Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jonah Livingston of Ramming Speed

Ramming Speed make up their own rules and follows nobody else's. These boys will play harder and party harder than most things breathing. Here are some words I had with Jonah awhile back. He gently reminded me that we did this, so here ya go. Oh checkout this video of them too. . . . Video.

1) When you think of tour what are the first three things that you hope to accomplish on such a journey?

- New experiences - seeing a beautiful landscape I've never seen, hearing a great new band, eating an incredible meal..

- Making new tour friends and getting to catch up with old ones. Some of the best dudes I've ever hung out with have been through totally random show experiences in places I never thought I'd go. I have friends in Reykjavik, Boise and Berlin that I would drop anything to help out. Most of them we are lucky to see even once a year, but they are a huge part of why the road is so important.

- Playing as hard as possible, as often as possible, in front of large and receptive crowds. This might sound obvious, but at the end of the day this is why we're here and it's important to stay focused. Even though it's
only 30 minutes out of every 24 hours, your set is your time to prove yourself. One excited and attentive crowd can make up for so many hours on the road, aching bones and restless nights.

2) I've heard tales of biker bars, kidnapping, insatiable ragging on your magical trips, give us some insight on what the party is like in the Ramming Speed hot wheels.

Generally everyone in the band parties like complete morons for the first two weeks of every tour. Pete is often found naked on rooftops, sleep is rare and god is cursed at every opportunity. After that we settle into the swing of things and only half the band will look like a pile of shit every morning. I never saw myself cramming chips into my pockets next to a Reno blackjack table at 6 in the morning with a kid named Lunchbox, or handcuffed at gun point by a roadblock on the side of I-5 in California, but it's all part of the adventure. You get in the van and you see where
you end up!

3) What was one of the best and worst show experiences you have had while on the road, for worst I'm not looking for someone canceled the day of, I'm looking for complete disaster. It's always easier to remember the worst shows than the great ones, so pick your fav. and why?

It's worth noting that every band thinks they have the worst luck on the road. The reality is that it's tough on anyone trying to DIY it on the lone highway. We all deal with sketchy promoters, van problems, and German secret police...

That said, my bands really do have the worst luck, haha.

Maybe not the worst show I've ever played, but the most depressing was in Yuma, Arizona. Yuma is basically a dry butthole in the middle of the desert occupied only by an Army base and a bunch of strip malls. The show was outdoors, it was 5,000 degrees and of the 10 or 15 bored youth that decided to give the gig a chance, 3 or 4 of them were chubby teenage girls. The only other band on the show spent the majority of their set sending shout outs to "all the fat bitches in the crowd" and talking about how much they love fucking "big chicks" and how they were psyched to hang with all the ladies after the gig etc etc.. The girls spent their share of the 45 minutes nervously glancing at each other, staring at the ground, and trying to not appear horrified. The band were all older bigger dudes themselves, which I guess is the irony of it all. If my memory serves me I'm fairly sure there were also sprinklings of homophobia and racism in the singer's lovely diatribes. It was so uncomfortable I wanted to die and obviously most of the kids left before we even set up. We played to a couple of cactus's and the stench of teenage depression.

Oh, and I think there were some amp problems. Of course..

Off the top of my head I have two favorite shows. One was in Leipzig Germany and the bill from top to bottom was Misery Index, Government Warning, Wasted Time, Inepsy, Ramming Speed. It was at Zoro, one of the best venues/punk squats in the world. They made the most incredible vegan feast, gave us all we could drink, and after the show, hosted an 80's dance party till the sun came up. I may or may not have put my balls near an Inepsy member's forehead before passing out.

The second one was Fluff Fest in Czech Republic and the crowd was the best I've ever experienced. We were one of the only metal bands on what is largely a straight edge hardcore festival. When we played at 3 or 4 in the afternoon there were probably 2,000 people watching, half of which circle pitting and stage diving non stop. I've never been so shocked and felt so welcome in a (literally and figuratively) foreign place.

Weirdest show ever goes to Fusion Fest in Germany, a techno festival with 70,000 people that we ended up playing last summer. I saw astronauts with flame throwers, saw a demon jump from the canopy of the laser forest and met rasta Jesus on the highest ground I could find at sunrise.

4) What's more important on the road clean underwear or clean socks? and why?

I'm gonna go with underwear. Most of us only bring two pairs of pants on tour and I'd rather put off the inevitable butt stench as long as possible. Feet pretty much smell like feet no matter what you do..

5) Preference, overnight drive or wake up early drive?

The dudes don't let me drive much because I always try and read comics or make sandwiches behind the wheel. As far as the backseat goes I'm more into early drives. It feels like time traveling if you black out at 5 or 6am and wake up in a new state!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eric Bifaro from Plates, I Object, Brown Sugar, and Feral Kid Records

Biff is a true punk through and through. One of he hardest working people with a true generous spirit that few can hope to obtain. He has a way of lighting up a room with his wild story telling abilities. I'm a better person to have befriended such an awesome person. So with that said, checkout his label Feral Kid Records!

1) The ability to tour has become easier for various reasons, what currently separates the whiners and the road dogs on a real level?

- things have definitely become easier with the insane level of "social networking" available to is in this day and age. Two summers ago I booked a tour for two bands. it was both bands first tour. This was during the height of the "gas crisis" and there were stops where we were paying almost $5/gallon. Believe it or not, this was the easiest tour I ever booked. The high gas rates made it seem less enticing for a bunch of chumps to half-assedly get in a van because they were concerned about losing money. Fewer bands on tour equaled better turn outs for those of us still risking it.

2) Van pride is something at least one person in the van has, whether that has to deal with any repairs themselves or just being responsible for anything of said nature. What gets you really excited about a van to take out on the road? How do you make your home on wheels the best place it can be?

-i am absolutely the "man with the van" in my band(s). theres something about it, i cant describe it, but i love it. my last van i had i ran into the ground. it was getting pretty bad by the end but it got me through every trip i attempted to take it on with very little issues. I kept in on the road and drove it until it wouldnt accelerate over 30mph. we both knew that it was time for it to go but i had a hard time admitting it to myself. I ended up scrapping it and actually stood and watched as it was smashed in front of me. more than one tear was shed. i have a new van now, but it doesnt seem like its going to live up to the old one unfortunately.

3)What was your idea of tour like before you actually started touring? and do you think you are still surprised after all these years getting in the van?

-the first tour i ever went on was easily the worst tour i have ever been on to date. it was very emotionally and monetarily draining, full US tour in 40 days, and i was just along for the ride, not even playing. the trip ended up turning into some sort of version of SURVIVOR. members of the band dropped off the tour, people were attempting to fill in on instruments that were not their main instrument. it was a disaster. to top it all off, we had countless van issues. our van was leaking 4 quarts of oil every 60 miles. we had to stop to refill oil more frequently than gasoline. after this tour finished, a band i was in had already had plans of doing our first tour and i was terrified by the thought of it. We ended up going on it and it was wonderful, no issues whatsoever. I think all in all it was good that I had a tour that was a non-stop disaster to start off my touring life. nowadays no matter what is thrown at me I feel like I'll be able to take it in stride.

4)What keeps you from giving up the road life? Why do you think it's so enticing for so many of us?

-There are few things in this life that we as individuals have full control over. Hitting the road and playing our crummy juvenile style of music for people is one of the few things that is fully ours. I don't get to tour nearly as much as I once did, but I still look forward to any opportunity that I get to do such things. There's truly nothing like it. Piling in a crummy van with your good friends and barreling down the highway towards your destination. The amount of incredible friends and great bands I've met while doing this for the past ten years is enough to keep me always going back for more. Touring for me now is a great excuse to visit friends from different cities, most of whom i never would have met were it not for such a thing.

5)What is your sleep situation on tour? Sleeping bag? Sleeping mat? Blow up Mattress? Pillow? I've heard some wild stories of people never bringing any sleep gear on tour, we all tend to lose everything we own at someone's house eventually, but should that stop us from some sort of comfort?

-Traveling with sleeping supplies is the second most important thing to bring with you on the road (the first being a travel coffee mug, think about it, $1 coffee refills almost EVERYWHERE, best thing I started bringing on tour). I bring a somewhat bulky sleeping bag with me which is rated down to -10 degrees F. I'm usually the van sleeper, gotta guard that gear, but if we're parked in a decent neighborhood and everyone is feeling good about it, I'm a sleeping bag on the ground kinda guy. When I am in charge of guarding the van and the weather is permitting it, I like to climb up on top of the van and lay out my sleeping bag on the roof of it. This is especially helpful when you're in the middle of a long drive and need to sleep at a rest stop with everyone in the van. Theres something about laying on top of your van while taking a break during a long drive, staring at the stars until you pass out that is making me miss life on the road right now.....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Drew Wilkinson from Run With The Hunted

Sometimes things just fall through the cracks unfortunately, this blog kind of did that. Not because I wanted it to, I jut got side tracked with a bunch of other things and I haven't been on tour as much or hardly so it hasn't been a staple thought in my head. I have sent out some interviews though and this is one that I got back and just fell by the way side after I received. For no particular reason, I just didn't update the blog. Bummer I know. All of my loyal readers. I have fun with the questions and I think it's an interesting take on life on the road, so that's why I keep at it.

With that said, This is an update from Drew, he handles vocal duties for Run With The Hunted. They put out a record last year on Panic records. You should go check it out. I met Drew on tour when we got to play with RWTH in Arizona, very nice fellow and we instantly started trading back emails about various nerd type things, comics, fantasy/sci fi, and of course the every lasting conversation of how do you not lose your voice on tour. Enjoy!

1)How do you keep your sanity on tour? Do you find time for yourself or do you cope by just being around people?

Careful planning and preparation haha. As long as I get a solid 8 hours of sleep every night and eat adequately I can handle any tour. When I book our tours, I purposely route them to have the shortest drives possible so we can all stay rested and not get sick. Alone time is crucial as well and I try to make time for myself when I can. One person usually sleeps alone in the van; it’s kind of like having your own personal apartment for a night. I find that reading helps a lot too because for the few hours a day I can do it, it allows me to escape the reality of the tour – I’m stuck in a metal box on wheels for weeks or months at a time away from most of the people and things I love. Immersing myself in a good book is a nice break.

2) Has there ever been a situation when you've been on tour and you question why your even involved with what you surround yourself with? How do you deal with that?

Those moments do happen every once in a while. Usually they are the low points of tour when things are continuously going wrong and morale is low. Those moments are important in their own ways though, they really test your conviction and intentions. They bring everything into focus and purify the experience by boiling it down to its simplest elements. There have been times when I feel like the hardcore community has moved so far away from what it was (and what I would like it to be) that I feel disheartened and frustrated. I meet plenty of apathetic and ignorant kids at shows on the road. I guess I deal with it by doing my best to inform and inspire kids like that to look beyond the surface of things and try to extract a deeper sense of what’s going on in the world. I want to give people a different perspective and get them to question their own beliefs and create their own sense of reality instead of relying on other people to do it for them.

3) Tour magic, explain it's wonders and amazing results, or just one result. What I mean by magic is something happening that you weren't expecting, like someone getting you on a last minute show or showing up at a place to stay and someone made you food, or someone did something extraordinary for you.

We’ve been really fortunate as a band in this sense; more people than I ever would have imagined have taken us into their homes (as complete strangers), cooked us food, and just gone above and beyond to make us feel welcome in places that couldn’t be farther from home. We had a really bad show in Bremerton, WA last summer and we were on tour with a band from Sweden called Anchor, so money was tight. Our friend Brian put us up at his house and made us shit tons of amazing food the night before and then the show just tanked. I was starting to get sick and morale was really low, I think we got like $20 between the two bands. After the show, Brian just walked up to me in the van and handed me an envelope with some money in it and just said “Take this.” I protested and protested but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. It brought me to tears that someone would be willing to give us their hard earned money to help us chase our dream; that kind of thing just doesn’t happen every day you know? There have been a lot of people who have done extraordinary things for us on the road and we’re eternally grateful to all of them.

4) Do you see yourself touring five years down the road? Why or why not? Do you think touring is an essential part of being in a band?

Honestly no, I don’t see myself touring in five years, at least not full time. There are other things I want to do with my life most of which can’t start until the band ends. Right now I love touring and it makes sense for what I’m trying to do but I don’t know if that will be the same in five years. Who knows though, I guess it really depends on what happens with the band. If the opportunities are there, why not? Most of that is out of my control though. I think for certain genres of music touring is essential; punk and hardcore is definitely one of them. But I never want to be that band who keeps putting out music and touring long after their prime; I don’t want to outwear our welcome and beat a dead horse.

5) Do you ever stumble across things while on the road and try to implement them into your own life and or try to bring those great aspects back home with you and spread it around?

Occasionally yah. We meet and stay with a lot of really creative and progressive people and often times, they inspire us take some of their ideas home with us. We’ve stayed in some really awesome collectives and squats and that lifestyle is really interesting to me. Anchor loved to play Frisbee and now we never go on tour without one. As a vegan, I get to try a lot of new and interesting food on the road too, and I definitely implement new recipes into my life after tour. Some of the promoters and venues we play in are really inspirational too; oftentimes they exist completely outside of the control of any single person or corporation. The most inspiring thing about punk and hardcore to me is that it is (still) a community of young people who are creating and controlling something themselves. The goal isn’t profit or making a smart move for your future - it’s based purely on passion, on doing something you love for the simple fact that you love it. People who take that kind of control of their lives and make things happen for themselves really inspire me, and I try to take that attitude home and implement into my own life. DIY is a lifestyle - not just a way to book shows.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

For those who Get It!

Tour wrap up of sorts. I will honestly say this was the hardest tour I have ever been apart of on a personal level. I was notified that an old friend of mine committed suicide a week into tour. This just put me inside my own head, I didn't feel like talking much to anyone. I didn't feel like I was able to relate to anyone around me. I felt distant and uncomfortable a lot of the time and I was surrounded by friends, but those friends didn't know this other person that was apart of my life. Everyday on tour was a reminder, this person was someone I started going to shows with, someone that I went to high school with, someone that I skateboarded with, someone I defended and someone who defended me. These were the thing's I was processing while I was rereading the same sentence in over and over again on our drives or when I was driving in silence. I realize death is a part of life and we are selfish being's and can never truly understand what the person was thinking when they commit an act like suicide. Everyone has their own breaking point and we all have breaking point's and reach places that no one else knows about. After the last tour and what happened, what kept me somewhat sane, was the fact that it was almost over, this time it was the beginning. I can be a hard person to be around when something is raging inside my head, I don't communicate well and I don't socialize well when I have a lot going on. I like my space, I like being able to figure thing's out and I like being around people who have some sort of attachment to people when something happens like this.

Well besides all that we got to play some really amazing shows on this tour. Ann Arbor, MI was by far one of the best show's we have ever played as a band. It was a great feeling. Rapid City, SD was also another really great show and some great people, plus we drove through the tail end of a tornado and saw Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument. Rainfest weekend was a bit much for all of us, but our set was great and we got to see some really great bands and plenty of friends. Rotting Out, Expire, Like Wolves, Black SS, Punch, Dangers, Not Sorry, Another Breath, Power, Backtrack, Sixes were the highlights for me. Bellingham, WA house show was really rad it felt great to play a packed house show. Vancouver,BC always awesome, so many great people and bands from that city Circles, Vacant state are just 2 of the plethora of ragers. Portland, OR has one of my favorite human being's alive living there right now. Aaron is always a smile that I need and I really needed his company on this tour, we had a day off on this tour in Portland and got to hangout with him an extra day, we played lefty/righty and had an awesome home cooked meal. It was a great night with great people. At our show the night before I was blown away by a single act of kindness, it is something that will always be with me from here on out. This is something that is personal and we share ourselves every night. I will not take that for granted and this act made me realize that we have the ability to touch peoples lives and that our music and ideas do mean something after all. When you tour and play show after show sometimes you forget things, and this made it all very clear and I thank you Alison. The rest of the tour is kind of a blur, Rotting Out crew took care of us in the LA area, Reyes family is our home away from home. Thanks for caring about the band if you came out on this tour, we really are thankful that people care about our band. Sometimes we may not outrightly show it, but we care more about creating music and sharing our ideas more than you know. Touring can be hard and a unforgiving beast and we aren't a band to really cover up our feelings, we feel a vibe, we react to it and we create one of our own sometimes, we are emotional creatures. Not every show is going to be awesome, not every show is going to be life changing, and not every show will be terrible. Well will continue being human and saying the wrong things, fucking up, learning, and living what we call life. Thanks for sharing all of this with us.


Saturday, July 3, 2010