Behind Punk is a D.I.Y. punk blog/fanzine/record label based out of Moscow

We need to focus on positive change in the world, and it starts with our scene and the people within it. More hugs, less shrugs!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Interview with Rita Gomes (Wasted Rita)

Chances are, you’ve seen Wasted Rita’s drawings online and might have not even known whose work you were seen, but her illustrated life and tales about punk rock, relationships, friends and society is something that permeates barriers and finds something that we can all understand. Well, I could use a lot of other platitudes here and as true as she might be, you should really read to this interview and decide for yourself.
Thanks to Rita who was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions. Also do youself a favor and check out THIS PAGE!

WASTED RITA promo from rita gomes on Vimeo.

Hey! How are you? How's Portugal? 

Howdy! I’m fine. Unemployed, broke and full of energy to take over the world every single day. And Portugal, well, Portugal is awesome country not to be in, unless you are here in summer vacations.

What came first, your love for punk or drawings? 

Drawing! It was always my favorite hobby, ever since I can remember. I used to spend my time drawing alone while other kids were playing and having fun. Yep, natural born weirdo. 
I remember giving ideas to the other kids in my art classes, when I was nine or ten years old. Or doing their draws for them. Or even kids copying my stuff and, during the playtime, my best friend trying to beat them up. Yes, I had kids copying my stuff before it was cool. My love for punk came only when I was twelve or thirteen, as well as my love for TLC. 

To give our readers a bit of a background, when did you start writing and drawing, and what got you interested in the medium? Why did you choose the name Wasted Rita? 

The name Wasted Rita came up at a time of my life when I realized all the potential and talent I've been wasting 'till then. I was also probably, listening to Black Flag. But, no, it has nothing to do with being drunk all the time, I'm sorry. It's about commitment, hard work and trying to grow as an artist every day.
As I said before, I've always been interested in drawing, but I started doing it, for real, when I entered Porto's School of Fine Arts to study Graphic Design. I got a 7 out of 20 in my first drawing class; this made me fall back a bit. Until the day it crossed my mind that maybe my lack of skills could be my greatest ones. That's when I started drawing with no boundaries or concerns. This turned out to be one of my greater pleasures in life, and, nowadays, I have adrenaline rushes every time I'm drawing. Plus, everything I draw looks cool. I can't help it. It's in my blood. And, you can shove my bad grades up your ass! And, about the writing part; I just don’t like to talk, so I write everything down in a sketchbook and, sometimes, it ends up on my blog. 

What is your usual process for any given drawings? How long do they take you?

It depends. It might take half an hour or less, or it can take two or three days, no longer than that, because I get bored of working in the same piece. And being bored is the first step for failure. I'm a huge fan of spontaneity, stop thinking, and start doing it. I don't think I have a process. Or maybe my process is the lack of one. I listen to music, walk around for hours, and ideas show up. That's it. Normally I stick with the first one, but I like to make sure I have other solutions in case the first one fails. Which usually doesn't happen. 
In 'Deconstructing Harry' Woody Allen said 'all I have in life is my imagination'. This suits me perfectly if I can add a heart full of passion and a mind overflowed with punk-rock (and some TLC) to 'my imagination'. Everything comes naturally from this combination. I'm pro-carefree creativity.

What are some of the things you try to communicate through your drawings?

Lately, I've been thinking of how egocentric and personal my drawings are. It's always about me: what I feel, what I like, what I hate, the bands I am stoked about, what I think, what I've done, blablabla. My blog is such a teenage diary in drawings and unpolished calligraphy. I guess that’s my message. Some people say I'm still a forever-in-high-school-teenage-naive-lame-ass-kid, I take it as a compliment and as a periphrasis for 'true believer'. But here is the good news: everyone has a teenage inside. And maybe that's why so many people relate to what I communicate. Others just find me ridiculous. But I'm totally cool with that, folks! I'm pro-haters.

Over the years, you've been doing more and more artwork and show flyers. It seems like a natural fit, but how did it all come together? 

I've always been involved in punk-rock projects and I was studying arts, so people asked me for stuff and I'd do it. Easy. I had my own label (Not Just Boys Fun) and used to work with other Portuguese independent labels, I also used to take photos at shows and write a fanzine. I've learned a lot with all these experiences, working for fun and for so many people and bands. But I never had the support or visibility I should've had here in Portugal and I always felt that my work was being underappreciated. Like the coolest Dutch kids used to say 'Her knowledge, her talents are overshadowed, his are overrated'. This was when I tackle the evil at its source and WASTED RITA was born. No more being wasted or wasting myself. 
But, let's make it clear, I love to make flyers, artworks and all those things, and I will always do it for fun, however, only for people who are aware of my potential as much as I am. 
Last year, when I moved to Slovenia (where I studied enjoyed life for 6 months) I had the pleasure to meet a few kids who were highly responsible for all my (let's call it) emancipation process, for being so damn supportive and passionate about what I was doing. I remember doing for two flyers In-Sane Bookings (Bangers + Dirty Tactics and Imadethismistake + Apologies, I Have None + Rush’N'Attack, both in LJ) in less than two hours, without being asked, and just because I was not going out that night, and felt like doing something fun. So, yes, I love to do flyers for shows and artworks, and it's a natural fit because it's fun and I'm pro-fun.
What kind of drawings did you see growing up that influenced your style? 

Good question. I have no idea. I never had a big visual culture. My parents always wanted me to be a surgeon, not a kid who draws other kids in punk-rock t-shirts. I was a cartoon addicted, Ren & Stimpy, Animaniacs, Dexter, Powerpuff Girls (huge fan!), Doug, Pinky and the Brain, Sailor Moon, or even Pokemуn and Dragon Ball, but I don't see any influences of these in my current style. I have to analyze this, so I can have a much more interesting answer next time someone asks me the same. 

With the emergence of the internet, bands and ideas seem to be more assessable; speaking from my own experience I've had the opportunity to interview bands from U.S., Canada, France, Germany etc. over the past six months thanks in part to the internet. It also seems that almost every band has a facebook/myspace/bandcamp or something page. There are also huge webstores dedicated to selling punk rock related products, the printed fanzine seems to be a dying out, and even printed show posters and becoming harder and harder to find. What is your opinion on the effect of the internet on the punk rock scene? 

I love internet and I hate internet. I love internet because I just spent three hours discovering and downloading amazing bands. And I hate internet for making me spend three hours in front of this screen, getting an headache and a massive feeling of nothingness. Of course it has it has its ups and downs, like everything. Nonetheless, I think it's really important and urgent that we adapt ourselves to all this progress our world is living. Change is good, most of the times. Printed fanzines are dying out? Well, maybe it's because people are still doing them like others used to back in the 80's. Times are different now and you have to be conscious about it. People really need to innovate and embrace changing. You have to capture people's interest with difference and quality. I know all this do-it-yourself culture is really appealing and the feeling of being capable to do anything is the best. However, sometimes, people create things just for the sake of creating things, which I have nothing against, but, most of the times, people forget about quality and just do more of the same. You need to give it a little twirl, make a difference and make it appellative. This is 2011, not 1980. 

What do you do outside of Wasted Rita? Do you have day jobs or something? 

Outside Wasted Rita I'm working hard to be Wasted Rita full time. I mean, I'm trying to work as a full time freelance visual artist. Or, in other words, I'm trying to have enough work proposals per month to be able to reach some financial stability and move out of Portugal. All the works I did 'outside Wasted Rita' were temporary, and I never had a day 9 to 5 job. I've always worked in art and design related activities, but, ever since I saw Cashback, I've always fantasized about doing the night shit at some supermarket in London. Might sound weird, blame the Sean Ellis.

What’s the last really great zine/comic you read? What was so great about it?

I can't remember. I'm sure I'd buy and love all the new releases from NoBrow and Nieves, if I had money to purchase them. But since I don't, I can tell you about the last zine I bought, a few weeks ago, and how boring it is. Same talk, same issues, same speech, same visual treatment, same everyfuckingthing from the collection of old fanzines I keep from my older sister. 

What song(s) do you never get tired of hearing? why? 

‘Better Life’, Bouncing Souls and ‘Heart-a-Tact’, Kid Dynamite. Because both give me something to hold true, reasons to care, touch my heart and make me sing along forever.

What have you been listening lately? What are your favorite recent releases? 

Lately, I've been totally aficionada (Portuguese for 'enthusiastic') to Aficionado, I can't wait to listen the entire album, however 'The Things You Like' and 'Falsified Inspiration' already made it to my top 10 best songs and lyrics of 2011. Born in a Cent, 'Far From Perfect' acoustic EP, it's out there, it's deep, it's honest, and it's free, so go do yourselves a favour and get to know this hearty band. I've also been listening to the new version of 'Every Thug Needs a Lady' on repeat (from Alkaline Trio, not Ja Rule). I can't get enough of Mixtapes 'Hope Is For People'. Actually, I can't get enough of anything this band is doing. I am also a huge Nothington appreciator, so 'More Than Obvious' has been stuck in my mp3 player. Plus, all the new stuff from Daytrader, Touche Amore, Dowsing, Joyce Manor, Red City Radio, and, more recently, BTMI, Death is not Glamorous (!!), Tenement (thanks to you), Direct Hit!, Ages, The Reveling (such an awesome surprise), The Swellers, Junior Battles, Hold Tight!, Landmines… Right now I'm listening to The Dangerous Summer’s new album, for the first time, so far so good. There are way too many good bands and releases this year and I'm sure I'm forgetting most of them. People should stop making good music. Seriously. I totally stress out when I feel like I don't have enough time to get to know and to listen carefully to everything that is released. Maybe that's why I don't waste my 'listening to music time' with double x's, floating foxes and shit stuff like that. Rawr. 

What's the scene like in Porto and more generally throughout the Portugal? Any cool bands you think people should check out?

I'm not the best person to talk about the Portuguese scene. I used to be involved in it, but not anymore. Kids seems to have fun in it, I don't. 
After coming back from Ljubljana, where I had at least one exciting show for week and where everyone was so friendly and interested, I backed off a bit from the Portuguese scene. Since I'm not part of it, I feel like I can't complain. But, here are some facts about it. Firstly, it's really hard for bands to come to our country, due to our geographic location. And if it's hard for bands to go to Lisbon (the capital), you can imagine how hard it is for bands to come to Porto. Secondly, there are lots of people trying to do good things, but sometimes you have to be cool and have way too many friends to grab people's attention. Lastly, and the most ridiculous, there is only one punk/hardcore forum in Portugal, which is ok since we are such a small country. But, the funny thing is, if you want to join it, first you have answer ''a small pre-selection inquiry''. Yes, like a job interview but to be part of a punk/hardcore forum. Even if all you wanted was to be updated about shows. And even after that, you might have to deal with some kind of dinosaurs trying to put you down every time you comment or write something. But, like I said before, people seem to have fun at the shows. And when I talk with bands that toured in Portugal they normally say really good things about their shows and audience here. So, maybe, I'm the weird one. Or maybe I just prefer honest people to all the concept of scene. Or I just 'don't need a music scene to tell me who I am'. 

What is something you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?

Go to the Fest, start a musical project, have my own huge and bright studio in an exciting place on earth, do a tour and scuba dive.

What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?

Human beings in general, lack of values in particular.

What does the future hold for you?

Good good things. Out of Portugal.

Thanks for taking time out to talk with me Rita, hope to see you soon! Anything else you'd like to add/share? 

Thank you for this interview. Forgive me if I committed any severe grammar mistakes and for not knowing what kind of drawings have influenced my style. Keep on the good work and being the sweetest Russian punk-rock connoisseur. And, let's fucking do an European version of The Fest! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Interview with Aaron Zorgel and Sam Sutherland of Junior Battles

Keep Up With Junior Battles:

Here is an interview I recently did with Aaron and Sam from amazing band called Junior Battles. In the interview we discusses their NEW album, future plans and more. Do yourself a favor and check/buy/donate/download their stuff HERE!!  
Junior Battles, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me.

Hey Guys! how are you?
Aaron Zorgel: Great, thanks! It's the day before Canada Day, which is a federal holiday here. That means a 3-day weekend, which is always fantastic.

Can we start with some background info. How long have you been playing together as Junior Battles?
Sam Sutherland: We've been doing Junior Battles for about three years now. The band started as an excuse to hang out and get drink tickets at shows, so the first year of our existence wasn't the most serious time in our lives. I think we eventually just discovered that we actually enjoyed what we were doing and, if we just worked a little bit harder, we could be at least passable at it. So we recorded our first EP, which led to our second 7" EP, then a split with O Pioneers!!!, and then our new full-length. It's all been a really slow progression from us just wanting to play some songs in our practice space as buds.

 What made you decide to form this band?
AZ: Sam and I were tied up in a fairly serious folky emo band, and it just wasn't fun, and it wasn't going anywhere. Actually, I think all the members of JB played in this band at some point, but never all at the same time. After that dissolved, we started Junior Battles as a guilt-free return to the pop-punk music we loved in Highschool. It was designed to be very unserious, and very fun. Since then, it's gotten a bit more serious, but it has never stopped being fun. That's the only rule that governs our band. It has to be a good time, and if it stops being fun, we'll stop. But, so far so good.

How did the name come about and what does it mean?
SS: I was originally super, super stoked on naming the band Younger Strike, which everyone else hated but was slowly resigning themselves to. Aaron was watching a movie with his old roommate when they spotted a character named Junior Battle, and it was suggested as a similar alternative to this name everyone hated. We all agreed, and haven't looked back since. I've also never seen the movie it's from. I think only half the band has.

What other bands have you been involved in?
AZ: To the best of my knowledge...

Aaron: Kostanza (jazz/hardcore), Arcs (folky emo), Great Lenin's Ghost! (electro-punk), Junior Battles, O Pioneers!!!, SCARETWINS (guy/girl spooky electro punk)

Sam: Birchview Park Symphonic (acoustic orchestral emo), Arcs (folky emo), Whore For A Heart (metal/hardcore), Hot Friends (spazzy punk), Junior Battles, O Pioneers!!!, Old Cars (garage rock)

Joel: Metacomets (dance rock), Arcs (folky emo), Brothers (rock), Junior Battles, Little City (folky indie rock)

Justin: Blue Van (rock), Arcs (folky emo), Junior Battles, Milk Run (classic rock), O Pioneers!!!, Old Cars (garage rock)

Sam and I were also in a pop-rock musical that he wrote, and I workedon as well called Giant Killer Shark: The Musical. It was a musical version of Jaws, complete with a hardcore song called "SHARK ATTACK." We performed that in Toronto, Winnipeg, and New York.

Your full-length debut “Idle Ages” came out a some days ago. Are you happy with the overall response?
SS: It's been great. We spent so much time cooped up in our practice space writing it, then even more time sequestered in a recording studio trying to make it sound right. After a while you start to go a little crazy and you wonder if anyone will even notice when it comes out. Thankfully, the response has been amazing. It's especially gratifying when you feel like someone has truly connected with it; we've had a few reviews that were really great, where the person had obviously spent a lot of time digging into the record, and we've had a few people e-mail us just to tell us about how much they've been enjoying it, and what about the record is connecting with them. Given how personal and intense and weird a lot of the lyrical content on the record is, that's been unbelievably gratifying. After getting one of those e-mails, we all just agreed it had been worth the work.

Please, tell me about the writing and recording process for debut album:
AZ: We had been writing songs for it since before our self-titled 7" came out, so that was in April 2010 I guess. We started demo-ing stuff in August 2010, and recorded it with producer Steve Rizun (The Flatliners, The Creepshow) at Drive Studios in Woodbridge, Ontario in December 2010. We worked on it kind of sporadically over the course of the winter, and finished recording in mid February.  So the whole process (from writing to recording to release) took about a year and tree months. It was nice to be able to take our time, and make sure the songs were right, and that they were recorded in the best way possible. Steve was super patient with us, and brought out some good performances. A couple of the songs were unfinished going into thestudio, so there were some stressful spontaneous lyric writingsessions, but it all worked out in the end.  We had some friends contribute too, including some vocals by Damian from Fucked Up, some trombone from Matt Keegan of Bomb The Music Industry!, and some Banjo, Piano and Organ by Franz Nicolay, formerly of the Hold Steady. Having them contribute meant a lot to us.

 Tell me about the cover artwork to Idle Ages:
SS: Our friend Greg Pepper ( designed it. He had done the art for our O Pioneers!!! split and a few recent tour posters for us, so we were excited to work with him on something a little bigger and more conceptual. A lot of the record deals with growing up and finding a new place for yourself in the world as you change, along with the signposts that music provides for you along the way, and how you assert and shape your identity using things like music and the people you spend time with. We decided we wanted to have a four-panel design, capturing four distinct parts of growing up, and also the way the band had grown over the past few years. The cover panel is an aerial shot of our bassist Justin Taylor's parents' house in Etobicoke. We crashed there a lot when we were recording, since it was closer to the suburb where the studio was then our places downtown. There's also Aaron's parents' house in Holstein, which is a really small town in Ontario where we spent a weekend recording demos for the album, talking about the album, and really settling in to what we wanted to accomplish with it. The other panels are the weird, industrial street where our practice space is, and the corner of Bathurst and College where Sneaky Dee's is, a venue in Toronto we play at a lot, eat at a lot, and generally spend too much of our time. Besides just being these weird personal snapshots, we felt like they kind of captured a personal evolution; country, suburbs, industrial, and downtown. They idea was the trace our evolution, and how a lot of people evolve, too, from teenagers to adults, and the way the spaces around them define those periods. Whew.

So if you were to describe the musical orientation of the album what would you say about it?
AZ: In terms of influences, we're all over the map. There are some pretty diverse tastes in the band. But our sound has always beenrooted in 90's and 00's pop-punk. The songs begin there, and we weave in some third-wave emo, some indie-rock flavour, and a lot of pop sensibility. It's hard to pinpoint one specific genre or influence, but I think that's what makes the record cool. It's not a standard, typical pop punk throwback record. We wanted to push the boundaries of the genre, and I hope we succeeded.

What's your experience been like with Paper+Plastick Records?
SS: It's been amazing. Everyone involved in the label is enthusiastic and excited about the bands, and they're eager and willing to try new thing. Our record was available as PWYC download for the first week, which was something we really wanted to do that the label embraced wholeheartedly. They're willing to take risks, and also willing to invest in bands. It's a special situation and we're incredibly grateful to them for the support they've given us so far.

Which of your shows was the most memorable for you?
AZ: Playing Fest 8 & Fest 9 were both incredible shows. Recently we played a house show in Guelph, Ontario with our friends in the Decay, and that was insane. Playing Pouzza Fest in Montreal was huge for us as well, both of our sets there were incredible. It was one of the best festival experiences I've ever had.

What do you do outside of Junior Battles? Do you guys have day jobs?
SS: We all have jobs, and Joel, our drummer, also goes to school. I'm a journalist, Aaron is a music composer for film & tv,  and works for a big cable company, Justin is a videographer, and Joel works at an old folk's home.

 What is something you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?
AZ: Definitely going over to Europe. That's on the band's bucket list.

What song(s) do you never get tired of hearing? why?
SS: Lately, I've been able to play "Came Out Swinging" from the new Wonder Years record without ever stopping, which I think is totally annoying my neighbors. The production on it is perfect, the lyrics are great, and it has a breakdown without sounding like it has a goofy breakdown.

What have you been listening lately? What are your favorite recent releases?
AZ: One record we all agree on is the new Fucked Up record, David Comes to Life. I know Sam's really digging the new Touche Amore record. Joel loves the new Bon Iver record. I'm really looking forward to the new record by The-Dream, I'm the guy that loves all kinds of pop music in the band. Justin digs a lot of Canadian roots-rock like Shotgun Jimmie.

If you could do a split with any band that's currently together, what band would it be?
SS: The-Dream. Call us, bro. We're ready.

What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?
AZ: Tough to say, really. I love the community we play music with and for, because it's always felt really welcoming and nurturing. I've honestly never encountered any outrageous acts of violence or sexism, but I know it still exists and is a huge problem with the scene today. One thing I will say, is that I would like to see more girls on stage, starting bands, running shows, etc. It's a male centric scene, but hopefully bands like PS Elliot, Bridge & Tunnel, and White Lung are influencing more girls to pick up guitars and make their presence known.

What are the plans for Junior Battles for the rest of 2011?
SS: We're starting a summer tour we've dubbed the Weekend Warrior Tour this Thursday. Every weekend, we're playing a run of shows in a new state or province. We start with Ohio, then Ontario, then New York, and so on and so on. It should be a great way to cover a lot of ground without getting stuck playing a Monday night in some podunk town just 'cause. In the early fall, we want to try and cover more of Canada, as we've never done more than Ontario and Quebec. And after that, who knows?! Except Fest. We know that.

 Thanks for doing this interview Guys! And finally, is there anything else that you want people to know, that you want the readers to know.
AZ: Thanks for the interview! Go grab our record Idle Ages from It's available now for CD order (and vinyl order coming soon) at Paper + Plastick here:

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Interview with Brian McGee of Plow United

Brian McGee - Guitar/Vocals
Joel Tannenbaum - Bass/ Vocals
Sean Rule - Drums/Vocals


"Plow started playing punk rock in 1992. For the first couple years they played at farmers markets and pizza places all over the West Chester, PA area. They released their first seven-inch in 1994 then they made more vinyl, purchased their beloved van Sadi, and embarked on their first tour. In 1995, they were forced to change their name to Plow United by some band from Baltimore. At the start of 1997 Sean began to teach high school math and the boys decided to call it quits. They played a heartwarming final show in Philadelphia in front of over 400 of their friends that had been there from the beginning."

I’m happy to finally be posting  interview with Brian McGee of Plow United. In the interview we discusses their upcoming REUNION SHOW at Riot Fest East, feature plans and more. I hope you enjoy.
Thanks to Brian who was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions. 
Read up it bellow.

Hey Brian! how are you?

I am well. I am responding from a cafe in Cambridge, MA.  I am out on tour with another songwriter named Pj Bond and we are in the last week of a three week tour.  How are you? 

I'm fine, thanks. It's probably appropriate to start the interview off by letting those that don't know that Plow United is playing a reunion show in Philadelphia in mid-September. How did this all come about, and did everyone feel like it was time to get the band back together?

The reunion came about when I got a call last week from Creep Records.  They said that Riot Fest was interested in having us play the one day punk rock festival.  When we saw the line-up, when it would be held and where, and that we had enough time to pull it off and how much fun it would be... we were in.  The last show we played was in 1998.  In those thirteen years since that show, we have received lots of offers to play a reunion show but always turned it down.  Logistically it would have been difficult with the three of us living far away from each other-Sean in Oregon, Joel in Philly and myself in North Carolina.  But now, with myself moving to New Jersey this fall and with some help to bring Sean in from OR, a handful of people are making it easy for us to do this and we're excited about it. 

Has practice started yet for the reunion show? How much, if any, rust was there, and if you haven't practiced yet what are the expectations?

No rehearsal has started yet, but I know there is plenty of rust in there for all three of us.  We mostly expect to have a blast.

Plow United has a very extensive playlist covering numerous albums. How many songs are you planning on playing, and how are you going to choose them?

We are going to pick a pile of songs to work out and focus on delivering them respectfully. We're also going to work up a couple of my solo tunes from my recent album, The Taking Or The Leaving. We've probably got 45 minutes to play which is longer than most shows we've ever played. We'll see what happens.

Is this show going to be a one time deal, or are there any other plans for the band to stay together in the future? May be are you recording something new?

Right now this show is a one time deal in the way that further bookings will be hinged on us delivering a great show.  We would like to play more dates in the future, but we do need to take it one show at a time. I have total confidence that we will bring our "A" game to the festival.

Stepping away from the reunion show, it's been years since the band has been together. I know you have solo project(Brian Mcgee), did anyone else go on to any other bands?

Joel is currently playing drums in an Indie-pop band called Glitter.  Here is their bandcamp page-
Sean is playing drums in an ska/funk/dub band called Necktie Killer

How long have you been playing in bands? What's your motivation and how has it changed over the years?

I've been playing in bands since I was 14 when my cousin's and I started a band.  Since then I've played in a couple punk bands, a couple square dance/contra dance bands and now with my own solo project.  And although the music from project to project has been different, the motivation to express myself and reach people through music has never changed.  Out of all the art forms that exist, music (in all it's different genres) is the one that seems to reach everyone on the planet.
I love writing songs and performing.  And if I manage to say something in a song that someone can relate to, or put into words a sentiment or feeling that someone could not do or didn't know that they felt, then I did my job and a connection has been made.  It's pretty overwhelming to work on a song at home, record it, perform it, and have it out in the world and then have someone tell you how much that song means to them.

Do you think it's necessary for independent musicians and bands to have a form of ethics? 

I think it's important for people in general to have a form of ethics.  The problem is that ethics collide and that sometimes leads to uncomfortable/unfortunate circumstances.  But for musicians, I think it's important to try and understand why you do what you do and what you expect from it and don't screw anyone over at the end of the day.  Personally I try and be a decent human to everyone I meet at shows.  The world doesn't need another asshole musician.  There are plenty out there.  
I also do not ask unreasonable prices for performances and merchandise with where I'm at in my career.  At the same time, I try not to get ripped off.

I was actually going to ask you what you were listening to lately. What are your favorite recent releases?

Lately I've been really into The Black Keys album "Brothers", Jessica Lee Mayfield "Tell Me", The Felice Brothers "Celebration Florida", John Howie Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff "Leaving Yesterday", Gillian Welch "The Harrow & The Harvest", The Gaslight Anthem "American Slang."

What's the scene like in North Carolina and more generally throughout the U.S.? Any cool bands you think people should check out?

The scene in and around Asheville NC is pretty spread out.  There is a healthy indie rock scene, a small but good punk/hardcore scene, hippie jamband scene, Bluegrass/old timey/country scene.  Some of the local Asheville, NC acts that should not be missed are The Reigning Sound, Electric Owls, Lovett, Matt Evans, Do It To Julia, Mimi Bell, Ice Cream, The Honeycutters and Floating Action 

Have you heard Spraynard?

No, but their name as come up a couple times recently. I believe there is some West Chester/Philly connection and I look forward to hearing them.

What do you do outside of music?

Outside of playing music, I do a little woodworking for a friend at his shop.  I also enjoy going to see live music, Pilates, walking my dog, working on guitars, watching Treme, and most of all hanging with my wife.

 What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?

To be totally honest-I have not kept up all that much.  But in general, from what I've observed recently and from what I can recall from the past... the fact that it is still male dominated is kind of annoying, but hell outside of child birth most things are.  I'm not a fan of the jock-mosh pit stuff.  No one should go to a show and get accidently kicked in the face.  Another thing is how judgemental people can be in that scene that usually tries to pride itself on being open minded.  There are personalities within the scene that want to tell others how to live..... it doesn't make any sense.

What were for you personally the best and worst moments of 2010? What are your plans for 2011?

The best thing that happened to me in 2010 was getting laid off from my job.  I know that is usually not a good thing for most people, but it helped me to reevaluate what I wanted to focus harder on, which was my music.  So I went into the studio, recorded an album and release something that I feel really great about.  For worst moments.... ah, I seemed to have forgotten about those.  For 2011, I will be moving to NJ with my wife so she can attend Rutgers University and work on getting her MFA.  I hope to continue touring and working on new songs and work on guitars.  I'd also like to figure out how to tour the UK and Europe.

Thanks for your time. Do you have any last words/wishes?

I just want to let Plow United fans, the world over, know that the three of us appreciate all the support you've shown us and might continue to show us in the future.  We are really excited to play Riot Fest East and hope to play to as many of you as we can.  Thanks again and take care of each other out there.