Scene Point Blank: What drew you to the playing the Fest? How did you hear about it?
Ryan O'Connor: We were planning a short Eastcoast tour with Hour of the Wolf around the same time as The Fest, so it just sort of worked itself out. Hour of the Wolf have played the Fest for the last couple of years too, so it made sense. Tony from No Idea has worked with a lot of the bands that I book and he was cool with adding both of our bands.
Scene Point Blank: To me it's all punk at the Fest, still you're one of the harder, faster, tougher bands to be playing this year. What's your feeling going into the Fest as one of the few straight-forward hardcore bands?
Ryan O'Connor: I'd hardly consider us a "tough" band, haha. I weigh 140 pounds soaking wet, so I think that automatically disqualifies me from that label. I've always thought that Outbreak had a very "punk edge." We play faster than most hardcore bands and don't really have formulated, cued "breakdowns." It makes me cringe every time we get lumped into the "Nike Dunk worshipping" crowd - I fucking hate that shit more than anything. Oh well. Over the years I've tried to take the labeling as a grain of salt, because you're going to lead a hard life if you take it personally. But whatever, we're down to play any type of show. We've toured with metal bands, we've toured with punk bands, and everything in between. Out of curiosity, I was just talking to Rob from Ruiner about what to expect from The Fest and he said that it's always a great time, so I'm sure it'll be fine. We generally go into most shows with zero expectations - it's a lot harder to get let down this way.
Scene Point Blank: Recently you played some very diverse, possibly more commercially friendly fests like Bamboozle and Groezrock, how do you think something like the Fest will differ from those larger shows?
Ryan O'Connor: From what I've gathered, it seems like it'll be a lot more personal and intimate. Although I know there are different stages of all sizes, so I'm sure it'll be similar in some aspects too. Granted there was a barrier, even at Bamboozle we played on a smaller stage, so it was easy to hop down below the stage and get right into it with the crowd - turn it into more of a "show" and less of a "concert" if that makes sense. Although more commercial than something like the Fest, Groezrock still had some really awesome vibes too. We were really well taken care of at that festival. During Rise Against this one kid climbed a catwalk and was working his way toward the stage through the rafters. He climbed down onto the stage, and I was expecting him to get murdered by security, but they ended up like helping him off the stage and getting him back into the crowd. It was just the type of outcome that would NEVER go down at a bigger U.S. venue - security would have killed the kid for pulling something like that. And I don't know, just the amount of meal tickets and drink tickets they gave us (way too many) really showed that they wanted the bands to have a great time. It definitely made us more at ease, which is always nice when you're a bit out of your element, you know? So yeah, even some of those more commercial fests can still be rad, but we're looking forward to the Fest for sure. We've heard good things.
Scene Point Blank: Noting the line-up is pretty much full, what bands are you psyched to see at this year's Fest?
Ryan O'Connor: All of the bands who I work with: Hour Of The Wolf, Ruiner, Landmines, The Menzingers. Stoked to see all of those bands. I also just saw that band The Swellers over the Summer and I thought they were awesome. I'll try to check them out too.
Scene Point Blank: Coming off all hindrances Outbreak has being dealing with in the last few months, where is the band at now, in terms of line-up and new material? Is the plan to release the new album through Think-Fast or completely independent as a lot of bands are doing now, regardless of popularity?
Ryan O'Connor: We've got a pretty solid lineup, for the first time in forever. The core of the band is myself, Erik, Brian, and Billy. My brother was playing bass for a while (he recorded bass tracks on our newest record) and he's toured with us recently (and when we first started too), but we're still not sure if we want to be a full-time five-piece or not. He's also working on getting his personal life together, which isn't easy to do when you're going on tour and trying to make ends meet. So we're sort of split down the middle about the whole thing - some of the other guys hate playing as a four-piece, and I love it. I'm okay with using temporary bassists while we tour, but I'm not really okay with adding a new full time member unless it's someone who has played in the band in the past, someone who has a history with Outbreak. I'm just over lineup changes and don't like the idea of someone new jumping in the mix, you know? As far as new material, our new album comes out on November 10th. It's fifteen new songs, reflecting where Outbreak is at in 2009. The record is self-titled and will be released through my own label, Think Fast! A record, which is basically like self-releasing in the sense that I'll pretty much have my hands on every aspect. It made the most sense for us to release it this way, as we get a very hands on approach, but at the same time have a some-what established label backing us (sorry to toot my own horn). We also scored a distribution deal with a bigger label, which puts us in a great position, because it's one less thing I need to be responsible for with the self-release, while at the same time allowing us to maintain complete control over everything. It's not a "conventional" way to go about releasing it, but considering the sad state of the music industry, it's actually a really good spot for us to be in.
Scene Point Blank: Though Outbreak is a group of relatively young dudes, the band has been around for awhile, what changes have you seen in the punk community since the band first started playing out?
Ryan O'Connor: The kids come and go, and with that, so do the trends. My point is that it's hard to make a flat comparison because things change so quickly. I have definitely noticed (for better or worse) that there are a lot more bands right now. Every one is starting a band! It's cool in one aspect, but than on the other it's sort of a train wreck where there's so many bands trying to tour, which can't even draw locally.
Scene Point Blank: You've toured with some modern legends like Bane and Shai Hulud and even pioneers like Agnostic Front, but the Cro-Mags, what was it like to hang out with someone like John Joseph? I've read his book and it sounds like the dude gets real!
Ryan O'Connor: Yeah it was an amazing time touring with the Cro-Mags. JJ was really cool to us, always making sure we got taken care of, giving us shout outs every night, and just in general being a solid guy. He has some stories, that's for sure. It makes you appreciate your upbringing a little bit more. It's like yeah, I basically grew up in a trailer park, but at least I wasn't homeless in New York, you know? Haha. It makes me appreciate people more when they have shitty upbringings; I think I'm just jealous of everyone who has everything handed to them. But yeah, going into tours with some of the bands that I grew up listening to, you never really know what to expect. You can't help but fear that they're going to be dickheads and it's going to tarnish your outlook on them. Luckily that hasn't happened yet.