First of all, how and when did you come up with the idea of having a new DAMNATION AD record?
MIKE: When Ken and I started working on the When Tigers Fight record it seemed so natural. We realized that even after all these years we could write and play music that we loved, we wanted to see if we could make it work.
Aren’t you busy enough with WHEN TIGERS FIGHT?
MIKE: Ken and I are both in When Tigers Fight. But from the begining, that has always been a side project. Our other guitarist, JD, is in the Unholy and Path of Resistance. So between all of our bands, When Tigers Fight has been very stagnant. Those songs are a lot less intense and fun to play, so I think all of us would like to do more of it in the future.
KEN: When you really want to do something you will make time for it.
There are a lot of reunions going on at the moment. A lot of the influential hardcore acts like EARTH CRISIS, CRO-MAGS, MERAUDER or GORILLA BISCUITS are at last having reunion shows. How do you evaluate this trend?
MIKE: I think it is really cool to let the younger kids see the bands that helped make hardcore what it is today. It is strange because with a lot of these guys they are better musicians now and they sound so much better.
KEN: I think underground music got a lot bigger in the past years, and most of those bands are missing those days a bit. I think its very special for an older band to still have an audience years later like the bands you listed. I think its cool as long as those kinda bands have the same spirit inside them and the songs and lyrics still have the same meaning. For example, a year and a half ago I saw Strife (the mid 90s straight edge band from southern California) and they were singing their old straight edge songs, but trying to say that the lyrics had a different meaning - it was really weird. The problem was that most of the guys were not straight edge anymore, so it was strange seeing them try to figure out how to play those songs, even though most of them are completely different guys.
Let's have a look in the 1990s, DAMNATION AD was really influential back than, fusing rageous hardcore with metal. How did the scene change since than? How do you evaluate especially the current metalcore trends?
MIKE: Back then people did not know what to think of us. Being on Jade Tree and then on Revelation did not help things. Neither label had bands that were similar to us and the labels did not know how to properly promote us. Now it is almost the same. There are so many different genres of heavy music. But I am not sure if we fit into any of the catagories.
I think it is amazing that heavy music is not only in the underground anymore. It gives people a chance to hear some really great bands that they would never have been able to hear otherwise.
Did your believes and the message you transport with your music change while maturing personally?
MIKE: I think other than age, Ken and I are very similar to who we were when we started Damnation. Even though Damnation never was a straight edge band, both of us have always been straight edge and are vocal about that. For the most part the lyrics have not changed much. Over the years I have come to realize that I have always had a problem with depression and that it is not something that will just go away. I am going to have to work really fucking hard to live with it.
KEN: Yeah, Mike and I are probably more mature - but we're the same people we always have been. Being involved in music for so many years makes us better are making and playing music, and also gave a us a newer perspective so we could improve our sound in the studio and on stage.
Why did you choose to work with Victory records?
MIKE: We have had the chance to work with Victory several times in the past. It never seemed like the right time. But now with the bands that they have on their label, it seemed like the perfect mix. They are going to make it possible for us to get out there and tour as much as we can. I really look forward to working with Clint, Tony and the rest of the staff.
KEN: Like Mike said, us working with Victory was no new thing. Tony was the first to sign my first band, Worlds Collide, and he also put out a very limited edition Damnation A.D. 7” back in 97. Our brothers in Darkest Hour have been on Victory for a long time, and this time we decided lets work with a label that really understands our style of music.
What can you tell us about the album title of the new record?
KEN: Its about getting the chance to make things right. No matter how long it takes, and the idea that you never lose sight of your goals. Even if those goals would take you life after life to accomplish.
"In This Life Or The Next" breathes a lot of the old spirit. Did you make the decision consciously to have a very unpolished and rough sound?
KEN: We have our sound, so we weren't going to leave that behind and sound like some new-metal band all of the sudden. A Damnation CD is gonna be raw, with monster drum tones and bone crushing guitars - that's the only way we're going to sound. Anybody who's heard our original material knows that in reality is that we're actually a 'Noise-core' band. We always want our albums sounding explosive and out of control!
You have a lot of features on your new record. How did you come up with the idea of having Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz (FALL OUT BOY) on "If You Could Remember"? It is a really interesting issue, because they keep telling everyone that they have a hardcore background and even their current video deals with this topic.
MIKE: Petey and Andrew from fallout boy are old hardcore kids. We used to play with their bands in chicago. Now they are in one of the biggest rock bands in the world and they are still having fun doing it. They greatly influenced me to start playing music again.
KEN: Fall Out Boy has deep roots in the hardcore scene in Chicago. Those guys were at our shows up front singing along for years. Some big bands act like they're from the hardcore/punk scene, but FOB really is.
How did you choose the other collaborations (Carl Buechner (EARTH CRISIS), John Henry (DARKEST HOUR), Wes Eisold (GIVE UP THE GHOST) ) ?
MIKE: As with the guys in fall out boy, all of the people who we asked to be part of our record have been very influential. We wanted to have John Henry because we have been friends for so long. We watched the guys in Darkest Hour grow up and become and amazing band. I am so proud of them. As for Wes, his lyrics for Give Up The Ghost hit me harder than any other band I have ever listened to. He writes with such passion and innocence. Every time I listen to Background Music or Were Down... I find lyrics that are so intense that they blow me away. Having Carl on the record was something we tried to do when we were recording Kingdom. We used to do a lot of touring with Earth Crisis and they have always been our close friends. We had the chance to do it this time around and I did not want to pass it up.
So what else can we expect from DAMNATION AD? Did you only want to make the record you weren't able to do in the past, or shall we here more from you in the future?
MIKE: We are looking at this as a new beginning. We want to do things that we were not able to do before. With the way the music industry is now, we have so many more chances that we want to take advantage of. I really hope you hear a lot more from us in the future.
KEN: We're pleased with what we were able to do on this new record, but of course there's always new goals – I’m already writing new songs! There's always something to improve on.
I would also like to ask you about several topics, which are currently discussed a lot in the hardcore scene and I would like to have your opinion about.
What do you think about make-up in the hardcore/metal scene?
MIKE: I just heard the term guy-liner for the first time. I think it is funny. I was watching The Decline of Western Civilization the other day and all the old punks used to wear make up. It's a new trend. I am not sure if it will last, but if that’s what kids want to wear, then thats cool.
KEN: In a world full of so many bands, it’s no surprise that bands try so hard to look different than other bands. For some listeners music is a fantasy and they actually don't want their bands to be 'normal' people. This is very much the opposite of how things were in the hardcore scene we've grown up in where bands and kids were the same.
What about violent dancing at a hardcore show?
MIKE: I think the aggression in hardcore music is going to bring about a lot of violent dancing. Some people are fucking ridiculous. You are always going to have the idiots who have something to prove to themselves and their friends. I always have to keep in mind that they are the minority and they will never last.
KEN: A lot of shows will have one or two wanna be tough guys who act like the mosh pit is there for a dance competition. I think it’s possible to have a good time without hurting anybody. There's always gonna be one or two fools in a crowd of hundreds.
What do you think about Christian hardcore?
MIKE: As with straight edge and krishna, I think it can be a very positive thing. Most people do not stay involved in it for long, but it can be a good tool for people to make it through difficult times in their lives. I know several times in my life I was so lost that I thought all i had in the world was being straight edge. Sometimes one thing is all you need.
KEN: For me, hardcore was always a place for new ideas and a place to learn and discuss new social and political topics. I think it's a good thing to meet new people with new ideas and then make a decision based on whats in your own heart. I personally think there's a lot of negativity that can come out of organized religion, but there are some positive things to. It all depends on what a person takes from it and how they use it in their own life.
And finally, with 108 back on the track, do you think a krishnacore revival might happen?
MIKE: I don't think this is the right time for it. The big attraction at the time was Ray was really into it. He was an icon to all the younger hardcore kids. I don't feel that there is any one person who has that much influence over anyone any more.
KEN: I feel the same about this as I did on the last question. There's some good things about krishna, and some bad things too - if learning about this religion makes you a better person then there's no harm in that. But a lot of people use religion as an excuse to stay ignorant and close-minded, so again, it all depends on how you interpret the messages.
Are you planning to tour Germany soon?
MIKE:If I could get there today, I would.
KEN: We hope to be on tour there at the end of 2007 or beginning of 2008.