Thursday, August 21, 2008

Allan Reid Interview

Following is an interview I did with Allan Reid of Just Say Go way back for issue 5 of TheSharpEndZine. Overall I was pretty happy with this interview, as Allan always gives great, in depth answers, and I’d say it’s probably the best interview from that issue. As you know the band broke up not too long after this interview and Allan promptly headed over to Germany to pursue his other band Connections with friend Toni Kraetzer of Something Inside. Allan has managed to kick start a record label while in Europe named What Remains Records, and he’s on the verge of releasing the Connections 7”. Check it out, then read this interview for old times sake.

The latest full length has been out for a while now. How’s the response been? people liking it?

The response to Revive has been awesome, alot of people have given us great feedback and the one thing that really surprised me was a lot of kids being able to understand and relate to the lyrics. Sometimes I think I’m loopy and no one will be able to make sense of my words so it’s pretty cool when young kids who are getting into hardcore get what I’m trying to say.

Having help from resist must be pretty good?

Graham is a great help. I think he has been doing the label for about 8 years now so when it comes to getting help and advice from him it’s really reliable and points us in the right direction, not just as any old hardcore band, but for Just Say Go! as an individual band. He basically streamlines everything that we’re doing so we aren’t wasting time taking the long way around.

Now I’m sure you have probably had to answer this one a million times but I still haven’t found out why- how did the deal with Resist come about?

We were set to put Revive out with Common Bond Records, but as we moved further into the process of putting the release together, the relationship between the band and the label became a bit messy, the main problem was miscommunication from both sides. So with such a weird vibe hanging over the band/label connection we decided to look around to see what else was available. I got in touch with Graham for advice on getting our recording to other labels to check out and asked him if he’d be keen to give the recording a listen. I sent him an unmastered copy of Revive and he liked it. From there we just mapped out a plan to get the release out.

Is it some big contracted deal where you have to be exclusive with Graham or is it on a pretty loose basis?

With us we have no contract, I have no idea about other bands. For us so far everything has been based on verbal agreements and I guess pretty loose. I don’t mean lose as sketchy but loose as on flexible. That suits us fine as contracts lead to legal stuff, brainy stuff and in the end we’re just hardcore kids!

Without coming across as an elitist knob I’m curious if you ever had second thoughts about signing up with a lable with such a metalcore  / mosh reputation? I think it’s fare to say that JSG! is the black sheep at Resist at the moment.

We didn’t really have any second thoughts when we decided to release Revive on Resist. Graham has always been really helpful and supportive of any bands I have been a part of, and I’m in no way close to him as a friend or business associate or whatever. He is just a helpful kinda guy and I think at heart he is still a wholesome hardcore kid. As for Resists metalcore / mosh reputation, I think that comes from the big bands, if you look at Grahams early releases like Where’s The Pope, Found My Direction and Ceasefire, you will find a strong, traditional hardcore set of releases.

To date JSG! has released the demo, One Chance To Live and Revive all on CD. It almost seems almost like a practical step that a band of your nature would release something on wax. How come you guys haven’t yet?

Since we formed the band has been keen to do a 7” record, but with the price of pressing vinyl you have to be a hyped band that will sell a lot of copies to make it worthwhile for labels. recently a few labels like Viper Deathlock and Washed Up have been doing 7” releases which in my ind has got kids into buying records, which means a lot more bands in the near future will be doing vinyl. As for Just Say Go! stay tuned for a 7” sometime fairly soon!

Any plans for that possibly happening? I really think it would do well.

We definitely have plans to do a vinyl release, and it looks like a definite possibility sometime next year, but nothing is certain until the release is on the shelves. As I said it is in our plans so keep an ear to the ground.

Your bro recently left the band and was replaced with new drummer Josh also of Not Of This and RBAY. What happened there? Was it weird not having Gareth in the band anymore after such a long time?

In the first year and a half of Just Say Go I really thought that if my brother left the band I would feel uncomfortable without him. I am pretty sure I said that in another interview. But for a few months before my brother’s departure I was really holding him in the band. He had talked about being sick of the hardcore scene and not wanting to do a band a few times and I had talked him around and kept dragging him back in, thinking that being in a band was a good activity for him, or anyone for that matter. Within the last month of his departure, a few things became evident to me that I’d overlooked. Gareth had very little interest in Australian hardcore and definitely didn’t want to circulate in the “scene” week in week out playing shows and traveling for 10 hours or more for single shows. The drive to be in a band was no longer there and his musical interest had expanded and moved further away from hardcore. At the point when he left the band, I had gotten to the point of physically fighting with him after arguments about the worth of the band and the upside of being involved in the hardcore scene. I’m pretty sure leaving the band was a massive weight off his shoulders, a weight that was largely my fault for keeping him going for the time that I did. As for his replacement, Switch, who played drums for Not of This and currently plays in Right Back at Ya, he was an obvious option for a replacement. Switch has always been a friend of ours as individuals and as a band. He also used to ask my brother about his style of drumming and watched my brother drum a few times to pick up ideas and techniques. In my mind he wasn’t technically “the best” but his feel for the music we played in both musical expression and message was spot on. Switch has slotted into the band almost perfectly and we’re happy to have him on board. 

And how has Switch been doing? Slotted in well?

Switch has slotted in really well. Everything from the “in jokes” to the style we play seem to come fairly naturally to him. It’s almost like he was in the band all along.

I asked Craig and Stu the same thing (as a joke)- what’s it like being RBAY with melody?

Haha I’ve never heard that comparison. I think the only big comparison between JSG and RBAY is shared members and fast music. Other than that there a lot of big differences in both the sound and ideals of both bands.

What did you think of RBAY doing JSG! covers a little while back? I assume that you heard?

I didn’t know they did them at shows, I heard about them jamming on them though. I think it’s a copout and RBAY should be ashamed of themselves, as half the band already knew the songs from being in Just Say Go!!! Where’s the challenge!!! Hahaha. 

Stu did vocals on Revive, on Leave Your Mark. How did that come about?

To be honest that was a fairly spur of the moment decision. I had always planned to have a guest vocalist sing that section of Leave Your Mark but didn’t really decide until the day we recorded who was doing it. Basically Stu has always supported the band as a friend and someone who loves hardcore and is a rad dude as well. There isn’t really anyone more fitting to a song like Leave Your Mark.

Youth crew hardcore in Australia besides you guys seems virtually non existent. Am I just being ignorant? Why do you think that a genre f such nature is still so underground here? I can’t imagine why there isn’t more youth crew bands around. You guys always seem to get huge reactions at shows, you’d think more kids would be starting youth crew bands.

That’s a tough question to answer. As for Aussie bands doing youth crew influenced hardcore, there are a few popping up here and there. For me the bands that spawned from the Youth Crew era of hardcore are the bands I love, so naturally when I play music it is going to be fairly closely linked to the sound of those bands. I know a lot of kids appreciate the same bands as I do but maybe not enough to do a band, maybe something else stirs them more? I guess that theory also applies to the kids who give us the reactions you’ve mentioned. They could love Just Say Go and really get into our sound, but at the same time be a little more into another sound more, which to me would logically send them in that direction with their own tunes. I also think a big contributor to the fact that not many Youth Crew influenced hardcore bands are getting around Australia is maybe because of its popularity compared to other sub-genres in the hardcore scene. As much as it sucks, the fact remains that what’s selling is what’s being sold.

Like I said you guys always seem to get good reactions at shows, with AA definitely being the big ones. I haven’t seen an over 18’s JSG! show in a while, What are those like these days? Alot of the other over 18’s shows I go to are shithouse.

Over 18s shows are definitely no comparison to the all ages shows in Brisbane these days. I think the 18+ kids have grown up and found new things, which is cool, and the timing of the kids coming up in the scene has meant they can’t come to 18+ shows. It just seems like part of a cycle that hardcore scenes go through with older kids growing out of hardcore and younger kids just getting into it. Sometimes the gap is there, sometimes it isn’t. I also think with 18+ shows that Brisbane had a bit of a ‘mass appeal’ scene going with places like The Depot and 299 opening. Those older kids with an interest in alternative music and being in a large group of people with common interests, they now have a place to do that while also cutting out the hardcore kids who want to go nuts and spill their drinks. I mean, when you look at Mary Street in its peak, we would have 300 or 400 payers at a local show, but I don’t doubt for one second that a large percentage of the crowd were there to listen to loud music, get drunk and take someone home. They can now do that elsewhere without breaks for bands to setup and the hardcore show happening around them.

Being around for as long as you have I guess it’s fair to say that you’ve seen a huge amount of change within the local scene. Why do you think the North Coast scene seems so down at the moment?

I think for starters, the “North Coast” scene was a lot of hype built on the foundation of a good idea. The whole NCHC idea was for the people involved in the existing hardcore scene to fall under one name, to carry everyone together and really belong to something. But shortly after the NCHC idea was instigated, it became a clothing brand, a tattoo banner and as I said a load of hype. The scene in Brisbane then was pretty big, Mary Street and the Lions Den were reasonably big name venues on the national circuit, if that is grouped and labeled, that label then gets a lot of attention. Brisbane still has a pretty cool hardcore scene. The hype has cooled, a lot of the older kids have moved on, but at the same time a lot of the younger kids are really getting into hardcore and a lot of them have new ideas and beliefs that will become the future of Brisbane hardcore. I’d challenge you to look at any hardcore scene around the world with a substantial history and not find those sort of cycles happening. In all I think the North Coast banner has run its course and done its job for Brisbane hardcore and the downside of Brisbane hardcore at the moment is that it is on a low.

Do you see it getting better? I guess as all then underage kids turn 18, as long as they stick around, a good future could be in sight?

I definitely see it getting better. Maybe not as an over 18’s scene (who wants that anyway) but all ages hardcore up here is really going strong. There are a lot of young kids out there really psyched on hardcore and enjoying everything Brisbane has to offer bands wise. A lot of these younger kids have awesome attitudes and really support the local hardcore scene. There are a lot of good bands starting up and a few kids pushing for regular all ages venues in Brisbane and nearby towns. As for the all ages kids turning 18, I wouldn’t wait! We just need to find more AA venues, 18+ venues won’t keep doing hardcore shows when most of the payers are straight and they need bar money to keep their business going.

As a youth crew band a lot of subject matter that you tackle with JSG! is obviously of the more positive nature. I notice that you’re very straight forward with your words. Do you ever get to the point where you’re just so sick of it all? Have you ever just wanted to walk away from the scene and never come back?

There have been a few times recently when I have felt like walking away, and have temporarily had to walk away from situations in the hardcore scene that have really set me off. I was at a Halloween show in Noosa and one of the kids singing in a band completely destroyed a young girls reputation by calling her a skank and wishing death upon her in front of over a hundred impressionable underage kids. This kid was Christian (last I heard) so I was really wondering where the redemption was for that girl in being sentenced by a scenester. That was one of the more recent points where I had to really walk away before I lost my head and started really cutting into that kid. In the long run I don’t think I could walk away for good. I really love hardcore, musically its something I have become very close to and still love almost every aspect of hardcore. There have been a lot of incidents where I have really felt my heart sink and I have been literally too disgusted to stay in the room and I have had to walk away to chill out and gather my thoughts (like the incident in Noosa) but in general I feel like its where I want to be and something I want to be a part of for years to come.

On Our Hands is a cruelty free / vegan themed song. How passionate are you about leading a cruelty free lifestyle?

My beliefs when it comes to animals and the way humans treat them are that we don’t need to slaughter them for our own needs. In this day and age we have alternatives to sacrificing an animal that can sustain a healthy life. If I was stuck in the desert and I was starving to death and a lizard sat down beside me I’d probably eat it, no questions asked, but when we are breeding animals with massive deformities due to chemicals injected into them to produce more meat from one animal, just to kill them for food, I don’t think it is fair and would much rather the alternatives. I’m vegetarian because I wont have an animal suffer for my needs when my needs can be satisfied without that animal suffering. 

While straight edge is reasonably big within Brisbane I think veganism / vegetarianism isn’t nearly as popular. Do you think that is so? Why do you think that there isn’t as many veg kids around?

I actually disagree there. A few years ago the vegan and vegetarian edge kids in Brisbane were few and far between, now there’s a whole new bunch of kids coming up who are either vegan or vegetarian and feel very strongly about it. There was a time when vegan edge in Brisbane came down to Meatdog and almost Meatdog alone, no one else was doing it with such a strong attitude. Now there are kids popping up everywhere who are giving cruelty free lifestyles a shot.

Do you think that as a straight edger veganism is absolutely necessary?

Definitely not. When you look at the origin of the straight edge lifestyle, the motto or slogan was “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t fuck.” I’m not even sure if the mastermind of the straight edge ideals was vegetarian at the time. I think that straight edge, being a lifestyle based on abstinence, is easily associated with veganism and vegetarianism and definitely is an easy step for edge kids as it is another substance to abstain from.

At the recent Bald Hills show during JSG!’s set you touched on the militancy topic, putting forward that straight edge should be more about offering alternatives rather that just punishing non believers etc. What are your views on extreme militancy? I know you have militant mates?

First and foremost, none of my mates are militant. I don’t think anyone in Brisbane is militant. The topic I was trying to touch on was that acting militant, with slogans that are all about isolation and termination of people who oppose your beliefs, isn’t doing shit for anyone, especially when its all about death, dying and killing. Not long ago there were a load of slogans getting around that were (in my opinion) just dumb and weren’t going to change squat. “Smoking kills, I hope you die” is as likely to encourage a non smoker to quit as “smoking makes you look sexy to the opposite sex.” Last year I lost my uncle to lung cancer, and before he was diagnosed his organs were failing due to alcohol abuse. That event was a pretty heavy thing for me to get my head around, and I’m in no way a special case when it comes to edge kids losing people close to them to substance abuse. So what I want to know is, how many of the “militant” kids throwing these wannabe militant slogans around would have given that person close to them an opportunity to change and get more living out of life then go downhill to an end riddled with suffering and sorrow for those left behind? There aren’t many people that I want to die, and if militancy is about making a difference then make an honest effort to make a difference, don’t just slap slogans on your myspace profile to seem like your some kind of revolutionary.

Thanks so much Alan. Any thanks etc?

Thanks for the interview and thanks to everyone involved in Just Say Go from kids singing along to the people doing shows!