcore. The band is heavy but doesn't tend to get too Metal or venture into the tough guy elements that often plague the music. The band has always incorporated a big guitar sound featuring lots of breakdowns and positive, uplifting lyrics. The band has this natural aura about them that always feels natural and unforced. It's as if they've found a niche they feel comfortable in and they don't feel a lot of pressure to stray far from what works for them.

This is Down To Nothing's first release on Reaper Records, with previous offerings  coming on Thorp and the aforementioned Revelation Records. The four songs featured on
'All My Sons' will satisfy any fan of the band or Hardcore in general. Although it's always good to see a band grow and change from record to record. It's also refreshing to find one that delivers consistently excellent music without straying too far from it's original direction and message. James Damion

Get it Here

Minority Unit - Demo 7 inch

It just so happens that
Minority Unit had more members (11 in all) than the majority of most bands out there. It's hard to imagine what they each contribute without any visuals or detailed liner notes. I can only conjure up images of hip hop legends Public Enemy notorious S1W's. The fact of the matter is, the pure number of members doesn't come off as gimmicky. Nor does it seem to aid or hinder the bands musical output.

The demo features six songs of pissed off mid tempo Latino Straightedge. The lyrics come off feeling honest and true to life, unlike a lot of the more generic bands I come across. Many of which read straight from the Hardcore and Straightedge rule book. White Brigade definitely struck a chord with me with it's lyric and dark vibe. Here's a band that I could have written off as a gimmick or generic but a closer listen proved me wrong. This was a good example of
"Not judging a book by its cover."Get it before it's gone. James Damion

Get it Here

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coffee and Conversation with Those Mockingbirds Frontman Adam Bird

Adam and I had been talking about getting together to talk about the band and music for some time. Those Mockingbirds had been pretty busy touring and getting ready to finally release the vinyl version of their EP 'Fa So La' via Star Beat Music. It was the first time in years I had been inspired and intrigued by a straight up Rock band and to be honest, it kind of weirded me out. Being that I had seen them a few times and spent many a day with the chorus and tasty riffs of  'Coast to Coast' as my personal sountrck. I knew that this meeting had to nailed down. So on a windy day I headed up to Fine Grinds in Little Falls to finally sit with the man who's music had quickly become part of my every day life. The result was over an hour of good, caffeine fueled conversation that helped me get to know both the band and Adam himself. I'm really glad I had the opportunity.
James Damion

James: My history with Those Mockingbirds only goes back to September of 2011 when I saw you for the first time at the Brick City Sound Riot festival. Can you fill in the blanks for me as far as how the band started and its evolution as to where you are today?

Adam: I had been writing some songs called up my friend who used to sing in Escape Engine and asked if he could play bass. I even called my ex girlfriends current boyfriend to play guitar because I knew he had been playing and wanted to start his first band. I wasn't really serious about starting a band. I just had some songs and wanted a band to be playing them. I wanted to take the band seriously but I just wasn't at the time. It was a strange situation. I knew I wanted to have a keyboardist in the band so I called everyone looking for someone with real piano ability. The thing is that being in New Jersey you'll notice that there's an endless list of trend bands. Everybody wants to play in a trend band. At the time the trend was having a keyboard with these single note runs and nothing else. That's what the keyboardist does. Either I couldn't find anyone or the ones I did find we so far on the other side of the spectrum that they didn't want to play in a band.

I decided to call Tory who I had just known randomly over the years. We weren't friends so to say, I just knew that girl Tory. She was going to music school so I asked her if she had any friends who played the piano. She replies "Actually, I play piano." I thought she only played violin but she tells me she's also playing piano now. "Cool, come on down to our practice."
So she comes down and she knows like two God damned chords. Something she had failed to let us in on before we invited her. So she tells me she's taking this "Piano101" course as a requirement and can basically do the bare bones shit on the piano. Wait, I'm not done. So she also brought her violin with her. She pulls it out and says, "Hey, look what else I can do!", "Oh, and I can sing too.".It was crazy. So basically it comes down to the fact that she really sucks on piano but she's really great on the violin. Here I am thinking to myself, "I don't want a fucking violin in the band." We're going to be the band with a fucking violin. Ultimately we practiced with her a second time and the focus of that practice was that she had to, had to play this one song on the piano or we weren't interested. Lucky for us she was able to do it so… she was in the band. In the beginning I had this fear that she was going to end up in the band and just be playing the violin and that really scared me. After Tory joined everything started to come together.

We put out an EP out with that first lineup and went on tour with it. We had the record distributed by Side Show Records and it was just a cool start for us. It was the way you'd want your band to start out. The EP debuted at #1 on the Amazon "Movers and Shakers" chart. It got us a lot of press early on.

After that we started to write new songs and were talking about putting out a single but the other guys in the band just weren't carrying their weight at all. They had mentally checked out. They just didn't like how serious things had gotten. One night after we had rehearsed I sat down and asked what was going on. I couldn't carry the band myself. I wanted them to be excited about the band. Before long, with the exception of Tory, they were all gone. It was a scary moment but I looked at it as a great opportunity because the casual nature in which the band started turned Those Mockingbirds into some that was too loosely patched together.

So we got Rob and that turned everything around for this band musically,  professionally and business wise. He taught us about making decisions that were smart for the band on a long term instead of making decisions on impulse. To many bands today just say yes to everything. They'll play any show at the drop of a dime. When we stopped doing that we really noticed our band was drawing more and building an audience in New Jersey.
The big sold out show we did at Maxwells last month is a good example of that.
That show was a great success  because we've decided to pick and choose what's best for the band.  That was just an example to the kind of mindset that Rob brings to the band.
Our current drummer Kevin is a rock solid musician. I really can't say enough about him.
He's had a tremendous part in shaping this band. If Kevin had never joined the band I don't think we would be able to as accomplish nearly as much as we have as a band.

James: Tell me about the new single you're debuting. What inspired it? Is it part of a new record the band's working on?

Adam: The new song is called "The Difference Between Love + Addiction" its about the deterioration of 2 relationships in my life that were happening at the same time, but for different reasons. One ended for reasons based in love and respect, the other ended because it felt like an addiction and wasnt good for either party to be involved anymore.
We wrote the song when we were recording 'Fa Sol La', our most recent EP, but didnt finish it in time to include it on the record. We ended up playing the song live for the last few months, even performing it on Fearless Music. When we started talking about making the next record, which we are working on now, we found ourselves wanting to put something out before heading into the studio. "TDBL+A" felt like the right choice because it is the orphan in our catalogue. It wasnt written within a group of songs, it appeared live as the only "new" song we did for awhile, and it just felt right that it should be released into the world on its own as well instead of tacked onto a release with a group of songs it has nothing in common with. It's a loner and we hope it prospers as such.

James: How has being a part of the Tiny Giants Artist Collective and networking with other bands and artists helped Those Mockingbirds and of course, you personally?

Adam: Tiny Giants has been helping with all of that in the sense that it’s been giving me the chance to talk to other bands about what their struggles are and what they’re going through as well. Those struggles are such a big part of being in a band. It’s a lot like being in a relationship. 
When you’re in that relationship and you’re having problems you need to talk to friends about it. If you don’t talk about it, that relationship is doomed to fail. When you don’t talk about the issues you have you tend to feel very isolated and those problems tend to snowball. I feel that bands never talk about these issues they may be feeling. It’s the nature of the beast. Musicians might want to be private about their bands. Being able to talk to other bands and realizing that a lot of them about what they’re feeling is incredible. That communication goes a long way. In the least it makes you feel that you’re not so isolated in what you’re experiencing.

James: With all the genre and sub genre overkill music has experienced for what seems like decades. Pure Rock Music seems to have gotten lost or buried  somewhere on the side of the road that is musics landscape. What was it that inspired you to start a band that was unapologetically ROCK?

Adam: It was a natural thing for me. Growing up, the first band I liked was Aerosmith. From there I moved to Sonic Youth, Nirvana and Green Day. 
Throughout my entire music education I always turned on to the bands that hooked me. Not until recently did I realize it but it was always the hooks. It’s not like I was shopping for NSYNC cd’s but I always appreciated the hooks in a good, classic pop song. I loved Fleetwood Mac and I loved 
The Bee Gees and certain ABBA song. I even loved Ace of Bass to a certain degree. I may have looked like a kid who listened to nothing but Nirvana but bands like the ones I mentioned had those hooks that I initially fell for.
The modern rock stations give you only one aspect of modern rock. They  have a whole bunch on 
Nu Metal. My favorite bands have always been ones that hadn’t been defined by genre. 
They’ve always been genre-bending bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, 
White Stripes, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles. They put songs first. They added hooks and built a song around them. When I started playing in bands it seemed that every kid in Jersey was into Emo, Hardcore or Pop Punk. I wanted to like it because my friends were so into it but it was fucking stupid to me. I tried really tried like to like it. I love The Get Up Kids and a few Thursday songs but for the most part it was a pretty forgetful time for me musically. I found that I was still listening to the Foo Fighters and I was still listening to the Smashing Pumpkins “Melancholy and the infinite sadness”. Then I got into Soundgarden and The Melvins.  I wanted more of it instead of changing gears to some other branch of the tree I wasn’t interested in. I started writing music in the sense of wanted to see where that early nineties rock sound could have gone. It could have gone the way of bands like Nickleback but for me that was the impotent version of what it might be. 
I wanted Those Mockingbirds to sound like a direct line or branch of the tree that created that.

James: I guess I'm a bit of an Independent music snob so it's not everyday that I cover a band like 
Those Mockingbirds. You're one of a handful of bands I've heard lately that I can see getting a lot of attention from major labels. As someone who has always run with the "Corporate Rock Sucks" crowd, I wanted to know how you feel about signing to a major. Say, surviving as an Independent (hard work, no real money) VS surviving on a Major (harder work, making money for someone else).

Adam: It’s complicated because when it comes down to it, the band isn’t something that’s inaccessible. Know that, why wouldn’t we want the whole world to hear us? Any artist who says they don’t want the whole world to accept and appreciate what they’re creating is a fucking liar. If I told you something you wrote was going to be passed around to every one on the planet you’d be ecstatic. When you create art you’re doing it for yourself but you’re also doing it because you want to connect with other people.

There are definitely pitfalls with any label you sign with and the bigger the label the deeper the pitfall. But I understand what our band is doing and 
Matador Records is not going to sign us. We write Pop songs. The majority of what we write are Pop songs. Even our song “The Bloodiest of Gums” is a Pop song. There are a lot of labels out there that don’t mind if we write Pop songs. That’s what I write. It may be the bare bones of what it is. They’re Rock & Roll songs but I know there are a lot of labels out there that wouldn’t give us the time of day because of that. We’ve just got too many hooks in our songs. We’re the kind of band that has to be open to major labels because our options are a little more limited. There’s an entire network in place that are signing bands that are out of key and are playing Punk and dissonant stuff. It’s a juggernaut that’s been around since the 80’s and it’s awesome. It’s created some amazing bands, but it’s not for us. We love the music just as much but decided we heard stronger melodies in our heads and wanted to put something different out there. It just seems the window is a little more closed for us.

I honestly can’t think of a single indie label that has a roster of bands that sound like us. It’s almost to the point that we would almost have to consider a major label. Because if all I ever want to do is play music for the rest of my life. That may be my only shot at it. Saying no to a major label just because I want to be respectful to the indie community would almost be insane for me because there likely wouldn’t be any other option. With that said, I’d have to say I’m one of those people who’s goal is to leave the biggest fucking mark on the tree as possible. With every song that’s written and every extra ear that hears it. I’m scraping a little deeper into that tree and marking my place in history.
I feel that most art is basically recycled versions of what came before.

James: The way we make and share music is forever changing. Here you are a musician who's been around long enough to experience those changes as they were happening. 
What are some of your thoughts and how have you adjusted to the way things are being done?

Adam: It was frustrating for me at first. People in my age group (twenties to mid twenties) 
The Internet didn’t play as much of a role when we were first coming up and starting bands. 
There was a set path that we had seen for generations. Then as soon as were getting ready to put out our first records, everything collapsed. We had to figure out how to do things an entirely different way.

James: You've spent a lot of time touring and away from home. 
What do you think are some of the keys to surviving on the road? 
Getting paid, keeping your sanity in between shows and staying physically healthy.

Adam: The best way to make sure you get paid or at least insure the chances you will is to make sure you book with a promoter that supports touring acts. If they are you’ll know they’re going to do their best to pay you. It’s also to your benefit to take care of those things ahead of time. 
Don’t show up the day of and tell the promoter “Oh, now we need gas money”.  Get a confirmation. Get it in writing or through an email and know that at the very least they’re going to take care of you at the door. So if there’s an issue two months down the road you can print that email and show them. Money is the last thing people want to talk about. No one wants to talk about money.

On the subject of physical health, Forget it, you’re going to get sick. Everybody gets sick on the road, end of story. Think about it, you’re on the road, you’re eating shit, there’s absolutely nothing I can offer as to how to stay healthy physically on the road.

Maybe I’m weird but when I go on the road I feel healthier mentally. I’m not surrounded by the daily bullshit of my everyday. Over time you start to miss everyone you love but that’s about it. 
I always bring a few books out with me. I try reading and meeting as many people as I possibly can whatever show we happen to be at. Have conversations about the area and learn about the town or city you’re in. Those are natural things to do that later on when you’re in your 70’s you could be that crazy Grandfather that happens to know everything about every city on the East Coast. 
That’s how you find people like that. It’s because they didn’t have phones or ipods attached to their ears everywhere they went. I have this opportunity to be visiting all these little cities all of the time and really experiencing them on a regular basis.

James: When you're starting out and you're on tour. Most of the people who come to the shows are there to see the other bands and probably never even hears of Those Mockingbirds. 
Is there anything you do to engage the crowd or grab their attention? How do you go about leaving your mark on the crowd?

Adam: For me it’s all about breaking down the walls of communication between the band and the audience. Letting them know that we’re not pretentious. You’ve seen the way I conduct myself when I’m playing a show. 
I try to take little aspects from what I’ve seen work. There’s a lot of talking and being funny involved. A lot of getting to the crowd, if that means throwing myself to the floor, so be it. 
If it works for the World Wrestling Federation then why not. The best way I can out it is; you have to sell the song as much as you possibly can. We played this one show in Atlantic City that had these open windows at the side of the stage that went into the other room where the bar was. During the break in “We’re Animals” 
I climbed through one of the windows to the other side by the bar while still playing my guitar. Everybody fucking loved it all eyes were on me but when I climbed back I got stuck. I couldn’t fucking get back to Mike. So for the rest of the song and the rest of the set Rob and Tori had to sing. As funny and embarrassing that was… it worked. Everyone remembered that. So anyone who was there that night is going to remember that set. Even if it was that one incident, we still stood out to them. We weren’t just some random Rock band who played our songs and left.

We were playing a show in Scranton the other day and there was this girl was up front, center stage on her cell phone and her Facebook for the entire show. Didn’t look up once.  If you want to be on Facebook, fine. Go fucking home. Why are you even here? I’m realistic though. It’s cool if you get a call or shoot a text. I check my FB during the day, but I don’t sit there on it all day. 
Check your messages later. Not when the band is playing. This girl paid to get in to the show. 
Why is she sitting there on her Facebook? On most occasions, if a crowd is unresponsive at first I can connect with them if I try hard enough. This girl was open to that.

James: As artists we can't be on the stage 24/7. We can't always be writing that song or coming up with that killer riff. As a photographer and writer I often have a very hard time dealing with myself and the people around me when I'm not being creative. How do you deal with the down time?

Adam: I try to talk about whatever issues I’m having. Talking about the things that are bothering me with the people I trust. The only way I know how to get past it is to let that thought process take itself to an extreme and as you start to dig that hole deeper and deeper I start to realize where things are going. That alone can help calm me down. I wish there was a set way to deal with things but that’s how I deal with it. I might force myself to work on a song or just distract myself with something completely unrelated. It’s really fucking tough and I wish I had a better answer as to how I deal with it.

James: I've been to a few Those Mockingbirds shows now and to be honest a lot of the focus on the band is directed towards you and Tori. You being the frontman and Tori being this goddess behind the keyboards or rocking out on an instrument that isn't exactly prominent at Rock & Roll shows. 
Tell me a little about the personalities and the chemistry in the band.

Adam: Rob is very much our patriarch. While I may be the emotional leader of the he band, he’s by far the brains. Our drummer Kevin is probably the most levelheaded in the band. 
If he feels something’s wrong in the band, it probably is. If he thinks it’s a good idea we’ll usually go with it. He’s the no nonsense guy in the band who when he speaks up he really has something to say. His opinion holds a lot of weight and he’s really earned that. 
Our guitarist John is in a sense our comic relief guy. When John and I are together our IQ’s drop drastically. He and I have the dumbest sense of humor. Toilet humor is classy compared to what we come up with. He also happens to contribute a ton of that
Rock & Roll approach to the band. He loves bands like At the Drive Inn and the Mars Volta. 
He comes from a slightly different spot than the rest of us in the band. He’s really well rounded when it comes to what he’s into. John’s the go to guy when it comes to bringing those edgy elements into the band. Where as Kevin and me pretty much listen to all the same influences. Tori is everybody’s little sister in the band. We pick on her pretty badly.

James: I’ve only known you for s short time but I think its safe to say that you’re a fucking character. How do you think people see you?

Adam: I think when people don’t really know me they consider me to be a dick. As soon as they get to know me they’ll know me for the rest of their life. Throughout my entire life people have always said they were intimidated when they met me. Not that I was intimidating in a physical way. 
They somehow felt I had this threatening nature about me. 

James: That’s how I felt.

Adam: I’ve heard it my entire life and I never understood it. Anyone that’s gotten past that and became my friend never felt that way again. They saw me, as I am, this loyal, funny dude.
It’s made me go a really long way to be very blunt with positive things from the very start. I will go a very long way to break down certain social barriers that certain people aren’t ready to deal with.  The other day I got together with an old friend I hadn’t seen for a year or two. We were sitting there and she asked me “Why did you call me anyway?” It made me think that anytime I meet somebody that reminds me of someone from my past I’ll immediately make it a point to reach out to that person. I guess I still haven’t really figured out the connection between who I really am and who people think I am; but I’m getting there. The more I’m understanding that. The more I’m putting it to my use.

James: That leads to my follow up and final question. How do you see yourself?

Adam: I’m hyper aware of coming across the wrong way. I think I purposely cut through a lot of formalities with people. It works for some and for others it doesn’t. I know that I’m not out to hurt anybody. I’m a really levelheaded person. I have a pretty big fucking mouth and I’m very opinionated but as opinionated as I am. I’m also one of the most open-minded people you’ll ever meet. I’ve been swayed on many issues I thought I was right about because I was willing to listen. That’s something that I have a hard time balancing. Balancing the idea that I always think I’m right with the fact that I might not always be right. I’m brash, confrontational and opinionated but I don’t see those things as negative characteristics. I’m just willing to speak up. People who are willing to listen and at least give me the time to see that I’m not an asshole; That I’m actually basing the things I say on intelligence will probably end up being friends for a very long time. A good example of that is that I’m close friends with any girl I’ve ever dated. Everyone I know thinks that’s the weirdest thing in the world. It’s because I’m willing to meet in the middle ground with just about anybody in order to make a relationship work. Be it friendship or what have you. That sums me up.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Looking Back; An Interview with Rival Schools drummer Sammy Siegler

In following up on my decision to post some noteworthy interviews  from the vaults of 
Unite Fanzine. "Looking Back" hopes to be a continuing series on the blog so stay posted. James Damion

Since the age of twelve Sammy Siegler has built a resume as one of the most sought after drummers in music. During the 80's he played in just about every relevant Straightedge band. Side by Side, Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, Judge, Project X and Civ all played to his beat at one time or another. By the 90's he was already a skilled, well traveled and sought after musician. He continued making great music with Rival Schools, Glassjaw, Nightmare of You and  Gabby Glaser. We sat down for coffee early one evening in the
East Village to talk about music and growing up Hardcore. Since this interview the band Rival Schools has resurfaced and released their album 'Pedals'.

James: Sammy, I don't know if you realize it but you are the first person who ever called me "James Unite".

Sammy: That's crazy!

James: What was your introduction to Hardcore?

Sammy: I would have to say the movie Suburbia. I had a friend, Matt Pincus (later played bass with Judge), who was a little bit older than me. I was 11 and I really looked up to him. Got introduced to the Sex Pistols and the Clash. .
My sister hooked me up with these two older guys who went to Stuyvesant High School.
They had a band. They were really nice guys who were into Punk, a little Reggae and Ska.
I thought I was this cool little bad ass kid. I was smoking weed and dropping acid. It was a really wild time. I grew up a few blocks from here on 15th street. I was just introduced to things at a young age. I became friends with this guy Dylan who turned out to be Walter Schriefels younger brother. He had this band called Gorilla Biscuits and they needed a drummer. I was like "cool, let's jam." I was a little bit scared. I didn't know all that much about that sort of stuff. We played together and it worked out. I ended up playing with them at the "Birth of Unity" show at the Right Track Inn on Long Island.
That was literally the birth of Unity. It was the birth of Hardcore for me.

James: Wow, that was actually my first show. I still have the flyer somewhere.

Sammy: There were so many good bands on that bill. I think I was maybe 12 years old.
I wasn't that great on drums. I was really into the music but I just wasn't great at playing that fast. From there it just happened. Walter and the guys from Gorilla Biscuits were tight with the guys from Youth of Today. Then I met Jules from Side by Side. I wasn't good enough to play for Gorilla Biscuits and they had gotten their old drummer Ernie from Token Entry back. So I went to play with Side by Side and things just kept evolving. So that was the initial introduction to Hardcore for me.

James: With the exception of Harley Flanagan you were the youngest kid to be playing in a band during that era. Was it hard for you to get into shows? How did you manage that?

Sammy: My parents were really supportive and cool. They would actually walk me down to CBGB's sometimes. The first road trip I did was to Buffalo with Side by Side. My mom gave me some extra money in case I had to take a bus home. Change for the phone. She was a little nervous but after that it was cool. You see they knew a lot of the guys I hung out with because they would always be at our apartment. Kind of like a clubhouse. It was a really cool vibe. Then around 1987 I started playing in Youth of Today. We played our first show together in Pennsylvania. Then the next week we flew out to the West Coast to do a tour with Instead, 7 Seconds, Uniform Choice. I was like "Oh my God." We were opening up for
7 Seconds at Fenders. I was a fan of Youth of Today and all of the sudden I was in the band.

James: Speaking of your family. I remember meeting your mom on the side of the stage of CBGB's during the Side by Side reunion. I thought, "How cool is this kids mom?"
It was the benefit show for Pete Koller of Sick of it All.

Sammy: The thing is they were all good people. Billy and Gavin from Side by Side would be over the house all the time. Those guys were like my brothers and my best friends. My mom saw that and she felt comfortable with it. Porcell was like a big brother to me in so many ways. She knew these people were looking out for me.

Another key thing for me when I was really young was the Rock Hotel shows which were at the Ritz. We lived on 14th street and the Ritz was on 11th street. My older sister who was sixteen when I was thirteen would take me. I got to see bands like GBH, Bad Brains and the Cro-mags.

James: You mentioned that at a very young age you were experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
How quickly before you got into being straightedge?

Sammy: Having these older friends that I looked up to. Telling me "hey, it's not all about drugs and getting fucked up." In time you just learn that it's smarter to take care of yourself. It's smarter to just be the best person you can be. It's a lot easier when you have friends like that. You have a support system. You have a crew. As I got older I just put a little more thought into it. It made a lot of sense. When you see all these people in your high school just doing stupid things. As things progressed I just felt better about myself and my decisions. In a way I do feel good that I had time to experiment.

James: I think it's good to know both sides of the coin. Most of the straightedge kids I knew experimented with drugs and alcohol at one point. The first person I ever smoked and got drunk with was Civ from Gorilla Biscuits.

You mentioned family earlier. How your friends were like family to you. From my own experience and from the experience of a lot of people I have talked to. People talk about New York Hardcore as family back then. Even now to some degree.

Sammy: The thing that stands out to me is Some Records on E. 6th St. Duane was running the place and to me it was like the clubhouse. That was where we would all meet. Right after school we'd go there. Pick up the new demo from whatever band, hang out and just basically loiter. Tompkins Square Park was right there. St. Marks was just around the corner.
Then the weekend shows at CBGB's. It was just amazing. Rabeez from Warzone would write these letters and hang them up at Some Records. "Hey, there's going to be a Hardcore softball game before the matinee." It's funny but it was like this after school program.
I remember Jordan (Revelation Records) and Ray Cappo talking about doing a yearbook.
So yes, it was like a family. There were some crazy people in that family. Dysfunctional yet functional.

James: The whole "Youth Crew" ideal gained popularity and was also scorned. There were a lot of pros and cons that came with it. What's your take on it?

Sammy: It definitely took on an elitist form. I agree that some of the backlash was warranted. All of the records started to look the same. The zines looked the same.
People started dressing the same. It became very much a clique'. Individuality kind of faded. Eventually it was the cause of a lot of people becoming disinterested in it. That being said, "All good things do come to an end," That was the rise and fall of my little world.

James: What was your first band?

Sammy: I had played in this little band Noise Space...My first show was with Gorilla Biscuits. I wasn't a good enough drummer though and Ernie was so good. I guess my first real band was Side by Side. I remember going into Don Fury's studio to record the song "Violence to Fade" for the Revelation "The Way it is" 7 inch.

James: It seems the band had a very short existence but the posthumous EP
 "Your Only Young Once" is a seminal New York Hardcore release.

Sammy: Time has a way of preserving things. When I look back at that time. Bands like Warzone, Underdog, Youth of Today and Token Entry were the top tier. Side by Side and even Gorilla Biscuits to a degree seemed smaller on that scale. So in a sense time creates that nostalgia. But at the time it didn't seem like we were up there with those bands. But it was awesome.
We recorded the whole thing in one day. It cost us just around six hundred dollars. It was just an awesome time. Side by Side were together between 86 and 87. Then I just started playing with Youth of Today.
Then we did that insane tour in 1988. Seven of us in a van just whipping around the country.

That was my first real tour. Then in the winter of 1989 we went to Europe. I missed about two months of high school. That was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We're driving through Europe in a van playing squats. Straightedge wasn't happening over there.

James: I have the poster from that tour. I find it strange that you actually toured with
Lethal Aggression. A band whose beliefs and practices (i.e. heavy drug use) were the polar opposite of Youth of Today's. How did that work...or not work?

Sammy: That was totally fucking insane.
We were on Caroline Records in the U.S., which at the time was a big deal. Caroline licensed their records to Funhouse in Germany. Funhouse was affiliated with Lethal Aggression.
Someone thought it would be a great idea to pair up our bands for the tour. This guy out of Germany booked the tour. He had made all these horrible bootleg Youth of Today shirts and records. The records were this really ugly fluorescent yellow. He was a pretty corrupt dude. We didn't make any money from the shit they were selling. We got paid really poorly. The tour itself was exciting because there were such a mix of skinheads, punks and an occasional straightedge kid. I remember London was pretty happening. Germany was kind of scary though. I remember there were these Nazi Skinheads who were going to kill us.

James: Getting back to Lethal Aggression. Were you guys spending down time together and hanging out? It's just hard to picture.

Sammy: The first day we got to Europe we were staying at this guys house. Youth of Today was in one room. Lethal Aggression was staying in another. Just getting acclimated to being in Germany. They went out and picked up some really young schoolgirls and had a total drug, sex party in their room. I remember the singer coming out of his room all wasted and saying, "Yo, do you want to smell some good jam?" Referring to the girls smell on his fingers. (Laughter erupts at this time.).

You know the thing that a lot of people don't remember is the guys in Youth of Today were open to a lot of things. As long as you're nice a person. We were just open to a lot of different people.

James: You also toured Europe with Gorilla Biscuits.

Sammy: I think I was a replacement on the 89 tour.
I also was with them on the second tour in 91. It's interesting to see how things progressed. There were hardly any straightedge kids there when we did that first tour. By the time I had gone there with Gorilla Biscuits things had grown. That had happened with the whole world really.

James: It seemed like straightedge blew up almost over night.
The Lower East Side had always been this
drug-infested area. Even the Hardcore scene in NYC was never really a straightedge scene.
Then all of the sudden there's Youth of Today and all these kids with X's on their hands.
With that sudden explosion and the popularity that came along with it came a backlash.
I was interested in how you as someone who was affiliated directly with that scene felt.

Sammy: I think it sucks when things have to be that way. I think Gorilla Biscuits in a sense were geniuses that they were positioned in a way that everyone was into them whether they were straightedge or not. They were straightedge and proud of it but they were inclusive to everyone. There was a "We're all in this together" sort of mentality about them. Sick of it All were like that too. Not that they were straightedge. They were just cool in that respect.
I didn't think much about it but it just seemed so stupid.

James: You were in two bands (Judge and Project X) that seemed to be a reaction to that backlash straightedge received. You can also say these bands caused the backlash.

Sammy: It's almost like asking what came first the chicken or the egg. I was the drummer for all these bands. I was working and writing songs with people who had really strong feelings. Mike who had just been the drummer for Youth of Today had a lot of things on his mind. He had a lot of things to say and a lot of things he wanted to get off his chest. I think some of those lyrics were taken way literally. It's almost like what's happening in Hip Hop today. If you take everything so seriously. You tend to get lost. Looking back at Judge, we were like "Let's just do this pissed off, heavy straightedge Hardcore." "I've Lost" was a love song. "Forget this Time" was about his therapist. I think people looked at in way where maybe they just took it too far.

James: Judge were one of the truly great bands from that time and that genre. But you guys were really dark. In a sense the music's vibe sometimes brought a bad crowd to your shows. You were dealing with a lot of violent elements and attracting bikers. People acting out to what they felt the music meant. Did there come a point when you said, "This is just too much."?

Sammy: No, I really didn't. I just felt there were more cool kids than not. I felt there were more kids who actually got what we were about. Mike was a big, sweet guy. He was also a smart guy. Porcell was a nice guy. He was like a big brother; Matt was just this older friend.

James: There are so many musicians that have a history of being in a lot of bands.
You are no exception to that rule. The thing that makes your situation somewhat unique is that you were in a lot of bands at the same time. Did the constant touring, playing shows and recording ever feel like too much?

Sammy: There was definitely a time when it became more serious. I was playing with
Ian Love in a band called Lotus and we were on a five-day a week rehearsal schedule.
Then I was helping out another friend. That's when it became more of a career. Back then it was more or less for fun.

James: Have you been able to make a living as a drummer?

Sammy: Yes I have. With a lot of hustle and some luck. There are times when I'm working with a band and I'm doing a commercial. Then there's down time and dry spells.

James: Luke Abbey (Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits, Judge) was a contemporary of yours.
You both played in a lot of the same bands at different times. I know you were friends but was there also a lot of competition between the two of you?

Sammy: It was a healthy competition between us all. There was also Drew who played with BOLD at the time. We would see each other's bands at the Anthrax maybe once a month. We would all be like "He's so good. I have to get better." Luke was in a band called
Loud and Boisterous at one point.

I met him when I was 11. He was a little bit older, Maybe 12 or 13. I looked up to these people. I looked up to Mackie from the Cro-mags. Alan Cage (Beyond, Burn, Quicksand) was a talented drummer. Petey Hines (Murphy's Law, Cro-mags) ultimately.

James: What do you feel were some of the causes of the decline of New York Hardcore in the early part of the 90's?

Sammy: It was much cooler when all those bands were playing together. It was a lot cooler when all the kids went to the same shows. It was a lot cooler when you could see skinheads, punks and straightedge kids hanging out together. Warzone and Nausea playing on the same bill. The melting pot aspect so much more appealing. When things got segregated and things got violent. It started to disintegrate. If you were not a violent person why would you want to be involved with something like that? When you have new kids in the scene who are more into the gang aspect of it your going to have problems. That's not what Hardcore is about.

James: Civ came along and breathed some new life into Hardcore. They were Hardcore with a bit of style thrown in. They were something different. Yet, you guys got a lot of flack from what you would call purists.

Sammy: I think that happens with anything that's different. People don't always embrace change. The same thing happened with Quicksand. People were saying Civ's not like
Gorilla Biscuits. Quicksand's not like Gorilla Biscuits. Into Another wasn't like Underdog. It's kind of unfortunate that people are afraid of change.

James: The second Civ record "Thirteen Day Getaway" didn't do well at all. A lot of people just didn't take to it. I myself included. I felt like I was hearing an entirely different band.

Sammy: I can't say I'm not proud of that record. It was really a lot of fun doing. Walter was a big part of the first record. He wasn't involved with the second one at all. It was just a crazy time. We had a lot of fun though. We toured with No Doubt. We were on a major label.
I think the record was really over produced.

I remember we played our last show in Okinawa in Japan. Then I flew to Spain for this crazy Youth of Today reunion at this festival. We played with Metallica and The Black Crowe's. Some guy paid us an awful lot of cash to do it. May mom, dad and sister came to meet me. It was a great time. It was great to see the guys from Youth of Today. Then I cam back home and got into

James: You mentioned Walter Shriefels.
You were in a lot of bands together. Rival Schools was one of the later ones. Can you tell me a little about that experience?

Sammy: That was five years of my life. It seemed like such a short time though. We recorded and EP, a split EP and a full length. We also toured. At one point Walter just pulled the plug on it. I think we were just at a point where it wasn't working anymore. He sort of lost the fire. It was a disappointment for me and the other guys. It would have been cool to make a second full length. I think it's easy for a lot of band members to make that first record. Your making music with friends and there's this magic, there's a concept, an idea.
"Let's do a project. It kinda sounds like this, it kinda sounds like that. Let's do it. You write ten songs, you write fifteen songs. You write an album. Let's do it. Let's play a bunch of shows."
Then that magic starts to drift a little bit.

James: Does it become routine?

Sammy: I think part of it is the major label system. Then there's touring constantly.
Which is how they sell records. Playing the same songs night after night you can lose the fire sometimes.

James: There was a time during the New York Hardcore scene where people we either on tour, dropping out, in jail or just plain missing in action. When you don't see people around you start to hear rumors. One of the strangest rumors I'd heard was about you playing in a band called Warrior Soul.

Sammy: It's true. I've definitely had some weird sidetracks in my life. I think I was playing in Shelter at the time. We were recording at Don Fury's studio. Don knew some guys from this band called Warrior Soul. They had just been signed to Geffen and were this Guns 'N' Roses type of rock band. They needed a drummer and they were making a video. They asked me if I wanted to be in it. So I was in the video and then another video came and another.
So according to them I was in the band. Then at one point I was in the band.

In the end they wanted someone older, bigger and more buff. The thing is as long as I can remember I've always been into diversity. In 1991 after the Gorilla Biscuits tour I was in a band called 22 Tribes. I did some work with Limp Bizkit. Being a drummer is a weird thing. There are always opportunities because bands need drummers. It's great because I like to travel. I'm into different things.

James: Tell me about your recent band Nightmare of You.

Sammy: The new single is almost out. I think it's really good. We're going out with Movielife for two weeks. Rival Schools was on the way to breaking up and I started talking to
Joe Mc Caffrey. Wrote a bunch of songs and started recording. The influences lean a lot towards British acts like the Jam, Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello and a little Squeeze.

James: You're also working with Gabby Glaser (former Luscious Jackson guitarist/singer)

Sammy: Gabby is just a really sweet, sweet girl. She's a great singer but she' very shy for some reason. We started working together writing songs but I just think she needed someone to kind of pull them out of her a little bit. That's one of my favorite things, working with a singer/songwriter. They come in with good songs and I just get to tweak and develop them a little bit. I got my friend Guyora, who is an amazing musician, to play bass. Then we got Ian Love from Rival Schools to play guitar. We recorded all the songs for the album "Gimme Splash" which just came out this June. It's a really cool record. Kind of Rock meets Garage.

It's just really a good record. I was never really into Luscious Jackson but I love Gabby and I love her vocals.

James: Looking back on your experiences do you think Hardcore helped to shape you as not only a musician but as a person?

Sammy: Absolutely, 100% Yes. I don't think I would have ever gotten to travel or see the world like I have. We were in East Germany before the wall came down. We played in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Spain. We were just young kids out there doing it.

We were getting to learn and understand people's dynamics and cultures. The Youth of Today album wasn't so much of a straightedge album as it was an album about life. Songs like "Potential Friends", those lyrics still mean so much to me. I got to meet and travel the world. Those experiences will be with me for the rest of my life.

James: Is there any one band that stuck with you more than others?

Sammy: Altercation was that band. A great hardcore band that's often overlooked. I wouldn't say they missed the boat. I think people missed the boat on them. They had this sick, yet amazing energy. Then there was Youth of Today. I was a fan of Youth of Today before I was in the band. "Break Down the Walls" Was such a great record and one that really struck a chord with me.

Rival Schools Official