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Kill Your Idols | Funeral for a Feeling | interview | hardcore | Lollipop
Kill Your Idols
An interview with the band
Funeral for a Feeling (Side One Dummy)
by Rich Black
How'd you end up on Side One Dummy? What do you hope to accomplish there?
Andy: Fame and fortune? Is that too much to ask? (laughs) Actually, Side One Dummy found us. Someone name-dropped us to them, and they checked us out from afar to see if they were into us. They were, and they got in touch with us. I really feel this is a label who likes us for our music and our "spirit." The show they saw us at was (played to) 25 kids in a record store in Las Vegas, so I don't think they signed us expecting "the next big thing."
As for what we hope to accomplish, I would definitely say we would love to be able to not have to hustle and do whatever we can to make money between tours. In other words, do this full time - which we already do - and make a "living," which we don't. If it wasn't fun, I doubt I'd do it since we certainly can't be in it for the money. But to me, being in a band and all, this is also art, an expression of who we are and all, and even though fun might be a part of it, there's a far greater form of satisfaction from creating something that means so much to some people.
Side One Dummy is somehow involved with the Warped Tour. Was this a consideration?
Andy: Although I think there is a connection, we don't really know it. I'd rather not talk about things that I'm not too sure of. It had really nothing to do with us signing with Side One.
How many records are you signed for?
Andy: I believe three... Maybe two and an EP.
My understanding is that Gary (guitar) quit the band for a short time while you were deciding which label to sign to. What happened?
Brian: All of us had decided before he snapped and quit the band - it was just before we signed that he quit - that everything was becoming way too hectic for all of us. It was especially bad for him 'cause he was taking the brunt of the business end. Bad things kept happening, and blammo!, he quit for maybe 10 days. It felt like we were Charlie Brown and he was Lucy, and he'd pulled the football away from us... But we'd be a chubbier Charlie Brown, and the football would be like a brownie or a cupcake!
Andy: Basically, the stress became too much. We'd just spent seven months on the road, he - well, all of us were - having some personal problems, as well as family and financial ones, too. As much as everything seemed to be working itself out, it really wasn't. For every deal we made to recoup some time and money, a new drawback would occur. Things were just really stressful. And the fun ran out. As I said, there's a lot to get out of doing a hardcore band, but if there's no enjoyment left, then it's time to let go. Gary just wasn't enjoying himself anymore, not even when we played. Every member of this band loves playing. All the problems are secondary when we play. It makes it all worth it.
The final straw was in January. We'd just gotten home from a rough tour in December, and then we played a really good show at ABC No Rio. It was sold out and we felt really proud and good, and then the van died right there in front of the club in the middle of January. It was freezing out. Gary tried to get it going but couldn't. He came back the next day - missing a day's work - and still couldn't get it running. We had to get it towed to a shop and come up with almost $1000 to get it fixed. We did everything we could to come up with the money. It was really hard and we felt very alone. Gary, in particular, felt really let-down by a lot of people we turned to for help. So we're trying to get the money by the time that the mechanic says we have to pick it up. He keeps calling and telling us we have to get it off his lot. So Gary takes yet another day off work to get the van, and it turns out that the van wasn't even done. That was the last straw. I guess he'd taken a few days to think about it, and then he let us know how he was feeling. It was the worst! I'm very glad that after only two weeks he decided this is what he does; it's the only place he feels comfortable and knows he belongs.
What other labels were interested in the band at the time?
Andy: I have to say, I'm very surprised at how many labels got in touch with us. I had no idea that so many people wanted to put out our stuff. It was a really hard choice for us. There were a few labels that just floored us - that they wanted to do it - Side One being one of them. I feel like it's weird to mention labels that asked to work with us that we turned down, so I'd rather keep it at that. But, we do still work with other labels too.
Were you on the Warped Tour?
Andy: No. We were going to be, but then we decided to take the Good Riddance/Death By Stereo tour instead. Although we were really psyched to do Warped Tour, we were nervous that we'd be going up against bands like Rancid or H2O or something, y'know? So we think that the GR/DBS tour will be more fun, and overall more positive for us. We know there will be a crowd each night to see Good Riddance, lots and lots of kids who've never even heard of us, that we'll get to play in front of. Hopefully, we can turn a lot of people who aren't familiar with the underground scene onto it. There was a time when I only knew about "bigger" punk bands. I saw bands like Circle Jerks or GBH when they came around, but I didn't realize that there was a whole scene, people living this whole alternative lifestyle based around punk and hardcore. I got a flyer for a show at CB's at one of these bigger shows I was at, so I decided to go to it, and have been hooked ever since. I think the show was Gorilla Biscuits and Bold!
How is Kill Your Idols "making depression fun again?" Are you a depressed person?
Andy: Well, depression is never fun. It's not possible. We got that quote from a friend, Artie Philie (former vocalist of Milhouse and Indecision). We sent him a copy of the record, and he said that musically, we sounded more upbeat than ever, but the lyrics were more jaded and depressed. He said we were making depression fun, like The Smiths. So we went with it. We have shirts that say it, and people seem to be into them so... yeah. A lot of people involved with hardcore - and underground music in general - are lonely and depressed. There really isn't much that I know of that can be done about it. A lot of people I've met are just lonely, or sad about something specific, like relationship problems, but there are a lot that are really, really depressed, and have trouble coping... Depression sucks. It's like walking around and feeling like something isn't right, always having this feeling in the pit of your stomach. For me, at least, it seems to come and go, sometimes worse than others. I don't want to dwell on this though... Life is short, and depressed or not, I'm not going to become the type of person who allows my life to stop because of it. Being depressed is not like being sad, where you can still have fun and live a life that's full.
I get the sense that Funeral for a Feeling marks the end of a significant relationship for you.
Andy: You're right, but I really feel funny talking about something so personal. I really let a lot out in the new songs. They're much more personal on this record then ever before. Instead of writing in a more general way, these songs are much more specific. I used a lot of influence from bands like Lifetime, Jawbreaker, Sheer Terror, Lanemeyer... bands who tell stories about themselves instead of writing more generally.
You cover "Made to Be Broken" by Poison Idea. Are you generally a fan of the band, or did this particular song just strike you?
Andy: We're all huge fans of Poison Idea, without a doubt. I think it can especially be heard in Gary's playing. We picked that song because of an inside joke we have about something in the beginning of it. If anyone in Poison Idea reads this, please record more, tour, and take us on that tour.
It seems you've made a point to cover songs by other bands, as you've also done songs by Crumbsuckers and Sheer Terror. Do you see covers as homages to the bands, or "education" for your audience?
Andy: Ummmm... both, sort of. We do a lot of covers. I mean, a lot. We do them for both reasons: to show respect for the bands and to let people know our influences.
On the album art there's the line "Kill Your Idols wear Airwalks." Is this a joke, a sincere, free, Airwalk endorsement, or has money changed hands? How "punk" is an endorsement? Kill Your Idols has been compared to bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat; how do you justify an endorsement to fans that admire what they perceive as the band's purity?
Andy: Endorsements are as punk as hell, like studded belts and falafel. Here's how the deal with Airwalk was set up: We played a show at CB's one night. It was a lot of fun. After the show some guy - just a regular guy who came to the show to see Poison Idea - came over to Brian and said he loved us, and that he works for Airwalk and could get us an endorsement. We asked what that meant, and he said that he would give us free Airwalk stuff - which most of us were wearing at the time anyway- and that was it. He didn't ask for anything at all in return. Never. Oh yeah, they asked for a picture for their website. Not too bad for five pairs of free sneakers - again, that the guys in the band wear anyway - several pairs a year. We decided the right thing to do was to put that line in the CD. They never even asked us to. I don't think this is something that takes away from us or our "purity." I try to live my life the best I can without doing harm to others: That's just me. When I think a company has fucked up practices, I let them know. I usually won't support the company either, but the important thing is to write them and let them know. I'm sure there are a lot of companies I use that do things that I might not like to support; the truth is that I don't research every company. But, because of my lifestyle, it's rare I turn down anything free within reason. Though if McDonald's wanted to give us free food, I'd still turn it down. I'm not going to give in on my beliefs, but I'll take full advantage of the right situations when I can. If people go out and buy from these companies just because we do, well, that would just be weird. I like to think anyone into us would know better, and not have that mindset.
Some of your fans get the Kill Your Idols skull logo tattooed on them; how do you feel about someone permanently marking their body for you? Is there an implied responsibility to the fans? Let's say you decided to do a Gospel record, would the tattooed fans have a right to be pissed off?
Brian: The tattooed maniacs are the greatest thing in the world to us. When we're driving, we talk about them all the time. It's beyond flattery. It's hard to explain, but I'm sure you can imagine. And as far as I know, every kid with the tattoo loves gospel music.
Andy: Yes, they would have a right to be pissed. We're a hardcore band, and I'd like to think that we're known for our ethics as well as our music. People know what they'll get from us. It's not a matter of living up to their expectations as much as keeping an unspoken promise. They know from interviews, seeing us live, and our songs that we are what we say we are: A straight-up, honest, somewhat portly, hardcore punk band. So if we put out a gospel record, it'd be a lie. But don't worry, we aren't going to do that. A country record, maybe...
The bands I have tattooed on me are all bands that have helped me out in a big way, just by writing songs. It helps so much knowing a band can relate to your problems, especially when it feels like the songs are written about your own personal experiences. The bands I have tattoos of are Sheer Terror, Jawbreaker, and H2O. If the people who get Kill Your Idols tattoos feel about us like I do about the bands I'm tattooed with, then the feeling I get is unexplainable.
Are there any perks for tattooed fans, like free show admission or special record pressings?
Andy: We do try to hook up people that have them, but it's hard. We've met many of them and have pictures of more, but we still have some of the vinyl we did of No Gimmicks Needed made especially for those people with tattoos who've never gotten in touch to get their copy! We did 100 on swirled purple vinyl as a sort of thank-you to the people who had the tattoo. It's funny, but I think a lot of people felt weird taking it... People said things like, "That's not why I got the tattoo..." and I'd feel that's why they deserve something. We're trying to get a hold of everyone who has one. We want pictures, and names and addresses and email addresses. We'll have something cool for you! Don't be shy, if you have the tattoo, let us know! Don't pay to see us if we can get you in for free... Shit, you're stuck with this thing for life, so it's the least we can do!
You guys are road dogs. How much time do you actually spend on the road? What's the most exotic place you've been? Where would you most like to play?
Andy: We've toured a lot. I mean, like, 30 or so tours in four years. And some of the tours were six or eight weeks at a time, only to come home for a week or two and go back out. We toured at least seven months last year. It's always so amazing and unique, every night is something different. Seriously, there's nothing cooler than going someplace far away and seeing people who know your songs. It's just amazing, meeting new people nightly, making friends, and then seeing them next time around. It's like you see the best of each scene. We aren't around long enough to get involved in the gossip, just long enough to meet people and see bands. I know that we complain about the hardships of touring a lot, but when it comes down to it, there's nothing that beats it.
As for the most exotic places? We've played Japan, Korea, those were pretty exotic - and even a bit erotic. We played an 800 year old castle in eastern Germany, a bagel store in New Mexico... (laughs) I'm not sure what places we'd really love to play that we haven't. Holland is great, I'd go there all the time if we could. Same for Japan. Oh yeah, we'd like to go to Australia, Hawaii, and New Zealand, and we'll make it there, sooner or later.
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