Bay Area hardcore’s heaviest band First Blood have made a name for themselves as purveyors of politically-conscious mosh tunes. Their new album “Silence Is Betrayal” has just come out, reaffirming their brand of unrelenting hardcore brutality still reigns. With an Australian tour alongside fellow Californians Stick To Your Guns just around the corner, we caught up with frontman extraordinaire Carl Schwartz to talk politics, Killafornia and Missy Higgins.
Hello there, please start out by telling us your name, what you do in First Blood and your most hated contemporary political figure.
My name is Carl and I write/record almost everything for First Blood. When it comes to contemporary politics, I would say that 98% of politicians are nothing but high-paid, arrogant liars put there by the special interests that fund their careers to convince common people that they are free while the machine steals their money, their time, their lives, the lives of their children, and the list goes on an on.
What are the bands main musical (or other) influences?
Hatebreed, Sick Of It All, Earth Crisis, Merauder, and a few more.
The new record “Silence Is Betrayal” has just dropped. How did the writing and recording process for this release differ from that for “Killafornia”?
Killafornia was written in a practice studio in a month by a couple of dudes. Silence Is Betrayal was written and recorded by pretty much me (with some help) and it only took about four years to finish and release.
A couple of new tracks have been out for a little while now. How have you found crowd or critical responses to the new material?
I think the crowd response has been really good so far. It’s been great to see kids already singing along with the new songs live, even before the new album was officially released. I think the most praise has come from kids who appreciate the new lyrics and critical positions against corrupt authority and the insane yet prevailing points of view.
First Blood are much more politically focused than a lot of your hardcore contemporaries. With such a turbulent climate in the States right now, what are your thoughts on politics at the moment?
You really want to know what I think about politics? Politics is just a big game. Politicians serve the role to soothe the masses into accepting what the real financial masters wish to impose on society. They wear the neverending fake smile and say all the right things like puppets to the point where you can almost see the strings. The issues and debates provide people with an illusion of choice in selecting among candidates that appear to offer different solutions to many of society’s problems. In the end, it is really big money that calls the shots and our "elected" representatives are the powerless shadow cast by the special interests over society.
The last two releases now have been put out through Trustkill Records. How has it been working with those guys?
I don’t get too involved in the record label aspect of the business. What I do know is that Trustkill which is now Bullet Tooth understands the industry and how it has changed drastically over the recent years and they know how to get your music out to larger audiences than we could have accomplished on our own.
Do you think that music has power to significantly change peoples’ minds or impact society?
Of course. Do you think that music had a huge impact in organizing and gathering people during the peace movements of 40-50 years ago? The same applies today and maybe even more so that technology has extended the reach of musical artists. Music and lyrics can open the hearts and minds of people, but it is up to the listener to decide how they can dedicate themselves to bringing about any degree of personal and social change.
Having played some pretty cool tours and shows in your time, what’s the best experience you’ve had?
Just being able to survive doing something I love is rewarding enough, and no matter what the tour or show, I can’t help but feel like a lucky guy to be able to do what I do day in day out.
What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to the band?
The worst thing was taking nearly four years to release a followup album and having the band and its name nearly fall apart. But what I’ve learned is that nothing comes easy and if you want something bad enough you must commit yourself to get it done.
If First Blood could play with any artist or band, living or dead, who would it be?
That’s a tough call. We’ve been fortunate enough to play with some of our favorite bands and legendary acts in this kind of music. I suppose John Lennon wouldn’t take well to our style of music but I am sure we would have had some serious talks about peace and love.
What does First Blood rock in the tour van?
A lot of Iowa hardcore in the form of Crusader hits the airwaves in the big white tour beast. Dudes get emotional at times that’s for sure.
Any cheesy pop tunes we should know about?
Missy Higgins is the shit.
Other than the upcoming Aussie Stick To Your Guns tour, what does the future hold for First Blood?
We are gonna blast Europe right afterwards with Terror after the New Year and then it’s off to push "Silence Is Betrayal" all over the world for the rest of 2011. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.
Any last shout outs or comments?
If we choose to say and do nothing then nothing change, and the criminals of the world will have no reason to stop fucking with people and crippling this world. Silence is betrayal!
Thanks mate, see you very soon!