"We never knew it was going to take so long to get back to Australia, exactly three years later, so we're excited to come back."
Comeback Kid vocalist Andrew Neufeld is far removed from the stage diving and slam dancing associated with hardcore music when he answers his phone. Known for his near-guttural singing style, he's hanging out in a cafe for a better phone connection; the band is on the road before a show in Belgium with Silverstein.
The band's original vocalist, Scott Wade, departed the group following rigorous tours in promotion of their 2005 breakthrough second album, Wake The Dead. The record's biggest hit was the title track, which featured on the soundtracks for the games Burnout Revenge and Burnout Legends.
Wake The Dead peaked at #16 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers and #27 on the Top Independent Albums Charts, an impressive feat for a hardcore band and for their first album on Victory Records.
Neufeld took over the lead vocal reins in 2006 after initially playing rhythm guitar and providing backing vocals. It's been an awesome year for Comeback Kid; the Canadian group released their seventh album, Heavy Steps, in January and have toured non-stop in promotion of the record.
Heavy Steps was Comeback Kid's first album since 2017's excellent Outsider and made the statement that the band remain as heavy and solid as ever and that we'll always need hardcore punk music.
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"We've done a lot of touring festivals and worked really hard this year; it's an exciting time to be in the band at the moment," Neufeld says from the cafe. If it weren't for the Covid-19 pandemic, Comeback Kid probably would have finished Heavy Steps sooner. "Right when [Covid] happened, the guys put down demos, and I started writing. We kind of met up on the fly; we really needed that outlet [of music]. Separately, for me, vocally, I needed to unleash some energy, so the timing of Covid was perfect in that way. All the magic lined up in the right way, and that was the relief I was looking for."
Heavy Steps sounds like a natural progression from the band, and it feels like no time has passed between 2017 and 2022. "We wanted to make it like... I mean, it's melodic music, right?" Indeed it is. The album was recorded in their hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, with some help from producer John Paul Peters, who's worked with the likes of fellow hardcore and punk groups Propagandhi, Cancer Bats and indie-pop band Royal Canoe.
"John Paul did the music; I did the vocals with another engineer," Neufeld explains. "The record was done in different studios over a decent amount of time. Recording at home with John Paul was good. He really understands music. He worked on our Turn It Around record. We wanted a more metallic mix on the record - some of our records have a more punk rock mix, so we were pushing towards something a bit heavier with this one."
Neufeld is proud of the songs on Heavy Steps and is delighted that the band released the album this year. "We've had a huge year off Heavy Steps - we've been touring for a year and a half, and the singles started coming out a year and a half ago," he laughs. "To see the response to the record and grow even more as a band feels like we're in our moment. We really got more and more opportunities; I'm in Europe right now, in Vienna.
"We were able to tour all through Canada; it's been a really positive year for us. The amount of ground we've covered and the festivals we've played at feel really good." It's a thrilling time, and the fans responding so positively to new songs is just the cherry on top of a spectacular year.
2023 will begin with Comeback Kid returning to Australia, playing their first shows down under in three years. "The shows in Australia will be our first of next year," the singer notes. "It's kind of serendipitous that these shows were booked exactly three years after we played there last time with our New Year's shows. We never knew it was going to take so long to get back, exactly three years later, so we're excited to come back."
While knowing that the Canadian legends are returning to our shores is already fantastic news, even better still is knowing that the shows will be no-barricade gigs. Upon announcing the tour, Neufeld wrote: "3 years after our New Year's 2020 Aussie shows, we finally have the opportunity to come overseas and bring one of HC's most exciting bands, DRAIN, with us for their first time ever down under! I've been assured that barricades won't be in play, and we are expecting to pop off '23 with a bang and usher in a new year for the Australian punk and hardcore scene. See you all soon!"
Comeback Kid love performing for Australian crowds; our energy is on point. "There's a new wave of hardcore boiling under the surface right now," Neufeld says, including here in Australia. "We have a lot of friends and people who have supported us over there over the last 10-15 years," he adds. "We try to make as many shows as we can have the barricade lifted. I think Destroy All Lines promised me there would be no barricades, except there might be one in Sydney."
Comeback Kid are touring Australia in January 2023 with the Santa Cruz hardcore band Drain. The tour hits Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Penrith, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. All shows are 18+. Find tickets here.