Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mother's Children

     Mother’s Children don’t care what you call them as long as it’s not pop-punk, which I don’t see any danger of that anyway. With influence’s ranging from Nick Lowe, The Raspberries, The Zombies, Sweet and ELO, Mother’s Children craft songs like a gourmet chef cooks fine food. Their last LP, Lemon, was anything but. Instead Lemon is filled with the kind of American meets UK power-pop songs that most bands dream of writing for a single and Mother’s Children filled an entire album them. Mother’s Children don’t like being called pop-punk, but after listening to their songs you may come to agree with one reviewer that they are “Power Pop, with Actual Power.”

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
Kenneth James; Singer / Lead Guitarist / Song Writer

Give us a brief history of Mother’s Children? How did you meet? What other bands you have played in and currently do play in?
We’ve been a band since 2008, so about 7 years. I broke up Sick Fits a year prior to do something new with our singer; Michael Hurts. The Million Dollar Marxists; another Ottawa group, broke up around the same time. The ex-Marxists went onto to form the Sedatives and the White Wires, while Tim and Davey went onto join us. It’s been the same fab four up until last year when we got Seiji, the current Average Times bass-player on bass for us. Two of us also back up Ian Manhire from the White Wires in Voicemail. Voicemail has been playing for about two years and has recorded about two albums but hasn’t released anything yet. I played in a version of The Barracudas, for a tour once, which was pretty neat.

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Kenneth James – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Michael Hurts – Guitar, Vocals
Tim Ostler – Drums
Seiji W. Hewett – Bass, Vocals

How is the Ottawa music scene?  Is it competitive or like one big family?
Well it’s the only music scene I’ve been in, so it’s hard to tell. It’s definitely way better now, than when we started out. I’ve read about how great Ottawa’s bands and scene are lately. It feels like there’s a more positive energy and bigger crowds now at punk/underground shows than there was like 10 years ago. The Ottawa Explosion surely has something to do with that. There aren’t really any bands like Mother’s Children, so there’s no competition. Even if there was, it wouldn’t matter to us, because we just want to make music on our own terms.

What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
I’m not lying even a little bit when I say that I wanted to be in a band that sounded like The Raspberries, Cheap Trick, The Sweet, The Zombies and T.Rex. I assumed with that mix of influences we’d come out sounding like Supergrass. We even had an organ player in the beginning. Over time, the band developed a more fast-paced, straight-ahead approach, which some people say is called Punk Rock. But those old influences are still very much looming in our songs.

In an interview with AUX, Kenneth mentioned Sparks’ Mael brothers, Nick Lowe, Ray Davies, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Wood as influences. What was about these musicians that drew you them originally?
Sparks for everything. The songs are fun, hook-filled, and occasionally epic. And the lyrics are perfection to me. Just the right amount of weird. Same thing about Ray Davies (the Kinks) and Nick Lowe. Although not as weird; it’s the unique way they are able to throw a story into a simple pop-song that is a major inspiration to how I write lyrics. Lynne and Wood, well you can follow their careers from the Move and the Idle Race who were psych-pop bands, and watch them evolve into the hugely successful Electric Light Orchestra. Quite the musical journey, and the tunes were always top-notch. Another influence to my lyrical writing is John Waters movies. I love just how declarative his characters are. The acting is bad, but the actors speak with such conviction you just have to listen! That’s kinda like our music.

In the same interview with AUX, Kenneth spoke of a very interesting band philosophy “I don’t like pushing my music on anyone, especially since there are just so many bands and varying tastes out there,” he says. “But I’d like people to know how to find us when they’re ready.” One could make the argument, that when a band plays live they are indirectly pushing the band on the fans especially since the only other alternative for the crowd is to step outside the venue to not hear them. Can you elaborate more on that quote?
Yeah, sometimes you’re gonna have to listen to bands you hate, and sometimes you’re gonna BE the band people hate. I guess I’m just a sensitive “artiste.” I’d rather stay underground than be shrugged off by a cold, indifferent public. Yet I refuse to make the music that the public wants to hear, HA! I sometimes feel we belong in a different, simpler time. As a kid I grew up with the Oldies AM radio station playing all the time, and I never knew that they were “Oldies” until I got older. You are right though. All bands have to push themselves to get anywhere, especially when they’re just starting out. When you make music that isn’t the accepted norm, sure, you get creative satisfaction, but the fallout is a lot of folks just won’t care, and that can sting. We prefer to play small venues and house shows. I feel they have a more open-minded and fun vibe going down. If the crowd is up-front and responsive it’s the best thing in the world. If they’re not, I kind of feel foolish. I think we come off as kind of reserved compared to some of the bands we play with. Running around the stage or being super intense just isn’t our thing. I just want to sound good. So yes, you must go outside your comfort zone a little bit if you’re gonna blaze your own trail. A LOT if you’re gonna try to change anything for the better.

In an interview with 53rd and 3rd, the band didn’t really seem to enjoy being labeled power-pop, but then at the end it was stated “Call it anything you want really, just don’t call it pop-punk,” which begs the question, why not pop-punk?
HAHA! I guess we don’t leave a lot of options for ourselves do we? I dislike labels, but I understand it’s important to be able to categorize bands. I’ll accept “Power-pop” as a title. Our music is certainly heavy on both those things. Someone once said in a review; “Power Pop, with Actual Power,” which was great. I love Punk Rock, it’s truly thrilling. I have hundreds of punk albums and we play with punk bands all the time. We get a kick out of playing fast and loud, but I just never felt the music we were making was punk music. I guess I just don’t wanna set the wrong expectations.

What are some things you like about all the digital avenues presented to musicians nowadays (Bandcamp, blogs, blog writers, Facebook, smaller record labels, internet magazines, etc.) to help bands today?  And some things you don’t like?
There’s a lot of shit talk in some places, but all the other stuff is great. There are many web-zines and blogs worldwide who have reviewed us and said wonderful things about our records. There was a time when the only reviews I ever read were in an actual magazine. You used to have to create a website from scratch, with pages and everything. Now we just have a band camp and we make money without really doing anything. We’re not about making money, we just want our music to be accessible, and all the resources you just named are great for that. Small record labels however, are the true heroes. I know how hard putting out records is. Without them we’d be nowhere.

Where can people hear Mother’s Children and what’s next for the band?
HUGE Cross-Europe tour with Calgary’s the Mandates in May 2015!
Our bandcamp has pretty much all the songs. ( It’s all on vinyl too. Our newest one is on Mammoth Cave Records in Canada ( Resurrection Records in the USA ( and Taken By Surprise in Europe ( We just recorded a few new songs this month. There will be a new 45 coming out soon to hold you over until our next full record.

The Jolts

     In 2008, The Jolts released their debut full length and titled it Haute Voltage. That name pretty much sums it up right there. Four guys from the town of Vancouver all in leather jackets and I’m pretty sure they all smell like dust and gasoline. These long running canucks have been doing this for ten years now and are in a similar school with bands like Jersey boys Electric Frankenstein or Swedish heroes The Hellacopters type of punk rock, heavy emphasis on the ROCK. Word on the street has it The Jolts put on quite a live performance too. It makes sense judging by the kind of force their music emits.  Guys like this aren’t usually the types that pride themselves on studio recording mastery. The Jolts are ready to release their third long player later this year and I’m pretty sure it’s going to set off Mount St. Helens again and if not then the seismic effects will be similar none the less. 

Interview by Jay Castro

Let’s begin with introductions, who’s all in The Jolts and what do you all do?
JOEY: The Jolts are Joshy Atomic on lead guitar, Evan Dabbler on bass, Matt Von Dander on drums and me, Joey Blitzkrieg, singing and playing rhythm guitar.

I see you guys have some side projects going on aside from The Jolts.  Can you tell me a bit about them?
JOEY: Joshy is playing guitar for Fashionism, a glam band/political party fronted by Jeffie from the Tranzmittors. They have a 7” that just came out on Hosehead records. Our drummer Von Dander's side project, Dead-Exes is recording demos right now. My Ramones tribute band The Ramores (which has featured all of the other Jolts members in the past) just celebrated our 15th anniversary last Halloween and will be playing more shows later this year.

You guys played Shake! Arama last year, how did that go?
JOEY: Great! Matti put on a killer festival with a diverse lineup of great bands. We were only in town for one day but still caught 8 bands. The mystery show at a tiny art space was a definite highlight. Line Traps and Shitty Neighbours blew the doors off that place. Shake! Records is doing a killer job right now, releasing tons of great punk/psych/garage stuff (including our last 7" and our albums on cassette).   We'll hopefully be on the Shake! Arama 2015 lineup this summer.

I also saw you had some gear stolen. I don’t know about you but that sort of thing always makes me lose hope for humanity. Have you recovered anything?
JOEY: We had a bad break in at our last jam space. Between all the bands that shared the room (Jolts, Vicious Cycles, Greenback High, Piggy) 17 guitars and 2 amps were stolen. The community response was incredible though and in the end between tracking some down ourselves (including Joshy's brand new SG and my Firebird) and donations from tons of people we were able to recover or replace almost every piece.  

What sorts of things influence your lyrics?  Can you remember the strangest thing (person or event) that influenced you to want to write a song about?
JOEY: The lyrics are from all over the place. Pulp sci-fi/slasher flicks and video games tend to inspire me but the end result is usually about girls. "Hey Alright" from our first LP is a true story about getting kicked out of a wedding reception for smashing glasses. "TANSTAAFL" from our upcoming release is about violent revolution and inspired by Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Are there any records you own that you feel some Jolts fans may be surprised are in your collection?
JOEY: I'm a big ABBA fan, with tons of their records on regular rotation at my place. ZZ Top's “Eliminator” and “Afterburner” also stay near the turntable. Joshy is a vinyl junkie so he's got all kindsa weird stuff including a growing “Exotica” collection. Matt can’t get enough of Fickle Heart by Sniff' n' the Tears and I think Evan probably has a Steel Panther download card.

I noticed you put a link to a Guardians of The Galaxy article on your Facebook page. Are you guys fans of comic books or movies of that genera?  What have been some of your favorite and least favorite comic book adopted movies so far?
JOEY: Our song "Infinity Love" (from 8 Percent) is a love song for Lady Death from the perspective of Thanos, so I was very excited about Thanos finally entering the Marvel Movie world. I actually haven't liked too many of the comic adaptation films besides Nolan's Batman’s. G of G was pretty cool but I'd rather watch Astron-6's “Manborg” any day.

If you could pick just one person that’s been the single most influential person in your life, who would that be and why?
JOEY: Definitely Joey Ramone. The Ramones are pretty much the main reason I ever started a band and all the music I enjoy today either inspired them or was inspired by them. Hearing his voice singing those songs still thrills me today like it did as a teen in my bedroom. Even though the Jolts don't always sound like them, we try to have that '1-2-3-4' energy as our initial inspiration for any song.

I have to ask you about that Skeletor shirt design.  That has got to be one of the coolest band T-shirts I’ve ever seen! Who designed that?
JOEY: Ha! I did that up one night before a small tour, just messing around with ideas. Skeletor has always been one of my favorite cartoon characters. He just looks so bad ass. 

Where can people go to hear or buy your music or merch?
JOEY: Pretty much all our music is up on our Bandcamp page and our web store has some of our current merch. Also you can always send us a message on Facebook.

What’s going on with The Jolts for 2015?
JOEY: We're just doing the finishing touches on a new record so we'll just be playing some western Canada shows and waiting for our buddies Teenage Rampage Records to put it out. It should be ready for early summer with some touring to follow.

Feral Trash

     As if you didn’t know before, it’s official that Canada has invaded our musical border and we are the better for it. If your ear has been to the ground for the last few years, this comes as no surprise to you. Feral Trash, unlike their more power-pop inclined Canadian brothers, have gone straight for the mighty Southern California heart of punk and fed it back to us. Trashfiction is so chock full of early ‘80’s classic So Cal influences (think Adolescents, Simpletones, Posh Boy), that it would be right at home on the Frontier label.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Jesse plays bass, Ilisha plays drums, I play guitar, we all sing.

Give us a brief history of Feral Trash’s background, some other bands you have played in and currently do play in?
Well we are all from Moncton, NB, Canaduh. Ilisha and Jesse had been playing in bands together for a few years (The Kamalas, Thalidomy Kids), and I was always a huge fan, so when I started writing songs for a new darker band, I asked them if they wanted to play. I played in quite a few previous bands, we all did, but Fear of Lipstick was the longest running thing. We all are currently working on new projects.

I had read the band was originally was from New Brunswick, but some of the band now lives in Ottawa.  Is this true?
Me and Ilisha did move to Ottawa.

What are some of the differences between Ottawa and New Brunswick?
As for differences, they're just typical "moved to a bigger city" differences. More shows, more bands, more to do. Ottawa Explosion people do shows year round here it seems, not just the summer festival and they're all awesome. Crazy expensive to live compared to out east though, so in the end, you don't really get out that much more due to funds being tighter. I'd also like to mention a lot of the pizza joints here suck and the east coast favorite dish "garlic fingers with donair sauce" is non-existent here.

What were some of the bands that inspired Feral Trash early on?
Too many to name I'd say, but when the three of us got fucked up together (usually with Jesse's wife, Michelle), Red Dons Fake Meets Failure always found its way to the turntable and a frenzy usually ensued. White Lung and the Wipers yielded very similar results.

Eric and Ilisha are married; do you think it’s easier being a married couple in a band as opposed to bands you have played in separately? I would think one advantage is that you can write songs together at home.
It's as awesome as it sounds.

What are some things you like about all the digital avenues presented to musicians nowadays (Bandcamp, blogs, blog writers, Facebook, smaller record labels, internet magazines, etc.) to help bands today?  And some things you don’t like?
Facebook rules for booking shows/touring, sucks for everything else. Bandcamp helps people check out bands faster than anything else. The internet is awesome and awful at the same time. It's a total necessity these days though, if you wanna run a band/label. I remember being younger and doing mail orders pre-internet and waiting weeks for packages just to get a letter in the mail saying "Out of stock, would you like anything else?"

Has any movie production company asked to use the song “Beth” in any movies yet? The piano intro melody sounds reminiscently like the theme from Halloween. I would have thought a horror movie would have picked it up.
Nope, but if they want it, they can have it.

Right now, it seems like Canada is just pumping out so many good bands. Has Canada always been like that and it’s just taken awhile for the rest of the world to notice or does Canada just have an awesome group of bands right now?
It does seem like Canada is getting a good nod from the rest of the punk world these days, but I figure it's due to the internet and how easy it is to find the bands, they were always here, the rest of the world just didn't know how to find us.

Where can people hear Feral Trash and what’s next for the band?
We plan on playing some gigs in the upcoming year and record a new 7".

Freaks of Nature

     Phoenix’s own rock n’ roll soul shakers Freaks of Nature sweat and bleed on stage as if it was 1966 all over again. Their music is as raw as a side of ground chuck and sounds like it could fit right between One Way Streets and The Swamp Rats on a Back from the Grave compilation. Freaks of Nature’s music is by four guys that “get it.” They immerse themselves in this kind of music and culture from a certain time period not because it’s a trend, not to get girls, or to get rich but because they found kindred spirits in the type of music young people made in the mid to late 1960’s in their parents garage, it spoke to them and awakened a sleeping giant in their creative souls. This music won’t dazzle you with technical skill or bore you with metaphysical lyrics and metaphors, but if you can smell what these cats are cookin’, it’s going to exorcize your demons right where you stand! 

Interview by Jay Castro

Please tell me who’s all in Freaks of Nature and what does everyone do in the band:
Steve: Lead Guitarist
David: Drummer
James: Bass
And me, Daniel: Guitar, harp, and singing. 

It is undeniable that you guys are heavily influenced by 1960’s music, in fact some of your past bands have also been influenced by music from that era. Tell me what you think today’s music lacks that yesterday’s music then had?
DANIEL: I honestly don’t think today’s music lacks anything. I respect almost all musicians. I think I’m attracted to its ineptness of the music from the ‘60’s that I grew up listening to. I’m also attracted to bands like The Gories, and early Cramps. Bands that might not have known how to play that well or they just didn’t play that well. The thing with the Back from the Grave albums which are basically this bands bible is that kids heard The Stones, they saved up their news paper route money and got instruments, went into a recording studio and came out with a 45. Your best friend can be the best guitarist in the world but his songs can suck. It happens all the time. Then there can be some guy that can’t play the guitar at all and comes up with an awesome song. That’s what was so cool about it, but there is some romance with the past. Sometimes you can suck and your music will suck, but sometimes you can suck but your music will be cool!

Do you remember who first introduced you to 1960’s rock n’ roll music?
DANIEL: I walked into my friends house when I was like 17 and this Pebbles compilation was playing and it was really tinny and trebly and I asked him what the hell is that?! He said it was his sisters girlfriend’s CD and I said I don’t care I’m taking that home! I’m going to steal that! So as soon as he went to the bathroom I stole it and I still have it to this day and it is still my favorite album, it’s in my truck right now. Then I was hanging out with my good friend Joel McCune and he was in a band called Cruel Daddy Doom and The Hemlocks and they did that kind of music. We started hanging out because he heard I liked Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus and I went over to his house and he played me the Tell-Tale Hearts, so we got drunk and I made two 90 minute tapes with everything on it: all these comps and 80’s reissues he bought when he was a teenager living in Puerto Rico. I think my favorite was this band called Music Machine and he was like yeah good luck finding this because they weren’t reissuing this stuff back then. So one day I was walking to the bus stop and I missed the bus so there was this thrift store right by so I walked in and right there in the dollar records bin there it was: Turn On by The Music Machine! So from then on all my money went into buying records. Then Mike from Eastside Records turned me on to all the Estrus Records stuff when they first started coming out The Oblivians and The Makers.  

Freaks of Nature are currently recording a new album with Jim Waters of Waterworks Studios (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Sonic Youth, The Drags) how did you hook up with him and how is the recording going so far?
DANIEL: We opened for Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion at Crescent Ballroom and after the show they were all extremely cool and they knew their shit! They know their ‘60’s and their punk history. We talked forever with them after the show and the next day they were heading to Waterworks to record. The next day I got this call from this guy and he said “Hey my name’s Jim. I own Waterworks Studio in Tucson, I’m sitting here with The Blues Explosion and I’m calling to set up a date for you to come down here and record, these guys loved you and I want to set up a date with you right now.” I told him we couldn’t afford him and we were just a garage band and stuff but he was like “We can work something out man, if Blues Explosion likes you, I like you, and we can figure something out.” So I asked him if he knew how to record just like they did in 1966 and he said “Oh yeah, I know exactly how they used to do things back then.” So we went down there and used the first or second take on each song and it turned out Jim Waters is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met and we all had a blast. I sent the recordings to labels that I’ve bought records from and that I loved and Screaming Apple jumped on it and as of right now our LP is slated for around March. 

You guys play out a lot around the Phoenix/Tempe area and you’ve played with a lot of great bands. Can you tell me about the worst show you can remember playing and what made it so utterly and completely disastrous?
DANIEL: That’s a funny question because with this band the worst show could be our best show! We played a burlesque show for a friend of a friend and we were doing them a favor but it was like, well it was just weird and awkward and we were definitely not fit to play there. I’ve been asked this question before and I always say that I don’t know because I get a kick from people hating us. I think anyone that’s ever played music has to some point. You think: why are we on that bill and you think to yourself on stage, oh man this is going to be horrible so let’s have a blast and when you’re done you walk out just laughing at how bad it went over and the look on people’s faces. So I’ve never had just a bad show because of that. We always tell people OK we’ll do it but I hope you know what you’re getting into. It’s not like we wreck the joint or anything. 

I was reading an interview with Keith Richards where he said that anyone buying digital music is getting short changed.  Do you agree with this?
DANIEL: Shortchanged? Maybe in the same way as reading a comic book online, but at the same time I’m so open to hearing other music and the fact that you can just click on something online or on Facebook. I do it every day, a band will say “hey can we play with you” and I can just instantly click and listen to them. The fact that you can come across a friend of a friend online that’s in Italy and that’s into ‘60’s music and I can just send him stuff and you can make a friend. It’s like holy shit, that guy would never make a friend in Phoenix and that’s how I get turned on to music too, the ‘60’s punk community is very small. The whole digital thing though definitely doesn’t compare to me putting something on the turntable in any kind of way, it’s just not the same. When I listen to something on the computer I will rarely listen to a whole song. I listen to a little bit of it and I think, yeah ok I get that but I never do that on vinyl. So in a way it is devalued. I still go to the record store and I still find gems. It’s weird that I can Google a record while I’m in the record store and hear it. There aren’t that many record labels that will put out a ‘60’s punk album but I can email people our songs. Sending something in the mail to Germany who knows, I may never know but emailing songs, I know they got it. It’s all about hearing that song, does it matter how I hear it? No, because if I love it and I see that album I’m buying it. 

I’ve heard people say that playing/writing music it therapeutic to them in many ways. Have you ever felt this way at all?
DANIEL: Playing live, yeah how many people get to yell at a crowd of people and they applaud you for it? I think there’s something really funny about that. So yeah there definitely is. I get as much out of just practicing every week, turning up the amps, playing loud music and jumping up and down like fools. I do that at practice, it’s the same as playing live. So yes it is very therapeutic. I’ve been a skateboarder for 30 years and it’s the same kind of release. You get into a similar groove. The buzz it hitting you, the volume is up, people are smiling, there’s just a buzz in the air. There’s something therapeutic about not giving a fuck. There’s something therapeutic about being in a room where everybody there is there to have a good time. Everybody’s positive, jumping up and down. The people jumping and dancing in front of us when we’re playing are getting the same shit as we are almost. There’s also something therapeutic from making something out of nothing like writing a song. When an idea turns into reality, that’s cool, even if it sucks but it’s really cool when it turns out really catchy and sticks in your head or someone else’s.  

This is the part of the interview that I like to call “The Fantastic 4” or “4 questions I stole from other interviewers” here it goes:

1.     What was the first album you bought with your own money?
DANIEL: Turn on by Music Machine

2.     What was the first band t-shirt you ever owned?
DANIEL: Pat Benatar, I think it was my sisters! 

3.     What was the first concert you went to without your parents?
DANIEL: U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky tour at Compton Terrace.  I must have been like 14. 

4.     Beatles or Stones?

Phoenix New Times just named you as one of Phoenix’s best front men. In your opinion what makes a good front man and who are some of your favorites?
DANIEL: I would say Jay Reatard because he just did not give a fuck. He was rude, obnoxious, and mean to people and his own band I thought that was punk and that was energy. That’s just the kind of punk that I like. I don’t necessarily need to see blood or have someone throw shit at me. But whom I really like now, in Phoenix is Ryan Avery from Fathers Day. He doesn’t give a fuck, he’s up there having a blast screaming his guts out and he’s hilarious. It’s raw, stripped down punk. I would say Ryan Avery is my favorite front man in town. If I wasn’t on the spot I would probably come up with something else but I like my punk fucked up and I like it raw. I wanna hear Killed by Death type of punk or Back from the Grave style 60’s punk. They’re the most fuck up of the fucked. 

What does the band have in store for 2015?
DANIEL: Other than the LP coming out, we plan to travel a little bit and play with other ‘60’s punk bands. We’ve never toured, we started as an actual garage band practicing in my house, having fun and we just got asked to play show after show. My band loves ‘60’s punk music, we love playing it. I’m lucky to have met these people. If there are any other people that like this type of music please contact me because we’re few and far between or come see Freaks of Nature shows and hopefully you like what you hear and we can talk music! 

Toys That Kill

Photo Credit: Shanty Cheryl

     Toys That Kill is a San Pedro institution in much the same way the Minutemen were. A local band that has reach far beyond its city boundaries but is more than happy to stay and claim their home ground as gold. Born from the remains of F.Y.P., Toys that Kill is a mix of Descendents meets Dillinger Four energy meets indie hooks wrapped in a lo-fi, garage, pop-punk package. Toys That Kill’s, Fambly 42 their fourth album, was released after a six year hiatus into the band’s fifteen year existence. Their most recent is a split 7-inch with Joyce Manor. While most bands would have broken up and each member starting their own solo careers, Toys That Kill keeps rolling along as a modern day example of a working band doing it on their own terms.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Whos answering the questions?
Todd Congelliere

Where is the band from?
San Pedro, CA

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Todd Congelliere: Guitar, Vocals
Sean Cole: Guitar, Vocals
Jimmy Felix: Drums
Chachi Ferrera: Bass

Can you give us a brief history of Toys That Kill?
Were a band that started in 2000.

What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
None really. We were already doing it with FYP but changed the sound a bit.

I have read a story where FYP played their final show and Toys That Kill played their debut show the next night. I know its been roughly twelve to fifteen years ago since Toys That Kill did that. That is pretty gutsy; do you remember the reasoning behind doing this?
We thought it would be funny. Things kinda lined up that way too. Berzerk from Portland and Civic Minded 5 from Vegas were all coming down and we thought wed make a weekend out of it. It wasnt gutsy at all, but it mightve been tough to do considering we had to practice for a last show and a first show. Nowadays, certain fests will ask all 3 bands to play (Toys That Kill, FYP, and Underground Railroad to Candyland) and since were pretty much the same members at the core we gotta practice for all of em. So I think it sorta prepared us. I dont think we ever did good on school tests but with music we know how to cram. Keep in mind, we are no Black Flag when it comes to practicing! We probably practice less, with all our bands, then one band normally does.

In comparison to FYP, which had revolving members, Toys That Kill has had a pretty steady line-up. I have played in bands over the last decade and I know how frustrating always having to make progress, a members leaves, wait until new member(s) learn the songs and start again. Since Toys That Kill has been more of a collective unit, how do you feel this has helped with songwriting?
Well Ive never felt this kind of comfort as far as chemistry goes. To a point where we could not play shows or practice for 5 months and go to a show and know exactly where each other are going with their instruments. If I stop and think about it I get very emotional. People can say whatever they want about us but they really cant deny our chemistry. Thats why I wont play solo. I have friends who cant keep members in bands and just have a revolving cast. I used to do that with FYP. Actually i made a motto: You can suck but you hafta be able to tour. But then wed go out on tour and it was a mess. Its hard to have fun when you know the song was played way better before. I see friends do the same thing and I pity them cos its never as good as it was when they had a solid crew for awhile. I wanna shake them and say SLOW THE FUCK DOWN but id be a hypocrite cos I used to do that.

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
I cant speak for anyone but me, but yes, of course! I think more than ever. Its a quality not quantity thing though. There are people out there who have changed drastically, for the better, due to listening to some dumb song. Unfortunately, people who love twerking outnumber them.

I know Todd owns and runs Recess Records. 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 and running a record label in any way? How have you seen the record business change from a smaller labels perspective? Has how Recess changed on a day-to-day basis?
I still put my head under my faucet and buy LPs. Tons of others buy LPs now too. Recess is doing better nowadays than it was on the eve of downloading. I know tons of labels that went out of business. 95% of them died cos they didnt give a shit in the first place. They just wanted to throw some shitty ska-punk or cheesy garage band up against the wall, in hopes it would stick and they would be man-of-the-year for discovering this new talent. Didnt happen within 8 months and they got bummed, complained that music owed them something, and bailed. Dont let the door hit you in the derriere, mon frere!

Toys That Kill has had records released not only on Recess, but also on several other labels (Razorcake, Dirtnap, Asian Man). What would be some of the differences between having a Toys That Kill LP on Recess as opposed to another label?
Thats not in the cards for us. Its fun to do 7s on friends labels but the reason I started Recess is to house my bands. So it would kinda defeat the purpose if the albums were on other labels. The big difference and advantage, beyond complete control, is the pressure. There is none unless its self-inflicted. But that would be more like a personal goal. We have a personal goal right now to record a new TTK album and a new URTC album at the same time. Sounds lofty and overly ambitious, but deep in my mind I laugh about it and think, Were not doing that shit. Cmon! but the studio is in my garage and we got the songs. So its kinda like a what if? There wont be any sorta deadline. Itll be one or two songs at a time over the summer, three or four if were hot, and if its not coming out right then no big deal. No pressure to follow through, but the door is open to try. No label in their right mind would ever deal with a wishy-washy situation like this! Recess is forced to though.

Toys That Kill is inescapably, albeit locally, linked with San Pedro. San Pedro, much like Long Beach, has had a strong music scene that is, arguably, often overshadowed by Los Angeles and Orange County. How would you describe San Pedro to someone who has never been to the city before?
Every time someone asks the very first thing that naturally comes outta my mouth is its LA county but its in no way LA! The second thing I say is its right next to Long Beach.  Like Pedro, Long Beach has a close knit community. One that, even if youre just kidding yourself, makes you feels like you belong to something special.
Sure, LA has a more populated music scene, but, to me, its so homogenized its hard for me to take it seriously, ever. Its always been that way, even if nowadays it appears that underground music is popular there. It doesnt matter to them. They just wanna be there cos its a social thing first and fore most, and second most they wanna have pictures of them there to post on their social network showing that they were at some cool place, watching some cool band. Usually to only spite someone, showing that they are having more fun than them. Then they buy a shirt.
It doesnt bother me cos thats the way its always been. This years garage band at The Echo was last years glam-metal band doing the bullshit pay-to-play at the Whiskey. Sure, there are sincere music fans that I respect out there but even they dont go to shows. Theyll write blood, sweat and tears about your band but then you set up a show out there and theyre missing and you hafta hang out with the biggest douchebags in the world. Theres certain places that are a total exception and just blow my mind that people that live in that dumb ass city are able to pull off.

What are some of the craziest touring stories that Toys That Kill has had? I read a Razorcake interview that Toys That Kill had done and one of them was Toys That Kill opened for AFI and only got $50.
That $50 show was the least crazy tour story ever. That was in LA.

For people that have somehow missed Toys That Kill which release do you think would be a good starting point?
Of course Im gonna say out latest release, Fambly 42. What band ever says not that?

Whats next for Toys That Kill?
We started doing demos for a new album and everything is sounding very exciting.