On the day that Amsterdam experienced a blackout, Western Addiction was in town on its first European tour. Luckily that power shortage was swiftly solved so the show could go on. RMP Magazine took some time to sit down with Jason Hall, the vocalist and guitar player of Western Addiction. In between the sound check and the show we checked if a second blackout was to be expected tonight, one caused by the hardcore madness of Western Addiction. Find out below about Jason's experiences in the Old Continent of Europe and their newest EP “I’m Not The Man I Thought I'd Be”.
- Hello Jason, this is the first European tour for Western Addiction and also your first visit to Europe. How has it been so far?
I love it! All the other guys have been before, so they've known what to expect a little bit. So far I loved every country. We went to Spain, went to France, I loved France, then the UK and now here.
- Have you noticed the cultural differences between those countries?
Mostly for the good, things make sense here. Getting around on the public transportation makes sense. The size of the food makes sense. They give you just enough to eat and to be full. That makes total sense to me. It's not like a big giant burrito or something. So far everybody has been wonderful.
- And Amsterdam?
I looked a little bit and it's so beautiful. It's as beautiful as some of the small towns in France we went to. Not small but relatively small like Lyon, Cognac and Toulouse. Toulouse was pretty wonderful, but this one is like a postcard everywhere you look. I love it.
- Lagwagon asked you to play this tour with the support of The Flatliners. How psyched were you for this tour?
Really excited actually, I've known Joey for quite a long time and I've known The Flatliners guys. I used to work at the record label that we're on, so right when I was leaving, they got signed. They're wonderful dudes and Joey is wonderful too. He wanted to do a tour with all of his friends. It's so great, I have a fulltime job and I don't get to tour all the time. So this is like a dream for me. I'm loving it.
- “I’m Not The Man I Thought I'd Be” is the band’s newest EP that was recently released. Have you played any songs live yet and how was the response?
We've played that song, the title track song. And we played this other song called “Clatter And Hiss”, it's a demo on there. Pretty good. I think we're kind of the odd band on the bill. People are looking at us and they're kind of confused; interested, but confused. I'm screaming at them the whole time and Lagwagon and Flatliners are so fun and happy. I think they're going “What am I seeing?!”. That first song “I'm Not The Man…” is like a rock song, so people’s bodies automaticly kind of move with rock. It's really like AC/DC style rock, that's like our only song like that. You can kind of see people moving and react to music but they're still kind of confused of what we're doing.
- The new track “Clatter and Hiss” is the first track where bass player Tony contributed during recording. How does a new member affect the group and the recording?
Each new member brings something different. I love having Tony in the band, he's really positive. He's a great guitar player, he plays bass in our band. But he's an awesome guitar player, he's an awesome singer. I can't really sing, I can do a little bit, but I have in my mind what I want a song to do. When I can't do it physically, he can do it. So I'm like “Hey Tony, there's a part that needs to be sung” and then he can really do it. He's been in other bands like Cobra Skulls. He has been around the world so he's like a veteran. I'd rather have good, cool friends in the band and I'm so glad he's playing with us.
- When recording the new EP it was recorded to 2” tape in the studio. In this era of digital technology being the standard, what do you believe to be the benefits of tape?
Chad, our drummer, he's really into that. He likes the sound that the drums make with it. I'm not really that great at that stuff. But Chad is really good about this; he recorded our demo that went on our record. He has got an ear for that. He has a really huge knowledge about when things were recorded, history of music. He really knows a lot of punk, hardcore and metal. And that's the sound he likes, he kind of helps us out with that kind of stuff.
- The title track of the EP “I’m Not The Man I Thought I'd Be” has a rather pessimistic feel to it. Can you let us in on what message you were trying to get across?
Every song isn't necessarily super true, but my wife read the lyrics to that. And then my mom was at our house and she picked up my lyrics book and was reading it. She was like “I don't know about that song, I'm worried about you”. First of all I was like “You put that down, why are you reading that?!” [laughs]. It's a little pessimistic. You think about how life should go, how things should turn out. They don't ever, they never turn out the way you thought they would. I mean it is pessimistic, but I don't know, sometimes I'm filled with anxiety and that was just one song about how things go. I never thought I would be playing in a hardcore band and touring Europe at this time of my life. That's kind of a good thing that I wouldn't have anticipated. There are good things and bad things; that one is about the bad things. Everybody always feels those things and a lot of our lyrics are really cryptic and you can't really connect with them. I have some friends in bands and they make good lyrics that really connect with people. I think Against Me! does a really good job at connecting with people but their lyrics are understandable. I'm trying to do that a little bit more versus all those crazy words and things that no one can relate too. I think people may be able to relate to that song by thinking about how your life is going to be and it just doesn't happen and you feel disappointed in a way. Maybe the comfort is that I can feel the same way you feel and things will be okay.
- You mentioned you worked at Fat Wreck Chords in the past. How has this influenced the band?
Definitely connections. I mean, I have all these great friends from long ago so you just know lots of band people and it does help. We would never be on all of this if it wasn't for Joey. I'm not going to hide any of that. He's a great friend and he asked us to play and we're thankful. And Chad works at the label now. There's this cool thing that has been happening at Fat Wreck Chords, people splintered off a bit and went their separate ways. And now we're a little bit older and getting back together like a family in a way. I'm seeing all these people and the person that runs our label Erin, she's awesome. She was my boss basically for years and now it's like old friends coming together. She's really supportive, she even texted us on this tour. It does feel like a family in an odd way. We're kind of a different band for Fat, but I don't care. I've seen all the other labels, I’ve seen bands not get paid. Fat always pays bands. They always treat them right, they give them whatever they need. Even it hurts the label a bit. That's pretty cool.
- I love the way they work with one record deals.
Yeah, because they're not trying to lock anybody in there. There are no tricks. Even if you don't make money from royalties you always get a statement. It's not like labels like Lookout records who were in the past accused of not paying people. Fat always pays even if you don't like them or make fun of the bands. They always pay.
- After the start of Western Addiction and the first release in 2006, “Cognicide”, you all went on a hiatus, due to the usual routine of kids, work, life or other interests. How does it feel to be playing and recording again?
It feels kind of nice. The break was my fault. Because I have a family and my little daughter was young and I didn't want to be away or gone too much. She's a little bit older now and I'm able to get away and I also have a job. Leaving the label I came to respect music so much more and like music more. I always liked it. Even when I talk to the guys of the label they don't always know exactly what's going on because they're in it all day. I love music. I listen to it all the time, I look forwarding seeing it on TV. I got a bit older where I'm not complaining about music as much. So if you're watching a big television show like the Grammy's or the Superbowl. What's this band doing? These guys suck. I don't think like that anymore. I'm just so thankful, check it out, there's rock 'n’ roll on TV. I'm more appreciative, I lightened up a little bit.
- Jason, you also keep a tour diary published on New Noise. For instance, you visited the Guggenheim museum in Bilboa. In the blog you mentioned Niki de Saint Phalle and her sculptures, what attracts you to her work?
Yeah, I have to do that. I turned in the other one Wednesday. They had a video of her speaking about her work. It was so powerful. I life with all ladies: I live with two daughters and a wife and they are all strong, powerful women. She was a really strong, powerful woman and what she was saying was really interesting. She was basically saying “Only men can make destructive things, so only women can make beautiful art out of these things.” She had this giant skull and this golden bat with the machineguns. Also when you’re looking at some people's art you can see them falling apart or their madness. You can see their madness in what's happening. The whole thing, I think she was an incredible woman.
- You also seem to be fascinated by black metal like the Gaudi sculptures you described on the tour blog as ‘black metal’. What do you like in it and what bands can you recommend?
That's only recent. I like all the classics. I'm really new to listening to it. I only recently started listening to it. Like all the classics as Bathory and Burzum, the ones you're supposed to listen to. There's something so fascinating about that lifestyle to where you paint your face, you only do certain things and you run into the forest. I guess there's more to it. I don't know. I get into genres of music and I go in and out of things. For a while I was into Sam Cooke a lot, a while I was into The Pixies. Now I'm into black metal. For some reason I don't know why, it's so fascinating. There's this band from San Francisco, they're called Mastery. They have a black metal record and the cover looks different than any black metal cover. It's not the undecipherable writing, really cool, just like primary colours. I listen to that and like this music, it’s maddening. It makes me feel nervous and anxious and wonder “Why am I listening to this?”. In a bizarre twist of faith I met the guy who made the record at the record store. I referred his record to him. I'm in the black metal section and I go “Have you check this band out?”. He said “Yeah, I made it.” And I was like “Get the hell out of here!” I think it's interesting. It's like another world, like in a play. It seems crazy. Just seems so fascinating. Have you seen that documentary about the Norwegian scene “Untill The Light Takes Us” or something. The whole thing is like a fascinating chapter in history. It wasn't really about being satanic. It was about people coming into their country and appropriating their things. You always think it's all about the devil.
- So in 2013 the three-song EP “Pines” was released and this year the new EP. Any plans for a full album soon?
We have a lot of new songs. We were going to make a new record but we got offered this. I’ve never been here, so I was like “We're doing that.” But we have tons of new songs. When we play in Germany in a few days we will play more because we have a thirty-minute set. We will play one new one tonight that is not on any album. I pretty much used up all my vacation from work so I don't know when we are going to record. Maybe on Christmas day or something.
- What is the ambition of Western Addiction next to world domination?
I want to do one more record. I'd like to. The songs we have now are really interesting. I like the line-up, it feels really positive and fun. I have to share the members with other bands. Those guys will be doing their thing. I've been here now, we've been to Japan. Of course I'd like to go to other countries, I feel kind of spoiled. This is great. At least I got to come here and see some of the best countries of Europe. I'm pretty good actually.
- Any last words for our readers?
Just thanks so much and maybe check out our new EP, it's on Fat. We'll have a new record out soon!
– David Marote