L7 (USA) Interview

Punk rockers L7 from Los Angeles, USA, achieved commercial and critical success in the early 1990s with albums like Smell the Magic and Bricks Are Heavy. Band Members (f.l.t.r.) Donita Sparks (vocals/guitar), Dee Plakas (drums), Jennifer Finch (vocals/bass) and Suzi Gardner (vocals/guitar) reunited in late 2014 and have since toured extensively. Ahead of L7’s show at Dynamo Saal on June 27th, Milo Schärer of Radio Radius spoke to Donita Sparks about L7’s origins, the band’s new singles and more.

Milo Schärer: Hi, thank you so much for doing this with Radio Radius, it’s really great to have a band like L7 do an interview with us!

Donita Sparks: Thank you very much for having me!

I believe this is your third European tour since your Reunion, so how has it been for you so far?

It’s been amazing, but this tour has been a challenge because our drummer Dee broke her arm right before the flight coming over to Europe, so there’s been a crazy trip this time trying to break in a new drummer. It’s been kind of stressful, so it was really nice to jump into the water here in Zurich.

Well, I hope Dee feels better soon. Is different playing without her?

Dee has a very unique style, which is very straight ahead and she just fits us. She’s very in the pocket with us, and we miss her a lot. The other drummers we’ve played with are great, but they’re not Dee’s style completely, they’ve got their own style. They’re playing their style with L7, so it’s been kind of challenging.

Ok, you’ve played a lot of festivals this year. Which one of those has been your favorite and why?

Oh god. We played a couple of festivals in Scandinavia that were really great. One was called Copenhell and the other was called… I can’t remember. But we’ve been playing a lot of metal festivals, which is kind of strange for us, but we like it. We don’t really consider ourselves a metal band. We have metal influences, but at heart we’re punk rockers.

Alright, if you don’t consider yourselves a metal band, then how would you describe your band in five words?

Heavy, catchy, humorous, angry and melodic.

Alright. You’re from Los Angeles, could you tell us a bit about what kind of music scenes there were in LA when you started out as band and how you personally experienced them?

L7 started in 1985 and there wasn’t a whole lot going on in Los Angeles at the time. Punk rock was kind of fizzling out, and it was sort of in between punk and grunge when we started. So, it was all different kinds of scenes: there was rockabilly, there was new wave, there was roots rock, punk rockers were doing country all of a sudden. It was just a strange scene in LA. Suzi and I were from the art punk underground and we thought it would be interesting to do a band that was heavy, and that’s what we did.

How did you meet Suzi and the others and decide to form L7 together?

Suzi and I met through mutual friends in the art punk underground. We had both worked at the LA Weekly at different times, we had both worked at the same restaurant as waitresses at different times, so we just had a lot of similar friends. We both played guitar, and that was kind of rare, for women to be playing guitar, back then. So, our friends were like: “Why don’t you two get together and see if you like each other’s music?” Suzi played me a tape of hers, and I really liked it a lot, so that’s how we started the band.

And how did Jennifer and Dee get on board?

Jennifer was coming to L7 shows, we had a different bass player and a different drummer. Jennifer is from LA, but she had lived in San Francisco for a while, so she was recently back in LA. She was going to our shows and said: “I want to be your bass player.” And I said: “Do you play bass?”, then she said: “Kind of.” I was like: “Well, you can’t be our bass player.” Then finally, she convinced me to be our bass player. So, she did with pure determination, she got into our band. We weren’t a big band or anything, she was a nuisance who finally talked her way into the band and she worked out to be fucking fabulous. It worked out well. And then Dee we found a year after we got Jennifer in the band, that also came through a mutual friend.

And why the name L7?

I did not want a name that had any gender identification to it, like the something Girls or whatever. I wanted our name to be non-gender-specific and I wanted our music to be also kind of androgynous, so if you listened to us you wouldn’t really be able to tell if we were guys or girls, and I think we kind of achieved that too.

Yes. As you mentioned before, you came from the underground art punk scene originally, so did your commercial success in the early 90s come as a surprise to you, coming from there? How did you feel about commercial success at the time?

We wanted more of it, because we always felt that infiltrating the masses with our message and showing young people that you can be a freak and make it, was… We liked that. We liked getting on TV, we liked getting on the radio. I know that we influenced a younger generation because they were exposed to us. So, we had no problem, and I don’t think any of our peers did either. Some were maybe a little jealous, but we also had peers that were Nirvana, that were huge. I think most of our art punk friends from the 80s were happy for us, because it was just so unbelievable, that we, Suzi and Donita, of all people, were getting success. It was just kind of mind blowing, you know?

Alright, now that you mention your peers, you did tour with a lot of other bands that were successful at the same time, from different scenes. You mentioned Nirvana, but also Bad Religion or Faith No More. Who was your favorite band to tour with and why?

God, we loved all those bands. We also toured with the Beastie Boys, The Breeders and Nick Cave. Touring with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on Lollapalooza was really fun, because they were so miserable on Lollapalooza and we just did a lot of drinking and dancing with them. Nirvana was great, because they were kind of exploding, they were getting huge, and we bore witness to that right up front. We saw them getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. It was like witnessing Beatlemania or something, in real time. It was just really super exciting. That was cool.

During the course of your initial career, you moved from a punk sound on your earlier albums to a bit more of a metallic sound on your later albums. What led to that transition?

I would say that that’s not accurate, I think as time went on we actually incorporated more pop as well as heaviness. We got more poppy too. I think early on, because of our level of musicianship, we were only able to do one thing. We also had to prove ourselves to be a tough band and withheld melody a lot. I listen to our early stuff and I’m like: “Wow, where are the hooks?” Not on Smell the Magic so much, but on our first album. We got better as time went on, and freer to do whatever the hell we wanted. We had pretty vulnerable songs towards the end of our career, in addition to heavy songs, in addition to introducing some whacky instruments, like a Casio. We just kind of felt the freedom to write about whatever we wanted to, but early on we felt we had to be tough all the time and we kind of were, to prove ourselves, you know?

In retrospect, which of the albums you’ve released is your favorite and why?

Ugh. I can’t really answer that, that’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child. I like all of our albums.

I do too. You decided to reunite in 2014, is that correct?

Yes.

What changes have you noticed in the time between your initial run as band and your reunion?

Are you talking about the environment that we’re in or are you talking about the band personally? Because the band personally, I would say we’re all a lot more responsible. We are on time for rehearsals, we don’t keep each other waiting. We’re not messing around, you know? We’re older, we’re more mature, we’re more professional. I think we’re more courteous to each other. I think, years ago, we were less considerate of each other, and I think we’re also more tolerant, now, of each other’s idiosyncrasies and personality types. I think, early on, we sometimes couldn’t understand when we didn’t get along, and I think now we understand that we all have different personality types. That takes a long time to get in your head, you know? And as far as the music scene goes, I will say the only thing I’ve really noticed is that, at these festivals, the backstage is very tame and nobody is partying, nobody is getting loud. It’s very well run, it’s very organized and it’s a little boring backstage. Everybody’s separated, the bands are not hanging out together. I think that’s maybe because the bands are older or something, but I remember when we would play festivals 25 years ago, all the bands we’re hanging out together and drinking, laughing and having fun, you know? So, things have changed in that way.

How do you feel about the response you’ve had from fans or other people since your reunion?

The fan response has been amazing. Our old fans are coming out, they’re actually making it out on a Tuesday night to go see a band that they used to love in their teenage years. And then we have a whole bunch of new fans that discovered us due to YouTube and online stuff. The internet, even though we were absent from it for many years, when they finally started to rediscover us, the internet was really helpful. Facebook, and all the social media platforms, have been really helpful in building the L7 army.

In September, you released Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago, which was your first new music in 18 years. Why did you choose to come back with a song like that, which very specifically references current events?

Well, that song is about a fantasy of a riot happening at Donald Trump’s vacation home called Mar-a-Lago, and he spends a lot of time there. We were just thinking about what the Secret Service thinks about his tweeting and how ridiculous his tweeting is. And we were like: “God, how would those guys respond to a riot going on in real time and Donald Trump is tweeting about it?” We had that song idea, and we thought we had to get it out immediately, because we thought Trump was going to be impeached, right away, and he hasn’t been impeached. It’s still topical, and we felt we had to get it out. So, we did that, and we wanted to take a fun look at it, instead of a very angry look at Trump. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the song Springtime for Hitler, which is a song from the Broadway musical The Producers. So, it’s our Springtime for Hitler.

You also released a second Single recently, I Came Back to Bitch. About what?

We have everything to bitch about. That song is mainly against greed and Wall Street people, who are really just about money. So, we came back to bitch about that. We came back to bitch about greed and money ruling the world, you know? Because it fucks up everything.

Ok. I’m guessing you’re going to play these new songs tonight, but how do you select songs for your setlist in general?

Well, interestingly, when we play festivals, we have to cut our set. At a club, we’ll play an hour and a half, but at these festivals we have to play from 40 minutes to maybe an hour. And it kind of depends on what the festival is. If we’re playing a punk rock festival, we play more fast songs. If we’re playing a metal festival, we’ll throw in some slow, heavy ones. At our club dates, we’re playing a good mixture of stuff. But we are playing both of our new songs in our set.

I do have a few questions about some older songs. The first one is about Andres off of Hungry for Stink. Who is this Andres and where did the idea for that cool music video come from?

Oh god. Well, first of all, I’ll have you know that all the songs that we write are from personal experience. So, there is a guy named Andres, there is a guy named Scrap, we have a song called Scrap off Bricks Are Heavy. All of these people actually exist, and Andres is a friend of ours who ran our rehearsal studio in North Hollywood and we had a friend who stole from him. We felt responsible, so that’s why we’re saying “I’m sorry”, because we brought this friend around and he ended up ripping off Andres, which we were furious about and humiliated by, and so that’s where “Andres, I’m sorry” came from. The video… I co-directed the video, we just wanted to do something kind of guerrilla and out on the street and do something very quickly with no crew. Our crew was a camera guy, my co-director, a PA and that was it. So, it was really fun to shoot, we did it really quickly. It was cool.

Now that you bring up Scrap, could you tell us the story behind that as well?

When we were recording our first album for Epitaph Records, Brett Gurewitz of Epitaph Records was producing it and had this guy living in his garage named Scrap. That’s where we also recorded the record, and this guy, Scrap, was always huffing paint to get high in his garage, and Brett didn’t know how to get rid of him. Brett let him stay for a couple days and this guy just was not leaving and he was getting high in his garage every day, so that’s who Scrap is.

Alright, cool story. There’s a song on The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum called Off the Wagon. So, my question is: do you have any really good stories where you were on tour and completely off the wagon?

Oh, there are many stories of being on tour and being off the wagon. You know, what’s funny, what most people don’t know, is that Suzi and Jennifer have been sober for many, many years, I think Suzi got sober in ’87. L7’s reputation of being big partiers is only because of me and Dee. Suzi and Jennifer are innocent, they got sober really early because they were fucking up. Dee and I kept the partying going, so that’s always been a weird dynamic with the band, two of us are sober and two of us are not. There’s friction sometimes over that. Yeah, I can’t think of any specific stories but there have been plenty, and I don’t want to incriminate any other artists in telling these stories.

Ok, well then, last question: who’s on your Shitlist right now?

Oh god, so many people. You know, all the people in Washington, Trump and all of his creeps, just all the creeps. I can’t even mention all of them. My old landlord is on my shit list for sure.

Is this the same landlord mentioned in Shove?

No, different landlord. But that landlord was an asshole too, because he truly did not like my dog. Yeah, it’s tough to find a good landlord.

Ok, thank you so much! I’m looking forward to seeing you play tonight.

Right on! Glad you could be here.

L7 Links:

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Interview: Milo Schärer / Photo: Maria Chavez

Bad Cop / Bad Cop (USA) Interview

Bad Cop/Bad Cop are a melodic punk band from Los Angeles, USA consisting of (f.l.t.r.) Stacey Dee (vocals/guitar), Linh Le (vocals/bass), Jennie Cotterill (vocals/guitar) and Myra Gallarza (drums). Ahead of their show with Pennywise and Mad Caddies at Dynamo Saal on June 26th, Milo Schärer of Radio Radius spoke to Jennie Cotterill about the band’s summer tour, their 2017 album Warriors and Fat Wreck Chords.

Milo Schärer: Hi, thank you so much for doing this interview with Radio Radius!

Jennie Cotterill: Thanks for having me!

How has this European tour been for you so far? I believe you’re playing some dates at Punk In Drublic Festivals as well, so how has that been?

This has been amazing! We were joking that this is the best summer ever, and it really is. Every day has been super fun and the shows have been great. We’ve been playing these big festivals with bands that we love and we grew up listening to and we get to be friends with, and we get to headline smaller shows. And it’s always this wonderful surprise when people show up, so it’s been wonderful!

What are some of the bands that you’ve played with this summer that you particularly like touring with?

The Mad Caddies are really fun, so I think they’re probably our best friends on this tour. NOFX are wonderful, we’re really good friends with them. Karina tours with them live now, and we all are obsessed with her, Karina Deniké from Dance Hall Crashers. It’s just really cool. Bad Religion, we’ve been playing these festivals with them and everybody was just too excited to talk to them for the first five or six shows, but I think we’re cracking in, we’re making friends, it’s great!

That’s cool, now let’s get to your band. For people who don’t know Bad Cop/Bad Cop yet, how would you describe your band in five words?

Positive, humanist, energetic, fun. I get one more, huh? Powerful.

You, Stacey and Linh all sing in the band. How do you split songwriting duties?

Well, when we first started, people just kind of brought stuff to band practice. Our earlier releases had a lot of songs where multiple people sang on one track, it’s kind of this fun trick when other people sing, you only have to write one verse and you bring it to your friend and say: “Do you want to write a verse?” That’s kind of how we started doing things and then on this record, on Warriors, it was a little different. We worked with our friend Davey Warsop, who’s in a great band called Sharp/Shock, I don’t know if you’ve heard them. He’s produced and recorded everything we’ve ever done, and he reached to everyone individually and asked: “Do you have any ideas? Let’s work on them.” And then once they were a little bit more formed, everyone got involved. So, it was a little more individual this album, but I think it worked out great.

Ok, let’s talk about your most recent album Warriors, which I really liked, like a lot of people, I think. It’s a lot more political than your debut album Not Sorry, so what inspired this change of lyrical direction?

Well, we were on tour around the US for two months with The Interrupters, one month before the US presidential election, and one month afterwards. It was just pretty depressing and serious, and we were supposed to come home from that and start recording. We had other songs in mind that we we’re going to do, but then everyone was just so distraught over the election that we were like: “If there’s one thing that we can do about that, it’s write music.” You know? So, we kind of rewrote everything when we got home.

What you mention is a reaction that a lot of musicians in a lot of different genres had to the US election. What do you think of punk’s response in general and how does your album Warriorsfit into that?

I think a voice of dissention is important and art has always offered that, censorship is really dangerous. One thing everyone was kind of patting themselves on the back about after the election was: “Well, there should be some pretty good music coming out of this, at least we can look forward to that.” I think it’s true, and I think with our record, we kind of lucked out because we recorded the second we got home, right after the election, so it was very in the front of our minds and was able to come out in a timely fashion, ahead of the curve. It’s not that we capitalized on it, we just really changed what we were going to do and I’m proud of what we did. My mom is really upset about the president and everything that he’s doing, so she’ll just be like: “I’m really proud of you for your album!” So, that makes me feel good.

Ok, well, let’s talk about one song that has very specific references to what is going on in US politics at the moment, Womanarchist. Why did you name-check Joan of Arc and Nancy Morgan Hart in the context of contemporary US politics?

Stacey wrote this song after years of interviews where people ask us about feminism and everyone in the band is like: “Yeah, we are feminists!” and Stacey refused to acknowledge that word as a way to describe herself because… I don’t know why. I think she didn’t understand it, and eventually in the election we kind of broke through and were like: “You are a feminist. You have been taught that’s not a good word by people that hate women.” You know what I mean? Feminism is not just for women, it’s for everybody. It’s not just to benefit women, it’s just about being fair. I think that was her breakthrough moment and that song came out of it. She would send me lyrics back and forth and be like: “Is this cool?” I don’t know, I feel like she doesn’t engage in conversations about feminism regularly and so it was like: “Can I say this? Is this offensive?”, and I was like: “No, you’re doing great, you killed it. You did a great job.” I was like: “You did some research, I’m really proud of you!” But I don’t know exactly why she chose to name-drop those women, maybe she just felt an affinity for them in her research. I’m really proud of her too, because I was so nervous. We would have these interviews where I would be like: “Stop the tape! That is not officially band representation.” Anyways, everything’s great now.

You have some other very overtly feminist songs on Warriors, such as I’m Done and Why Change a Thing. Could you tell us a bit about those songs?

Yeah, totally. Linh wrote I’m Done and that’s her. She’s very passionate and abreast of political things, and usually takes a pretty strong stance on the side of… I think she’s right. I trust her, she reads up on things and she’s just this powerful little person and I feel like that song is exactly that: it’s short, it’s powerful, it’s to the point, it’s direct, it’s Linh. You know? And then I wrote Why Change a Thing before the election, actually. I had this job where I kept getting just walked all over because it was this kind of machismo, ridiculous thing, and I just wrote that song. And it happens, unfortunately, to be relevant still, so we kept it.

Alright, I want to ask you about one more song off the album.  What’s the story behind Retrograde and why did you choose it to open the album?

Well, it rips, that’s why. Stacey had a very public bottoming out and then getting clean, which is kind of part of our band history, and this was her anthem of taking her life back and I think a lot of people can identify with it because everyone makes mistakes, that’s normal, but you should come back and embrace that. I love when she says “I’m choosing to be powerful”, I was like: “It is a choice.” And also, Erin Burkett, who runs the record label, Fat Mike’s ex-wife, was like: “This is my favorite song that anybody’s ever done, this is the best thing, I’m so proud of Stacey.” So, that probably had some influence on it being track one.

Now that you bring up Fat Wreck, what has it been like for you being signed there and working with Fat Mike?

It’s been great, they’re our family. I can’t imagine us on a different label or a more appropriate label. Stacey and Mike have worked on a musical together, everybody at the office is amazing and very supportive. Mike, he’s eccentric, but he’s brilliant, and it was challenging working with him. He produced this album very intensely. Previously, we had only worked with Davey and that was intense but it was not like Mike. You know Mike…

Well, you read and hear a lot of things about Fat Mike, so that’s why I’m asking.

Yeah, I mean, he’s very intelligent and he has a lot of really great ideas and he’s also powerful and works for himself, so he just really doesn’t have a lot of patience for somebody disagreeing with him. You know what I mean? He’s confident, he should be confident, it’s deserved, but he’s a strong flavour. I like it, but it was difficult.

Alright. You said before that Fat Wreck was a very good fit for you, and I certainly agree sound-wise, you sound like a typical Fat band to certain extent. What are some bands that influenced you?

Ooh. Well, it’s kind of interesting because the four of us all have separate influences, so this is just the stew that happens when you have those different ingredients. I really like garage and I liked a lot of Fat stuff when I was a teenager, it was like the most exciting and urgent thing I’d ever heard, you know? Politics, oh my god, so exciting! I also really like girl bands and any bands with women I will go see, check out and listen to. Myra, our drummer, is very rock’n’roll, she loves AC/DC, she sees more live shows than anyone I know, usually rock’n’roll. She’s a girl band encyclopaedia too, you could ask her about any band that’s ever had women and she’s like: “Oh, I saw them.” Linh has kind of a metal background, which you can kind of hear, she’s written some of the riffs for the guitars too. Stacey’s pretty much just into punk rock.

Are there are any other newer bands that you are particularly into at the moment?

Yeah. I’m obsessed with A Giant Dog. They’re not new, but I feel like they’re getting a lot of visibility. I think they may have changed record labels and they’re touring with Against Me!, so people that I know are seeing them and being like: “Oh my god! Is this the band?” That is amazing. I really like Sheer Mag, do you know them?

Yeah, I like Sheer Mag.

Oh my god, so good. Draculas is Zach Blair from Rise Against, the singer from The Riverboat Gamblers and a couple of other really cool dudes, I really like that Texas/Jeff Burke kind of a lot of hi-hat, really fast style. It’s good!

Thanks again, I’m looking forward to seeing you play very soon!

Bad Cop/Bad Cop Links:

Website

Bandcamp

Spotify

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Twitter

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Interview: Milo Schärer / Photo: Lindsey Byrnes

Joliette (MEX) Interview

Joliette are a Post-Hardcore band from Puebla, Mexico consisting of (f.l.t.r.) Azael Gonzales (drums), Fernando Obregòn (vocals/guitar), Juan Pablo Castillo (guitar) and Gastòn Prado (bass). Ahead of their show at Dynamo Werk 21 on June 25th, Milo Schärer of Radio Radius spoke with them about new releases, Mexico’s music scene and touring in Europe.

Milo Schärer: Hi guys, thank you so much for doing this interview with Radio Radius!

Fernando Obregòn: Thank you man!

Milo: If I’m not mistaken, this your third show on this tour, or…

Juan Pablo Castillo: No, it’s actually like…

Azael Gonzales: The third or fourth week.

Juan Pablo: We’ve been on tour since June 1st. We started in the UK, we were there for a week, and then we went to Sweden, Denmark and then down to Italy, and now we’re here this week for some shows in Switzerland, France and Germany. So yeah, we’re not even halfway through our tour, it’s two and a half months long. But so far, it’s been really good. It’s been cool to see how every place is different, you know? The UK is really different, and Sweden, Denmark, Italy… Every place has its own thing, things that we really enjoy. We’re really excited to do Switzerland.

Milo: Ok. For people who don’t know Joliette yet, how would you describe your band in five words?

Fernando: Five words, jeez…

Juan Pablo: Chaotic.

Fernando: Intense.

Gastòn Prado: Balanced.

Azael: How many do we have?

Fernando: Three.

Azael: Jazzy.

Fernando: Yeah, it’s kind of jazzy right now. And melodic.

Milo: You’ve also described your sound as “post-todo” in the past. What do you mean with this description?

Fernando: It’s a joke.

Juan Pablo: It started as a joke that went a little bit too far, I think.

Gastòn: The thing is, we were trying to avoid a certain label. To a certain extent, I think our music is kind of post-hardcore, but then again, it is not. If somebody asks us: “Hey, what type of music do you play?” and we say: “We play post-hardcore”, that might be a little misleading, you know what I mean? So, we just kind of came up with this post-todo term, to try to avoid the genre trap.

Azael: We listen, and we try to make our music based on what we like, for example Gastòn might really like The Dillinger Escape Plan or Converge, and Juan Pablo might really like Bon Iver. It’s two totally different genres, you know? I don’t know, we try to mix it, that’s why it’s post-everything.

Milo: What are some musical styles or bands that have influenced your music?

Fernando: We like Deftones a lot. Bands that we have in common, I guess that’s Deftones, Radiohead… We were listening to a lot of Radiohead yesterday.

Azael: The Mars Volta.

Fernando: At The Drive-In as well.

Gastòn: The Dillinger Escape Plan, for sure. Converge.

Fernando: What else? I think those are the ones that we have most in common. Maybe Glassjaw, a few other hardcore and screamo bands. It’s a long list, but I’d say all of our sound tries to incorporate some things that we’ve taken as influences from the bands we just mentioned.

Milo: Ok. You released the 7” El Alphabiotista recently. Could you tell us a bit about this song?

Fernando: Well, it’s part of an album that we already finished recording. It’s our third LP. This is the first song that we chose as a single from that album, and since the past couple times we were here in Europe, we were playing the same record, so we figured it was time to bring something new over here. We were lucky enough to meet Gab from Epidemic Records, he really liked our music and supported us by putting out El Alphabiotista on a 7”. About this song, I think it’s one of the heavier ones on the record, definitely. It’s a song that talks about fear of death and paranoia, all that stuff. I feel like from touring over and over again you gain some sense of awareness about everything that sometimes gets too loud in your head, you know? There’s a lot of things that resonate with me personally now that I’ve been able to tour over and over again in the same places, and you develop anxiety, so I just wanted to put that out there on that song. So, it’s a pretty emo song, probably.

Milo: You also released something else recently, a live split with Frameworks. How did that happen?

Juan Pablo: Frameworks went on tour in Mexico, in October of 2016. We love those guys, we really like Frameworks, we’ve known them for quite some time. When we’d visited the United States, we’d played with them a couple of times before, so we became friends. Then, at that time the opportunity for them to visit Mexico arose, and with it a two-week tour. Talking about music during these days, we found out that we liked the same kind of stuff, so at one point we we’re like: “We should do something!” The idea was to do a battle set, one band in front of the other, playing at the same time. And it happened, we found a studio, we found the time to do it, and the guys from light and noise records, which is a record label from Mexico, did it all. It was sitting there for almost a year, then we decided to put it out on video, and the tape release was just to have another release to give it its place and not just keep it on video.

Milo: You’ve released a lot of splits with other bands, such as Life in Vacuum, as well. What do you like about releasing music this way?

Gastòn: The thing is, we really like writing songs and playing new music, we’re very addicted to that feeling of having new ideas. Sometimes you don’t have the time to write a full-length album, but you have the desire and the drive to make songs. So, we just make a few songs together and look for any type of excuse to release it with other bands. And also, there’s a lot of bands that we’ve met and we really like their music, and it just happened, that we talked about a split. For example, with Life in Vacuum and ZagaZaga from Israel, it just clicked and we had the right songs for doing that. Actually, we’re looking forward to continue doing that, we really like releasing songs that way.

Azael: Well, I’m new in Joliette, I’m one year old in this band, but as an outsider, one year ago, I saw Joliette as the band that connected music from other parts of the world with Mexico. We’re used to listening to US bands, for example, a couple of European bands, but I noticed that Joliette was doing stuff with bands from other parts of the world, like Israel, Switzerland, Canada, it’s interesting. And now that I’m part of the band, I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen next. Maybe we can go to Australia or Japan.

Milo: You’ve been a band since 2011, if I’m not mistaken. Could you just briefly tell us the story of how you decided to form Joliette?

Fernando: Juan Pablo and I used to play together in another band in our hometown, Puebla, that was more than 10 years ago, like 12 years ago. We met sometime around 2004, and then two years later, we decided to form a band. After that band, we just kept on talking, and then we decided to try again and make it a bit more serious, to record stuff with decent quality and go on tour, try to make as much as we can out of the band. By that time, I already knew Gastòn, and Juan Pablo and Gaston were long-time friends, they’ve known each other since way, way back. In that sense, everything connected, we’ve had two drummers before Azael. Since we formed, I guess a lot of things have changed, not only lineup changes but also the sound and style, we’ve changed a couple things.

Milo: As you say, you’re from Puebla. Could you tell us a bit what the punk/hardcore scene is like there and in Mexico in general?

Juan Pablo: Well, in Puebla specifically the punk/hardcore scene is not that big, so that’s actually why we decided to move to Mexico City. In Mexico in general it comes and goes in waves. It also changes places, there’s sometimes an area where there are lot of bands for four or five years, and then they just kind of disappear, and then in another area of the country, bands start playing. So, it’s really interesting how the places where the bands are from affect the sound of the movement that’s going on at the moment. But in general, Mexico City is the place where everything happens. You have shows every week, you have every genre of music going on, you have festivals going on, and the interaction between bands is a big part of why we decided to move the band to Mexico City. I think Mexico has a lot of really good bands out there, bands doing really interesting stuff, but touring there is kind of hard. Sometimes it’s really hard to get out of that same area, that’s why a lot of bands stop playing, or they just go on hiatus for a while. So, it really depends what year your talking about, what bands sound like. So, I’d say the scene in Mexico is always moving.

Milo: Are there any bands in particular that you are into at the moment?

Fernando: Yeah, there’s one we all like called Cardiel. Actually, they’re from Venezuela but they’ve been living in Mexico for the past 10 years. They’re a duo…

Juan Pablo: A two piece. It’s skate punk, stoner rock and dub jams. It’s quite weird, but it’s a combination that works. Yeah, they’re definitely one of our favorite bands. I always say that Azael used to drum for a really cool band that I like, it’s called Annapura, they play power-violence. I don’t know, there’s quite some more that I really like that are not playing anymore. There was this band from Tijuana called Walle, really good.

Azael: Apocalipsis, from Mexico City. Their guitar player moved to the Czech Republic, but sometimes they play. Who else? Nazaremo el Violento…

Gastòn: Amber is a cool new band.

Azael: Amber is a math rock band, they really jam, their bass player is 15 or 16 years old and it’s just crazy…

Gastòn: Who else? Corporeal, they’re from a city called Tampico and they’re also really cool.

Azael: Point Dexter, that’s a new one. That’s one of my drum students, but that band play really well.

Gastòn: Also from Mexico City, El Shirota.

Azael: There’s a big scene over there, it’s a big city with many people in it, so yeah.

Juan Pablo: The thing is, all of these bands play with each other, so it’s easy if someone’s interested in getting to know that. I’m pretty sure if you listen to us, you’ll get to another one, it’s easy to connect them. Even though the scene is big, at the same time it’s really small and we all play with each other.

Milo: Thanks for all those band suggestions, I will definitely check those out.

Fernando: Yeah, we can give you a long list if you really want to check all those bands out, there’s good stuff there, definitely.

Milo: This isn’t your first European tour, you also played at Obenuse Fest II and III for example, how did opportunities for extensive tours here arise for you?

Gastòn: The first one was actually pretty weird, pretty unusual. It was thanks to the guys from ZagaZaga, they wrote to us because they saw one of our music videos and they liked it, and we just started talking about how it would be cool to do European tour and then it happened. That was in 2015 and thanks to people we got to meet, we were able to do it again. We can explain further…

Juan Pablo: It’s been four years of a lot of work put into coming here. For us, coming from Mexico, it’s always a big investment, getting a plane ticket and a band van. Here in Europe, people are really listening to us and they’re getting more and more into the band, so every time we come, we see a better response from people. For us, it’s been a good investment to come here every year. The kind of music that we play, there’s a lot of people in Europe who are more open to that. We’ve been playing wherever we can, getting to know bands. We also really like to invite bands from Europe to go to Mexico, so that exchange has been working really well for us.

Milo: What European bands have you toured with in Mexico?

Juan Pablo: We took Überyou from Zurich. Who else?

Fernando: Aren’t they the only ones? Oh yeah, Birds In Row, from France. The Prestige, also from France. We played a festival with Totoro from France but we didn’t bring them to Mexico, they were touring and we also played a show with them. I guess those are the only European bands we’ve taken to Mexico.

Milo: Are there any major differences between playing shows in Mexico and in Europe?

Juan Pablo: Yes.

Fernando: Well, the hospitality here is quite nice.

Azael: I think it’s just different, it’s not better or worse. I mean, it’s obvious that maybe in America, and Mexico specifically, we’re not that used to having bands from other parts of the world. Mexico is really big, so it’s Mexican bands. The hospitality is different, it’s not bad, I don’t know how to explain it.

Fernando: It’s more suitable for it’s own economy, the level of hospitality, in that case. But what I mean is that here, it’s a bit easier to get a good place to sleep and you get fed at almost every show. Everything runs way more strictly here, in a good sense. I also think that the crowd have a bigger relationship with this kind of heavy music. In Mexico, there’s quite a lot of people that listen to heavy music, but I think there’s more here.

Azael: People are more used to listening to hardcore music over here, or maybe not used to, but they know about how it works.

Juan Pablo: For me, a big difference is the venues. In Europe, you have a lot of youth centers or smaller venues for hardcore or punk. In Mexico, that’s probably the hardest thing to find, a proper venue.

Fernando: There are pretty much no good small venues. All venues are bigger and it’s practically impossible for an underground band to get a show there.

Juan Pablo: Also, what I really like in Europe is groups or collectives making shows. People getting together to bring in a band, someone makes food, someone takes care of the audio. That’s really cool, you don’t see that so often in Mexico. Of course, there are groups like that, but there’s always two in each city and here in Europe you have 10 or 12 making those things happen. That’s really important, because sometimes in Mexico the hardest thing is to find a place for a show.

Milo: I believe you’re also playing one other show in German-speaking Switzerland this summer. Do you want to tell our readers about that?

Juan Pablo: In July, we’re playing in Bern with Clowns.

Fernando: And the other one is Kreuzlingen.

Juan Pablo: We’ve been in Bern before, this is going to be our third show there. We love Bern, and in general, we like how people react to our music here in Switzerland. We’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of cities here, maybe 10 or more, in the past years, and we love it. We like the people here, we’re really good friends with the Überyou guys, and they’re always sweethearts, they always treat us super well. We really love to be in Switzerland in general, people here are super warm and they really are into our music.

Joliette Links:

Bandcamp

Spotify

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Michael Malarkey (USA) – 31.05.2018

Papiersaal, Zürich

Support: Gareth Dunlop (IRL)

Letzten Donnerstag verzauberte Michael Malarkey mit seinen folkigen Singer-Songwriter Liedern das Zürcher Publikum und zeigte, dass er mehr drauf hat, als nur den bösen Vampir im Fernsehen zu spielen.

Michael Malarkey, den meisten bekannt aus The Vampire Diaries als blutrünstiger Vampir Enzo, war am Donnerstag Abend sozusagen der Hahn im Korb. Mit seiner bunt bestickten Jacke und einem Hut mit federähnlichem Schmuck war Malarkey auffälliger gekleidet als der Rest der Band und auf der kleinen Bühne im Papiersaal umgaben ihn seine fast ausschliesslich weiblichen Fans von drei Seiten. Die Verlegung des Konzerts vom Plaza in den Papiersaal lieferte dem Publikum den perfekten Rahmen für dieses ruhige Konzert. Michael Malarkey war sprichwörtlich zum Greifen nah und stets mit einem Lächeln im Gesicht genoss der Singer-Songwriter die ungeteilte Aufmerksamkeit des Abends.

Zusammen mit seiner Band lieferte Malarkey eine musikalisch hervorragende Show. Mit seiner tiefen Stimme und den melodischen Gitarrenklängen verlieh Malarkey seinen Liedern einen äusserst gefühlvollen Ausdruck. Zu dieser harmonischen Stimmung trug auch ein E-Cello bei, welches sich als eine klangvollere Option als Streicher aus einem Synthesizer herausstellte.

Die amerikanischen Wurzeln seiner Musik liessen sich an den bluesigen Rhythmusmustern erkennen oder zeigten sich durch den gelegentlichen Einsatz einer Mundharmonika, welche den Liedern einen folkigen Touch einbrachte.

Neben seinen altbekannten Balladen wie Scars spielte Malarkey zwischendurch auch schnellere Stücke, beispielsweise My History Will Be the Death of Me, bei welchen das Publikum begeistert mitklatschte. Diese beiden Songs stammen beide von Malarkeys neustem Album Mongrels, welches im letzten Jahr erschien. In der Zwischenzeit hatte er noch die EP Captain Solitaire veröffentlicht, wovon er den gleichnamigen Titeltrack ebenfalls in seinem Set präsentierte.

Malarkey verriet dem Publikum, dass er eine besondere Verbundenheit zur Schweiz hat, da er als Kind regelmässig hierher kam. Sogar Chuchichästli konnte er aufsagen, weil ihm das seine Fans während dem Meet & Greet vor dem Konzert beigebracht hatten. 

Allgemein zeigte sich Malarkey sehr publikumsnah. Er witzelte herum, antwortete auf Liebesbotschaften seiner Fans und gönnte sich während des letzten Liedes sogar ein Bad in der Menge. Seine Erlebnisse auf der Tour dokumentierte er zudem für alle Fans in seiner Instagram-Story, wo er auch regelmässig seine persönlichen Musiktips vorstellt.

Es war ein stimmungsvoller Konzertabend und wir hoffen, dass uns Michael Malarkey mit seiner wunderbaren Stimme und seinem bezauberndem Charme bald wieder beehrt!

Text: Fabienne Gerber/ Foto: Facebook Michael Malarkey; Fabienne Gerber.

Galaxy Camp – 17.5.2018

Dynamo Saal, Zürich

Lineup: State Champs, Knuckle Puck, Trash Boat, WSTR, Can’t Swim, Broadside, Woes

Um die Jahrtausendwende dominierten Pop-Punk Bands wie Blink-182 oder Sum 41 das Radio, doch mittlerweile hat der kommerzielle Erfolg des Genres stark abgenommen. Es gibt aber seit einige Jahren eine neue Welle von Bands in den USA und der UK, die ganz im Stil dieser 2000er-Pop-Punk-Gruppen wieder Musik mit polierten Drei-Akkord-Riffs und grossen, mitsingbaren Refrains. Das Galaxy Camp Festival hat einige dieser Bands für eine kurze Tour mit Halt in Zürich, Karlsruhe, Köln und Leipzig vereinigt. Es ist das erste Pop-Punk Festival in Deutschland und der Schweiz, sozusagen eine europäische Version der nordamerikanischen Warped Tour. Die Zürcher Ausgabe mit sieben Bands im Dynamo Saal findet vor wenigen, aber begeisterten, Fans statt.

Mit so vielen Bands ist die Türöffnung an diesem Abend bereits um 5 Uhr, entsprechend sind beim ersten Set von Woes aus Schottland nur etwa 20 Leute im Saal, bei Broadside aus Virginia, USA sind es schon einige mehr. Dessen Lieder, wie Storyteller, das erste, das die Band geschrieben hat, sind typisch für diesen Abend: Punk-Melodien mit Pop-Schliff und Songtexten, mit denen sich das mehrheitlich junge Publikum identifizieren kann. Es ist ein Glück, dass Broadside in Zürich überhaupt dabei sind: Die Band erzählt, wie sie erst vor 40 Minuten angekommen sind, obwohl dies ein Tag vorher hätte geschehen sollen. Can’t Swim aus New Jersey bieten die fetzigsten Riffs an diesem Abend, ihre Musik ist im Vergleich mit den anderen Bands am Galaxy Camp wesentlich unpolierter, und die Stimmen von Lead-Sänger Chris LoPorto und Bassist Greg McDevitt ergänzen sich gut. Lieder wie 50 Million Dollarsund Come Homemachen Spass, und das Publikum, welches zugegebenermassen nicht riesig ist, gibt im Pit und beim Mitsingen weiterhin Gas. WSTR aus Liverpool betreten die Bühne zu einem Buzz Lightyear-Audioclip, vielleicht, weil es zum Galaxy Camp passt. Leadsänger Sammy Clifford singt trotz der Herkunft der Band wie ein mit der typischen nasalen Stimme eines amerikanischen Pop-Punks, und er heizt dem Publikum ordentlich ein, indem er sie zu einem Circle Pit auffordert. Die Band debütiert in Zürich eine neue Single, aber beim Lied Eastbound & Down hüpft und singt das Publikum mit dem grössten Enthusiasmus. Die ebenfalls aus England stammenden Trash Boat mischen ihr Pop-Punk mit einigen Metalcore-Elementen auf, auch sie fordern das Publikum zum Circle Pit auf und debütieren eine neue Single, sie geben aber auch zu: „We’re the fifth band to ask how you’re doing tonight. You must be sick of being asked how you’re doing.“ Auch diese Band feiern die jungen, eingefleischten Fans, aber leider ist der Ton bei diesem Set suboptimal abgemischt, was sich besonders bei den metallischeren Riffs von Trash Boat bemerkbar macht. Dafür überzeugen Knuckle Puck aus Chicago bei ihrem ersten Schweizer Auftritt überhaupt: Die Band kombiniert schnelle, eingängige Riffs mit langsameren Emo-Elementen, und spielt viele Songs aus ihrem 2017 Album Shapeshifter, aber auch ältere Nummern wie No Good oder Evergreen. Leadsänger Joe Taylor gibt sich auch äusserst dankbar für die grossartige Unterstützung der Fans und betont, dass die Band wie sie nur Menschen sind, man solle nach dem Konzert doch kurz Hallo sagen. Als siebte und letzte Band treten State Champs aus Albany, New York auf, nach dem Loudfest im vergangenen Juni ist dies ihr zweites Zürcher Konzert. Die Band bleibt stilistisch bei einem klassichen Pop-Punk-Sound, aber Songs wie All You Are Is History weisen schon ganz grossartige Hooks auf. Spätestens bei diesem Headliner-Auftritt fällt aber auch auf, wie leer der Saal eigentlich ist: Selbst in der vorderen Reihe haben die ZuhörerInnen ordentlich Platz, der Moshpit dahinter ist aussergewöhnlich geräumig, und in der hinteren Hälfte des Raums gibt es keinen einzigen Menschen. Diejenige, die gekommen sind, geben trotzdem weiterhin Vollgas und Leadsänger Derek DiScanio bedankt sich dafür, dass die Fans den ganzen Abend geblieben sind. Als einzige Band am Galaxy Camp spielen State Champs eine Zugabe, und zwar mit den Songs Critical und Secrets.

Die erste Ausgabe des Galaxy Camp vermag mindestens in Zürich nur wenige Leute anzulocken, den Bands und Fans dürfte dies einigermassen egal sein, denn sie haben sichtlich Spass gehabt und Pop-Punk ist als Genre sowieso seit 1999 Through Being Cool. Insbesondere Knuckle Puck haben bei ihrem ersten Schweizer Konzert überzeugt, aber auch die anderen Bands haben bei ihren Auftritten alles für einen guten Konzertabend gegeben.

Text: Milo Schärer / Foto: Tobias Marti / Bonz.ch