Scene Point Blank: Fractures marks your third release with Deathwish Inc. Was it hard to leave a label like Rivalry for Deathwish? What makes them stand out from the rest of the labels?
Eli Horner: Man...you know, that was so long ago, I really don't remember much about it. I don't think 'hard' would be the right word; it was just more of an opportunity we felt we had to take. Kyle and Zach (Rivalry owners) have been friends of mine for a long time, ever since Kyle socked me in the jaw while we were "moshing" to Strung Out - haha - and they are both still good friends. At that time, we just felt like it was the right move. Rivalry had just started, and we knew they were going to be huge, but being on Deathwish was one of those things that we said, 'Dude, wouldn't that rule if...?' when we started the band, even though we never actually thought it would happen. We love Rivalry, we've played every single Rivalry Showcase, and we always wanted to be affiliated with them. They did a lot for us, both as friends and as a label. But I don't think it was a 'hard' decision at the time. The thing that made it easiest is that we knew that Tre and Jake were good dudes who genuinely cared about hardcore and hardcore bands, and we would never have to worry about being fucked over or being taken advantage of, or that they would just stop giving a shit about us or anything. I've always said that both labels are actually very similar in how they are run and in overall ruling-ness.
Scene Point Blank: So far, every Killing the Dream release has been available on vinyl, including the vinyl-only 7" for Deathwish. How important is it to offer your music up in this format?
Eli Horner: I don't know if it's a necessity or a must for us, but it's obviously something that is important and that we are grateful we can do. When we started the band, I had three goals - to put out a 7", to be able to go to Seattle once and play with my friends' bands up there, and to play one show where kids went crazy for us. So to be able to have put out two 7"s and now two LP's, I definitely don't take that for granted. Plus, I think it's especially important for independent music now that it's so easy to download records and stuff. Kids might download your album off Soulseek, but they also want to collect the vinyl, and it's important for our label to be able to sell that.
Scene Point Blank: What your thoughts on the current digital-downloading craze? How has it affected your feelings, as an artist, of creating music, only to have it consumed in a non-tangible form?
Eli Horner: That is a good question. It's hard, because times change, and we can't expect things to stay exactly the same as they used to be. You see all the different forms music has come in throughout the years, from phonographs to singles to eight tracks and cassettes and CDs...it's just part of things changing. At the same time, it does kind of bum me out that people really aren't getting to experience albums in the way they were meant to be, as corny as that sounds. I'm guilty of it too - sometimes it's just easier to grab a record off of your friends' iTunes or whatever...but it is still a bummer, especially as someone in a band. Like I said though, it's just the way things are now, so I think it's important that we all kind of adapt to it and find ways to make it more tangible, whether that's doing stuff digital booklets/layouts or completely overhauling the definition of an 'album' in general. I'm not exactly sure how you'd go about doing that, but there are people getting paid a lot more money than I make to figure stuff like that out.
Scene Point Blank: Touring for Killing the Dream always seems to come in limited bursts, particularly in the U.S. And yet you've traveled to Europe and Japan? What is it about these markets that make them so appealing? What can we expect as far as shows out o the Killing the Dream camp in support of Fractures?
Eli Horner: If I had a dollar for every time someone asked us this...man. It's not that we love Europe or Japan or are trying to tour those places more than the US. We've been to Japan once in five years and to Europe once in five years. We've done way more tours in the States, but the problem is that we have always had jobs and/or school, and so it was hard to get away for any more than two weeks or so at a time. That really limits us as far as what we can do. The US is so big, we can't do everything in the two weeks our jobs let us have. So we have to pick spots and focus on them, like going to the Northeast, or the Southwest, or what have you. It sucks that we haven't been to places like Detroit or Chicago, but that's just how things have worked out. It's not something that we have done intentionally you know?
This summer, we're doing a lot of touring (a lot for us anyways) in support of Fractures - we're actually heading out to the Northeast for eight or nine shows with our hetero life matez Ruiner, as well as our good friends Gravemaker and The Carrier. We can't wait to get back out there. After that, we'll be going back to Japan with Ruiner for like eleven days, and then we'll be doing another two or so weeks in the States in August. After that, we're just going to have to play it by ear and see what happens.
Scene Point Blank: Looking back at the catalog, shows, and overall experience of Killing the Dream thus far, what kind of reflections do have of the band? Is there anything you would do over? Thinking back to that first practice or first show, how have things changed? How are they still the same?
Eli Horner: God, it's been so long since we started this band. It feels like we were just kids when started, everything was different. We didn't have any expectations about anything; we were still really wide-eyed and just so excited to be doing everything. i remember being so excited about our first 'tour' - two shows in Portland and Seattle with Embrace Today, With Honor, and Love is Red. You know, after a while you just sort of settle in and things start coming more naturally to you, and that's both a good thing and a sad thing. I still get excited for every tour, but I'd be lying if I said it was the same sort of feeling. But there's not really a single thing I'd change about my experience in the band. It's sad that we've had to go through different members and stuff, but that's just how it goes when you're in a band, and Joel, Bart, and Phil are all still friends of mine. I'd like to think we've been a stand-up band with integrity, and I'm really proud of that. We've been loyal to friends and everyone who has helped us out, and I think we've all been able to keep the 'success' we've had in perspective of the bigger picture of life. We've been able to be a serious band that has accomplished a lot, without taking ourselves too seriously or letting the band become bigger than friendships or our real lives outside Killing the Dream.
I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am to have had this experience. I think one day after it's all done, I'm going to be sitting around playing Nintendo or behind my desk at work and it's all going to hit me that it's really over. I don't know what I'll do when that happens...but I definitely know how lucky we have been to be a part of all of this.
Scene Point Blank: Killing the Dream has been around for quite a few years now, what are your thoughts on the current state of the underground hardcore scene? How do you react to the increased coverage and notoriety that many of the artists - including yourselves - are receiving from the press, fans, etc.?
Eli Horner: I don't know. It's just one of those things you have to take in stride. I hate that cliché, "It is what it is," but that's really how you have to look at it. All you can really do is worry about yourself and make sure you're doing the right things you know? Hardcore is very different from twenty years ago, but that was the case ten years ago, and so on. Life changes, so does music. I think there's definitely a certain 'hardcore/punk' aspect that's gotten a little lost in the shuffle, but at the same time, bands still go on tour all the time and there's still a feeling of community within hardcore, which is very impressive. The ladies at my office think I'm a rockstar or something because my band has gone on tour and put out records, but they just don't get that it's different when you are a hardcore band.
On one hand, it's great for bands, because obviously, you start a band because you want to play music and you want people to hear it. And touring is a million times easier now than it was even when I got into hardcore. Sometimes I think bands try to go out on tour way before they're ready, and ultimately it almost hurts them, but then again, any time you can tour, it's great for you.
Other than that, I mean, it hasn't really changed that much, at least for us...it's not like we're going and playing shows to a thousand kids every night or selling thousands of dollars worth of merch. It's a little strange to see bands like From Autumn to Ashes or Black Dahlia Murder or other bands like that (haha showing my age and how out of touch I am...are those even bands anymore?) get crazy huge, just because I wouldn't think their sound would be so accessible to kids. But crazier things have happened I suppose.
All in all, I think it's a positive thing, so long as the bands that are getting the attention can keep things in perspective. If bands want to complain about hardcore getting huge, they should stop acting like mini-rockstars themselves. I don't know. Haha what was the question?
Scene Point Blank: Sacramento used to be a hotbed of music in California, but as a late it seems to have been overshadowed by the Bay Area and Southern Cal. What area bands would you suggest to our readers to investigate?
Eli Horner: Sacramento rules!!! There's a ton of awesome young bands, as well as older, more established bands. Check out our friends Elysia (although I'm sure you've already heard of them), Eras, Takeover, See it Through (they're from Reno, but whatever), Desperation, Hoods, Embrace the End, Bastards of Young... I'm sure there's a lot more that I'm forgetting.
Scene Point Blank: Previously members of the band were involved in other musical projects - Embrace the End, Allegiance, etc. With those members either now gone or those groups defunct, are there any other projects that you or the members of Killing the Dream are also involved in?
Eli Horner: Not currently. I know DJ, Patches, and Chris all have stuff they're kind of working on and will probably be popping off once Killing the Dream winds down, but I guess we'll all just have to wait for those...
Scene Point Blank: What's the future look like for Killing the Dream?
Eli Horner: So bright, we have to wear shadez. I'm going to hate myself for that stupid ass answer when I read this again, but whatever - haha.
Scene Point Blank: Thanks for your time! Parting thoughts/shout outs?
Eli Horner: Do something nice for someone today. Tell your parents you love them. Seriously.
Also, if anyone reading this happens to know Vanessa Simmons and wants to set me up on a date with her, that would be fantastic too.
Thanks for the interview! Shout out to our pets as usual: Hambone Johnson, Penelope Jack, Launch Pad the Line aka Da Inna City Kitty, Calvin Broaddus, Calidog, Rattatta, Jacob, Louie, Lucy, and all the other ones whose names I forget.