Feature / Interviews
These Days

Words: Zed • October 16, 2010

ScenePointBlank: What is your name and what do you do?

Alex C: My name is Alex C. I play guitar and write a lot of our music.

ScenePointBlank: Any awesome nicknames?

Alex C: Ryan's dad has called me Albee ever since 9th grade. I said that I thought it was a funny name, he picked up on it, and has called me that ever since. I'm pretty fond of Alex C, too. Not really a nickname, but whatever.

ScenePointBlank: It's more than a nickname, it's a destiny. These Days�what does this mean?

Alex C: I managed to hide this from my bandmates for a year. We're named after the b-side to Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart single. I pitched the name to Ryan after we worked out a couple songs, and he dug it. That phrase appeared in some things he had written around the same time. It's a phrase you hear a lot, and I think it can conjure up different images in different people's imaginations. Sometimes I feel cursed living in these days...

ScenePointBlank: How did you finally tell your bandmates it was a Joy Division reference?

Alex C: I think someone just asked. And I told them. I was met with mock shock and disgust, but I don't think it really bothered anyone. We all like the name as far as I know.

ScenePointBlank: How did These Days form?

Alex C: After Never Again, I just didn't think I'd find a group of people who shared the same musical vision as I did. I swore I was done with making music. Done. Retired. Forever. 12 weeks later Ryan and I started working out some new songs I had written. We asked RJ if he wanted to play, and Brad asked if he could join. This lineup worked for a while. We wrote the demo together, and we all worked pretty well together. After the demo we began the daunting task of finding a drummer. Hardcore drummers are not very readily available anywhere, but especially not in the Northbay. We hooked up with this stoner piece of trash named Taylor. He was a nice kid, and a talented drummer, but he disappeared on us at a real crucial juncture, and is probably the reason our Death Sentence project took so long to finally materialize. After Taylor was given the boot, our friend Jason from Lifelong Tragedy stepped up to the plate to play for us. Ryan continued recording drums the next couple times we entered the studio, but Jason will make his These Days studio debut on our upcoming LP. He's gotten so much better in the past year. It's awesome to see someone dedicate themselves and progress like Jason has. He's a solid kid. One of the hardest working dudes I know. Our latest addition to the lineup is Justin Davis on bass. We asked Brad to leave in February because it just wasn't working with him living in Sacramento. That was a tough call to make, because we still like Brad very much, I definitely consider him a friend of mine. It just wasn't working. I think we work better without Brad too, only because he and I are both so similar - we have distinct ideas of where we want our music to go, and anytime you put two dudes like that in a band, there will be friction. Brad's an awesome writer though. Listen to our song Death Sentence for proof of that, he wrote 95% of that song.

ScenePointBlank: How long have you been playing guitar for?

Alex C: It's embarassing to admit, but I've been playing for 9 years. Only in the last year have I really come into my own in terms of ability and style. In the past year I've been working really hard to get better and expand my abilities as a guitarist.

ScenePointBlank: 9 years ago you played guitar for the first time...how did this go about?

Alex C: In 7th grade I rented a bass, and took lessons, because I wanted to be in a band with this asshole from my school. He was your typical aspiring guitar god. Remarkably proficient, but totally self absorbed, and no style of his own. Bass got really boring to me, because I was really just jamming along to his god awful jam rock bullshit. In 8th grade my parents bought me a guitar and practice amp for my birthday. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, I suppose. I sat in my room and learned how to play all my favorite songs by bands like the Ramones, Millencolin, Pennywise and Bad Religion. Pennywise and Millencolin taught me how to palm mute and play fast. It sounds lame, but it really did teach me something.

ScenePointBlank: What would you say your main guitar influences for writing music for These Days?

Alex C: I love Madball. They've written some of the hardest riffs ever. I like them because they move alot around the fretboard. It's busy stuff. I also like (but don't listen to a lot of) Buried Alive. In fact, both of those bands only recently appealed to me, when I noticed some similarities in our writing style. I like Judge and Integrity a lot both of those bands fused metal and hardcore perfectly in my opinion. The Final Plan is another influence, their fast riffs were so good. Again, really busy stuff. I like that a lot. A Perfect Murder is inspiring me to write some more metal influenced stuff, triplets etc.

ScenePointBlank: What's your favorite Madball song?

Alex C: Hard to say, can I do a top 3?

ScenePointBlank: Yeah.

Alex C: In no particular order - Confessions, Demonstratin' My Style, Thinking to Myself (Been There Done That 7" version)...actually the version on Hold it Down is good, but it just sounds so much more raw on the 7".

ScenePointBlank: If These Days could play with any 4 bands currently together, who would you choose for them to be?

Alex C: OK, it'd be a weird bill, but fuck it... we'd open up, then you'd have Donnybrook, Madball, and AFI. To wind the evening down, R.E.M. would headline, and I'd just chill out and listen to one of the best bands of all time. Fuck you all.

ScenePointBlank: How did you hook up with Jeff from Run For Cover for Death Sentence?

Alex C: I don't even know. Jeff was just some kid I knew through the internet somehow. NAMBLA chat, I think. I lucked out and he wasn't a cop. When Jeff decided to do his own label, he wanted to do our record from the get go. It took a while, and it was a learning process for everyone - it was his first release ever, and it was the first time I'd ever done artwork for a record or CD. Both parties learned a lot as we went along. But yeah, he's worked hard, and dealt with a lot of bullshit, but he always stuck by us. After 8 months, it's incredible to hold the finished product in our hand. Jeff is a really nice dude, and he's working hard to build Run For Cover into a formidable label. He just signed an awesome band called This is Hell. Their 7" will be out soon.

ScenePointBlank: How was recording with Zack Ohren?

Alex C: I've worked with a few engineers in my day, and Zack is the best on a number of levels. First of all, his talent is incredible. Every time we record there, it only sounds better. Second off, you're not going to find a funnier dude to spend 8 hours a day with. He's a little man, very tiny... but he'll talk shit all day to Ryan, who's like 6'2". That's just funny. I especially likes it when he tells us how terrible we just sounded on a bad take. He's fucking honest, and has the magic touch. I don't know if I'd ever work with anyone else. Check out his website at www.castleultimate.com. I fucking love that dude.

ScenePointBlank: You just came back from an extensive tour, what have you learned?

Alex C: I got the best deal out of anyone in the band - I only flew back for 3 dates, because I had school commitments. I learned that I hate East Coast weather in the Summer time though. We went to sleep at a truck stop in Maryland around 5:00AM one night. I woke up at 6:45, and it was already 80 degrees and humid. I was so miserable. However, when you can pull up to a fucking church on the other side of the country, and play to kids who've never seen your face, or heard your music necessarily, and then watch them go off... that's fucking incredible. It really blew my mind.

ScenePointBlank: Did you notice any difference in the 'scene' between the East and West Coast?

Alex C: Well, no not really. Some kids dressed differently than you'd see out here, but it's all about the same. I only played one show, though. I don't know if I could really answer that.

ScenePointBlank: Any funny stories from the road?

Alex C: Funny stories? A lot of "you had to be there" shit, but my favorite was when we were exiting New Jersey, on our way into Delaware. I asked Jeff if he'd ever been on a bridge before, and if he was excited. He replied, "no", very matter of factly. I took it at face value.

"Wait... are you fucking kidding me? You've never been on a bridge." "No. Never."

I was shocked. "Jeff, that's fucking weird, I'm on a bridge like, 4 or 5 times a week at least." Then Jeff announces that he was being sarcastic. We all sort of stare at him awkwardly. I say, "No... Jeff... you lied to me. That's not sarcasm."

Then Cody gave him a lesson in sarcasm. "Alright Jeff, this is sarcasm - someone asks you, 'Hey, did you rape that dead ass chick laying on the ground right there?' and you say 'NoOooOoOooO'." While we all laughed at Cody's absurd example, Jeff was vehemently trying to prove to us that he knew what sarcasm was, we in hysterics though. I guess that's driving around all day will do to you.

ScenePointBlank: When can we expect your next tour?

Alex C: Next summer we'll do another US tour, and we wanna get down to Socal a couple times before the end of the year. We're going to hook up with At Risk and drive down for that shit sometime soon.

ScenePointBlank: Explain the story behind the picture of Justin and you holding hands, please.

Alex C: True love never has to be explained.

ScenePointBlank: Lately there have been a lot of problems with bands losing their gear/merchandise to thieves on the road, what is These Days doing as a precaution to that?

Alex C: Well, let me say this. As a precaution against getting merch stolen, we just don't make any. That's why we never have shirts or records. How bummed would we be if it got stolen. PRETTY FUCKING BUMMED. However, we are pretty fond of our gear. I think I'd cry if any of my stuff got stolen. I dunno what we do really. I have my name painted on my cabinet and my rack case, but that's not exactly protection, more like vanity. I guess if I ever confronted someone in the middle of stealing my gear, I'd just hope I was wearing my Madball hoodie, that thing transforms me from the ordinary pussy that I am into the hardest man on Earth.

ScenePointBlank: After releasing a kick ass 7", the fans and I are wondering, what can we expect next from These Days?

Alex C: You can expect at 12 song full length before the end of the year. We're going to try to record all new songs, but we may end up re-recording a couple old ones. We're not sure yet. We're recording with Zack Ohren on the last two weekends of October, and if we don't get picked up by a somewhat established label, we're just going to release the CD ourselves. Nothing against Jeff Run For Cover and Jesse and Title Fight Records, but we're just looking to cut out the middle men this time around. We wanna get this next thing out FAST.

ScenePointBlank: Not going to do a split anymore?

Alex C: We decided against that. Two of the three songs we recorded in February will be rerecorded and put on the LP, and the third of that batch has been given to Sammy the Mick for inclusion on his upcoming Norcal Hardcore comp entitled "Pity the Backseat".

ScenePointBlank: What's the deal with The Mourning Dawn and when can we expect a demo?

Alex C: The 2002 demo sucked. I had no idea what I was doing musically, lyrically or vocally. So I spent a lot of time working on the next one. I spent about 18 months writing something like 20 songs. 20 then got pared down to 13, and those we recorded those thirteen songs in May 2004. I've been sitting on the recording, waiting until These Days could take some time off so I could dedicate time to playing shows before releasing the new demo. You can expect some shows later this year, probably sometime in November, as well as the official release of the demo, entitled "1931-1981". Jeff and I have talked about Run For Cover releasing it, I could see that happening, still. For now, visit www.blacksummer.com/tmd to hear a couple songs.

ScenePointBlank: How long ago did you start up blacksummer.com?

Alex C: I think 2001 was when I first registered that domain name. It replaced the laughable "karatestyle.com". I don't even know why I admitted to that. Fuck that name was terrible.

ScenePointBlank: Do you have any plans for it besides using it as a showcase of graphic design?

Alex C: Well, that's the plan really. I've never organized a proper portfolio of my work. I've never really been too proud of my work until recently, so maybe now would be a good time to really develop a comprehensive portfolio of my design abilities. In the past year I've become pretty intent on making graphic design my profession, so I really oughta do something to get that ball rolling.

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Zed • October 16, 2010

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