Today marks the 14th year that Brokenheadphones has been in existence. It is kind of a cool milestone, so to celebrate I am letting someone else post some content.
Recently I reviewed the bad ass SACK album and Matt from The Witzard reached out saying he recently interviewed Kody and was hoping I could share their conversation on my site. Well of course I said yes.
It was a good read so I hope y’all enjoy it! I can confirm now that I share something with Kody now – getting Covid during the tour. haha.
Take it away Matt:
Straight outta the slums of Northwest Denver, Colorado, SACK is a mysterious band of Party Punks complete with songs about bongs, bikers, and brothels. Like any disreputable gang, they’ve had a series of rotating members over the years, but on Ripper!, it’s Bruzzy (Teenage Bottlerocket, The Lillingtons, The Hybrids,) a couple shredders from Peru (Father Fil & Joe Camel,) a gym teacher, and the neighborhood electrician (which comes in handy, believe it or not!)
They recorded 12 songs at Descendents/Black Flag drummer Bill Stevenson’s The Blasting Room and now these headbangers plan on touring (read: crashing house parties) across the land. SACK’s Ripper! Is now available on Red Scare Industries and is recommended Ffr fans of Turbonegro, FEAR & Lee Ving, The Dwarves, Iggy & The Stooges, and Motörhead.
We got a chance to send some questions over to and conduct a completely wild interview with SACK’s resident dipshit Bruzzy (aka Kody Templeman). Check it out below, if you dare!
Witzard – Who are the various members of SACK and what is each member’s role within the band?
Bruzzy – Dipshit, Joe Camel – Weed, Father Fil – Ears, Chuck Steak – Punctuality, Coach – Motivational Speaker, It – Compassion, Davey Crocket – Smokes, [and] Crash – Hype Man
Aside from SACK, what other note-worthy bands are each of you part of currently or previously played with?
Bricheros, Sleights, Teenage Bottlerockets.
Who or what would you readily cite as of some of your major sources of inspiration and influence while creating your aptly-titled sophomore album, Ripper!?
Alcohol, weed, Dayglo Abortions.
How did you come up with the band name, SACK, and album name, Ripper!, and what do each signify and/or mean?
We used our imagination. Neither stand for shit
What did your writing, recording, production, creation, etc. processes behind Ripper! typically entail?
Bruzzy wrote a good chunk. Fil wrote the music on a few. Bruzzy wrote the lyrics. And the rest of SACK helped tweak the songs. In the studio Coach gave pep talks and pushed the performances further.
How did you guys end up linking up with Tobias “Toby” Jeg, Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms) and Red Scare Industries to ultimately release Ripper!?
They were the only suckers dumb enough to put it out.
Why do you “Hate” The Beach Boys, one of America’s most beloved bands, so much?
We love The Beach Boys! Honest!
How did the headlining SACK tour you guys just recently wrapped up end up going?
We broke down, Bruzzy fucked up his ankle, two of us got Covid. Support band (Flamingo Nosebleed) broke down, singer lost his voice, one dude got Covid, shredded a brand new pair of front tires… I’d call it a win!
When not Ripping! it up as part of SACK, what do each of you guys do for day jobs?
None of your fucking business! Oh, Fil has a recording studio called Green Door in Denver. It’s the best. Your band should record there.
How would you say SACK’s overall sound, style, musical mindset, and approach has changed and evolved since your 2005 debut, Get Wrecked?
Who gives a shit?
Matt Horowitz is a D.I.Y. writer and life-long music lover. He runs his own site, The Witzard and has written for NO ECHO, IDIOTEQ, The Find Mag, post-trash, GrownUpRap, and The Punk Site.
Matt enjoys attending Punk/Hardcore & Hip-Hop shows with his friends and beautiful wife, Caroline. His favorite pastimes include writing, discovering new bands, re-discovering his favorite Punk, Hardcore, Emo, and, yes, Pop-punk bands from high, school, drinking iced coffee, craft beer, and fine wines, and hanging out with his energy-filled 2-year-old son, Peter.
Give Matt a Follow on Twitter (@SharpCheddar856) and Instagram (sharpcheddar856) and check out his website, TheWitzard.com.
For well over half my life, I have appreciated all things punk rock. This blogsite here really has stuck around because of that notion. I love listening to the genre, I love talking about it, and specifically I love being part of the community.
I find myself fascinated with 80s and 90s punk mostly perhaps as it was what I was solely focused on as a teen and just is a comforting reminder where I came from. I love learning of side-acts and projects from many of the members of these bands that have helped fuel my life.
A couple months back I was given an opportunity to chat with someone who I have always been a fan of since my early days of becoming obsessed with punk rock. It is no lie, she’s played in one of my favorite bands that I never was able to see back in their heyday.
Thanks to her releasing a debut solo album, Kira Roessler was available for an interview and I made sure I jumped on this opportunity.
If you have no idea who Kira is, then I will give you the high-level recap. She once was the bassist for Black Flag, but that isn’t the only think you should know. Her punk roots go pretty far back to the point Pat Smear and her were in a band called Twisted Roots.
She actually was asked to join Black Flag while she played with DC3 – Mind you, DC3 was fronted by Dez Cadena, formerly of Black Flag,.. – Anyways, she later formed a dual bass band called dos with Mike Watt soon after and dropped a few albums before moving on to other avenues in the film industry. Where not completely removing herself from music, her priorities shifted.
Throughout her musical career, she matured into a more prolific bassist which in turn just continued to impress me. Her solo album is no exception and where it has been years in the making, it is everything I would have expected to come from her.
I had a million questions I wanted to ask Kira, but also did not want to be a nuisance so toned it down some which in turn became quite a great conversation.
Check it out:
BHP: Hey Kira, not going to lie, slightly freaking out over here given your musical history and the the impact your music had on me growing up. I must say I am so stoked to have a moment of your time and promise I am not going to just ask about Black Flag from the get go.
Instead, I’ll start off asking about MinuteFlag. I love that EP so much although hate that the music essentially was released because of Boon’s untimely passing. I am just curious though, how did this collaboration come together in the first place?
Kira: Wow – not many dig this deep. Well Minutemen and Black Flag were obviously label-mates on SST. For a while Mike worked at the office at SST. I am not sure what the deciding factors were, I know the Minutemen often felt a little competitive with the other bands – they did a double album because Husker Du did one. But Black Flag was jamming pretty regularly in practice, and playing instrumental material regularly. But I do not know who suggested the joint recording. Mike and I hadn’t done the two-bass thing yet and I felt like it was hard to find space during the jams with another bass wailing away. It didn’t really come out as well as he hoped and I think that was part of why they agreed to wait until one of the bands no longer existed to release it. But I like it, it’s pretty weird.
BHP: Ok, now that I got that out of the way, what took you this long do something on your own terms? Given people you have surrounded yourself with throughout your life, many who have done solo projects themselves, I’d have thought you would have done something decades ago.
K: Well I have been recording my own music in my room for many years. Building songs virtually by sending ideas to other people who then would add their parts just became a good way to operate. Since I work a lot of hours sometimes, most of my bass work happens early in the morning which is not necessarily when others want to play. So I have had a body of work (so to speak) for a while. The intention was never really to release any of it. But Kitten Robot had a label and my brother Paul approached me and said they wanted to release a record. I turned 60 this year and it was somehow the right time. It doesn’t hurt to have someone ask. I will always be making music, though, whether it is released or not. That is where the joy comes, in the creation.
BHP: In a day and age of global pandemics, I assume a lot of what was recently recorded came from constant solitude. What was differed this time for you about recording music?
K: Actually much of the music was recorded before the pandemic. Working alone in my room made sense to me long before 2020. The actual final phase of polishing and mastering happened in 2021, so very little of this record had it roots in the pandemic. I did write some songs during that time… and I actually mixed and mastered a record for my favorite guitar player Glenn Brown of his songs, that I had written bass lines. This material was created virtually as well. I just tried my hand at mixing and mastering since I needed an extra project during the pandemic.
BHP: Your debut is very intimate and carries experimental vibes throughout. When you started recording this did you have an idea of where you were headed, or was this more of a “let’s see where this takes me?”
K: My music always tends to be very personal. I am moved to write from a feeling or idea that comes from inside, and I try to capture it with my bass and then my voice. This particular group of songs tells a story – it is chronological – so I did not know exactly where I was heading because it was written across time as things were happening.
BHP: Who was “The Ghosts” about? I really enjoyed that one and figured I would at least ask.
K: “The Ghosts” captures the story of the record the best in a way. It is a story about love and loss. “The Ghosts” was written at a time when I was facing a loss and all the losses that had come before in my life came into my head and heart like ghosts… appearing to torment me just as I was facing this new pain …
BHP: Your brother helped with producing this release and dropped it on his label, Kitten Robot Studios. It absolutely kills me by the way that he more or less hung out with Darby Crash and Pat Smear in high school by the way. Anyways, what was it like to work so closely with him when putting things together?
K: Paul and I have a very close relationship. We have been in bands together and gone through this long journey together. But working on my songs at Kitten Robot Studio I feel that our collaboration has grown a great deal. Paul’s music tends to be very lush and layered and it doesn’t necessarily come naturally to him to leave the spaces. I am quite the opposite. So he will help me with ideas of layers to add, and I will strip away things I feel are using up too much space. It’s a dance. On my songs, he gives me ultimate decision making so in a way – he just works hard to facilitate what I am trying to do. He is an excellent producer in that way. His goal is to help people achieve their vision.
BHP: Do you think you’ll do a small tour to support this release?
K: I do not have any plans to tour. I do not have any plans to play live. I will say that I am trying to find a way to share something, some kind of event, but I have not but a vague concept so far.
BHP: One thing I really have admired about you is once you parted ways from the L.A. punk scene, you started experimenting with sound in dos first from a far and then in person, contributed to some of the most essential releases in various ways. and then managed to become a dialogue editor and sound editor. How were you able to accomplish off of this? Did you make any sacrifices to take leaps towards any goals you may have had?
K: Of course it can feel, at times, like it is a sacrifice having to put my musical life to the side in order to make a living… but the truth is that I have been nothing but lucky.
When Mike and I thought about having a two bass band – we were very clear that for us to have the space we needed, there needed to be no other instruments. I learned a lot during dos about leaving holes and spaces and also how to find the spaces in order to add something. It became my preferred sound or style, not to have everything on top of each other. My tastes became stripped down, because I could hear the emotion better. And after all, I love music when the people playing are felling something and then I get to feel it too. That became the goal.
In terms of work, I studied computers at UCLA and then became a computer programmer to support myself after college. But working in the corporate world was kind of miserable for me. I am a non-conformist and the corporate world insists on conformity. I felt like an oddball the whole time. Then I met a guy by chance through Paul who was doing sound for a USC student film. Paul was composing for it and I played some bass. I became enamored with the idea of using my musical background and my computer background to work in sound editing for television or film. I twisted the guy’s arm to hire me and answered phones and did admin work until I could learn the skills I needed to contribute in sound. Just lucky – because it is work that suits me very well.
BHP: Luck or not, I am sure it was not easy, can you tell me about some challenges you overcame?
K: Well of course the biggest challenge is to achieve some kind of balance. To make a lot of music, work on a lot of great projects – but there are only so many hours in the day. I go through times when it is very hard to find time to create music because work is challenging. And I am not a prolific song writer. I go through very dry periods when the ideas just don’t come, or the ability to translate the ideas feels stuck. But I try very hard to just appreciate what I have – recognize how lucky I am, and not focus on what isn’t happening at any given time.
BHP: Clearly you have so many stories about your life from the mid-80s onward. Have you ever thought about maybe writing an auto-biography?
K: I find writing to be a pretty challenging type of work. It does not feel natural, especially to blather on about myself. Then there is the problem of having to remember all those fascinating details that I should remember. And actually my life before the 80s had some pretty cool stuff too!!
BHP: If you could regroup with one band you played with in the past, which would be be and why?
K: Interesting question. Like go back in time? Or like the re-hash thing where groups re-form after years off and do a record or tour? The truth is that for me, the idea of re-creating something years after the fact is less appealing than doing new music and moving forward. I do not regret any of the time I spent in any band … but that doesn’t mean I want to revisit them. For me there is always the journey forward, with new things to say, and potentially new people to say them with. So … I got nothing.
BHP: You know, I wanted to follow-up here and just say regroup with any band you ever played with and for the sake of nostalgic purposes, but I get what you are saying and understand sometimes dripping back isn’t as purposeful as looking ahead.
Finally, probably one of the more important questions. You said in your bio you are a dog mom. Tell me about your pups.
K: I currently have 3 rescued dogs … all seniors 14, 12, and 10 years old. They are 20 pounds and under, as I live in a 2 bedroom condo. For them, there is room to run if the mood strikes them. The oldest, Jim is in some ways the most active. But he has gone almost completely deaf … which is hard for him.
Hank, the middle child, is the problem child. He has bitten my husband and I on more than one occasion. Generally speaking he feels that he is under attack at times and those are dangerous times indeed. He is 15 pounds of fury in those moments. Luckily they are relatively rare.
Our youngest is our female, nicknamed Stinky … the reason is probably self-evident. She is a sweetheart, very calm and loving… she just prefers to wear a layer of yuck if she is able to find one. But we (my husband and I) love them all dearly. I never had kids – so my dogs give me that opportunity to nurture and care for a being who loves me unconditionally (most of the time).
BHP: Thanks for your time. I enjoyed the release a lot!
K: Thank you, and I am glad you enjoyed the listen.
Kira, the debut solo album by Kira was released on 19-OCT-2021 on Kitten Robot Records. Check out the video below for the song “The Ghosts”:
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:
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!!
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
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.