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"