Tags: emmer effer, felony records, hardcore, punk, punk rock
Kevin Wells, guitarist and co-vocalist of the LA-based punk band, drops details about the upcoming debut album and Emmer Effer’s thought-provoking lyrics and hard-charging sound.

Emmer Effer - Photo Credit: Tali Winshman

LA-based punk four-piece Emmer Effer is set to release its debut album, From The Bottom Down, on October 6th via Felony Records.  Jimmy (vocals), Kevin (guitar, vocals), and Adam (bass) grew up in the South Bay punk rock milieu while Jake (drums) was raised on punk in the Pacific Northwest.  Their combined musical experiences and influences have resulted in a straightforward punk sound that is fast and no-nonsense.

Emmer Effer formed in 2012 and the band released its first EP, Dead Men Tell No Lies, on its own label in 2013. The band members signed to Felony Records last year and released a second EP, The People Are The Answer.

Early this year the members of Emmer Effer recorded their debut full-length with Ian Peterson (Pennywise, Chaos Delivery Machine) at Screaming Leopard Studios in Hermosa Beach, California.  Kevin Wells breaks details about the album, the recording process, the band’s history, and more in the following interview. 

Hi Kevin! It’s an exciting time for you as you gear up for the release of your album From The Bottom Down on October 6th via Felony Records. How are the preparations going? Will you be touring in support of the LP?

I'm not really sure what preparations are needed... heh heh... I believe Felony has placed the order and we’ve hired a rad PR guy in Mike Cubillos with Earshot Media, but other than that, it's business as usual... We practice once a week and are constantly working out new tunes and when shows come around, we try to play them...

The time is ripe for your socio-politically conscious lyrics and hard-charging sound. How much of your new album covers current political and social themes?

There are quite a few political songs... “Pick A Hand” was written about the idea that we need to choose either the Republican or the Democrat if we want our vote to count... Then there are a few others that can really be applied to any administration since Kennedy got shot... Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, the arc of change is definitely slow, but moving in a positive direction... We'd just like to see it sped up a bit and see changes that affect us positively in our lifetimes... That's probably not a direct quote from MLK, or maybe it is... I don't know... But yeah, I'd say that maybe a third of this album is directly political...

We premiered your short, sharp, and straightforward tune “She Bite” here – and it turns out it’s a love song! How did you shape it into a punk number?

All of the open chords used in the original acoustic song I recorded as KW and the Killer Whales are easily transferable to punk if you just play them faster as power chords with distortion... I honestly thought it would be funny to just play at practice really quick while everyone was still getting ready and then get into our real songs, but the band really liked it and we started that practice banging out that song and making it an Emmer Effer song... I had issues with it being on the album because it's a love song, but the other guys really wanted it on there, so we kept it... I think my girlfriend appreciates its presence on the record...

Are you all based in Los Angeles or another part of California? Are you seeing, or maybe personally experiencing, the detrimental effects of living under the thumb of a divisive and destructive President?

We are all based in Los Angeles, yes... Being in Los Angeles with its large Latino population, obviously the immigration stuff and now the plan to eliminate DACA is an issue that affects many people here... The people in power are slowly chipping away at our morale and dividing us using fear and hateful speech to rally poor, uneducated racists to get their racist, pro-rich policies through... When we sit back and say, “Well, I'm not Latino, I wasn't brought here illegally as a kid, so this stuff doesn't affect me,” we start losing as a nation... It took more than females for females to get the right to vote... It took more than African Americans for the civil rights movement to take hold... It's going to take more than just gay people for gay people to get equal rights, and it's going to take more than just Latinos standing up and fighting this issue for us to defeat this mindset as a nation...

How did you connect with Felony Records?

I've known Ron McIntyre since he started the label in high school back in 1996... He was really good friends with Ben Beverly, who played bass in the first band I was in and recently passed away... If Ben was cool with Ron, I assumed he was alright, but Ron and I never really liked each other back then and thought the other was a Barney, but we were always cordial... I remember thinking that Bees In Your Mouth, which was the first ever Felony release, was a dumb name for a compilation, but then I saw Ron had Deviates and Lunacy on it, and those bands are, or were, fucking awesome... We've stayed in contact over the years... If you get the chance, search for the song “I Love You” by Lunacy... You can thank me later... Anywho, I gave a rough mix of the The People Are the Answer EP to Kris Manning, the other Felony owner, just to listen to it, and to my surprise he called back that week and said Felony wanted to release the 7"... And then, again to my surprise, they said they wanted to release a full length...

From The Bottom Down is your debut album, which follows up 2 EPs. What has the musical and/or thematic progression been like from the EPs to this LP?

I don't know that we have progressed in regards to style or themes… Obviously Jake, Jimmy, and Adam have improved their individual skills tremendously since we started, but I think our songs and style are all the same as they've been... We are what we are, for better or worse... There are a couple songs on this album that I wrote in the early 2000s and in Portland before we started this band, and then there are songs we wrote just a couple months prior to recording... We took some time to break down some songs and reconstruct them, such as “Koch Bros”... That's one of the things I appreciate about this band... No matter what song Adam or I bring to the practice room, the band adds their own individual flavors or styles and we come up with a way better song... Lyrically, our songs have always included themes such as politics, life's curveballs (family, drugs, love, anger, death), and Los Angeles Dodger pitchers... We've got a song called “Clayton Kershaw Jedi Master” that Felony released digitally in 2015, and this album includes a song called “Sombreros To The Sky”, which is about Fernando Valenzuela's no-hitter for the Dodgers against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1990...

What was it like working with Ian Peterson (Pennywise, Chaos Delivery Machine)?

Ian was awesome!!! He started hitting me up to do the record right after we recorded the last EP... He was excited to work with us and you could feel that excitement talking to him over the phone... He was down to work within our budget and he knew that we wanted to do a shitload of songs in just three days... Turns out we needed four days to complete the 19 songs, but Ian is the one who pushed us to get the best from each of us in a short time... He just understood the sound we wanted and how to get us there within our time frame... And then the week after we finished recording, he was already done mixing and mastering it... Ian is a fucking energy drink-fueled machine... It helps that he's a huge Misfits fan too...

You released a video for the anthemic track “What Was Your Name?”. The lyrics ask, “What are you gonna do?... / Will you stand or will you fuckin’ fold? / It’s up to you.” When you wrote this, were you specifically thinking about the dire socio-political situation in the US or the general scheme of things?

Heh heh... That's an interesting take on it, but it actually has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with suicide... It's a serious thing that has affected my life and the lives of many others way too closely... Luckily, I've never felt the want or need to check myself out ahead of schedule, but I hope those in need reach out to others to get help, instead of reaching for a razor blade, before it's too late... There's help available... I wish I could have been there for my friend, Brent...

I understand the origins of your band name, but I’m wondering how and why you chose it – and if you heard the expression in a movie, maybe?

I was in Portland at the time, and used to call my kids little motherfuckers when they were infants, lovingly of course... I noticed at the park one day that I let one slip out and got shot a look from a mother sitting nearby... I opted to start calling them little emmer effers... Then I was drinking and playing guitar one night and decided I'd start a band called The Emmer Effers when I eventually returned to LA... I called Jimmy and told him my idea was for him to sing and for Adam to play bass... He told me Jake would be down to play drums... After the first or second practice, Jake suggested we just go with Emmer Effer, instead of The Emmer Effers, and a name was born... Adam hated the name then and still hates the name today, and will undoubtedly hate the name tomorrow as well...

Were you all in other punk bands before forming Emmer Effer in 2012?

Jake was in a band called The Moon in Korea back in 2009... It was more like indie rock than punk, I would say... You can find their EP, actually, on the Emmer Effer Records Bandcamp page... I highly recommend it... I played in a punk band in the South Bay called NoBigDeal from 1994 until about 2002 or something like that... You can find that stuff at the Emmer Effer Records Bandcamp page, as well... heh heh... This is the first band adventure for Jimmy and Adam... Jimmy only has car singing experience... Adam had a bass in high school and parts of college, I think, but had long since sold it by the time Emmer Effer started... He played a guitar as a bass when we first started...

When you’re not involved in the intensity of recording or performing, are you just four chill dudes?

I guess, but that really depends on who you ask and when you ask them... I am biased, but yeah, I'd say we're all pretty normal and level-headed… Adam is a bit out there, but that's why we love him... I think being relatively normal has helped us keep the same members in the band for all five years... We've had our blowouts where we yell at each other, but we've known each other for so long that it is never taken negatively or personally, and we always come out of those moments further ahead... Except that one time when Jimmy yelled at me at that one bar on Melrose in Hollywood… I still haven't forgiven him for that... He was out of line… haaaaaaaaaaaa...

Who do you want to get away from in your tune “Emmer Effer”? I mean, I can guess, but…

I don't know... Jimmy wrote those lyrics... If I had to guess though, I would say the who in question is more of a generalized person or situation from which one realizes they need to be separated for the betterment of their own personal, physical, spiritual, and/or emotional growth as a living being finding their way in world that cares neither for them nor their loved ones... It may also be about the time when Jimmy and I went to a party years ago and I had to shit in a park on the way to the party... The side of the building I used to poop against didn't come with toilet paper, so I had to use my shirt to wipe...I ditched the shirt and went shirtless to the party... Loose stool always makes for good lyrical fodder...

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