GOOD RIDDANCE

Hold by Jan on 9-25-01 in Hannover/Germany exclusively for purerock.de

How long are you on tour already now?
We’ve been on tour for a week so far.
How long is it going?
Till the 20th of October.
Is every show different or do you get bored sometime? Do you play the same setlist every night?

We’ve been playing the same set every night since the tour started, but I think, we are probably gonna change, maybe bring a couple of more songs from the new record in, switch some of the songs around, but basically the same every night.
How do you spend the spare time on the road? Like watching videos, as I’ve seen?

Yeah, you watch movies. Sometimes if you go to a city, Death By Stereo, the band we’re on tour with, it’s their first time here in Europe and our new drummer we have, David, he’s never been here before, so he really wants to see the cities and go look around. Most of the cities I’ve been to all the times, some places there’s cool stuff to go see. You go to a shopping area, go to a restaurant. But generally I read, write, watch some movies.
What do you think about the European audiences? Do you notice any differences to the US shows?

Yeah, there is a difference. But nothing too major. I think, that what’s really cool is knowing to be part of a musical scene where you can travel so far away and still have people that understand what you are talking about and are interested in the same things and be able to see how music can cross over different languages and cultures and stuff like that and that’s what’s really cool, when you can see audiences in other countries. Just like European bands I listen to, even though they sing in different languages or they’re from a different place, I can relate to, what they are talking about and we are all kind of part of the same thing.
Do you know any German punk bands?

I knew a band called Porno Patrol long time ago. Terrorgruppe, of course, Die ─rzte, Toten Hosen, not too many though. I was really into some Italian Bands, like Gazioni (???) and Raw Power and Skandinavian bands, like from Finland.
You know Wizo, as they are on the same label?

Oh yeah, we already played with them.
Do you rather like to play bigger concerts, e.g. on festivals or club gigs, like tonight?

I think they are both good. A smaller club is a lot more fun to play, because the people are right there, close. Festivals are good because on bigger festivals we get a chance to play in front of lots of kids who maybe never have seen our band before. So when we get the chance to open up for a band like NoFX or play on the Bizzare-Festival or Deconstruction Tour it’s really good for our band because some people are coming to see the bigger headlining bands and then they see us and maybe they like what they see. And when we come back and play in a club, those show up and we got some new fans that way, so it works out pretty well.
And now a question, you’ve heard several times before: Whose idea was the name, what does it mean to you? Do you address someone special with it?

╠ thought of the name. It’s a kind of English term. Good Riddance is, like there’s someone at your house and you don’t like him, when he finally leaves you say "Good Riddance": "It’s good that you leave and never come back again." That just sounded cool, it’s was good name for a band. There’s nobody specific in mind for that name.
Would you like to sum up the history of the band in some sentences?

Sure. Luke, our guitar player has been in the band since 1990. He and I have been doing this together for a long time and then our bass player joined the band in 1994. At that time we were just touring with demo-tapes and nobody really knew who we were. Right around that time we got on Fat Wreck Chords. Then we got to tour a lot and record records. Our first record came out in 1995, "For God And Country" on Fat Wreck Chords and we just put out our fifth record, "Symptoms Of A Leveling Spirit". And we’ve a new drummer, David, who’s on the band for about a year.
When I compare the older songs from e.g. "A Comprehensive Guide To Modern Rebellion" to the newer ones, I notice a quite big difference in style. How would you describe it and what are they reasons for it?

What difference do you notice?
I think the older ones were a bit more hardcore and the newer ones more street punk/skate punk.

I don’t really know, what hardcore is, or street punk, or skate punk, so I really can’t comment that. To me, when I first got into this kind of music, when you listened to the Dead Kennedys or Black Flag, you were hardcore. But I think, that’s different today. Maybe that was different ten years ago, and it will probably change again. The word hardcore seems to be really subjective. It means different things to different people. I think that our band often plays music that’s melodic and other times it’s aggressive. And I think that we’ve played that ever since we started. If there’s anything from the record you talked about until now, we have worked on developing our own style and not sounding much like the bands who influence us. Earlier on you could hear the influences a little bit more. Now, I hope, we got our own style of Good Riddance-music, which is melodic and aggressive both.
Who influenced you in earlier days?

Bands from our home state California: Black Flag, TSOL, Adolescence, D.I., (sorry, but I could not really understand all the band names...) Also bands from the East coast like Big Boys, Cro-Mags, Faith, Void (...), bands like that. We were also influenced by Bad Religion, Pennywise, Lagwagon, NoFX, Propagandhi, Lifetime, Sick Of It All, stuff like that.
And what are your favorite bands right now?

Let’s see... I really like a band called Kill Your Idols from New York, Ensign from New Jersey, Leatherface from England. Mostly I listen to old stuff, old music.
Who would you like to tour with, if you could choose?

We’ve got the chance to tour with a lot of really good bands, pretty much everybody, I ever could have wanted to tour with. If Bad Religion called and asked us to go tour with them, or Pennywise. They would probably be the best, because we’ve been really lucky and got to play with like Sick Of It All and lots of these other bands that are really, really good and we look up to. And those are the only two bands left we haven’t played with.
What is your opinion on million selling bands like Blink 182, Offspring or Green Day? Do you think they are less punk because they have got gold records?

I don’t think so. I really don’t have a comment. They are successful in what they do. I don’t think that GR will ever be in that kind of situation so I really don’t think about it that much.
When I look back on the last four years, you released an album every year. Which one do you like best? And when’s the next record coming out?

We just released one in July, and it’s September now, so we are not thinking about anything new right now. It’s only been out a couple of month.
I think, our newest one, Symptoms Of A Leveling Spirit, is by far our best record. We really took it to another level. Songwriting-wise, lyrical content, getting what we want out of our experience in the studio. I think we are at a point now where we are able to go into a studio and really use the time to our advantage. When else before we often were not sure, what we are doing, kind of got it over our heads. I think that we are at a point now when we go the studio we know, what we want to get out of it and we are willing to use any means to get there. Also we had a lot of help from the guys that produced our record. Bill Stevenson and Steven Eggerton really helped us a lot on this record. I think it’s by far the best thing we’ve ever done.
What effect does the Internet, specially MP3 have on you? Do you think you sell less records, because people can get your songs for free from the web? Or do you like the opportunity to spread your songs this way without earning from it?

I think it’s cool, that bands can get heard by kids randomly searching through music files on the Internet. I think it helps a lot of bands. It’s a definite fact that record sales are down because of it. Not just us but almost every band is selling less records because of the Internet. So that’s not good. I just think it’s another situation where technology has outpaced regulation. There is nothing I can do about it personally. I’m not a fan of people who go on Internet message boards and talk shit about bands or talk shit about the scene. It’s irresponsible, contra productive, selfish and I also think that lots of times people have gone on message boards and said really hurtful things and signed my name to it or somebody else’s. In fact it wasn’t us. The lack of accountability that the Internet provides for cowards who want to talk shit is unfortunate. But like I said, there is nothing I can do about it. People are gonna do what they gonna do. In the punk and hardcore scene just like everywhere else there’s good people and there is assholes.
Speaking about money: I can hardly imagine that you can make a living with a punk band. Do you have real jobs beside the band?

Not right now. Sometimes when we are not touring for a while we get jobs at home. But normally, when you are touring a lot, you can’t have a job because you are never at home. You can’t say: "I wanna work here but I’m leaving next week. I won’t be back for like four month, is that ok?" Most places won’t let you do that. Up until now it has worked out ok, we can pay our rents and bills. It’s very much like a job as far as what you get out of it, like the means to keep living. But it’s a strange way to earn money, because you don’t know, if you are going to make any money. You go on tour and you hope the best. So far it has worked out ok for us.
What kind of jobs have you done?
The last job I had was in a bookstore. They had a coffee shop inside it and I made espresso and coffee and stuff. I really liked it. I didn’t wanna quit. We were going away for longer and longer periods of time and pretty soon they could not keep me anymore.
As you are judged the 2
nd most political band on Fat Wreck Chords behind Propagandhi...
Who said that?
The Fat Wreck Chords homepage...

Oh yeah??
...I actually wanted to ask you about George W. Bush before the terrorist attacks happened. I don’t know, but if you still want to say something about him? And what’s your view of the things going on in the US right now and the middle east?

I didn’t vote for him. I wish he wasn’t the president. And I’m not really gonna talk about that.
Now there’s a reader question before we reach the end: One reader wanted to know, why the 1995 album is called "For God And Country" and if anyone of you is religious?

To really find out the answer for that, you have to ask each person individually. I would guess that to my knowledge nobody in the band is outwardly practicing any specific religion, as far as I know. But I could be wrong. I believe in spirituality, but I think that there is a big difference between spirituality and religion. I believe in something out there that’s bigger than us, but I don’t know what to call it. I wouldn’t classify it as a religion. There were times in the past where I’ve written songs about people who were religious and had bad opinions about them, but I don’t have those anymore. I’ve become a lot more accepting, I guess. If it works for you that’s cool. I’m not gonna pretend to know more than anybody else and I’m not gonna judge anybody for what their religious believes are as long as they are good people and seem to be doing alright. I think that organized religion is silly but it doesn’t hurt people. I think that faith works for a lot of people.
And the album title? I guess it’s sarcasm?

For God and Country? One thing that I enjoy doing with our band is using splices of patriotism or specific americana slogans for things like that. I like using them out of context. So, when you have a record that has got a flag-draped coffin and a marine guard on the cover and it’s called For God And Country, the lyrics inside explore lots of unanswered questions and open into policies of the American way of life, then it’s taking the patriotic aspect of it out of context, which is sort of something that’s fun to do. I was influenced a lot by a band called Born Against, who were really good at that. Their record titles were always like that. If you didn’t know better you would think that it was a really patriotic record when you bought it. That doesn’t mean that we are anti-american and it doesn’t mean that we wish anybody in America ill. It just means that, at some point it’s powerful to take somebody’s slogans that were taught us at the time when we were kids and look at them from the outside and try to find what they really mean and what if any value they hold in contemporary life.
Ok, that’s about it.

Awesome, thank you...
Thank you!

ę 2001by purerock.de
more interviews