In this edition, Victor Alvarez of The Knockdown and Elliot Meyer of How Dare You trade queries about band life, inspiration, fatherhood and other topics so engaging they end up breaking the five question rule in our very first segment. Both bands are part of a split 7" available from Kiss of Death.
Interview Part 1 - The Knockdown asks How Dare You questions:
Victor Alvarez: What was the main difference between recording this 7" and recording your full length [Comfort Road]?
Elliot Meyer: I would say that the main difference would be the time spent on the recording. We spent a lot of time with the first album. Not necessarily in the studio but with our job schedules and the studios open time slots, it took us a considerable amount of time to get the finished product in our hands. With the 7", I believe we recorded it in a weekend.
Every band that is out there gets compared to other bands. Out of all the comparisons, which one is the least accurate and which is the most flattering?
Meyer: Without a doubt, Hot Water Music is a band that always seems to be mentioned when someone reviews or talks about our sound. I find this to be the least accurate and also the most flattering. Don't get me wrong, the 4 of us love HWM and we all grew up on it. I just don't see the comparison. It is very flattering at the same time because Hot Water Music has made some of my favorite songs of all time. I wish we were that good, haha.
Much of your lyrical content is about the connections and brotherhood found in adolescence standing in contrast to how hard adulthood can be. Songs like "Week of Heart Attacks" or "Still Young" paint pictures of much more simple times against the grind and anxiety of adulthood. Do you write with this idea intentionally?
Meyer: I think those ideas are something that Justin (our lead singer) holds very dear to himself and I don't really believe that he writes with those ideas intentionally. The just seem naturally develop in the song writing process. Justin writes the lions share of the lyrics and it's probably better that way. If I was talking about my life you would probably hear lyrics about changing diapers and feeding babies.
What would be the dream tour lineup for How Dare You?
Meyer: Hmmm, that's a tough one. It would definitely be a band that is not around anymore. How rad would it be to do a tour with Minor Threat or Jawbreaker?
What was the last good movie you saw?
Meyer: I am really not a movie buff by any sorts. I tend to like really cheesy movies like Paul Blart: Mall Cop. But if I had to pick one, I would say that Worlds Greatest Dad was a really good movie. Robin Williams is in it and it starts off really funny then it gets really creepy. I enjoyed that one a lot.
Does being a dad make you more or less punk?
Meyer: Haha, I never considered myself to be punk. I've just always liked punk music. One thing that being a dad has changed is the fact that I can't go to as many shows as I used to. I love live music and I am a firm believer of supporting your local music scene. That being said, I wouldn't change anything [about fatherhood] for the world.
Interview Part 2 - How Dare You asks the Knockdown questions:
Elliot Meyer: You just recently moved to Florida. What are you doing to keep the creative juices flowing, any projects?
Victor Alvarez: I try to play or write everyday and I am currently working on writing songs for a new band. However, working with no steady goal has made it harder to stay creative. As of late, I've tried different tunings and capo positions just to see if I can find inspiration.
Is there anything you miss from the scene up north? How can you compare the local scene here in Florida to New York?
Alvarez: I really miss all my friends who live up north and my position in the scene up there. In Florida, I am more of a fan or a behind the scenes person as opposed to New York, where I am some who plays music. The scene in New York is more hardcore based. There is a premium put on punk ethics and pushing the envelope artistically. The Florida scene is more laid back and the No Idea influence is deeply rooted. Both scenes have great people in them and Fest is the only time it all comes together.
Seems like you dudes used to tour non stop, it has to be a bit of a change being on the road 24/7 to not touring at all. Do you miss it?
Alvarez: I miss touring everyday of my life. You get to spend all day with your best friends, play your music in front of people all over the country, and see the world outside your hometown. The only thing is that if you push to hard with no back up plan, you can come home in a huge financial hole. Being on tour makes you stronger and more resourceful but it's also nice to be at home where you can eat real food and get a good night's sleep.
When you guys were on tour who would get picked on the most and why did they deserve it?
Alvarez: Fatman, Eric, and I all got picked on the same amount. Fatman was super slow and acted like a muppet most of the time. He would often say terrible things and brought along this awful bag that took up half the trunk space. Eric was an overachiever who would eat dried fruit and work out in the hotel gym if we ever were lucky enough to stay in one. We used to make jokes that Eric listened to five bands and liked five movies, which to the rest of us pop culture nerds was a major insult. I got picked on for being spaced out and being an old man/little kid. That's what happens when you eat a lot of ice cream and go to bed early. We all deserved what we got because it was a small price to pay for being on the road playing music.
What got you into punk and what is the difference between you being a young kid learning about punk rock and younger kids these days learning about punk rock through bands like Blink-182 or Green Day?
Alvarez: The fact of the matter is that I got into punk rock through Green Day! I got Dookie in 7th grade and was hooked. By the time I was in 8th grade, I was listening to the Punk-o-Rama CDs on the bus to school and started to fall in love with the energy and sincerity of punk. As time went on, I listened to everything that Epitaph and Fat Wreck had to offer. However, when I was in 11th grade, I went to see Strike Anywhere at the Penny Arcade in Rochester, NY and my life changed. I wanted to be in something that powerful and connected to kids who were going to dig for their music. I think the main difference about my experience and kids getting into punk today, is that punk rock wasn't cool where and when I grew up. There were maybe ten kids in my high school who didn't listen to hip-hop and Dave Mathews so having long and tight pants was not hip like it is now. Plus, the internet has made it much easier for kids to get into punk but has also made it just as disposable.
What advice would you have for younger kids trying to get out on the road and do the DIY thing?
Alvarez: I know this is obvious but be a good fucking band. Know how to play your songs and how to rip live. Also, hang out and watch the other bands. You don't know what band is going to come out of no where and blow you away. Lastly, be ready to bust your ass. No one will work harder for you than yourself.