Jeffrey: No we don't. We definitely have our share of problems just like any band. I think one strength in our band is that nobody in our band really has a big ego, which has helped things out a ton. If you get an egomaniac in your band, you're just basically fucked. So I think everyone is basically willing to compromise when it comes down to it. We don't have a method of resolving shit. We've got our problems, we just try to work through them and leave egos out of it. That's the main thing.
ScenePointBlank: If you could do a split with any band that's currently together, what band would it be?
Jeffrey: I don't know, there's lots of bands that I'd like to do shit with. I think Fucked Up from Canada is probably one of the coolest bands around right now. I don't know if it would actually ever happen, if we could do a split with that band, but I think they're a cool band. I think they're doing shit in their own style. I just really respect it. They've been putting out singles like two or three songs on a piece of vinyl and really cool layouts, cool lyrics. Pretty stunningly original music for the kind of stuff they're doing. Off the top of my head I'd say Fucked Up would probably be the band that I'd like to do a split with right now, because I know it'd look awesome and I think they're one of the coolest bands around right now.
ScenePointBlank: What's your biggest gripe with the hardcore scene?
Jeffrey: I don't know. I don't know if it's necessarily a gripe, but I definitely feel like there's always kind of a dumbing down going on. I don't know, I guess that would be my gripe. I feel like there are all these bands coming along trying to dumb things down. And trying to criticize bands that go about things differently or have something to say. That's one thing that just always kinda gets me. I don't like revivalist shit, where it's like, "Yo, we're going to be like stupid youth crew and sing about retarded shit." I don't know, I mean that comes off as being really negative. I just don't like bands that say, "We don't really have much to say, we're just here to fucking have fun. We're just here to sing about straight, or sing about our crew," or whatever. Or even just singing about fighting or being a fucking tough guy. That stuff has its place somewhere, but maybe not in the scene. I hate being criticized for being a band that tries to have something to say or tries to be intelligent, and tries to lift people up or tries to explain the reasons why we feel the way we feel. That's my main gripe, just people who want to keep things really simple and boil all life's complexities down to slogans and songs. I think there's always kinda revivalist movements in hardcore that try to take away things like politics, good lyrics, and whatever. That's my gripe but it's not a gripe at the same time, because I know that stuff exists. Instead of griping about it I write my own lyrics and try to do our own thing as best as we can. So along with voices condoning violence and voices trying to make things seem really simple, we also have our voice in there. So hopefully kids pick up our record and think twice about subscribing to stupid mob mentality and things like that.
ScenePointBlank: It seems like that you're saying that people complain about bands doing something different than before, and if so that's not hardcore. And you're kinda saying how you should push the boundaries?
Jeffrey: Exactly. I think the confines of what's considered punk or what's considered hardcore is always fucking narrowing. You listen to bands from the early 80s, the bands that were considered hardcore bands and punk bands and they sounded fucking crazy.
ScenePointBlank: Like Bad Brains.
Jeffrey: You listen to the Bad Brains and they're playing reggae instrumentals. That's fucking awesome because that reflects the culture they're coming from and things that influence them. You listen to Husker Du and they're influenced by pop music. People want to say, "Hey, Modern Life Is War isn't a hardcore band because of this and this reason." If our fucking ethics are there and the type of shows we're playing are there and the type of kids we're playing to are there, what the fuck right do you have to say we're not a hardcore band? My favorite bands are definitely ones that fucked with things and pushed boundaries. I think Fucked Up is one of those bands, I think Black Cross is one of those bands. I'll even go as far to say I think American Nightmare was one of those bands that said, "We can fucking break rules and sound how we want, say what we want to say and fuck yeah we're still a hardcore band." That's more what this is about than...
ScenePointBlank: I wonder if bands like Bad Brains came out today if people would say they're not hardcore.
Jeffrey: I can't help but think it would be trashed. That people would be like, "That's fucking bullshit. We need more mosh parts and more of this and that. That's fucking screamo, that's artsy, that's reggae, and that's whatever." I can't help but think that's the reaction a band like that might get. Obviously their greatness might just succeed and trump the whole thing, but maybe not too. I'm just of the school of thought that thinks pushing boundaries and trying to say more and do more is always better.
ScenePointBlank: On the opposite spectrum of things, what's your favorite part about hardcore?
Jeffrey: My favorite part about it is that it's so grounded and so down to Earth. Everything about it is just so accessible. That's one of the things that keep me believing in this kind of music. I know if we play a show any little kid in the audience who's curious about what's going on can come up and be like, "So what's this shit all about?" to me. If he has the guts and initiative to. I'll sit down and talk to him about it. I hope that goes for most other guys and girls in most other bands because I think that's one of the main things. You can have your fucking favorite band stay at your house. Or you can go eat out with them before the show. Or you can talk to them after the show. You can talk to them about what the songs mean. You can call them up for your zine and do an interview. I don't know if it's tight knit and I don't know if it's loyal, because it's not always. But at least it's very accessible. I think one of the most important things about it is to keep it so it's not this thing going on this high stage with a barrier, the bands fucking backstage before the show, all that kind of shit. I think once that happens we've fucking lost the whole meaning of the whole thing. That's kind of an obvious thing to say is your favorite thing about hardcore, the scene or whatever. But it's definitely still my favorite thing about it and the thing I believe in most.
ScenePointBlank: If you had to pick one between Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, which one would you choose?
Jeffrey: I'm not much of a video game nerd, you might be surprised to hear. I'd probably go with Street Fighter. I used to play that at this pizza joint that we went to in town. I'm kind of an old school dude, so I'll go with Street Fighter.
ScenePointBlank: What are your favorite recent releases?
Jeffrey: Black Cross's Art Offensive would be on my list, all the Fucked Up releases would probably be on my list. Let me think here...I thought We're Down Til We're Underground was a fucking rad album. A lot of people diss on that one. They came out and said what they need to say, did what they needed to do before they called it day. That was definitely one of my favorite albums. I'm kind of stumped on all of these recent release questions. I never think about shit like that. I'm never up to day in my mind about what's come out recently.
ScenePointBlank: If you could watch a battle between any two entities, what would you choose?
Jeffrey: I'd probably pick watching a battle between a polar bear and...a polar bear and a battering ram. That'd be good. In some frozen tundra type kind of scene. The battering ram is fucking blasting away at the big polar bear and he's swinging his claws and shit. I think that'd be pretty intense.
ScenePointBlank: Any thoughts on the recent election?
Jeffrey: Not really, man. I was definitely a little jaded about going out and voting. I did go out and vote. I think it's fucking discouraging. I'm not a huge Kerry supporter but I would definitely much rather have a Democrat in office than a Republican. It's pretty fucking discourage to feel like you don't have a voice which is exactly what I feel like. I went out and voted; I don't know if I'm going to go out and vote next time, just because I don't have that much faith in our system as far as electing someone who represents us. I don't know if it's fucking possible anymore. I'd like to say it is, but when it comes right down to it I believe in making music, writing books, communicating with people, talking to people, working with people, and whatever. Trying to make a change on a community level, just on a friendship, or family level. I think spending my time doing stuff like that is so much more valuable and so much more important than devoting myself to political causes that I just can't really fucking believe in. I don't think any white man we fucking elect is going to make our lives better or save us. I hope World War III doesn't break out because we have some maniac in office. I guess I'm really fucking jaded and discouraged about the whole thing. I hate seeing a fucking rich bastard like that in office. Who's always trigger happy and ready to start a fucking war. I think it's just really damaging to all of us and discouraging to all of us.
ScenePointBlank: Finally, any last words?
Jeffrey: Where is this zine coming out at?
ScenePointBlank: It's going to be online, so everywhere. I'm from the bay area.
Jeffrey: I'd like to thank all the bay area kids, 'cause we definitely get a lot of support from the bay area. All the people living there treated us really well every time we've been through. So thanks to everyone in the bay area and all friends, especially Phil who puts us up every time we're out there feeds us and all that kind of good stuff. Thanks to all of the people who are supporting this band. It's been a fucking ride so far, but without the kids that have been supporting us, we definitely would've called it day by now. So thanks so much to every one who's bought the record, that's come out to our shows, who's supported us, or told their friends about us. We really really fucking appreciate it. That's all I got.
Click photos for larger images.
Interview conducted by Zed the Correspondent.
Graphics/Layout by Matt the Whirling Fireball.
Pictures at Gilman by Kristin "the good hugger" Maddox
and pictures at Sink With Cali by Chris "really likes Negative Approach" Markham.
Thanks Lily for last minute help.