Scene Point Blank: So, to back up, you mentioned Paddy’s distance. Have you worked out a system now for rehearsal? He joined shortly before recording Marvels. Is that right?
Dave: Like a year, maybe. It was a good amount of time, it wasn’t right before.
Ronnie: When our old bass player, Dave Kaktis, was leaving we all agreed it was probably the best thing not to be a band anymore blah blah blah. Paddy did Marvels of Industry. He came in when we had six, maybe even more, like eight or nine songs.
Isaac: We had a big handful.
Ronnie: We had a big handful of songs done and he was like, “No I want to do this with you guys.” We did it. We practiced at an oil refinery in Chicago. It was at 36th and Pulaski. We practiced. It was freezing cold up there. We all got done working. Isaac was rehabbing houses. Dave, you were working your full-time job. Paddy was travelling all the way down from Minneapolis in the freezing cold and we go up there—there’s no heat—so basically Marvels of Industry, I think, was kind of fuelled by practicing in a thirty-degree warehouse.
I think, at first, it was pretty rough because we had never had to worry about a bass player being eight hours away travel-time in a car and ten hours on a bus. Now, I think it’s really working well that we don’t play all together. We don’t get a chance to practice all the time. We don’t get a chance to say, “Oh great, we’re gonna take a week or two weeks and write this song or that song.” It’s awesome. We work it out to where, sure if we have to rehearse or something we’ll get to a gig a couple hours early and go over songs that we already have. Like the last time Paddy was in town we had a JBTV show and we hadn’t practiced or played a show for four months, so he came into town, we had a chance to go to the rehearsal spot, we wrote another song. It was great.
Isaac: That was a song he brought.
Ronnie: He brought another song to the table. It was awesome, but it’s kind of just getting used to it. We played a house party yesterday and we didn’t rehearse at all. We just went and played the party and we’re going to do the same thing tonight.
Scene Point Blank: That was your rehearsal for tonight.
Ronnie: Yeah, it works out. It’s kind of cool for me. As for being a drummer it’s kind of awesome, because we’ll play together sometimes at practice: there’s no bass player there, we do our thing, it’s fun. But, then, it’s really really extra special when Paddy’s playing ‘cause—not only is he the shit on playing bass—I mean, he’s a great bass player and has a great feel, it’s just the bass is there and Paddy’s there so it’s just like a win-win situation. At least on my part, I know I’m sure you guys say the same thing.
Dave: I agree.
Ronnie: So it’s gotten easier
Isaac: It totally has.
Ronnie: It’s gotten easier because we’re all a bit more comfortable with one another and I think we all kind of have the same outlook and the same goal at the end of the tunnel.
Dave: Back in the day we’d get a song together—we we all in the same room—and it would be real straight forward and boom boom boom. But now we’ve got all this time to kind of eff with it. We demo the stuff so we can send it to Paddy, so he can hear what we’re working on and stuff, and it allows us to stretch out and make this song a little more than just the meat and potatoes that I think defined us back in the day.
Isaac: I know for a fact, I remember we were talking about this when we were getting ready to do Marvels of Industry that like we didn’t realize it, but Dave and I were trying to fill up all the space with our two guitars because we didn’t have a bass there. And then, when Paddy shows up, it’s like, “Holy shit! This sounds great!”
Personally, I always just chugged along with the bass and didn’t really think of trying to do anything interesting. Trying to fill up the space without the bass there is kind of helpful to fill in the pieces, and that way you don’t have four guys banging away on the same chord. It sounds kind of awesome with drums pounding away but it kind of forces us to do something more interesting because two guitars banging away on chords with drums is terrible. Laughs. So it’s helpful in a way.
Ronnie: Just traveling alone there’s probably been hundreds of dollars spent on just either us coming to Minneapolis or Paddy coming down—
Dave: Thousands and thousands of dollars.
Ronnie: Yeah, I don’t know why I’m saying hundreds, but it was good, though. A lot of that time, I don’t think any of us realized what was going on but I think what we were actually doing is putting a lot of base work down for what is going on right now. Just a base, a good work base. There’s not really an uncomfortable feeling because we know Paddy knows his stuff. He likes playing with us, so now the travel thing and all that, it’s not that big of an issue.
Scene Point Blank: A lot of bands have it worse. There are bands where people are in New York and California.
Dave: Yeah, we don’t got it so bad. We’re only two states away.
Scene Point Blank: Isaac, Todd Congelliere just wrote a column for us. It’s going online in a couple days, and he says that you got arrested for dancing naked in front of a bus?
Isaac: I didn’t really get arrested. The cops busted me…Well, yeah, it did happen. Where the fuck was it?
Ronnie: They woke everybody up in a hotel.
Isaac: They publicly shamed me instead of arresting me. Laughs. They made Gateway District and all the Arrivals guys come downstairs—
Ronnie: I got woken up, and it was like, "Hey, we need to go downstairs right now or else Isaac’s going to get arrested.” And we all have to go down there and all I saw was Isaac in his jeans.
Isaac: So, truth be told—and you guys don’t even know the story.
Scene Point Blank: Todd just said “rumor,” so I didn’t think it was actually true.
Isaac: I’ll set the record straight. Laughs. I never told anybody what happened, but I might as well. I might as well come clean.
So I get these terrible rashes from my ass sweating when we go on your so I’m like, I’m just going to sleep naked and sleep in the van because I like my peace and quiet and my own private space. Even though we were at a hotel that night, which is a total rarity, I was still like, “Fuck it, everybody else can sleep in a bed, and I’m going to sleep in the van. It’s going to be cool.” Middle of the night, I’m sleeping, I wake up, I’m like, “Fuck, I’ve gotta piss.” So I just get out of the van and I’m naked. Laughs. I’m just like, “Who the fuck is going to be up at like five o’clock in the morning in a hotel parking lot. I guess it wasn’t five. It was probably like four, but whatever.
So I just got up, went, took a piss, got back in the van. And then, like two seconds after I got back in the van, these cops are flashing flashlights in the van. They’re like, “Hey naked dude! Get out here.”
Scene Point Blank: Did you grab pants?
Isaac: Well, of course. So I threw on some underpants, but that’s all I threw on, and then they make me get out of the van and they’re like, “See that bus over there?” There was this big tour bus. They’re like, “That bus is full of old people and they just called us and told us that they saw a naked dude running around the parking lot.” Laughs.
Ronnie: I just wanted to mention that I remember you standing there with, kind of like an “oops” look on your face, but I just remember a big long stream leaving for the sewer. Laughs. And you were just kind of looking at it.
Isaac: So they’re causing a commotion and, anyway, to make a long story short: yes, so my punishment was they just kept telling me, like “You’re fucked dude. You ever been to jail before?” I’m like, “No.” “Well you’re going tonight. We’re taking you to jail” and they just kept giving me a hard time. Then they went up to the room and brought everybody down. Just the dudes in Gateway District and everybody in Arrivals and they just brought them all down and gave a big lecture, like “You can’t let this guy sleep in the van and piss in the parking lot naked.” And then, like you said, I had to pee a lot. I mean, I woke up to pee in my sleep. There’s this big river of piss.
Dave: From the van all the way to the street, pretty much.
Isaac: So he just wanted to call everybody out to look at my river of piss. Laughs.
Scene Point Blank: As you stand there naked, like in COPS.
Isaac: I was in my underwear, yeah. I was standing around and, more than anything, the cops were flabbergasted that I was a dude in a touring band and I was sleeping in the van and I look like a homeless dude. They were like “Shouldn’t they be in the hotel doing coke and hanging out with groupies or something. What the fuck? Is this really what’s it’s like to be in a band?” That was their main impression. I think I got off because they just felt sorry for me. Laughs.
Scene Point Blank: Is that what everybody should know about life in a band: that’s what it’s really like?
Isaac: More often you’ll almost get arrested for pissing instead of for slapping somebody on the ass with a shark or something.
Scene Point Blank: Life in a band is sleeping in a van in a hotel parking lot and not having groupies.
Isaac: Well, for me, it is. I can’t speak for everybody.
Dave: We have zero groupies. I learned something from a friend of mine. He said, “In punk rock, girls think they’re the shit. But in heavy metal, girl’s think you’re the shit. And I think that speaks to the lack of any kind of crazy groupie culture in punk rock. There’s just a bunch of proud, liberated women.
[At this point Ronnie departs to set up his kit.]
Scene Point Blank: I like to think it’s a respect thing.
Dave: It’s totally a respect thing. But it can be distilled down to “In punk rock girls think they’re the shit. And in metal girls think you’re the shit.”
Scene Point Blank: How do I follow that up with a question?
Dave: So when’s your next metal record coming out?
Scene Point Blank: You said the next record will be more angry. Will it be metal?
Dave: It’s going to be post-metal.
Scene Point Blank: When you two sing, you each do the whole song. You never trade-off. A lot of bands do verse by verse trade-offs. Is that a conscious decision or do you just prefer to sing the songs you write?
Dave: That’s just how it works out. I think back in the day we worked it out a bit differently, but ever since the first record, especially, it’s “You write it, you sing it.”
[At this point, the The Gateway District began their set and, for some reason, our conversation deteriorated to headset microphones and past Halloweens.]
Main photo thanks to Shanty Cheryl.