Wednesday, 5 November 2008

BILL BONDSMEN interview...

A nice surprise for me was picking up the 'Swallowed By The World' LP by the Midwestern hardcore band BILL BONDSMEN earlier this year. I hadn't heard much by them before but this is a really good record: high energy classic Midwest style hardcore punk, taking cues from LP-era NEGATIVE APPROACH, POISON IDEA and NECROS (check out the guitar intro to 'Answer Me'), with a keen straight up rock n roll sensibility too. The fact that they did a (great) split 7" with OUT COLD should tell you something about what this band is all about. Anyway I interviewed them via email a little while ago, without realising Dan from Mad At The World Records had done a good one on his blog! Oh well, enjoy it anyway.

Q 1. Why did Bill Bondsmen start, and what bands had any of you been in previously (if you want to answer that question...)? Also, where did the name come from?

Tony : First show was Mother's Day 2004 with Nick Chunks on the drums. Supporting Damage Deposit if I recall right... I was in a grind/power violence band that went on for a while, recorded a pretty well recieved demo and then shit the bed. I think someone else already addressed who Bill Bonds is. If not, just google him or watch him on Youtube. Bill Bonds + Bail Bondsmen (dude who pays to get you out of jail til your court date) = Bill Bondsmen.

Mark: I don't mind talking about other bands I've been in. There's not much to talk about because this band is the only one that actually released anything, except my first band when i was 13- The Clown Butchers "Eat Shit and Die" tape, limited to 25 copies.

Q 2. How does it feel being from Detroit, not only the home of classic hardcore (Negative Approach, Angry Red Planet etc) but of classic music in general (Stooges, MC5 etc)...Have most of these bands influenced Bill Bondsmen in some form or another?

T : Ummm... I dunno what to say to that really. I mean, Detroit is a whole different state of mind really. All the things you've heard are probably true. I guess I feel stoked on it because when you tell people from other places in the world that you're from the D they seem to connect to it in both good (music, cars, etc) and bad (crime, death, fear, etc)ways. I guess being from here kinda takes some of the edge off of it. Once you've talked to the "legends" the mystery is gone and they're just folks. I'm sure it's had an influence though. And you also forgot the incredible boom of soul, blues, rock, etc that our city has enjoyed for many a year.

Mark: I can't say any of those bands influenced me, indirectly they did I'm sure. I grew up in Lansing which is 70 miles away so by the time I heard most of those bands, I already had a style of creating music. But supposedly we have a Detroit/Midwest sound, maybe the bad weather and rusty cars are the secret ingredients.

Amando: It's hard to tell how I feel about being from Detroit, since I don't know any other way. I tell you what, some people in other towns still take a step back when I say I'm from here. All of those bands you mention have spent alot of time on my stereo.

Q 3. How did you end up releasing on ACME Records? Are Out Cold like your brother-band in a sense?

T : John Evicci (Acme Records/Out Cold/Bad Chopper/etc etc) is a friend of mine. That's really all there is to it. Just a good dude who hooked it up for us. No real crazy backstory. Believe it or not, we've still never played with Out Cold. Something happens every time we even talk about it. Great band though. Probably one of my all time faves.

Amando: Tony hooked up the Out Cold/ACME flavor. He's known Evicci for quite a few years. I wouldn't say that we're quite at brother band status with Out Cold. They've been around alot longer. They're more of an uncle band to us. The cool uncle who'd buy for you and give you his old tapes.

Q 4. Like Out Cold, Bill Bondsmen seem to play stripped down fast rock n roll rather than a uniform version of another hardcore band, and there are clear non-hardcore influences at play...what are you thoughts on this?

T : Ummm... Listening to other music beyond hardcore helps. That's all I can think of. We all listen to a lot of different stuff and i'm sure it's had an effect on how things come out. And this isn't dogging on hardcore. Just that expanding your horizons music wise helps you come up with something more than just the same stuff I guess...

Mark: We all listen to different stuff, not just hardcore punk so it comes across when we make up the songs. Good, real music doesn't only exist in punk rock land.

Amando: My thought? Of course there's some non-hardcore touches here and there. Who wants to sound just like another band? (apparently a lot of bands, judging from what I've heard in recent years).

Q 5. What are your 3 favourite 80s Midwest hardcore bands, and why? I hear a bit of Die Kreuzen to Bill Bondsmen's sound...

T : Ahh the music nerd question. Tough one... Hmmm... Die Kreuzen, NA, S.B.L.C. DK for just being weird. That lp is just all over the place. Like Void after a steady diet of dark wave and 70's arena rock. Very cool. NA because their "Fucking NA maaaaaaan!" and SBLC because I grew up being deafened by them, Feisty Cadavers, etc. Good memories.

Mark: Tough question. Today i'll go with N.A., Zero Boys, and Crucifucks because they're from my hometown and I saw them play a basement show back in the day.

Amando: My 3 favorites off the top of my head....of course NA, lets just get that one out of the way. Effigies were good especially some of their more Gang of Four sounding jams (Security). Zero Boys are in there too, cause they had hooks and I like hooks.

Q 6. When did you first get in to hardcore? Can you remember the first record you heard, and band you saw live? What was the scene like in Destroit in the 90s?

T : Ummm... I was really lucky and had a way cool mom so I actually had the Suicidal Tendencies LP when I was about 9. I was all into metal like Venom, Celtic Frost, etc and read about Suicidal and was lucky enough to have a high school radio station that played all that stuff and then played punk rock on the program afterwards. I think the first punk related stuff I heard was Devo as a little kid. Hardcore would probably be Dead Kennedys on the radio station I mentioned. First band I saw was 7 Seconds with Token Entry on the Soulforce Revolution tour. Sucked balls. But I got an invite to a better show later and it snowballed. Ummm.... A lot more fighting back then, nazis, weirdos etc. It was a lot scarier to go to gigs for sure. Lots of great bands though.

Mark: I first got into hardcore because SST used to have ads in a heavy metal magazine and they offered a free sampler tape. I was drawn to the artwork of the Black Flag covers and then once I got the tape in the mail, the sound of it was 180 degrees different than what I was listening to. Even though I already had my punk band and wrote the songs, the stuff on that tape sounded so raw and intense. I didn't know anyone who was into punk or hardcore, but I knew other people did somewhere. The first show or "concert" I went to was Billy Idol on the Rebel Yell tour. 3000 people there so it wasn't really a "show."

Amando: Detroit in the 90's: Early 90's: Lots of beards, oversized t shirts, patches, corny breakdowns, t-shirt sleeves as headbands etc.

Q 7. What is one of your favourite underrated bands (from the past) you want to spread the love for?

T : SBLC and Feisty Cadavers. Look em up. I would say Swell Maps but that's probably a bit out of place. So yeah.... Original answer.

Amando: I'm gonna give love to some of the unsung Detroit bands. Cinecyde (quite possibly the first Detroit punk band) S.B.L.C. (rough hardcore punk from the roughest part of town. Flesh & Blood still blows away half of the stuff that's considered hardcore today). Feisty Cadavers (my all time favorite Detroit band! Dying Art gets played all the time!!).

Q 8. The recent LP is great and a real achievement considering it can often be hard for hardcore bands to translate from 7" on to full length format...Do you think punk often works better on a short urgent format (i.e. a 7")?

T : Probably the shorter format. But, if you put the effort in it can translate. I think it depends on the song writing more than anything. Anyone can hash out 10 songs that all sound the same. Taking the time to write a bunch that are similar but different enough is another story...

Q 9. On a related note, what are your 5 favourite hardcore LPs EVER and why? Tough question I'm sure...

T : Germs (GI) because side one is flawless. Poison Idea "Kings Of Punk" because they were. GISM "Detestation" because it's so weird. Black Flag "Damaged" because i wore it out more than once. Batallion Of Saints "Second Coming" because it rules. This is all I can think of right now.

Mark: My favorites are ones that I heard early on; Bad Brains s/t tape,Descendents - Milo Goes To College, All - Trailblazer live,Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today, Circle Jerks - Group Sex, and all of Minor Threat's records. That's more than 5 but so what.

Amando: Poison Idea - Feel the Darkness. To me (and alot others) that is the definitve PI album. So burly and fierce sounding!!! Dwarves - Blood, Guts & Pussy. The sound they got off a 4 track is amazing. Nihilistic, trashy and over in 14 minutes!! Fear - the Album. When I was a teenager. I got into Fear and made a homemade stencil. I wanted to put it all over my skateboard (which had bright green grip tape). There was no black spray paint in the house, and you couldn't buy it if you were under 18. So rather than ask my friends if they had black spray paint, I proceeded to use what I found in the house (shit brown spray paint) and paint the stencil all over my bright green grip tape. Every time I hear any song from that album, I think of that skateboard. Negative Approach - Tied Down. Not as good as their 7" but I gotta put it in there. It's a Detroit thing. N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton. To me this was as hardcore as any Flag, Bad Brains or Minor Threat record. This record scared the shit out of many parents and even the FBI!

Q 10. What's the worst show you've ever played, and why? What's been the best?

T : Second show maybe? I dunno. Bunny (second drummer) had just joined that day. We practiced for hours. I drank way too much. etc. Probably the best was Limoges, France. We played my friend's birthday party and people went apeshit.

Mark: The worst show for me was some fest in Europe where it was all crust bands except for Idiot's Rule. 99% of the crowd walked out half way through our first song. We don't sound like watered down metal so they didn't want to hear us. People are so locked into whatever style, they can't appreciate anything else. Very lame. The best show for me was maybe at Kopi in Berlin last year.

Amando: I don't really know what would constitute being the worst show, at least in recent memory. I would probably have to say last March @ the 2500 club. It wasn't the worst, lets just say it was the least best. There was a pretty heavy snowstorm (which kept the out of town band from showing up) and we basically played to the bar. The best one to me is probably when we played at the same club in December 06 to a crowd of drunken Santas (there's an annual pub crawl in Detroit called Santarchy where the crawlers dress as Santa Claus and who happened to show up just as we were starting our set). It was just such an ridiculous sight and Tony was antagonizing the whole lot as well. Good Times. Sharing the stage for a week last year with the Cola Freaks was a close second.

Q 11. Dream 5 band line up for a show, any bands past and present, go for it. Also, what venue...

T : Nolan Strong, Feisty Cadavers, Germs, Swell Maps, "Space Ritual" era Hawkwind. In a basement.

Mark: Stooges,New York Dolls,Descendents,Slayer,and the Plasmatics in my basement.

Amando: Ramones/Black Flag (chavo era)/ Prince and the Revolution/SBLC/Doggy Style @ The Falcon Club in Hamtramck.

Q 12. Have Bill Bondsmen ever played any cover songs and if so, what songs?

T : Alan Milman Sect, Big Boys, Zero Boys, Descendents, Naked Raygun, NA, Feisty Cadavers. Some of this is recorded. Most is not.

Amando: In the past we did Fun Fun Fun by the Big Boys, Amphetamine Addiction by Zero Boys, Stitches/I Wanna Kill Somebody by Allan Milman Sect and most recently Live Like Vampires by Feisty Cadavers. On the Euro tour we did Can't Tell No One by NA (I know...we're reaching pretty deep, huh) and Kabuki Girl by the Descendents.

Q 13. What's your favourite Japanese hardcore band of all time, and why?

T : GISM because SKV is friggin awesome.

Mark: Teengenerate! oh wait they're not hardcore...Vivisick because we played with them.

Q 14. Tell us about how the song 'Comfortably Dumb' came about, and what it was about?

T : A stupid nazi that came to a show who had something like white pride or white power or whatever tattooed on his head and had all these other dodgy tats. My friend and I were debating asking him how the job hunt's been since getting out of jail. The thing about Pink Floyd is about the crossed hammers from "The Wall" and the fact that the hammerskins wear them and probably don't realize it makes as much sense as them wearing a tie dyed shirt.

Mark: That was one of the first songs we wrote together after I joined the band and kind of showed the direction we were going in, not lyrically but musically.

Q 15. How important are lyrics to Bill Bondsmen, and to hardcore in general in your opinion? What one hardcore vocalist from the past impresses you the most lyrically? (Jerry A is a personal favourite).

T : Depends on my mood I guess. I try to write something more than just "_________ SUCKS!" stuff because it's too easy. Jerry is a great writer but for my money gimme Darby Crash as far as punk rock goes.

Mark: I think the lyrics are important and I think it's one of our strengths.

Q 16. How important do you see political or social issues to hardcore? Do you think bands need to have some sort of 'message' or not? How have you seen politics within hardcore change over the years...

T : That's a loaded question. I'm not really into being preached to. But, I don't want a buncha gooney GG wannabes around either. I'll take six of one, half dozen of the other for 100 Alex. The evolution as I recall it : Nazis, Care Bears, fighters, Care Bears, drunks/druggies, Care Bears, ad nausem.

Mark: There's room for every style of lyrics and messages. People should be pissed off about what's going on today, so there's plenty to scream about.

Amando: It seems the scene in general is a little less uptight, a little less PC than it was when I was younger. Of course, the uptightness/pc vibe was a reaction to the super macho/violent vibe that preceded it. I think now it's at a happy medium.

Q 17. You are all older than the average hardcore kid, am I correct? Do you think it's reconsilable to be in o hardcore punk but also have a so called "real life" (career, perhaps a family, home etc)? Isn't it the kind of music that's just "for the kids"?

T : Ehh... Yeah. I think i'm a hair younger than Amado and we're both 32 right now. I dunno. It's just always been there. Like eating and breathing or something... I don't really think about it until we play a gig on a weeknight.

Mark: For a lot of people it is "just for the kids," a phase they go through. Obviously for us it's not a passing fad. It's a good thing there's lifers out there. My record collection would suck if there weren't.

Amando: I'm in my early 30's. I don't give a fuck. I do what I want. And if doing what I want includes having a family (which I do) as well as playing the kind of music I love with my best friends, then I'm for it. As far as this music being strictly "For the Kids?"... fuck it, I'm an old kid!

Q 18. Last words?

T : Thanks.

Mark: Bush is a war criminal.

Amando: Thanks for the questions! Live every week like its Shark Week!

All photos from the band's myspace.

No comments: