Comeback Kid

Hailing from Winnipeg, Canada, Comeback Kid have been an integral part of the hardcore scene since their beginnings in 2002. The band are in the early stages of working on a follow-up to their 2010 album, ‘Symptoms & Cures,’ and are currently in Australia for the Boys of Summer tour. caught up with lead singer Andrew Neufeld late last year to discuss the tour, as well as the band’s side projects and plans for the future.

Comeback Kid will be back in Australia for the Boys of Summer tour in January. How are you feeling about that?

I’m pretty excited we get to come again in the summertime, which is usually the theme that happens with Comeback Kid. It’s super cold here (laughs), so we’re excited to get there and hang out with some friends and play some shows.

What can we expect in terms of the material you’ll be playing?

Out of the four records that we have, we always play just a mix of all of our records. So we’ll usually just be playing three or four songs from every record, and just kind of mix it up like that. We know that people are into the band at different times and are into different records, so we just kind of try to make it good for everybody that’s checked out at least one of our records before and try to play material off everything.

Your first band Figure Four is playing a few shows with Madball in Canada this month. How did that come about?

Yeah, actually, that’s this weekend, I’m missing practice right now to do this interview (laughs). Pretty much, our bass player Bailey, he’s right in the mix and he’s a booking agent and he’s doing all this stuff, and he’s usually the one that kind of hounds us and bothers us, like, "Come on, we gotta do some stuff with Figure Four." I’m usually the one that’s pretty reluctant. He heard that Madball was doing some shows around eastern Canada around this time and I mean, Madball, that’s a nice little benefit for me, so he kind of convinced me by saying, "Hey, we could play some Figure Four shows with Madball." And so that’s why that’s happening. So we’re playing Montreal and Ottawa and Toronto this weekend. And I started the band when I was 16, I’m 31 now; we’ve all grown up a lot and it’s just cool to hang out with old friends and it’s just a fun thing to do, you know what I mean?

Have you made any progress with the new Comeback Kid record? Have you done any writing or anything?

We have about three songs written right now, so it’s very, very early stages. We don’t mind taking our time with this record. We’ve been a band for over ten years, so we’re not in a huge rush. We’ll probably try to get a record out by later 2013, try to record maybe in half a year from now or something like that. All of our band lives in different cities, so right now we’re in the kind of place where we’re sending material over the internet and just kind of working that way. And then sometimes before a tour or whatever, we can get together and write for a few days here and there, and just do it sporadically until we feel we have enough material.

Your last album Symptoms + Cures is a little more dynamic and experimental, musically and vocally. Is that the direction the new record will be heading in?

I think that was with some of the recording techniques, especially with the vocals. I had been able to watch some producers work and do some other kinds of records besides hardcore records, and I was just really inspired by one producer in particular who’s really influenced me in terms of showing me how to layer vocals really well and do different kinds of things with that. So I’m personally really into different kinds of vocal layering and just having fun with it in the studio, you know what I mean? And musically, I just think it was the recording techniques, it wasn’t so much like one guitar on one side, one on the other, boom, meat and potatoes, let’s go. We kind of tried to add a little bit more dynamics with that maybe. We just tried to mix it up a little bit. As far as the songs, I didn’t feel like they were that experimental as opposed to Broadcasting… or Wake the Dead or whatever, I just think with some of the recording techniques, we kind of mixed it up a little bit more than the previous records.

You had some guest vocalists on Symptoms + Cures. Is there anyone you’d maybe like to collaborate with on the new record?

I haven’t really given it too much thought. We tried to get Al from Dropkick Murphys to do something with us on the last record, and he was really keen to do it, but for the song I had for him, the lyrics I felt were more of a personal thing – that song ‘G.M. Vincent and I’, from our last record. That’s a guy I’ve always wanted to have do a feature with us. I dunno, I think it’s just gonna be when the time comes, if a song needs a guest vocal or we just want to have some fun with it. The last one was kind of a mixture of convenience and just friends that we wanted to have on our record. Like A Wilhelm Scream, they were playing Toronto while we were recording in Toronto, so I just went up to them on the fly and said, "Hey, do you wanna come to the studio tomorrow and lay down some things? I have a singing part that I think would be good for you." And just stuff like that. So it was really an on the fly kind of thing, we didn’t really plan too much for it.

You’ve had a lot of lineup changes over the years, more recently with Casey leaving and Stu Ross now playing guitar. How have you guys dealt with all these changes?

We realise that this band, just having members come and go, we’ve probably had five different bass players or something like that, and we’ve never really let it stop us. We have three of our original members, and we always kind of have our life and our tours planned eight months in advance, so hopefully if the touring lifestyle doesn’t work for someone then they’ll give us some notice, and we’ll have some time to find someone. Stu almost joined the band five years ago, so he was kind of a perfect fit. He’d been playing with bands since we’d been doing our thing, so we’d always kind of crossed paths with him because he was in Misery Signals and Living With Lions and some other bands, so that was just a natural fit. I think, just the amount of touring that we do, and you’ll hear this from other bands or other people who have been in touring bands, it’s just like, the lifestyle isn’t for everybody. And even if someone really, really wants to play the music, and wants to go on tour, maybe they want to do it for two, three years, but committing your whole life and a decade to that is definitely another story. So it’s not for everybody, and sometimes people like to do it, and it’s not going to always last forever for some people. And some of us just really like it and want to stick with it (laughs).

…So do you think you’ll stick with this lifestyle forever?

(laughs) Forever, I don’t know if that’s physically possible. I mean, I’m still able to travel the world and play awesome hardcore shows and play with my favourite bands, and I’m still excited about it genuinely, and I think that goes a long way. Our guitar player Jeremy, he’s 36 and he’s in the best shape of his life. And he still loves touring, still loves going to shows and loves hardcore, and it’s still what we love doing. And until it becomes a thing where we feel like our excitement, or the excitement about the band in general, is kind of going down, then we’ll have a think about it, but as long as the getting’s good, we’re fine, you know what I mean?

Comeback Kid toured with Propagandhi recently. Were they an influential band for you guys?

Yeah, we’re from the same city as them originally in Winnipeg, so for me that was one of my first punk bands, I got their CD in a cardboard box when I was 13 years old, and some of their songs were the first songs I ever learned to play on guitar. And they’re just such a great band, and so humble, so tight, so amazing, we’re just huge fans of them. Collectively it’s maybe Comeback Kid’s favourite band.

You’ve toured with some younger bands like Such Gold this year. Do you think those younger bands look up to you in that way?

I’m sure that we have younger bands that are fans of our band, in the same way that we looked up to other bands, but yeah. I mean, if that’s the case, super cool, and we always want to help out younger bands every chance we get. We try to take bands we like on tour, and it’s usually younger bands. There’s a lot of cool up and coming stuff going on, so yeah, if people look up to us, cool. We’re still fans of so many current bands, you know what I mean? So I know that feeling.

You guys all have other stuff going on musically. Is there anything happening with Sights and Sounds at the moment, or any of the other side projects?

Yeah, when I’m off tour with Comeback Kid, I’ve been working on some stuff in the studio with Sights and Sounds. It’s just kind of a similar process, when I’m going away with Comeback Kid for a month or two and then I get home for two weeks, and then I’m gone for another month. So it’s hard to get in a groove when I’m kind of always going on tour. But we’ve been working on new material that we’ll probably be releasing sometime soon, and then Stu and Matt have a band called Lowtalker, and they just released an EP on No Sleep Records. And then I’m just doing a couple of shows this weekend with Figure Four, which is just kind of a fun thing. But those are the projects musically we’ve got going on right now.

Comeback Kid’s been together for over ten years. Is there anything you still want to achieve as a band?

Right now, I think we’ve surpassed our goals with playing hardcore music, and we’re just still excited to be touring. And I think now, the thing that really kind of gets us off is going to some crazier places. Like, we have an opportunity to go play Tel Aviv in Israel. And after Australia we’re going to Southeast Asia and we’re going to some other places, but what really excites us is being able to break new ground with touring, and play places like, hopefully next year, Israel, and maybe India, and that’s super exciting for us still.

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