Category Archives: Music Video

EP Review: Garrett Dale – Two T’s EP

Forget the filler in this review.  Garrett Dale is the lead singer of Red City Radio and just released three songs as a solo project.

You’d never know that Dale even fronted a punk rock band if you listened to any of these tracks.

Three songs of brutal honesty have been slammed into folkish alt-country music on Two T’s EP and I will tell ya, it’s fantastic.  This gem of an EP was released by the good folk at Red Scare.

“2016 Was…Horseshit” is like Tom Waits meets Slobberbone.  What more can I say about this track other than it is blunt as hell.  Check the video below and add the song to your next porch drinking mix already.

Then there was “House Full Of Dogs”, a track that clearly was fueled by a drunken recollection of personal exchanges.  The saxophone in the middle of the song made it that much more incredible.  This track is like the bastard child of a miserable Brendan Kelly and Bruce Springsteen fling.

“Down The Rabbit Hole” was the last track on this EP.  For someone like myself who is obsessed with Lucero and John Moreland, this song just fit in perfectly.  Not that I ever did not respect Dale, but this song alone has me looking at him and his talent forever differently.

Given this small taste of tunes, I really hope Dale has more of this up his sleeves because I seriously think people are going be just as floored as I was when they hear it.  This is music not to sit on.

Interview: Jose Prieto of MakeWar / Sad and French

There were so many good releases in 2016, but if I had to choose my top favorite, it would easily be MakeWar‘s Developing a Theory of Integrity.

Toby from Red Scare sent that album my way to check out and after listening to it at my paying gig about six times in a row, I learned that they were playing the Dag House’s final show the next night.  I pretty much freaked out like a kid with excitement and was sure to see them play a quick set in the basement of a true punk house.  I was so excited that I missed the last step into that basement and ate it into the wall.

After their set, I wanted to support the band and buy some merch off and ran into Jose asking him where their goods were.  He told me that all the merch was packed up and the band was about to leave for Omaha, but stopped dead in his tracks, walked out to his tour van, and got me a LP.  I felt stupid holding the band up, but was more impressed that Jose postponed leaving.

Jose and the rest of the guys chatted it up with me for a few and I cracked up when they told me they did not realize Omaha was so far from Cleveland and that they probably should not have booked a show that far.

I decided I wanted to do a little interview with Jose and just learn more about him and the band.  He was totally down for it and the little interview I intended to do turned into quite a big one.  I refuse to cut a lot of it out as I loved chatting with him so much.  It’s seriously a great read.

Check out the interview I did with Jose Prieto
of MakeWar:


What’s up Jose?  Thanks for taking a few moments to talk.  I know MakeWar used to be Sad and French, but I don’t know the whole story. 

Can you just start from the beginning and tell me how Sad and French eventually turned into MakeWar?

Well, Sad and French used to be the name I went by when playing the open mic at this great dive in Miami called Churchill’s. Churchill’s had an open mic every Wednesday and and a great welcoming group of people. It transformed me from doing silly covers to drunkenly showing them some super personal sad songs I was writing at the time about that one that got away.

After I moved to New York, I had a good handful of songs under that name and finally started playing “real” solo shows and made a couple of super low budget home recording EPs. Then my best friend from college, Edwin Santacruz, who I first met back in Florida on our first semester of school, moved to New York, crashed on my couch, and that’s how the real Sad and French began.

It was just Edwin and I, upright bass and an acoustic guitar. We knew we wanted a drummer, but we tried a couple and they just didn’t click with us. So we went ahead and recorded our first LP as a duo. Simple, raw, acoustic. The songs were written that way so why not memorize them in time and space that way. Black Numbers from [New] Jersey helped us put that LP and boom, we were a real band!

The thing is, right after that LP was recorded, I went out on Valentine’s Day trying to find someone or forget about someone and not be alone that night, and thats the night I met Greg Taylor. He was flirting with the girl I was talking to right before I had to go to the bathroom. And it was friendship at first sight!. Greg, who turned out to be another fellow Floridian, also loved Against Me! – which it was the sound Edwin and I were trying to go for with SNF – and also played the drums. After I showed Greg the acoustic LP, he loved it and we tried really hard to keep it that way, You know minimal drums, acoustic instruments, old school Against Me! style, but something was changing. I kept on turning the the acoustic guitar louder to a point of overdriven feedback madness and kept on playing every song faster and faster and it just sounded better. It was way more fun to play. So we switch to electric guitar and bass, and collectively decided that this band was not a solo act named Sad and French anymore. This was a completely different beast. So we changed our name to MakeWar and the rest is history… Well till now at least… haha

Damn dude, I think you answered pretty much everything I needed to know about the history of MakeWar.  Thanks!  Sounds like you followed suit with Laura Jane Grace in that you started solo and how have a band that pretty much is a powerhouse.  How stoked are you about what MakeWar has turned into?

Its truly a dream come true man. I finally have the band I always wanted to have. Who is down to tour?

So why did you initially name yourself Sad and French?  Hell, how did you guys come up with the name MakeWar?

hahaha. Sad and French comes from a drunken conversation with a good friend of mine. She used to say that I always look sad. Then she said I look like that French singer Herman Dune. We joked about me being sad and French.

MakeWar comes from a million other names we had when we decided to change our name. I knew it sounded intense. But I also knew it was a great way to describe the “wars” that were going inside my head.

So where do you all originally hail from?  I know y’all live in NYC currently and lived in Miami as just previously stated.

So Greg is straight up from Florida, born and raised. Edwin is from Colombia, born and raised, but moved to the states when he was 17. I  was born in Miami, but raised in Venezuela. I lived there with my parents and siblings until I graduated from high school. That’s when I decided I wanted to move to the states. The land of opportunities, shit was easy here right? I was hoping for college to be like an American Pie movie. I was gonna get my Venezuelan band called The Go Go Punkers sign to Epitaph or Fat or something, get the rest of the band to move to Florida, and we were gonna live that punk lifestyle we always dreamed of or saw on VHS tapes like Ten Years of Fucking Up or any of the Kung Fu Records silly movies, or SLC Punk.

But shit wasn’t easy man. I didn’t speak any English, the internet wasn’t really there yet, and the record labels weren’t writing offers back…probably cuz who the fuck names their band The Go Go Punkers? Probably the same guy that came up with Sad and French am I right? haha

Dude, even I thought college was going to be like American Pie. Growing up outside of the states, how were you introduced to punk rock music?

I hated school man. I was an outcast that never, ever had good grades and always failed all his classes. But I had a great handful group of friends I grew up with and all we wanted to do was skateboard and go surfing.

I was probably introduced to punk rock that way. Skateboarding and surfing VHSs. But I remember the day a friend from high school showed me Blink 182 Dude Ranch. That shit blew my mind. But then an older friend introduced me to what he called real punk. Lagwagon, NOFX, Pennywise, Bad Religion, I was hooked man.

We all probably owned 2 or 3 CDs back then, so we used to get together at someone’s house, bring all the CDs, and make mix tapes with them. There was no internet back then, or maybe there was, Napster was a thing, but downloading 1 song took hours. We were the weird kids who didn’t listen to reggaeton, and only went to parties to drink free beers and hit on girls, but hated the popular music down there. Techno and reggaeton was the music everyone used to listen to in Venezuela in the late 90s.

I need to look up Reggaeton, something tells me I am not going to dig it…  Kids these days have no idea how good they got it.  I remember the days of Napster and remember when CDs were released.  I make mixes off of cassettes, I feel old now.

Reggaeton is the worst. I remember having a Walkman that only had a play button. I had to use a pen with tape to rewind the cassettes.

Kids will never know that struggle.  Outside of the band, what do you do for a living?

Edwin and I do freelance graphic design. He focuses more on the animation industry and I work mostly on the advertising industry. Greg is a bartender, he makes people happy and drunk, and they give him money. What a great job. I sit in front of a computer all day coming up with ideas that your ad blocker is probably going to erase, or your Hulu account is going to skip, or our XM Radio host is going to talk over. But hey, I can’t complain, [it] pays the bills.

What other projects have you been involved in, or has it only been Sad and French and MakeWar?

So when I was a teen, The Go Go Punkers. It sounded like Lagwagon meets NOFX meets Millencolin. I used to write the lyrics in Spanish down into my Windows 95 shitty computer and translate them into English using probably the first translator ever use on a machine called Power Translator. We didn’t want to sing in Spanish cuz our big plan was to move to the states and get signed. We were so naive.

Then in college, I had a cool post hardcore project called Forthwith. We wanted to sound just like Thrice and I think we did. The thing was, our priorities were kind of shifted then.

After that, Edwin and I joined a new local Miami hardcore band called Zamora Bleeds. This was back in the day when screaming and singing pretty were super cool. We only played two shows. Somehow I got kicked out of the band, and after hearing this, Edwin quit. Edwin forever MVP.

Greg’s repertoire is more impressive. He was part of many Florida bands. To name a few, From First to Last, The Holy Mountain, Party Time. Then in New York he joined Mischief Brew, for a couple of tours and albums before getting hit by a cop car on his bike, He used to be a bike messenger.

Man, I kind of want to hear some Go Go Punkers now.  Sounds rad and I absolutely love your plan as a teen.  I gotta ask, do you pick on Greg ever for being in a band with Skrillex?

He was in FFTL pre-Skrillex era. Funny thing is that the newest FFTL single in years just came out a couple of months ago and what does Skrillex decides to call it? MAKE WAR. I think Skrillex is fucking with Greg now. Maybe not. But surely was weird. All I know is whatever ownership we had of that MakeWar hashtag we lost it after that song dropped down. #makewar is now about emo kids that love Skrillex and Jesus now.

Skrillex even ripped off the cover of that album from another band.  Now, how did you get hooked up with Toby at Red Scare?  Did you have to bribe him like I do just to get him to notice me?

Hahaha. I actually knew little about Toby then, I heard he was a mysterious man. Red Scare had and has some of my favorite bands, but we weren’t really ready or even looking for a new label the day I  met Brendan Kelly. He had an acoustic show cancelled at The Knitting Factory because of a massive snowstorm that hit New York [in] January of 2016, I had  2 shows cancelled too. Our mutual friend Seth just opened up a bar that terrible icy weekend here in Bushwick and asked Brendan to come play the opening party. Then he asked me last minute if I wanted to open acoustically for Brendan Kelly at his newly opened bar. He promised free drinks all night long.

I liked Brendan, I liked the Lawrence Arms, I even liked that acoustic cover he did of “Kiss the Bottle”, I just never met him before. After I played my set he came up to me and said something like “dude, holy shit, I have to go after you now? fuck! That was awesome!”

After he was done with his set, we got real drunk and he said he wanted to sign my band. I really thought it was just drunk talk because he’s never seen us play., but I guess he really liked me and believed in me. So he texts Toby on the spot and somehow convinced him we were real good.  I’m so happy our shows got cancelled and we got to play acoustic together. I’m so happy him and Toby were into the new record, and happy we didn’t suck when Toby saw us for the first time opening for The Falcon 2 months later. The rest is history.

It was destiny for you guys apparently.  I think it worked out just fine.  Your band is a melodic punk rock favorite of mine. MakeWar’s debut really seemed to have lots and lots of feelings in it whereas the latest MakeWar release, Developing a Theory of Integrity, was about growing up and just taking life as it comes.  Was there a certain moment in life that just had you realize life is what you make of it and have fun?

Well I think that “moment” you are talking about was the moment when I had my first panic attack, thinking it was a heart attack, that sent me straight to the ER and a bunch of million dollars later, I learned that I couldn’t keep hiding those feelings with just booze and random hookups. I needed to do something about it. Thats when I wrote Developing a Theory of Integrity. I needed to say goodbye to the old Sad and French memory. I needed to say goodbye to my late grandfather. I needed to focus and cure this new mental illness I was randomly introduced by because I didn’t want to depend on a depressing looking little pill every fucking day. I think Developing a Theory of Integrity is definitely about friendship and growing, not necessarily up but forward, How true friends, family, and babes help you see the party at the end of the tunnel.

Well dude, it sounds like you are on the right track.  Thanks for sharing that.  Who are some of your inspirations that have more or less built up your style?

Mmmmm, I guess the same as when I was young, Lagwagon is still to this date my favorite band. Anything on the first 3 or 4 Punkoramas or Fat Music for Fat People comps. Or that 90s sound Superdrag, Nada Surf, Built to spill, Appleseed Cast.

That Fat Music For Fat People Volume 2 changed my life.  I still listen to it today.  What is it about Lagwagon that you dig so much?

You have to understand I didn’t speak any english back then. Punk rock to me was about the feeling I felt when I listened to it. It was about those guitar octaves and solos, the fast drum beats, the vocal melodies. Joey Cape, to me, was so inventive and creative in the way he came up with his vocal melodies in Lagwagon. I didn’t know what he was saying, but I felt that he meant what he was saying and that had some sort of meaning to me. I remember kissing a girl for the first time with “Want” from Let’s Talk About Leftovers was playing in her room. I remember listening to Let’s Talk About Feeling for the first time while watching the waves get better and better from our beach house.

I remember the first time I saw them live at the Warped Tour in Florida back in 2003. I ran really fast from stage to stage because I really didn’t want to miss them. But on the way to their stage somehow lost my wallet, and I had to make a big decision then. Do I miss Lagwagon and go look for my wallet with all the money I had, my student ID, my dad’s credit card for emergencies only or do I stay here first row and watch my favorite band? I decided to stay and watch them. Tears of joy and anger were falling down my stupid teenage face and I was so fucking happy. Never found the wallet but someone mailed all my documents to my dorm a couple of weeks later. No money though.

That is the ultimate Warped story.  Seriously, I could imagine that happening to myself.  I did not event think of the language barrier for you growing up.  So upon hearing the music, you probably liked what you heard without understanding what they were singing about, right?

Yeah man, I dont know how to explain it. Like I felt the music and vocal melodies before knowing what they were about.

You should really look into working with Cape in the future with his One Week project.  With your Sad and French past, I could totally see you doing something that route, plus the dude is your fracking hero.  That would be bad ass.

I know man. Joey and I actually played some shows together back in the Sad and French days. He doesn’t really know how much I admire him because I just don’t wanna be that weird fan boy. I rather be his friend. All I hope is that One week project happens and happens naturally. Then maybe I can tell him about all my Lagwagon tattoos. hahaha.

Well maybe he will read this.  I have featured him on a site a few times now.  Aside from Cape, who are some of your favorite artists out there today?

I’ve been listening to that new Menzingers record non stop. Before that it was Pup The Dream is Over. I really like that new Meat Wave record too! The new Nothington is perfect. I got big hopes on that new Flats record. Red City Radio is a great looking band with great catchy songs. Oh let’s not forget about Arms Aloft and Good Friend from Red Scare. We triple signed with the label at the same time. Their records are incredible. I really hope to do something with those boys soon.

Both Arms Aloft and Good Friend rule!  So does pretty much everyone else you just mentioned. You are hitting the road with my pals Worship This! for a quick tour.  How did you hook up with these guys?

Our friend Rob ‘Good Time” Peters introduced me to them by asking me to book them a show here in New York. I booked the back room of Legion in Brooklyn and had a great time. We hung out and drank a ton of whiskey. We bonded. Also I liked Aaron’s beard.

Only because I know of his excellence, I need to ask, how did you meet Rob?  Also, Aaron’s beard is a glorious.

Rob saw me at one of my highest moments in life. I was on tour with Sad and French (pre Greg) in Fort Collins, Colorado.  We played the famous Surfside 7. After the show, Jon Snodgrass, who is one of my favorite humans of all time, asked me if I wanted to stick around an extra day and maybe sing a song with the Descendents at the annual Descendents Live Karaoke they do there. I was speechless.

If I ever have kids or dogs one day, I’ll be so proud of telling them I got to sing “Cheer” with the Descendents at Surfside 7 one day, and in Rob’s words, I killed it! He posted the video of me doing that and sent me the link. So fucking glad someone taped that! Somehow in the next year or so he moved to New York and hit me up and we’ve been friends since. We both have a really good appreciation of hot wings. We like go out of our way to find the best wings. Im so happy he is coming with us on this tour. Rob knows how to have a good time.

So I’ve heard. So, what has the response been like to anyone who as not seen/heard of you while on tour?

New fans really like the energy we have. And they are all in love with Edwin, he is the best looking member. That’s until they smell Greg. Then they are in love with Greg. Greg has this weird after-drumming-never-shower pheromones that I don’t really understand.

Personal question: Are you still cool with me since i shorted you a dollar at the Dag House last Fall?  I promise I will pay it back one day.  I seriously felt like a jackass for that one.

You did? I don’t remember… that is the problem about the dag house. it’s a black hole. You should buy me a dollar scratcher instead. if I win, we’ll split it.

Deal.  If you win it’ll be like that Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda movie from the 90s.

You know Greg hates Nic Cage… Who hates Nic Cage?!? He is such a great actor. That was It Could Happen To You. Great movie. Raising Arizona, Amazing movie. Face Off... speechless… Adaptation is perfect.

What about Con-Air or The Rock?  Both are guilty pleasures of mine.  That is though, hilarious Greg hates Nic.

I havent seen those two in yeeeeearrrrrs… I’ll have to re-watch those!

What is next for MakeWar?  I hope there is new material out there.

We are writing non stop. There’s definitely new music coming. Maybe next year. We are playing Pouzza Fest in Montreal. That should be tons of fun! We are planning a super cool tour in June that I don’t think I can talk about? Maybe ask me this question again in May, yeah?

Sounds like a plan dude, thanks for chatting it up!  Good luck on your upcoming tour.


MakeWar is heading out on tour with Worship This! next week.  If they are playing your town, make sure you check them out.

Album Review: MakeWar – Developing a Theory of Integrity

MakeWar "Developing A Theory Of Integrity"I admit, I do not get to crank out reviews like I used to.  If I had it my way, I would quit my paying gig and do this full time, but the truth of the matter is that I do this for fun and not profit and I have bills to pay.  20-year-old me would kick my ass right now for even mentioning that.  I sound like grandpa punk again…

I’ve been trying to find some time to write about one of my favorite albums of 2016 for the past month now.  I am seriously stoked to have found some time tonight to do so.  With that said, here we go.

Developing a Theory of Integrity by Brooklyn’s MakeWar immediately jumped to the top of my favorite albums the moment I heard the first song.  I cannot get enough of this album and have been listening to it almost daily since it dropped on Red Scare Industries in September.

Side note: Not even two days after I heard the album, I learned that they were playing the final Dag House show in Cleveland (RIP DAG).  As luck would have it, I had a free night and I booked it over to that historical home to see MakeWar do their thing in the basement and got to act like a fanboy afterwards who was short $1 when trying to buy their debut self-titled LP out of their van while they were literally trying to back out of the driveway to make a long ass drive to Omaha.  Thanks Jose, I will pay you back that $1 next time you roll through town.

Originally an acoustic act called Sad and French, MakeWar took their songs to a new dynamic and turned themselves into a full fletched punk rock band that carries so many likable qualities from catchy hooks to relatable lyrical content.  Don’t get me wrong, Sad and French were absolutely amazing, but plugging in the guitars and turning up those amps have MakeWar way more exciting to listen to.

As previously mentioned, opening track “Matador Pool Party” blew me away.  There was so much going on with this track from the group singing to the Rancid/Face To Face reminiscing bass playing, brutal drumming, and lyrical content that just brought it all together perfectly.

“Ode” was just that, an ode to living life with booze in hand in NYC.  I loved the line “fuck not drinking for a week” as I’ve said that in my heyday when having a rough week of celebrating but refused to give it up.  I also loved the random thought process throughout the song that really could pertain to any city.  This is about as real as a song gets with spirits raised high.

“DTFH” was another standout track that begged to be sung along to.  Ironically this track reminded me in a sense of more upbeat Iron Chic who used to be on DTFH records.  “Don’t Panic” resembled Taking Back Sunday’s earlier years in a good way.

“On Feelings” might have been the most emotional track on the album but not in a cowering sense.  This track just make me happy for some reason and brought back some memories of great hangouts with great pals.  “Sallie” was another amazing song on this album.  I feel like I keep saying that, but it is true.  There were a lot of songs of this album that caught my attention including this one that referenced the paying back of those stupid ass student loans.

“Distractions” was more technical like Strung Out.  I really loved the change up of musical style on this track which clearly was the heaviest.  “Dust” ended the album in a completely different style full of dismay and sorrow, but damn it was beautiful.

I can not say enough good things about MakeWar.  If you are reading this, you need to at least check out the video for “Ode” below so you can see what got me so excited.  If you dig like I do, snag the album.  You will not be disappointed.

Visit MakeWar on Facebook and check them out live if you can.

Interview: Yotam Ben Horin of Useless ID

Quick note to start things off: If you haven’t heard of Useless ID and have appreciation for punk rock, I can honestly say you are missing out on an amazing band and should check them out now.

I’ve been a fan of these guys for a long time now.  They are one of the hardest working bands out there that most people probably have not heard about.  If one or two people find this blog and turn into Useless ID fans, then my job is done.

With that said, let’s continue…

I’m happy to say I got to interview someone who I truly admire as a musician.  Apologies in advance for the long read, but the outcome of this interview was great and I did not want to cut anything out of it.

Yotam Ben Horin fronts Useless ID and to say he is a busy man is an understatement.  He’s fronted the Israeli punk band for 20 years now, toured the US solo for what seemed like most of last year, and seemingly is always doing something either with his band or solo.

Useless ID dropped State is Burning earlier this year on Fat Wreck Chords and it is easily one of my favorite releases of 2016.  Granted there is no proper review of it (yet) on this here ol’ site, I will tell you I listen to it often.

Yotam was cool enough to take some time out of his busy day to chat with me about the new Useless ID album among other things.  Check it out:


yotam4

BHP: First up, I can not tell you how excited I am to hear you are coming back to the states with Useless ID to tour with NOFX. How stoked are you for this tour?

YBH:  For us it’s crazy.  When Useless ID started out, NOFX were one of the key influences to our sound.  There was Green Day and Offspring slowly rising and I liked both at the time, but the good stuff to me was finding NOFX in Thrasher magazine, they just didn’t play by any rules. We played many shows with NOFX throughout our career and they always treated us like family, always having a great time and now this tour. We are stoked as hell and can’t wait!

If I recall correctly, you spent some time in the states a little while back and played tons of solo shows in support of your solo album. Seemed like you were here for a while.  How did that whole tour work out for you?

Well, basically I reached a breaking point in life where I got lost in rent, taxes, and pretty much dug myself into a ditch playing bass for this production in Israel.

yotam1I started hating music altogether cause it became a job so I decided I need a break from life. We celebrated a 20 year anniversary show with Useless ID and I flew to the U.S 3 days later for the next 6 months. I didn’t really have a plan to go solo, I just needed a break to kind of figure out who I am and what I want to do. During this time, I bought a car and booked a few shows in the LA area.  I met a few people and then got an offer to open for the Ataris, so I did that for a few weeks.  From there, I got offered to play bass for Sic Waiting and opened a string of west coast shows as well and that lead to a tour with this French solo artist Forest Pooky.  I let life kind of write itself and didn’t bother interfering and that eventually lead to the recording of the unplanned second solo record “California Sounds” since I’ve been performing with all these new songs that really started taking shape.

That’s insane.  I had no idea it was more than just a tour for you.  Going back home had to be nice after that, but seeing how Useless ID dropped a new release earlier this year, sounds like you and the band did not rest at all.

I had a few songs scattered around that I let the guys hear but not an album’s worth of material, so with my break it gave us time apart and time to draw new inspirations which worked out for the best cause when I returned in June, it was full on writing the new record.  Ishay also brought some songs in so it changed things up.  We had around 50 songs to choose from, we all collectively liked the 15 that made the cut so it worked out great.

It’s been four years  between albums.  Was there any reason for a delay in releases?

We don’t want to release an album every two years cause we have to, we did that in the early days, we were younger, not that I’m against it.  As a writer, I usually like doing other things before I dive back into a new Useless ID record like a solo album or a trip somewhere or have a certain change happen to me.  I don’t like sticking to the same subject either, so if I’m writing about my deteriorating relationship (Symptoms), I wouldn’t want the next record to be about that again so certain time needs to pass and certain changes need to happen.  Honestly, now with the new drummer Corey in the fold, there is a sudden urgency in our sound and live show so I have a feeling the next one should be written sooner than planned.

useless-idI can certainly appreciate that.  So, tell me about your new album State is Burning.  It’s so much harder sounding than the previous release Symptoms. What prompted the change back to your punk rock roots?

We did a European tour in the summer of 2013 and by the first day we were walking in Italy somewhere and Ishay randomly says to me “Our next record should be shorter songs like Frenzal Rhomb or something.” We all love Frenzal Rhomb and it made total sense to me.  We put out Symptoms but ended up playing like 2-3 songs off of it at shows so something was clearly not working with these tunes live. As a studio album, I think it’s great, but not my favorite of ours.  I started thinking maybe I should go back and listen to all those records that got me into this in the first place like NOFX, No Use, Propagandhi, Bad Religion, Pennywise etc.  I was getting a vision for it, in a way, “write the record that you as a 15-year-old fan would want to hear.”  Since I’ve been writing from an artists perspective on “Symptoms” and “Broken Bones”, I wrote from a Fat Wreck fan [perspective] on “State” and it’s my favorite Useless ID record.

That’s awesome.  I really do dig this new one a lot.  “Borrowed Time” was one that stood out to me.  Are there any tracks on the new release you dig more than the rest?

I love “Land of idiocracy.”  I heard it like a zillion times before it was released cause it pretty much sums up all of my frustration living in Israel. I really like “Closer to the edge” as well since it’s my “departure from work life” anthem.

I think “Genetic” is one of the best songs I’ve ever written and it all came to me in 5 minutes while I was out for a run on the beach before a Useless ID rehearsal.  We worked on it the same day and that was that.

yotam2So, tell me just a little about yourself. I’m just curious how you have gotten to where you are today.

From a very young age, I always had a very strong personality about what I want[ed] to do, so when I picked up the guitar at 13, that was it for me,  I knew from that point that I want[ed] to be in a band so when I met the Useless Id guys in ’95 who already existed, I knew that I must join these guys and be on the road.  My first tour with Useless ID was in 1997, I was 18.  I had already played two shows with them in 1996, but I had another year of high school which I dropped out of anyways.  I don’t like getting too comfortable with anything and sometimes it backfires cause I feel as if life is not moving anymore and I like to keep things interesting, create as much as I can, music, art, poetry any figure of self expression appeals to me, and I can’t do without it.  I can lock myself up for weeks watching 80’s movies or something from my past just to trigger a feeling and then the songs come out.

I am sure you are asked this a lot, but what is the punk scene like in Israel?  How is the scene viewed there?

The scene always had its ups and downs.  In 1996, me and a group of friends started this short lived movement in Israel called “Haifa City Hardcore”.  We booked shows, put out tapes, and tried to create a scene but it didn’t really take off.  Then in the early 2000s, I felt like there was some sort of a punk revival – in terms of Israel it’s still pretty small – but the scene was kind of dead in the 90s as far as punk goes.

I can happily say Useless ID was the first punk band from Israel that just took off to the U.S with only one planned show in Gilman St. and learned the ropes through being there and seeing how it’s done.  Nowadays, many Israeli punk bands are touring all over the place cause it’s much easier to book a tour so that’s improved for sure.  I’ve been punk since I moved to Israel in 1993.  I was lame cause I only knew Nirvana, Sex Pistols and Pixies who are considered close to punk and not really punk, so when a year later I discovered all the other stuff through a skateboarding friend [like] Minor Threat, DRI, Black Flag, I knew I found my sound and wondered why I hadn’t till now. I liked the fact that it was underground and hard to find.  

As for the genre, people frown upon this genre cause they listen to middle eastern music, which is by far the worst form of music, and exists only in Israel.  Extremely shitty lyrics with assholes and other dickheads making it and getting famous cause the majority are made up of morons… It’s so shit.

Sounds like recent American hip-hop music, but worse.  I know Israel is a lot different from the states in terms of adversary, but I only know so much about their culture.  I’m just curious, what are some of the major differences in terms of the punk scene from Israel and the US?

I think the biggest thing is that no punk band could live off of their music in Israel.  It doesn’t matter how good you are or how hard you try, the scene is just way too small to accept it as they do in the US where great bands like Descendents or Against Me! can actually make a living playing shows and releasing records, that’s amazing. For any artist, the biggest reward is to be able to live off your art.

So true.  What do you like about current American culture?

Well I grew up in New York in the 80s, so that whole era really speaks in volumes to me and always has.  That sense of naiveté in everything from WWF, John Hughes movies, [and] pop music.  These are the kind[s] of things that can make me choke up like the theme song from the sitcom “Learning the Ropes”.  I like the possibilities in the US.  You can just come out of nowhere with a guitar and if there’s enough passion there, anything is possible.  Having Joey Cape produce a record with me, that would never happen had I stayed in Israel minding my own business.

What don’t you like?

I guess like any other culture the majority decides, getting someone like Donald Trump so far in as a candidate is crazy but that just proves that anything being possible in the U.S. can backfire badly.

I do not even want to thank about that.  So, has Useless ID ever come close to calling it quits over the past 2 decades?  Care to talk about some of the challenges faced?

We have been around for 21 years now so there were obviously some breaking points along the way, but something kept us together and it wasn’t the fear of breaking up. We just love our band, we care too much about the music we do and we don’t want to play these tunes with other people.  There’s a certain energy going on between the four of us cause we come from similar musical backgrounds, but at the same time, we are so different as people and all opinionated.  I think that’s what [makes] a band like The Beatles or The Ramones the greatest band in the world.  The different characters; everyone in the band brought something else to the table.  We’ve obviously had some fallouts in the past but the band is at a very good place right now.  We’re promoting our best record to date and the shows have all been crazy fun.

YotamTell me, what does it feel like to play your heart out in front of all of your fans?

We just did a short run of Russia and Japan and all four shows were packed and great!  I told this to one of the guys last night – in Japan I don’t really feel like I’m playing a show, I’m more like floating on cloud 9 for an hour.  When you have a room packed with people who know every word you wrote and just lose their shit when you play its like an [out-of]-body experience.  You just lose sense of time and life all of a sudden has a different pace.

How did this upcoming tour with NOFX happen?  I know you are stoked about it.

We were just about done with the mixes of “State is Burning” at The Blasting Room and decided to send it to Fat Mike.  By the next day, Mike told me how much he loved the record and would be honored to put it out, so I knew he liked it and eventually we got a mail from Kent Jamieson asking us to do this upcoming tour.  

We are stoked as hell!  Doing all these shows alone in the US for the past two years, I promised many fans that I’d be back with Useless ID soon enough and here we are and PEARS are with us too so that’s extra fun, those guys are nuts!

PEARS are so good.  Stoked for you all to be back on tour in the states.  Might as well ask, what do you do to pass the time while on tour?

I read a lot, take pictures, write in my journal.  If I’m in the U.S., I film a lot of footage and edit them into funny short 5 minute movies called “DRIVER”.  It’s my alter ego in the U.S.  I grow out a beard, wear a trucker cap, a flannel and pretty much turn myself into a Chuck Ragan lookalike. During the long drives, I listen to a lot of music, stuff I don’t know. The drives are good for that.  I find time to exercise, go for a run or workout to stay in shape and not completely lose it.

I need to find some DRIVER clips.  That sounds amazing.  You are very active on social media.  Obviously we did not have this 20 years ago.  How important is it to you to be able to connect to your fans globally thanks to social media?

It’s very important.  That’s the cool thing with Facebook.   For example, I use it mostly for musical purposes less about writing my opinions on politics or what I just ate or who had a baby.  I try to put something there every day whether a picture of where I’m at, a live video playing songs for the people at home, and saying hi to friends all over the world.  My mission overall, besides making music, is to show people that there is an alternative even if it’s hard and a struggle, it’s all possible.  Once you focus your energy into something you really, really love and believe there’s no room for failure and if you do fail, it’s just an obstacle, you get back up and try again.  I receive many mails about people telling me how I inspired them to drop everything and hit the road or form a bluegrass band or go solo, anything.  It means the world to me seeing that.

That’s just perfect,  Wow.  Now that Useless ID has dropped something, when can we expect more solo material from you?

I have an album in Hebrew coming out soon which I wrote in 2013 and recorded in 2014 -before my U.S disappearing- and just finished mastering it a few weeks ago.  Other than that, I’ve been writing alot for my upcoming “One Week Record” which Joey Cape will be producing this coming November.  He really pushed me to write better songs and I’m still writing for it.

I love Cape’s One Week Record project.  I can not wait to hear that when it comes out.  What about the next Useless ID album, any plans on the next release?

As I mentioned before, it’s probably good to tour “State Is Burning” some more before we decide to write the next one, I have a feeling it’s going to be great. I really want us to continue doing the faster stuff for the next one but you never know which direction it’ll go.

Finally, what’s next for Yotam?

As for me, I took up Muay-Thai Kickboxing for the past 4 months and I’m loving it and what it’s adding to my self-confidence, so I’m thinking of doing a month of training in Thailand, hopefully start lining up some solo tours afterwards once my One Week record is out.  {I have] got a few musician friends in mind I really want to tour with for sure. I  have ideas for a few books I want to write so I’m going to try to jump into that for a while and see how it goes.  What else?  There’s a Useless ID movie in the works so were gathering a lot of footage for that at the moment. That’s me, always looking forward to the next exciting thing!

Sheesh man.  You are really keeping busy.  I’ll let you go so you can get back to all of that.  Thank you Sir!


Now here I am sitting here wondering what the hell I am doing with my life while he is kickboxing and traveling the world and even making movies.  I can always just live vicariously through him.  Someone needs to keep updating this site!

BTW – Proud father moment.  I just realized my kiddo is in a Useless ID video:

I really need to thank the band for adding my little dude into their video.

Check out State is Burning below and if you dig it, head over to Fat Wreck and grab a copy.

Useless ID is touring with NOFX and PEARs this November.  Check them out if you can!

11/02/16 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
11/03/16 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
11/04/16 – Vancouver, BC Canada – Commodore Ballroom
11/05/16 – Vancouver, BC Canada – Commodore Ballroom
11/07/16 – Edmonton, AB Canada – Union Hall
11/08/16 – Edmonton, AB Canada – Union Hall
11/09/16 – Calgary, AB Canada – MacEwan Hall
11/11/16 – Winnipeg, MB Canada – Burton Cummings Theatre
11/12/16 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze on the West Bank
11/13/16 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
11/14/16 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
11/16/16 – Omaha, NE – Sokol Auditorium
11/17/16 – Lawrence, KS – Liberty Hall
11/18/16 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live!

Album Review: NOFX – First Ditch Effort

NOFX - First Ditch EffortI can sit here and blow a bunch of smoke up all the buttholes of NOFX, but for the sake of time and whatnot, I will skip a few paragraphs of introduction and get to the point.

Chances are if you are reading this, you already know of NOFX and do not need to read any type of introduction, but just in case you have no idea who I am speaking of, I will put in a small, small intro.

So here’s my review:

NOFX have a new album.  It’s called First Ditch Effort.  It’s freaking good.  After 4 long years, the foursome is back and have taken their 13th release and made it a personal triumph of sorts.  I should mention that the band has been around for 30 years now too.

Impressive.

This album was not like the others.  Where I was used to drug fueled witty pokes at anything and everything, this album was serious and seemingly was written from torn pages of the band’s personal journals.

“Six Years On Dope” started with Fat Mike and Melvin arguing who should scream / sing the song.  This romper of a track was a confessional tale of sorts with both Melvin and Fat Mike disclosing their lower times of hardcore partying.  Not surprising, the track was catchy as hell, but destructive in hearing all these two have been through.

“Happy Father’s Day” continued with heavy riffs and had Fat Mike more or less vanquish his father figure.

“Sid and Nancy” is a punk rock conspirator’s dream track in that Fat Mike and crew suggested Nancy Reagan killed Sid Vicious.  Providing an insight to what happened by the hands of Nancy proved to be quite interesting to listen to and very well could become the start to what would be a killer cult movie.

“California Drought” referenced Fat Mike’s current cleanse he been experiencing after years of recreational drug use.  The positives were null in this track as Fat Mike sung about the struggle on wanting to use when he knows he can’t.  It was cool to hear El Hefe supply a horn solo in the middle of this track.

“Oxy Moronic” was brilliant.  Pointing the fingers at the big pharmaceuticals with plenty of tongue-and-cheek references to the thousands of stupid drug names, this track was all about exposing the doctors who prescribe for profit.  See below for the Funny or Die created music video.

Listening to “I Don’t Like Me Anymore” was like listening to Fat Mike have an intervention with himself.  The content of this song was nothing positive, but man, this song ripped.  If this track is what makes Fat Mike feel better about his actions and future, then I would say this is a win.

Maybe it was because of the NOFX autobiography released earlier this year exposing the truth of the band, or maybe it was just for the hell of it, but “I’m a Transvest-Lite” was all about Fat Mike and his cross-dressing tendencies.  As he is open to his dressing preferences these days, the song talked about his secret over the years and how he’s ok with not going full forced cross-dressing as he is too lazy to apply makeup.  He ended the track perfectly with: “You gotta know it’s not just girls who wanna have fun.”

Listening to “I’m So Sorry Tony” was tough for me and really had me bumming after listening to it for like four times in a row.  For years now, I have been waiting for this song.  Ever since Sly left this world, there have been songs and tributes, but I’ve always wanted to hear Fat Mike’s take.  This song was all heart and took it past band mates to a family level.  Forget that Sly was an amazing musician, Sly was also a voice of reason and an inspiration and Fat Mike really emphasized that in this song.  Listen to this track and you’ll get chills, especially the ending…

“Generation Z” could be the last song Fat Mike and crew ever write and I would be ok with it.  This track was about the foreseen sad future according NOFX as seen by the youth with them being the last.  Not holding back, Fat Mike wished his daughters nothing but the best in this messed up world.  Being a father myself, it was kind of rough to hear the lie: “so we tell our daughters and our sons that they’re not the  final ones to see this planet as a decent place to live.”  As if that did not hit me hard enough, hearing Fat Mike’s kids perform a spoken word, just left this record ending in a whole mess of emotions.

It’s been a couple of weeks since this album dropped and I admit I held off on finishing this review as I just kept telling myself to listen to the album one more time.  With each listen, I am becoming a bigger fan of it.  It’s intense to hear an album full of realizations from a band that used be known for partying their asses off.

Having seen this band at least 15 times live in my life and have called myself a fan of them since I was about 17, I can see that these Peter Pan punk rockers are finally growing up a bit and cherishing all they have accomplished.

NOFX is touring with Pears and Useless ID and I am hoping I can check them all out:

10/22/16 Waterfront Park – San Diego, CA
11/02/16 Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR
11/03/16 Showbox SoDo – Seattle, WA
11/04/16 Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC Canada
11/05/16 Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC Canada
11/07/16 Union Hall – Edmonton, AB Canada
11/08/16 Union Hall – Edmonton, AB Canada
11/09/16 MacEwan Hall – Calgary, AB Canada
11/11/16 Burton Cummings Theatre – Winnipeg, MB Canada
11/12/16 Cabooze on the West Bank – Minneapolis, MN
11/13/16 The Rave – Milwaukee, WI
11/14/16 House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
11/16/16 Sokol Auditorium – Omaha, NE
11/17/16 Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS
11/18/16 Gas Monkey Live! – Dallas, TX
03/10/17 On A Cruise Ship – Miami, FL
03/18/17 Pot of Gold Music Festival – Chandler, AZ