Leftover Crack
Contributed by dante3000, Posted by Alternative Tentacles Interviews

Punknews.org funny-guy and Sound Scene Revolution podcaster, the illustrious Dante3000, recently sat down with NYC's Leftover Crack to discuss a variety of topics.

As always, you can hear the audio for this bad boy over at SSR's page.

I guess if we could just start by introduce yourself and what you do in the band. Stza: I'm Stza Crack, I sing.
Ezra: I'm Ezra Crack. I play guitar and sing, sometimes.
Stza: I play guitar sometimes. When we're missing people.
Ezra: We trade but we do it very uhm… mediocrely. That's the word.

Sometimes that's all you need. So, I want to ask how the tour's been going with you guys so far. Stza: Really good.
Ezra: Yeah, we're about a week in so far, and we've only had one smashed window break in and one flat tire. No riots.
Stza: Yeah.
Ezra: So we're doing alright.

Have the crowds been alright? Stza: Yeah, we've sold out all the shows except for Richland, Washington. Which is in the middle of nowhere.
Ezra: Yeah, that was…Everywhere else has been good. Started in Boise, made our way across to Seattle and now down the West Coast. We'll go as far as Tijuana. If we're not dead yet.

So are you guys going to Mexico after this? Stza: No, we're just doing one show in Tijuana.
Ezra: If that's considered Mexico. I don't know. (laughs)
Stza: Mexicoish. It's across the boarder.

It's kind of like Mexico. College Mexico, because that's where all the college kids go. Ezra: White Mans Mexico.
Sound Guy Nariman: You can call it Little U.S.

I was just really disappointed with what I was seeing at [Hellcat] in general. This kind of sexist punk attitude that Rancid and Lars and the Bastards kind of propagate.

So you guys were doing to photo shoot today for the split with Citizen Fish, I'd like to ask how that came about. How'd you end up working with them and how it landed on Fat? Stza: Uh…
Ezra: Well actually we played, it was the last show of our last U.S. tour and uhm… Stza: Well, we played a few shows with the Subhumanss.
Ezra: Yeah, we played with the Subhumans.
Stza: And Citizen Fish were on the tour…I mean they were all there. Well, not all but a couple of guys stuck behind like Dick and Jasper stuck behind in Milwaukie, our last show was in Milwaukie. Me and JP, our drummer that played with us a lot (but he moved to Arizona, he's not with us now), he's a huge Citizen Fish fan and the first punk show I went to was Citizen Fish. Me and JP were looking at each other at a coffee shop the morning of our show and Jasper was there and I was like, "What are you doing here?" and he was like, "We're sticking in town another day". Me and JP looked at each other and were like, "So, you want to do a Citizen Fish song?" So, I know most of their songs, I don't know how to play them all but Jasper showed me what he knew. I played guitar, Dick sang, Jasper played bass and JP played drums. And, we had Citizen Crack do one song at the Leftover Crack show. It kinda snowballed after that, we've been buddies since.

Are you going to be doing any songs together on the split or is it going to be entirely separate? Stza: It's separate but we're going to be covering each other's tunes. Like we're doing a Citizen Fish and a Subhumans' song and they're doing a Choking Victim and a Leftover Crack song.

How many tracks is it going to be over all, do you know? Stza: Fifteen.

So is it going to be eight [songs] and seven [songs]? Stza: We have an intro so it's going to be seven, seven.

One of the things that gets brought up a lot is that one of the original issues you had when you were with Hellcat [Records] is over the original artwork and title for Mediocre Generica. I've heard people talk about it but I've never heard what the original artwork and concept was supposed to be. Stza: The original record title and concept was Shoot the Kids at School and it was basically my arm holding a gun. We took pictures of that and cut it out and I found pictures of children in a school yard, kind of playing. I cut it out and Xeroxed it and pasted it and it looked like I was right there and that was going to be the cover. Hellcat flipped out and they weren't into it. So censorship ensued.

Is that why you guys ended up going with the obvious title and the band photo on the cover? Stza: Yes, exactly. They wanted mediocre generic artwork and they wanted a mediocre generic title, so I called it Mediocre Generica and I guarantee you the irony was lost on Epitaph. They did not have a clue. Those guys don't pay attention unless something jumps out at them, like Shoot the Kids at School.

Was it a huge step going from that to Alternative Tentacles where they let you have pictures of Bush and Chenny blowing up the twin towers and Fuck World Trade as the title for your album? Were you ever expecting that to happen? Stza: We just figured…We didn't have a plan. We didn't know if we were going to be signed to any label. We recorded [the album] ourselves and uhm…honestly I would have liked to have had just the World Trade Centeron the cover but I knew that wouldn't fly with anybody. So, I was like, "If we disguise it as anti-Bush propaganda, then we can get it out there, our label will put it out". So, I mean you know.
Ezra: Yeah, we're really happy with Alternative Tentacles and we were lucky to have them.
Stza: I mean they're putting out the vinyl for this thing coming up.
Ezra: They kinda did it when nobody else really would.
Stza: A-F Records was interested but I don't think that…I felt a little hesitation on their part. And so that's why we went to AT.

So how did it happen that the split, the CD at least, is going to be coming out on Fat? Did they just contact you about it? Stza: Oh, Citizen Fish is already on Fat, I think. I had heard that everybody at Fat liked our band and then I heard that Mike might have been interested in the record but he was on Warped Tour. So he was going to be gone for a couple months and we didn't really know. So, I called Brian, from the Bouncing Souls, and said (he was on tour, on the Warped Tour also)I said, " Brian, tell Mike if he wants to put out the split with Citizen Fish, he has four days to call me". He called me like three days later.
Ezra: Plus, Brad, our guitar player, is like good buddies with all those guys in NOFX.
Stza: Yeah, he's part of the Punk Rock Mafia. A group that me and Ezra are not a part of.
Ezra: Yeah, we're X-ed out of that. It's funny, we though Fat hated us because we were in their offices like what, three years ago, four years ago? Something like that. We did not get the warmest reception from them.
Stza: Mike, he doesn't believe me, but I told him that he blew us off. Our friend Chicken is in Dead to Me, and he was their mail room guy back then. He introduced us to Mike, me and Ezra were there and Mike just looked me up and down and without saying a word he walked away. It was dick.
Ezra: He gave us the punk rock sneer.
Stza: He doesn't believe me. He thinks I'm lying or I made it up. I'm like, "Oh yeah, I made that up. Sure".

We it seems like things are on at least a little better note with you guys. Ezra: No, I'm happy to be on Fat. There's a lot more bands on that label that I like, or have liked in the past, than on Hellcat or any of the other major indies.

Speaking of Hellcat, I don't mean to keep bringing it up but this is my first chance to talk with you guys, I've read that the song "Gay Rude Boys Unite" was, in part, a reaction to Hellcat releasing or signing homophobic artists or content. Is there any truth to that? Stza: Yeah, I mean it was a combination of a lot of things but pretty much all of them had to do with Hellcat. At the time I was at Tim Armstrong's house for some reason, I stayed there one night or two, I was homeless. He begrudgingly let me stay over and soil his nice place. Anyways, Buju Banton's (look up)manager was there. She's this girl, I don't know where she's from, I assume she's from Jamaca because that's where he lives. And Buju Banton is famous for being homophobic and I was asking her about that, like what's up with that? She was like, Shaba Ranks (who's a huge reggae and dancehall artist) he apologized for being homophobic and she thought I was homophobic, apparently. She's like, "But Buju Banton, he never apologized". I was like, "Oh yeah, right". Like, she wanted me to give her a high five or something. So Tim really wanted Buju Banton to be on Hellcat. Epitaph kind of ended up stealing him for Anti Records. There were a couple of other bands on Hellcat with questionable lyrics. So, I kinda took a bunch of stuff, I took a lot of Op Ivy references and put them into the song and the music is kind of the same thing as "Yelling in my Ear". I was kinda poking fun at him at the time, like we weren't enemies (this is before we had any problems with the artwork) but I was just really disappointed with what I was seeing at the label in general. This kind of sexist punk attitude that Rancid and Lars and the Bastards kind of propagate.
Ezra: U.S. Bombs.
Stza: Yeah. I mean I haven't seen a U.S. Bombs record cover with naked women on it yet but I'm just saying…Yeah, U.S. Bombs is part of it. One of their songs is called "Don't Need You" off of War Birth, you can look up the lyrics, tell me what you think. Is it homophobic or not? The singer of U.S. Bombs, Duane Peters, he told me that was meant to be against something else, but a 15 year old kid gets a record he's not going to know what the fuck he's talking about, you know? They're just going to see it for what it is basically, a homophobic song.

Do you guys have any feelings about the upcoming midterm elections? Have you been paying attention to it at all? Stza: Naw. I don't vote.
Ezra: We don't vote.
Stza: Maybe some people in the band vote.
Ezra: I'm saying you and I don't vote. Until I feel that there's someone that represents me, which is probably never, I'm not going to vote.

So I want to mention this because it seems to come up a lot on your MySpace blog that you might not be up to a lot after this tour and that you're not entirely sure you're going to make it through the tour. Is there anything you can elaborate on? Stza: Take it one day at a time, you know? I'm just being pessimistic about the future. I usually write those things, mostly.
Ezra: We're constantly on the verge of splitting up and every tour is our last tour.
Stza: Honestly, I think we get along better than most bands. It's just that the dynamic is…it's rough every night.

This tour is weird because it's the first time we're selling out every show we're playing at and there's too many people and it stresses me out. I don't like it. I like it to be smaller venues, less people. I like being able to talk to people and not having to hide from 500 people.

Ezra: I think that there's a lot of creative people to be in one band. I think we all need other creative outlets from time to time. I think Sturgen wants to do his own thing, for a minute, after this tour.
Stza: The thing is, I got it, the thing is that Leftover Crack, we have like 40 songs or so shit. Between The Crack Rock Steady 7 and Leftover Crack like 35 or 40 songs. Every night I make a set list, like I should be doing right now but I'll do it when I'm finished with this. I make a set list and I have to fucking decide from…I think most of our songs are good personally. I think we only have a few songs that are shitty. Some songs we never play but there are songs that we have to play every night and then there are songs that I like that people want to hear, that they'll request something different. If we make another record after the split we're gonna have 50 songs, 55 songs. So, it goes on and on and makes it harder for me to make a set. I figure I want to do another band that has different songs that are similar and then come back and play Leftover Crack shows playing our songs. Like I just started doing Choking Victim shows with the original members of that band. We just play Choking Victim songs, so Leftover Crack can ex-out all our Choking Victim songs (we do one or two a night tops). It's like, there's no room for them anymore and now there's hardly any room for all the Leftover Crack songs. We need to do different stuff and keep Leftover Crack what it is. I just don't like it when a band has a million songs and they only play their new record. You go see Neurosis and they play their new record, they don't play anything. There's Neurosis Pain of Mind, Neurosis Word as Law, Souls of Zero , all these are my favorite records, Enemy of the Sun, and these are all five records ago and fuckin' they never play any of those songs. I'll never be able to see them because Neurosis keeps doing new shit. I'd like them to stop, do a different band and then come back to Neurosis, play those songs. So, when I go to a Neurosis show I know I'm going to see at least a song or two from these old records.

I was actually going to mention I read an interview around the time you released Mediocre Generica and you said you were getting tired of the name Leftover Crack and you were thinking of changing it… Stza: Yeah. You know what? This tour is weird because it's the first time we're selling out every show we're playing at and there's too many people and it stresses me out. I don't like it. I like it to be smaller venues, less people. I like being able to talk to people and not having to hide from 500 people. I like to be able to talk to our friends and fans or whatever. It's kind of coming to a point where I can't do that anymore and so I'd like to do something else where less people will show up, hopefully. Well, definitely less people will show up.

Well, if you guys sucked, less people would show up. Stza: Yeah, I don't wanna suck either. We don't have that much time on this world, why make a bad record? (to Ezra) Do you wanna make a bad record? Naw. Ezra's a perfect example. Ezra's not going to make a bad record because he's fucking got talent.
Ezra: Well, I don't know about that.
Stza: I don't know if you've gotten to hear the Morning Glory shit, it's all good. Good songs, it's like hardly any filler.

I was going to ask how Morning Glory is going. Is it still functioning and active? Ezra: Yeah yeah. Well our drummer left recent. Like went and had a kid.
Stza: Our drummer.
Ezra: Our drummer, yeah. We're very incestuous. New York is a very incestuous music scene. Yeah, he split and had to do the family thing in Arizona. Everybody knows drummers are a crazy and erratic people and they're really hard to find and they're usually already in three bands. So, we've kind of been looking for another good drummer but if we can't find somebody by like December, or something…I'd like to do some recording after this tour and I'm probably going to hit up Ara and get more incestuous about it and see if he'll play on some tracks for me. Even though he doesn't know that yet.
Stza: The weird thing about Ara is that it doesn't matter. Ezra can program a drum machine and shit and it doesn't matter how crazy the beat is (it could be something that no one can play) and you can give it to Ara and the next day he'll show up and play it exactly how it is. So, it's not really any skin off his back. Plus, he gets to be on another record. It's good for everybody, because he's a great drummer.
Ezra: But, other than that, like I'd like to do some recording this winter and hopefully have something out by the summer. Maybe do a little touring at some point in there.
Stza: Maybe we'll do a tour where our new bands, or Morning Glory and my next band, because my next band is supposed to have Ara in it too. (laughs)
Ezra: I just need Ara to record.
Stza: Right, and then you'll get another drummer and I'll get him on tour and then we'll go on tour together.
Ezra: He's going to kill us both.

He's going to be overworked. Stza: He's in The Slackers too, you know. He's in The Slackers and they just had to get a second drummer, because he's on tour with us sometimes. Like every time he leaves us, or comes meets us is a day after a tour ended. The second he's done with this tour, he's going on tour with The Slackers. It's always like that.

Does he have a place to live, like a permanent address? Stza: Yeah yeah. It's in New Jersey, with his wife and kid.

Really? Wow, she must be understanding. Stza: Yes.
Ezra: She's a really cool lady.
Stza: She does our art layouts and stuff. Ezra: You know, Ara has said to me a couple of times that he would commit to Leftover Crack, except that we're such a tenuous band and we're so unstable. We're ready to break up at any minute. So he needs that fall back with The Slackers or whoever, because that's the way he makes a living, that's what he does for a job. But he's a drummers, he's crazy. You can't figure him out. They're like girls.
Stza: You mean the female. Or like the equestrian species? He's like the equestrian species, they show up on dry land and you're like, "Oh my god, bow down" and then they cut off your head. I'm talking about horses man. Fucking horses.
Ezra: Indigenous quadrupeds.
Stza: They scare me to death. No they don't. I just don't think people should ride them. It's like, you know, that hurts. It's gotta hurt, someone on your back all day.