For our younger readers there’s a good chance that most of your favourite bands wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Lifetime. Seriously, get back to me once you’ve asked Saves The Day where they get all their riffs from.
I was lucky enough to catch up with guitarist and music enthusiast Dan Yemin on the eve of their long awaited Australian tour…
Interview w/ Dan (Guitar) of
By Cameron Chambers
Hey Dan, how are you today?
Good thanks man, who are you
doing this for?
A website based out of Melbourne,
Australia called Killyourstereo.
Cool, I’ll have to check
That’d be great man. You
guys are in Japan by now yeah?
Have Lifetime played in
Asia prior to this?
Nope, never been here with
the band. I’ve never even traveled here so it’s great man.
I’ve heard nothing but great
things about Japanese audiences, what are you expecting from the shows?
We’ll, I’m expecting… actually
I’ve learnt not to have expectations because that way I’m not disappointed.
Not that I expect the worst but you know. I just don’t want to go in
with any preconceived notions.
I’m excited to play places
that we’ve never been before and to experience different cultures and
just see more of the world while collecting more experiences. Oh yeah,
and traveling with your friends is amazing!
Winding back the clock a
little bit, you guys accepted an offer to reform for the 2005 version
of Hellfest. As everyone knows, the festival was canceled but you went
ahead and did a few of your own shows instead. Do you think Lifetime
would’ve got back together if you’d just done the one off Hellfest date
or doyou think the intimacy of those headline gigs inspired
you guys to pick up where you left off?
I think you hit the nail on
the head! If we had played Hellfest it would’ve been something of a
novelty experience… it wouldn’t have left the same emotional impression.
We did it because they really tried to get us to play Hellfest
for a couple of years but two or three of us were adamantly against
Reforming for no reason other
than being paid for this big spectacle felt strange… It didn’t seem
interesting or like the most honourable thing in the world either. We
always thought it would take the energy away from our prime musical
projects anyway so we felt that moving forward was the best thing to
do. The whole thing about music in any band is that it’s the only time
that you’re truly in the moment or in the now.
I don’t know if it’s cultural
or human tendency but we spend too much time worrying about the future
or what we did wrong in the past. We fear the future and we regret the
past… even when the past was good and the future looks good we still
spend all our energy in anticipation, but performing live with a punk
or hardcore band is all about living in the moment.
Moving forward musically is
a part of that man!
Then the whole charity thing
came about and it really was a clever idea (from the Hellfest organizers)
because they figured out it was the only way to get us to do it. Punk
is musical tradition that pays attention to making positive change and
they really got me in the gut with that one… I can’t turn down the
chance to do so much good for people.
The festival was actually going
to be in this sports arena which holds 10,000 people and there would’ve
been a huge stage with a big barricade protected by big football player
security dudes. If you’ve seen us play – either back in the day or
recently – then you know that’s not our style. We’ve only played one
show since reforming with a barricade. We always insist that the barricade
It was an interesting time…
we would’ve accomplished some good and it would’ve been fun playing
with our friends again but it would’ve been alienating from a punk rock
standpoint. Lifetime simply wouldn’t have continued after that… we
wouldn’t be a band now if the festival hadn’t been cancelled.
The whole thing forced me to
revise my rigid opinions of doing the band again. It’s really special…
and I know it sounds corny but it’s a really special and beautiful thing
Lifetime could’ve very easily
played a string of reunion shows off the back of your old material –
what was your motivation to write another record, taking into account
that you hadn’t written as a group for 10 years?
Ari was the first to say it.
If we’re a band then we’re gonna write music. Bands that play old songs
and don’t write new material are wedding bands. They play bar mitzvahs
and weddings and that’s it.
We love our old material and
it’s withstood the test of time but if we didn’t make something new
then we wouldn’t feel like a band. We feel that it was important.
I’m sure there would have
been labels falling over themselves to sign Lifetime once you announced
the reformation, what made you go with Decaydance?
They just made it really easy!
They knew what we wanted and what we needed. We wanted to be careful
about honouring the legacy… and that might sound arrogant but it was
about staying true to what Lifetime was.
Part of our idea for doing
that was… well, we had a lot at stake. We had this tradition and we
didn’t want to spoil it. One thing that we really wanted to do was record
with the same person, at the same studio, that we’d done all our other
records. That person was Steve Evetts at Trax East Studios.
It felt important to do it
the same way again… you know?
To be blunt, that doesn’t come
cheap because Steve is a big time producer and engineer now. Even with
a deal it’s still an expensive proposition so we needed a label with
the resources but one which didn’t have unrealistic expectations for
a bunch of guys in their thirties with kids and careers.
In the nineties bands released
records and toured for six or nine months a year and that’s not realistic
for us. Some of us are in multiple bands so we only have around four
to six weeks a year to spend on the road. Most labels if they’re going
to invest in a record expect you to work a bit more than that.
In 2006 and 2007 bands are
expected to work and tour constantly… and we can’t do that. They were
the first label that was fully independent which was important to us
and they said they’d do the record without any unreasonable expectations.
Are you a fan of many of
the bands on Decaydance and would you be receptive to touring with someone
like Paramore or Cobra Starship?
Taking into account the
decade long gap between Lifetime records, were you nervous or apprehensive
when it came to writing Lifetime?
At first, yeah. Before we wrote
the first song… I mean you’d get a different answer out of everybody
in the band but you’ve got me on the phone, ha ha.
Several of us were like “I
hope we can do this justice” but once that first song was done said
that this is a good Lifetime song and that we can do this.
We had a lot to live up to
and had a lot of expectation We were really aware that in this age of
the whole message board phenomenon we’d get crucified no matter what
we did… well, maybe that’s a little too dramatic but people would
say it didn’t up to the old stuff, that it sounded too produced or that
it wasn’t produced enough. Whatever we did someone would complain about
You can’t worry too much. We
were worried whether we felt it was a good Lifetime record and I think
we succeeded because I haven’t heard too much negative feedback.
Were you the dominant song
writer this time round or was it more of a collective effort from the
No, it’s always been a collective.
Did you have a particular
goal for the new record or was it more a case of “plug in and let’s
see what happens”?
We just wanted to make a good
Lifetime record but we wanted it to sound like some time had passed.
We didn’t want to re-do “Jersey’s Best Dancers” or “Hello Bastards”
but we wanted it to sound as though we wrote another record two years
after the last one.
History has shown that a
lot of bands re-unite and write a pretty average record but Lifetime has made a lot of people’s top albums lists for 2007.
Did you ever imagine that this release would generate such a massive
response, not only with your old fans but with an entirely new generation
of music lovers?
We didn’t know what to expect.
Again and again I’m totally perplexed by the modern punk and hardcore
market place. I’m usually pretty astonished at what kinds find amazing…
I’m like “come on, that’s what you’re listening to”? Ha ha
There’s also so much brilliant
music that doesn’t get a lot of attention. There’s a generation gap
between us and your typical punk or hardcore kid so I had no idea what
to expect. We just wanted to honour the tradition that we laid down
in the first place and just make a good Lifetime record.
A lot of people were cynical
and thought that we’d just cash in on emo or whatever is currently cool
on the radio. That stuff doesn’t sound like punk to me at all… it
sounds like Poison or White Lion or something but with punk haircuts.
I have no interest in making
a living off music, I’d rather just do it for fun and it’s a lot better
Punk has changed a lot since
1996, do you think Lifetime still have something relevant to say?
We’re definitely doing it for
ourselves… although that’s not entirely true. It was most important
that the people we satisfied were us but if you only wanted to
do it for yourself then you’d stay in the basement.
We wanted kids to like it and
we wanted to show that Lifetime songs are about relationships and universal
things like joy, pain and interaction with other people. It’s just about
being in love with music and life… but it’s about being disappointed
with all those things as well.
It’s been a long time coming
but you guys are going to be hitting Australia in a little over a week.
What can we expect from a Lifetime show?
You can expect that we’re going
to play hard for you. We’ll be loud and fast and jump around make fools
of ourselves. We’re just gonna play hard for you and put on a good show!
It’s all about heart and just
playing aggressively and that still what we do. It’s going to be a good
hardcore show with lots of singalongs and hopefully some kids still
stage dive in Australia! There will be lots of opportunities to jump
and sing and dance and hopefully be inspired.
It was at this stage
that the operator gave us the hurry along to which Dan sounded a little
annoyed and responded with “what was that all about”? Good to see
a dude who’s more interested in talking to a fan than sticking to a
Who are some bands you’ve
heard in 2007 that have caught your attention?
There’s been too many to mention
man. Government Warning and Fucked Up are two bands I really love. It’s
really hard to think of… I’ll have to check my IPOD.
There’s been lots of bands,
punk or otherwise in 2007. We played with a cool band from Australia
called Pisschrist… we played a basement show with them and Paint It
Black played a festival with them back in August.
I’m trying to think who else
I’m feeling at the moment…
I listen to a lot of hip hop
so the new Aesop Rock CD was my most anticipated for the year.
“None Shall Pass” is
a great record.
There’s a band in the States
on Sub Pop called Test Jeans and I still listen to Naked Ray Gun every
day. Um, Modern Life Is War, Shook Ones, Municipal Waste, Blacklisted,
Mastodon, Marked Men.
Let’s see who else I heard
recently… Jay Retard. Have you heard him?
Can’t say that I have?
He sang for a garage punk band
called The Retards but they were really catchy. He has a new record
called Blood Visions that sounds more like a lo fi Buzzcocks but much
more aggressive… with a new wave influence as well. You should definitely
check it out.
Al from Milemarker has a new
band called Canadian Rifles who sound like Husker Du. I’ve been listening
to Hard Skin from the UK as well and Dillinger Four is still my favourite
punk band in the world.
I really like the Future Heads
first couple of albums which I still listen to a lot. Um, Freeway has
a new album out this week… some Philly hip hop and the new Dinosaur
Jr is surprisingly good as well.
Oh! Check out Cloak And Dagger
from Virgina… the same place as Strike Anywhere!
Well, you heard the man,
we’re out of time mate.
Make sure you come and introduce
yourself at the show man.
Most definitely man, I’ll
see you in Melbourne.
Make sure you catch Lifetime on their maiden voyage to Australia this December. Grab a ticket from the Kill Your Stereo store now or check
out more info on the band at http://www.lifetimenj.com or http://www.myspace.com/lifetimenj.