Das Foto stammt freundlicherweise von Sight of Sound!
Allschools: How are you?
I am great, thank you! We’re having a great time!
Allschools: …and Germany’s been good to you guys this year especially with the album “Endgame” starting off as number one!
Germany is doing great for us! We played Leeds yesterday and that was.. “OK”. It wasn’t like Germany at all. We played Germany already on this trip and whenever we go and play anywhere else it’s like ‘ah come on - let’s go back’! It’s great! And shows are sold out.
Allschools: Like tonight!
Yeah! And we played here two years ago as well – and that was sold out, too. It’s awesome. And we did Rock am Ring here and THAT was great. We had no idea until we went on stage. Wohoo! At that point that was the biggest show we ever played.
Allschools: Do you miss playing smaller shows in Germany?
It is a cause for different things, you know. In smaller clubs you get the energy of the kids and you can go and actually touch them and get their reactions and then in bigger crowds – the energy you get from huge crowds is amazing.
Allschools: Also you reach more people- especially for a band like what you are – that should be very important.
We play the music of smaller clubs and try to take it to bigger venues.
Allschools: As long as you keep having a message and play punk music and keep enjoying that – you’ll be fine.
Yes – maybe it’s also they case now that we’re getting older but if a band is staying true to themselves, playing music that they always played and staying clear with their message, then it won’t matter how large they get: There’s never really a selling out point. Our band has been on a major label for many records and that’s usually the calling card for when they say that’s a sellout… But you know, a major label doesn’t really make a difference these days. People don’t really buy records anymore. Once your record is out there, people can listen to it, which is fine with us. Even when downloading it, they still come out to see us on tour. You cannot download the live experience. They can get their album for free but they have got to come see the show.
Allschools: Do you still enjoy touring, even on such a long tour?
Yeah! With the guys if they get to far from home for a very long time it’s sometimes can be a bit difficult because they all have families. Also, you cannot really sleep on a tour and it can drive you crazy after a while. But when you get back home after being away for so long, you sit in front of the TV at 10pm and your hands get all tingly and your body feels like it should be getting busy. You get this feeling every night that you should be doing something. You’ve just been doing it for so long that it is hard to get it out of your system. And pretty much everybody in the band has been doing this for a long time. I’ve personally been doing this forevery and the band has been together for over ten years.. so every year of that – for the most part – has been on tour.
Allschools: Which tour of those you did in the past did you like best?
In the States we just toured with Bad Religion, which is the bands collective favorite band, and so that was surreal. You know, for us it was like the best thing that could ever happen to us, would be to play with The Descendants and Bad Religion and then it happened and that was just overwhelming and unbelievable.
Allschools: Every fan’s dream…
Yeah. I had mix tapes – many mix tapes – with The Descendants on one side and Bad Religion on the other side and I knew every piece of lyric. So, this was really one thing where it’s like: You’re doing it and you still can’t believe you’re doing it!
And we would talk about it and say: can you believe that this is even happening? That is one of the greatest things about this band that these things keep happening.
Allschools: And you’re going on tour with the Foo Fighters! That will probably be a little different.
Yeah!! It will be a different crowd! And those guys are great! We played a couple of festivals with them and we get along really, really well. Dave Grohl is such a nice guy. The moment he starts to talk you just forget who the guy is entirely. He’s very easy to get along with.
Allschools: The Hurricane Irina is approaching the US coasts right this minute. That brings me to go back to Hurricane Katrina, which inspired you to write the song “Help is on the Way” on the current album. Do you think that the government is dealing with this issue better this time?
Unfortunately, I think it is in their best interest and they know it is in their best interest. There were more warnings about Katrina then there were about Irina. Maybe it is hard to say because we’re at such a ready state for anything that comes up to our shores, so that there’s a high level of awareness since Katrina. BUT compared to what happened back then, I’m afraid that Manhattan will get a better, preferential treatment because it is Manhattan and specially because there’re a lot of white people that live all over Manhattan. You know, I’m from Texas, especially from Southern Texas, and we’ve got many refugees from Katrina and I saw it first hand. I was living down there and I was seeing how many people came. For months after that, we were getting refugees that were getting treated for diseases and that have no home to go home to. What is funny, is that it was just whipped off the news. You never heard about them again. After a couple of weeks there was nothing. And I guarantee you that if anything that is only a fraction of the size of Katrina would happen to Manhatten, they wouldn’t say that ‘a couple of homes were destroyed’ but you would hear about it for months. You would hear about the people and they will name each and every one of the household persons and who was involved.
Allschools: They would do a movie out of it – right away…
That’s what is sad about it in our country. And it is sad that it takes something like that magnitude to bring it home to everyone. Manhattan is kind of the world’s capital. So it has to happen there to start being recognized everywhere else. It sucks that it’s geographical… It’s been the same in the west coast. When there’s a small earthquake in California, which happen all the time, then you’ll have 24 hours of coverage.
Allschools: That’s why the call the space in the middle “fly-over-country”. They just don’t care. That’s not where the money is.
Exactly! They are not rich. They are not white. They have no one who speaks up for them.
Allschools: Right. They don’t have a lobby. It is the same issue with children – which brings me to the next topic. You are currently promoting your song ‘Make it Stop’…
We are working with this campaign “It Gets better”.
Allschools: Yes! And you’re also nominated for tonight’s MTV Video Music Awards. So, you’re doing a lot to get social topics out there.
Yes. And the campaign with “It gets better” is from this organization that tries to create more awareness. Dan Savage, up until recently, was just an amazing journalist for a paper called The Stranger, which is a local newspaper in Seattle and he is a sex columnist. He himself is very much sort of an advocate for the gay/lesbian community (LGBT). So he started getting a lot of claim and recognition and started to get books published out of his publications and everybody started to take notice and he is a fantastic, fantastic person! He started this campaign and wanted us to be involved. And what he is basically saying is: ‘You’re getting bullied right now, you’re getting bullied in high school but it is getting better than this! You’re going to graduate and high school is this thing and after that it get’s so much better!’ The thing is that people that are gay or lesbian or.. not even that. Kids who are just different… Maybe they are not as strong or someone just thinks they are weird… They commit suicide. They don’t feel like there’s another way out.
They go to a public school because they’re parents don’t have enough money to send them to a private school that might take better care of them but maybe those schools have the same issues, too…
That’s how it started. Go to their homepage. There are all these videos and that’s how I got involved. (Anm. d. Red.: http://www.itgetsbetter.org/)
Allschools: But this is only in the US right now?
Yes but the song and the video will be a good way to put an international stamp on it. People can download our video and see it and get in touch.
Allschools: Over here it is the same problem. I am sure your involvement will help kids become more aware. Do you actually seek out these campaigns or do they reach out to you, knowing your have a big socio-political background?
This one specifically, we were in the studio and writing the song and talking about suicide. We heard about one of these cases because my brother lives in Armadillo, Texas, where one kid actually got murdered and he happened to be gay teen. That sort of hit home and my brother and us we were all online and saw the campaign and it was exactly the same thing so it was clear that we wanted to get involved with this.
There has not been a rock band involved with this topic before. There’s been like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga but not anybody who is carrying guitars and playing rock n’ roll music to sort of align themselves with this certain topic.
Allschools: There is also this cliché that rock n’ roll people are not supposed to be gay. They are all just these cool, hot, very tall, very skinny guys that… you know..
Exactly! It has worked out great. We’ve received so much positive feedback. We couldn’t be happier. With the MTV nomination – that is just beyond our expectations! We’ll see how we do but just getting the cause recognized is great!
Allschools: Right! It should not be about the award but about the coverage you get and that they talk about the cause. The award itself is not going to make it better or bigger.
There are a couple of great videos. Anyone who wins would be great. And we’re getting this clip where we can actually say something. And I think it is great that there is this category where we can really say something. That is a huge step.
Allschools: Pink and Lady Gaga are also nominees and they are referring to similar problems in their videos.
What amazes me is that for the most part they are talking to kids saying: it’s ok if you’re not like this or that person. It’s going to be alright and you are perfect just the way you are. When at large Reality TV and the music industry in the United States is glorifying these people that are of no – completely no – artistic credibility. They are just creatures of the media: The Kardashians and things like that. These are people that have some talents or were born rich and so America either just stares and gapes at them or they make fun of them because they have addictions in these intervention shows. It is amazing that media like MTV is bringing the attention to artist that are trying to say something. We are really flattered to be in this.
Allschools: What’s your favorite song to play live – not only from Endgame but from all albums so far?
Satellite is a lot of fun to play. I just want to have a lot of guitar stuff happening! But it changes throughout the tour. Sometimes it’s ‘Give it All’ and then again it could be any other song the last night we were playing something from The Clash and that was great! I never get sick of playing anything. I get to play guitar in front of people that want to see us play. I am very much a guitar nerd. Sometimes I am surprised about my own nerdyness.