Bryon Lippincott: by day, guitarist with New Bruises; by night, owner of Kiss of Death records. SPB sat down to discuss The Fest, touring, and how making all your releases free-to-download actually improves business.
ScenePointBlank: Since this is a Fest-related interview, I'm going to start by asking for some Fest stories. How many times have you played?
Bryon Lippincott: Well, New Bruises has played The Fest 5 times. Damn, time flies. We played Side Bar the first and third time, Common Grounds the second and fourth time and we played Market Street the fifth time…
ScenePointBlank: I read an interview that mentioned that you were in jail the night before your first Fest. Care to elaborate?
Bryon Lippincott: Yeah that was over a decade ago and a previous band…Anyway, back in the late ‘90s some guys had a fest outside Gainesville in Micanopy and called it Gainesville Fest. We had driven overnight from Pennsylvania to play and when we got into town we met up with Chuck from Hot Water Music and some other local friends and somehow we decided to jump a fence and going swimming in a public pool after hours. As in most poor decisions we had made as a band, someone decided this experience would be only better if we shot roman candles at each other. Needless to say, a neighbor called the police and we came walking out of the park and ended up getting interrogated by them. A couple of the guys were a little drunk and got a little belligerent, which in turn led to us getting a little arrested. My brother and I were from out of state so we got to spend the night in holding cell. We ended up getting a misdemeanor for trespassing in a public park after dark, with no fine for spending the night in jail. Chuck and our underage guitarist, Mikey, ended up getting a fine… So that was my first experience with being incarcerated. At least we made punk rock dangerous again. Hahaha.
ScenePointBlank: How has the Fest changed over the years? Is there a time you could see yourself not playing it?
Bryon Lippincott: I think it has just gotten massive at this point. I don't feel like it has changed much beyond the fact that there are more bands, and more kids there, and a healthy dose of tourists at this point just kind of checking it all out. We always look forward to Fest because it is the biggest show we will play all year and it is always a blast. I love getting to catch up with lots of old friends—although everybody in one place is a little overwhelming. Plus, I always see some amazing band that I have never seen before. I guess the only reason not to play would be to make more room for bands that deserve to play more then us, we are kind of a lazy band sometimes but we swear we are going to better this coming year.
ScenePointBlank: You've played in other festivals. What makes The Fest unique?
Bryon Lippincott: Fest is like a holiday for DIY punk kids. Like I was saying, you get to see everybody from cities/countries you have played and bands you are friends with. It is kind of an international event at this point. A lot of other Fests are amazing but they are much more regional if they have larger bands. Fest draws kids based on the massive amount of different bands on different levels of popularity and kids can check any of them in one place. I guess that is why we love being there. It is like how you want punk rock to be.
ScenePointBlank: Has it also helped you develop connections as a band or a label? You toured Europe last year—did you know people through Fest that helped set that up?
Bryon Lippincott: To be honest, Jan from Yo Yo Records booked the European part of our tour and he has never been to Fest. Our friend Craig from Sheffield booked the UK part and we met him on our first UK tour in 2007. I am not sure if we met him at a Fest before then so it did not directly help us, but I do think Fest has definitely still helped us as a band and a label. It has been amazing for meeting new people and it has been, like, the introduction to tons of kids you may never get to play for. We booked the tour through friends that we had met via other bands and from kids that had seen us play—and a lot of them have seen us play at Fest. I think that Fest is like a strange stamp of approval for bands and labels now. If you get on Fest then there is something valid about your band and I believe that the label of being at Fest almost every year has made it more visible. There are not many other venues or avenues to accomplish that.
ScenePointBlank: I caught your sets at Fests 6 and 7. I don't remember much about 6, but at 7 you ended with a medley of Descendents covers. Was that a one-time thing, or is it something you occasionally work into your set?
Bryon Lippincott: The Descendents covers were a one time thing. We actually learned like 12 songs from Milo Goes to College and I Don't Want to Grow Up to play for a Halloween show at Transitions Art Gallery. It was super fun and unplanned. We just decided to close our set with a few of our favorites. We always have lots of bad ideas as a band so who know what idea we will follow through and do this year.
ScenePointBlank: How often do the Gainesville and Tampa scenes interact? Are they separate entities?
Bryon Lippincott: Yeah they are separate because of the 130 miles, but people drive it for shows sometimes. I have a great time hanging out with people from Gainesville and Orlando, for that matter. Florida would have one amazingly huge scene if those 3 cities were closer.
ScenePointBlank: Besides the punk scene, what else is going on in Tampa musically. Is there still a death metal scene?
Bryon Lippincott: Yeah, I think it is still here. Some friends of mine in a local band called The Absence (Metal Blade Records) just played a record release show the other night, but I am not a huge metal fan. We have a lot of different indie rock stuff and, strangely enough, we have different sects of punk that don't really overlap that much. It is a big enough city to have stuff going on but we are out of the way enough not every touring band plays Tampa. I think that has an impact on the scene here.