Tag Archives: Interview

Interview: Brenden Kelly (The Lawrence Arms, The Falcon)

It’s been a hot minute since I have been to a show, so when I learned that Brenden Kelly‘s Here Goes Nothing Tour was making a stop in Cleveland, I knew I had to be there.

The fact the “venue” was a mere 1.3 miles away from BHP HQ sealed the deal for me. The quotes, by the way, were purposely put there as he played at a BBQ joint called Hatfield’s Goode Grub in a strip mall in the Cleveland suburb West Park.

I may have questioned the choice, but honestly, it was perfect for an acoustic set as well as a ton of hangs with some great folk.

For a Sunday night show, it was pretty packed and I have zero complaints. I got to see Brenden play a slightly extended set and even hung out with Sir Toby of Red Scare as well as some of the Heart & Lung crew.

Where I could have done a full review of the show and probably taken much better photos, I honestly went as a fan. I slammed some beers, sang along, and didn’t worry about taking notes or building a set list.

Honestly, I really needed that night. I missed live music and the interaction so much. I had fun and I know I was not the only one. That is what mattered most.

Still, when I got home that night, I couldn’t help but tell myself how I should at least do something where I could talk about the show or maybe do more.

I decided maybe an interview was in order.

I caught up with Brenden exactly one day after the tour ended just to mostly talk about the month-long series of shows and whatnot. I guess the timing was right.

Check it out:

BHP: You just finished up your Here Goes Nothing Tour with your homeboy Toby from Red Scare.  For those who may have missed out on seeing you play, can you tell me about some of the highlights other than the Four Seasons Total Landscaping show everyone is still talking about?

BK: Well, the big highlights for me mostly involved seeing friends and just getting to be out there with everyone doing what I’ve (for better or for worse) dedicated my life to doing, ya know? 

A real highlight was at a brewery in Green Bay where Jack from Arms Aloft and I were just sitting there listening to the sounds of the brewery but we thought we were listening to a super ambient Godspeed! track.  After about a minute and a half (an embarrassingly long time) I was like, “Did you put that record on?” to the promoter who was just hanging out and he said “No, couldn’t get it to work.”  We had a good chuckle at that shit. 

We got a bag full of Krystal, Southern White Castle, but they also serve chili cheese “pups”…fifty bucks worth in Georgia, and Tane called his girlfriend and said, “I just got fifty bucks worth of Krystal!” and she replied, “Tane, I thought you weren’t into hard drugs?” and we had a chuckle at that shit too. 

The shows were all fun.  Some were sold out and some were barely attended at all and some were private backyard situations.  In every instance it was really just great to be back out there again.

I was lucky enough to hit the final show in Cleveland and it was packed and even a couple of alcoholic Browns fans who were looking to keep damaging their liver some more after a pre-season win showed up. 

Was the turnout about the same at all the other places you hit up?

If you looked at the routing, you could almost certainly guess within 10 people how many people were there just based on location and whether it was a private party or not. 

There was one that was weird because I got the distinct feeling that the guy who booked the show (this was a private party) didn’t like my music.  He left while I was on stage.  He was perfectly nice and accommodating, but it seemed like a weird move to pay to have me come to your house and not watch.  Right?  But the shows in places where I tend to do well, big cities in the north (also Tampa) were jammed for sure.  It was great.

Your initial special guest did not quite pan out as planned.  I saw there were a handful of openers who took that slot including Tane Graves who played about half of the shows.  Who were some of your favs?

Well at first we had Seth from Arms Aloft, then Tane, who rode with us and did most of the tour, and at the end we had Steveo from the Crippling Addiction, formerly of The Holy Mess, so there were only 3 guests.  I would say those three were probably my faves.

You forgot to mention Heart & Lung playing as Munford & Lungs!  Seriously I hope you’re as excited for this Cleveland band’s Red Scare debut as I am.  I love those dudes.

Oh yeah.  They’re awesome and the ability those three have to not only be a great punk band but also an amazing bluegrass band is pretty astounding.  I have heard the record and can confirm it’s radical.  What do you kids say these days?  It fucks?  It slaps?  It does all that stuff.

I have to admit, I was curious about how you playing at Hatfield’s Goode Grub was going to pan out, but it worked out well.  What did you think?

That dude is a trip and the place is awesome and the food is amazing.  I had a great time and I can’t say enough good things about it.  Was it a little odd?  Sure.  All shows right now are a little odd but that place was probably the coolest BBQ bar in a strip mall run by a real live member of a blood feud family that I’ve ever been to.

Your retort to the “fan” who screamed “Free Bird” when you were asking for requests was classic.  Were there any other folk throughout the tour that made comments where you just took a moment to educate?

Oh, I dunno.  I kind of have stage brain, which is to say that no matter what is going on in my life, if I’m sad or angry or whatever, I can get up there and think with an entirely different part of my mind and do the show the way it’s supposed to be done. 

The other side of this is that I don’t tend to remember the shows particularly well.  I know what you’re all thinking but NO, mother, it’s not from boozing.  Even when I’m stone sober this happens.  Also, even when I’m stone sober everyone thinks I’m wasted so whatever.  Throw your stones.

The fact you proved to the crowd playing “Shitty Margarita” was not a good idea by playing some of it was probably one of my favorite moments of the night.  Did you get any other requests throughout tour that you just had to skip the idea on?

That one came up a lot.  So did some of the faster or just generally screamier TLA songs, like “Cut it Up”, for example.  Some things just aren’t that good acoustic.  People think they don’t care, but then they have to sit through it and it really sucks for everyone, especially me.  So I try to take requests but I know what works and what doesn’t and I try to be a good steward in that regard for everyone involved.

Toby told me to ask you about the new Guardians logo and how you loved it.  I love the team name, but if I am thinking of the same logo as you are, it is rough.  What do you like about it so much?  I can tell you the ‘G’ that obstructs the baseball just looks off.

Oh, I was referring to the Guardians fastball (I think that’s what it’s called) and I think it’s just dope looking. It’s totally got being a tattoo first and foremost in its design and I just think they nailed it.  The G evokes a super classic rust belt factory industry logo which is very, very cool to me.

That’s what I was talking about!  I’m not really sure why it bugs me.  Maybe I’ll tattoo it on me and replace the “G” with “Beex” and while I’m at it change the baseball into a garbage pail lid.  Cool?

I think this is an excellent idea.

Tour’s over, now what?  We were lucky to have you play an extended set of sorts on the last night of tour, thanks for that.  I could tell you were not really looking forward to it to end.

Yeah.  I don’t know what to do now.  My family has passed down this uh…I guess it’s our family motto (even though that sounds weird to say) which is you need 3 things: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.  Right now I am 1 for 3, so maybe I’ll just get a beer and see how that works out.  For real though, I just wrote a page of lyrics I don’t hate.  This tour reignited my love for everything from my family to playing to exercising and on and on so I’m optimistic.  Also, Toby is talking about doing more runs, and I’d be into that for sure.  But for now I’m gonna call the insurance company and then go get my car washed.  The dizzying highs of rock and roll, am I right?

Hate to hear about the 33% family motto standing, but I’m stoked to see what those lyrics pan out into.  Was most of the writing done when traveling from place to place or just when it hit ya?

No, I just wrote one page this morning when I woke up in my bed for the first time in a month.  It’s time to dust off my dick and start working again, as the old maxim goes.

Thanks for giving me some of your time today, enjoy that phoner with the insurance company!

Now check out a video I found on my phone from that night:

Tweet from @RedScareToby

Interview: Doug Carrion of Field Day (Dag Nasty, Descendents)

I have to admit, I was a little stoked when Doug Carrion emailed me the other day asking me to check out his new band called Field Day.

In case you were not aware, Carrion has been in some of the greatest punk bands out there including Dag Nasty and Descendents.  So yeah, I might have geeked out slightly.

Field Day formed in 2019 after Carrion and other Dag OGs Brian Baker and Peter Cortner tossed around the idea of performing Dag Nasty’s Wig Out At Denko’s (Dischord Records) and Field Day (Giant Records) live.  The discussion turned over a new leaf in terms of a band and Carrion and Cortner decided to start the band.

The band has a 7″ titled 2.0 coming out this summer and the one track I heard called “Searching For Answers” is just solid.  They were supposed to play Now That’s Class in support of the release, but that stupid virus had to go and ruin that for now.

Seeing how we are all stuck indoors, I thought I’d ask Carrion a few questions about the new band:

BHP: So whose idea was it to even talk about getting Dag Nasty back together?

DC: The idea of a reboot was mostly driven by the fans asking where Peter was hiding and if we would ever perform the Wig Out at Denko’s material live. Just to be super clear, Field Day is the band with me and Peter Cortner who sang on Wig Out at Denko’s and Field Day (Giant Records), Kevin Avery, and Shay Mehrdad.

Between the fans asking, and a few conversations with the members, we agreed that Peter and I would call this project Field Day in order to avoid confusion with the fans and promoters.  Now, when you see a flyer with Field Day on it, you know it’s Peter and Doug and if you see a flyer with Dag on it, that’s gonna be Shawn and Brian.

What was the turning point in the discussion to where you decided that maybe it was best to just try something new?  

Peter and I talked about Field Day being an extension of where we left off with Dag Nasty, so I’d say maybe that was right at the beginning of the conversation in Nov 2018.  Our initial goal was to have fun, start doing shows, start writing and to start recording.  We gave ourselves around 9 months to work on the live show and then set our minds on having new music done and released within the first year.  Well, our first show as Field Day was July 12th, 2019 and we have new music recorded and coming out June 5th, 2020…that’s 11 months from the first show!!!

Prior to me hearing “Searching For Answers” and getting ever so pumped for more material, I noticed y’all were supposed to play a Cleveland show.  Sadly this pandemic prevented that from happening.  How’s the band handling all of this and will the tour happen in time?
Glad you like it!! Yep, we have a new 7” coming out on Unity Worldwide in Germany, distributed by Cortex in Europe and RevHQ here in the states.  I produced it, Cameron Webb (Pennywise, Ignite, Motorhead) mixed it. If you’re a vinyl fan, you can preorder a few different colors from the distributors and if you just want to download the songs, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. will have music June 5th.

Cleveland, along with a bunch of other shows, had to be postponed which was frustrating, but had to be done.  We’re hoping to get back to Cleveland in late July but that really depends if the local and state governments are allowing concerts. For the states it’s up in the air at the moment.

Separately, we are scheduled to go to Europe [from] October 31st to November 8th and we’re hoping that comes together. It’s also out of our hands and up in the air, but a possibility.  Although we haven’t been playing live shows because of the virus, during the downtime, we’ve stayed really busy doing press, a lyric video, interviews, and etc to set up this 7”.  Also we’ve been writing new songs for our next release possibly later this year.  On our end we’re ready to jump right back into the studio as soon as we get the OK.

What can Dag Nasty and Descendents fans expect from Field Day?Positive vibes and singalongs for sure!! We play almost everything from Wig Out at Denko’s and Can I Say with a few select tracks from the Field Day recording. Expect to have fun and be projected into a time warp because Field Day play the recorded songs true to form.

Our motto in the band is “Be Humble and Don’t Suck.” Over the past 10 months of shows, we’ve met lots of new faces, reconnected with old friends and everyone is having a blast!!

Another thing people can expect is the informal hangout with the band after the show.  Usually two weeks before a show, we start getting requests from people who want to get photos or have stuff signed when we come into their town, so we started building in time after the shows to hangout with fans. It’s really cool!!

Head over to RevHQ.com to preorder a copy of the 7″.  The EP will be streaming online upon release.
Check out the band’s Facebook page for updates.

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.

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:


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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!

Interview: Trever Keith of Face To Face

FaceToFace45020 years ago, I didn’t care about many things in  life except for punk rock.  I lived and breathed the genre and knew that it was for me.  I fit the role, spoke the language, and enjoyed every single second of it.

I grew up, but refused to leave my love for punk rock behind.  The best times of my life were fueled by the music and filled with other advocates of the genre.  There’s no way I could ever give up something like that.

When I think about the bands in the 90s that meant the the most to me, Face To Face was at the top.  This So-Cal pop punk outfit was the soundtrack to so many episodes of my life.  Their music is timeless and never has grown dull on me.

Fronted by Trever Keith, the band is celebrating 25 years of being a band this year and decided to put out an all new release on a label that is an old friend of theirs – Fat Wreck Chords.

I am actually in the middle of reviewing their new album Protection, but became so amped while listening to it that I wanted to reach out to Trever Keith and just throw a bunch of questions at him.  Of course he was cool with it.  Check it out…

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BHP: First things first, Face to Face is back with Fat Wreck Chords for an all new release in 2016. How did the band and Fat get hooked up again?

TK: I finally figured out that it would be a good idea and I emailed Erin and asked if she wanted to hear our demos. She did and then told Mike. It was very easy

I have to put this out there… I was stoked Face To Face got back together in the late 2000s. You once told me there was a remote chance the band would regroup, but nothing was certain. Was it the fans that brought the band back?

I would say so. We have such a loyal following. The real appeal for us was getting to play live again as face to face. The fans make the live show what it is. We missed that. There is nothing else like it.

The new album is incredible.  What did you guys do differently this time to capture a younger sounding Face To Face and put it in your new material?

We just went back to a simpler more immediate style of arrangement and song. I think they convey the message more clearly. There was a simplicity and honesty to our earlier records. We tried to key into that.

It seriously sounds like you all had fun recording this. This was not a forced release by any means. Am I correct in stating that?

Absolutely. The whole experience really feels like it zoomed by.

“Bent But Not Broken” sounded like a war cry to me as in Face To Face is still here and not going anywhere soon. Was that the intention?

It’s not about us as a band, although I would agree with your sentiment that we intend to stick around for a while longer. It’s more about the type of person who is unwilling to think outside of their dogma.

What is your favorite track off the album? I dig “Double-Crossed” and “See If I Care” a ton, perhaps because they hit on some of my harder times in life.

“Keep Your Chin Up” is probably my favorite song

So, who all is in the band this time around? Scott is, I know that much. 

Danny, who has been drumming with us since 2008, is on the record and so is Dennis Hill who has had guest guitar spots on both records since we started playing again.

Can we expect a proper US tour for this release?

That depends on what you mean by “proper”. I can at least tell you that we plan on hitting all of the big cities.

So how does it feel to be back in the band doing your thing?

Amazing

The band has been around since 1991, did you ever think that Face To Face would ever be around for this long?

I never doubted it, but I never really thought too much about it. It’s not surprising to me. They know what they’re doing over there.

Now that you all are more seasoned musicians and humans for that matter, how different is touring versus back in the 90s?

We get tired easier. There are naps…

I remember seeing Face To Face at the Warped Tour in 2010 and literally yelling at kids to get off their asses and get closer to the stage. Did it bug you seeing those kids more amped to see new acts over yours, or were you guys too busy playing to your true fans?

Trying to focus more on the people who were there to see us.

Out of all of your albums, which one would you consider was your finest?

Protection.

In 2008, you dropped a solo release called Melancholics Anonymous. Personally speaking, I loved that album and still listen to it once in a while. Do you think you will ever go that route again?

I doubt it. It was a fun record to make and I even did a brief tour supporting it. These days Face To Face is enough for me.

What do you think about the music these days? Are there any newer acts that impress you?

Western Settings, Iron Chic, Radioactivity

Finally, this is more of a personal question… Why was Big Choice never properly released on vinyl? That promotional album is the white elephant of all LPs out there to me and one day I would love to have a copy in my hands one day. Seeing the album passed the 20 year mark, I’m just curious why it never made it to the turntable.

I am reissuing Don’t Turn Away, Big Choice, and Face to Face on 180 gram colored gatefold, limited edition vinyl in 2016 on my Antagonist Records label to celebrate our 25th Anniversary as a band.


Can I tell you how excited that last answer made me?  I did not even get to close the interview down, I immediately looked if those LPs were up for pre-order yet.

Face To Face’s new album Protection drops March 4th on Fat Wreck Chords.  Head on over to pre-order it by clicking HERE.

Check out a new track off the release:

Here’s the music video the band just released for “Bent But Not Broken”: