Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Hex Dispensers

     One can take any given Hex Dispensers song and create a very good screenplay out of it.  The song’s lyrics put you into the skulls of paranoid, delusional individuals straight out of a Coen Brothers movie.  Or it can plant you into the desperate situation of a science fiction calamity.   All of this is delivered with one of the most contagious brands of garage punk combusting in the universe today.   The music rockets into your psyche and forces you to beat your feet and shimmy your shoulders like you’re under some kind of Haitian Voodoo trance.  The full meaning of the name Hex Dispensers has now become clear to me.  I’m going to go find my copy of the Serpent and The Rainbow now.

Interview by Jay Castro

Who’s answering the questions here?
Alex Cuervo

Who is in the band and how do you earn your keep in it?
Alex Cuervo - guitar/vocals
Alyse Mervosh - drums/vocals
Rebecca Whitley - bass/guitar/vocals

Where are all of you from, originally?
The band is from Austin, TX. I'm originally from El Paso, TX. Alyse is from the Washington D.C. area, and Rebecca is from Houston, TX.

What is the bands origin story, how did you all meet and come together?
We had our first rehearsal on 06/06/06 (Really!) Original lineup was myself, Alyse and Tom "Kodiak" Micklethwait (who recently left the band to focus on his amazing BBQ business, Micklethwait Craft Meats). The three of us had been playing in a band called This Damn Town which was winding down and we wanted to keep playing together, so we started this one. We were later joined by David Bessenhoffer on bass. Tom and Dave left the band around 2010 and Rebecca joined on bass. Tom re-joined for about a year, but left again, so now it's back to being a 3-piece.

I’ve seen an interview of you guys talking about the original sound of The Hex
Dispensers being nothing like what actually came out when starting to write and
play songs. What sound did you have in mind when starting out?
I guess initially we talked about something between the Coachwhips and the Marked Men. The raw, fucked up, blown-out quality of the Coachwhips mixed with some of the more refined songwriting and precision of the Marked Men. I can see where we were trying (on some of the early stuff), but the end result became something totally different - mostly because we couldn't pull off that recipe. Not in our wildest dreams.

Tell me about alexcuervo.net and what is it all about? What inspired you to go into
that musical direction?
It's been a longtime dream of mine to write music for films (and television, and video games), and I started getting really serious about it a couple years ago. My day job is writing custom music for clients (advertising/digital, etc...), but my long-term goal is to write music for films/tv/games all of the time. I also do some graphic design and print production freelance work, but lately the music work is more frequent. So far, I've only scored a couple short films and have licensed music for a feature film. I'll be working on scoring for my first feature film this summer - an experimental documentary called Yakona that I'm very excited about. I'm not the primary composer on it - but it's a really ambitious and creative film and I'm blown away to be involved with it.

You recently contributed music to the film “Bad Kids Go To Hell”. With that, plus
the mood of Hex Dispensers records, I am guessing you are fans of Horror movies
and/or books. What are some of your all time favorites of the genre?
Yeah - I'm big into horror and science fiction films/books/comics etc. I strongly prefer supernatural horror or monster movies to the slasher/torture porn kinds of films. I'd say I really just like genre films in general, be they sci-fi, horror, suspense, fantasy or whatever. I guess it's important to point out that we don't really consider ourselves a "horror rock" band, as I'm really not into that aesthetic at all. I just write about stuff that interests me, and the whole spooky/occult/supernatural thing just comes naturally to me. It's hard to pick favorites, I mean I'm crazy about all the classics, like the Shining, the Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, etc. Some recent films I've really enjoyed have been Cabin in the Woods and Drag Me to Hell. Believe it or not - I really really liked the remake of Evil Dead. I think everybody that's hating on it thinks that they're "supposed to". I found it really well made and totally in the spirit of the original. Lot's of reviewers keep making the rookie mistake of comparing it to Evil Dead 2 instead of the original Evil Dead - which is super annoying.

Who inspired you to learn how to play music and pick up an instrument in the first
Wow - it's a really long list! I've always wanted to play music since I was a really little kid, but I never had any kind of lessons or instruments. I just banged on upside-down trash cans or whatever. Back then I was all about Foreigner, ELO, Queen, or whatever my big sister was listening to in the 70’s. As time went on I discovered skateboarding, which turned me onto punk rock and then it was just a matter of digging up whatever I could find, which in El Paso Texas in the mid 80’s wasn't super easy. Once I discovered magazines like Flipside and Maximum Rock & Roll, I just mail-ordered tons of stuff as I could afford to and it grew from there. By the time I was 16 I was playing drums (badly) in a punk band, and then I went on to sing for another one and I've been at it since.

If The Hex Dispensers could tour with any band/musician from times gone by, who
would it be and why?
Hmmmmm... It's a tricky thing you know, because I could say Black Sabbath, and it would be crazy and decadent, but we would have been booed off the stage every night - so where's the fun in that? I guess the Ramones original lineup would be great just because it would be so awesome to see them that much - and we'd be less likely to get booed, but we'd play a really short set and get the hell out of the way as quickly as possible.

I recently read that out of all different art forms, music has the power to alter a
person’s disposition the fastest. Do you agree with this? Do you have any favorite
music that you can put on that will always lift you from a slump?
I totally agree. It's weird, that sometimes if I'm down in the dumps - I like to listen to really sad stuff. I just hunker down and let myself get super bummed out, and let it pass through. I have a playlist of go-to songs for just such an occasion. "Goodbye" by Reigning Sound really gets me super sad. Beautiful song. "The Grand Tour" by George Jones is another one on the list. If I'm feeling aggro or exercising (neither of which occur all that frequently these days) it's kind of a mix of grimy/weird hip hop like early Wu-Tang or Death Grips with pseudo-metallic hardcore like From Ashes Rise or Black Breath.

I recently read an interview with Keith Richards saying that anyone buying digital
music is getting short changed. Do you agree with this and if so, why?
I like vinyl for it's tangible quality - but I'm a digital convert. I love making playlists and having a ton of music on me all the time. I'm not a purist at all when it comes to fidelity - so digital is A-OK with me. Alyse and I will still spin records while we're having brunch at home or on an occasional Friday night, but mostly - we listen to digital music.

I don’t like using the term “guilty pleasure” because I don’t think anyone should be
made to feel ashamed of anything they like. However with that being said, what to
you listen to that you think a lot of Hex Dispensers fans may be surprised by?
You're right - "guilty pleasure" is a stupid concept. If you're ashamed of liking something then you're too worried about what other people think, and that's shitty. Just stop it. Like what you like and stand up for it. I listen to a lot of film soundtracks and instrumental music because it's what I want to do. I'm just as likely to be listening to Clint Mansell, Explosions in the Sky, John Carpenter, or Mogwai as I am Black Flag, Devo, or Thee Oh Sees. I like a really wide range of music: 60’s soul, 70’s Country, Psych, Hip Hop, Hardcore, New Wave/Darkwave/Goth, Industrial/Experimental, Delta Blues/Folk Blues... all kinds of stuff. I tend to gravitate towards dark, or somber/melancholy kinds of music - but I cast a pretty wide net.

What music have you unleashed on the world and where can people go to hear it or
buy it?
www.thehexdispensers.com - Most of the Hex Dispensers discography is there, as well as some solo releases of mine, and my instrumental electropunk side-project: Espectrostatic.

What does the band have in store for us in the near, or not so near, future?
We're planning on recording a 7" this summer, and we'll be doing a short European tour the first week of September, but other than that and playing Chaos in Tejas - not much is planned. We don't play all that often. I'm working on an Espectrostatic LP which is all instrumental and kind of late 70s/early 80s sci-fi/horror film soundtrack type stuff. Alyse and I are also thinking about starting an instrumental band, but it remains to be seen if we can pull it off or not.

HEX DISPENSERS - My Love is a Bat (OFFICIAL VID) from Jon on Vimeo.

Low Culture

     Las Cruces is a city that has arguably lived in the shadows of Albuquerque even though New Mexico State University is there, but this might change with furious pace at which Low Culture has been releasing records. Low Culture was born from the ashes of Shang-a-Lang and Total Jock. In a short time, they have taken their workman ethic to produce a demo, release two 7 inches and a debut LP on Dirtnap titled Screens which is equal parts garage punk and Husker Du. Las Cruces Rock City? Maybe? Not bad from a band that is so confident in their own songwriting that their debut video just shows them at band practice drinking beer and eating pizza.

Interview by Ed Stuart

How did the band start?
Prior to Low Culture, I was playing in two bands, Shang-A-Lang as well as a hardcore band with Cade and Sam called Total Jock. As it would happen, at around the same time, Andy, Shang-A-Lang’s drummer, told us he was moving to Boise and James, Total Jock’s guitar player, told us he was moving to Albuquerque. So both my bands were pretty much done for within a matter of weeks. I asked Sam and Cade if they wanted to start a new band with me since I had enjoyed playing music with them in Total Jock, and I got down to writing some new songs for the project. We practiced a couple of times and then recorded a demo. The week before our first show, Joe, who had been in Shang-A-Lang with me in the past, moved back to Las Cruces from Denton. We got some beers before a practice and I asked him to join the band. He showed up to practice and I basically said “hey dudes, Joe’s in the band now.”

Describe the Las Cruces scene? Isn’t New Mexico State University there? So are there a lot of bands there or is Low Culture the odd band out?
Like anywhere else, the Las Cruces scene has its ups and downs. We’ve run a DIY space called the Trainyard for the past 3 and a half years or so and prior to that the scene was primarily house show driven. Currently, it seems like things are looking up after a bit of a lull. Shows are generally better attended than they have been for at least the past year or so, and there are more houses and other spaces willing to do shows so things don’t feel so stagnant.
It’s funny, for years there was a shortage of bands and it seemed like I was in all or most of them. I’d have three or four bands at a time and would be playing a show at least once a week. These days there are actually a ton of great bands and there’s not nearly as much pressure to be the “local opener.” This has allowed us to really spend time on new material instead of just practicing for the next show.

Recently Low Culture just had two releases in a short span of time. The first release of the year is the Screens LP and then the second being the Evil 7-inch. How has band kept up this frantic release schedule while working day jobs?
I guess, in addition to what I said above, it helps that we have three songwriters. For the past two releases Joe and I have pretty much split songwriting duties and Cade has contributed the more “hardcore” songs on the S/T 7” (Nervous Wreck) and Screens LP (Nightmare). As a result, it’s rare that there’s a practice where one of us doesn’t have something new to work on. One of the best things about being in this band is that all four of us are competent and opinionated musicians. It’s rare that a song is brought to the table where suggestions aren’t offered and changes aren’t made. It has been incredibly refreshing to be a part of such a collaborative process, because I think it pushes us to get better.

Low Culture has been on a variety of different labels, Dirtnap, Dirt Cult, Dead Broke, Rad Girlfriend, Drunken Sailor, can you give some insight on working with these different labels? Do they usually ask the band for releases or is the band sending out demos?
Well, it helps that I run Dirt Cult Records. We recorded the demo and the next day I posted it on Dirt Cult’s Bandcamp page and started dubbing tapes. As for Dead Broke, Rad Girlfriend, and Drunken Sailor; those are all run by friends I’ve made from running this label and from being in other bands. Every single one of them has either put out a split record with Dirt Cult and/or released a record for one of my previous bands. I don’t really remember how they initially got involved with Low Culture, but I’m pretty sure I knew they liked the demo so I asked them to help with the 7”.  Then when I ran out of tapes Mike from Dead Broke asked if he could repress the demo tape.
Our involved with Dirtnap is perhaps a bit more complicated, but not really. Ken has been someone I’ve known for quite some time as we’ve traded records through our respective labels and hung out at Fests and when previous bands have been in Portland. I’ve always respected and admired his label. Frankly, releasing something on Dirtnap has been a dream of mine since I first encountered the label in the early 2000s. Joe is in the Marked Men and they have released nearly all their records on Dirtnap. So he kind of spearheaded asking Ken if he was interested in doing something for us. We figured at the most, he might be interested in doing a 7” but he got back to us fairly quickly saying “I want to do an LP for you guys!” Needless to say I was excited…we were all excited. So we went about writing a ton of new songs. And we’re currently about halfway through writing another record for Dirtnap, so our excitement continues!
As for our newest 7”, Evil b/w Slave to you, that was released by Drunken Sailor and Cut the Cord That…Records. Flo, who runs Cut the Cord That…actually booked our European tour so I asked him if he’d be interested in doing a European 7” for it. Julian from Drunken Sailor got involved with that one because we love him, and we were playing some dates in the UK where he’s based out of.

Evil has been described as “deliver[ing] punchy, poppy garage with melodies that get caught in your head without wearing themselves out through repetition.” Is this review from Scene Point Blank describe an intended direction of the songwriting? What is the general songwriting process for the band?
I don’t know if we have a “process” per se. Basically, as I alluded to above, someone brings riff or song to practice and we spend a few hours dissecting it and trying to make it better. It can be a pretty humbling process. I’m pretty sure that we all, at one point or another, have gone into practice thinking we had a pretty solid idea and thrown up our hands in the middle of it all and said “never mind, I don’t like it” and either trashed the song and took it home to try to make it better. It’s been a really different dynamic in that way than in many of my previous bands where you show up with a song and it’s done, or only a few minor changes are made. I like it. It challenges me.    
In terms of the quote you mentioned, I think that’s rad that people feel that way. I’m a fan of melody. Even the hardcore I listen to has to have a hook. So while I don’t think its “intentional,” at least for me, I write what I like and I write what comes naturally for me.

Do you think it’s tougher for bands to get noticed today than it was ten years ago or do you think it is easier? By noticed I mean fans finding the bands, press etc.
I think it’s both tougher and easier. I mean, when I was a kid I had to dig to find out about bands by reading the “thank you” section on band’s I liked liner notes and by reading reviews in zines. I really had to investigate and there was no guarantee that I’d even like the band if I ended up deciding to purchase a record. But the “hunt” was half the fun. These days EVERY band is a click of a button away and it makes checking new stuff out so much easier. At the same time, with social media it seems like we’re bombarded with links every day, and I for one don’t have time to click on every single one.  There are plenty of bands I’ve slept on for years, only to finally check them out and find out I love them. So it goes.

Razorcake has described Screens as “the recording is the cleanest it’s ever been with a band with Chris Mason involved in it, but it’s not a false dress-up—like a movie-ticket-taker in a bow tie—but a fuller, higher fidelity sound that provides a greater depth.” Why the desire to have a cleaner sound for Low Culture than in previous bands?
I think Todd is primarily referencing Shang-A-Lang in this one. Shang-A-Lang was “dirty” out of necessity. We recorded on four-tracks in our practice space because there is no one in Las Cruces who we trusted to record us and coordinating schedules to get out of town to record was always a nightmare. Looking back, I think that lo-fi sound turned a lot of people off, and that band would have been a bit more “successful” (whatever that means) had we figured out a way to go into a proper studio. Then again, doing everything ourselves allowed us to be pretty prolific, with an LP and more singles, split 7”s, and compilation appearances than I can count. For whatever reason, it’s just been easier to go out of town and record with this band. And since we’ve been happy with the results, we’ve just kept doing it.

I had read that there was a European Tour in the works?
We were in Europe in March. We played in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, France, the UK, Belgium, and Holland. We’ve been back a little over two weeks and I already want to go back. It was the best time of my life.

What’s next for Low Culture and where can listeners hear the band?
We’re playing Chaos in Tejas in June and Awesome Fest in August. I’m also hoping we make it up to the Dirtnap showcase in Portland and Seattle in September. And as I said, we’re writing a LP that I hope we’ll be ready to record by late summer. We’re also recording a song for a Big Boys tribute comp coming out sometime this year on Stiff Hombre Records. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Breakup Society

      After hearing the Breakup Society for the first time, I felt ashamed that I had never seen them play live.  I truly believe they are one of Arizona’s best kept secrets. The band cranks out power pop rock n roll in the same school as Dramarama, Buffalo Tom, and The Replacements.  The band has 3 consistently great full lengths with the legendary Get Hip Records.  With comedic, cynically introspective lyrics and a barrage of guitar volume, this band deserves your attention, your time, and your attendance!

Interview by Jay Castro

Who’s answering the questions here?
This is Ed Masley. I sing lead, play guitar and write the songs.

Is the band originally from the Phoenix area?
That question is more complicated than it seems. I’m actually from Pittsburgh but I flew in with two members of my former band, the Frampton Brothers, to make an album with producer Bob Hoag, also formerly a Frampton Brother, at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa. In the process of making what was meant to be a solo record, the Frampton Brothers imploded, and I was starting to dread the idea of putting my own name on that album, “James at 35,” because I was worried that people would maybe assume it was more of a singer-songwriter deal with just my name out there. So, I needed a name. And the Breakup Society struck me as a cool way to acknowledge that the guys who made that album packed with breakup songs had broken up while making it. So, we were kind of born in Mesa. But I was still living in Pittsburgh, so I formed a Breakup Society there and that first lineup stayed together for several years until I moved to Phoenix in 2006 and formed a new Breakup Society here.

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
The current lineup is:
Ed Masley – lead vocals, guitar
Nick Pasco – drums and backing vocals
Joe Golfen – keyboards
Jason McGraw – lead guitar
Chris Adams – bass, backing vocals

When starting the band, did you have a particular sound or artist in mind?
That first album, “James at 35,” was meant to be a straight-up tribute to the power-pop recordings of my youth because the subject matter of the first half, in particular, was just very nostalgic. But I’d pretty much abandoned that idea by the time we did our second album, called “Nobody Likes a Winner.” I’ve always liked the idea of being a rock and roll band, like the Beatles, where you write a song and that’s the song. You don’t worry about what genre you’re supposed to be. You just play music.

At a young age, what bands/musicians inspired you to want to pick up an instrument in the first place?
The Beatles changed my life. I had horrible taste in music until I saw one of their movies (“Help”). The Beatles had been broken up for years by then but they still hit me like the revolutionary force they are. That got me into the British Invasion and Dylan so I was immersed in all this music from another era (the Kinks, the Beatles and the Who, in particular) when the punk/New Wave thing kind of rocked my world just as I was writing my first songs. So, I can’t help but gravitate toward filtering those ’60s sensibilities – that sense of songcraft – through the attitudes and some would argue sloppiness of punk and New Wave.

You recently opened up for Soul Asylum.  Out of any local band, I can’t think of anyone better suited to do so.  How did that go?  Were you guy’s fans of theirs prior to this?
That was probably my favorite show I’ve played since moving here. I was a big fan in the “Hang Time” days and I think that new album’s everything you could have wanted it to be. They had to play that show without their drummer, who was having trouble with his leg, and they were just amazing, rising to the challenge of carrying on with the show despite the lack of drums.

The song “The Way We Weren’t” on your newest album So Much Unhappiness, So Little Time was written in collaboration with singer/songwriter John Wesley Harding, how did that relationship come about?
We had opened for John Wesley Harding in Pittsburgh and struck up a friendship. Then, he emailed me in Phoenix to ask if I could play one of his Cabinet of Wonders shows in Pittsburgh. I said, well, I can’t afford to fly to Pittsburgh for one show, but while I have your attention, would you wanna write a song together? I’d written the music to that song and didn’t feel like I could do it justice with my darkly comic sensibilities. It had that whole ’70s Lennon vibe and I was thinking he might have a better shot at coming through with something closer to “Imagine.” So instead, he wrote “The Way We Weren’t.” And I was glad he did. In fact, I can’t believe he beat me to that title. And it suits the album better than a song more in the spirit of “Imagine” would have.

I noticed you count The Mr. T Experience as one of your influences.  I happen to be a long time fan of theirs as well.  Front man Frank Portman has written a few books which, as far as I know, at least one of them is being adapted into a feature length film (King Dork).  With The Breakup Society lyrics being so narrative, do you have any interests in such aspirations or endeavors as well? 
I actually just started writing my first book five days ago. I’m thinking “darkly comic” is the way most people will describe it. Some may even mean that as a good thing.

You have had a long affiliation with Get Hip Records, Was it intimidating at first being on a label with such a history and an impressive roster of acts like The Cynics, The Beat and The Fleshtones?
It was intimidating, sure, especially because the Cynics are so popular and Get Hip had never expressed any interest in doing a Frampton Brothers record. But they really like these three albums I’ve made with the Breakup Society.

I hear songwriters like Joe Jackson and Paul Westerberg in your music a lot.  Much like these guys, the lyrics in The Breakup Society seem to wear their heart on their sleeve, so to speak.  I can’t think of anything other than some firsthand experiences that can inspire lyrics like this.  Either that or you really know how to crawl inside the heads of characters from old John Hughes movies!  Is it sometimes difficult revealing some of these experiences in your life to the public or is it rather therapeutic?
Well, you know, the feelings in those songs are almost always based on feelings I’ve experienced. But the actual details can be fairly fictional. Or based on a reality I’ve witnessed but not lived. So, it is therapeutic to write them but because I tend to blur the line between reality and fiction, I don’t find it difficult to share, although I have made people feel uncomfortable because they thought for sure a certain song was aimed at them, which it frequently wasn’t. The working title of this album was “A Collection of First-Person Character Sketches” to get at the fact that there’s almost always some of both in every song. And “Mary Shelley” kind of gets at that whole concept.

I read a quote by someone saying that, above all the art forms; music has the ability to instantly change a person’s disposition.  Do you agree with this?  And if so, is there any song or artist or songs that you can think of that can lift you out of a serious slump, or vice versa?
The Kinks can always make me smile. Or sometimes cry, and that’s good too. It’s kind of hard to have a shitty day while the Ramones are playing. And the Beatles always make me smile. But if I had to pick one song, it’s probably “A Quick One, While He’s Away” by the Who.

Do you think the art of music can still be a vital and inspiring force to kids in such a disposable age?
I think music matters now as much as ever. I just think we’ve grown into a culture where people feel comfortable stealing their music. And I’m fine that, I guess. But maybe if musicians aren’t expected to be paid, they also shouldn’t have to pay for anything. You know, like the doctor can download your music for free and that’s OK, but in return, he has to see you when you’re sick and not expect some sort of payment in return.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects the music industry, epically the artist?
I think I accidentally answered this on the previous question. It’s bad for the industry, obviously. But that’s just how we’re wired now. I wish it hadn’t come to this. But when you write a song, you write it in the hope that people will listen. So, if that’s the way we listen now, then steal my music, please.

Where can people go hear the band or purchase your music?
We’re pretty good about letting you know when and where we’ll be playing on Facebook at facebook.com/thebreakupsociety. Are new album, “So Much Unhappiness, So Little Time…” is available here in Phoenix at Stinkweeds, for sure. And all three albums can be found at Amazon and iTunes.

What’s next for The Breakup Society?
I’d like to make a few more videos for this most recent album and I know we have enough new songs to start the next one soon. I’d like to get into the studio before the year is out. And in the meantime, of course, we’ll be trying to play as many shows as possible. I think the next album is feeling like more of a rocker because we’ve been playing so much.

The Breakup Society on Get Hip Recordings 


Cyanide Pills

     Cyanide Pills have one of the cleverest bios ever written in the fact that it isn’t a traditional bio at all. But when it comes to musical influences there is no messing around. They mix classic era Buzzcocks with a touch of Briefs and Dickies thrown in for good measure to create a catchy hook driven sound. The band has a new LP Still Bored coming out on Damaged Goods. For a band that “just try and play stuff of a decent standard” they are doing a good job of raising the standards beyond decent to must listen.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
Phil Privilege

Where is the band from?
Four of us are from Earth.

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Phil Privilege - Vocals
Sy Pinkeye - Guitar
Alex A - Guitar
Alaric ‘The Trick’ - Bass
Chris Wrist - Drums

How did the band start?
No big story, just a group of like- minded people thought they would form a band.

What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
We are all fans of 1970’s punk rock, I would like to think if we were around at that time we would be up there with all the good bands from that era. Our ambition is to be on Top Of The Pops but in the year 1978! Step 1 is to write the songs, step 2 is to build some sort of time machine.
Step 1 is going ok.
More contemporary bands we like. The Briefs, Guida, Cute Lepers, Sharp Objects, The Gaggers, The Barreracudas, Mean Jeans, Clorox Girls…there’s loads of good stuff out there, go find it.

The band’s bio is the most unique and creative, I’ve read. “A gang of c***s from a desolate land. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the band... CYANIDE PILLS.” Why the desire to do a poem instead of the traditional band bio.
Most bio’s I read are boring.
They really get me snoring.
Don’t care where you’re from.
Just play the Fucking song…well. You get the Idea.

The band’s favorite shows they have played this far?
We have a great time everywhere we play, From Gateshead to Berlin, Bologna to Bradford. All good. There are some great punk clubs and great people out there. Go.

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” Nietzsche

Rip it Up describes Cyanide Pills “approach to their sound seems a little bit like the way the Japanese manage to observe, assimilate, refine and eventually outdo any new technology that they discover.  These guys have clearly spent their [mis]-spent youth poring over every scratched 7″ copy of ‘Marquee Moon’ and ‘Promises’ that they could find down the local secondhand record shop – they have produced an album so full of riffs [Buzzcocks], ‘OoohOoohs’ [Ramones], and catchy hooks [Dickies] that it almost hurts!”  Do you feel this is an accurate regarding the band’s sound and songwriting style?
It’s a compliment indeed! We just try and play stuff of a decent standard, bands like the above mentioned Television, The Ramones, Buzzcocks, Dickies set the bar pretty high.

Can you tell a little information about how the recording went for Still Bored? It looks to be released next month on Damaged Goods?
We always record with the great Carl ‘Razorblade’ Rosamond. We got it done in a few   days and its came out well. We didn’t think we would make a second album. Then Damaged Goods asked for one.  So, we made one. It’s out April 8th.

How did you guys connect with Damaged Goods? On their website they think, “Cyanide Pills may just be the greatest band in the world.” It seems that the label really likes the band since they have released both LP’s and a series of singles.
Ian Damaged saw us play one night, afterwards he said “I want to put a Cyanide Pills record out” We thought he meant one! But he had other ideas.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
Personally I like my music on vinyl. It looks and sounds better and I don’t mind paying.
Personally I don’t like water I prefer wine. It looks and tastes better and I don’t mind paying.

What’s next?  
Fuck knows

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


     Boats! is the kind of band for short attention spans. A band that could probably write a two-minute song but chooses not too. A band that realizes you get more spins with songs lasting one minute thirty then ones clocking in at five minutes. A streamlined trio heavily influenced by early California punk most notably the Simpletones, have just recently released an LP on Modern Action entitled Black and White. The band has just returned from touring the east coast, northwest and Canada and is ready to keep playing their short, sharp, catchy songs anywhere that lets them.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
David Lee Hayden - Bassist

Where is the band from?
We're from Sacramento, California (City of Trees).

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Matt Leonardo - Guitar / Vocals /Songwriter
David Lee Hayden- Bass / back up vocals
Adam Jennings - Drums

How did the band start?
Matt and I had started a side band from our main project Sex Tape Scandal, called The She He He's. We had planned for the band to be a simple punk band, very similar to Clorox Girls. That quickly changed when our Friend Amanda took over the vocals. We did countless touring with The She He He's. Our last tour, Matt and I had decided when we got back, we'd start the simple Clorox Girls band we had in mind for The She He He's.

Five bands/LP’s you can’t live without?
Green Day - Kerplunk
Influents - Check Please
Tranzmitors - Busy Signals
The Briefs - Hit After Hit
The Beatles - Please Please Me

How is the Sacramento scene? For such a big city it seems to be not a well-documented scene? Definitely overshadowed by SF/Bay area scene.
Sacramento has spurts of awesomeness- The Bananas are still one of our best local bands, but they rarely play Sacramento- once a year, if that. As far as BOATS! goes, Sacramento Sucks for us. We're yesterdays’ news. We do a thousand times better on tour.  Love Sacramento, but prefer life on the road.

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
It is a vital force in any age! Keeps me sane from my normal life. It gives me something to get super excited for, and leave all the normal life's B.S Behind.

Boats! has quite a busy last two to three months with the release of Black and White, an east coast tour, Canadian tour and a mini northwestern tour. How excited is the band right now? What were some of the best shows Boats! played on any of these tours?
We're super excited. We've sat on our new LP for over a year. We had been holding out for Adeline Records to put it out. After the long waiting game, our buddies in Modern Action Records stepped up, and agreed to put the record out. Being a huge Briefs / Bodies/ Sharp Objects fan, I was pretty excited that we'd be part of Modern Action Records.
Oddly all over our shows were really good. I couldn't really pick a best show for the tour, though Philly surprised me big time. We've never played or have been to Philly in any of our bands, and it seemed that people had came out to see us; we played great, and the sound sounded awesome. Over all, every show was well attended, so we were pretty amped for every show.

Black and White has been released on Modern Action. Is there any sort of special packaging for this LP? They’re a label known for producing unique releases or a lot of limited editions. How did Boats! get the attention of Modern Action?
Our first 30 records had special covers for tour…pretty much, the record company didn't get our covers printed in time, so we had to make kinko copied sleeves for the record. I believe they also had like 10 records made with white vinyl.  I was a huge Briefs fan, and over the years I just managed to become friends with the guys. Dan had moved to the bay area, and we played a birthday show with him with Youth Brigade. We kept in touch, and played a lot of shows with Sharp Objects. We showed them our new material, which they found to be more aggressive than any of our other records, and the rest is history. They pressed the record.

The Portland Show-Guide stated, “[Boats!] keep it short, simple and snappy with most songs clocking in at around two minutes.” Is this a consideration when writing songs because it does seem the overwhelming majority of songs clock in less than two minutes.
We are lucky if we manage to get two minutes ha! It is not something we consider, or even aim for. It just sort of happens naturally. Longer songs just seem to lose enthusiasm. We just always typically keep it simple. Also, we've never been huge fans of bands that play 45-minute sets…So we just sort of play shows, the way we'd like to see other bands play. Short, sweet, simple, and too the point.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
I think naturally it affects bigger labels. As for smaller punk labels- kids have their heads on their shoulders. They like to support smaller bands and labels they like. There are a lot of record nerds out there, that love collecting, and having limited edition copies. It's nice to sell your records, and make some money. Enjoy the fruits of your labor, but its more exciting knowing kids have your music, listen to it, like it, and possibly sing along at our shows. I am not bothered or offended if they manage to get our music for free. I am guilty, and have downloaded free music in my time. For smaller bands, or bands I consider friends, I like to own their actual hard copy of their record.
My whole record collection is only of bands we've played with.

What’s next for Boats and where can people hear the band?
Well we are always super ambitious, but the reality is, what's next, is what is always next.
Write new music; record it, release it, and tour. Hopefully down the road, after Black and White gets out there more, maybe we'll be lucky and get picked up by an actual booking agent, or a bigger band that wants to take us on their tour…Green Day?…. maybe?….