Wednesday, December 9, 2009

xBARCADIAx INTERVIEW

I know there has been a ton of changes inside the ranks of BARCADIA since "Versus the World" whats new with you guys?

Well, first off, it is now just me (Mike) on vocals and we have gotten a new drummer and two new guitarists. The sound is completely different than what it was on "Versus the World" - basically comparable to Disembodied and Ramallah with all kinds of 90's influences. Everything has matured greatly and we're stoked to let everyone hear this new stuff.

You guys start recording in January 27th what should everyone expect from this next record?

Expect the unexpected. We have an instrumental track that has violins - that should give everyone a sense of how we are pushing ourselves with this record. The anger and hate for humanity are still there in full force and the music has progressed immensely and gotten a lot heavier.


Whats the title of the new record and lyrically what subjects will you be covering on this next record?

I am still in the works as far as a title but the record has a theme of punishment - punishing those who have committed horrible acts against their fellow human beings. We have songs about rape, child molestation, child abuse, and the struggles of having a mental illness.
You champion the cause RAINN really hard can you tell everyone whats it all about? RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) is an organization that has done wonders for those who have survived sexual assault (anything from attempted rape to incest). RAINN set up and operates the National Sexual Assault Hot line (1-800-656-HOPE) as well as the National Sexual Assault Online Hot line (which can be found at RAINN.org). After surviving something as horrifying as sexual assault, survivors might feel alone or helpless and this is where RAINN can help out but in this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without having funds and volunteers to back it so as a band, we really wanted to step up and take on an active roll and participate in helping RAINN.

What are your plans for touring in 2010?

After we record in January, we will head to Mexico in March for two weeks. Once we get back, we will be doing a west coast tour and come summer, we will hopefully FINALLY hit the east coast...something we've wanted to do since our inception.

Why is Taxi Driver the best movie ever made?

The movie unfolds like a vicious fantasy and instead of the insanity and obsession being forced and being explained, it's just shown and it comes flowing out. There are parts of this movie (the American Bandstand "Late for the Sky" scene for example) where I can sit and get completely lost and forget I'm even watching a movie. Aside from that, I (along with a lot of others it seems) can relate to Travis Bickle's loneliness, despair, hatred and absolute disgust.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

SCOTT CROUSE / EARTH CRISIS INTERVIEW

Here is a short interview we did with SCOTT CROUSE of EARTH CRISIS. Scott contributed to the track "The Poison That Surrounds Us" on the new ONE CHOICE record coming out late this month on Seventh Dagger. We talk about his involvement with this ONE CHOICE, EARTH CRISIS and straightedge.

How old are you, where are you from and how long have you been straightedge now?
SCOTT: I'm 34 and from Syracuse NY. I've been Straight Edge for roughly 20 years.

How did you find out about straightedge and become involved?

SCOTT: When I was about thirteen I had some friends who were really into hardcore bands like Minor Threat and Youth Of Today. I mainly listened to metal, but really respected the ideas and decisions some of my friends were making at the time. Not trying to fit in with the standard teenage lifestyle really appealed to me.

What do you think are some positive things going on in straightedge right now?
SCOTT: I think it's the same as it's always been really. Sure numbers rise and fall, but at the core there are always the truly motivated people keeping things alive.

How did you know the guys from ONE CHOICE and how did you come to be involved in the new record "Forever War"?

SCOTT: We've known Rob Mertz for a while. Karl is a huge fan of his skating and Rob is into EC so when it came time for Rob's band to record of course we wanted to be involved. He's part of the xoldguardx like us so we need to stick together!

What's coming up on the horizon for EARTH CRISIS or any other projects you are working on?

SCOTT: EC will be going to Japan in January and then back over to Europe for some festivals in June. I'm always toying with the idea of other projects, but they never seem to happen, haha.

http://www.myspace.com/earthcrisis
http://www.myspace.com/onexchoice
http://www.myspace.com/seventhdagger

Thursday, October 29, 2009

GREG BENNICK OF TIRAL INTERVIEW

The upcoming release on Seventh Dagger is the full length CD from Southern California's ONE CHOICE. The guys in ONE CHOICE wanted to really create something special so they dug deep and pulled in a lot of great guest contributors including members of Earth Crisis, Strife, H20 and Trial to represent what time tested dedication to straightedge looks like. In the month leading up to the release of the new ONE CHOICE record we will be posting interviews with the guest contributors about their involvement with this project. Here is a short interview with Greg Bennick of TRIAL on his contribution to the new ONE CHOICE record and what keeps straightedge inspiring to him after all these years.

Hey Greg how long have you been straightedge and what led you to the decision to become straightedge?

GREG: I quit drinking on September 30th 1988. I have not wavered in my conviction since that time and that’s an incredible feeling. This fall will be 21 years. Everyone said I would drink when I turned 21, but as I sang on the Genuine record years ago “I stayed true and proved you wrong”. What led to my decision to become straightedge? I had been a heavy and intense drinker at times in high school. I think I am missing the part of my brain that regulates alcohol intake. I couldn’t just have a drink. I would want, and have, ten drinks. And not just beer. I was drinking straight grain alcohol by myself. Good times. More like really dangerous and self destructive times. Alcohol is used by many as a means of replacing something in their lives that hurts them which they need to work through. Its like this: if I cant figure out why my parents were difficult to me growing up, or why this person left me or lied to me, or why I can’t succeed the way I want to...if I have failed in all of those regards....then at least I can be an expert at one thing: drinking. I see it all the time.. People get obsessive about it because its an area they can excel in. Its the perfect avoidance of real life. For me, I realized that if I was going to approach life with the sincerity, sensitivity, empathy, and clear-mindedness that I wanted to, I couldn’t do that with alcohol in my life. So that was it...I decided one night after a round of drinking and seeing friends tear apart a field in my hometown with trash, that this was a way of life that I could no longer condone or be a part of. I made the decision to stop, completely, and never looked back.

Whats your connection to One x Choice and what made you want to contribute to this project?
GREG: The guys in One x Choice are inspiring to me because they are older guys who are still connected to their ideas. I really like the idea that people can stay true to ideas and convictions that they find important and vital, even as “real life” encroaches upon them as the years go by. Hoe many people have used the excuse that straightedge was great as a teenager but as they became adults it just didn’t mean the same? I remember the band Uppercut from the east coast singing “Straightedge is great when you’re young, but as you get older, its not very much fun”. I remember standing in the crowd at the Anthrax at age 18 watching them and thinking, “First, I disagree completely and will throughout my life. Second, you write grammatically silly lyrics.” When Rob Mertz called me and asked for me to be a part of the record, it was because of their enthusiasm and decision to continue letting young people know about straightedge that inspired me to be a part of the project. Also, it was nice to not be the oldest person in a band for a change.

PHOTO BY MATT MILLER
Can you talk briefly about what the lyrics to the song you sang on are about?

GREG: I’d be happy to talk about the words I wrote and spoke for the song. The words are “Identify your addictions. For they go beyond your drugs. Beyond alcohol. They are rooted in your insecurities. We find strength in submission. Solace in being unsound. When we are empty and alone we try to fill ourselves in any way and at any cost. We are worth more than the price at which we sell ourselves short. Life slips us by and we miss every chance to move forward along with it.. Look at who you are. Look at those around you, not for what is, and not for what they are, but for what could be...for what we all could be....what you could be”. I wanted to capture the idea that we have deep value and that we often forget that. People thinking about not drinking might find strength and confidence in knowing that they too have as-yet-unrealized self worth, but that they don’t have to try to find it in any way other than simply looking within.

I know you do a lot of spoken word projects, writting and are a professional juggler tell us a little about all the projects you are working on musical and otherwise.

GREG: I definitely am involved in a number of projects. Musically, I am finishing vocals for the Between Earth and Sky EP which will be out hopefully later this year. I am also of course playing some Trial dates in Europe this summer and very likely one or two in the US in the fall, possibly a show in another country or two as well. We are loving playing shows and while no, we will not be writing a record and touring again, its wonderful to have a chance to continue sharing those songs with people and feeling their input. That photo from Burning Fight, taken during our set, really changed my life. It was like the embodiment in photographic form of a decade of my life. I have been recording spoken word projects for bands and am considering doing a spoken word record this year. Yes, I do entertain too. I love it...its just fun to have fun with people. I think as people involved in hardcore, we get so swept up in intensity that we forget to laugh often times. I am also a film producer, and the latest film I created with Patrick Shen (with whom I did “Flight From Death” in 1995 (http://www.flightfromdeath.com/) is called “The Philosopher Kings” and we just had our world premiere at the AFI Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS film festival in DC. We sold out two screenings, the second in a 400 seat theater, and were asked back to show the film a third time. It was an incredible experience. More on the film can be found at http://www.philosopherkingsmovie.com/.

Where are you finding your inspiration these days in terms of straightedge?

GREG: So I am dating an incredible woman right now who has a sixteen year old daughter. The daughter is right at the age where people start experimenting with drugs and alcohol, that is, if they let peer pressure and the minds of their friends think for them. This girl is amazing. She has so much heart and integrity and sense of self at sixteen...its so great to watch her just be alive. Recently, she’s become very interested in straightedge and learning about why people are straightedge, what the lyrics mean, why the X is part of the subculture, what bands exist, and what the differences between those bands are. Its been amazing for me to explain it all to her. I usually am talking to people who already “get it”, and while she certainly gets it, its just fascinating and totally inspiring to see her process the information and ideas for herself, having encountered them for the first time just recently. I highly recommend talking to younger people about these things. It will likely be fulfilling and inspiring both for them and for you.

How can people reach you if they want to find out more about the projects you have going on?

GREG: Best thing to do is to find me on the myspace at myspace.com/xjugglerx. I would be happy to hear from you anytime. Thanks for the interview!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

BLACKOUT RAGE is a new band from Syracuse, NY on Seventh Dagger. This band epitomizes everything this label stands for to the letter. BLACKOUT RAGE is exactly what straightedge and hardcore needs right now. While everyone else plays it safe hoping to be the next band to "make it" or "take it to the next level" these dudes are staying true to their convictions. Playing heavy, original music with an unwavering message (something often lost in this generation where the most profound statement at the show is "we have t-shirts in the back!) BLACKOUT RAGE are here to remind everyone that there is still real straightedge hardcore out there.

Why and how did BLACKOUT RAGE get started?

Whitey: Blackout Rage was really born in 10th grade when Pauly slept over at my house and we moshed in my basement to the new Hellfest 2000 DVD and the Throwdown- You Don't Have to Be Blood to Be Family record (You can see me singing along on the back of that record at Hellfest 2000). Since then a friendship forged while moshing to bands like One Nation Under, Earth Crisis and The Promise, has been through ups and downs of being roommates at war with one another and slamming low carb monster drinks together. The day after Edgeday 2008 while hanging on Newbury street in Boston, I talked to Tomdom and Pat Benson from Forfeit about doing a straight edge band with Pauly singing. Originally I was going to go for more of a Chorus of Disapproval sound but we ended up with something more metallic. Over a couple weeks in January 2009 Tomdom and Ben from Forfeit and I came up with the songs and Our buddy Karl Buechener helped us out with the name and some lyrical guidance.

Pauly: Blackout Rage was born in a backlash against what hardcore has turned into in recent years. It's sickening to know that the haven that I found escape in early on has turned into a bunch of expensive shoe, hat, clothes wearing judgemental pieces of shit. This band was born to be hated.

Obviously this is quite a step away from what you and Paulie were doing in Meltdown was that the plan?

Whitey: If you ever saw Meltdown you know that Pauly liked to mention Straight Edge on stage but the band as a whole was far from Edge. He wanted to talk about a lot of things that the band didn't really as a whole stand for. Neither of us ever had the chance to do the outspoken Straight edge band that we wanted to, so our desire was to follow that instead of doing a repeat of Meltdown. Meltdown was the result of a lot of people with different ideas. Some people in the band wanted there to be shirts about smoking weed or with anti God messages that not everyone in the band stood for. Blackout Rage is a little more unified in what we are doing from the music to the message.

What is BLACKOUT RAGE all about?
Whitey: Blackout Rage is about being sick of a lot of things in hardcore. A lot of people want to tell you that being into punk or hardcore is about being yourself. However, that only goes as far as being yourself doesn't conflict with what the majority in hardcore or punk deem acceptable. I always liked that in hardcore you would get all these people from all of these different places saying what they thought. Do I relate to being a Hare Krishna or think it is the best path? No, but I love 108, Shelter and Cro-Mags and respect that they are speaking from where they come from and not trying to conform. In the hardcore scene saying things like you believe in God or have more conservative leaning political views can make you an outcast and have nerds on message boards calling for your blood. We are about not apologizing for who we are. As a band we express that through being outspokenly straight edge and playing the kind of music we enjoy, not the sound that will put us on top. Personally Pauly and I believe in God and are more conservative leaning, so from us personally and not necessarily the whole band that gets expressed when you hear Pauly yelling "American Straight Edge"(yes, we do think there SOME problems with America, we aren't idiots.) and "guided by Yahweh". Another thing that we aim to bring attention in our next material is the worship of some sort of criminal/gang culture in hardcore. This bottomfeeder crap is something we really don't stand for.

Pauly: Blackout Rage came out of the gate hated and that's the way we will stay. We want to come back to the same sort of shock and hate that Earth Crisis, Youth of Today and Tyrant experienced when they first appeared on the scene. You either love us and support what we are doing, or you absolutely hate us and want us to never play again. The records will continue to come, the issues will continue to be addressed and we will continue to be a "seeker of truth" in a hardcore scene that is brainwashed by what you wear, who you know and how fast you will cut your neighbors throat. As for us being a Christian band, we are not entirely uniform in our faith. It makes me laugh that the new Trapped Under Ice record references the "maker of life" and Freddy Madball tells us "only G.O.D. I look up to" and brainless hardcore kids STILL have the nerve to crucify us for having faith or asking questions about beliefs. If these brainwashed fools looked a little closer and saw that bands like Madball, 108, Cro Mags, Merauder, and Trapped Under Ice all have some type of religious or spiritual questions or faith, they'd eat their words faster then they could post their "old school" playlists on twitter. Fuck all of the sheep.

BLACKOUT RAGE has taken a much harder stance on straightedge than a lot of bands out there today, what is it about the world today that motivated such a response from you guys in terms of BLACKOUT RAGE message?

Whitey: Well we took a lot of inspiration from the Judge and their idea of giving people something to hate. When put in the position of feeling alienated for what we think and a hostility against us, we push back. We don't hate people that aren't Straight Edge. Our buddy Ben Shaw who helped us do writing for the 7inch on drums isn't Straight Edge. The song Straight Edge Holy War? We don't believe we should be out there killing people who aren't Edge or anything ridiculous, the war is internal. Not everyone in the band is a Christian but I will point to how the Bible says "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world". It come down to, again, us not apologizing for who we are. We aren't going to be another band afraid to say we are Straight Edge and think it is a great choice. We aren't going to hide that drunk driving and substance abuse are evil things that need to obliterated to avoid offending someone.

Pauly: Blackout Rage was built on disappointment, sadness, anger, hatred and disbelief of the all the sellouts and the lack of respect, integrity and decency of so much of the hardcore scene these days. I see the infection in hardcore becoming worse and worse, so you can expect more records from us on Seventh Dagger for years to come.

Why did you guys want to release your record on Seventh Dagger?

Whitey: Seventh Dagger appealed to us for the one main reason. Both Blackout Rage and Seventh Dagger stand for an intense, in your face Straight Edge message. No other label out there really communicated that as a label. We wanted to come out the gate and have have people feel one way or the other about the band. We wanted to appeal to the Straight Edge maniacs and not the nerds on the Bridge 9 board. We wanted to say things people wouldn't like and would make us hated in some circles. Seventh Dagger is not PC and doesn't try to water down it's Straight Edge message so it is obviously a perfect fit.

Pauly: I met Danny on tour with Earth Crisis last year. He is a hard working, blue collar American like myself. He's a great dad and a great business man. He's real and edge for life. I can trust Danny to never sell out and that's why we will forever be affiliated with Seventh Dagger. He loves what we bring to the straight edge war and we love what we see in him.

What are you guys plans for 2009-2010 not that the record is out?

Whitey: With the record coming out we are finally gearing up to play shows. You can expect to see us a lot this winter. We will be coming to the areas like Buffalo and Cincinnati and trying to connect with other like minded edgemen. We have more songs written after the 7inch was recorded so we will be figuring out what to do with those and get kids some more material. Expect us to be saying things people don't want hear all year in 2010. Blackout Rage- I live forever true.

Pauly: No one in this band will ever sell out. EVER. See you on the road

Monday, September 28, 2009

EDGE THE MOVIE

One day while updating the friend requests on the Seventh Dagger myspace I was pleasantly surprised to get a request from the myspace page promoting EDGE THE MOVIE. I immediately went to the page to watch the trailer and was completely stoked on what I saw. So I wrote Marc and Michi and asked if they would mind doing an interview about their movie. Below is the conversation that transpired.

Name, age, where do you guys call home?

Marc, 31, living in M√ľnster, Germany.
Michi, 30, relocating somewhere in Germany right now.

What is it that made you take on the task of making a documentary about straightedge?

Michi: The initial idea for my diploma thesis was to do some research on the core values of Straight Edge, the reasons why people decided to live a drug free life and if there are any commonalities or regularities. But unfortunately I could not convince my professor with my idea... so I ended up writing an analysis of Marxist Development Studies, which was a good decision after all. What fascinates me about Straight Edge is that there are so many different people with different lives and backgrounds but all identify and gather under the 'label' of Straight Edge. The other thing that kept my interest is that there is somehow a certain conservative element of not drinking, not using drugs or having promiscuous sex that weaved it's way into the principles of Straight Edge - and I guess every mother would love if her daughter or son followed those ideas. But on the other hand Straight Edge is Punk, the rebellion against society and (hopefully) most of the times connected to radical politics. Not to mention that a lot of people would characterize the music taste and the entire habitus as extreme...

Marc: I was involved in shooting a short documentary a few years ago and because Michi and I are really good friends we exchanged experiences and ideas about our current projects back then, so the idea came up to do a sociological view on Straight Edge in form of a documentary in the U.S. There are already some good books about Straight Edge, but no one had ever made a balanced documentary, so why not make one? The whole project took us about 3 years until now. We shoot it two years ago in 2007 and the process of editing took us almost two years, since we did this completely as a side project.

I saw you have interviews with Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi), Ray Cappo (Youth of Today/Shelter) and Karl Buechner (Earth Crisis) can you tell us who else you interviewed? How was interviewing all these people?

Marc: We interviewed 12 people all together, but we wanted to have musicians as well as people like you and me, so that if you watch it and you don't know anything about Straight Edge, you realize that being drug free is the most normal thing for these people. We chose Ian, Ray and Karl to talk about the certain era's of Straight Edge, and to get a little historical background. It was fun to talk to all of them, although it was not that easy to convince Ian and Ray to do the interviews at first. I think Ian is really cautious with everything regarding Straight Edge, since this all started from a song he wrote. But I'm glad that we have his views in the film. Hearing what he had to say made me understand Straight Edge much better.

Tell us how you approached documenting a realistic portrayal of straightedge?

Michi: We planned to shoot the Edge Day show in 2007 in Massachusetts, and we were quite surprised to find a team of National Geographic there, doing the same - obviously with a huge crew and massive equipment. In the end we saw, in my opinion, a very biased view on Straight Edge, dominated solely by the violence and militancy that has been reported on extensively by network news media in the past years.Our documentary is 'a little' different from the previous ones - we don't have a narrator because we want the viewer to draw his or her own picture from the statements given. We used structured in-depth interviews to get really close to each persons opinions, ideas and thoughts. The result is a balanced view, you hear about the positive and the negative aspects of Straight Edge. I think unfortunately no one can deny that besides all those wonderful ideas that help people to stay away from drugs and lead a positive, conscious, active and healthier lifestyle, there are problems in the scene, e.g. homophobia, violence and machismo.

How hard was it lining up the U.S. and Canada screenings and what should people expect when they attend these?

Marc: It meant writing lots and lots of emails. It sure is a little difficult to plan a tour from another continent, but we lined up some really cool screening locations, like libraries, churches, cafes, basements, a bike repair place and of course some really nice old movie theatres.People can except to see an interesting movie about different people that are all connected through the idea of Straight Edge. The viewer will find out why they decided to live a 'clean' lifestyle and how this influences their everyday life. If there is time we'll have a Q&A session afterwards. In Chicago we'll do that together with Brian Peterson, the author of the Burning Fight book. I think that should be really interesting and in Indianapolis EDGE will be a screened after the Bane and Foundation show. Oh, and for the Seattle screening we can offer free popcorn! Just thought that might be worth mentioning.

You were accepted in two different film festivals that's really exciting can you tell us a little about those?

Michi: The Radar International Film Festival in Hamburg, Germany takes place in St. Pauli, the alternative district of Hamburg. It has a massive line up of films from around the world and we are very happy to screen our documentary there. The Mission Underground Film Festival in San Francisco is a smaller festival with a focus on independent cinema.

What do you hope people get out of watching your film?

Marc: All the Straight kids should get some very interesting insights into others peoples reasons for being Straight Edge; everyone else will see that Straight Edge is everything else but a gang. All the people we've talked to for the movie explained how their decision to live 'poison free' has changed their lives. A lot of them have either struggled with addiction themselves, or have seen the lives of friends or relatives being destroyed by it. And at the same time drugs are so accepted and glorified in society that it's still frowned upon to oppose drugs. So that becomes clear in our film, and hopefully will make others think about it.

Any final words or thoughts, things we missed?

Michi: The EDGE World Premiere is on October 3rd in New York, a few tickets are still available. For a complete list of screenings dates check out our website: http://www.edgethemovie.com/ The DVD with lots of extras, e.g. deleted scenes, an audio commentary by the directors, a making of etc., will be released in early 2010 - so stay tuned!

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER HERE:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_c9v9G5-xs

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

MATT MILLER INTERVIEW

Matt Miller is a phenomenal photographer, member of Most Precious Blood, 16 year straightedge veteran and all around really great guy. Here is a little interview I did with him along with some photos that he took. If you need a wedding photographer who won't take the same boring shots your friends wedding albums have look this guy up now!



How did you find out about straightedge and what led you to make the decision to become straightedge?

When I fell in love with skateboarding, punk rock came hand in hand with it. The first punk band I ever heard was 7 Seconds, it was on a blank cassette tape and I thought it was all just one song on each side. I never really had anyone show me the ropes when I first got into everything so it was a lot of searching on my own. I came across the Minor Threat record and I actually had the lyric sheet to that, but at that time the SXE thing didn't really click. I was into getting stoned and drinking and at one point I was really heavy into taking acid. That was all when I was in 7th grade. I got picked on a lot in school and used that shit to get away. When 8th grade hit, that's when Nirvana became cool to listen to and all of a sudden it was OK to be punk and be a skateboarder. All the jocks in my school were buying weed off me and they were inviting me to parties and shit. It was wild and I was enjoying it until I started to go overboard. I barely went to school and my freshman year of high school I only passed 2 classes, art and PE. My parents kind of knew something was wrong and searched my room, found my shit and sent me and my brother to rehab. I spent 3 weeks away and had to take AA and NA classes and see a therapist. Honestly I don't think any of that really helped me, what made me stop was I had random drug testing for a year and if they were to find anything on me, I would go to juvenile detention. So basically I couldn't do anything that would be traced in my system. I never liked drinking all that much and I hated cigarettes, so I resorted to doing really stupid shit like inhalants. The day I said I would never do a drug again was when I was behind my parents house with a couple of friends inhaling freon from the air conditioner. This guy Glenn that was there with us was a greaser, you know the dude who wears only white shirts tucked in and black 3 hole Doc Martins. He took a big hit, looked at me with is glazed eyes, and passed out, hit his head on the concrete slab that the AC sat on. He came up with blood coming down his face and mud all over his shirt, he grabbed me and mumbled that he "never felt better". That was it, I committed to never doing that shit again. I just rode my skateboard. went to shows and listened to punk rock. The more I didn't go get fucked up, the kids that I hung with got more and more involved in getting fucked up and not going to shows or skating they called me boring. If i hung out with them sober, all they would do would be just get stoned and sit on the couch or get drunk at skate spots and smash bottles. I saw how lame their lives were going and found a new set of friend who were more progressive. I always saw the sxe kids at show but I always thought of them as an exclusive group that you had to be invited to join. I called my self drug free for a while because the sxe label kind of turned me off and I didn't want to be an elitist. I really got to know those kids and they were really open and cool to hang out with. I got more into the touring bands and by the time i first saw Chokehold play I kind of felt it inside and that night I declared my self straight edge. How long now have you been straight edge?
I've been straight edge since my 2nd freshman year in high school. I'm 31 now...so that's...16 years. Holy shit!

Do you feel like this is a personal choice that is simply for yourself or do you feel it makes you a part of a movement?


It's kind of both for me. It's a very personal choice. I have tons of friends who drink, even my fiance drinks, but I really do feel like some people can handle it and others cant. As far as being part of a movement. yes I do feel a connection. I still get amped listening to Earth Crisis, I still get goosebumps when I go to a show and there are kids with X's going nuts.
What is your feelings about hats people "selling out"? I'd be a liar if i said it didn't bother me. I don't hate people who stop being straight edge, it's just a bit of a bummer, especially when its someone who is close to me. It makes me feel like I was'nt a good enough friend, like I was too boring so they had to spice life up by drinking or whatever.

Every generation involved in anything feels like the new generation is missing out on something, is there something you feel like the young, new generation of straightedge and hardcore kids are missing out on?

To me being vegan is super important and I feel like younger kids don't give a shit. I feel like the sxe movement has gotten really macho and that bit kind of weirds me out. I was never into brutal moshing or hard crews, I went to shows to have fun, not punch someone in the face. Atlanta had that kind of scene for a while where we were into dancing and stage diving but when dudes would get too tough, we would ask them to leave. I always hated when a band would play but everyone would be turned around to make sure some goof ball wasn't going to smash them in the back of the head. The politics have taken a back seat now. I'd like to see a mutual respect from bands and kids as well. More talk on how people feel instead of hard mosh, calling everyone faggots for not being into what you are into, and a bit more compassion overall.

So we all know your a member of Most Precious Blood and a musician but what I never knew until a few years ago was that you were a photographer as well. How did you get involved in photography?

Well I got into it from always loving looking at old zines and seeing rad band photos. I got my first digital camera when MPB took our first tour to Europe. I wanted to document the trip (I have a terrible memory!) so I didn't forget where I went and what everything looked like. Having the digital format I could mess around with all the settings and see what they did in real time. So the more we toured, the more photos I would shoot and I would try and progress with every shot. I became a "professional photographer" within the past couple of years. What happened was that once MPB decided to not tour full time anymore, I moved from Brooklyn back to Atlanta. It was super hard to land a job because I spent the last 7 years of my life on tour and didn't really have any job skills. I worked as a counter guy at a tattoo shop, and I worked at a bong shop/skate shop for a bit, I worked that job from midnight till 7 am. it was the worst. I got super depressed and was about to turn 30. The bong shop got evicted because the owner was a meth head a never paid the bills so I was jobless. A lot of friends always told me they liked my photos but I never knew how to make a living off it. My lady stood behind me and wanted me to go for it. A good friend Ray Jones moved to Atlanta and worked as an assistant to a wedding photo team in Atlanta called Our Labor of Love. Ray got picked up by NY Times and moved to Manhattan and he hooked me up with the assisting job with the wedding couple. I've worked for them for 2 years and just now I'm shooting a lot more on my own and I am successfully making a living off them. So rad!

What are your favorite subjects to shoot?

I love shooting live hardcore shows, band promos are fun as well but weddings are my bread and butter. I kind of lucked out being so heavily tattooed, people that look at my work would see a picture of me and decide if that's who they want to shoot their wedding. So I never have to worry about super conservative or boring couples. I like the rushed atmosphere of a wedding and the energy of a couple who just said "I do". I love that most of my clients are hardcore kids and want really unique portraits taken.
Your live shots of bands performing really translates the energy of the show into a photo. How do you accomplish that?

Well...sadly many people have now seen how I light a show. I don't know of anyone who would set up lights at a show but since my stuff has been seen a lot more and I've shot bigger shows, I feel like my style has gotten ripped off a bit. It's kind of a bummer and I don't want to sound pompous or anything, but why would you want to take the same photo as someone else? Even though I am to blame of that as well...I used to bite Danielle Dombrowski's style hard as fuck a while back, but the fact that EVERYONE was shooting like that, I wanted to develop my own style. Sadly I see that it will soon be played out with too many people doing the same thing. As far as capturing the energy, that's what made me fall in love with hardcore, the intense energy between the band and crowd. I think it helps that I played in a band for so long that I kind of can tell when someone is going to jump or dive or whatever.

What was the first thing that went through your head when you saw that photo you took of Trial at Burning Fight?

Man that photo is a total benchmark for me! I knew right when I took it that it would be amazing. I've always been a fan of Trial and that part of the song just gets me every time. That show was hard to shoot as it was so many of my favorite bands playing, I kind of wanted to be on the floor singing along, but I also knew that I wanted to give something back to the bands who got together to play that show. I wanted them to see how beautiful that show really was without blurry light trails and slow shutter speeds. I wanted a clear, clean look at what was happening. I feel that that Trial shot hit the nail on the head, it froze that time perfectly. I could still stare at that photo and get lost in it for hours.

How would someone contact you to see your work and discuss hiring you?
I have a blog here - http://www.thefivemilegrace.com/ or my website here - http://www.matthewmillerphotography.com/ or just by email at mattxmiller@gmail.com
What projects do you have coming up both musically and photography work? Well MPB recorded a new record and hopefully it will come out sometime soon, I'd love to tour again but since the band decided to not be full time, we all had to get jobs so its a bit harder for everyone to put their lives on hold to play some shows, but it will happen! As far as photos stuff goes, I've been toying with the idea of making a book of the Burning Fight photos but I don't know how well those go over. In the meantime I'll be shooting weddings and shows and whatever else comes my way!

Monday, July 20, 2009

xUNBREAKABLEx INTERVIEW

How long has UNBREAKABLE been together now and where are you guys from?

Our very first rehearsals date from the end of 2005, early 2006. Unlike most bands though, we took our time before we started playing shows. We didn't want to jump the gun, a rule of thumb we've maintained throughout the existence of this band.Fast forward to August of 2006, when we played our first show and the ball really started rolling. We all live in the Eastern part of Belgium, in the province of Limburg.

What releases do you guys have available and where can kids get them?

At this point, Unbreakable released a demotape (early 2007) and a 7" (spring of 2008). Eventhough our demo's long sold out, you can still get those songs, if you buy the 11-song cd we've put out at the same time as the 7". Both the 7" and the cd are still available in our online webstore @ http://xunbreakablex.bigcartel.com/ or through Seventh Dagger, who are kind enough to distribute our stuff in the States. New shirtdesigns are being made as we speak, so keep an eye on our webstore.

While most bands in hardcore are impersonating garbage mosh metal looking to be the next band to "make it" you guys have a totally different sound going. What bands have inspired UNBREAKABLE?

Quite a few, to be honest. Our influences range from obvious, classic bands such as Youth Of Today, Turning Point, Insted, Bold, Uniform Choice and Unity to typical '90s outfits, such as Outspoken, Earth Crisis (especially lyrically), Floorpunch, Ten Yard Fight, Hands Tied to more 'modern' bands such as The First Step, Betrayed, Champion, Have Heart & Verse. It's pretty safe to say each of the above-mentioned bands inspired or motivated us in one way or another. However, the sound of this band is not something we've mapped out. The only thing that mattered to us, was that we'd create a die-hard straight edge band that wasn't afraid to take a stand in certain issues.

Since UNBREAKABLE is a band with a message what are some of the topics you address in your songs?

Although it's pretty obvious that a lot of our songs deal with straight edge, or the abuse of substances such as drugs and alcohol, there are also other issues that I really wanted to talk about. Indifference, for instance. We're living in a society that just doesn't care anymore. Sure, we all want to hear the juicy gossip from celebrities, but turn the other way when important issues such as the situation in Iraq, the unrest in Somalia and the civil war in Darfur are mentioned in the evening news. A carbomb killing civilians & allied soldiers in downtown Baghdad doesn't shock 'us' anymore. I have a hard time understanding that. And yet, it's pretty simple: we take our freedom for granted in the Western world. Last week, I visited the US Memorial at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. An experience that surely puts things in perspective. For me, at least. Other topics I want to address in our songs are rather personal, but something most people can relate to, such as overcoming depression, dealing with self-doubt, the untimely loss of a loved one.

UNBREAKABLE is obviously a straightedge band. What inspired you personally to become straightedge, how did you find out about it, what led to making this decision?

The first time I heard about straightedge must have been a conversation with my brother, who read about it in some metalmagazine or something. I was 16 years old at the time and knew bands such as Madball, Life Of Agony and Biohazard. But together with my brother, I soon discovered the Belgian hardcorescene. Straight Edge bands such as Liar, Congress, Spirit Of Youth, Regression, Sektor, Vitality, Kindred and Facedown opened my eyes for a way of life that emcompassed values, that focused on the positive side of being an 'outsider', instead of the negative. Those bands also steered me towards a wide spectrum of American bands, such as Earth Crisis, Path Of Resistance, Morning Again, Slapshot, Unbroken, Day Of Suffering, Birthright, etc. Discovering straightedge & vegetarianism kinda felt like coming home to me. I can't really put it into words, it just felt like the right path to pursue in life. I've seen the consequences of a addiction in my own family and I never really liked alcohol anyway, so it wasn't that hard to give it up. And to this day, 13 years later, I still consider that decision to be the best I ever made.

How do you think your life would be different if you had never discovered straightedge?

That's really hard to say since I can't imagine not being straightedge. I mean, straightedge is such a big part of who I am and what I stand for in life. It's as much a part of my identity as my last name, my date of birth and my bloodtype. This is who I am. This is who I want to be for the rest of my life. I could care less about what other people think about me, the choices I make or the life I lead. I didn't fall for peer-pressure when I was 16-17, I'm surely not falling for it now. Selling out is and never will be an option. How could I ever turn my back on something that has given me so much in life? I'm fully aware of the fact that I'm stating some very serious words, but I will never betray my true nature.

Since there are a so many terrible bands in hardcore lets accentuate the positive, what are some bands properly representing straightedge and hardcore?

As far as straightedge goes, it's pretty obvious that Seventh Dagger is a label that I feel very much connected to. Some of its current (and former) bands, such as xTyrantx, xRepresentx, Earth Crisis, Barcadia & xAFBx are a part of my day-to-day playlist. Over the years, somewhere along the way, most hardcorebands stopped being outspoken and proud about their edge, and that's a pity, since I think young kids just getting into hardcore should get the same chance of discovering this incredibly positive 'lifestyle'. They won't get to know about straightedge if bands continue to keep their mouths shut, fearing to lose potential 'fans'. Words like 'lifestyle' and 'fans' feel very awkward to me, by the way. But anyway, a label like Seventh Dagger fuels my straightedge pride. Other than that, I also love React Records and their roster of bands and labels who sticked to their guns, such as Catalyst Records & Crucial Response Records from Germany. Closer to home, I have the utmost respect for Powered Records, who seem to release one classic record after the other. Belgium's True Colors latest record 'Rush Of Hope' is the perfect example of that. Check it!

What plans for the near future do you guys have? Touring? Shows? Releases?

Normally, we would have toured Eastern Europe with our buddies from Blade this summer, but due to some logistic issues, we had to post-phone this tour. But we're definitely not breaking up anytime soon, so we'll surely get our chance to go on the road across Europe. As a matter of fact, we'll be playing a show in the UK in August and open up for Earth Crisis & Sworn Enemy when they bring the Hell On Earth Tour to Belgium. Needless to say, we're very psyched for those two shows. Hopefully, we'll also get the chance to arrange a few weekendtours with our Dutch friends in Birds Of A Feather later this year. As far as our next release goes, we're currently writing new songs. We recently recorded two of them as a demo at a friend's basement-studio. With some luck, we'll find a label who's willing to put our new stuff out around New Years. Whether that'll be a 7", a split-cd or a full-length is not quite sure yet, we'll have to wait and see what that label feels like the right thing to do. We're up for anything!

Thanks for doing this interview!

Thanks a million for this opportunity & the support! Keep fighting the good fight. And thanks to anyone who took the time to read this interview. Feel free to check us out at www.myspace.com/xunbreakablehcx Straight Edge. The Few. The Proud

PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE UNBREAKABLE CD & 7 INCH VINYL AT THE http://seventhdagger.bigcartel.com/

AND ADD UNBREAKABLE ON MYSPACE HERE

http://www.myspace.com/xunbreakablehcx


Thursday, July 16, 2009

What the fuck are we doing?

Alright so the SEVENTH DAGGER website could at this point NOT be any more outdated on so many levels. So we are in the works of getting a completely new website put together which will be done in the not too distant future, trust me we are working.
So until then we decided to have this blog function as the website itself until the new one is complete. I think you will get a lot more out of this as we will be posting all of the goings on here at xSDx on a much more frequent basis. Also with this blog we will be reporting on a lot more than what's up with xSDx and it's bands we will be covering bands, labels, people whatever that we find interesting and relevant.

So in the spirit of this direction I thought it would be a fun first post to bring up two labels I love and think are putting out incredibly high quality releases without sacrificing an ounce of the DIY ethic that is sorely lacking these days.

First up is A389 RECORDS from Baltimore, MD. I got my package from them today with the presale limited color vinyl of their newest releases from ROT IN HELL and DAY OF MOURNING. DAY OF MOURNING is a now defunct band from CANADA that ran from 1997-2000 and featured members who went on to be in PULLING TEETH, xIN THIS DEFIANCEx and NO WARNING. To say this band drew equally from MERAUDER, NAPALM DEATH and ENTOMBED or that they are one of my favorite hardcore bands ever would be no exageration. ROT IN HELL is from the UK and sound every bit like INTEGRITY and RINGWORM channeled through the likes of a gang of crust punks, it's dirty and it's fucking pissed! Both records are in sweet gatefold jackets and both records are as heavy as dinner plates. The ROT IN HELL jacket as you can see in the picture has a spot color gloss printed on the cover that shines in the light. They have an upcoming re issue of the classic RINGWORM lp "The Promise" that I can't wait to get my hands on. Check them out at...
http://www.myspace.com/dayofmourningmhc
http://www.a389records.com/site/
http://www.myspace.com/rotinhellband

Next up is our good friends over at CLOSED CASKET ACTIVITES from Albany, NY. This label has put out releases from COCKPUNCH, BLACK TEETH, MELTDOWN, SURROUNDED BY TEETH, TORCH RUNNER, WHEN TIGERS FIGHT and has upcoming releases from THE NETWORK and RATTLETOOTH.
So the releases we have here in the photo are two colors of the ANOTHER VICTIM 5 inch vinyl featuring songs from their last release "FOR THE LIARS AND THE CHEATERS". Let's face it those are the coolest 5 inch records you have ever seen. Also pictured is the newest release from UNHOLY the best band from Syracuse, NY you will ever hear next to EARTH CRISIS. This is the 12 inch picture disk for their newest release "NEW LIFE BEHIND CLOSED EYES" which comes with this poster size layout with some of the creepiest artwork I have had the pleasure of laying eyes on. Check them out at...
http://www.myspace.com/closedcasketactivities

Both of these labels do a great job with their mailorder, put out great bands and always have the best packaging around so do yourself a favor and check them both out!