This interview was made in Annecy the 10th of Mai 2005.
Laureline and Benny have met Thomas the singer.
Could you make a short description of Strike Anywhere ?
Hum we are probably a street punk band and melodic hardcore from Virginia !
Could you make a short history ?
Short ! We started in 1999 and we always have the same members (laugh) we have 3 records, our first songs were on different EPs, on vinyl that were on different labels, and recently, 3 month ago, we put those old songs on one record "To Live in discontent" which is on Jadetree record
Who decided to make this album with the old songs?
We all did because there were many people who went to our shows, specially in Europe, Australia, Japan, they didn't have access to the limited vinyl of our first EPs, they had "Change is a Sound" a first album, and they bought the vinyl on Ebay for lots of money, so we decided to remaster the old songs and put it on a good record and also to commemorate the beginning of our band and sell it at a nice price, so it would be a part of collectors mentality
when you created Strike Anywhere, was it the result of what you wanted to do to mix punk rock and hardcore music or was it come naturally ?
I think that where we come from in Virginia, it's from at 2 hours from Washington DC so HxC and punk communities are link together there more than any place in the world, American punk rock and the American HxC, with the Bad Brains was invented here, in Washington DC in 1981 and that all scene, Discord Records, Minor Threat, all of that was a part of our original punk community, so we didn't have the same separation between punk and hardcore as the other cities. Our band was made with both punk and HxC kids so it just seems as we all love these two kinds of music so it just came naturally for us
Are you closed to the New York HxC scene with band like Sick Of It All, Most Precious Blood, Biohazard ?
We played a couple shows with some of them, we know them as people, but we had a tour with them many years ago and now we are friends with them, but we are at 8 hours from NYC so we are not very close with them, DC is about 6 and a half hour from NYC and we are 2 hour from DC !
You're on the Deconstruction Tour, you played in Paris was it great to play here for the second time ?
T : the first time was on a boat on the Seine in Paris, but that was the most amazing thing we did, and we tell everyone around the world that our favourite shows to play on the Seine in a boat but I think to play in things like Deconstruction Tour is that more people can see you and lots of them don't know what is punk HxC is about, the ideas about we're singing about, the texts everyone can appreciate it, but we you play on a boat or at a show like today you realize is that for the people who already know you very well and it's like a celebration, a party. Play at the Deconstruction is like getting out there to people who didn't know you because the went there for the Mad Caddies, for Boysetsfire and then they can get the choice to know you more about music or something.
I was here and a lot of people was here for you I think, I don't think they come specially for you but they knew the songs. Huhu ! So from which band from the Deconstruction Tour do you feel closer on the music?
Mostly Only Crime, but I'd like also to say Smoke Or Fire, they're from our hometown in Virginia. I think between Only Crime and Smoke Or Fire we feel closer musically but we always love watching Boysetsfire because we used to know them 3 or 4 years ago from the time we were speaking when we play with Sick Of It All and Most Precious Blood that was at the time we play with them, because that was a long time that BSF didn't do anything so it's the first time to play live, I think they didn't come to Europe since 3 or 2 years ago, everyone thought they were breaking up, so I think it's a good thing us to play with them, but definitely I say Only Crime and Smoke Or Fire.
How does it feel to play with an All Star band like Only Crime with member of Black Flag, Banes or Good Riddance ?
it's awesome, we toured with Good Riddance a lot and we know Russ very well we toured with Good Riddance for 3 hundred show with them on the USA and Canada. Bill Stevenson is amazing, he's like some a secret king of punk rock, hearing stories about Black Flag is like incredible for us, and he even know people like the oldest punk rock people in our hometown, Back in the 80s, when we were all small, punk was also very small, their were 3 000 people who were punk in the USA, and he all know all of them! So it's incredible, and he's also amazing, everything he does is funny and he's also very humble and it's very good for all of us.
Would you like him to produce one of your album ?
Yeah I think it could be cool we were really happy with Brian McTernan at Salad Days where most of the Jade Tree's record have been made. He is the producer of all our record. He's lives on the east cost, and we are from Baltimore so it's very far from where we live and so to cross all the United States, and America is very very big, it's bigger than you could imagine, if you been to one country, it's like you've been to Georgia to record an album so it's really far and expensive for us, but it's tempting we would love to have Bill for a record, it'll be really nice !
So what are your plans for the future ?
Leaving this town is gonna be hard, we had such a nice day! I think tomorrow we're going to go in Nice or somewhere close to Spain and then we continue the Deconstruction Tour, in Toulouse and then for the first time we will play in Spain and Portugal, it will be great. After that we have 3 weeks off and then we go to the Warped Tour in the USA for the summer and after that we could have been everyone we could, in Australia, New Zealand, Japan except for like Brazil, then we probably stop touring and start to write a new album maybe for the next year and then we could see you again in Europe !
Do you start the composition process for the new album ?
We have, we never stop writing when you are in a band even if you're two people it's seems like, when you're touring we always play guitars and search for new songs, we have some new material but we wanna make the best thing it could be, so we take the time, we want to get sure that our music means everything to us
It will be more aggressive or more melodic?
I think it will be the both like we did, some of the songs seem very fast and aggressive, it will be like DC HxC like the Bad Brains and the others songs could be more like The Clash, street punk or something like that, so I don't know, maybe a combination of both, the same as we did before !
About your lyrics, when does your inspiration comes from?
I've just tried to mentality survived in America , it requires to be honest and talk around change specially organised a community of punk rockers and hardcore kids to realize that the American's culture is a mess and what about the other people think about us is not occurent but we have to change, organizing an hardcore punk community, we stay really strong and united and I think because when we're not touring we all work, we work in factories, restaurant, we do all of that, so we are a part of the working class who is not represented by Georges Bush and his policy. So it's just keeping us alive to write these songs, we don't write them because politic is popular, we write them because it's what punk bands do, if we were playing another kind of music or anything I think we would write the same songs, the same text you know, when you just try to survived in America in your mind, in your heart and talk about the thing which is wrong in America and what you could to change it for a better world.
When you say try to survive, what would you like to change to only have to live peacefully ?
I think it would be very inform for Americans to stop giving an apology of liberty, which just means the freedom for the wealthiest to exploit everyone else. I think a massive change in the way that we look a philosophy of our country is very important, but I think what is happening is the most that the millions and millions of working class and poor class need to be educated outside of the system and rise up and change everything and we need health care, we need food, we need food, there's so many things wrong, there's no social system like you have, there's nothing like you have, it's very difficult.
That's true that your social and health organization is crazy in the US!
It's horrible, you know it doesn't exist ! If you don't have money, you can only die, this is the way that America looks with people, and the strange way they call it freedom and they make a religion like fundamentalist christianity and a very hatefull of giving woman rights and they giving a very hatefull that everyone can be safe. And I think that a lot of christian don't read the bible actually because the bible is very peaceful, very communist kind of religion and instead of they are very afraid and there is an atmosphere of fear essentially in the United States
Do you think that the religion make the other US citizen blind to all the social reality ?
Yes, religion and what we call the media consideration, our media, like journalists has become an intelligent news, but then it was privatised and taking over so only the right wing can have an opinion, so it's very hard to find objective reporting because it will be destroying. There's no sens of like what's going on this week in France or what the other people thinks about the American' war in Irak, we don't hear things like that. There is a religious blindness and a cultural deafness. We wrote some songs about it like oppressing people in the name of God in the part of the freedom of religion in America and the media the lack of free speach the fact there's no free press and so the fact of wealth, we're talking about to keep people wealthy and so I think it's the same problem.
Is there some people who try to print their own press ?
They do ! A few people do it on the Internet, there's some good alternative media but a lot of people don't know about it and a lot of people don't have time or don't have computer so like people have really need the ideas of the most people who don't have the technological sofistication or they're not middle class enough to have the energy to do this, like if it's not cause the american have sometimes two works and they really don't have time to do this they can only just work, so when they come back home, they turn on the TV and whatever it is, you're taken what it's given and you don't have the heart of courage to go and look for yourself. But I think if a lot of Americans are convice that they are been blind by the Presidence and by the media they will start a heart of rage, I really think they have this rage, like the rage for justice and I think with this point they could to find a smarter press, more free, more ideas.
Do you think the lack of anger for the middle class, the working class comes from the education which is not very strict, who don't get the word to the kid to get the real information and do not be fade by the medias ?
Yeah you're right, I think that people are educated just to be able to make money and all the american dream, myth of survival and I think people don't have the same sens of like having a large culture to look at in the whole world, at the international, they see America as the whole world. It's pretty big and you can go all your life in the same state and don't come to another country and you don't know how the people live. I think it's a geaographiquily sort of 17.17 so we have to defend it to make people to go to Canado or Mexico!
Do you think that now Europe is united, there will be a change in the balance of power between USA and Europe and the American citizens will like to be more educated, like to learn foreign langage, learn a lot about the world?
I hope so but I don't think the US national culture will change so that, everyday American citizens go back from Europe and the students from the middle classes make some travelling, even if they hear you they still have a suprem sort of power and they only have one thing on their minds, I think it would take more than that. I think it's good if Europe is becoming an economic power's nation. I think it could be good at least if like there is a change in agriculture and growing practices for having healthy food and more organic food. So you European you'll be able to set the rules of economy and as far as it could be more progressive and more green Europe could do that, and that's good to American to listen, to learn something I think.
How did you come to the social revendication ?
I don't know I think punk helps me a lot because if already feel like an outcast when you're young, you have the culture to go to and specially in Washington DC, in Richmond, Virginia, theire were a large socially and politically radical kind of punk and it was talking about feminisim, it was talking about racial justice, it was talking about different kind of economy and it was talking about being yourself, whatever you were, you were welcome in it, so I think that helps me cos I probably feel like an outcast when I was younger and I think these ideas specially in Richmond is like maybe like Marseille, it's like rich on one side and very poor on the other side, and there's in the newspaper who are extremly right wing and they only talk about money, they talk about the rest of the culture, of the society, so if you walk around you wonder where is the voice of these people, where is the voice of my parents who are working all the time, where is the voice of people who work with me in the factory, no one is talking about them, they only talking about the very rich. So I think Richmond is like a city that is like a micronism of America. It's very difficult, it's not like California where the cities are big and there's more culture and there's more money everywhere so you get more happy, like silly bands in the west coast and you get more angry band from the east cost ! But Only Crime is an exception cos they're from the West Coast and they're very angry. But I think it's growing up and you don't have other to express this rage and to express the hope and make it to a positive change, and we should organize people and stop the fear that make America the monster that it is right now.
Why do you think people don't react about it ?
I think that they don't know as they can, there is the American education which is so strict like you said, there is no sens of possibilty, there's only this one way, like earn money, make money, fuk everyone esle, which is very strange. I think there's not part of American culture, in its history that you can live another way, you can be more socialist, you can be happy, you can have a life which is based on relationships and openess and harmony with nature. The USA are just like a spoiled child as a whole nation, so the only information that you get about what your options are from one point of view. And once you travel, you get outside the America is like getting from the moon to the Earth, this is how I could describe it, but it takes money to travel and a lot of American don't have it. I also think that the American TVs don't show enough the rest of the world, they only show celebrities and the shadows of the weakest part of America, so I think in America people don't know each other very well. It's not like here, in Annecy, when you see in the border of the lach, everyone walking together, old people, very old grand-mother and young people, in America everyone is separeted, young people go to bars, old people stay home watching TV, it's a mess, it's very lonely, as big as the country is, it's very lonely, it's not loud at it could be, it's a very quiet place. So punk is created a new family, you just come out and listenning to music and you're taking something with you, and it's very hard to do thing like Deconstruciton or Warped Tour cos of corruption. Like on Warped Tour, there's a US Army recruting table, and we're gonna go at Warped Tour and speak against this US Military table and try to make sure that the kids don't have to do that to earn money, cos people who are volonteer to US army are very poor and they don't do it to have a free access to education or health care or a better life, because none of that exist in American social culture, so that's why people go on Irak cos they wanna have that, is not strange?
How did you react the first time you come to Europe ?
The first time I came to Europe, I wasn't in Strike Anywhere, and I went to Russia, that was very different, and it's not the same culture like here in France, but the first time with Strike Anywhere was in September 2000 and most people here were incredible, they mean like just because we were American but we weren' like Georges Bush because of our music and our texts. We played in squats, we showed our strong values Only once in Belgium, someone told me "What would you say if I told you that I'm in Al Qaeda"! I was surpized and I was like "I know you are not from Al Qaeda!" We all know that some people do not like the US because of the medias that give a false image of what we are. We hate George Bush, he has never been our president! European people have to know that we are human people and we don't represent that!
Pivots' Questionnary :
is your favorite word?
SAORSE it means freedom in gaelic