Here you go, guys, a charming interview with Sucker, a vocalist and a founder of the two outstanding german bands Oxymoron and Bad Co. Project that are making Mohican tunes for punks and skins.
__Thank you very much for the interview, Sucker. We would like to start asking what was the thing that got you into punk. There was a big scene going on or there was any special band that brought you to all this madness?
Well, when I was a kid of about fourteen I listened to music a lot already... some older friends of mine (and I always used to hang out with older kids actually...) they were into the early hardcore sound and that crossover stuff, which was quite new back in the mid/late 80's... so I finally got some punk rock records into my hands as well, and I instantly loved this kind of music, the attitude, the style... everything about it!
It was at a time when not many real punk bands were around anymore, the first and second shock wave of punk was already over... but a few still existed. I didn't care though if it was the right time for it or not, so I cut my first mohawk with fifteen (and kept it for about fifteen years more... before I got too lazy for spiking it, to be honest...!) and loved the feeling when passers-by stared at me probably wondering if I was mentally damaged or something... It felt like being different - some kind of rebel - and had this message and attitude against authorities that I hated anyway... so it gave me energy and a purpose, made me also think about what's going on in our hypocritical society... let's say: it just FIT me perfectly!
__You always wanted to have a band or it was something that came along with the love for punk rock?
It came along but I actually wanted to play music anyway. So a few years later I decided to found a band of my own, and since there were almost no other real punk bands around in those days, me and my friends especially wanted to play this kind of music - even if nobody seemed interested in it anymore...
Best idea I had in my life I guess...
__Talking about Oxymoron now, how was it to be in a punk rock band back in the beginning? There was no internet for planning tours or spread your music around the globe.
No, there was nothing like that...! We had a few printed fanzines in the scene back then - done DIY by people who wanted to keep the movement alive - that you could buy at shows for small money (to cover some printing costs at least...)
So kids were informed about what was going on in other cities (or other countries), could find out about new bands and read reviews about new records... And that was like people came to know about Oxymoron in the first place - we received some great reviews for our first releases, and so the first local and later international promoters got in touch with us and offered us some decent shows and tours, playing to bigger crowds and in other countries...
That was how punk rock was working back then. We got real posted letters from everywhere, even from abroad, as far as Jakarta/Indonesia... and that was how we got in touch with the first record labels, too - via mail.
Nowadays everything's a lot easier. People probably can't imagine how it was to correspond worldwide without the internet at all...
Or is there any band today which would buy tickets and fly to the States just because somebody you've never seen nor talked to invited you in one of these letters to come and do a tour there...?!? Well, this was a totally chaotic affair in the end, but no one cared... although we had to break into a warehouse one night to have a place to sleep and sometimes spent 20 hours (honestly!) in the car between two shows in order to arrive in time... We just enjoyed being on the road! This was our first time in the US in 1996, and it was us & Braindance (UK) with The Casualties as support...
__Some brazilian punks say that the look of a studded belt with braces is "Oxymoron style". Do you agree with that? Was it any shocking or new for punks when you started to do that? There was already an Oi! scene with punks and skins?
Really? Hahaha... I didn't know that!!!
Apparently I just liked that fusion, wearing kind of a skinhead-punkrocker mixture of clothes... But you're probably right - in those days kids normally didn't mix the styles... I never liked uniforms, and punkrock basically meant for me "do what you wanna do and don't give a damn what anybody else expects you to do" - perhaps this was a personal reaction or kind of an expression of this freedom haha...
I don't think it was shocking for anyone though, at best some people were wondering about my strange outfit... *lol*
Skunk is just what I'd call it, like the word used for the music of bands like Blitz with skin and punk members... and the scene was indeed getting more like a crucible or a pool where both fractions went to shows and were hanging out together. Politics wasn't such a big problem yet...
__In Brazil the street punk/Oi! scene is getting bigger but there still some animosity between some punks and skins. As the conservatism grows around the world, the Oi! scene seems to become pretty tolerant with nationalists and fascists. Meanwhile, some punk bands have to say that they stand for the most obvious thing: They are Anti-racism and Anti-fascism. Do you have something similar going on in Germany right now? What are your thoughts on that?
For me it's totally normal to be anti-racist and anti-fascist as a punk rocker... because punk was meant to be against leaders in general and the upper class, that pulls the strings, not against others due to a different skin colour...
Well, that doesn't mean I'm automatically PC for some narrow-minded left wing idiots who behave the same way nazis do - being as ignorant as they are and thinking they have the only opinion that counts, too... the world is not only black and white, that would be too easy and convenient and that's not how it works!
You have to see the whole cake and not just the slice on your own plate... But you also have to draw a line between people you can live with concerning their views etc. and people you cannot tolerate at all. In Germany it's the same tendencies, especially since a lot of refugees are flooding Europe - many people are afraid these "strangers" will eat their piece of cake, so the nationalists are gaining ground again. They should be ashamed if you ask me, because they're only looking what's on their own plate, not if anybody else has a plate at all...
In the Oi! scene it's been a couple of years ago when suddenly right wing "skins" appeared to infiltrate it once again. We have to keep our eyes open and react if there is a reason, and that is what promoters have to do as well, to make sure certain people don't get in at shows for example or that obviously nazi-tolerant bands don't play at festivals. As I said before it's not easy - so while I do agree that it's necessary to kick the nazi scum out of our scene, there's on the other side these "pc people" that declared us a "grey zone" band already, because we didn't fit into their political views either... you can't win!
__Oxymoron disbanded in 2002 and the first album by Bad Co. Project Sucker Stories only came up in 2006. You were doing something connected with music on this big gap?
First of all I really needed a break and some time to figure out what happened with Oxymoron and why... suddenly being without the band was a big switch for me after ten years of touring etc. so it took a while to recover. When I was ready for more music I started writing songs again - most of which appeared on the first BAD CO. album only four years after Oxy's split up, so it wasn't a real big gap in between... was it?
__Was it any hard to break the routine of being "a guy from a band" for such a long period? No rehearsal, no gigs...?
Yes, I have to admit it was... yet even harder than this was for me that there was no audience anymore - nobody who tells you that you're doing something well...
For some time I had kind of an identity crisis to be honest, feeling useless in a certain way, because nothing I did gave me the same satisfaction, nor similar feedback - it felt like something was missing...!
__We know you're also an artist with an unique and skilled style of drawing /check out the arts at www.ss-graphics.de/. When did your drawing impulse arise? Did you draw all of your life? Where people can find your arts?
I used to draw a lot when I was younger - actually as long as I can remember... When we were busy with the band and on the road a lot there was just not enough time and I had other priorities with the music. I started again after Oxymoron's split when I tried to make a living off graphic design and was getting more into artwork & comic style once again. I've done covers, booklets, posters etc. for a lot of bands (Mad Sin, Bonecrusher, Pistol Grip, Towerblocks, The Gonads etc.) and for a few years there's been a couple of record labels I worked for on a regular basis, but now most of them don't exist anymore (thanks to the download mania)...
__Are you connected with any record label in Germany or abroad? If so, tell us how is the work of picking bands.
With Oxymoron we had a close relationship with Knock Out Recs. which was one of the best punk & Oi! labels for many years (and put out all our albums), also with GMM in the USA (Mark Noah's from the Anti Heros) and Helen of Oi! Recs. (in the first few years) - and none of them is around anymore today...
There's been many others I was in contact with and know personally, but nowadays it's totally different since only a few active labels are left that still put out records at all. Times changed a lot - bands just upload their songs on youtube and most kids don't buy CDs or vinyl anyway, so labels aren't as important as twenty years ago...
In Germany my favourite label at the moment (that Bad Co. also work with) is Contra Recs. because they're good people with a real punkrock heart. These guys just release every band they like and can afford to press and support the scene.
__Talking about Bad Co. Project, I read that on the first album you basically recorded all the instruments (except for drums and keyboards), and after that, some friends from other bands came along to form the band. It is too difficult to find people who really want to be in a punk rock band nowadays?
No, it wasn't hard to find the proper members at all. Berlin is still a punkrock city with many bands around, and you know a shitload of musicians playing for one of them if you live here... Bad Co. still has the same line-up from the very beginning except one guitarist we had to substitute because our old one moved back to Spain where he originally came from. Yeah, it's gotta be like a gang if you ask me - otherwise the band can't be credible and convincing...
When we recorded the first album the actual idea was only to do an album with the songs I still had in storage, not to play live. It was easier to do it as a two-piece, so I asked Andy (our drummer, formerly playing many years for Mad Sin) if he would do it with me, and he was in for it immediately. Yes, it's right that I've done all the rest (except sax) in the studio. This experience was definately worth it, but I realized at the same time that it doesn't feel like a real band if you play everything yourself. Since people were asking for shows when 'Sucker Stories' came out I decided to gather some friends that are good musicians, too, and form the band we are now, not a "project " any longer...
__'Sucker Stories' and 'Mission Mohawk' are two great albums. Do you think you reached exactly the sound you wanted with the band?
I guess you almost never exactly get the sound want, not if you put the level you want to achieve very high, and I always did that... never satisfied until it's very close to perfect for me, so it's rather trying to get as close to your expectations as possible.
But Mission Mohawk at least is basically pretty much what I wanted it to sound like, let's say 90%...
__I saw some footage of a Bad Co. gig and you still play some songs from Oxymoron live. There is one special that makes the crowd to go crazy? What's you favorite to perform by the way?
Yes, we always play a couple of Oxy songs live - people want to hear them, so why not...? But we decided that the majority of songs always has to be Bad Co. songs, since we don't want to be a cover band - and I prefer the new songs anyway, otherwise it would be pointless to put out new albums at all, wouldn't it...?
It's great to see the crowd go crazy on every song, but it's even better to notice that the Bad Co. songs get more and more the same response like the old ones... Some favourites of mine at the moment are All U Kids, Mission Mohawk or Life's Bitch... but we try to change the setlist regularly.
__A lot of bands say great things about South East Asian (Indonesia, Malaysia etc.) punk scene. Do you know anything about it?
Just a little bit - I'm in touch with a couple of Indonesian bands for example (e.g. Error Crew) that I know for many years already, and met some of them in Jakarta when I was there for honeymoon with my wife... it would be awesone to play there some day, but I guess it's too expensive for promoters to cover the travel costs...
__You have already toured far away from Germany in lands with totally different culture from european. Do you have some vivid moments to remember when you had some¨cultural shock¨ or something that impressed you? Did you have time to discover the countries while touring?
We never had really much time to see anything else from the countries we toured than venues, bars and clubs... Sometimes we could use the opportunity on an offday though, and that was always worth it... like some canyon trip in the USA, temple grounds in Japan or the Red Square in Moscow... The only real cultural shock was the first time in Japan so far, just because it's totally different in every aspect of life - most impressing was the way people there were dealing with each other, with much more respect than in western countries... I had the impression it's a lot less violent and haven't had the feeling of being in danger at all in Tokyo (the biggest city in the world), like the opposite to places in Germany or America. Some people at the shows were wearing these white masks you might know from hospitals and I wondered if they were afraid of getting infected by something - in the end I found out it's not to protect themselves but they were a little sick and just didn't want to infect others... crazy, eh? Tokyo is quite a science fiction scenery anyway, and at the same time you recognize these ever present traditional roots of the Japanese, who are absolutely reliable and strongly honor-bound. The friends we made there I'm very grateful for in any case - Arrigato!
__How would you estimate punk movement nowadays, comparing with early years? Is it active enough, developing or breaking? Would you like it to be changed in some aspects?
I think worldwide it's still alive, but it's declining in the countries where it actually came from or started, like the UK, Germany or the US - on the other hand it's much bigger now in other countries like South East Asia... It's always been up and down here, too, so maybe in a few years it's gonna be strong again in Europe...
In the early years here it was harder, you had to fight for being a punk and always got into trouble - with disco kids, the police, other subcultures... Nowadays you can walk down the street with a mohawk and it's kind of part of the city view, nobody is really shocked anymore, which is a lot different and more easy to dress up like this. Still it's great to see there's new bands forming and kids keeping the spirit alive... punk's not dead yet!!!
__What's your favorite band at the moment and your all time favorite one?
At the moment my faves from younger/newer bands are Arkada Social (basque country), Sniper 66 (US), Lion's Law (F), Agitators (RUS), Baboon Show (Sweden) and a few more...
My all time faves would probably be the Exploited (Wattie's really a decent guy), Cobra (from Japan - we toured there together in 2011 and they are all great people), Motörhead (RIP Lemmy), Blitz (RIP Nidge)... maybe Extrabreit (from Germany - "Superheroes" is my cover version, theirs is the original...) and definately KISS (but ONLY music-wise...!)
__Which band was the best one to share stage with as a fan for you?
__When we will hear more of your "Sucker Stories"? New record by Bad Co. to be recorded soon?
It's already pre-recorded here at my home, so I've got enough songs written for at least one more album now... We plan to start working on the material soon and hopefully get the first songs recorded this winter... but we're lazy cunts and not in a hurry, so let's see what happens...
__You've been saying in some interviews that the punk scene became smaller in traditional countries like the U.S.A. and Japan. There's still some different countries that you want to visit with Bad Co. Project? Have you ever been invited to play in Brazil or South America?
No, I've never been there... It's a real pity because just before we stopped playing with OXYs we had an offer for a tour in Brazil & Mexico (if I still get that right...) so it was bad timing! But I'd love to play there with Bad Co. Project...!!! As far as I know from Wattie, Colin from GBH and various others who've been there it's gotta be a blast... huge audiences and very appreciating crowds... you agree haha??? Come on, get us over!!!
__We would like to say thank you so much for your time, Sir! Send a message for the fans or any punk rock kid around the world who wants to start a band.
Just do it!!! But be yourself, believe in yourself - and don't try to copy nobody so don't be a clone of someone else... only if it's coming straight from your heart you will achieve anything real and people can believe in what you're doing... and ENJOY!!!
Cheers a lot!
O Leopardo is a ska band formed in 2015 in Belo Horizonte. The band started as a new project of singer / guitarist Bruno Moreno, a well-known figure in the local underground scene who hadn't shown this skanking dance before. But the time to release "the leopard" from a jail had come.
Being formed in the streets of Belo Horizonte in 2015 O Leopardo's line-up made of Bruno Moreno (band Irônika), Tomaz Petrillo (bands Eckolu, No voice), Filipe Otacílio and Lucas Moura (band Karniça di Garage). Their songs are in portugues and have elements of ska, reggae, surf music and mambo.
The name O Leopardo refers to what is wild and instinctive. The fusion of rock with the balance of tunes emanating from the tropics, it has a "hot" character of the music from the third world coming from the band's sounds. Their songs are about dilemmas and amusements of contemporary youth, love and war, the city and the world.
So the music of O Leopardo is an explosive mix involving playful, popular and dancing notes. Hot like summer love, fascinating like the attack of a wild cat - it makes you feel like dancing in the concrete jungles!
Check out the O Leopardo's EP on the bandcamp
Lower Class Brats is a band from Austin, Texas (USA) that has been active since the beginning of 1995. Although they sound like great street punk band flavoured with sing alongs and passionate strong vocals with catchy hooks, the Brats calls theirs sounds like “Rock ‘n roll street noize”, just like the name of one of their EP`s.
The current line up is: Bones (Vocals), Marty Volume (Guitar), Ron Conflict (Bass), Punt (drums)
__ We would like to start asking: Do you guys continue to be safety pinned and sick?
Yes. Although it's been over twenty years since we wrote that song. We still play it live at every gig. Some of us might need "Safety Depends" soon! Ha!
__ What came first: The love for punk rock or for Clockwork Orange?
For me, they came about the same time. I first saw the film in 1981 while staying over at a friend's house on cable television (HBO). That same friend had an older brother (we were eleven and he was sixteen) who was into punk rock. We used to listen to all of his records whenever we could. The first punk record I ever heard was at his house, Black Flag "Jealous Again". Five songs in 6.5 minutes. That was about the average length of a hit song on the radio back then. Completely bizarre art on the cover. Everything was so confusing and intriguing. My life changed forever that year...
__ What got you into the idea of being in a band back on the beggining?
I fell in love with rock n roll at a very young age. In 1975/'76 I discovered KISS. I was six years old. My dad was a musician, so it was in my blood. In 1979, my dream came true and my mom took me to my very first KISS concert. It was all over from then on out. I had to be on stage. I thought to myself, "I could do that!"
__ How did you choose the name? Is the "Brats" somehow connected with the russian word "Brat" for brother?
No, it's not. The name actually came from the liner notes of the original cassette version of The Germs "Germicide" on Roir. It described the band and their fans as "lower class brats." I have always been a huge Germs fan.
__When you discovered the Adicts you had something like a feeling of "Fuck! That's exactly what I had on my mind" ?
No. Not really. They are a really great band and good friends of ours. But The Adicts are The Adicts. There is only one. We never set out to copy anyone. We took what we liked from people, things and music that influenced us and incorporated it into our own. The Clockwork Orange imagery aside, why people compare us to The Adicts is beyond me. We look nothing like them, we sound nothing like them, we dress nothing like them. But they do have good style...
__The Lower Class Brats have something different in their sound. I saw you guys saying in some interviews that you like different kinds of music like hard rock or even rap. Is that correct? How does this effect the band's sound?
Yes! Definitely! Our collective musical tastes would make your head spin! Like I said, we take from a lot of different influences to get our sound. Heavy 70's rock, glam, punk and bits of metal all go into our music. You'll notice that the older you get, the more your musical horizon opens up. I don't really hate any kind of music anymore. There are things that I definitely don't like listening to or records I would never buy. But you have to give it all a chance first before throwing it in the trash. And you never know, you might just find some gold.
__ More than 30 years past since you firstly read A Clockwork Orange book and saw the movie. What was the first thing that impressed you about this piece of art that time? Do you find something new for yourself that inspires you after rewatching the movie or thumbing through the pages of the book over again?
I didn't end up reading the book until I was in my first year of high school in 1983/'84. A few years after I saw the film. Reading the book after seeing the movie really blew me away! Just the flow of the writing, Anthony Burgess was an incredible author. He really painted an awesome picture in your head while you read it. Also, to help you understand, you would have the Nadsat dictionary in the back of those early editions of the American book, but they all were published without the 21st chapter. The American edition ended where the movie ended. It wasn't until 1987 that Rolling Stone Magazine first published the 21st chapter that anyone in the States was able to read the real ending. It made everything make more sense. It's the story of youth anger, music, depression and freedom of choice. Be right mined or wrong minded. No mater what, think for yourself. I think we all see a little part of us in the anti-hero...
__ The band has more than 20 years now and, as many other members had left, Bones and Marty kept together holding the LCB Army. How is to work with someone for such a long time? Do you think your friendship is what keeps the band going?
I'm not going to lie and say that it's been easy. It's been a long, hard road, but it's been a lot of fun and continues to be a lot of fun! And, yes, me and Marty's friendship is the common thread that has held the band together. After the fist members left the band in 2001, Marty and I made a pact. If one of us (Marty or myself) leaves the band for ANY reason, Lower Class Brats is over. He will not go on without me and I won't continue LCB without him.
__ How do you see the street punk/punk rock scene in America nowadays? Is it much smaller than before?
No way. It's different now days as compared to 20 years ago. But scenes fluctuate all the time. I have been around the world and Los Angeles has the biggest punk scene. Hands down.
__ When and how was your first contact with Oi! and skinheads? I know you guys are appreciated by Punks, Skins, Rock n rollers, droogs and so on...
My first introduction to skinheads was very early on when I first got into punk. About half of my friends were skinheads growing up, so I saw no difference between them and the punks. I still don't. Growing up in the 80's listening to Circle Jerks, 4Skins, Dead Kennedys or The Business, it was all the same to me. Still is. In fact, we will be headlining the Midwest Live & Loud 2016 this coming Saturday night. The attendance will probably be mostly skinheads. That's fine with me.
__ The Lower Class Brats had released many albums in this 20 years, can you pick a favorite one? And which one you had the most fun recording?
That's like asking a parent to pick his favorite child! That's not fair. Only if you promise not to tell the rest of our records. The most fun I ever had recording has to be when we recorded our first demo tape (which eventually became the "Who Writes Your Rules... EP"). Everything was so new and exciting. My favorite release is harder. I would have to say our second album, "The Plot Sickens". Only because the band was really starting to come together and getting it's/our own sound.
__ How do you guys plan tours? Do you book it by yourself? How is the process of picking the next country?
For the past 15 years we have gone through Crawlspace Booking here in the States. Booking agency's in other countries vary. But anyone looking to book us anywhere in the world must first contact Crawlspace Booking.
__ Did you ever got in a really terrible situation while touring? I mean, problems with the transport, food, money...
How much time do you have? Any band that has been touring for as long as we have, have their fair share of really depressing road stories. I'll give you one. At the end of our first tour of Europe, we were playing a show in Holland with Chaos U.K. After the gig, we decide to have our driver drop us off at the nearest coffee shop as he went to go park the van and check into the hotel. We ended up back at the hotel late and when we woke up in the morning, all of our equipment was stolen out of the van. The only thing left was our merch. Our driver said that he couldn't fit our van into the secured hotel parking and left it on the street. Having two gigs left and no equipment, we decided to cancel the shows and head home. When we got to the airport in Germany, we found that we only had a collective amount of money for three plane tickets. Marty was almost left behind until we could send him money the next day after the next day from the States. This being before 9/11 and also by having a really nice flight attendant who was checking us in and saw our dilemma and rushed Marty on our plane at the last minute without a ticket very secret style. It was a really bad experience, but it also shows you how kind some people are and want to help.
__ You guys played in different parts of the world and even came down to Latin America playing in Mexico. How was to play there and how was the latino punk scene? Did you feel any difference from the USA?
To tell you the truth, we only played border towns in Mexico. We played Mexicali and Tijuana. So it wasn't like really playing down deep in Mexico.
__ The members have jobs out of the band? Does that disturb the band routine?
Yes. We all work day jobs. No, not really. We tend to plan things around our work schedules.
__ The last release by LCB was "Rock n' Roll Street Noize" that made the fans very happy. Knowing that the band is keeping the quality high after its 20 years anniversary, everybody is excited to know when we will listen to new stuff. Do you have any news for us?
Yes. We have just finished recording 16 new songs for a new album. 12 of them will make it on the LP. It is being mixed down right now and we still have to add piano. We will have a new 7" EP coming out before the LP is released titled "All The Young Dudes Are Pissed" with the B-side "We Never Sleep". The 7" is almost completed and ready to go to press. We have also just released "Primary Reinforcement Plus" which is the very first six 7"s (1995-1999) on one LP. That is a split release between Loud Punk Records and our very own label, Orphan Records Group.
__ Are there any friendbands with whom you often share the stage on different punk shows? Which band was special to share the stage with as a fan for you? And which band that you didnt know before impressed you live?
The one band that we have shared the stage with more than any other has to be The Casualties. The second band would be the Krum Bums. We are lucky and have got to share the stage and tour with a lot of our musical heroes Cock Sparrer, Circle Jerks, The Adicts, Subhumans, Anti-Nowhere League, Agnostic Front, The Business, Negative Approach, Rancid, Vice Squad, Anit-Heros, UK Subs... The list goes on. We have been very fortunate.
__ How is the process of song writting? Everybody in the band brings new songs to try?
It usually works like this: Marty brings in the riffs, Ron and Punt work around it to come up with a structure and the lyrics come last. Although this is not alway the case 100% of the time, but usually.
__ Thank you so much for the interview! Send a message for the punk droogs and for every kid in the world who wants to start a punk rock band.
We hope to come visit soon! If you are just starting a band, stick to your guns. Don't try and play music that you think other people want to hear unless that's the type of music you really want to play. Think for yourself and not other people (don't preach). "If you build it, they will come." Hahaha! Thanks again for the interview!!
Jack is a member of many bands such as toyGuitar, Dead To Me and Swingin' Utters, but he's also the founding member of the classical band One Man Army and have toured with the US Bombs as a bass player. Even being on tour right now with toyGuitar, Jack found some time to talk to us.
__ Please, start telling us where and when you love for music started.
I guess my love for music really started with my cousin Jeff. He was always in bands playing music. He would show me Ramones and New York Dolls stuff. How to play guitar, how to hold chords..it was him man. He played in Johnny Thunders's band before he died. Also, skateboarding. Skating got me into a lot more punk music.
__ Which band got you to be addicted to punk rock?
First band that got me into punk rock? Hmm, deff the Ramones, clash, dolls. I dunno..it was a long time ago haha.
__ One Man Army was formed in 95, did you have any goal back then or it was just about having fun?
The goal? We wanted to have fun. That's what it was and always will be. That's what everyone in every band should aspire to achieve. Anything else that happens after fun is a bonus.
__ OMA had something different from the other bands of that time, much because of your guitar skills. Did you always feel secure about using them or, because it was punk rock, you maybe thought about making it simpler?
I think my guitar playing is absolutely terrible! I've never really learned how to hold anything other that simple chords or bar chords. It's all about how you put them together.
__ Which differencies you see in fans and public in general from those days to today? Is this kind of audience smaller nowadays?
I think for the most part, shows are still the same maybe? All those people that were at OMA shows are older now, like me haha. So when I play deadtome, or now toyGuitar shows, the crowd is a lot younger, which is really cool. It's always changing, and changing for the better too. I think people at shows these days are generally more tolerant and accepting of other people and other cultures.
__ What you had in mind when you started Dead To Me? It was just about keeping the show on, or you wanted to do something different from your previous band?
I really wasn't even looking to be in another band when OMA broke up. I got a phone call from my best friend Brandon, who was OMA's original drummer. He said, "hey I've been playing with this guy chicken..you should come down and play some guitar with us. We're just fucking around." I told him ya totally, as long as I don't have to sing. That worked out great huh, haha. With DTM it was more about moving from me being the solo writer in OMA to working together with chicken for the DTM stuff. It really gave it such a unique sound I feel like. It just kinda took off. I don't think any of us were really trying ya know?
__ OMA eventually returned with a great EP called "She's an Alarm", but unfortunelly, Heiko passed away a little bit after that. You had more plans for the band besides this EP? It must have been hard times, feel free to answer or not.
I don't know that we (OMA) had big plans to come back and be a band again or anything. I think we hang out and play a couple shows here and there. So when Heiko passed that all just went with him sadly. I have no interest in ever doing OMA shows without him. It hurts too much. I think about him everyday, and I still find stuff of his around my house when I'm cleaning sometimes. His ghost is strong haha.
__ US BOMBS tour stories are known for being gnarly and destructive, how was the experience of touring with them?
It was gnarly and destructive haha. Duane missed the first week of shows, so we (bombs) had to get our friend Tom Leroy to come sing them while Duane was gone. The rest of the stuff that happened will stay on the road and out of print..dems the rules. Sorry!!
__ How the invitation to be a part of Swingin Utters happened? You actually fit the band so much, that probably a lot of people imagine that you were there at the beggining.
I've actually been in the utters since 2005. It's the band I've been in the longest, and along with DTM and toyGuitar..my best friends. Darius asked me, literally right when OMA broke up. Which was crazy, because I've been a Swingin Utters fan since their beginning. The utters made me want to start OMA. I'm still a fan playing with the utters. I'm very lucky.
__ I guess there's no one else on this business that we can call workaholic over you. How do you know for which project the song is going when you're creating it?
Oh there's people that work so much harder than I do. I do work hard, but it's at being a good dad and husband first, then music after that. I don't really know how to split up the songs I write. I guess there's just something i hear ya know? Like a certain chord that would sound like DTM? Or I hear Johnny's voice in my head on a part making it an utters song. The songs I'm super proud of I'll show miles, cuz he's such a crazy good musician. He's really pushed me to be better. He's my most fav dude in the whole world to write and play music with. Those songs I show him are always almost toyGuitar songs. It's all feel i guess haha.
__ Tell us what ToyGuitar meant when it was born and what does it mean today.
I started toyGuitar because I had a lot of songs accumulating and I wanted to play some of them. I would torture miles when we would tour together in the utters. So from the beginning he really had no choice but to play in toyGuitar or our relationship in the utters would have been strained haha. I don't know what meaning it has to anyone else, but for me it's really about family. I love these people I play with. It transcends just being people who play together in bands. I live, love and breath my friends in toyGuitar.
__ How would you describe ToyGuitar style and how different is the audience from the pogo dancers you are used to?
I don't know how to describe the style of toyGuitar. To me it just feels like the music we like playing. I don't know how to communicate how it feels. I don't know if people think it's punk or not, ya know? Like if they can dance or not dance to it. I do see a lot of people dancing at toyGuitar shows. I also don't care if they think that it is or isn't "punk". I've always felt that way about everything I've been apart of. I just want them to like it. I think it's important to listen music without genre limitations. Listen to what you want to listen to, or don't.
__ The great "Moving Like a Ghost" got released recently. How satisfied you are and how fans are reacting to this new piece of work?
The Move like a ghost release went great! Thanks! People seem to be digging it. I love where the toyGuitar vibe sits on FAT wreck. I feel like it's the weirdest sounding shit, sonically speaking, on FAT. They've been so supportive and have helped us a lot too. We're having a blast playing the new record on tour right now!
__ Do you know anything about Brazilian music?
Uhh..like Sepultura? Right?
__ Any chance to see you and one of your bands in Brazil or South America?
That would be amazing!! I don't know how to go about getting over there. It's been a dream of mine for a long time! I will keep trying I guess haha.
__ What's next for Jack Dalrymple?
Well, I'm on tour at the moment with toyGuitar. We are playing in Vancouver Canada tonight, almost to the border. For the next 3 weeks, I'll be in a van. I think after that, the utters and dtm will be working on new songs, so probably that.
__ Jack, thank you very much! Send a message for your brazilian fans and to every kid around the world who wants to start a punk rock band.
Thank you so much! Thank you for the interest, and for the love. It truly means more than you know. A message? From me? Uh...start a band with your friends, have fun! When it's not fun, do something else thats fun.
Operation Ivy is a distinctive band from Berkeley, California, USA that existed just two years from 1987 to 1989 but laid the foundation for a new wave of ska closely interwoven with other styles like punk rock and hardcore. The name of the band comes from a series of nuclear weapons tests called Operation Ivy conducted by the United States.
Personalities who made up Operation Ivy were Jesse Michaels (vocals), Tim ‘Lint’ Armstrong (guitar, vocals), Matt ‘McCall‘ Freeman (bass, vocals) and Dave Mello (drums).
We would like to offer you a juicy and fresh interview with Jesse Michaels provided by Ilya Kasyanenko, a moderator of a very informative community ...And Out Come The Rancid devoted mainly but not limited to works of the members of the Rancid.
BTW in 2015 Ilya with Lyosha Livadniy created a booklet dedicated to the Operation Ivy album Energy. It’s a d.i.y book includes a Russian translation of all the songs from the album and a translated article with rare pictures of the band members where Tim and Matt talk about their childhood, acquaintance and early years of the friendship. This interesting work is available here, but for Russian speakers only :)
interview with Jesse Michaels
__ Did your desire to do music appear spontaneously or did you want to devote yourself only to it from your childhood?
I started doing music when I was around 12. Me and a friend liked punk music. We didn't know how to play but we decided to make music with a tape recorder and a guitar. He later started the band Crimpshrine. I went on to play in many bands, eventually Opivy.
__ Could you recall now a song that you heard in your childhood and which you can`t get out of your head?
Alternative Ulster by Stiff Little Fingers.
__ Did you study well at school? Could you tell us a little bit about your childhood?
I was a poor student. Interested in other things. Even though i wanted to do well in school, I just couldn't make myself do it and I dropped out. Much later, at age 40, I went back to college and graduated with honors. I studied literature. I don't know why I could do it when I was grown up but I could not do it when I was a kid.
__ What had you fancy for, besides art, before fate brought you to Gilman?
I used to be into monster movies when I was a little kid - Godzilla, Frankenstein, and so on. then I got into Dungeons and Dragons. Then I was really into comic books. When I was 12 I got into punk and forgot about everything else.
__ Was Crimpshrine your first band or were there some other bands before?
I was not in Crimpshrine. I played with those guys before they started Crimpshrine. I was in several bands as a kid. I sang for a hardcore band called "Outlash" and played drums for a metal band called "Necropolis" but I got kicked out because I was not a good drummer.
__ Tell us about the Gilman of your youth as it was seen by Jesse Michaels.
It was pretty fun and it was like a club house for me and my friends. It was our place. At the same time, it had too many rules and was too political. I mean, i am interested in political ideas but they tried to control how people think too much. Sometimes I like just a regular punk club. However, it was still a great place where I learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and saw many great bands.
__ How did you make acquaintance of Tim? And where did your desire to form a band come from?
I knew him through my friend Aaron (Crimpshrine). In Berkeley in the 80s everybody who was into punk would eventually meet each other because there was a lot fewer punk kids than there are now. I remember I met him on the street once and then later I met him at a party. He showed me how to pour from a beer keg properly. That is probably one of the first things he showed me.
__ Lyrics of Op Ivy are notable for its socially sensitive subjects, as for example in The Crowd or Vulnerability. When 'Energy' was released you were 20-22 years old, it`s the age when you think about girls and parties. Where does your revolutionary trait come from? Or did you always stand for the truth?
I was 18. Yes it is very political and philosophical. I was very unhappy and repressed and uptight. Now I wish I had been better at just having fun and fucking. I was too serious and I hated myself. However, I guess some good songs came out of it so that's cool.
__ Among our readers there are a lot of young musicians who tour just like you were hitchhiking from one city to another or going by road buses. It would be interesting if you tell us a funny story of Op Ivy times that happened to you on the road?
We played at a house where nobody ever stopped partying. They were a bunch of crazy alcoholics. Finally we went to sleep and they just kept going. They had a mosh pit in the living room even though there was no band playing, they were just listening to records and they started a pit. I slept in a hallway on the second floor. Somebody stepped over me while I was asleep and opened a door near my head. The door went to the outside even though it was 30 feet off the ground on the second floor. He pissed out the door. A freezing wind blew in. It was a nightmare. Things like this happened a lot.
__ What did you feel when Gilman started more and more to look like a talent show, not just a club, where like-minded people get together?
I don't think that really happened. Gilman hasn't changed very much and it has stayed true to most of it's original principles.
__ Have you ever a temptation to follow an example of Green Day or Sweet Baby Jesus and become a part of a major label?
Yes, if the money was right and we had good people and we were not getting ripped off, I would do it. I don't think being successful is a crime and I don't think punk has an obligation to stay underground. Have fun and do what you want. I would have not done it in the old days but it was a different world. Punk was very underground and major labels just ripped off and exploited punk bands. But now the people at the big labels understand it and there are ways that a band can stay true to their music and message and still be successful. You have to make a living. Music is a very, very hard road. It is fine when you are a teenager to say, "never sell out!" but when you hit 30 and 40 you have to think about how you are going to live in the world. I appreciate bands that stay underground but I do not judge or dislike bands that sign up with a major label. I would rather my friends be successful than broke but "perfect." fuck that. I am not saying big labels are good, I am just saying every situation is different and a band or individual should do what is in their heart. However, all that being said, I would not have signed with Opivy to a major label. when I say I might do it I mean with a different band later. Opivy was meant to be underground and I am glad we stayed that way.
__ The 28th of September, 1989. Gilman Street . Operation Ivy declared from the stage that it was their last show (though I read somewhere that it was the last but one). Does it means that you knew it previously that the band would break up? What were the reasons for it, were they creative disagreement or the desire to be always remembered as “a little, but an independent band from Berkeley that made influence on all modern punk scene”?
No I had no idea we would be much of an influence. We knew we were breaking up. We broke up because we didn't get along and we were tired of fighting. It was better. There was no desire to be remembered as a small independent band, I think I may have said something like that just so I wouldn't have to explain it.
__ We all know quite well who is Jesse Michaels, but for those who hear about East Bay and Op Ivy for the first time could you describe yourself in 3 key words?
artist, sensitive, sober
__ What band that played in Gilman Street impressed you most of all?
I saw many many good shows there but for some reason the one that made the biggest impression was Naked Raygun, even though they weren't my favorite band. They blew me away because even though they didn't move they had awesome stage presence.
__ What is your favourite Op Ivy song?
I don't listen to my own music but if I had to pick one it would probably be Sound System. My favorite songs to sing when I was in the band were The Crowd, Big City and Take Warning.
__ What was inspiring you to write lyrics for the band? Judging by their meaning the source of inspiration was far from something cheerful.
The unfairness of the world and the suicidal insanity of the human race where the subjects. The motivation was my own personal inner pain and conflict.
__ What does the Op Ivy logo mean? Who is that vaulting guy?
I just wanted to make a dynamic figure sort of like the guy from The Circle Jerks. Many people don't realize it but the guy on the cover of the album is the same guy on the cover of the Hectic 7", just filled in black.
__ As any other young band you must have been imagined that you are a band like The Beatles at Shea Stadium. Or were you kids who just wanted to be heard? Tim in the interviews said that even an issue of 'Hectic' was an occasion for a band to rejoice?
Yes, in those days if you got one song on a record it was a big deal. It was just a different world. It was hard to record. Nobody had any money. If you were lucky enough to make an album you usually had to do it in two or three days, a week at the most. The first time I put the needle down on a record I was on it was a strange feeling. Of course I mainly just worried about whether or not my vocals were good.
__ Billie Joe Armstrong says that Op Ivy were like big rock stars who were incomprehensibly brought to a small club in Berkeley . Did you really feel yourself like Led Zeppelin playing in “Leisure Centre for Culture”?
Not really. Billie is a nice guy. He just meant that we had a big energy and big presence. We worked very hard and we played like we were going to die the next day. We were lucky because everybody had their own thing they could do, just like a good basketball team. I don't think the band was perfect and I think there have been many other bands that were better but I do think we were fortunate to have a good combination of people who knew how to commit to performing, and people seemed to enjoy it.
__ Can you tell us in a nutshell how did you help Green Day with writing of 2,000 Light Years Away?
I was in a short lived project with Billie and a couple other people. That was a song we were kicking around. I jammed with him a couple times just for fun. I think I made up the melody of the vocals - that's it. Same with another song that appeared on a later album. No big deal. Happy to help.
__ What were you doing after Op Ivy breakup and before setting up Common Rider with Mass Giorgini?
Mostly drinking. I was a depressed alcoholic. Then I got sober and just worked normal jobs for a few years. Not very productive or interesting. I am sorry to say my twenties were mostly wasted.
__ Your paths with Tim and Matt have often crossed after band`s breakup. You took part in making the design of the Rancid debut album, you appeared with them on the same stage in 2006. And in 2012 you even wrote with Timebomb your common track. Is it possible that one day Op Ivy get together for a couple of shows? For example, in the Gilman?
No. I would play the songs for fun under a different name but Opivy had it's time and place and it is over. If Tim wanted to play some of those songs just for fun I might do it. But really, everybody has their own lives.
__ Do you keep in touch? I know that you enjoyed new album of Tim`s protege band – The Interrupters. Do you consider them as a reincarnation of Op Ivy`s former glory?
No, they are great but they are there own thing. I see and talk to Tim every once in a while. We both live in Los Angeles. It is always nice to see him, we have a lot of history together but we both have our own lives and don't hang out too much.
__ Have you ever thought about writing an autobiography? Larry Livermore`s books about forming Lookout Records are very interesting. Or you nevertheless more concentrated on shooting music clips and painting?
I have thought about it and might do it someday but most of my life I was very, very unhappy - mentally destroyed. So a lot of it would just be like "and then I wanted to die and could barely do anything for six months." Not very interesting. I am much better now but I have had serious problems with depression. I also don't care about writing about music scenes, I think it is incredibly boring. I know other people like it. I write fiction and film scripts. that is what is interesting to me.
__ Do you still believe in ideals of DIY-culture? Do you think that gerontocracy must disappear forever?
I don't know what gerontocracy means. It sounds like being ruled by people who are old. If that is true, I think young people are just as bad. I do believe in D.I.Y. culture but I mean, that could be anything. It can be good or bad. You know, nazi skinheads have D.I.Y. labels and shows. It is not good by itself. But yes, I absolutely believe in people creating their own culture, parties, shows, art and so on. I still to this day prefer house shows above everything else.
__ Do you believe that really talented young people can present themselves with the help of DIY or is it only a dream, nothing else?
Right now, in the US, there are probably 20,000 punk bands. Most of them are terrible but there are plenty of good ones too. there are shows all over the place. So yes, I think it is alive and well.
__ You have most likely heard that now there are difficult relationship between Ukraine and Russia/ That`s why we and our friends released by our common efforts antimilitary compilation 'STOP WARS' (download it), in which 32 bands from all parts of the post-Soviet countries. They call to put an end to the war and start peace dialogue. Do you think that such step on the part of music can really change something in current situation? Or to say it other words – is the power of art equivalent to fight against militarized aggression?
I think the best thing you can do with music is to write about what you like and what is important to you. I don't know if music has ever changed much. Then again, sometimes an artist can galvanize an entire nation so maybe it can. I don't know the answer really. I think that it can make a difference in individual lives which is important.
__ “Unity” is one of the songs which we chose as a hymn of our movement. Evolution's gonna come?
Unity is the natural state of the universe. That song is about truth. Unity is already here, we just don't see it because we are blinded by conditioning. That is my opinion. I still believe in that song and in most of the lyrics.
__ Suppose if Op Ivy existed in 2016, would they continue to play ska-punk or would they change style to playing stuff in the spirit of the new times?
I think the ideal thing would be that Opivy stay exactly the same. I think we had the exact right sound and if we had evolved too much it would not be as good.
__ Many our musicians consider that there’s nothing for them in the home land and that`s why they dream to leave their country and go to the USA. They believe that they will be appreciated and popular/ Is it really so? Or is it just a myth which you can dispel now by your answer?
Well I know that times are tough in many places in the former Soviet Union and Ukraine, and it is hard enough to survive. Playing in a band is a real challenge, I am sure. but it is also hard for bands here. There are so many fucking bands, nobody gives a shit. You have to be REALLY good for anybody to care. Still, there are a lot of bands that do pretty well and have fun. But if anybody thinks they can come out here and be the next Casualties or something, it would probably not happen. You never know though. If your band is super talented and original and you work hard, stuff can happen. The odds are not good. Music is a hard game. When I was a kid, punk was a lot smaller so ANY punk band had a guaranteed audience, just because people went to punk shows. There were fewer of them so people were interested. But these days, there are so many fucking bands, either you have to stand out, or play a very popular genre of music (like retro synthesizer music is big now or whatever) or be really good looking or whatever. By the way, I am not really in the loop as far as shows goes (that means I don't go to shows or know much about it) so I don't really know the answer. I am just sharing my impressions.
__ What would you advise in this case to young musicians, writers, painters? What should they do to represent themselves in the countries where the art wasn`t ever very popular.
Think of a practical way to make a living to support your art and do the best you can. Make your art for the love of it and always try to push the boundaries and make better work. If you are born to be an artistic type you don't have any choice any way. But don't try to rely on it for a living if the interest is not there. Take care of the basics of survival first, that way you can make art forever whether people get it or not. Ultimately though, you have to trust your own instincts - how can I really give advice to somebody I have never met in a situation I don't know anything about? What I said is just what I would do.
__ Would you like to continue music career and get the band together again? That`s concerning plans for the future.
No, I am probably done with music. I want to make movies and books. My interests have changed. However i still love music and it is important in my life.
__Thank you for such frank discussion, Jesse. And thank you for inspiration that we get from your music.
Thank you and best wishes and love to anybody who has ever listened to the music I was involved with.
punk bands /