After breakfast at Rote Flora in Hamburg I took the chance to do an interview with the band that stoked me more than any other hc/punk bands in last months. Singer Juan and the guitarists Kenny and Jack emerged as very nice and talkative fellows but read yourselves:
You come from Redwood City/California and Iíve seen this website about Redwood City Hardcore. So, maybe we just start with you telling something about the scene in your hometown.
Juan: This website was started by close friends of ours and for a long time Redwood City didnít have much of a hardcore scene until we started this website and the bands we were in before Comadre. My brother Kenny here books pretty much all the shows in Redwood City and makes sure that all the touring bands get treated right. There are two different venues in Redwood City right now and there is usually 100-200 kids at the shows depending on the show. So, the hardcore scene is pretty good.
You wanna drop some names of Redwood City bands?
Kenny: We are actually the oldest band in Redwood City and the only one that tours a lot, but there is a lot of younger kids and even high school kids in bands like Concrete Warfare or Fischer.
Juan: There is more bands that we are connected with in the San Francisco Area like Funeral Diner, Burial Year or Bullets In.
The internet told me that Redwood City got a big Hispanic community and on the photos of shows there Iíve also seen a lot of Hispanic kids. Actually your names tell me you got a Hispanic background yourselves. Normally hc/punk is like a whitey middle class thing. Can you tell something about the involvement of hc/punk and the Hispanic community in your hometown?
Juan: I think the point is that Redwood City got a district that is mainly Mexican populated while other nearby cities donít have that except for maybe San Francisco. You walk down a street there and you feel like in Mexico City. Thereís a lot of Hispanic people and the billboards and store names are in Spanish. We kind of grew up with that. And with us being Hispanic in a way the name weíve chosen is fitting for what weíre from.
You think this is a difference to other scenes that youíve come through, this strong Hispanic presence in the hc/punk scene?
Juan: There is other scene where when we go there we donít see any Hispanic people but in L.A. there is many Hispanic bands and bands with mainly Hispanic members. In the rest of the country you donít see that too often.
Kenny: You are right about that middle class thing. I think itís pretty awesome that we built up this scene, this community, in our hometown with a lot of different people from different backgrounds that come to shows and that we can hang out with. We grew up there, we went to school there and now there is this scene. I think this is awesome. I like our hometown.
Another thing. On last.fm you are tagged with ďreal screamoĒ and last night at the show you were announced as hc/punk. What do you think about these labels? Do you feel comfortable with both of them? Or which one do you prefer?
Juan: I donít really like labels but on flyers they are useful for the people so they can differentiate what they could like and what not. I donít have a problem with that, especially when they call us a punk band. All of us listen to punk. Thatís what we like, what we grew up listening to. It wouldnít be a wrong thing to define us as that. As for screamo, I think this word has been kind of tainted in a way especially in the states. I think in the 90s the word screamo wasnít really used at all but there was definitely bands that sounded that way. Thatís the kind of bands that I like, these old screamo bands. So if someone calls us a real or original screamo band I wouldnít find that offending. Thatís more of a compliment because we like these old bands like those on Gravity Records.
Your latest record has been released in Europe through Adagio830 the label of Robert Zann. How did this happen? How did you get into contact?
Kenny: He actually got into contact with us. I had seen Zann two times ago when they were in the States and I owned a couple of records that he had put out. So, when we were on our last summer tour with Graf Orlock we were in Massachusetts and I checked emails and he had written us that he wanted to put something with us. He had seen our live dvd and he really liked it. I turned the computer to the rest of the guys and we were all like ďholy shitĒ. We were really honoured. Then Zann came to the States again two months later or so and we set up a show for them in Redwood City and play five or six more shows with them down the California coast. We hung out together and it was awesome. I really like the shit heís doing and he wanted to put out our band. I was really stoked on that.
I believe soÖ Another thing I wondered about is whether it is on purpose that your website is so unstructured and that itís hard to find anything there. Are you anti-internet or something?
Juan: I wonít say we are anti-internet because we use it and especially Myspace a lot. That one on diaryland is really old. We donít really use it any more.
Jack: In the States Myspace is like the main website for every band. Itís so easy to useÖ
Juan: We are planning to have an actual website though. SomedayÖ
So you are quite optimistic about Myspace? You donít say like ďMyspace ruined the sceneĒ or something?
Juan: I wouldnít say so because it makes it easy to get to know new bands and hear what they sound like.
Jack: It definitely helps to tour. Our first tour was booked a lot through Myspace. It helps to build a network across the country or across the world even.
Kenny: I also appreciate when you can download songs. All our four songs there are downloadable. Itís kind of cool to check out bands and get a song or two.
How do you approach writing lyrics? Are you thinking about what to express and then you search for the right words or do you choose the words first and then you think what they could mean?
Juan: A lot of times I just write things and then fit it in with the music. In most cases they write the music first and then I fit words into it and make sure that it sounds good with the music. A lot of the lyrics is about stuff we grew up around, that we are facing. I always try to write something new, to use different words. Itís hard not to sound like every other band.
Would you consider your lyrics or your band political?
Juan: Not as much as other bands but we definitely have opinions on things living in the States right now with the president we have and the wars going on. We are definitely not for any war or for this president.
Jack: I think we approach it a little differently than many other bands. We donít want to preach or force our beliefs in on anybody. We just put our opinions in our songs and let the people find for themselves. We think thatís more effective sometimes.
Juan: With other bands it is often like preaching to the choir. Most people that come to your shows know what is going onÖ
One of the topics you have songs about is religion like these lines ďit wasnít gravity , it was the witchesĒ. Whatís your stance about religion?
Kenny: I donít think any of us believes in any religion whatsoever. We donít have any gods or pray to anything.
Juan: Especially we donít believe in structured or organized religions.
Kenny: Personally I think that people forget to believe in themselves and instead start following someone else. They start to believe in words in old books that donít have any meaning to them. They pretty much forget whatís going on in their own lives and the things that they are going through... Iíd like to say that I do believe in something: I believe in myself!
Jack: I think when people want to believe in something thatís okay but when it starts to affect other people or when they try to force their beliefs in on other people thatís when it is becoming a bad thing.
In Germany there is some people that compare the invasion of the Iraq to the fight of the Allies against Nazi Germany because now like then it is a fight against a fascist government which should be supported. I mean at least concerning Germany I personally appreciate a lot that the US came and saved me from becoming member of the Hitler JugendÖ What do you think about that?
Jack: Maybe the idea of fighting fascism is a disguise for the actual motives of the war. I would rather believe that the motives are more gaining power and money and control than fighting fascism. We donít endorse that especially when the small men have to fight the big menís war and die for motives they donít believe in so that rich men can become more powerful. So, I can see what you mean from the possible German standpoint but it definitely looks different to us as Americans.
Kenny: I feel like this war on terrorism has turned into some kind of tough guy competition like after 9-11 we have to strike back so everyone knows we are still the most powerful country in the world or whatever.
Jack: Personally I believe that the 9-11 attacks are some sort of payback for all the years that the US have fucked the rest of the world and I think a lot of people believe we got what we deserve in a way as far as innocent people dying because innocent people die for the US every day. So, Iím not glad it happened but Iím not surprised and I think it was a good eye-opener for the people who think we were doing only good all over the world which is pretty much not the case at all.
Do you think that there is any other country in the world that is actually doing better than the US?
Jack: Iím sure there is many countries that are doing better than the US. I mean there are other countries that struggle a lot but the US are praising themselves as the best country in the world and the freest country in the world but I think that this is pretty far from the truth. I donít know enough about other countries but according to people whoíve been there countries like Sweden or Switzerland or even Germany seem to be a lot freer societies than what is disguised as freedom in the United States.
Alright, letís finally get back to music. You played a new song last night and you said that itís gonna be released some time soon. What are your plans on that?
Kenny: We are not exactly sure whatís gonna happen. We are starting another US tour in July and we hope to have something out by then. We have four new songs. Maybe we are doing a 7Ē that we are putting out by ourselves or we are doing a split with a European band that we are touring with a little bit on this tour. MaybeÖ
Any last words?
Kenny: Iíve already talked about this last night at the show. This is our fifth or sixth day on this European tour and weíve only been to Germany but so far all our experiences are absolutely amazing, the way bands get treated, getting a place to sleep and feeded two times a dayÖ
Jack: Iíve talked to Funeral Diner before this tour about what to expect and they said that touring in Europe was so much better than in the US but they didnít give any details. Now that we can see it first hand it is amazing, definitely the best touring situation weíve ever had.
Is this why you smile all the time?
Kenny: [laughs] Yeah, I wake up every morning on this tour and I canít believe that this is actually happening. We get treated so freakingly well. The people are amazing. Last night there was a ton of kids and there was just Graf Orlock and us on the bill and I heard there was another show just five minutes away. Itís amazing that all these kids came out to see us two bands that have never played here before. Thank you very much!