They don’t come much more intense than Trash Talk. There’s only one way of doing things for the band – fast and sincere. Having released a host of quality albums since their formation, the Californian outfit recently travelled down under for a secret show as part of CONS Project Melbourne. Killyourstereo.com chatted with trio Lee Spielman, Spencer Pollard and Garrett Stevenson.
Welcome back to Melbourne guys. A bit more inconspicuous this time.
Spencer Pollard: Yeah, right. A bit more incognito.
Lee Spielman: …secret trip.
I saw the twitter update saying you were in the city earlier in the week.
Garrett Stevenson: Yeah, [I’ve] just been riding around the city, chilling. I’ve been using this opportunity to kick it out here a little bit, you don’t really get to see the city too much from touring. Having some time to hang out is sweet.
So, that’s the emphasis when you hit new cities to branch out and actually see the cities as opposed to just the hotel rooms?
LS: Whenever I get home, friends are like, “Oh, you went to this city. Did you go there?” [And] I’m like, “no, we just drove to the venue, hopped out, played the show, got back in the van and drove to the next city.”
Soundwave for the second time earlier this year too…
LS: It was tight. Big crowds [as well]. Kids that go to festivals are a rare breed of psycho (laughs). It makes sense though, you pay a shitload of money, you might as well go all the way in (laughs). If I pay $200 for anything, I’m setting something on fire for sure.
SP: I would definitely be the dude in the full body suit.
LS: …sliding head first into the mud. You’ve got to be that freak.
The other big topic of conversation at the moment is the new album. I remember a month ago Anders from Workaholics made a good observation on Twitter, saying your cover is almost like your version of the iconic Michael Jordan logo.
LS: Our friend Ari shot that. We shot that in our house where I live, it was super fun. It was cool to work with a photographer we really like.
I saw the video Noisey put up of you in your studio/home space. The whole concept was interesting with you talking about your mates and peers. How does it make you feel when the album comes out and you’ve got bands like Every Time I Die and Fucked Up paying credit to the album?
SP: It’s really cool. It’s cool to have your peers and get positive feedback from them.
GS: I think supporting your friends especially – whether their art or music – is really important. We’ve been lucky to have a lot of support from our friends whether it’s taking photos or shooting videos or whatever, we have a mutual respect, and mutual support both ways.
On the topic of “community”, that’s a key word because punk and hardcore, kids are still embracing buying the albums.
LS: I’ve been super excited to see [that]. We’ve talked about this before. It’s like a rap album comes out and it just happens, and it’s like, “Oh, that happened. Cool.” But, I feel a punk record comes out and it’s an event, I’m about to go buy this shit because I feel this and this is what I’m into. I feel other genres don’t really have that kind of community in the sense like, “I’m going to get a physical copy and read everything in here and look at this through and through.” I feel a lot of other genres are just, “I’m just going to download this, give it a listen and if I like it, whatever.” Punk and hardcore has always been a collectable type. I get super hyped when a kid is like, “I just went to 10 record stores in my city and I finally found this!” It’s all about the chase on release day.
That ties into the fact you’ve got free shows back home. Is that now the sense you’re in a position to pay it back? The fact you were kids going to record stores back in the day and now you can help kids get into punk and hardcore.
SP: Absolutely. Even taking ourselves further and doing tours and playing shows with rappers, it’s the same thing. You’re exposing people to new stuff whether it’s a positive or negative reaction or experience that’s on them, but at least they’re checking something new out.
LS: I think the Free Tour is super important. We’ve done countless tours in a van where five kids show up to a show, but they’re all juiced, they all paid to get in and they all got a t-shirt. There are kids all over the world that I’ve seen since our first tour and will probably see until our last tour. It’s really tight to be able to give back to those kids. Without them we probably wouldn’t be a band, so it’s cool to be like, “Thank you for keeping us afloat, here you go.”
In that sense is it almost viewed as a case of quality over quantity? You’d prefer to have 10 people there that know the band as opposed to 100 fair weather listeners who are there checking their phones and looking at their watches?
GS: I think the Free Tour is important and all the other stuff is important because getting people in the room and letting them form their own opinion is really cool. I don’t really care if you look at your watch, you ‘ll probably lose your watch or phone (laughs). I’m about just trying to get people in a room and have a good time to form their own opinion. You don’t have to be stressing on money. If you’re in the city, you can go and have a good time.
In regards to shows, your performances are renowned for being high energy and quite engaging. When you go to venues, what’s the directive like from venues owners? Do you almost get the riot act on what you can and can’t do?
LS: I get it like everyday or the second I walk into a place. It’s like, “Oh there’s that fool. Don’t touch that! This is not happening. If this happens, we’re shutting you down.”
GS: …Soundwave gave us some hell.
LS: The crazy thing is, kids who go to shows aren’t uncivilised. They know what they’re doing; they’re there for a reason and have figured it out. But, sometimes promoters and club owners don’t really get that. They just see someone hanging on their shit and they don’t get that it’s ok
…That’s the first thing ever, festivals too. Which is crazy to me and makes me hell mad, it’s like, “All right that was insane and every kid was hyped and goes home with a memory.” Then a promoter comes up and yells at us, “What the fuck did you do?!” [And] then he goes home and posts a photo on instagram like, “Wow, that was so sick.” I’m like, “You weren’t saying that when I was in your office and you were yelling at me. But, you want the glory of it happening.” It makes me mad when people want to give us shit and then glorify it. You can’t have the best of both – either be with or it or don’t be with it. If you’re going to hate on it, get online and be like, “Wow! Look at these fools fucking our shit up.” Don’t be like, “This is awesome!” That’s so annoying.
We were talking a moment ago about that Noisey video, you mentioned Lee there was situation a few years back when you were in Florida and some bikies were holding you at knifepoint?
LS: That’s the exact same thing.
SP: The promoter was claiming that his PA got broken because the band that played after us there was feedback from the microphone going into it. He called his biker buddies and tried to shake us down (laughs).
LS: It was Trash Talk, Iron Age and Cold World. One of the first shows of the tour or something.
It was some crazy biker gang and they were like old-school style, a dude with a buck knife, talking to us like, “What happens now Gene, are we coming at them?!” It was just like a movie. You could see all our friends in the background assembling weird bottles (laughs). We were like, “We’re not getting killed by these weird bikers. That’s definitely not happening now.”
That was another one of those situations where the shit hits the fan real quick. We were kids. That was one of our earlier tours. I’m from California and I’m deep in Florida, and there are all these bikers around me. Dudes have their hands on buck knives. What did I get myself into?
In the end, was it more a scare tactic?
SP: I don’t know? I think the guy whose venue it was, was trying to get money in and the biker guys came out and they had a little more mutual respect. They were like, “Ok, so what’s the problem? Is it actually broken? Well, if it’s not broken then there’s no issue.” It kind of dissolved itself pretty quickly.
LS: The club owner tried to flex really hard.
SP: He was like Ric Flair though (laughs).
LS: He was like, “You don’t understand! This ain’t Boston we’re in Winter Park. I’ll make sure you play no where.”
Punk has a long-standing DIY approach, is a situation like that one of the negatives though, that promoters or club owners might try and take advantage?
SP: They will definitely push the little guy over if they’re not ready to swing.
Events like that must make you savvy though.
LS: I feel like we’ve been through every type of situation as far as touring goes. From no one being at a show to lots of people [attending] to like a promoter with money to promoters not even showing up. We’ve gone to a place and there’s not even a show. I feel like we’ve learned a lot of life experiences through touring, shit you can take home and apply to real life.
Spencer, you’re wearing a Dodgers cap, this might be plucking at straws, but I know you guys are from Sacramento, Dodgers/Giants that’s a huge sporting rivalry, does that extend to music? Do SoCal fans marginalise Northern bands and vice versa?
SP: It used to be big time…
LS: Yeah, it used to be like, “Yo, we’re northern California, you’re southern California.” When kids would travel for shows, you’d fully feel the presence. If a big show happened in the Bay Area like a Gilman’s, you could see the 50 kids from southern California. It was northwest, northern California, southern California, kids would just travel up and down the coast. It’s less now, maybe it’s because I’m older [though].
You’re down here for Converse’s Con Project Melbourne. Tell us about that.
GS: This project, in particular, is really cool. We’re really happy to do this. Converse has been awesome to us – they support the band. They really look out for us and this being for the kids and teaching the kids how to build spots and having a place to skate to get out of whatever the hell they’re going through.
It feeds off each other. It’s a lifestyle and passion.
LS: Most of the stuff we do with Converse is tight because it’s more creative. It’s not like, “Oh shit! We’re about to put you on an ad.” It’s good to have less of a business relationship and more of a creative relationship.
So, it’s that integrity aspect. They understand you [and] you understand them.
LS: The people we work with over there, they know what’s up. They’re not hole in the wall weirdos (laughs), they’re good people.
Read our in-depth feature (including photos) backstage with the band at CONS Project Melbourne here.
‘No Peace’ is out now via Trash Talk Collective/Odd Future Records/Sony Australia.