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, May 30, 2012

Interview with Harris of Sundials

Keep Up With Sundials:

Sundials is a great indie/punk band out of Richmond. For fans of Superchunk, Failures' Union, Teenage Cool Kids, etc. The beats are fast, but poppy and punky. These guys make me want to sing my little heart out. 
Do yourself a favor, check it out at their bandcamp page . Also make sure to buy their new full length, which is coming out soon from Asian man Records. 

Thanks to Harris who was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions. Enjoy!

Hey Harris! How are you doing? How's Richmond?

Hey Vanya! Richmond is great. But I’m actually on tour in Vermont right now. New England is beautiful.

 First off, introduce yourself and members of the band:

Cory plays drums, Carl plays bass, and I play guitar and sing. We all write songs. I don’t think a lot of people know this, but our drummer Cory writes half of them!

So, tell me how Sundials originally came together? And how did the name come about and what does it mean?

We all grew up playing with each others bands in high school and beyond. Carl and I used to play in a band called Friendly Fire, and when that split up I guess we just wanted to keep playing music together. I had seen Cory play in a bunch of awesome dc-influenced dischord kinda bands, and thats kinda what I wanted in a drummer. See, Sundials originally set out to sound like Young Widows and In Utero-era Nirvana... I’d say we hit the nail on the head with that one.
I wanted to name the band off of an Alkaline Trio song from the start, and Sundials was their first release. At the time I wasn't sure how Cory and Carl felt about Trio, so I pitched it as just a general name, and told them about three months later what it came from!

So on to the music. Could you describe the way Sundials sounds?

I like to think that we sound like The Lemonheads covering Alkaline Trio, or maybe vice versa, But that’s probably just totally not true. We all come from pretty different influences. I’ve spent the past two years listening to a ton of Pavement, Nirvana, Replacements, Superchunk, and the two aforementioned bands, so that kinda stuff probably works its way in there. Cory grew up in the DC burbs, and as such was heavily influenced by the dischord catalog, as well as bands like Hot Snakes and Alkaline Trio (duh). Carl just listens to Bad Religion.

 I know that you guys have a split coming out with Tatlins Tower. When should we expect to see that and what made you want to do a split with Tatlins Tower?

The drummer of Tatlins Tower (Dan) recorded Never Settle as well as a few other 7”s we’ve done. I think he showed us a demo of a Tatlins Tower song and we were just blown away. He actually recorded the whole split. It should be out sometime this summer, I’m stoked!

I understand you guys are working on a new album, “When I Couldn’t Breathe” coming out in August. What can we expect? How has that been coming along?

Yeah! We tracked the whole thing two weeks ago, and I couldn’t be more excited. Working with Mike Bardzik felt like a really good fit. We were put in touch with him through our buds in Spraynard, who could only say great things about working with him on Funtitled and Exton Square.

How do you feel the record differs from your previous efforts?

I feel like this record is a much better representation of what we’re trying to do as a band. People have always come up to me at shows and remarked at how much heavier Sundials is live, and I think we captured that this time around. Lyrically... it’s pretty sad. There is not a lot of happy on this one. It’s not a concept record or anything like that, but there is a pretty general theme. I think it’s about always being a want away from happiness.

What's your experience been like with Traffic Street Records? And how did you guys hook up with Asian man Records?

Never Settle was actually a split release of sorts, Traffic Street did the CD, and Toxic Pop did the LP. Sam and Mike were both fantastic to work with! When we started thinking about the new record, we sent out a demo and a letter to a few labels, first and foremost being Asian Man. Mike replied, and I went up to meet him at the Classics of Love show in Philadelphia (which was god damn amazing). It’s honestly a dream come true. I remember flipping through the Asian Man catalog when I was 13, ya know. The self titled Alkaline Trio compilation album was more or less my gateway from Blink-182 and Green Day to Minor Threat and Operation Ivy, as crazy as that sounds. Hell, that record contains our namesake!

 How is the Richmond scene? Any acts we've been unfortunately overlooking?

To many to count! Richmond has historically always been a mid-sized city with a supersize-city community for arts and music. But if I had to name a few, I’m super stoked on Family Cat (think Archers of Loaf meets Jawbreaker), Little Master (Wipers meet Pixies) Springtime (Leatherface meets Dag Nasty), Pedals on our Pirate Ships (heart of gold folk punk) and Hold Tight!, who actually have an unbelievable new record coming out this summer. I got that shit, cause I used to be in that band (and I live with them)!

Could you please talk about your involvement with the DIY punk community, how you got involved in it and how it affects your lives (putting out your music, going on tours and playing shows, etc)

I first started going to DIY punk shows at the Purcellville Skating Rink when I was about 14. I grew up in rural North-Western Virginia, and it was about a 45 minute drive to the nearest show, not to mention my high school. I can’t emphasize how life changing that experience was. It gave me something to do outside of drugs, partying, and sports - which is about all anyone in that area ever did.
When I was 16 I started setting up shows and playing in a band that sounded like Green Day. A few band transformations later, and we decided that after High School we would ditch college, and keep playing music in a bigger city. It was between Philadelphia (because Lifetime was from there) and Richmond (because Avail and Strike Anywhere were from there), but in the end our drummer wanted to go to school, and could only afford it in-state. I spent the next few years touring, living in show houses, and trying to help set up all-ages spaces. A lot has changed in Richmond since then, but I think for the better. Honestly, most of that is due to the efforts of Alex from Hold Tight!. He’s been setting up something like 3 shows a week for the last 5 years, and now has an awesome annual fest going called Stay Sweet!.

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

I think it’s important for people to be considerate of one another. There is a lot of language out there that has become common slang, but has really negative connotations. The punk scene isn’t immune to this kind of thing. I think that as a whole we are making progress, but I still hear that shit at shows. Ya know, to a certain extent, bands are representative of their communities. If you’re the guy or gal with the mic, you have a responsibility to make the show as safe a space as possible.
Basically, I just think people shouldn’t be assholes. It’s pretty hard to be an asshole, you kinda have to try.

What's your biggest gripe with the punk scene?

There is this weird thing within punk where people think that since the community is counter-culture that it’s immune to things like racism, homophobia and sexism. I’m constantly disappointed in the lack of respect for consent in our community. People need to start talking about sex in meaningful and open ways. Women shouldn’t feel shame, and men shouldn’t be misogynistic pricks, intentionally or otherwise. I guess the punk community might be a slight step above the rest of the world when it comes to this stuff, but it’s a very, very small step. People should work towards making sure everybody is as comfortable as possible being at a punk show. If you see or hear some bullshit, call it out.

What are some of your biggest influences outside of music?

Probably brunch. Brunch is the best of meals, and we know how to do it in the south! There is this place called 821 in Richmond, and it’s just the best thing ever. Breakfast burritos and $2.50 mimosas available until 5pm every day. Brunch forever!!!

 What else does the future hold for Sundials?

This summer will see us releasing a split 7” with Tatlins Tower, as well as a split 7” with Hold Tight!. After When I Couldn’t Breathe is out we’re going to tour a whole bunch. US and Europe for sure, Japan and Russia if they’ll take us! *wink wink

 Thanks so much for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Move to Richmond! I feel like I have a responsibility to let awesome people know how awesome it is here. We’ve got a river, record stores, brunch, punks...what else do you need?!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interview with Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females

Screaming Females is really good punk/garage that gets stuck in your head for days. Great music with fantastically unique vocals. I could use a lot of other platitudes here and as true as they might be, you should really listen to their music and decide for yourself.
Thanks to Marissa for taking the time out to answer some questions.

Hey! How are you doing? Please, introduce yourself and members of the band:

My name is Marissa Paternoster. Michael Abbate and Jarrett Dougherty play in Screaming Females with me.

First off, I have to say how much I enjoyed listening to Ugly. It’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time. And really, what makes it so enjoyable is your voice. It’s so distinct and unique. How old were you when discovered you could sing?

Michael and I were both in choir in our grade schools. I stopped singing in high school and began to sing a bit again right before going to university. 

 Ugly has been out for just about a two month now. How has the reaction been from fans?

So far so good! People seem to be happy and excited to hear us play new songs, we get a lot of requests, and I've been seeing a lot of old and new faces at shows. 

How would you compare this album to prior releases for fans that have yet to check it out?

Marissa: I'd say that Ugly is a much darker album. Certainly it is our best sounding album, sonically. I think it is our most ambitious record as well.

 How does the band go about writing material?

Mike, Jarrett, and myself will meet up in our practice space and begin playing some riffs. When one sticks, we'll begin arranging it into a song. 

 So, how did shooting your video for “It All Means Nothing” go? Why did you pick that for the first video? Why do you eat cats? It's really rad idea for the video

Haha, well, the video is a joke. I had the idea of having Mike and Jarrett murder and bury me for a long time, I wanted to use that narrative for an older song called, "Buried in the Nude". We didn't have the time or resources back then, but now that we do, we decided to run with it. Mike had just moved into an apartment with his three cats, we wrote the cats into the narrative.  

How has it been working with Don Giovanni Records so far? Do you think working with them has given you a lot more freedom than you might have had otherwise?

Don Giovanni Records is a very, very small operation run by our very close friends. They provide us with a terrific amount of support and they don't boss us around.

 Covers are all the rage these days, granted usually in live setting. You covered Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy. What other songs have you been known to cover or would you like to cover in the future?

We don't do cover songs too often. We've covered the Neil Young song, "Cortez the Killer" for a split 7" with an old New Brunswick, NJ band called Hunchback

Screaming Females cover Sheryl Crow

 If you could do a split with any band that's currently together, what band would it be?

 Tenement from Madison, WI.  

10. Let's talk a little about your art, what came first, your love for music or drawings?

They both go hand in hand, I would never rank one above the other.  

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

 I've been drawing for my entire life. My parents got me into sketching, but comic books and cartoons kept me going. I was a big fan of comic strips like Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side, but I also looked at a lot of fine contemporary art at a young age, like Basquiat, Pollock, and Diane Arbus. 

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

It depends on the size of the drawing. Sometimes they take a few hours, sometimes they take months. 

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

  Oh, well, it depends on the drawing at hand. In college I was very into symbolic subversion. I'd take ubiquitous imagery, symbolic imagery, and deface it or appropriate it in a way that robbed the symbol of its inherent meaning. Since I grew up on contemporary photography, I also tend to steer towards emulating portrait work, like the work of Cindy Sherman or Robert Mapplethorpe.  

 What are your thoughts on the current state of the punk/indie scene? How do you react to the increased coverage and notoriety that many of the artists - including yourselves - are receiving from the press, fans, etc.?

 I'm not sure. That sort of stuff doesn't mean a lot to me, personally. A lot of acts people perceive as "indie" aren't really as such, everything is sort of mainlined into the same machine nowadays. It's a bit disheartening but we just keep trying to plow through doing our own thing, work with our friends, and make our own decisions. It can certainly be challenging but working on our own accord is very satisfying, far more satisfying than any press clip.

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

 I do. Good work ethic and tenacity sets a good example! It also shows your audience and contemporaries that you are dedicated and care very much for your art. There is nothing shameful in sticking your neck out a bit for what you believe in.  

How do you think the New Brunswick DIY punk scene is looking right now? Do you have any local bands that might not get a lot of attention from that area you'd suggest checking out?

Yes! Some of the great New Brunswick bands that are around right now are: Black Wine, Kicking Spit, 3Jane, Lost Weekend, Sparkle Shit, Mattress, Biblethumper, and Eternal Fuzz just to name a few. 

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

 I don't have any gripes.  

 What else does the future hold for Screaming Females?


Thanks so much for your time Marissa, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Nope, thank you!