Youíve just played Hevy Fest, how was it playing such a huge stage?
At first, it was really tough for us, but weíve kind of got used to it by now. I will say itís awkward, because weíre kind of one of those middle stage bands, weíre not big enough to play a huge stage, but weíre not small enough where no-one watches us, so I kind of feel itís tough for us. We didnít even get to sound check before we played and that can be challenging, because you donít know whatís going to happen, but all in all, itís fun if thereís energy in the crowd and it works out ok.
Things have been quiet in the Reign Supreme camp over the past couple of years, why did you decide to take a little break?
We hit it really hard for a few years with touring a lot and as much as we like touring, I found that the best thing you can do is treat touring like a vacation. It shouldnít be your job and if touring becomes your job, thatís fine, some people can pull it off, but I grew to hate it. So, we decided to step back a little bit. We still practiced and still play, we just wrote a new record and we still do little tours here and there, but we found that itís more fun to actually have a life outside the band, and then once a year, take a month to actually tour. We did that this month, we toured the US, Canada and Europe, so we can still make it work. Itís just that weíre getting older and I donít want to be one of those bands who just does this because I have nothing else going on. I want to be one of those bands who does it because I love it.
Loads of bands love to go on how, ďhardcore is their life,Ē but itís cool that you can admit you have other priorities and do things at your own pace.
I have a really nice house, I have a 2010 Subaru and I have a good job. Iím not from the streets, none of us are. Iím not going to lie, we all have our pasts and some of us are still struggling with certain things, even right now, but weíve never been one of those bands thatís been like, ďYo dawg, weíre from the streets!Ē Weíre just dudes playing passionate hardcore and thatís it.
Have you still been involved with the hardcore scene?
Oh yeah, Dave runs a little label called Get This Right Records and he puts out bands like Goldust, Empire of Rats, and a couple of other really rad bands. Mikey works for Ibanez guitars, so heís always doing music stuff, and as far as the rest of us go, I recently played guitar for a band called The Wrong Side who are on Lockiní Out, and we all stay active with music. Clint plays in another band called Current, I think itís ex-members of Forfeit. We still all do stuff outside of Reign Supreme, in terms of music and hardcore.
Itís also cool that you didnít announce a break up and make a big deal about it like a lot of bands do, then get back together straight away.
We thought that would be really tacky. I donít see us ever breaking up, I see us probably not touring as much, but we will probably always be writing music. Weíve just finished writing a new EP and weíve just starting writing a follow-up EP, and about 14-15 songs for it. We just keep going and evolving, I donít see us being one of those bands having a last show and making a big deal about it. I think weíll be like, ďAlright, this member is going to have a kid, letís take a year off.Ē Itís like bands start off and they either get hyped or they donít get hyped, and the hyped bands, they can look forward to a very short lifespan of mega-stardom in the hardcore community, which in the larger community means jack shit, and they either go out on top like Have Heart or Guns Up! did, or they go down a path of mediocrity. I donít think weíre going to do any of those things, I donít think weíre a hyped band, I donít think weíre big enough. I just think weíre always going to write angry music.
It seems that youíve been recording forever, whatís going on there?
This record took us a very long time to write compared to the last two. American Violence is a straight-up heavy hardcore record. Reign Supreme had a little more variety, but for the most part, it was still pretty much hardcore. This record is without a doubt a metal record and itís without a doubt a very experimental record. We have a song thatís 7-minutes long and songs that have all kinds of weird stuff that weíve never done before, so it took us a really long time to write it. I sing a lot more on the new album and we got really experimental with the song structure, theyíre not as straightforward as they used to be. To be honest, I think we get lumped in with bands like Trapped Under Ice or Cruel Hand or Madball, and I have no problem with that, thatís fine, but I think weíre getting to the point where weíve been doing this long enough where we donít actually give a fuck anymore and we just want to play music we like. At the end of the day, we just want to write heavy pissed off music that suits us. But itís done now, and weíre just finalizing the artwork and the final touches with our label, and itíll be out.
So, why are you so angry?
I donít know, I have a really good life and Iím generally a very happy person, but I donít know what it is. I just get really, really violent about things. I think I have a lot of empathy for people and sometimes when I see people suffering, because of unnecessary thingsÖ Like right now in America, thereís a very big dividing line about gay marriage and it drives me fucking crazy that thereís people out there that still think that same sex marriage is wrong, so things like that, as much as I donít sing about them too much Ė though thereís one song on our new record that speaks about that Ė we try not to get too political, but itís stuff like that, that drives me nuts. I legitimately canít walk down the street without seeing people do things that make me sick to my stomach, and thatís what I end up singing about. I donít like people, I donít like the human race, and I think the world would be a better place if I could live on a farm with my dog and my wife somewhere and thatís it.
Your music is obviously very aggressive. How do you feel about this next generation of hardcore bands that try to adopt this ďhardĒ NYHC-style image?
I donít really feel one way or the other about it, weíve played with Backtrack, weíve played with Naysayer, weíve played with all these bands and theyíre all fine. The thing is, Iím 29, and Iíll be 30 in like a month, and I started going to see Madball when I was like 14, and not to slate those bands at all, because they do what they do and theyíre good at it, but I just donít care for that stuff anymore. I prefer bands like Black Breath or Enabler, I like listening to stuff thatís a little more complicated. Like I said, I have nothing against those bands doing what they do, itís certainly cool to play with them, but at the end of the day, I donít want to listen to bands that sound like that in my own time. Iíd rather listen to stuff that I havenít got into too much before. Itís often a novel and authenticity thing, Iíd rather listen to stuff thatís new and interesting to me. Iíve been listening to hardcore 15-years, I need to listen to other stuff.
Image seems to be really important in hardcore and Reign Supreme has always been known for its merch, how important is it for you?
Merch is a tough issue for us. At the end of the day, we make merchandise for people who like our band and not for us. Thatís the unfortunate truth, because if it wasnít for merch sales, weíre not a big enough band to tour or pay bills without it, so we have to make merch that we know will sell. Sometimes, that means making merch that I wouldnít necessarily wear, but whatever. Weíve never made anything that Iím ashamed of and as long as I can say that, Iím happy. We try to keep it simple, big words, iconic images, things that kind of represent us and hopefully kids like it and buy it. Image is a big thing, though. I kind of think itís important for bands to have an image. Like bands like Black Breath evoke a different image like bands like Trapped Under Ice. Theyíre both hardcore, but you can tell apart the kid who listens to Black Breath as opposed to the kid that listens to Trapped Under Ice. I think itís important that, that kind of aesthetic exists, because itís part of this culture, but at the same time, Iím too old, I donít give a fuck. I just want to do what I want to do.
How do you feel about all these ďeBay hype bandsĒ whose merch sells for ridiculous amounts?
When we started, that was a big thing. One of the shirts weíre selling today, we put ďhardcore livesĒ on the back of it and someone bought it for over 100 dollars on eBay. That happens. I donít care. Capitalism exists, what are you going to do? It is stupid that kids buy into it that much and thereís that much anticipation for merch as opposed to going out to see a band, but at the same time, how do I not know that that kid is from Bumblefuck, North Dakota where weíve never played? He might never see these bands and if it costs from $100 to hold onto a piece of merch thatís going to mean a lot to him, then thatís fine, I donít judge him for it. At the end of the day, whatís important to me is the live show and listening to music that I want to hear and what I think is interesting, so Iíd rather do that than pay a lot for merch.
I saw an interview from a while back and you said you were straight edge, are you still edge?
The whole band is straight edge. I was straight edge when I was younger for about 6/7 years and then I stopped being straight edge. I never really got crazy with drinking or drugs or anything, I just didnít care, but then about a year or two ago, I decided I was going to be straight edge again. Weíre all straight edge, but we donít really talk about it as a band, weíre not a straight edge band.
Thatís interesting, how do you feel about people who say, ďIf you break edge you never wereÖĒ and canít claim again?
I think people at their basic nature are stupid animals and selfish, unintelligent things, and because of that, they characterize things and often misjudge things for their own purposes. So, youíre going to have a lot of children that will talk about that kind of stuff. I donít give a shit. If you want to say youíre straight edge, fine. If you want to go drink, fine. I donít care what people want to do, thatís not why Iím straight edge. Iím straight edge, because I reject the idea of bar culture. I reject the idea of spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday wasted, because you hate Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I think itís important to live life based on merit, based on fun, based on love and based on community than it is to live a life based on getting wasted watching a football game, thatís why Iím straight edge. But at the same time, I believe that that doesnít go for everybody. I donít care what they do. Like weíve played with Deez Nuts a bunch of times and theyíre some of the best guys Iíve ever met in music, and theyíre constantly drinking and smoking pot. Itís fine, itís what they want to do and we all get along, and it doesnít matter. Itís us doing our thing and itís them doing their thing.
What made you ďbreakĒ edge?
I was straight edge for a long time, because Iíd seen the damage that a life of substance abuse can do and then when I got into my early 20s, all of my friends started breaking edge and I guess I was kind of ashamed of it, so I gave into peer pressure as a way of separating myself from them. It really doesnít make any sense saying it out loud Ė honestly. It was stupid, but I was young and I didnít really think about it. Basically, I drank a beer at a show one time and that was me breaking edge. I think I drank a couple years later and then there was a period where I was working in restaurants and going out drinking a lot, and that was really it. Then 5/6 years ago, I stopped drinking altogether. So, itís easily been since 2006 when that was the last time I had a drink. I didnít really think about calling myself straight edge again until recently, because I didnít care, but I realized that I do believe in straight edge as an ideal and I call myself that, because thatís who I am. My wife is the manager of an Italian restaurant and drinks wine all the time, weíll go out to dinner and Iíll have coffee and sheíll have a beer. Itís totally fine. I donít care.
I once heard you say that the Philadelphia hardcore scene is one of the most violent scenes Ė do you still believe that?
Itís not like that anymore, Philadelphia was traditionally one of the most violence scenes and I think that was due to a lot of kids coming into the hardcore community, because they were troubled youths and didnít have anywhere else to go. They would act out because it was like an avenue for their frustrations. Itís really not like that anymore, because a lot of those kids grew up. Itís pretty safe and totally fun now, we have this awesome festival called This Is Hardcore every year. Philadelphia hardcore is good. Thereís a lot of shows and a lot of bands. If I could change one thing about it, I wish it was a little open-minded, because a lot of the time, you have to be in with one of the cool bands to be given a chance and I wish it wasnít like that, but I think itís like that almost everywhere.
So, whatís next for Reign Supreme?
Weíve got another week here and then we go home, probably play a couple of shows around the east coast, and Iím immediately positive that weíre going to be starting on our LP. Weíve been working on it and have demos, but we really need to start working on pre-production, assembling lyrics, figuring out what weíre going to call it. Thatís probably what weíre next going to do, because this year, weíre all really busy. Iím getting married and thereís a lot of stuff going on, so I think weíre mostly going to write this year. I do think next summer that weíre going to tour Australia and Japan, and Iím pretty sure weíll be touring the west coast, so thatís what Iím hoping we do, but who knows? We just kind of do what we want to do and not worry about what we should do, which helps us, but hurts us sometimes too.
Do you have anything else you want to say before we finish?
I will say that on this tour, weíve met some of the coolest bands weíve ever played with, Verse, Soul Control, Ritual, Deez Nuts, Mixtapes. Thereís a lot of good music out there, make sure you listen to it all, and definitely buy the new Black Breath and Enabler records, because theyíre fucking awesome.