Monday, July 28, 2008

Timm McIntosh Interview

What's to say? If you don't know who Timm McIntosh is... well, what the fuck are you doing with your life? He formed Trial, played briefly for Champion, toured with The Warriors and now fronts Wait In Vain. He also runs Panic Records... a label that has put out a lot of good stuff over the last 2 years. But really, the only thing that matters there is the Trial bit. One of the best bands of the last decade easily. This interview first originally appeared in my zine TheSharpendZine issue 3. It was conducted nearly 3 years ago... just before the Trial Reunion shows. If you aren't familiar with Timms projects you need to look into them. Even if it's just Trial. Seriously... I can't rave on enough about this band. Pure gold. GO!

First up, I know it' lame but so the unfarmiliar readers can get an idea of you can I just get your age and where you are from?

 I'm 24 and I've been living in Seattle for the past 11 years, so that makes me from Seattle officially.


You played guitar for legendary hardcore band Trial and while in the band released what has been hailed by many as one of the greatest hardcore records of all time in 'Are These Our Lives?'. Do you find that you are often referred to as 'the guy who was in Trial'. Does it bother you?

 I think that anyone that was in a band that was noticed by a few people, they tend to become that guy/girl from whichever band. It doesn't bother me at all. It's a part of who I am completely. I put my heart into Trial and I'm proud of the things that we accomplished as a band. Some of the best times of my life were shared with the other guys.


How old were you when you formed Trial?

 hmmmm. Age really doesn't matter does it? Too young to know, too old to care? We started in 1994 after I moved to Seattle. Greg, Derek and myself got it going together.


Being that Trial haven't been together properly for 5 years, do you find that your / others in the band views changed a great deal? I interperated 'Are These Our Lives?' as a greatly politically motivated release. Are you still motivated in the same way that you were back then?

 The ideas still remain, the feelings for those ideas will never fade. They're apart of us and are still backed. We've all become really busy in our lives with our projects that it sometimes takes a backseat. We still incorporate the ideas that we spoke about on our record into our everyday lives though. In a sense you could say that we are all politically active still.


Do you think that overall the views and opinions of others in the scene have changes a great deal? How do you think the scene has changed most?

 It's definitely a new era of hardcore that we're involved in now. The scene has changed in a way that I don't see as many print zines with essays from kids that are involved in the scene. They're mostly filled with interviews with the bands and pictures. I think the involvement of the average hardcore kid has dwindled, when it used to be a very DIY scene. Meaning that kids would take it upon themselves to do shows and zines. Nowdays, kids let someone else hand it to them, and then cry about it not being the way they wanted it. The kids that are starting bands now have a different motivation behind it. Since the popularity of Hardcore/Punk has grown, a lot of people are starting bands to become rock stars, this is the wrong reason to be involved in hardcore I feel. There are things that separate us from the mainstream bands. No rockstar attitudes, messages and heart. Bands are rarely turning my head now days as I don't feel that I can take some of them seriously.


Trial are on the verge of playing two amazing reunion shows in October. One in your hometown of Seattle and one in Hungary. What made you guys decide to get together and set these shows up? Was it any trouble getting everything organised?

 It was a lot of work to get everything going for these shows and we're actually doing three now. Seattle, London and Budapest. The Seattle show was initially going to be the only one. Greg and I had been talking about it for the past year and a half. Going back and forth on the idea of doing a reunion. Neither of us could come to an agreement of how we wanted it to be. Finally we got together and figured out a way to make it work between our busy schedules and what we wanted to do with the show. After announcing the Seattle show our friend Zoli from Budapest got in touch and explained that he was going to come to the show in Seattle. Zoli then said "I'm going to spend about $1000 for my plane ticket, a visa, food and lodging. How about I get a couple people from here that would be willing to pay for your tickets to Budapest to play a show?" This made sense to us because it's Eastern Europe and they're not as well off financially, as Western Europe or the U.S.. This would allow those in Europe to save money if they wanted to see us. It would also make it possible for those who would never be able to afford to come to the U.S., a chance to see Trial. One of the greatest shows we ever played was in Poland. I know that 99.5% of the kids there would never make it to the U.S.. Budapest is closer, and a lot easier for them to get to, so why not? We decided on London as well, we never got to play the UK and it's on the way to Budapest where we need to catch a connecting flight. Why not right?  


Do you expect alot of newer hardcore kids who may have not been around back in Trials hey day to be there?

 I think there will be a lot of new faces there that haven't had the chance to see Trial. The Lp was out for about 6 months before we called it quits. We only did a U.S. and European tour on that record. Alot of kids got into Trial after we had broken up and now they're getting the chance to see us. There's going to be a lot of old friends at these shows as well. It's more than just a reunion of Trial, but a reunion of friends. I'm thinking of it as a huge family reunion, I can't wait to see all the old friends from the past years.


Why did Trial originally exsist? Was there a specific message that the band was trying to get across? Has any of Trials motivations cahnged since back then? Will you guys still be playing with the same conviction that you did when 'Are These Our Lives?' was first released?

 Trial originally existed out of the friendship that Greg, Derek and myself shared. I was from California orginally and met Greg and Derek at an Inside Out show. We become good friends through writing each other and they helped set up a show for my band in Seattle. I decided to move to Seattle shortly after that. Greg and Derek wanted to start a band and asked if I would do it with them. That was in 1994. The motivation behind the band was to play hardcore with a political message. The motivations for the band have not changed as Greg and I still feel the same way as we did in 1994. You can bet your life that we will be playing with just as much conviction, if not more.


How excited are you personally to be able to play these shows?

 I'm beyond excited. Now excuse me if this sounds cheesy, but it's truly how I feel and have always felt about Trial. Trial was an extension of who I am. It was also always about the kids that were interested in Trial. Every single person that came to Trial shows, bought our records, talked to us, they were just as much a part of Trial as I was. To know that the show is sold out here in Seattle, to know that there will be kids there that hold Trial in the regards that I hold just untouchable.


Can we ever expect any more Trial shows after the next two? Or is all over after this? never know what can happen. I know one thing for sure, we will not be getting back together. We all have new bands that we're doing. Greg is doing Between Earth And Sky and also has a movie called Flight From Death, Brian and Alexei are in a band called 3 Inches Of Blood that they are always on tour with and I'm doing a band called Wait In Vain and have also started a record label. Between all that's going on with us currently, squeezing in these three shows has been a hard time. Like I said, you never know what can happen, but these will probably be the last 3 shows we ever play.


The band has just released a split cd comprised of your previous efforts 'Through The Darkest Days' and 'Foundation'. Why did the band decide to get these out there? How can fans in Australia get their hands on the cds?

 Yea, that's actually the first release on my own label, Panic Records. We've always wanted our records to be in press for kids to get. Both records have been out of press for the past 6 years and people still ask us for copies of those records. We didn't want it released by anybody else this time around though. We hadn't had much luck with labels in the past, so DIY all the way. People in Australia can order it from Panic Records, Revelation Records, and if there's a distributor in Australia that wants to get in touch to carry the record, I'm more than willing to make that happen.


Can we ever expect a re- release of 'Are These Our Lives?' Because it is hard emough to find as it is.

 You know, I would love to have this released on any other label other than EVR. 150%. That label could give a fuck about that record. If there is one thing that I would have to choose as being proud of, it would be that record. That is my finest accomplishment, I'm very happy about that record. From the artwork to the orchestra piece. EVR shit on that record. When that record came out, they did little promotion for it. After we broke up, they discontinued pressing it, even though people were still buying the record. They kept it out of print for about 4 years and have just recentely repressed it in the news of the Trial reunions in hopes to sell more copies. I am sure they're doing just that. Buy that record if you'd like, just keep in mind that the record does not include the original art work and does not include the lyrics. EVR cut out the lyrics to save on pressing costs. I can't blame them too much as they are a business and want to make money. I've heard you can find the complete record online for download and you can get the lyrics from the Trial site. Just what I heard.


Tell us about your new band Wait In Vain. Where and why was the band formed? Whos in the band?

 We're from Seattle of course, and we formed...well I've been kicking it around for about a year now. The band is still looking for a permanent drummer but has three other solid members. Since they've all joined, I would say that the true birth of Wait In Vain was around July 2005. The line up is Chris Jacobsen - Guitar, Ryan Scott - Bass and Roger Kilburn of Love Is Red fame on Guitar.


Trial held quite an obvious political message. Does Wait In Vain have any specific message to get across to the kids? Is the bands mission anything similar to that of Trail? What specific stuff to you choose to write about?

 Wait In Vain is a social/politcal band. Meaning that we deal mainly with social issues. The way we as people identify and interact with each other. We won't be as heavy politically as Trial was, but politics will always be present. If we had a mission, I would say it would be a human rights, self awareness and self discovery. A band that is about change, political, social and personal.


Instead of filling the guitar role as you did in Trial you have chosen to get on the vocals. Any specific reasons for the switch?

 I still write for Wait In Vain musically. I don't think I'll ever move away from that part of things. Before I was in Trial, the band that I came to Seattle with, I was the guy with the microphone. I think the singing part of things came from a want to get out things that I felt deep inside but wouldn't have felt comfortable having someone else singing.


For fans not farmiliar with Wait In Vain can you give iu a run down of the bands sound / mission / meaning of existance.

 I think I covered most of this in the above question. The sound isn't that far removed from the Trial records. It's just the style of music that I write and can't really get away from it. BURN, Judge, Beyond, Cro Mags, I think that would sum up the sound...and in one word Trial, because that's what Trial was as well.


What made you decide to get the band together in the first place?

 I wanted to get a band together and play music that I loved, sing about things that I cared about. I wasn't happy with things in my life and missed the outlet that I had with my previous bands.


Do you worry at all that older fans who new you as Timm form Trial may hold an unfair biast against Wait In Vain?

  Not at all. I know that Trial and Wait In Vain are two different bands. Just like I love Orange 9mm and BURN. I can separate the two and except that. BURN is greatest hardcore band ever. No band will ever compare to BURN, but that won't stop me from loving Orange 9mm. Trial and Wait In Vain should be accepted like that, if they can't, that's ok.


Is there any Wait In Vain material avavilable taht Australian fans can get their hands on? How do we go about it?

 Right now we've only done a 4 song demo that you can order from us from our website we're currently working on songs for an Lp/Cd that we hope to get out by the new year.


What future plans do you have for the band? Any llabel deals or the like?

 Just writing songs for the Lp/CD, getting that recorded. Finding a label to work with...and then touring touring touring. This band is all that we want to do, it's all we will do.


Has there been any musical projects since the end of Trial other that Wait In Vain? What have you been doing with yourself for the last five years?

 Right after Trial broke up I played guitar in Champion for about a year and a half. Recorded Come Out Swinging and did a couple West Coast Tours. After I quit Champion I didn't do anything musically until last year when I started up Wait In Vain. Other than that, living a pretty boring life. Hanging out, getting tattoos, eating food, going to hardcore shows. The usual life stuff. Exciting right? hahahaha.


Any thanks / threats / words?

 Thanks for doing the interview. If you were ever interested in Trial and want to check out any of our new projects, you should, we'd appreciate your support.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Shipwreck AD interview from Death Before Dishonour

Here is the interview that Chris GB and I did with JD of Shipwreck AD a while back for Death Before Dishonour magazine. Can't remember which issue it was in. Maybe issue 6? Read on, if you haven't already.

Firstly how did life begin for Shipwreck a.d ? Can you tell me the story of howthis all evolved from just a bunch of guys from the Merrimack Valley to anestablished band that has gathered enough attention for you to be sitting here talking to a dude in Australia just prior to the release of your debut album?

One time during a blizzard I walked into the train station to catch my train home. I noticed a small crowd in the corner as I brushed the snow off of me. Peering in, I saw a man on the ground shaking, staring up at the ceiling. People tried to help but there was nothing they could do. I stood there and watched him die. Thats how Shipwreck was birthed, from the cold reality that we are all burning fuses. The demo was written with no intentions of being more than a side project. A few songs in the vein of the old Clevo/NY sound. The fact that things have gone this far gives me hope. Shipwreck has been one of the best things to ever happen to me, because now not only do I have a reason to wake up in the morning, but I have an outlet.

The name's been changed to Shipwreck A.D. yeah? What's with that? Why the change? I have noticed the band still being informally referred to as Shipwreck on the net, what's the deal?

There is another band from here called Shipwreck who already trademarked the name, so we had to change it to avoid any legal trouble. Shipwreck A.D. was an easy solution to the problem. In the hardcore scene, we will always be Shipwreck. The change was mainly for administrative purposes, like distro's and itunes and stuff.

You guys have the new LP "Abyss" out on Deathwish Inc. in November. When you started the band up, did you ever expect a label of such stature to ever come knocking on your door? How did the deal come about?

Deathwish employee/local sweetheart Nicole was responsible for us being christened into the family. Never in a million years did I expect to be on a label like Deathwish. They have put out Ringworm, 108, Integrity, and Blacklisted, and all of a sudden wanted to put out Shipwreck. Needless to say, it made me feel warm inside.

It seems as if nearly every band coming out of the Merrimack Valley/ greater Boston hardcore area these days gains some kind of wider notoriety. When you guys did get the band together, what were your biggest hopes? Did you ever expect to gain such a following?

Believe it or not, it is actually really hard to be a band around here. There are so many hardcore kids, and the scene is so segregated you have to really bust your ass to get above the local crowd. It is a small state, but one area might have an awesome show and kids from 30 miles away won't make the trip because its not in their scene or its not their style or whatever. So you have to play a lot of shows, know a lot of people, and pretty much compete to get your name out. We never expected to do more than local shows and put out a 7", but I am beyond glad that things have gone the way they have.

The greater Boston scene I speak of has certainly conceived some amazing bands over the years. More recently bands like Guns Up!, Have Heart, Mind Eraser and yourselves to name just four. What are some other great up and coming bands kids need to look out for?

Boston hardcore is always on top. Living Hell, New Lows, The Carrier, Colin of Arabia, Soul Control, Four Year Strong, Wolfwhistle... They all have Myspace's so go check them out for sure.

How much of an impact did signing to such a well established label as Deathwish have on Shipwrecks fan base? Did the bands popularity grow greatly following the pair up? Why did you decide to sign with Deathwish and not another label?

It's hard to tell. I mean it has obviously helped us a ton, and a lot more promoters and kids have given us a chance because of being a Deathwish band. But to determine how much we have grown since we have been signed is tough cause right as we got signed we started to tour regularly, so I can't say exactly how much it blew us up. We decided to sign with Deathwish because to us, they are the best label in hardcore. Plus we all wanted to know what Jake Bannon was like off stage.

Quite a few of the newer Deathwish bands as of late, including yourselves have been generating quite a bit of hype if you will. All I hear about at the moment is Shipwreck and Cold World. Do you guys buy into hype that way? Do you think it's well deserved. How do you deal with the 'hype' factor?

I could honestly care less. I mean, it's cool that people talk about us and stuff but I don't see the difference between hype and popularity or whatever you want to call it. One thing that does bother me is when people hate on Shipwreck because we're a supposed 'Hyped band'. Apparently because people talk about us on messageboards, we some how become a hardcore boy-band and are no longer legitimate. It's not like we hype ourselves. I don't walk around Boston going "WHAT UP WORLD, ABYSS DROPPIN ON YA TABLES 11/29 HOLLA". I don't get it. But whatever, I'm pretty sure we are a real band, and I'm very certain I am a real dude. So the rest is hog wash.

The bands discography includes vinyl and CD releases. Over time have you guys been vocal to ensure releases in both formats? Do you feel a need to cater to kids from both markets? Do you think it really matters? Are Shipwreck a vinyl specific band?

We have always been more of a vinyl band than cd band. Mainly just because after our demo, we released 2 different 7"s. So since then, we have always just had records. The first 7" came out on a cd but we had them for like 5 minutes before they were sold out. I don't really care how the music is passed on, as long as kids get it some how. We aren't a vinyl specific band in a sense of making limited covers or pressings, etc. We definitely don't care about that and I feel dumb when kids ask me how much of one color we pressed because I never know. I'm not a record guy.

As a band that to date has only released a demo and 2 EPs, what was it like sitting down with the intention to write an LP? Did you approach the writing process differently when you had 10 or so songs that needed to be written as opposed to 2 or 3? Do you think Shipwreck can be a normal, 'album' band, or do you feel better releasing EPs?

Now that we have done it, I think we are a LP band. We have matured musically, so our sound has definitely evolved. The writing process musically is approached with a far different attitude than the way it was when we first started. It is more abstract than it is structured. We have the problem of kind of being overzealous when we write. Too many ideas coming out all at once, but I think thats a good thing. Writing the next record should be interesting. I am going to sleep in a different cemetery every night until the record is done being recorded.

Your second 7" has also been given a paid digital release through Download Punk, how do you feel about the issue of downloading music? Would you rather have kids paying for downloads, downloading for free or just buying the hard copy releases?

Eh I don't really care. Most kids buy CD's just so they can load them on their ipod's. I would rather everyone bought hard copies so they could read the lyrics too, but I can't control that. Times have changed and stuff like lyric pamphlets aren't as important anymore. Abyss revolved heavily around the lyrics, and the insert will help it make more sense. So, I apologize in advance to anyone who downloads it or pieces of it and has no clue what the hell is going on.

So many artists spout up about illegal file sharing. With hardcore by nature existing as such an underground art form where any real profit is near impossible, do you guys feel that illegal downloading is any sort of hindrance to struggling bands such as yourselves? Or do you guys get behind that kind of thing?

There is 2 ways to look at this question. Obviously I want kids to pay for the music because I want Deathwish to be able to make money so they can continue on putting out records. Also, it helps us selling records on the road because its extra money. On the other hand, downloading music helps more kids get into your band and expose you in places you wouldn't normally have your music available in. I guess we hope that people will download a song to check us out and like us enough to buy our record. We should just bring a laptop to shows and charge kids 3 dollars to load our songs off itunes and safe everyone the trouble.

I've heard one of the tracks from "Abyss" entitled 'Ascent' and I must say it is definitely a good Shipwreck song. Going into the studio with backing from such a big label, did you have more of a budget to play around with? What can fans expect from the rest of the new LP in that respect?

The quality is so much better than anything else we have ever recorded. So you can put it on your speakers and it won't sound like shit. Budget wise, we recorded on the moon so it cost a bit to fly back and forth however I think it was worth it in the end.

Past Shipwreck releases have seen contributions from hardcore contemporaries such as Pat from Have Heart and Dan from Guns Up!. Any new guests spots on the LP?

I wanted to avoid any extra hype being added to the record by having so-and-so from such-and-such band make an appearance on the record. I also feared that it would affect the intimacy of the album. I didn't want one song to stick out as like a trademark song that everyone learns the words to because its like the 'cool song' to know. But there is some back up vocals done by the producer Jay and on one song has female vocals.

Can we get the nitty gritty on Abyss? Who produced it? How many tracks are on it? How do you feel the band has progressed since your last release etc?

It was produced and engineered by Jay Maas of Getaway Group recordings in the suburbs of Boston. The record is 11 songs long. The first song on it is a re-recorded version of 'Squall', which was on our last 7". To give you the nitty gritty, Abyss is a concept a bum, for lack of a better way to explain it. Song 1 takes place under water and song 11 takes place on top of a mountain. Every song in between marks a different stage of the voyage. Lyrically each song displays a setting and a conflict. The reason I wrote it this way was because I am not the type of person who likes to discuss my life or my problems or the way I feel. But unfortunately, the only way I keep from ending my life is by writing. I found the middle ground by using nature as a way of explaining how I feel inside, seeing as how no words can come to mind when I try and explain how I feel. For instance, song 3 on the record is called 'Samur' and it is the only love song I have ever written. The song begins with me floating in the ocean dying of thirst. As I look in the distance, I can see there is rain clouds approaching, which will suffice my thirst. However, I feel so weak that all I want is to satisfy that urge to drink, to extinguish the burning in my throat, so I think about drinking the ocean water around me. Before I do, I realize drinking the salt water will only make things worse and kill me. I don't know what to do. So I finally wait until the storm is right above me, and as I wait I realize it isn't going to rain and that I had just been lead on the entire time, leaving me with nothing. Can you see how that could relate to females in my life? Haha.

Can anything be read into the name "Abyss", is their a dark theme that surrounds the new album?

By definition, an abyss is a deep or seemingly bottomless chasm. Scientifically, it describes any part of the ocean below a mile. In the case of the record, it is basically a glimpse of my mind. After reading the lyrics, you will have seen more of me than most of my closest friends have. The theme is dark and desperate, because that is how I feel every day of my life. The songs are slow and heavy for the most part, and in some ways reflect the lyrics and setting as well. Shipwreck has and always will be a dark band. Even if we some how find the light, I think we'd use it to burn everything down, not lead the way.

It seems like it has been forever since the last 7" from you guys. Why has it taken so long to finally get the new album on the shelves?

When it rains, it pours. Anything that could have happened to delay the release of the record did happen. The longest part was probably etching each 12" with a sharpened piece of whale bone and scribing each inset with a quill feather and ink. However, it finally has a street date and will be out soon, so the rest is ashes and dust.

Shipwreck are a band that is often compared to bands from the great mid 90's Cleveland metallic hardcore scene. I have heard you guys likened to the great Integrity and Ringworm more than once. Do you think these comparisons are just? Would you say that those 2 bands are some of the major influences on the Shipwreck sound or are there other bands you guys look up to more? Also, why are Integrity the best band in the world?

Anyone who has seen us or heard us can see the huge influence Integrity has had Shipwreck. I won't lie, when we first started I tried to rip off everything Dwid did. The way he sang, stage presence, lyrics, etc. The newer stuff not so much, but the influence is still there for sure. Aside from the Clevo bands, I'd say our biggest influences are Merauder and Starkweather, along with countless other lesser known mid '90s bands.

Here is 5 reasons why Integrity is the best band in the world:

5. Heaven inside your Hell

4. The breakdown in March of the Damned

3. "I'll tear you limb from limb; rip you peice by peice; put you in a state where it takes all you've got to breathe..."

2. Humanity is the Devil

1. One time I saw them play a benefit show for someone who had passed away and the first thing Dwid said was "I know this is a memorial show for a fallen brother... so I am going to pick my most emotional song in memory.. this one is called Vocal Test"