Features Interviews A Wilhelm Scream

Interviews: A Wilhelm Scream

The first time I heard A Wilhelm Scream I was obsessed with them. They were gritty and melodic; they had guitars and basslines that were creatively catchy; and their lyrics brought everything together: it was like you were ready to take on the world and go kick some ass. After seeing them live a number of times, I was pleasantly surprised to find out they are some of the most fun loving guys you’ll ever meet. The band has a newly released album out called Partycrasher which, despite the positive reviews out there, I still think is a highly underrated album. I recently got to hang out with the charming and comedic duo Brian Robinson (bassist) and Mike Supina (guitarist) to discuss Partycrasher, The Fest, and even Johann Sebastian Bach. I have never laughed more during an interview than this one and, if anything, this is a testament to the wonderful dynamic of A Wilhelm Scream.

Scene Point Blank: A Wilhelm Scream is one the most diverse bands out there—from your sound to the tours you do. Now that the new record is out, is there a different, more energetic vibe on tour?

Brian Robinson: People are liking it, but I don’t think anything has changed in terms of energy.

Mike Supina: Well, I feel...

Brian: We don’t talk about this, we don’t talk to each other. We’re having a talk about this right now. So you feel a little bit differently?

Mike: Yeah, I feel like there’s a good energy just because there’s been a positive response about the album. And I like to think all of us are excited to have it out and play new material.

Brian: Okay. You know what? I’ll retract my statement and state that it does feel like we’re more down on the hill rather than facing an uphill and going against the wind type of situation.

Mike: We’re enjoying the ride into the sunset towards the beach.

Brain: We’re ready to go swimming—I’ve got my swim trunks.

Scene Point Blank: So when I was first given the new record someone told me, “This record is good, but it’s no Career Suicide.” Not that their opinion matters, and overall I don’t think people would agree with that statement, but would you say it’s your best record to date?

Mike: I’m biased because it’s the first full-length that I’m on so I’m gonna go ahead and say that it’s the best record we’ve ever made.

Brian: It’s the best full length Mike has ever played on. [Laughs.]

Mike: Good answer. I feel like the new record will always be the best record because we believe it in and do it for the reasons that make us happy.

Scene Point Blank: Have you been playing a lot more of the new songs on this tour?

Mike: I mean, slowly.

Brian: We’ve genuinely—I mean I’m not lying—did not have a damn practice for this tour.

Mike: Yes, not at all.

Brian: Because I was on a different tour, then flew in.

Mike: Yeah, he’s a big rock star.

Brian: I’m not! I’m not a rock star at all. I’m a hard working, blue collar, penniless punk rocker!

Mike: I like the way you put that. I wish I had a beer bottle I’d smash it and say “YEAH!”

Scene Point Blank: I read that the band once decided to put "as much shit as you can possibly fit into a song and pull off live" into your songs, and I think specifically on Partycrasher you can hear how dynamic this record sounds; there are so many songs with multiple layers and elements. So is this what keeps things interesting live?

Mike: Oh yeah, definitely. We’re always trying to challenge ourselves and feed off of each other. Just the fact that there is a live show is interesting, just the show itself will be interesting because it’s always different. Playing the new jams adds something to that, though. We get to see a lot of people singing along to the new songs, but not really singing along, you know like mouthing random words.

Brian: It’s fun when they do that.

Mike: Yeah, it’s fun to know, “Hey, you don’t know this song.”

Brian: SO STOP FAKE SINGING! [Laughs.]

Scene Point Blank: That’s true, and there’s always that one guy that tries to sing along who claims to have gotten the record months ago!

Brian & Mike: ALWAYS!

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Scene Point Blank: Trevor writes most of the lyrics, but I read that on this album the lyrics were a lot more collaborative. That’s cool because I don’t hear about too many bands doing that now, usually everyone has their place in a band and they stick to that role. Going a bit back to the dynamics of this record, does being collaborative help the dynamics?

Brian: There’s a couple songs on the record that Mike wrote.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely, it helps. Even with the lyrics too. I’m pretty new to writing lyrics and things like that, so Trevor was more or less my coach.

Brian: Yoda.

Mike: [Laughs.] Yes, my Yoda. I’d write some words down and then show him and go over it with him and he’d tell me what things could be improved and what he’s really liking and why. I learned a lot from him and it’s a really inspiring thing to want to write more. It was a really good experience. I wrote “Ice Man Left a Trail” And “Hairy Scarecrow,” although Trevor collaborated on the lyrics on that one. His lyrics actually gave me ideas for mine.

"Playing the new jams adds something to that, though. We get to see a lot of people singing along to the new songs, mouthing random words."

Scene Point Blank: You’re also on a new record label. How was the shift from Nitro to No Idea?

Brian: We finished our three records with Nitro, they were done. And Nitro is also more of a hot sauce company now. They make hot sauce. What I mean is, they’re not really a functioning label anymore. They don’t sign bands—they still put out records—but they aren’t really functioning in signing new bands and all that. No one has really signed on Nitro.

Mike: I feel like The Swellers were the last potential band to sign with them but that was years ago.

Brian: Yeah and Full Blast, but that fell through. I mean, we did the EP with Paper + Plastick with Vinnie and he’s an old friend of the band and we’ve toured with Less Than Jake tons of times. I think the main thing about No Idea was going down and playing The Fest and creating a good relationship with Tony and Var. Tony isn’t really involved with No Idea anymore, he’s into Fest, but us going down there was how the ball started rolling with signing with them.

Mike: Var is always sending Trevor emails and we’re always getting forwarded the emails, he’s very active which is great.

Brian: He really keeps us in the loop, which is new.

Mike: To share that enthusiasm is really nice. Especially when we played The Fest, I was wondering if we’d see Var. I was sure we were going to see him at some point then, sure enough, seconds before we start our first song he’s side stage just there and ready, and that’s a great feeling.

Scene Point Blank: Some people are saying Fest is getting worse. Is that crazy talk?

Mike: I feel like it’s definitely getting better. It’s getting worse in liver damage, but the fest itself is definitely getting better.

Brain: It’s growing so it’s great. It’s bacterial.

Scene Point Blank: They should use that as a slogan!

Brian:[whispers] It’s bacterial.

Scene Point Blank: Now it just sounds like a spin-off TV show, maybe now you don’t even need to have a band anymore.

Brian: It’ll be part of it; it’ll be a variety show. You know, like SNL: musical acts and really bad jokes.

Mike: Well, sometimes the jokes are really bad.

Scene Point Blank: Recently I noticed how musicians today are almost afraid, or even overly cynical about sharing their musical influences. You know, some of them are like, “We are original, you can’t label us.” Even within punk/hardcore I’ve seen this desire and need to be totally “new and different” whereas, in the past, music was basically an art form of shared and borrowed songs. You’ve stated influences before—Bad Religion, Thin Lizzy—I’m just wondering as modern musicians if you have thoughts on this, if you’ve seen this trend recently, and really, can you be completely original?

Brian: Anyone who is completely original died about 500 or 600 years ago. Johann Sebastian Bach was awesome. We have to be inspired by other artists to make the music that we make, we’re in a genre of music, that’s how genres evolve. Bacterial! You have to have inspiration from other musicians and artists. I’m a gigantic Rush fan and I get stoked for the next Rush album to come out because, you know what?, I’m going to try to learn every god damn bassline on that CD and I will and I do. Then I take that and bring it to Mike and then he does whatever he does and brings it to Trevor. We all have our inspirations. Like how many Van Halen songs can you play, Mike? All of them!

"Even within punk/hardcore I’ve seen this desire and need to be totally 'new and different' whereas, in the past, music was basically an art form of shared and borrowed songs."

Mike: I feel it’s more and more common for bands these days to talk about how original they are and they are the least original thing that’s hit the streets.

Brian: It’s like, “We’re totally original and coming out of this new realm of music that we’re creating that’s never existed before.” Get real!

Scene Point Blank: I heard that Trev has a song called "Partycrasher," which is where the album name came from, but that the song itself didn’t make the album. Why didn’t it make the cut?

Brian: The world isn’t ready for it and neither is our band.

Mike: If I’m not mistaken, I just got wind of this from Nic Angelini that the song is no longer going to be called “Partycrasher,” but the same song that was originally written for the record that was “Partycrasher” will come to life and at some point relatively soon.

Brian: This is the first time I’ve heard that!

Mike: I just heard it two days ago when Nic said it in an interview.

Brian: I think he’s lying! He’s gotta be lying. Now we created total and utter confusion. This is the best interview ever, it has everything!

Scene Point Blank: It is the best interview, but all good things must end. I read how the option to record the album yourselves came down to “love and money,” two things closely connected no matter what anyone says. And the band has had their fair share of members leaving, the grind of tours, etc. Do you think the daily grind will ever outweigh the love or do you see an endless road for the band as far as making more music and touring?

Mike: I don’t think that’s an option for it to end.

Brian: We’re stuck. We’re going to be playing in bands until we die, essentially. I fully wrap my head around my own mortality and realize that I’ll be playing in bands until the day I die because I have to. I’m really not good at anything else.

Mike: I absolutely love it, just music in general. My father played in bands, my brother plays in bands, my uncles are in bands—it runs in the blood.

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Words by Kristen Swanson on June 25, 2014, 1:45 a.m.

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A Wilhelm Scream

Posted by Kristen Swanson on June 25, 2014, 1:45 a.m.

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