Saturday, January 27, 2007

Back with a bang!

It’s been more than half a year since I have updated this blog, and before that it had been months as well. I think most of my entries are pretty interesting and it would be a shame if most of this stuff got buried somewhere in the dark alleys of blogdom. So I decided to kick this up a notch again, put together some stuff I have in my inbox for more than a year now and make it an interesting read for most to you diehard fans of my exquisite writings, though some stuff might be out of date as hell already. After that I’ll start working on some new articles and interviews. To set the pace for 2007, here’s an interview I’ve done with Dave Byrd in May 2006 as a promo for the European Set To Explode tour. Since there’s another European tour coming featuring DJ Dave Byrd, DJ Stereo Faith and DJ Justice in February you could say this is a promo for that tour.

Set To Explode is a fairly new band. When did you guys first start rehearsing, or even think about getting this band together. What’s the line-up and are the members still all the same guys as the first rehearsal?

I was actually thinking about doing a band when Striking Distance was still around. Initially I wanted to have Steve Clark & John Mutchler and then any drummer we could possibly bribe into joining us. John and I started jamming around February of 2005 and we spent a couple of months putting the 6 songs together that would come out on the Grave Mistake 7”. John played guitar, I played drums and in the beginning we had visions of only us two recording the 7”. But since I suck at drumming, we ran into a drunken punker one night that played with the The Goons. It would be easier to show him the songs than have me record them. Worn Thin was breaking-up so we were able to get Tad. So a few months after John and I were jamming, enter Tad (bass) and Tom (drums) into the picture.

Set To Explode describes themselves as being influenced by Minor Threat, Antidote (NYC) and Cock Sparrer. Are you afraid people might think you are influenced by the Dutch Antidote? What other bands besides those three would you say are influences to Set To Explode?
Tad wrote down those 3 bands on our MySpace page and I don't know why he put the NYC thing in there. I thought there was a band in the midwest who had the name, but whatever. I would say we all love the Bad Brains, Negative Approach, Dead Kennedys and various smaller DC bands.
You guys didn’t put out a demo and went on directly recording a 7” for Grave Mistake Records. Why did you skip the first step of being a band? Do you think you’ve paid your dues in previous bands or are you just being pretentious?
I didn't know there were certain 'steps' in doing a band we just wanted to get a 7" out. Hell, I know bands that go straight for an LP. Definitely not pretentious and you can never pay enough dues. I think Alex of Grave Mistake knew we wouldn't record and put out anything that sucked.

Is the ex-members thing something you want to play out as a band, or would you rather see kids checking out your band not thinking about your old bands?
It’s a double-edged sword. On one side, I'd like for people to check out, evaluate, and like or dislike the band based on its own merits and not be compared to every band we've been in before, but, it's not reality. On the other side, it helps get the word out and might get some people to give us a listen that normally would not. Then, the people can decide whether the band has its own identity and not just “Oh yeah, that band with so and so in it…. They’re ok”. I want people who see Set To Explode as a totally new effort. After Striking Distance broke up, I didn't want to do a band for a while, but I knew I would be back in some form. It was just a matter of time when everything just felt right and I had some things I wanted to yell about. This band is serious to me and don’t want it to lurk in the shadows of previous bands.
How have the reactions to your EP been so far?
People seem to like it. Some people say it doesn't have enough 'mosh' parts, some people say it's not enough songs, some people say it's more punk than anything we've ever done in any other band. That's good.... More punk is better given our world nowadays.
When I hear the beginning of Never Give In I hear the same riffing as Minor Threat, the song, World Diseased's little vocal prelude could be sampled from Guilty Of Being White and Feel The Rage has an overall Minor Threat feel that I can't immediately pin down. Now, you guys are from Washington DC and have some sense of pride about it. Are these obvious Minor Threat references part of paying tribute to the old DC scene, or did they just come out naturally while writing songs only to be noticed afterwards? Are there any other, less obvious, DC references in your sound?
The songs came out naturally. It was only after we started letting our friends listen to them that they made references to Minor Threat and Antidote. Hell, Never Give In and World Diseased, I’ve had those riffs in my head before the band was even an idea and I’m not really a person for ‘paying tribute’ or being nostalgic. I mean, we love old DC hardcore punk, so I’m sure there’s tons of influence, but we don’t intentionally set out to sound or write songs a certain way. That’s just how it comes out.
Is it true, as Lino Dead Stop has been claiming ever since he first heard your band's name, that you took the band name from the Dead Stop sentence "Soon my revenge will begin, because I'm about to explode!"?
Haha… Sorry Lino. How we got the name: my friend Kevin (from Majority Rule) and I were talking about bands at some bar and he was telling me about his new band and they had a song called Set To Explode and he wanted to name the band after the song. As soon as he said the name, I knew it was exactly what I wanted the name of my next band to be. I told him: “If you don’t use it for whatever reason, it’s mine!”. They didn’t end up using it because they felt it did not represent their band or whatever so I thanked him. Now we have to pay him royalties in Snickers bars.
Do you think of yourself as an explosive person?
I’ve been known to be a little on the wild side, a little crazy, but I think I have a good balance of normalcy. I think hardcore punk gives me enough of an outlet and therapy to avoid being in jail. As you live in Washington DC you happen to come across people from the old days quiet frequently. Who's the last person you saw walking on the street that played in a band that was featured on Flex Your Head? Tell me something more about that guy with the crazy stories who hangs out at your local bar?
Dante Fernando from Iron Cross and Grey Matter runs this bar/club in DC called the Black Cat and he’s always there walking around and saw him there Saturday night. On any night, you might be able to see John Stabb, Alec MacKaye, Brian Baker, David Grohl etc… It depends on what band is playing I guess. The guy at the bar I think you’re referring to is Bill MacKenzie who was at the SNL Fear show, mentioned on numerous early Dischord records, and is pictured on the back of the Teen Idles 7”. He doesn’t really talk too much about that stuff, but if you ask him, he’ll give you the scoop on certain shows and just give you an idea of how sketchy some of the shows used to be. It’s kinda cool since I hear him and his brother were the sketchy dudes at shows back then.
What are some of the holes you still need to fill in your record collection?
Minor Threat 7” Gary Cousins sleeve,Bad Brains Pay to Cum 7” with sleeve, Straight Ahead test press, Youth Brigade 7”. If anyone reading this has one of these, get in touch!
What's up next for Set To Explode? Anything plans to record soon?
Well, we’re coming to play the last Dead Stop show May 20th and doing a few shows afterwards and then we’ll probably go out to the California in July for a few days. Recording: Sometime this summer we’ll record the 7” for Youngblood Records. We just started writing new songs so we’ll see what happens.

To wrap this up, have a promo talk in favor of the Zero Boys, in order to get every hardcore kid into Vicious Circle!
Zero Boys is probably the most underrated punk bands of all time. If they had been from DC, LA, New York or Boston, they would have been as revered as the Dead Kennedys, Flag, Minor Threat and SSD. I’m stoked they’re playing shows again. Perfect blend of speed, melody, and fuck, the bass playing and fills is the icing on the cake. Civilization’s Dying may be one of the best punk songs ever…right next to Sonic Reducer and Nervous Breakdown.


Blogger Unknown said...

People could think of the UK Antidote too, in theory, who put out a good seven inch in the mid eighties. I believe they had members of Chumbawamba???

1/28/2007 2:17 PM  

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