Rations may be from Long Island, but the band has a sound that is heavily influenced by early Jawbreaker, Fugazi, Crimpshrine and other early to mid-90’s bands. A sound that relies on musical urgency, half time tempos and raspy, emotive vocals that sings and shred at the same time. Where there is a melody mixed with distorted guitars and a drumbeat that continually pushes ahead. Where as Jawbreaker would give the songs time to expand, Rations packs everything they needs to do in a short periods of time true to punk tradition, but not in traditional fashion.
Interview by Ed Stuart
Who’s answering the questions?
Brian, Wells, Social Dee, Tia
Where is the band from?
Brian: We're all originally from the North Shore of Suffolk County, Long Island, NY. We're currently all living in different parts of Suffolk County. I'm the only one who has defected to the South Shore.
Wells: It's a whole different culture down there. Gargoyles.
Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Wells: Deirdre plays drums and sometimes other percussion stuff like glockenspiel. Tia plays bass and sometimes sings. Then Brian and I play guitars and sing. On this last EP our buddy Beaker and I also used an Atari Punk Console for some of the noise stuff between songs.
How did the band start?
Brian: The idea to start this band came up during a BBQ at Wells’ house. We thought it would be fun to start playing again, after not having played together for awhile. Gradually, it became a bit more serious and we hooked up with Dee and then Tia and started playing shows and releasing records.
What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
Brian: (Young) Pioneers, Jawbreaker, M-Blanket, Splurge.
Wells: Brian seems to have forgotten our time as a Screeching Weasel worship band. Our motto was "Aim for Anthem. Settle for Wiggle."
How does the songwriting process work in Rations? The listener can hear band influences ranging from early Jawbreaker, Fugazi, 90’s East Bay to bits of Born Against (in guitar sound not song speed).
Wells: It's always a bit a different, but typically either Brian or I come to practice with the rough idea of a song already made up.
Brian: Everyone kinda writes their own part from that and we arrange it all together. We have always followed the rule that whoever writes the song has to sing it.
How is the Long Island punk scene different from NYC punk scene? Why the decision to stay in Long Island? How has it changed over the years?
Brian: I lived in NYC for close to 10 years. Back then I think NYC was more dominated by hardcore. I've always felt a greater sense of community with Long Island punk.
Tia: The Long Island punk scene feels more like a giant family than a bunch of kids enjoying music. There is just complete support, acceptance and passion for the right things. NYC is so vast that even though you may see some of the same people, it is not as tight knit as the Long Island scene is. It can seem as if people are at a show for the beer. There's a great group of bands and friends on LI doing really cool things!
I was reading that 30 different labels in 11 different countries are releasing the Martyrs and Prisoners 7 inch. How much coordination and cooperation does this take and why the decision to do release the 7 inch through so many different labels?
Wells: It's definitely been a lot of work and coordination but I think it'll be really gratifying when it's done. We're really lucky to have a lot of great contacts around the world that are down for this kinda stuff. We did our "How Much Land Does A Man Need?" 7" EP in 2011 the same way - 10 labels in 6 countries. At some point I got it in my head to see just how many labels we could pile in for this one. I aimed for 20 and wound up with 30! We wanted to use the opportunity of releasing the record to demonstrate that international DIY punk and hardcore really operates as a 'network of friends'. From a practical standpoint putting it out this way allowed us to defray the manufacturing costs across 30 different entities and get our music into 30 different scenes across the globe. I think it was a neat experiment and on the whole I think it worked out pretty great.
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 bands and labels in any way especially considering Wells owns and operates 86’d Records?
Wells: I've always done bands and record labels as a hobby - either breaking even or losing money. So, from that perspective it doesn't really phase me. I like the idea of free culture and a robust public domain. Our new record is being licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. As far as for-profit water, I think that's insane. Via Campesina, which is an international peasant's organization that we had some information on in our last record, has some powerful perspective on this.
In the Brainstorm article, Brian was talking about “writing stuff that sounds ‘Long Island’ is almost impossible not to do.” What is the Long Island sound? Are there any particular bands that really epitomize that sound?
Brian: Splurge's "For Huey With Love and Squalor" is the final word in Long Island punk.
Wells: I didn't tell anyone I was doing it, but "For Huey" is etched in the runout on the A side of the new record. "For Love, Squalor" is etched on the B side.
Where can people hear the band?
Wells: We've got a website up at rationsband.wordpress.com. That's a pretty good place to start. Our new EP "Martyrs and Prisoners" will be available for download at the Free Music Archive starting July 2nd, 2013.
What’s next for Rations?Social Dee: We're really hoping to get a band practice together before the end of the summer.