This interview was made in Lyon the 3rd of december 2006.
Manu has met Bryan (Vocals) et Frankie (Bass).
Also the presence of White Trash Rob (Ramallah/Blood For Blood) who took part of the conversation.
How is the tour with Ramallah going on?
Bryan : It's been great, probably one of the best tours we've done in Europe. We toured with Agnostic Front and that was a learning experience. This time, y'know, kids are coming out for both the bands and all the shows have been real good, we're very impressed.
Yeah, last time you played with Agnostic Front, it was...
Bryan : ... 2 years ago. That was our very first time on a big tour, a long tour. It was a learning experience, now we've toured enough to figure it all out and it's been good.
I think the first tour you did 2 years ago with Agnostic Front was very good for you because at the beginning it was Terror who were supposed to do the tour and finally we heard that it was not Terror and it was like "What?!" hehe, and finally we saw you onstage and you impressed a lot, you had more and more fans.
Bryan : Yeah it was good for us, y'know, a lot of people didn't know who we were and coming over on the tour, a lot of people got to see us and see who we were and what we're about, it was very good for us.
I think you also did some shows with Terror and Hatebreed on this new tour...
Bryan : Yeah, we played one show with Hatebreed and one show with Terror in Paris, it was a very good show. The Hatebreed show was in Antwerp in Belgium... phenomenal show...a lot of kids... it was a different type of show, but it was a great show. It was good to see friends of ours too, y'know? Hatebreed and Terror are good friends of ours, so it was cool.
It's like a family tour...?
Bryan : Yeah, it's good to see friends from home.
Can you maybe tell us more about the origin of the band, for the people that don't know you very well?
Bryan : Yeah, we started... the band started in 2001. We were just all in local bands and those broke up. Me and my drummer were in an old band together, we just needed to start a band y'know..that was heavier, something that we really wanted to do, there wasn't really a lot going on in Boston at the time so we started this and kept on going y'know. We put out a demo, put out a CD on Spook City Records, True Till Death. All that stuff was learning and stuff like that. Then we finally signed to Bridge 9 and put out "Friends, Family, Forever", very happy with it and that's pretty much the brief history of the band. Now we've just recorded a new record that's going to be coming out in April and things are good.
So this is your second tour in Europe?
Bryan : Third tour, we actually came back and we did a headlining tour, which was smaller. I think we only played like one show in France, I don't remember. Oh yeah! it was one show, it was supposed to be like a big punk rock show, it was wierd. It was in Montpellier, but yeah, we came back in April and did a headlining tour, so this is our third time here.
And that was for "Friends, Family, Forever"...and you've just released the re-issue... Can you explain the reasons for this choice?
Bryan : Sure... when we came back and did a headlining tour in Europe, I don't think enough people.. umm... like the Agnostic Front was good, people got to learn about us, but we felt like we really needed to push the European market so people got to know us. We did a split 7inch with a band called Black Friday 29 from Germany..so...plus we had new members in the band and we had an extra song we never released so we figured we'd put it out together on Bridge 9. So Bridge 9 and Death Before Dishonor got together and figured out, y'know if we put more money in the European market and stuff and come back on tour, we didn't know at the time it would be Ramallah, that we'd do another tour. And that's essentially why we did the reissue, y'know what i mean? Try to get more distribution in Europe, someone's gonna release it in Brazil and we're gonna try and expand a little bit cuz our new record's not coming out till April and we wanted something to fill the gap cuz we've been touring so much off the same stuff. So the reissue has got 3 new songs, 2 of them are from the split one song never released and live audio stuff from CBGB's. So it's just a mix of everything that people never got and want to check out.
Was it a particular choice to release the live stuff from CBGB's?
Bryan : Well we played there twice before it closed so...it was great. We played there and got a recording from the soundboard which is a great memory anyway. And when we were putting together the re-release and thought why not add that on as bonus tracks. It's something, y'know historical. The place is historical when it finally closed down so it's something cool.
You said you have a new record coming out in April, anything you can tell us about it?
Bryan : Umm...i think it's the best record we've done so far. It's 11 brand new songs, one song re-done. We recorded it with Jim Siegel, at the same place as Blood for Blood, American Nightmare, Dropkick Murphys. By far i would say it's our best record. I mean..as the band grows, now we have 2 guitarists it sounds full. As the band grows we learn to write better..i think the songs are more to the point, catchier. We're pretty excited about it and that's gonna come out in April on Bridge 9.
You said that you worked with Jim Siegel and you had already worked with him on..
Bryan : on "Friends, Family, Forever" yeah. That was like it was our first time really that we'd worked with someone that really knew what they were doing. Our old records were all with small people and we did them very quick, i mean it was just an EP and no-one really knew about us. But with this we had a little more time in the studio so..it's pretty good.
Did you think of working with anyone else for the record?
Bryan : Growing up I always loved everything Jim Siegel did...i was in love with everything he did, so when we got to do "Friends, Family, Forever" with him y'know we were pretty excited but we didn't have a lot of time. So with this record there was no other choice but Jim. I think he gets a really raw sound and that's what we need. When we play live that's where it's at and he brings that sound out so I never really thought about anyone else..Jim's always been perfect for us, so it fits.
So do you expect a sound like he has done for Blacklisted?
Bryan : Yeah, Blacklisted is a great record. The stuff they recorded with him has been awesome, so...hopefully it's similar. We took a lot of time, we're trying to get the best sound out of it we can, y'know? When we go home and we've finished mixing it cuz we've already recorded it, we mix it and master it.
You're supposed to be on tour again in January or February (2007) with First Blood, Dead Hearts and Bloodlined Caligraphy. Are you expecting something special for this tour?
Bryan : I think it'll be good. It's a good mix of bands. First Blood are good friends of ours. Bloodlined Caligraphy is a Christian band and Dead Hearts are more like American Nightmare sounding...so it's a good mix of bands and i think the tour will be good. There's a lot of tours that all the bands sound the same or they're like completely different, but i think this tour will really work so i'm pretty excited about it.
I've got a question now about the Boston Beatdown DVD in which you appear...Can you tell us more about the FSU? About its origin and the concept of the DVD?
Bryan : It's kind of wierd... The origin goes far back before my time. It started a long time ago about 1988 or something like that. A close group of friends that looks out for eachother. The DVD features obviously FSU members. The DVD was a way to spotlight some of the aspects of Boston...it has streetfights, it's entertaining, y'know you watch the DVD and learn about the meaning behind it. You really have to listen to what the bands have to say, because there's meaning behind it. But as far as fights, Boston's a wierd city, it's hard to compare it to other stuff. The DVD has pretty much thrown into the spotlight what it actually is y'know?
Rob (Ramallah) : Ironically, it's like i've always said before, you don't even get the real heavy duty shit. The fights you actually see are like second tier fights, the lesser fights, the younger kids. There's hardly any actual FSU brawls because those are so bad that people would go to prison so you can't put them on the DVD. So you're actually seeing like...the less intense stuff.
Bryan : At the time the DVD came out, kids knew that we were putting together a DVD. It was basically gonna be partly a documentary on Boston and part just a streetfight thing for entertainment. So a lot a kids would get into fights and film it and hand us the footage and we'd put it on there because like Rob said, a lot of it isn't us fighting it's kids. Whether they're fighting on the street or whatever. The problem with Boston is it's a wierd city. It's mainly college people and stuff like that. The main clubs in Boston cater to like Discos. If there's a Hardcore show, you gotta be out by 9.30, so they can do their disco and you've got lines of other people out there that are drunk or whatever, and the crowds clash and that's where you get all your fights from. It's a wierd aspect and it's hard to explain if you're not from Boston it's really hard to explain what it's like. It's really very unique in it's own way. It is somewhat of a violent city, but as far as shows, it's not about going to shows and getting in a fight. The shows are great, they may be intense because you have 300lb guys going crazy. You get hit by a 300lb guy...you're going down. He's not trying to hit you, he's just moshing. Alot of times when there were serious fights, it was because people outsiders were trying to come in, people misinterpret alot. Like i said, it's a very hard city to explain. The DVD touches on it a little bit but doesn't really explain a lot of it.
You said Boston is a unique city, but are there other cities in the US that are similar?
Bryan : I think every city has it's own uniqueness, whether it be New York or L.A. or wherever. Boston's unique in it's own way and it's been like that for a long time, like it was back in the day with hardline Straight Edge, Boston always acted differently than DC or New York. It was very violent, they didn't like people coming to their shows and drinking.
Frankie : As far as hardcore and punk, Boston's always been known as a violent city.
Rob (Ramallah) : Even Vinnie Stigma from Agnostic Front, back in the late 80's early 90's when people would ask what's the roughest city in the US, he would always say hands-down Boston. I don't know why, but now that I and these guys have toured the country 50 times at least, and it is a violent little town and I have no idea why, and I'm from the city.
Bryan : Alot of people say it's to do with the clash of the people, Boston has a lot of college people, but so does New York..so it doesn't make sense. I don't know if it's so many people coming to college in one little place and mixing with the hometown people and that's where it gets ugly or what. It's really hard to explain. Even now when bands come from out of state and play in Boston, it's a hard city to come to and have people move to you and be into the band, it's hard and I have no idea why.
For people over here, it was so crazy to see the DVD, over here of course sometimes there are fights though.
Bryan : That's the thing, kids in Boston seem to take it to an extreme sometimes, and that goes with our friends. I mean when we get into a fight it's not really the prettiest thing ever but it's just how it is. But it's definately entertainment, you watch the DVD and think it's crazy. Some people watch it and hate it, some love it, just the way it goes.
I heard there are some rules in the fights? No weapons allowed?
Bryan : All those fights are like...there's no rules it's actually just fights. My friends that go to the street bring a video camera because they knew there was going to be a fight. On that DVD there aren't really weapons cuz...we're not gonna show attempted murders...But it's not staged or anything.
Frankie : They're just fights, somebody got mad at someone and they fight. Sometimes it's caught on video and we got hold of it. I think alot of it isn't portrayed very well through the talking aspect of the DVD, but at the same time it does give you a window on what we see very very often and what some people might have to get involved in, not even by choice, it's just there. Some big steroid-animal wants to rip your head off and you've gotta fight back and that's it. It gives you a window on what alliances are around there. It's part of the interaction between the hardcore scene and the other scenes that surround it and it shows a very real part of living in Boston and what living there means.
Bryan : It's wierd, growing up going to shows from when i was 14-15 years old, I was always scared shitless, but i loved it. If you're a real Boston Hardcore kid, you love the intimidation, it's just what you grew up on and it's all you knew. If someone told you before, you might get in trouble, a band will play and people go crazy and you might get hit, you think great, it's just crazy. And only the realest of real kept coming back and stuck through it all. The kids that were 'here today, gone tomorrow' don't understand. If you're scared and go and do other things that's fine, but you were never a real Hardcore kid in Boston.
Rob (Ramallah) : Becoming a hardcore kid in Boston was a trial by fire, you couldn't just start hanging out, you had to prove yourself and that meant something.
Bryan : And at the same time you have to know and respect the music. You can't just go there to be social, you really have to love it and go to the shows.
And you made a second DVD?
Bryan : Yeah, it was an experiment, and more like 'Girls Gone Wild', y'know? College girls get drunk and show some tits. There are a few fights, the good fights from Boston Beatdown 1 are on Boston Beatdown 2. We only made like 200 copies of it and we couldn't really put it out because no-one knew the girls and you don't wanna get sued for showing girls on the DVD.
Are you ever worried that the images on the DVD would show a bad image of the hardcore scene?
Bryan : Yeah, that's definately an aspect, but people are gonna believe what they want. People are gonna hate us because of who we're friends with, people are gonna hate us for the DVD, people are gonna hate us for our style of music...but we are what we are. If people think we're a bunch of toughguys from Boston, then that's what we are. We're also Hardcore kids, we love this music and we love this scene. Any attempt that's needed to protect the scene and we'll do it. So if people want to judge a book by it's cover then they can go ahead. That's why we joined Hardcore: to get away from society. When society looks at you and says "you don't fit in" we say "fuck you", we don't care. It would be like me saying "fuck straight edge", I'm not straight edge, but i respect those that are, their lifestyle and where they come from. So people in turn do the same to us. We're not a bunch of bullies, we're hardcore kids who love hardcore and will fight for it and we'll be here longer than most people will.
Rob (Ramallah) : Oh definately. Most of the people that spend their time bitching and complaining about what's going on in the hardcore scene are gone in a year. They don't dictate the terms, it's the people that have been around for 10, 12, 15 or even 5 years or the people that have only been around 2 years but are still going to be around 7 years later, those are the people that get to define what it is. Kid that are casually interested don't have the luxury of an opinion. Another good example, is Romans in Brockton. It's the hottest place for hardcore shows in Boston at the moment. They have the biggest shows, the craziest shows and it's run exclusively by FSU and they have no trouble ever. So basically the last bastion of hardcore in Boston is run by FSU and protecting the last little are of Hardcore. There's no fights at those shows, they're CRAZY, but you're not gonna get into a fight. It's like the last little fortress of hardcore.
Frankie : Hardcore kids can go there and know they'll be protected from the idiots outside. On a wider thing about how the DVD is percieved. This is hardcore punk rock, the whole point is it's supposed to be extreme, y'know if it's gonna scare the majority of people...Good! We're not trying to put up a front, things are the way they are. And the negative things are kind of why it exists in the first place. Hardcore is different, but you have to embrace who you are and what you're about.
You said that it's supposed to be agressive, but at the same time it should be openminded.
Bryan : Yeah, for the people, we want new kids to come in and get into the music.
Frankie : We're very openminded to new kids and new ideas. Hardcore and punk rock is about having an open mind and trying new things and trying to figure out what you really believe, and you have to hear all aspects of everything before you can do that. I mean, you can't let some local thug try and come into a show and impact on what we're doing, and if it takes a beatdown, then that's what it takes.
Bryan : If you have a lot of kids at a show, there's little kids and there's big kids, people go crazy and everyone has fun. It is intimidating but it's positive at the same time. If some guy comes into a show off the street and gets drunk and sees everyone going crazy and goes and punches a 13 year old kid in the face, we're gonna fuck him up. If it's a kid who just wants to learn, comes to a show and doesn't mosh or anything that's fine, he just wants to learn and try to be accepted. We step in when people come in who don't belong and kick 13 year old kids. To be a part of hardcore, you have to have an openmind. If someone says "i don't like what Death Before Dishonor stands for" i'm not going to beat you up, they're entitled to their opinion. But don't say "Death Before Dishonor is an awful band" because you never heard us, you're just saying that because of who we're friends with. That's way it's not fair. At the end of the day, anyone can judge us and that's life.
From what you've said, do you see a big difference between the US and Europe?
Bryan : Yeah, what the states lacks sometimes is a good mix of kids, it's good to see people coming out and supporting underground music. IF there's a good punk rock band from Boston, i'm gonna go see them. I'm a hardcore kid, but i'm going to go see them. Nowadays in the states kids seem to only like one kind of music and are a bit closed minded and that's not supporting the underground bands that work hard. In Europe when we come and play, you see the hardcore kids and the punk kids, some are spin kicking at the show or circle pitting, some are just banging their heads and that's a good thing that i wish the States had more of. The States used to have more of that back in the day and i think it's fallen away a bit recently.
Frankie : I think kids have gotten a bit spoiled...
Bryan : Yeah definately, you can pick and choose the bands you want to see now. It's about supporting eachother. Without eachother, we've got nothing.
What does playing hardcore mean to you today?
Bryan : It's a part of our lives, it's all I know. I started going to shows and fell in love with it. When i'm home, i may work to earn some money, but i'm still going to shows. Even if i'm home for a week, if there's a show on, i'm at that show. Hardcore is our life. IF we could tour all the time, we would and give it everything we've got. It's all we know.
Scott from Terror gave me the same answer.
Bryan : Oh of course, another great guy. He's 33 years old and he tours as much as possible. When he's not on tour and we play in L.A. he's at the show hanging out. Some kids have better things to do, whereas he has been around a long time and still comes to the shows and supports. That's the way it should be.
Frankie : Yeah, that's the thing about hardcore, Scott probably said it too, but there's no "Rockstars" in hardcore. Everyone's just a hardcore kid. We're hardcore kids, the kids in the crowd are the same. We're all the same kind of people. That's the beauty of hardcore. You don't get that in the mainstream pop bullshit, everyone's trying to deify everyone. Hardcore is the total opposite and that's a big reason why i love it so much.
That reminds me, Scott was saying he was a bit angry seeing some old bands coming back, what's your opnion on that?
Bryan : Yeah, i know he gets angry about that. There's 2 ways to look at it. Kids are excited about some bands coming back y'know... they never got to see whichever band before. The only thing that bums me out, is when bands reappear 10 years later after saying that hardcore wasn't for them anymore, but coming back because hardcore is marketable now.
Rob (Ramallah) : It all depends on the reason and the motivation. It's nauseating to me when bands come back after 10 years away from the hardcore scene with a $10,000 pricetag. For me with Blood for Blood, we come back when we feel the time is right, not for the money, because there is no money.
Bryan : I love Killing Time, and i can't talk shit about them because i grew up listening to them, and like Rob said, aslong as they're back for the right reasons, thats fine. As long as they're not back because it's easier to make money now then that's cool. If i saw Killing Time i'd think it was awesome. It just bums me out when there's too much money involved. Cuz now, when you turn on MTV you see hardcore and people making money off it. So i just feel that bands who think now is the time to come back because we can make money off Hardcore, that's wrong. That takes away from the bands that are still here and still working hard. Everyone's got their own reasons, and as long as people come back for the right reasons i'll support it.
Rob (Ramallah): One quick example, Blood for Blood gets back together because we want to hang out with eachother and we go see our friends around the country. We go see our boys in Oakland and Detroit, and the songs still mean as much as ever. Because our lives don't change. The songs actually mean more to me know than they ever have. The lyrics mean more to me now because my life's back in the shitter. We're gonna keep doing it because we want to, no-one's going to stop us.
Bryan : I don't doubt those bands that come back for the bus and the $10,000 have fun, it just takes away from what the band originally stood for.
Rob (Ramallah) : And you can really taint a legacy with that kind of crap.
Bryan : It's like Agnostic Front, they never stopped. We toured the US with them, we were in a parking lot, sleeping in vans next to eachother. If they play a show and not enough kids turn up and the promoter doesn't have enough money, Roger just goes "I don't care, just give me what you can!", and that's hardcore. That dude lives that fucking life and doesn't think "i'm gonna cash in now"
Rob (Ramallah) : And look at the reasons why they do go away every now and again: someone lost their job, someone went to prison, stuff like that, life got in the way of the band, not boredom or apathy.
Frankie : Those are the bands that kids should be looking up to.
Rob (Ramallah) : They never walked way, THEY ARE HARDCORE!!! THEY ARE HARDCORE!!! They are the definition!
Thats funny because yesterday weve been to the Persistance Tour in Germany and we did an interview with Freddy (Madball) and Lou (Sick Of It All) and they said exactly the same...
Bryan : Yeah, when you meet them and get to know what they're really like, you can see that they ARE hardcore.
Rob (Ramallah) : Yeah, they're the coolest fucking guys. It's funny, Death Before Dishonor were in a similar position to Blood for Blood. Agnostic Front took them out on the road, they were the first established, credible well known hardcore band that took Blood for Blood out. And they took us out when nobody knew who we were, when we didn't know any cool promoters or booking agents or anything. Roger and Vinnie from Agnostic Front heard Blood for Blood and liked us and took us out. That's fucking cool! They just took out a band they thought was alright. You don't really see that at all anymore. It's all about "How many numbers are they going to bring in? How many records have they sold?".
Bryan : Yeah, true story. When we went on that Unity tour 2 years ago, i had only met Roger once, and didn't know him, then we got really close, and they needed a band to tour the US with them and a band dropped off, and Roger said "How about you guys?" and we said sure. Then Roger told the booking agent and they asked how many records had we sold and Roger said "I don't give a fuck, they're gonna tour with us!". Nobody does that shit anymore. To this day, i still speak to everyone in that band, Roger, Vinnie, Mike. Really good guys. It's very rare to see that nowadays. Y'know those were the bands we looked up to. Boston bands like Blood for Blood and Slapshot, but A.F. were on a whole other level.
Rob (Ramallah) : Yeah, our lives changed because of them taking us out. We got infront of the right crowd for the first time, a crowd that was ours, that needed to hear what we were saying and needed to be infront of. And that's so rare nowadays in the music industry, it's so mercenary and cutthroat. I'm not gonna mention any names, but Blood for Blood took out bands who were right at the beginning of their career who get bigger and never returned the favour. That's the way the industry is now, nobody has a memory, nobody has allegiance or loyalty. Real hardcore bands do.
Yeah but music is a business even if youre hardcore or punk, this is a business...
Rob (Ramallah) : Yeah thats true! Always!
Bryan : Yeah I agree! And thats why a lot of bands and booking agency do that kind of stuff. And I'd be lying if i said i didn't wanna go on tour with a bigger band, but at the same time i'd make sure we give back. No Turning Back just came over, needed a band to tour with, so we toured with them. They weren't gonna bring in anyone special, but they're good guys y'know they look out for us.
Frankie : There's nothing wrong with getting big, just remember where you came from. If you were real in the firstplace then that shouldn't be an issue. If you can get big and get by making music, that sounds perfect. You can't come from hardcore and make it and then forget and use it as a stepping stone to making some poppunk bullshit.
Are there any Boston bands you would recommend?
All Three: There's alot of great bands, Can't Stand Losing, Have Heart, Bulldog Courage, Shipwreck, Energy.
Bryan : There's a lot of younger bands coming out of Boston, A lot. There's a label called Rock Vegas Records, it's a good label, got a bunch of young bands coming out.
Frankie : And they're really good bands too, doing it for the right reasons.
Rob (Ramallah) : It's refreshing too.
Which were your favourite records released this year?
Bryan : The new Terror record "Always the Hard Way", was Ringworm this year?
Frankie : Ringworm was last year, but "Justice Replaced by Revenge" is one of the best albums ever released.
Bryan : Most overlooked album ever. Did "Legacy" come out this year? by Madball? I know it's not from Boston...
No, it was last year...
Bryan : I don't know what year's what anymore, it's all the same!
Rob (Ramallah) : I love that "Legacy" album, it's great, the lyrics are great.
Jamey Jasta released 2 albums this year, one with Icepick and one with Hatebreed, did you heard them?
Bryan : Yeah i like the Hatebreed album a lot, Icepick i heard once or twice, it's a good record. I'm more into Hatebreed.
Born From Pain maybe?
Bryan : Yeah, I finally met Rob for the first time recently, great fucking band. Their record is coming out soon, right? "War"?
Yeah, it came out 3 weeks ago.
Bryan : Ah right, i need to check it out. No Turning Back's new record, great fucking record. New Have Heart record just came out, it's a different sound, but i'm really into that.
Rob (Ramallah) : The Setup..
Bryan : Yeah The Setup is a great band. They've been on most of this tour with us, great band. I can't think of anymore. I can't think of anymore...and i'm an asshole for forgetting them!
Frankie : I still listen to "Set it Off" by Madball every day.
we appreciate meeting you and talked about that DVD because I didnt
know what to think about your band, about you as people...
Bryan : Yeah, thanks for supporting us! And thank you for this interview to expose us to more people. We appreciate it all, Without kids coming to shows and kids being interested, we're nothing. So, thank you.