Stab, a verb that cuts right through… just like Stab, a heavy hardcore band from Kortrijk, Belgium. For those familiar with Belgian hardcore in the present and past, the H8000 area might ring a bell. Being spoon fed from birth on H8000 hardcore such as Liar and Congress and tons of other extreme sounds, Stab was founded in 2006 and recently released their third full album Timekeepers on One Life, One Crew Records. Timekeepers delivers ten heavy tracks full of downbeat hardcore and aggressive in your face vocals dealing on topics such as fighting one's personal demons on a dialy base and surviving in today's fucked up world amongst others. With a little help from our friends we get by and Stab enjoys the company of friends such as Adam Warren (Oceano) and Rob Watson (Lionheart) who join them with a little help of guest vocals on certain tracks. Timekeepers is once proof that the H8000 legacy still continues.
Brussels, Belgium, home to Mont-Doré. A post rock screamo band that recently released their new album Fractures. But calling them screamo doesn't do this outfit justice, Mont-Doré is set out to be more than that. The vocals on the seven tracks that Fractures holds all feature the screams of agony but this basicly is where the equation stops. Mont-Doré's music revolves around chaos, be it the distorted sounds that hold the slower parts, guiding the track to the fast, frantic playing. Full on razorsharp guitars and maniacal drumming take care that Fractures is an album that feels like a rocky roadtrip. From the depths, to the heights, Mont-Doré will guide you through their own sort of madness on Fractures.
Aree And The Pure Heart are definitely contending for most honest, heart on sleeve, bandname of the year. For Aree and his musical crew of hopeless romantics love is the answer to everything. Hailing from Georgia, USA, the band has been together for less than a year and Heartsongs is their first EP riding the waves of the magical world wide web. A physical CD version of this throbbing CD is available as well but Bandcamp is the nr. 1 way today to quickly spread your tunes. Featuring five heartdriven songs that fuse rock'n roll with punk rock from the get go. Taking leads from good folks such as Red City Radio, Hot Water Music, Against Me and of course The Boss himself, we get treated to a set of new instant American classics. And with track as Kamikaze you can be damned sure to be shouting along the line 'My Kamikaze Girl' for days on end soon as the song inhabits your head.
Dag Nasty may be one of the founding bands for melodic hardcore. Nearly thirty years ago they combined their love for melodic songs with the intensity of American hardcore in the '80's.
Founding members Brian Baker and Shawn Brown have returned to their original lineup and are playing shows together again as if it was 1985 in Georgetown D.C. Time to sit down with Brian and Shawn and see what the future holds for Dag Nasty.
Welcome to Groezrock. First time here?
I've been here a bunch of times with Bad Religion. Which is why i have the rain boots. I'm a veteran at Groezrock. This is the first time that Dag Nasty has been here, even Europe.
I don't have the rain boot experience, this is my first time. I'm wearing my fly kicks today, especially for the trip.
Dag Nasty has been playing shows for some time. And almost thirty years after playing in this lineup, Shawn is back at vocal duties. How has it been?
It's been great. Just the fact that we're together and doing this. To me it's fun, it's amazing. I have a great time singing the songs. I don't have anything to say more than that. It's awesome.
You're also releasing a new single in a few days. A 7” featuring two new tracks. I've heard snippets and sounds promising. What may we expect?
We thought it would be appropriate. The band is finally doing some shows, doing some work. Kind of the whole idea of the experience to see what happens in the future. Part of that is making new music. That's really fun for me. We're going to keep writing music. Fortunately Dischord was cool enough to put it out. And we're going to write a record as soon as we write some more songs.
Dag Nasty has been quite influential to many bands. It seems there are a ton of cover songs around by plenty of bands. How does it feel to have your music covered by friends and fans?
I'm incredibly greatfull and somewhat amazed actually. I think it's really nice. There are so many bands that are so influential to me; like when i play a Ruts cover or a Damned cover, it brings me so such joy too. Hopefully that's what people are feeling when they play Dag Nasty stuff.
Shawn: It's nice that people like the music that you've done or are infuenced by it. To me it's like a dream come true. It's amazing that people still care about it. You write music or create things, they are what they are and you see time go by. Wow, someone did did like this, it did inspire somebody. That's cool to me. I make me think of following a tradition that other people have done for me.
The monniker Dag Nasty is actually proclaiming that something is awful. Pretty negative claiming your band sucks. You never regretted the band name?
I've been in a lot of bands with bad names. It's too late for regret. You want to know a bad band name. Bad Religion is a bad band name. And honestly, Minor Threat is not that good of a name either.
What? I love that name.
You could have had a band called Sweet Belly Freakdown. But then once again i think that's a cool name.
Brian: I don't thinks it's that good.
The point of the names is that they come right at the beginning. That name to me reminds me of walking with my friends when i was 19 down the streets in Georgetown D.C. And we were trying to think of bandnames. We just went, that's it. I see like a photographic representation of that day. I wish it was something cool like Black Sabbath but that was taken.
You were one of the first bands playing melodic hardcore. Being an innovator also attracts a lot of disdain. Did Dag Nasty receive much criticism in the beginning?
People seemed to like it from the get go. We weren't super hardcore, but at the time the scene was so small. It's before factions developed in styles of punkrock. There was basically British and American. And we weren't British. But we weren't really like Black Flag either. I was really into The Damned, and you can kind of tell. Playing guitarsolo's and not every song being fast. But maybe that's why it was cool. No one was thinking long term. Just making up songs. I don't really know what a song was, i didn't know a chorus or a verse. I just thought of songs as things that went on for a couple of minutes. When you are at that kind of caveman level of understanding songwriting you're not really like 'my influences are…'.
It's more like, hey we like this. We want to sound like. Like in the case of Swiz, The Damned, Metallica and the Bad Brains. We wanted to have a mix of that. Those were the bands that we liked.
Instead of we are going to do it this way because they do it this way. It's more like a stew.
Brian has been a key element to the band and also to many other bands such as Minor Threat and Bad Religion. He has a distintive guitar style that many envy. Where does this type of playing come from?
I don't know, the only thing i know is i only know how to do one thing. That's it. It's just ripping of Captian Sensible, Angus Young and a little Billy Gibbons.
That's a good mix.
Even in Junkyard, my metal band, i still play the same as i play in Dag Nasty and Bad Religion. Whatever.
Any last words or advice you want to share?
We' tour when we can. Because everyone has life and work and stuff. Which is awesome. We're playing a couple of Punkrock Bowling shows in The States. And we're coming back over the pond to do a UK tour at the beginning of August. Maybe five or six shows. And we're trying to get a record together. Slow and steady.
So next year a new record?
I would like to. Just got to make sure the songs are really good. Sometimes that happens quick, sometimes it takes for fucking ever.
There's no rush.
The only thing i have to say i you should check out the Dag Nasty single that is on Dischord Records. And you should also check out the Red Hare single that's on Dischord Records. That's another band that i play with. It has members of Swiz, Bluetip and Garden Variety. I think people will enjoy that as well.
We at RMP had a chat with Stefan Schimdt and Bastian Emig from Van Canto right before their show at Biebob. For those who don’t know Van Canto, they are an a-cappela band with a drummer and a bunch of singers that produce the instrumental parts with their voices. We talked about their new album, how they create their songs the way they do and much more!
- Hi, welcome to Belgium. How are you guys doing because you’re touring from one city to another.
Stefan: Thank you. We’ve been in the Netherlands yesterday so…
- You just released a new album called “Voices Of Fire”, how did the crowd react to it until now? Were they positive?
Stefan: Very positive. It’s the first output from our project ‘metal vocal musical’. The stuff on the album is a little bit different but it’s still Van Canto. Van Canto fans love it and I think it’s quite well received.
- The previous album “Dawn Of the Brave” had a hero theme. Is there also storyline in the new album that connects the songs together?
Stefan: No, “Voices Of Fire” has its own concept. It’s more of a fantasy theme from novels and other books. “Dawn Of The Brave” was the first time we wanted to have one theme throughout a complete album, but now for “Voices Of Fire” the concept was not as big or as straight as for “Dawn Of The Brave” because we used different novels and books.
- There is also a special edition of the album with a media book, which contains illustrations made by Osmar Arroyo. Do these images visualise the story on the album?
Stefan: Yes, our lead singer Sly had the basic idea of the basic world and the main part of the story. Then he sat together with the fantasy author and they developed a complete story and after that Bastian started writing the album and Christoph (Hardebusch, writer) wrote the novel. It was a really hand-in-hand production.
- How did you come by Christoph Hardebusch? Why did you choose him?
Stefan: We just asked him. I had a book in my bookshelf when looking for German fantasy authors that I knew. And he knew Van Canto and loves what we do.
- You introduced the new album with a mash-up video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGOkzA-3XB4) inspired on different fantasy theme songs. Are there any plans to release a complete album with only soundtracks for fantasy films?
Stefan: The medley was actually more of a fun thing for us to do and we wanted something for the fans so they could find out the motives of the original movies but compared to the album: this was just something we did half a day and on the album we worked for about two years.
- I really liked the intro with the Hunger Games song –
Bastian: Did you catch all the things?
- I think so, yes, I heard Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones.
Bastian:The question is whether you got How To Train Your Dragon?
- Yes, I did! It’s one of my favourite movies!
Bastian: You got it? Nice! Many people don’t find it.
- If I am correct, the only instruments you use are voices and drums. But if you listen you don’t really notice that there are only two instruments. Is it difficult to combine the drums with so many vocals?
Stefan: I think the drums reminds us that we’re doing a heavy metal band. In this part we have so many voices. We even used a choir that in some songs took the lead singer’s role. We were experimenting with all these choirs, even a children’s choir, and we were looking how many voices we could fit in and how many voices we could invite in next time.
- Is it difficult to play the drums and keep measure while the rest sings?
Bastian: No, on stage it goes even better because we’re more in touch. With a singer you can actually see he’s really working because there’s so much energy on stage. Guitar players on the other hand could look a bit bored or the bass player, I don’t even know what they’re thinking. With five singers we found that we could create some really great energy on stage and in the studio I think the most fun part is to think about what sort of syllables you’re trying to use because actually it does affect the drumming but in the end it’s no big deal compared to other metal productions. On stage I prefer to have so many singers because it gives so much more energy.
Stefan: And on this album we wrote all the songs together so the drums are even more connected to the compositions and the vocal parts as well so I think it should not really be discussed so separate because it’s a main part of the Van Canto sound to have these powerful drums where voices can be added. The other way around wouldn’t work, or only when you do ballads but as soon as we do this powerful stuff it all starts with powerful drums.
- Stefan, you also play the real guitar. What do you do first when you make new songs?
Stefan: 90% of the time it’s songs written on piano or guitar and then translated but this time we really had jam sessions in the rehearsal room with the guitar player and drummer and then we were working out the songs; perhaps playing an idea of a lead melody on a piano and then we’d go back to the drums and the guitar. So it’s actually very comparable to other bands.
- Bastian, why did you choose only drums to use with the voices? Why not another instrument?
Bastian: Because it really works with the concept. It just fits without any doubt.
Stefan: On the other hand, we already worked with an orchestra and an acoustic guitar. We had Bastian also play piano on one of our tracks so it’s that we do not like instruments, it’s just interesting what you can do with only voices. There are so many things to discover.
- Do you have some last words for our readers?
Bastian: Thanks for the interest in metal acapella and join us on tour the next time we pass Belgium! And check out what we’re doing!
Thanks for the interview and good luck tonight!
On a chilly day in April we at RMP had the pleasure to sit down with Sammi Hinkka, the bass player of the mighty Ensiferum for an enthusiastic chat in the cosiness of their tour bus. Right before their headlining show during the Return Of The One Man Army tour with Heidra and Fleshgod Apocalypse the cheerful bassist talked us through the recording process of their newest album, their label change, his love for kebab and much much more!
- First of all, welcome to Belgium! Your Return of the One Man Army tour has started two days ago in Germany and yesterday you played in The Netherlands.
Yeah, pretty much. Yesterday we just had the package. The first show was at Ragnarök festival in Germany and that was just us so frankly yesterday was the first real day of the tour.
- Are you psyched to tour again after the UK tour in February?
Yes, very much! The UK tour was just one week so it feels really good to be back on the road and proper tour and now with such a great package! I was thrilled yesterday; I was checking out both other bands, Heidra and Fleshgod Apocalypse, and there were awesome. I’m really excited to see how the tour is going to be.
- You’re touring with Heidra and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Has this been a conscious choice?
Our management came with some options and recommended them and of course when we saw Fleshgod we wanted tour with them. We wanted to do a tour that would be more diverse, so not just like folk and pagan metal so it would be a win-win situation for everyone. You can come to a show and see a band you probably never even heard of and also for bands, for us, Fleshgod and Heidra, we can meet new people. It’s, I think, also more interesting for fans. And we also wanted Heidra for the tour, because I already heard about them as ‘rising star of the folk metal scene’. I checked out their show yesterday and I was really surprised about how professional these guys are on stage and off stage.
- So there’s a really nice cooperation between the bands too?
Yes! We’re also on a really tight schedule. We only have like one day off and that’s also a travel day so I hope we can have some off time with all the bands together for a small party or so.
- You’re always performing with the famous war paint. When did this habit begin? And whose idea was it?
I think it was Markus (Toivoinen, guitars and backing vocals) … It started even before I joined the band, like 11 years go. We always use a really strong, heroic theme and it was a part of the guys who wanted to have some kind of ritual before the show to get into the right mood and that’s where it all started. I think it’s okay and I kind of feel sad for all the black metal bands with all the corpse paint and blood and stuff. We just quickly draw two stripes and we’re ready to go. I just saw a new Moonsorrow promo – I haven’t heard the album yet, but everybody says it’s excellent! – and I thought ‘Are they really going to wear corpse paint on stage too?’ because they were wearing some sort of bloody paint on the promo pictures. But they’re used to using blood on stage and so on so that’ll be just their problem [laughs]!
- Obviously this tour is meant to promote the release of your sixth studio album “One Man Army”, the album even reached the number 1 spot in the Finland album charts. How has the response been so far to the album?
Surprisingly positive, I mean, we did the first tour a year ago and it was really weird – in a good way – that people were already singing along while the album was just out for a month or something like that and were really enjoying the new songs. Usually it takes a few tours or some time for people to get into the new songs but for “One Man Army” it happened instantly and it felt really good. And it’s the same on this tour; we tried to change the set list a lot compared to the last tour, even though we play in different cities than last time. We know we have some hardcore fans who come to shows anyway so we wanted to change the set list as much as possible. Of course we’re still promoting the new album so we want to include some new songs but there also songs we haven’t played in years so it’s also a lot of fun for us to change the set list as much as possible. That’s what we usually do, we check out what we played last time, even on festivals, although that could be rather stupid because most of the time there are different people on different festivals but still we check out what we played last time and in cities nearby to keep it interesting for us and for the fans. We don’t want to be a band that when you go to see Ensiferum you pretty much know all the songs that we’ll definitely play.
- You really try to keep the mystery to the songs?
Yes! I think it’s also more interesting for band to not just rely on a few songs because we’re proud of every song. But it’s getting really difficult; I think it would be much easier if you only got like fifteen to twenty hit songs everyone really wants to hear from you and you really just play those. But with “One Man Army” it was really difficult to make a new set list because we want to promote the new album so we had to choose let’s say four or five songs from the new album and then you just had ten or eleven songs from the old albums and when you have like five other albums to choose from it becomes very difficult because we also want to play songs from every album.
- You had to choose very wisely then?
Yes, it’s always really tricky and we were already talking about this that when the next album will be released it will become even more difficult so maybe we should start playing two-hour shows or something.
- What’s your favourite song on the album?
Oh, good question [sighs]. I really like how “Warrior Without A War” turned out: I remember we were sitting in the rehearsal room, going through ideas and it was just me and Markus – the others were off to smoke or taking a shit or something – and he said ‘Yeah, last night I came up with this kind of melody’ and he played it and I got goose bumps all over my body. I was like ‘That’s going to be the opening track! That’s so good!’. And then the guys came back and they loved it from the beginning. We made a demo and when we went to record with Anssi Kippo he made it even better because he came with such fresh ideas.
- You just mentioned Anssi Kippo, the same engineer who recorded three award-winning Children Of Bodom albums. Why did you think he was the man to go to for “One Man Army”?
We had a really strong vision for this album and we had a meeting with Anssi and explained what we wanted; just a few corner stones like one was that we wanted no triggers. The sound had to be as organic as possible. And the way I see it for Ensiferum, there has been a big gap if you listen to an album and you go see a show. I think we are a pretty different band when you come to live shows and we wanted to make that gap smaller. That was one thing we wanted; that it really sounded like the band was playing everything live but really tightly of course. Nowadays you have Protools and so and it’s so easy to edit everything so that it sounds perfect but in the end it doesn’t sound human anymore. Maybe it’s typical for us, old geezers, but we wanted to sound like human beings were actually playing so you can hear every guitar slide or even small mistakes or whatever and that’s music. Art is never perfect. Anssi totally understood that and we paid a high price for that because he really made us play a lot in the studio. I never played bass lines for three days for songs that I know. I think the fastest I ever played was three hours for a whole Rapture album. But the result is very good, we didn’t take like clips of a few seconds, we would play whole songs, or half songs when there would be some sort of gap. We liked really long takes so there would be a good vibe. But yes, he really kicked our ass and we really liked to work with him.
- We know you’re not scared to experiment with different genres or songs, like your cover of “Bamboleo”, “Battery” or “Finnish Medley”. “Two of Spades” features a very funky part. How did this idea come by?
I can’t remember how it exactly went but we are a very democratic band and we have a policy that everything has to be tried no matter how crazy the idea is. We would say ‘Okay let’s try to play this in R&B’ and we try our best to play it in R&B. I would guess, because me and Janne (Parviainen, drums), we have a background of playing a lot of different kinds of music; from funk to hiphop to downtempo, chill out stuff, whatever. Janne used to play in Waltari and that’s really experimental stuff. They’re pretty big actually in Germany. Anyway I would guess that the idea of the funky thing started when we were just jamming while people were going to grab some water or eat and me and Janne were just jamming and thinking ‘This sounds good! Maybe too good. We have to use it!’. There was never like a meeting with the band saying ‘Okay, we’re going to have a funk part in this song!’. You should’ve seen our manager’s face when he came to the studio and he had no idea about the song and it starts very heavy and he was like ‘Yeah, this sounds good!’ and then the funky part started he was like ‘What?’. And we we’re like ‘Haha, now we’ve got ya!’ [Laughing]. But that’s also how we want to keep making music: if something feels good, let’s just make it into a song. If you start thinking too much about what you can do, then you just pin yourself in a corner and you end up just repeating yourself. Sometimes you hear comments like ‘Yeah, you should do more stuff like you did on the “Iron” album.’, but that was done like ten years ago. That album is done, you know, we want to do something new. If you like “Iron”, just listen to it, it’s there!
- Talking about albums, you released this album through Metal Blade records; the previous ones by Spinefarm. Why the change of record label?
We’re still good friends with the Spinefarm people; we just emailed before the tour because they released a compilation and, I think in Copenhagen, we’re going to see a few of them so… I don’t know… in a way “One Man Army” was a kind of fresh start in many ways, like I said, for instance, we wanted the album to sound totally different, we changed the guy who makes the album cover and it kind of felt we had this urge to do things differently. The deal ended with Spinefarm and we had some options. Of course we talked with our management, which is really good by the way, they’re always giving advice, they never say ‘You have to do this or that,’ and we had a meeting with Metalblade on the US tour. They were really nice guys and… I don’t know… things just happened pretty naturally. It was natural to go with Metalblade and they’ve been doing a lot of good work and it feels really good that way. Actually yesterday we met our manager and it feels really good to hear that the label is really thinking about the future with the band. They’re not just asking when the new album is coming out and that’s it. If you have a label that really works and actually does something it feels good.
- You just mentioned the best-of album that was released on April, 1st. Why now? Was it because of the new start with Metalblade?
It was Spinefarm’s idea. It’s usual when a band goes to another label that the previous label releases a compilation. I think that’s somehow standard in music business. Spinefarm came up with the idea and, like I said we still have a really good relationship, so they said we could choose all the songs and we just worked together with all the text inside and so on.
- Was it hard to just choose 14 songs?
Yeah [laughs], because it had to fit in just one cd. On the other hand, it wasn’t because those are pretty much the biggest hits and we used pretty much the same method we use when we make set lists: we wanted to have songs from each album of course. It was funny; yesterday actually was the first day I had the cd in my hand and me and Petri (Lindroos, screams and guitars), we were watching the track list and there were only four songs we don’t play on this tour! So I was like ‘Okay, we’re actually also promoting the compilation!’. But let’s see how the future goes because I think for the next tours we’re going to change the set list again completely. I can tell you there is something going on in the background; some big things… maybe later this year so I can’t reveal any details yet. It’s politics, you know [laughs]. Anyway, I get carried away all the time; I’m going from compilation to future plans!
- The compilation album features the famous wooden shield we see on every album cover. Is there a story behind this shield or is it just some cool image?
It happened when the first album came out, the guys had certain ideas or elements they wanted to have on the cover, like this godlike ‘Ensiferum dude’ and then they had the Kalevala, our national poem or book which is one source of inspiration and also from back in the days because the old Amorphis had a lot to do when the whole band started. And I guess Markus wanted to have a Finnish flag in there and the shield seemed like a good place. The godlike guy is like our Eddie because we’re big Iron Maiden fans and it would be impossible to leave him out now. It’s like I said earlier about pinning ourselves in a corner; that much we pinned ourselves into a corner. On the album covers we need the shield and/or the ‘Ensiferum dude’ at least.
- You’ve recently announced that Emmi left the band due to family reasons. Of course we wish her the best of luck in the future. But now, Netta will take the accordion for her account. How is to work with another creative soul after almost 10 years?
It’s really weird but again things went very naturally. Netta helped us in the studio: she sings on “Neito Pohjolan” and “Cry For The Earth Bounds” and she just came to the studio and everything just… well we knew her of course because we did a tour with Turisas when she was in the band in like 2008 on some sort of Pagan Fest so we’ve known each other for years and she’s just an amazing person. She’s so happy, always in a good mood and good in talking with people and she’s a really easy person to get along with. But so was Emmi. I always said Emmi had the biggest balls of the band because she never complained about anything, not like us, the old guys, we complained much more. And it’s the same with Netta, she’s a really professional musician and an incredibly nice person. So it all went really smoothly. Let’s see maybe in the future it would be really cool to do shows where we could have both of them! That’s one plan; maybe when we do our next DVD. That’s one cool thing about Metalblad too. You know, we’ve had an idea for a next DVD for like six years, we’ve already shot material for it but then Spinefarm said ‘Nobody buys DVDs anymore so forget about it,’, which is understandable because it’s music business, not music charity. So last year we met the Metalblade guys in Germany and they said ‘Of course we’ll make a new DVD!’. We have this really cool idea for the DVD for not just like one show but… well you’ll see [laughs]!
- We also have some short questions from fans: what’s your favourite film?
All-time favourite movie? I’m going to be really cliché and say “Braveheart”.
- Your favourite food?
I have to say kebab; I mean I’ve been say kebab for years! I remember once we were playing a festival, it was raining like hell and we were having a signing session. People were all in a long cue getting really wet and we were under the tent and there comes a couple in front of me and they gave me a kebab. They were holding it under their jacket the whole time so it wouldn’t get wet. And some fans even make like a toy kebab for me, or a soft kebab where you can sit on [laughs]!
- Your favourite beverage?
Single malt whisky.
- What’s your all-time favourite band?
That has to be Iron Maiden. The classics! Like I said, I’m old. But you have to give them respect, you know, I mean they play long sets all around the world and it’s incredible. They’re really inspiring guys.
- Do you have any last words for our readers?
In case you haven’t heard our latest album, “One Man Army”: check it out. Summer festival season is coming so enjoy the Summer and go check out some live music; not just us, but Summer’s a good time to have a lot of fun with friends, get drinks and good music.
The Watch Out stage at Groezrock probably holds the biggest potential for witnessing an up and coming band that is bound to become the audience's favorite soon. This year Night Birds had the honour of playing the open air stage and proving their worth watching out for. RMP Magazine had a talk with vocalist and madman Brian regarding Night Birds and the struggle of combining a touring band with family and jobs.
Welcome to Groezrock. First time here?
Today is the last show of the Euro tour. Your bass player had to return last week due to something in the family. How has it been so far?
It's actually been really great. Well, not really great, it's a shitty circumstance and it's the first show we had to play without Joe. Joe's wife's mother passed away, so he had to go home for the funeral and all that stuff. She's been sick for a while so we knew it was a possibility. So before he left the tour we had a guy named Jason Draper playing bass, he used to be in the band Lemuria and now he's in a band called Cheap Girls and a band called Orations. Joe our bassplayers started showing him some of the bass parts assuming that at some point he might have to go home early. In the back of the van they would work stuff out. And then we had a couple of ferry roads to and from the UK and they tried to work everything out. It was a little bumpy at first but i think this is like our sixth show with Jason today and i think we are going to pull it off.
The band members all have day jobs next to Night Birds. So this tour is more of a vacation away from work. What do you do in daily life?
I work in a hardwood floors store. It was my grandfathers and then it belonged to my father. We sand and refinish existing hardwoord floors and then we reinstall new ones. It's close to my house, we have health insurance, which is very difficult to get in America. So it pays for health insurance for my family. I make enough money to keep a roof over our head and clothes on everybody and keep everybody fed. And it's convenient with my touring schedule. They're cool with me doing this.
So this is what i do for fun, that's what i do for work and then i have my family which is the bulk of my life, the bulk of my time.
Is it hard to juggle the job and the tours?
It's very hard. Fortunately for me, my wife is super supportive. When we had a baby we kind of went into it knowing that we wanted to continue doing what we were passionate about. Add the baby to our lives, not stop doing everything we love and just become parents. We want to be the best parents we possibly can but at the same time we need to keep ourselves sane and do what makes us happy. It's a little bit hard trying to juggle everything but it's really rewarding when you can make it happen. When i can go on tour for three weeks with Night Birds and my wife can hold shit down on the homefront. I come home, i'm totally recharged. I'm ready to be a kick ass dad and do everything i have to do. And then my wife will go away for a week or two. Last year she went on vacation with her brother. Kind of clears her head. It's important to kind of work that out. If you have a good signifcant other i think you can make that shit work . We have a good thing going.
On Facebook you gave some tips for touring bands. Like exchanging foreign currency with other touring bands from other countries. Anymore of those handy tips you are willing to share?
That's a big one.
My biggest thing on tour that i learned over the past 15 years. Is…not sure how to put it. basically don't be a dick. You're in a van, you're living with other people, you're eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, you're sleeping on top of one another. You're in a van all day, every day. Just don't be a dick.
Be nice, everybody is in the same boat. Everybody is going to get sick of each other. You're all going to be do little things that are going to get on each other's nerves. But instead of being an asshole and snapping at your friends. And then making it difficult to live together. Just put on headphones, shut the fuck up and try to enjoy yourself. Any of us are lucky to be doing what we do. I'm in fucking Belgium right now playing a show at no cost to me. The least i can do is just soak it in, enjoy it and let my friends enjoy it as well. Just try to coexist, you're going to get on each others nerves. Just don't be a dick. That's it.
Last year you released your third album Mutiny On Muscle Beach on Fat Wreck Chords. The surfpunk of Night Birds is a bit off from the typical Fat sound. How did you hook up with Fat?
Chad, i don't know what his official position is. I think he runs some of the day to day operations. He was a fan of the band and i sent him some demos. So we ended up doing the Maimed For The Masses 7” with them. And we played Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas a couple of years ago. Fat Mike came up to me and introduced himself. Asked why we hadn't done the Born To Die In Suburbia album with Fat. And it was because we already had agreed on doing it with the label Grave Mistake Records, who did our first album. Who are also really good friends of ours who put in a lot of work and effort into our band. He asked if he could do the next record. That's how it kicked off.
Those guys love the style that we play, Mike loves D.I. and The Adolescents and shit like that. That's not so far from what we do. Really it's kind of surprising that they don't have more bands on the label that sound like us. Because it kind of seems that's what got a lot of those dudes into punk in the beginning. At this point they have their signature kind of sound and those are a lot of the band on the label. So it's fun to be doing something a little bit different on Fat.
Being into surfpunk Agent Orange is mostly one of the names that springs up, but what other bands are of huge influence to Night Birds?
We love the 70's and 80's punkrock and hardcore. But i have always been a sucker for melodies.
Bands like Naked Raygun or The Damned's Machine Gun Etiquette, i think that's a perfect album. Bands that aren't affraid to show that they actually know how to play their instruments. They're not affraid to write a melody or a hook. Basically taking the mentality of writing a popsong but making it a punkrock popsong. I like songs with hooks, i like catchy songs. That's really kind of a formula that we use. We like all the Westcoast stuff, Circle Jerks, D.I., Adolescents, Agent Orange, Dead Kennedy's and all that shit… we also love The Big Boys and The Dicks from Texas, We love The Necro's and Negative Approach from the Mid West, Minor Threat and S.O.A. From D.C.
The most noticeable logo with Night Birds must be The Dagger. What does the dagger represent for the band?
It means nothing. We stole it from a comic book called Thrilling Murder. And then we wrote a song called Thrilling Murder. Basically we combined. They had the dagger on the comic, we stole that and then we did our own version. There's another band called Agent Orange, we kind of ripped of their logo and put the dagger in there as the tee. We kind of put it on a shirt and then on buttons. Before we knew it there was a hundred people with dagger tattoos.
Any last words or tips?
This is kind of funny. This is kind of the end of our plans after like seven years being a band. After seven years of planning. There's always like kind of a next step. There was like a planning, now we're going to do a demo, now we're going to a 7”, now we're going to do an album, now we're going to tour Europe, America and Canada. We always knew what was coming next. There was always a next step. This is kind of the end of our original plan. So i think, now we'll just see what happens. We're not going to go out of our way to plan anything. Everybody needs a little break to do family shit. I haven't been away with my wife or my daughter since she's been alive. I think next year we're going to go to like Disneyworld or do something fun like that. Usually, anytime we have of from work, we tour. Now that my daughter is two and a half i want to take a little bit of time to do that. I don't know. We still want to get to Australia, still want to get to Japan and Brazil. Everytime we come to Europe it just gets better and better, touring America is always fun.We'll just kind of see what happens. This is kind of the end of a very long string of plans that we always made.
Photo by Jurriaan Hodzelmans
Interview by David Marote
PUP has only been playing as a band for nearly five years now but managed to make it to the Groezrock line up for the second time. Armed with a new album soon to be released the Toronto outfit was set out to destroy the Watch Out Stage on Saturday. But before the madness commenced we found vocalist Stefan hanging out in the press area. So time to find out some more on the new album The Dream Is Over and where it originated from.
Congratulations with the soon to release new album The Dream Is Over.
I've heard it and sounds amazing. What can we expect?
You can expext a lot of touring. The new record, we kind of think is heavier than the first one. It sounds a little bit more confident. I'm excited to get back. I think it's a step forward.
The video for the new song It This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will has been broadcasting some time now. I've noticed it's getting good reviews?
It's been good. We have a friend of ours, his name is Jeremy. He makes awesome music videos. He's one of our best friends. He's always kind of like totally got where we were going for. I think he nailed it with that one. It was really fun to shoot that one. We all pretend to kill each other in the video. It was a fun shoot and i think the reaction has been really strong. We haven't put out a record in a long time. There's just a lot of anticipation.
This is your second time at Groezrock, pretty impressive for a band that started five years ago. Anything planned for today's set?
We're really lucky. We're going to be playing some new songs from the record for sure. See how that goes.
The album title The Dream Is Over was inspired by a doctor's visit where you heard your vocal chords were damaged. How is everything now?
PUP did 40 or 50 shows. That can be really hard on your body. We finished touring the first record, we went straight to the studio and recorded the second one. Two days after we finished recording we started a seven week tour. So it was a lot of singing for my part. The first days of touring i had to go to the doctor. Something was up with my throath. I was having a lot of health issues during the whole year. That was kind of the climax of all of that. They have a little camera that they can stick in your throat. They can see your vocal chords vibrate. And when she pulled the camera out, the words say said to me, the dream is over. Which is kind of ridiculous.
She found a cyste on my vocal chords and a hemorrage, it wasn't good. But, like i'm pretty persistent. I've been working and touring the band a long time and it seems that things are just starting to work out. Naming the record that is like a testament to our persistence.
Do you need something special for your vocal chords?
Yes and no. I kind of had the option between having a chirurgy or retraining my vocal chords. A chirurgy would mean that PUP couldn't tour for a year. That's not really an option for us i think. I've just been on some medication and retraining my vocal chords. It's going to be a long process but i'm feeling good. I've recovered from those injuries. I'm feeling pretty good.
New album, new merch. Clocks for one featuring The Dream Is Over and a genius parody shirt with the BA Baracus overall and gold chains. Who's idea was that?
That's our drummer Zack. He's a really creative, kind of visual artist. He's got a really unique sense of humour. He designs most our merch and it usually blows me away everytime i see it. He's a man of many talents.
Every tour he comes up with at least one really creative design.
Fellow label mates AJJ recently made a cover of your song Reservoir. Featuring electronic sounds and Sean's distinctive voice. How did you feel when you first heard it?
It thought it was amazing. Some of our fans were angry, because they didn't understand. The cover is kind of done tongue in cheek. I thought it was so good. It just took the song in totally different direction. Kind of poked fun at the genre at the same time. AJJ is such an amazing band, they're like one of my favorites. They're so good. We felt really flattered that they choose a PUP song to cover.
And is that the sound of a bong at the end of the song?
Could very well be.
Speaking of covers, PUP has a video where you cover the Jay Reatard song My Shadow. Any particular reason for that track?
We're all Jay Reatard fans, particulary Zack and Nestor. The drummer and the bassplayer. Just thought it was a nice song. We didn't play it live to many times. We did it on one tour. We just like covering songs that we enjoy. That record is one that we all grew up listening too.
Canada has spawned some great artists, from Leonard Cohen to John K Samson. If you could form an all star Canadian superband, who would you pick? And no Celine Dion!
Oh boy. You named John K Samson, who's i think one of the greatest songwriters in the world. I really admire him. He'd be onboard aswell as all of Rush. Because it's Rush, greatest Toronto rock band of all time. What i would like to say, right now in Toronto there are a lot of new amazing young bands that are kind of emerging. That we get to share the stage with often. I would love to put an all star band with just the kids that come from our scene. There's a band called Pkew Pkew Pkew, who are really amazing. There's Single Mothers and Dirty Nil,… there's a good Toronto scene happening now. We feel lucky to be a part of that.
Any last words?
Yeah, Our new record is called The Dream Is Over and it's going to be out May 27th. We're going to tour it like crazy, like we always done, like we did since the beginning of PUP. There's going to be live touring, we're going to be back in Europe several times.
I'm really excited to be back at Groezrock, last time we were here it was an incredible experience.
I'm looking forward to drinking a few too many beers and having a great day.
Photo by Jurriaan Hodzelmans
Interview by David Marote
Covers, that's what Me First And The Gimme Gimmes are all about. Taking original songs we all know from the radio and spicing them up into punk rock versions. Brought to you by a super group comprised of artists such as Lagwagon's Joey Cape and Dave Raun, Scott Schiflett and Bad Religion's Jay Bentley and last but not least their crooning vocalist Spike Slawson.
When given the chance to meet up with Spike in their tour bus during their first European show of the tour at Groezrock, we at RMP couldn't resist this opportunity to hear all about our favorite coverband.
Welcome to Groezrock. For most of you it's not your first visit. What may we expect today from Me First And The Gimme Gimmes?
Covers, other people's shit. A couple of songs from the new record. Some ukelele songs,or at least one. Passionate intensity man.
You're talking about a new record?
Well, the one, the most recent record.
Today is the first show of the upcoming Euro tour. Looking forward to cruising the old country again?
Yes, absolutely. My back molar is loose, so if i have it taken out here it's like ten times cheaper then in the States.
The band is celebrating 20 years in 2016, i believe you started in 1996. Anything in the pipeline to celebrate two decades of MFGG?
Yeah. No, i guess not. The anniversary just kind of crept up on me. Nothing planned. For 25 years we'll throw something. It's a quarter of a century.
It all started as a fun project, all members are in touring bands that take up most of their time. So MFGG is a sort of a punk rock supergroup. How hard is it to get the band together for rehearsal or even recording?
We don't rehearse. We practiced here, no to far from here for this show. We know the songs. When we pick sustitute players or in some case the substitutes are like the players now. Like Scott Schfiflett is pretty much our guitar player now. They get it and they understand what it supposed to sound like. Without any mistakes it wouldn't be us really.
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes takes on punk versions of well known pop songs. Have you ever received bad reactions from the original artists?
Yeah, The Eagles didn't like it. But that was kind of a red badge of honour. To be disliked by The Eagles. I'm not covering these songs because i like them. I'm not a fan, very few of the songs that we covered i'm like a fan of. As far as i know that's the only negative reaction we got.
Are there particular artists that you never want to cover?
I wouldn't do R&B again, i wouldn't do Hip Hop because i like it too much. Some people deserve to have the final word on what they did. Unless you can breathe something new into it. Some artists deserve the final word. Like Prince for example. When people die, that's the perfect time not to do tribute acts of them. Keep your mourning to yourself. Otherwise you're self tributing because you want people to pay attention to you after some guy died.
Like when Bowie died, i have friends who did like 500 tributes. The first one was like a wake and then the twentieth is like this bar gets to sell more booze and this guy gets to play music before more people that pay attention because they are going to play all good songs.
No, i wouldn't cover a Bowie song because i love David Bowie, i wouldn't do that to him. He doesn't deserve that.
Didn't you do that with Uke Hunt?
Yeah, i would do it with Uke Hunt. I get to control more of the output. I have a little bit more to do with the finished product. With Me First i just get to sing with this band, i just sort of put the words and melodies on top.
When it comes to picking the songs that get the gimmes treatment, is it a group decision or individual propositions?
For a long time it was Mike. Like on The Divas record it was mainy him. He has good pop sensibility and short attention span. Which i think is weird, he's sort of like in that regard ahead of his time. He's got the attention span of a millenial, if you can make him interested then you can get a millenial interested.
You've covered pop songs from diva's to country, 60's hit, even Australian and Japanese songs have been 'gimmed' over the years. Any plans on new roads to explore? Maybe EDM?
No, that is really doubtfull. It was fun while it lasted. If you're going to release a full length of music then you should do something more like the best songs you haven't done yet and you think come out the best and release that. Like a theme you will always find three or four songs and then the rest is filler. In the Itunes age that business model isn't viable. Because people can buy the songs the actually like instead of the full album.
One of your covers was even in a hit movie, the Wolf Of Wall Street by Martin Scorcese. Sloop John B is used in the film. Hollywood is awaiting for original themesongs…
My wife and family are Italian-Americans so that earned me a lot of household capital. So to speak. I love Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Martin Scorcese, it's pretty cool to be in one of his movies. It was a good movie too. I liked it.
Today No Use And Friends is playing Groezrock. As individuals with your respective bands you have also participated with the Tony Sly Tribute album, can we expect MFGG on stage today with NUFAN?
I'm going to do one song with them. I hope the people like it. I've been learning it all day. That's different, that's a tribute by the people he was in the band with. It actually feels like a tribute.
And they're calling this the last one, they are going to do it and go home. I respect that.
You will be touring with Uke Hunt in Europe soon?
Very soon. We'll be playing Berchem (Belgium), it starts late May in Spain, we're playng four shows there. And then we go up into central Europe. We're playing Amsterdam. Check the dates out, it's late May.
Any last words?
I think we may tour the East Coast, maybe the West Coast, look for 7”s here and there. As long as people write music we'll steal it.
Photo by Jurriaan Hodzelmans
Interview by David Marote
Muncie Girls from the UK has been turning heads the last year with their extensive touring schedule and their latest album From Caplan To Belsize. The band fronted by vocalist Lande was one of the many nice surprises on the Groezrock line-up this year. Nearly minutes after entering the Groezrock festival on day one we bumped into Lande and Luke from Muncie Girls and they took some time to sit down with us and discuss the new album and ongoing tour.
Congratulations with the new album From Caplan To Belsize, it's been out a couple of weeks now. How has the reactions been to the new album?
Lande: Crazy yeah. We weren't really expecting anything. So we're really overwhelmed. Everyone has been really nice about. Very good.
Luke: It's been really cool. It's exceeded all of our expectations. It's really nice to have something new to go out there. It's been so long since we had something fresh and new songs to play. It's like an added bonus that people seem to have liked it.
You released the new album on Specialist Subject Records and Uncle M in Europe. How did this happen?
Lande: Really well. Berlin was like the first one, just like trying to get a headrun. The next day was Münster, we were sleeping like above the venue, Skaters Palace. Us and The Bennies. We just got like superdrunk and skateboarding everywhere. It was so much fun. The actual show there was loads of young people there. It was really cool.
The album title actually refers to one of Sylvia Platt's books and depicts a journey from one asylum to another. Could you explain this reference in regard to the album?
It's just like a bit in the book where she moves. She gets told that's she's making progress so she gets moved from Caplan to Belsize. So it's sort of like a broad kind of reference. It doesn't mean one thing or another. It's just like a theme of our album, a bit of a journey i suppose. Also like the age that we all are, it's like innonence and a coming of age thing. Recovery in general. It's not all very specific, that's why it works for the album. Because it's not just about one thing, it's a lot of different things. It kind of encompasses the whole thing.
One of the tracks Learn in School is about education and the lack of certain topics like politics when attaining school. How do you feel about education and more important self education?
I think, i only know about England. It's sort of irresponsible. The currucilum that we have, they don't teach a lot of things that people should be taught. Not just politics, lots of things for example like sexual content, personal health, nutrition. Things that you actually need to like survive. Of course they wouldn't because that would defeat the whole process. If people knew how to be healthy they wouldn't rely on the drugs companies. If people knew how to use politics the goverment would be under threath. If people knew about sexual content then patriarchy would be shifted. I know why things are the way they are but it just kind of sucks. It's kind of massive, it's bigger than just school.
How do you feel about the internet and it's purpose to educate?
Lande: The internet is a dangerous thing as well. The best way to self educate is to like talk to people and read like good, decent books. Like go to a library when it's free. Doing that sort of stuff.
Luke: It's so tricky as well. Everybody goes to the internet for like education but there's just so much on there. A reason people would be going there to educate themself would be because they don't know about the topic, so they would be looking out and don't know what's a good source or what's a bad source.
Lande: Plus that's like the first point of news. People don't listen to the news anymore and even if they do it's biased anyway. So they wait to hear about stuff on Facebook before they look it up.
Muncie Girls holds deep esteem for the DIY culture and punkrock in general. This album is more political orientated than previous work. A concscious decision or organic growth?
Lande: I think it's a bit of both. Mainly has to do with the fact that when the conservative goverment got elected in. It's like the right amount of time where it's actually been able to affect us in a big way.
It's almost kind of inevatiable. Everyone has been more political and more radicalised. We have to be. Because the goverment has been affecting us. We just wanted to take it like further than just like pop songs. Obviously that's why we like music because it's catchy and like fun. Like when you have a platform and you're comfortable enough to use it, why not. Like we said people don't know where to get information from, music is like a valid way to learn things from. That's how i learned a lot of politics, like through bands.
Luke: That's the whole reason i started like thinking about it. It hadn't even crossed my mind before. Throught bands i kind of like thought. That's pretty shit and that's pretty shit. Coincidentally around the same time of that kind of happening the conservative party got in. In England for people like us life has gotten considerably worse. And a lot more things have come in that we don't like. I think it's a combination of things, just naturally getting older, you're eyes being opened because of that stage in your life and the music you're listening too. As well as that it's kind of a point in time where things in the UK have gotten more shit. I think in other parts of the world as well, politically.
The song Respect deals with respect for women, against the objectification of women. Would you consider yourselves a feminist band?
Lande: It's like, we have like a lot of things that we value. Like everyone does. I don't think the whole framework applies. Obviously it's feminist in the way that it's not sexist. Yeah of course. We're not in a band to preach that. That's just one of the topics that touches us. That whole rape culture especially in like universities. That's where this song came from. At that time that song got to like get written. Rather than that's why we are in a band.
Did you get a lot of response to the song?
Lande: Not really, I think people just take it and just hear it. A lot of time we're just preaching to the choir.
People already know these things exist. If we manage to tap into a different audience that would be
a little bit more rewarding. I'd like when people would talk back and spark a conversation. At the moment it's like all our friends who listen to the music know that and agree with that.
Lande, you were featured in Kerrang Magazine some time ago. Did you notice that appearing in a 'big' magazine has brought new fans to your shows?
Luke: To some extent it has. Not like it changed our band completely. It's had some impact.
Lande: The shows are pretty much the same though. Same amount of people but maybe like a couple more per show. That's obviously amazin. I think people are quite apathic when it comes to gigs anyway. Even if there's a band they like in a magazine doesn't necesarrily mean they are coming out to a show. I haven't really noticed much of an effect. We've done like some headline shows to promote our album, what we found was that most of it was like the same support from the DIY scene that we always had. Friends like supporting us and helping us out, which has been really nice. In a way we kind of made the friends and fans that we had a bit stronger. Because they want to support us now that we get more attention.
It's not that i look at a show and see more people.
Any last words to share?
Lande: Not really, we're just hanging out at Groezrock, loving it.
Luke: Rock'n roll really.
Photo by Jurriaan Hodzelmans
Interview by David Marote