Archiv der Kategorie: Interviews

Oceanator (USA) Interview

Oceanator is New York-based musician Elise Okusami’s solo indie rock project who released their debut LP Things I Never Said on Big Scary Monsters in August of 2020. Radio Radius‘ Milo Schärer met with Elise by Zoom to discuss Things I Never Said and Oceanator’s upcoming livestream shows.

Milo Schärer: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with Radio Radius!

Elise Okusami: Yeah, sure. Thank you so much for having me, thank you for reaching out.

First, we’re going to talk a bit about the album you released last year, Things I Never Said, which was definitely one of my favorites last year, so congratulations on a great release.

Thank you so much!

What was it like for you to release you debut album with the whole situation of not being able to tour behind it and everything else?

It was weird. We had a lot of talks before deciding to go ahead and release it about whether we should push it back until we would be able to tour, but it was supposed to come out in 2019 and then there had been some stuff going on and I didn’t want to sit on it any longer, so we just went for it. It was definitely strange to be talking about it and seeing people’s reactions just completely online from the computer, and not be in a room with people and playing the songs for them and seeing and feeling that reaction. It was overall a good experience, just much different.

Well, I’m glad to hear it was still a good experience despite the obvious difficulties. You released the first single, A Crack in the World, for the album in June, I think, or something like that.

Yeah, end of June.

Why did you choose that song as the first single?

I thought that it was a good introduction to the record and the sound and the themes of the record. A lot of the songs are kind of about the end of the world and that one is no exception, but it’s also a fun song that kind of grabs you right away. It’s just a good power-pop kind of rock song, so I thought it would be a good one to introduce the record to people with.

Yeah, sure. As you mentioned, it has the theme of the end of the world, as does the second single, I Would Find You, there you have the lyric if the sun never came up tomorrow, how long do you think it would take us to notice. I just wanted to ask what inspired that particular imagery for you.

When I wrote the lyrics to that song I was working in a restaurant. I was doing that up until the pandemic. I would work a lot of super late nights and after work you hang out with your co-workers a little bit, and because our hours were shifted to like 12:00 or 1:00 or whatever, we’d be hanging out until like 2:00 or 3:00. It’s kind of hard to go to sleep right after work, no matter what time that is. So, especially in the winter, we’d sleep until it was already almost getting dark, before having to go into work again. So, I was just kind of thinking about if something terrible happened and the sun wasn’t coming up, would we know that it wasn’t…

Ok, interesting to know. Could you maybe repeat the last bit? For me it cut off the last sentence or something that you said.

Sure. Where was I? I was just thinking about how because we were sleeping pretty late, because you know, staying up late, sleeping late, going to work. By the time we were going to work, it was already getting dark outside, so if something happened where the sun wasn’t going to come up, we might not know, because we were sleeping through it anyway.

I’d like to ask you about one more song off the album, because I think it’s my favorite song. Could you tell us a bit about Walk with You?

Sure. It’s funny that that’s your favorite, I’m glad you like that one. That’s kind of the surfy, chill, 50s pop song. The guitar for it just kind of came out really quickly. I was just kind of playing around and that little riff started playing. The rest of it just kind of wrote itself. It’s just kind of about being there for people when you’re having a hard time too and just two people having a hard time trying to help the other one as best they can.

Ok. In addition to your album, you released a few cover songs last, like Fugazi and Dead Kennedys, maybe there are some more. Which one of the covers you released is your favorite and why?

That’s funny, I forgot we even did the Fugazi one, that one was super fun. I think maybe my favorite, my friend Bartees and I did a split singles thing that was a fundraiser that we put out on a Bandcamp day. I did a cover of a Sam Cooke song, A Change Is Gonna Come, and I think that one might be my favorite because I love that song very much and the process of making that little split was super fun. But then probably my second favorite would be the Dead Kennedys one, because that one was just super fun to play and record. I played on the instruments on that, I had a really good time.

I’ll check out the split, because I’m actually not familiar with that one yet.

It’s a Bandcamp-only release, so it wasn’t everywhere.

Sure. Next week you’re going to do a couple of livestream shows, do you want to quickly give us an overview of what they are so that the readers who want to can check that out?

Absolutely. We’re doing seven days, it’s a tour, but we’re all going to be at home. We’re playing every night in a different city, which means we’re going to decorate the stage differently for every show and we’re doing covers. We’re doing two covers each night and Maneka, the band that’s playing before us, is doing some covers every night too, of bands from those cities. We’re just going to try to make every night a little bit different, so it’s fun, and play some new stuff, play some older stuff we don’t usually play and just try to have a good time on the internet pretending we’re on tour. We’re doing little drink specials every night so that people at home are watching can, if they want to, go out and buy whatever the drink special is and pretend we’re all in the venue together. Just trying to make it fun.

Yeah, sure. I watched a few of your other livestreams this year, I think you did some 90s and Green Day cover sets in the spring, and one regular livestream on Bandcamp. Are these upcoming livestreams going to be different from those livestreams that you’ve done so far?

This one is going to be similar to the Bandcamp one that you might have watched. It’s going to be full band, so Tony and Andrew are going to be coming down, negative test results pending, but we’ve all been hiding away so it should be good. They’re going to come down, we’re going to play as a full band, which we’ve only done for the record release show and that Bandcamp stream, so we’ve only done it twice, but now we get to do it seven days in a row. It should be cool. We’re doing it out of my brother’s studio, so the sound should be really nice too. It’s going to be more of a show than the Green Day and 90s cover sets, which is just me popping online and having a good time.

I got my tickets for the shows already, so I’m definitely looking forward to it. My last question is, since I watched one of your Green Day cover sets, if you had to choose, what are your five favorite Green Day songs?

Oh gosh. Ok, Christie Road for sure, off of Kerplunk. There’s so many. Christie Road, I really like Stuart and the Ave., from InsomniacRedundant, off of Nimrod. What should I pick? Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?, which is on one of the earlier records, and maybe She from Dookie. Those are my top 5, right now, off the top of my head.

All right, nice choices.

Thank you. What are your top 5? Do you like Green Day?

Yeah. I think Redundant and Christie Road would be on my list too. At the Library from the very first album, When I Come Around and One Of My Lies.

One Of My Lies is so good too. Those are good choices too.

Thanks. I guess that’s it for my questions, thanks for taking the time to do this.

Of course. Thank you again, it was cool to hear from someone so far away.

The Deadnotes (DE) Interview

The Deadnotes sind eine Emo-Pop Band aus Freiburg im Breisgau mit Sänger/Gitarrist Darius Lohmüller, Sänger/Bassist Jakob Walheim und Schlagzeuger Yannic Arens. Sie haben im vergangenen Februar ihr neustes Album Courage auf ihrem eigenen Label 22Lives Records veröffentlicht. Milo Schärer von Radio Radius hat per Skype mit Darius über das neue Album wie auch die Auswirkungen der Corona-Krise auf DIY-KünstlerInnen gesprochen.

Milo Schärer: Ich habe mir heute dein Livestream-Konzert auf Facebook angehört und es hat mir sehr gefallen. Wie war es für dich, so zu spielen?

Darius Lohmüller: Sehr ungewohnt war es auf jeden Fall. Ich bin tatsächlich allgemein so ein bisschen skeptisch. Ich finde das eine super nette Idee, gerade Livestreams zu machen, aber tatsächlich in dem extremen Ausmass, wie das gerade stattfindet, wird es mir persönlich auf jeden Fall ein bisschen zu viel, wenn jeder Künstler anfängt, dem nicht mal Konzerte abgesagt wurden, jetzt plötzlich ein Livestream zu machen, weil das halt so ist. Ich dachte eigentlich, die Leute haben vielleicht gar nicht mehr so Bock darauf und gleichzeitig war es genau anders rum.  Also, es gab ein riesiges Feedback und ich weiss nicht, wie viele Menschen das laut Facebook angeschaut haben. Das hätte ich gar nicht so gedacht und ich hätte mir mehr Mühe gegeben, wenn ich das gewusst hätte. Ich hatte auf jeden Fall sehr viel Spass.

Das ist schön zu hören. Ihr habt ja wie viele Bands wegen der aktuellen Corona-Situation Tourdaten absagen müssen. Wie geht ihr mit dieser Situation um? 

Tatsächlich ist das ganz schwer zu beantworten. Wir waren mitten auf einer Tour, als das ganze aufkam. Wir haben tatsächlich die letzte Show noch in der Schweiz gespielt, und da war schon die ganze Zeit die Stimmung so völlig unklar, ob weiter Konzerte stattfinden können. Wir waren auch super gestresst von der Situation, weil wir immer Konzert gespielt und auch gewusst haben, die Leute wissen nicht, ob die Show jetzt stattfindet oder nicht. Gleichzeitig versuchten wir mit allen anderen Veranstaltern zu kommunizieren. Als dann der Moment kam, wo irgendwie klar war, alles ist abgesagt, war es eher mal eine Erleichterung, weil wir konkret wussten, was Sache ist. Aber gleichzeitig, jetzt gerade im Moment, wir versuchen das Beste daraus zu machen, wie jetzt ein Livestream oder ein paar schöne nette Specials auszudenken, aber wir sind schon alle sehr mitgenommen, sowohl privat wie auch als Band durch diese Tourabsage, die natürlich Pläne innerhalb von einer Minute durcheinander wirft, die seit weit über einem Jahr eigentlich so gemacht und ausgearbeitet wurden.

Ja klar, ist sicher eine merkwürdige Situation für alle Beteiligte. Ihr seid eine DIY-Band, ihr habt eure Platte auf eurem eigenen Label veröffentlicht und organisiert alles selber. Inwiefern ist die Situation für eine DIY-Band wie euch anders als für grössere Acts, die ebenfalls Tourneen absagen müssen?

Zuerst einmal, das DIY-Ding versuche ich immer zu trennen bei uns. Wir sind in der Hinsicht auf jeden Fall eine DIY-Band, das wir so viel wie irgendwie geht selber machen. Wir machen unser eigenes Booking, wir haben das eigene Label, so künstlerisch, Artwork, Musik natürlich machen wir komplett selbstständig. Allerdings im kommerziellen Sinne würde ich uns nicht als DIY-Band bezeichnen. Wir versuchen schon, einigermassen wirtschaftlich sinnvoll zu arbeiten, so dass für uns vielleicht mal irgendwie Geld herausspringt, was viele dann immer schon kritisieren, dass das nicht mehr als DIY bezeichnet werden sollte, wenn es kommerzieller wird. Allerdings, für eine Band wie uns, die natürlich gerade viel machen will, die alles selbstständig arbeitet und doch nicht ein Standing hat wie eine grosse Agentur, die mit Riesenkünstler arbeitet, habe ich gerade die Befürchtung, dass es gerade vielen Bands so gehen wird, dass jetzt alle grossen Agenturen und Künstler, die halt wirklich Veranstaltern Geld bringen, auf das sie jetzt angewiesen sind, unter relativ einfachen Umständen ihre Shows umlegen auf den Herbst und Winter. Das ist auch gut so, aber dadurch werden natürlich sämtliche Plätze eingenommen, die auch kleineren, nicht kommerzielleren Bands oder allgemein kleineren Bands zur Verfügung stünden sonst. Das ist schon auf jeden Fall eine Befürchtung, oder auch ein Gedanke, den ich habe, wird dann auch eine nicht-kommerzielle oder mindestens kleinere Subkultur ziemlich kaputt gemacht?

Es ist sicher eine schwierige Situation und ich kenne jetzt auch vom Radio her ein paar Bands in den USA, in denen die Leute neben der Band im Service arbeiten. Für eine solche Band ist das natürlich eine sehr harte Situation.

Genau, im Prinzip trifft es uns auch gerade so sehr direkt. Ich und mein Bandkollege Jakob haben die Arbeit verloren durch die Situation aktuell. Ich wurde gekündigt, er hat aktuell keine Arbeit mehr, weil das Restaurant, in dem er sonst nebenjobbt, geschlossen wurde. Ich arbeite auch in der Vernstaltungsbranche und da kann man aktuell sowieso nichts machen. Es geht sehr Vielen so, da natürlich viele Musiker selber als Nebenjob oder auch als Hauptberuf in einem ähnlichen Gebiet tätig.

Erst mal mein Beileid. Das führt zu meiner nächsten Frage: was können denn Fans tun, um euch oder andere Bands in dieser Situation zu unterstützen?

Ja, da wurde schon sehr viel gesagt, denke ich. Ich glaube, das beste ist, in der Zeit wieder die guten, alten Plattenverkäufe oder Merchandiseverkäufe anzukurbeln. Klar, natürlich hilft, das Album zu streamen, da kommt aber ganz wenig rum. Bands hilft es am meisten, wenn physische Produkte gekauft werden. Wenn Leute das gerade umso bewusster tun, dann freuen sich alle darüber. Trotzdem glaube ich auch, kann ich noch mal für uns sagen, wir sind alle super blöd getroffen sowohl als Band wie auch privat, aber wir sind alle noch genug privilegiert, um die Situation, na ja, einigermassen gut überleben zu können. Es gibt natürlich Menschen, auch unabhängig von der Musik, die da gerade auf jeden Fall viel mehr Hilfe bräuchten, sei es viele Obdachlose, die nicht einfach mal zuhause bleiben können. Ich finde es sehr wichtig, da nicht nur Bands direkt zu unterstützen, sondern auch einfach allgemein zu hinterfragen und zu recherchieren, wo es gerade im ganzen System Problematiken gibt. 

Das sehe auch so. Trotzdem würde ich gerne auch noch als letzte Frage zur Corona-Situation fragen, ob es sonst noch Bands gibt, die du kennst, die im Moment besonders Unterstützung brauchen könnten.

Ui, ich glaube, die Liste würde komplett den Rahmen sprengen. Ich kenne gerade wirklich fast keine Band, der nicht irgendwie ganz krasse Pläne durchkreuzt wurden oder, die natürlich auch jetzt finanziell in einer super schwierigen Situation sind. Ich will da gar keine Namen nennen, denn die Liste wäre wirklich viel zu lange und da kann ich gerade niemanden mehr hervorheben und will niemanden benachteiligen.

Alles klar. Dann sprechen wir doch ein Bisschen über eure Musik. Ihr habt gerade ein Video zu Ghost on the Ceiling veröffentlicht. Kannst du mir vielleicht etwas zu diesem Lied sagen?

Na klar. Er ist tatsächlich der allerletzte Song, der überhaupt für diese Platte entstanden ist und wurde auch tausend verschiedene Richtungen von uns ausgearbeitet, und war ursprünglich auch super, super lang mit ganz jazzigen Teilen zwischendrin. Wir haben uns irgendwann ganz am Schluss im Studio selber, in England, wo wir aufgenommen haben, dazu entschieden, den möglichst kurz, prägnant und einfach in-your-face zu machen, worüber wir mittlerweile sehr happy sind. Das passt eigentlich auch ganz gut zum Inhalt, es ist ein Song über gerade diese Momente, in denen man sich sehr überstürzt oder schnell für was entscheidet, wo man sich gedrängt fühlt durch irgendwas Unbestimmtes, was im Raum steht, möglichst schnell eine Entscheidung zu erzwingen oder sich für irgendwas zu entscheiden, was einen oft nicht längerfristig an den Punkt bringt, wo man eigentlich sein will.

Ich möchte noch über ein paar mehr Songs auf eurer letzten Platte Courage. Das Lied Never Perfect thematisiert Mental Health, und ich nenne es jetzt so, weil es nicht unbedingt einen guten deutschen Begriff dafür gibt. Wieso wolltet ihr dieses Thema ansprechen?

Eigentlich genau aus dem Grund, den du sagst. Es gibt nicht einmal einen wirklich gescheiten deutschen Begriff dafür und gerade das zeigt ja schon, wie will man grösser über Thema sprechen, wenn es dafür nicht einmal eine Bezeichnung dafür gibt, die jeder allgemeiner verstehen kann. Das ist etwas, das wir als Musiker sehr stark wahrnehmen, dass Mental Health und sich damit auseinandersetzen eine sehr grosse Rolle spielt, weil du einen ganz extrem inkonstanten Alltag hast, weil du immer wieder auf Tour oder in anderen Situation unter extremem Druck und in extreme Stresssituationen gebracht wirst kombiniert mit beispielsweise zehn Stunden Fahrt noch nebenher und dein privates Leben super abgeschottet wird so einem langen Zeitrahmen, in dem man unterwegs bist. Viele Musiker oder Menschen, gerade in unserem Umfeld, die in der Musikindustrie arbeiten, haben zunehmend psychische Probleme oder man hört immer wieder sehr stark davon, und trotzdem spricht niemand wirklich offen darüber. Wir wollten das versuchen mit der Platte zu machen, offener darüber zu sprechen und aufmerksam darauf zu machen, dass es insbesondere in dem Bereich, wo wir uns zumindest auskennen, Musik und auch ganz vielen anderen, ein Thema ist, das viel mehr Präsenz braucht. Ich glaube, man kann da Dinge nur verbessern, wenn man für sich selber und für Menschen um sich herum darüber spricht, wenn man gemeinsam sich damit auseinandersetzt, wie kann ich ihn schwierigen damit umgehen, was kann ich anderen weitergeben. 

Ja, auf jeden Fall. In diesem Zusammenhang spendet ihr auch ein Teil eurer Einnahmen von der Platte an Help Musicians und Ni9ht H3lps. Was machen diese Organisationen?

Es sind zwei Organisationen, eine aus England, Help Musicians, und Ni9ht H3lps aus Deutschland. Beide Organisationen machen grundsätzlich sehr ähnliche Arbeit. Sie schaffen Aufmerksamkeit für genau dieses Thema mit ganz explizit genauem Fokus auf Menschen, die in der Musikbranche arbeiten oder selber Musiker sind und bieten aktiv Workshops an, in denen sie Menschen beraten. Da sind wir auch wieder dabei. In England ist das Thema einfach schon viel verbreiteter in jeglichen Gesellschaftsschichten. Dort habe die eine super schöne Sache gestartet, und zwar eine 24 Stunden Helpline, sozusagen eine Seelsorge Hotline, die man anrufen kann, wenn man dringend Hilfe und jemanden zum Sprechen braucht. In Deutschland, wie schon gesagt, da gibt es solche Sachen noch nicht, dort wird viel weniger darüber gesprochen. Umso schöner ist es, dass es hier auch eine Organisation gibt, die in diese Richtung arbeitet. Wir haben sehr lange recherchiert, tatsächlich, mit wem wir das machen wollen und es war gar nicht so einfach, Leute zu finden, die da gute Arbeit und wichtige Arbeit machen.

Ich möchte noch zu einem Song fragen und zwar zu Hopeless Romantic, ein Song, der vielleicht in eine etwas politischere Richtung geht als euer restliches Material. Was wolltet ihr mit diesem Lied sagen?

Allgemein ist es uns super wichtig, in der heutigen Zeit als politische Band da zu stehen. Als Band zu sagen, oder allgemein als Mensch überhaupt zu sagen „ich bin unpolitisch, das geht mich nichts an“ finde ich etwas ganz Furchtbares und total bescheuert. Und gerade als Band, die eine gewisse Platform sowieso hat, finde ich das in der heutigen Zeit, wo so viel passiert, sehr, sehr wichtig, sich politischen Themen zu widmen, auch wenn wir in einer Musikrichtung unterwegs sind, die oft stigmatisiert wird als sehr unpolitisch oder nur auf emotionale Themen beschränkt. Mit dem Song haben wir zusammengefasst, es geht uns nicht um eine politische Thematik, aber es ging uns darum zu sagen, es passiert so viel Scheisse auf der Welt, sei es viele Sachen, die gerade untergehen, was in Griechenland auf Lesbos abgeht, wo 25’000 Menschen im Lager gefährdet sind, während in Griechenland selber Menschenansammlungen von, glaube ich, fünf oder zehn Leuten verboten sind. Das sind alles Themen, die präsent sind, wo man dringend was ändern muss und wo wir der Meinung sind, dass, wenn man da viel mehr gemeinsam daran arbeiten würde, Dinge sich auch aktiv verändern können. Allerdings nicht, wenn jeder an seiner eigenen Sache arbeitet und sich gegenseitig kritisiert.

Auf jeden Fall. Noch eine letzte Frage: wir haben viel über die Corona-Thematik gesprochen und ihr ja schon ein paar von euren Tourdaten neu eingeplant. Wann man euch wieder live sehen?

Das ist natürlich eine gute Frage und ich wünschte, ich könnte die eine sichere Antwort darauf geben, aber die hat gerade niemand. Wir spielen ab Ende Mai offiziell wieder live, wenn sich bis dahin irgendwas getan hat, das weiss keiner aktuell. Ansonsten sind wir gerade daran, oder haben auch schon, einige Konzerte, die jetzt abgesagt wurden, vor allem unsere Touren in Frankreich und England, auf den Herbst zu schieben, und wir sind auf jeden Fall im September in diesen Ländern auf Tour. Wir haben unsere Freiburg Hometown-Release-Show auf den 27. November geschoben. Ich sage es mal so, wenn alles gut läuft, sind wir ab Ende Mai unterwegs, aber da das niemand weiss, der Herbst wird auf jeden Fall eine intensive Zeit für alle, und da gibt es uns, glaube ich, mehr als genug oft zu sehen.






The Menzingers (USA) Interview

The Menzingers are a punk rock band from Scranton, Pennsylvania in the US consisting of singer/guitarists Greg Barnett and Tom May, bassist Eric Keen and drummer Joe Godino. They have released six studio albums and are one of the most popular bands in their genre of the last decade. Milo Schärer from Radio Radius met with Greg Barnett before their headlining show at Dynamo in Zurich on January 29th to discuss their most recent album Hello Exile and more.

Milo Schärer: I usually start off with this question. How would you describe your band in five words?

Greg Barnett: In five? Describe our band in five words, interesting. I’m going to repeat a couple, I guess, but I’m going to say a really, really fun band.

Alright, can’t argue with that. On this tour, you’re touring with Spanish Love Songs and Mannequin Pussy. Last time I saw you, you brought PUP and Cayetana along. All great opening acts. How do you pick your opening acts for big European tours like this?

We’re really lucky because the bands we like also want to go on tour with us, so how do we pick them? We just kind of all talk about what we’re listening to and the bands that we’re interested in and we kind of just ask and hope they say yes. We’ve known Mannequin Pussy for a little bit, so we have a connection with them, but never met Spanish Love Songs before, so it’s really exciting to have them out on this tour too.

On the topic of Spanish Love Songs, a lot of people have said that they sound like you guys and there’s memes about it. Do you think that’s true?

I don’t know. I don’t think so. We definitely have similarities, I guess, you could say, but I don’t know. It’s cool and flattering I guess.

Ok, now let’s talk a bit about your actual music. You released your last album Hello Exile last year. In general, it’s more flat-out rock than punk, for a lack of a better way to describe it. Is there any particular reason for this stylistic change?

I wouldn’t say there’s a particular reason, but I would say that it’s more in tune to what the four of us are influenced by currently and the kind of music that we listen to. We never wanted to be a band that just continued to write what people would consider to be typical stylistic Menzingers songs. We want to constantly be changing, constantly be doing new things. We just wanted to write something that, in 20 years, when you look at our catalogue, there’s albums and you can go “ok, that was that album, that was this, that was that” and things don’t all just blur together, if that makes any sense. It wasn’t necessarily that we were trying to go down a different road or do anything like that, we just wanted to be honest with ourselves and the kind of music we were listening to at the time.

Sure, makes sense. Could you tell us a bit about the story behind the title track?

Yeah, sure. I was working on the title track lyrically for a while when we first started the album and one day at practice we all kind of came up with the instrumentation for it. That kind of sparked the creativity for the lyrics of that song. I really wanted to make sure that musically, emotionally and lyrically everything kind of intertwined together. I was reading the short story by Anton Chekhov about people that are vacationing in Yalta and they fall in love, but then they have to go back to their lives. It really hit me and resonated with the kind of town that I grew up in. I grew up in a small vacation town and people were coming and going in my life a lot. I felt a big connection with that idea of existing in a place where people are constantly coming and going. I wanted to take the influences from my life and build a story around it. So yeah, that’s kind of where the song came from. And then that became the title of the album just because it has a lot of central themes of being away from ones you love, trying to figure out who you are as a person, trying to escape things from your past and move forward and start fresh. It kind of became the central theme of the album.

You released Anna as the first single from the album. Why did you start out with that song?

I would say that we all just kind of sat down with Epitaph and our management, and everybody was asking what a good single to release would be. I think everybody kind of agreed with Anna as the first single to go for the album. I think it’s one of the catchiest songs, it’s one of my favorites on the album. We just thought it would be a good representation of where the band is going and where it’s been.

I’m not sure if you’re the right person for my next question, I think Tom wrote this one, but I’ll ask anyways. I read an interview with you guys, in VISIONS I think it was, and I was really interested when I read that Last To Know is about epigenetics because I’m a biology student. What about that field interested you, or I guess Tom?

You know, I wish I could answer that question but I guess it would have to be one for Tom. Just speaking of that song in general, I’ve always loved it. I remember when he first came to practice and showed us the first verse and the chord progression and I fell in love with it. He kept going back home and working on the lyrics and really finessing exactly what he wanted to says. I think the third verse kind of does it’s best to facilitate everything of the whole storyline of the song. But I’d have to leave that question to him, but personally it’s one of my favorites on the album and I really like all the lyrics on it too.

One of my favorites on the new album is Strawberry Mansion, so I’m going to ask you what that one’s about too. I thought it had some interesting lyrics too.

Yeah sure. That’s another Tom one, so I can’t go too deep on a lyrical basis but I do know from conversations with him it’s about global warming, it’s about climate change. It’s about the inability of humans to focus on the issues because capitalism drives you other ways. I think it’s very scary the kind of things that if we leave unchecked could happen to our planet. Yeah, I guess that song is kind of nihilistic in that sense.

Your last album is called Hello Exile and you’ve covered Death or Glory by The Clash recently. Without reading too much into this, are you planning on calling it quits or slowing it down anytime soon?

No, absolutely not. We love doing the band and it’s our life’s passion. I never would read into it that far. Death or Glory is probably one of our collective favorite Clash songs and we were thinking of what a fun cover it would be. Hello Exile is a term. It doesn’t sum up the trajectory of the band as more so the emotional state as we were writing it.

Alright, fair enough. Some people have suggested that, so I wanted to ask you that. For the last question, if you want, you can try this Fernet Branca. I don’t know if you’ve had it before.

Yeah, many times. I’m a big fan. I love Fernet Branca. It’s not from Switzerland, right? It’s from Italy?

Yeah, it’s from Italy. There’s a backstory to it. It’s just really polarizing, so I’ve been collecting opinions on it.

Sure. Let me grab a cup right here. I could tell you a lot about Fernet Branca. Well, I don’t know about how much. But we have some dear friends that work in the restaurant industry and Fernet Branca is the go-to shot of choice for our friends who work in bars. I like to hang out in bars, I like to hang out with my friends that work in their bars and typically, when they want to have a shot, we’ll have Fernet Branca. It’s a good choice. What do you think, do you like it?

Yeah, I love it. I’ll grab a cup too.

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?


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:





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:







Interview: Milo Schärer / Photo: Lindsey Byrnes