Comeback Kid have become a driving and leading force in contemporary hardcore. Have inspired countless bands, toured the far corners of the world multiple times, the band is enjoying the early success of 2014’s ‘Die Knowing’. Lead singer Andrew Neufeld took time out of his breakfast in Budapest to talk with us about the album, touring, record labels and a whole lot more.
Do you guys have any idea when you’ll be coming down to Australia next?
We haven’t got anything planned yet, we’ve talked about some options but nothing has been solidified. We need to get back there with the new record [Die Knowing] so it’s going to happen; just a matter of when I guess.
‘Die Knowing’ did come out earlier this year, how are you finding the response to it?
The response has been great, every time we put out a new record you’re always thinking of how many new songs you can fit in the set. That’s the most exciting thing about doing a new record is being able to play the new stuff live. Now that the record is out and we have those opportunities to play the new songs, everyone is really psyched and people are just loving the new songs. It’s super encouraging as we worked really hard on the songs!
You released ‘Die Knowing’ on Victory Records, who have a bit of notoriety when it comes to deals and lawsuits with artists. How does that history register with you when it came time to release a record with them?
Look, we signed a contract with them [Victory] in 2004, then put our first record out with them in 2005. We’ve had ups and downs and this record is actually our last record with them out of a four album contract. Now we’re free and clear. With all these ups and downs and not seeing eye to eye sometimes, the great thing about the label is that everyone who works there is super-stoked about our band. I can usually hit up anyone at the office in any department and get some help in one way or another. There’s definitely that notoriety with exactly what you’re saying but it’s just like any label. I’m not sure at this point how much it would be better on a different label as I’ve worked with quite a few and they all have their pros and their cons, their ups and their downs. I’m kind of surprised we’re here right now and done with a four album contract.
Do you have ideas or feelings with what label you might reach out to or accept an offer from? Or do you think you might try the independent route?
We’ve been a approached already by a few different labels but it’s still too early to tell. It took four years to put ‘Die Knowing’ out since ‘Symptoms Cures’ so we’ll see what happens. For us, it’s mostly about getting money to record to have a studio budget. That’s the only way we want to go, we don’t really want to go that crowd funding way. We might do something independently. We’re not going to rush into anything.
Of course, but do tell me about the record itself. Who did you guys work with, the process of making it; all the nitty-gritty details.
This record took a long time to come out. The band [members] all live in different cities. Our drummer lives in California and I live in Toronto so I would go down there and write between tours with our our other guitarist, Jeremy [Hiebert]. We ended up doing the drums at a studio in California called Ocean Studios where they filmed the TV show The Place. So it was a big beautiful studio. We enlisted a guy named Kyle Black who’s a producer out of California to kind of head up the record.
We finished the drums in California then brought Kyle up to Winnipeg, Canada, our hometown, to do the rest of the record. As usual, vocals took forever so I ended up having to do vocals on tour in Europe with my other band. I would send them back to Toronto where they would out them together and getting the guest vocalists to do their parts at wherever they were in the world. Scott [Wade, ex-vocals] did his in Toronto and my friend Pauly Correia did his in Portugal. It was recorded a lot of different places actually.
It’s kind of cool in a sense that it has a few different pieces of the world in it if you think of it like that.
Yeah, that is actually kind of cool! (laughs)
Do you think if you’d smashed out the record in six months or a year as opposed to the three or four you did it in, the album would be completely different or would it have the same vibe and tone?
I think the way we spread our records out has given us the longevity we have. Comeback Kid has been touring since 2003 and if we put a record out every year, year-and-a-half like some of these bands, that it wouldn’t work as well. Having this space between records allows us to take in any influences we may get. My musical taste changes all the time like with ‘Symptoms Cures’, our last record, I tried to bring in more of our hardcore-punk side whereas ‘Die Knowing’ I’d see it as more of a 90’s metallic-hardcore kind of thing. That was where our heads were at I guess.
Like we did a 10 year anniversary tour last year with our old vocalist, Scott Wade and I jumped back onto guitar and I said to Jeremy how much fun it was to play these old songs. They were really fun and really simple and we kind of took that more straight-ahead approach to this record. The focus was to make something that was really fun to play live.
I definitely felt that on the record. The songs felt shorter, I don’t know if they were in fact, but they were more to the point and more focused on ‘getting the job done’ in a really enjoyable way.
That was our main intention. We, as a band, kind of go through stages like with our third record, ‘Broadcasting’. On that one we were a bit more experimental, getting a bit more technical. I think people can see those stages too. They can see the growing pains as such or the ups and downs in us. We’ve put out some really great songs and we’ve put out some not-so-great songs. (Laughs) But on this record we just wanted to keep it to the point with some shorter songs.
Also, when we sat and looked at the songs we realised there were some really heavy tracks on here so we decided to keep that to the front of the record. Then the more melodic stuff we’re known for we thew at the back and the end. It starts in your face and ends on a brighter note.
Now I have a bit of a broad question of sorts for you but there’s no denying that Comeback Kid has a legacy. You inspired so many bands and still inspire them today and you’re still touring and still very prominent. So the question I want to ask is: how does it feel to know that if you were to die tomorrow, people around the world, of whom you’ve never met and don’t know exist, would be upset?
It’s crazy. It really is. I understand that Comeback Kid is big. And I also see Comeback Kid is a gateway band for some people getting into hardcore. I’ve heard from a lot of people that we are their first hardcore band that they got into. Like, we’ve toured with Dropkick Murphies, Bad Religion or Rise Against, something on more of the punk side of things and they hear us and they like it so they dig deeper into hardcore and they become hardcore fans because of us. It’s kind of a cool thing that we’ve branched out and been able to be that bridge for some people.
That leads into my next question, where do you feel Comeback Kid is at home on the spectrum of music? Do you feel better on a bill with a punk band and maybe a pop-punk band or something maybe a bit more heavy like a Terror or Madball kind of gig?
I prefer the hardcore gigs and bills no doubt. It’s always a lot of fun like tonight, we’re playing a tiny room in Budapest that holds three-hundred kids. It’s going to be a packed, sweaty gig and it going to be dope. But that being said, I love playing massive festivals where I have a huge stage to run around on or a Bad Religion show where we can play a hockey stadium. Those shows are more special for us whereas in our natural element is the most fun in a small sweaty hardcore gig.
I have this joke where if I hear a hardcore or punk or post-hardcore band is releasing an album, I’ll say, ‘I can’t wait to hear Andrew Neufeld‘s guest vocals!’ It’s because you’re on a LOT of songs from other artists. Your name pops up in my iTunes library about one-hundred times I think!
And you’re gonna see it a lot more, my friend! (laughs)
(Laughs) It’s obviously something you love doing so how does it feel to lend your voice to someone else’s art so often?
Well if I’m anywhere near a studio I’m keen to do it. There are two songs right now that I’m in line to do. I just have to find a studio first! (Laughs) One of them is an Aussie band called Earth Caller from Melbourne, actually. My buddy Josh [Collard, vocals] plays in them but I have to write the lyrics and all that shit, which makes it harder (laughs). I enjoy doing that stuff you know? I love listening to a hip-hop track and have a few of my favourite rappers be in it too, I think it’s really cool. Music is about collaboration and I just love playing with people and trying out other stuff. Especially when it’s friends.
It’s awesome because your voice will travel halfway across the world, be put on an album and then travel back around the world. It must be a cool feeling?
That’s exactly it. I feel so honoured when someone wants me to be on their album. It’s a compliment to me and I do my best on it. It sucks when you try and do it but then you don’t have the means and the time to. With us too, we’ve tried to get some people on our records and it’s all hype and it never happens.
That’s the beauty of music and that we as the public never know the plans you had for a song and the effort you put into it.
It’s a weird and beautiful thing but it’s all fun when it goes ahead. I can’t wait to do some more!
Speaking of having people on Comeback Kid records, your original singer, Scott Wade was on Die Knowing. What was it like to get him back into the fold?
Scott and I are best friends. We were before Comeback Kid and we still are after he left. There’s no hard feelings or animosity. Him coming back to do the tour last year was just as much me pushing for it as he was wanting to do it. I love his voice and I wanted to have him on it. I still write lyrics with him. Like he’ll come over to my house and we’ll try and write lyrics then we smoke weed and hangout and laugh. The way that that song worked out was I was on tour with my other band, Sights and Sounds with Bring Me the Horizon and one of the BMTH guys recorded my bits in a coat room in Italy. I sent it back and Scott did the lyrics for his part and recorded it. It was disjointed but it got done. I knew that Comeback Kid listeners would love it! There’s no egos or anything between us.
That’s really good to hear. Now I want to talk about the title of ‘Die Knowing’. Is it kind of saying that you want to die knowing that what you did I’m your life and what you had was real, and what you actually wanted? Kind of die assured that your life was what you wanted it to be?
That’s just it man. As some of the lines are, ‘die knowing that you lived to fight, die knowing where your friendships lie’. It’s die knowing that what happened in your life had to happen to make you who you are now. It was kind of about carving your own path and being comfortable with what you’ve become.
That’s about all we have time for Andrew, thanks very much for your time, I’ll let you get along with your day.
Thanks, Matty! Take care.
‘Die Knowing’ is out now. Read our review here.