108 reformed in 2005. Could please tell us what has happened since and why you decided to play together in this band again?
Robert Fish: We had originally gotten together to do 1 show for a charity that we all cared about. Once we got together to practice in New York it was evident that we still had a lot of chemistry and it felt good to play together again and to experience the songs again. After the show we decided to book some time together in the Spring of 2006 to do 7 more shows around the US and start play around with some new music and if it all made sense and felt good then we would put out a new record and continue on and obviously it did. We did the European tour in October and then some more shows in the US while we got a permanent drummer and wrote the new record.
How did the people react on the recent shows you played? What did it feel like being on stage again, after such a long time? What do you think is different if you compare it to your earlier shows in the nineties?
Vic Dicara: I have no idea. When I play music I try to enter into the world /
dimension of music. I don't really concentrate or focus on the ordinary realm of existence during a show.
Robert Fish: It felt great to play with these guys again, to experience the
older songs and really to write and play the new songs. I don't know how to compare it so much to our shows in the 90's other than to say it is more intense, cathartic and enjoyable this time around. We are all in a better place as individuals which really feeds into how we play together.
Your new record "A New Beat From A Dead Heart" has got a very raw, unpolished overall sound. Does it sound exactly like you wanted it to? What was it like working with Kurt Ballou for the first time? What was his influence on the writing / recording process?
Vic Dicara: To have a finished product in mind when you begin an artistic
endeavor is something I never have done. For me, it kills creativity. I had nothing in mind about how i wanted the record to sound, except: "Killer"
Kurt looks good in a toga. He's a nice person, good at what he does, and a good new friend.
Robert Fish: 108 is really a live band and for our first few records we
struggled to bring that energy into a studio setting. I think this record really captured who and what we are. It was an intense experience. We all live in different parts of the US and although we entered the studio with a handful of songs most were still rough ideas and many of the songs we had never played together as a group so we needed to all find our voice in the songs themselves.Kurt was awesome. Very cool dude. He definitely prefers to record differently than we do so it was a bit chaotic at first but he let us do our thing.
As far as influences we have always been a rather eclectic group in terms of individual influences and this record is definitely the most collaborative so I don't know that we can really cite references.
Tom Hogan: The way the record sounds is basically a natural byproduct of the raw and intense way it was written and recorded. Kurt was everything we needed him to be in the studio, and even helped us arrange and perform on occasion. I think we're all in agreement that we would love to work with him again sooner than later.
One of my favourite tracks on your new record, the powerful „Three Hundred Liars”, reminds me a little bit of the new-school aesthetic which was typical for mid-nineties hardcore bands such as Snapcase e.g. How would you describe your sound, which sets in very refreshing way apart from the typical metal or oldschool sounds which are so common within the scene today?
Vic Dicara: Sound is sound. A picture is a picture. A fragrance is a fragrance. A taste is a taste. A feeling is a feeling. You can describe them with words but really - why not just hear the sound, see the picture, smell the fragrance, taste the taste, and feel the feeling? ...But our music sounds like Godzilla with eight arms.
Robert Fish: I think the song is a bit of a reach back to the Holyname era of the band which was very groove oriented. Again as a collective group our influences are rather extreme from person to person which lends to a more broad songwriting process.
Tom Hogan: I think that what you are referring to is a "groove", and you're right to say that this isn't common in hardcore today. If it does exist, it's associated with the hip-hop tendencies of bands like Madball. Over the years, hardcore has been continually and exponentially influenced by metal, so it's not a surprise that the general tendency for a "hardcore" band is to create music primarily for moshing. For us, the "mosh part" isn't a concern, but honestly it just boils down to our influences. Electric-era Miles Davis and the fusion this music inspired is one of my biggest personal influences and has therefore affects my playing.
Could you please comment on the lyrics? Do you think your famous self-declaration "Direct expression. Bypass mind. Bypass intellect. Self to sound. Against the dead trend. The robot me. The modern social entity stripped of color and vibrancy. Not philosophy. Not religion. True self expressed in sound." still fits?
Robert Fish: Again this is our most collaborative record in all respects and I think that is definitely reflected in the lyrical content. I think the lyrics really reflect where our aspirations have taken us as individuals. I do think that the original declaration which announced 108's formation in 1992 is as relevant, if not more relevant, today than it ever was.
Vic Dicara: You rule for quoting this. There is nothing that ever fit us better. It's timeless.
What would you say, are your philosophical / ethical influences, especially lyricwise? Names of authors / thinkers are welcomed.
Tom Hogan: I enjoy reading G.I. Gurdjieff
Vic Dicara: The entire Sanskrit literature, especially that of Sri Rupa is a
major ideological influence. Rollins is a major stylistic influence..
Robert Fish: I don't know that my favorite writers are very influential in how I write lyrically but Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura and Srila Prabodananda Saraswati are my favorites. Personally I don't set out to write songs with specific themes. In general I write a lot and when I hear a song it conjures up a feeling or inspiration and I just go with it.
In the past you were often quoted as one of the most influential so called "Krsna"-bands. What role do religious beliefs play in your lyrics or your everyday life nowadays? And, in a similar context, what do you think of bands who use their religious background as a "tool" to sell more records?
Vic Dicara: In the modern western world we've taken spirituality and set it
aside from our normal daily existence. Thus we have churches and religions and people ask "how religious are you?" I don't live that way. Spirituality is my everyday life. And my everyday life is "spiritual". Our lyrics come from our inner selves. Thus they are completely spiritual in all respects.
Bands who use religion as a tool to sell more records? I really don't care. They're certainly not impressing me.
Robert Fish: We were always a rather eclectic group spiritually as well as
musically. We all held/hold a common inspiration with Gaudiya theology but to say we have or ever had any rigidly defined religious doctrine that defines us is simply incorrect. Our spiritual aspirations are at the root of what we do but what it looks like and how it plays within our individual lives is anything but unified.
Personally I detest religion because rarely, if ever, does it ever represent the spiritual inspirations it claim to be based on. I think the lyrics I wrote for Guilt represent my feelings fairly well. My inspirations and aspirations are mine and mine alone so I certainly appreciate those with a spiritual inspiration but find religion to be distasteful. If you have some religious inkling I would prefer one keeps it at their church but to each their own.
Vic, I read in another interview that you said "hardcore exposed me to Hare Krishna". Could you comment on that, since there are a lot of people in the scene who do not get the connection between a punkrock / hardcore lifestyle and strong religious beliefs?
Vic Dicara: I came into contact with Subversive spirituality the first time i listened to I Against I by the Bad Brains. Next I became a fan of the Cro Mags. The majority of my friends in the NYHC scene at the time were connected to Krishna or Rasta or occultism in some way. Spirituality was a major ingredient in the NYHC that I grew up in, at least in my perception of it.
How did you get in touch with Deathwish records, who have an impressive roster regarding well known and respected hardcore bands? What is it like working with Jacob, Tre and the rest of the staff?
Tom Hogan: Deathwish Inc. is amazingly supportive of our artistic vision, and therefore a pleasure to work with.
Robert Fish: When we decided to begin playing and writing we all wrote out a list of 3-4 labels we were interested in and Deathwish was at the top of every list so it made sense in all respects. So we sent a demo to Deathwish Inc. and the rest was history.
What were you guys doing when 108 took a break? Were you still involved in making music or did you mainly do things which did not have anything to do with making music or being artistic in any other way?
Vic Dicara: I did Burn and a half dozen other bands that broke up painfully.
Robert: I did a few records with a band called The Judas Factor (Revelation Records). Otherwise I started a family, a career and just tried to become a happier and evenly balanced person.
Are there any bands in today´s scene you are influenced by, or do you still dig the "classics", e.g. Bad Brains, Black Flag and don´t listen to many modern bands?
Tom Hogan: Musically, I draw inspiration from what I consider progressive and innovative regardless of genre or time period. This includes artists from Converge, Coroner, and the Hope Conspiracy to Chick Corea/Return to Forever, Herbie Hancock, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, to Drive Like Jehu, Don Caballero, and June of 44 to Berg, Hovhaness, and Messiaen.
Robert Fish: I don't know that I find influence in any current hardcore/punk bands but I certainly enjoy a bunch such as Rise and Fall, Fucked Up, The Hope Conspiracy, Look Back and Laugh, Blacklisted, Lifetime and Converge are cool.
Vic Dicara: I am more influenced by PEOPLE than by bands. Our bass player is always a huge influence on my playing. Tom Capone was my original influence. If I see someone in a band do something cool, i'll get influenced or inspired. Sometimes when i see a singer go off in a certain way, or even a kid on a dance floor, that will influence my music as well.
And Vic, are you still in touch with Zack (de la Rocha) with whom you played in Inside Out?
Vic Dicara: Once in a blue moon.
What are your plans for the future? Will there be another 108 record?
Robert Fish: After we get back from Europe in July we will do dates through the US through the rest of 2007 and beginning of 2008 along with a tour of South America. We then want to record another record and do it all over again.
Vic Dicara: Yes... it will be on myspace for girls under 14 only. We will also be featured ringtone on major cell phone providers. I may also get a sex change operation. You never know. Then again I might just die. But I don't plan on that happening for another 71 years.