Tony Palermo (Papa Roach), Luke Pabich (Good Riddance), Jake Desrochers (The Lonely Kings), and Tom Kennedy (Fury 66) of rock hybrid super-group Coercion 96 spill details about their blazin’ new EP.

Hey guys!  Wow, so you’ve reformed Coercion 96 after a two decades-long absence on the music scene and you have an upcoming EP titled Exit Wounds coming out July 1st on Bird Attack Records.  Why did you decide to get back together now and who is currently in the band?

JAKE: Luke, our guitar player, reached out to me after many years and the dream of Coercion 96 was reborn.  The band had a special place in my heart as it validated my spirit for harder rock and it was good to know I could hang with musicians I really looked up too. It just clicked when we got together and instead of butting heads, we combined forces to produce something unique in sonic force. It's funny, 20 years later it felt exactly the same walking into the studio. It was where I needed to be.

LUKE: The band/music we created 20 years ago has haunted me. I felt like the band had left a creative vision unfinished. Ultimately, the band was brought back together to finish something it had started. It is all the same members with exception of the drummer. Our original drummer, Sean Sellers from Good Riddance, was not interested in the project at the time, so I recruited my good friend Tony Palermo to play drums on the recording.

Coercion 96 is an essentially a super-group because you all have serious history in other punk/rock bands (Papa Roach, Good Riddance, The Lonely Kings, and Fury 66).  What was (or is) it like to juggle more than one musical act?

TOM: It's about organization and dedication.  Balancing our work and family lives is an absolute challenge, but we love doing this.

JAKE: I don't really see it as a juggle, but more of a separate entity.  There's many more layers to music and being in a band that are rarely recognized. It's an emotional connection. You love more than one person in your lifetime and remember those experiences and feelings differently.  I'll always make time for music if it sticks to my heart. Coercion 96 did just that.

LUKE: So far it hasn’t been an issue… as both bands are part-time.

You joined forces way back in 1996.  What was your musical output at that time?  Were you able to tour as Coercion 96?

TOM: Two demo recordings - We recorded with Bart Thurber at House of Faith (Oakland), and Andy Ernst at Art of Ears (Hayward).

JAKE:  We never toured and our musical output was like, 10 or 12 songs. Sometimes that's all it takes. We’ve only played a house party. So far just one show in ‘96. I remember it well. We ripped it apart. I remember nobody really saying anything to me afterwards. They sort of didn't know what to do with it. I liked the feeling of creating isolation through intensive delivery of the music. Again the emotional connection to the feeling and the music in Coercion 96 is very strong. It's so cool to me how long that feeling has lasted for all of us. I can't speak for the other guys, but I sense their same attachment to this band. There's just something about it.

What was the creative and recording process like for Exit Wounds?  Did you go into the studio with set ideas or did you develop the lyrics and songwriting as you recorded?

JAKE:  We came in with good ideas rooted in the songs we had written 20 years ago and came out with great, re-worked songs. The creative process was very natural and the bar had been raised by the cast involved. Imagine you’re in a room with four of your musical heroes and it's your turn to shine. It improves your game and pushes your creative instincts to new heights. When the goal is outlined by great talent, you owe it to yourself to find your best. Everyone had equal input and shared ideas for changes as we moved along into the songs. We basically rewrote each song, which we had originally written in 1996, then recorded it. What came out the other side was a quality product of teamwork and the willingness to create something great. Since the inception of Coercion 96, this was to be something special in our lives. I love that about it. It's good to have things in life that ignite the creative spark. It makes life worthy of effort. The lyrics came as the songs were being written.  The band has given us hope; the songs inspired us, so I felt the lyrics should follow suit. Out of the darkness and into the light we can find our true nature.

What are some of the lyrics-based themes that you delve into on the EP?

JAKE:  The lyrics come from personal experience or similar related content. Like in " Crime Scene”, I've never committed a major crime and have had the cops after me, but I've definitely felt the sting of consciousness.  I know when I'm doing something wrong, and even if I don't get called out on it, I still carry shame and guilt because there was no accident. I think people rarely talk about the parts of themselves they are afraid to show. I wanted to write about how I really feel. I wanted to sing truth even if it felt weird and I would be afraid to expose my life. The theme would be about real life. Growing older and more bitter, and realizing that you must let go of blame before it kills you. Dealing with a heartbreak and owning your role in it. It's kinda like calling yourself out. I don't believe in self-hate but I also don't believe in ultimate self-confidence.  Somewhere between the lines is where we all live, whether or not we are ready to admit it. Life is a beautiful thing and can be scary when you pull the layers back, but when you are aware of how you feel and how you affect others, sharing your feelings can be a defining factor.

You’ve dropped the raging rock-metal hybrid single “Crime Scene” and the dashing and bashing rock number “Live and Learn”.  What gear are each of you using on those tracks?

JAKE: I like the way you asked about what gear we were using. It describes the intentions involved perfectly. In the vocals I shifted gears for each song. “Crime Scene” was fear and anger. “Live and learn” had loss and acceptance. “Unleashed” had testimonial and truth. “Grass is Greener” had judgement and forgiveness.  I guess it’s safe to say I used emotions and feelings to conjure up the vibe in each song. I'm not going to sing about anything that doesn't mean something to me personally.  If I can connect with a song, then I would hope others would as well. If I don't say the truth, why the hell should they listen?

Is Exit Wounds a one-off EP or is recording a full-length part of the plan?

JAKE: The future is to be determined. Where there is smoke, there's fire.

LUKE: We have many creative ideas and are all very interested in recording a full-length in the future. At this point we are taking baby steps. We hope that the EP leads to something bigger down the road.

You had the opportunity to work with producer Michael Rosen (Rancid, AFI, Testament) who produced and engineered the EP.  What did he bring out in the Coercion 96 sound?

JAKE:  Michael Rosen is a true producer and a consummate professional.  He really pushed us to edit and rework the songs until they sounded true to form. He doesn't argue with the material; he negotiates with it. It's an interesting process where we try new ideas, try old ideas, toss them out or add them in. He seems to really bring out the concise meaning and direction of a song. He acted like a 5th member of the band. When we knew it was right, we knew it and he recorded it. When we were struggling to find it, he made suggestions and kept throwing his hat in the ring. Then when it hit, the when magical combination was found where we all loved it, we laid it down. It's really great how serendipitous it all was. Good music asks for your best and Michael helped us find it.

Will you be touring in support of the EP’s release?

LUKE: We plan to do some regional shows and hope it will open up more opportunities for us.

What was, and is, the intent of your music as Coercion 96?  Are you creating something that you can’t achieve with the other bands you’re in?

TOM: Yes, we wanted to push the envelope on a grander scale both creatively and sonically, yet, without losing the energy.  The last thing any of us want to do is bore people.

JAKE:  The intent is to create music that rings true to ourselves. Twenty years went by and the songs never left us. I'd like to think I have decent taste in music. It's cool to think that songs we wrote in ‘96 still held up and we're relevant in our musical lives today. There's definitely things we can do in Coercion 96 we can't do in our other bands, but each project has its own lane. What I’ve learned along the way in Lonely Kings is so important to everything I do musically. I'm just happy and grateful to be able to help produce quality rock and roll.  Coercion 96 is a special project I'm proud to be a part of.

LUKE: I think it’s safe to say with Coercion 96 we have no boundaries with what we create. We want the music to be representative of the spirit of rock and roll.

What bands/artists have influenced the sound of Coercion 96?

JAKE:  I'll probably differ from the other guys on this one, but I'm going to say Pantera, Quicksand, Rise Against, Of Mice and Men, Beartooth, and some newer, darker stuff. I really like the genre-crossing abilities of Coercion 96. I also like to think we're good enough to be able to hold our own in today's music. Just because we claim ‘96’ doesn't necessarily say we're stuck there.

LUKE: I feel we are a blend of many types of rock, metal, and punk music. Anything ranging from Black Sabbath to Killing Joke to Bad Religion. Heavy, engaging, dynamic with a distinctive California undertone to it.

If, or when, you’re stuck in traffic for hours on end, what music would you want blasting out your window?

JAKE:  I hate traffic and I can't stand listening to the same music for very long. If I had to, I'd say Frank Sinatra so I wouldn't get too edgy while being forced to wait.

TOM: I typically put my iPod on shuffle - It's a surprisingly good DJ sometimes... I listen to a lot of post-punk, UK death-rock bands like Fields of the Nephilim, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Modern English, etc..., in addition to punk and some pop.

LUKE: In that situation I would probably listen to music that kept my nerves in check: Jack Johnson, Bob Marley, Tom Petty.

Tony, how is the upcoming Papa Roach album coming along?  Can you spill any details?

TONY: New record is coming along very well. We're playing around with some dynamic breaks in the music. Adventurous is also a word that comes to mind. We've been known to write ourselves into a block, so we're trying to re-approach that outcome. The lyrics are tackling more social happenings due to what is going on, but at the same time there's always the Papa Roach hopefulness. Can't give any more away!!!

Luke, I think Good Riddance is currently on a European tour.  What has that experience been like?

LUKE: We just got home from tour 2 days ago. I have to say it was probably the best European tour we’ve ever had. It was a mix of headlining club dates, support dates with Pennywise, NOFX, and The Offspring, as well as some festival dates. It was a great mix of intimate club shows and open air festivals… so every day was a different experience. At this point in our career we all appreciate every opportunity we get to travel and play shows for our fans, so we couldn’t ask for a better experience than to be able to travel across Europe doing what we love.

Jake, at The Lonely Kings Facebook page there are posts that read like chapters from a book, titled “TRUTH, LIFE, SACRIFICE the true story of The Lonely Kings”.  Is the band planning on publishing these writings in book form someday?

JAKE:  I'm not sure if we are publishing a book or not. That would be cool for sure. First I must finish it. I'm glad you saw that as well. I started writing it a couple years ago to make sense of my life in the Lonely Kings.  I mean, we didn't necessarily get huge or anything, but we did tour the world and last the test of time. I needed to know why it mattered and if it was worth it. The well of commitment and perseverance I pull from Lonely Kings is unparalleled in my life. It taught me so much more than trying to be a rock star.  It's about family and friends.  Strength through commitment and time. There are some really ugly and really beautiful pieces of the story and since we shared this incredible experience together, I felt it was deemed worthy of a story. I felt Facebook would be a great way to timeline each section. I'm not done yet, but its meaning has begun to appear. Thank you for asking about it. I will begin compiling it together into a book when I'm finished.

Tom, what was your time in punk/hardcore band Fury 66 like?

TOM: Fury 66 was rad!  There were a lot of fun shows.  I was playing in Good Riddance at the time and recruited Russ Rankin to play guitar, which was awesome as Russ ended up writing some to the best songs from that band… It was one of the busiest times of my musical life.