Diamond Nights

NYC has had its fair share of cool bands over the years and there is always room for one more. We welcome Diamond Nights to the zine as their debut album Popsicle is a taster of some very classic rock albums to come.

They take influences from bands such as Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Reo Speedwagon and even Billy Idol creating a wonderfully warm retro pop rock sound that will take you back to the 70’s and 80’s but propel you into the future of rock and roll at the same time.

Singer/Guitarist/songwriter Morgan Phalen got up and spoke to Zac as soon as he emerged from his bed..

Full name please mister:

Morgan Lewis Phalen sir…

Where are you at right now?

I’m in NYC right now. We just got off tour for 6 weeks around the US and are trying to detox a little bit! Haha!

Aha, so you like to get a little saucy when you are on the road then or is it force of habit?

Well, actually it’s an actual tool of the trade!

So what’s your poison then?

Anything that is put in front of me really, I’m not that picky! I guess I have my limits but I have to watch out for anything that is gonna wreck my vocal chords but other than worrying about the next show. I don’t worry about the big picture that much…as long as we have a good time, that’s all we care about. On this tour we have played in front of varied crowds. Sometimes a few hundred people, others a handful, but as long as we are all happy then that is all that counts.

How long have Diamond Nights been together?

This line up has been together for about a year and a half. The project itself and the songs have been about 3 years. I started off with just a drummer and we played together for a while. We used to play out with just the two of us all the time.

Like the White Stripes set up?

Yeah. They seem to pull it off; but we were never really able to get it off the ground. We recorded stuff but nobody was really interested until we had a full line up, it didn’t really gel until we got a lead guitarist and the bass player we have now. We were just called Diamonds back then, but there was a doo-wop band from the 50’s called The Diamonds that had that song “Little Darling”? Morgan starts singing this track …and we needed to change it because of that.

So why Diamonds?

Well, Diamonds are cool, night time is cool, so there you go, no really deep meaning, it just stuck.

Where did you all meet?

The drummer and I went to high school together in Massachusetts. We had nothing to do in a small town and we played music there. He moved to NYC and then I moved there to, Rob in the band was also from Massachusetts and I knew him from back in the day and the lead guitarist we knew through friends of friends of friends in NYC.

What is the average age of the band?

Mid to late 20’s

Explain your sound?

Well, if you took rock radio from the past 30 years and kinda mushed it together into some kind of alien transmission from another dimension….it’s kind of like lost rock for another era. We try to make music that reflects our collections as we are record nerds I guess, so we pick up on stuff from Thrift stores and do our own thing around what we pick up. We have an appetite for music, getting it for free or on the cheap, we pick up all the cheapest old stuff no one wants!

Aha, you sound like the kind of guys who love turning up to a party with a bag of 7″s in a bag and playing a selection of different stuff…

Well, yeah, our drummer is a DJ. Personally, I’m the kind of guy that I think most people would not really be satisfied with hearing my tastes! I’m a closet DJ, I like to DJ in private haha!

What bands influenced you growing up?

Well, let’s start with Moondog. He was a blind street musician from New York who was classically trained at a blind school and would dress up as a Viking and perform with shakers and bells. He has made a bunch of orchestral pieces in his life and one of his songs was sampled recently by Mr Scruff on Ninja Tune. To me, he wrote perfect little pop songs, one line of vocals repeated over and over again etc…another fave record is from Steve Reich “Music for 18 Musicians” and these records have influenced me along the way.

What about new bands?

Well, I prefer old bands and tunes if I’m honest but we mentioned the White Stripes back then so I like those guys and also Interpol…

Your debut album is a corker. How did the production on this record come about because it’s very warm sounding but crisp when it wants to be?

Well, the record label (Kemado) we are signed to here in the US have a recording studio set up much like Motown used to have and we recorded the album there with a producer/engineer in house and we all did it together. We used 2 inch tape so that is where the warmth comes from, I’m glad you noticed that as that is exactly what we wanted to get across in the sound. We used a lot of old fashioned gear; we love the romance of recording and I think we got what we set out to do.

What is the oldest tune and the newest tune on the album?

Destination Diamonds, the track the album kicks off with is the oldest and the track Kiss and Tell nearer the back of the album is the newest. The label puts the records together and we like to make sure we give them as much as possible and write a lot of tunes so we have loads of stuff backed up ready for future recording sessions.

Another classic track from your debut album is Dirty Thief; did you have your top off and a medallion on when you sang it in the studio?

Haha! Nah, but the vocal on that tune is different to the others, I guess it’s a big track and to be honest it has been picked up by people in the UK much more than here in the US.

Who do people say you look like Morgan?

Well, it’s funny you asked. I was out the other day and someone said I looked like Tony Hawk which was strange! It’s the long hair I guess.

Do you guys skate at all?

We always have a skateboard in the back of the van, our drummer’s board in fact and we have all had skateboards at some point in our lives. My brother is a good skater, he lives in California but he is not a pro yet.

What was your first board?

Er….it was a Tony Alva set up, really nice to cruise around on.

So, i hear a European tour is imminent?

I think we will be touring the UK throughout October and November,; it’s great to travel so we are looking forward to it.

Lastly, do you believe that pain is invisible?

Well, yeah, i guess it is in some ways. We all have to go through that barrier at some point in our lives if we are skating or being in a band full time i suppose that if you don’t go through it at some point, you are doing something wrong. Generally though, the best always get through the other side and that is what makes us all tick.

Wanna say thanks to anyone?

Yep, Mom and Dad!

Check out Diamond Nights debut album Popsicle released on Kemado Records on September 5th. Check www.diamond-nights.com for all info and more.

Cage


Cage just released his new album titled Hell’s Winter on Definitive Jux Records and the ex Smut Peddlers and Weathermen rapper is back at his best with this new record that features production skills from RJD2, DJ Shadow. But Cage is not your average artist and had the audacity to invite cult band Jo La Tengo and also vocal guest Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys in on the mix. Chris Palko aka Cage came through a seriously dark upbringing and has bounced back through his own private hell to deliver a cracker just in time for the winter. El-P, former member of the famed group Company Flow, and now head honcho of Definitive Jux records brought his new protégée Cage over to the UK shores, to talk to Sam Hesketh just after the London bombings and this is what went down….

So, is this your first show in the UK?

Cage: No, I’ve done more before, but this is my first show as Cage.

Looking forward to it?

Cage: Yeah for sure man.

There’s been a lot of hype over the new album that’s coming out, and everyone seems to be really pumped to be seeing you live. What can we expect from a Cage show?

Cage: Er… rapping! I think there’ll be a lot of paranoia, a lot of subject matter. What else is there gonna be in the show? What else can they expect?

EL-P: A lot of shit that we were a little worried about at some point about performing in the heart of the Muslim community in London. But just a lot of sort of American paranoia. It’ll be a live show though y’know, a lot of back and forth stuff between us.

Were you worried about coming over then?

Cage: A little bit but y’know we’ve been through it.

El-P: We’re from fucking New York man, talk to me when you get 3,000 people dead.

You’ve gone from strength to strength, with stuff like Agent Orange, the Smut Peddlers stuff and Movies For The Blind, and gotten good sales for them. You must be really proud of how it all went down.

Cage: Everything that I’ve done before now is kinda like a blur. I was doing a lot of drugs before this record. I didn’t really put a lot of this [points to head] into it and it was pretty much a lot of incoherent drug banter and with this record I didn’t wanna have anything misogynistic or have any battle raps or bragadocia. I wanted it to have real subject matter, so I turned it on myself and wrote about myself like I was writing about someone else but it’s all pretty much about me.

And you’ve recently signed to Def Jux, do you think this is the right home for you and your music?

Cage: Oh yeah definitely. I mean, I wanted to be on Definitive Jux like, a few years ago but I was under contract with Eastern Conference but I’d hit the ceiling with them, I couldn’t go any further. They stopped promoting and I felt myself shrinking instead of expanding. So it’s a great place to be.

It must be cool to have El-P as your boss too!

Cage: Well we’ve been friends for years so y’know, your friend as your boss is really cool.

On the new album, you’ve got a few non-hip hop acts like Daryl Palumbo [Glassjaw] and Jello [Biafra – ex-Dead Kennedys]. Do you think its important to have artists from other types of music on the record?

Cage: We didn’t want it to be a typical rap record that has like 20 different rappers on it. And I took a more rock approach making the record and its stuff that a lot of people can relate to, drug addiction, abuse, important things. And it was important in making this record to me, that it not be a typical rap record. That being said, I have made typical rap records.

When I read that you were going to have Daryl Palumbo and the guy from Yo La Tengo on there, I didn’t really know what to expect or how it would sound, but it worked really well.

El-P: Well they’re musicians y’know? And they’re cats that I knew and lived around me who played guitar and played bass. It wasn’t like we said “Let’s make a Yo La Tengo/Cage song!”. He played bass and Cage needed a bassline so, we hooked it up.

And at the same time you’ve got some really cool producers on there. I love Blockhead’s stuff so it was cool to hear him on there.

Cage: Yeah it was my first time working with him and all the songs I did with him, all the Blockhead produced songs are concept songs and he’s just really cool.

So did you grow up listening to just rap?

Cage: I grew up listening to rap and rock, and they kinda went like, hand in hand.

And is there anything you want to achieve in the future and with this record?

Cage: I just wanna achieve, you know, stay alive for as long as I can and make good music. That’s not something I woulda said a few years ago, but I’ll say it now.

El-P: You pussy! “Oh I wanna stay aliiiive”.

Have you heard anything from the UK at all?

Cage: I know some stuff, I mean, I have friends here and I know a bunch of people in the UK and they make me CDs but we don’t get too much of it in the States.

Yeah, I know people in the States and they’ve only heard of Dizzee Rascal.

Cage: The only thing we’ve heard in the States is like, Blade or The Streets.

El-P: I’m actually interjecting on the UK question. I’m a little bit more knowledgeable.

I was just asking if there was anything you’re feeling over here?

El-P: Yeah man, I know Skinnyman, Chester P, Jester [now known as Jehst], I’ve known all those cats. Those were the cats I met when I first came out here in like, the mid 90s. Those were the guys who took me out. But no-one in America is up on those things at all. And the point is, no-one in American even gets the chance to hear that shit except what’s majorly imported and put out, like Dizzee Rascal and The Streets.

Cage: As far as pop radio is concerned, it’s zero.

El-P: There’s no straight rap shit that gets any exposure from the UK.

It’s a shame, but it’s cool that you guys still come over to the UK. Back to the bombings, people thought everyone was going to pull out of their UK shows, so I’m glad you guys decided to stick with it.

El-P: Fuck it man. We’re not pulling out, that’s not us.

Well thank you both, I look forward to the show tonight. Have a good one.

Cage: Thanks a lot man, I appreciate it.

Cage’s new album, “Hell’s Winter” is released on Definitive Jux records on September 19th. Check out the Def Jux website at: www.definitivejux.net

These Arms Are Snakes’

These Arms Are Snakes’ debut full-length, ‘Oxeneers’, is like nothing else I’ve heard in ages – a volatile, unpredictable blend of hardcore, progressive and electronic influences. Yet even that pales in comparison to the pure insanity of the Seattle-based quartet’s live show; imagine Iggy Pop fronting a less self-indulgent Mars Volta, and you’ll get a vague idea of what I witnessed at London’s Camden Underworld last month. I caught up with Brian Cook (bass/keyboards), Ryan Frederiksen (guitar) and Steve Snere (vocals) before the show.

How’s the tour going so far?

BC: Awesome, yeah, it’s been really good. We were meant to come over to the UK a couple of times before, but that fell through, so it’s good to be here at last.

Your new record, ‘Oxeneers’, is very hard to categorise – how would you describe yourselves musically?

RF: Well, that’s the point really…we’d like to musically define ourselves as a band, but not as part of just one genre, like “we’re an emo band” or “we’re a hardcore band”. We don’t try to categories ourselves – most of my favourite bands cover a wide musical spectrum, but still stamp their own identity on everything they do. you know, if you hear a Beatles song, you’ll know it’s the Beatles, but their sound changed a lot over the years. We just try not to pay too much attention to whatever’s popular at the time, and just do our own thing.

Do you think that too many bands try to mould themselves on who/what’s popular at the time?

RF: Definitely…we read this review a while back, talking about our band…it said that we’re not a ‘screamo’ band, because we don’t scream that much, instead, we’re ‘yello’! I mean, ‘yello’?! That’s f**king ridiculous!

BC: The guy was kind of referencing himself with that review – “Hey look, I coined a new term, I get the credit on this one!” [mass laughter]

RF: So yeah, I guess we’re pioneers of the ‘yello’ scene! [more laughter]

Have fans of your previous bands (Botch and Kill Sadie) taken well to TAAS?

BC: Yeah, I think so, for the most part anyway. There’s been a few Botch comparisons, some people have said “Oh, they’re no Botch.” about us, but hey, we’re not supposed to be!

You’ve been touring almost non-stop lately – would you say that TAAS are primarily a live band?

SS: I think it’s two different things really. If you see our shows, they’re kind of sloppy and unstructured in comparison to our records. But that’s intentional, it keeps it more interesting for us and for the audience – we hope!

A boring question, I know…but where do you stand on the free music downloading issue?

SS: Yeah, I think it’s fine, so long as you’re reasonable about it…it’s a bit of a give-and-take thing, because it’s a great way to discover new bands, but those bands need people to support them by buying their records and coming to their shows.

RF: Personally, when I buy a record, I like having the whole package with the artwork and everything – I think if you like a record, you should buy it. It’s not as satisfying if you just download it.

BC: The trouble with downloading is that it almost makes things too easy…there’s not much effort needed to check out new bands these days, it kind of makes it all less special in my eyes. I can remember the days of mail-ordering records, and the excitement of waiting for them to arrive,,,it’s a shame that doesn’t happen as much these days.

Are there any new bands from Seattle that you think people should know about?

RF: Well, there’s Oxbow, Minus The Bear, too many to mention really! There’s a lot of great bands in Seattle; ever since the demise of bands like Murder City Devils and Kill Sadie, a whole load of great bands formed from their ashes.

What are your plans for the near future after this tour ends?

SS: We’ve got some more dates in Europe, then we’re gonna fly to New Jersey, and then drive all the way back to Seattle – that’s a 3000 mile drive! After that, we’ll do some writing and recording, and then more touring – we’re hoping to come back to the UK as soon as possible!

‘Oxeneers’ is out now on Jade Tree. Check out www.thesearmsaresnakes.com

Alex Gosman

Anthrax


Where to start with the history of these New York metal legends? As the sole East Coast representatives of thrash metal’s ‘Big Four’, they infused their sound with a dark sense of humour and an intrepid experimental edge on classic albums such as ‘Persistance Of Time’ and ‘Among The Living’. Their collaboration with Public Enemy on ‘Bring The Noise’ proved to be a forerunner of the 90s metal scene, influencing the likes of Limp Bizkit and a whole load of good bands too. Nearly 25 years from their original inception, Anthrax recently reformed their classic 80s line-up; that’s Joey Belladonna (vocals), Scott Ian (guitar), Dan Spitz (guitar, Frank Bello (bass) and Charlie Benante (drums). Having stolen the show with a storming performance at last month’s Download festival in Donington, the band recently returned to the UK for a couple of low key shows, and I caught up with Dan Spitz at the Colchester Arts Centre.

So, Dan, first UK tour with this line-up since the late eighties…how’s it been so far?

We started it about two months ago; we’ve been around Europe, about two weeks in Australia, a few shows in the States, just touching base all over…we were lucky enough to get to play at a lot of festivals here in Europe. We just want to let everyone know that we’re here, it’s really happening, it’s not a joke, you know? It’s gonna take some time to really get comfortable, just like with any job, but it’s been working out really well.

People keep asking us if there’ll be a new album and stuff, but we just want to take each day as it comes…it’s been blowing up here and in Europe and Australia, a lot faster and better than we thought it would, so we’re very happy with that!

So on the whole, the fans’ reactions have been positive?

We’ve been blown away, it’s been amazing…because we’re seeing both the old fans, and also newer, younger fans, who are finally getting to see the classic band, the five guys who wrote the big Anthrax albums…it’s like history in front of you, in the present!

You played Donington last month for the first time in 17 years – how did that go? Did it bring back any fond memories?

I remember the time we played in 1988, with Dio and Bon Jovi – we remember that one very vividly, because that show really broke us through in Europe, and from then on, it was fantastic. So finding out that we would play Download this year, it was very important to us…and from the second we hit the stage, it was mayhem, it was crazy – two giant pits, great clouds of dirt rising up…the love we felt from the fans was just amazing, beyond reproach. We were, like, “We’re home again!”

What do you think of today’s metal bands – many of whom are clearly influenced by Anthrax?

Well, I didn’t even listen to music for about nine years, [after leaving Anthrax in the early nineties], so I’m kind of like an outsider coming back in…but we always used to say, years ago, that when we heard thrash metal on a television commercial, we’d know we’d done something! Our manager had two demo tapes – of us and Metallica – in the early 80s, and none of the major record labels were interested, they thought it was just noise…it wasn’t Motley Crue!

But these days, you can often hear thrash-metal soundtracks on commercials – even if it just generic stuff written by guys who writre music for commercials…that, combined with the influx of so many bands who grew up on us…we’ve been lucky to meet a lot of those bands at festivals, bands like Slipknot who were weaned on us, just like I was weaned on Black Sabbath!
It’s amazing.

You guys have always had a sense of humour and love of experimentation (e.g.
‘I’m The Man’) in your music; do you feel that this is important for bands to survive?

I think, to each his own…as a band, we have very different musical tastes; a couple of the other guys grew up strictly on punk, and they brought that aggression to Anthrax…and then you have Joey and I, who inject more melody into the band, because we grew up not only on Black Sabbath and Maiden and Priest, but also jazz and 70s music and whatnot, which has influenced me a lot as a lead guitarist.

We’ve never sat around a table and planned things as a band; we always just tried to reflect our everyday selves in our music, and it just so happens there’s a few million people out there who like it! We’ve never conformed, never let a record company tell us what to do – that was the hardest part about getting signed, they just didn’t know what to do with us.

As for the humour…you have to remember that back when we did ‘I’m The Man’, metal was supposed to be all doom and gloom, so we were breaking down barriers there! But we often had to fight hard to get our record company to release some of our stuff – like I said, they just didn’t understand us. We didn’t all wear black, we didn’t grit our teeth and look angry – because that’s not what we’re about, and it still isn’t today! I want the person who listens to my music to know that I’m the same fuckin’ moron onstage that I am offstage!

What are Anthrax’s plans for the near future, after this European tour ends?

After this tour ends, we’ll fly back to the States to do some recording – we’ve recorded a live DVD for one record company, and then a double anthology CD for Island Records, who released all our older material. We’ll visit Puerto Rico, and then start our American tour, to let them know we’re still alive; we’ll be doing that from October to December, then we’ll be back in Europe for a headlining tour sometime next year – just making sure everyone gets to see the full Anthrax show!

The European tour is currently rumoured to take place around springtime of next year – check out www.anthrax.com for more info!

DTX


“I was 13 years old” grins BH, singer/guitarist of Manchester rock n’ rollers DTX, reminiscing about his conversion to the church of rock n’ roll, “it was the Guns N’ Roses album, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ – I remember hearing the words from ‘It’s So Easy’, where Axl goes “Why don’t you just…fuck off!”. I know it sounds fucking sad, but it got me straight away – I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard in my life! So, yeah, it all went from there…”

Welcome, my friends, to the grimy world of underground rock n’ roll. Stylised haircuts/clothing and front-page photo spreads are something of a rarity here; this is a world characterised by battered transit vans, run-down venues and barely making enough cash to get to the next gig.

You may not realise it, but there are hundreds of bands like DTX out there, unloved by the mainstream, yet undaunted in their love of the music that they and their fans hold dear. Formerly known as Dog Toffee, DTX have been playing together for nearly ten years, and have notched up an impressive array of support slots with dirty rock n’ roll luminaries such as the Wildhearts, Turbonegro and Therapy?. BH and [DTX bassist] Sean Dog have even found time to set up their own tattoo studio

“I’ve always been into tattoos, I got my first one when I was 17.” recalls BH. “I always thought they looked dead cool, and I’ve been interested in art since I was a kid, so it was just a natural progression really.” It also fits in nicely with the rock n’ roll lifestyle that the band have embraced so wholeheartedly. “Yeah, it’s definitely a lifestyle for us…that’s why we’ve been doing this for so long – it’s not just something you can turn on and off, you know?”This attitude is born out by ‘One More Sinner’, the band’s first album as DTX. It’s a record dripping in great tunes; an uncompromising yet melodic mix of hard rock and punk influences. More importantly, it’s a hungry record; the sound of a rabid rock n’ roll underdog slipping its leash and slavering to sink its teeth into the leg of the mainstream. Never shy about voicing their opinions, second track ‘NME Darlin” is a vitriolic, yet amusingly tongue-in-cheek attack on the increasingly ubiquitous weekly music paper, and the bands that feature within its pages.

“The music’s become far too weak, far too fashion-orientated these days. Take Good Charlotte; they try to come across as a punk band, but the Backstreet Boys and Busted had heavier songs than them! Shit like that, it’s not real music. Maybe they started out with good intentions, but the record company got hold of them, flashed the cash at them…it’s all about the money and the way you look, these days; the music is secondary at best. It’s worse than ever, and probably getting worse.”

BH’s distrust of record companies is understandable, given that an early incarnation of Dog Toffee were signed and dropped by a major label within the space of a few months. However, he insists he doesn’t envy NME-friendly bands’ success.

“It’s not really envy, more anger, that all these bands are so successful when they’re so shit! You look at great bands like the Supersuckers and Rocket From The Crypt, who both had a taste of success here and then just slipped away – they piss all over most famous bands these days.

All the best bands seem to get ignored, because they’re too raw, too uncommercial. Let’s face it, your average guy who works in an office isn’t gonna listen to a band like the Dwarves, is he? A band with a guitarist who goes onstage bollock-naked, wearing only a mask – it’s not gonna happen!”

Still, there’s nothing like a good gig to reaffirm a band’s faith in what they do. Tonight’s show – with the Yo-Yo’s at London’s Camden Underworld – saw the bands playing to an almost capacity crowd, and BH is understandably pleased.

“This is what it’s all about, shows like tonight! You get shows where the promotion
hasn’t been great, where only about 20 people show up, and it drains your spirits
a bit…but then you get shows like tonight, full of people who like your kind of music, it’s fucking great! If every night was like this, we’d be laughing!”

Indeed, tonight is proof that dirty, underground rock n’ roll is very much alive and kicking. Seeing as we’re all going to hell for listening to rock ‘n’ roll anyway, why not get acquainted with DTX and become ‘One More Sinner’ yourself?

Check www.dtxrockers.com for more info

Shadows Fall

The past 12 months have been a resounding success for Massachusetts metal mob Shadows Fall. Newest release ‘the War Within’ crashed the US Billboard charts at #20 and has since gone on to sell over 200,000 copies in their homeland alone, masked machine Slipknot took them on the road for 8 weeks as part of an almighty arena tour, and the five-piece shall now be spending the entirety of the summer playing alongside the likes of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden on the legendary Ozzfest’s main stage.

During a brief and rare break from their relentless touring schedule; four-stringer Paul Romanko took the time to answer a few questions from our own metal maniac Ryan Bird.

Hello there old chap. How are you doing?

Hey! I”m alright off tour for a change!

Where are you right now? What are you up to?

Well I just woke up a little while ago and came across these questions in my email.so no time like now to get on em!

You recently completed a whirlwind tour of the UK. How was that for you?

It was great(as it always is). I enjoy playing shows in the UK. The crowds are full of energy and its pretty easy to find a person or two to share a few pints with. In addition getting to again share a stage with Slipknot put us in front of even more wild metal fans.

How did it feel to play Donington for the second time? That’s quite an honour…

That is just beyond words! We were very fortunate to play in 2003. That year we played mainstage. We were running around like school kids taking pictures behind Iron Maiden’s drumset and shit like that!! Then a second chance. Unreal! It’s an honor to play an event with such an awesome history. Quite a few legendary bands have graced the stage at Donnington.

Of course, you’re no longer strangers to such huge challenges as the spiritual home of metal as you spent around 8 weeks on tour with Slipknot and Lamb of God playing arenas in the spring. How did it feel to be playing to so many people each night?

That is a dream come true. We never thought that we”d be doing any type of tour like that. Being able to reach so many people each night is unbelievable! It’s some of the best exposure our band has ever received. Much thanks to all the guys in Slipknot for being so damn cool and having the balls to take out two non-radio bands on a very successful arena tour.

Playing the main stage of Ozzfest is sure to pull in even bigger crowds. Are you ready and raring to go for that one?

I hope so! We’ve got to be on point every night. Following In Flames and BLS is no easy feat! Then you’ve got Mudvayne and two of the greatest of all time in Maiden and Sabbath. It’s surreal to even think about the fact that we are sharing a stage with two of the biggest icons in heavy metal history!! But we’re gonna get up there and give our all rock out, drink a couple beers and hopefully make a few new fans.

Upon release, The War Within crashed the Billboard top 20. It must have been mind boggling to see your album fighting amongst the usual platinum selling hip-hop and r”n”b shit.

Yeah that was some crazy shit!! I guess that reflects how much the metal community has had a resurgence in the past few years. Quite a few bands have been hitting Billboard charts on their debut week.KSE , LOG, and very recently A7X and As I Lay Dying had great numbers. Its nice to see peer bands up there. Hopefully it”ll continue.

What do you think sets Shadows Fall apart from the rest of the modern day pack?

I think that the fact that we embrace classic rock and are willing to incorporate “rock” riffs into the metal sets us apart a bit. We also try and balance the
aggression with melody creating sonic peaks and valleys on our albums. But more from a rock perspective rather than an emo one. Even more so are probably Jon’s solos. Not many bands are shredding out leads like that these days.

Do you think the return of Headbangers Ball has had a massive impact on the metal scene? Seeing bands like yourselves, Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying etc on the biggest music channel in the world must open you up to a much wider audience than you had previously imagined possible.

Any exposure is great..but when MTV decided to bring back the ball it was huge for the US metal scene. Getting your videos played nationwide on an almost weekly basis helped us see a huge jump in our fanbase. It was cool to go into smaller markets and have kids tell you how they “discovered” your band on Headbanger’s Ball.. Good Shit!!

In the past year or two the music media has invented the term The New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Isn’t that a bit inaccurate given that bands like yourselves have been playing this music for the better part of a decade?

Yeah it is a bit funny for us to see the word “new” next to our name. Especially when next year will be the 10 year anniversary of SF. But hey the media needs tags to sell stories so!!??!! As long as the press stays interested I can live with it I guess? I just think it could have been a little more creative of a title. oh well.

What’s your opinion on internet downloading?

I used to have mixed thoughts on that but hey why not! I”m not into giving away entire albums but a few tracks.Its an easy way to check out new bands. I”ll do it and if I”m into the band I buy the cd. We don’t make a dime off cd sales. We survive by touring. So if kids are downloading songs and getting into our music its likely they will come to a show. So ultimately it benefits us in the end. Besides aren’t we all guilty of that anyways!!

With the ever increasing popularity of the genre, more and more metal bands are signing to majors. Eighteen Visions and Lamb of God are on Sony, Mastodon on Warner Bros and rumour has it you yourselves will soon be joining the major leagues. Do you think that
this may ultimately prove to be a risky move should the popularity dip and the sales drop as a result? Such labels are often used to gold and platinum records as a minimum requirement.

Rumors ..rumors ..rumors!! Unfortunately there are risks with any label. Perhaps a bit more with the majors, but it ultimately comes down to writing a good album. Good music finds a way to surface no matter what label it is on. I guess we”ll have to see what the future holds on all accounts here.

Do you think metal will soon become the new nu-metal as such? A few years back people couldn’t get enough, and now they seem to hate it with a passion. Do you ever worry about bands like yourselves being deemed “uncool”?

Well I don’t think we really care about the “uncool” thing so much. We went through that 6-8 years ago when “metal” was dirty word in the Massachusetts scene. We didn’t care then and doubt we”ll care if it happens again. We just write honest music that
satisfies ourselves first and foremost. But I do believe there will be a time when the tides change. It seems to happen every few years or so. But there is always the few bands that end up transcending there scene and lasting through it. We’ve got our fingers crossed that we”ll be able to do this a while longer.

What are your plans for the remainder of 2005?

TOUR.Tour.tour.tour.till December and then rest a bit and start writing the next album. Then
after that we”ll probably tour some more! Just for variation!

The War Within is available in stores now through Century Media.

See www.shadowsfall.com for more information.

J Mascis – Dinosaur Jr interview

Formed in Massachusetts in the early ’80s from the disparate ends of quasi hardcore band Deep Wound, Dinosaur (the Jr. came later) originally featured J, Murph and Lou Barlow.

Eventually, the bad mojo between J and Lou prompted Barlow’s departure in 1989. Barlow poured the resulting resentment into all of those tasty manic-depressive songs that came with his successive band, Sebadoh. After years being left to most of us as a classic indie band that spurred a generation of indie rock, Dinosaur Jr are reforming after the re-release of the first 3 albums “Bug”, “Dinosaur” and “You’re Living All Over Me” on Sweet Nothing Records here in the UK.

J. Mascis has a reputation of being one of the hardest people in music to interview due to his presence being much like a sloth! In an interview years ago he described himself as the kid in the high school cafeteria who was always making animal sculptures out of his food. Zac phoned him for a chat one Friday afternoon so see if this was all true and this is what went down…by the way, if you read Zac’s questions like he is on speed and J. Mascis” answers like he is whacked out on valium, it will all make sense.

How’s it going J?

Pretty good. (drawled out!)

Where are you at right now?

I’m at home.just getting up.it was kind of a late night so.I guess I have been woken up by an interview. So…

Ah, did I wake you?

No.

Well if you are up and about, I have some questions for you fella.

Alright…(drawls)

Full name please mate?

Joseph E. Mascis Jnr…

Is there a senior then?

Yeah, there was…he’s dead though.

(Oh shit, not a good start. Quickly moving on!)

Where were you born?

Massachusetts.

What was your first job?

I worked at the public works to unblock the sewers and the sidewalks. After a week I got a job at a gas station so I quit.I used to just sit around. (it took him ages to say this!)

What gets you out of bed in the morning apart from people like me interviewing you?

I have been trying to record some solo stuff, I walk my dog, and this and that.

What kind of dog you have? I would at a guess have you down to own a Bloodhound.

Nah.I have a bulldog.

I know they say that some dogs look like their owners, is there an affiliation there J?

Er. I don’t know.(as he says this, he laughs, I feel like I have finally cracked him) my dog can skateboard a little bit too.

Really?! Haha, has this been going on for a while?

Yeah, have you seen the footage of a skateboarding bulldog on the internet?

Yeah, I have seen it, is that your dog?

Nah, my dog is like that dog, she can do it a little bit but she is not as good. Haha!

Wow, it sounds like your Bulldog is better than me on a deck mate!

Let’s talk Deep Wound, how long did that band last?

A couple of years I guess.

What kind of bands did you play with in the punk scene at that time?

Er…we played with SSD, DOA, MDC…er..Haha!.

Any bands without 3 capital letters in the title or was that not aloud?!

Nah, there were others..Jerry’s Kids, The FU’s and others… (laughs!)

Is it true that your Mum actually knitted you a Deep Wound cardigan?

Yep, she did. In fact my wife wears that now!

Lou Barlow has had some pretty bad sweaters along the way as well huh? Would he beat you in a bad sweater wardrobe comp?

Yeah, most definitely, he is a huge sweater guy!

Who gets the J.Mascis vote for the worst dressed man in Rock and Roll?

It’s hard to say.. (huge silence)…Eric Clapton I guess. He made all the hippies wear suit coats and cut their hair and cured beards!

I heard that you love your hardcore and punk rock, what are your fave bands from back then that you still play at home now?

Yeah I do. Negative Approach, Minor Threat, Bad Brains..in fact I was just talking to some kids yesterday at this show who were into hardcore when they were kids, and I said, “when I was your age I used to go and see Minor Threat play” and they were freaked out. Haha!

I guess Minor Threat were, and still are one of those seminal HC bands from DC that will always carry respect. I hear that you are into English Punk Rock and Oi too, do you still have affection for that style of music?

Yeah, I still listen to bands like Blitz, The 4-Skins, Disorder, Chaotic Dischord, The Business and others.

The Business are still going strong here.

Oh really, the same band on Captain Oi?

Yeah man. What about Upside Down Cross, you played drums in that band right? Would ever consider going backwards to playing punk rock again?

Well, it’s funny you say that because at the moment I’m in a band called Witch. We have only played one show and we are kind of more Sabbath oriented. I play drums and there are 2 kids in the band about 22, and another 2 guys who are like 39 years old. Those kids in fact just listened to Upside Down Cross yesterday and they were like “whoa, you were in this band?” Haha!

Skateboarding and Dinosaur Jr always went hand in hand and still do in the naughties, why is that?

I dunno, I have no idea! We went to LA on the Bug tour and there were all these skaters everywhere. We met Neil Blender and some other guys and I always let them use the music and stuff.

So are you proud to be associated with skateboarding then?

Yeah I guess, sometimes I even get sent t-shirts and skateboards here!

Did you ever skate back in the day?

Yeah, mostly we would skate quarter pipes, 8 foot high ramps and stuff. I mean this was long ago now.

Do you remember what your first board was?

My first skateboard was a Flight. They were like this company that ripped off Alva. I had Mid Tracks and red Kryptonics 65’s…until my Dad gave it away.

Neil Blender did some art for you, do you remember which sleeves?

Yeah….he’s done several record covers for me like Without a Sound, J.Mascis and The Fog, Leaving on a Jet Plane 7″, and the back cover of another one.

Have you seen any recent skateboarding? What are your thoughts on it?

I see various stuff from Alien Workshop as Neil Blender sends me stuff. It’s cool I guess.

What was it like playing in The Stooges?

That was cool. I was playing with Mike Watt and we invited Ron (Asheton) to jam with us and then after that we played a gig at All Tomorrows Parties in LA, then got offered a tour. The Stooges then got back together with Iggy and then I was out.

How did you feel about that?

Haha, well, I was stoked they were back together but I was bummed to be left out!

What happened with Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie clobbering a fan in the crowd at the Shepherds Bush Empire?

Some guy spat on him, so he pummeled him with an iron mic stand. Yeah, whilst singing No Fun of all songs…it wasn’t nice.

Any plans to write with Mike Watt right now?

No. No plans.

So is it just Dinosaur JR related stuff that is on your horizon right now then?

Yeah, that’s all that happening now, kinda.

What kind of set will you be playing? Have you started rehearsing for it?

Well, I guess we will practice a couple of times and then play a couple of shows here in the US and then come over to see you guys.

What made you reform after all these years?

I dunno, the first three records were gonna get re-released and we had some offers.

So, you are playing the Download Festival this year here in the UK.

Yeah, I don’t know much about this festival though..

Black Sabbath are playing, Iggy is on, Slayer and others and there is a monster Snickers Bowl with Steve Caballero and loads of other guys who will be killing it.

Cool. I think we will miss some of those bands though as we have to go to Europe after our set.

Looking back, what was the best time throughout your Dinosaur Jr peak?

Maybe the best time was the first tour. We opened for Sonic Youth and that was the best time we had.

Lou Barlow mentioned that he was kicked out of Dinosaur and then worked as an orderly at a VA hospital, do have the same plans for him again?!

Haha!. Maybe, that was a good one!

Have you guys kept a relationship since Dinosaur split?

Yeah, kind of. I just see him once in a while around. I haven’t talked to him much.

Have you heard his new solo album EMOH yet?

Yeah, it’s alright. He played here recently; it was alright..folky stuff you know. I like some songs on the last Sebadoh record, I was kind of overdosed on Lou though, but maybe I should go listen to more of his stuff.

Is The Fog on ice then?

Nah, I have been recording, there will be a record at some point.

Freak Scene has gone down as one of those classic alternative tracks ever. Where were you when you wrote that song and what influenced its lyrics?

Er…I know I was in New York going to college at the time. The track is about the people I knew, a kind of mish-mash of relationships.

I have had numerous arguments over the correct chords for ‘Freak Scene’ (Mike Vallely, ‘Speed Freaks’) Please spill the beans.

You know what, I don’t know the chords but I will play it for you when I come over, how’s that?

Sounds good to me. OK, I have some stupid Quickfire questions here for ya, ready?

Ok, go for it.

So, what’s your fave Dinosaur?

Er. Shit. I guess a Stegosaurus or a T-Rex.

Tea or coffee?

Both I guess, but if I had to go with one…er..nah, both! Fuck it! I can do what I want!

George Bush or Death?

Oh, Death!

Drum solo or guitar solo?

Guitar..how many good drum solo’s have you heard?

True..OK smart arse – Minor Threat or Black Flag?

Oh, that’s tough. I guess I would choose Minor Threat as they really spoke to me at the time. That was when I realised that other kids were into punk. I was already straightedge in this hippy town and rebelling about people doing drugs and I thought all punks were junkies and stuff until I heard Minor Threat. I could then relate to the whole scene because I wasn’t alone anymore.

Spontaneous combustion or suicide?

Spontaneous combustion sounds great! Doing it anywhere would be cool.

Street hockey or Mercury Rev?*

Ooh, I have to go with street hockey!

* = A personal one that relates to J.Mascis kicking Mercury Rev off a tour back in the day as they played Street Hockey in the sound check warm ups. He hated it and kicked them off the tour allegedly!

Fog or Rain?

Fog….

Folk Implosion or Sebadoh?

Sebadoh, but with Eric Gaffney.

Mudhoney or Nirvana?

Er…Nirvana I suppose.

Pain or pleasure?

Pleasure.

Rock, fire or scissors?

Rock!

Okay I got scissors, so you win Joseph!

I’m out of here, enjoy reforming Dinosaur Jr with Murph and Lou for the tour, see you soon.

Thanks Zac

Byeee

The first 3 Dinosaur Jr albums have been re-released on Sweet Nothing Records out now and the band with the original line up will play at the Forum in London on 8th and 9th of June then at the Download Festival on 10th June. Don’t miss them.

American Head Charge

2 years ago the future looked bleak for American Head Charge. A seemingly loveless relationship with their label, personal addictions and a generally bleak future spelled the end for the American sextet. However, with new album ‘the Feeding” showcasing a true return to form, 2005 may just be the year that American Head Charge have been waiting for all along. Prior to the bands” show at London’s Mean Fiddler, bassist Chad Hanks and guitarist Bryan Ottoson caught up with CITC for a few trips down memory lane, as well as a vision of the months ahead.

Your new album has been almost 3 years in coming. How does it feel to finally have it out there for people to hear?

Chad: I think the only word that springs to mind for me is ecstatic. It was a long time in the making. After years of sending demos backwards and forwards and getting no response from Rick (Rubin) it’s amazing to finally have it out.

Bryan: It was 3 years of sheer hell, so it feels good for me, man.

Chris Emery (drums): Horny is the word for me

Bryan: It’s weird to go to the store and see it on the shelf. It makes me go “Oh, yeah, we actually have a new record out!”

What kind of reception has it been receiving thus far?

Bryan: We did a short run of dates here in the UK just before the album came out, and they were all sold out and people actually knew the words to the songs already. It was amazing

Chad: We just went on tour with Otep in the States and as the weeks went on you could see more and more people actually singing the songs back. It was unbelievable for us after everything that’s happened.

What would you say are the main differences between ‘the Feeding” and ‘the War of Art”?

Chad: Well, I think that this was definitely more of a band effort, and it was certainly much more to the point. We didn’t spend hours on end just playing around with a certain guitar sound and trying to pump out 16 songs to fill 68 minutes or whatever.

Bryan: Our producer Greg Fidelman was basically like “Right, come on, let’s go. Grab the guitar, grab the amp and let’s go, come on.” We really needed that I think rather then spending like 9 months holed up in a fancy studio.

Chad: It doesn’t have the Rubin “wall of sound” as we call it. It’s a much more raw and live sounding record.

Bryan: Definitely. There’s guitars out of tune all over that record. Not horribly or anything but it’s slightly off and it worked.

You’re now on Nitrus following the split from American. How has it been to leave a label that seemingly didn’t give a shit about you anymore to suddenly becoming possibly the biggest band on the roster?

Chad: It’s a lot more hands on. You don’t have to speak to like 12 different people just to have a cheque signed off. There’s like 3 different people you talk to and that’s it, that’s all there is. They’re really working for us.

Bryan: Derek, Ron and Ted ” DRT. That’s what we call “em.

Chad: We left American with like a million dollars to pay off or whatever, and it happens to so many bands. They sign to a major label, get all this money in advance and never pay it off.

Bryan: Dude, don’t talk about that.

Judging from various interviews, it sounds like this band is really all that some of you guys have. Would you say that’s a fair comment to make?

Bryan: It was weird for me because I joined after they recorded the first record, toured for almost a year on the back of it and then they had to fire me because of all this shit with American that was going on.

Chad: It just totally broke me down.

Bryan: I think I speak for everybody when I say that this whole experience pretty much broke everybody, but we built it back up ourselves and kept it all together. It feels like home again.

How difficult was it to cope without the band when everything seemed to be stuck in limbo?

Bryan: Hell.

Chad: Totally. Sheer torture.

Surely even when the band is active it must be nice to have just a little time off every now and then?

Chad: Maybe like the odd week or so here and there, but overall we just wanna be out there on the road to be honest.

Bryan: A couple of days after we finish this tour in the UK we’re flying back to the US to start an 8 week tour with Mudvayne. We’re just hoping to jump from tour to tour as much as possible really.

There have been several line-up changes in the past several years. Are you now at a stage where you feel totally comfortable at last?

Chad: It seems to be the most cohesive so far for me. It’s hard to say though because you have different faces, different personalities, different situations etc. Obviously there’s good and bad sides to every line up change. Right now though I’d say the leaves are green in the land of Head Charge. We’re pretty happy for the first time in a long time right now.

Bryan: Nicely said!

Very profound indeed! That’s deep, man. I”m tearing up.

Chad: Haha!

Prior to the album release you hit the UK for a few very low key shows. How did it feel to come back and start from scratch all over again?

Chad: Flattering. So, so flattering. It’s a pleasant surprise. To be gone for as long as we were and then come back to this and be remembered is an honour. We could’ve so easily been forgotten.

This time you’re playing bigger venues. Is this something you’re happier with? What sort of reaction have you been getting thus far?

Chad: Well the venue last night (Exeter Cavern) was actually the smallest stage we have ever played on, by far.

Bryan: It was like this *makes orange sized circle with hands*

Chad: I kept hitting Bryan in the face with my bass. Accidentally on purpose that is

Bryan: You’re gay.

Chad: Ha! Anyway, the reception thus far has definitely been pretty good, possibly as good as the first time we were here to be honest. Like I said though, we’re just so honoured that people are showing up and we’re selling as many tickets as we are. Hopefully we’re not gonna be disappearing again any time soon.

American Head Charge’s new album ‘the Feeding” is in stores now through Nitrus.

Unfortunately Bryan Ottoson died on April 19th prior to the group’s performance in North Charleston, S.C. According to a spokesperson, the guitarist was found dead in his bunk on the group’s tour bus. The cause of death is unknown pending an autopsy. This was one of the last interviews he did before his death…R.I.P

Hatebreed

Jamey Jasta is possibly the busiest rock star around right now. When he’s not on the road with genre titans Hatebreed, he’s almost certainly tied up with one of his numerous ventures and projects; most notably as the face of MTV’s Headbangers Ball. Prior to the final date of the bands” sold out UK tour at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms, the tireless mouth piece found a spare minute or two to converse with CITC’s Metal advisor Ryan Bird about just how tough it can get being Jamey Jasta.

This is the first time in a long time that you’ve done such an extensive UK tour. How’ve things been for you so far?

Just about every show has been sold out so far. Only one or two haven’t and even then they’ve been down to the last dozen or so tickets. The fans have been absolutely amazing and really appreciative, so I guess we couldn’t really have asked for a lot more.

It’s good to see that you’ve hit Ireland this time around. A lot of bands overlook it nowadays. How important is it for you to reach fans in countries that usually get the short end of the stick?

We”d been and played in Ireland before and promised them that we”d come back, so I don’t think we really had a choice to be honest. They came out and supported us the first time around, and even though the shows were really small we knew we”d have a great time doing it. It’s really important for us to reach as many of our fans as possible, regardless of location. I get letters all the time from people in Israel, South America, Iceland.

Iceland seems to be developing an awesome scene as of late.

Yeah! I”d love to go there and check it out. I”d love to go to all these places we haven’t been to before. I guess I”ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Your fans are a pretty mixed bunch. You have a lot of hardcore followers, but also a lot of metal kids are into you as well. What do you think makes Hatebreed appeal to both sides?

I think we just have music and lyrics that don’t alienate people. We’ve only ever tried to put across the way that we’re feeling, while at the same time emulating the bands that we ourselves love. On the one hand we’re into hardcore bands like Madball and Agnostic Front, but we also love bands like Slayer, Obituary, Sepultura.

Has such a diverse audience ever caused any incidents or confrontations at shows?

Maybe in certain places there’s been the odd fight or two break out, but I think nowadays everybody for the most part just gets along. We’re a crossover band after all so people have just learnt to respect each other and realise that people from all walks of life are there for the same reason.

Since the horrible tragedy involving Dimebag, is there occasionally a part of you that gets a little edgy or nervous when you meet a psychotic fan or see a particularly violent individual in the pit?

I feel that whole situation was just one horrible, isolated incident. It was just a terrible example of gross injustice.

As well as Hatebreed you have a number of side-projects ” including the band Icepick and of course hosting Headbangers Ball. How difficult can it sometimes get for you to hold down so many things at once?

I”ll be honest, it’s been really hard. I’ve been spread a little thin at times. Hatebreed has some time off after this tour is over so I”ll be able to take a little breather and progress with some other things that I’ve previously had to push to the side somewhat.

Is there ever a time when you’re NOT doing something?

I”m pretty much always doing something to be honest. There’s no rest for the wicked! Someone is always trying to get a hold of me which is why I’ve gotten myself a world phone, and even right now I”m sat in front of a laptop checking emails and stuff like that.

What about when you do find that odd hour here and there? What do you do to unwind?

I just enjoy my house and my home life to be honest. I recently purchased one of those digital video recorders which enables me to watch all my favourite shows that I usually wouldn’t get the chance to see from being so busy on the road and such like. There’s nothing better for me than just having that odd couple of hours to veg out on the couch.

Let’s talk about Headbangers Ball again for a moment. How did that come about?

Basically it started about two years ago when they first decided to bring back the show. About 400 people or so came and tried out and they didn’t really find anyone that they felt had that X factor. So, at this point I met with the producers and told them my vision and what I”d like to do with the show and stuff like that. Everything definitely had to be on my terms. Anyway, they invited me over for a test screening which didn’t actually go too well. However, they gave me a second shot which was basically a homework assignment where I had to go away and interview bands and come back to them etc. I did interviews with Candiria, Ill Nino, and bizarrely; Vanilla Ice of all people. Anyway, they called me up and said that they loved it. Now, 100 episodes later we’ve had everybody from Metallica, Velvet Revolver and Iron Maiden to Lamb of God, Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage come on and talk some shit.

Did you ever have any fears about tempting to host such a prestige show?

The thing is, I come from a scene which is full of these loudmouth complainers that have nothing else to do than put people down, so I wasn’t really too concerned about that. I’ve been putting up with their crap for years now. Luckily I”m not one of those people myself so I basically said “You know what; I”m not one of those people. I”m going to go in there and make a positive change“. It’s great for the smaller bands like Lamb of God and co because since they’ve been thrown at a more mainstream audience they’re selling two or three times as many albums as they were previously.

Aside from the previously mentioned ventures ” what does the remainder of 2005 hold for both Jamey Jasta the person, but also Jamey Jasta the front man?

On the Hatebreed front it’s simply to continue trying to get to as many places to perform as possible. As I said earlier I”m desperate to get over to Iceland some time and rip it up. We hope to have a new record out at the end of the year as well. On a personal level, I”m right about to re-launch JameyJasta.com so people can see what I”m up to 24/7. I”m also hoping to push on with my clothing company and get some stuff out there. We’re just negotiating with some distribution companies and such right now.

So there’s no chance of some kind of salsa or tango orientated project?

Errrrr no!

The Rise of Brutality is available in stores now through Roadrunner Records UK.

Millencolin

Millencolin have been recording and touring for well over a decade now, and their imminent new album “Kingwood” is sure to cement their reputation as Sweden’s most successful punk rock export. Alex Gosman spoke to guitarist Erik Ohlsson and drummer Fredrik Larzon at London’s Brixton Academy, halfway through a UK tour supporting Good Charlotte.

How’s the tour going so far?

Erik: It’s been going well, although it’s a little bit different for us, as this is not our usual crowd at all ” but that’s what makes it fun! We’ve never really done anything like this before, so it’s a good experience, and it’s a great way to get warmed up for our own tour ” which is gonna start almost as soon as we finish these shows.

Do the Good Charlotte fans seem to like you, then?

E: Yeah, the shows have been better than we expected, actually. I bet only about 5% of the people in there have heard us before, and the rest haven’t, but the crowds have been great ” it’s really surprising how good they’ve been!

How did the tour come about? Are you and GC old friends?

E: No, we’ve never met them before, but they wanted to have us on the tour, so they asked our agent ” and we thought it would be a good thing to do just before our new album is released. It’s also a good experience, to try out our stuff on people who haven’t heard us before.

Could you update us on what you’ve all been up to since you finished touring [previous album] “Home From Home”? I know Nikola [vocalist/bassist] did his solo record [“Lock-Sport-Krock”] ” how about the rest of you?

Fredrik: Well, we took a very short break ” but we’ve still been working on Millencolin stuff all along, because we have an office near the Burning Heart Records [their record label] office, so we were working on our website, hanging out, taking care of our families.and even when Nikola was doing his album, we were already trying out some new stuff.

E: I don’t think we really had a break, because even when he was doing his own record, we were still touring as Millencolin. These shows feel more like the last of the “Home From Home” shows to me, as when we get home, the “Kingwood” tour starts. The whole recording process for “Kingwood” took about one and a half years, but we were always out playing shows here and there.

F: Yeah, it was very spread-out.especially since Nikola lives in Gothenburg, and he only comes up to our town around once a month.so when he does, we get together and rehearse like crazy for about a week!

The new album “Kingwood” seems more varied than your previous efforts. Did you plan to broaden your sound, having ditched the ska element around the time of “Pennybridge Pioneers”?

E: Well, yeah, the songs come pretty naturally to us.but this time, it was really good that Nikola did his record, to show his softer, more emotional side ” because it meant that now he had more energy than ever, and it felt so good to play fast again!

F: It also meant that he gave a bit more room to [guitarist] Mathias, more room for Mathias” ideas, and I guess he’s listening to some harder stuff now.

E: Yeah, but it was Nikola who wrote ‘simple Twist Of Hate” ” a really hardcore song, he really wanted to scream it and stuff. It’s great ” there’s more energy in the band than ever before!

I quote your lyrics: “It’s in my nature to be changing ” (“Ray”); “I don’t think contrast is a sin ” (“No Cigar”). Would you say that people are accepting of your need to change, as a band?

E: The fans have been very accepting.it’s kinda crazy with fans, because you can’t really tell when they started listening to us; the fans who started listening to us around our ska era really miss the ska songs, but newer fans, who came around the time of “Pennybridge Pioneers” or “Home From Home” ” they don’t like the ska songs at all, because Millencolin just isn’t that way to them. Nikola is always dealing with those kinds of issues in his mind ” he wants to keep changing, doesn’t want to settle down, so like us, he needs people to respect that we’re changing.

Do you have good memories of playing in the UK? Have our crowds been nice to you?

F: Yeah.apart from one time, an early tour we did back in 1995 with Pennywise.we thought we’d never go back to England, because we hated it from that tour. But two years later, we went back and it was fantastic!

E: Yeah, we played the Reading festival, as part of the European Warped Tour, back in 1997, it was great, and it’s been great ever since! But when we did that first tour, this whole American style of punk rock was nothing in the UK ” and the crowd were all, like, Exploited fans, and they figured we were skaters; they weren’t into us at all.

F: It was the first time we”d experienced an audience standing there and spitting at us!

E: Yeah, exactly, it was the true old-school UK punk crowd, and that was weird.but ever since 1997 it’s been great, especially here in London.the shows we’ve played here and at the Astoria are some of the best shows we’ve ever done.

Over the years, you guys have shared stages with countless bands ” is there anyone out there who you”d really like to tour with, or any local bands from your area that you”d like to mention?

E: We always try and bring the local bands we like on tour with us in Sweden and Europe ” sometimes the States too ” but we’ve never toured with Rancid, and I”d love to tour with those guys. We’ve met them before, but we’ve never toured with them, and I”d love to do that.

What are your plans for the near future, after the Good Charlotte tour finishes?

E: There’s tons of stuff happening: the album is released just after we get home, and we have to sort everything out for our own tour. We’re booked up until around February next year!

F: We”ll be doing Europe in April, the US and Canada in May, and then tons of festivals over the summer, including the Warped Tour in the States. Then there’s another European tour in the fall.

E: Yeah, and then we’ve got Australia, another US thing, more Europe, and then

more Australia. And we’re also hoping to fit in Japan and South America somewhere! We’re aiming to do a couple of UK festivals ” not sure which ones yet – and then we”ll do our own week-long UK tour around September/October time.

“Kingwood” is released on Burning Heart Records on 4th April.

Alex Gosman