First Blood Interview
This interview was made in Sélestat the 4th of august 2006.
O.S and Manu have met Carl Schwartz, the singer.

It’s your first European tour, how is it?
Yeah that’s right! It’s really good! It’s been long and stuff. It’s had some rough times, some rough shows and stuff, but overall it’s been really worth it. Really good. I had a good time.

Do you have any special feelings playing with Agnostic Front and Sick of it All today?
Yeah, there two of my favorite hardcore bands so it’s fun to play with them. We did the whole tour with AF here in Europe. Our last tour before we got here was with Sick of it All in the States and I had a chance to tour with them a couple times before with Terror so it’s really good to see all those guys again. I was looking forward to it for sure. I didn’t think we’d get a chance to play together on this tour but it’s good.

Can you tell us more about the beginning of First Blood ?
Um, I think it was 2002 and we got together and we just wanted to start a simple, heavy band. So we wrote five songs really fast and put out a demo, and played a few shows in California. We never really expected to do anything else besides, you know, shows for our friends. But then our original guitar player, he left to play with Terror. So we couldn’t play that many shows for a while. And then a few months after that I joined Terror, so we were both touring with Terror the whole time, and First Blood just only played a few shows here and there. In 2003, 2004, maybe a weekend here, a Friday here, whenever we could, you know. And then it just got to the point at the end of last year, 2005, I just wanted to do something different, you know. I just wanted to do First Blood full time a little more. I was just getting tired of playing bass. So that’s when we took First Blood full time to tour as much as we could. And so far it’s been fun , it’s been really good. I can’t complain.

Could you tell us more about the current line-up?
(Laughs) It’s different almost every tour. I mean, our guitar player, he’s married, he’s got a job at home, an apartment, and stuff like that. He likes to spend time with her. He tours every now and then. Our original guitar player, Doug, he’s still with Terror, so he can’t tour with us at all, really, because we’re both trying to tour full time, at the same time, you know.
We’re on our six or seventh drummer right now. We can’t find a guy who’s either, not in another band that we’re trying to pull away from, or just someone who could commit full time, and not worry about a job or anything like that. Just want to tour and not worry about money and stuff like that. So the next tour we’re going to try to find a new drummer. It’s been really tough going tour to tour teaching guys how to do the same stuff over and over again. The line-up we have now, I don’t know how to even talk about it because it’ll be different the next tour anyway, you know.

So you’re the only recurring member?
Um, well yeah, me, our bass player who’s going to play guitar on the next tour. He plays guitar in a band called Alcatraz. Him and I are the only two guys, for years, who have been the same.

When I hear First Blood, I think a hardcore band, but I also hear some metal influences. I say that because a song like “First Blood” makes me think a bit about Machine Head.
Oh yeah, (Laughs). It’s a blatant rip-off. I listen to Machine Head, Biohazard, Metallica, Pantera, all that stuff a long time ago. I like a lot of hardcore too, like, Madball, Sick Of It All, and Agnostic Front. Stuff like that. When we put this record together we kind of wanted to mix all of the stuff that we were into, you know, hardcore, metal, maybe a little bit of extreme metal, kind of like death metal, but not like RAHH. Keep it simple but at the same time maybe at a little bit more metal stuff into it, and stuff like that. You can hear it in a bunch of our songs. Kyle, our guitar player writes most of the songs that are just a little too crazy for me to listen to sometimes but I try to keep the songs simple. “First Blood”, was kind of like a simple headbangers’ song . It’s got the Machine Head part in the middle and then it goes back to the head bobber part at the end. We just try to mix a whole bunch of things together and keep it interesting for us, you know.

What’s hiding behind the name of the record “Killafornia”?
Oh, I hate it. When we were putting the artwork together for the record there was a guy, a photographer in the Bay Area. I don’t know if he’s in San Francisco or Oakland, I can’t remember, but, he does a lot of photography, and full page adds for a lot of hip-hop and rap groups. Especially a lot of artists in the Bay Area. He wanted to have the cover with this cop arresting one of our friends in the street, and have all this graffiti. And you know, not be a typical San Francisco scene with the Golden Gate Bridge and whatever touristy stuff. We couldn’t get that photographer because he was too expensive. He charged a lot of money just to do all that stuff. I was just like alright. So me and my friend went out, and we just took pictures of old warehouses and some of the alleys around some of the grittier neighborhoods in San Francisco. Not too bad but not the pretty stuff you see when people want to go there for vacation or something. We had already submitted the name to Trustkill, but I don’t know. I don’t like it but it’s done. You can’t change it now.

So it doesn’t have a special meaning for you?
Me? Not at all. Kyle, our guitar player named it “Killafornia”, and I couldn’t think of anything so I was just like “allright, let‘s do that!”Ok.

I thought it was because maybe California is a hard place to live in or something like that.
Um, I don’t think any of the dudes in the band have had it that hard, haha, to be thinking about it that way, you know.

Think that because of the T.V. program called The Shield...

The Shield? Isn’t that like…where does it take place?

Los Angeles.

The Shield, I don’t know. I know NYPD Blue. I heard that’s the most realistic cop show. The Shield, I might have seen it once or twice, but I don’t know. There’s one show in San Francisco where the cop’s Don Johnson and stuff like that. But that’s stupid, I don’t think I like that show. That’s not like San Francisco.

About Terror, I read in the booklet of the last record, "Always The Hard Way", that you played the guitar and the bass on the record...

... Yeah, yeah, yeah.

How did you end up doing that as you weren’t in the band anymore?
When I was leaving Terror at the end of last year, they asked me if I could still record on the record so they wouldn’t have to find someone really quick to learn all of the songs. I was like yeah, sure, I don’t care. So at the end of last year I spent all the time helping write the record for First Blood. Those guys are writing the Terror record, putting it together. I think I went up to the studio around January with them to practice songs real quick and learn them really tight. I just recorded guitar and bass for like, a week maybe, and just left. I had to go on tour with First Blood and just help out as much as I could with them, you know. I made a promise to help them and I just wanted to follow through with it. Nick wrote all the songs and everything. I just played the guitar. I didn’t write anything. I didn’t have a say in writing but I think he did a good job. I think the records’ a lot better than the older one. I think it’s got more of a different feel, so that’s good.

You did all the guitars?
All the guitars except for one or two little leads. I think Nick came in and did a bend here and there. But for the most part I did all the guitars and all the bass. Then I left the studio and Scott starting doing all the vocals but I didn’t see any of that stuff get done. I think it turned out really well. It came out good.

About First Blood, why did you choose to record songs like ‘Victim’ and ‘Unbroken’ which already appeared on the EP?
Um, I think back then when we recorded those songs for the demo we didn’t have a lot of time. I think I wrote ‘Victim’ the day before we were in the studio and our drummer didn’t really know it. So, I was just teaching him right there. We just did it really fast. I didn’t feel like I recorded it the way I wanted to. I wanted to redo them, have everything a little bit more tighter, and have more time to over parts. That’s the first time I ever really screamed in the studio or recorded anything vocally so I didn’t really pronounce anything. It’s hard to understand what I say. Plus, Trustkill’s a bigger label than Bridge 9 and they’re going to be reaching that have never heard of us before so I wanted to do some older songs about how we were a few years ago so these kids can have a chance to hear it. Like, kids who might not have had our demo or downloaded it off the internet or whatever like that. I wanted to give them a chance to hear it too. Sometimes it’s cooler just to leave the songs the way they are but I felt like I liked them enough to where I would do them again and make sure people heard them the way I wanted them to be.

At the beginning of the year you were in a video for PETA2 I thought there was some confusion in the message of not eating meat and not hurting animals. Even if I eat meat and stuff like that, I’m very shocked by some of the images we can see on the DVD. Do you think there is confusion in what they say?

It’s interesting you bring it up because I never really thought of it that way. When I always thought of PETA I always thought of them as an organization to promote animal welfare. Like ending cruelty and animal food production and animal testing. All sorts of stuff like that. Live stock treatment, and um. The inherent message that I always got from them included not eating meat. They always have pamphlets for eating vegetarian and vegetarian recipes and cooking for yourself and stuff like that. So I always saw those two messages together, like, ending cruelty to animals includes not eating meat. But at the same time a lot of people who are on PETA or campaigns, or literature, they’ll have people up there who will do little campaigns promoting animal welfare but they’re not vegetarian. But most people will think that they are just because of how they mold those messages together all the time. So, I could then see how people would think, like, oh hey, that person’s not vegetarian but they’re on PETA so what are they trying to say? I think if you look at the literature from PETA and not from the PETA2 side. PETA2 is more like, the music scene, and concert crowd stuff. If you look at the organization itself I think they try to push the message of vegetarianism and stopping animal cruelty all in one thing I think, as there primary goal. I think that maybe what PETA2, and how they’re trying to promote to younger kids. Like, younger generations there. They might not necessarily have a hundred percent vegetarian people speaking the message but they might not agree with factory farming, and KFC, and how they use mass food production. And junk food, and cruelty. Stuff like that. So even though they’re not vegetarian they’ll still push that message, like, ‘this stuff needs to happen.’ They eat meat too but they think more about where it’s coming from and maybe you don’t need to have this huge factory of stuff. Maybe there’s people who live on farms who have small stocks of animals and stuff like that. I guess they’re just trying to get the message out there to people, but I understand the confusion, maybe.

Ok. Let’s back to First Blood again, what would be your plans for the next month?
Um, actually tomorrow’s our last show in Europe and then we fly home after tomorrow. We have a couple weeks off. Gorilla Biscuits is doing some kind of reunion tour. I don’t know if they’ll be a band again. I just know they’re doing this tour and we’re going to play one show with them in San Francisco in a couple weeks. I think a few days after that we leave for another U.S. tour with Hatebreed, Exodus, and Napalm Death. I think it’s like, a month and a half. Full U.S. tour. We start on the east coast, we end in California. In San Francisco, coincidentally. A few days after that we fly to Japan for 10 days I think. After that we’re probably going to start writing again for a new record. Hopefully we’ll get on other tours. We’ll try to get something organized in the time being. I want to be on tour until December, but if we’re not we’ll start writing again, and start working on the next record. So we can start recording that early next year.

I can’t get the record in France. I had to get it from the U.S. I don’t think it’s available in Europe...
No, um. It’s weird. I just assumed that Trustkill would license there records out to Roadrunner another label in Europe to distribute it to the main land, you know. Right before we got this tour with Agnostic Front, I asked Trustkill what their plans were and they didn’t have any plans to license it out here. I guess Josh, the guy who runs Trustkill, is trying to set up a label here. So it’s Trustkill Europe, you know. So he can have his own label out here too. We just had to bring all the CD’s from home and we found a lot of kids were getting it from us because they can’t get it anywhere else, so, I really don’t know what to say about that. I mean, it’s expensive when you buy from the U.S. and have it sent here, you know.

But Actually, it’s cheaper to buy the import than the European version...

... Oh, yeah?

Yeah, it’s strange. And what’s also strange is that your record is not available from Roadrunner and to see the Terror records which are also released on Trustkill in the U.S., and this one, it’s available through Roadrunner, in Europe.
We just signed the contract with Trustkill at the beginning of the year. I think for the bands at this point on, I don’t think they wanted to distribute Trustkill anymore. Terror signed their contract like, last year, or the year before. So, I guess they were committed to putting out the record. And, if that’s not the case, maybe it’s because Roadrunner didn’t want to take a chance with us because we’re a new band. We didn’t have a history of touring or anything like that. I can understand that, you know. I think there could have been good labels out here to distribute the record that maybe Trustkill didn’t give the opportunity to do it. Maybe because he’s looking for more money or, I don’t know. I think it’s a shame, you know. I think it’s too bad. I mean, we do all this touring out here and kids can’t even get the record unless they buy it from us. It’d be difficult for them to find it. Maybe after this tour that’ll change and they’ll just decide to license it out to, like, GSR is a label I was talking to. I think they would do a good job.

Abacus also...

Yeah, Abacus that’d be cool. Dead Serious does our vinyl, Reflections...
Hopefully, within the next record I want to definitely figure that out before it comes out so it’s not the same situation, you know. Because there’s no promotion anyway. And we come out here and we’re lucky to be with Agnostic Front because they have a solid fan base, you know. For us, most of the people never saw us before, or had heard of us, you know.

And you sell the CD’s at your shows?
Yeah, we’ve been doing pretty good, I think because kids can’t get it here. Usually we don’t sell a lot of CD’s when we’re on tour in the U.S. We’ll sell a little bit but they can get it at any store they want, or they just download it off the internet, you know. So, we’ll see what happens...

Interview Manu & O.S.
Translation Will Cox

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