Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Here is an interview I did a few months ago with the US band AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER. They sent their answers in the post, hand-written and all, and it's taken my a good while to get round to typing them up. I apologise. If you haven't heard AC, check out their 'Modern Advice' 7", great stuff. The 9 Shocks comparison gives you some idea of what to expect. Meat and potatoes energetic hardcore punk.

Answering the questions are James (singer), Jason (drums) and Steve (guitar). Photos stolen from their myspace.

As a sidenote, the interview was originally sent just to Jason the drummer, hence the last question solely being about drumming.

1. When did American Cheeseburger form? Are you all from the Georgia area? What was the scene like at the time you started playing?

James: We started in 2006. Only Jason is from Georgia. When we started playing, there weren't many fast bands. And there still aren't.
Steve: We started in 2006, we're from all over the place. Athens is a twee-pop orientated town, so it's not like there were any other bands doing the same thing as us in town. Every now and again another hardcore band would pop us, play, and then dissolve.

Jason: 2006. We have been playing about 2 years. No we are from all over, Georgia, Connecticut, Ohio and North Carolina.

2. When you started out what bands were key influences? Was there any band you were emulating or wanted to sound like, or did you just play and it came out how it sounded?

Jason: We have a million influences not all punk or hardcore, we just knew we wanted to play fast!

Jason and I started jamming out on pretty much anything. Classic rock tunes, Negative FX etc. My influences have been Japanese hardcore, some of the old Huntington Beach bands, old fast shit. We really just wanted to start a fun, fast band and not worry about what we were going to sound like.

James: I don't think we had any key influences except wanting to play fast. As we wrote songs, we noticed elements of Japanese hardcore and older Cleveland hardcore. We have never emulated any band.

3. Does being from the South alienate you perhaps from more 'active' scenes, on the coasts? (I am being presumptive there, since I have no idea what it's like in Georgia!)

Steve: It's never been an issue.

Jason: No, we tour constantly, so we are with it, we bring lots of awesome bands to Georgia. It rules, I hate overcrowded "scenes".

James: We aren't alienated because we tour so much. We don't play in town often, and when we do, it's usually with a band from somewhere else.

4. Do you think the internet has aided the growth of good hardcore bands or impeded it? With the downloadability of old bands, and the knowledge easily accessible at the touch of a button, do you think the imagination has gone? A band can just choose a band and say "yes let's play like this"... Ofcourse there's a reverse side to that, which is that more people get into good bands who may have been forgotten.

Steve: Exchange of information is how we learn.

Jason: I think the internet is weird but helpful. Yes, you don't have to work for it like in the old days but it makes things like touring a lot easier.

James: You seem to have answered the question for yourself. In my opinion the internet has helped hardcore bands tour successfuly AND i have seen a lot of worthless bands emerge from everywhere and attempt to gain publicity through myspace etc...

5. Where did the name AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER come from?

Jason: I thought up "cheeseburger" and James added "American" because we heard of another cheesburger. I was sick of every name like "Death System", "Bush Sucks" etc.

James: Jason was sick of all of the long-sinded band names emerging at the time. "As my sun Sets Dying" and shit like that. He said the next band he was in would be called Cheeseburger. Simplicity. We found out that there was some shitty band from New York called Cheeseburger, so I told Jason we should be audacious and call it American Cheeseburger. The epitome of stupidity.

6. When did you first get into hardcore? Can you remember the first band you EVER heard described as 'hardcore', and what was your first show?

Steve: I first got into hardcore around 15. I guess the Bad Brains were the first band I'd ever heard of refered to as hardcore. My first show was seeing the Ramones, and then a month later I saw Bikini Kill at a club in Connecticut called Studio 158.

Jason: When I was 12. 1986, I ordered Warzone, Final Conflict and Crucifucks from sk8 mags. My first show was in '88, I saw C.O.C., Wwwax, and Final Offering. It was great.

James: I saw the Ramones when I was 15. They are still the loudest band I've ever seen, I got bruises on my ribcage. Fought skinheads. That was hardcore.

8. What did your family/parents think? Also, was it via the metal route or punk route?

Steve: My parents hated punk to begin with, but one I started dying my hair and shit they REALLY didn't like it. I started out listening to death metal, and this girl on my street let me borrow the "apathy? never" compilation and "never mind the bollocks". I got into it.

Jason: My mom didn't like it but my dad was supportive, he took me to shows, the punk route for sure.

James: My parent's didn't like it. I was a metalhead before I was a punk.

9. List everything AC has released so far, and what's coming up...

Jason: We have a demo 7" on Tsunami, Modern Advice 7" on Rockbottom, split 7" with Canadian Rifle on Rockbottom and upcoming split LP with Religious As Fuck.

10. You recently toured, correct? How far did you go? How did the scene vary from city to city (or town to town)?

Jason: We went as far as Toronto. The whole thing was great in my opinion, one bad show ain't bad.

11. What was the worst thing to happen on tour (van breakdown, prostitute death, band fights etc?)

Steve: A few tours ago we wree on our way to play in Memphis and our van broke down in Mississippi. It was doing some scary shit. We ended up staying in this motel advertising "love tubs". The motel was attached to a dance club and all these eh "white boys" were hanging out outside of our room being creeps. We had to miss the show and cancel the Nashville date and drive all the way home in a vehicle that was falling apart.

Jason: Wost thing in 6 or 7 tours is missing 2 shows due to the van. Not bad.

12. Are you at all influenced by old Georgia bands, like NEON CHRIST or DDT? Are there any older folks around who saw any of those bands or were around in the earlier scene?

Jason: Yes, I love Neon Christ. I am older and saw their hybrid band with C.O.C. members called Final Offering. I saw the Neon Christ reunion. I was bummed.

13. Are you into classic Italian hardcore? Early NEGAZIONE, DECLINO, CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS etc? If so, what do you love about it? (personally I feel those bands are among the best. High in energy, manic vocally and completely twisted riffing)...

Steve: Me and Jason love the Indigesti, Wretched is really cool too. I like Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers and Eu's Arse also, they're pretty off the wall, energy wise.

Jason: Of course, Negazione, Indigesti, Raw Power, it's all essential!

James: You have answered your question again. All of those bands rule.

14. What are some of your favourite current hardcore bands going right now? Do you have a 'brother band' of sorts, who you play with a lot?

Steve: I dig: Godfodder, We Need To Talk, Double Negative, Iron Lung, Brutal Knights. Van Halen is our brother band.

Jason: Double Negative, Brutal Knights, Religious As Fuck, Iron Lung, Sex Vid, Conversions, Straightjacket Nation, Chronic Seizure, there are a lot of good ones.

15. You've often been compared to 9 SHOCKS TERROR - are you into those Clevo bands? PUNCTURE WOUND!

Steve: I love the H-100s, Cider, Darvocets etc and Jason Griffin is an honorary Clevelander, having played drums for 9 Shocks.

Jason: Yes my old badn Goat Shanty played with Puncture Wound. We love playing CLeveland. I actually played drums for a month long tour in 2001 with 9 Shocks. Wedge was getting married so I drove up and learned the set and filled in. Tour was great and so are those guys.

James: Yes.

16. Name your favourite Japanese hardcore bands ever, and explain why.

Steve: 1. GISM - Randy Uchida is godlike. 2. Systematic Death - You can't stop that shit. 3. Asbestos - the vocals are silly, like GISM, but they rule.

Jason: Lip Cream, Gauze.

James: Systematic Death, Jellyroll Rockheads.

17. Can we expect more saxaphone on the next records?

Steve: The Oboe is barely breathing.

Jason: No, I wish I liked it.

James: Yes. Steve just bought a sax.

18. Do you think bands have a responsibility to their 'fans' to stay reasonably consistent in sound? For example, a band can progress successfully (ala Flag, United Mutation etc) or unsuccessfully (Bad Religion: Into The Unknown)... Do you think you'd change your name before you start heavily using keyboards and having Avril Lavigne as a guest on your album?

Steve: I think bands should expand their options and get creative. I know we're not the most experimental band in the realm of hardcore, but if bands want to expand their horizons and create something challenging, they should. There's always going to be some people out there who won't get it.

Jason: No, I don't but I think when they change dramatically, they should expect that most times, fans will be mad.

19. Where did the photos on the back and insert to the Modern Advice EP come from?

Steve: We had this idea of a room full of people dressed like weirdos, so we had a party and crammed our friends into the bathroom of Jason's house and got some photos from up on top of the sink. It's kinda based off of this dream James had, and me and him kinda riffed on it.

20. How important do you think a DIY network is to hardcore punk, and how have you seen it change since you first got into it? Do you think there are more up-and-coming people who expect to start a band and become popular in a matter of weeks, not considering DIY etc...OR does it even matter?

Steve: I'm glad pogo punk is dead.

James: Bands will form and disperse, blossom and decay, play and quit. DIY means as many different things to people as punk meant to people 20 years ago. At this point, DIY and punk are empty labels. For every 20 worthless bands that surface, there are 3 bands you MIGHT hear that are genuine and the people in those bands are sincere, and if you see them that affects you as strongly as that first hardcore shwo you saw. It is an adventure to find good hardcore bands these days, and when you find them, it is extremely rewarding. I credit those rewards to an everlasting underground DIY scene.

Jason: Very important, that's what punk started and for real punks still is, doing things yourself: records, zines, shows. Everything grows but if you aren't involved on a personal level, it shows.

21. What's your dream 5 band line up for a show, bands from any time and place?

Steve: Black Flag w/ Keith, Scott Walker, The Stains, Mark Mallman, The Electric Eels

Jason: Geez that's tough. Black Flag, Minutemen, Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring premiere that caused all the riots, The Smiths and the Dead Kennedys. How about that.

22. Since you play drums, what drummers have influenced your playing style (if any)? Favourite hardcore drumming? (DEEP WOUND 7" is up there!)

Jason: Yes, the drumming by J. on the Deep Wound 7" is amazing. I would have to say Neil Peart from Rush, Lucky from Circle Jerks, George Hurley from Minutemen.

Steve: Lucky Lehrer and Jason Griffin fight it out with bowie knives!

Their myspace.


Papst Benedikt XVI said...

James: Bands will form and disperse, blossom and decay, play and quit. DIY means as many different things to people as punk meant to people 20 years ago. At this point, DIY and punk are empty labels.

yup, I agree on that james and you're the living proof that "at this point , DIY and punk are empty labels" as is your buddy tosh!

just in case you got a better explanation for still owing me a stack of records from the ERADICATE / GOAT SHANTY / HALFULA tour in 2000 I'd be really curious to hear it?

maybe I was mistaken and DIY for you always meant that you rip off people yourself?

and for the record jason didn't rip me off!

Nicky said...

awesome shit dude! hey i linked to your blog on mine! return the favor por favor!

lecky said...

Hi, this is Ian Leck, I heard you are moving to leeds pretty soon, are you gonna be starting a band when you're here? I'm not doing anything right now as sick-fuckin-o broke up last month due to sam's illness. I'd be into having a chat about singing in a band if you're up for it.
Let me know,
Also got a couple of spare rooms in my house if you don't have anything sorted yet.

Velha escola - Nova escola said...

Great blog man , see my blog too , cheers from Brazil .

Anonymous said...

Did that idiot really say that G.I.S.M. had "silly" vocals?
I can't express how much that statement upset me.

Anonymous said...

this was an awesome interview. I've never heard of American Cheeseburger before, but this interview and the answers they give reminds me so much of the band I am in with some of my close friends. it's so great to know that there ARE still people out there who are into making music just to make themselves happy, and that I'm not just floating alone in some sad ocean. If any of the American Cheeseburger guys read this, please shoot me a message at

and if you've got a second check out the music, i think it's right up your alley!