Yes! Finally, after what turned out to be a gigantic task of moving the PROFANE EXISTENCE distro from Minneapolis to Denver, transferring tons of data, and rebuilding the web store, we are finally set to open back up. To access the new store follow one of the many links from profaneexistence.com or access it directly at http://profaneexistence.storenvy.com
The first official PROFANE EXISTENCE title of 2015 is out and ready for order! We are proud to bring you the RIFLE DIET – “NO SOLACE”LP
Rifle Diet’s No Solace is a 12in 45 that combines the Classic Minneapolis crust sound with Swedish hardcore, D-beat and Epic crust (think somewhere between Servitude and Wolfbirgade, with hints of Tragedy and Fall of Efrafa). The beautiful cover art by Hannah Benoche sets a bleak mood for the dark music within, plus a cover of His Hero is a Gone – Chain of Command (ex-members of InDefence and Garmonbozia) This LP is a joint release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and BLOOD OF THE YOUNG RECORDS
To honor both the opening of the new store and our first release of 2015, we are giving a free copy of the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp to everyone that spends more then $50 from Monday January 12th to Monday January 19th!!! This deal is for one week only. DO NOT MISS OUT!
*Note*Rifle Diet are playing a record release show 1/17/15 at the Dogplex in Minneapolis with Kontrasekt, Aziza, and Fucking. To coincide with that show all orders that contain the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp will be shipped out on Monday January 12th.
The next release in the works is the new full length lp from APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – “We Don’t Need Them”.
We Don’t Need Them is the second full-length record from West Virginia punx Appalachian Terror Unit. ATU have become known throughout the years as being one of the most politically charged bands in the current punk scene. This new record is an all out attack on today’s society that takes ATU to a new level of intensity both lyrically and musically. The combination of the beautiful and thought provoking gatefold cover art designed by Stivart along with the brilliant recording and mastering job by Jay Matheson at the Jam Room take this record even further. Song subjects include the horrors of war, police brutality, destruction of the environment, rape culture, consumerism and much more. Expect a very heavy and much angrier approach from a band that has been around the block and matured their sound. Seven raging new tunes including the epic fourteen and a half minute track “We Don’t Need Them”, a song that will one day be ranked among similar greats as the SUBHUMANS “From the Cradle to the Grave” and AUS ROTTEN “And Now Back to Our Programming”.
APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – We Don’t Need Them will be pressed in the United States on PROFANE EXISTENCE & in Europe on SKULD /RUIN NATION
WARWOUND – “A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983“
Another record we are very excited about is the upcoming WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983. Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from three sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND they are a UK band formed in 82, and released 2 demos in 83. Members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form the almighty SACRILEGE. Warwound are one of the first bands to take the politics and d-beat influence from DISCHARGE and combine it with the blown out sound of CHAOS UK to achieve total destructive raw d-beat ear bleeding chaos!
WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983 will be a split release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and ORGANIZE AND ARISE.
It will be available in the spring of 2015.
Other records and projects we have in the works for 2015 …
VASTATION (pdx formally night nurse) vs WAR//PLAGUE Split EP
KRANG are a new band birthed from Chicago’s DIY punk underbelly. They play a brutally powerful brand of thrashy riff-laden crustcore and have an intense live presence. They have recently recorded for a few vinyl projects, including PE’s own 7″ singles series. Check ’em out!
Interviewed by Brian Poulin (NEGLIGENCE). All photos by Adam DeGross.
PE Who’s in the band and what does each of you do?
AUSTIN: guitars / backing vocals / song writing (synth & keyboard on 12″)
ADAM: bass / backing vocals / song writing
BRENDAN: lead vocals / lyrical content
DEVAN: drums & percussion / backing vocals
PE: What’s a brief history of the band and how did you guys form?
Austin: We started circa 2009. We had an additional guitarist: Louis C. He went on to start a blackened crust band called Welkin Dusk, based in Chicago that he plays drums & lead vocals for. We used to have an additional lead singer as well: Hannah B. Hannah was a part of our first two releases: the out of print “Onward Desolation” demo tape, and also the out of print “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″. Hannah is now the front-woman in a band called Despise, based out of Minneapolis. Our original drummer, Brett, is on the two recordings I mentioned before, as well as our “Sounds of Death” 12″. Brett now drums for a Chicago / northwest Indiana band called Asphixiate. Devan is now our permanent drummer and he will have his first appearance on the “Broken Waves” 7″, released by Profane Existence, which is coming out in June. Devan will also be on our next 12″: “Bad Moon”, which we are writing right now. I, as well as Krang, are totally stoked on Devan and really happy to have them. Devan is active outside of percussion as well with assisting in writing, assistance in lyrical content & structure, and the internet stuff. This line up has been solidified for over a year and is totally fucking Krang! It just works perfectly.
PE: You guys are based out of Chicago. What are your favorite parts of the scene there? What are your least favorite things about Chicago’s scene?
Devan: Chicago’s an interesting place. I feel like the pros and cons are often directly related to one-another. For example, the mere size of the city. There are so many people – new to here, young, old, whatever – that there is basically always something going on and a handful of solid DIY spaces at all times, regardless of whether people leave or places get busted or whatever. The downside is that the physical structure of the city makes it difficult and/or terribly time-consuming to navigate. Especially if you don’t have a car. And even if you do, parking sucks. Anyway, as a result of the city being as segregated as it is, people are often inclined to just stick to what’s going on in their neighborhood and it results in a lack of exposure or attention paid to some really cool things. It’s unfortunate. But then there are some events like the annual Black and Brown Punk Show (shout-out to Monika!) or other fest-type shows where the attendance is crazy and bullshit is minimal. It’s rad.
Austin: I used to live in CHI. I reside in northwest Indiana (NWI). It’s really close. You can compare it to how close Jersey is to NYC. The rest of the band does live in CHI. My favorite things about Chicago is the “don’t take shit” attitude that at least me and the scene we’re involved with has. We’ll kick you out if your a piece of shit human or kick your ass if we have to. I also like The Void Haus in NWI for gigs. My personal least favorite things are cliques, hype, division, etc… the things that you see in every rather large city, I suppose.
Adam: I love Chicago’s unspoken rule of everyone being down to get down when shit hits the fan and nobody lets bogus comments or derogatory gestures fly. My complaint for the longest time was how there is the same hierarchy that we all hate in daily life at a lot of the gigs. It seems like those “in crowd” wanks have come and gone though, or maybe I just don’t surround myself with such fools anymore. My main complaint, and I know I am sounding super negative, but for such a large city there is a lack of bands playing what I am into personally. There are a lot of great bands doing great things…but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am into them musically. Haha! I have a particular taste and its not being fulfilled. I usually go to shows to hang out and have a good time and just show support but its rare that I actually shit over a band that I see locally. I do really, really get down to Population though. White boy can’t dance but when I see this band I start doing shit I didn’t know I was capable of.
Brendan: Chicago is simultaneously the best & worst place to live; which I’d imagine is a critique most other big-city dwellers share. There is no shortage of great folks, bands, eats, cool nerd-haunts (comic & record collectors rejoice!), and beautiful neighborhoods/communities in which to live. The same is true for all of the awful yuppies, gold cost bourgeois, & assholes who get your friends hooked on hard drugs. A lot of the time I wish that I lived in a vast expanse of lush nature with no human presence save myself. When I’m not wishing for seclusion, I’m loving how hard of a time I have sorting out which of the 5 awesome punk shows I get to go see any given night. Chicago has everything I love & hate at once; most of the time its worth it.
PE: Musically what are you guys going for?
Devan: I’d say sincerity, first and foremost. In sound, words, and delivery. And the connections we can and have made with people based on that. My musician’s answer would be just to write the best songs we can and perform them at the highest level at all times.
Austin: I just want to stick out and be a little different sounding. I still want to have that essential formula for great punk. I personally believe we found the introduction to our sound with the “Sounds of Death” 12″. We have two formulas: triumphant, galloping crust metal and simplified, pissed off, to-the-point stuff.
Brendan: Initially we formed with the idea of writing over the top odes to crust circa late 80’s/early 90’s; stuff you could flail your overgrown dreadlocks around to. We all fell into a groove with each other over time, where we don’t really need to define what we’re gonna write before we do. We approach releases with general outlines (theme,length, format etc.), but when writing songs I’d say we aim for mean, earnest & impactful.
Adam: I think naturally all being into different types of musical backgrounds, our finished product ends up being a thing of its own, but we all have similar enough interests to where we end up with the result that we initially were trying to go for. I personally am really into trying to sound like the bands I am into. It doesn’t end up exactly that way which is good but I love when bands obsess over old school sounds/bands/records and try to make their contemporary music sound as authentic as possible whether it be tone or style or whatever. At the end of the day we are trying to sound pissed, like we worship the 80s and have our music sound anarchy as fuck!
PE: What bands inspire you the most?
Austin: I listen to EVERYTHING. I don’t know where to begin but musically, keeping personal interest aside, I think we’re inspired by 80’s UK crust and a lot of Japanese stuff as far as writing collectively. This is something me and you will have to nerd out on when we’re in Boston next. Haha!
Adam: For Krang, bands that influence the writing process for me are Masskontroll, Deathraid, Sacrilege, Hellshock, Deviated Instinct, Sodom, Axegrinder and Amebix as well as Instinct of Survival. Personally I am all over the water but my all time 2 favorite punk bands have always and will always be Discharge and the Dead Boys.
Devan: I could go on a long rant about every band I’ve ever loved and how they’ve all stuck with and influence me to this day and blah blah blah, but I’ll spare you the cost of ink and just say Sacrilege, Crude, Amebix and Discharge. That said, we are quite the eclectic bunch.
Brendan: Musically, anything running the gamut from Paintbox to Elliot Smith. I enjoy a lot of soaring Japanese hardcore with that Burning Spirits feel, 90’s screamo, early black metal & hip hop. Any band that has a way with words gets me going, but mostly I enjoy music that you can’t help but feel.
PE: What are most of your songs about? What inspires the lyrics?
Brendan: Lemme preface by saying that Discharge is rad & “The More I See…” could be the soundtrack to my daily tedium… but i think punk rock has much more potential than to rehash our dogmatic & oftentimes simplistic politics. Having been a few places where the punk scene eats itself inside out with depression, addiction, & apathy towards the struggles of those around us, I think its real important to allow ourselves to be more open in the way we express all of the things exploding in our minds. I am not blowing my own horn, or any horn for that matter, but I really enjoy taking the personal route when it comes to writing & am constantly attempting to better address the common threads that run through all of our lives. Our first wave of songs covered some of our political leanings in regards to vivisection, arms manufacturing, rape culture & the willful destruction of our Earth. The “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″ reflects on the weight of stagnation on the “politically motivated”. “Sounds of Death” is the result of an obsession with death and a years worth of hurt; friends making irreversible decisions in regards to their lives & some of us falling into those spirals ourselves. There is absolution in acceptance though & I think a glint of hope in such dark subject matter. Our upcoming 7″ deals with cycles of change in our lives, moments of mania & madness; a counterpoint to our last 7″. The songs we are writing & playing now are an extension of that, focusing on moments of change in our lives, wanderlust & really just form one big, loud, pissed love letter to the DIY community, punk rock & time spent on the road. Inspiration comes from any human I’ve met that has dared to be open, honest & shameless about it.
Devan: Passion in all its forms and extremities is what inspires us. Totally.
PE: You guys have done a few extensive tours. What’s your favorite city you guys haveplayed in? What’s your least favorite?
Austin: I love Boston. Detroit, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis) are up there too. I don’t really have a least favorite. We have had some bad experiences, though. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and not mention them. Hopefully things will be better when we return.
Devan: New Orleans is my favorite city ever, and our most recent gig in Boston totally ruled. I’d have to say, though, that many of my favorite shows have been in non-major cities. Birmingham AL was awesome, Asheville NC, Cincinatti OH, Grand Rapids MI…basically anywhere with a really tight-knit but wide-ranging DIY scene in terms of age, music, spaces, projects, etc. It’s always super encouraging to see.
Brendan: I’ll echo the others in saying that NOLA, Asheville, Cincy, Birmingham, Boston & Baltimore all kick ass. I’m usually super appreciative of all the towns we’ve been lucky enough to play in, though of course we’ve played in towns that seemed to embrace the anti-PC attitude/sense of humor that I am so fucking sick of. Some cities are really 50/50 because you’ll either play an amazing show with bad-ass folks & have the time of your life, or you might end up wanting to eviscerate some fuckhead who only listens to GG Allin & doesn’t get why a confederate flag hanging at a show space might ruffle some feathers.
Austin: We as a band aren’t about making sure we are politically correct all the time, but we definitely are hellbent on showing one another respect and are willing to give respect back to those who are legit. No single city is bad. Like I said before, sometimes there are some bad experiences. Fuckheads are everywhere.
Adam: Yes, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Boston, but most of all NOLA and Minneapolis. New Orleans and Minneapolis…no other city can live up to the debauchery that is expected to happen when we arrive in these two places. We need a week of recovery after being in either place for just a day. Also I love playing Madison a lot. Fuck, I love touring. So many amazing friends are being missed right now as we speak.
PE: What are some of your favorite bands you guys have played with?
Lord Krang: Scum from Detroit, Appalachian Terror Unit, Antisect, In Defense, Nu-kle-ar Blast Suntan, Kontrasekt, Cognitive Dissonance, The Skuds, Coelacanth, WrathCobra, Wartorn, Negligence, In Ruins, and definitely D-Clone; but honestly, it’s great to play with anyone and everyone who aren’t assholes and give a shit about “punk rock”.
PE: What are some of your favorite local bands from Chicago?
Lord Krang: Asphyxiate, Decay After Death (Decay A.D.), Cemetery (RIP), Culo, Die Time, Slag, Escalofrio, Sex Bunker (RIP), Birth Deformities, Gas Rag, Welkin Dusk, Daylight Robbery, Dirty Surgeon Insurgency, The Breathing Light, La Armada, Black September, Kontaminat, Ooze, Tensions, The Busy Sugnals, Population, More that we’re forgetting to mention….
PE: What does the future hold for Krang?
Devan: As Austin mentioned earlier, we have our “Broken Waves” 7″ being released in June, at which point we’ll be doing a small tour with Coelacanth. Also, as previously stated, we are well along in the writing process for our next full-length LP. Look for us around the Mid-west this summer and keep up-to-date and get in touch via the following:
crustardpunx[AT]gmail.com – krangcrustards.bandcamp.com – krangcrustards.blogspot.com
Austin: More touring, more albums, more blood spit nights, more everything! We’ll do a more extensive tour when the new LP comes out.
Brendan: “Bad Moon” 12″ – Skull Fest – Split(s?) – Self-Destruction With A Gusto
Lord Krang: Record labels that are interested in helping us with our next 12″ (which is more than half way written) get in touch with us!!! It will be even more galloping, pist, and triumphant than our still available “Sounds of Death” 12″!
For those of you who don’t know DEADLY REIGN, Its time to get with the program! DEADLY REIGN is a 3 piece D-BEAT killing machine with a legendary line up comprised of members from GLYICNE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, SCARRED FOR LIFE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, KEGCHARGE, CENTURY OF WAR AND TILL DEATH. These guys have been at it for a long time and don’t fuck around when it comes to bringing you punk rock authentic and true to its sound and with their new single released on PE entitled SLAVE! These guys don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. So let’s get to the brass tacks and see what these guys have been up to. (INTERVIEW BY DUTCH WELCH FROM KRIGBLAST)
PE: So what are your names, what do you play, and how did you guys come together?
(RAYGUNN) I MOVED TO AUSTIN AND RAN INTO GUERINOT AT HIS DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. UNKNOWN TO ME, MY WIFE WAS AND STILL IS GOOD FRIENDS WITH HIS WIFE AT THE TIME AND HE AND I KNEW EACH OTHER FROM THE PAST WHEN OUR PREVIOUS BANDS HAD PLAYED TOGETHER. WE GOT TO TALKING AND DECIDED THAT WE SHOULD START A BAND. I SAID, WE JUST NEED A BASS PLAYER/SINGER, AND HE SAID HE HAD ONE. HE CALLED HIS FRIEND GUSHAMMER AND HE WAS INTO IT. THEY HAD BEEN WANTING TO START SOMETHING TOGETHER FOR A WHILE. AND EVENTUALLY WE GOT THE BALL ROLLING (OR SHOULD I SAY, THE BEERS FLOWING?).
PE: You guys have all been in some pretty kick ass bands in the past. who played in what?
RAYGUNN – GLYCINE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, KONTRAKLASE, AND SCARRED FOR LIFE.
GUERINOT – WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, AND KEGCHARGE.
GUSHAMMER – CENTURY OF WAR, AND TILL DEATH.
PE: Who came up with the name Deadly Reign?
(RAYGUNN) I USED TO HANG OUT WITH A KICK ASS BAND IN THE EARLY 80’s CALLED BODY COUNT. THEY WERE AN EARLY D-BEAT STYLE OF BAND (BEFORE THE TERM D-BEAT WAS AROUND) AND THEY HAD A SONG CALLED DEADLY REIGN. SO I TOOK IT FROM THAT. (AND YES, I AM AWARE THAT THERE WAS A BAND CALLED DEADLY REIGN FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BACK IN THE EARLY 80’s, BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE I GOT THE NAME FROM).
PE: The music of DR is furious, in your face politically and socially. Whats the motivation behind your song writing?
(RAYGUNN) MUSICALLY, WE JUST TRY TO WRITE MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. THE KIND OF STUFF WE WOULD LISTEN TO AT HOME. NOT SO MUCH TRYING TO BE ORIGINAL OR GROUND BREAKING. MORE OF JUST PLAYING THE HARD AGGRESIVE TYPE OF MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. WE GET IT ALL TOGETHER AND THEN GUSHAMMER WRITES SOME LYRICS.
(GUERINOT) I’VE ALWAYS SAID I CAN’T AND WON’T BE IN A BAND THAT I COULDN’T ALSO LISTEN TO. WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT OF PLAYING SHIT THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? WE AREN’T DOING THIS TO PLEASE OTHERS, JUST OURSELVES.
(GUS) SOME LYRICS HIT RIGHT TO THE POINT, RELIGION. IT’S FUCKING 2013 AND HERE WE ARE STILL DEALING WITH RELIGIOUS NONSENSE! PEOPLE THE WORLD OVER ARE BEING PERSECUTED, MISLEAD, AND OUT RIGHT SLAUGHTERED OVER RELIGION. RATHER IT’S CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, JEWS, OR WHATEVER FICTITIOUS BULLSHIT SECT THEY ARE IN. RELIGION IN ANY FORM IS UNCALLED FOR AND DANGEROUS! AND THIS COUNTRY USES IT TO PULL OFF SOME SERIOUSLY HEINOUS ACTS OF PURE AND UTTER VIOLENCE AND WAR. WE TOUCH ON THIS OF COURSE ON THIS RECORD, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IT’S DIRECTED TOWARD THE WORKING CLASS FOLKS AND THEIR DAILY STRUGGLE JUST TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THE OLDER WE GET, THE SAME STRUGGLE REMAINS, EXCEPT NOW WE MUST NOT ONLY FIGHT TO FEED OURSELVES BUT FIRST FEED OUR CHILDREN AND LOVED ONES AND THEN WITH WHAT IS LEFT OVER, TAKE CARE OF OURSLEVES. SO WE CAN SLAVE ANOTHER DAY FOR A LESS THAN ACCEPTABLE WAGE. OVER THE YEARS I HAVE WATCHED OUR (PUNK) COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS WORK IN HORRIBLE CONDITIONS FOR SHIT WAGES WITH NO BENEFITS AND NO HOPE OF MOVING UPWARD IN THESE POSITIONS. AT THE END OF THE DAY THEY HAVE A SMALL CHECK THAT IS OVER TAXED AND A SORE ACHING BODY, THAT CONTINUES TO GET WORSE. “TELL ME IS THIS THE LIFE I’M FORCED TO LIVE TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY?”…THE ANSWER IS NO! BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT. WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO POINT OUT THESE CONCERNS OVER AND OVER UNTIL THE POWERS THAT BE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LISTEN.
PE: You guys did a split with HELLKRUSHER not to long ago entitled Continuous Warfare. How did this collaboration come about?
(RAYGUNN) I HAVE KNOWN SCOTTY (HELLKRUSHER) SINCE THE MID 80’s WHEN HE WAS IN HELLBASTARD, AND I WAS IN GLYCINE MAX. WE USED TO BE PEN PALS, AND WOULD SEND EACH OTHER TAPES OF OUR BANDS, AND OUR FRIENDS BANDS. WE EVENTUALLY LOST TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER AND THEN YEARS LATER FOUND EACHOTHER VIA THE INTERNET. I SENT HIM SOME DEADLY REIGN AND HE LIKED IT. AND WE DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING TOGETHER.
PE: You guys all have family’s now and continue to tour, play shows, practice, record and work. How has DIY punk changed in your lives and how do you make it work?
(GUERINOT) WELL, I HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS BUT HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER IS KEY. HAVING KIDS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE SO IN MY OPINION, THEY COME FIRST. WORKING AROUND THEM AND WORK IS USALLY PRETTY EASY. LATELY IT HAS BEEN A BIT MORE DIFFICULT BUT TRYING TO WORK OUT THE KINKS IN A SITUATION AND PUT PIECES BACK TOGETHER IS PART OF THE PROCESS.
PE: The new single from Profane Existence entitled SLAVE, what can we expect and do you have any future releases coming out?
(RAYGUNN) IT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN OUR LAST TWO RECORDS, BUT STILL THE DEADLY REIGN STYLE. NEXT WE WILL BE WRITING FOR A SPLIT 12″ WITH OUR FRIENDS KONTRASEKT.
PE: Closing comments, any last words?
THANKS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS THE WORLD OVER. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. ALSO, THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW. AND BE SURE TO PICK UP THE NEW DEADLY REIGN ‘SLAVE’ EP ON PROFANE EXISTENCE! AS WELL AS OUR LP AND THE SPLIT WITH HELLKRUSHER. ALSO, WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO EUROPE SOMEDAY, IF ANYONE OVER THERE WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUR BROKE ASSES OUT. HAHA! CHEERS – DEADLY REIGN
WARTORN are a whirlwind of thrash punk goodness hailing from Wisconsin. Since 2004, they’ve been hitting the touring and record release circuit with no looking back. Here’s a quick interview I did to let people know about their two latest releases, Domestic Terrorist 7″ (Profane Existence) & Iconic Nightmare 12″ (Southern Lord). – Andy Leffer
(This interview also appears in CVLT NATION)
PE: You know the drill, just give us the basics on who’s who and what’s changed in the past, in regards to any line up changes, etc. Also, give us some insight on where WARTORN is going. We want to know tours, records, riots, protests, arrests….the whole back story on WARTORN’s origins.
Bitty: (Vocals) The band started in 2004, with Ryan, Hart (on drums) and myself as a three-piece. Within half a year I got a call with an offer for our first tour, which was with Municipal Waste. We did a mini tour with them and ever since then we have been able to go on tours with amazing bands each year such as Los Dolares, ATU, CYP, Krang, In Defence, Pyroklast, Hellshock, and up next Raw Power . We have been to 13 countries and have done lots of releases on many different labels.
Ryan: guitar / low vocals / whiskey enthusiast. Well we started as a 3-piece and over a span of over 8 years, have ended up with 6 members. With 3 of us being guitar players we are able to diversify our songs in ways that we could only do in a studio setting. This obviously makes a difference live as well.
Ela: I’ve been the bass player for over the last 6 years. Recently, we came out with an LP/CD on Southern Lord Records called “Iconic Nightmare” and a 7-inch, “Domestic Terrorist”, released on Profane Existence (which is part of their limited edition singles series).
Toban: (Guitar) I think I might have the most arrests out of anyone in the band. Not like its anything to brag about. I did narrowly avoid another arrest a few weeks ago.
Derek: Guitar as well. I’ve been in the band for a few months and have been on two tours so far.
PE: The music is dynamic, to say the least. You’re not getting any half-assed riffs or mindlessly thrown together lyrics or production with your music. Elaborate on the process and what is the driving force for doing such a band. Punk is a political movement, it’s always been a political movement. Are you a part of this fray as a whole, or is this more of a personal, therapeutic outlet?
Ryan: I definitely believe in the power of the riff. Heavy and raging. Punk is a political movement, but I also see it as a community (full of musicians, artists, writers, photographers, open thinkers etc). A lot of us live/ have lived in punk houses and have been booking DIY shows for years. It’s something we do to contribute to it as a whole.
Toban: Ryan is the riff-master general of the band. He does a great job of coming up with some of the most incredible riffs of anyone I’ve been in a band with. Adding Bitty’s smartly composed lyrics and Hart’s hard hitting/tight drum style makes a great concoction.
Bitty: As far as what I write lyrically, I mainly write about personal experiences or historical events. I don’t tell people what they need to think, that is for them to figure out on their own. Also, I could not label myself as more than a realist and a situationalist.
Ela: Well in my opinion, I would say that we are a part of this as a whole, but it also is a personal outlet for me. We have all contributed to the movement in one way or another, but I think of punk as more than just a political movement. For me it is also about a unified community… where people come together, whether it is for political reasons, to share a passion for music, a hobby, art, etc. … and we definitely have that in Appleton, which is awesome.
Hart: I honestly wouldn’t say punk’s always been a political movement at all. The fact that DK, Meatmen, and the Germs, for example, all existed during one heyday suggests more of a harsh musical and broad social changeover than anything to me. For me personally, punk rock, metal and hardcore have always been a therapeutic and vindicating way of life that has consistently solved a lot of my life’s most harrowing, fucked-up times. It had a total bottleneck effect on how I raised myself mentally and emotionally. It was a really great thing to find out about when I was trying to figure out how to express myself when everything just infuriated or bored the shit out of me. Later, after I was free as an adult, I quickly found out it came replete with its own sense of community, and a totally viscous following I was never aware existed at all. This band is fucking great, cause we never throw a blind rhetorical blanket over our lyrical ideals, or even necessarily our instrumentation for that matter. We have a rough format that we’ve stuck to, but we all come from slightly different scenes and upbringings, and I’ve always thought it showed at least a little in our styles. I honestly don’t think the excitement of being in this band has worn off for any of us. Sure, growing pains have slowed our progress a couple of times, but whenever the next lightbulb goes on over our heads, it’s all go no slow!
Derek: For me, this is definitely a personal outlet. That’s what music has always been for me. Being the young’n metalhead in the group, I’ve kind of just been exposed to the world of punk houses and DIY shows recently. From what I’ve gathered so far I can at least say that the sense of community is beautiful.
PE: Your latest singles release on Profane Existence “Domestic Terrorist”. There’s no beating around the bush on this subject matter. Once again, can you elaborate on this specific release and the intention behind the subject?
Bitty: There have been a few times where I had local law enforcement “protect and serve” the shit out of me. As a kid in the 80’s from a small hometown, I’ve had guns in my face from the cops, hammers pulled back and screaming in my face. I have also had an off-duty cop put a gun in my face and ask me if I thought it was funny while he was wasted. You know of all the times I was ever robbed or assaulted, at least I knew if I fought back I stood a chance; I even survived an attempted homicide! But, it’s not so easy when you have to fight back against law enforcement. They just beat your ass and lock you up, even if they are totally in the wrong. I’ve witnessed so much personal corruption; to me it seems to be an extension of an abuse of absolute power. Now that, to me, strikes terror in any citizen.
PE: Bitty, you’re straight edge…maybe not self-proclaimed, but you don’t consume drugs or alcohol. Considering the genre of punk and it’s history of abuse with these elements, has this hindered your views on the movement?
Hart: Total interjection here! Dude, Bitty’s optimism actually astounds me. He’s seen more friends either die or completely lose their vitality as humans due to drug and alcohol use than I’d like to ponder. He’s remained pretty fucking pragmatic in his attitude toward his friends’ choices in that sense. I myself get pretty fed-up at times about my own friend’s use of drugs, especially certain ones. I’ve had plenty problems controlling my drinking in the past. I do believe I have a fairly good idea these days of when to dry out, but it can pull me into a real bad place. I start questioning what even matters anymore, and I start fighting everything that means the most to me. However, that’s where that community comes in again! I’m learning to seek out the right punks or no one at all when the time feels right, and I’ve been keeping up on it for a while now.
Bitty: Not at all. You don’t need to be like me in order for me to like you. The real moment that reinforced my decision was when I came home to a friend that lived with me and I found him in a pool of his own blood. He had tried to cut his hand off with a butcher knife while he was completely wasted and ended up with more stiches then an average shark attack. It really put a bad taste in my mouth about how substances can amplify bad decision-making skills. Although I am aware that most just use it to have a good time, truth be told, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t my thing. But as long as you’re not hurting me or others in any way shape or form it’s your deal not mine. This is just a suggestion, have fun and do what you need to do to deal with things or get by, but try not to destroy yourself in the process. You might end up missing out on some good things in life.
PE: WARTORN is a great band, so with that….does WARTORN have anything they’d like to say to the world, it’s listeners or the masses in general?
Toban: In the words of country music legend Kris Kristofferson “Don’t let the bastards get you down”. Ryan: Thanks for the interview.
Ela: Thanks for all the support. We can’t wait to hit the road and tear it up again in a couple months!
Derek: May the force be with you. But seriously, I can’t wait to hit the road and I hope to see everyone reading this there.
Hart: As always, start 4 bands tomorrow and eat your fiber!
Bitty: Thanks for the interview Andy and everyone that helped us out and we’ll see you on the road. If you’d like to help us out with booking or have any questions, feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DESPISE are a four piece punk/crust/metal unit from the depths of the Minneapolis underground. Their 7″ release is a line of single’s being released by Profane Existence this year.
Interview by Andy (Leffer) of War//Plague
Let’s get this party started. First off…like most all interviews let’s start with who you are, what you do and what DESPISE is up to? What does the future hold after this PE single release? Also, expand on some each of your backgrounds, and what you were involved with prior to the band.
I’m Hannah, I do vocals and write the lyrics. I moved to Minneapolis from Chicago in 2010. I played bass and did vocals in Securicor from Chicago, and also vocals in Krang.
Zach: Hopefully we can put out some full length records seeing as we have a lot of material. As for before despise. I started going to shows at age 13 or 14. Played in a band called EZ Bleeders. We were rock/metal/funk/punk so everyone hated us but we just wanted to play. Grew up in uptown Mpls around a lot of older punks.
Hi. my name is Mike. I play bass real loud. moved to Minneapolis in 2009. its rad here.
What’s your thoughts on the Minneapolis punk community and how DESPISE falls into the DIY mix. There seems to be quite a good mix of punk and crust rising from the ashes of other previous projects within the Minneapolis scene. We had the 90’s and early 00’s that brought us DESTROY, STATE OF FEAR, ASSRASH, PROVOKED, PONTIUSPILATE, and needless to say MISERY, which is still going strong. Do you feel DESPISE is a part of this element of resurgence and is there still that dedicated @narcho thought process within the band?
Hannah: Definatly. Minneapolis has such a awesome punk scene/ community. So many rad bands that I have grown up listening to and have influenced me are from here.
Mike: well, if you want my grossly unimportant opinion, the scene and the music within it are two separate entities. the music is fucking fantastic. and only getting better.so many new bands and new faces. as far as where Despise fits into everything, i think we fit right in. if ive learned anything about minneapolis since ive lived here, its that its a weird fucking place filled with weird fucking people who like weeeeeeeeeeeiiiirrd fucking music. and if you havent met us, were a bunch of weird motherfuckers too. i fucking love it here.
Mitch: The scene has really picked up , it’s awesome to see so much activity now, it reminds me of how much was going on in the 90’s, so many awesome bands going on these days that local shows are always “stacked”, can’t even go grocery shopping without seeing people from bands or shows. It reminds me to be grateful , a lot of towns don’t have that. I definitely feel that Despise fits right in with what’s been going on.
Zach: I think despise takes a whole different approach to the punk scene. I don’t think of our music as being punk or even being really a part of this “scene”. I don’t make music for other people. I do it because its what I want to do
I know you folks had a bit simpler sound when you began. Straight up D-beat hardcore punk, but now it seems you’ve melded into a more crust, metallic sound. Was this an evolution of the band you knew would take shape, or was it more “fly by the seat” type thing?
Hannah: I think its the result of a combination of all of us taking influence from different sub genres of punk…grind, crust, black metal, d-beat, hardcore, etc…throw it all in a mix and you get Despise.
Mitch: It’s been a pretty natural thing as far as songwriting, the musicianship has lent itself to more technical stuff without losing our roots, really had no idea it would progress that way. Stay tuned for some good old fashioned though.
Mike: We always kinda had a general idea of what we wanted the band to sound like. the first batch of songs we wrote were very black and white, crust or metal. after that, everything just kind of naturally progressed into whateverthefuck it is today. zach is so talented when it comes to songwriting. he’s responsible for the metal parts. i just try to keep up and take care of the wicked awesome bass solos. we’ve become who we are together because thats all we can be. ourselves. when people ask what genre of music we play, i usually just say “loud as fuck” because i honestly have no fucking clue haha.
Zach: Crust is fun to play but as far as what I enjoy playing I usually drift more towards metal. Black metal at that. Probably we’re a lot of the metallic elements of our music comes out. Definitely don’t want to take all the credit for that because everybody helps meld the song.
What’s the ideology behind the lyrics and how the music is written?
Mitch: As far as the music goes it’s really just as simple as playing solid riffs and piecing the songs together as it sounds good, we’ll always come to a consensus before a song is finished, that way we all like the finished product. We try keeping things heavy and not being afraid to test the waters. Hannah will have to field the lyrics side.
Hannah: I write most of the lyrics…Most of which pertain to animal rights, vivisection, mental disorders, depression, drug addictions, negative effects humans have on the planet and our ecosystem, and of course cute bunnies taking over and killing humans.
Mike:Hannah has the voice of 10,000 angels. …burning alive in the fires of hell hahahaha. her voice is as much a part of our sound as our guitar and bass tones. but yea she takes care of the lyrics. all of our songs are about things that truly matter to us and to her. you can really hear that she means what she’s saying. we have some political stuff, animal rights, war is bad, so is jesus, blahblahblah. but the ones that stand out to me, the ones that make my cry a little every time we play them, are about real fucking shit. like how drug addiction is killing the scene from the inside out, watching all of our friends (and ourselves) die and lose their minds right in front of us and not being able to do anything about it, that feeling of hopelessness and desperation and shame you get every morning when you wake up and realize the world is still shit. im really grateful that i get to make music with three no shit honestly good hearted human beings.
Zach: Lyrics? We have lyrics?
Are you guys gonna tour and what about local gigs…big plans?
Mitch: Would be nice to do at least a little touring either east or west some time this year, locally, we definitely play our share. lol. Really want to get the rest of our recording released and get back in the studio, lots of newer songs. Hoping for all that this year.
Mike: I think so. i hope so. i let them do the planning for the most part. im down to party whenever wherever and however long they tell me to. but yea. another 7″ comin out soon, followed by what is bound to be the most epic full length record you’ll be listening to while you listen to it as long as you’re not playing a more epic record at the same time.
Hannah: We are planning on touring the east coast this summer. Hopefully the south and west coast after that. We’ve been playing a lot of local shows lately, especially with the release of the 7″. Hoping to record again soon!
Let’s end this interview the normal way. Last words or comments for the world?
Hannah:Up the punks! Ha.
Mitch: Thanks to Profane Existence for releasing the e.p. We can be contacted via Facebook or despisecrust@gmail we’ll have some merch available online soon.
Mike: Be yourself. fuck anyone who tells you you’re not cool or not good enough. this shit belongs to all of us. and if we want it to live forever, we need every single one of you. oh yea. and dont be a dick. seriously. why the fuck cant we all just get along? yea. sorry. fuck everything. upthapuuunnnxxxxx.
I was planning a “clear my head” American trip for the spring. I was going through some shit, and realized that I needed to get on the road, see some friends, and hopefully rock out a couple times – just get away for a bit. Well, I was minding my own business, wasting time on the internet one evening a few months ago, and I received an email from Bitty of DRESDEN. “We’re going on tour in May. Want to come along and watch the distro/merch? Haul a bit of gear?” I thought about it for a couple seconds, and replied in the affirmative. The tour would take place in late May, and would focus on the Midwest and the East Coast.
Originally, I was only supposed to do the first week, as they were going to be meeting up with DEVIATED INSTINCT in New York, and share the van for the rest of the tour. There probably wasn’t going to be any room in the van for me, which was fine. I had plans to go down South anyway. Well, it turned out that there was room for me for the whole tour after all, and my plans down south sort of fell through. Funny how things work out, isn’t it? Anyway, I ended up doing the whole tour, lending my salesman and gear-haulin’ expertise to a bunch of sweethearts for two weeks. Killer.
This here’s a tale of love, death, deception, theft, rock, roll, Rick-rollin’, cheese curds, and general bad-assiness.
May 18, 2012 – Appleton, WI
I’ve been in Minneapolis for the last week. Surprise, surprise. Well, there was a bit of a surprise yesterday, when I found out that a five hour drive translates into a nine hour bus ride. What the shit?! I had to be awake at 6 this morning in order to get on the bus for 8. And to make things even more awesome, the driver called in sick. The bus didn’t show up to the depot until 10… great. Is this some sort of harbinger of doom? Or merely an annoyance?
Well, I somehow arrived on time, despite the driver bullshit. I was met at the bus station by a skinny fellow in a WIPERS shirt. This was Hart, DRESDEN and WARTORN’s drummer. We met up with Bitty (I’ve been internet pen-pals with him for a while, but had never actually met the guy until today) and Ela, and drove to tonight’s venue. Tonight was a WARTORN gig, which would serve as a practice for their slot opening for TRAGEDY tomorrow in Chicago. The venue we were at tonight was the basement of an abandoned candy store, and it was fucking sweet. (Oh, pun!) We hung around and slowly loaded in for a while. Bitty seemed impressed that I was helping out. “You’re already the best roadie ever,” he said, “You’re actually doing shit!” Hey, that’s just how I roll.
We set up the merch and distro upstairs, which is where I stayed. I wasn’t too bummed about that though – Ela offered to kick around and watch the distro for a while, but I was still pretty tired and overwhelmed. My shyness was starting to kick in, and I didn’t want to throw myself into the pit with a bunch of strangers quite yet. I met a bunch of characters, including the notorious Danny Dew (local legend, the straight-edge Mountain Dew addict). I’ve never spent much time at small town punk shows, but I have to say I’m stoked on them! The kids who come out get super into it, and there’s little to no pretention. Just mad heads all around. It’s not necessarily the most “PC” environment all the time, but it seems like most people get along (and it’s certainly not the most homogenous scene I’ve ever seen either, by the way).
Near the end of WARTORN’s set, the cops showed up, thus fulfilling Hart’s prophecy. I’m told that the Appleton police force is notoriously over-equipped, power-mad (more than other police departments? Hmmm…), bored, and they really hate all-ages shows. They parked outside forever, and harassed the owner of the venue. Since this sort of thing is always a possibility, everyone was corralled inside, and no alcohol was allowed near the venue. As such, the only thing the cops were able to get anyone on was a pathetic parking violation, so they gave a ticket to the promoter and shut the show down. “Noise,” they said. Hilarious, because you couldn’t hear jack shit outside the venue. Fuck, whatever.
Tomorrow is Chicago with TRAGEDY. It’s a pretty short drive, but here’s the catch – this weekend is the NATO conference, and the anti-NATO protests. As we all know, these events are perfect times for police forces of all levels to show off their new toys and employ all sorts of horrific tactics against protesters. It seemed like a really good idea to head out tonight and sleep somewhere in Chicago. If they’re going to turn the city into a fucking prison camp, then it seems like a good idea to get in and at least try to play a show. So after picking up the rest of DRESDEN and friends, filling up on badass/bad-terrible American junk food (we Canadians only get like half of this shit up north) and gassing up (no pun), we began the drive down.
Moustachioed superhero roadie Greg grilled me on life in Canada (“is everything like the fuckin’ Trailer Park Boys?” “Do you have electricity?”), and told me some facts about Wisconsin (“fuckin’ cheese curds, dude”). For about 85% of the drive, Hart kept us awake and in stitches by screaming randomly for hours on end. Apparently he normally goes for fifteen or twenty minutes before passing out, but not this time. At least there was no danger of Bitty falling asleep at the wheel. Those two play off each other like seasoned actors. I think a lot of people would be freaked out, but I was totally into it. (Bitty would later tell me how impressed he was with how I wasn’t fazed by it.)
We arrived in Chicago around 4am, and crashed at a cool two-room punk house. Ten of us, plus the people who live here… plus the random punks crashing here. Found a spot in the living room next to the weight bench. Fuck it, goodnight!
May 19 – Chicago (Two shows: WARTORN at Reggie’s Bar w/TRAGEDY in the afternoon, DRESDEN in the basement of the punk house at night)
I woke up after a long, comfortable sleep of… two hours? Damn. I was surrounded by various members of the Disconsin crew, and a bunch of unidentified folks, all passed out and snoring. I grabbed the weight bench and pulled myself up, peered into the next room. Someone waved at me… but who? Where the hell are my glasses? I waved back, and lay back down for another twenty minutes or so. Ahh, to hell with this – I went and sat outside, where I was joined by the nicest cat ever, and eventually a small crew of kids from Detroit. The girl who lives in the house came out and joined us (sorry! I totally forgot your name!) after a while, and told us that she’s pretty worried about the house show tonight. In the lead-up to the anti-NATO showdown this weekend, two other punk houses in the same area had been raided by the cops, leading to their evictions. The pigs aren’t fucking around this weekend – I even heard rumors of fighter jets flying over the city for the last week. With that in mind, my new Detroit friends and I decided to walk to a local coffee shop for java and breakfast. I noticed that we were being tailed by a few cop cars, both marked and unmarked. We weren’t stopped, though.
After the walk and breakfast, we got back to the house and hung out for a bit while everyone else woke up. We slowly headed out to go load in to the club. Given the whole NATO thing, it seemed like a good idea to head down early, just in case the downtown core was a nightmare. Reggie’s Bar is really close to where all the action is supposed to happen, so I half expected multiple check points and clouds of tear gas to cover the area. Of course, the area was more like a ghost town on lockdown. We made it in record time, so we parked behind the venue and waited…
Eventually we got in and set up, ate, and then the show began.
The first band that played were fucking killer. Sadly enough, I forgot their name. They’re a local Chicano hardcore band featuring members who had done time in SIN ORDEN. If you’ve ever heard SIN ORDEN before, then you know what to expect – fast, super political Hispanic hardcore. They fucking rocked the house, although it seemed weird seeing them on a large stage in a huge club. They seemed like they would be more at home in a sweaty basement. No matter, they ruled. Total ‘90s Chicago hardcore sound. Fuck yeah. Next up was another local Hispanic hardcore band called LA ARMADA. Again, they were super political and heavy. A little bit less thrashy, with cool song structures. They used samples of speeches and other political sound bites during their set, which actually added to the experience. I ended up getting their LP, because they blew me away so much. LA ARMADA – check ‘em out. Third up to bat was BLACK SEPTEMBER, the Chicago death metal band. I’ve always been a bit of a fan, but had never seen them before. I dig them – they’re definitely a metal band, but firmly rooted in punk and hardcore. And unlike the vast majority of death metal bands, they’re not a total fucking dude-fest. I probably should have picked up a record, but… well, there’s always internet commerce now, I suppose. Anyway, their set was flawless – I prefer them live to their recorded works. WARTORN was up next, and put on a hell of a set. While they played, I stayed behind the table and sold the shit out of the distro. So many classic 90s crust albums and 7”s flew off the shelves – damn, I wish I would have looked through them a bit more! D’oh! I didn’t get to take any photos of WARTORN during their set, so hopefully I can get some next time. The only sort of downside to the WARTORN set was when Bitty was talking about NATO on stage – he stumbled over a few words and ended up trailing off without a set end point. I didn’t really notice, but he was pretty bummed about it. The crowd also didn’t seem to notice or mind, which is really the most important thing – these things happen. Okay, so now the moment we were all waiting for – TRAGEDY.
Well, what can one say about them, really? Obviously everybody there loved it – they put on one of the most powerful sets of any band I have ever seen. The set was simply amazing. Flawless. They did material from every album (even the unjustly underrated “Nerve Damage” album). Usually I prefer even my favorite bands to play shorter sets, but with TRAGEDY I wanted more, more, MORE! This was my first time ever seeing them, and they more than lived up to my expectations! I wish I could write more about them, but the words just won’t do them any justice. All I can say is that TRAGEDY is one of the best bands I have ever seen.
After the gig, a few of us popped to the bar next door and indulged in VIP-discount double gin-n-tonics. Hart told us that while the bands were playing – probably during LA ARMADA – the Chicago riot squad and SWAT teams went through the alley behind the club. Apparently they blocked off each end of the alley, went through every single dumpster and checked under every vehicle with their weapons drawn, etc. it turns out that the gig was only five blocks from where the “NATO Olympics” (as Bones called it) was happening. I had no idea, because again, there was no smoke or tear gas clouds coming from the site. I guess that’s all supposed to go down tomorrow.
After a couple more drinks, we drove back to the house we crashed at. The second show of the day is going down in the basement of the house. Second show of the day, and the first DRESDEN gig of the tour. The basement was super cramped, and there was no room for the distro/merch table, so I didn’t end up venturing in. I felt kind of claustrophobic, and besides – I wanted to chat with my new Detroit pals. I ended up drinking a lot of cheap beer and hanging with the DRESDEN/WARTORN crew, plus I got to play with the adorable house cat again, so I was pretty stoked.
After the partying sort of waned, we began the drive back to Appleton. Hart was in fine form again, but this time he burned out after 20 minutes. Despite the Chicago pre-NATO clampdown, we got the fuck out of dodge with no problems. The highways were completely abandoned, which I’ve never seen before. Somewhere around the state line is where I passed out…
May 20 – DRESDEN tour launch with TRAGEDY, Appleton Wisconsin
I woke up around 11am in the van in front of the Appleton punk house where we picked everyone up a couple nights ago. DRESDEN had to practice and write their set at some point today before the show tonight. Before that could happen though, Bitty had to pick up a new footswitch for Ela to use, because hers somehow got fucked up. We drove to the coffee shop first, because Bitty felt like he was losing his voice, and chamomile tea seems to really help with that. I just needed caffeine. Hot drinks taken care of, we headed to the Guitar Center in Osh Kosh. On the way, we discussed pro-wrestling (in case you didn’t know, Bitty used to be a wrestler by the name of Straight Edge Eric Hammers – he will rise again!), politics, and the internet. It’s good to hang out with someone who has their own set of ideals, and doesn’t toe the “political punk party line”. I don’t necessarily agree with every single thing Bitty had to say, but I gained a lot of respect for the guy through talking with him. If only more people could talk over minute differences of opinion instead of completely shutting each other out over something small and insignificant (in the scheme of things). Yeah, I’m guilty of that too, but it’s something I’m working on.
Anyway! We got to the Guitar Center and went to the footswitch/pedal area. There were some pedals and things in a big glass display case, which Bitty was leaning on for a few seconds before he almost leapt back. I looked at him cockeyed, and he told me “I have this overwhelming urge to smash the fuck out of that case. With my Tourette’s, I have to get as far away from it as possible, because when someone tells me not to do something, my mind wants to do it even more.” Shit, I can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like to live with…
We went back to the house so the band could practice. Bitty’s worst fears were realized – he did indeed lose his voice at the house show last night. While the band was setting up for practice, I went around the corner for some veggie burgers. When I came back, they were practicing in the basement, and… wow. I have never heard Bitty’s voice sound so strained and…well, frankly – terrible. It was reduced from its usual shredding sound to a kind of muffled mumble. This doesn’t bode well…
We loaded up and went over to another local punk house for a pre-gig barbecue. Although there were only a couple of us vegan folk on board, they were still nice enough to cook a bunch of vegan-friendly shit along with all the other grub. All the bands and assorted stage-hands (i.e. – merch/roadie folk such as myself) hung out, had a few beers and joked around together. And then, of course time to head across the river to the house where the show was at. (Aside – how is it that Appleton, a small semi-conservative town in Wisconsin has more functioning punk houses than my hometown of over a million people? I’m fairly jealous here)
In a twist of fate, the house had many feline roommates, and the basement reeked of cat litter. I have no issue with that, but it turns out that Bitty is extremely allergic to cats. Add that to his voice issues tonight, this might be a gong show. We thought about setting the merch/distro tables up outside, but there was talk about a severe rainstorm – needless to say, we ditched that idea. The basement is extremely tiny, but we somehow fit both our distro and TRAGEDY’s merch table into a corner near the stairs. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I went and grabbed a sixer of some cheap corporate beer and settled in for the night behind (well, beside) the table. I don’t remember all the bands that played before DRESDEN – pretty sure CHOOSE YOUR POISON opened, and I do remember them killing it. I got to talking to TRAGEDY’s merch guy Berke about touring, our homelands, and mutual friends. As the night wore on, I discovered that the more beers I drink, the better I am at hustling merch onto unsuspecting punks. For example, “If you’re buying that LOST WORLD record, then you really oughta get the ENDROPHOBIA one as well. It’s easily the best 8 bucks you’ll spend tonight!” or, “that limited edition DRESDEN LP is fucking amazing – worth every penny and more!” or even, “you mean you don’t already own the Shit Split? That’s fucking horrifying – you call yourself punk? Get that shit, dude – it’s the best 10 dollars you’ll ever spend!” Both Ela and Berke were cracking up the whole time.
My worst fears about DRESDEN were realized when they started playing – Bitty’s voice was super fucked. They only played the four unrecorded tracks from the upcoming HELLBASTARD split, and I felt super bad for them. I had hyped the band to the TRAGEDY dudes, and it definitely didn’t turn out as we were hoping. Unfortunately, shit happens. The band rode it out the best they could, bunch of troupers they are. Despite the setback in their set, we sold a shitload of DRESDEN and WARTORN merch, so it could have been a lot worse.
Right – I saw TRAGEDY last night in a huge club in Chicago. How would this packed, sweaty basement compare? What a stupid question. They played an entirely different set this time around, the first four songs were from “Vengeance”, and every time they started a song from the new record, the power went out. Needless to say, this was a much more powerful set. Congratulations TRAGEDY, your set in Appleton Wisconsin is one of the best shows I have ever been to! Basement shows are amazing – basement shows featuring one of the world’s best DIY punk bands are ten times better – if you’ve never seen TRAGEDY in a basement… hurry up, you fool!
As it turned out, there was a second DRESDEN show almost immediately after this one at a bar in downtown Appleton. We showed up just as a ridiculous rainstorm started. Bitty’s voice was not doing much better, so the band stuck to a five-song set. Despite that, the band played really well. I got a couple more pints in, and snapped some really good photos. It was a free show in a sports bar, so I’m not sure how many patrons were truly stoked on the punk rock, but fuck it – it was a good time! Also: free popcorn and cheap drinks! The TRAGEDY lads popped by for a quick beer and to support DRESDEN, which was pretty sweet of them. I wish I could remember who else played… I do remember that there was a grind band, and that they bored me to tears. Sorry.
We left town immediately after the bar show, and weren’t on the interstate for more than ten minutes when we struck a deer. Oh, fuck. We were going about 70-75 mph, and for a split second I saw the glow of his eyes and his shadow. Next second, I heard a loud *THUMP* and we swerved a bit. I was really freaked out and upset, but I was able to hold it together. I shed a tear or two for the poor creature, and reminded myself that thankfully he more than likely died instantly without suffering too much. Somehow, that wasn’t much of a comfort.
The front end of the van was damaged pretty badly – the grill was pushed in, and we lost one of the lights. Bumper damage, too. In order to do a proper insurance claim, we had to call the highway patrol to look us over and verify stuff. So we waited. And waited. Eventually a cop came and took everybody’s ID while verifying the damage (making sure we’re not some runaway Jeffrey Dahmer devotees, I guess). He came back to the van and asked “Hey, which of you is Gregory?” Greg raised his hand. “Dude – is that mustache real?!” the cop asked, and the van filled with laughter. I can verify that Greg’s mustache is both real AND absolutely ridiculous. Nice one, Greg!
West Virginia tomorrow, driving through the night. Punk.
To be continued…