First of all man I just wanted to say good work on the new record man, it's fucking solid.
Aw shit, thank you very much. I appreciate that man.
It seems like it's all killer and no filler..
That was kind of the goal, to you know have each song be able to stand on its own and not have filler at all. And I'm not trying to pat us on the back or say we made some fucking masterpiece, we were just kind of conscious of not having a bunch of songs on there just for the sake of having a bunch of songs. I'd rather have a fucking solid album than just fill up the track listings.
Cool! Well, with this new release (In A Warzone out June 25th).. to make a slight pun, somethings different! How did the hiatus change the feel of the band?
Oh man, I mean.. I don't know! It's kind of hard to say because we were, fuck, we were on a break for a long time, and when we decided to get back in there and make another album and stuff I don't think any of us really knew what to expect. I think we all kind of hoped that everything was going to work out and be OK, but I think we were all skeptical at first... it was several years in between... but I don't know, once we got in there, the first day in Travis' studio, fuck it was like 5 years or however long just disappeared and it was like 2005 and we had never missed a beat with recording and writing and stuff! It was kind of bizarre, I didn't expect it to go that well but I'm very very grateful that it did. We're lucky, as a band we have that chemistry still.
Yeah, I've read in old interviews that the Transplants songwriting process is really organic and communal, which I've noticed is something a lot of bands have a hard time with. Would you say you were all on the same page for this record, and was it a conscious decision to be a bit more serious or did that just sort of happen?
No that was, you know going into it we wanted everyone to be there, the whole band.. all of us, every day.. and create songs from scratch while we're all in the room. And we did that a lot with the other albums too but with this album it was for 100% of the album, and I think it works best like that when everyone is there and everyone can give their input, not every song or idea is going to work and when you're writing songs with two other people everyone is going to have their ideas, everyone is going to have input and suggestions and constructive criticism... and I think we're lucky though that nobody really gets butt hurt in our band if they don't get their way, it's give and take, you have to do what's best for the song and the band, not just what one person thinks.
Yeah just because you think that your part is really fucking awesome doesn't mean that it is!
Haha, yeah exactly! And it's nice that we don't have to deal with a bunch of fucking egos and shit.
What would the Skinhead Rob of 2002 think of In A Warzone!? And what does the Skinhead Rob of 2013 think of the Skinhead Rob of 2002?
Hahaha, I think Skinhead Rob of 2002 would hear In A Warzone and think 'fuck this is the kind of album we need to make!' whereas Skinhead Rob of 2013 looks at Skinhead Rob of 2002 and says 'why the fuck did you bother fucking singing about that, that and that'! I don't know, I think it took me a little while but I figured there's better things I can spend my time writing songs about than just getting shitfaced. I mean, that's cool, there's a time and a place for everything, I think when you're a singer for a punk band you almost have a responsibility to fuckin get a message across that means something, that can maybe change some shit for the better, not just how fucking drunk I get .. you know, who cares! I don't know, maybe I'm just fuckin growing up or getting old or some shit but I look at some of the old songs I've written and I fuckin cringe, I don't want to hear that shit! But that's where I was in my life at that point, that was me, and what the fuck do I know I'm just a dipshit who plays music with his friends. I wish, I mean even musically I wish we had been making this type of album from the start. I can't complain about it though or piss and moan or try and fuckin erase every album we've ever made, haha, it is what it is! They may not be my favourite albums but I'm still proud to be a part of it. I can only just do what I do from here on out with a ... I don't know if you want to say a clearer mind... I don't know, I just...
You didn't stop smoking weed did you?
No. I still have some lyrics about smoking and drinking here and there but for the most part I want to talk about shit that actually matters to me, and that matters to other people... shit like war and shit like global warming and shit like fuck the cops and fuck politicians, you know? Shit that is more important to me than drinking a fucking beer.
What happened to make you want to write about these meaningful things? Did some shit happen in your life that pushed you in that direction?
Just life itself! Just, um, paying attention more and fuckin.. it's been a long time since we made an album and I've seen a lot and done a lot, and fuck, I went to fuckin Iraq with Paul Wall to play for the troops... saw a lot of shit over there, you know... there's certain events that take place in your life that, I don't know, they affect you whether you want them to or not... stuff like, when Travis got in a plane crash.. we lost Chris and we lost Che and we lost AM shortly after... fuck it's just gnarly you know... I don't know I just think that with so much fucked up shit going on, I don't know, it's kind of lame to write party songs.. silly songs... whatever. I don't know, I just think... and I'm not saying that I'm some fucking prophet or deserve and types of fuckin praise or anything like that, like what the fuck do I know, but I'm just singing about shit that matters to me.
Is it hard for you to get into the old songs about partying and shit when you're performing them since you're not really in that state of mind anymore? And does that affect the way that you perform them on stage?
Part of me is like.... ah fuck this song again, I don't want to fuckin do it 'cause of some of the fuckin things that I said back then or thought back then, but the beauty of doing stuff live is that you can always change some words around to make it what you want. I fuckin sing whatever words I want, fuck it! If it's not word for word like on the album, fuckin sue me, who gives a shit. But at the same time I know that we're lucky to have fans who have been around since our first album and they want to hear those songs. Shit, I remember... not to say we're in the same league as Prince... but when I was a roadie for AFI we had a show at the House of Blues in Hollywood and when AFI was done Prince was having a show for his fan club, and the promoter was like 'hey if you guys want you can stay and check out the show, no problem' and I was like 'fuck yeah I get to see Prince! Dope!' and I'm sitting there and I'm watching Prince and it's cool but I don't recognize one fucking song! Like, no "1999" no "Raspberry Beret" no "When Doves Cry" no "Purple Rain", Nothing! So I asked the sound guy what's up and he said it was all rare B sides and shit for his fan club and I was like ... ok that's tight... but at the same time it fucking sucks because I don't want.. I don't want to go see any band or any artist that I grew up listening to and have them play songs that I've never heard before! So like, I guess what I'm trying to say is like there's some people who want to hear "Tall Cans", they want to hear "DJ DJ" so fuck it', we'll give it to them!
Was a specific part of the world that inspired the lyrics to "In A Warzone", or was it just everywhere?
Shit, everywhere actually. I live in Los Angeles, in Echo Park, and shit there's a war right here... fucking street gangs have been fighting forever, and it's all of us, all of California. And you turn on the news and you see what's going on in fuckin Turkey, in fuckin Siberia, fuckin Afghanistan, you know? all these places just have fucked up shit going on, like with their government and shit, people fighting for this reason and that reason, whether it be for fuckin money or religion, or their fucking oil, territory, whatever, it's just crazy! I don't think anyone's really removed from it, obviously there's people in certain cities in certain places of the world that live a very nice lifestyle and they're somewhat removed from that shit but it just takes one of these motherfuckers to push the button and then some nuclear fucking bombs get sent and this and that. All of a sudden everyone in Beverly Hills or in fuckin Park Place or wherever who's not really paying attention or doesn't give a shit because they're like 'oh I have a million dollars, I'm chillin' over here'.. when so and so starts sending those missiles, I don't know..
Paper doesn't stop that..
Exactly. It sucks, it's a reality. Whether it's right in front of your face or not, or if you choose to see it or not or take part in it, what have you, we're all in a fucking war zone you know?
What inspired the change from your traditional yell'y rap voice to a more clear voice? I noticed on like 3 or 4 tracks you're singing!? Was that conscious decision or was that just the feel of the song so you went with it?
Yeah, usually it's however I feel with the song is how I approach it... I can't sing for shit, I can't do anything, I scream and I fucking yell and stuff, but some songs on the album are kind of more oi street punk influenced so I just kind of did what felt called for in each one. I'm not going to say I'm the fuckin best singer in the world, I know I'm not, everybody knows that who has ever heard any of our songs, haha, I just do what I do and you know, fuck it!
So why are you stuck with doing all the interviews? Doesn't it suck balls?
Haha, yeah I usually do all the interviews! I don't mind to be honest, for the most part most of the people are really cool and supportive and stuff, they don't try to be fuckin smart asses or whatever, it's all good someone's gotta do it, why not.. I don't mind.
I was watching a bunch of old interviews you did and found that infamous video of you guys kicking that dude off the bus for asking Travis about dressing in a monkey suit or some shit..
Yeah that guy was a fucking tool, I don't know, I think some people just think like oh there's a fucking camera there so they can just say whatever and nothing's gonna happen but it's like nah dude if you're going to be a fucking asshole and disrespectful I'll deal with you wherever, I don't give a shit who's watching! I remember like the day after that or some shit the dude went on his radio show and edited the audio together to sound like I was just the biggest asshole in the world but after the video aired it showed that he was the fucking dipshit! Whatever, those are like one in every hundred so it's not that big of a deal. Keeps it interesting.
You've been forced in this band and back in the roadie days to keep your composure around people who were pretty fucking cool and successful... who, if anybody, has ever made you starstruck?
Oh shit, well Slash came through when he played guitar on "Saturday Night", the song the Transplants put on Travis' solo album, and I mean fuck, it was Slash! you know? So I remember going to the studio and it was me, Tim, Travis, our engineer and fuckin here comes Slash, rolls up all by himself, comes in and is like 'hey, sup everyone, I really like your song' and we're all like fuck. this is dope. like, Slash likes OUR song! And he just sat down, cool as a motherfucker, and he's like let me here it one time, one time real quick.. and then was like ok I get it and BAM. did his shit.. solos, fuckin tasty licks, the whole bit, and all of us were just like.. jaws on the floor. like jesus christ, it was flawless the first time through. And then he was like 'I can do it better I think' and we're like what do you mean you can do it better! And then sure enough he knocked it out of the fuckin ballpark! And then he just said ok thanks and stood up and bounced, and we were just sitting there like 'wow', just so in awe of how good he was and how fucking awesome he made the track sound and shit. And like for sure after he bounced I was like looking at the floor thinking damn I hope he dropped a pick here... just super fan.. haha, but it's awesome.. recently, just about a month ago he hit us up to do a couple songs with him for this fundraiser that he was doing for his kids school, and it's like fuck it's not every day that you get Slash hittin you up to play with him, you know what I'm sayin! I mean, I've gotten to meet a lot of fuckin cool people, a lot of people I've looked up to and listened to for years and years and years, I'm very fortunate in that aspect, but Slash... he's the coolest motherfucker man. You never know when you meet someone that you're a fan of if they're going to be a fucking dick or if they're going to be cool or what but he was nothing but cool, I have nothing but respect for Slash.
Right on. How do you feel about the classic punk stigma, that commercial success means selling out? Do you guys ever get slack from the hardcore street punk bands for being 'seen' with dudes like Benji from Good Charlotte for example?
There's always going to be people that don't like something about your band, or don't like something about you or what you're doing and that's fine, who cares about the punk rock police who say what's punk and what isn't, we don't give a shit, we do what the fuck we want.. that's fuckin punk rock to me last time I checked. You know, fuck it, I don't know I don't necessarily think that commercial success means selling out because you can't control who buys your shit and who doesn't, like how many people buy it and who doesn't, like fuck it, who cares. People also don't understand that.. I think when you're in a position to make money it also creates opportunities for other people, gives people jobs, that's one of the reasons I wanted to start this band in the first place, we turned into a band basically so I could give my friend a job selling merch, I could give my friend a job on the crew, as a manager.. down the line I can hire someone to print shirts... you know, there is some method to this madness, but it's all... it's up to each person and each band what they choose to do with it. But you can't please everyone. There are some people who want your band to only play in fuckin rooms that hold ten people and they only want you to press five copies of the album, they want to be the only person to have it, and I get it, I love it, there's bands that I wish weren't huge too for whatever reason, but fuck dude I can't be mad at fuckin so and so for selling a billion records and having a shit ton of fans, like fuck, who cares, good for them!
How has the Death March debut been received?
It's been good, man! You know, um, we play a little different type of punk rock than the Transplants...
Dude, I've got a d-beat tattoo on the back of my neck, that shit is the bomb.
I was really happy with the Death March songs I was able to find on YouTube, I'm pissed that your 7" that's marble is sold out though! But it's fucking killer, dude.
Thank you! I appreciate that! Yeah we've been having a lot of fun with it, we've been about for like a year now this month and we've been playing a shit ton of shows, mostly here in Southern California in backyards and stuff and um, it's just fun man! I love playing d-beat, that's my favourite type of music to play.
There's no better punk rock, man, no better punk rock than d-beat. That triplet in the bass drum is fucking killer, man!
*seriously laughs forever at this point*
Put your fist in the air, run around in a circle and life is good!!
Hahahahaha, yeah man! It's been good, we've been getting a really good response from the 7" and we're hopefully, I've been talking to the guys in Broken Bones and we're going to be putting out a split with them soon... I mean, it's crazy, you never could have told me that I was going to be putting out a split with Broken Bones! I'd be telling you you're out of your fucking mind! And hopefully I didn't jinx it by saying that but we will hopefully be making that happen soon.
Cool! What's different about the writing process between Death March and Transplants?
Well with Death March, usually Freddy and Jimmy and Martin will write and record the music and they'll send it to me and I'll write the lyrics to it, then we show up at practice and knock it out live, then go in and record them. But with Transplants all of us get in the room then it starts whether it be I wrote a chorus and we'll go off that or Trav has drums and we'll build the song off that, or Tim's guitar, or what have you. It's a little bit different but I think they both work!
Do you think that there are some song topics that can't be covered by Transplants but can be covered by Death March or vise versa?
Umm, I think with Transplants I could cover whatever topics, but I think if I were to sing about some of the stuff I sing about with Transplants in Death March it would be a little bit corny.. you know? I don't think there's much room for all the party music, haha!
No place for Diamonds and Guns?
Hahaha, yeah there's a time and a place for everything!
Do you think music genres lend themselves to specific topics or can you really sing more or less about anything in any genre?
Well, I think more or less.. like if the track or music itself is a little more aggressive then I tend to write I guess more aggressive lyrics, harder you know? I'm so used to writing d-beat songs anyways so yeah it's just kind of natural, but if a song has a little more of a groove to it then it might be more laid back so I might not attack it in the same way. It can be really easy to make a good song bad, and I think I've been guilty of that before and I don't want to do that anymore. At least I can admit it though!
A huge fucking thank you to Rob, Epitaph and Julian!