When The BCASA, (Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America), played 614 Gladstone a few weeks ago I had time to sit down and chat with Nick Raz their guitarist and half the vocal power in the band. We parked ourselves in a couch that people had been standing on to watch the band earlier that night. The basement had quieted down so we were able to have a quick 10-minute chat.
Raz kicked things off by talking about the response to the album, Fuck You Shredder that they dropped earlier this year. “At shows people are buying it,” said Raz. When it comes to store figures he’s less sure “I never check those figures. Once every three years or so I check up with the label and ask if we sold a couple and they are like ‘You sold like 20, over three years.’ We say ‘Wow that’s cool, where’s our money.’ Then they don’t give us anything,” said Raz.
They are known almost exclusively by their acronym, the BCASA because of legal trouble with Bill Cosby himself. Cosby’s people sent a letter to the band asking them not to use his name or likeness in promoting their music. “It was one of the greatest moments of our lives, getting contacted by a person who maybe knew or had met Bill Cosby,” Raz felt.
“It was close. We could feel Bill’s influence in the letter,” he added. The band still channels Cosby’s influence when it comes to their clothing. When I asked what inspiration he took from the man, Raz half-joking gestured toward the sweater he was wearing and said, “I will always rock a cool sweater.”
The BCASA’s latest album is a 14-song concept album written from the perspective of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which they have been lucky enough to avoid legal trouble with. Raz’s own childhood seemed populated by butt-kicking brothers. “As far as I can remember I was born obsessed with ninja turtles. I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t watching their movies and surrounded by a bunch of TMNT toys.”
“I don’t remember the first toy I got but I remember the coolest. It was this pizza thrower, it was a tank with a seat for a ninja turtle. You could load up these mini plastic pizzas and shoot them out from the tank. I used to shoot my sister with it. It was fucking awesome,” Raz said.
Sibling torment and Saturday morning cartoons were not the only inspiration for the album, citing their shared love for the Beastie Boys and Wu-Tang Clan. “Out of the 14 songs on that album eight of them have lyrics directly stolen from the Wu-Tang Clan.”
Raz’s favourite adopted line is “If you aint green then bring the ruckus/TMNT ain’t nothin’ to fuck wit” These lyrics represent the non-traditional and experimental places the band is willing to go. “We decided to approach that record in a hip-hop perspective. We wrote from the perspective of the turtles and how badass they are. Like ‘yo don’t fuck around we are the TMNT.’ It is a punk album but it is also a rap album,” said Raz.
Raz and the rest of the band is interested in the dynamic shifts that happen when punk gets smashed into other genres. This mash-up creates a new take on the tried and true formula of party punk. The BCASA are bringing their sounds and maybe even their action figures to Europe for the first time very soon. Raz asked me to leave readers with a message from him “I want to say hi to all the beautiful women in the world, especially my mom.”
Interview and words by Joe Ryan
2013 was the Year of the TRUCK
This past year, Hamilton rock ‘n’ rollers Monster Truck have kicked it into sixth gear and motored from local musicians to international rockstars.
Jon Harvey, Jeremy Widerman, Brandon Bliss and Steve Kiely have come into their own breed of Canadian rock music. Heavily influenced by the sounds and souls of the late 1960’s and early 70’s, Monster Truck is busting guts and melting faces with their gnarly guitar solos and righteous riff rock.
In May, they released their first full-length album Furiosity on Dine Alone Records as a follow up to two well received EP’s. From there the only place to go was up.
April saw that the guys would join the ranks of famous Canadian rockers Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Rush with a Juno Award for “Breakthrough Group of the Year”. The Juno Award winners then filled their summer by touring and playing shows with rock legends Alice in Chains, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Deep Purple, increasing their fan base exponentially day by day. The fall brought a two-month European Tour followed by their first ever headlining run beginning in December.
The boys are now touring across Canada in a huge Prevost tour bus like real live rockstars. On a particularly chilly Saturday, December 14 the bus parked out front of Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa. At around 1:30 pm I showed up and knocked on the door for my interview with guitarist Jeremy Widerman.
As the road-worn musician led me past couches, bunk beds and TV’s to the back lounge area of the bus, I noted his apparent weariness and the devil’s lettuce crumbled around the table.
Don’t Fuck With The Truck
What’s it like to be in Monster Truck?
Lately just a lot of shows, a lot of travelling, being tired a lot ha ha. For me personally I have been sick a lot, which sucks, but ya man just nonstop touring. Not a lot of time at home, not a lot of time to do really anything other than play shows.
How do you deal with that?
I’m kind of used to it from years of doing that kind of stuff but it’s definitely been especially hectic lately. I don’t know man you just try to find those moments where you can get some time to yourself or at least pick those spots where you can go and do something other than be in the band for the afternoon, and visit the clinic when you’re sick, which is what I’ve been doing. (He laughed)
How did you come up with Monster Truck’s poignant rock ‘n’ roll sound?
Kind of through mistake almost. It was like when we started the band, all we kind of talked about was just playing really basic, straightforward, riff songs. Whether it was rock or metal I don’t think we really talked about that too much. We kind of wanted to centre the vibe around Grand Funk Railroad, between the era of 1969 and ’72 and keep the songs really basic. The real vibe or genre kind of got moulded out of all four members coming together and putting in all their different ideas and we didn’t really realize what we had until maybe the second or third practice once we had two or three songs in the mix, seeing what everyone was bringing to the table. It just kind of morphed into what it is on its own. People say “things take on a life of their own” that was really the situation with the band, based on the four members influences.
Has being from Hamilton affected or influenced you as a band at all?
I wouldn’t say its influenced us, its definitely dictated the methods in which we use to spread the word about the band. Hamilton is particularly good for being in the middle of a lot of different cities so it made it easy for us to play Toronto every month and get to London. London and Toronto were two really big spots for us early on, getting the name out there for the band. Then you start playing Guelph or Kitchener and Kingston. Hamilton is just a really good spot to jump off from and get to those places and come home in a fairly economical way, which is basically what we did for the first year that we were a group.
2013 has been a huge year for Monster Truck, what are you most proud of accomplishing this past year?
I will be most proud of this tour that we’re on right now. I don’t want to jump the gun and say anything about it yet because it’s not over and a couple of the biggest shows are still yet to come. It’s definitely the biggest undertaking that we’ve had all year, as far as scope and being the main attraction for the tour, which is something that we haven’t really had a lot of experience with.
The Juno was a great thing, those are fun and everything but so much of the other things that are important we actually have to work our asses off for, like this tour. Travelling, getting the set together, getting the merch ordered, planning out all the logistics of the tour. It’s a lot more work. The Juno I guess was a culmination of a lot of that stuff but you don’t feel it in that moment. It’s a pretty insular feeling, it’s like you either win or you don’t win. Whereas a tour, you really feel its progression throughout the whole process. So it will be interesting to see what happens at the end of this year when we finally wrap up 2013.
What was it like winning a Juno?
It was extremely shocking because we were fairly certain we weren’t going to win and we were really just happy to be a part of everything that was happening that weekend. We were playing shows and hanging out with a lot of friends of ours and basically just being part of the whole experience. To actually come away with the award was the best way to end the weekend. We still had a show… Or we had already played the show? I can’t really remember that weekend is a pretty big blur. But it was really exciting and really surprising. Especially fun for our parents who were watching live at home on TV, who we had told that there was no chance we were going to win.
With members previously playing in bands The Reason and Saint Alvia Cartel, what was the deciding factor that made you drop everything and go full tilt with Monster Truck?
The deciding factor for me was really, I mean I can’t speak for Steve [Kiely], for my personal experience I was just having way more fun in this band. So many different perspectives of what happened there is really fucked up because when I quit to do this The Reason put a single on the radio that went huge. Right out of the gate, everyone was like, “Oh you must be really regretting leaving The Reason.” I was like, “No I didn’t quit because I didn’t think that they were going to be successful, I quit because I just wanted to do this!” Then of course they had kind of a lull after that as they worked on a new record and our single started going through the roof. Everyone was like “Wow you sure made the right call quitting that band and doing this one” and I was like “No! Again, I wasn’t quitting to try and do something more successful, I just wanted to do this.” So everyone was wrong about everything, pretty much. There was no preconceived notions of failure or success or trying to get ahead. It was really just about what I wanted to do creatively and what I was having the most fun doing, and it just worked out that way. It’s not even something that I’m proud of or not proud of, it’s just what it is. And that’s what it is.
Being a rock ‘n’ roll band heavily influenced by late ‘60s early ‘70s rock, how do you guys feel aboutÂ the resurgence of vinyl?
It’s something that people really like. I don’t really care that much. I’m not a vinyl guy; I listen to stuff on digital. I definitely recognized the really cool sonic quality of a vinyl. My life, the way I live right now doesn’t allow me to have a vinyl collection because I’m barely home and when I’m at home I’m usually just sleeping for a week then leaving again. It’s something I might get into later in life but I know that people are really interested in it and I’m glad to be able to provide that as an option for our albums. Most importantly though, I really love the artwork side of it, I think It’s the best way to present the band in like a physical art vibe. We’ve done all our own artwork almost for all of the records and when we were working on the artwork for Furiosity we almost solely had the vinyl in mind, we were going to work it out for the other stuff after the fact. It was just really about what’s going to look good on the vinyl. Its such a great way to view a piece of art is at that size. It’s more in your face than a tiny CD. That’s my favourite part about it, unfortunately because I can’t have a record player but I know people are digging it and I’m glad we are able to provide it.
Do you guys design your own artwork? T-shirts, merchandise, etc…
We facilitate the direction of the merch. We don’t do all the artwork ourselves and some of the more intricate pieces we definitely farm out to a really talented artist, which is what we did with a lot of the shirts. There’s still a handful that we do sitting in the van on tour on my laptop and everyone’s throwing out ideas and we’re trying everything. Then some we come up with the ideas ourselves and we go to an artist and say, “Hey we want to do a crazy polar bear dog sled with four wolves pulling it, super vicious.” The new shirt we have for this winter is like a winter wizard. Almost like an evil Gandalf, building like a blue fireball in front of him. That kind of stuff is all us, all our ideas just finding different ways to make it happen. Whether its getting someone else to do it or doing it ourselves depends.
How did you get your song “Seven Seas Blues” on the NHL ’13 soundtrack? What has that been like?
Well that’s huge for me because I am a huge fan of that series and I have been playing it since I was like twelve years old. We got that because I called our label up and was like, “Hey, they’re gonna be releasing a new hockey game soon, can you call them and get us on?” I personally have been trying to get our music on there for a long time but it’s got to come like solicited, you know? I just asked our label to go hunt it down. I was actually way too late; I didn’t realize that they start getting the music together for that like in the summer [before]. Their soundtrack was already full and they heard the song and they were like “oh we love the song, but we’ve spent our budget on the music this year already” and the label didn’t want to let them use it for free. I was like, “Ya do it for free! Just get it in there!” They weren’t stoked about that but I was.
I remember the first game I played when I finally got the game, I rushed home and put it in, started playing, I was in a tight game and I hadn’t heard the song yet I was like “where the fuck is the song?” Then my game went into overtime and this other dude came in and fuckin’ scored on me, and then it started “oh ohhh…” I was like “are you serious? Fuck it’s the victory song for the other team?” Ha ha I was so bummed.
What do you like about playing in Ottawa? Or what don’t you like about playing in Ottawa for that matter?
One of the things that we don’t like about Ottawa is just this overriding governmental feel of the city. It’s got a lot of great stuff about it: the fans are awesome here. We’ve had a particularly good time with the fans and there’s so much good food. But there’s always this overriding sense of like… I don’t know its just more tight ass overall. The screws are just wound a little bit tighter here just because the overseeing government in the background. It is what it is, as you know you can sense it. It’s not something that we’re really down with. Like I said it’s always been a really great place for us and the shows have been awesome. We have a great time here, that’s about all that matters.
Vocalist and bass player Jon Harvey said in an interview with CBC that you would rather be like Led Zeppelin than AC/DC, can you expand on that?
I remember him saying that and I know what he was getting at there. I love to include both of those ideas. From the Led Zeppelin standpoint I think what he’s really getting at is making sure that our songs don’t all sound the same. So when we came to do this record we really wanted to have that feeling where there was different vibes on the album. Like if you look at The Brown EP that’s more of an AC/DC style album: five songs, all similar in nature, bam bam bam bam bam and the record’s over. It’s just a flurry of really fast and heavy-hitting rock ’n’ roll songs. With an EP you don’t really have time to start shifting gears and changing things around. So when we went to do this full length we wanted to make it feel like that, where you have this moment in the record where you bring it right down then you
bring it back up again and you change things and make it different as you move through the whole record, and that’s kind of what he was getting at. I definitely agree with that, I love ACDC but sometimes you can only listen to five songs at a time before you’ve had enough.
What are some other influences?
I take a lot of influences, especially on the guitar arranging side, from Rage Against the Machine. We do a lot of guitar and bass unison, where its just like riffs, me and Jon playing the exact same thing. We use that a lot but we also have the ability to have that organ that Brandon plays cushioning everything out and filling in that harmonic range that you loose by not playing chords. I feel like we fell into that style on our own. I didn’t realize why our sound was so powerful in the beginning until I started analyzing what we were doing. It’s not super one-dimensional like some riff rock bands can be because you’ve got that organ there to fill that huge range out. It’s just something that again, we kind of fell into and it’s worked out in our favour.
Truckin’ in Ottawa
At 10 o’clock that night, I joined the rather long line up out front the Ritual’s doors. My fellow line mates and I braved the blizzarding snowy line up to get to the Promised Land inside.
Biblical warmed everyone up as they entered the doors; with their stoner jam rock they continued to pump the crowd up for what was to come. The four piece heavy rock band from Toronto found their groove and started the evening by blowing minds with perfectly tuned guitar solos and heavy bass lines. The Biblical fire continued to play to the room filled with melting human ice cubes, brandishing beers and throwin’ the horns.
The crowd grew antsy as they awaited the beginning of Monster Truck’s set. Smoke machines and stadium lighting gave the effect of a thunderstorm and spurred uproar from the crowd.
As the musicians took the stage, they erupted in a heavy symphonic rock anthem, and the finally satisfied audience head banged along. Harvey commanded the stage with his towering presence, wailing vocals and harmonizing bass lines. He truly embodies a modern day Robert Plant, complete with wily vocal range and a mass of long curly hair that would make even the fiercest comb tremble. The man you see on stage is unrecognizable on the street as a lanky, humble introvert.
Widerman is the life of the stage show; he slides on his knees, jumps around the stage, provides dueling vocal parts and gets the crowd fired up, all without missing a single note. His guitar solos and rockin’ riffs truly speak for themselves and he is not afraid to reiterate. All the while Bliss sits opposite on the stage with the quiet elegance of a southern gentleman, topped by a wavy brimmed fedora and heartwarming grin. His organ chords complete the harmonic dynamic and add an element that you didn’t know was missing. Finally Kiely keeps the beat and the crowd moving with his powerful (to say the least) drum smacks and perfectly timed hits.
At one point, as the crowd of tough guys started to get particularly rowdy in the mosh pit, Widerman reminded them to “keep it fun” and to holster the angry elbows. Nearing the end of the set Widerman explained the frivolity of leaving the stage only to await the crowd’s assumed encore cheers and said they would just continue to play and end on a high note.
After a mix of fast rock and well placed slow songs, the band’s second last song was “Sworded Beest”. A personal favourite of mine, and clearly many others, the anthem promoted a medieval response from the audience, as they knew that the end was nigh. Monster Truck ended their set beautifully with “Righteous Smoke” and made sure that everyone in the room was fully satisfied with their rock.
As drunkards and fans alike stumbled out of Ritual, the leftover smoke settled on beer bottles and cans strewn about the floor. Monster Truck once again proved their worth in Ottawa and solidified their status as rock gods.
Interview, pictures and words by Griffin Elliot
Toronto punk rockers, PUP crashed into Ottawa on Friday December 13thÂ to tear up a late-night show at Gabba Hey.
Total Score: 9/10[starreviewmulti id=3 tpl=20]
PUP stands for Pathetic Use of Potential.
“It comes from the idea that we all had real jobs and we quit comfortable careers to play music. Essentially we were totally broke, we had no money, no real life it seemed, but it was the best time and fun. Our families kept saying it was a pathetic use of our education. In the end, it ended up making us really happy,” guitarist and vocalist, Stefan Babcock says. Their youth and wanderlust are also driving factors behind the need for the road.
PUP definitely has some cool experiences in store for them. Recently, they were signed to the LA label SideOneDummy. Babcock talked about being a teenager and loving the all-original SideOneDummy bands. He says it got him and his friends into punk rock.
Since the mid ‘90s, SideOneDummy has been signing mainly punk bands, but in recent years they have expanded their roster to include a more full spectrum of genres. From punk icons Anti-Flag to Comedian Erik Griffin, Gaslight Anthem to Title Fight, the label even helped Irish folk sensation, Flogging Molly, to where they are today.
“If you’re a strictly punk label it’s hard to build and sustain careers and companies. So they diversified. As times have changed so have their musical tastes. The label is great. They have singer/songwriters, pop-punk, punk. It was a natural progression as indie rock began. They’re exploring different genres which is cool,” Babcock says.
PUP has had their share of experiences in Ottawa thus far. Babcock says they have played some crazy shows in the capital city, including one of their drunkest nights ever at House of Targ. Not to mention Oktober Fest…
“It was weird because there were families and old people in this field and the band before us was a Blues Brothers Tribute band which is the opposite of what we do. It was still fun, though. There were thousands of people and everyone hated us except the punk kids who came,” Babcock says.
Friday’s show wholly perpetuated their drunken shenanigan ridden persona, with one of the members yelling, “I am so drunk” and a beer can flying through the air above the stage at one point.
Regardless of intoxication, PUP brought their best and played a harsh and on-point performance. The drummer, Zack Mykula, made himself significantly known with his hard-hitting, vigorous beats that seemed to lead the tone. Making use of two guitars, Steve Sladkowski was able to launch riffs that kept up with the uncompromisingly blunt drum rhythms. These two instruments fused together in a staggering, badass form that was cause for the entire performance’s raw punk sound. In the meantime, Babcock experimented with innovative riffs, giving PUP an original feel. Nestor Chumak’s underlying bass lines added dark tones to the performance. To tie it all together, the vocals were a perfect amount of undisguised passion and screaming.
The four guys also brought incredibly forceful stage presence. Early on in the show, the lights were dimmed and the most prominent figure was Babcock standing on a platform with his fist raised in the air. Before the band launched into another one of their powerful tracks, energy not once faltering, Babcock jumped around and encouraged the crowd to do the same. At one point telling us to “kick the shit out of the small girls at the front” because they looked tough and could take it. The crowd heeded his words and began a thrashing mosh pit at the front, where Babcock crowd surfed- not wanting to make Ottawa the first show he hasn’t crowd surfed at.
When asked what he would do if he could play a show with limitless boundaries and no consequences, Babcock laughed, “I would play a show with all of us set on fire. That would be the most badass thing ever. Oh! And maybe also start the show by parachuting in on fire!”
PUP will be on their way to Europe in the next few months to begin their first tour overseas.
“It’ll be exciting to get on a plane and go to a totally different place that we’ve never been and do what we’re doing here. It’ll be a crazy experience.”
Interviewed, reviewed and written by Brianna Harris
Photos by Ming Wu and MW Photography
Hamilton melodic hardcore band COUNTERPARTS have been through a lot in the past few weeks. After playing their last show with guitarist Alex Re, the other members have had to buck up and move on. Brendan Murphy still owns the microphone, with Jesse Doreen on guitar, Eric Bazinet on bass and Kelly Bilan keeping beat on drums. Filling a hole in a band of this stature is never easy, but Adrian Lee has been given the task of doing so and time will tell if the repair will hold. Since 2007, the five-piece melodic hardcore group has truly dominated a genre that is taking over the music scene, playing a key role in the start of a new wave movement for heavy music. The Scene Magazine got to talk to Brendan Murphy near what seemed to be a broken elevator shaft in the basement of The Montgomery Legion in Ottawa. In town for the 2013 UNITE & IGNITE FEST, The Scene Mag’s own Jono Del Pozo talked to Brendan about the recent member changes, the Hamilton music scene, melodic hardcore, labels, touring and more.
When you first started out with Counterparts did you think you would end up where you are now? Where’s the coolest place you’ve got to tour?
Well it’ll be seven years this January and going to Australia was really cool, it was definitely the farthest we’ve ever been from home.Â We’re also going to Japan in January, I’m hoping that’s gonna be pretty cool but my favourite place to play would have to be the West Coast United States.Â Like California and places like that, even the northwest places like Seattle, Portland or Vancouver are all great.Â I mean Australia was definitely the nicest place, the most expensive but the nicest place.Â As far as where we’d end up, I mean like that fact that we got to play a couple shows outside of Hamilton, that’s more than we’d ever thought would happen.Â The fact that we went and played in Australia, and Europe, and the UK that just like extra.
When discussing the Hamilton hardcore music scene, Counterparts is a name that comes up more often than not. What bands would you say are really influencing the scene now and making it what it is today?
Well I guess we’re the name that comes up if you’re talking about Hamilton hardcore right now. Honestly I don’t know of too many bands coming out of Hamilton right now.Â I’ve been friends with Prophets for a while now and those guys are doing really well.Â Other than them I mean we played with a band called Coldfront at the show last night, and they were cool. Jeff from Haymaker and that new Pick Your Side thing that’s going on, that’s pretty cool.Â Burning Love is still doing things, putting the name of Hamilton out there; I mean that if they’re even saying they’re from Hamilton anymore, maybe Toronto now.
Now that Counterparts has parted ways with guitarist Alex Re, how do you think it will affect the dynamic of the band?
It’s going to suck not having him around but at the same time, you gotta push forward, kind of pick up where you left off. Alex has an awesome life at home, a job, a girlfriend. Then when we have to go on tour for him it’s like, “well I have to leave the things that I like to go and grind it out on the road for however many days.” So I can’t really blame him for not being thrilled about touring but we got a friend filling in for him for now. He’ll probably just end up being in the band. It’s not permanent yet but we’ll see where it goes. Our friend Adrian [Lee] had been playing with us for a while and he’s like the complete opposite, he doesn’t want to be at home he wants to go tour. We’d be getting tour offers and Alex would be like “fuck, I have to leave my job, my girlfriend and all the stuff that I have going on for me at home to go on tour,” whereas we have the opposite now cause Adrian’s like “I have nothing going on at home I want to go out and tour.” That definitely helps the band so we can actually go out and play shows for a while and not have to worry about people being let down.
After losing Alex how do you think it will affect your music and songwriting going forward?
I don’t think it’s going to affect us too much. Yeah I’m sure there will be parts Alex is known for that won’t be there anymore, but Jesse has been the major songwriter of the band for the music anyway so having him on board we should be good to go. I don’t think it’s going to make that much of an impact on sound, like yeah if Alex wasn’t around we wouldn’t have songs like “Slave and Soil” and stuff like that. We’re definitely going to miss having him around and in song writing but at the same time I think we’ll be fine. It will suck losing a friend on the road too, and not hanging out. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.
How do you feel about kids at shows asking to hear songs off your first album Prophets, does that ever get to you guys? Does it bother you that fans don’t grow with your music?
Yeah it gets to us. Every time it happens we get pissed off about it. I do understand it though. The thing is we’re all guilty of it, going to shows and an older band is playing and they have all this extensive material and you want to hear the first record, I do get that. But like being in a band and having to deal with kids coming up to you and being like “yeah I don’t’ listen to the new record I only like Prophets.” It’s just like “well fuck I’m really glad I just put all this time and effort into it.” A month of recording the thing, for you just to dismiss it cause it’s not the first record. Now because of that it makes me appreciate going to see other bands. Like shit, maybe I haven’t checked out their newer shit, like fuck yeah I’m going to do that now cause I don’t want to be that kid, you know?Â I don’t want to be that kid in the back saying “yeah hey I only know eleven songs by you.” The thing is that’s pretty much just in Canada which makes sense cause Prophets never had a firm release anywhere else. When we play Ontario, kids want to hear Prophets, but when we go to America kids are like “oh yeah The Current Will Carry Us play stuff of that!” The new album is getting received pretty well, better than I thought it would. As long as we have that sound, that Counterparts sound, so people don’t need to wonder what they’re listening too.Â There are how many bands right now out there that are doing the melodic hardcore thing? It’s what makes us different from Being As An Ocean or It Prevails, or all these other bands. You have to find that one thing that sets the bar and run with that.Â So when people hear that deedle deedle guitar they’re not like “okay well is this Counterparts, Hundredth, Being As An Ocean, or Climates being like whose this?”
The lyrical content to “Witness” is quite profound yet dark and almost depressing. What was going through your head when you wrote that song? What influenced those lyrics?
That song is about being, I guess, a miserable sort of person. Waking up in the morning and feeling like shit and not wanting to continue on. The thing is you do that, and you continue on like that looking for any sort of thing to be like “oh okay why do I feel like crap?” Like this sucks and you obviously want to find out what’s wrong and what’s causing it so you can fix it, and a lot of the time you go and you look for that one thing that’s making you feel like shit and you can’t find it. So then you’re left with “oh, it must be me” and nobody likes to hear that you’re the problem. It sucks. That song for me is dealing with “okay well, I don’t know what’s wrong with me and all my life I’ve been trying to figure it out and I can’t so maybe its me,” you know what I mean?Â Maybe it’s something that’s beyond my control and it’s very much a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people. I feel like a lot of people can relate to that, like you wake up and you think “oh ya like my girlfriend broke up with me and everything sucked but I’m still miserable and I haven’t been with her for so long so it’s okay, some underlying thing is there,” and you can’t figure out what it is.Â So like you think, “maybe I’m just a fucked up person?” and that’s hard to come to terms with.
How do you feel about bands being independent and doing the IndieGoGo or Kickstarter thing?
Off the bat, I don’t really support IndieGoGo or Kickstarter.Â When I first heard of that website it was for somebody trying to raise money for a documentary they were trying to film, I feel like it’s a little more reasonable to ask for money for that; if somebody has a product or an idea that people want to support beforehand, and it can be related to music in the exact same way.Â People are buying a record for a band that they support, and I get that, but you see it so often where bands are like “yeah we need $30,000” and then turn around and raise way more than that. I wouldn’t blame anybody for getting more than they ask for, that’s humanity: if it’s there you’re going to take it. It’s just like “okay, where was this when we were growing up” and we were 18-years-old and we were like “okay well we have to work jobs so we can go buy a van to play shows.” It’s ass backwards now. With bands being like “oh well if you want us to tour you should be putting us in a van.” I think you should work for what you have, but that’s just my view on it.
How has getting signed to Victory Records impacted your band?Â What’s your view on being signed to a label?
I feel like every label is fucked up. There’s shitty parts about every label, you’re never going to find a label that’s completely perfect, that everybody’s thrilled about and that everybody’s stoked on. You just kind of have to get what’s best for your band, what makes the most sense. Victory is good though, they treat us well. There’s always going to be things that they want us to do or things that we want them to do that we’re not going to agree on. That’s just how it works though, our view of the band coming from what we want to do might not work out for them financially with them being like “well how the hell are we going to pay for that?” I try not to worry about it. Maybe I don’t loop our label into it as much as I should but for the most part I’m going to worry about playing shows and writing lyrics and doing the band thing. They can worry about marketing and album shit and that’s the way it should be. That’s why they’re there, we’ll do our job and they’ll do theirs.
What can we expect from Counterparts moving forward in the near future?
Honestly not really too much right now.Â We’re going to announce a tour in mid March and April and that’ll be pretty sweet. It’s in America though, that’s the only thing, that’s going to be awesome, but I mean other than that we don’t really have much coming up.Â We’ll do another video, I don’t know for which song; we’ll figure that out for sure.Â We’ll get it sorted and we’ll see what happens.Â 2014 could be a big year, we just gotta make the best of it.
Interview and words by Jonathan (Jono) Del Pozo
Photos by Joey Fitzmaurice
Jon Snodgrass of Drag The River Interview
My first attempt to reach Jon Snodgrass wasn’t overly successful as we seemingly somehow had gotten our wires crossed and miscalculated that whole time zone factor. He and Drag The River were making tracks down the road by the time I dialed him – with Jon at the wheel. Two days later, I caught him with a few minutes to spare before sound check.
“We drove all the way from Columbus, Ohio to New Jersey today” Jon sighed, “It has been a very long day and we’re all very tired”. Understandably so, as the boys are reaching the tail end of a tour that kicked off on the 11th of October in Albuquerque, New Mexico and will have crossed boarders into Canada by the time this reaches readers. Not to mention that the drive from Columbus to New Jersey takes about eight hours, and that is bound to take a toll on a band.
I asked Jon about life on the endless highways of touring, “It’s awesome”, he replied, “It’s what we chose to do. We normally fly out here but I decided it would be smarter to do it in a van and we’ve got the worst part of it out of the way now, and the rest should be smooth sailing”.
I imagine life on a bus or in a van would be more interesting than soaring high above the clouds. There’s far more to see out the window along the road than there is way up in the atmosphere. “What’s the weather like up there though? That’s what I’m curious about” asks Jon, catching me off guard a little – its normally me that asks the questions. I shoot back with the temperature and quick summary thinking it may help the band in their travels along the weary roads, somehow, and then instantly realize that Canadians and Americans don’t use the same system of measurements and that I’ve long since forgotten how to calculate between the two. He has lived in Colorado, however, and which is home to the Rocky mountains, so I doubt the beginnings of a Canadian winter will pose much of a challenge.
Snodgrass, who has spent time with the likes of Lagwagon, Bad Astronaut and Scorpios, may be better known for his acoustic compositions than anything else. Despite this, Drag The River have set aside their acoustic instruments for this tour and are traveling as full-blown rock band. This is somewhat the opposite of what seems to be the current trend in Punk-Rock recently, where musicians have been hitting the road, strumming out normally boisterous tunes in a more folk inspired way. “Its a lot less gear to travel with” chuckles Snodgrass, “It’s all rock ‘n’ roll though, know what I mean?”.
“I always liked acoustic because I write all my songs on an acoustic guitar. But these days, we don’t even bring an acoustic guitar out with us – we’re back to being a rock band again”.
Snodgrass was recently in town (which is code for Montreal) with Scorpios, along side Lagwagon’s Joey Cape, on a tour dedicated to the duo’s close friend and band mate – the late, great Tony Sly (of No Use For A Name fame, but you all knew that). Sly’s passing has touched many but seems to resonate greatly here in the province of Quebec. His last show with No Use For A Name took place in Montebello at Rockfest and Quebec City was where No Use For A Name played its final gig in his honor following his demise. I asked Snodgrass what he remembers most about his friend.
“Oh man, he had a really good sense of humor and that’s something I miss a lot. There are so many things that I’ll see and think about how he would have thought that was funny. He grew up in California but his family is from the UK, so he had that California sense of humor with that dry UK wit, you know? It was a special thing”.
Fat Wreck Chords chose to put together a tribute record in Tony Sly’s honor, and Jon Snodgrass was among the artists invited to participate in the project. “Yeah, I did a couple of things. I sang with Tim from Rise Against (“For Fiona”) and Scorpios did a song (“International You Day”) and then I did a song (“On The Outside”). I was out of the country and I shit the bed, and I sang my part when I was in Berlin with this girl who was a mutual friend of all of ours. I was lucky enough to make my way onto three songs”. The proceeds of the record go to the Tony Sly foundation, which benefits his family and can be ordered off the Fat Wreck Chords website for a mere twelve bucks!
Fat Mike himself appointed most, if not all, of the artists on the compilation with the tracks he thought best suited for them. The result is pretty impressive. “He wanted me to do “On The Outside” and I thought shit! That’s prefect!” recalls Snodgrass.
Drag The River play Montreal on Thursday, December 12th at Divan Orange with Cory Branan and it is a show not to be missed. Then, the lads play three gigs around Ontario. Vankleek Hill on the 13th at Windsor Tavern, Toronto at The Silver Dollar Room on the 14th and Hamilton on the 15th at Club Absinthe.
Written by Kieron Yates