Interview: Todd Kowalski of Propaghandi

Nothing's slowing these guys down...
Propaghandi

Hardcore punk rockers Propaghandi may be getting up there in age but have no intentions of slowing down. On the verge of releasing an all new album entitled Supporting Caste, the band continues to spread their thoughts through song on real causes that actually mean something. Focusing on real current events, the band are more activists over performers. Having been around for over twenty years it is nice to see this band continue on with what they love to do.

Recently I had the chance to chat it up with the bassist of Propaghandi Todd Kowalski. He was more than happy to answer some questions for me.

You guys have been around since 1986 right?  How challenging has it been to be a punk band for over 20 years?

I joined a mere 12 years ago but I’d say despite wanting to bite each others eyes out a few times we’ve been ticking along pretty good. I think the fact that we all like the songs we’re trying to make is a big factor in it all working. if we didn’t like what we were hearing it would turn us into pustulous blobs with fangs.

How long did it take for Propagandhi to start touring outside of Canada and around the world?

I think the first Propagandhi tour to the U.S. was around 92. They went down to the west Coast.
I remember it clearly but wasn’t in the band yet. Our friends Regal and Keith were the roadies, those guys had the van. I thought that was so cool that they all went on tour. I never knew anyone who traveled with their band before.

Who are some of your favorite bands you toured with in the past?

My favorite was Los Crudos who I played four or 5 shows with in about 95 they blew my mind!! This wasn’t with Propagandhi though it was with another band [I was in] called I Spy. It’s all the same to me. We’re all friends playing music.

When you were just starting to play punk rock music, who were your musical influences?  Has that changed today?

Today my biggest musical influence, Sacrifice, just sent me two new songs off their upcoming record. They haven’t recorded for about 18 years. These songs blew my head right off my shoulders. They are the best band of all time! Besides them I was in [to and] am still 100% into SNFU, RAZOR, Nomeansno, Voivod and DEATH. That hasn’t changed at all. I like new bands too but these bands have been on rotation for 20 years non stop!!

When did you start becoming move aware of your surrounding and stepped up to spread to the close minded?

I started to slowly become aware of things over a long period of time. I was very, very much a part of the small city mentality growing up.  I had to see people get hurt and upset by certain things first hand before I started to wise up. I think the punk bands that I started to listen to when I was in junior high slowly helped me make sense of what I was trying to figure out. It’s been a slow ongoing process .

Your high level approach at everything that goes wrong on this world opened up my eyes when I was younger through your music and from just reading about what causes you were involved in.  Was there anyone who helped turn you into an activist of sorts?

As far as bands, I’d say MDC, C.O.C were the biggest influences for a while and later I was really influenced by Born Against, Maliftingbanner, Los Crudos and bands like that. As far as people I think it was a lot of people including my Mom who would always go out of her way for people. I always appreciated that.

I understand many of the band follow a vegan lifestyle.  How tough is it for you when touring the world to keep to it?

It’ s generally really, really easy. There is a million [of] choices of things to eat besides meat and dairy and crap like that. It’s well worth the small effort. We end up eating way better than if we were stopping and eating burgers and fries everyday. The hardest place for us was Japan just because we couldn’t decipher the ingredients to things we were looking at. That’s our own problem, though. The food was available.

Were any obstacles ever thrown in the band’s path that make you ever want to give up?

The main obstacles are the frustration at momentary or lengthy lack of ability to achieve our personal visions [with] a lot of this being due to a bit of a lack of natural talent. We work hard to get where we’re trying to go.

Propaghandi has a new album coming out this month called Supporting Caste can you tell me about it?

Yeah, We’re really excited about it. There’s 14 new songs of different types. I think it’s our best effort yet. We worked hard to improve our skills and write the best songs we could. I think it turned out pretty good. If it’s no good it’s certainly not because of a lack of effort!

Recently on your website a couple of MP3’s from the new album were offered for legal download in exchange for donations for as little as $1.00 that will go towards worthy causes.  Your request for donations was quite bold almost commanding fans to do something good in return for a sample of for what is to come.  How was the response to this?

That’s turned out really well so far. We’ve raised a lot of money for those organizations and they seem to appreciate it. We’re hoping people check out what they’re doing and learn something about it. That’s the real point of it (laughs), yeah it’s bold, and we like insulting our listeners but everybody knows it’s a joke. Those who don’t get mad and amuse those who do. We all win!

You are slated to play the Harvest Of Hope festival in Florida this March.  How does that make you feel being a part of this important benefit show?

Yeah, that’s a good benefit. We’re happy to be a part of it. The vibe and spirit of this festival is so much better than the corporate, crap, [and] useless festivals like the Warped Tour that have been thrown at people. We usually haven’t played festivals but if it’s a good one, we’ll be there!

Are there any acts appearing on the Harvest Of Hope festival you are excited to see or have previously toured with?

We’ve played two shows with Strike Anywhere before. I’m excited to see Bad Brains!! Most of the other bands I haven’t heard before so it should be good!

Propagandhi was one of the earlier bands to start with Fat Wreck Chords.  I know that Supporting Caste will be released on the indie label G7 Welcoming Committee Records (that was actually started by Chris Hannah and Jord Samolesky of Prop.).  How does it feel to have been a part of the Fat Wreck Chord family and then move on?

I think we did all we could with Fat. It’s time to start a fresh slate and prepare to go full tilt with people who are on the same page as us. We’re very happy about it.

In April of 2008 it was announced that G7 would cease to release new material and October of 2008 it was reiterated.  While still providing downloads it looked as if the label was finished, what was this all about?  What happened to change the mind of G7 to release Supporting Caste?

Derek from G7 moved to Halifax and left Chris stewing in his own juices in the G7 office. I guess they figured enough is enough. But we [all] wanted to put out the Propagandhi record, so we did it on G7.

Will this mark the last release for Propagandhi?

Hell no, we’re just getting started!

You have rocked out in the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s.  Was there a certain decade you favored over the others while performing as a band?

I think the 80’s were the best. Pop music sucked and always will suck but before the 80’s there was no speed metal, death metal, hardcore, barely any punk that interest me, no thrash metal, doom metal, power metal etc. (laughs) That all truly came to be in the 80’s. For my tastes and love of speed it blew my little mind to pieces.

The late 80’s cheese metal and pop and the 90’s sucked total crap except for a handful of bands. Born Against etc… and DEATH were great of course!! I hated Nu Metal, Grunge, Pop punk and all that. What a sickened musical state. Recently there is a lot of bands that I think are great. The new Sacrifice record, Krisiun, Cynic, Immolation, Necrophagist…man, they all rule!!

So what’s next for Propagandhi?

Next on the itinerary is more touring then we’ll work on new songs every chance we get!!! Watch out!!


Supporting Caste will be released on March 10th on G7 Welcoming Committee Records. Make sure you pick up your copy and support this long running punk rock act!

Look for Propagandhi to make a return to the road in support of their recent release.  The band just finished playing a slot at the annual Harvest Of Hope Festival that just ended and will continue the US before heading overseas.

The Harvest Of Hope festival, if you have not heard, is a three-day outdoor music festival in St. Augustine, FL that is held to benefit Harvest of Hope: www.harvestofhope.net . The nonprofit organization was founded in Gainesville, FL a little over a decade ago to provide social services to migrant farm workers and their families in the U.S. Since then, HOH has raised and spent over $700,000 to pay for gas, tires, car repairs, rent, utilities, medical services, food, clothing, funeral expenses and educational scholarships in low income migrant worker communities. For more information about the festival itself or on how you can help please visit www.harvestofhope.com

Propaghandi On Tour:
03/08/09 – Atlanta, GA, USA
03/10/09 – Virginia Beach, VA, USA
03/11/09 – Baltimore, MD, USA
03/12/09 – New York, NY, USA
03/13/09 – Brooklyn, NY, USA
03/14/09 – Philadelphia, PA, USA
03/15/09 – Cambridge, MA, USA
03/20/09 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
03/21/09 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
04/17/09 – Sheffield, UK
04/18/09 – Bristol, UK
04/19/09 – London, UJ
04/20/09 – Brighton, UK
04/21/09 – Norwich, UK
04/23/09 – Cologne, Germany
04/24/09 – Munich, Germany
04/25/09 – Solothurn, Switzerlan
04/26/09 – Bologna, Italy
04/28/09 – Rome, Italy
04/29/09 – Venice, Italy
05/01/09 – Prague, Czech Republic

For more info on the band feel free to check out:

www.propagandhi.com
www.myspace.com/propagandhi
www.smallmanrecords.com
www.g7welcomingcommittee.com
www.mutinypr.com

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