In 1990, The Casualties started out with an idea was to return to the "Golden Age" of street punk which they felt that had been non existent since 1985. The Casualties took their high-energy street punk out of the gutter and into a long career of producing album after album and traveling thousands of miles a year to pursue their passion. To date the Casualties have put out seven full length albums (Along with three EPs, three Live albums and were included on 10 compilations), with their eighth full length album, We Are All We Have, about to hit the streets on August 25, 2009 care of SideOneDummy Records. The guitarist of The Casualties since 1993, Jake Kolatis took some time to sit down and talk to Jonny Taint about We are all we have, touring the world, and the misconception some people have about street punks.
Who long have the Casualties been around as a band?
The band started around â90 and it was Jorge and other members that have long since gone. It started out only as a couple of dudes in bands playing for bands. Even when I started in the band in â93 it was just a very small knit community of punk rock and there were a few bands, you know maybe three or four bands. They were just playing for the other bands.
Who were some of those bands?
These bands were Public Nuisance, The Denied, The Skabs, and you know just a bunch of smaller bands in that sort of style. It was just New York right then.
Was there a specific venue, house, or basement that The Casualties and those bands played at the most?
Usually there was a show here and there, but there was this one place - ABC No Rio. It was the place that was letting shows happen. There was New York Hardcore, CBâs all the time, but then there was our style of punk was more ABC No Rio at that time. We couldnât even get shows in CBâs yet, because we weren'tâ big enough to play there.
Whatâs been the hardest part of being an active punk band for so long?
Just keep on, keeping on. It doesnât get any easier and itâs hard to keep writing music that isnât repetitive. Itâs part of us and we will always be writing music even after nobody cares. Itâs hard to write songs that you already havenât written. You have to make sure youâre not just rewriting a song that you put on one of your first records or something. You have to make sure youâre not doing the same riffs, the same kind of stuff, so youâre not totally redundant. Thatâs why we feel that this one coming out is really diverse.
Thatâs a good segway, tell us about We Are All We Have. What do you think makes it such a great album?
I just feel like the bandâs been through a lot and weâre just are own little family. Thatâs why itâs called We Are All We Have. I feel like everybody can kind of relate to that. You know people out there that have their families that theyâre brought up with and they have that extended family. When we say We are all we have , We really are all we have. It kind of what keeps us going. The new record just has that whole vibe with it. We decided whatever we write weâre going to go with. Itâs going to be another Casualties record, but everybodyâs way into different stuff right now so we said " Ok letâs just write about all of it". It all just kind of came together like it did. Instead of thinking "Oh what kind of record should we make" I âm listening to Thrash metal now so we came out with, Jorge is listening to a lot of reggae and we came out with "In The Fumes", but those sounds are put out into Casualties form. Weâve all been dialed in right now, Rick is the newest member and heâs been in the bands for 10 years. This is the line up that has kept the band going for a while now. Thatâs why we did "We are all we have."
The Casualties have been touring for years. How much of the year do you spend touring?
At least half the year, we have a little down time writing so we didnât do a lot of touring last year. We just started hitting pretty hard in 2009 and I think thatâs going to carry on into 2010 for a while.
What is your tour schedule looking like to support We Are All We Have?
So far August is the west coast and that will extent August into September. Then Octoberâs Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, weâre trying to do Malaysia and Indonesia. After that in November weâre trying to go down to South America for a few weeks. Then weâll come back, do a couple of shows in December and in January of 2010 we have Europe. Then finally in February I think weâre going to come back and do another US Tour. Hopefully weâll get through it. With We Are All We Have coming out weâre stoked and just want to hit it pretty fucking hard with this one.
Of all the places you go on tour whatâs your personal favorite place?
I like Berlin, itâs cool because everybodyâs pretty much knows English not that Iâm one of those people that thinks everyone should speak English, it just makes it easier to get around. Not that I think everybody should know English, it just makes it easier to communicate. Berlin just has some cool little punk rock places. I always have a good time there. Thereâs Wild At Heart, itâs a cool punk bar. Thereâs "Trinkteufel" (http://trinkteufel.de), which I donât know how to spell, that place is just rad. The shows there are always amazing, so Germany is always fun, itâs easy, and you just know itâs always going to be rad. Hawaii is a really good time, because theyâre like "What the fuck dude", Hawaii, punk shows, thatâs just awesome. And then Japan is huge, we only go there once every two or three years, so those shows are always good. Thereâs a lot of places I like mainly being LA and Berlin right now.
The Casualties have a pretty diverse age difference at your shows. What is it about The Casualties music that continues to bring a younger fan base into your following year after year?
I feel like we just keep it real, we keep the sound to our core and to our core audience. We do some weird songs sometimes, but mostly we keep it to our core. Weâre not going to throw some weird concept dance album out there all of a sudden. We keep it pretty hardcore, when we said "Punk for life" in back in â¦fucking whenever, we meant it. Just that alone stands up pretty well for fans for a long time.
Itâs the consistency of the band that keeps people coming around. Also we choose to play certain kinds of music; we just keep the band current. Weâre not going to celebrating 25 years of blah blah blah. I hate shit like that. I donât want to play those retro festivals, so we can play with some old bands that just got back together for a minute. Weâre a current band, weâre still putting out records, weâve never stopped touring, and we never stopped making records. I donât want to be grouped in with the retro reformed bands. I feel like we always bring it live and some of those old bands just canât do that anymore. The day we donât believe in it anymore or the day itâs not fun, weâre not going to play anymore and that era of our lives will be over.
How do you feel about having an influence on people deciding to leave their suburban upper middle class families and living as a street punk, living under bridges and sleeping in the streets in the name of punk rock?
I feel like thatâs a common misconception. I feel like some kids might be rebelling against their upbringing, so they want to experience that life style of living under a bridge or something. To me you just have to do whatâs right for you. That idea is just wild to me, because I was brought up lower middle class, so I no idea why you would want to be poor. I always worked; I went out and got a job, pumping gas or whatever. I never once wanted to be some homeless dude. I never wanted to search around for a place to brush my teeth. I never have felt like I wanted that to be my lifestyle and nobody in my band really ever had to do that to that extent either. So I guess itâs more of a rebellion against their upbringing. None of us were brought up rich, so none of us know about that.
I also donât really condone that either. Itâs not something thatâs extremely punk, itâs more something someone might want to do for themselves to appear more punk?. Being punk is being part of a scene, a punk band, living a certain lifestyle that to me isnât like being homeless. I donât think that being homeless makes you more punk then someone else. I donât think you have to sell out to the man or something. Thereâs ways or doing stuff, you could be in a Collective, you could be part of a commune or something, and you donât have to give into that mainstream lifestyle. There are squatters over in Europe that are living in apartments nicer than ours. I think thatâs amazing, thatâs Punk Rock! Find an alternative lifestyle, not just giving in to the system.
I think when youâre homeless, living under a bridge, living that lifestyle doing drugs and everything else. Itâs couldnât be more convenient for authority to have reason to put you away. Or convenient for mainstream society to point at you and say "See that kids into weird stuff, heâs bad news" So no I donât think people should live like shit, I think you should make something of yourself without selling out. I think true punk people are always living outside the box. To be honest the kid living under the bridge isnât probably a Casualties fan and has some other issues to deal with. Itâs just a strange misconception that we would want someone to live like that to be punk. Thereâs living on the streets and there is living in the streets. Weâll never condone people to just be graveling for money, thatâs just not what weâre about. I would never do that, so I donât think other should either.
Check out our new record "We are all we have" thatâs coming out on "SideOneDummy Records", Buy it, steal it, download it, I donât give a fuck , just get it, enjoy it and hopefully weâll see you on the road.
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