Accomplices: Soda Jerk Presents, Rainie and The Iron Wolf
Murder photographs by Heather Peterson, Black Plague Photography
It is I, Maris The Great!...so Hardcore mortals...tell me something about your puny, mortal band
Dave: We've been a band for about eight years. We've had a number of lineup changes - actually to the point that this is a new incarnation of the band since the very first record.
How many records total?
Dave: Four full-lengths and one EP. There was a big transition period in all of that. I used to play guitar for the band and a guy named Keith (who is now in 18 Visions) sang. Him and I flip-flopped in the band because he could no longer sing. It started out just as a simple project, but we eventually got a group of guys together that wanted this to be more than just a project. Matt, Ben, Mark and I have now been pretty much touring full time for the last two years.
Tell me about your habit of being organic mortals
Dave: Regardless of the lineup changes, we've always been a straight edge band. But more than just having a label of "straight edge," we've always prided ourselves on having values like friendship and the attitude that this is our family. We've grown up with that kind of DIY thinking. We still have it to this day.
Ben: 10 years ago I decided to not drink, smoke or do drugs. It wasn't that I was ever heavily into it, but I was doing my fair share. I realized it wasn't for me and that I wasn't comfortable with it. It wasn't making me a better person.
Not to mention your decision to not pollute your cadaver makes your semen much more sweet-tasting.
Ben: Um...yeah, I suppose that's a good reason too (laughs). I think the way I grew up made me realize that I had to fight a different fight and not waste my time getting drunk all weekend. I had too many priorities and too many values instilled by my own family. They taught me that if you want to succeed in this world you have to apply everything you know and have learned and try to make the best out of any situation.
However, such training has not prepared you for the doom that I bring!
Matt: I started being straight edge back when I was around 13. Just growing up with an alcoholic dad was enough reason. I learned from an early age what can come from living like that. I had already decided to not drink, smoke or do drugs before I even knew what straight edge was. It was a choice. Straight edge or not straight edge, I would be drug free to this day, regardless. It was just something important to me.
Mark: I became straight edge early on in high school. I was around people who were always doing drugs. I had a lot of friends who were drinking and doing a lot of drugs. I had drank a few times and smoked a few times, but slowly realized I didn't want to be a part of that. I had a group of friends that weren't a part of that either. Now I'm straight edge for myself, nobody else.
Let's talk some about your current CD Vendetta.
Dave: Well, as I said before, we've underwent a lot of changes in the band. As a lyricist, I have a lot to say and a lot to get out. I have a lot of bones to pick as well as a lot of praises I want to give to people in my life. I think we are one of the hardest working bands in all of heavy music. We're on the road an obscene amount of time. Hopefully, we tried to get all of our demons out on this record. We poured our heart into it.
Why did you go with such a butch title like Vendetta?
Dave: If we go with a song title (for the name of the record), we try to choose a song that describes the record as a whole. With this record I think the band has grown to mean a lot of things to us. But more than anything, I think it's our release, our catharsis, our..vendetta. Again, it's all those problems or demons we experience in our personal life. We've had a lot of obstacles thrown in our way. The song and the record in general is about that.
Matt: Vendetta was the first record that I was a part of making. I had been with the band a long time and had been touring with them for so long that it was great to finally get to put something down on record. We were so stressed for time that I think the record is simple, stripped down, heavy, aggressive and brutal. I think because we were stressed out, it really came across in the songs. There were days we were really at each other's throats writing it.
Ben: It's a very honest record. It represented exactly who we were and what we were about at the time. It's a record we can all be proud of.
Some mortals think you've sold out with this release . Why did the band change? Was it to attract more vagina?
Dave: It's not like over night we decided we were going to be a different band. From the outside looking in at the band, it's so easy to look at two records and notice the vast change in sound between both of them - even though it's not really that vast. In the time between Haymaker and the new record, so much has changed in the band, from members in the band to all of our life experiences. To be honest with you, we just became more proficient musicians. For some of the Hardcore kids, because we got a drummer that can haul ass and a singer with more of a range, we're suddenly a sell out.
Has anyone come up to you and told you that you are a sell out?
Dave: Never. It's never happened even once. There was a phony - and I don't want to say his name, but...some kid somewhere in the country got a sell out chant going at one of our shows. A borderline violent situation almost broke out. One of us might have ended up in jail that night...
Oooh, there's a topic I enjoy conversing on...JAIL!...If each of you were doing hard time and had a superior butt sex relationship with your cell mate, do you think you'd be the pitcher or the catcher in the relationship?
Matt: I'm a giving individual you know? Being a pitcher is closer to what I'm used to...so I'd be the pitcher.
Mark: I'd definitely be the pitcher.
OK...wait...STOP. You all are going to answer this question the same. What is it about getting a penis up your rectum that is so unimaginably awful to straight, mortal males, such as yourselves?
Dave: I don't know. Anything to do with your butthole, is just weird...unless you're taking a shit (everybody laughs). I mean, you can handle it if you have to take a huge shit, but I think that the idea of having anything going in kind of strips you of your masculinity.
Yeah, but it takes a lot of masculine strength to take something up your ass.
Dave: You have a point there..
Ben: I think it's a personal thing. I don't think it strips you of your masculinity...
(Turns to Ben) SOOooooo....what you're really saying, big and yummy mortal is that if you and I were doing life in prison, you could be the mortal catcher to my necromantic advances?
Ben: I think I would be ready to share both tasks, you know? Hopefully I could get ahold of some makeup and make you look good though (laughs). If I'm going to spend life in a prison cell with you, I'd want you to look as good as possible (laughs).
You dare insinuate I am not already at the peak of decomposing perfection?!...You will die!...Speaking of spending your life in prison, considering your own personality, what kind of crime would you have committed in order to garner the life sentence?
Matt: I would probably strangle someone to death...or if something was laying around, I'd bash them in the head.
Ben: I'd be a mass murderer. I mean, if you're going to kill one person, why stop? You might as well kill everyone else around them too.
Well said, mortal! You have redeemed yourself.
Mark: I bottle everything up you know. So, I'd like bash someone's head in until they stopped moving...two weeks after they pissed me off I'd just start bashing them on the head (everyone laughs)
Dave: No you'd be in prison for tax evasion (everyone laughs).
Singer mortal, you come across pretty menacing and butch when you're on stage. How important is that in Hardcore? Are you just posing?
Dave: It's real, for sure. Some times it's more real than other times, but I never get up there and fake it. None of us do.
Matt: It's a natural release being on stage. I've played in some bands that weren't that heavy, but the aggression always comes out of me once I get up there.
Ben: It's all honest, but there are some nights where some of us don't feel it. You can see it. We can all kind of read each other.
When you guys write new songs, do you ever discard a song because it's not heavy enough or Hardcore enough?
Ben: I don't think we have a certain image that we think is specific to Throwdown. I think we naturally fuse together and make it happen naturally.
Is that why you toured with Nevermore and In Flames?
Matt That was one of the best tours that we've done, outside of Ozzfest or Sounds of The Underground. It was amazing. We were definitely skeptical going into it, it's probably the most Metal tour we had ever done. But In Flames and Nevermore were great to us. It was awesome. In Flames in legendary.
Dave: I think it's great and I'm glad that In Flames invited us on the tour. They look at tours the same way we do. We always said we didn't want to put a tour package together with a bunch of bands that sound like us. If you look at the last headlining tours we've done over the last couple of years, you'll notice we don't do things that way. We always keep things heavy, of course, but we're very open to different kinds of music.
Mark: That was my favorite tour with the band. I mean, Sounds of The Underground was great, but as far as club shows, I've had more fun playing on this one than any other tour we've done. The kids were awesome.
And after that tour you did the Download Fest and the Warped Tour.
Matt:Yeah, the Download Fest was just amazing. Tool, Deftones, Metallica, Guns N Roses were all there. We played the second stage and played to somewhere around 15,000 people with Bleeding Through, Atreyu and a bunch of others.
They will all die! Why did you only do a week of the Warped Tour?
Matt: I don't know. That was all we were offered (laughs).
I hear there was quite a buzz around your performances
Matt: A lot of our friends showed up to support us. Rise Against, Saosin, AFI....18 Visions. We had a great time.
So what makes all of this ultimaely worthwhile?
Matt: The whole reason we do this is....the feeling we get when wer're up on the stage is hard to describe, but it makes all of the hard times woth it. It sucks to be away from home, to be away from our girlfriends or wives. The only thing that makes it worthwhile is getting up on that stage for 45 minutes and connecting with all of our friends. Also, any time we hear that our music has influenced someone's life in a positive way - whether it be someone that has given up drinking because of us, or simply helping them through a tough time; any time a person comes up to us and tell us that our music has made a positive impact on their lives, it makes all the bullshit worth it. It's the whole reason we do this.