Poison The Well have been releasing records for over 10 years now. The band burst onto the scene in 1999 with their mindblowing debut album ‘The Opposite Of December’, which is still considered as one of the greatest hardcore albums to this day.
With a new album already out and a forthcoming Australian tour on the horizon, we had a chat to guitarist Brad Clifford to see what the hell is happening in the world of Poison The Well.
Can we start with your name and what you do in the band?
I’m Brad Clifford and I play guitar.
You guys are just released your fifth album ‘The Tropic Rot’. Tell us what the record means to you…
The title is in reference to a lot of things, and depending on who you ask in the band you’ll probably get a little bit of a different, more personal answer from each. To me, it’s indicative of my time spent in Florida writing, just going to practice every day and writing songs and then coming back to our bass player’s apartment and just… sitting, waiting for the next day to come.
‘The Tropic Rot’ was originally intended to be produced by J. Robbins, but he was unable to do it (due to a family emergency) so Steve Evetts stepped up. Did the album end up sounding much different to what you had intended? Did the change in production have any adverse affects?
I think having Steve Evetts at the helm from this one was a bit of a blessing in disguise. We absolutely love J’s work and would relish the opportunity to work with him in the future, but I think for this one Steve was an excellent sonic mix. The material is a lot more heavy and focused than on the last record, and I think he was a good go-to guy for that kind of sound.
How would you say the new record differs from 2007’s ‘Versions’?
I think it takes a lot of the ideas and styles that Poison The Well has had in the past and brings them together in a pretty focused way. Versions was pretty much Ryan going wild and doing what he wanted to do artistically in a lot of ways, and this one is more just 5 guys in a room writing what they collectively want to hear, with respect to the past, present, and future of this band.
Your sound has been getting more and more progressive with each release; ‘The Tropic Rot’ kind of takes you back to your beginnings with a kind of sound that blends old and new. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
Yeah definitely. It has some of the energy of earlier records, and the artistic intent of later ones, and brings some other new things to the table, as always.
Take us through the writing process for a Poison the Well album. Do you guys usually write the same way for each release or do you like to mix it up?
It’s really just 5 of us in a room playing. One of us will have an idea and we’ll work on that and see what flourishes, everyone will put in their input, and when it’s all done Jeff comes up with the lyrics. It’s a pretty normal band-writing kind of thing.
Your album 1999 album ‘Opposite Of December’ is still hailed by many as one of the greatest hardcore albums to this day. Seeing as it’s such a popular album, do kids still get syked on the old material?
It’s actually pretty fun to play. Some more than others, but I was a fan of the record when it came out, just as many were, so playing it is fun for me. I could see how the dudes who have been in the band forever and played those songs literally over 1000 times would get tired of it from time to time.
Are you sick of hearing requests at shows for the old songs?
Only if we don’t want to play them. Haha. But we almost always do have old songs in the set, so it’s all good.
You guys have been a band for over 10 years now. What keeps you going?
Mostly Subway sandwiches and the fact that we love this more than anything else in life.
The band has done about a million tours since you inception, but what are a couple that have stuck out for you?
So many come to mind, for better or worse. One of my favorite was the Underoath / Every Time I Die / Maylene and the Sons of Disaster tour. It was an awesome tour full of sweet dudes. So much fun.
Poison The Well has pretty much had a revolving door for bass players and rhythm guitarists. I think I counted about 19 bass/guitarists on your Wikipedia page. Why do you think you have such a hard time locking down a full lineup?
It’s really just touring so much I think. It’s hard for people to want to tour forever and have the lifestyle to support that. You sacrifice so many things that people with normal lives take for granted. I could see it being hard for people to take after a while, but it just takes finding people who want to grind and tour forever.
You guys were in Australia for the Soundwave tour in February. What was that whole experience like? Did you guys get a good response? I know it’s been a few years since you were last out here.
Soundwave was fucking awesome and basically kind of like a vacation. We’d play a show, have a day off to hang out in the city, maybe play a club show, and then go on to the next city. So many excellent dudes on the tour to hang out with and friendly faces everywhere. The response was awesome and we can’t wait to come back.
…and of course you guys will be here in a couple weeks. What are you most looking forward to when you get back here?
Hanging out with sweet friends, playing sweet shows, and causing as much trouble as possible for everyone.
Who are some new bands that you have been getting into?
Lovers Grave from Melbourne is new and awesome, I can’t wait to see what they do in the future.
Any parting words for your Aussie fans?
We love Australia and can’t wait to come back and play again. I’m going to find a shark in Melbourne harbor and kick it in the face. Come with.
Thanks for your time.
Poison The Well kick off their Australian tour on October 20th and you can see all the dates here. ‘The Tropic Rot‘ is out now via Stomp.