Fourth of July celebrations tend to involve a couple of things: family gatherings, BBQs, your annoying uncle Karl who wants to show you his new tramp stamp tattoo, etc. But for about 100 kids in Philadelphia, Independence Day this year involved waiting in line outside of The Deep Sleep in hopes of being one of the lucky few who would be able to make it inside for the None More Black reunion show. Whether you were one of the fortunate, or were forced to catch a glimpse of the band from the street through The Deep Sleep's foggy windows, we all knew we were being part of something truly special. Before the chaos and the sweaty fists pounding in the saturated humid air, Ollie Mikse had a chance to catch up with the band on this not-so-sunny Philadelphia afternoon to talk about the reunion, the current state of music, and why Paul Delaney is so damn likable.
None More Black is Jason Shevchuk (vocals/guitar/wunderkind), Colin McGinniss (guitar), Paul Delaney (bass) and Jared Shavelson (drums). Their latest album This Is Satire was released on Fat Wreck Chords in 2006.
Why are you guys doing a reunion show, and why now?
Shevchuk: Why? No other reason than to play again and have fun. Well, Colin do you want to explain it?
McGinniss: Our friend is doing an art show, and I asked her, "Do you want a band to play?" We had been talking about playing again and she said, "Alright, sure!" The guys at Deep Sleep really like None More Black, so it was real simple and organic.
Was everyone up for the reunion show? Because I heard Jared wasn't around when you guys were talking about playing the reunion show.
Shevchuk: We did talk to everyone first‚?¶
Shavelson: Punknews.org decided to leave that out, which I actually threw a fit about at our first practice [Laughs]. The three of them were hanging out one night and threw the idea around and they texted me about it one by one‚?¶
Shevchuk: [Laughs] Alright! Let's backtrack! Our friend Katie often comes on tour to do merch and be the mother of the band. We were out one night, and Colin was due for a visit to New York from Philly. Katie texted Colin about it, and he said he couldn't, but that he misses his band and his friends. And, keep in mind this is three pitchers of beer later, Katie asked, "Why don't you just get the band back together? Jason's into it!" Then, she texted Paul. The next day I sent him an e-mail and said, "Hey, I was really drunk last night, I don't know what happened, but are we going to do this?" [Laughs].
McGinniss: Then I actually did come up for dinner, because I was due for that visit, and we talked about it for three minutes, and it was back to party time! I texted Jared about it at the table while we were having dinner. He was in Europe, so he didn't answer until a few weeks later.
Shavelson: No, I did get them! It's just that it costs me $1.50 per text, so I just wrote it off until I got back, not realizing that it was a definite thing. Every time I see him, he's like, "Dude, when are we getting the band back together?!"
Delaney: Yeah, if you were to book a tour write now, Colin would be already gassing up the van! [Laughs]
This Is Satire is finally coming out on vinyl. What took it so long?
Shevchuk: Yo, you heard of clear vinyl? We've got invisible vinyl! [Laughs] Well, shit, I don't even know what took it so long!
Delaney: First there was a delay on artwork, then we weren't an actual functioning band for a while. So, we just told Jordan (from Sabot Records) to put it out when he has time for it, because we're not really playing anymore. We were supposed to have it out for today's show, but there was a holdup at the plant. It'll be out soon!
Shevchuk: We tried our damnedest to get it done for today, but the plant was jerking them around.
All your stuff is out on Fat Wreck Chords. Why is This Is Satire out on Sabot?
Shevchuk: Because we love Jordan, and Fat didn't want to do a gatefold! We wanted to do a really cool package for it. It was going to be a board game. Stuff see-sawed back and forth and Fat was cool about it and said, "That's fine, let Sabot do it." Those guys are really cool about a lot things.
The artwork for This Is Satire is really cool and complex. What can you tell us about it?
McGinniss: I actually haven't seen it yet!
Shevchuk: It's on Paul's site!
McGinniss: Oh yeah! It did look cool!
Shevchuk: We were just going to screen print them for tonight, though‚?¶
I know your name is a Spinal Tap reference, but I haven't found any information on why specifically you guys are called None More Black.
Shevchuk: No meaning to it. Dan Gross, who's a writer for the Philadelphia news, he came up with that name when we were two dudes with a drum machine. We were constantly throwing names back and forth, and he was like, "How about None More Black?" Okay fine!
You guys have been affiliated with the people at Jade Tree Records and you know those guys real well. Now, this is a little unrelated to you guys, but the band Fucked Up were a band that was on Jade Tree, and they're now off of that label and will be releasing their new album on Matador Records. On their site, they had a posting mentioning repeatedly how they did not want to release their new album on Jade Tree and how they just wanted to get off of that label as quickly as possible. As a band that has had experience with different labels and Jade Tree in particular, does it makes sense that they would want the move?
Shevchuk: Well, I wouldn't say that it was a personal thing. Shavelson: I know those guys in Fucked Up, and I'm currently on Jade Tree, and I spend a lot of time with those dudes. Jade Tree doesn't really do much, and they can't afford to, because the industry is pretty much shot. It's really difficult for them to back a band, and they do as much as they can, and they're very honest about it. It might just be Fucked Up wanting to cause a buzz about it.
Shevchuk: I know very little about it, but I doubt it was meant to be malicious. Fucked Up is growing, and they probably want a label that can push them further.
Shavelson: It's difficult these days, man! It's all about MP3s and labels are trying to keep up.
McGinniss: I think it all comes down to the fact that most labels today are hurting.
Delaney: Even when Kill Your Idols and Good Riddance did a split, and I can't tell you how many years ago that was, we talked to them about vinyl, and they said that it's not worth it to do on vinyl.
Shavelson: And that's weird, because vinyl now is the only way labels can make money.
Shevchuk: And even Starbucks has a label now.
McGinniss: You know, there are labels that still want to make CDs, and people that still buy them.
Shavelson: But, vinyl is the way to go. Just doing the vinyl and giving a free download to go with it. That's what we did [in Paint it Black].
McGinniss: Vinyl is for the collector who wants the nice artwork, but I'm the guy who needs to listen to it in the car, so give us the best of both worlds.
You guys are a band that gets along pretty well with each other; everyone's real close and everyone's friendly. But what if I told you guys that I have evidence to show that, out of the four of you guys, Paul is the friendliest one?
Delaney: Where's the evidence?!
Here it is! [Ollie pulls out a None More Black record release show poster that was signed by the band at that show. Paul, in addition to signing it, wrote down his e-mail address for the lucky owner]
Delaney: OK, this guy is sick in the head! There's an explanation why I did that. I've changed my whole routine now. I do actual signatures now! Anyway, a while back I would feel really awkward: kids would come up and ask us for our autographs when we'd play bigger shows. The kids didn't know who the hell we were! So I'd say, "Yo, here's my e-mail address. Keep in touch, and next time we come through, we'll put you on the list." Just to be a little more personal, you know?
Shevchuk: I caught his phone number some times! [Laughs]
Delaney: Yeah, I started giving out my social security number, now‚?¶ [Laughs]
‚?¶and now money is missing from your bank account!
Delaney: Long story short, I thought it'd be a little more personal than signing my name on shit.
Shevchuk: He is the most approachable one, though.
Shavelson: And Colin is more of an approacher, than an approachee.
Delaney: How come you never e-mailed me, though, man?
Because you're busy? Anyway, when you guys play live, Paul looks a little bit out of place, I'm sure you'll agree. Paul looks more like he's into Metal and Grind, than punk. Have you ever gotten shit from anyone for it at a show?
Delaney: If anyone ever came at me with that approach‚?¶ Dude I've done more punk shit than any of them. I'm into a lot of stuff, though. I have long hair, and I am wearing a pentagram shirt [Laughs], but I have a Sigur Ros tattoo. I'm into of a lot of stuff, but I'm more of a fan of the heavier aggressive music, like I prefer black metal these days. I had a DVD stuck in my laptop, and it was actually KISSOLOGY II.
Shevchuk: I don't think we've ever been pigeon holed into a sound. Just from our past and bands that we come from, yeah we attract hardcore kids, but I don't really listen to hardcore.
Delaney: Because there isn't any more good hardcore. What I loved about hardcore and punk is not there for me anymore, and I'm not trying to be jaded, it's different. I'm getting older, and especially in black metal, there's a lot going on. It's pretty cool to still be crazy about music like I always was.
Shevchuk: And once we get into a venue, we don't fit in anywhere! [Laughs]
At least Paul wears all black and holds up to the band's name.
[Band nods in approval].
Jason, you don't consider music to be your main job, right?
Shevchuk: No, I don't get paid!
What is your day job?
Shevchuk: I'm a motion graphics designer.
You helped put the Kid Dynamite DVD together, right?
Shevchuk: Yeah, I made it.
How did that idea come about?
Shevchuk: [Dave] Wagenschutz [Kid Dynamite drummer] said, "Hey, can you put something together for the Cheap Shots album?" Then, they said, "Let's make it a proper feature."
And you were like, "Oh, shit‚?¶"
Shevchuk: Yeah! I was like, "How am I going to do that?!", because it's really difficult being in the band and making something about your band. It's kind of self-indulgent.
What can you tell us about Ghetto Venue?
Shevchuk: It's on my website! But I don't want to give my website out. It's a short film I made. It was my senior thesis films about Stall 13, which was a west-Philadelphia punk venue.
Now, LaGrecia recently broke up‚?¶
Shevchuk: We didn't recently; I left the band in March, and they didn't announce it until now. They broke up. I left.
The whole breakup did kind of explode a little bit online. Are you disappointed that things ended so bitterly?
Shevchuk: I'm not disappointed at all. Okay, if you're in a band, and someone comes along and takes away the wind and the sails, and leaves you with the boat, of course they're going to get upset. You're going to jump in a bigger boat, go right by them and say, "Hey, fuck you! See you later!" But, the band played six or seven shows, and big deal, it's just music! And, that's what Sal [bass player for LaGrecia] said. It's only music.
Did you really sell all your gear when LaGracia ended?
Shevchuk: I sold half my gear. I gave a guitar to my brother, I sold my Vox. And, I have a job now, like Colin.
Colin, you build amps now, right?
McGinniss: For fun, yeah.
They look pretty good!
McGinniss: I try, I try‚?¶
Delaney: Colin's looking good.
McGinniss: Well that too; I ride a bike! [Band laughs]
Shevchuk: We have a lot more in the bank than LaGrecia did. I mean, Suburban Home Records was putting out a record before they ever heard one song. We didn't even play a show. It was moving really quickly. We didn't even last a year, you know?
Any chance of getting LaGrecia back together, but with Jared playing drums?
Jared is usually the go-to drummer for all things Jason Shevchuk and Dan Yemin‚?¶
Shevchuk: We had been trying to get him since 2003 for None More Black.
Jared, you're the new drummer for Paint It Black, and you're also in None More Black and the Hope Conspiracy. Which one do you consider to be your main band?
Shavelson: I guess Paint It Black is more active. Hope Conspiracy is more family oriented, because it's really just the three of us, and I've been in that band for six years. It's more of an ordeal than anything else, because I have to go all the way up to Boston. I don't really want to say anything else about None More Black, because we haven't played together in a couple of years. When we started practicing again I was really nervous. To be honest, I haven't spoken to these guys for a long time. Jason was living three blocks away from me and we didn't even know! [Laughs] We just didn't talk very much, and I'd run into Colin once or twice. As soon as we started practice, it was like nothing ever changed. It felt real comfortable. All the inside jokes started right back up. But, I don't want to jinx it.
You're in a band with Jason and Dan Yemin. What do you think the chances could be that Kid Dynamite would get back together, and you were asked to be their drummer?
Shavelson: I can't even answer that question. It has nothing to do with me! [Laughs]
Shevchuk: It's not that he couldn't do it. It just wouldn't be Kid Dynamite
. Let's say he was doing it, and for one night there would be a lineup of None More Black, Paint It Black, and Kid Dynamite. Could you handle it, or would you self-destruct?
Shevchuk: [Dave] Wagenschutz would be on the next bus, like, "What the FUCK?!" [Laughs]
Shavelson: I could handle it! I can play my drums for 12 hours straight! If Jason would ask me, I would call up Dave [Wagenschutz]. It was never my band.
Shevchuk: And couldn't see Dave going, "Oh okay, sure!" [Laughs]
Delaney: Yeah, like, "Take another one!" [Laughs]
Shevchuk: "Where do you live now?" [Laughs]
Shavelson: Dave and I used to be neighbors. I grew up watching his bands. First time I had to meet him, I was shaking! To have to fill his shoes, I was terrified. To have to do it again? I was really stoked when these guys asked me when I had down time. It's been great, you know?
This Is Satire is a great album from start to finish. While File Under Black was a little more straight forward and aggressive, This Is Satire focuses a lot more on melodies. How did the songs on the album come about?
Delaney: I think This Is Satire is more aggressive than anything else; production wise and attitude wise.
Shevchuk: Yeah, me too. I think you're wrong! [Laughs].File Under Black is the most punkiest of the three. It sounds more like a Fat record production-wise.
Shavelson: When I joined the band, all the songs were already written.
Shevchuk: No, we worked on them! He joined the band in September, and we were in the studio in December, so it was really quick. We demoed the stuff in my basement. Then, we got in the studio with J. [Robbins]‚?¶
Shavelson: Yeah, we came in thinking we're hot shit. All of a sudden he's like, "What are you guys doing? Are you ready to get serious?"
Shevchuk: We were like, "This is going to sound kickass." After jamming for a couple of hours, he's like‚?¶
McGinniss: He said, "You sound like a band who's joking!"
Was there stuff in the works for None More Black before you broke up?
Shevchuk: We started working on new songs. And, now that you're back together. Any more shows?
Shevchuk: We're going to do Gainesville [The Fest], and we'll see. We're taking it step-by-step. We don't want to make plans, because the kids are going to be, "What the fuck?" You guys have a lot of demos and miscellaneous stuff lying around. Maybe you could put all that into one collection and add extra stuff to it?
Shevchuk: No no no! Focus!
McGinniss: Yeah, Jason's pretty focused. He allows us to bring in ideas, but he's the mastermind. We're the carpenters.
Shevchuk: I'm kind of excited about the possibility of doing a new record, because this would be the first record where we've had the same members twice in a row. I used to demo everything with a drum machine and get real detailed, but now I don't have to do it, we can just sit around and jam.
McGinniss: We have a tendency to jam!
Well, there's a new label out called None More Back Records.
Delaney: I saw that! It's a metal label.
That would be perfect; to put out None More Black on None More Black.
McGinniss: No‚?¶ [Laughs] That wouldn't be one of MY ideas!
What are your favorite records out this year so far?
Shevchuk: This year?
[The band is stumped]
Shevchuk: I'll tell you‚?¶Metallica! It's not even out, and it's my favorite record!
Shavelson: I don't even know what records came out this year!
McGinniss: The new Paint It Black is incredible. It's the best record, and I played on Paradise!
Delaney: I'd pick a record and not realize that it came out a year ago.
And in closing, how much blacker could you be?
Shevchuk: We could be a lot blacker, actually.
McGinniss: Yeah, technically we could definitely be blacker.
Delaney: Well we could! With Colin? Maybe his skin‚?¶
Shevchuk: Everyone that ever talks to Colin asks "is he from the south?" [Laughs]