Quite literally, a one question interview. Also known as 1QIs, we post these first to our social media on a near-daily basis, with the archival piece here. Check 'em out.
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An in-depth discussion with a band or artist, generally in the form of a straight Q&A – no editorializing.
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Album streams, our Set List "top five..." features, our year-end "best of" lists and other music-related miscellany.
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Contributions on a range of topics from a range of industry figures: musicians, filmmakers, editors and more.
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A melting pot of mixed content: movie, book and even video game reviews. Updated sporadically, but eclectically.
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A semi-regular column exploring new and rising local bands and artists deserving of attention.
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We post a variety of features in recurring series – click below to browse them.
A collection of items grouped by topic, eg. "Top 5 Worst Beatles Songs" or "Top 10 best '77 punk releases". Browse 20 features
A wide-ranging guest column written by BJ from Ancient Shores, mainly covering film but extending into philosophy and aesthetics too. Check out BJ's work on the A389 podcast. Browse 14 features
Guest column by T of Vegas Browse 12 features
A roundup of coverage of the annual punk rock festival held in Gainesville, Florida Browse 4 features
A life lived and lessons learned by Eddie Spaghetti of Supersuckers. Browse 4 features
Our annual roundup from Gainesville, FL's famous Fest. Browse 4 features
It's the end of 2013, so here's our best-of roundup for the last twelve months. Browse 4 features
SPB's coverage of the annual festival in Gainesville, Florida. Browse 4 features
Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2014. Browse 4 features
A brief but englightening chat with an artist who reveals an interesting or unexpected story from their career Browse 4 features
Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2015. Browse 4 features
Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2016. Browse 4 features
Our summary of the best music (and more) of 2018. Browse 3 features
A collection of coverage rounding up the year 2012, covering our favorite albums, shows, bands, and more, as well as asking record labels and bands about their past twelve months in music Browse 3 features
A cookery column by Nick, vocalist with metal band The Famine. Veggie/vegan friendly! Browse 3 features
A regular series by Robert F. Browse 2 features
Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2017. Browse 2 features
One-question interviews with artists where we find out about the gear and equipment they use to achieve their sound. Browse 1 features
There’s so much music released, whether physically or digitally, that keeping up with what’s going on becomes almost like a full time job. With Only Death Is Real, the aim is to bring together a selection of Browse 1 features
A semi-regular column where we choose a specific area and give a local scene report. Browse 1 features
Our coverage of the annual Fest extravaganza. Browse 1 features
Witt (The Wild) SPB: Do you embrace the folk/punk genre? Witt: Sometimes embracing a genre can be very limiting. The amazing thing about the folk/punk world is that there is an incredible amount of freedom to express yourself however you want. Folk/Punk is more than a musical aesthetic to me. It is a community, a mindset, and a loosely defined set of values. There is a lot of diversity in the sound of folk/punk bands. Some bands tend more toward the punk sound and some more towards the folk sound, but I think the most important ...
Quite literally, a one question interview. Also known as 1QIs, we post these first to our social media on a near-daily basis, with the archival piece here. Check 'em out.
Noah (The Pretty Flowers)
SPB: What do you listen to in the van?
Noah: We started doing a band-approved music playlist on Spotify this year called Sounds from a Sony Sports Walkman and this SPB question made us realize we need to update it for Feb. January's playlist should give your readers a good idea of our varied musical tastes--along with some Pretty Flowers album tracks--and can be found here. For long stretches in the van, it's less music-oriented: Sean and I are both ride-or-die Howard Stern Show fans, so any time we have a captive audience to try to convert to the show, we take advantage of it. Jake listens to a lot of Pod Save America podcast, which we all like. Sam has been on a Game of Thrones audiobook kick lately, which is tolerated by some.
Eric Kreson (The Chairman Dances)
SPB: How old were you when you first learned an instrument?
Kreson: I was in fourth grade, so about ten years old, when I began trumpet lessons at my public school. I kept playing regularly through college. My first years of lessons were, unwittingly, my introduction to music theory, melody, harmony, and (music) history. I'm the songwriter for The Chairman Dances and, in that role, I most often sing and play guitar, though a number of our arrangements include trumpet (played by me). The Chairman Dances probably would not exist had I not studied trumpet.
Coady (Murder City Devils)
SPB: Is there any particular older song that is frequently requested but you’d like to put to rest?
Coady: "Boom Swagger Boom" is probably the song that people comment on us not playing the most. We've always had a policy in this band that any one of us has veto power over the set list. If someone doesn't want to play a song, we don't. We want to have a good time so that everyone else can, too! We wrote a lot of songs during the lifespan of this band, so we never really saw a need to play the ones that don't feel good anymore. We used to play no more than 8 songs max at a show. When I look down at the set list and see 18-20 songs nowadays, I don't feel bad at all for leaving one or two out! We'll save them for the all-star jam at our rock n roll hall of fame induction.
Editor's Note: This 1QI took place a few years ago but was mis-filed and only recently discovered in the archives.
Matt Cronk (Qui)
SPB: What kind of guitar do you use and how did you come to this choice?
Cronk: What a fun question! I love guitars and can go on and on about them, ad infinitum. I have several that rotate in and out but if I had to pick one, it would be my ‘99 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Reissue. It is totally stock with no modifications or breaks. It is on the heavier side but that doesn’t bother me as much as it does some players. For me, part of what makes Les Pauls so comfortable is their weight and balance. I have had other, lighter, LPs that were chambered to reduce the weight and the balance was all wrong. It made the guitar neck-heavy and uncomfortable. Also, the lack of heft in the body had a horrible effect on the tone of the guitar. It sounded wimpy and hollow, which is not what I want from a Les Paul. My ‘99 hangs perfectly and has a really deep tonal character. Interestingly, the mini-humbucker pickups that are so often reviled by most players have a unique tone that I’ve grown very fond of. They are low-output, which I generally don’t like, but still drive my amps well without being overbearing and are, in fact, very dynamic and musical. It is finished in wine red. That is special to me because the first guitar I ever touched was my uncle’s wine red Les Paul standard when I was 6.
Burnt Tapes (Pan T-guitar/vocals)
SPB: Do you get nervous before you play a show?
Pan T: Yeah for sure, even after years of playing shows I still feel differing amounts of anxiety before going on stage. I think it’s something that for most people never really goes away – there will always be a certain amount of nerves when performing, be it playing to 5 people or 500.
For me I know certain factors exacerbate it – stressful travel to the venue, a rushed soundcheck, alcohol, a last minute setlist change, how I’ve been feeling prior to the show – so I’ll try and control what I can and accept what I can’t change. One thing that does change as you play more shows, is that you (hopefully) get better at playing your instrument and (again hopefully) become more confident and therefore less nervous. Having said that, some shows are truly nerve-wracking and sometimes I look down and see what appear to be sausage fingers clawing at my guitar.
Here’s what I do to try and reduce nerves:
Burnt Tapes released Never Better (Lockjaw Records/Wiretap Records) on Feb. 22.
Maura (Ogikubo Station)
SPB: How did Ogikubo Station come to be?
Maura: I was visiting my sister in Oakland and hanging out with my friend Danielle Bailey from the band Jabber in San Jose. Danny had posted some photos of us hanging out and Mike called Danny to ask if I'd sing some vocals on a song he was working on. After the listening back to the song, we both kind of went, "Our voices sound really good together." It was just a one-time thing, but then 3 years later, Mike asked if I'd be interested in doing a full record together and so Ogikubo Station was born.
SPB: What do your parents think of your music? (Related: Are they likely to read this?)
Adrien: My mom has always been supportive. Like a lot of older folks, she wishes we'd write a "one hit wonder," haha.
She's more likely to read it if I show it to her.
Jason: They appreciate my musical ability, but they're not into punk rock.
They're not likely to read this interview.
Wade: My folks are supportive, and probably won't read an interview unless I show them where to find it.
Brian: My answer would be generally supportive but disassociated. And no.
John Peck (American Steel)
SPB: With the band spread out geographically, how did you approach writing the new material? How was it different than songwriting in the past?
Peck: As we started preparing for our recent shows, we added one new song each from Ryan and Rory to our rehearsals. With me living overseas, practicing these songs (and indeed practicing in general) was particularly challenging. Ryan, Rory and Scott recorded demos of the new songs with scratch bass tracks, which I used to learn them and write my own parts. While it meant more work for everyone, demoing the songs and listening back to them ended up being beneficial to the recording process. For the actual recording, the drums were tracked in Oakland with scratch bass, bass was tracked in Berlin and sent back to be added to the mix, and the final guitar and vocal tracks were added at the end.
Ryan Knowles (Coarse)
SPB: A goal with this band was to be distinct from previous projects. To follow-through on this, did you change your overall approach or mostly just the musical style elements?
Ryan: We did change our entire approach to this project, in all aspects really. We quite literally forced ourselves into this small room that felt like a cage and forced ourselves to make something completely out of the box. It’s ironic in a sense. Everything that I had done prior to this personally was so controlled by other people. A lot of ideas I was passionate about got snipped in the bud early on because it didn’t fit the mold for what someone else desired. With Coarse, we had no boundaries for what it could be, outside of the fact that we wanted it to be extremely aggressive and chaotic. I truly think the instrumentation and vocal cadences, as well as the lyrics Brandon wrote truly brought out those desires we had.
We may joke about it a lot, but lock boxes of weed delivered by bike, Bud Light Lime, and way too many trips to the local bodega was a huge element of the creative process. We didn’t have money for anything -- I mean we literally bought studio monitors and returned them so we could record the demos in the first place. It’s gritty and rough around the edges, but extremely calculated at the same time. We would mouth riffs and drum beats out loud to each other that sounded like nonsense in some lackluster attempt to convey an idea, and somehow we understood each other. It was crazy: like I would hear a riff in my head and basically speak it out loud to Brandon and he’d be looking at me like, “What the fuck are you saying?” Then I would go track it and that would be the next part of the song.
The most ridiculous part about the writing of it was if we got stuck on what to do next we would look at each other and be like, “Blast beat?” and then just continue on from there. There are elements of Brandon and I’s prior bands in this EP, but that’s because we are channeling ourselves, and those nuances that may feel familiar were our personal inputs on those bands. So yeah, I guess you could say we did change our approach just a little bit. Haha.
(Photo by Angela Owens)
SPB: The title track on the new album is a bit of a departure in sound from the rest of the album. What’s the story behind this song?
Zache: My Dad died of cancer on October 29, 2013, two days after Lou Reed. Pretty quickly after I had the lyrics, “And we all join the dead dad’s club,” but nothing else.
Everything I wrote felt cheap and forced. I remember flying back to LA after visiting my family in 2016—something about flying always makes me emotional. I wrote a stream of consciousness about being in hospice with my Dad and watching him die, and that became the lyrics to “Dead Dance Club.”
My Dad had what some might call whacky eyebrows, and while I watched him die, he couldn’t talk but instead kept raising his eyebrows, almost apologetically. So I wanted to call the song “Elegy for Eyebrows,” which the other guys weren’t super stoked on. But they went with it because who’s going to fight you about the title of a song about your Dad dying? Right after we got mixes back, I sent the song to family and a few close friends. One of those friends was Alexandra in Puerto Rico and she said, “Dead Dance Club, I love it!” I told the band and we all agreed that was a much better name for the song and a pretty sick name for a record.
Del (Delmar & the Dedications)
SPB: What musician do you think had the greatest influence on Delmar’s sound today?
Del: I've always been a huge fan of ‘60s girl-group pop bands, and at first, Delmar started as a cover band doing garage punk renditions of b-sides from The Chiffons, The Supremes, Lesley Gore, etc. I eventually realized that all of these songs follow a simple formula and was like, "Shit. I can write this." From there we started performing originals. We continue to write based on the ‘60s girl-group formula, but the sound has morphed into the more power-pop sensibilities of Marshall Crenshaw, Elvis Costello, and Matthew Sweet.
SPB: How do you generally find out about new music?
Livermore: Sometimes from friends, but increasingly, for the most part, nowhere.
Al (Geld – vocals)
SPB: Given that records get distributed on the internet with a global reach, and influences come in with a global reach, do you find it difficult to establish an “Australian” sound, or is it not a factor in your music?
Al: While we do have some civic pride for Australian music (one of the few Australian things I can honestly say I'm proud of), at no point did we feel it something that needed representation. I think the immediate nature of music nowadays simply means sound/style/genre has become more of a premeditated choice rather than an environmental bestowment. [It’s] something that obviously has its share of pros and cons, but ultimately I think it's great. From a stylistic standpoint, we've been given the keys to the cuffs. To make something great and distribute it in seconds, or to fuck it up and make some sort of contrived punk Voltron.
It's up to us. Geld certainly took liberties at the international punk buffet, and because of that we were able to do something that's less of a genre band based around time, location or community, and more so reflective of the band’s relationship in an insular context (not to suggest these themes were totally unheard of pre-internet, there's always been weirdos trying to do their own thing).
With that being said, this question is null and void, as Cormac hates AC/DC, which basically disqualifies us from claiming any significant connection to this country's music.
Kevin White (Squarecrow – bass)
SPB: To you, what is the best thing about the San Diego scene right now?
White: It’s hard to identify. It’s just a group of musicians exhausting through a subsidiary fragmented universe of ego and alienation, entitlement and reproach, where diuretics and laxatives are employed to produce on a sidewalk; a San Diego scene.
Solveig Matthildur (Kælan Mikla)
SPB: How do fine arts, besides music, influence your approach to making music?
Matthildur: Art for me is like taking something from everyday life, a landscape, a situation, a thought, a dream or whatever you want to take, process it and put it out in another form. And I see it like all art and creations are divided by the senses. You can see them in fine art, films and performances, listen to them in music and poetry, feel them in sculptures and enter installations, live music performance and more. So artists are maybe a lot like instruments or a processor of reality. You put an idea or a thing to the input of the artist, they process it and from the output comes another version of that idea or a thing.
SPB: In my opinion Abstracter has adopted a more and more bleak sound over time. Do you perceive the development of Abstracter in the same way? What influences this development?
Mattia: It is undeniable that the sound has gotten bleaker. This was the band's fate all along in some way. We just needed the right people in the lineup and sharpen the right weapons over time to make it happen and those people finally came along after some trial and error. Abstracter is a band with multiple different influences coming into play all at the same time and sometimes some overpower other ones.
It has always been like that, but now finally most of our influences have a voice and can express themselves. It's an ever-changing thing. We have a "problem" with repeating ourselves or beating the same path so we always shift and try out something new. In the first album His Hero is Gone and Jesu were dominant influences, in the second one Godflesh and Amebix and Corrupted had more a role in helping us find our sound there, and in this one Celtic Frost, Triptykon, Khanate, Blut Aus Nord, and Sutekh Hexen came to play their role in the mix, along with all the older influences still very relevant as well. Who knows, what will lead us next and where....
SPB: What stood out to you the most the first time you performed as a solo musician?
Avola: My first solo performance was in 2009. It was a Sunday afternoon. I remember a lot of anxiety. I no longer had a band of hairy folks and too many amps to distract people with. Just me hunching over my table of gear. I knew if I botched something I had better be quick to recover because I had no one to blame. I remember reminding myself how cathartic playing live had been in the past despite minor stage fright and how at the end of the set I would likely have shed some layer of pent up bad stuff through high volume noise.
At the end I pulled it off, and the support was amazing. All these years later, I still have the same worries and anxieties I did that first time, but ultimately getting loud and weird with friends and strangers around, is fun and exciting. I look forward to many more years.
SPB: How does a musician’s politics affect your appreciation of them? Does it factor in, or can you separate the two ideas?
Ruby: I feel like using the word 'politics' as opposed to morals and values adds to the great divide that we are currently living in, I want to know where a musician stands on things like saving the planet, treating each other equally and with love and compassion, believes in equality no matter of you race, gender or sexual preference. I think that you can sit on either side of the political fence and still embrace the kind of values that work towards decent humanity. So yes, if a musician’s values work against that then it absolutely factors in because as artists we are given a voice, and make no mistake, words are more powerful than any other tool or weapon on this earth.
Eric Martinez (Dezorah)
SPB: What kind of guitar do you use (and why did you make this choice)?
Eric: I play a Mexican made Fender Duo Sonic (Surf Green). I chose this guitar because I wanted something tonally versatile that would not leave me completely broke. So far it has given me everything I want in a guitar and in my opinion highly compliments the bands musical style.
Tony Gonzalez (Barren Womb)
SPB: There was very little time between the first couple of Barren Womb releases. We have had to wait a bit for Old Money/New Lows. What caused the wait?
Tony: There are a couple of reasons for the gap between "Nique Everything" and "Old Money / New Lows". First of all, we were touring more in that period than we had previously, which made it more difficult to find time to write new stuff. We managed to release an acoustic EP last year though, so it wasn’t a complete dry spell by any means. Secondly, we wanted to make sure we didn’t retread familiar ground, that the material felt fresh and exciting. This gets harder to do with each subsequent release, but it’s really important for us to keep pushing into the unknown and out of our comfort zone.
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