Landmines As one of Paper + Plastick's flagship signings, Richmond VA's Landmines have been busy building a name for themselves having released their debut self-titled album last year in addition to sharing the stage with bands like Dirty Tactics, Less Than Jake, The ERGS! and Bomb the Music Industry. As part of Punknews' interview series on this year's Fest, Sean Jain exchanged emails with guitarist Nick Bergheimer, to talk about Landmines' forthcoming EP Hell Is What You Make It, which comes out tomorrow, as well as their upcoming European tour and their appearance at The Fest 8.


So what all has been going down in the Landmines world since the release of your self-titled album last year? Give us a rundown.

We've done a lot since then. We did a six week tour last summer that took us out to Texas, up into Wisconsin, then all the way back to the East Coast and back to VA. We also did a few dates in the fall with Less Than Jake, The ERGS!, and Bomb the Music Industry. Then there was the Fest 7…Oh the Fest. After the Fest we began work on our new EP Hell Is What You Make It. We worked for a few months writing and demoing with our drummer Mac(intosh). Ya see, we wrote most of the EP without a drummer. Joe, our drummer from our S/T LP, quit a couple months before our 2008 summer tour. We had a few other drummers that didn't work out for various reasons, so yea…we had some awesome songs and we really wanted to make them work…so we turned to technology. We tried looking for a permanent drummer before we went into the studio, but instead we were lucky to get Michael McDermott from the Bouncing Souls play on the EP. We now owe our souls to the devil…not that any of us had a chance anyway. After recording we found a drummer from California, Jamie, who has been playing with us since March. We just got back from a 10-day tour with Dirty Tactics followed by 5 days in the depths of the circus that is Warped Tour.

How was the Tour with Dirty Tactics?

The tour was a blast! It is always awesome to meet new friends on tour. We definitely had some good nights. Funny story, we were all in Chicago playing a show and we all got pretty drunk. Our guitarist Tony, and Gary, singer-guitarist for Dirty Tactics, thought it would be a good idea to get a bottle of gin after the show. We were invited to stay at Atlas Studios as long as we were on our best behavior. Matt Allison doesn't mind bro-down sessions at the studio, but partying is a BIG NO. We were just fortunate enough to have a nice place to sleep for the night. Anyway, after a couple of stiff gin-and-grapefruit juices, Tony was holding strong and began drinking beers after the bottle was finished. Gary on the other hand was head down on the counter, wavering his ass around in the air, looking a little green. Soon, after everyone went to bed, Carlin (drummer of DT) and I were hanging out, solving the world's problems (A.K.A. bitching about something), when we see Gary get up from the couch after being asleep for two hours. He proceeds to head into the tracking room with a very mischievous grin. We follow him into the room where we find him pissing on the wall of the tracking room! Carlin spins Gary around, causing his streaming piss to land right onto my bare feet. Gary chuckles, continues to do his business, then heads back to the couch to pass out. Needless to say, Carlin and I were fucking ticked, so we gathered some towels, cleaned up the piss, then packed the piss-soaked towels into Gary's bag. I'm glad to say that Matt Allison thought it was really funny, which was a relief to everyone. So yea, we drank them under the table! It was one of the most fun tours we've done. Good buds and fun times for sure.

You guys have a tour booked for Europe coming up…what are you most excited about for that tour?

We keep hearing about European hospitality and how bands are treated there. I look forward to showing up at a venue and having a bit to eat and drink. It's nice to know that folks booking shows over there think about what touring entails and how hard it can be. Don't get me wrong, it's really fun setting up shows, but we do a lot of it ourselves and it takes a ton of coordination, which takes precious time out of our already crazy daily lives. I hope Europe lives up to its hospitable reputation. We also can't wait to meet Gunner of Gunner Records who is putting this whole thing together and releasing a special edition of our S/T record with the new EP tracks included as "bonus tracks."

Other than the hospitality, I am looking forward to the fact that the place is so damn old! I hope we have a little time to soak in some of the history. Some of my favorite writers and thinkers are from some of the places we'll be visiting. I am also looking forward to other daily indulgences…namely food and alcoholic beverages. I think the Germans invented PBR, so I'm looking forward to finding the original brewery.

Following the Europe Tour, you guys are playing the Fest…what do you like most about it?

I really enjoy the social aspect of it. For me Gainesville brings to mind hanging out with some of my best friends, and I've frequented Gainesville for a long time now. In fact, there's quite the G-ville/RVA connection…a lot of G-ville transplants have lived in RVA and I feel like there is something about the kids from those two cities that keeps the bonds tight.

Gainesville, being the small, quaint place that it is, is easy to wander around bar-to-bar, venue-to-venue, without too much trouble. It is really awesome to see bands that you've never heard of and have a drink with a perfect stranger talking about the bands you have seen, or which ones you will be seeing. Most people are there to see the Fest, so there are like-minded people everywhere. I also really like the TOP restaurant-might be one of my favorites of all time. The Fest is a perfect time to reconnect with my favorite friends, music, and food-it doesn't get much better than that.

Any bands in particular that you're stoked to see?

I'm stoked to see Gunmoll, Samiam, Torche, and about 40 other bands I can't remember right now. I saw Gunmoll's last show (I think the Fest 4) and it was awesome. I only got to seem them one other time. Samiam is a band I totally missed the bus on when they were around, but I really like them now, so it will be rad to see them. Torche is a band I've heard while working or whatever, but I've never owned a record, and I think they are awesome every time I hear them. Oh yeah, Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves as well. He's one of my favorite musicians. I'm pretty sure that he didn't sleep from 1996-2004. He has been in a bunch of really awesome projects. I saw them last year and I was really impressed with how the music translated live. Stoked!

Any good memories from last years Fest?

Ha memories of the Fest! My wife Krissi and I have been to the Fest before, sans Landmines. I think that would have been Fest 3. Last year, she was with us and we got to hang out and stumble around G-ville show-to-show. Well, after a long day drinking sparks and cheap beer, we decided to go and watch our friends The Young Livers play. We arrived around the back of Common Grounds somehow and went backstage to watch them play. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but for some reason Krissi took off across the stage and dove into the crowd. I soon followed and we both repeated this a few times, singing the occasional line with Matt, and then jumping. From what I remember the crowd was a bit tame and we were the only people stage-diving, probably pissing off the people who were there to "watch the band." I think the fact that it was our friends playing and that we felt as if we were part of the show is why it sticks out the most.

Is there a story behind the title of your new EP?

The title of the EP came from our singer, Paul. He thought of it while he was writing the songs. I think it was a slight theme he was noticing with his lyrics. To me, it's a statement on how we can feel in our everyday lives. We all work and work a lot…sweating our assess off in kitchens or breaking our backs in construction. Nothing has really been given to us. Some of the lyrical content of the EP is anthemic for all those who know what it is work hard and then know how good it feels releasing the tension at the end of the day-either by being with our families, or drinking and playing music. "Hell is what you make it" is kind of a cynical but hopeful view of the world we live in. We figure that with all the shit that happens in the world, and in our daily lives, it is good to still make sure we are having a good time while we're alive and trying to make the best with what the world is. Sometimes though, it feels like hell to us. After writing this, it seems a bit dramatic, but I think one of the best things about music is that it's a medium to dramatize and romanticize a person's most inner emotions. Trust me, we all feel very fortunate with the jobs and lives we have, but there are those moments when you think to yourself "fuck, this world really fucks people sometimes," like sometimes how a friend or family member just gets screwed for no reason at all and is put in a really bad spot. It's in those circumstances that music and other forms of release are important…kind of like a pressure valve when everything in life feels too heavy. That pretty much sums up the title Hell Is What You Make It.

Anything else you can tell us about the upcoming EP?

It should be out in September in coordination with our European release date. We had an awesome time recording it and met some new friends in the process. The songs are a bit more focused and stripped down than those that were on the S/T record. After we recorded the S/T record with Brian Mcternan, we learned how to write with a bit more focus on bringing parts back around…so there are some awesome sing-along parts on the new EP. We are all really excited to play these songs out live and see how the crowd reacts!

What was it like working with Matt Allison?

Matt is one of our new best friends. Recording with him was one of the most comfortable recording environments we've ever been in. He has an awesome ear and helped us tighten our songs up. He also has an assistant named Justin Yates that we like to call "mini skiba" because of Justin's uncanny resemblance to Chicago's infamous Matt Skiba. All I can say about Matt Allison other than the obvious things about his recording abilities is that we spent the wee hours of the morning debating whether or not a frame from Google Earth could possibly be Atlantis. It is still yet to be resolved. So yea, hanging out with him was awesome. Also, if I had money to invest in the stock market, I would let Matt advise me as to where to put it.

Have you guys picked an artist for the EP yet?

No, not yet. It is in the works though. The art is going to be something special. We are in between ideas right now depending on what the cost of our initial idea would entail. The art is going to be rad either way though. Vinnie is really supportive of making ridiculous ideas a reality and we are stoked to have someone who puts as much effort into the art of the record as we do the music.

How has the Richmond scene changed over the years in your eyes?

This is the question that pins me into the jaded, washed up category of punk, haha. No really!

There are so many bands in this city that are awesome that I really have no idea who is doing what. What I do know is that some of our friends are in awesome bands. Name drop here: Brainworms, Ultradolphins, Snack Truck, Strike Anywhere, Smoke or Fire, The Catalyst, and like a million others. I've lived in this city for ten years now and it has changed in so many ways. As of late, one of the big things missing in the scene is good venues. There are places to play, and we are happy to have them, but they all kind of suck right now. There used to be houses in Richmond that were as good, if not better, than venues in the city, however, they've all long since been shut down by the party police. Seriously, there really are party police in Richmond that go on the interweb and look for shows and parties to break up. With VCU in town, parents' want their adult children not only to get that mediocre education, but to have no fun or community involvement whatsoever (insert Avail lyric here). If so, those kids might quit college and not get that job waiting tables after graduation.

All that being said, there is hope. In recent months I've heard rumors about two new venues that are going to give good shows to Richmond once again. Richmond is a city where most people bitch about a lot of shit, but then there are those few that make shit happen. Most of our friends are getting older and moving away or are taken over by their daily grinds. That is the scene and how it has changed to me. I have simply gotten older and less involved than I used to be. I hope that all of our friends that have set up awesome shows and events pass the torch to the younger kids.

And finally…Hockey or Football?

Oh man, my friend Keebler is going to kill me, Football.

Bands in this story