WARNING: There is virtually nothing new in this issue that has not been previously published on our web blog. There is no cover price and money being charged here is to nominally cover printing, shipping and bank fees. You may be able to get a copy for free or small donation from touring bands or at Extreme Noise Records, Long Haul Info Shop and other cool DIY places
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.
“And me, yes I, do I want to burn? / Is there something I can learn? / Do I need a business man to promote my angle? / Can I resist the carrots that fame and fortune dangle?” – CRASS
Woke up again around 8 am this morning and felt pretty dang good about it as well. I got my things together at a more relaxed pace than usual, partly because I wanted to enjoy the morning and partly because I wanted to give Zach and Dan a chance to pack up in time if they were still interested in riding down to Lincoln City together. I went over to check on them to see if they were thinking of heading out soon, and immediately knew the answer when I saw that their camp was still almost fully constructed, haha. They said they’d probably catch up to me in Lincoln City, the next major town over and that I should just head out if I’m ready. We were the last two groups left at the camp, everyone having left a few minutes before I had woken up. The idea of being the last person here by myself while everyone else moved on was an extremely depressing thought, so I decided to press on. I wished both of them luck on the first hill of the day, which was literally just outside the park grounds according to our maps, and headed out of the park.
I rode past the ranger station and took a right onto the bypass I took out here that runs as an alternate to Highway 101. The air was heavy with mist this morning, not quite raining, but not dry either, so I put on my rain jacket but stayed in my shorts. I’ve never been a pants guy, and I like to feel my legs unencumbered by heavy fabric as often as possible. This proved fruitful as I was immediately sweating profusely within minutes of climbing the cape, and only would have eventually ripped off my rain pants out of anger and discomfort. This hill is as bad, if not worse, than what the map warned me it would be, and first thing right out of the park did not make it any easier. A few miles up the cape I pass one of the groups from our camp the night before, I greet them with a good morning and push on. Not 10 minutes later I pass the second group from our camp, and then as I finally near the summit about a half hour later I pass the third and final group. At the risk of sounding like a bike jock, it was refreshing to be passing these lycra clad, professional looking bike tourists on my 35 year old Schwinn strapped with heavily worn panniers. I guess I can be a bit competitive sometimes, but mostly it’s just about showing folks it’s not the money (or in this case, the gear) that gets you up the mountain. It takes heart, and unfortunately a lot of rich fools don’t have that. Punks in the front!
After passing the summit I descended into a long valley, guarded by tall trees on either side, and quickly built up speed on this chewed up old road. All at once I came soaring out of the woods as the tree line abruptly ended on either side of me, and the view opened up to sand dunes that stretched over the horizon in all directions. Out of the sand dunes grew a sparse forest of Doug Firs, trunks buried under several feet of earth, creating an extremely odd effect, almost like something out of a science fiction film. I immediately blurt out “WOOOWWWWW” as I come sailing down the hill as I’m just so overwhelmed by what I’m seeing and can’t contain my reaction. If a bear saw me fly past in this moment I’m sure he would have been extremely confused as to what was going on, who I was talking to, and how I was moving so quickly. I am so freaking lucky to live on this planet I thought to myself. And it’s true, I really am lucky. For all the things life has thrown at me there are many things I am so thankful to have seen and experienced, this being one of them.
As I begin my climb out of the valley several miles later, I find it increasingly more difficult to pedal and begin to feel every little groove and bump in the road as I’m coasting along. At first I think it’s the road itself that’s just rough, but as I look at my back tire I realize I’m losing air. It was probably punctured earlier in the day or last night and is now slowly leaking. Fuck. First flat of the trip. Thankfully I’m prepared, as I brought along the appropriate tools and some extra tubes I bought at Kenton Cycle Repair, so I remove my bags and get to work. I flip my bike, remove my wheel, let the remaining air out of the tube, and run my tire lever across the side of the wheel to pop the tire off. It comes off in a snap, and I give it a look for a few minutes to make sure there aren’t any gaping holes in the rubber. It looks good, so I rifle through my pannier to get out an extra tube and toss the popped one back into my bag. For future reference, old tubes are great for making bungee chords, bracelets and many other things since they’re so durable. Soon after I begin work on my back tire, an Australian guy I’ve never seen before comes riding up and let’s out a long, drawn out “BUMMERRRRR” when he sees what I’m up to. He then asks if I need to borrow an extra tube or a pump, but I thank him and tell him I’ve got it covered. He then wishes me luck, throws a “have fun!” over his shoulder and is off on his way. After another 10 minutes or so I get everything set up properly, pump up my tire with the handpump I brought and put my bags back on. The handpump is pretty cheap so I don’t get my tire as inflated as I’d like, but this is good enough for now. Feeling satisfied and accomplished I continue on.
After a long while of cycling through some incredibly beautiful forests, and almost taking some wrong turns here and there thanks tomany confusing signs, I roll through Pacific City. This town is quickly proving to be one of my favorites on the coast so far, as it’s a tiny little surfing community with massive rock formations just off shore. Hulking monoliths loom in the morning haze, as it was still very damp at this point in the day, creating an extremely ominous and awe-inspiring sight. Surfers unpack their surfboards down on the shore and zip up their wetsuits in preparation for what looks like a pretty awesome swell. I intended on stopping to take a photograph of the beach, but the haze was so thick that any photo I could have taken would just turn out to look like a wall of grey fog. I scratched the idea and continued on, making another mental note as this is a town that I would love to revisit again sometime soon.
A short ride brought me to the southern edge of Pacific City, still maneuvering on a series of scenic roads parallel to Highway 101 that my map and all the “coastal bike route” signs advised me to take. Arriving on the last stretch of road before connecting again with 101 I’m stopped at a bridge by a construction flagger. He tells me that unfortunately the road is being repaved and torn up pretty badly for the next several miles. He added that he let a couple cyclists go past about an hour ago and they biked a few miles up the road only to be turned around and sent back. They then had to ride back into Pacific City to take a detour that adds about 6 miles to the days route. I was soaked all the way through, and I probably looked pretty pathetic, because he then told me to stand under a tree on the side of the bridge while he radios the construction crew. He says something inaudible into his walkie-talkie, and gets a crackled response back that was amazingly even more difficult to understand than the initial question. He waves me back over to where he’s standing and tells me that they’re going to allow me to squeeze through the bulldozers on my bike to save me some time. It would be dangerous and the road was rough, but that it was doable if I was willing to risk it. I said I definitely would and thanked him profusely as he sent me on my way with a huge smile; followed by a “have a great trip!”. There’s has to be a reason as to why people in this part of the state are so nice, and I think I’ll attribute it to the fact that they live in such a beautiful place.
I bike for about a 1/4 mile on the extremely rough road which is stripped all the way down to the gravel, thankfully the dirt was packed heavily enough that I could still ride on it without my wheels sinking in. It was slow going because of all the massive potholes and patches of gravel, but I made progress regardless. After a short period of time I look up and see that a pilot car is driving down the road and intercepts me in a dramatic fashion. At first I think he’s going to stop me and turn me away, but instead he busts a u-turn once I reach him and he begins to escort me up the hill with his lights flashing and his “PILOT CAR – FOLLOW ME” sign welcoming me on the back of his SUV. I couldn’t believe it! They sent down this pilot car meant for other motor vehicles to lead me safely through this road construction! Pretty soon we start passing bulldozers, steamrollers and other massive machines; all of the workers smiling at me, waving, giving me a thumbs up and wishing me luck on my day’s ride. Everybody seems so happy and excited and all at once I feel like an astronaut coming home from space and being driven in a ticker tape parade in the back of a convertible. I wave back in a diplomatic fashion and shout “thanks!” more times than I can remember with what must have been a very toothy smile; all the while stifling laughter as best I could.
Eventually we get to a section of road that’s just pure sand, so I hop off my bike and jog alongside the pilot car to keep up with. The pilot car slams on his breaks so abruptly that I almost run straight into the bumper. He then rolled down his window and tells me that we can take our time as I’m the only person he’s escorting for now. As I walk alongside the car he asks me where I’m from and where I’m going, seeming genuinely interested in why I was motivated to bike such a long distance by myself. I chat with him until we get to a rideable section of the road and I jump back on my bike. Soon the gravel eases off and gives way to a single paved lane, and eventually that spills out to the end of the construction zone where a huge number of cars has piled up. I wave to the pilot car and yell a final thank you as loud as I can, and smirk at the puzzled faces I pass who sit staring at me, mouths agape . Yeah, they sent that car down just for me. Deal with it.
A few miles later I found myself back on the 101 heading south once again, and after an hour I approach another “coastal bike route” sign pointing me down a side road to the left. It’s a beaten up old road that’s just labeled as “Old Hwy 101″, but I decide to trust these signs as they’ve never given me reason to otherwise up till this point. I don’t see any indication of this turn off on my map, but after looking at the hill that lay directly ahead of me on my original route I decide to head in this alternate direction. It takes me about an hour and a half before I start to feel like maybe this wasn’t such a good decision, and I realize it’s too late to make any reasonable alterations. I hadn’t seen any sign indicating how far I was from anything or where I was since I had got on this road, and this steady climb that is increasingly becoming more and more steep with every mile is not instilling me with much faith that I’m heading the right way. Pretty soon I put the few houses that are on this road behind me and I find myself once again in yet another State Forest climbing a massive hill. At this point I feel nearly hysterical in my suspicions that I just biked who knows how many miles in the wrong direction and that I’ll have to backtrack all the way to where I turned off the main 101 and waste hours of my time. I hop off my bike briefly to check my ipod, as I thought I remembered it had a compass in it somewhere. I had no idea if it would actually work without internet access, but as I studied it and walked in circles it seemed to keep consistent in telling me that I was in fact heading roughly south-ish. I hopped back on my bike and slowly began sauntering up this hill again, realizing I must have climbed at least 1,000 feet at this point. My frustration then manifesting itself into a shouting of curses out into the woods “FUCK. I’M FUCKING LOST. WHERE THE FUCK AM I. THIS SUCKS. DAMN IT.” for a good 10 minutes. Just as soon as I ceased my shouting I spotted a truck full of firewood coming around a bend up ahead. I hopped off my bike and waved my arms to signal I wanted him to stop. He pulls up and both him and the dog riding shotgun in the truck cab peer out at me. I ask if this is the correct way to get to Lincoln City. He assures me that it is, and then proceeds to give a very detailed and unnecessary history of “old highway 101″ and that when they built the new freeway over the mountain that it wasn’t as scenic as this road is. After patiently hearing him out I thanked him and continued on, graciously accepting his good news. Graciously enough that I listened to the whole story I deemed as “information that will never prove useful over the course of my life”. But hey, I’m a storyteller as well, and chances are you’ll place this journal in that same category.
When that stressful section of highway behind me, I eventually reach Lincoln City. It is a welcoming sight; a pleasant vision on the horizon. I’ve played shows out here a few years back and I have a lot of good memories from that time. This is also home to my favorite skate park in the entire world, so for you skaters out there be sure to take note of that. I rolled up to the first coffee shop I see in town, called “Beach Town Coffee”, and order a soy chai after a series of questions to figure out if the chai mix was in fact vegan. The young woman behind the counter remarked at how sweaty I was with a laugh, and then asked me where I biked from. I told her Portland and she went on to give a series of excited “good for you!”s and “You should be proud, man!”. Dang, people here are so friendly! I then find a table in the corner and send out my routine “I’m not dead” emails and relax with my tea while I catch my breath and try to stem the heavy sweat that’s pouring out of me. After catching up on correspondence, I stand to pack my things and leave when the owner of the café comes over to say hello. At first I’m a bit taken aback since he didn’t look too friendly when I first came in, but he asks to see my map so I take it out and show him. He points to a small section of Highway 101 just south of town and tells me there’s an alternate route through the cape that actually takes me under the Highway and saves me from biking up a huge and extremely dangerous hill. Apparently all the local people who commute by bicycle know to avoid it and encourage others to do the same. He then, like the barista, started to shower me with overly encouraging “you should be proud!”s and told me I’m a good guy for doing this trip and making it happen on my own. I would have never known about this alternate route if I hadn’t chatted with this guy, so I keep a mental note to try and converse with folks in towns to pick up other helpful tips like this one. Plus, it’s so easy to talk to people out here, on account of them being so nice.
I weighed my options here in town for how I wanted to spend my time and money. I had 2 options here, which were either to stop at a repair shop and get my back wheel trued, or eat to thai food at a place on the other end of town that I found online. I could only really afford one, so I decided that since my back wheel wasn’t rubbing on my brake and affecting my riding at all that I’d treat myself to a hot meal. I biked over and locked up my bike to a fence just outside the window of where I chose to sit. I ravenously ate a plate of phad thai with tofu and a thai iced tea with coconut milk; the combination of those two things being closest to heaven that anyone can ever get (it not being real place after all). While I was enjoying my food I took notice of a group of punk-ish looking kids getting out of a street racing car in front of the restaurant. There were 6 of them, and all at once their conversation stopped as they turned to my bike and started to check out my spoke cards. I have two spoke cards in my front wheel from the Red and Black Café back in Portland, which is an all vegan, worker owned and run coffee shop. The spoke cards are a picture of Bruce Springsteen with a circle A on the back of his denim jacket, and text that reads “the only Boss we listen to”. They all started giggling and got on their knees to check it out, which was fine. What was not fine was when a woman with dreads pulled one of the cards out of my spokes, stood up and started to walk away with it. All at once I saw RED. Immediately I dropped my food, stomped out the door and confronted all six of them.
“Hey, are you stealing my spoke card?”
“Uhhhh.. well… no I was just trying to read what it says”
“That’s bullshit cause you were walking off with it. Even if you were just trying to read it I don’t know any of y’all and you’re out here touching my bike, which is not ok.”
“Geeze, well… sorry.”
“Just don’t touch people’s bikes. People tend to be sensitive about being robbed, you know.”
I snatched my card back and watched all six of them trudge off. I momentarily felt like a dick about it, but then I remembered “wait, no, they were about to steal my shit and then tried to make ME feel guilty about it.” C’mon punks, get your shit together. There are better people out there to steal from, after all.
After I finished most of my wonderful meal, and pack up the rest of it for later, I thank the proprietor and go to unlock my bike out front. As I started to get everything in order I was forced to bend over in an awkward fashion to unlock the frame from the wooden fence. As I’m leaning over I hear two women walk behind me in the midst of a conversation, and I felt something solidly brush up against my ass. Furious, and thinking “what fucking now” I spin around expecting it to be one of them who touched me, “what the fuck is it this town all of a sudden?!?”. To my surprise and embarrassment I realize that neither of them touched me, but what brushed up against me was the curious nose of a gigantic great dane who awkward lumbered past. After I faced him he then proceeded to lick my arm in his goofy way while the two women coaxed him along and apologized. I let out a small laugh and gave him an ear scratch before he sauntered off. What a day this is shaping up to be.
A short time later I roll through Lincoln Beach, just south of Lincoln City, and realize I need to fill up my water and decide I could use some fruit as well. Eating fresh fruit on this trip is the most enjoyable I can ever remember having it. Every time I stop and eat a nectarine or a peach it’s like the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. I ride through the parking lot of a small strip mall and stop at a market to get my supplies. As I’m exiting the building a guy with cut off jean shorts sitting against the wall a few feet from my bike looks over at me. He’s next to what I assume is his hand-painted Volkswagen bus. I say hello to him and he then offers me some swedish fish he’s enjoying. I’m pretty sure those are vegan, but I don’t know because I’m not a huge candy fan [pause for dramatic gasp], and I’m not what some would call a “junk-food vegan” [pause for boos], but mostly just the thought of eating candy in the middle of my ride today does not sound like a good idea [pause for 'that sounds reasonable']. I thank him and decline, and we both dip into the conversation people out here seem to have a lot that I’ll refer to as “where you going and where you been”. A few moments later a group of burly guys all dressed in hot pink shorts walk out of the market and they all pile into the bus together. He then wishes me well on my trip and as they’re leaving the parking lot he lets out an epic wolf howl and throws a fist up in the air for me as they tear off. I throw one back and think “yeah, I still got it! “. As I’m lashing up my bike to continue on my way, a dude on a child-sized Schwinn with a banana seat and ape-hanger bars rolls right up to me and starts chatting. “Fuck, if I stop and talk to everyone I’m never going to get to California.” I’ve been told I look approachable, the reasons for which are beyond me. There are times when I hate that I look friendly and think “oh please don’t stop and talk to me”; this being one of those cases. He’s wearing one of those cabbie style hats and a shirt from a bar that says “I went Balls Out at Grass Land”, complete with a drawing of a tiger laying on his back, splayed, displaying his garbage for all the world to see. “How do you have the guts to leave the house wearing that?” I think. He starts in right away with the “where you going, where you been” routine and when I mention I just came down from Tillamook he starts to sniff the air. “Well, I can’t smell it!” he says with a laugh. That sentiment I can agree with, at least. Then he continues on by saying how excited he is for tourist season to be here, and that he knows the REAL reason as to why I’m out on the coast this time of year, with a not-so-sly wink. I consciously don’t ask him what he’s talking about, so he continues on anyway by talking about all the “female German tourists” out here, and that they always come in TWOS, if I know what he means *wink wink*. I start to think that he has a very specific story he wants me to ask about, and I am not taking this idiot’s bait. “Cool, thanks. Have a good day” which really means “fuck off, man. leave me alone”. I managed to escape out onto the highway before another sketchy word could be uttered.
Soon enough I reach the turnoff for the route called “Otter Crest Loop”, which is what the owner of that cafe was telling me about. I hang a slight right to follow the signs and head through a small neighborhood and eventually underneath an overpass for the 101. The uphill climb is daunting, but at one point when I catch a glimpse of the 101 and how much higher it takes you I silently thank that man profusely for sharing this information with me. I even have my own little bike lane on this road, and the only car lane has shrunk to a single lane that I have yet to see a car on. I’m all alone on this little road the entire time, which is a welcome break from the heavy traffic on the highway today. Plus this little loop mostly follows the cliff side, and the views here are spectacular. Again I find myself gasping out loud as I turn corners and catch views of the dramatic and massive rock formations just offshore, as well as the turbulent surf slamming into the rocks 100 feet below me. What a world we live in!
I finally reach the pinnacle of this hill and find myself in a parking lot, but as to what it’s a parking lot for I have no idea. All of a sudden I hear a voice yelling at me in a southern accent: “Hey! Hey you!”. I look over and an elderly man is crossing the parking lot on foot and heads in my direction. “Go check out the view from that building! It’s amazing!”. “Uh, ok!” I respond and bike through the parking lot past him and find a tiny building called “The Cape Foulweather Lookout”. I leave my bike teetering against a bench in the grass out front and walk in. There were a bunch of park rangers hanging out and chatting inside, and they all fell silent as soon as I walked through the threshold. “Oh, uh, some guy just told me to come in and check out the view…” One of them immediately pipes up “yeah, absolutely! it’s right there if you want to give it a look”. I walk through the gift shop into a small backroom and gaze out the window, and I am definitely not disappointed that I took that southern fellas advice and stopped here. The view shows the cliff dropping away just past the property line of the house and opens up to yet another picturesque view of Oregon’s rugged coastline. After getting my fill, I grab a couple postcards for friends from the giftshop and as I’m paying the cashier tells me that I’m lucky, that they were only about 2 minutes away from closing before I came in. I say I hope I didn’t hold her up and she said that it was perfect timing on my part. As I’m leaving the building a group of people walked down the steps toward the entrance, and to their dismay the door slams shut behind me just as I left. Another baffled look from strangers and another moment of feeling special!
I learned from the postcards I bought that this building is over 75 years old and that during WWII it was used as a lookout for enemy ships and subs. It also, amazingly, survived the countless storms that battered this coast since 1937. One of the postcards was an old black and white photo of the lookout with a zeppelin flying past in the background. Apparently there’s a hanger for blimps and zeppelins just north of here in Tillamook where these used to fly out of and were used as scouts during the war. I’m a bit of a history nerd I suppose so I find this extremely interesting. You probably don’t though, so moving on!
After reaching the end of the Otter Crest Loop, I rolled into Beverly Beach State Park later that evening, it being my home for the night. I saw no sign of the Seattle guys all day and wondered if they were already here when I coasted down the hill past the ranger station. I eventually find the hiker/biker area, even though it’s not clearly marked on the park map, and it seemed to be just a grassy field with a barbecue pit in the middle. I didn’t think this could be the place, but I decided to hang around and rest here regardless if it was or not. There was only one other person there when I arrive, a guy in the corner of the camp with his tent tucked away in the trees. I set my tent up just on the edge of a strip of forest which looked like it could have been filmed for an epic scene in Lord of the Rings. I referred to it silently as “hobbit’s hollow” as I set up my camp. Eventually the guy from the corner came over to chat with me and I greeted him. He was an older guy named Larry, possibly in his 60’s, biking down the coast solo, like me. He told me he was a gold prospector by profession, and that he was going down to Coo’s Bay to find his fortune. He said he knew where all the gold was and was going to head down there and make his millions. Then he followed up with that by telling me he’d been at this campsite for 3 days. Wait, you know where gold is, and you’re hanging out at this campsite doing nothing for 3 days. Why aren’t you down there digging it all up, getting rich and then coming back here after you make your money? Why wait?. I realized though that trying to analyze this would be like rationalizing the irrational, as much as I’d like to think otherwise there is not much left in the world to prospect and dig up in search of a fortune lying in wait. I ended my conversation with him on the pretense of “dinner” and went back to my tent. Shortly afterward all of the groups from the last campground rode in at a staggered pace, looking ragged. I found out a lot of them didn’t know about this secret Otter Crest Loop that spared you at least an hour of biking and a lot of effort as well. Among the people coming in were the Seattle guys, Zach and Dan. I jested that they didn’t catch me and I hadn’t seen them all day, but it turned out Zach got a flat right out of the park and had to stop and change his tube. I said that was a bummer and we caught up about how our days went. They mentioned that when they get to Coo’s Bay they’re going to rent quads to ride around out on the oregon sand dunes. Quads, we agreed, was another thing that we all collectively made fun of until we all actually tried one, and realized “wow, this actually really, really fun”.
Eventually I got up and decided to take a look around the park, since this state park borders the ocean just like the one from last night. I walked down a path past the visitors center and through another section of campground, and it brought me to a tunnel with a small stream leading under the Highway 101 bridge and out onto the sand. The stream was heavily choked with massive pieces of driftwood, some of them even tree-sized. I went for a short walk along the sand, but the fog began to roll in thick and fast, and soon I couldn’t see more than 10 feet ahead of me while I aimlessly wandered down the huge stretch of sand. I decided I wasn’t in the mood to get lost on a strange beach, so I ended up heading back in the general direction I came from and eventually found the tunnel again back into camp.
On the walk back to my tent I had lyrics for a new song pop into my head, and I wrote them down in my ipod. I used my imagination to try and envision what the guitar parts would sound like as well, and I tried to write this out, but all I ended up writing were things like “bum da dum daaaah, browwww” and decided that future me would read it and be like “what the fuck was I thinking?”. I finished the lyrics in about 5 minutes and decided I’d work the rest out later when I got home.
I arrived back at camp, grabbed my backpack and then walked down from the hiker/biker site on a snaked and steep path to the showers. Once again I had what seemed like the greatest, most fulfilling shower of my life, and I tried my best not to exclaim “oh, yeaaaaaaah” (akin to the kool-aid guy) when I was in there. At this campground the showers are all in their own private and individual rooms, and as I was showering I heard some kids causing a ruckus right outside my door. I thought for a minute that they were just playing tag or something, but as I left the shower I noticed that they had written on the ground with an old piece of charcoal from a fire pit. The message that they left me read: “Hi Mr. Taco”. My immediate reaction was: “how do they know I love tacos?” and was followed by severe confusion. Later, as I walked back to my camp, I saw a little boy in the road writing another message in charcoal and then sprinting off upon finishing. As I arrived I saw that this message read: “you stink mr. taco”. I laughed and continued on up the path to my tent. If this last message was truly about me I have no rebuttal, I do stink, and often. Punx!
After an unceremonious goodnight to folks I climbed into my tent and prepared my bedding. Another day down, and several more to go. It’s finally starting to feel like I’m making real progress on my ride, and I’m thankful I’m not feeling it in my knees yet. Common complaints I hear from friends of mine who have done bike tours almost always mention some sort of joint pain, particularly in their knees. My final wish for the day, though, is to encourage you to start prepping for your own bike tour, if only for a weekend trip. It’s an experience unlike any other, and I’m willing to bet you won’t look back on your life later and be like “Wow, I really regret riding my bike through all those beautiful places”. There are so many amazing things to be seen out in the world, and I maintain that those things are better seen from bicycles. Goodnight my friends.