YOU PUT OUT THE FIRST SOLO RECORD [‘DEATH OR JAIL’] IN 2006. WAS THERE EVER ANY QUESTION ABOUT GOING WITH [SAILOR’S GRAVE]?
Actually when I did that initially I was putting together my own label. I was gonna put out that and then the back catalogue of THE DUCKY BOYS, the first two records. And I was also gonna put out a record by BORN TO LOSE. I think I told Andy at Sailor’s Grave that that’s what I was planning on doing and he suggested maybe he could get it on that. So I told him I’d license the solo record to him and BORN TO LOSE, actually BORN TO LOSE never signed with me because I didn’t go to that extent except for a verbal agreement. But he signed them instead. And then we had intended to re-release THE DUCKY BOYS’ stuff, but that just didn’t happen because, as you probably know by now, Sailor’s Grave kinda went off the radar for a while. […]
JUST ABOUT GOING SOLO, WHAT BROUGHT THAT ABOUT?
I don’t even know. There’s stock answers I say to people. But I think if I can remember, we had just made ‘Three Chords and the Truth,’ and even though the record came out in 2006, I had actually made it the year before, so it was shortly after ‘Three Chords’ was done, and we were beginning to look at ‘The War Back Home’ as our next record. And I was going through the songs in my head and I sort of picked, “This one will go on ‘The War Back Home’ and this one won’t,” so the ones I didn’t think would go to the next step I just decided to record them because I had some extra money from a tax return and Jay Messina, the drummer from THE DUCKY BOYS – [we] were only a three-piece, so there was only one guy out of the mix and obviously I wasn’t gonna put it out under the DUCKY BOYS name so I was like maybe this’ll be a chance to put something out there. But I initially didn’t really know what I was gonna do with it until the project started going. Because it could’ve gone disastrous when we got in the studio; it wasn’t the kind of thing that was thought out in the way DUCKY BOYS records were. A lot of that stuff was done in the studio, as we were thinking about it we’d just add stuff on. So we put that out and also at the same time as the DUCKY BOYS CD, and then Doug decided to leave THE DUCKY BOYS. I considered moving on, but it wasn’t long before we realized that wasn’t meant to be. So what it really looks like is that I left THE DUCKY BOYS to do the solo thing when it really wasn’t like that; it just sorta happened that way.
OH, SOME PEOPLE ACTUALLY THINK THAT?
Uh huh. Well, initially I didn’t put a press release out to say THE DUCKY BOYS broke up last January. But somebody else did. Somebody submitted something to Punknews.org and all those sites [saying] that we broke up. And it kinda framed it that I was “going solo.” But that wasn’t it. I didn’t wanna be in the band at the time ‘cause that requires two nights of practice a week or more, playing every weekend, and I’m over 30 now. I don’t wanna be doing that all the time for the rest of my life so that’s basically the idea of not doing THE DUCKY BOYS anymore. It wasn’t like, “I’m leaving you guys to do my own career.”
YEAH, “I’M MOVIN’ ON!” ABOUT NOT PLAYING EVERY WEEKEND, I SAW YOU HAVE A FEW DATES AROUND WHEN THE RECORD COMES OUT. YOU PLANNING ANYTHING ELSE OR JUST TAKE IT AS IT COMES?
I definitely prefer to do the take-it-as-it-comes thing. We see ourselves more as a regional band at this point. I wouldn’t exclude the idea of going on the road, but personally I always consider myself to be a music fan first, a listener. I buy a lot of CDs, and my viewpoint on the entire scene or whatever is there’s a lot of crap out there right now and there’s also a lot of bands that are on the road constantly. Do you remember how in ’96 or so there wasn’t a ton of punk-rock bands touring, there was like ANTI-FLAG and BOUNCING SOULS, SWINGIN’ UTTERS, now every band’s on the road touring all the time and I personally see this correlation of this phenomenon of everybody touring and the poor quality of the bands. That observation sort of made me set our agenda that we’re gonna focus on the music and if we tour it’ll be for fun and something that comes up. And it’s happened before: FLOGGING MOLLY called THE DUCKY BOYS once, “You guys wanna come on the road?” “Yeah, we’ll go for a week.” But I don’t wanna be one of those bands who tours constantly because then the music becomes secondary. It’s just something you put out there to tour and to sell more T-shirts.
YEAH. MANY LABELS WANNA KNOW THAT YOU’RE GONNA BE A TOURING BAND.
They definitely do. There’s one Boston band I can think of off the top of my head who had it built into their contract for their first record that they had to tour for three weeks a year. I’m sure some labels build that in there, probably more than [that]; three weeks is short for what a label’s looking for you to do. But no label’s gonna pay my rent when I’m gone, so they’re not gonna get me to do that. I say to the labels the same thing I say to people who want us to tour: “We appreciate your interest, but do you want to have a good CD or us to be on the road all the time and have a really crappy CD we have to rush out?” Some of these bands take a month off of touring and write their record and record it in a month. I’m sorry, but if you’re only applying a month’s worth of thought to something like that it’s not gonna be good.
I JUST HAVE THIS IDEALISTIC THOUGHT, I THINK YOU GET IT TOO, IF YOU’RE PUTTING OUT A RECORD, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT’S SUPPOSED TO STAND THE TEST OF TIME AND MEAN SOMETHING. IT’S NOT JUST FOR THE INSTANT GRATIFICATION AND YOU “MAKE IT” FOR A YEAR AND THEN PEOPLE FORGET ABOUT YOU.
I definitely agree with you. I’m not trying to say I have the magic touch or anything; I just try to do the best I can.
BUT YOU ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU WRITE.
That’s the most important thing. I really disagree with a lot of bands out there today. Every genre has it. I love the DROPKICK MURPHYS but they’ve done a lot for bands as far as taking them on the road but they’ve also done a lot of disservice to the scene because there’s three billion bands out there that are just copying them. Of course, that’s not their fault. But I don’t wanna hear any of those bands ripping them off. They may not be as successful as a band that’s ripping off TAKING BACK SUNDAY, but they’re still crap. They’re just looking to sell their merchandise. I actually wanna listen to a band that puts themselves into it and not what they think kids wanna hear because that’ll sell. I think that’s missing in a lot of bands. My musical tastes barely even touch on punk rock because I don’t even think I find that in the punk-rock bands. I’d rather listen to BRIGHT EYES or something ‘cause I find that person to be more real – that’s all perception. For all I know that guy could be a money-grubber and scrooge. [Laughs] But it feels it’s real.
WELL, WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES WITH THIS NEW RECORD?
I think Marilyn Manson said something to the effect of, “I don’t wanna release a record that sells several million copies; I wanna release several records that sell moderately well.” At this point, I’m really lucky. I’ve put out 10 records and people keep buying them. Not a ton, but the people that get it, get it. And I just really wanna keep those people happy, and if more people wanna hear it, cool. I’m not expecting anything. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur or anything like that. I really hope the people that like it don’t decide to hate what I’m going for, but that’s the risk you take whenever you put something out.
THAT’S IT – DO YOU GET EVEN ON MYSPACE, PEOPLE WHO TELL YOU PERSONAL STORIES ABOUT HOW YOUR MUSIC AFFECTS THEM? I CAN IMAGINE THAT BEING VERY AFFECTING.
Yeah, and I always write those people back. And the first line is, “This is why I play this stuff because of people like you.” That last EP I put out, I did on my own, people wrote back to me a lot saying they were going through a break-up or a divorce and that was helpful to them. […] But then on the other hand, right before you called I got a nasty e-mail on MySpace saying I sound like a pop idiot. [Laughs]
WOW. THAT’S GOOD.
He’s not the most articulate person, [writing] to the effect of, “THE DUCKY BOYS used to be good, you’re trying to be a pop idiot now?” [Laughs]
NOT EVERYONE’S GONNA GET IT. WHAT WAS IT, RATHER BE HATED THAN IGNORED?
Didn’t LOWER CLASS BRATS name their album that?
YEAH. […] YOU GOTTA PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE AND IF PEOPLE LIKE IT, GOOD, IF THEY DON’T WHATEVER.
It’s true. No guts no glory. That’s probably one of the things I consider to have made my brother [Rob, BLOOD FOR BLOOD/RAMALLAH/SINNERS AND SAINTS] really successful is he doesn’t mind throwing it all out there. Some people think he’s a dope and a lot of people don’t.
ON THAT TOPIC, YOU’RE DEFINITELY HONEST IN YOUR LYRICS AND THEN YOU [PROVIDE] THE EXPLANATIONS IN THE LINER NOTES, HAS THERE EVER BEEN ANYTHING YOU WERE RELUCTANT TO WRITE ABOUT?
Not from the initial standpoint. That stuff is what it is. You grab the guitar and whatever comes out comes out. But yeah, there’s been times when I was kinda concerned what somebody might think, specifically with this CD there’s a lot of mention of a girl. I was a little hesitant to what she might think because initially the song “So She Says” was actually her name says, but I changed that because I didn’t want her to see that. But at this point we’re not really talking to each other so I guess I really don’t care but I felt uncomfortable about it… But this is my life; if you don’t want me to talk about you in one of my songs then you probably shouldn’t know me. You know what you’re getting into when you hang around me. [Laughs]
ONE SONG I PARTICULARLY LIKE IS “DAGGER.” THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE OVER-RELIGIOUS. YOU HAVE THAT CHORUS AND THE “DOOMSDAY PRIESTS.” THEY SEEM TO ACTUALLY WANT THE END TO COME…
I went to 12 years of Catholic school and when you’re that age, it’s all propaganda, but when I got older I started thinking about the values of the stories they were actually teaching about and my family’s pretty religious, but they don’t know what they’re actually saying. I’m pretty much an atheist too. But as an outside objective viewer now, if I were to read the story about Jesus, nobody that believes in Jesus really practices, or if they grasped the point of the whole thing we wouldn’t be fighting wars in the name of Jesus. That’s not what that dude was about. But also [the song’s] about it does seem ass-backwards like the whole Roe v. Wade being questioned again. Why are we talking about this 35 years later? Who is in office right now that could actually bring this up?! [Let the political/religious dialogue begin!…]