Strike Anywhere’s Matt Smith – Transform Awareness in Our Hearts

After 2009’s Iron Front, Strike Anywhere slowed down to only a handful of shows a year. However, 2020 saw them back in the game with the release of their new 7 song EP, Nightmares of the West.

Guitarist Matt Smith however never quite slowed down, as he spent a good chunk of the last ten years touring full time with Senses Fail, as well as a handful of other acts such as ASG.

I caught up with him over good old Zoom to talk about Dr Z amps, how wrong Equipboard can be, and guitars that have had the ever living shit kicked out of them.


KGR: I can’t fucking believe it’s been ten years since Iron Front came out, like almost 11 years.

Matt Smith: (laughs) yeah.

KGR: You guys have always kind of kept your hand in it, but I’m wondering why particularly now seemed like a time you wanted to release new music.

It was never really like an intentional thing to take a step back or to slow down, it’s just life happens.

But originally, we were touring kind of full time, and everybody was getting older, and it was one of those things where we kind of had to stay on tour all the time to be able to make enough money to pay for rent and bills and stuff like that.

So we started kind of doing not just the stuff that we liked to do, but we started just doing more tours just to kind of fill the gaps. And we just kind of got burned out, and we were touring and starting to play you know doing some tours that were less kind of our ideal situations.

Like we were kind of getting pushed to do some more out of the box stuff, and it just started to kind of turn into work. And like we were like, “ahhh let’s just slow down a little bit and just do the stuff that we want”.

And as that happened is right about the time that I got the offer to play in Senses Fail, and I started doing that. And I was doing both, and we were still kind of doing both and I was kind of juggling my time to tour with both bands, and then our drummer Eric, he was working at the 930 club – which is a famous club in DC – and he got an offer to start touring with imagine dragons, like before they were huge so as their drum tech. So he got that job offer, and then they kind of blew up. And it basically got to the point where Eric was doing Imagine Dragons, and I was doing Senses Fail, and we were both super busy touring with that and Strike would just do stuff kind of here and there because those were like our jobs.

And we were still doing stuff but kind of here and there, and then it got to the point where just you know with work, everybody got jobs, started having kids you know the deal. And it was never an intentional thing, but I remember like there was one year, that like we didn’t play a show where we played one show, I was like oh my god; we used to play 200 damn a year.

Like there was one year we did Punk Rock Bowling and that was the only show we played that year, and I remember it being like “this is crazy”. So now, with Eric’s schedule around Dragons and stuff, stuff kind of loosened up a little bit, and I think going back to your point was like why did it take so long to put something out after Iron Front, right?

KGR: I don’t think that there’s an onus on you guys to put on music. It’s just.. It seemed like it just kind of happened (out of nowhere) that the EP came out.

Yeah. You know life kind of happened, and honestly, we have been kicking around. We’ve had an Lp’s worth of songs we’ve been kicking around for eight years, you know.

I think it was a little bit overwhelming for us to try to get a full Lp together. So once we decided “let’s just record what we have and do an EP”, then we just kind of booked the dates with Brian and made it happen.

KGR: I think other than Chorus Of One you’ve done everything with Brian. Is that because that’s who you’re familiar with, or if it’s an intentional thing to have that kind of continuity of sound within all of the records?

Well, we have a very long relationship with Brian, and we were all obviously huge fans of his production before we knew him, because he’d done so many cool things from you know hardcore stuff to Texas Is The Reason, to Cave In – all over the place.

I think when we had just recorded our demo, or maybe when Chorus Of One came out, he kind of reached out to us or somehow through mutual friends… Our bass player Garth knew Brian because he had already recorded this band Count Me Out that Garth played in and… Yeah, somehow we got linked up with Brian; he was a big fan of ours, and then when we met, the relationship was just amazing right out of the gate and just very like-minded.

And honestly, like he just knows us better than anyone. He’s a huge fan of the band, we’re a huge fan of his, and we just know and trust him, and he’s just so passionate about us, it like makes us excited you know and it’s like this synergistic kind of relationship.

We’re not necessarily like opposed to recording with anyone else, but… I don’t know, it’s just such a great working relationship and he knows how to get the best out of Thomas, and him and Thomas work very well together, and they collaborate on melodies, and it’s just such a great positive, fun… It’s just like hanging out with like an old buddy, you know, and it’s just such a great relationship.

And you know Brian was extremely prolific, and between me and you, I think he had a similar thing happen in the music world as we did where he was just kind of burned out on it, and he was doing all this stuff and taking all these gigs that weren’t necessarily like the old days where it was him doing all these bands that he loved and he was just taking stuff for work.

And I think he got burned out, and then he kind of stopped doing it actually for a few years. He stopped engineering records for years, and then he reached back out to us and was like hey, I got this new studio I’m doing it again, and I think that’s part of where we’re like “oh, we can just go record with Brian again, let’s go, let’s set a date”.

So some of it was us kind of toying with the idea of getting something together, and we were like well, who are we going to do it with?
Like who do we even talk to, you know? We’ve only recorded with Brian forever, and then Brian, I think kind of reached out with to us and was like “hey, I’m ready when you are” and we were like “all right, let’s just do this.”

So I think that was kind of what made it happen to be honest.

KGR: That’s cool. So you guys played the couple of shows in February, I guess, you did the two Hot Water Music nights, and then the one night in New Jersey where you played the first two records.

I would have to assume that there’s a bunch of songs on those two records that you wouldn’t have touched by playing live or otherwise in quite some time. How was it going back and playing those songs that maybe you haven’t thought about in five, six, seven years?

Yeah you’re right. I mean some of those songs; we only played for maybe a handful of months when the record came out. And then for whatever reason, they just never got played again.

I mean, it’s really honestly fun kind of going back and relearning them, and especially on Exit English, I wrote a lot of the guitar parts on that. So for me, it kind of took a minute but it was kind of muscle memory, and it came back. But having to show.. Well first of all Mark the other guitar player; you know he had never played some of those songs at all.

KGR: Yeah of course.

But I mean, I only have so many tricks, it’s all kind of the same stuff recycled (laughs). So it wasn’t terribly tough figuring them out.

But I mean, it was really fun. Like you know, all of us listening to it on our own and then just getting in the room, and some of them we’d play it, and we’d be like “that was pretty good”, and some of them we’ll be like “woof, we’re going to have to run that one a few more times, we’re going to have to figure that out.”

But yeah, you know bands generally only have a bag of about the same 20, 25 songs they pull from for shows and you play 14 of them, and it’s really fun when you get to do special things like that force you to learn things that aren’t just your usual go-to.

KGR: Yeah, that’s true. I guess those shows I presume fell after the recording of the EP?

Yeah they did.

KGR: So I was wondering if they would have had any impact on the way the EP came out, but I mean, if that was the timeline, it wouldn’t really have fallen that way at all.

I flew up for the New Jersey show (from Florida), that was a lot of fun.

That was fun man.

KGR: I had a friend in NJ come with me and she had somehow never heard you guys, and after the first song she was like “they’re so fucking tight, this is ridiculous” (laughs)

Yeah we rehearsed a lot for those (laughs). There was something around… I can’t remember if we recorded right before those shows… We also did the thing with The Bouncing Souls in December. We did a bunch of shows around that. Yeah, we did like a tour, actually. I think it was like a two-week tour; it was a lot for us.

And I can’t remember honestly what month we recorded it in, but it was around some shows.

It was fun to have that little burst of activity after not having done stuff for a while. And honestly, we had a lot of plans for this year that have fallen through now, you know. Like we’re supposed to be in Europe right now.
We had this three week-long like amazing festival run lined up with like the best – it was the best run on paper that we would have ever had as a band as far as like festivals… And it was just a stacked tour, and of course, it’s not happening now. And you know we were going to do Punk Rock Bowling, and all that again this year, so.

KGR: I wonder about that with bands that have put out records this year, if there was any temptation to hold over until things calm down and you can “support the record” better or whatever.

We did, we talked about that for sure. And then we’re like man, we wait this long, like how much of a difference does it really make.

And you know one thing that has changed since Iron Front came out, the music industry is so different now. Everything that we knew about how things were done are really not done that way anymore.

Like that was the whole thing about an LP versus an EP versus singles, now you can just do whatever you want – you can put two songs on Spotify, and you can put out other stuff later. It’s not like it used to be where you had to have an LP or else people weren’t going to buy the physical copies – it really doesn’t matter. Things are just completely different, and it’s kind of exciting.

We have a good friend Justin who helped us a little bit, like he’s in touch with things these days, and he also helps out The Balancing Souls with some of their stuff, he helped Avail with their reunions, and he has his finger on the pulse a little bit more of how things work these days.

And he was like guys; you don’t have to do things like they were done in 2003 anymore, like, there’s a way to do things. And we’re like (old man voice) “okay, thanks, Justin” (laughs).

So honestly, he kind of helped spearhead us getting this thing together and making it happen as well. So big thanks to him.

KGR: It’s weird, I see like guys on YouTube like newer musicians talking about “the album is dead” and you don’t need to make any albums any more, and bands should just release singles. And it’s like dude; I like records.

Yes!

KGR: Like not even just the physical copy, it’s like I like when songs like work as a unit rather than just having standalone songs.

Well, exactly. Like you know, we’re kind of old school in the way that we always thought like ” side one versus side two of the LP. Like these songs have to flow and you take a break, and you flip it over, and you start it again, and it’s like a whole separate side”. And you know the great thing about LPs are that are meant, you’re not just clicking through tracks on a Spotify or whatever.

You put it on and like you’re going to go do stuff and you have to get up and move the needle around. So generally, you’re going to listen to it through, and bands put a lot of time and energy into sequencing albums. And honestly digital media has kind of killed that because you just skip around however you want.

And you’re right; there’s definitely an art form to sequencing a record and taking people on a journey. And it’s like writing a setlist for a show; it’s like you want to have things kind of ebb and flow and push and pull.

KGR: Even like you guys put the cover on the tail end of the record, because that’s where the cover goes. It goes into like the last like two or three songs of whatever the seven songs; that’s the logical place for a cover you.

Yeah another thing is you know our buddy Mates from Blocko passed away, and like that was kind of a… Not a spur-of-the-moment decision, but we were already going in to record the songs, and we were like “maybe we could do this since we’re already going to be recording, let’s just add on one more song and just track it if we have time.”

And so, it’s funny, that band Blocko, they were friends of ours that we met on one of our first European tours. Actually, I think we played with them in England on our first European tour and kind of hit it off. And we invited them to support us on our second or third European tour on some of the dates, so they supported us over there.

We kind of became close friends, and then they came over to the states. I was living in Baltimore at the time; they came over to the states and ended up recording an LP that I co-produced with my friend Chris in Baltimore. So the cover that we recorded, I actually played guitar and engineered the original recording of that song.

KGR: Okay, that’s cool.

It was kind of full circle, and it was kind of really neat to be able to do that.

Yeah, they came and stayed and lived at my house for a couple of weeks while we made that record, and we were good buddies with those guys, and it was cool to be able to pay tribute to Mates in that way.

KGR: Lloyd’s a big motherfucker to have in your house for an extended period.

Yeah, absolutely, man. He’s one of our favorites, and he’s toured with us a ton over the years. I don’t know if you knew that, but he’s like sold merch for us on like tons of European tours.

KGR: I think I saw a picture that he posted of like having Thomas up on his shoulders at Deconstruction back in the day.

Yeah, that was in Germany. But he’s a great personal friend. And he stayed with me in the states multiple times, and I stayed with him over in England. He was going to be with us on our European tour that we’re supposed to be on right now, but… yep.

KGR: So the next thing I wanted to ask you about was, so going from Changes Is A Sound into Exit English kind of seemed like a heavier or like a darker record. There was a couple of drop D songs on there, and then the last two songs on there, probably like the heaviest things you guys have done.

And then dead FM went in kind of a different direction, it kind of sounded to me like it was more acoustic guitar written obviously not played on acoustic guitars.

I was curious if that was like a reaction to Exit English, you were like “let’s go the other way” or if just the way that it panned out.

All of those things were kind of intentional, I would say.

So we did Change Is A Sound, and you know it’s all in E, and it’s all pretty fast. And then… I don’t know we just wanted to try different stuff, and we just wanted to… It was just an experimental phase, you know we’re still pretty young and still trying to figure out our sound.

I was like “all the songs last time were fast, let’s try to write some more kind of mid-tempo, some slower stuff”. You know obviously, there’s still fast songs on there, but it was, you know going to the drop D. I’d say that records probably about half drop D, or maybe a third.

But going to that did change the sound a little bit. And I think I was kind of consciously trying to write songs that weren’t as fast all the way through. Or you know fast parts, but more mid-tempo stuff. So it was a little bit conscious, just trying to like kind of step outside the box.

I remember, I think it was Darren from Jade tree, or maybe it was Dave Wagenschutz, can’t remember which one. But they were like “this is great – honestly, it kind of sounds like a third record, not a second record.”
Like they thought like it was a little bit maybe initially too much of a departure from the first record, or more than they were expecting.

So I think it was a slightly conscious effort, and then I also think that dead FM was a little bit of a…

Well, first of all, a lot of our songs are written on acoustic, honestly. I’d say the bulk of the songs.

KGR: All the way back to Change Is A Sound?

Even from Change… Well, yeah. I mean like Three On A Match on Change Is A Sound, it’s more of like a jangly acoustic song. At the time it would have been Matt Sherwood and myself, and Garth our bass player, and even Eric our drummer, he wrote some of those songs as well.

But a lot of us do write on acoustics.

But I think with Dead FM; it was a little bit trying to be a little bit more folky, a little bit more jangly. We were kind of going for another, just trying to kind of step outside the box. And on that record with the production, we were trying to use a little bit less gain, and we were using like some telecasters and some semi-hollow body guitars and stuff on that one.

And we were playing with the tones a little bit more on that one, instead of just like here’s a rectifier tone, here’s a JCM800 tone, and just tracking all the guitars with the same kind of meaty tone.

Well, first of all, Change Is A Sound was all JCM800s and JMPs I believe; Exit English was all Rectifiers.

KGR: That makes sense; it make a lot of sense.

It was all rectifiers.

KGR: Were you boosting those Marshalls or just going straight into them?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve probably owned four to five JCM800s over the years. So like the one that I used on Change Is A Sound was I think it was the two channel; it was a two-channel 50 watt 800. And then the other one would have maybe been like Brian had a JCM800, and he also had like a JMP, but they were both the 2203s I think or 2204s – they were the single-channel ones.

But yeah, we pretty much always boosted them. McTernan likes to use a Turbo Rat, that’s one of the things that he’s used over the years, that or an (MXR) Micro Amp, we’ would use to boost the 800s.

But the 800 that I have now just for whatever reason it’s not modified, but it’s super gainy. It’s a 2203 100 watt, but I’m only running it at 50 watts. I have the two of the tubes out, and I usually use a various different number of boosts live. But I’ll use like a, I’ve got like a Bogner (Ecstacy) Blue pedal I use sometimes or a Micro Amp. I was using a Fulltone, but I’m not going to be using that anymore.

KGR: Someone had taken a picture of your pedalboard when Senses Fail was in Australia a couple of years ago and put it up on a Equipboard. There was a couple of boosts in there, there was an Xotic Effects RC booster, there was a Pro Co Rat and then an octave pedal…

That’s all completely wrong (laughs)

KGR: Really? I thought I saw the picture, that’s funny that it’s completely wrong though.

Well it could have been, maybe it could have been Gavin, the other guitar player who replaced me. That’s probably what he was using.

Because when I toured Australia with Senses Fail, I was probably using a Bogner Blue, just because it has the two stages, you know, it’s like a regular amp sound and then boosted and then boosted again.

And I used a Pog, (EHX) Micro Pog I think that I would use with just the sub-octave turned up, and I would cut that for like the single string like heavy parts just kinda add in that sub-octave. And Zach used a wah pedal, but I never used the wah pedal.

But yeah, I’m trying to think what else I would have used. Probably just like a noise gate, a boost, delay, like a boss delay and then that Pog for the sub-octave stuff.

KGR: That makes more sense, that makes a lot more sense.

Another thing I was going to ask you is if you approach your tone for recording differently to how you approach playing stuff live.

For example some bands will lean back on the gain to make recordings more clear, but then turn it up live to get more intensity live.

Generally, we always just kind of try to do pretty much what we do live.

Well, I think like what we talked about earlier with Dead FM, I think I was intentionally trying to use less gain. Whereas on Exit English, I was intentionally trying to use more gain and have more low end, and then on Dead FM, we tried to dial it back.

And then Iron Front was just kind of back to more to the Change Is A Sound like Marshal’s with Gibson’s, and then that’s pretty much just kind of what we did on the new one as well.

KGR: I feel like all of the guitars I’ve seen you playing (live) are Gibsons. There’s that yellow SG I’ve seen you with a ton. I saw you play an LP Junior at one of the Fests that I saw you guys. And I’ve seen pictures of you playing a black Les Paul, but I don’t think I’ve seen you playing anything other than some variation of Gibson in Strike Anywhere.

Yeah! So (pulls out a black Les Paul) this is a 77; it’s a Les Paul Pro. And it was P90s, but it’s been routed for humbuckers. And I played this a little bit in the Exit English era, but it’s just a little bit heavy. So I kind of retired that, and then (pulls out a white LP Junior) this is that junior you were talking about. This is one of those Gibson “guitar of the week” series. It’s the Les Paul Junior Nashville, and I got a Duncan to make a custom mini humbucker that’s under the P90 cover. I did use that for a while, I took that on like a Japan tour, and I used it just for maybe a little bit of the Iron Front era.

And then this guitar (pulls out a red SG), this is an 81 SG firebrand, and this was Matt Sherwood, our old guitar player’s guitar. And he bought it off our bass player Garth’s brother.

KGR: What’s the saddles on it? They look darker; that’s not an original, right?

They’re like black, like graphite saddles or something I don’t know. Definitely, none of my guitars everything’s all swapped out, nothing’s really original.

So I bought an Orville Les Paul custom in Japan, it’s a black Les Paul Custom. And I used it for a while on the dead FM era; I think I’m playing it in the Infrared video maybe.

I used it for a while, and it was great, it was kind of heavy, and there was like a weird spot on the neck that kind of bugged me out. Like it buzzed out like in the middle of the neck, and I ended up trading that to Matt Sherwood, and then he played it; he still has it. He played it for years and years and years after that.

And then I got this guitar out of the trade, and then like a little bit of money. But I originally borrowed money from Jade Tree to get a Gibson SG 61 reissue, it was an 89 I think. That was like the first nice guitar that I had. I had a couple of others, I got a Gibson Les Paul special and stuff, but like I got that, I was like “ooh, this is like a nice guitar”.

And I didn’t even have like the 800 bucks or whatever it was, so I took an advance on my royalties to buy this guitar, and I got it, it was great. And I played it for years, and I played that in the Changes Is A Sound era.

I eventually ended up selling it. But my buddy Ryan Shulkin, he was in a band that I was also in called liars academy in Baltimore, he was a band called Cross My Heart, and this (holds up the yellow SG) was his, the yellow SG was his, and it has been broken. The neck has been completely off this guitar multiple times. It’s had a full refret, a partial refret; the neck has been broken and fixed. You can see there are cracks running through the guitar.

But this one man I don’t know. There’s something about this one. Like I’ve got 12 guitars now and I’ve probably had another six or seven over the years, maybe ten that have come and gone. And this one, this is it. I don’t know why. I love it.

I mean the back of it. It’s just destroyed (turns it over – it’s destroyed). But it just sounds better; it just feels better than the other ones, I don’t know why.

KGR: I love a guitar that’s had the living shit kicked out of it.

Yeah I mean people look at it like “oh my god what year is it”, I’m like “it’s 81, it’s just destroyed”.

But so in Senses Fail, we had a hookup with ESP for a while, and I got this one here (holds up an ESP E-II Eclipse). It’s one of those E-IIs and this guitar; I mean I always wanted one of those Les Paul Custom Lites because they’re thin. Teppei from thrice had one and a couple of people I knew had them, and I always wanted one, but they were kind of expensive, and I never could afford one.

And then I mean this guitar honestly plays and sounds great, I’ve used it like once or twice with Strike, but whenever I take it out, the other guys in the band are like “bring the SG man, what are you doing? That’s your guitar; you got to bring that one”. And I really do love that guitar; I mean it’s my favorite guitar.

KGR: Every time I see a white SG – obviously that’s not white, it’s like faded cream or whatever, but every time I see a whitish SG, I always think of Ian MacKaye.

So it’s not like the same year or anything, but it’s very close to the one that he plays. Actually, it’s pretty similar.

My buddy Gavin who’s in Senses Fail, he used to be Bad Religion’s guitar tech, and he still helps them out sometimes and stuff like that, so he’s really good friends with Brian Baker. He actually sent like a picture of that guitar to Brian Baker and was like “check this one out”, and Brian Baker was like “yeah that kind of looks like Ian’s” (laughs) That’s so cool.

But you know, obviously I was a huge Fugazi fan. So I don’t know if it was a subconscious thing or what, that I ended up with that guitar, but yeah.

KGR: Yeah I mean that’s a killer looking guitar.

So you’ve also played a little bit with ASG, how’d that come about?

So I live right now in like the Wilmington North Carolina area, Carolina beach specifically.

ASG is from here, and I was playing with a drummer named Johnny Collins down here – an amazing drummer – we were kind of playing some music for a little while, and at the time he was in a band called Wild Lights, which is my buddy playing drums and Jason Shi from ASG on guitar.

It was like a ASG kind of side project thing he did that they did on Relapse or whatever, and the recording was just Jason kind of playing everything, and then my buddy playing drums.

And they had done some stuff here, and they were playing some shows, and they wanted to put a live band together. So I got recruited through my drummer buddy to play guitar for that, and Jason and I ended up hitting it off – we’re pretty close to friends now, we hang out pretty regularly.

But this is about 2015 maybe. I ended up playing for that, and we did a few live shows, and it was really fun, because it was like drop… Not drop C, it was like drop B maybe, I mean it was low. Senses Fail was dropped C, this was a half-step down from that. No, I think it was drop B.

But either way, it was really really fun doing that and like super riffy, very different from a lot of stuff that I’ve kind of grown-up playing and kind of got me outside the box a little bit.

And then they just hit me up at some point because their other guitar player, like literally his wife was due with a baby when they had booked this Psycho festival out in Vegas. And they’re like “he can’t come, like her due date is the day of the show, but we’re already booked. Do you want to come out and do the festival?” And I was like “yeah, man, absolutely”.

So I ended up learning all the ASG songs and going out and having a great time with them, and then I actually filled in for them again last summer – They went out to do Psycho fest again and did a few dates in southern California, and I got to go out and play on that as well.

So I’m their backup guy whenever Jonah can’t do it, I get to hop in.

But I love all those guys; I’m good friends with them. And we surf together, and hang out here and stuff.

It’s just really fun playing that style of music, it’s just so different than Strike Anywhere, and I love getting to do more riffy and heavy and lower tuned stuff, so it’s really fun playing that music.

KGR: When you do that, do you just jump in and use the other guy’s stuff? Or I mean, I know that you use your E-II, but do you use their amps and stuff? Or how does that work?

Well, the west coast stuff was all backline, and it was like, I think I used like an Orange Rockerverb or something, festival backline stuff.

But yeah when I was practicing with them in town, I think I played their Rectifier that was Jonah’s or one of Jason’s.

But actually, the only other head that I have here in town that I play with is the Dr. Z actually. It’s a Maz 38; it’s kind of like a Vox-y AC 30-ish thing.

I use that in Wild Lights. I’ve got a Marshall 810 that I’ve had for… I toured with in Strike Anywhere for a little while and it kind of started getting pretty beat up, and I was like “I’m going to retire this thing from the road”.

I have it here, and it’s just been like kind of sitting neglected forever, and I was playing that when I was playing with that Wild Lights group. I’m playing this like Marshall 810 with the Dr. Z head with a Hot Plate, so I can blast the head like full-on and get like the power section saturation with the pre-amp saturation and then I was boosting it, it with like the Bogner pedal as well.

But it actually sounds pretty heavy and pretty good for like a weird class A head, that’s not really meant to do that, you know.

KGR: That’s cool.

But yeah, I’d love to have like a really nice like high gain head as well one day. Like you know, you were talking like Saldano, or even an Orange. I’ve never really had like one like that

KGR: Well, I mean… You gotta get the Kemper man. We’re getting to that age where you just gotta throw it in, y’know.

Get the kemper and get a little power amp or get the powerhead, and you’re good to go.

KGR: Get the Rigs Of Dad going.

Last thing I wanted to ask you about was Evening Shadows your new band, tell me about that.

Yeah so Evening Shadows. I’ve got a buddy named Matt Hearn who lives down here. He’s actually kind of part of the reason why I ended up moving from, I lived in Richmond, and I ended up in Baltimore for about ten years. And part of the reason why I ended up down here is my buddy Matt Hearn, he owns a local kind of punk rock club down here called Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern.

He’s played in bands, and he’s a punk rock guy, and he’s always wanted to do something. We’ve talked about it for like eight years, and then last year, we ended up you know having some beers on the porch, and kind of like throwing together a couple of songs.

It’s just very like kind of simple; we wanted to do kind of like Ramones type punk meets kind of like down-strokey Marked Men kind of jangly, lower gain. Kind of more like Ramones-y punk meets more garagey type punk stuff.

We kind of threw together a couple of songs, and then we needed some other people to play with.

So our buddy Scott Key who’s the drummer from ASG – who I get along with great and I’d played with – we hit him up to play drums, and then our friend Tyler Wolf from Valiant Thor had recently moved to the area from Texas. I’ve known him, I mean we were together on Warped tour in 2005, I’ve known him forever. And he’s known Scott because ASG and Valiant Thor are both on Volcom and they’ve toured together and played shows together a bunch over the years.

He’s like just like a great dude; we’re like “well, that’s a no-brainer, he’s here we’ll make him play with us”. And then there’s a guy named Bronco who lives in town, who like hangs out at Reggie’s and hung out with him a little bit here and there. And we kind of got established and started playing a little bit, and then we brought in this dude Bronco, and he’s playing second guitar.

But it’s really fun, man; the whole thing is like we’re all older dudes, except for Bronco you know we’re all in our 40s, and most of us are dads. And it’s just like get together, have some beers once a week.

And we’re not really trying too hard, but the songs are coming out cool, but it’s kind of a little bit tongue-in-cheek, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But it’s really fun, and it’s a super catchy, simple punk rock songs, we’re having a ton of fun with it, man.

KGR: That’s cool.

We actually recorded five songs; one of them’s on Spotify now. But we recorded five songs, and then we just recorded drums yesterday for another five songs. We’re going to finish the tracking next – we’re just doing it on the weekends.

Another couple of weekends we’ll have the other five done. So we’re going to do a ten-song LP. There’s a guy here, a local guy that’s got a label, he’s going to put it out.

KGR: That’s cool, man.

We were supposed to be playing the fest actually this year, but that’s not happening. But we’re just going to you know probably whenever stuff happens again; we’ll just do kind of regional fun stuff here and there. And you know play shows within four or five-hour drive.

KGR: That’s cool. Actually, you just reminded me I was supposed to be playing Fest this year. I have a band with; I don’t know if you remember a No Idea band called North Lincoln from Grand Rapids.

Yes, absolutely.

KGR: Kevin wanted to do a couple of different bands, and he asked me to play in his Samiam rip off band (laughs).

He went in and recorded the drums with one of the guys from Bong Mountain. He sent me down the drum tracks, and then I recorded my stuff on my Focuswrite in my bedroom (laughs), sent it back up, and they released it on Spotify and stuff.

That’s awesome.

KGR: Yeah. It’s good you could do that shit these days.

You know the craziest recording experience that I’ve had was Senses Fail did a split with Man Overboard, and we kind of covered each other’s songs, and we each did like one new song.

So I think the new song we had was from a recording, it was an outtake from a recording or something.

But for the cover, I was sent basically like a click track with programmed drums. I had like a Digi 02 here, and I tracked a DI’d clean guitar that had a plug-in on it. And then it got sent out to California, and they reamped it through an actual amp, and put it on the recording, and tracked the drums later.

But I basically recorded a DI’d guitar to program drums to a click, which was crazy.

KGR: That is crazy.

But it sounds great, the recording came out great.

KGR: Anyway thanks very much for your time. It’s good talking to you man.

Yeah, nice to chat with you man, thanks so much, appreciate it.

Brian Kelleher

I’ve been playing guitar since my brother taught me to play Wild Thing when I was seven years old. Over the years I’ve owned dozens of guitars and who knows how many pedals, playing everything from punk to polka. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.