In our ever expanding effort to blur the lines between media, art and insanity Punknews happily presents the latest in Fest related interview mayhem. In this edition Cam Taylor (of No Idea Records) and Bryon (Kiss of Death Records/New Bruises) interview Jeff Rosenstock (of Bomb the Music Industry!/Kudrow/Quote/Unquote records/lots of things with punctuation). Cam and Byron expound:
Amongst 2010's vast seas of bands, labels, companies, and every other obnoxious little facet of the music world, it's easy to lose focus and let everything simply blur together into a giant homogenous blob. Listeners find themselves so inundated with stimulation from every angle that it becomes difficult to illicit any kind of response from anyone. Bomb the Music Industry! have made a name for themselves by provoking response wherever they go. Loved or hated, everyone has an opinion on them, and the fact that they've managed to spark communication and debate in a scene where it seems oh-so 2002 to actually express a serious opinion about anything has garnered them enormous respect from many. At the same time, they never stop smiling, leading me to believe that they're having a whole lot more fun with this whole trip than the rest of us are.
Cam: Dude. You there? Jeff: YES I'M HERE. I've got my punk dictionary in front of me. These kids'll never know what hit 'em.
Are you ready for this? Me and Bryon are coffee'd out.
I've never been ready for anything.
First question; how does it feel to get rejected from The Fest twice in a row, and now, a scant three Fests later, your name is in big print on the poster?
I haven't seen the poster and didn't know we were in big print on it! That rules! I think I talked a lot of shit about that the first year we were on the Fest and then Tony came up to me at a bar and told me that he thought our old records sucked, and we only got added when we put out a good record. The cool thing about that is that we didn't release any new records in between getting rejected in 2006 and getting accepted in 2007. I guess it was all those high profile shows opening up for high school ska bands covering Reel Big Fish and Catch-22 on our gulf coast tour that got the ball rolling.
Given that answer, what do you think of The Fest? How do you view The Fest - is it just a giant party where we all get wasted for a weekend? Could there be a bigger, possibly more positive focus? Not benefit-wise a la Harvest of Hope, but more the power of 5,000 punks coming together.
I think The Fest is both. Shit is terrible and stressful right now for everybody. Sometimes it can be incredibly positive and productive to party with a bunch of like-minded folks for a weekend, whether or not that means getting fucked up on box wine all night or having a potluck in the morning. It's easy to get disappointed with a lot of the more annoying issues that will be there in any mass of people - violence, discrimination, etc. Especially 'cause punk rock is supposed to be against all that and, oh fuck, it's still there. But when you have so many incredible bands in the same place, it's hard not to get inspired whether you're a ticketholder or in a band. Well, no, I guess it's easy if you're a jaded douchebag. I just feel lucky that I think a lot of the best bands playing the Fest year after year are bands that we've watched grow alongside us, and eventually surpass us in being capable awesome bands. If you look at it right, it can make you want to take the good and positive energy, take it back home and work on something. And fuck all that negative bullshit. Or at least try to fuck all that negative bullshit.
Last year you guys played that house show that ended in a riot. That cast a negative shadow over a specific part of The Fest last year. Barring isolated incidents such as that, is The Fest a positive or a negative thing for the punk rock community? Is it something that should continue on, or has it grown into too big of a monster?
Obviously, that shit was terrible. I've spent so much time arguing about that show and our stance against the violence that took place on both sides over the last year it's fucking ridiculous. And yeah, it really bummed us out. We were trying to do something fun and it turned into something not fun. But that doesn't mean that every time a person gets drunk and parties in the street with their friends, someone's gonna be a dick. I'd like to think that a lot of people who were there that night saw what happens when you stop respecting people just 'cause they're not on your team for the evening. And that said, I think that's a good thing that people can take back to their local scenes and think about how we can do something good so it doesn't turn into a clusterfuck of booze and cops. As far as if the Fest should continue on, I think everyone who goes to ANYTHING more than once goes "Oh, it's not as good as last year" but every year that The Fest happens, it's a bunch of kids' first years. You get to see a ton of great bands who often don't make it past their area, and you also get to meet a whole bunch of people and make amazing friends and see awesome shit like Paint it Black playing in the back of a U-Haul. Or drinking riot punch with the dude from ALL. Or watching anything any hilarious member of Armalite is ever doing.
Speaking of seeing bands, last year your show was at an all ages venue that was at capacity and a bunch of kids didn't get to see you. This year, you're playing an 18+ venue.
Yeah, we are, huh? I remember asking someone if we could play the big all ages place…
But there is no big all ages place!
What happened to 8 Seconds?
It's not all ages, never was. Were you told differently?
I thought it was a coffee shop! I'm crazy! I also thought The Venue was all ages.
It's a cowboy-themed bar.
I guess I just don't know enough to know what's all ages and what isn't sometimes.
Both are all ages if accompanied by a parent or guardian.
So bring a fucking guardian! Are you guys checking paperwork at the door?
The Fest is not, but each venue has their own doorstaff who check ID's.
Well, not ID's but guardianship. I mean… I feel like you can get away with having a cool cousin take you to Fest, and that doesn't seem all that bad. Right? And you can say ANYONE'S your cousin.
I guess that's true.
So you can just find someone in line and say, "Yo, say you're my guardian?"
I mean, I work the door at a club in town, and we don't let that shit fly. Is this the first time Bomb has played an 18+ show?
We've played a bunch of 18+ shows, a bunch of 21+ shows and they usually don't seem like they're any fun and people always write me and say "Hey, I couldn't get into your show" and that sucks and shouldn't ever happen. I was lucky to grow up in a pretty strong all ages scene, so I feel like it's only right that we do the same when we play in a town. We've also opted to play house shows instead of bars on tours sometimes, and sometimes the house is too small for people to get in. Or sometimes the show starts at 3 AM. Sometimes there's a weird toss-up between all ages and no ages. I should have mentioned in between those two things that we only play all ages shows in the United States, aside from this. We tried and failed to do that in Europe, but we're still learning. As far as the Fest goes, last year the biggest all ages space was so crowded that we were literally giving out all the bands' guest list spots at the door so people could just stand in the fucking parking lot. That seems like a no ages show to me. I think playing a big venue where as many people as possible can get in, and if you're under eighteen you have to find some dude in line who kind of looks like you to say they're your guardian, is as good a compromise as we're gonna get. And no one has to print a fake ID or get a fake ID confiscated.
We talked about The Fest and how it has evolved over the years. In Gainesville, we've definitely seen our hometown bands evolve - Hot Water Music, Against Me!, etc. How has Bomb changed over the years, from the spry, fire-eyed hellions you once were into the mature, responsible adults that you are now?
I think we're still spry, fire-eyed hellions! Just fatter ones! It was really important for Bomb to be a punk rock band to me, and I think over the years I've kind of altered my perception of punk rock. And not because I got grew out of it or any lame shit like that. It's because I've seen so many punks drop the "f****t" bomb, treat women like shit and make fun of people who aren't like them… it makes reckless abandon just not seem as attractive anymore. I think if we want to be punk rock as we grow up, we have to build stuff instead of tear it down. Also, in a much more real way, people like Bomb the Music Industry! now. And people also HATE us now too. When no one was paying attention, it was a lot easier to be a bunch of goofballs and scream fuck you to the man. No one would be disappointed, no one would care. I think the difference is now when we say "fuck you" to the man, a lot of the times "the man" is our target audience. Which is more fun anyway.
Bryon: In what way is "the man" your target audience? Please elaborate.
I guess instead of (or while) talking about the big evil shit, we're also confronting little personal stuff. "The man" can be people who tell us how gimmicky and shitty we are. How bad my voice is. How they like our ska songs more, or how bad our ska songs are or how we have too many slow songs. The man to me these days is someone who thinks once you stop playing three chords fast and loud, it stops being punk rock. We're always doing our best to say "Fuck you, it's OUR music. You don't have to buy it. You don't have to listen." I guess I always had this perception that the only people who would try to alter your music are people in ponytails and suits that work for Sony.
With your upcoming release on Paper and Plastick, are you still going to own the digital rights and give it away for free?
Yeah, Vinnie was very cool with that. At this point we won't work with anyone who isn't cool with that, which is convenient because nobody really wants to work with us anyway. It's a great stalemate we're in.
Is that stalemate the reason that you're choosing to release your next album on your own?
What album are you talking about? Oh, Adults! Right! No, that had nothing to do with that. Our last two records were really long productions, which were fun, but I just wanted to do something with the urgency of the early stuff - when we didn't have to worry about how long a record would be at a pressing plant or publicity or any of that shit. And we're gonna press it ourselves because we've never done that before and John has a credit card. That record came out last February though, dude. That shit's old hat.
Sorry, we still get our news via MRR. Anything else you want to throw out to people that are heading to Fest?
I think everyone should go see Cinemechanica this year. They've played like every year, they're always fucking amazing, and there's never nearly enough people there to see them. They should be headlining the whole damn thing.
I'd like to wrap up with a few "fan" submitted questions. "Where is the secret cool kids room backstage and what's the password (it's not "DOOBIES" as I found out the hard way last year)?"
I'm trying to get a new secret Fest hotel going that's a little outside of main Fest area. The password is, "we're not a band." And it'll probably only be Bomb the Music Industry!, drinking Four Loko, crying about a riot or some shit.
"How do you feel about the Gainesville grindcore super-group STARVATION writing a song called "Bomb the Music Industry Sucks" and going on a five-minute tirade about how, "their parents bought them a van"?"
Ha ha… I don't know that kid! Where's my van! I think that's fine. We do suck, my mom is a very nice lady and they would be humbled to meet her. Is there a recording of this I can hear?
I have the mp3s of a 9-song one-sided 6", but there's no titles and I can't understand any of the vocals because it's fucking grindcore.
Whoa, you gotta send me that one. I think that means we've made it!
"When are you going to get Fifteen back together?"
At this really rad house party at Fest this year. Too soon?