Scene Point Blank: The new Lifetime album is going to be released on Decaydance Records, which is Pete Wentz's of Fall Out Boy's label. Do you feel this might help bridge the gap between bands in the vein of Lifetime to more modern acts that are accused of being devoid of substance?
Dan Yemin: I hope so. I would like to think that we can show the mall punks what real hardcore is.
Scene Point Blank: When lifetime first hit the scene did you get a lot of flak from people because of your style?
Dan Yemin: I don't know what people said. People said, "What the fuck are these kids doing; why is there this singing part and an open E mosh part. Why do they sound like Dag Nasty one minute and then Slayer the next." People were saying, "This doesn't sound like Chain of Strength or Killing Time. I don't know what to make of it."
Scene Point Blank: Is Lifetime considering touring with bigger acts like Fall Out Boy, or My Chemical Romance? You played with MCR before didn't you?
Dan Yemin: I would like have the experience of playing with those bands but it's not our agenda. Pete is a real good guy and a big supporter of the band, which is cool. If they want to let us play with them, same with MCR, it would be great, but that's not our agenda. This is our fourth album though so we should be headlining regardless if were drawing 1000 people a night or not. With a band, no matter how long you have been around, there always the struggle of what you wish to accomplish with touring. Are you having fun or promoting the album; I think it's always little of both. When you release of something into the market you're doing business and that's the reality of it. The question is: does it make more sense for us to tour as Lifetime or open up for some band that's going to draw 5000 people a night? And if we are going open for somebody else to draw attention to our music, it makes more sense for us to play with a punk band? I have no illusions about Fall Out Boy's fans liking Lifetime. However, I would play with a band like Rise Against; people who like that band like fast aggressive music. It would make more sense but mostly I want to play with my friends' bands or bands I find exciting.
Scene Point Blank: Another writer from the zine quoted you as saying Jersey's Best Dancers was "the perfect combination of melody and mosh", with that in mind, what do you hope to showcase with the new Lifetime songs?
Dan Yemin: I wouldn't use the word mosh, at least I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. I could be wrong though. We just want to make a good Lifetime record. We definitely have our own sound so it won't sound like anyone else. I don't think it's going to give anybody something they aren't expecting either, but its not going be a rehash of our previous albums. I think it uses Hello Bastards and Jersey's Best Dancers as a point of departure. The cool thing is we didn't necessarily see Jersey's Best Dancers as a better album or a progression from Hello Bastards. I think if you asked everybody in Lifetime, we would be split down the middle as to which album we liked better.
I think this record will be naturally a progression because were ten years older and ten years wiser. We're better at song writing and arranging. We know each other better and are more comfortable with each other, but in some ways it's a return to form. It's an exciting challenge because, I, at least, haven't been playing guitar as much for the last five years and hadn't been playing guitar on a daily basis. Scott [Golley, Lifetime drummer] hadn't been playing drums for three years when we got together. It's exciting to challenge ourselves to get our chops back. (Again I'm put on hold so Dan could hide the fact he is talking on his phone while driving, thus breaking New Jersey law)
Dan Yemin: For the kids out there, I am a hypocrite. Do not talk on the phone while you're driving; it's not safe.
Scene Point Blank: In a few articles I've read over the last six months or so, you cite hip-hop artists like MF Doom, Aesop Rock and Public Enemy. In your opinion what relevance does political and underground hip-hop have to the hardcore and punk scene; the independent music scene?
Dan Yemin: It's a really creative art form. The best underground MC's are pushing the limits way more than underground rock bands are pushing the boundaries in their respective genres. I also tip my hat while considering them a huge influence on me as a musician. I think in the mainstream MC's are the new rock stars, I mean Jay-Z is the biggest rock star in the world or at least he was two years ago. In underground music I don't think there is as much of switch though. As far as challenging the boundaries of the genre, MC and beat makers are pushing it further.
I've always loved hip-hop but Paint It Black is the first band where I consider hip-hop an active influence. Paint It Black has a melodic parts but I wouldn't consider us a melodic hardcore band. When you're screaming as opposed to singing you're relying on the cadence of your words to be the hook rather than the vocal melody. When you get to a chorus you won't have something you will be humming in your head, you'll have a sequence of syllables laid out across a measure, the cadence, that's the hook. You really need to study hip hop to understand because most people that scream for a living just go [Dan makes fairly good metal core vocalist impression] and there's not a lot of thought to how the vocal patterns are laid out. The best hardcore bands are the ones that pay attention to that. To really do that justice, you need to be a student of hip hop. Hip hop takes its vocal approach from the drum. People love drum breaks in music; there something catchy about the way the beats fall across a measure. It's the syncopation that makes people get up and dance. The vocal approach takes cue from drum improvisation; anyone who is shouting and screaming over music should study that and really appreciate it.
Scene Point Blank: MF Doom is a master of that, people attack his flow but he's got a real rhythm going with his vocal patterns.
Dan Yemin: He's also fucking hilarious, it's like a song of one liners. He does justice to the whole idea of battle rap. Where you challenge MC's while boasting and bragging about yourself. He honors it while poking fun at it; the posturing of the whole act. Everybody knows this fat guy in mask is not going to beat the fuck out you. It's hilarious.
Musically though, the idea of musical collage, taking bits of pieces and making something new is a genius concept that, when done well, blows my mind wide open.
Scene Point Blank: For those who are not as well versed in hip-hop, what do you recommend? Personally I swear by the Deltron 3030 album.
Dan Yemin: I like Deltron 3030, although I prefer the MC work to the beats. It's not my favorite of Dan the Automator's stuff [producer of Deltron 3030]. My favorite piece by him is the shit he did with Kool Keith, the Dr. Octagon record. That's mind blowing. I also like the first Handsome Boy Modeling School record that he did with Prince Paul who produced a lot of older hip-hop stuff, notably De La Sol.
If you don't own Public Enemy's second album, It Takes a Nation to Hold Us Back, you need to get that shit; it's the perfect Blend of Politics and aggression. You also need check out MadLib and everything he does with Stones Throw Records. Also MF Doom used to be in a group [known as Zev Love X then] KMB with his brother Subroc. Their second record, Black Bastards, is an amazing album.
Atmosphere is a great storyteller, but I think he talks a little too much about sex and his prowess. As a wordsmith and a storyteller, he's top notch. And Wu Tang Clan is my favorite. The first album has dumb skits but the music is flawless. One of their members, Ghostface Killah, hasn't made a bad move yet. His new album, Fishscale, is amazing.
El-P, he runs Definitive Jux, is amazing as a beat maker and an MC. Mr.Lif, another Def Jux artist, is one of the best political rappers out there. That's a good start; it's hard to think of names when I don't have my records at home.
Diverse is another MC is way underrated. He put out an album on Chocolate Industries, he's got some real â??93 shit going on, but it's great.
Scene Point Blank: So you're currently aware of Shook Ones? How does one react to a band who's entire catalogue to living tribute to you?
Dan Yemin: We toured with them. They are sweet kids. I read their Myspace page and I blushed. I'm not sure I deserved it. There were a lot of other people in all those bands, but I guess I'm the common thread in those bands but I want to make sure everyone else gets credit.
Ultimately I'm flattered by it. I love when bands sound like other bands. The whole reason I love Rancid is because they sound like The Clash, who aren't around any more, and we need bands to sound like that. We also need bands that sound like Kid Dynamite. I'm not interesting in making music like that anymore and I find Paint It Black more challenging but that sound needs to continue. They are great kids and great players as well. They have a new album coming out on Revelation. They worked with a producer from Seattle whose has worked with everyone from Isis to From Ashes Rise, all that big, epic, heavy stuff so it should sound great. Like they say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and who doesn't like being flattered?
Scene Point Blank: Any last comments?
Dan Yemin: Thank you to everyone who support us and to the haters; I'm upset you didn't have more confidence in us. Lifetime will have some new stuff out the end of the year and full-length out in the spring. Paint It Black should have a new album out by the end of 2007. Thank you.
Words: Scottie B.