THE RIVAL MOB has been the reason why we started RAW JUSTICE a few years ago with my bandmates. We just played their records over and over every time we were chilling together. They are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. So much energy on stage and Brendan is a sick frontman, shooting punch lines and jokes like no one else. That’s the band that introduced me to Brendan. And then I found out he was playing in almost every new band from Boston that I enjoyed, from pure Hardcore to Stoner Doom. Every time I was listening to a new band, looking at the line and discovered he was in, either on vocals, drums or playing the guitar, it was mind blowing. How the hell can he be involved in so many good bands? Let’s find out.
[This interview featured in the first issue of the printed fanzine STRAIGHT & ALERT #1 but for those who didn’t scoop a copy I decided to post it all again here]
Let’s start this the classic way. Please introduce yourself, how old are you where do you live etc…
I’m Brendan, 32 years OLD. I currently live in Eastern Massachusetts USA.
How long have you been involved in Hardcore and music in general, and how did you get into it?
I’ve been involved with hardcore in particular I suppose since I was 16 years old? Music in general since I was haha…4 years old and my mom used to play Michael Jackson records. haha. First tape I ever owned was age 10 – Queen Greatest Hits double tape. Then at 11 skateboarding basically consumed any interest I had. All I did was skate. I would dig on some typical little kid skateboarder music: Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, White Zombie, Guns n Roses…but it was all in the background of skateboarding. Then at like 15 or 16 through hanging out with knowledgeble friends, I discovered underground hardcore/punk/metal/etc. and that came into the forefront.
If I am right you are or were playing in BATTLE RUINS, DETH WARR, LOVELY LADS, MAD MOUTH, MAGIC CIRCLE, MIND ERASER, THE RIVAL MOB, SOUL SWALLOWER, STONE DAGGER, STRAIGHT RAZOR, XFILESX. Is that all? Give us a hint about (some of) these bands.
Eh, there’s more. But hey – I even get sick of talking about all of them hahaha. Ok of those you listed the bands that are generally active these days are Battle Ruins who are having our first show in Sweden in March and will record more material, Rival Mob which will be touring Australia in November and making a new 7’’, Magic Circle – which has just finished our 2nd LP soon to come out, and Stone Dagger – which will be recording new material and POSSIBLY trying to put together a live line-up. All other bands mentioned are either long broken up or are dormant projects.
Since most of these are active bands at the moment, how do you manage to deal with them all? Is your involvement different in each band? If we can talk about a «role», what would be yours in each band?
We basically do one, then the other, then the other in almost like a rotating wheel. Focus on getting one thing done first instead of all at the same time. Basically all I do now in active bands that play live is sing. Its for the better because I’m a miserable at everything else…although I suppose I can write a song ok.
What are your occupations, job and ways to spend your spare time beside your bands if you have some left?
My job is a shit level graphic designer…and I mean SHIT. Bottom of the barrel. I work for a newspaper with a few miserable fucks. But I’m quitting that very soon. After that? Hell, I could working at McDonalds, who the hell knows? I basically despise work and only use it as a means to an end. Mind you, I think I’m a good worker. I’m not half-assed and I take the job/people I work with seriously…but…something about the whole concept of it never clicked with me. Basically when I have free time I’m spending it with my girlfriend. Catching flicks, reading, going on trips, expanding my horizons in one way or another, etc.
If you didn’t pick Hardcore, can you guess where / what / who would you be?
Haha I have no idea, thats a very abstract question. Dead? Doctor/Lawyer? Who knows? And frankly, I don’t really care. It was fun.
It’s a bit cliche but, what did Hardcore bring you ? Like I know it helped me to define who I am and my values when I was a teenager. Not only being straight edge or vegan, but also the way I consider things and how to do to them. Try to make as much as I can, on my own and not waiting for someone else to do it for me.
Well I suppose the whole «DIY» aspect was a very important part of it because it taught me the strength of the will. And it really, for me, went beyond some bullshit sense of community. I mean it REALLY taught me to do things myself, in regards to music. Which I think was a valuable lesson. I must admit even back when I was younger I suppose I never got into the whole lets hug each other and slap each other on the back side of being in some sort of community. I never felt connected to my peers who were «normal» nor did I feel much a connection to a greater community in hardcore/punk/metal/etc. People are basically the same no matter what stuff they cling to and I try not to give a shit about them other than my close personal friends. Straight edge I definitely still respect as a totally personal choice even though I now am an avid consumer of drugs and alcohol, again it was all about personal strengthening of the will power. Whether one is straight edge, vegan, or not, lessons can be learned and character strengthened by any expression of the will – so long as it truly comes from there and isn’t some communal conformity: then it’s really no different than religion, political parties, etc.
The Love – Hate question: What pisses you off / makes you happy? At the moment or in general.
Many, many things now make me quite happy. Whether it’s reading a good new book or something so simple like watching a cool thunderstorm…actually the only thing that pisses me off are awful people…but I can’t connect myself to them. Mainly I use the sigh and say «fuck it» approach. I’m getting too old to be constantly angry and miserable. That’s really not a good thing to be when you’re older because often it could lead to something like swallowing a bullet.
The Boston scene is a pillar in terms of Hardcore music, with new killer bands popping every month but often with pretty similar line ups. Like BOSTON STRANGLER / PRISONER ABUSE (even if I know you are not in) or THE RIVAL MOB / STRAIGHT RAZOR for instance. Why do you guys don’t you focus on only a few bands, gathering all your energy in? Is it a way to keep some independence?
Absolutely about independence and keeping ourselves interested. I find making new entities of bands way more involving and refreshing than having the same band with all energies invested in it. Especially when hardcore is such a small-time thing, business-wise. If we were like a hot rock band in the 60s and 70s and could sign some contract allowing us to not have to have jobs and just work on music…maybe it would be different and we could focus on one thing. But for us, we’ve gotta keep freshening the stack, so to speak.
You’ve played a couple gigs in Europe with THE RIVAL MOB so far but you haven’t done a proper European tour yet. Why is that?
I don’t mean to sound like an asshole, but I’ll be honest. I don’t enjoy touring really. Haha even with Australia…thats more like a vacation we’re taking with the band fund with some shows thrown in the mix. I don’t want to be in a van all the time and I don’t like playing too many shows. I don’t want to miss seeing cool stuff in European countries because I have to go to some venue and play Raw Life. Know what I mean? I’m a broke loser American who can’t afford some Euro-vacation. But that’s what I want over all things! I’ve visited family in Europe once and it was amazing…I do not want to go over there and be tied down to playing shows and eating like a handful of rice a day…just too torturous when I’d want to do other things and see the sights. I suppose if RM had like $100,000 and we could just play
one day and take a week off for like half a year then I’d do a Euro tour.
But that ain’t likely hahaha…
Why did you decided to re-record the MOB JUSTICE tape to put in on an LP? Didn’t you have all the songs recorded for the LP during the demo tape session? In my opinion the tape recording is way better, more powerful and rawer than the LP which suffers from a less robust production.
Fair enough, everyone has opinions on which they prefer. All you heard on the tape is all that was recorded in that session. We wanted to record the LP with Trevor of Rival Mob because, in our opinion, he is an excellent engineer and his recordings are very robust.
The artwork of THE RIVAL MOB «Hardcore for Hardcore» is a painting from Rubens which happens to be exhibited in the city where I used to live, it also happens to be one of my favorite paintings. Why did you pick that one and what’s the meaning behind?
Yes! That’s excellent you got to see it in person. I’d kill to be able to!! The meaning behind it, personally, was the age old battle between humans and nature. Humans falsely believe they control the environment of the planet, and other environments in life such as health, status, etc. It’s all a crock of shit. A tiger will bight your ass off then you’ll think again!!
You guys on Facebook mostly post about political and social issues with THE RIVAL MOB page. Are you or other members involved in any way in political /social groups? And most likely what’s your opinion on the whole American Government and policy in the US and around the world?
Lol that thing is a hilarious crock of shit. Look in the «about» part of the page. It says its not run by anyone in the band. And if someone out there can find out who’s running that thing I will personally give them 30 bucks!! No one’s the least bit political in Rival Mob…actually we all rather hate politics. I could care less about my government or your government. HOWEVER…if we’re talking about governments that existed like 100 years ago…then I’m fascinated. Big history buff. I suppose I’ll give a shit about Obama’s America like 50 years from now…if I’m alive then.
Is MAGIC CIRCLE still active? Your LP is for sure one of my all time favorite, all genres mixed. I need more! As for STONE DAGGER? Tell us a bit more about both bands.
Yes very active. We’ve just finished the 2nd LP and I’m very glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully yourself and others dig the new one. Stone Dagger is also active. Both bands, which are heavy metal bands, started around 2013/2014 over our love and appreciation of the genre. Our intentions were incredibly simple…make good heavy metal to the best of our abilities. It was always more or less an experiment…because prior, we had done projects that were other genres of metal – what would be considered «extreme metal», black, death, and metal influenced hardcore bands such as mind eraser/soul swallower. But we’d never tried to tackle something like Black Sabbath or Judas Priest – classic heavy metal. We’ve continued because we believe we’ve succeeded. So, expect the Magic Circle «Journey Blind» LP out by the fall, and Stone Dagger records (likely 2-3 7’’s or an LP) out next year at some point.
You play the guitar, the drums and sing. Do you have any other hidden musical skills ? Which do you feel more comfortable with?
When I play guitar…it’s strictly for writing. I’m not a showman by an stretch. I’m absolutely most comfortable as a singer.
I don’t want to make you feel older than you are but you’ve probably known the «pre internet» -era in the Hardcore scene, didn’t you? If so, how was it like? In your opinion what are the pros and the cons of the arrival of internet for the Hardcore scene and kids?
Yes I’m pre-internet. Perhaps of the last generation who was pre-internet. And I swear I’m not trying to sound cool but even when the internet exploded in everyone’s personal lives, I was still late to the party. I don’t even remember going on a message board until well into college. I would say that my entire high school and freshman into sophomore year of college were virtually without internet…then I discovered porn and it was ALL DOWNHILL!!! haha. Man I wish I could get into it deeper about the pros and the cons…and there certainly are very big pros and very big cons…but it would get way too intense for the purposes of this interview. I’d say these days…the biggest pro would be of course, the fact that you have such information and music at your fingertips, any kid today can become infinitely more well versed than I could have (or was) when I was young. I think a con is the trolling, witch-hunting and knee-jerk attacking that goes on. And that’s not just some underground scene problem; it’s a problem with the whole bloody planet. I think we’re just now starting to see how the internet effects peoples psychological states…and I think it’s quite dark.
Time for your last words, shout outs and bands to check out!
Hail to Europe! I hope to see you soon, though likely not in a hardcore band!